Sunday, April 18, 2021

Transplanting lettuces and radishes

 The middle of April is the time when we start transplanting the first seedlings. Usually, by this time the soil is warm enough for undisturbed growth. Even if there is some morning frost, it will not damage vegetables like lettuce, radish, and peas. 

This year is very different. The soil is only 4°C (39°F), which is not enough for any plant. Two weeks of unusually cold days and 4 frost mornings have lowered the temperature. The low temperature is also showing on my balcony seedlings which are much smaller than they should be.

Still, yesterday I decided to transplant my first seedlings. The radish and lettuce seedlings couldn't wait anymore. They are still small but the roots are big enough and the leaves have started turning yellow. 

This was supposed to be Easter lettuce and radishes but they are more than a month late. It doesn't matter we'll still enjoy them as soon as they grow enough. 

This year I decided to change the way I transplant and sow my vegetables. Instead of big beds with one type of vegetables, I decided to plant smaller beds with just a couple of plants, but I'll make more beds of the same vegetable and sow more times in a season to ensure longer production. Also, all my beds have labels and I write the names as soon as the seed or plant touches the soil.

The reason is simple: COVID-19.

I can honestly say that I'm having more trouble with the post covid than with the actual disease. While the 10 days that I was sick were more or less the same as flu, the post covid symptoms are really bothering me. My hands are still very shaky and they hurt, especially the left arm and fist which sometimes hurts so much that it keeps me up at night. This is a problem for me in the garden because although I'm right-handed I mostly use my left hand while I garden. I even hold the tools like a left-handed person, so I decided to make smaller beds to be able to finish the whole bed at once. I won't have to drag the weeds around the garden or downhill while cleaning the whole bed. I can't work for too long or my hands start to hurt really badly and I start to cough so I've decided to garden every single day but no longer than an hour, I think this will be enough to get everything done.

Also, the labels in the garden are the direct result of my poor memory which I've been having lately. I'm unable to remember where I've sown which vegetable. I even have to take the garden journal with me to write the location of the vegetable. Until I reach the house I completely forget what is sown where. 

With the lettuce and radishes, I've also planted 6 kohlrabi seedlings which have grown big enough to be transplanted. I still have a couple of seedlings which I'll be planting later, when they get bigger, but not too many. I harvest my kohlrabi plants multiple times so 6-10 seedlings will be enough. 

I was planning to transplant the sugar peas, but I decided not to transplant them until the strong winds stop. Also, I need to get some canes first. 

Even with the bad weather, cold days, and me being much slower than in past years the garden is slowly filling up and I'm hoping the next couple of days will finally be warmer. It's time for spring to finally arrive. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Dashing through the snow in April

 April weather is usually mild with lots of sun and showers, most of the nights are fairly warm, and even if we do get some frost it's usually mild and we're able to go through it without any damage. This is why at the end of March I've ordered a bunch of flower seedlings. As the end of March was surprisingly hot I had to plant my flowers earlier. I couldn't water them enough in their small pots. I even kept them in buckets full of water but as soon as I got them out the pots dried up. So I've planted everything out. 

As soon as I finished with planting we got the new weather report that predicted snow on April 6th and 7th. I thought they were overexaggerating and that we'd get a short snow episode but I still took some precautions and covered all the flowers with agrotextile. 
I can honestly say I wasn't expecting the amounts we got. The snow started falling during the night and in the morning there wasn't too much of it. 

But then the weather worsened and the snow just started covering everything. I can't remember the last time we had so much snow in April. The branches were cracking under so much weight so I spent the whole day shaking the bushes and branches to save them from breaking.

Since the soil was fairly warm the snow started melting as soon as it stopped falling, but the worst was to come. The next morning was completely clear and the temperatures dropped to -6°C(21°F). 

This of course meant the death of everything that wasn't covered or hidden. Luckily I've taken all the flowerpots to the house so the balcony flowers were not affected.

The garden flowers, however, did get frostbites even though they were covered. Some like spurflowers have just a couple of top leaves frozen, while others, like Coleus were completely gone. Even the agrotextile didn't help.

The garden shrubs and trees have also been affected. Red currants have frozen, as did the early plum. Cherries have some flowers that have survived and others are gone. Apples luckily didn't get affected as the flowers are still in the bud stage. Rose leaves got burned but the new branches are still alive.

The cold weather lasted for 3 days and just as we got the flowers out again another episode of the bad weather has started. 

This time there was no snow, it has been raining for the past 24 hours. We can now hope that the cold and snow will stay in the hills and there will be no snow or frost.