Early spring season starting

covered SFG 0217It’s all about bed preparation for me right now.  This shows my SFG beds covered in plastic.  The first bed in the foreground, which isn’t covered, is my asparagus bed.  No need to cover that.  Then you can see my 2X16 bed on the left, my 4X16 bed on the right, followed by my covered leaves.  You can’t see what’s behind that-an uncovered 3X3 strawberry bed, but then you can see a covered 4X4 box.  If you look hard enough you’ll see a tomato tower in the back.  That’s a 1X4′ box that I use for 8 heads of lettuce and vertical crops like tomatoes, pole beans or squash.  That’s covered too.   I’ve got a bunch of things ready to go out into the garden, but a few of the boxes aren’t quite ready yet. These were the boxes that were in the shade all winter and have been de-thawed in the past week or so. I’m holding off on putting anything in the garden right now. Starting tomorrow(Tuesday)we have snow in the forecast for seven days straight. I was starting to get bothered about this, but I have to remind myself, it’s still February. What a bummer. I’m thinking after that we should see a marked improvement in the evening temperatures. So right now I’m sprouting all kinds of lettuce seeds, pac choi, arugula, radicchio, and swiss chard. My two early tomato plants are about 8 inches high right now and looking very good. They’re especially made to grow in greenhouses, which these will go into later this week. In a couple of weeks I’ll be starting to post youtube instructional videos. I’ll start at the beginning and move on from there-how to construct a good box, gathering items for the compost bin, making the perfect soil, making a grid, etc. I hope you’ll come back to visit.

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10 thoughts on “Early spring season starting

  • by Chris

    Looking forward to viewing your videos! I currently have sixteen tomato plants growing indoors. They are all around six inches tall. I also have three different pepper plants and a bunch of onions. This was my first attempt at starting from seed indoors and it has been a great success so far. Only one onion didn’t come up so I replanted that one. I think the trick will be acclimating these plants to outdoor weather once good weather arrives. I’ll likely place them outdoors for a few hours per day until they have adjusted. I also have row covers and will use them after transplanting the plants into the garden.

    • by Jim This is post author

      Hello Chris…sounds like you’re off and running! Are you a square foot gardener by chance? Holy smoke-16 tomato plants! You must be getting ready to feed the neighborhood? If it were me, I would repot those tomato plants in a bigger container-a 4 inch one would be perfect for now. In another 4 weeks you can put it into yet another bigger container-the last time you’ll need to do that before putting them outside. Do a little research on hardening off-it’s extremely frustrating to have plants die after so much hard work(it’s not really hard though, is it?)by not getting them ready. It’s easy and only takes about a week of taking things in and out. How did you start your seeds? Thanks for visiting…Jim

      • by Chris

        Yes, I am a square-foot gardener. I’ve done it for two years now, have the “All New Square Foot Gardening” book as well as your ebook. I read them every winter to remind me of the things I need to do and not do. I still need to perfect what I do, I think I still waste too much space, but that is one of my gardening goals this year. I’m thinking of planting my lettuce under my tomato plants and planting my carrots around my zuchini plants…things like that. What do you think?

        Only half of the tomato plants are mine. I am giving the rest to my father, who gardens, and to one of my brothers who wants to start gardening.

        I do plan to repot the plants pretty soon. I just want the plants to become a little more stable before doing so. Right now they are tall but very thin.

        I started my seeds by putting them in a wet paper towel until they sprouted, like you showed in your blog. Then I planted them. I don’t know why the one onion didn’t work because it did sprout.

        • by Jim This is post author

          Good to know Chris. I think you’ve got a good strategy there with carrots/zucchini and lettuce/tomato combinations. I like to use basil close to my tomatoes because of the known benefits of that particular combination. Though I can’t remember doing it(at least intentionally)I’ve also heard the carrot/tomato combination is pretty good as well. That’s kind of weird with the sprouted onion that never grew-I’m not sure I’ve heard that happening before. Thanks for buying the ebook too-I hope it’s given you some additional pointers that help out in the gardens….Jim

  • by Will

    Thanks. That answers most of it. My only other questions then are do you have the larger PVC slots fastened to the sides of your beds with screws or does the soil just hold them in place? And did you get the black PVC at Home Depot as well, or other local plumbing supply? I ask because I started setting up some “covered wagons” over my 4×4 beds this last week with full 10 foot 1/2″ pipes anchored over rebar placed right outside each corner at the edges of the beds, but the pipes on either side of one of the beds cracked in half at the joints with the 4 foot cross pipe sometime after I placed them because now they corner has a 5 foot pipe sticking straight up in the air.

    • by Jim This is post author

      I got pretty much everything I can think of out there at Home Depot. The U joints are screwed into the boxes-they’ll have to be or the soil will never hold them in place. I don’t care for the covered wagons-too much extra work and I’m not convinced it’s worth it, but that’s just me. Maybe you should take a trip to my place to see it.

      • by Will

        Good to know. I’ve found and thought of some other designs besides the covered-wagon I may want experiment with as well. After looking up the black PVC up on Home Depot, it looks like it is also more flexible and more UV resistant then the more fragile white PVC so I’ll probably go check that out this weekend.

        One more weekend of this cold and snow and then I think we’ll finally start to see Spring arrive. Seeing your set up sometime would be cool.

  • by Will

    What do you use to make your tunnels? From the pictures it looks the plastic could be from rolls of 6 mil clear plastic thrown up over some plex pipe that can be purchased at an ordinary hardware store. Or is it just PVC that has been painted black? Or do you use something different? Also, it looks like you have the tube/piping holding up the plastic inserted into some PVC pipes every two feet along the edges of your beds. Do you have rebar stakes holding those PVC fittings and would that to protect the soil from rust?

    • by Jim This is post author

      Up until this year I always used 6-mil plastic. This year I’m using a commercial weight-50. The good news is that it gives you some pretty good protection with this weather we’ve had all winter. The bad news is that because it’s so heavy, it doesn’t heat up quite as good as the lighter, 6-mil. And I used to buy the 6-mil plastic at Home Depot. What you see on the inside is bigger, black PVC that’s been cut to size to fit my boxes. They slip into the white PVC’s attached to the inside of my boxes. No rebar. I just put the black PVC into the white holes, and it’s perfect. I chose this heavier black PVC vs. the lighter weight PVC because I need to withstand a good amount of snow. The lighter ones aren’t quite strong enough. I have no rust anywhere in any of my boxes. Hope that answers it..Jim

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