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Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

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Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 1/30/2017, 4:10 pm

Since the last of my Persephone days was the other day, sunny I’m starting my new gardening year thread. This will be my third year of square foot gardening, and come mid-April, my second on this forum (so I don’t think it makes sense to keep posting under Introduce Yourself. More people with similar growing conditions should be able to find my posts under MidAtlantic than under introductions.)

My garden will be getting a little bigger this year. More plants...more beetles! I expect it won’t be much more work because I learned a lot last year (thanks everyone!), and think I can be more efficient about things. But I'll still be learning -- and sharing whatever information I can to help others.
 
lots o It may be winter, but I still have garden things going on. There’s planning and ordering/trading seeds, of course.  And there are parsnips and leeks that I haven’t harvested yet, and collards. I’ve also been experimenting with winter growing and covers, so I have small amounts of other vegetables that I’m “studying.” I’ll be starting my onion and leek seeds soon, and my celeriac seeds not long after that.

I’ve come up with several garden maps that work for me, but I suspect would be too complicated to share, especially if I try to simultaneously display my succession planning. This is the best representation I’ve come up with... but the garden, especially the upper-right portion, isn’t actually to-square somehow - the X’d squares aren’t there. And my paths aren’t actually integers of 1ft. The extra space in the upper left isn’t as big as it looks. The non-gridded beds with thinner outlines are my old-style SFG beds (i.e. compost amended, not raised, but SFG-spacing)
The green on the outside is lawn, and the light brown around the outside is the bottom/edge of the concrete driveway, and the walkway that leads to the deck. Here’s the key for the vegetables; the un-shown succession planting plans mostly involve greens:
Red – Tomatoes (14 of them, variable spacing of 1-4sf per plant, with basil and carrots interplanted)   
Orange – Carrots, parsnips, carrot-family herbs (cilantro, parsley, etc.)        
Yellow – Alliums (garlic, onions, green onions); succession unplanned since I don’t yet have a good feel for the harvest-timing on these
Light Green – lettuce, spinach, other greens, herbs    
Olive green – Brassicas (lots of different kinds, spring/fall successions, with beet and greens successions mixed in); clustered because hoop houses go over these to protect from voracious cabbage butterfly babies.       
Blue – Legumes: peas (including chick) and beans (inc. fava, soy,&runner)
Light purple – Peppers(Cool, ground cherries(10), tomatillos (2)    
Dark purple – Eggplants(6)     
Pink – Okra(Cool   
Peach – Curcubits: Winter Squash, Vining zucchini, Cukes (spring and winter radishes interplanted)
Dark Gray – Chinese artichokes(12) (a tuberous plant in the mint family)   
Brown – Jerusalem artichokes (5-6) (a tuberous plant in the sunflower family)    
White - Flowers

I also have 8 sub-irrigated planters, several 5-gallon buckets, and other assorted containers, a ~3x3 strawberry bed, and a 1x4 bed under the gutterline (oops.)
 
Although my story is by no means contiguous (I post all over the place), my thread from my first year on the forum is back here:
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t20463p100-gardening-in-central-pennsylvania
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/30/2017, 10:12 pm

Wow!  Lots of veggies!
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  sanderson on 1/31/2017, 4:23 am

Wonderful! Very Happy

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/3/2017, 10:01 pm

Today (indoors) I sowed my seeds for:
Onions: Stuttgarter, Rossa di Toscana, Valencia, Cipollini
Zebrune shallots
Leeks: American Flag, King Richard, Dawn Giant, and the offspring of a pair of Megaton (hybrid) leeks that overwintered (I know it's a hybrid, so the offspring may not be awesome, but the bees worked so hard it seemed a shame to ignore the resulting seeds.)
and Green Onions: Evergreen Bunching, White Lisbon, and Crimson Forest
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/4/2017, 12:21 am

I will be paying attention to you here....last year was my first year to do onions, so I grew green bunching onions....sowed 16, 3 germinated, 2 survived.  I let them go all year long, and they turned into Franken onions...pitched em.  

Think I will try some from starts if I have room.   tongue
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/4/2017, 9:54 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:I will be paying attention to you here....last year was my first year to do onions, so I grew green bunching onions....sowed 16, 3 germinated, 2 survived.  I let them go all year long, and they turned into Franken onions...pitched em.  

Think I will try some from starts if I have room.   tongue
My first year I direct seeded two squares of green onions in June - White Lisbon; good germination, but they took a while to attain much size.
Second (i.e. last) year my direct seeded green onions totally failed, including the new seeds I'd purchased. My 'real' onions: some worked, but all were too small for my liking.
This year I'm:
 - starting the onions 3 weeks earlier, in the hopes that will be enough to get them to a better size.
 - trying to start the green onions indoors
 - trying other leek varieties. I'm not unhappy with American Flag as a winter leek, so it's my main planting, but I do want to try other kinds, including getting some Liege Giant Winter once I run out of AF seeds. I had issues with Dawn Giant germinating indoors last year; King Richard is new to me; the original Megaton I got seeds from I'd purchased as seedlings. All of those three are summer/fall leeks, not intended for overwintering. But I'm really, really curious to see what I'll get from the F2 seeds from the Megaton that overwintered anyhow.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  trolleydriver on 2/4/2017, 10:56 am

Beetles ... I really liked your color coded garden map. You have a lot of squares! Very Happy

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/4/2017, 12:48 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:Beetles ... I really liked your color coded garden map. You have a lot of squares! Very Happy
Thanks, TD! I wish more of the squares got more sun... but I'm not unhappy with what I have.  Very Happy
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/4/2017, 7:05 pm

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture has a Farming for the Future conference close to where I live. https://www.pasafarming.org

It's been running the past few days. The speakers and workshops look interesting, but the price is rather steep for a home gardener. BUT they had free passes for the tradeshow! So I went to that. There was a table for a company that sells home-mushroom growing equipment. I didn't get anything, but I do want to grow mushrooms (on purpose) someday. I picked up information on bumblebee nesting boxes and other native bee boxes. I learned about a new invasive insect that is, so far, only in a few counties southeast of me.
http://extension.psu.edu/pests/spotted-lanternfly

I found the table for the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and they were selling seeds. I managed to limit myself to three packets only because I've already got most of my planning done and ordering planned. I got pepper seeds, but I already planned all my pepper squares. I'm going to have to get some more 5-gallon buckets! I also re-discovered a local garden shop that soft-opened sometime last year. They will be having free workshops on things like hydroponics and compost tea; I hope some of them are compatible with my schedule! From them I picked up seed labels and the Teaming with Nutrients book! And I noted that they have seeds for an interesting parsnip variety, was it Cobham Marrow?, that I could purchase should my year-old Turga parsnip seeds be persnickety about germinating.

Thursday, I started some greens in my second Aerogarden: Marvel of 4 Seasons lettuce, Flashy Butteroak lettuce, frilly mustard (I think...), rocket, watercress, and edible chrysanthemum greens. Everything except maybe the watercress seeds has germinated (they're soooo smalll, who can tell?)

Yesterday I found a book scorpion in the office, and I am delighted! I've wanted to meet one, and having one as a resident is nifty! They are predators, and very small - only a few millimeters in size - harmless to humans. They strike me as both vaguely terrifying, and adorable at the same time. I've named him/her Chad. I hope he/she likes to eat fungus gnats.

I replaced my spray bottle today - the mister on my old one mine broke. I got that lovely potting mix smell when I got home and misted my onion/leek seed-starting trays!

A new lifeform, sprouting seeds, potting mix aroma, a new garden book! I'm bouncing off the walls! weeee weeee weeee weeee weeee weeee
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  trolleydriver on 2/4/2017, 8:40 pm

Book Scorpion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-63JgNPB5jg

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/4/2017, 9:04 pm

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  sanderson on 2/7/2017, 3:31 pm

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote: I learned about a new invasive insect that is, so far, only in a few counties southeast of me.
http://extension.psu.edu/pests/spotted-lanternfly
It's such a pretty pest. Sad

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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/8/2017, 4:54 pm

The carrots I tried to pull in the fall were pitiful. Inedibly tiny. It wasn't even that they grew big tops and no roots - they were just all runts. (My plan for improving things this year is 'start sooner' and 'water more.') I was so disappointed that I didn't even bother to try to clean up the beds they were in.

Today, it was warm enough that I put my garden gloves on, instead of my winter gloves, for pulling plastic back over my winter gardening (Thursday night will not be warm - about 15*F low.) I don't play in the dirt or MM with the winter gloves, but since I was wearing the garden gloves I absently/annoyed-ly grabbed one of the carrot stubbles to clear it away. WHAT? There's a real carrot attached!?!


Well, that one forgot the carrots were boycotting me! I wonder if there are more out there...
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/8/2017, 5:05 pm

NICE carrot!!!  Let us know how it tastes.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/8/2017, 7:13 pm

Jeez!  That carrot is BOSS!  Danvers?  Looks delish!
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/8/2017, 7:21 pm

I feel like I need to do something special with it, and I'm not sure if it will be woody and need a stew.

I didn't grow any Danvers. I think I put the Red-Cored Chantenay only in the OSFG. It's clearly not Purple Sun or Parisian. I sowed Scarlet Nantes, too, but I *think*, based on where I pulled that from, that it's more likely a Long Imperator #58.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  CitizenKate on 2/8/2017, 7:32 pm

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:The carrots I tried to pull in the fall were pitiful. Inedibly tiny. It wasn't even that they grew big tops and no roots - they were just all runts. (My plan for improving things this year is 'start sooner' and 'water more.') I was so disappointed that I didn't even bother to try to clean up the beds they were in.

Today, it was warm enough that I put my garden gloves on, instead of my winter gloves, for pulling plastic back over my winter gardening (Thursday night will not be warm - about 15*F low.) I don't play in the dirt or MM with the winter gloves, but since I was wearing the garden gloves I absently/annoyed-ly grabbed one of the carrot stubbles to clear it away. WHAT? There's a real carrot attached!?!

Well, that one forgot the carrots were boycotting me! I wonder if there are more out there...

Hahaha!!! I love surprises like that. I haven't come close to mastering carrots yet, but a couple of gardening friends have told me you can leave your carrots out for the winter if they weren't very big by fall.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/8/2017, 7:53 pm

I assume, covered?  Or no?
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/10/2017, 1:01 am

SR - Nope! Besides an inconsequential sprinkling of leaves they've been uncovered because I'd basically given up on them!

CK - It was definitely a nice surprise! I'm glad to know I can in fact grow carrots in my garden, even if I have a few wrinkles to work out vs timing.

My onions and leeks are sprouting, and the green onion seeds and just starting to germinate - except for the Crimson Forest Bunching Onions from Baker Creek. I couldn't get them to germinate last year, but thought it was maybe too hot, or me doing something else wrong. Now that the other two varieties of green onion are germinating, and all the onions/leeks, including older seeds, I'm starting to think I got a bad batch. There's even mold/fungus threads erupting from off of some of them.

I got my Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage seeds soaked (not necessary, but I do it anyhow) and sown tonight.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/10/2017, 1:04 pm

What are those little different colored caps with the hold in them for?  Or are those seeds soaking?  If seeds, not very many, eh?
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/10/2017, 1:41 pm

Yes, caps for soaking seeds; different colors so I don't have to label (purple for purple sprouting broccoli, gold for golden acres cabbage, red for red express cabbage, etc.) Yeah, not very many seeds - just enough for 8 squares. Cabbage and broccoli are cheap here and I don't have a big/separate freezer. I'll do another succession or two of the cabbage and broccoli in the fall. I haven't figured out the timing on Brussels sprouts yet, so I don't want to spend much space on plants that don't yield. Some of my ground cherries were bigger than my spring B-sprouts ever got last year, and the fall plants never got more than a few inches tall - I guess they are still out there if they didn't freeze to death.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/11/2017, 5:54 pm

Most of the 6-8" of snow from Wednesday/Thursday has already melted. My garden paths are all mucky. It was already over 47*F by 8:30am. I got the plastic in the garden pinned back up for ventilation just as the sun turned the corner of the house and started shining on the garden. One of my zebra grass 'hoops' had shifted under the weight of the snow. Not enough to crush anything, but enough to make me aware I need to knock the snow off the tunnel when it accumulates. In retrospect I'm shocked at how well the zebra grass stems are holding up, and excited at not having to buy something to do this tunnel thing again next year.

This afternoon I went out and peeked under the Agribon30 covers in my garden. The mustards and rocket arugula look really good. The wild arugula turned red. It doesn't look dead, but it doesn't look awake. The cilantro plant looked unexpectedly good. I didn't know that was a overwintering/low-tunnel sort of plant. It would be nice to have cilantro in the winter next year. I wish I knew which variety it was -- it was a volunteer, possibly even the volunteer offspring of a volunteer, and I don't think I wrote down which of the three varieties I planted where my first year growing. I guess I should replant these coriander seeds I saved rather than eating them. The minutina didn't look as lush I expected given how cold-tolerant it is touted as being -- but it could be that it just didn't like being transplanted, especially so late in the year.

Most of the broccoli are dead. The surviving cabbages may yet make something of themselves. One of my four remaining winter radishes died. I'm wondering if the melted cabbage worm I found just outside the cover had something to do with it - maybe damaged the growing point too much. The rutabegas and turnips are a loss. I think they just didn't get big enough before it got too cold/dark. The scattered surviving beets look good on top, but I don't think they've bulbed up yet. They have some time yet before they need to make way for the new plants. I think the mint may yet survive. It looks bad, but I think I can made out little clusters of non-desiccated leaves. I should have put the pots under cover sooner. 

The uncovered collards (Flash and Champion) did better this year than last, but the kale (Siberian and White Russian) fared worse. The komatsuna, mache, and claytonia don't seem to have noticed that it's been winter.   

I dug around in one of the purple sun carrot squares and found some carrots. They averaged small finger sized. One was rotted. The smaller ones have cracks. A few reasonable sized ones. I could also see the tops of orange carrots in some of the other squares. They look larger than the purple suns, but probably not as big as the monster I pulled the other day. My conclusion is that purple sun is not a good overwintering carrot in my climate.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/11/2017, 10:34 pm

Did Kaleidoscope carrots.  Never again.  Tendersweet and Sugar Snax. Until proven otherwise.  Those colored carrots...not so much.  Just not sweet.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/20/2017, 10:15 pm

I sowed my parsley and celeriac seeds before the weekend. The recent nice weather has allowed me lots of garden time. I haven’t made efficient use of it, because I keep getting distracted, poking at this, and thinking about that, being distracted by nature. A pair of bluebirds came to check out the elm tree by the garden. I think they were inspecting a woodpecker hole as a possible nesting site. The red-wing blackbirds have started calling. The spring spiders are hopping around. The flies are stirring. I even briefly saw a single honeybee. I think I found the green nubbins of a tulip and some for crocuses.

When the wind collapsed one of my wagon hoop houses I’d assumed the PVC plastic had cracked – not the case. With it being warm enough to actually look at things I can now see that the wind was strong enough that the metal screw actually SHEARED.

I’ve opened up the strawberry bed, which was mulched and then covered with Agribon. The strawberry plants looked ok, but the bed was riddled with vole tunnels. I moved the plastic off the hoop houses and onto the beds to try to lock in some of this unseasonable warmth.

I spent time cleaning up the beds – weeding, removing plants that didn’t survive overwintering, removing slugs and slug eggs, adding grids to my new beds, harvesting carrots, and most of the parsnips and leeks. I even got one of the metal trellis frames up for peas/tomatoes.

I filled a ‘new’ (OSFG to ANSFG) 4x8 bed with MM. It may be my final additional raised bed for the year. The place where I’d put another is likely to be targeted by the elm tree’s roots, and I don’t  want to do an elevated bed there. I checked a slightly more distant bed for root incursion and didn’t find anything significant, but I figure it’s just a matter of time.

I’m tired and sore, but happy.
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Re: Gardening in Central Pennsylvania, 3rd year SFG

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/22/2017, 6:17 pm

The weather has been too nice for too many consecutive days. I caved and direct sowed some seeds. I put in: a square each of KN-Bravo radish, Alpine radish, Green-in-Snow mustard, Red Giant mustard, Osaka Purple mustard, Red Samurai carrot, Joi Choi bok choy, mache, Manoa lettuce, rocket, and Dazzling Blue kale, and half squares of Hungarian Winter Pink lettuce and Hyper Red Rumple Waved lettuce.
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