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April in the Midwest Garden

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April in the Midwest Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/1/2011, 2:03 pm

Wow, what a crazy spring we've all had!! (For me, spring starts mentally on March 1st) Is it just me, or was last month more topsy-turvy than usual? And, I don't know about you, but I'm sick of the snow.....even though I know we could ALL still get clobbered in April. However, the chances get less and less for most of us as the month passes.....YAY!

What's going on right now, though? Frost dates!! This is such a diverse region. Our frost dates run from next week (St. Louis/Kansas City) to a few weeks (Indianapolis/Des Moines) to the end of the month (Columbus/Chicago) to even next month (Minneapolis/Madison/Lansing and points north). That's quite the gap!!

We are all likely on different schedules with planning and planting. Some of us are in the ground with everything cool season right now, and others are likely starting broccoli and cauliflower inside under the lights. Either way, we are all likely doing something....or very close. I think we would all love to see and hear what's on the agenda for the month?

Well, as some of you know, I've been aggressive this spring. I've had a hoophouse and covers trying to beat the freezes and start little veggies. I've even had my first salad from the garden! However, it hasn't been without it's set backs (you'll see in a picture).

Currently, I have 28 of my 64 squares spoken for. 10 Lettuces (4 varieties), 4 Spinach (3 varieties), 4 Broccoli, 3 Snap Peas, 2 Cauliflower, 2 Walla Walla Onions, 2 Carrots (3 varieties...and saving one for the 15th!), and a Radish (2 varieties). All are doing well and sprouted. These have all come from either starting inside weeks ago and putting out or directly sowing in the ground. On the 15th, I plan to get my Tomatoes (3 varieties), Peppers (2 varieties), Cucumbers, and Bush Beans (2 varieties) in the ground, too.

I stagger my plantings, though, so I still won't be full on the 15th. Here is a current picture...



However, the setbacks? Those have been created by the dog!! You see the netting in the above pic? It's not for the birds or rabbits. It's for the dog. It was working fine for a couple of weeks. A couple of days ago, though, I left her outside and she got bored. She saw my milk jugs (things I used to give her as a puppy to play with) and wanted to grab them. She broke through the netting, chewed the caps off, dug in the MM, snapped my grid, and decided to polish off my tomato and pepper starts for good measure!!



It could have been worse, but I still have to start over with my peppers and tomatoes. Good thing I was staggering those, too. I have some peppers up and coming as we speak...



And, tomatoes went in the vermiculite just a couple of days before she tore my others up. So, these should be sprouting any day now, too...



I will detail the starting in vermiculite cups and how that beats directly seeding outside as soon as I can so some of you up north don't miss the opportunity to try the technique before your frost date gets too near. I am working on the particulars and trying to simplify what I've done in text, as my brain is a ball of globby thoughts usually.

Anyway, that's my status. Now, you go!!

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/1/2011, 3:47 pm

Oh Boy, I keep hearing Sandra Bulluck in the movie Hope Floats hollering BAD DOG at the end of the movie. My challenge will be keeping a goat (or two) out of my garden area, one has already devored a califlower plant.

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Re: April Fools for the Midwest Garden..

Post  Goosegirl on 4/1/2011, 10:48 pm

Today we hit 51. 51!!! Much of the snow in my yard is gone, with only a few banks left around the edges of my garden, but still enough to keep the ground solidly frozen in those areas. Today I bought the last of the boards for my boxes and tomorrow afternoon I will be out in my back yard putting together the first of my boxes - before the next snow storm hits on Sunday!

TC

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GRRRRRRRRRRRR...that darned dog!

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/2/2011, 1:47 pm

I gotta tell you I have NEVER had this much of a problem with a darned dog before. She is really trying my patience.

She has broken through the netting....again!! This time it took all of 5 minutes of unsupervised outdoor time. I had just leveled my soil from this morning and withdrawn my milk jugs (her play toys...so I thought.) But, apparently, she just enjoys going for a dig now.

I had a terrier that never dug. Now, I get a boxer....and she wants to dig? How backwards is that?

I really can't erect a tougher fence because it will really look like a bunch of white trash moved in........and I don't want to reveal myself just yet.....Wink

We are off to PetSmart to grab an anchor and a chain to put her on when we can't be watching her. The real upsetting part of it, to me, is that we have a freaking fenced backyard. Who puts the dog on a chain in a fenced backyard? I love that she has total freedom to run back there. She can't run on a chain. But, she also can't keep tearing into my garden when I'm not looking. This time she nailed some carrots and some spinach as she walked all over them.

This will be a temporary solution. I'm going to have to go all Dog Whisperer on her and train her right. I didn't want to have to do this, but now I'm going to have to sit outside with dog treats and when she comes near the garden...say "NO"....and when she minds, make her fat with treats until she gets to where I can trust her.

But, seriously, how can anyone refuse playing with this sweetheart?


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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  Goosegirl on 4/2/2011, 4:44 pm

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote:But, seriously, how can anyone refuse playing with this sweetheart?


BBG - Such a DOLL! I love boxers - but then I have never had to try keeping one out of my carrots! Very Happy

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  herblover on 4/2/2011, 5:33 pm

Nothing in yet; but I hope to get the first planting of lettuces, spinach, and radishes in within the next week. It is still raw and cold here; looking in my garden journal from last year we had a record high temp on April 1 and I had all my early planting already started.

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  boog1 on 4/3/2011, 12:58 pm

right now the 2x4 box is done lined the bottom with weed cloth last night,as of last night i have both summer squash's one tomato both green bean, kale and one type of lettuce happly pokin out of the seed starter. now my main focas is lookin for the bag of vermiculite i bought last year that seems ta have sprouted legs an walked off the 15th aint that far off.


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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/3/2011, 5:47 pm

I hate it when the vermiculite gets leggy, then decides to walk off just when you need it.

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/3/2011, 5:50 pm

@Furbalsmom wrote:I hate it when the vermiculite gets leggy, then decides to walk off just when you need it.

I've heard it all now, leggy tomatoes, leggy peppers, leggy lettuce, and now leggy vermiculite, as my favorite Veggie Tale charater (Pa Grape) says "Oi Vey".

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  Glendale-gardener on 4/3/2011, 10:48 pm


What a big sweetie!! I love it! She looks awfully playful!

So I had another awesome day here. I planted my lettuces yesterday but today I transplanted my broccoli and onions into my bed and I transplanted my parsley into a pot and surrounded it with pansies.

The rest of the day was spent working on the rest of my yard. If I never see another dry sweetgum ball, patch of wild onion or walnut shell again, it will be too soon!

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  Goosegirl on 4/4/2011, 8:15 am

Well, I didn't get any boxes built this weekend - too cold and windy outside. BUT I did get the first coat of paint on my new seed starting station (old kitchen cabinet re-purposed) and up-potted all my tomatoes. They only have their first set of true leaves starting but they were getting leggy (must be a relative of vermiculite) and needed more space than the current dome could handle. This morning the gardening kitties decided to get in on the act. While I was draining off the excess water in the new tomato tray both of them parked their little bald butts on the seed heating mat - just keeping it safe until the tray was back, I am sure!

TC

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/4/2011, 9:25 am

Val, my kids watch VeggieTales on a regular basis. Madame Blueberry is their favorite episode.

GG, she is super playful, but has ADHD for sure. She wants to play now! And, just can't resist once she sees something interesting....no matter where it is. (Of course, it's really because she's only 1 year old.)

TC, we do what we can while we await spring. I'm excited for your garden because I know nothing of SD weather....other than how violent it swings. I love the people here that say, "Just wait an hour...it'll change." I keep wanting to cite that chinook winds blow the temperatures up in 10 minutes sometimes. Keep us all posted as you get rolling.

As for us, we got heavy, heavy rains last night. Temps were 87F yesterday here and were still 77F at midnight! Now, they are 49F and supposed to fall during the day to 32 tonight. I refuse to put my plastic on tonight. I feel like gambling!! So, I'll let you know if something drastic happens. I don't see it because #1...I don't believe it will get quite that low.....#2....I only have the cold weather guys in there and they are fairly mature at the moment. It's gonna take more than 32 to get these guys.

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/4/2011, 9:38 am

Madame Blueberry is my favorite too, my mom shops at Stuff Mart all the time. My brother and I want to get my dad a wall sign that says "When I die, burry me at "Stuff Mart", so my wife will come visit me"....

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/4/2011, 11:14 am


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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/4/2011, 11:18 am

Ya'll get any rain this AM? We did, boy did we ever, I'm hoping it was enough to lift the burn ban, I love burning things outside, leaves, sticks, couches. I dug a fire pit a few years ago for burning logs in the evenings when it was cold, or roasting hot dogs and marshmallows with the grandson when he comes.

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  Joyousch on 4/4/2011, 4:47 pm

You folks are too funny! Entertaining to read.

It all started in February when I read the book...so, in March I built my two 4'x4' boxes, got the MM in maybe two weeks ago...last week I got the grids built and a 2' tall cage to sit on top of one of the boxes. I have 4 broccoli transplants (store-bought, since I was too late getting on the ball this year) in, and just yesterday I planted one square of head lettuce that had sprouted inside a few days earlier.

I'm anxious to get more lettuce in, but I think I'll wait until tomorrow based on the weather predictions for tonight (I'm the same weather area referenced by BYBG above!). It's a cold weather crop, but still...tomorrow will be just fine.

Other than that, I'm at a standstill until I figure out how to combine cages and trellises. :?: I guess I could build another 4'x4'x2' tall cage to sit on top of the other box, just like the first one...and figure something else out in a couple of months once I need to start staking. Then I'd probably build two 4'x3' x2' tall cages, so I can leave the staked rows out of the cages...but that will take a ton of room to store four different cages!

So...to answer the original question, April for me means getting my plan/structures figured out and planting the rest of my cool season crops (more lettuce, spinach, get strawberries in the ground). Even though my average frost-free date is April 15, I'm aware that's still a 50% chance...so I'm going with a May 1 date for when I decide what to plant!

This is fun! It's my first year of SFG, and I feel way more ... prepared? adventurous? I'm definitely doing way more than I ever would have without SFG!! Thanks to all...especially Mel Smile

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/4/2011, 5:17 pm

So great to have another St Louisan on board here! All hail the STL!!! cheers cheers cheers

The people, as you've seen, are tons of fun here. We share as many pictures as we can, if we can just work the technological kinks out...lol. And, no question should go unasked.

Check this out, Joy, I can get you another 8 days of frost date if you wish. This source is what I've been using almost exclusively because of the visual of seeing my chances of frosts/freezes "melt away."

http://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates/index.php?q=63126&submit=Go

You'll notice I have it bookmarked to my zip code in Crestwood....down here by 270 and 44. How close are you?

Poke around a bit. You've found the regional subforum. I hope to have more info piled into here soon enough. But, there are lots of other places to roam as well. Hope to see more of you.

As for trellis and cage combinations, I am in the same boat. I have peas getting about 4 inches high that are going to be looking for my bird netting very soon. I need to do something, but don't want to lose the protection of the netting just yet. Hmmmmmmmm.

I'm sure we'll think of something.

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  walshevak on 4/4/2011, 5:52 pm

Not only do we have to get them trellised, but we have to get them our from under the "bug protection" so they can be pollinated. My poor little peas are going to be under attach. aggggggg


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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/4/2011, 6:00 pm

Question for those of you who use row covers, can you uncover in the AM when bees are out, cover during the day, say 11AM and then uncover for a bit in the evening to extend the prevention. This all depends on whether or not someone is home all day of course, but I was curious.

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/4/2011, 8:32 pm

My netting is not going to be an issue for bugs....only the birds. This fits, as I was coming in here to put a pic of my daughter up anyway.

She is my Little Assistant. She runs stuff to the compost pile with me, helps me when I'm planting, and now helps me harvest. I'm trying to teach her as we walk and check things out together. This all started with the bird watching last fall. Birding and gardening just go so well together...

Harvesting some lettuce for the burgers tonight...


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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  boog1 on 4/4/2011, 9:12 pm

65 degrees at 6 am 45 degrees at 6 pm gotta love michigan

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  Joyousch on 4/4/2011, 9:16 pm

Yay for St. Louis!! I didn't grow up here, but I really do like it. Great place to raise a family.
BBG, sounds like we're really close together - I'm also in Crestwood! I'm just west of Grant's Farm.

8 more days of frost-free? Yay! Thanks for the link...that means I need to get in gear and do some extra work now to get on the new & improved schedule.

I'm kinda glad to hear that I'm not the only one trying to figure this cage/trellis thing out...but also not, because that means there's no easy answer... I've done some poking around, as you suggested, and I found this thread: http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t4104-protective-cage-for-a-sfg#53436
Boffer has an intriguing plan, with a 5'x5'x5' cage around all of it...my hesitation there is that harvesting would be difficult.

Cute pic of your daughter. Also interesting to see how you're able to just pull back the netting to harvest....perhaps I could build a 5'x5'x5' cage using netting that I can unhook and climb under? May be difficult to be both secure from critters and easily removable. Hmm...

I just planted some un-caged strawberries as an experiment. Partly to see if they'll grow (they're bare-root plants from Walmart, very cheap) and partly to see if critters get them. I'll let you know how it goes. Critters left my tomatoes alone next year, so maybe I'm worrying for nothing.

Good to "meet" you!

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/4/2011, 11:54 pm

That's more than a small world. You ARE in my backyard. Are you closer to Eddie&Park and Garber, or are you across Sappington? I live off Arban back behind the U-turn loop on Watson....across from the ACE Hardware and Applebee's. WOW!!

I also am not from here originally. I'm from a small town in Kansas an hour and a half north of Tulsa, OK, and an hour west of Joplin, MO. But, I've been here since 1986.

The netting is anchored by some screws sticking just out of the sides of the wood. I just "hook" the netting squares onto the screws with a little tension. Things hold well as long as a raccoon doesn't just jump on it.

I didn't lose many tomatoes last year either. But, I blinked and my blueberries and strawberries vanished. I assume Mockingbirds or Grackles got them because that's what I constantly saw hanging around the bushes.

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  Aub on 4/5/2011, 1:37 am

Yesterday it was pretty close to 80! I just remembered to put the plastic and a blanket on the gardens, since it's going to be 30 tonite. Not right!

I planted 96 Red Onions, 32 Peas, and 4 Cabbage yesterday. The new chicks got to go play outside for a while, too. They were so happy Very Happy

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/5/2011, 9:22 am

We were supposed to get to 32 last night. I threw my finger in the face of Jack Frost and left the garden uncovered. It only got to 35....lol. He'll get me someday, but it wasn't last night.

Hey Mr. Frost, Johhny Paycheck just called and told you to........SHOVE IT!!!

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Re: April in the Midwest Garden

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