Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 5:56 PM GMT on June 18, 2008
It is time to take a break from an entire blog on the weather forecasts for the week. But instead this blog is going to be on my take as a novice vegetable gardener. And yes I could not help myself, as there will be a little paragraph on the short-term weather forecast.
I think weather/photography/gardening all go hand-in-hand. All of us on the site all seem to have similar interests with a main similar interest of the love of weather. Recently due to rising food prices, rising fuel prices, rising temperatures (thanks to global warming) I decided to really start my own vegetable garden. Now for the past two years before I had just taken a little plot to plant some bean seeds. The faired very well with a bountiful crop each year. I guess I could call myself the bean expert after several years of growing them dealing with problems such as hailstones that destroyed half of the crop. But this year I had an idea that developed of a large vegetable garden. Vegetable gardens have an endless list of advantages that come out of them. Helping the environment, eating healthier due to organic foods, and saving a little bit on food costs are just to name a few of the advantages. Many of the avid readers of my blog are full fledge gardeners whom I consider experts and if I need help I ask them. But I wanted a blog to provide my perspective on vegetable gardening this year. So in this blog I will talk about some of the methods I used so far this year to have a bountiful vegetable and fruit crop. Keep in mind this is my first year and I probably am doing a lot of things wrong, lol. So let me start off in the early spring.
Spring Onions- Coming from a family with a love of onions I just had to grow the ever-popular scallions. I bought a pack of bulbs with about 50 in them and put them in the ground in mid-late March. No I did not prepare the ground, but just took an empty plot on the side of my house where no perennials come up in the late spring. I put the bulbs several inches down in the half-frozen soil. And by the end of March I was lucky enough to see all of the bulbs have come up. Only to be followed by an inch of snow in late March, the onions still faired well and continued to grow. What surprised me most about onions is how long it takes for them to get ready to pick. Them seemed to sprout very quickly but I took a while for them to become large enough to pick and eat. Once they were ready I picked about 10 a week for a while and they tasted wonderful. Next year I plan to plant even more!
Lettuce- I only planted a measly 5 lettuce plants all of the same variety. The survived pretty well threw some of the cold spells in early May. I did get plenty of lettuce crops that always filled for a big bowl of salad to go along with dinner. The lettuce I planted had a slight bitter taste but overall it was wonderful. Next year I want to plant more different varieties of lettuce. Even this fall I want to plant some more lettuce.
Blueberry Bush- I was so excited to get blueberry bushes. I had to buy two so they could cross-pollinate and make a large bountiful crop. By the end of May the bushes had grown much larger and had gotten lots of flowers. The flowers then turn into the blueberries by the end of June. But a lot of the flowers fell off before they had a chance to get into the berries. Now here in Mid June the berries are ripening and getting ready for picking in a week or two. It looks like there are about 25 berries to pick. O well, I did some research and the first year with blueberry bushes usually produce the smallest crop. I cannot wait to next year. But I might have to transplant them, as they are getting a little tight next to the other plants.
First Round of Peas- I planted two packs of pea seeds in my older garden. I also put in about 6 stakes to lets the peas wrap around them as they grow on vines. But for some reason I think I planted the seeds to close together and most of the plant is now dying from bottom to top. Still though there are flowers on the plant, but still no peas to be seen.
Tomato- Well I decided back in March I wanted to expand my vegetable garden with two larger plots of land. I did some research and found that raised bed gardens seem to work very well. I then built two 6ft x 2ft boxes with ten-inch walls. I then filled the boxes with several mixtures of soils including peat moss, hummus, manure, woods soil, and garden soil. In total I had to buy 21 bags of soil which keep in mind was quite costly. But next year I will not have to do this again so it was pretty much a once in done thing. Also forgot to add I put a weed control, but yet water seeping mat at the bottom of the boxes. A few days I later I went out to the local nursery and bought two Roma tomato plants. They first grew extremely slowly, but now they are really taking off. In total I have about 26 tomatoes continuing to grow and there are still more flowers ready to yield more tomatoes.
Herbs- I decided to plant three herb plants that I would use the most. I planted the basil next to the tomato plants and then a garlic chive and parsley plants located below the basil plant. At first the herbs were doing great, but then the long cold spell in May hit and my basil plant, well, died. In June I continue to pick herbs almost every day to spice up some of our dinners. The parsley plant grows like wild and has a bush like appeal. The chive plant is like an ornamental grass type plant and grows a little more slowly than the parsley. The chives do have a wonderful flavor though. As I was putting in a large new shade garden I was putting stepping stones for a pathway and I want to have steppable plants in between a few of the stepping stones. But instead of buying the expensive steppable plants, I decided to buy some herb plants. I bought one oregano plant and two thyme plants. I have yet to pick these though as herbs due to their slow growth in the shade, which was expected.
Zucchini- Well I decided put in some zucchini plants due to they taste great on the grill. The plants were very small when I bought them and only around 3inches tall. I bought four of them. But then shortly they grew like wild and before I knew it they were spilling out over the raised bed boxes. Then they grew flowers and before I knew it there were small zucchinis growing. Now I think I have counted 18 zucchini with I believe more to come. I guess I will be giving a lot away.
Radish- If you’re looking for an easy plant to grow, these are it. They grew like hotcakes and I planted more than I knew what to do with. I gave many radishes away and still I have more cutup in my refrigerator. I pulled the rest of the radishes out when they looked liked they were not growing anymore and moved two cucumber plants in their spot.
Cucumber- Well these plants have been a plague in my side. I planted two in the beginning but then they died right away from the crazy cold spell mentioned earlier in May. Then for a while I did not get anymore. But then I decided to pick up two more cucumber plants at the local nursery and placed them where the radishes were. So far they are very slow to grow and only about 8inches tall. I do have the plant staked. My neighbor's cucumber plant though is growing huge into a large vine.
Carrot- I planted three rows of carrot seeds spaced enough for room to grow. One thing I noticed is these carrots are taking an awful long time to grow, but now they are quite tall. I pulled on yesterday to see how it was coming along and from what I can tell the carrot by the root is beginning to grow too. Carrots are one of my favorite vegetables. I cannot wait to pick some of them.
Second Round of Peas- After a disastrous round with the first pea plants I decided to try to grow them again in my new vegetable garden. I planted three rows of seeds and again placed two stakes in each row. The seeds sprouted quickly and now there are tons of peas on the plant. This pea plant is doing much better than my original and I should have quite a bit of peas for picking, too many to count. I think with the first plant that the peas were just to crowded to give way for growing.
Bean- I am not too big of a fan of beans, but anyway I decided to grow them figuring I would give some of them away like years before. I planted the bean seeds in the new garden and like usual they sprouted quickly. But one thing different from other years is the bean plants are quite taller than years before. Currently there are many small beans growing and will be reading for picking shortly.
Watermelon- In my old, but still used other vegetable garden I had some room after the lettuce plants died from the heat wave to put some watermelon plants which I grew from seeds. It is taking a while for a lot of growth with the plants, but now they seem to be getting larger each day.
Pepper- Last night I was looking at the vegetable garden and one thing was missing. It was pepper plants. So I ran out to the nursery and bought two bell pepper plants to fill in an area in the old vegetable garden. The plants seem healthy and I added a stake to each plant for support.
I must say I am proud of my little vegetable garden. It surely is quite large and bountiful for the little bit of plants I have. I look forward to waking up each day to see what plants might have grown from the night before. I use my rain barrel to water the vegetables every day, which seems to keep the plants even healthier. So far I have no problems with pests, which I am pleased with. I wrote up this blog to share the experiences I have had with my first year of vegetable gardening and I recommend everyone to have a little one as it is easy and fun to watch the plants grow. Below I will post some pictures of my vegetable garden. Have a wonderful day!!! But first my short term forecast.
Short term forecast (Friday)Updated- Sorry for the late forecast discussion. For Friday looks pretty quiet across the state of Pennsylvania as an upper level trough slowly departs from the region. For the morning hours patchy fog could be an issue in some of the favored locales, but overall visibility should not be too low and only around 5miles. A weak shortwave will rotate acround the mainstream of the trough and will provide a few rain showers in northwestern Pennsylvania and over the rest of the region only provide clouds. But a weak upper level low in southern Ohio combined with low convective temperatures may spark a few thunderstorms across southern Pennsylvania today. Any storms are capable of gusty winds and small hail. An isolated storm may approach severe limits. Highs will be slightly warming and into the upper 60s to upper 70s across the state with cloudy intervals throughout the day. Winds will be 5-10mph out of the WNW becoming calm by dusk. Looking ahead real quick appears some shower/thunderstorm chances are ahead with slight risks of severe weather Saturday through Monday. I will have more on that in a new blog probably coming out late Saturday. For now have a wonderful Friday!!!
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