Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Well, it's another lovely spring day in NE Ohio-NOT! It's cold, drizzly, and generally miserable. However, my poor peppers and eggplants are getting too big for their containers and really need to spread their roots, so I figured I'd better get them planted in the garden. Actually, when I first went outside the sun was shining and it was almost comfortable. Halfway through planting the clouds moved in and the rain started. I've lived here long enough to be used to it though, and I know how to protect my newly planted veggies from the vagaries of our unpredictable weather. I use Wall 'O Waters for my tomatoes and cover everything else with milk jugs with the bottoms cut off. Both methods have proved quite successful.
I start all my plants from seed indoors under fluorescent lights. For one thing seeds are a lot cheaper than plants, plus you can find a much larger variety of seeds than you can plants at the nursery. Clean containers and good seed starting mix are very important for successful germination and disease free growth of the seedlings. This year I'm planting tomatoes (cherry, Roma, and yellow), sweet bell peppers (mixed colors), eggplant, yellow bush beans, zucchini, yellow squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, basil, cucumbers, cantaloupe, garlic, chives, and oregano. I make some delicious spaghetti sauce with all my fresh veggies. Plus you can freeze extra tomatoes for use later in the year. Last year I got a food dehydrator very cheap at a garage sale, so I was able to dry my herbs and some of my veggies. I also grow catnip for my fuzzies (and the neighborhood cats as well). Cats go nuts for fresh catnip!
I've been slowly but surely hardening off my veggies to get them used to the changes in temperature, wind, and light that they'll have to deal with outside. I start off putting them in a sheltered location for an hour or so the first few days, then gradually increase their time outdoors, and their exposure to sun and wind. It also makes the plants much stronger. Sometimes I'll have a fan blowing on them when they're indoors. This helps to strengthen their stems. Believe me, it works, especially with tomatoes. So far I've got my basil, peppers, beans, and eggplants planted in the garden. Tomorrow I'll plant my tomatoes. I'll probably wait a few more days to plant my cukes, cantaloupe, and summer squash. They like warmer weather. Plus they've still got a little more room in their current containers, so they'll be OK. It's supposed to get much warmer by the end of the week anyway.
Well, that's my gardening tale for the day. Now I'm off to do some cooking for Gramma. She really appreciates my garden as well. She's always had fresh veggies with her meals. I'll try to keep you all updated on my gardening progress. Hopefully I'll have a good season. Last year wasn't so hot. Bad weather (3 separate hail storms!) and critters (voles and deer mostly) really took a toll on my harvest.

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