Garden Update and 5×5 Challenge – April 25, 2013

Round 5x5 logo
Sorry for the publishing issues – this post originally published blank, several times.  My apologies. Now, on with the show.
The 5 x 5 Garden Challenge started a few weeks ago, though this is my first week participating.  The main goal of this challenge, according to Chiot’s Run blog, is to learn and encourage gardeners, especially new gardeners.  I haven’t been a new gardener for several years but always enjoy joining other gardeners in a challenge, especially one where you are encouraged instead of being put down or made to feel bad because of inexperience.  (I’ve actually been in that situation as a new gardener in a new-to-me-zone with a plot at a community garden; it actually made me not want to garden that year.)
After some thought I decided to use my new 3 x 8 bed for this challenge.  That puts it at 1 square foot less than a 5 x 5, but even they say to use what you have.  It is also the bed I was planning to put peppers and tomatoes in due to its depth.
The plants Chiot’s Run is planning on planting are: zucchini, tomatoes, scallions, beans, and lettuce.  Perfect.  I don’t normally grow beans but started some this year because I want to have some in the pantry come fall.  We are not huge bean eaters, but that has been changing over the past year.  While I’m not planting scallions I do have onion sets in already planted in the bed I chose to use for this challenge.  (Or is this an interchangeable term, depending  on where you live? like coke/soda/pop?)  Also zucchini seed are started and just appeared this past week and the lettuce seeds are just waiting for another successive planting somewhere.  I’ll add a few here.  I too am planning to plant marigolds and basil.  The marigolds have already been seeded into this bed and I am hoping those are the seedlings I see coming up.
all seedlings 2013
All of the seedlings I currently have under a grow light.
Cilantro seedlings
Cilantro seeds that appeared not quite a week ago.
tomato seedlings 2013 2
Two kinds of tomato seedlings.
zucchini seedlings
Zucchini, which needs planted soon.  From my reading of late I have learned that you should not disturb their roots while transplantings them to the garden.  There is a third one coming up that you can just see in the background starting to poke up out of the soil.  To the right are the bean plants, they are the very thin long plants.
cucumber and tomato seedlings
Cucumber and tomato seedlings the gardeners-in-training planted at a spring event.  These guys even survived having their soil greatly disrupted while on the way home.  I wasn’t even sure they were still in the pots, let along that they would appear.
green onions in raised bed 3
This is what the raised bed looked light tonight.  All the green are onions that are appearing.  Knowing the squirrels used this as their buffet for the first few days I wasn’t sure how many would appear.  After taking a rough estimate I figured there to be about 225 green onions in there.  The plan for these is the freezer for use in beef stews this coming winter.  Pearl onions are expensive at the store but a wonderful addition to a beef stew.
green onions in raised bed
Here is a closer photo of the onions.  There is a big difference in size of the tops that are currently showing.  I’m hoping this means that not all 200+ will be ready at one time.  I planted all the onion sets I had, though I think there would be enough time to do a second planting or to fill in the gaps.  There is enough room in this bed to plant 384 bulbs at 16 plants per square foot – 3′ x 8′ = 24 sq ft x 16 = 384  When I bought the seed sets I bought them buy the pound rather than a certain number per bag.  I was not going to sit there and count 384.  Also, when I planted them I didn’t measure the space between rows or how many I put in each row.  I know that these would be a first crop, with other plants going in while these were still growing or on the way out.  I didn’t need to be exact in my planting.
In other gardening news I ordered a heat pad for my seeds.  There were a few things that lead to this decision.
  • I noticed that my basement, where I have the grow light, was still cold even though it was warm outside.
  • The cells felt cold and wet after I watered them.  Not exactly the best way to grow plants.
  • One of the bean seeds I am trying to start specifically says that it will not grow in cold, wet conditions.  I even soaked these seeds before planting, per instructions, yet nothing has come up.
  • I was hoping this would stimulate other seeds I’ve planted to come up.
  • I had extra money to use on Amazon from gift cards I had earned in the past few months.  I decided to ‘treat’ myself, after buying several things we needed on there (mainly spices this time).
heat pad for seedlings
I plugged the heating pad in earlier this afternoon so I’ll give you an update next week as to how it is going.
raised bed with coversThis is still the squirrel deterrent system I have in place for this bed.  This isn’t going to work once I plant other plants, but it is working for now.  Seeing as I want to put tomatoes and beans along the back row, I can’t do a cover.  I am leaning more towards a border of chicken wire that extends about two feet above the bed edge.  I think this will be tall enough for me to lean over and reach the plants in the middle.  Any other suggestions?
I also plant to add some peppers to this bed.  Now to sit down and write a plan on paper now that I know exactly what I want to do with this area.  Until this past week I had planned to put the beans and zucchini in a different bed.  However, we are planning to have the house repainted and the other bed is right by the house.  I think I will now have to wait and plant this area a bit later than right now.  I’m thinking that area will have more tomato plants and some herbs put in there, as those can grow in pots for a while until the painting gets started and finished.

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