Garden Update

The longer days and warmer weather are great for the garden.

The beets and carrots we planted a couple months ago are almost ready to harvest.

homegrown beets via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U homegrown carrot & beet greens via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U homegrown carrots via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U

Since beets grow partially out of the ground, you can easily tell when they are ready for harvest.  Beets can be picked small or large depending on personal preference.  Beet greens are also edible and are very nutritious as well.  To determine if carrots are ready for harvest, gently brush away the soil near the carrot top to check the carrot size.  Its always a surprise when pulling carrots because you never know whats hidden under the surface.

Our recently planted tomatoes are also growing strong and will hopefully provide us with plenty of tomatoes over the summer.

growing tomatoes via it's jou life - http://wp.me/p3cljj-8U

Each tomato seedling is surrounded by a plastic ring made from recycled 1-gallon water bottles.  This is to keep mulch away from the base of the tomato plant to allow the stem to remain dry and helps to prevent disease.  When watering tomatoes, try to keep the leaves as dry as possible to help prevent blight.  Watering in the morning is also best so it give the leaves time to dry during the day.

Garden Happenings

An update of whats going on in the garden to mark the beginning of spring.

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Lavender, Feverfew and Daffodils.

We planted some flowers around the garden to help attract bees and other beneficial insects.  They also add color and pleasant scents to the garden.  The lavender is currently blooming while the feverfew and daffodils haven’t bloomed yet.

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Lettuce and Spinach.

We had a bunch of extra lettuce seeds, so we decided to try growing baby greens.  We randomly scattered a variety of lettuce seeds and are planning to pick most of them when they are still young.  We will probably leave a few to grow in to full-size lettuce plants for later.  We also have some larger lettuce that we started on the balcony and transplanted in to the garden.  One of our garden friends also gave us some spinach seedlings.  I’ve always thought that spinach didn’t transplant well because of the long tap root, but the spinach seedlings are doing great.

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Blueberry Bushes.

Our blueberry bushes are growing well with lots of berries.  We haven’t planted them in their more permanent planters yet (still under construction) but they seem to be doing great.  The blueberries are slowly ripening so we plan to cover them with bird netting soon to keep the birds for eating all of the fruit.  We have two varieties of blueberries, Sunshine Blue and Bountiful Blue, both of which have low-chill requirements since it doesn’t get that cold at the garden.  Blueberries also produce more fruit when two different varieties can cross-pollinate.

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Kale, Beets and Carrots.

The kale plants are ready for another harvest and the beets and carrots are growing nicely.  Remember to keep the carrots and beets evenly watered to produce the best roots.

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Strawberry Tower, Strawberry Flower and Baby Strawberry.

The strawberry plants are doing great in the strawberry tower.  There are lots of strawberry flowers and baby strawberries growing so we are eagerly awaiting our first strawberry harvest!

There are still a few garden tasks that need to be completed before we are ready for summer vegetable planting.  We need to finish construction of the redwood blueberry planters (details coming soon!) as well as construction of the tomato and cucumber trellises.  We also need to finalize our garden plan for the summer and figure out what sorts of vegetables we are going to be growing.

Carrots and Beets: Hidden Treats

Recently we planted some carrots and beets in the garden.  Both are very easy to grow and its always exciting to harvest root vegetables since you never know whats hidden under the surface.

Carrots & Beets: Hidden Treats - http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/carrots-and-beets-hidden-treats/ Carrots & Beets: Hidden Treats - http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/carrots-and-beets-hidden-treats/Carrots & Beets: Hidden Treats - http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/carrots-and-beets-hidden-treats/
Carrot and beet seeds.

We planted two types of carrots, Long Imperator and Kuroda just to have some variety.  All carrots pretty much grow the same way with slight variations in carrot length and thickness.

Carrots & Beets: Hidden Treats - http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/carrots-and-beets-hidden-treats/ Carrots & Beets: Hidden Treats - http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/carrots-and-beets-hidden-treats/ Carrots & Beets: Hidden Treats - http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/carrots-and-beets-hidden-treats/
Carrot planting process.

Carrots are best direct seeded in the garden since they don’t transplant well (the long tap root that eventually forms the carrot is very delicate and tends to get damaged during transplanting).  To plant the carrot seeds, we first loosened the soil and removed anything that might impede carrot growth (rocks, branches, etc.) so the carrots could grow long and straight.  Then we made shallow (1/4 inch) trenches using the edge of a hand trowel for the seeds.  After the trenches were made, we sprinkled carrot seeds in to each row trying to keep the spacing between seeds about 1 inch.  Its better to seed slightly heavier and then thin the seedlings later in case some of the seeds don’t sprout.  Then we covered the seeds gently and very lightly tamped the soil to keep the seeds from washing away when we watered.

Beets were planted in the same way, but the spacing between beet seeds was 3-4 inches since beets get much larger than carrots.  Also, while each carrot seed contains only one “seed”, beet seeds actually contain a couple “seeds”.  So don’t plant beets too close together since the majority of the seeds planted will sprout (at least one beet seedling).  Beets can also be transplanted so if there are bare areas where seeds didn’t sprout, you can transplant seedlings as you thin out crowded areas.

Avoid planting carrots and beets in fresh manure or incomplete compost.  The vegetables will grow “hairy” roots and flavor may be affected.  Always mix the compost with the soil well and allow to age for a little while before planting carrots and beets.

After planting, remember to water the seeds gently to make sure they don’t wash away.  The seeds have to be kept moist, but not wet, to have good sprouting.  Overly wet soil will cause the seeds to rot and seeds in dry soil will never sprout.

Carrots & Beets: Hidden Treats - http://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/carrots-and-beets-hidden-treats/
Carrot (back) and Beet (front) seedlings.

After the seeds have sprouted and the first set of true leaves (leaves that look like miniature versions of full-grown leaves) have appeared, you can thin the carrots to be 2-3 inches apart and the beets to be 3-4 inches apart.  Beets can be harvested when young for baby beets or you can wait till they are full grown for larger beets.  Beet greens can also be eaten so don’t throw them out!  You can check carrot growth by gently brushing away the soil near the base of the carrot tops to check on the size of the carrot, but its always a surprise on how long the carrot is.  Remember to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season to help prevent cracking carrots and you will be rewarded with delicious hidden treats.