Spring dangit!

by Nathan Rutz

Heyoo it’s been almost a month and stuff has happened. I’ve been out of town and busy quite a lot, but have managed to do a bunch of planting in the last few days. Let’s see here, there are a few things I want to cover in this post:

1. Destroying evil bugs

2. Starting seeds too close together

3. Soil conditions and composting

4. Planting and growing!

Tent caterpillars

One morning on my daily check out of the garden I saw some weird spider webby caterpillar things on one of my juneberries:

tent worms

They’re kinda cool looking, their webby cocoon looks soft and silky



I didn’t know what they were so I took to facebook and promptly heard that they’re evil and should be annihilated, soon, and with fire:





kill tent worms

Not having ready access to a blowtorch and not regularly building fires, I decided to crush them with the heel of my boot against my cement driveway

squished tent worms

They haven’t been back since.

I think they must have been hiding out somewhere on the plant from the nursery, because there aren’t anymore popping up anywhere else, thank goodness!


Starting seeds indoors

In an earlier post I’ve got pictures of happy little seedlings inside under a fluorescent light. I planting into two different media, expanding peat pellets and potting mix. The plants (mostly tomatoes and their relatives) in peat pellets grew like crazy. The peat pellets retain moisture really nicely. Unfortunately I put two or three seeds in each peat pellet. I thought that more seeds would be duds, but almost all of them sprouted.

I never transferred the growing plants out of their peat pellets out of laziness, so they ended up getting rather splindly and thin and kinda sick looking:

spindly tomato

They were also very crowded and have thin stems. I won’t make this mistake again.

The potting mix I used dries out pretty fast. I definitely did not water the plants in the potting mix thoroughly enough for them to thrive, and I also put too many seeds in each one.

Hopefully the tomatoes, tomatillos, and ground cherries will forgive me by growing lots of strong new roots since I planted them deeply up to their leaves – apparently all the little hairs on tomato stems can turn into roots.


My leaded soil is so nice, my purchased soil is so eh

It’s a total bummer that I have lead in my soil. My tomatoes and other fruiting things are in it anyway. Hopefully I live. Maybe there’s somewhere that can test the body of my fruits for toxics?

The leaded soil in my back yard is really nice, outside of the industrial pollution. It’s black and crumbly and full of worms. Just look at it!!

fokin tomatoes

These worms are in an old, overly leafy partially digested compost pile, but trust me they’re all up in the normal soil too:

worm closeup

The soil I bought really needs amendment, it’s hard and clay-ey and water runs off of it. I’m excited for the older of my two compost piles to be finished soon – I stopped adding to it in March or early April, and the heat has definitely dropped in the last week, it’s visibly shrunk too.

Meanwhile, I’ve started another pile that is accumulating quickly, and is too hot to keep my hand in at about 4 inches deep. The older pile is on the right, insulated with wood chips and debris. Both piles are largely composed of coffee grounds.

both coffee piles


They’re growing!!!

Even though not everything is growing marvelously – some of the strawberries are clearly struggling, and some of the kales may never thrive, I’m really excited to see things leafing out and flowering:

A tomatoey key hole bed:

strawed keyhole


tomato ground

Happy hardy snap peas direct seeded:

snap pea closeup


Female hardy kiwi leafed out!

hardy kiwi

Male hardy kiwi

male hardy kiwi

Asparagus hill with a cover crop of red clover popping up!

asparagus hill

Berry hill – strawberries, blueberries, honey berries

strawberry hill

oh hey girl:

strawberry closeup

strawb hill 2



one of six hops

cascade hops

honey berry

honey berry

tomato & ground cherry bed

strawed tomato bed

teeny tiny kales in the deepening evening

night kales


I’m happy with how it’s all coming, looking forward to more starts (and getting it more right), another shipment of plants finally arriving sometime soon I hope, and continuing growth!

The regular steel Fokin hoe has been extremely useful for all kinds of tasks, especially bed preparation.

goofy hoe