Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

   I missed the local early celebration of the Arbor Day yesterday, running errands which included a trip to the local garden center/nursery and planting afterwards.  But today is Earth Day, and I'm happy to be writing up an entry in my blog about Day 14 of our Spring Veggies SFG box.

   This morning, I went ahead and thinned the radishes and the spinach since they are starting to grow fast and if they were to grow big and healthy, they need room.  I always hate this part of gardening almost as much as digging -- pinching off baby plants. T_T  I know I have to do it, but they sure look so cute and innocent.  It's very much like culling the fish fry for quality control.  It's necessary, but I don't enjoy it. :(  My fingers smelled like radishes afterwards, which reminded me that we will be eating them... so yes, we will be killing them. XD I'll just have to get over it.

   About 10 days before we got this box going, we had started one exclusively dedicated to strawberries.  We started with the bare roots we bought at local Walmart, and many of them were doing OK at first.  Some already were growing in the bag of sawdust (looking long and pale) and right after planting, they turned dark green and glossy and seemingly doing just great.  Then we had several frosts and they were set back each time, losing some leaves, but coming back.  I think I should have mulched them then, but the thought didn't even occur to me and I was just watching them slowly die.  I'd had enough of this feeling of doom, and decided to pluck one of these plants/roots that weren't showing any sign of fresh growth on top a few days ago.  What I found was mushy crown and brown roots with no new fine roots coming out whatsoever.  They were practically composting right in the box. XD

   As much as we spent on the soil mix and the box, I was not in the mood for the pending doom.  I decided to go to the local garden center where they sell a lot of strawberries in flats of 6 and got myself 8 of those.  Instant gratification almost feels like cheating, but no, this is damage control.  There's nothing like failure to discourage my family's renewed interest in gardening.  I wasn't going to let that happen so early in the season.

   The SFG method calls for 4 strawberry plants per square foot.  So for a 4-foot by 4-foot box, we are talking about a whopping total of 64 plants and they look instantly crowded. LOL  This will be a dense patch of green in no time and will most likely be overflowing from the box frame.   We are hoping to build a chicken wire cover to protect the strawberries from the cats as well as birds that will sure to come for the berries once the plants start to produce.  For now, I'm using the low-tech method of sticks to discourage the cats from taking a nap in the strawberry patch.

   Talk about instant gratification.  This one has a flower.  And some plants I bought yesterday already had berries on the vine, scenting the air with the sweet smell of strawberry that is just so irresistible!

   The variety I planted is "Quinault", which is an everbearing variety.  This was one of the two sole varieties sold at the nursery where I went (which is considered the area's "premier" specialist nursery), so I'm hoping that this plant does well in our climate.  *fingers crossed*  The soil mix drains well while holding just the right amount of moisture, so I'm hoping the plants will do well in the box.  They are showing no sign of transplant shock despite the fact I had to gently separate those 6 plants sharing a shallow box with roots intertwined (meaning, I could hear the roots ripping and therefore some damage to their roots were inevitable).


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