Friday, March 28, 2014

Garden Rhythm - Planting peas and lettuce with pictures!

I've been really swamped with work so this blog has been written mostly after midnight when I can't work any more!  I hope it makes sense, I think it's a tad repeaty as it's been written in tiny little chunks.  But I just previewed it and I think it's okay.  But it's after midnight, what do I know.

It's 3/28/14 now and if you want a great pea and lettuce crop, you want to get them planted this weekend.  Put the seeds to soak on Friday night and plant on Saturday.  Do it!

Here is Part 2 of the Planting Peas and Lettuce blog:

I love these little irises.  They are one of the first flowers up.  Yay!  Spring!
Well, sort of as promised by my last blog, I planted today (3/19) but due to weather and my schedule planting  today was two days later than it should have been for best results.  I put the seeds to soak on 3/16 with the idea that I would plant on 3/17.  But no joy.

It would have been better to have them only soak over night.  Or I should have drained the peas and refreshed the water so they didn't get a ferment on.  But we will forge on ahead.

3/16/14  - five kinds of lettuce seeds put to soak.  Note they are labeled with a bit of masking tape and the name of the kind of lettuce.  Very important.  You won't remember.
There is only so much lettuce you can eat at one time so think about that when you set your seeds to soak.  Most lettuces will let you cut them off about 1" from the ground a couple of times before they get discouraged and quit growing.  You want to harvest lettuce often to keep a nice supply of delicious greens.  I keep a couple of the store-boughten lettuce boxes around to put my much more delicious garden lettuce in after harvest.  It seems to last longer than putting it in a plastic bag.

I'll try to plant another crop of lettuce seeds in 3 or so weeks in a part of my garden that will have shade by then.  The weather will be thinking of heating up and lettuce likes it cool.  This planting a bit, letting some time pass, and planting a bit more is called "succession planting" and is a great idea.  I like radishes, but only a couple at a time.  So I plant 6 seeds about every 2 weeks for 3 or 4 times.  That gives me a few radishes at t time spaced out over a month.  You have to keep paying attention to do this but you will get the hang of it.

I keep a roll of tape and a pair of scissors in my seed storage box.  I cut the tops off the seed packets, pour out the seeds I need, then tape the packet back up.  It keeps them tidy and me happy.  I hate a pile of wasted seeds in the bottom of my seed box from the open packets spilling out.  I don't plant long enough rows to use a packet very often.
 I loves me some sugar snap peas.  Those are the only kind I plant any more.  I put about 80 seeds to soak on 3/16/14.  Then I went out to start prepping the beds.

Pea bed!
 This is where the peas were last year.  I should rotate them but this soil is some of the worst in my garden and I want the peas there again to improve the soil.  And it's a good warm place to plant which is important when you plant this time of year.  It needs a lot of clearing but I'm not going to dig the soil so it should go quickly.

The first wave of bees to visit!  I feel like a super hero!

While I am working away, happily weeding and enjoying the sun on my back, a bee comes and starts caging for snacks.  She tries the yellow handle of the hoe.  She flies inside my tool bucket and tries all the tools.  She buzzes me a few times.  I get the hint and go into the house to make some food for her.  I have some honey that is about 10 years old.  It's sentimental honey from the first CSA I sold my things at.  But it's what I have and the bees are hungry.  I shake up some honey with some warm water in a jar until the honey is dissolved.  I make this feeding station with a food storage lid, some rocks from the driveway, and a yellow produce bag.  I pour the honey over the lid and add some pure honey just for good measure.  The bee is still there still flying in and out of my tool bucket.  I put my gloves on and "pour" her out onto the feeding station.

 She gets it right away and has a good sup.  Then she sort of staggers into the air and flies off.  I keep working but also watching to see if more bees come.  I think about the waggle dance the bee will do to tell her hungry hive mates about this great new diner that looks weird but serves good nectar.

Henry, our rescue Airedale pooch, "beeing" Helpful
Henry loves to hang out and be with his monkey (that's me.)  I had brought him to the garden with me to see how he would behave.  He was doing really good.  He sniffed around the garden for a while then went and lay down close by which was perfect.  I was distracted with the bees when he clearly decided that he needed some attention and laid down on the  not yet weeded part of the bed.  He is such a goof ball.  So cute.  Poor neglected pooch.  Life is so rough.

Pea bed all ready for planting!
Pea bed all weeded!  I didn't dig the soil, I just dug trenches where the peas will go.  I also arranged the drip lines so they will be in place when it's time to turn them on.  Looks good, doesn't it?

Then to the south, I started clearing the lettuce bed.

Bees and more bees!
This is another try at the bee feeding station.  I used a clear dinner plate, a red produce bag stretched over the plate and lots of rocks to give the bees something to stand on.  They seem to really love it.  I had to fill up the plate a couple of times.  I was amazed at how fast the honey water was sucked up.

Last summer's carrots
I found three carrots from last year in the ground.  They were delicious!  I am amazed that they survived and were so good.  Garden bounty!!!

I was busy and it was cold on Monday and Tuesday so I didn't get back to planting.  I absolutely arranged my schedule on Wednesday so it would happen.  The weather was warm-ish and the sun was out.  I was determined that the seeds had to be planted or they would be ruined.  (This totally is the downside to soaking your seeds.  On the other hand, it help you to focus and get them planted!)

Some of the lettuce seeds have sprouted after 3 days of soaking.

The peas were a bit bubbly, like they had started to ferment a bit  but I drained and rinsed them a couple of times and I think (hope) they are okay.  Most of the lettuces had 1/4" roots going which is way longer than I'd like.  There is no help for it so I decided to plant and hope for the best.

Peas in the furrow
Pre-soaked seeds are really sensitive to drying out, so I watered the furrow very well before arranging the pea seeds.  I plant much closer together than the packet says to but not with the peas touching.  Sometimes they don't sprout and then you have a big hole.  I choose to have them a bit too densely planted.  They also hold each other up and need less staking.

All planted!
 I arrange the seeds and then cover the furrow with soil no more than two or three seed diameters deep.  The seeds need cover but too much soil for them to push through is hard on them.  The drip is not on yet, it's still freezing at night most nights, but I have it arranged so it's ready.

Then I turned my attention to the lettuce bed.  I had soaked a few seeds of five types of lettuce: Bib, Romaine, Arugula, Marvel of 5 Seasons, and Mixed.  Several of them had already sprouted roots so I may have wasted them.  It's hard to tell.  I added more water to the containers and swirled them around and splashed out the seeds and the water to spread the seeds around.  I covered the seeds with a bit of soil then watered it all good and proper.

I didn't have anything to mark the seed beds with, so I just took a picture to remind me what I planted where.  I am pretty terrible with marking where I have planted so I get surprises every year.  I always think I'll remember and then two or 3 things pop up in the same bed.

All done for now!  Just have to keep the water on things and wait.

I will plant another wave of lettuce in a shade part of the garden the middle of April.  Lettuce can be cut about 1" from the ground to harvest greens.  They will come back pretty quickly for another harvest.  But eventually they slow down or bolt.  It's good to have another wave of lettuce coming on at that time.

I'll plant a heat tolerant pea variety then as well.  I really love sugar snap peas so I try to have them around the garden for a long time.  I also love pea shoots.  When the weather turns hot, the peas stop flowering.  Just clip the tender tips from the plant and eat.  You can steam them but I like to snack on them.  Delish!

Oh rats.  I realized I forgot to put the innoculant on the peas.  I will do that when the weather warms up again.  It's about 10 degrees tonight and it snowed.  Ah Colorado Spring!

3/28/14 note: nothing has shown above ground yet  The weather has been fairly cold and mostly dry.  I make sure to check the soil daily and water when the surface is dry.  Later on, I'll check below the surface but for now, I'm trying to keep the seeds that sprouted moist.

I am really looking forward to some pea shoots and fresh greens.

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