"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just a Few Pictures

It's been a typically temperamental North Idaho spring so far...snow, rain, more rain, wind, sleet, sun, and repeat. Nonetheless our garden is alive and growing both indoors and out. We awoke to a good inch of snow on Thursday...

...but by mid-afternoon it had dissipated and the sun even managed a brief appearance.

Boy was busy inspecting the remnants of last year's corn as he cut it up into little pieces that will eventually be tilled back into the soil (a chore I didn't quite finish last fall).

These turnip greens have found their way into our salads almost every day since last November...definitely one of our hardiest greens.

Kale is finally staging a nice comeback, it was a rough winter for kale...a few too many freeze and thaw cycles.

In the greenhouse a pot of Hamburg parsley held over from last year puts on new green growth. You are supposed to eat the root but we find ourselves enjoying the greens too.

Onions seedlings are alive and well, growing oh so slowly.

With no room in the house I had to kick the just germinated basil out to the greenhouse...fingers crossed that it survives the cold, so far so good. I must admit to cheating a bit though as I have an oil heater that I turn on when necessary. Even so, I am tempting fate as the heater only graces me with a difference of 6 or 7 degrees, if it falls under 25°F outside my basil will freeze inside.

Comfrey needs to be planted out in the next day or so.

These little spinach and turnip seedlings were planted outside last night, more spinach will be direct seeded into the garden once it warms up a bit more. Normally we plant turnips in the late summer/early fall to avoid root maggots, but I thought I would take another shot at spring turnips this year.

Various other herbs, flowers, and salad greens are alive and well in the greenhouse.

Tomatoes will have to stay in the house for at least another week before we can get around to potting them up at which time the plants in our little arboretum will be set out under a covered row to make room for their less hardy brethren. Hopefully my next post will show us potting up tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

65 comments:

Oxray Farm said...

How beautiful they all are.

I really need a green house, doing the "harden off" dance takes forever! Did you build your green house from scratch? We've been looking at green house kits lately and dreaming....

Mr. H. said...

Oxray Farm - I went to Ziggy's and took a bunch of pictures of the greenhouses they sell, bought the lumber from them and built my own for half the price...wish I would have made it longer though, I might add on to it this year. The most expensive part was the plastic sheeting...not cheap, but the type we bought is supposed to last for a long, long time.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Your seedlings do grow fast listening to music. You have a very good little garden helper there. I have not seen him for a while and he does seems to grow very fast too. Everything look so good. I am very curious with kale as I will grow them first time this fall.

Mr. H. said...

Malay-Kadazan girl - The boy is growing like a weed, he even asked me if he was big enough to rototill the garden this year.:) I think you will really, really like the kale and can't wait to see yours growing.

Annie's Granny said...

So many seedlings, and so healthy looking!

I think the day you got snow, we got hail. Ours didn't last long though, and the garden appreciated the moisture. It looks like we'll have a lovely gardening week upcoming.

I have a question. Is Russian Baby determinate or indeterminate? I can't find any information on it on line. Oh, and how about Bloody Butcher? Some say it's short and determinate, others say it gets really tall and is indeterminate! I must say, the seeds you sent have grown the sturdiest, healthiest looking plants!

Mrs. Mac said...

You had snow ... we had two inches of gropple in about 30 minutes. Your garden greens look great! That's quite a garden helper/boy you have .. he's growing fast! Must be all the goodies from grandpa's garden :)

kelli said...

thanks for sharing! your plants look great.

question: how do you keep the snow off those hoops for winter gardening?

Mr. H. said...

Granny - Russian Baby is an indeterminate and I consider Bloody Butcher to be more of a semi- determinate even though I think it is classified as an indeterminate. Either way it does good in large pots, we grew it that way last year and were pleased with the results. We are growing all of the tomato varieties you shared and they look really good so far...can't wait to see how the fruits look come July.

Mrs. Mac - When I run up around the hills in your area it always surprises me that is can be snowing up there and raining at my house...a little elevation really makes a lot of difference. The road on the other side of the lake is almost all the way under water this year. The grandson has enjoyed riding his bike through it.:)

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Looks like you're as anxious to get out in the garden as I am! What variety of turnip do you grow for greens? The variety that I attempted to get greens from last year had painful little stickers in them, which softened when cooked but were awful raw.

Geno said...

Your seedlings are looking great! We have only just started figuring out how we want to do our garden. It feels as if we will never get there sometimes. Oh well, eh? We had just a slight dusting here from the storm that was gone just after the sun popped up!

Mr. H. said...

Kelli - Our hoops, spaced about 2 1/2 feet apart, will hold about 2 feet of light snow or 1 foot of heavy wet snow. I like to use a broom and simply brush the snow away...of course Mrs. H doesn't think too much of that when she goes to use it on the kitchen floor and it's all wet.:)

Vegetable Garden Cook - I grow Seven Top turnips with a little rutabaga seed mixed in. I think our seven top turnips are the prickly ones you are talking about...you can use any turnip for greens though. Gold Ball and Purple Top would be good varieties to try.

Geno - It can get overwhelming at times. Our first garden was only 4 x 8' and contained salad greens, a couple tomatoes, a few carrots, and a zucchini plant. If I had limited space or time I think come mid May I would simply direct seed beets, carrots, potatoes, kale and other salad greens....maybe a couple zucchini plants as they are just to easy not to grow.:)

kelli said...

ha! thanks mr. h! i'll have to read up on winter growing. it would be so nice to have greens all year round!

Silke said...

I cannot believe that you are having snow and we have gone straight to summer - 91 yesterday, 82 today and 86 tomorrow. If you see our spring, would you please send it back here?!

Your greens look wonderful! We've had to harvest and freeze our collards already - it was getting to warm for them! Our tomatoes are flowering already and the basil is doing well. Our ramps are getting huge...

Happy April!! :) Silke

Mike said...

"I went to Ziggy's and took a bunch of pictures of the greenhouses they sell, bought the lumber from them and built my own for half the price"

That's exactly what we did too! Except we bought our lumber from a discount lumber store. A significant savings from the sticker price.

Will you take a picture of your greenhouse from the doorway into the greenhouse? If you have time I'd like to see what your shelving arrangement looks like. We are always out of room in the greenhouse! Need to storm up some ideas of where to add shelves.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

WOW! what big greens you have :o) Everything looks wonderful and how blessed to have a large greenhouse, to have a greenhouse at all...and Chickens :o(..I envy you them both ;o(..except the work it takes to keep them going :o)

Mark Willis said...

I'm interested in the Hamburg Parsley... I'm growing it for the first time this year. Have you ever used the root? If so, how do you cook it? Does the root taste like conventional Parsley?

Ryan said...

I found lots of good information about winter gardening in the Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman.

kitsapFG said...

That Hamburg Parsley is a beautful plant! It is a tonic to see all those flats of seedlings happily "growing on" - like a little draught of spring. We continue to have a cooler (and wetter) than normal spring so far and it has been a challenge to stay close to my normal schedule. The potatoes went in this weekend and are about two weeks behind when I usually put them in.


The kale and turnip greens look in excellent health. I did not have near enough kale going into the winter as I should have had (or turnips) because my husband got a little too generous with the hens and our "eating crop" was depleted down below where it should have been. I hope to keep his enthusiasm in better check this coming fall.

I hope the weather gives you a break soon so you can get some of the larger seedlings into the ground and your warm weather seedlings potted up.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

My golly its good to see what's going on there! And so much growth! But ugh...that snow. Great work on keeping everything growing thru the winter. I can't wait to really go at the gardening full tilt!

Jane said...

We too, have had a rough winter/spring here in PA. My poor greenhouse should be producing abundant greens, but they trickle in. It has been too cold and too wet and the sun never came out to warm anything up. I keep debating weather to add some type of heat. All your seedlings look wonderful. Here's hoping that we can make up for this bad start, with a good growing season.

Tina Marie said...

Your blog is what iunspires me to push the limits and grow year round. The parsley is gorgeous!

Buttons said...

Mr H I am amazed at all the plants you have growing, but then again I remember your pantry a thing of beauty. I love the photos and am reminded I must get more then my kale and tomatoes started. They are all I have sprouting at this moment. You have inspired me to get moving. We have no snow and I am happy for that.
Good luck with making it through the few cold nights left(I hope). You will be busy as it is getting warmer every day. B

Sinfonian said...

Wow, that may be a "few" pictures, but a TON of seedlings. Amazing. I don't have room for half that! Well done sir!

Dani said...

Mr H - hectic! If only half of your seedlings mature you're going to have an amazing crop :-) Makes my little efforts look absolutely paltry by comparison LOL

One of the crops I am unable to grow is turnip - the snails love them! And I feel that turnips are an absolutely necessity in a chicken soup!

Greenside Up said...

Lots germinating for you! What a surprise to see snow... we've had glorious weather here in Ireland for the past couple of weeks and had almost forgotten the white stuff. It's forecast to turn here again this week though but the cloches in your garden seem to work a treat.

goingtoseed said...

Your overwintered greens look great.

In your pictures it appears they haven't bolted yet. Is this true for all your overwintered brassicas?

Dan

Mr. H. said...

Kelli - A simple row cover over our garden beds allows us to pick greens like Swiss chard all the way into late December and others greens like parsley, kale, and turnip every day of the year if we are lucky.:)

Silke - It usually doesn't warm up too much around here until May and even then we have frost until June many years. My collards are just coming up.:) How neat that your tomatoes will produce so very early, hope they provide an abundance of fresh goodies for you this year. I'm sure that Daniel will keep a good eye on them.:) Happy April to you too.

Mike - Good for you, I'm sure glad we built it ourselves but wish I would have made it a bit longer...I might have to fix that. The next time I post I will include pictures of the greenhouse that show the inside from the doorway and some of the makeshift shelves we have added.

Ginny - One of those flats in the greenhouse that didn't make it into the picture is full of collard greens waiting to be planted out...can't wait until they look like yours did.

Mark - The root of Hamburg parsley tastes like very, very mild parsley and has the texture of a parsnip. We like to use it grated raw in our salads or chopped up as an addition to stir fry dishes. They store really well and the ones in to pot will be planted out in a few days and allowed to go to seed. Most people do not like eating the tops, but we are a little weird and also add them to our salads. This will only be our second year of growing Hamburg parsley so we are pretty new to it too.

Ryan - Eliot Coleman has a couple very good books on gardening in cold climates. We have his "Four Season Harvest" book but I have never read the Winter Harvest Handbook...I will have to do so soon, thanks for the tip.

Laura - It has been a cool rainy spring here too and planting potatoes will have to wait for maybe another couple weeks as it never fails that I plant them too early and have to worry about the newly emerging growth getting frosted in May. Your husband sounds like our grandson who is forever wanting to pick greens (and worms) out of the salad garden for the chickens, at least we can still reap the rewards via there nutritious delicious eggs.:)

Sis - It's pouring rain today...yuck. Slowly but surely we will both get our gardens together...yours a bit sooner than mine I suppose. I am looking forward to the 1st of July when I can look around and see that everything is finally all planted and growing. Them chickens were sure giving me trouble yesterday, I was trying to move a fence and they kept charging into the garden through the gape I made...I must have looked quite the fool chasing them around in the rain.:)

Jane - It can be hard to get anything to grow quickly without any warmth and sunshine. We are having the same issue and I have had to start all of my seeds inside the house this year before putting them into the greenhouse or else nothing would have germinated. Hope we both get a little more sunshine soon.:)

Tina Marie - You made my day.:) Thanks!

Buttons - Yes, before I know it the weather will be nice, the plants will be planted, and my main garden chore will be tending to the weeding. Good luck with your planting this year.:)

Mr. H. said...

Sinfonian - Yes, there are lots of seedlings to tend. Now I just need to get some of these greens in the ground so I can quite babysitting them in the greenhouse...but I must say they are a lot easier to manage than baby chickens.:)

Dani - I have lots of luck growing turnips in the winter but not so much during the summer months as we have so many issues with root maggots. Too bad about your slug issues, I can only imagine how big they get in Africa. But yes, turnips do make an excellent addition to soup.:)

Greenside Up - I think without the cloches we would lose at least 5-6 months of growing....they make a world of difference in what we can keep alive during the cold months. Hopefully we have seen the last of the snow for this year...fingers crossed.:)

Dan - Most of our over wintered brassicas do not start bolting until the first part of May when it finally warms up around here...sometimes earlier. usually the turnips bolt first followed by kale and then finally the chicories.

contadina said...

Goodness, seeing all your seedlings is all the more impressive considering your climate.

It was 32C here yesterday and certain plants are already looking leggy.

Heiko said...

Snow! Good Lord! With us summer has broken out early this year and I'm struggling to keep everything under control. Weeds are taking over. Time to plant the zucchini, lettuces growing wild, especially your Red Lettuce! Pak Choi bolting to seed. It's mad here. Don't get a chance for a breether and posting on the blog

Sense of Home said...

All that green has made me a little jealous. At least most of our white is gone, I am getting itchy to start planting.

-Brenda

Kimberly @ We Call Her Momma said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures of your to-be fabulous garden.

Have you seen the way this guy grows? http://easiestgarden.com/ Scroll down for until you see the plants in the blue barrel.

It gently snowed all day Friday but turned to rain once it hit the ground. Lightly snowed all day Saturday and nothing much stuck. In town Saturday afternoon it was 55 degrees. The 15 minute drive home (and up in elevation) the temp dropped to 33. Sunday...sunny and WINDY.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

"I must have looked quite the fool chasing them around in the rain.:)"

Happens to the best of us, Brother!

thyme2garden said...

Mr. H., when you pot up your seedlings, how do you separate each seedling without damaging the roots? It looks like you are growing many (very neat) rows of seedlings fairly close to each other in each container without any divisions. Do you first turn them upside down somehow to get them out of the container(how??) and then separate, or do you slice/scoop out each small section with a seedling each, maybe like cutting very small individual slices of brownies out of a pan? :-)

WeekendFarmer said...

NICE! You are all ready for the season. I bet it smells wonderful in the green house!!!

What do you do with the comfrey?

villager said...

Wow. It's great to see all those seedlings growing, I do believe you have even more than I do! I've managed to keep my basil inside so far. The tomatoes went in the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago.

Kale is bolting here, as are most of the overwintered greens except spinach. We have plenty of other greens to eat so it's ok.

How big a pot do you grow those tomatoes in? I had someone ask me about that the other day. My answer was "really big"!

Mr. H. said...

Contandina - It can be challanging, which is one of the reasons we start so many of our plants in trays...it gives us a bit of a head start compared to direct seeding. Hope it is sunny and warm where you are.

Heiko - That is so good to hear, anything is better than rain and mudslides. I very much look forward to hearing more about your gardening adventures on the terraces. I can't wait until I can try some of my own red lettuce this year.:)

Brenda - It does seem like it takes forever for it to warm up enough for gardening some years...especially in your area. Hope you are able to do so soon...sometimes harsh winters lead to great summers, fingers crossed.:)

Kimberly - Thanks for the link, I loved seeing his vertical and barrel gardens....what a great way to grow with limited space. Sounds like winter is hanging in there for you too. With any luck the tantrums of spring will soon be over and we can get on with some warmer weather.:)

Thyme2garden - Most seedlings can be grown really close together and then simple lifted out in a clump, we use a big spoon for this, and gently pulled apart and transplanted. Tomatoes are especially easy to do this way. the nice thing about this for us is that is saves so much room when starting the seeds.

WeekendFarmer - Comfrey is supposed to be an excellent healing herb, green manure and liquid fertalizer, and can be used for animal fodder...chickens are supposed to like eating it. That said, we are growing it for the first time this year so I don't have any experience with it as of yet.

Mr. H. said...

Villager - Those seedlings to the left of the Hamburg parsley are your Speckled Trout lettuces I believe.:) Most of our tomatoes are planted in the ground but the ones we put into pots go into old (I'm guessing) 6-8 gallon fruit tree pots that we have on hand. I know that Granny has good luck growing hers in 5 gallon buckets.

Mike said...

Thanks for the link! That's the idea we were thinking about. Might need to start building some more shelves! Pretty cool blog too might I add!

Susan (aka Sunny) said...

Hey, thanks Mr H. for recommending The Halpern Homestead blog to The Beer Garden...cool to hook up with other local growers : )

Leigh said...

Your trays of seedlings are a sight to behold. Your greens look good too. I showed your row covers to my DH and we are definitely going to do that next winter too. I learned quite a bit about winter food storage this year. Not all successful but all valuable for planning next year.

Mr. H. said...

Mike - No problem, I thought you might find her sight and the way her greenhouse was constructed interesting...and yes it is a great blog too.

Sunny - Yes, we have all been admiring that wonderful greenhouse of yours and the way you grow your plants...very impressive.:)

Leigh - I hope you do get a chance to grow some of your greens under cover...it works great. I would imagine with your slightly milder climate your cold weather crops could over winter really well with a little added protection.

6512 and growing said...

Mike, apologies if you've already answered this question a million times, but I'm wondering what sort of plastic you recommend for covering your hoop houses. I'm looking for something that will last as long as possible.
Thanks!
And what a lovely little nursery of baby plants you're nurturing.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Just stopping by to see if you had any thoughts on the shocking elimination on DWTS?
;-)

Mr. H. said...

6512 and Growing - We now use 6 mil plastic sheeting that comes in rolls that are 10 ft x 100 ft long and can be purchased at most hardware type stores. Most of our plastic row covers are over 5 years old and still in pretty good shape. I use to go with 4 mil plastic but the thicker stuff holds up a little better.

Ohio - That darn peoples vote...I was a bit surprised that they kept Kendra over my childhood idol Sugar Ray, but in truth they are all doing pretty darn well...much better than I thought some of them would do. Who is your favorite? I'm now rooting for Ralph...I think.:)

jimmycrackedcorn said...

Those seedlings look good. I haven't ever sowed tomato seeds in one big tray like that. How do you pot them up? Just sort of tear the roots apart?

Ms. Adventuress said...

Beautiful growth...SO much loveliness! Thank you for all these photos...LOVE them.

I need to eat more kale...but have such a hard time enjoying the potent flavor. I need to seek out a milder tasting, winter hardy kale, I'm guessing.

And...here's hoping you arrived at your destination...greeted by some of the positive energy you sent to it. (I did this myself...and it appears it worked.)

Can't wait for more...

Ohiofarmgirl said...

That darn people's vote is right! Actually I usually refrain from watching until they boot the..um... "ladies of ill repute." Its my own little protest. Once they brought Hugh H into the scene I just turned a blind eye. But she'll be gone soon. In the meantime I just watch Entertainment Tonite for the wrap up.
;-)

Mr. H. said...

Jimmycrackedcorn - It's a great way to grow a bunch of seedlings in a small area and, yes, we gently tease them apart when it is time to re-pot. Tomatoes are especially easy to work this way. We have to be a little more gentle with peppers and eggplants but not much.

Ms. Adventuress - With the kale, try dicing it into super fine strips...it is much more palatable that way. I hate to say this but the posative energy thing backfired on me. Every thing that could go wrong has gone wrong the past couple days...such is life, and nothing too serious.:)

Ohio - Our biggest problem is that we always miss the final dances because we have fallen asleep, must be getting old...or getting up too early....those darn chickens.:)

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

So happy, finally arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Thank you so much.

Mr. H. said...

I'm a bit surprised, I thought they were lost in transit as I shipped them over 6 weeks ago...glad to hear they finally made it.:)

Wendy said...

wow, that will be a LOT of potting up! How fun that you can have snow outside and all this activity indoors. Your stuff is always such a feast for the eyes...

Mr. H. said...

Wendy - I think the latest it has ever snowed in my area is June 6th...I'm hoping we "don't" break that record this year.:)

Kelly said...

Wow you have a lot growing, I hope the temps hold up for you in the greenhouse.

Mr. H. said...

Kelly - It's been pretty cold out but so far so good in the greenhouse. Snowed again yesterday afternoon and covered all our new transplants but they they seem none the worse for wear this morning even though they never did get much of a chance to harden off outside.

LynnS said...

Your seedlings look so nice and soooo green! I must confess that turnip seedlings (transplanting turnips) is a new one for me. Do you do this because your early Spring soil is so wet?

Keep the snow in Idaho! We're overwhelmed by rain here!

Mr. H. said...

Lynn - Normally we plant turnips by seed in late summer for a late fall harvest in order to avoid the root maggots that plague our turnip crop during spring and summer. This year I thought I would try planting a few turnips very early just to see if I could harvest some early turnips before the bugs appear. Transplanting was the quickest way to get them germinated and into the ground...wish me luck.:)

Chris Brock (under the Chestnut tree) said...

Wow - you are REALLY ready for spring aren't you? What an amazing array of seedlings! I'm thinking that my spring green house will look a little like yours in many months time - except with snow much less likely, lots of stuff will be direct seeded. Our Basil didn't do very well last year in the cool summer we had - except in the hot house

Mr. H. said...

Chris - We are trying to get ready, now if the weather would just help us out a bit.:) I look forward to seeing your spring garden and greenhouse. Stay warm.

Elizabeth said...

green houses are amazing things. Your plants look so good.
Peace and Raw Health,
E

LynnS said...

So, do turnips like snow?? lol

Mr. H. said...

Lynn - Turnips are probably the one vegetable that doesn't mind the snow all that much...Our spring weather has been steadily getting colder each year since about 2007...time to come up with better plans for early planting like leaving the row covers up until at least mid April. Normally I try to get them down early because the wind is so wicked around here in the spring that I just can't keep the covers on, I'll have to fix that issue I guess.

Buttons said...

I love coming here I always learn so much. I am still waiting to plant it is raining again and very cool.Things do not grow as well in my basement. Darn rain I want to get out into the dirt. Thanks for always teaching us about gardening experiences. I am sure you will have great luck with your new plants. B

Casey said...

I meant to get measurements when i visited. I am trying to get some material together to build a poly tunnel/ caterpillar. what is your row width and whats the length of the poly pipes?

Mr. H. said...

Casey - The pipe is cut into into 8' 4" lengths and the rows are approximately 4 feet wide. You can read more about how I put them together at -
Extending the Growing Season

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