Veggies - Spring 2010!

Skybird - z5, Denver, ColoradoMarch 18, 2010

Hi all,

Im gonna start this because several of you are already talking about starting your veggies for this year, and I managed to get out to start turning over my veggie garden todayÂstill havenÂt actually started anything, in OR out! Actually, I take that back! Read on!

I was going to get new siding for the house last year, so I never planted anything in the veggie garden on the side next to the houseÂbut never actually got around to getting the siding anyway! This year I canÂt afford to get the siding, so I decided IÂm just gonna cover up the falling-off-the-house siding with heavier plastic and plant the veggies! How can I go without "real" peas TWO years in a row! So this is what my veggie garden looked like before I started. ThatÂs one of my two piles of ready-to-use compost on the left side between the two batches of "winter time vermiculture leaf bags!"

So I turned over the right side of the garden next to the house, and since it was walked on all last year and wasnÂt worked at all, it was NASTY to dig inÂand in about half of it I was running into two years worth of cottonwood roots! I think IÂve mentioned once or twice around here how much I HATE cottonwood roots, havenÂt I? ;-)

One thing that always amazes me when I turn over the garden is how much more soil I wind up with every year! ItÂs like the Magically Multiplying soil! As near as I can figure out, itÂs because as the clay improves more, it kind of "fluffs up" and takes up more space. Not sure about that, but I sure donÂt remember ever running into Magically Multiplying soil in Illinois for the twenty years I lived there! Well if it multiplies much more IÂm gonna need a step ladder to get on top of the garden, so when I got into the areas with the REALLY heavy clay, I decided I was just gonna throw it in the dumpster this yearÂbut it was all full of worms! I felt SO sorry for those wormsÂliving in that "stuff!" Since I didnÂt want to put the worms in the dumpster I threw all the big clumps of "stuff" on a pile on a corner of the undug part of the garden, and I figure that within the next few days, with the cold weather and the snow, the worms will quickly migrate down into the garden soil, and then IÂll throw the clumps into the dumpster when it dries out enough again after the storm. Anyway, hereÂs what one of those clumps of "stuff" looked like when I was turning it over! I guess itÂs kind of hard to tell in a picture, but you could use that stuff on a potterÂs wheel!

And hereÂs my "clumps of stuff" pile, with the, hopefully, migrating worms! ThatÂs whatÂs left of the one pile of compost on the right of the "clumps" pile after I had added a whole bunch to the area I was turning over!

And hereÂs the turned over section after I finishedÂitÂs still at least 6 to 8" higher than it was the first year I planted in it five years ago! When I rake it smooth after the snow, IÂll throw out all the smaller clumps that come to the surface that donÂt easily break up too.

And then thereÂs my first planting for this year! When I finished with the digging part I decided to plant my first batch of potatoesÂwhich I had growing in the kitchen cabinet! A bunch of you are gonna think IÂm nuts, but if they didnÂt get planted soon they were gonna get thrown on the compost pile anyway, so I planted them! HereÂs my "potato garden" after I planted themÂtheyÂre about 8" deep.

And here it is after "placing" their "snow storm and cold weather protection!" I covered them with three bags of maple leaves that I had left to insulate them!

WeÂre supposed to have cold weather for at least a week now, and I figure itÂll probably be a couple weeks before I get around to moving all the leaves from the potato garden to the compost pile, so, hopefully, by then they'll be rooting out and be ready to start coming up when it warms up for real again! WeÂll see! If it works I should be able to get at least three batches in there this yearÂand if it doesnÂt workÂI have some more potatoes that are starting to grow in the cabinet! Easily replaced commodity!

I plan to get my tomato seeds started in the next couple daysÂwhile itÂs cold outside. Have a nice big bucket of soil warmly inside and just waiting to be used!

So what all are the rest of you doing with your veggies at this time of the year? HereÂs a place to keep everybody updated on the spring part of your veggie garden!

Braced for the snowÂwhich sounds like itÂs gonna actually require shoveling this time,


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I LOVE your veggie garden pics! well any ways i am starting (on the kitchen counter in water) a couple avacadoes(do those count as veggies?) um a while ago i planted a potatoe and an onion they both grew last year but right now i'm not watering them yet ;) and again skybird- your garden is REALLY pretty! :)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 12:42AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

Skybird, you must be sore! I took Weds. afternoon off so I could bask in the sun and putter in the garden. It's been such a long time since T shirt weather! I started turning my veggie garden, but it's still a bit wet, so I made one row on the end and planted red onions. Then I planted green seeded simpson lettuce and mesclun in a planter box that's coming inside this morning. After some thought, I decided to plant Yukon gold and All blue potatoes in tires again. I have a flat of Big Jim, Anneheim and sweet banana peppers and Sweet baby girl, Cherokee purple, Beefsteak and Heirloom rainbow blend tomatoes. 31 of the 36 seeds have sprouted after 2 weeks and the earliest are 3 inches tall now. I'll never use that many, so many will be going to the swap. I'm a happy gardener again even with the incoming snow storm. Skybird, thanks for the inpirations pics!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 9:07AM
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Dan Staley

Nice. That's a nice, sheltered spot.

Yesterday I got in my badaydas and two vars. of spinach with plenty of time to get the soil heated back up a bit and then covered them to weather the storm. I already have some bush peas in. After the snow goes away and a couple days of re-warming, I'll get the onions and shallot seeds in, and some more greens as well - hopefully maturing in time for the coldframe to come down:

I'm picking spinach and arugula from under the hoops and it seems most of the lettuce under there is perking up too.

Almost everything is germinated - just some ornamental peppers and the habañeros are still slumbering, and the eggplant 'Ping Tung' is taking its sweet time too.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 10:37AM
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That's gonna be an awesome garden, Sky!

On Tuesday, I DS'd my Nabechan scallions, Green Bibb Deertongue lettuce, Parris Island Romaine lettuce, and Johnny's Encore lettuce mix. Of course, 3 days before it freezes and snows. LOL So we'll see if they survive!! :D

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 4:30PM
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I'm real proud of you, Skybird. You set an example for all of us to get-out-there and get-it-done!

So, right after I read your post and looked at your wonderful pictures . . . I took a drive out in the country. Okay, when I got back and it was STILL an outstandingly beautiful spring day, I went to work gardening.

I am now ready to plant the spuds, and I picked up some seed potatoes on the way home. Also, I got some Texas Walla Walla Sweet Onion plants AFTER I said that I was going strictly with those sown from seed in the green house several weeks ago.

As soon as I get back to the garden, some spinach seed along with shallot sets can go in a 2nd prepared bed beside the spud patch.

Tomorrow's weather looks to be a repeat of today's performance so another step can be made to get these things done. I'm not sure about planting the spuds, however.

I only found 2 of the 4 varieties I'd like to put in. If I really think about this too much, I'm going to well-up with tears, then run in place and scream! "Local" was supposed to be the right way to go but the garden center has every fingerling known to man (except the one I fell in love with years ago) and a pathetic assortment of standards. It is very frustrating and may drive me to saving my own seed potatoes in the future.

Anyway, I'm a little sore and very tired . . . Tomorrow is another day but I'm back in harness, at least in the short run. Snow is in the forecast for Monday but the last time it snowed there was only enough to make me dizzy and nothing stuck on the ground. So, I'm optimistic!

Here's to Us . . . Spring Gardeners!!


    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 11:03PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I expected to be sore today, TreeBarb, but was surprised to discover this morning that I wasnt! I guess all the work Ive been doing down in the basement for the last few weeks has me "hardened off!" ;-) I do have a few dings in my shins, and when I noticed the back of my right arm was hurting today I looked in the mirrorand I am sorta black and blue! The funny thing is that I dont even remember running into anything, or, I guess that would be, backing into anything! It always amazes me when you wind up black and blue and dont even remember being bashed in! Anybody else have that problem?

Yeah, Dan, its a nice sheltered spotand also a nice shady spot! Thats the east end of the house, so all it gets is morning sun. Well, in mid-summer when the suns really high in the sky the left side gets sun most of the day, but right up against the house doesnt get a lot even then. I plant the spring stuff right against the house, and it seems to do ok there, and I figure it helps shade the lettuce and spinach type stuff from the worst heat of the day, tho it always seems to go to seed right away anyway. Im starting to think that may have more to do with the degree of clay its in than the actual heat. Might try digging out the clay and replacing it with compost right down the row where the seeds are actually planted this year to see if it helps. I sure do envy you and the others who have a cold frame and/or greenhouse to grow stuff in over winter and start stuff in in spring. Oh, how I envy you all!

Glad youre having some good weather up there, Digit. Im hoping it dries out around here enough by the end of the week that I can smooth that side of the garden out and maybe get the peas, spinach, and lettuce in.

Heres to us!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 2:20AM
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Dan Staley

East side is what you want for your greens, and I agree that it likely is the lack of organic matter in the bed that does it. Light, fluffy, OM soil is what does best.

BTW, before this storm hit, I had a mustard and a radicchio bolt already! Not a typo.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 11:27AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Thanks for that, Dan! I had been thinking that might be at least part of the problem ever since the second year I planted there, and where I plant the lettuce/spinach is one of the worst stuffI mean, clay areas I have. I will definitely dig out more than I was planning to right down the row where I plant and replace it with homegrown compostnow that I finally have enough to do that with. Since lettuce has shallow roots, maybe that'll help enough to get a good crop this year. I'll report back latermuch later!

Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood here today! Got down to 15 last nite, and its sunny as all get out and up to 40 on the warm side now. The snow is melting like crazy, and at this rate I will definitely be able to get back out into the garden by the end of the weekwell, if we dont get more on Wednesday!

Where did you get the neatly bent frames for your peas, and what is that you use for the webbing? Heres a pic of how Ive been doing it. The peas are on the right with 2" X 3" wire supported on 4' stakes. This year Im replacing some of them with 5' stakes so they dont wind up flopping over so much. The cukes are on the left and theyre the same thing but on 6' stakes. Thats working pretty well. They, obviously, flop over long before the end of the seasonbut, uh, I havent found any 12' stakes to use! And my "tomato system" is in the foreground on the left. I put in four 6' stakes around each tomato and then "cage" them by tying twine around the stakes every foot or so as they grow. The tomatoes too, especially the cherries, flop over the top by late season, but overall its working pretty well for me, and I can put them only about 14" apart by doing it that wayand still get between them enough to access all the plantseven if I do wind up smelling like tomatoes when I do itand come out green! How do you do your tomatoes? And cukes?

Heading back down into the basement to try to finish up before it gets "permanently" nice out,

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 3:32PM
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Dan Staley

We have a conduit bender and I use that for the trellisi.

Some of the cattle panel got hung on two trellisi (melon, butternut squash) and the remainder got bent into a mini-greenhouse. Two trellisi have remesh (cukes, melon) and the trellis that gets the toms gets jute twine (I train toms up twine so I can untie, lay down on ground and cover in October to extend the season); all mesh is hung with clips I made from spare wire to remove for maintenance and moving for tomato rotation.

The pea panels are more remesh from HD, painted. All the bush peas, bush beans and edamame get the remesh - much easier to deal with in the long run. We don't do vining peas or beans any more as they don't do well where the garden is.

Here is a trellis I made for the 6 3/4 year-old for her very own garden space, 1/2 EMT conduit and remesh, her and mom have yet to choose colors and paint:

When she moves on from that space I'll likely put a currant in there.

Most of our snow will be gone tomorrow and I checked soil temps earlier by potatoes and still in 40s, so I'm good. Snowwoman is melting, aided by the charcoal buttons and grass for hair, surely. We still have a few carrots from the garden and were able to utilize in the artistic endeavor too (one more reason to grow carrots).


    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 4:18PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

Love the pictures. Love that skybird cares for her worms so carefully. I am always so happy to see worms in my beds.

Other than my indoor seed starting, I only have these beds at the moment. This picture was taken before the last heavy snow, but it didn't seem to bother the garlic too much. The rest of the beds have some baby alfalfa that I'll dig under come May and planting time.

I decided not to start another dug bed this year. I desperately need to dig up and separate my long herb bed (the Russian sage are crowding out everything; they're gorgeous but they need their own space). I can only do so much digging in a season, so it'll be these beds and some Earthboxes for our spring/summer veggies.

Which reminds me that I really need to get some spring greens in. Love those lettuces above.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:23PM
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xaroline(zone 3 Calgary)

You people are so inspirational.
The only veges I have started were WS and not sprouting yet.
Did a jug of Walla Walla onions and another jug of Collards.
I am spending too much time transplanting petunia sprouts with a

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:00PM
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I am loving the photos...I'll put up photos of my garden compound and little 8 1/2 ft. square greenhouse one of these days...

I have started corn inside this year from seed and they're just starting to sprout...I have also started beans, cucumbers, ancho chilis and black pearl tomatoes. The cumumbers and beans just sprouted but the tomatoes and chilis are taking their time.

I'll transfer them all into the greenhouse as soon as my 11 yr. old son finishes a circuit board for me which shows what the temperature is in the greenhouse on my laptop in the house. The circuit board will then automatically turn on the heater if the temperature gets too low or turn on the fans if it gets too hot in the greenhouse. Now I don't have to worry about my plants when we go away, but more importantly, I won't be wasting energy...

But I I was out checking on the raised beds in the compound and have spinach doing just fine under a row cover and has been there all Winter...The garlic are all very happy under their hay cover and I have one shallot leafing. These I planted last Fall...

The raspberries I transplanted last Summer from a friend's garden are already showing new shoots in their bed and the strawberries are greening in their bed...

I may try lettuce again but had bad experience growing lettuces last Summer that were way too bitter to eat. Any thoughts there?

I saved my daughter's tires after buying her some new ones this Winter and would love to try growing potatoes in them but not sure how, when or what kind would do well. Any thoughts there?

I LOVE that it's that time of the year again when we can get outside and play in the dirt...

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:50PM
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I still have a good 2 feet of snow covering my garden. Nonetheless my veggie starts are prospering in the greenhouse. Our long range forecast is for cool, unsettled weather so I expect I won't be able to plant in my cold frame during the first week in May, as I usually do.

On the bright side, there should be plenty of moisture for a good start to the growing season.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:58PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Not to brag, but........

Well! OK! To brag!

It was 79 on the "cool" side of my yard todayand 87 on the "warm" side! Just gettin too hot to be gardening out there!

After the long and never-really-warmed-up-nicely for a few days at a time winter weve had, I think we deserve it! I heard on TV yesterday that its supposed to be "wetter than normal" for the next month or two. Hoping that doesnt mean too wet to garden. Anything short of that Ill be happy for!

From NOAA!

418 PM MDT TUE MAR 30 2010



Supposed to be another real keeper tomorrow!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:34PM
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Not much warmth here . . . plenty of wind and clouds.

kareng_grow says: I may try lettuce again but had bad experience growing lettuces last Summer that were way too bitter to eat. Any thoughts there?

I imagine that your problems with the lettuce, Karen, was heat and dryness. Just guessing there, tho'.

I found the information from Colorado State U (linked below) to be very helpful a few years ago. I was prompted to grow Batavian lettuce and found it to be a real good choice. I grew and have grown the Nevada variety. For my garden, it was a real find!


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:33AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I agree with Digit! I think keeping lettuce pretty wet all the time will help prevent bitterness. And re bolting, when I speculated about bolting possibly being made worse by heavy clay soil up at March 20, Dan seconded the motion and said he thinks a much improved soil with lots of organic matter (which would also help hold the moisture) might help prevent the plants from bolting immediately. This year Im gonna try better soil. Cant replace the whole garden, but Im gonna dig out a trench for each row of lettuce and spinach and fill the hole with finished compost before planting. Am hoping that helps, and will report back laterway later!

Thats a great chart, Digit! Saved the link! My neighbors, who know nothing about gardening, grew a cos lettuce that went all summer for them a couple years agoand its in pretty much full sun. When I saw that I decided to go with a romaine, and found Jericho, which Ill be trying this year. Will report back later! Never heard of Batavian lettuce, and it sounds like thats something I have to try!

P.S. Thinking warm, snow-melting thoughts your way, Mark!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 1:26AM
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Thanks Skybird,

Just an odd year.

According to the NCDC (NOAA) site, the Dec. through Feb. period was Colorado's 18th coldest in 115 years. Durango has consistently been among the coldest spots in the state this winter, not a common occurrence. I strongly suspect that the ranking of this past winter, for Durango based on 39 winters of working outdoors here, is significantly lower than 18th coldest. I can't find that information, so if someone can steer me to it, I'd appreciate it.

On the bright side, Durango reached and exceeded the average daily high on March 29, the first time that has happened since Jan. 15. In the 118 days from Dec. 1 until March 29, Durango had reached or exceeded the daily average just 7 times.

NOAA's long term prediction had called for above average temps and average precip. I guess I obsess about the weather because of my farm upbringing and totally outdoor orientation. Sorry.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 8:05AM
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Thanks so much Steve for your post, hence, encouragement to try growing lettuce again. The chart was very helpful and comprehensive. I also suspect that the lettuce got too dry.
Anticipating another beautiful Colorado day...gonna go play in the compost and dirt again this morning...: )

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:25AM
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Dan Staley

I recommend using Johnny's Seed to choose lettuce. They have icons that tell you whether the variety is cool- or heat-resistant and I have both types.

It is getting hot enough that the lettuces in the cold frame are getting unhappy and I'll have to make the neighbors happy pretty soon and pull the cold frame (next door asked how the garden is going, so I think they know its coming). We have a new variety of okra this year that will go in the cold frame spot - 'Millionaire' that apparently is replacing 'Cajun Delight', which did really well here.

BTW - my peas are starting to pop and the spring sowing of spinach is progressing well, and onion seed is going in today if not too windy (we had criteria winds here yesterday and one gust to 44, welcome back spring!). Starting the trellising veggies indoors is riiiiight around the cornerrrrrrr......


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:29AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

I grew Yukon gold potatoes in tires last year with decent success. I'm still a newbie at vegetable gardening, so I don't have expert advice to give. I have a lot of slugs in the garden and didn't want them in my potatoes. I also have a lot of old tires on the property. I found this web site I laid landscape fabric on the ground then set 2 tires side by side, filled them with a mix of garden soil and compost, then planted the potatoes 4 or 5 inches above ground level in the tires. Then I covered the tops with several more inches of soil. When the plants grow 8 - 10 inches above the tire, add a tire and fill it with soil, leaving the top few inches of plant uncovered. I do wonder if I should be adding some potting soil to lighten the mix. It's an experiment, maybe the potatoes would do just as well or better in the ground. But I like the idea of no slugs, going vertical and using up the old tires. I have a friend that plants her potatoes in big plastic boxes.

I'm going to pot up tomato and pepper seedlings in the next few days, the roots are starting to come through the sides and bottom of the netting. The tomatoes are 5 - 6 inches tall now, the peppers much smaller at 3 inches. Yeah!

Mark, I think you had mentioned in another thread that you have a new grandbaby coming, Congratulations! Let that thought keep you warm until spring comes to you.

Skybird, Dan and Jnfr, thanks for the pics. I love to see what you are up to in the garden. Great ideas!
Digit, thanks for the lettuce info.
Enjoy this beautiful day!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:31AM
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I saw something interesting on the NOAA website: climate is what we expect but weather is what we get.

As for lettuce, I've noticed that heat will cause bitterness. BTW, I just harvested the best lettuce I've ever eaten- from my greenhouse and grown hydroponically.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:41AM
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Mark, get yourself down to this tomorrow:

Storm spotters provide valuable local service

I couldn't really figger this chart out but . . . it had your name on it:

The 100 inch mark

Steve's digits

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:47PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Heres an update on the potato garden I planted on March 18 when I first started this thread. After planting it I covered it deeply with maple leaves to protect it from the snow storm and cold weather we were expecting. Today I finally got around to uncovering it, and so far my plan is working! There were already potatoes coming up under the leaves, so apparently theyre rooting out and they should get going really well now as it warms up. I can hardly wait to harvest the first batch!

The new shoots are hard to see because theyre white from being in the dark, but theyre therethe most obvious ones on the left side right against the wall! I think I need to fill it up the rest of the way with more half finished compost now.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 12:10AM
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