11 Days of Gardening

May 4, 2009

So, the past 11 days have been chock full of gardening in my spare time.

Satellite Garden

Two weekends ago I spread the five bags of horse manure that I bagged myself and bought and spread 8 bags of cow manure onto the satellite garden.  Usually I go for sheep manure if I buy in bags however I decided to try cow manure this time with the rationale that cows have 4 stomachs to process their food and that, as a result, their manure would have less weed seeds.

Grass and weeds were already starting to grow into the garden beds.  The stuff in the wheelbarrow came from the main beds and doesn’t include the stuff I should have pulled from the edges:

We rented a mid-tine rototiller from a local rental shop for 4 hours.  Not knowing much about rototillers, I decided to go with the popular mid-tine instead of the front- or rear-tine tiller (I think front-tine tillers aren’t as deep or as powerful as the mid- and rear-tine tillers).  Neither my father-in-law or I had ever used one and we didn’t know what to expect when we hauled it over to the garden:

After an initial learning curve, I realized that the slower the tiller goes, the deeper into the ground it tills and the better the soil gets.  You really needed to pull back on the handles so that the tiller didn’t go too far forward too fast.  We were able to till a 16’ x 32’ garden in about 40 minutes.

That lighter and smaller rectangle in the middle of the garden at the back is where the asparagus bed is growing.  I made three passes and the soil was nice and light under my bare feet.  Then my mother-in-law and I spent three hours digging a trench and cleaning up the grass and weeds around the edges.  The garden looks great and I still need to create the walkways and hill up the soil into raised beds.

Kemptville Farmer’s Market (KFM) Meeting

I attended a general information meeting for KFM vendors at the Branch restaurant and the turn out was pretty good:

The meeting was about an hour and there was even a Power Point presentation!  Lots of questions from vendors about vendor fees, incorporation, set-up times and market supplies.  The KFM will start on Sunday, May 31st from 11 – 4 PM in conjunction with the kick-off of the Dandelion Festival and Veg Stock.  It will continue on Sundays from 2 – 4 PM until October.  I had always wondered why the Market was at such an odd time and found out that the organizers wanted to have it on Sunday to distinguish itself from all the Saturday markets in the area.  As well, many of the vendors bake bread and other goods and are too busy in the morning to make it to an early market.

This year vendors will be providing locally grown and produced baked goods, beef, bread, chicken, eggs, fruit, flowers, herbs, lamb, maple products, pakoras, preserves, samosas, sausage, seedlings, vegetables and more.  We were given flyers and magnets to hand out to the public to promote the market.

I signed up to be a one-day vendor on the opening weekend to sell my tomato plants and any other remaining seedlings.  It should be fun!


I’ve also spent a lot of time hardening off all my seedlings (mostly tomatoes, some hot peppers and lettuce and cole crops) in preparation for my upcoming tomato plant sale (May 9th and 16th) and for planting out.  For about a week they spent their days and nights (+4°C or higher) outside under my pop-up tent with mosquito netting to cut down on wind:

Over half of my tomato seedlings were potted up into 4” pots. As you can see there were still some in their 9-pack cells:

This past Saturday was partly cloudy – perfect for introducing them to the full range of elements.  Sunday was full of sun and wind and this morning a few of them had some wind burn and sunscald:

It’s not too bad and the tomatoes will be able to bounce back from my neglectful handling.  My theory is that plants want to grow and, given a chance, they’ll find a way.  Also, this year the tomatoes are a tiny bit leggy, i.e., taller than I would prefer for this point in their growth.  My number one suspect is the emergency heating blanket I used to cover the shelf of tomatoes at night to cut down on light which in turn created a warmer-than-normal environment for them.

I think next year I will start them in the garage with the blankets and lights on at night to keep them warm though not as warm as they were this year in the living room.

They also got a mild dose of organic fish fertilizer this weekendwhen they took a bath in Maui’s new hard plastic kiddy pool.

Home Garden

I finally got around to getting my home garden organized.  I dug up all the weeds and volunteer Ruby Orach (mountain spinach) and used a pitchfork to turn in 7 bags of sheep manure.  I set up a short wire fence around the perimeter to keep Maui out (a fence she’s already jumped – twice).  I re-hammered some nails into the railway ties and used twine to create my square foot garden.  I took down the concrete reinforcement wire that I suspect still has traces of foliar disease from last year’s early blight and replaced it with a plastic garden trellis for all my beans and peas.  I planted some lettuce, onion sets and seed, kale, cauliflower, elephant garlic and peas (finally!) and watered them in their tidy little squares.

Here’s a list of all the seeds I’m currently behind on sowing:  edible flowers, corn (indoors), beets, carrots.

Other Stuff

My husband cut down the aggressive 10 foot tall lilac bush that the previous owners planted less than a foot from the house (why, I’ll never know).  It’s been driving me nuts for the last couple of years by sending up suckers all over the place.  He crammed it into the car and we dumped in his parent’s burn pit.  The space it took up isn’t that big, 4 ‘ x 5 ‘ at the most.  After talking to one of the gardeners at my favourite nursery, Make It Green, I’m looking at a Yellow Bird magnolia or flowering crab apple tree as a replacement.

I put up about 20 posters for my tomato plant sale in Kemptville, Merrickville, Oxford Mills, Spencerville, Heckston, South Mountain,Winchester, Osgoode, Manotick and North Gower.  I also posted on Kijiji and Craigslist and have had good success in reaching interested people in both mediums.

I went to the Ottawa Is Blooming show on the weekend and bought some ceramic tiles of a praying mantis, a rabbit, a cicada and a bee from Rue Royale; a Tub Trub gardening bucket and some garlic spread.

And I’m currently pre-sprouting three types of squash, four watermelon and five cucumbers:

Once they’ve germinated I’ll pot them up into seed starting mix in peat pots for transplant later to the garden after the last frost free date.

Now I have to start making my road and seedling signs and getting all of my vendor supplies together for my plant sale this weekend.  I have to put in walkways in the satellite garden and spread some mulch on the flower beds at home.  Now that the lawn has been de-thatched (thanks to my neighbour’s awesome machine) I can spread the corn gluten meal I bought.  I also need to sow another batch of lettuce and mustard seeds for a continuous supply of greens all summer.

So much to do!


3 Responses to “11 Days of Gardening”

  1. keewee Says:

    You have been very busy. All your toil will pay you in some tasty veggies.

  2. Dan Says:

    Sounds like you have been as busy as I have been. Your tilled satellite garden looks great, nice dark soil. Your tomatoes should be a sell out this year. I went to pick up a few extra seed potatoes and found none. The TSC guy said they can’t keep vegetable related items in stock. I will have to fallow along and start the warm season crops in peat pots as well.

  3. Paolo Says:

    I was surprised to read that you use horse manure, it has so many weeds in it.

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