Last Minute Spring Plantings

I cheated and bought broccoli, cabbage, and parsley seedlings at Granny’s today. Onion sets too.

The Broccoli is Packman, the cabbage, Red Acre, a variety I usually grow in Spring from seeds.

Mercy and I planted half the cabbage and broccoli today. We’ll prep two more beds in Square 4 and plant the rest when the rain stops and it dries out a bit again.

We planted the parsley seedlings, about 20 in all, in the Summer Square then transplanted the garlic chives and some small cilantro seedlings from last year’s Summer Square to Square 1 Row 6 as well.

The onion sets went in along side of the broccoli and cabbages. 

We still need to seed basil!!


Summer Square Plan & To Do

I did these a few weeks ago.

This is the planned layout for the Summer Square.

And here is the April To Do List:

As I mentioned in a prior post, I may plant sweet corn in the Summer Square and then succession plant summer crops in Squares 3 and/or 5. I’m thinking the early sweet corn in rows 7-10 then move the okra and zinnias to rows 11 and 12 respectively. Or will share be an issue?

Also, many of the 4/15-5/1 dates will likely slip into early May since it is so cool this year.

Mushroom Compost

Forgot to post this….

I got 20-24 cubic yards of mushroom compost delivered for $140. 

The dump truck owner:

Donnie Torbett 261-4837

This stuff was free and I just had to pay for delivery. It seems to be moister and not as well screened or decomposed as the stuff from East Tennessee. Apparently, you can get the finished, screened stuff too for $130/ load plus $135 for delivery. There is a wait list for it this time of year, though. After June, it is readily available.

I can use this, or perhaps better, the finished, screened stuff, to fill the raised beds here by the house and for mulching the flower beds. Celia could use it in her garden under the solar panels too.

It would be nice to put more raised beds on the East side of the house along with a fire pit and benches (if someone would move those banana trees. 😒

Prepping Summer Square

No pictures. It was drizzling and we were trying to finish up before the grave rain started.

Prepping Square 1, this year’s Summer crop square today. I had done a shallow till about 10 days ago to knock back the sod. This morning I tilled the area deeply.

This afternoon, the kids and I, little troopers that they are, spread mushroom compost on the 12 beds, 14 buckets per row for a roughly 1″ layer.

 I then lightly tilled the compost into the top inch or so of soil. I used the Jonserd tiller for this although it is probably not the best tool for the job. But I do not have the Mantis up and running yet. A tilther would be the best tool.

 We also prepped a few rows (tilled, compost, etc) in the Spring Square, Square 4, so if I could manage, we could get some Spring crops in since it is so cool.

Mercy and I managed to plant some not so great onion plants, Red Creoles, and then seeded the rest of the row in Rainbow Chard. We planted the next row in the Spring Square with Detroit Dark Red (to the East) and Bull’s Blood (to the West) beets. With the rain predicted the next few days, these should all come up well.

I plan to buy cabbage and broccoli seedlings for the next couple rows in the Spring Square. It’s better than nothing since I didn’t get anything seeded in the greenhouse this year.

I also ran the tiller through the walkways in the potato square (#5) to knock out the few weeds there (mostly rye and wild onions).

Just brainstorming here: We might want to plant early sweet corn (Bodacious) in the eastern half of the Summer Square (#1) since the bed is ready and I won’t plant all succession until later. That buys time to get the sweet corn squares ready and we can plant succession there.

Potato Planting

It is done! Thanks to Tim! 

We added 40 lbs of bone meal to the planting furrow, spaced the potatoes approx. 15 inches apart and dusted them with sulfur. Well, we were short on sulfur as I forgot to bring the partial bag from last year.

As usual, it is windy when planting. This always makes it difficult to apply the bone meal and sulfur.

Red Pontiacs are in the 6 western rows, Kennebecs to the east. Approximately 30 lbs of seed potatoes of each variety.

Hoping to yield 60 lbs x 7-10 lbs/lb seed potato planted. That would give us between 400 and 600 lbs of potatoes.


  1. Seed potatoes, $45
  2. Compost, $100
  3. Sulfur and bone meal $50

Plus our time, approx. 5 man hours so far. We’ll have another 6-8 man hours in before we are done. So another $120 in labor. 

I can buy organic potatoes for about $1/lb.  Not a lot of savings. But there’s nothing like fresh, homegrown potatoes. 😀

Potato prep and Compost

Purchased 3 cubic yards of mushroom compost from East TN Feed & Seed for $100.

We could only transport 1-1/2 cubic yards in the little truck at a time.

Tim calculated that we would need 10 five gallon buckets of compost on each 40′ bed to spread it at roughly 3/4″ thick.

And that’s what he did!

Annamika and I cut up the seed potatoes last night.

I estimate about 30 lbs of each variety of Kennebecs and Red Pontiacs are needed to plant the entire square, 480 feet of row, at 15″ apart.

My assistant garden manager, Mercy, is ill. I hope she is better for potato planting tomorrow.

Early Spring Garden Update

Way behind this year due to bottle lambs, house projects, and rainy, cool weather.

This past week, Mercy and Savannah cleaned up the little green house and added deer netting to keep Celia’s wayward poultry out. Savannah also seeded some cilantro, dill, chard, and lettuces.

Galen picked up some wooden stakes and helped Mercy and I straighten the parallelogram shaped beds into rectangles. Pop supervised. 

We now have 8 squares, each 45 feet wide by 40 feet long. They will each contain twelve 30″ wide beds for 1200 square feet of planting space per square, 100 feet per bed.

We shallowly tilled square 5 in prep for potatoes. Today, I deeply tilled the square again and Mercy marked out the rows.

To Do:

  • Purchase 3-3/4 cubic yards of compost and spread 1″ layer on all potato beds.
  • Cut and dry potatoes. Kennebec and Red Pontiacs only this year as the Yukon’s just don’t yield well.
  • Assess bone meal and sulfur stocks to use with potatoes.
  • Plant potatoes
  • Prep Summer Square (1) with double tilling and compost.
  • Prep ground cover for tomatoes….to prevent early blight, I hope. This entailed melting holes for plants and posts.
  • Purchase seedling (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs) at Granny’s

Wish List:

  • 40 x 100′ silage tarp for stale seed bed to better control weeds.

2017 Garden Year In Review

Not a terrible year, at least early on.

The good and the bad…

  • Potatoes. I think we had about 400 lbs total. Still eating on them now. So the harvest was better than years past.
  • Sweet Corn. Bodacious did better than expected but the Silver Queen was a flop. I suspect it was the heat and lack of rain later in the summer that made for lousy tasting Silver Queen
  • Sweet Potatoes. I don’t know how many we harvested. It was a lot! Georgia Jets had major scurf problems. The best were the Diane sweet potatoes. The tubers and leaves were beautiful and little or no scurf. Hernandez were o.k. and easy to harvest. Purple Japanese were more mealy and not as well liked. The big win was the pig feed we got! Cows did not care for the vines but the pigs did! 
  • Flowers. It was nice to have zinnias, sunflowers, and calendulas. Marigold germination was spotty and flowering slow. Marigolds did better in late Summer.
  • Parsley. We had lots. Yum!
  • Early zucchini and summer squash did great. Later, not so much. Only got 2 sowings in. Really need to use floating row cover and white icicle radishes with these to extend harvest.
  • Green beans. Didn’t harvest the bush beans enough but what we did manage to freeze was delicious. I should forget pole beans.
  • Tomatoes were almost a total lost thanks to blight. Need to grow these in ground cover to stop splashing. No wonder the commercial grower do tomatoes under plastic with drip irrigation!
  • Peppers. Doe Hills were phenomenal! But others had blossom end rot, particularly the Korean peppers. I believe this is an irrigation issue.
  • Winter squashes. Neck pumpkins are the favorites for texture and ease of use. Cushaws did terribly. The Tan Cheese pumpkins did fairly well too.
  • Melons and watermelons. The latter did well and we ended up with a lot of large watermelons! Even a 50 pounder! Melons did o.k.
  • Okra did well, as usual. We just didn’t pick them enough.
  • Garlic was terrible due to weeds and disease.
  • Dent corn was not bad. We have replenished our stash and had whole cobs to feed the pigs for treats.
  • Fall winter crops were a loss due to heat and, mostly lack of rain.
  • Got cover crops in late and not everywhere.

It became obvious that we need irrigation. And we need to add more weed free organic matter. Here’s the list:

  1. Add purchased, weed free compost each year.
  2. Use stale seed bed/ground cover to better control weeds.
  3. Add real irrigation when we can.
  4. Straighten beds so they are square to make it easier to use tarps for weed control.
  5. Add walkways between beds. This will mean shorter rows and fewer beds per square but should make maneuvering easier.
  6. Use ground cover and wood chips in walkways to control weeds.

Now to work on the 2018 garden plans….

Fall seed starting

I am behind the eight ball on seed starting, as usual. It was so hot the latter two weeks of July though, too hot for even cabbages.

Today I cleaned up my seed trays. I also wetted more seed starting mix.

Here are the seeds I seeded today.

2017 Leek and onion seeds

The Tadorna and Mechelen Blue leeks are supposed to be very cold tolerant. Same with the Kincho Scallions and Evergreen Hardy Bunching onions. I want plenty of these for Kimchi and general fall and winter eating.

The Early Texas Granos are short day bulbing onions I hope to overwinter for next year.

According to Johnny’s Seed Catalog, the ideal temperature for germinating seeds in the onion family is 77 degrees. So I set the containers in the shade behind the tower. I will probably bring them in the house though as they do get sun in the late afternoon.

Allium seed starting

All of these containers are 4-6″ deep for strong root development. Onion family seedlings can take some rough handling so pulling them apart to plant is no big issue. I planted these containers with 120-200 seeds each. As soon as they are up, I will start feeding them with fish and kelp emulsion.

Not sure how I will handle the bulb onions. I need the seedlings to stay smaller than a pencil in diameter or they will bolt next Spring. It may be better to plant them later.

I also have the Welsh Onions to plant for winter green onions. These are very reliable and hardy. I have a few of these in the greenhouse…already 6″ high! They only take 3 weeks or so to get that big.

Welsh Onions Curing in Shade

I need to get a garden update here soon.