Every year I learn a little bit more about what works in the garden and what doesn’t.

Walking Onions

I’m not a natural at this gardening stuff, so just about everything is trial and error. Lots of error, but I don’t give up so every year things are a little better.

New compost bin.

The biggest thing so far in 2020 is that cow manure can work wonders. I love my mountain of chips, but they can take years of applying to achieve great results. Those onions above were looking sorry as heck. I applied some manure and they perked up almost overnight.

I have an unlimited supply of manure, grass clippings, kitchen waste, etc. Never thought I could be so excited about poop, but there it is.

My plum trees are full of blossoms, and always the first of the season.

The weather is warming nicely and I’m getting some good seedlings. I’m really not good at growing seedlings, but I aim to improve this season.

Even with a world spinning out of control, life goes on. Seed time and harvest on God’s green earth.

Sowing and germinating

I’ve been watching the videos of Charles Dowding, a British gardener with decades of experience. The Brits are about the best gardeners in the world, along with the Japanese.

Dowding has a wonderful method for sowing seeds for his market garden. He shows the seeds very thickly in small, really small trays. After they germinate he does something called “pricking out,” in which he separates the seedlings and plants them in larger flats where they grow until ready for planting outside.

This works well for a couple reasons. The seedlings, when so young, are amazingly resilient and don’t mind being disturbed and replanted. This allows Dowding to sow hundreds of seeds in very small trays, with little waste.

He uses a variety of trays, but the tiny transplants each get their own cell. Naturally, I was eager to try this method. And naturally, NO ONE is stocking any called trays yet. So, I improvised, which is why I’m not a gardener.

I started the seeds in a tiny tray, and when they germinated I transplanted them in some old trays I had laying around. No cells, of course, but the seedlings as are doing well.

Because I still don’t have my hoop house (calling husband!), I’ve been carrying my seed trays in and out of the house every day. They get warm at night and then sit on some rocks on the south side of the house all day.

I have about 160 basil seedlings right now, plus some lettuce and parsley. If they all live, what will I do?

Charles Dowding video:https://youtu.be/OXR92xHfgic

Always learning

The mint needed a new bed, and since it has been a perfect day of sun and warmth, I dug some up and planted a new bed. This is spearmint.

Also have been watching videos of pruning fruit trees. I realized I needed to be much more brutal. I set to work this morning. I’m afraid I was much too gentle last year and now I have several trees that need severe pruning.

This means I will probably not get much fruit on some of them, as I had to shape and prune the trees down to old wood. Fruit doesn’t set on old wood. Lesson learned. Prune firmly every year.

Planting begins apace

I planted about 200 onions yesterday while the weather continues to cooperate. Yellow and white. I have some reds already growing.

I need about 400 more in order to have a five month supply. We eat a lot of onions.

As you can see the garlic has already sprouted. I planted it right into the chips, just like the onions. They do really well.

I’m madly thumbing through the seed catalogs. Going to be very selective this year and concentrate on things like carrots, celery, onions, leeks, shallots, and herbs…the things that home cooks use every day.

One-year whips

Had a few extra bucks, so we headed to the nursery and bought some trees for the orchard. We are slowly but steadily growing the number of trees we have.

Anyway, since the last of my my crabapples went belly up last summer, I needed to make sure I have a enough pollinators. I had quite the learning curve when first planting apples, and did not understand that many varieties cannot self-pollinate or even pollinate other trees.

The Golden Delicious apple, though, is considered a universal pollinator. I am not a fan of them (too mushy), but I’m having a hard time finding southern sourced crabapples (which are also fantastic pollinators).

At any rate, we bought two third-year GD and another Arkansas Black. All large, and though I haven’t had a problem with the older trees, younger trees always have a better success rate and seem to need no staking if planted carefully.

We found three one-year whips yesterday and I bought them immediately, not caring that they were Red Delicious and one cherry tree. My preference runs to the more heritage varieties, but they aren’t as readily available.

I love cherries. Will make an effort to plant several more. My ideas of the orchard are still evolving.

I hate dogs

Of course I have six of them, though. They are all terribly spoiled and eat chicken and eggs every day. However, I have had it with the ruination of my garden beds. Bear has been banished.He’s part Anatolian and part Labrador, and now resides with his pals in the outer yard. They have a nice cozy house of their own and plenty of room to roam.My indoor dogs are both smallish to medium, and life has been much more peaceful without that 90 pounds of crazy puppy digging holes EVERYWHERE.