Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Fever

Saraiah and one of the first rhodies.  She was the first to get sick and has some dark circles remaining...

It's spring break and the kids have caught some sort of spring bug, then passed it on to me.  After being feverish all night, coughing, running the cool mist humidifier, and sleeping til noon, thanks to my dear husband, I felt half human again.  I don't like to get sick, don't really seem to have time to, and therefore I usually don't.  So, in defiance of sickness, I went outside to enjoy the amazing 60 degree weather we're having.   With some sunglasses for my light sensitive eyes, a giant wool hat and a hoodie sweatshirt on, I looked like a hollywood star trying to avoid the paparazzi.  I pulled the chicken wire out of the overgrown grass and put all my energy into starting two types of seed.  That's my way to combat a real spring fever!

It's our goal to eventually save most of our seed, but when I was buying seed from Territorial this year, I neglected to note that the majority of it was hybrid.  This means that if we were to save seed from these plants and planted them, they would not grow up to look like the parent plants.  For the first time, I ordered some of our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which sells only seed that can be saved in turn.  Most of the varieties are very old and have been passed down and grown through many generations.  They are also non GMO, meaning the seeds have not been genetically altered.

Happily, the carrots and peas I bought are heirlooms, so I could attempt to save their seed.  Carrots are biennials, meaning I would have to overwinter some carrots and grow them again next year, in order to get some seeds.  They can cross pollinate with wild carrot, which is poisonous, so I'm not sure I am ready to try them.

Peas, however, are relatively easy to save.  You just allow the pods to go overripe on the vine, then dry. It's then that you pick, shell, and dry further for planting the following year.  As long as I'm not growing another variety of pea, there won't be any cross-pollinating.  Even then, from what I've read, peas will usually not cross pollinate because the pollination happens before the flower opens.

I'm very into the hilling method for growing veggies here in the our wet Pacific Northwest soil.  Our garden is situated at the foot of a hill, between two seasonal creeks and gets very waterlogged.  Hilling allows the soil to be lighter and allows the sun to warm our plants a little more.  I'm trying a wide hill method for the carrots, having seen this method used at Ma'o Organic Farms in Hawai'i.  They make wide hills, then plant smaller rows perpendicular to the length of the row.  I did the same, making my 2.5 foot wide carrot hill about 10 inches high to ensure the carrots have no chances to fork because of dense soil.  The Chantenay Red Core Carrot is a stumpy short carrot, so it won't go very deep, but I want to give it every chance it can to stretch itself out comfortably.

I thought I had better go inside because I was sick after all.  But there were all these beautiful spring plants outside that I wanted to take pictures of...so I grabbed my camera and went out for a bit, enjoying the air.  Then it was time to go inside and rest..then share the pictures on my blog.

columbine with insects
dandelion

Red currant.  The hummingbirds love this, and i can hear them outside, though I have yet to see them.  
lilac
Rhododendron 
Nettle overlooking our yard
Yucca
Indian plum
Blackberry
Skunk cabbage in a creek
Bracken ferns in the creek
Willow 

Happy pollinator
I think I love skunk cabbage
The sun reflected

Our plum tree


2 comments:

  1. It's so cool that one plant can create so many seeds, as to plant an entire crop again the next year. I'm so glad you're trying to find ways to self sustain, so maybe one day I can steal all your knowledge!!!!

    I didn't even know that there were wild carrots in our area that are poisonous.

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  2. I think wild carrots themselves are edible, but should not be eaten because they closely resemble poison hemlock, which is deadly and is in the same family. This leads me to wonder if when I save seed, my carrot seed could cross with poison hemlock. I need to research this.

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