WEATHER: We've had some very nice, warm weather, then a few cold days with a lot of rain, then more very nice weather. For the next few days it will be cooler with the possibility of rain off and on, but not freezing. There is still that chance, of course. The average last frost date is around May 10, so hopefully we can do our major planting after that.
PLANTING PLANS: Our plans have been to prepare Tier 4 and three beds on the West side of the yard today, and start planting the things that like it cooler, such as asparagas, parsley, artichokes*, broccoli, kale, lettuce, spinach, calendula. Soon we'll start peas, too, but need to build the trellis first.
SOIL: Since we didn't start the sheet mulching in these areas, we will need to use a quick-start method, mentioned in "Lasagna Gardening", of layering lots of peat along with other organic materials and plant directly in that. We have a lot of soil in piles that was removed from the yard in the leveling process, but are hesitant to mix it in due to weed seeds in it. The soil in the yard has already begun to sprout weeds, so we know they're there!
Last week we found a listing on Craigslist for free "garden manure" which turned out to be well-aged goat manure, right here in Wellington. We've picked up two loads and may return for more. We also have a friend who has offered her alpaca manure. Neither of these need to be composted, and are supposed to be good for the garden. We will use that in addition to peat and the old hay we have. Much of the goat manure is compacted into sheets, so we'll put those through the shredder--it comes out nice & fine.
HOT TUB/PATIO: We've been talking about getting rid of the hot tub, and don't even care about money. We just want someone else to do the work of hauling it. So, I placed an ad on Fort Collins' "Freecycle" site on Thursday morning, offering it for free if anyone would pick it up. By the afternoon I'd received about 7 requests for it. I contacted the first person, who came to look at it that evening and plans to pick it up today. It'll be nice to have it gone since we aren't using it and it's just in the way. Now we can fix up the patio there with a table & chairs.
SEEDLINGS: The tomatoes are huge, since I transplanted them into the larger pots. They really like all that soil. I transplanted one of the endive plants into a larger pot, thinking it would get bigger and we just may eat it. Sure enough, it's a LOT bigger than the ones still in the smaller pots. Too bad I just don't have the space to transplant more things into bigger pots. I'm sure the peppers would like it. Too bad I can't get those tomatoes outside yet! I really goofed, starting them so early. Other things are doing well, but sadly, the seeds I planted two weeks ago haven't sprouted. Several different things: same result. I wonder if I did something wrong with the soil? The only other difference I can think of is that they've been under the lights the whole time, whereas last time I kept them warm at first and not so light, by laying them on top of the light fixtures. Maybe that's the problem? I'm thinking that today I'll go ahead and put new seeds in the same blocks and see if they sprout.
SOIL BLOCKER: I received my 4" soil blocker to transplant the 2" size into them. It took a while to get the process down to make them without falling apart when I eject them. But, a better job of packing the soil in with a stick, wetter soil mix, and very carefully lifting the blocker up straight all helped. I think I've got it down. It's very fun to put the little guys right into the big boys. I'm only transplanting the best plants this time, and not so shy about throwing out the least healthy.
MORE SEEDS: I'll be planting a few more seeds in small blockers, now that there's more space under the lights from the things that are going out this weekend. A few things could use a 2-3 week head start under controlled conditions.
LAYOUT: I've revised the layout plan a bit for where things will be planted. We'll be putting the corn/beans/squash (three sisters) on the NW corner, instead of the NE. There's more room there, and the heighth of the corn won't produce shade for anything else. Tim began to cut down the tree that was there, but left the trunk up until we decide whether we might use it for something like a bird house or scarecrow support. Don't know yet, but we'll probably just take it out.