Monday, February 10, 2020

Midwest Gardening February 2020

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February 2020

Well, gardening in the upper Midwest is still just a dream. 

Here is our pond. Sunlight doesn't even touch this area yet, this photo was taken at 12 Noon today, a sunny day. The sun is still so low, it never creeps over the pitch of the garage. The light you see is the reflection off our huge kitchen windows--bouncing sunlight down on the ground.

And, still we dream of Spring. 

So far we have had little snow and mildish temps. 
Lots of freezing and thawing, rain mixed with snow, then rain again. This week we have a 0 degrees in the forecast and snow---hard to have both, but we will see.

I had to send my two herb planters outside. 
All that was alive was the rosemary and that also began to give up. I will have to totally replace the soil in these, I think all the nutrients were washed out or used up by the exuberance of the plantings, and our constant rain last year.

Planters that have excessive water, literally wash their nutrients out. Think how many times you dumped saucers last year, or gave up on saucers. 

One week ago, Hubby started seeds in the south window of our kitchen. Tomatoes, Chinese Eggplant,  Mixed Peppers all take forever to germinate. But, we had quite a few days of sun this week. Hubby currently uses pellets which I'm not fond of---but they do wick up the moisture and keep the seedlings started.

TIP: I'm not fond of pellets because if you follow directions and transplant them straight into the ground, the roots never break through--and that casing is forever around a root bound plant. We now cut them and totally remove the fabric with a scissors when we transplant into large cups. Usually when the plants are 2-4" high.

Here is our East window. Which gets about 2 hours of sun in the morning--but this increases every day. Eventually we will fill the top of the credenza with more plants and some shelves. 

Yellow Jubilee Tomatoes left and Red Cherry Large.  Then we did a container of broccoli to the right.

It will be another long month before we can plant the different types of squash, chard, and some summer squash, zucchini, pumpkins, and pickles. I'll directly plant lettuces, and onions in planters on the front porch as soon as it begins to warm up in April. Sunflowers will begin in deep cups when we move out to the greenhouse.
You can see we buy seeds from everywhere! 
We have given up on the plastic small greenhouses---it is just too windy here. Last year we draped heavy plastic around two portable scaffolding units, added a couple of shelves and even a heater, as we had planted in the house so early.  

Our spring was so slow in coming, and it was so cold and wet---the new greenhouse just wasn't completed in time to use!

Observation Note: 
We moved here in 1984. The first few years we tilled the garden in March, and had cold plants in the ground (beets, carrots, cabbage, onions) the first weeks of April. 
 The last four years---we have been lucky if we haven't hard-frosted after June 1. I lost all my pumpkin, sunflower, and zucchini mounds to frost that went deep enough they didn't make it up. We had planted the week of the 20th May.

How much has your planting schedule been effected by our changing climate? 

We keep the pellets/pods covered 
until the seedlings, push them off, LOL. 
Hubby checks the moisture each day, and a small amount of water is added when needed.

Crazy, but in one week, broccoli was up! Actually they came up Sunday morning! Cruciferous veggies, like cold temps so the East window should be fine for them.

It's hard to imagine all our vegetables coming from seeds. Any extra plants we have get passed on to family and friends. But it isn't just about vegetables, is it? It was too wet here for large onions, 
so I had to purchase those to make pickle relish! But we had a huge crop of pickles last year.

We plant more than one type of everything. Each variety wants different conditions, so something should be successful.

Soon, I will  start coleus again, only much earlier than last year. I will do a whole tray of these directly into a pan of soil. Then they will be transplanted into large cups, later. 

This is what they grew to, last year, before I found homes for all of them. The tiny pink pots were Icelandic poppies, that really did much. I will see if they managed to survive over the winter, but with the freezing and thawing, I don't have a lot of hope.

2019 Homegrown Coleus, and Hostas (left) started from a package of roots. ($5.97 for 12 starts and they were slow, but if they made the winter, it will be a great savings). I also start Caladiums. Our entire backyard is shady so having those plants really helps the budget.

I also plant trays of marigolds---which go very well with our gold/burgundy home. Besides the BEES love marigolds and they are hearty and last far into the Fall. 

These are my 10-12" high marigolds that spread two feet wide and almost two feet high You are looking at no more than 3 homegrown seed plants. These I will plant in trays of dirt the beginning of April, and they will be ready to transplant into the ground in late May, early June.

2019-Here are transplanted plants in the NEW greenhouse! We really didn't finish the greenhouse early enough to use except at the tail end of 2019 Spring. We will try and move plants out there by April 1st this year, with a quartz heater on in the evenings and a temperature gauge we can watch from inside. 

It's not unusual for a 45 degree day to send the greenhouse to 80-90 degrees or more. We added a  fan and vents in the peaks, screened windows and door, for adjusting the temperature. We will see how it goes, before moving the plants in. Hubby worked very hard wedging all sorts of insulating foam in all the crevices last Fall, we hope it will be tight and work for our Spring season!

I think we will have to go to the Botanic Gardens next week to smell warm earth!!!

What are your gardening plans? 
Are you going to try anything NEW this YEAR?

Thank you for any and all comments.
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