Category Archives: Spring Gardening

April Gardening Challenge Round 1: Seed Starting

We’ve just past the vernal equinox and wow what a difference in the weather! Not two weeks ago I readied the garden during an entire week of snow, hail, sleet, and driving rain. Now? The days are longer, weather milder and the worms are going to town! The earth wants you to garden. I want you to garden. Do you want to garden?

Yes?

Perfect! Let’s garden! The first stop on your gardening challenge tour is with Erica of NWEdible.com She’s got a great challenge for you.

Later this week I’ll be part of a virtual book tour for Jessi Bloom with a chance to win a copy of her book, Free Range Chicken Gardens before the month is out, then check back here next week because I’ve got other hosts (including Jessi) lined up and the challenges will come a little faster as the month progresses.

Colin McCrate with The Seattle Urban Farm Company and co-author of Food Grown Right, in Your Own Back Yard has a container garden challenge for you. I just got my hands on his book and people, it’s a must have. I only wish there was a book like this when I was just starting out trying to grow all my own food. I will do a review of this book this month as well.

Graham Kerr has a personal garden challenge for you, along with other co-hosts who will be joining in throughout the month.

 

This is going to be a fun-packed month with something for everyone that has enough space for an herb pot in a kitchen window. At the end of the month, remember to come back to this blog and link up what you’ve done for a chance to win some GREAT gardening prizes: a V Garden, a vegetable start subscription from Cascadian Edible Landscapes, a copy of The Urban Farm Handbook, a copy of Free Range Chicken Gardens, a copy of Food Grown Right, in Your Own Back Yard, a copy of Growing at the Speed of Life, a children’s chocolate garden from Chocolate Flower Farm, an original garden broom and more!

Are you still here?  Get on over to Erica’s yard and get growing!

Updates at Last

I’ve put off writing this hoping that I would have a real answer but that’s taking too long so I’m spilling the beans now. We’ve made it past the first hurdle and have a negotiator assigned so I’m hoping the offer we made on 10 acres goes through. What that means is we are getting ready to put our house on the market (as if I don’t have enough going on right now!) SO if anyone is truly interested in a fairly dialed in urban farm in an off the beaten neighborhood please let me know.

Some years ago, while living in a tricked out Greenlake house with 3 toilets (two of which were in the same bathroom the size of a bedroom) we watched a documentary on the Lost Boys from Africa. It moved us deeply watching them progress from boys coming to America who wanted nothing more than to attend school and live peaceably to boys who were lured by the dream of commercialism and material goods. In the end many of the boys the crew followed dropped out of school to get jobs in order to buy cars and clothes and toys. We decided to sell our crazy house and buy one with a smaller footprint, not to fill it with things but instead to do more with less.

We insulated the walls and attic, replaced the old single pane windows (which had been painted shut so many times they would not pry open), replaced the old oil furnace and all the other appliances (some of which were from the ’40′s), took the bathroom down to the studs, finished the basement and made cosmetic improvements. Then when that was done we set about turning the overgrown canopy of ivy and legacy shrubbery into an edible oasis. Our little 1/5 of an acre now sports 22 fruits and nut trees, a chicken forage bed, and intensive orchard, extensive raised vegetable beds with drip irrigation on a timer, in-ground compost cans, and a chicken run and coop.

There is also a large grass playfield, fort with sandbox for kids and a cedar shed. If the fort were removed there would be room for mini dairy goats, honeybees and there is room in the chicken run for a rabbit setup.

End house sell here…

In other news we are moving on to final edits on the book this week so I’ll probably be hiding again until 4/15. I’ll try to post but it’s been really hard convincing myself to write blog posts this winter while forcing myself to meet this aggressive book deadline too.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with the planting schedule I would be following if I knew we were going to be here all summer. This year I had intended to plant by the moon phases so these dates follow that line of thought:

Beans 4/15 – 4/17; 7/1 – 7/14
Beets 3/20 – 4/2; 8/15 – 8/27
Broccoli 3/7-3/19; 8/1 – 8/13 (start indoors)
Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage 3/7 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/15 (start indoors)
Cauliflower 3/7 – 3/19; 7/30- 8/7 (start indoors)
Carrots 3/20 – 3/31; 7/15 – 7/29
Collards 3/7 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/7
Corn, early varieties 4/3 – 4/17; 7/7 – 7/14
Cucumbers, Melons 4/7 – 4/17;5/2 – 5/15
Eggplant (minis) 4/7 – 4/17; 5/2-5/15 (start indoors, plant out under tunnel with tomatoes and basil)
Kale 3/7 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/7; 8/28 – 8/31
Lettuce 3/4 – 3/19
Peas 3/7 – 3-19; 8/7 – 8/13; 8/28-8/31
Pumpkins 5/2 – 5/15
Spinach 3/15 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/17; 3/1 – 8/13; 8/28 – 9/12
Squash 4/15 – 4/17
Chard 3/15 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/15
Tomatoes 4/7 – 4/17 (started indoors in January, would plant out under tunnel at this time)
Watermelon, early varieties 4/15 – 4/17; 5/2 – 5/7 (under tunnel with melons)

The farmer’s almanac is predicting 3/10 as the last frost date for us, with some rain/snow next week and overall a drier and warmer March and April but a MUCH cooler May than normal so use your best judgment when planting things out. Using frost-protective Reemay or milk jug cloches will get you a few more degrees and the Reemay will help prevent your seeds from washing away in April showers. Just be sure everything is anchored down because April tends to be blustery! Happy gardening!