Playing Catch-up

There haven’t been many bumper crops at POD this year. And it’s fair to blame POD’s meager harvests on the toddler. She’s distracting. And all-consuming.

But the radishes were plentiful and rather beautiful this year.

We enjoyed these back in June, yeah, sorry. Garden? What garden? Online record of said garden? Pshaw.

September Progress

September rebootThe Little Hurricane has recently been redubbed Typhoid C.  You see, yesterday marked the one-month anniversary of our shared illnesses. That’s 30-odd days of hacking coughs, multi-colored mucus, razor-studded throats, viscous vomit, and booger crusts. Not to mention shared a  fever of 103. Yeah, yeah: hot-blooded. Got it. Still no fun.

What does a toddler’s discharge have to do with the health and well-being of the little blue deck? Everything, it seems. It’s like the deck doesn’t exist, let alone the computer upon which the deck is rendered public. All that matters is saline solution, honey, vomit dodging, and sleeping. This morning, though, despite a shocking lack of sleep and an abundance of the aforementioned symptoms, the deck’s disarray was too much for this sniffling gardener to handle. So while little Ms. Typhoid and her similarly afflicted father departed for the store and the playground, the deck got some half-assed love.

The final tomatoes were plucked and sad, tired plants were bagged. A smattering of cucumber beetles got smushed, just for the heck of it, and the C. Borealis (AKA french orange hybrid melon) upon which they were feasting gave up its last fruit.

September rebootWhat containers remain have been haphazardly scatter-seeded with lettuce, winter cress (AKA creasy creens courtesy of Bartram’s Garden), radishes, kale, and kohlrabi (courtesy of Startin Yer Garten).

POD Had a Plan

Sure, it might be the tiniest bit early to be thinking about seeds, but snow’s on the ground and temps are plummeting.  And Plants on Deck has been dormant for far too long.

radish blossom
first they bloomed

These radishes began their journey nine months ago. They bloomed. They developed pods. They dried. They were husked. Over 300 seeds were rescued from the dried stalks of just two  radishes (a roseheart and a long scarlet). At last year’s prices those 300 seeds would have cost $37.50.

radish pods
POD pods

dried radish pods
dried radish pods
300 radish seeds
and that's 300+ seeds

(And a special thanks to bethysmalls for an adorable seed envelope.)

75 Seeds

starting seeds
65 Seeds

And counting: only 6-7 weeks before planting on deck commences.

Despite the cold rain falling on freshly seeded radishes, the flowers (cleome, lavender, and the random seeds saved from last year’s annuals) and Happy Cat poblanos found their way onto the sill. In a couple more weeks, cucumbers and melons will join the ranks.

Already, POD’s beginning the forget-me-not notes for next year… and this, dear readers is why Plants On Deck got started in the first place. Unable to remember all the little things discovered throughout the growing process, this serves as a resource to my future forgetful self. Although the organic soil potting soil has been sterilized, next year POD’s going to spring for a specialized seed starting mix. It’s lighter and less likely to harbor diseases.

Try to keep your seeds warm and moist (but not wet) as they germinate — approximately 70-80 degrees.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Spring is here. The sun is shining. It’s 55 degrees outside.

Radishes and peppercress have been planted…and the bugs have emerged.

The thyme that had nearly made it through its indoor winter has been ravaged by aphids. A trip to the basement revealed the lone bag of organic soil crawling with what appear to be fungus gnats.  The thyme has been rinsed and then doused with soapy water. Fingers have been crossed.

Unable to toss away an entire bag of soil, it’s time to give sterilizing a shot. Because it’s very, very rarely used, the microwave lives conveniently in the basement, just above the infested soil. Perfect. A quick visit to the interweb reveled that the trick is to heat the soil to 150-190 degrees (anything over 200 degrees causes toxicity in the soil).

Armed with a kitchen scale, one quart measuring cup, and an instant read thermometer (don’t tell the husband/cook),  POD discovered that 1:30 to 1:45 in the ancient, tiny microwave heated a one-pound bag of soil to the desired creepy-crawly killing temperature.

Here’s the question, though: should the seeds that were just started be ditched and re-seeded in sterilized soil?

Fall Fell

lettuce seedsWell, dear friends, Fall has touched down in South Philly. Which is not to say we won’t be slammed with a few more 90 degree days; but generally, temps are hovering in the 70s during the day and low 60s at night. The biggest challenge, though, is the rapidly dwindling sun exposure. POD enjoys at least six to eight hours of sun throughout most of the summer but by September, it receives only a few hours of morning sun.

What does this mean for POD’s zone 7 garden? Major work on deck.

As you can see from yesterday’s post, there’s been some reorganization.  First, all containers have been crammed together to maximize sun exposure. Both the Gold Nugget and Isis Candy cherry tomatoes bit the dust, as did the spacemaster and lemon cucumbers (tune in for more info on Friday).  Filling their shoes are several more parsnip seeds, French radishes, lettuce, Swiss chard, and carrots.

Parsnips and Radishes of the Future
Parsnips and Radishes of the Future

The Brussels sprout seedlings have also made their way, full-time, onto the deck. Honestly, they’ve been looking a little peaked lately. Here’s hoping they pull through.