Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring waits for nobody

Spring waits for nobody. Now that May has almost arrived, everything is coming back to life. Here in south-central Wisconsin, we are apparently about 2 weeks ahead of schedule in terms of temperature. I have heard that people are already putting their tomatoes out. This sounds a little risky.

This past week I took off 3 days for a working vacation, to put in some hard time in the garden and in the dome. Spring waits for nobody, so there is no time like the present.

Priority one was to get the dome finished. I finished applying mortar to the interior walls. What was next was to finish up the garden beds, which Katie and I designed. In the foreground are two partially buried pots that contain grape vines. Above are to lines that the vines will grow on (hopefully!).

Here is a shot from above, me standing on the foundation wall. You can see the star pattern of the beds with narrow paths. We decided to not put a bed on the right (north-east) and to use that spot as a work area and a place to grow grapes. I spent Friday afternoon after a long night of playing music with Not On Mars shoveling wood chips that we're freely available at the Mount Horeb municipal compost site and bringing them home for use on the dome floor. Looks nice, doesn't it? I've moved several yards of some fiine A'mer'kin horse manure and chicken-poop compost into these beds, with several more yards to go. Should grow some fine veggies with this mix.

Aiden has been very helpful, too, helping Dad cut and drill boards for raised beds. Oo! Looks like he left his tools out! :)

On the inside post for the grape lines, I put hooks which are now holding potted strawberries. Pretty soon I will put up 2 or 3 of these outside to hang the strawberries, as the dome will be too warm for them. This post will end up having four different heirloom variety tomato plants, mostly smaller varieties, which will cascade down around the post. I can't wait to see (and taste!) this when it's flourishing. :)

Here is another shot of the grape line and hanging post.

It's time to get our young plants in the ground. Katie was thinking of having the tomatoes run the outer perimeter of the beds. Tomatoes in the back, then herbs and other goodies in the front.

Strawberries are getting some flowers on them. I bought these bare-root. I'm going to try and winter them in a buried box this winter.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring is in the air!

Nothing like knowing that Spring has sprung, that we turn the tide now against the hard winter and smile in anticipation of the coming growth. It's intoxicating!

We have been very busy throughout most of the winter. And now that Spring is shifting from 1st, to 2nd and soon into 3rd gear, there is a sense of urgency to get everything going. Lots to do is an understatement.

Katie and I finally settled on a design for the beds on the inside of the dome greenhouse. Ergonomically and mathmatically, the number is 6: There will be 6 beds separated by 6 walkways. There will be ample space for hanging as well, which will be pretty cool (and delicious!). Eventually, we will have grape and hops that will be trained up archways that are partially suspended from the interior of the dome. Tres cool.

Another shot of the beds so far. I still have a good deal of mortar/plaster work to tend to. As I complete wall space, I will follow with raised beds and fill from our local horse stables.

These guys are being transplanted outside. This is everything (minus a few that already made it outside) that survived the winter. One of our experiments was to put these plants through a cold winter outside just to see who would make it. I may have explained this in a previous entry, but what I did was dig a big hole where the cold frame would go and fill it with horse manure and other compost-able material to supply warmth to the root zones of the plants in the cold frame in the dead of winter. The result? A lot of kale, spinach, chard and onions made it!

These are itching to get into new beds. Here we have a few lettuce varieties, cauliflower (not personally fond of it), tomatoes and some other things. These last few days we are looking at frost in the night time - and now that I have disassembled the cold frames, we will be bringing a good deal of these inside for the evening - at least for a few days until the sudden sub-freezing goes away again.

Downstairs, there are still 2 trays of herbs that are waiting to make their way into new, comfy raised beds in the dome. I am thinking that most of the herbs will do really well in the dome, where the warmth will be constant and high as we move into summer. Our strawberries will eventually have to be moved outside. Kale, spinach and chard as well.

Things are progressing nicely. Next up I will show you the new fruit and nut trees and the other goodies we are putting in as the time comes.