Posted in Behind the Scenes, Indoor Musings, Seeds

Remember The 2 Hour Garden book?

I fell in love with this book when I first borrowed it from our local library.  Yes, it was older and a handful of practices within it had since been improved upon within gardening communities, but more often than not, the lessons and strategies within were still sound.  When I realized how many times I was borrowing it, I tracked down a copy and bought it

In 2018, we really loosely followed the plan because so much else was going on with still trying to clean up the garden combined with lack of funds really narrowed down what we could feasibly do in the garden.  In 2019, with a bit more clean up behind us and a bit more garden funds to work with, we did follow it quite a bit more, but in 2020…it fell to the wayside like so many things.

So here we are, another year, and I have the book in my hands before the plan officially starts in the book. Raring to go and knowing that we’ve already agreed between us which we will follow this year, and which we won’t, given his schedule shows no sign of slowing—I am determined to at least get back to what we managed in 2019 plus working with the idea that I can make as many new beds as we did last year to get more of these seed additions we have into the ground and given a chance to grow.

It has been bugging me, though, why some bits of the plan we never just followed as written.  I don’t remember when it first dawned on me that some of their suggested garden chores per time period seemed a bit early, and some chores one should do in late autumn/winter/early spring were going to be quite difficult if not impossible here in New England.  When I stated flipping through it again this year, I was thinking about the planting times again and my brain then realized I had no idea what any hardiness zones are in England. Although one of the editors working on the book, Elbert, is an American, the other, Grounds, is British, and the book was originally published in Great Britain. (I could not find any info online about Elbert related to where he may be from in the U.S.)

So with Stage One (early April), there is a section about starting scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) indoors.  There’s also a section in that same stage of the plan about digging the bed where they will later go. Although right now in late March, there’s only small bits of snow on the ground in heavily shades areas, I know from previous experience that trying to dig in early April will likely be a comedy of errors given the near or below freezing temperatures we average that time of year and how often there is still likely to be snow on top as well.  Yes, yes, there’s folks that go to great lengths about brushing off snow and using black trash bags or tarps to warm up the ground to try to work it early, but I am not that dedicated if the ground turns out to still be under a foot of snow or frozen.

Because we lacked experience and knowledge, we just pushed off bits without having a real plan as to when would make more sense given our zone here.  That also meant we didn’t think to look ahead and see what other prep work they proposed for later that we might best do when the ground wasn’t workable. I hope to change that this year, but as with any year prior I know some experiments may still fail.  Won’t stop me from trying!

We are already behind the recommended indoor seed starting time that Farmer’s Almanac recommends for early crops like broccoli or peas, but instead of starting them six weeks prior (because I remember there was still snow on the ground in May last year!), I’m doing it closer to four.  If we had a greenhouse, I wouldn’t be worrying about this.  If we hadn’t lost seedlings in the past because we didn’t have the funds for grow lights or fans and what light we had wasn’t enough to keep them from being weak and leggy I would probably be a bit bolder.

Also because we are trying to use up the last of some seeds that did not have a good return in years prior, I’ll be starting those in plain water first because if they don’t even want to germinate? I’m not going to lose time carefully filling the egg cartons with soil for seeds that will never grow.

I am also going to experiment a bit this year in that we have the cloche we bought, plus we can put back together our quick and dirty cold frames.  I’m going to take some of those that make it to seedling state before they have a chance to get leggy, and put them in one or the other of those enclosures.  With the cloche, I’ll be putting that near the west facing garage wall near the sunniest portion.  Then I’ll try using some water filled jugs to help keep the seedlings in there warmer at night because during the day both the wall and the jugs will act as a thermal sink, which will then radiate back out at night.  I’m doing this because I’ve had mixed results with the hardening off stage.  My hope is that by putting them outside earlier where they will get much more sun than any of our windows do, that plus the cloche or cold frame will help them survive the transition better.  The reason I’m only doing this to a portion of the seedlings started indoors is so we still have some that might make it the usual longer inside/then harden way, just in case the outdoor experiment batch all perish.

Time will tell how this goes.  Tomorrow I’ll be water bathing my first batches of seeds to check for germination, and also going through all our seeds so I can finish filling out my planting calendar for the year.  That reminds me, I will be using the “What I’m planting” widget differently this year.  I may get to it tonight or tomorrow, but I will only have whatever is being started/planted within the day or two.  We have so many seeds now, that widget just gets too long!

Wish me luck.  I may need it.

Care to share thoughts on this?