Changing Gears

Gardening here is in a state of flux. Cool season crops are maturing, even while I start to get the warm weather loving plants in the ground. It’s a busy time of year but I love it.

I’m still sitting on nearly 1000 tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings. I’ve got a few planted myself, and given a few to friends, but most are still here basking in the sunshine, and needing twice daily watering. I am always happy to get them planted!

I’ve also got five flats of squash and cucumber seedlings that have just sprouted. Four of those flats are for the food pantry gardens, and one for us. I sometimes direct seed the cucurbits outdoors, but for the larger amounts we grow it makes sense to start them indoors on the heating mats. Germination is near 100%, and I think it is easier to have the other volunteers set the plants in the ground instead of trying to sow the seeds and keep all the varieties straight. Plus we get a week or more jump on the growing season this way, though I’m guessing we will be up to our ears in zucchini all too soon!

zucchini seedlings

In the greenhouse I pulled the spinach that was bolting, but left the Space variety to grow a bit longer. I used the free space to plant some cucumber seedlings. I’ve discovered the greenhouse is a great place to grow cukes in summer, when it gets too hot in there for most crops. I grow the parthenocarpic varieties that set fruit without pollination, and the yields are huge. Last year I got over 60 of the long Tasty Jade cukes. I use some narrow cages made of concrete reinforcing wire to give the vines support. They’ll be sprawling all over them before long.

cucumbers with cages for support

But even as I plant cucumbers, I only have to go outside the greenhouse to be reminded it is still spring, after all. The early broccoli plants behind the greenhouse are getting large, and should be heading up soon.

early broccoli

Right around the corner we have kohlrabi that are heading up, looking like little purple Sputnik satellites.

Kolibri purple kohlrabi

And even though the seasons are in a state of change, some things remain constant. We’re still feeding a lot of our furry friends.

Callie at the food bowl

It will be summer all too soon, and I want to make sure I enjoy spring while it lasts!

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6 Responses to Changing Gears

  1. Wow! That’s an incredible amount of seedlings! If I had the space I’d love to plant that many.

  2. I LOVE that you are growing so much for food pantries.

  3. I so understand…I’m always relieved when I get things planted out in the garden. I’ve repotted our tomatoes twice, because the deer were still getting in the gardens. If I’d planted out the tomatoes, and they’d been devoured, I’d be crushed! However, the warm weather is rapidly approaching! I also think it’s great that you’re sprouting plants for the food pantry gardens. If our local pantry has a garden, I’d love to do that next year, such a fantastic idea!

    • Villager says:

      I do hope you can get the deer situation resolved soon! So far all our deer are eating is the hostas, which is frustrating but could be a lot worse.

      Our gardens are independent of the food pantries. As far as I know they are not involved in growing gardens, though they are happy to receive any produce they can. Our Master Gardener organization has been tending a 1/3 acre garden for five years now, and I have been working with our church to start a new garden this year that will have about 1/8 acre in various veggies plus over an acre in sweet corn. I would like to see a more coordinated effort in our area, but so far it has not happened. I was inspired by what the folks in Wisconsin did with their Madison Area Food Pantry Garden. They have grown over a million pounds of produce in the last ten years. The need is certainly there, we just need to get more people here involved. What we are doing is a small start.

  4. Villager, you may think it’s small, but nonetheless important! We do intend, once the orchard is mature, to donate our excess fruit through a local organization called ‘Village Harvest’ (they pick the fruit, and take it to the local food bank)…I know we’ll have too much once the trees mature. I’ll inquire around and see if anyone local is doing a similar thing to your Master Gardeners. Sometimes I think these orgs just have a tough time getting the word out. I could easily plant more flats in spring, and would love to have a place to send my extra squash starts!

  5. Meredith says:

    A thousand seedlings! I’m in awe. You’re really running a small farm, villager, and I love that you’re doing so much for those less fortunate. You inspire me.

    I’m a weirdo and just plant the squash seeds directly in the ground once it warms up. They grow so fast, I know we’ll soon be overwhelmed with squash anyway. 🙂

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