Monday, April 15, 2013

The community garden has ended for the season

Sunday was a bittersweet day. Pam and I cleared the last remnants of the garden beds and we took all the seedling and transplant trays from the  Oakland County Greenhouse as it was closing today for the season. We had a good run there, growing lots of greens and vegetables for winter eating and Vicki and I learned a lot about growing our own food through the winter. We probably won't get another bed there next year as we'll have our own greenhouses to grow in.

We probably won't grow as many seedlings over the winter either. We are now inundated in the nursery with the small 72-cell trays on the benches in the backyard. I really didn't want to put these outside as they might be tender, but we were forced to as we are just plain out of space anywhere else. I'll have to keep an eagle eye out for dryness and water them well.

The nursery benches, filling up!
The transplants that came out of the greenhouse look great. They are deep green and compact, perfect for going into the garden. The germination on the seedling trays was spotty, I think we lost a fair bit of seed when the trays were on the bed by the window. The seed sat cold and wet and rotted.

Pink Chionodoxa buds
Hellebore buds

Puschkinia or striped squill
This last weekend was an exciting one for the nursery. I went to the two markets and had to sit in the cold and wet but had two decent days. And Vicki made her debut at the Oakland County Market by herself! I was so proud of her, she and I loaded the car and got into it almost as many trays as I can fit into the van. She went and set up, posting a picture on Facebook that looked great. I helped her with signs and we both sold the heck out of the produce we had cleared from the Oakland County greenhouse.

The garden develops slowly. The first minor bulbs, out in March last year, are just now showing color. Scilla, Chionodoxa or Glory-of-the-snow and puschkinia or striped squill are all starting to make their appearances. These bulbs are great for underplanting shrubs or even for growing in the lawn. They come up and do their thing so early that by the time you are mowing the lawn the foliage has almost ripened and disappeared - so they are not bothered by mowing. The colors are soft and deep. The buds on the hellebore are a rich purple-plum and I think they'll open to a soft greeny-white.

The nursery benches are almost filled. I think I'll have to set up benches at Vicki's to handle the next big shipment this next week, as I just don't know where we are going to put all the plants. Happily I think this is the light at the end of our endless potting, this next shipment is the last of the big orders coming in. We only have a few trays coming through May and into June. Until we get the Mums by the end of May we're looking good.

Oh, did I say I ordered Mums? I went to Minnesota mums in Faribault, Minnesota. They are known for their winter-hardiness. The mums are also not the gumdrop -shaped mounds that you normally see but have a taller and airier structure fitting better, I think, into the perennial garden. I can't wait to see these in May. They were really reasonably priced, I got 12 varieties and we've got 300 plants total. We'll be growing them in 4 1/2" pots and trying to get them to market by early August, before the heat of mum season. I think the earlier you plant a chrysanthemum, the better it is for their survival in the garden.

A busy season, right now. And Pam, Vicki, Erin and I are loving it. Next post will be all about the raised bed vegetable garden beds that we'll be building at Vicki's this week. Wish us luck!

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