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Garden Update – Early April 2012

I feel like I’m in some sort of crazy time warp. Just yesterday (I pinkie-swear!), I was dreading the turn of the yearly calendar and staring down cruel, snowy January and February. But here it is, April already, and it’s warm and sunny in the Midwest.

In stark contrast to last year (which was problematic on a number of fronts), all of my planting efforts are taking off like a shot, indoors and out. For my fellow gardening fiends (and, of course, armchair gardening aficionados alike), here’s a quick update.

One of the reasons I like growing everything possible from seed is that I have a huge skylight in the finished attic of my house. Once my seedlings outgrow the grow lights (which happens at about 6″ tall, when raising the lights to accommodate the plant’s height means less light for the both the lower branches and slower-growing plants), I move them out to a custom-built platform under my South-facing skylight (the photo above was taken about 5:30pm — the skylight gives full sun to the platform from about 9am to 4pm). Here, they’ll not only get the proper light they need, but it’s true, full-on sunshine, which helps the young plants get used to the sun’s bright rays right from start (they won’t burn and wilt later).

The platform is 4′ x 3′, and holds everything I start indoors until the weather is right to begin moving them outdoors. This weekend I moved the first of the tomato transplants — now 8″ tall — to their sunny, new platform home for the next three weeks (I plan on getting the tomatoes in the ground before the end of April).

The blueberry bushes are blooming. I love when they bloom because it reveals the blueberry yield for the year — all blooms appear at once, and each bloom represents one blueberry (this year = medium-sized crop; not bad for such an early bloom).

Kitties love the open windows, and they especially love meowing at (read, mocking … I’m certain of it) the doofus in the backyard in the fashion-questionable sun hat and rubber Wellies.

Remember the bed of dirt from just a couple weeks ago? Radishes and sugar snap peas are happily up and about. First radish should be harvestable in about two weeks; first sugar snap pea pod, three, maybe four, weeks. (Sorry ’bout the blur. Drives me crazy when photos look sharp in the camera’s monitor, so you take just the one….)

In the allium garden, the onions (short green wisps in the foreground) have taken hold and are sending up new green shoots. The garlic (behind the onions) and shallots (on the right) are chugging along happily, both headed for early-ish harvests (probably mid-June vs. early July).

Speaking of shallots … shallots usually form clusters of 3 to 5 heads. Here’s a close-up of one plant: three heads have formed from a single bulb I planted back in November. The stalks are thick and strong — this should be an excellent shallot harvest.

Here’s to lots of wonderful produce in 2012!

Karen xoxo

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” — Margaret Atwood


Tuesday 15th of May 2012

What kind of shallots are you growing? I'm trying my hand at French Gray Shallots this year, but so far, they are not looking as robust as yours appear. What kind of fertilizing regimen are you using?

I found your blog, BTW, with a search for Thai coconut soup. I am also a big soup fan, so I am looking forward to trying your recipes.


Tuesday 15th of May 2012

Hi Ali,

I'm growing just regular French shallots. I have to credit the weather here in Cincinnati for their extra-hardy turnout this year. Our winter was very mild, and even the cold snaps were kind of a slow-to-fall-temperature drop, then slow-to-rise back up. No shocking turns. For fertilizing, I do nothing until the green growth is well-established (usually sometime in March), and then I do light foliar feeds once every 2 to 3 weeks with organic fish emulsion. The soil where they grow is well-amended and probably don't even need the feedings, but I like to hedge my bets. :)


Tuesday 10th of April 2012

Have you ever heard of/planted banana plum tomatoes? They're my absolute favorite...very firm, few seeds, great flavor and great for making sauce. And eating at all times. I just planted some for my first time today with seeds from my dad's last crop!


Tuesday 3rd of April 2012

Ok...How did you do it? I started my seeds way before you did and still your plants have grown much (MUCH) faster than anything I have planted indoors or out. The ONLY thing I can think of is that your plants must be getting more sunlight than mine. Do you fertilize them before you transplant them?

Any advice would be great. Love your blog :-)


Tuesday 10th of April 2012

Hi Christy! Honestly, I can take neither credit nor blame. ;) Every year's results are different, even though my seed growing conditions are largely the same. The one exception, I think, is the temperature of the attic. The warm spring has kept the attic wonderfully toasty. The seeds are on warming mats, of course, but the ambient temperature and humidity has been perfect. (Even though the attic is heated, it still has a hint of chill to it in the winter.) The tomatoes took off like a shot; the basil are surprisingly still a bit on the short side, but that's okay - they'll catch up soon enough. Celery, leeks are right on schedule.

I fertilize the seedlings very lightly when the 4th pair of leaves appears (including the cotyledon pair). I don't fertilize at the time of transplant to a larger pot - too much stress on the plant - but rather 2 or 3 days later, if the schedule calls for it (no more than once a week - a very, very light dressing). (For the transplant to outdoors, the soil for the tomatoes gets a light mixture of Tomato-tone, but no other fertilizers until the plants have clearly established themselves and have started new growth.)

Gosh, I just love gardening!


Tuesday 3rd of April 2012

How wonderful to get a glimpse into your garden!! (and the kitty:)) And I had no idea that blueberry bushes had such wonderful blooms!


Monday 2nd of April 2012

After three weeks of continuous rain, I'm so ready to dig around in my garden!