AMKuska's 2023 Garden

AMKuska

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Got all the dirt in the raised garden bed. It looks like I will need more, but there's still enough I can grow in it. Last chore is to dig out my pea area so I have a place to grow peas and later beans.
 

AMKuska

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Things are trucking right along in the garden! I have the pea area almost dug out--about 10 more feet to go. It's a big long stretch. There's enough room for two rows along the fence, and the stretch is about 20 feet long. I'll measure it properly tomorrow so I know how many I can tuck in there.

I graphed a chart for the new garden bed, and see that even with the broccolis and cabbage I have plenty of room for all the things I wanted to plant. What a delight!

In the greenhouse, I planted strawberries and peas, and began hardening off the cold weather stuff. I don't plan to put them fully outside for another month or so, but I always seem to last minute hardening off. This time I'd like to try a more gradual approach.

I'm glad I did. Those sissy lettuce plants were outside 15 minutes in the high 40s and fainted dramatically. The other plants didn't really notice the 15 minute interval.

The lettuce was back to normal the next day, and didn't faint again, but it was hilarious how a plant could express themselves about the shivery cold.

Things are getting a bit trickier with the spinach. The peppers are growing slower and looking a bit sallow, and I'm 90% sure it's because they're not getting enough light. I can't let the spinach get exposed to those 16 hour days the peppers like, so what to do??

Well, I turn all the lights off but the pepper lights, and then put the spinach under a large pot so it completely blocks their light. The spinach can rest, and the peppers can soak up those loooong hours. They have already greened back up and its only been a couple of days.

I also planted the strawberry plants I got, and got the peas started so they'll be ready to go out too.

Finally, got 8 more bags of raised garden bed soil ($!!!) to hopefully finish filling the new back bed.
 

digitS'

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We talk about sunlight exposure with hardening off but there are other outdoor conditions at play.

Wind. Only in recent years have I been using a small fan in the greenhouse but it is nowhere near the wind possibilities outdoors. Temperature differences. There's where I can see a big response and it's not like we can bundle them up when we put them out - they are naked! Some are starting out there and not indoors in the house. In the greenhouse, I have done my best to control temperatures.

In the temporary tunnel, I cannot do a lot. Plants are mostly more mature going into there or they are from seed sown directly into the beds. So the bright sunny days, chilly nights, and the cool cloudy days have been their experience from the get-go. Something surprising to me is how they tend not to burn when I finally pull the plastic film off. Of course, I'm not down on my knees checking every leaf but they can generally take it well and I haven't figured out how to cover-uncover-cover the hoops as conditions change so it was a fairly dramatic change for them.

Steve
 

Branching Out

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A couple of years ago I lost a tray of 48 good-sized lettuce in 4" pots to wind. They were undercover close to the house, so it came as a bit of a shock to open the door and see them all dead after only a day. Now I do not put seedlings out on windy days; they either remain indoors, or they go outdoors with a Reemay cover-- but it is also easy to not notice when the wind kicks up, and if the wind is really strong it can blow the row cover right off, or cause it to flap around and hit the seedlings.

Last spring I asked my mom to sew me some sacks using row cover as the fabric. They are very much like pillow cases, but with a couple of darts added so they can accommodate the bulky shape of a nursery tray and still allow for the height of the seedlings-- or for placing an inverted nursery tray on top to keep the fabric from touching the surface of the soil. The fabric is cut to be considerably longer than the trays, to permit the open hemmed end to be folded and tucked under the bottom of the nursery tray to close off the open end of the fabric case. The white fabric bag adds a few degrees of warmth, filters the sun, tempers the rain so it doesn't wash away the seeds, keeps trays from drying out as quickly on sunny days--and also prevents birds or mice from eating the seeds. The photo on the left shows sunflower seeds poking up, after having been left to their own devices in one of these sacks for almost a week after sowing them last March. I also have a couple of these bags in black, created using thin landscape fabric; those ones are used to hold trays of seeds that need darkness to germinate such as Salpiglossis. You have to be a bit careful sliding the trays in or the sharp edge of the tray will poke a hole in the fabric, but so far they have worked like a charm.

Row cover can be kind of expensive if you buy a small roll at a nursery, but the price comes down a lot if you purchase the larger format online. I purchased a huge roll and split it with a gardening friend; it should last us for years. We paid $54CAD in December of 2022 for a 250ft x 7' roll; that same roll is $70CAD now, but still a good deal for what you are getting. Ours was from William Dam, but Johnny's sells it too. https://www.damseeds.com/products/agribon-ag-19-250ft

P.S. Once she had finished this project my mom said, 'Don't ask me to sew any more of those bags!' :)
 

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digitS'

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I have read ... meaning: I'm not so sure of the validity ... that plastic film and glass each reflect about 10% of the light. UV light doesn't pass through, or, most of it doesn't.

Row cover is a different material. I wonder about light penetration. Light is so critical to plant growth. Even with a single layer of plastic, my plant starts are really delayed by a Spring like we had in the PNW 2022.

Things can be worse in the South Window. Bright, warm and sunny on clear-sky Spring days, it's obviously not the best location during weeks of overcast. Two layers of glass and the vertical angle of the window really defeats sunlight penetration. Nevertheless, the location and natural sunlight have served for plant growth for many years even if I was becoming seriously upset last year. Luckily, the absence of sunny days early was balanced by a very long growing season into the Fall.

Steve
 

AMKuska

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A couple of years ago I lost a tray of 48 good-sized lettuce in 4" pots to wind. They were undercover close to the house, so it came as a bit of a shock to open the door and see them all dead after only a day. Now I do not put seedlings out on windy days; they either remain indoors, or they go outdoors with a Reemay cover-- but it is also easy to not notice when the wind kicks up, and if the wind is really strong it can blow the row cover right off, or cause it to flap around and hit the seedlings.

Last spring I asked my mom to sew me some sacks using row cover as the fabric. They are very much like pillow cases, but with a couple of darts added so they can accommodate the bulky shape of a nursery tray and still allow for the height of the seedlings-- or for placing an inverted nursery tray on top to keep the fabric from touching the surface of the soil. The fabric is cut to be considerably longer than the trays, to permit the open hemmed end to be folded and tucked under the bottom of the nursery tray to close off the open end of the fabric case. The white fabric bag adds a few degrees of warmth, filters the sun, tempers the rain so it doesn't wash away the seeds, keeps trays from drying out as quickly on sunny days--and also prevents birds or mice from eating the seeds. The photo on the left shows sunflower seeds poking up, after having been left to their own devices in one of these sacks for almost a week after sowing them last March. I also have a couple of these bags in black, created using thin landscape fabric; those ones are used to hold trays of seeds that need darkness to germinate such as Salpiglossis. You have to be a bit careful sliding the trays in or the sharp edge of the tray will poke a hole in the fabric, but so far they have worked like a charm.

Row cover can be kind of expensive if you buy a small roll at a nursery, but the price comes down a lot if you purchase the larger format online. I purchased a huge roll and split it with a gardening friend; it should last us for years. We paid $54CAD in December of 2022 for a 250ft x 7' roll; that same roll is $70CAD now, but still a good deal for what you are getting. Ours was from William Dam, but Johnny's sells it too. https://www.damseeds.com/products/agribon-ag-19-250ft

P.S. Once she had finished this project my mom said, 'Don't ask me to sew any more of those bags!' :)
Hmm, I wonder what about the project was so awful? I've never used row cover before. Is it really thick/stiff?
We talk about sunlight exposure with hardening off but there are other outdoor conditions at play.

Wind. Only in recent years have I been using a small fan in the greenhouse but it is nowhere near the wind possibilities outdoors. Temperature differences. There's where I can see a big response and it's not like we can bundle them up when we put them out - they are naked! Some are starting out there and not indoors in the house. In the greenhouse, I have done my best to control temperatures.
My husband bought me a neat little clip on fan for my greenhouse. I think I'll angle it so it's on the cold season stuff more. Help them to realize there's scary wind out there. It's quite possible a gust of wind tormented them while they were out, and there were also raindrops on a few leaves.
 

Branching Out

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I've never used row cover before. Is it really thick/stiff?
Row cover comes in different fabric weights, with the heavier fabrics being more like frost cloth. The Agribon 19 is recommended as about 85% of the light passes through it-- and if for some reason you need extra insulation you can use a double layer of it, but I haven't tried that yet. The fabric is similar to the woven poly fabric used to line disposable diapers. It is thin and not super strong, so you need to be careful not to rip it. I am astounded by how much quicker plants grow when offered the protection of row cover in spring and fall when the weather is on the cool side. That it keeps animals out is such an important bonus too. This photo shows a couple of my carrot patches covered to keep the carrot rust fly out, and the long bed was an experiment I did with sowing seeds of many different types of greens very late in the season on October 7th, and then covering it with row cover. I only sowed this late as a trial; normally mid-September would be the latest time to sow anything around here, but the autumn weather was so lovely I gave it a go. Basically I threw in whatever seeds I had kicking around, including spinach, radish, lettuce, chard, and lot of Asian greens. I covered the plot with the row cover, and while the plants didn't grow much they did germinate and grow a bit before going dormant; I don't think I would have had that outcome without the row cover. The photo on the right was taken 2 weeks after sowing.

When it snowed in the winter I had to take remove the fabric, as it cannot handle even a small snow load. Not a big deal, but important to know. I use 'loop hoops' to hold it up off the ground, so it functions very much like a caterpillar tunnel and can heat up nicely when the sun is out. If you put your hand under there it feels like being in Hawaii. 🌴At night it remains a little warmer too as the fabric traps the heat. If it gets algae on it or when it becomes really dirty I shake off the soil and wash it in the washing machine on gentle. I tried putting it in the dryer and it kind of melted, so now I hang it to dry and it dries really fast. I have one dresser drawer that is dedicated to row cover when it is not in use. At this point in my garden, row cover is a tool that I would not want to be without.
 

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AMKuska

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Row cover comes in different fabric weights, with the heavier fabrics being more like frost cloth. The Agribon 19 is recommended as about 85% of the light passes through it-- and if for some reason you need extra insulation you can use a double layer of it, but I haven't tried that yet. The fabric is similar to the woven poly fabric used to line disposable diapers. It is thin and not super strong, so you need to be careful not to rip it. I am astounded by how much quicker plants grow when offered the protection of row cover in spring and fall when the weather is on the cool side. That it keeps animals out is such an important bonus too. This photo shows a couple of my carrot patches covered to keep the carrot rust fly out, and the long bed was an experiment I did with sowing seeds of many different types of greens very late in the season on October 7th, and then covering it with row cover. I only sowed this late as a trial; normally mid-September would be the latest time to sow anything around here, but the autumn weather was so lovely I gave it a go. Basically I threw in whatever seeds I had kicking around, including spinach, radish, lettuce, chard, and lot of Asian greens. I covered the plot with the row cover, and while the plants didn't grow much they did germinate and grow a bit before going dormant; I don't think I would have had that outcome without the row cover. The photo on the right was taken 2 weeks after sowing.

When it snowed in the winter I had to take remove the fabric, as it cannot handle even a small snow load. Not a big deal, but important to know. I use 'loop hoops' to hold it up off the ground, so it functions very much like a caterpillar tunnel and can heat up nicely when the sun is out. If you put your hand under there it feels like being in Hawaii. 🌴At night it remains a little warmer too as the fabric traps the heat. If it gets algae on it or when it becomes really dirty I shake off the soil and wash it in the washing machine on gentle. I tried putting it in the dryer and it kind of melted, so now I hang it to dry and it dries really fast. I have one dresser drawer that is dedicated to row cover when it is not in use. At this point in my garden, row cover is a tool that I would not want to be without.
Thank you for sharing! I have never done a row cover before, but have some trouble with cabbage moths so was thinking about covering them at first until the moths buzz off to greener pastures.
 

Alasgun

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I have used the Agribon 15 i think; for several years and prefer it over poly for several things.
This year i grew onions under it for the whole season and had the best onions i’ve grown in the last 3 years.

In the fall i cover Kale with the Agribon as well and the plants stand in the bed roughly 3 ft tall under the fabric; thru a lot of our snowy winters. Typically i’ll whack a plant and bring it up to the house where it hangs outside the backdoor until we pluck it clean.
That fabric covers a row of those Kale with 4 plants going into winter. About January the last plant is gone and the Agribon is pretty well frozen to the ground. In the spring if it's useable great and if not; no big deal it’s cheep!
 

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Alasgun

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In the fall, after i’ve cut off the Potato vines; i’ll straw them and put the poly cover on to keep the wet fall off them for 2-3 weeks. Poly is usually hotter and can be useful in the summer too but needs to have good air flow from open ends. So, Think about that! Do you want temperature for a certian crop or do you want an inpenetrable bug barrier? For us; it’s a barrier to Saw flies which can and do affect onions, turnips and cabbages. Once a bed is planted in the spring the next thing is to put the irrigation line in place. After the irrigation is in place i put the agribon on and clip the ends shut. I’ll only open one of these twice during the season as i have no need to be in there!

Cant say enough good about row covers. 1/2 emt conduit and a bender allow you to have all the hoops you need and they are made to fit. All my beds are 3 ft wide by 12 ft long; theres 11 of them and all the hoop hardware fits everything.
 

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