Gardening Season Has Begun: Some tips and tricks

Winter is not coming. Winter is over. Now it is time to shape up the garden.

Protect: I inspected for caterpillars, weeded and found a slug! It was really gross since I touched it while weeding. We’ve had a few slug attacks at this house in the past. To protect from slugs I do a border of used coffee grounds around the plot and toss a few among the plants as well. In addition to slug protection the coffee provides nitrates into the soil.  I also made a blanket of pine needles for the winter cabbage to keep the weeds down. The pine needles make the cabbage look so cute!

wpid-20150315_104720.jpg

Transplant:  Remember the grocery store green onion post? Well after a few harvests inside, I was determined to get more life from these plants. So, I’ve planted them as a pest border in my garden. Green onions can be planted as a companion to most plants to deter bad insects but do not pair well with peas or beans. I planted the onions approximately 2 inches apart around a 2′ by 2′ section of my 4′ by 4′ plot (the remainder of the plot has cabbages). In the center of the 2′ by 2′ section I’ve planted two rows of beet seeds. I do not expect all the onions to transplant well, but most of them will survive and be my first line of pest defense.

wpid-20150315_104504.jpg          wpid-20150315_104714.jpg

Potting Prep: Normally we use the Lowes brand of basket fiber liner for our wire pots (you can see them hanging in the background). However having no excess liner on hand this past Sunday and being reluctant to go to Lowes, we’re going to try something new.  My boyfriend used the pine needles from our yard to line this wire basket and I can’t wait to see if it will work. The basket will be planted with lettuce once the extremely wet soil dries out a little.

wpid-20150316_185143.jpg

Roof top garden: Another big concern with our garden is that everything has to be above our dog’s pee height, which is about 2-3 ft off the ground. The height constraint has made us use creative garden planning. In the image below you can see that we use his dog house as a rooftop garden. In the background there are potted plants on various pot holders and throughout the yard we have a number of metal supports for hanging plants.

wpid-20150315_111506.jpg

Creative Ideas:  Shown below is the 4′ by 4′ plot during last year’s summer planting season with a few of our hanging baskets. On the right is the old juicer repurposed as a pot and hung from the fence.

DSCF4232          DSCF4216

Seeds that were planted outside before last frost date are lettuce, spinach, parsley, cilantro, basil, beets, oregano, and a few pansies that we bought at the store. The seeds that were started indoors will be planted when the weather gets warmer.  Most of the seeds are from the heirloom seeds supplier http://www.seedsavers.org

Regrow Green Onions at Home

Green Onions!!!!! are one of my favorite foods. Did you know that you can grow the grocery store green onions in your own home? Simply buy a bunch or two, cut from 1-1/2 inch from the roots, and plant.

First option is to grow in a glass (or wine glass for aesthetic reasons) with less than 1/2 inch of water. If you do not add any plant food, you will get 1-2 sets of new growth before it wilts. I have used indoor plant food (just a tiny bit) or coffee grounds (a pinch) to feed my onions and results are better.  I’ve also used left over flower food that they attach to bouquets.  It is easy to flood the onions and cause mold. If you’re just trying it out, I’d go with minimal water and monitor closely to refill. If you are lazy and will forget, just make sure only the roots are covered with water. The image shown below is the first growth after the initial cut.

wpid-20150218_190720.jpg

Another option is to plant the green onions into a pot. I used a mix of potting soil left over from the summer and some of our compost, with a few extra coffee grounds on top. I then punched a hole with my finger, put in the onion with the top exposed and pushed dirt around the plant so that the onion was tucked in nicely. Shown below are the onions after first new growth from the original cut. Half of the onions were harvested for last night’s burritos.

I have also planted the onions outside with GREAT success in cooler weather; they last a few weeks past first frost. Green onions do not do so well in the humidity of summer though, and will wilt quickly. Over time the base of the onion will form into a bulb and these are easy to replant anywhere needed.

wpid-20150219_072441.jpg

More information on the green onion: http://www.food.com/library/green-onion-363

I’ve also had mediocre success with replanting romaine lettuce.  Cut the bottom 1-inch up and plant in a glass until new growth is 3-4 inches, then plant outside. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as the green onions because results are slower.

Also check out this post on growing your own garlic from store bought: http://aquaberrybliss.com/2015/01/10/sprouting-garlic/