Friday, May 6, 2016

Still digging

This will be short.  I´m tired.

So far in the veg patch after a week of sunny weather.  Potatoes, onions and now a mixed bed of lettuce, onions, spinach and strawberry starts, just because I have to plant them before they fry.  The potato bed took 5 mornings, the onion bed 2 mornings, and the last bed 1 four hour session.  So far, my technique is lifting with a garden fork, clearing weed roots, rocks and assorted trash.  Phase 2 is turning with a garden spade and removing roots, stones, and trash.  Shape bed/fertilize maybe, and plant.  Lots still to do.

Seeds mostly refusing to start.

Except these, which I managed to knock face down on the ground.  Was it the marigolds or basil?  No, it was the green, purple and peach tomatillos that you can´t get here and the only things that had shown signs of life in the 10 days they´ve been watered and moved in and out and generally fussed over.  Gah.

 I can´t find peas.  V bought a box from the ag co-op store, but they´re dyed pink with fungicide - don´t really want to plant them.  Too late anyway?

Can I direct plant carrots, parsnips, beans, corn etc., now?  The parsnip seed is from last fall - still OK? Saving the very scarce compost/manure for tomatoes and corn - better used elsewhere?

Supposed to rain for the next 2-3 days.  Great, I can catch up on the housework - said no-one ever.


  1. What hard work, but worth the investment of energy...well that is what we tell ourselves as we plod along with getting our veg plots ready! But I think you are having a harder time of it, so well done, and not to worry about the upturned tray, we have all been there with that one!

  2. Your not too late for peas beans carrots, peas and beans are best started in modules, carrots direct sowing, try Leroy Merlin for seeds they have a good selection including organic seeds, or the plant shop in Sarria,( might have spelt that wrongly.)You are too late for parsnip's, put last years seed in the freezer, it should be OK for next year with luck. Sweet corn we would always plant in modules maize on the other hand direct sowing but I guess you are talking about sweet corn, it is getting a bit late to sow it but it's worth a try.

  3. Thank you both. It is hard work. V and the neighbors think I´m crazy and have said so. I have to believe it´s worth it, though.

    Will try the parsnips anyway. You can´t get those here either. Bought seeds from the LM in Santiago, but didn´t see organic. Will pass by again. Need nasturtiums and hollyhocks.

    1. Erosky also used to be good for seeds, parsnips need cold to germinate, you could try sowing the seeds in a tray that you don't need again, plave the tray in the fridge for a few days then break off the end of the tray so you can slide the whole compost block into the bed you want to grow them in, so you don't disturb the seeds at all. Simon says the good plant and seed shop is in Monforte de Lemos, I think I gave you the road name once before. Good luck with the gardening, I must say thing are somewhat easier to grow here although we don't have such a long season.

  4. Hi Coco,

    I reckon you learn more when things are going wrong - and you have to correct them - than when they are going very well and it was all too easy.

    Seeds sprout in their own time - usually I've flooded seeds on soil to get them to start rapidly and that may be worth an experiment. If things are too dry then they don't germinate. Too wet and they succumb to fungi. It is a fine balance, but no doubt you'll get there. The only reason I mention this is because to me your potting mix looks a bit too dry, but that may be a thing here. I don't really know.

    You may be interested to know that the carrots are sprouting from self sown seeds here right now (they're a bit weedy really) and turn up all over the place. I've noticed that carrots become misshapen if transplanted but tend to be perfectly shaped if grown from seed in place.

    One year is nothing for well saved seeds. Go hard with the parsnips and they will work hard for you breaking up clayey soil - which is what they do best.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the fungicide and simply try to collect seeds from the grown plants for the next year.

    Tomatoes like a mix of compost and woody mulch - because they appear to me to be originally a forest edge plant and that is the soils you'd find in such places. My error with the tomatoes has been not supporting them as they grew and the place turned into a tomato jungle... You may be interested to know that I'm still harvesting fresh tomatoes even this late into autumn.

    Nasturtiums would love your part of the world, although they like full sun and lots of room to trail about the place. Hey, you may be interested to know that over winter down here they die back leaving a whole lot of woody looking dead vines. The seedlings re-grow the following late spring in the shade of those dead vines so they become a more or less permanent green and that saves a whole lot of hassle digging and clearing.



  5. It´s been raining again so no progress digging. Am now thinking I may run out of room for corn. Bought some pea starts at the market but still mulling a support system. Nights are between 4 and 8 degrees the next 2 weeks - to warm for parsnips? I´m surprised all this has to happen so early.

    Seeds, other than herbs and flowers, are not showing me much. Tried to water from below and keep them warm enough, but there you are.

    Tomatoes don´t want to ripen here because of the cool nights. Was going to put them closer to the wall to see if that helped. Again, need a structure.

    Will direct seed the nasturtiums and borage for the bees.

    So much to do. Thanks for all the advice!

    1. Hi Coco,

      Thanks for sending some rain down here today (25mm+ so far)! It is hard to figure this stuff out, and it is different every year, which doesn't help. The overnight lows are not too much of a problem - maybe - as it can get as low as 5 over night on some summers nights here.

      As a suggestion only, I plant seeds at about a depth which is the same distance from the surface as the width of the seed (bigger seeds are then planted a little bit deeper). With the watering, I flood the soil surface which is much closer to the seed as the seed may need that water (plus the combination of heat and light) to trigger the germination.

      Moving the tomatoes closer to the wall is a good idea. I found - and it may well be different in your part of the world - that tomatoes with more direct sunlight hours ripened far earlier than those that had a bit of shading in the morning - even an hour or two made a huge difference this year. I don't know how that compares with yours? Also, even here it is too cold for the larger varieties of tomato fruit so I grow exclusively cherry tomatoes which are a mid sized fruit. I tend to avoid the really small tomatoes though and grew a huge crop of yellow tomatoes but they were a pain to harvest - although they were tasty. It may be the variety that you are growing though. They are also a very thirsty crop (10 minutes per day watering here is essential) and the mid sized cherry tomato fruits are more hardy to drought than the larger fruits which become powdery and lack taste in the dry - well, to my tastes anyway.

      You may find your parsnips may over winter and sprout in autumn only to reappear in spring? It is hard to know but that is what I'm seeing here (without the winter die off). Tubers tend to be very winter hardy - for good reason.

      Nasturtiums are definitely a summer crop here. And borage is excellent but sprouts in autumn but is very sun, dry and heat hardy - but they also love really wet and damp soils and run feral through the forests higher up here.

      Hope that helps. I'm learning with all of this stuff too. You get a little bit better every year. There doesn't seem to be the great leaps of inspiration. It is all little hard won steps at a time. :-)!



  6. Definitely in the R&D phase on gardening, so we´ll see what works, if anything. Better to try and fail now while there´s still produce in the shops.

    The wall itself will shade the morning sun, until about 11. But from then on tomatoes etc. should be in full sun (if we ever get any) until nightfall. All I can do is try. I´m thinking if I can find some wire mesh for reinforcing cement, I´ll rig up some panels between stakes. Either that or some kind of netting. We´ll see.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.