in daughter's Tulsa garden yesterday and in my garden today. I'm glad I'm able to raise my own transplants as I saw some broccoli for sale last week with tiny quarter size heads, still in the six pack.
Mine is all planted too, except I have a flat of backup plants in the greenhouse. I always try to have backups for everything in case Mother Nature drops a hail storm on us or something.
Like you, I've seen some buttonheads on some plants still in the stores. Isn't that crazy? I am not sure if it is that the plants are rootbound, having been in those little containers so long, or if they were subjected to yo-yo temperatures for too long, but I'd be mad if I bought transplants, brought them home, planted them and had them bolt or form buttonheads shortly thereafter.
In fact, buttonhead broccoli plants from purchased transplants started me down the road to growing my own transplants a long time ago, so maybe I should be grateful for that.
I kept a backup flat too, although I have learned that it only works to replant about a week to a week and a half after the optimum planting date, so I will give them away if I don't need them soon. I have replanted with held back plants so many times only to end up pulling up the plants before they head. I plant all my broccoli at once and harvest in about a week's time ending in one masive freeze up Memorial Day weekend. I am not going to baby one or two or even four or five late plants.
I first started growing broccoli plants because there were none available commercially--close to 30 years ago. Then when they did become available I didn't buy transplants because I plant close to 100 at a time and I couldn't afford it. The exception was the year that I already had them in the ground the 3rd week of March and the temp went to 18 overnight. That year I bought to replace the ones that froze as I didn't have enough backups. I lost most of my peas that year too with no backups.
I can barely remember when broccoli transplants weren't available, but the earliest ones I remember were in tiny pots that I bet were 1.5" x 1.5" in width and not much deeper. They wrote the prices on the little black pots with a white grease pencil. As late as the very early 2000s I remember buying bare root cabbage plants in a bundle, wrapped in newspaper and sitting in a galvanized pan that had either water or moist dirt in the bottom of it. That was right before I started growing my own cabbage seedlings.
Nowadays if I buy any seedlings at all, it is either for (a) early tomatoes in winter, (b) replacements after a hard killing freeze or (c) some sort of silly impulse buy.
We've waited all day for the rain and finally it is falling hard here, getting windy and has knocked out the DirecTV satellite reception. After all this hoping for rain, now I'm hoping we won't get so much at once that the plants cannot tolerate the wet ground. Seems like it is always feast or famine around here in terms of rainfall.
I usually only hold on to back-up cool-season crops through maybe April 7-10. After that, it is warm-season time and I feel like any cool-season crops put in the ground after that likely won't have time to mature, especially if we go from too cold to too hot all in the same week.
I hope y'all are getting rain up there this week like we're getting down here now. We already had mud. I guess now we'll have deep mud.
My brocs and cabbage have been in the raised bed 2 weeks now WITH a frost blanket. The brocs I did from seed and the Flat Dutch cabbabe was an impulse buy spawned from my oldest daughter. Also planted carrots, radishes and mustard in the same bed. ALL are doing well even though last week we had a personal low of 12. Onions have been bit twice now. Ugh. With the amount of onions that we planted (12 Dixondale bundles!) I'm just guessing we'll have many that bolt but will still get a good crop. The other plants under the frost blanket in the raised bed don't even act like they're phased at all.
I too remember buying brocs in the early 2000's when I lived in the OKC area. Had GREAT harvest then but I was such a novice. I give credit to "beginner's luck" with that one!
I've got 6 brocs left and I'm giving them to other friends. I had them hardened off but then life & weather intervened. I'm still betting they will survive and thrive.
With all this rain I'm getting here in NE Norman, I'm really, really hopeful about this years harvest. OK Mesonet @ 2 pm said Norman had already received 1.23 inches of rain!!! We lost Dish connection several times today according to DH. Tomorrow eve we're gonna go check out Lake T-bird to see how much it's come up.
Have I mentioned I sure miss Chandra this spring? He's usually my go-to buddy to collaberate Norman's growing temp this time of year. (((sigh)))
Dawn, I remember bundled pkgs of cabbage too, and pull-up flats of tomatoes. Now the only thing I buy in bundles is onions. I wish sweet potatoes were still sold that way. The slips raised in 6 or 9 packs have such tangled roots that you get twisted, contorted sweet potatos.
Paula, Sounds like your early stuff is doing good. Mine not so much. DH forgot where I had planted the lettuce and tilled up 1/2 of a 50 ft row, something ate the leaves off of almost all the beets as soon as they came up, and so far I don't see the carots I planted a month ago.
I miss seeing Chandra's lovely photos. I hope he will check in with us and tell us how he likes his new location and job.
Dorothy, Dawn and Paula - Y'all have been so busy and productive - I admit to being a bit envious. I'm trying to hold seedlings back until it's safe to plant them. I think they resent the daily trips to the deck where they may get a little sun before I bring them back inside where the humidity is ridiculously low. I'm sure they believe that they are being raised in the desert.
We are still quite cold - daytime temps in high 40s today, tonite is forecast at 33 - I don't think it will drop that far. I believe we had the last killing frost a few nights ago. I don't recall such a long cold winter since I was a kid. The long-range forecast shows a few days in the 70s next week, then temps drop again until early May.
I am a state of amazement - we usually have a day or three with temps in the 70s in February! When that happens, we hop on the boat and go sailing. Not this year. It's April and no trees have leaves! The maples are starting to color up - most years, that happens around first of March.
I planted fava beans today, worked on the blueberry beds, and on the potato and pea beds. Tomorrow, I'll pull the potatoes out from under the bed, cut them, and dust them before planting. I'll be happy to see them go. I pre-sprouted peas tonight and ordered seeds to fill a few gaps - and the cattle panels. I'm looking forward to getting the cattle panels - I think they will make some jobs a little easier.
Anyone grow melons up cattle panels? Any advice about how to do this?
Pam, Your weather sounds like mine. It is 39 here now but I think the high today was around 42 with light rain all day. The only transplants I have this year are tomato plants and they are still small and inside under lights. It is still much too cold for summer crops here, and it was so cold for so long that I didn't get many of the early crops planted. Like Paula, I have a ton of onions, a few potatoes, and one bed with a few salad greens that are barely above the surface. They have been almost the same size for 2 weeks.
It seems that each time I plan to stay home for the day, it is either cold or wet. We have managed to plant over a dozen trees at our son's house though, so at least we are making some progress there.
I normally plant lots of peppers, but I will probably just pick up a few bells that I can plant to use fresh. I still have peppers in the freezer from last year, and have found a great source for fresh hab, pablano and jalapeno peppers in Arkansas, so I don't know if I will even plant any this year. We go there every other week to check on Al's grandmother so I go to the Mexican market on every trip.
I had started a few plants early but since I had to be away for 2 days when they were tiny, they got too dry and I just tossed them all. Then the only thing I started later was tomato plants. I am thinking about attending the Spring Planting Festival at Baker Creek, and there will be vendors there with everything in case I change my mind.
We have had almost 10 inches of rain this year, so this year is feeling more like a normal Spring for us except for the low temps.
Paula, Twelve? Now I don't feel quite so bad about our low of 19 degrees. Twelve is almost unimaginable this late in the year. It sounds like your garden is doing great! Don't you love floating row cover? It has changed my gardening life more than any other relatively new invention. It sure does remove a lot of the worry about late cold spells.
I planted so much cabbage and broccoli plants y'all will be laughing at me in May and June when I'm whining about having to put up so much broc in the freezer and am busy making freezer slaw and sauerkraut. I think I eneded up with 5 varieties each of broccoli and cabbage. It is a good thing it is raining today or I'd probably be trying to figure out how to cram all the backup plants into the garden too.
I'm glad you have had so much rain! After these last couple of dry years, we all deserve a break. We are up to about 1.55" in the rain gauge this morning--that includes all the rain that has fallen the last 2 days, and they say we should get more rain this afternoon and tonight.
I miss Chandra too! I hope he, Priya and the kids are enjoying the amazing new adventure of living in a new place, but I sure wish they still were here.
Dorothy, I still can buy sweet potato slips in bundles at a couple of locally-owne places in Texas, but at the local stores here, they are selling them in 6-packs, 9-packs and with a bunch planted together in one larger peat pot. I just refuse to buy them that way.
I may order mine from Gary at Duck Creek Farms this year since I have a new garden area with sandy-silty soil that should be good for growing sweet potatoes....or, at least, better than the previous sweet potato growing area which has now become too shady. Gary's slips are always so nice and healthy and he has such a wonderful variety. In Texas where I've traditionally bought the bundled slips, there's maybe 4 or 5 different varieties each year, and it is the same ones every year.
I am sorry that your early plants are having to fight so hard to survive. It is hard to get the young plants off to a good start when something is eating them. I am all the cool-season stuff done now except for carrots, and I was waiting for this week's forecasted heavy rains to come and go so I could plant carrot seeds that might stay in the ground where I planted them instead of washing out and ending up growing down in the woodland or the creekbed or something. Tim was laughing at me when I said I was waiting for the rainfall.....he said "Yeah, right, like we're actually going to get any rain". lol I understand his skepticism because so often the last couple of years the forecasted rain missed us or didn't materialize at all, but I'd been watching the models and the Qualitative Precipitation Forecast and I felt pretty strongly we actually were going to get a lot of rain this week. It is looking pretty good for next week too.
I am so grateful for the rain, y'all, and appreciate every drop but I plan to plant tomatoes next week (or I may rush to get them in the ground sometime between Friday and the beginning of the next rainy spell) so I wish the rain would stop for a couple of days and let us get some stuff planted.
Pam, Hang in there. Spring is almost there. We are cold now. I think our high for today is supposed to be 48 or 49 and our low around 39, but between last week's rain and this week's rain we had some gorgeous, clear, sunny days with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s and it was a spectacular few days that felt like spring. I think my last frost was last week, but the floating row cover is in the garage waiting to come outside and cover up plants if I am wrong about that.
I feel confident that the temperatures will not get cold enough again here at our place to harm the cool-season plants since most of them can tolerate the low or mid-20s., I haven't put any warm season veggies or herbs in the ground yet, so I don't have to worry about them, but some of my reseeding and perennial warm-season ornamentals are up and growing and a late cold night could nip them back. It is always a roller coaster ride here with our temperatures at this time of year, and I never feel like the prospect of a very late frost or freeze has completely ended until May 5.
Your part of the country has had such a prolonged cold spring that it is shocking. I don't remember the last time the NE and Atlantic Coast had such an awful March.
I grow melons up woven wire fencing, using 8- metal t-posts placed every 5 feet as the supports. The fencing I use has 2" x 3" openings and I use it because I have it left over from fencing a garden plot. If I didn't have it, I would buy and use cattle panels because of their sturdiness. I grow all sorts of melons on trellises and they do really well here. I think it reduces foliar disease by getting the foliage off the ground, and you don't have to worry about ground-level critters chewing on the melons.
When I first started growing melons vertically, I'd use knee-high hosiery tied to the fence as supports for individual melons. Gradually I learned they did just fine without the supports. True muskmelons, of course, slip off the vine and fall to the ground. I check my melons daily to see if they are forming the abscission layer and if they are, I tug gently each morning and evening to see if the melon is ready to let go on the vine. Even when I don't catch them before they fall, I usually find them sitting on the ground at the foot of the trellis. In the beginning, I was worried that if they fell, they'd crack, but they never have.
With watermelons on trellises, I generally only grow the mini refrigerator watermelons on trellises. If I am growing varieties that produce large melons, I raise them on the ground, not on trellises.
I also have grown pumpkins and winter squash on trellises, but the ones that produce larger pumpkins and squash do get supports for their fruit. About the largest squash I've harvested off a trellis was an 18 or 20 lb. green-striped cushaw. The squash itself had no support. I thought it likely would break the vine, but it didn't.
About the only advice I have with regards to trellising these types of veggies is that you need to watch your placement careful because a trellis full of vines will throw off quite a bit of shade to areas north of it. You can use that to your advantage by planting lettuce or something else that appreciates some shade where the vine-covered trellis will shade it.
I always put up the trellis first and then plant the melons right along it. I leave an open air space of at least 6" between the bottom of the trellis and the ground. This makes it easy for me to pull weeds that sprout right there in that area. When the trellis comes down flush to the ground, it seems like weeds sprout underneath it and end up growth on both sides of the fencing used as a trellis, and it is harder to pull the weeds. With an open space, I can pull them very easily.
By the way, I heard they have arrested a former firefighter and his girlfriend in some of the 70+ arson cases on y'all's eastern shore. That's terrific news.
Carol, I watch your weather closely and will tell Tim "It's 36 degree's at Carol's and Al's this morning" or whatever, and he just shakes his head. Y'all haven't had any good luck with the weather lately, except the rain is always good of course....but why does it have to fall constantly at planting time? It does seem like your weather is back in its usual pattern.
We've only have about 7" of rain this year, but with more in the forecast tonight and tomorrow, it is feeling more normal here too Our part of Love County made it back out of extreme drought and into severe drought a couple of weeks ago, though most of the county still was in Extreme Drought on last week's monitor, and I haven't looked at this week's yet. Tim and I feel like things are almost back to normal here too, but the big pond remains totally dry. Since the spring that fed it dried up several droughts ago, I don't think it ever will have much water in it again except in very rainy years.
The last couple of weeks are starting to remind me of a year like 2004 when it rained regularly. I've almost forgotten what that is like.