Garden season 2012 commences

Garlic and pea beds

Garlic and pea beds

After a long blogging hiatus, I’m back! And I’m really late kicking off garden season 2012. Truth be told, I’ve been working on some other projects (not related to gardening and sustainability) that have monopolized my spare time over the last few months. Plus, the time has just gotten away from me. I can’t believe we’re already nearing the end of February!

To rectify matters, I officially kicked off my gardening season today. First, I cleaned out the bed for the peas and planted three varieties, which included two flat peas (Oregon Sugar Pod 2 and Taiwan Sugar) and one snap pea (Sugar Sprint). Gee, that’s a lot of “sugar” peas. In front of the pea bed, above, you can see the garlic has come through the winter just fine and is putting on new growth.

Rhubarb emerging

Rhubarb emerging

Also putting on new growth is the rhubarb. I’m hoping that my rhubarb plants will provide enough for a decent harvest this year. These are fairly young plants (just a few years old) and it does take a few years for them to become established and provide a decent harvest.

Cover crop in raised bed

Cover crop in raised bed

Last fall, I planted a cover crop in a few beds. It grew really well and I turned the cover crop in one of the beds today. I’ve never done a cover crop like this before so I’m not sure how long it will take to break down. Hopefully this bed will be ready for the summer crops I’ll need to plant out in May.

Peach blossoms in the greenhouse

Peach blossoms in the greenhouse

In the greenhouse, the mini dwarf peach and nectarine trees are about to bloom. Unlike last year, I did a much better job keeping these watered over the winter and the trees are looking great.

Other recent tidbits:

  • My annual order from Raintree Nursery arrived. I think this will need to be my last annual order for a few years as I’ve basically run out of space. Last fall, we removed our big leaf maple tree. We did this to create more sunny, plantable space. Of course, this prompted the Raintree order. Delivered, and planted, were two more cherry trees, a crab apple, and a plum.
  •  We’ve noticed that our energy bills over the winter have been noticeably lower than they were last year, in fact, about 20% less. We believe this is the direct result of the insulation project we did last fall. We significantly increased the insulation in the attic as well as under the floor. Looks like it worked!
  • Also on the energy front, we’ve received our first solar assessment and bid. The proposed solar system would supply about 30% of our electricity needs (more if we can reduce our electricity usage further which is definitely possible) with a payback of about seven years. I think we’ll pull the trigger on this in the next couple of years as we continue to work on bringing our usage down.
  • We have a new plan for our car situation. We recently decided that Derek would get a Jetta TDI wagon. This is the diesel version that gets 40+ MPG. We’ll use this as the main family car and for road trips. Then, once my Volvo (current family car) hits 100,000 miles, I am going to get an all-electric vehicle. Since I am currently at 86K with this car, it will probably be a few years before I go electric.

That’s it for now. I hope everyone had a great winter and that you are well ahead of me with your gardening 2012 tasks.

Sandy

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7 Responses to Garden season 2012 commences

  1. noelle says:

    Looking good! What cover crop did you plant?

  2. Valerie says:

    Wow, rhubarb already? I’ll have to check out back!

  3. Sandy that is awesome on the energy savings! What kind of solar system did you look at with a payback of 7 years? I would love to get something here. This place is not at all energy efficient but because of the design not much we can do (log home, no insulation opportunity).

  4. Hi Noelle! The cover crop was a mixed variety suited for fall planting. I can’t remember the exact mix.

    Annette, we’ll do a post about solar options soon. There are some excellent incentives that are improving pay back periods here in WA.

  5. kitsapFG says:

    My rhubarb is up too. I love hearing about how your energy savings projects are working out and your garden efforts are getting underway.

  6. Annette – as a PSE customer, if you purchase solar panels manufactured in WA state and are set up as a grid-tied system, you get paid $0.54/kWH as opposed to $0.15/kWH when you roll the meter backwards and feed the grid. The non-WA solar panels are slightly more efficient, but at least one of the panels produced in WA (can’t remember the manufacturer at the moment) is the most durable / reliable on the market with regard to the certification torture test.

    -Derek

    • A slight correction – through 2020, you will be paid $0.54/kW *plus* the going market rate for electricity you generate (which ranges somewhere between $0.11 and $0.18 per kW currently but will go up gradually year-over-year). After 2020, you’ll only get the market rate for the electricity you generate.

      -Derek

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