Spring is in the air! We spent most of the weekend working in the yard, and we made a ton of progress. We’ve planted several early crops (the ones that can be planted before the last frost) including potatoes, spinach, peas, and onions. We also transplanted nine zucchini plants (that had been growing in the house) outside to one of our cold frames, and they made it through the night perfectly. Our other cold frames are completely filled with greens – lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, collards, and mustard. Some have been growing out there all winter, others are recent transplants, but they’re all doing great.
We bought a couple of those upside-down hanging strawberry planters, and we have 40 strawberry roots planted in them… now we just have to wait and see how they do. My husband made a stand for them in about 20 minutes with his welder. He pounded an old metal tree stake into the ground, and then welded an old piece of rebar to the top so it looks like a T. Then he welded a hook to each end of the rebar. It’s a perfect support for the strawberry planters, and we’re hopeful that we’ll have a great berry crop.
We have about 50 tomato plants in our hydroponic garden right now, along with watermelons, basil, lots of peppers, cilantro, parsley, and more baby greens. We had been battling a mite/aphid problem in the hydroponic garden, so we just unleashed 1000 ladybugs last night – about half of them are in the basement garden and the other half are outside in the cold frames. They are chomping away, and I think the mites and aphids are toast. We bought the ladybugs at a garden supply store for $8. That’s half the cost of a bottle of organic mite/aphid spray, and the ladybugs do the work themselves without us having to go around spraying anything. Seems like a good investment. Hopefully the outdoor ladybugs will stick around through the summer – they are definitely my favorite form of pest control.
I’ve been double digging garden beds every chance I get lately. Initially (last summer) my goal was to have eight beds done by planting season this spring, and then we were going to rent a tiller and do some more beds that way. But I’m on bed number 15 now, and I’m nowhere near stopping yet. I’m hoping to get another ten beds done by the end of the month, and hopefully we won’t need the tiller at all – I think I’ll be able to hand dig the entire garden section of the yard. It’s currently my favorite form of exercise, and our son can run around in the yard while I dig. For those who are interested, this is the gardening book we’ve been reading, and it’s where we got the idea to hand dig our garden and make it as a cluster of small raised beds, rather than one large tilled plot. It makes sense, and like I said, I’m thoroughly enjoying the digging process.
Here are some pictures of our little anti-aphid warriors. Aren’t they pretty?