Spring Garden Update

Spring In the Orchard 2013

Green, green, everywhere green.  Ahhhh, the color of spring.  I’m always amazed at how quickly our trees in the orchard transition from winter to spring.  In just a matter of a few months, our orchard woke up from its winter slumber, blossoms burst onto the scene then partnered with our new honey bees and blue orchard bees to create this season’s fruit set, then exploded into lush green.  The process is just so incredible if you think about it.

This past month, Hubby and I have been busy trying to keep up with our orchard’s comings and goings, it’s been challenging to find time to sit down at the computer and write. To be honest, this is the first chance I’ve had to tell you about all of this wonderful goodness. We are truly blessed.

In May, when the harvest season begins, our “busy-ness” (hmm) will be amped up to another level as we enter into a race with the birds to see who gets to what fruit first.  There’s a new plan of attack we’ve devised this year, so may the best man, woman, or (uh hum) bird win!

I may have mentioned in a previous post that I will be doing my best to preserve some of our fruit bounty this fruit season.  There appears to be more than enough fruit for our own consumption and storage that I’m certain I will be sending visitors home with a basketful of organic goodies 🙂

Summer Veggies Seedlings

In addition to our orchard tasks, Hubby and I are gearing up to grow an assortment of summer veggies and herbs this year.  Our selected veggies and herbs are:

  • Basil (Lemon, Emily)
  • Borage
  • Eggplant (Listada di Gandia, Rosa Bianca)
  • Onion, scallion type (Evergreen Bunching, Red of Florence)
  • Squash, Summer (Zucchini-Fordhook, Yellow Straightneck, Scallop-Benning’s Green)
  • Squash, Winter (Acorn – Table Queen, Butternut – Waltham)
  • Tomatoes, cherry/grape (Juliet, Green Grape, Yellow Pear)
  • Tomato (Stupice)
  • Tomatillo (Verde)

We will also be experimenting with a few greens and micro-greens ( the desert heat is not kind to greens, so most will be grown indoors and under shade cloth)…

  • Arugula (Wild Rocket)
  • Beet (Chioggia, Detroit Red, Golden)
  • Lettuce (Rocky Top Mix, Red Romain)
  • Pak Choy (more of a cool weather green)
  • Swiss Chard (Rainbow)

And finally…. summer isn’t officially summer without some awesome watermelons!

  • Moon and Stars (Yellow Flesh)
  • Sugar Baby

In preparation for the summer growing season, the seedlings I started in mid-February have already been successfully hardened off and moved to a holding area outside.

Seedlings_1

As I carefully moved each plant to their temporary home,  I was overwhelmed by how unbelievably fast our seedlings have grown.  My wonderful inexpensive plant growing shelf unit hubby built, at a moment’s notice I might add, in conjunction with a grow light equipped with eight T5 lights made this possible!  Thank you sweetie 🙂

SummerVeggiePlants_4Now with a great deal of empty “plant growing shelf space” on my hands I started another wave of summer veggie seedlings (of course).  This time, I moved away from using a premixed organic potting soil mix and an assortment of plastic containers and opted to use soil blocks instead with our own special blend of organic soil and fertilizer ingredients.

SoilBlocks_1SoilBlocks_2

Look at the squash go!  Grow baby grow.SoilBlocks_3

Notice the little flag in the photo above?  I made this simple little “toothpick flag” to help keep me organized while I seeded my blocks.  It never fails.  You’re in the middle of seeding blocks only to be called away for something or another then when you return, you struggle to find the last seed you dropped in.  Some seeds are very small and dark and blend with the soil.  Gently slipped in between two blocks, the toothpick flag makes a handy little reminder of what block to seed next.  🙂

To make our soil blocks, I used these nifty devices.SoilBlockMaker

Some of the advantages of using soil blocks include…

  • Environmentally friendly way to start seeds (toss out the plastic containers)
  • Greatly reduces (if not eliminates) plant transplant shock
  • Can grow more seedlings in a smaller space

This will be my first time using this method to start seeds, so I’ll be sure to give you an update on our progress.

Until next time… eat healthy, grow something and keep a smile on your face.

God Bless!

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