Good gardening blogs, spring transplants and potato planting

Sweet Potatoes growing slips in our germination chamber.
Photo Kathryn Simmons

My blogpost on the Mother Earth News Organic Gardening Blog is up. It’s Grow Your Own Sweet Potato Slips, and you can click the link to read it there.

There are many advantages of home-grown sweet potato slips over purchased ones: you can produce as many slips as you want, when you want them, and have spares in case of casualties. The post describes our straight-forward system for growing sturdy slips.

Our sweet potatoes are in our germinating chamber, this old glass-door fridge which no longer works. The heat and light are provided by an incandescent light bulb. Soon we will start cutting slips each day.

This Sustainable Market Farming blog is on the Top 75 Vegetable Gardening blogs, consequently I get to display their medallion on my website. Check out the list (actually 78 this week – data are refreshed every week). There are some other very good ones, including some I have mentioned before such as my Virginia neighbors  Southern Exposure Seed Exchange,  and Margaret Roach’s A Way to Garden which covers vegetables and flowers and landscaping. There are also a couple more I really like: Steve Albert’s Harvest to Table  from California (always good solid information), and Joe Lamp’l’s Joe Gardener. You may know him from the 26-episode TV series, Fresh From the Garden or the 200 episodes of Growing a Greener World®, or one of his books. So, if the weather is awful and your plants are struggling, seek solace and inspiration in a good blog. It won’t take long to read one post and you’ll feel fortified afterwards!

On A Way to Garden, Margaret Loach has her “When to Start Seed: My Garden Planting Calculator” Simply enter your average last spring frost date and right there in front of your eyes will appear the indoor sowing dates and outdoor transplant or sowing dates for 32 vegetables, several herbs and a list of flowers.

Another blog I like which hasn’t made it onto the top 75 yet is Garden Betty. Her wide-ranging posts include The No-Brainer Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors, instructions for caring for house plants in late winter and information on drip irrigation systems.

March hoophouse bed prepared for tomato transplants – holes dug, compost added.
Photo Wren Vile

Meanwhile, here on the farm, I’m pondering whether to start planting the hoophouse tomatoes today. Our “usual” date for planting them in March 15, but cold weather has delayed the growth of the transplants and also the warming of the soil in the hoophouse. We’re almost two weeks later than usual, but the plants are still not huge. On the other hand we are now getting a break in the cold weather, which would help them get  established before the cold weather forecast from April 6 onwards.

This is what I’m looking forward to:

Young tomato transplants in the hoophouse. Photo Kathryn Simmons

Outdoors we finished transplanting spinach, worked on transplanting a couple of beds of kale, and transplanted collards and early cabbage. Today is potato planting day. Yesterday the crew cut the chitted (pre-sprouted) seed potatoes into planting pieces.

Cutting pre-sprouted seed potato pieces.
Photo Kati Falger