March « 2008 « verdure
but not yet that warm
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Perhaps my initial frost free planting date of this next weekend was too optimistic. The lows are forecast to be in the 30’s through the end of March, and the last two mornings we’ve had light frost. We’ve been covering the outdoor lettuce and spinach plants at night, and so far they seem to be doing all right.

Indoors, our lettuce is using its lower leaves like crutches, giving it some semblance of uprightness:

red speckled lettuc

This last weekend we were going to repot the remaining tomatoes, whose roots are starting to poke out curiously all over their little peat pots, but Sunday slipped by and then a power outage left us to play Scrabble by candle- and fire- light. I like those occasional small disruptions in expectations. Breaking routine brings into focus the sensations of the moment: darkness, the color of candlelight, the way the part of you facing the fireplace is almost too warm, yet the other side of you is briskly cool.

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must be warm enough
Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The outside lettuce (I think — they’re in the same pot as the spinach) have officially started to come up.  I decided against checking on them when I got home from work today as I was getting soaked by the rain.  The transplants from last weekend all seem to be doing well, besides the fact that the lettuce has pretty much given up all hope of keeping itself upright.

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repotting
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

We repotted the early girl tomatoes, lettuce and cauliflower on Sunday. The larger pots, still all clustered under the the hydra lamp, have overflowed into where our stereo used to sit. (Our lack of furniture has left the stereo to wait on the floor until its home is vacated.) While repotting, we snipped back the weaker seedlings of the peat pots with multiple sprouts. :-( Some of the stems of the cauliflower and lettuce were/are not really strong enough to hold the weight of the leaves unless the plant is standing completely vertical, which tends not to happen much as they track the sunshine coming in from the window. Next time we want to start the artificial lighting as soon as the sprouts break the surface. Mike thinks we might have been overwatering too, but it’s hard to tell. I vote for a second weak fertilizing.

It’s been rainier lately, ranging in temperature from about 40 to the low 50’s. No activity outside (neither paw nor plant originated) with the lettuce, spinach or peas, yet. Perhaps it’s too cold, or too wet, still.

Though using indoor light, I still like my first pictures on Mike’s snazzy fancy camera (Cauliflower above, alyssum below):

cauliflower

alyssum

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light
Thursday, March 13th, 2008

The yellow pear tomatoes have come up, so now every peat pot has at least one seedling. Some plants, particularly the lettuce and the cauliflower, are getting kind of lanky, so tonight we moved the hydra lamp upstairs to give the seedlings some additional light (using CFLs). Here are the early girl tomatoes from a few days ago, where you can see their fuzzy stems (captured so artfully by Mike):

tomato seedlings

Last weekend we trimmed back the ivy on the deck and started snow peas, lettuce and spinach outside in containers. Nothing has sprouted yet, and today we found some cat sized digging in the container with the peas. We are waiting to see if the cat got to the half of the pot that we planted or kindly did its business in the empty half that is waiting for a second round of peas.

As we were clearing out dead brush from last year, Mike found some wild onions. Or if not wild, they are at least fending for themselves at this point, amid ivy no less, though my trusty plant guide lists several species of wild onions in this region. Sunday was really quite a nice day to be outside, and I took some pictures of the purple dead-nettle blooming across the street:

Purple dead-nettle

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Faster than you’d think
Friday, March 7th, 2008

Planting seeds is kind of anticlimactic (ooo, wet dirt!). Luckily, we didn’t have to wait even a week for at least one of each plant to peek above ground.

Several days ago we bought more tomato seeds, a yellow pear variety this time (Early Girl is the other), which we planted last night. More pots and dirt are waiting in my pickup for the plants (squash, peas, spinach) that will be living in containers.

We had significant frost Thursday morning, although the outside thermometer optimistically read 35 degrees (a bit like the financial “experts” of late). Today it says 45 at about the same time.

Here’s one of tallest cauliflower seedlings in the only sunshine we had all day:

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First planting
Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Planted in peat pellets this afternoon: 6 cauliflower, 2 thyme, 2 tomatoes (Early Girl), 4 alyssum, 4 lettuce.

Lows have been in the upper 30’s, and Friday it got up to 60 for a short while.

Our only perennial left over from last year, chives, has come back to life.

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