Tuesday, April 24, 2007

No Rest For The Wicked

"Crazed and Confused" ACEO can be bid on here.
Copyright Rita Woodburne

Greetings, dear reader. I do apologize for my absence yesterday but there was much to be completed and, as usual, not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Today’s post is going to be a mish-mash of art news and gardening because my suspicions were correct and Spring is falling upon us as fast as a cat out of a tub of water.

First is the art news. Late last Friday afternoon I received the call to let me know that one of my works, “Rising In The East”, had been accepted into the Quinte Arts Council’s Expressions Visual Art Show and Sale. This was the show I didn’t get into last year so I was quite pleased that I’ll be featured in it this year. One of my goals for this year is to do more local shows and events, and this particular show is a well recognized one in the area so it’s another step to getting my name out there locally.
Also on the art front I wanted to let any of my local and Southern Ontario based (or anyone else that happens to be in the area!), horsey collectors and readers know that the Uxbridge Horseman’s Association Equine Expo is coming up and that I’ll have a booth there. It’s going to be held May 12th at the gorgeous Elgin Park in Uxbridge. For more details you can contact me directly or visit the UHA website here. I’ll remind you again the week of the Expo as it promises to be a great event!

Okay, so as for the gardening what can I say but “so much to do and so little time.” I’ll still be doing another gardening post on Thursday because there’s just too much info to cram all into this post. So let’s begin, shall we?

First is that the weather has warmed up the soil enough so that planting can begin. Yesterday and today I planted my peas, parsnips, onions and potatoes. The peas and parsnips were done from seed and it’s worth noting that if you have old seeds left over from previous years don’t be so hasty to throw them out and get new ones. Err...with the exception being parsnip seeds because they generally don’t keep from one year to the next. Most seeds have a “shelf life” that can be up to 6 years! In fact, peas have a shelf life of about 3 years but the ones I’m using are new because I usually go through about two packages of pea seeds per year...really makes me think about buying in bulk. Keep in mind that the seeds will probably only be useable if you’ve stored them in a cool dry place but if you’ve stored them in a box next to your furnace I wouldn’t hold your breath about them being good for this year.
The shelf-life of some seeds you may want to consider holding onto, should you buy a seed package and don’t use them all, are:
1 Year- onion
2 Years- corn and peppers
3 Years- beans, broccoli, carrot, pea and spinach
4 Years- beet, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant and squash
5 Years- cucumber and radish
6 Years- lettuce

So, as for my peas what I’ve done is taken them out and soaked them in water overnight. This is to soften the shell and to make sure that the pea has some water stored in it for planting. Some people and gardening books recommend soaking the pea seeds in innoculant, which basically does the same as water but what it also gives the seeds is an extra boost of nitrogen which can increase the yields of the plants. I’m just growing my peas for freezing to be used in soups and stews for the winter so I’m not concerned about increasing the yield. If you’re growing them for fresh eating as well as freezing be sure to soak them in an innoculant to get the most from your crop.

Next is the onions. For onions I’ve gone and purchased onion sets which is basically a bag of pre-started onions. You can generally get them in basic varieties such as red, white, yellow, green and Spanish onions. Some places may carry more exotic types but for myself I’ve gone with the Spanish onions because I like their flavour (not too strong) and they usually grow quite large, think softball sized or larger. I’ve tried many time to grow onions from seed and, quite frankly, it’s just easier to buy the sets and be done with it. Below is a picture of some of the little onions from the set.

As you can see they come in a variety of sizes with most of them being the size of the middle onion. The size of them at this point doesn’t really determine how they’re going to come out when they’re done growing.
When planting onion sets you don’t need to dig a giant hole and put them in and then cover them with dirt. Simply decide where you’d like to plant them and place them on top of the soil about 3-4 inches apart from one another (in a row or block, whatever works for you) and then push them into the soil about 1 inch deep, cover them with a bit of soil if you need to and then water them.

After the onions is the parsnips. You can see from above that parsnip seed is very small and light and blows away very easily...which must be why I chose to plant it on a windy day. What can I say, I do love a challenge. The easiest way to plant these seed is to make sure your soil is good and loose and then take the end of a rake, hockey stick, etc. and make a shallow trench (about ½ inch) for the seed to go in. Space the seeds about 2-3 inches apart and then cover them with a bit of soil and then water them. It’s really that simple!

Something to note is that you don’t want to pack down the soil after covering the seeds. Let it settle naturally on top of whatever it is you’ve planted since you don’t want to make it difficult for the plant to break through the soil. Also, be sure to water them at least once a day. If the area you live in tends to get very hot and dry then it’s best to water both in the morning and evening. Try to avoid mid-day watering as the plants can develop sun-scald. If you have a big garden, or happen to be forgetful like myself, you can mark of where you’ve planted things with some twine, string, sticks or anything else that works.

That’s it for today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring...

No comments: