Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Whether it's Cold or Whether it's Hot...

...We Shall Have Weather, Whether or Not!

You know, Colorado weather is many things, but boring is not one of them!

So... let's see here. Where to begin. Our spring snow melted off quickly, and the weather turned beautiful again... well, mostly beautiful! We have had a bit of sever weather...

You'll have to pardon my mutterings at the end of the video - I fear I'm too lazy to figure out how to edit them out.

Anyhow, I'm feeling lucky in terms of the hail because neighborhoods a few miles north and west of me got absolutely clobbered with hail stones that were baseball sized!

Other than that little adventure, it's been mostly gorgeous.

Random shot from a bike ride last week

And I seem to have gotten my gardening mojo back a bit.

I planted radishes for the first time this year, and I have to call it a huge success!

They were super easy, and I'm already harvesting a few!

Turns out I LOVE radishes! You can eat them either raw or cooked - and the greens are edible too!

I haven't planted anything other than the "cool weather" stuff yet... which is probably a good thing because, get this, we're expecting more snow later this week! Oy!

I probably shouldn't complain since we need the moisture, but honestly, I am ready for summer. But in the meantime...

The snow peas are looking good, though they haven't bloomed yet.

Snow peas
I've been harvesting green onions for months now. They're going to seed, but still taste good. I've kept this batch alive for 10 years now. When I dig up a clump, I separate them and re-plant the smallest ones. As long as they have roots attached they'll take hold and keep growing & spreading.

Green Onions (with a few catnip invaders!)

The garlic patch has been totally invaded by grass and creeping bellflower. I haven't tried to dig any up yet, so we'll see how it goes. I don't have a great track record with garlic!

garlic patch

I wintered the rosemary over by keeping it in a Wall-O-Water. Just took it off a few days ago, and it seems to have weathered fine. I'm thinking I should probably cover it up again what with the snow coming!

Rosemary looking a bit scraggly but not too bad.

I kept frost cloth over the greens all spring - not because of the cold, but in an attempt to keep the leaf miners from laying their eggs on them.

Covered greens.

In terms of keeping the bugs off, it seems to have worked OK

Chard and Spinach

However, the spinach doesn't handle the crazy temperature swings very well, and most of it has bolted after putting on only a few leaves. Sigh.

Spinach starting to bolt.

BTW - my attempt at growing indoor spinach was a complete bust. The LED grow lights turned out not to be powerful enough, and when I moved it to the window sill Smoky ate it all. Gah!

And speaking of Gah! Here's my asparagus patch...

Asparagus fail!

What? You say you don't see any asparagus? Just some volunteer chives and a few sprigs of bindweed trying to take over. I know! Not sure what I'm doing wrong, but I'm about to throw in the towel with this stuff. I even caved and bought a dozen more sets of roots this year, but only two of them sprouted (which you can see scant evidence of in this photo.) Perhaps I'm just not meant to grow asparagus!

Anyhow, the only other thing I've planted is a garbage bag of potatoes.

Potato experiment
This is a bit of an experiment. I've had mixed luck with growing potatoes for a combination of reasons. Our soil is mostly clay, so I think that gives them some trouble, and I haven't found a good way to properly mound them as they grow. Sooo... in theory, growing them in bags lets you add prepared soil rather than clay, and it's easier to mound. Plus, you don't have to (ahem) worry about destroying half of them as you harvest.

I've tried container potatoes before, but I over watered them, so I cut some nice drainage holes in the bottom of the bag, and I'm gonna be more careful this time. We shall see...

So that's the news from the Mile High city! Have you planted anything yet?


  1. Everything is growing well here, lettuce is about to finish up, it's too hot to keep it going.
    I remember the short growing season in Colorado.

    1. Gardening is definitely a challenge in Colorado! Hope you're enjoying your lettuce.

  2. If you have heavy clay soil have you ever considered straw bale gardening? You buy bales of straw - not hay. Set them cut side uppermost. Prime them with fertilizer and water. Then plant directly in the straw bales. There are good directions online. Straw bales decay and you can then dig them into the clay soil, adding organic matter and improving soil texture.

    Can also dig in gypsum, which flocculates - fancy word, means fine particles of clay clump up together, improving drainage. Just make sure you use generous amounts of gypsum or it won't work.

    Get used coffee grounds - Starbucks gives them away, ask at local diner, whatever. Good organic matter, earthworks love coffee grounds (who knew, maybe they are caffeine addicts?)

    1. Straw bale gardening... never heard of it, but I am intrigued. I will confess though, that it makes me nervous. I've tried straw as a mulch before and ended up with sprouts of hay everywhere! Perhaps I need to find a better source.

      Adding gypsum is an interesting idea - I'll have to see if I can find some. I've added literally tons of organic matter to the soil over the years - it's really rather incredible, it just sorta disappears, and barely makes a dent in the clay. My dad once filled a 5 foot deep pit with wood chips thinking it would create wonderful soil - in a year or so, it was all clay again!

      My stepmom collects grounds from Starbucks, so maybe I'll join her next time.

      Thanks for the tips! Perhaps it's time for another truckload of compost. :-)

  3. If your "straw" sprouted then it wasn't straw. from Wikipedia: "Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal plants, after the grain and chaff have been removed."

    Organic matter needs constant replenishment. Consider - I live where trees are the plant community and one acre of deciduous woodland drops a ton to a ton and a half of leaves and litter Every. Year. So if you are adding organic matter to your clay soil it is an on-going process. It is consumed / used up / replenished.

    The problem with a pit of wood chips is that they are carbon-rich, low in nitrogen. Nitrogen is needed to break down carbon material such as cardboard, autumn eaves, shredded newspaper, wood chips, straw. Nitrogen is found in green material (weeds, as long as no seeds), urine, dried blood and nitrate of soda fertilizers.

    Mix together and stir it up, keep as damp as a wrung out kitchen sponge. "Prime the pump" with a shovel full or two of good rich soil loaded with the micro-organisms that decay your materials into compost.

    Sorry about the thesis length reply. It's something I find fascinating. And important.

    1. No worries. I'm a fellow composting freak, so I'm well versed in the art of mixing browns and greens - I was speaking more to the texture of the soil than the nutrients. But seriously, I generally add 6-8 inches of organic matter, manure, and complst each year, and it honestly hasn't made much of a dent in the soil texture. Perhaps adding sand or gypsum would be more helpful in that respect.

      And I don't know what's up with the straw, but my neighbors have had the same experience. It may be that the local source of straw is selling primarily to horse owners who use it for bedding, so they're not terribly concerned about the seeds? I dunno, but it's definitely straw and not hay. Perhaps one just needs to be more thorough with the hoeing and weeding than I generally am! :-)

  4. Did you have any of your hail house up during this? I don't remember exactly what you did with the structure. Otherwise, your plants look good so the varying weather must not be bothering them too much.

    As far as worms liking coffee grounds, my father used to grow night crawlers for fishing and gardening. He buried a refrigerator in the backyard and filled it with dirt and coffee grounds. We used to dump coffee grounds in there all the time. At that point in time, there was no place around to get them like Starbucks, but my parents and neighbors did drink a lot of coffee.

    1. The hail house stays up year round, and it performed well... except that there really isn't much planted there yet - just the radishes. I usually put the bigger plants in there - tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, etc. Mothers's Day is generally the target date for planting here, but I'm glad I wasn't on the ball on that one since they're saying 4-6 inches of snow tomorrow night!

      Anyhow, my brain is spinning trying to imagine a buried refrigerator. Seriously?!? Was this a running refrigerator? I'm totally confused!

  5. If it makes you feel better, our fluctuating temps have also affected our lettuce and spinach. Boo. My husband has been trying to get some asparagus established for a few years now--we had one very skimpy serving of them (4 people) a couple of weeks ago. Clearly we won't survive on THAT harvest! I'm sure you'll enjoy some good veggies this summer--glad you like radishes, I hate them! Tastes like ... burning ...

    1. Well, if you feel like trying radishes again, try cooking them, it does away with that burning taste! :-)

  6. You certainly do have crazy weather! Did you cover up the green onions over winter? I might have to try that. So far I've only grown them from sets. And I've never hosted the garlic the boyfriend's mom gave me so now it's invading the lawn. Maybe this year will be the year.

    I planted several pots of flowers, herbs, onions and spinach a couple weeks ago. I was ticked because some critter up turned all my planted pots, but in the end it doesn't seem to have hurt them as they're sprouting now. I'm excited as it's the most I've planted in awhile. I just need to do tomatoes, peppers and zucchini now.

    1. I don't cover the onions over the winter - the tops die back a bit, but they've survived -20 so I figure they're pretty hardy!

      I haven't planted any of the warm weather stuff yet, and it turns out that's a good thing since we've just had another snow storm. Oy!

      And drat those critters for upending your pots! I had some seedlings in pots and the squirrels dug them all up! Not sure if they were trying to get at the seeds, or burying nuts there, or if it was because the pots were under the birdfeeder and they were looking for stray sunflower seeds. It's always something! :-)


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