Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ready for Spring to be Sprung Already!

And "Join the Urban Garden Project"

So we're having a bit of a warm spell - during the daytime anyway. But nighttime temps are *still* ridiculously low (Whine-Whine-Whine!). I mean, it's April already, and we're still dipping into the mid-30's?! ("Waaahhhhh!")

But, ya see, I got all these Baby Seedlings that are quickly outgrowing my bathroom windowsill! And I'd prefer not to transplant, then transplant AGAIN (Yeah, I know - call the "Waaaaahhhhmbulance!").

Oh, and to top it off, the Santa Clara Master Gardeners had their Annual Spring Sale yesterday. I hooked up w/P, a fellow Garden-Geek, and I made her PROMISE not to let me buy ANY MORE TOMATOES!

So anyway... ever since I've gotten into this Gardening Thing - to the point where I'm going to Community-Sponsored events (like the Composting Workshop and this Master Gardener's Sale) - I'm discovering that our Fair City has all kinds of cool, secret gems!

Unfortunately, whenever I'm on these jaunts, it never occurs to me to bring a camera along! But anyway...

The Composting Workshop was held at Emma Prusch Farm Park which is actually in a pretty "marginal" part of town. But it's WAY COOL. It's totally like an Old-Time Farm, but they've built a park around it. And they've got "Community Gardens" where folks who may not have growing space can plot out their own individual veggie gardens. And they've got chickens roaming around and stuff. And they've even got a livestock barn where City Kids can raise their 4H/FFA animals. Yeah! Pretty cool! (And quite Appropo - considering that before the whole Computer Age hit, ALL of Santa Clara Valley was farmlands and orchards - I actually remember that!)

Yesterday's Plant Sale was held at San Jose History Park . This is kind of a "Back to the Future" place where it's all "Old Style Downtown." It was kinda hard to get a feel for the place yesterday, because of the THOUSANDS of ppl who showed up with Garden Carts, Little-Red-Wagons and whatnot to load up on TONS of plants. We were sadly unprepared and had to scramble to find boxes to carry our acquisitions! (Note to self: Next year, bring a rolling cart!).

I think I showed amazing restraint (No thanks to P!). I only added ONE tomato plant to my (already excessive) collection! I did pick up a 6-pack of climbing beans, a 6-pack of corn, a couple-three pepper plants (including Ancho-Poblano - a mild chili pepper ideal for making chiles relleno - Mmmmm!), a couple of squashes, and Good-Gawd - Not MORE seeds?!!! P is another Plant Addict so we weren't very good about restraining each other! (I think we're what'cha'd call Co-Dependents!)

Oh, and I picked up some more succulents. There was a lady doing a demo on planting succulents in sphagnum-moss "forms." I bought a little 10" Donut-shaped form and a bunch of succulent cuttings (succulents are insanely easy to grow from cuttings). I figured that'd make a really cool, low-maintenance centerpiece for our Umbrella Table!

When I got home, I decided to tackle the "Donut Garden" first (seemed easiest!). I dampened the sphagnum moss with a spritzy bottle and divvied up the cuttings. Used the pointy-end of a chopstick to poke holes in the moss and added the cuttings, using the fat-end of the chopstick to stuff 'em in.

I gazed at my handiwork and decided it looked a little "sparse." So I glanced over at my "Undersea Garden" and saw that it needed some serious cleaning up (Funny how one seemingly simple Garden-Project can grow into a BIG one!). The "Undersea Garden" was inspired by an episode of Gardening By the Yard. Link to that episode here. I've got this one recorded to DVD and I swear - I drool every time I watch it!

Undersea Garden

Sooooo... I cleaned up the Undersea Garden and scored a whole bunch of fresh cuttings for the Donut Garden (I even have "extras" for P)! I think it came out pretty nice - and it should look even better as the plants start to grow!

Donut Garden on Umbrella Table

Now I just need to remember to go out and spritz it daily until the cuttings take root. Thankfully, succulents are *very* forgiving. They love heat and don't require much water - so I think they actually stand a chance of surviving a summer on our patio! Hell, the Undersea Garden has been totally neglected - and sitting ON the [broilingly hot!] patio - for at least one solid year and *it* was overgrown!

My last project for the day was finishing up one of my Self-Contained, Self-Watering, Not-An-EarthBox® Planters. I posted about that earlier (along with links to an instructional page on how to make 'em). I'm going to plant-up some corn in this one - super-duper-dense planting (so they can pollinate each other easily). I've never had ANY success with growing corn, so my fingers are crossed that maybe this method will work! I thought I had clear plastic - but it got sizzled in the sun - so I'm just gonna use red plastic mulch and see what happens...

Self-Contained-Planter "Under Construction"

Self-Contained-Planter "Complete, but Empty!"


But temps are still too cold at night to plant any summer crops outside. So everything is sitting in the greenhouse for now.......

In Other News: I'm helping to "Spread The Word" about the The Urban Garden Project™.

Quoting from their site: Our goal is to encourage and catalog the creation of 100,000 urban gardens by 2020. For the purposes of our project urban gardening will be defined as anyone growing food and possibly even other resources i.e. backyard chickens, rabbits,etc. within city limits and yes, we do mean vegetable gardens! This can be a container garden on a fire escape all the way up to a full back yard of raised beds and animal cages. Producing a large percentage of the produce that you consume or starting out on the journey to get you there qualifies you for this project! No garden is too small for this project so sign up today.

I don't feel particularly "Urban" since we're definitely on the suburban fringes of San Jose - but, technically, we *are* in City Limits - so I joined 'em!

Anyway, if this is something that might interest you, go on over and check 'em out. They're posting all kinds of interesting ideas. I especially like their compact chicken-coop - but I don't think I'll be able to convince Rog that "fresh eggs" are worth it! Hey - Hens *are* legal in residential San Jose!

So that's the Latest 'n Greatest from my backyard.............

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