Thursday, January 21, 2016

MOAR grow lights!

The Indoor Garden contraption that I first saw on Lee Valley has been on my wish list for some time. I finally treated myself to it. I have grow lights for starting bedding plants, these are extra and will serve for microgreens.  With shipping and taxes included I paid almost $180. A tub full of California spring mix is around $6. You do the math. 
However, apart from the question how much longer we can count on California, and considerations of carbon footprints and all that, I need the therapy. Life has been somewhat challenging lately.


The words "assembly required" inspired some dread, but assembly was duly provided. By your's truly. If grandma Moses could start painting after 70 it may not be too late for me to become a handywoman.

One thing I did right last fall was preparing for an early start in spring. Starter trays and pots, pails of fresh potting mix as well as a batch of Super COF are standing by on the deck. It is a mess but it is there. 

Behold my new toy! Filled with COF enriched potting mix, capillary mat functioning beautifully, planted with mesclun mix, arugula and baby spinach. Let the growing therapy begin.




Monday, December 21, 2015

Asparagus to Zucchini 2015

By the time I reach Zucchini it is the Winter Solstice. So it goes.
It is November. Snow is creeping down the mountain and will reach our level soon. We finally had a light frost on November 10 and a killing frost this morning, November 16, a record I believe. I am still putzing around tidying up some loose ends, and not everything that I wanted to accomplish got done. That was to be expected. Never mind perfection, or what is next year for? Overall it was a good season and I feel quite content. By now gardening is a chore. I feel ready to pack it in for the winter. Serious reading, cooking and the blogosphere are calling. Soon. Meanwhile we might as well get started on the almost-annual Asparagus to Zucchini post. 

Asparagus.
Behold the jungle in August. The tallest fern must have been 8 feet high. We finally had a serious harvest this spring, with several meals a week for a month or so. It was wonderful and I look forward to more.
Beans
Did I even take pictures? I don't think so. The season was so long and hot I regret not trying to grow some dry beans. I also could have left more room for bush beans to share with friends. Too many healthy brassica plants led once again to puppies and kitten syndrome. How much kale does one household need unless there are chickens? Oh wait, chickens were one of the projects I was hoping to get done. Not. Maybe never again. Anyway, we had all the fresh beans we wanted from mid July to late September and have quite a few bags in the freezer. 

I played with a few different varieties of pole bean this year. The oriental yard long one was disappointing. It took forever to get going and the plants were not healthy. The novelty aspect was cute but the taste was meh. This would be worth the effort if there were grandchildren to impress. Emerite was not much earlier than Blue Lake. The latter do the best and I love the taste.  Keep it simple! 
Note for next year: do prestart some bush beans in the greenhouse. Like zucchini, they are best fresh as a seasonal treat and the sooner we get them the better. 

Beets
The voles were mostly absent this year. I saw one at the start of the season and that was it. It may be a natural fluctuation or the presence of a visiting cat adding to the efforts of the resident. Anyway I am grateful. I had a nice planting of small Kestrel Hybrid beets. The second planting, golden beets, suffered from not being thinned in time. Somehow I did not get around to planting more in time, which is a shame. 


Broccoli
Pacman Hybrid is just fabulous. The succession of plants was less than perfect but the original six, planted in May, kept giving side shoots all summer. The second generation yielded some heads but they were no larger than the side shoots from summer, pictured below. 


Brussels Sprouts
The best ever! This picture is from October. It is now early December. The sprouts were not large but solid, mostly undamaged and there were no gaps on the stalk. We have been enjoying them as a side for weeks. There is another meal or two worth in the fridge and  4 stalks are sitting in a pail outside, frozen solid. 
Cabbage
I had planned more of a succession and did not quite pull that off. We did get 2 nice small savoys in early summer but I had been counting on the second generation of brassicas. The fall crop did not do well. Last year a second generation brassicas followed the garlic and did great. I thought I was on to something. This year the starts got badly slugged in infancy. I must admit to some neglect as well. They should have been thinned and potted up sooner. Anyway, the plants that went in were smaller and September was much cooler than last year. A few Farao white cabbages made it to useful size, though small. The Savoys, my favourites, were a dud.

Carrots
You'd think with my loose sandy soil I would have a bumper crop. Once they get going they do fine, but I have a hard time getting them started these days. Slugs are the main problem. It is quite normal to have to plant several times. Lining the rows with crushed egg shells helps a bit. I also did not always get around to timely thinning of the later plantings. The square foot method, planting in clusters 10 cm apart, causes gaps in the row where slugs have hit. I will keep trying. We make carrot juice almost daily, so I could use several beds worth.

Cauliflower
I got two nice heads in early summer, in spite of heat and drought, always a triumph.


 I had hoped for some of those crazy green fractal things in fall. Romanesco, variety Veronica Hybrid did great last year. This year Veronica did not make it, see note on second crop of brassicas. Close but no cigar.

Celery
I started my own from seed,  and wonder why I did not bother to do that earlier? Like their cousin parsley they take their time coming up, but are excellent sports about being transplanted. I cook a lot of soup, which always starts with the holy trinity of onion-garlic/celery/carrot. Why did I never bother freezing celery before? Chop it up, freeze first on cookie sheet, bag. I had lots but could have used even more. Plan for next year is to dehydrate more of the leaves.

Chard
Both Rainbow chard and the light green Lucullus grew well as usual. I grow the rainbow mix mainly for pretty. I should grow even more Lucullus for freezing. For dentally challenged seniors a soft sauteed side of chopped greens is easier than a salad. 


 Cucumber
I only had three, then two plants and that was plenty for fresh eating and sharing. Marketmore, a tried and true OP variety, did better than the expensive hybrid, which was supposed to be resistant to all sorts of cucumber ailments. This was the first time I had used trellis and net instead of a tripod. What a difference! Picture below is from July. They had a late start but caught up fast.
Egg plant
We had egg plant! I had no idea they would get as big as they did. Kip at the market told me to just get the plain purple variety since they are more prolific than the fancy white or striped ones. He may have been right. They will get more room next year.
 They are so pretty I would grow them for the flowers alone. 
Garlic
They were small this year because they did not get watered much, but rot damage was only 10%. Most years between 25 and 30% of bulbs are affected. I refuse to give up growing my own garlic. The bulbs that are not affected store well, so we just plant extra, give them extra space between bulbs and buy fresh seed every year.

Greens
Greens of all kinds were enjoyed from April till November. 
You'd think someone with 10 acres would not need a container garden on the deck? Think again. 
Arugula goes to seed at the slightest hint of heat. I now grow it in a pot on the shady deck, more like a herb than a vegetable. Ideally, start a fresh pot every 4 weeks. I love my planters for those times when you just want a few lettuce leaves for a sandwich or some parsley to garnish lunch. As mentioned, salads are hard to chew for dentally challenged seniors. We don't need as much lettuce as we used to. 
Pak Choy goes to seed when it is hot as well and slugs go ape over it when it is young. I started some in a planter on the deck instead. 
It is amazing how much one planter with leaf lettuce will yield if you just keep taking the outer leaves. Freckles Romaine remains my favourite. 

Kale
Where there is compost there will be kale as a welcome weed. 
I call the picture below "Fifty shades of kale".   
Somehow the three varieties I have planted (Dutch curly, red Russian and Lacinato) have crossed and created many versions of themselves, all slightly different in leaf shape and colour. I love it. Most of the harvest was dehydrated. I use it in all sorts of dishes that call for chopped spinach and have given quite a bit away as well.


















Leeks
Best harvest ever! Thanks to the planter in the window sill there were tons of seedlings to set out. Next year I will give them a few more side dressings of some high N substance, probably feather meal. The giants produced by the local grower show that there is much room for improvement. I am not complaining. 
We had our last fresh leeks just before Solstice.
Onions
Regular onions get fungused so I don't bother with them. Green onions are one of my favorite things. Multipliers and top setting onions did well. I finally have it together to get fresh salad onions late in the season: start some rows of bunching onions at the same time as you plant your multipliers. They will take their time but will be ready when your bulbs go to seed. I might plant even more multipliers for winter eating. They always keep well.

Peas
I just love getting a head start on snow peas in the spring greenhouse. Once the season gets really going it can get too hot fast. I only grow snow peas and sugar snaps. Shelling peas are not on the list of gotta-be-organic. Considering how much garden space they take up and how cheap frozen peas are in the grocery store I don't bother. I would if I had small children or grand children. There is something so magical about opening up a package of garden candy. In spite of the heat they did well this year. The key to enjoy them from the the freezer is to give them the berry treatment: freeze spread out on cookie sheet before bagging.
Peppers
Nothing to write home about or take pictures of, which is disappointing considering the excellent season. I suspect an unbalance of nitrogen and potassium. We had some and will keep trying. 

Potatoes
They are perhaps the ultimate survival crop and there are never enough. These days we eat less rice and more potatoes because dentally challenged. They did reasonably well but I always think it ought to be more. The plan for next year is to plant more of the top garden in potatoes and manage the close to the house sections very intensely. They absolutely loved being under row cover during flea beetle season! One small bed below the greenhouse got row cover by way of deer protection. What a difference! This picture was taken after the Remay was replaced with PVC hoops and netting. Hardly any beetle holes while the cousins up the hill were full of pin pricks. MOAR REMAY! 
Radicchio
This was the third year for Indigo hybrid radicchio and the best yet. Radicchio is slightly bitter. It is not everyone's cup of tea but I just love those little red balls. The seeds are not cheap but every single one of them seems to come up.  They are among the most resilient of crops. Slugs love to devour them in childhood, but as long as they have the tiniest growing tip left they will bounce back. They are so tolerant of a gardener's neglect they almost make me feel guilty. Did they have to wait too long in a crowded starter pot before getting thinned and transplanted? No problem. As soon as they have been potted on they take off. They withstand both frost and heat. The heads will wait patiently till the gardener is ready to pick them. If they get overripe, the worst that happens is that the outer leaves get slimy. The heart may look small but they are so dense that there is still a lot of salad material in there. They keep forever in the fridge. I like them best raw, chopped fine with a ranch dressing. Raw purple onion and crisp chunks of a sweet apple really make it a treat. Bonus for us dentally challenged seniors: the crisp texture makes them easier to chew than regular lettuce.
And last but not least: they look so beautiful in the garden while they are growing, like roses.




Raspberries
How I love those red bursts of health boosting deliciousness! In this case the love is mutual. This is not always the case, see cauliflower and winter squash. Raspberries grow well here, this is a natural habitat.
One of these days Project Raspberry, about moving canes around, will get its own post. Meanwhile we had another excellent crop, earlier and more concentrated than usual. We have eaten lots, made some drink base, and this half bushel fruit box, raspberries all the way, is still waiting in the freezer.

Tomatoes
We knew it was a going to be a hot summer so I devoted a whole bed to them in the top garden. However, they had to wait their turn under the grow lights till after an Easter trip to the offspring on the coast. April 13 is later than I would have liked. Most of them went outside, just a few stayed in the greenhouse. Surprise: they did much better outside.  We enjoyed tomatoes for fresh eating since the second week of August, Stupice leading the pack as usual. Once again, too much leafy growth, not quite enough tomatoes till late in the season. By the time I finally had Romas just loaded with trusses it was early October. Frost was late too, but tomatoes ripening in October lack flavour and tend to succumb to rot before they ripen. I never had enough at one time for canning. However, I did dehydrate quite a few. I keep them in the freezer just in case. They are delicious and so handy when you just want a few.
Zucchini!
I did not mark each starter plant separately, so when it was time to give some away I lost track of which one was which. I ended up with 3 out of the 6 being patty pans, not my favourite but what does it matter. I did not bother preserving any. We ate various kinds of zucchini to our heart's content from early August to late October, and that is that till next year.

And that's a wrap! Oh yes, there were flowers too. Lots of them though never enough.



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Farewell to summer. (written early September)



Hallelujah, it has rained! It is also much cooler, quite a shockafter months of living without so much as a sweater. For much of the last months the thermometer on the deck looked like this, in the shade. For the first time in 72 years I was tired of summer before its end. 
I love heat up to the low thirties. Beyond 34C all I can do is sit in the shade and sweat. 

Nature is tired as well. The lawn is littered with ugly dead leaves that fell from the drought-stressed trees in August, without turning pretty colours first. The bracken is turning. Geese started gathering in the field below in mid August. Since spring everything has been almost a month head of normal, and that seems to go for the coming of fall as well. The last week of August was the worst. The air was choked with the smell and taste of smoke from the many wild fires in B.C. and just across the border in Washington state.

We could barely see across the field to our friendly Box Mountain, the one we see from our living room.
Saddle Mountain across the lake, our view in the other direction, was completely invisible. The sun was a red ball in the sky one could look at without hurting the eyes. People in Midway near the border reported not being able to see across the street. We all counted our blessings at being spared fires in the immediate area. The rain was welcomed but the dip in temperatures is still a shock.
The same view after the rain. Note the bedraggled state of the lawn which has spread to everything in the flower gardens. I barely did more than harvesting and preserving for two whole weeks. The air quality was such that people were admonished to avoid exertion. It doesn't take much for a pleasant yard to start looking like a sad mess. To make things worse the rain washed off the Bobbex deer repellent. Late blooming perennials got deered earlier in the season.
 By now I depend on annuals in containers for colour.


The geraniums which are my pride and joy were much enjoyed by the white tailed rats. I could spruce things up by mowing the lawn and doling out some badly needed TLC to the flowers in containers, but there are only so many hours in the day. The mornings are now unpleasantly cold and the days so much shorter. 
It takes me longer to get my butt out there. Once I am going I don't want to stop.

Garden priority went to shifting gears in the food garden, from favouring the heat lovers to planting some hardy things for the fall garden. 


That's all she wrote in early September. I guess I was planning to add more, never got around to it and it sat in draft. Typical. Now I wish I had hit publish before the previous one. Oh well. Record keeping is not my strong point.

Space well wasted.

A variation on the old theme: LESS is MORE. I have to learn that over and over, but the message is finally sinking in. 

If one has a limited amount of garden space the first instinct is to cram in as many plants as possible. Even though I have ten acres to play with, vegetables have to be grown inside the fenced garden and the greenhouse. 


When I make a garden plan I hate wasting square footage on pathways. Surely, a foot and a half in between beds should be enough? It's not as if I plan to drive a roto tiller in between the rows. 


Space is especially at a premium in the greenhouse. One hates to waste any square footage in that precious micro climate. This year I crammed the three two feet diameter tubs together and fitted a fourth container in as well. The location of one tub is a given, It sits on a huge unmovable but flat topped rock. I have to work around it. The picture below is from early May. Arugula on the left, the other tubs just used as table tops to hold trays with starts.


Well, by the time the permanent residents of those tubs grew up I could barely get around them to tend to the plants. The slugs on the other hand had no such problem. They love slithering up the smooth sides. The three large tubs were planted in heat lovers, jalapeno and egg plant, plus a few marigolds just for pretty. They suffered from slug depredation because I could not get to them easily enough. The smaller black pot held strawberries and became sadly neglected. Not that it was impossible to get to the plants, it was just awkward, and during the growing season one is just TOO BUSY. At least I am. I really have too much garden, but I keep thinking that if I can just figure out how to do it smarter I should be able to have flowers and herbs and vegetables in all the available spaces, and get the successions all figured out, and never have to buy anything I can potentially grow ever again....Dream on. 

Anyway, every action that requires that extra bit of effort tends to get postponed, not out of laziness, but because there are so many other urgent things that need to be done. So, semi fail for that one.


The most productive space in the greenhouse has been the narrow bed across from the tubs. Even there, I noticed this year some neglect crept in because the space behind it was crammed full of pots with plants in waiting and I just could not get to the beans without carefully stepping over things. 

I finally got around to making a box to protect that space, and even though I could potentially make it 3x8 or even 9, I choose to leave easy walking space and make it 71/2 by 21/2. 
This bed can also get separate  protection and be a mini hoop house or cold frame before and after the greenhouse cover comes off, any day now.
As long as the building supplies store cuts the boards to size I can create my own boxes. I am quite pleased with myself. 







Friday, August 14, 2015

Dandelions, a love affair

This too was sitting in draft, started some time in May. Oh well.

Some plant lovers believe it is possible to call plants onto your land. Not by direct means like seeding or transplanting, but by sending a mental invitation to....what? Plant spirit? Why not. I rather like the idea, which is definitely out of the realm of 'evidence based'.
There was a time when no dandelions graced this land. Some time in the mid eighties I wrote a little piece for the local newspaper extolling their virtues. 
The next year the first yellow visitors appeared. This may of course be pure coincidence. We also started seeing Arion Ater, the large black slugs, which were definitely not invited. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed toying with the notion that Dandelion is a personal friend. 

When I received my first Reiki activation (I prefer that word to initiation) the teacher told me to visualise a lotus in my crown chakra. Now I have never liked lotus worship. All that talk about purity in spite of it growing in the mud. Such patriarchal snobbery. Where would that pure white flower be without the life giving mud, huh? How about honouring the mud instead? This insight owed to Starhawk's "Dreaming the Dark."
I saw a dandelion instead. 
Glorious, or what? A word in Dutch my brother will get.
Een zonne dyade met een krachtige pippeling.





Bent out of shape. A learning curve with PVC.

This post was started early in July. I realise tablets have been slowing down my bloggery. I used to work on blogs in the evenings while relaxing on the couch, watching spouse's TV with half an eye. These days I take the iPad into the living room, while the laptop stays mainly plugged in on the kitchen table, there to provide entertainment during drudgery.
__________________________________________I am finally catching my breath after a frantic two months. Progress report of actual gardens with pictures next, but first I want to finish this tidbit that has been sitting in draft. 

When it comes to practical matters involving spatial insight and fine motor skills (or any motor skills) I am a bit learning disabled. The  kindergarten teacher had asked my mother, in all seriousness, if I would not be happier in a school for special needs children. She was flabbergasted when I went on to test highly gifted and attended university. There are days when I can see where she was coming from.

The days I wasted messing about with PVC structures were some of them. I am writing this as a reminder to self of where the H the time went. Be forewarned, it gets boring. 

Anyone who enjoys garden porn has seen nifty hoop houses made out of PVC pipe. They always start with: pound some rebar into the soil. Now my soil is rocky. Augers for drilling fence posts are useless in it. Years ago I had tried to use that oh so handy T-post, AKA as T bar. Forget it. 
As you can see above, T post is three sided. It gets snagged on obstacles. Hardwarese is a foreign language I have not mastered. It took a while before I found out rebar is not the same as Tbar. Rebar is just one straight round piece of metal, see below. (Pictures stolen from Google.) It comes in 20 foot lengths and the hardware people cut it to size.
I bought one stake cut into 7/7/6 to take home. Hallelujah! It could be pushed into my soil! There was much rejoicing. Visions of shovel free fences and nail free hoop houses started dancing in my head.

As reported, last year's experiment with straight rebar poles with deer fence netting attached to them was disappointing. 
The netting sagged in the absence of a horizontal element.
Next, take all rebar posts back to the store and have them cut in half, and start playing with PVC in the section below the greenhouse. This is the part I would like to start gardening intensely. It has been neglected for a while. I did not feel like spending the money it would cost  to enclose the whole garden, some of the beds still have perennials in them that need to be moved, there is too much to do already, so I decided to protect a few beds individually. 

The first one was easy. Start potatoes, protected by Remay, with wire hoops I already had. Will keep off flea beetles as well as deer. 

The second one posed a dilemma: Hoops, or posts? In order to play with the stuff I bought some  10 foot 1/2 inch pipes, as well as a snipper to cut them with and a variety of connectors. 

Great was my joy when I found out I could just bend one whole pipe, slide it over the shortened rebar spikes and voila, instant hoop, almost tall enough for me to stand up in. I am not much over 5 feet. Never mind the connectors, we'll just sling floating row cover over this and call it a day!

Readers familiar with floating row cover will know that it comes in rolls 7 feet wide. The deer netting ditto. The beds are 8 feet long and we also need extra fabric to cover the sides. Readers with more spatial insight than yours truly will immediately grasp that we have a problem and just slinging a length over will not work.

Remay is fragile stuff and PVC is slippery. I have no idea how to attach them to each other. Something 7 feet wide will obviously not cover an arch made by a 10 feet pole. (obvious in hindsight, see what I mean by being LD?) 
Solution: use the deer netting instead. Deer netting can be attached to PVC pipe with handy twisty things. 
Now at this point I became obsessed with the notion of adding a horizontal ridge to the structure so I could attach the netting to it. Cut poles in half, use the right connectors, add a horizontal pole. Excess fabric could just be bunched up at the bottom. I felt very clever and in theory it was a perfectly fine idea, BUT! It was not that easy to keep the bendy hoops in their connectors. They kept wanting to pop out. The force of a hoop wanting to go straight again even broke one connector.
With much struggle I almost  had all hoops in when the very last one popped out of its spot. The whole works went SPROINK! and fell apart. Grrrrr.
I understood the problem. The tension was too great. That bent hoop wants to go straight. The very sproinkiness of the PVC pipe that made it work while whole worked against the structure when it was composed of parts. When the hoop is whole the pressure is sideways, against the boards of the bed. It is not going anywhere. But in pieces the easiest way for the hoop to go straight is to slip from its connectors on the top.
The only way I can learn this stuff is by standing there and fiddling with it. I have NO theoretical insight in practical matters. Friends who tell me they can visualise a structure and turn it around to see it from another angle in their mind completely baffle me. They must have a different brain. 

I messed about a bit more with my five foot pipes, just trying to figure out what length of pipe would cover what width. Fifteen feet would made a nice hoop over two beds side by side. The picture shows three pieces of five, but two plus a horizontal would work well. Turn 4 beds into a second greenhouse? But then you have to deal with the sides and need doors and figure out how to throw the cover over and attach it. Maybe not, but it is nice to explore the option.  

PVC is such a forgiving medium! A bent pipe can be made straight again by inserting rebar and sticking it straight up into the ground. 

At long last some of the pipes went over the potatoes after they outgrew the wire hoops. I slid them over the rebar till they were exactly the right height to still hold deer netting.
From now on all my potatoes, even those inside Fort Knox, will get floating row cover in their infancy! Look how gorgeous these look, without flea beetle holes.  
One more effort that came to naught: Try horizontal structure in the middle only and make a tent out of deer fencing, one width on each side. Not. In practice trying to get in and out of excessive amounts of deer netting makes one understand why the Roman gladiator armed with net and trident was such a formidable opponent. 

Finally, some of the freshly straightened poles were used to make a trellis for cucumbers in the greenhouse. This is the first time I had a decent trellis with a net for cukes instead of improvised poles, and what a difference that makes!
I already know where they will go next year, at the far end of the greenhouse in the boxes, following early snow peas. The trellis is wasted on tomatoes.

I will take the risk of planting the same crop year after year. I know several good gardeners who do not rotate because they don't have the space. They just make sure the needs of the plants are well met and grow great peas on the same trellis year after year.  
Ah, NEXT YEAR! Always the perfect garden!


Friday, May 8, 2015

A wonderful spring!

The world may be a mess, here in the Shire it is a wonderful spring. These double narcissi are still blooming after the regular daffodils are finished. Picture from May 3.
As reported, snow melted early. Then we had an alternation of sun and rain that was just perfect for growing things. Everything is early, at least compared to the last few years. I do remember this being normal in our earliest Kootenay times. It would be so nice to have a clear record, but I don't. This blog is as close as it gets. The trees are still bright green but fully leafed out. Spirea has started to blossom.
It is now May 7. Food production is a bit later than last year, when we had abundant salads from the greenhouse by May 11. That is the price we pay for taking off the roof. We are making up for lost time fast. We are getting green onions, sorrel, the odd leaf from overwintered Lucullus chard and the first lettuces, and best of all, asparagus!
As usual I wish it were 4 weeks earlier. Time is going much too fast. I am a poky puttering worker at the best of times, and besides my energy tends to fluctuate. Oh,  the things I could do if only I were at peak level and totally focused all the time! I am slowly learning to not, in the flush of high energy, make promises I cannot keep when it is lower. That only took about half a century.
My last serious garden work days were spent, I almost say wasted, on moving perennials around in the big sunny flower border. This ticks me off because it is work I thought I had done last fall. I had a lovely patch of bee balm that was in need of revival. I had dug it all up, fertilized it and planted pieces  over a wide area. This is a member of the mint family. Need I say more? I expected a healthy, major emergence in spring. Not. Only the strong big chunks returned and the patch was overrun by weeds. I blame the early frost and late snow. Meanwhile the vigourous, much loved yellow loosestrife got hit by deer again. It also looked in need of some TLC. Those rhizomous (is that a word?) perennials tend to go off in search of new ground if they are not happy. I wasted time trying to sort both patches out, and then decided to take drastic measures: dig up both patches, rework the ground and made them trade places. That took a whole day.We had a good rain afterwards and they look good. 
The beebalm looks skimpy but the stuff spreads.

The top garden is still waiting for attention. However, once I get there it will be instant greenery. The blessed greenhouse is full of thriving bedding plants. I worried about the lateness of tomatoes and Brussels sprout starts, but they are looking super healthy, vigorous and already bigger than when I took these pictures two days ago.
There is an immovable, huge, but more or less flat topped rock underneath the red tub that is closest to the front. It dictates the layout for that section. I scored two more of the tubs, which were originally used to store some animal food supplement. They will be used for the real heat lovers, peppers and eggplant. They serve as a safe place for bedding plants in the meantime. The farthest visible tub holds a quickie planting of arugula.
The greenhouse does not look nearly as fruitful as a year ago at this time. Give it a week. The small bed that did so incredibly well last year got a generous sprinkle of COF and was planted mainly in mesclun mix, to be followed by snap beans. It is up, just hard to see. The two boxes at the end are also still awaiting their final destiny. Both have been fitted with a trellis. Snow peas in one are up, yeah! They will be followed by nasturtiums in one box and yellow pear tomatoes in the other one. One box will hold a total of 4 tomato plants, the other one broccoli, Lucullus chard and radicchio.

The tipi of poles, just barely visible here, will be devoted to cucumbers this year. 

Speaking of boxes, I really want to grow more food closer to the dwelling in the raised beds. This section was not fenced and originally planned to be a herb garden. It was also used to store the bedding plants I was selling at the farmers market. I am not doing that anymore. It just takes too much time and something had to give. Last year I experimented with rebar and net by way of fencing. Without a top rail the netting tended to sag. I will play with PVC this year. I have not yet decided whether it will be hoops or poles or some of each. 
 But for starters I rigged up an improvised net cover over the three small ones. They are planted in green onions and early greens and I am quite pleased with myself.
To be continued.