Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Seedlings

From And Sow My Garden Grows

I never imagined that I'd be so excited about the germination process of seeds or did I ever think that I'd be writing about it but here I am. Almost all my seeds have sprouted! I planted them all last Thursday and have been monitoring them pretty closely - adjusting the light, checking the dampness of the soil, providing air circulation and apparently I have not failed so far! The cantaloupe & cucumbers almost popped up right away - it amazed us. The brandywine is the last to break through but I think I see some soil movement and of course I'm hopeful for them :) Now I'm at the point where I'm reading once they sprout you should remove the dome cover - but some have not. I guess I will have to separate them and maybe get the ones that did sprout adapting to outdoor light. Hardening off this is called. Seems like a pretty easy process if I can remember to set them out and bring them back in. I think the good old post it notes may find themselves useful around here once again!

My WinterSown Free Seeds Have Arrived!

From And Sow My Garden Grows

So you must do this if you haven't already. I saw this posted in a blog (actually more than 1 blog) and had to check it out. WinterSown.Org Provides seed and growing information to individuals, schools and groups for educational and non-profit purposes. They offer free seeds and welcome seed donations (I can't wait to send them some of my zinnia seeds this year!) I was surprised to see 10 little envelopes of seeds when expecting 6 - It was definitely delightful to see them in the mailbox today. To name a few, I received sweet red cherry pepper, lunaria annua (silver dollar), allium carinatum, winter giant spinach, mixed tomato seeds, & sulphur 24' cosmos.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Seed Starting

Of course I can't jump into anything lightly - that's just not me. I think we had 18 tomato plants last year and only 2 of this family of four eat them. This year I wanted to start some of our tomatoes by seed. I've done just that and more. I not only have the the 15 newspaper pots going (which is working quite well) but now have a 72 cell Jiffy Pot Starter kit going as well. The light is on and mat as well at times and the fun has begun! We are all enjoying our quick peeks in the morning to note any change and already since planting Thursday we have cantaloupe and cucumbers pushing through the surface. It's quite exciting but there is much worry attached to it all for me. Am I providing enough light? is it warm enough? too warm? When does the dome come off and this hardening off thing sounds like a lot of work! All part of the process I suppose and again I sit here hopeful. I do enjoy following others on their garden blogs - the posts, pictures and how to's have been helpful and inspiring to me.
From And Sow My Garden Grows
From And Sow My Garden Grows

Our Green Day

One of the perks of living in our town would definitely be the afternoon breeze we get almost every Summer evening. No need for an air conditioner here! We had one but parted with it a few days ago. It was an old dinosaur of an air conditioner - energy sucking and freon leaking and unsightly to say the least. In it's spot sits our new composter. Not only will we be reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills but we will be hopefully creating what most gardeners refer to as "black gold" Our daughter Maggie was very excited this morning to be the first one to throw in a bowl of cucumber peels, orange rinds, egg shells and onion peels. She understands the process which is pretty cool (she's 7) apparently they are composting at school :) I sure hope we have success with this without creating any offensive smells or attracting any unwanted critters (we do live by a creek as you may know) Wish us luck!
From And Sow My Garden Grows
From And Sow My Garden Grows

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Fever!

From And Sow My Garden Grows

From And Sow My Garden Grows

Nothing like a warm sunny day and the hints of spring to push us in to gear around here. After seeing how beautiful it was yesterday morning I knew that nothing would get done inside the house. For it was that kind of day for us... something had to give to allow us to enjoy every minute in the yard enjoying this long awaited weather. I had fun building a cucumber arch in between the kids beds. It took about 30 minutes to throw together with wire fencing and bamboo stakes. I've never grown cukes this way but have seen some really neat looking arches online and thought the kids would love to play under one. They look kind of magical when covered with a vine. I do hope it's successful. We finally installed some fencing wire to the posts along our neighbors garage to create a screen so we wouldn't have to look at the side of that garage anymore. I can already imagine some kind of evergreen vine taking over the whole thing. I would love a fast growing cottage rambler/scented rose of some kind but know nothing about roses and need to read up on them. I also thought of the black eyed susan vine which I LOVE but worry about frost. I'd really like an evergreen vine, preferably a vigorously growing one (I'm not one for patience :) and something that could offer a punch of color with bloom. Ideas? My zinnias as always will find their home under the screen there along the garage. They thrive there every summer for months and grow to 5 feet tall (no joke here) and are the best flowers to cut for a vase. They are a favorite of mine. Easy to grow, lovely & long living in a vase and I've been easily harvesting seeds from them. How rewarding is that!?!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Garden Markers

A friend of mine made some of these for me a few years back for my birthday and I've enjoyed seeing them take their spot in the garden every year. Yesterday in honor of today.. Valentine's Day, the kids and I created some for gifts. We used acrylic paint and then finished them off with a clear lacquer spray.

From And Sow My Garden Grows

Making Progress

Beds are leveled! Now for the soil...

From And Sow My Garden Grows

Friday, February 12, 2010

Newspaper seed pots

From And Sow My Garden Grows

This is my first year starting some veggies from seed and I've been investigating frugal, earth friendly ways in which to do it. I've seen some great ideas from fellow garden bloggers and had to give this particular method a try. I love the fact that you can just plug these little guys in to the ground paper and all! They were very easy to make and most of you probably have the materials on hand at home. If you don't subscribe to a newspaper you probably have a neighbor that does. To keep the seeds warm I have them sitting in a sunny window in a glass dish covered with clear plastic vented with tiny little holes. The dish is sitting on a small heating pad set on low (I've read that this helps the germination process along) We shall see! A special thank you to Bonzai Aphrodite for the fabulous directions.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Resourceful, Recycle And Sometimes Free :)

From And Sow My Garden Grows

I'm a big Craigslist fan. I have had many successful transactions with both buying & selling and I've even found some great items for free! My latest find was a Smith & Hawken composter, a variety of garden tools and a large terra cotta pot which we needed for our new dwarf lemon tree. Craigslist is pretty easy to navigate and if you have the time you really can make it work for you. When I look for an item I type in my search first thing early in the morning as there are a lot of new posts at the beginning of the day (good things go fast!) I also find that people list things under wrong categories & misspell frequently...there are many ways to find what you are looking for if you are creative. Another site that I've heard is great is Freecycle (The Freecycle Network™ is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns)

Monday, February 8, 2010

What's growing on in the garden

From And Sow My Garden Grows

Apparently I'm not the only one who was thankful for the sun on Sunday! It's been a few days since I've been in the garden and I was certainly delighted to see change. The swiss chard and the beets are standing taller and the lettuce looks great as well. I'm not quite certain what will become of the swiss chard - I don't think we've ever cooked with it before but I'm thinking maybe it would be great in soup? Suggestions would surely be appreciated! The spinach on the other hand will happily find it's way in to a quiche and maybe salads as well ~ Yum!

Our garden friend the Praying Mantis

From And Sow My Garden Grows

To some the praying mantis may look intimidating especially with their prehistoric look and size but they are actually harmless to us and are considered among most a garden friend. Especially to those with organic gardens. I find them to be a very interesting species and we (especially the kids) love to see them in our yard every summer. In fact they must be enjoying some insect on our zinnias because we not only find them there every year but noticed that they have been creating egg nests in that area.
Praying Mantis facts: The egg sack which feels like a hard paper material can hold 100 to 400 mantises and take 5 months to hatch. The mantis is a carnivorous insect. Life span 12 months. Praying Mantis eat good and bad garden bugs. The praying mantis can see 60 feet away and can turn their heads 180 degrees, some 300.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Just when I thought things were great..

Things got better. Happy birthday to me :) New beds for our yard and larger too. Now the pressure is truly on! They have yet to be filled with soil & are not leveled yet. Hopefully soon though as the anticipation is killing me to plug in more veggies!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Raised beds 2008

Our original plans never included raised beds here. We were initially planning to add a deck but after seeing how large the new patio sat at 608 sq ft we realized we didn't need it. I credit a friend of mine for the desire to have raised beds - her garden beds are beautiful and she has always inspired me with what she does in her yard. My husband made beautiful raised beds for us following Sunset's plan but modified them a bit in size. Even sitting empty they looked beautiful.

New Beginnings

2006. New Year, new grass! I can't even begin to tell you how excited we were having a lawn. I was sure tired of all that dirt tracking in to our home for almost a year. Especially with having 2 kids - it was wonderful to get out there and play. Things were changing, things were greener and life was good...

Happy New Year & Anniversary to us!

New Years Eve of 2005 was a turning point for our yard. After several days of rain the creek along our house overflowed. The following days were hard to say the least. Not only did we lose our backyard but also our contents in the basement as well. What a mess. I am not a fan of crab grass..but I would have done anything to have had it back at that point. We had about a foot of silt in our yard and up against our house.

Janurary 2005 ~ Our first house, backyard


This picture shows our backyard when we moved in to the house in January 2005. We were happy to have a lot of grass (even though it was crab grass) our daughter who was almost 3 at the time had a place to run off her energy :) First house for us and baby #2 due in April. We were so excited. The year was off to a fabulous start!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Winter Garden

I had fabulous luck with our last year's *first* winter garden. We had many beautiful red onions, red beets (which produced gorgeous leaves!) sugar snaps peas, variety of cut & grow lettuces which fed us and our neighbors for quite some time! Of course I can't forget the garlic - wow. I went crazy with planting it and we were not to the slightest bit disappointed! It gives us great pleasure to share all the rewards of our garden with others and last years winter & summer garden both did just that. This year the winter garden is doing well but not as plentiful. I could blame the weather - we've had lots of rain & frost this year but won't. Things seem to be growing at a slow speed and not as full as I'd like. This year we have red onion, garlic, green & red leaf lettuce and sugar snap peas & beets and our two new guests being spinach & 2 varieties of swiss chard. I also planted arugula (which I love) and carrots but I'm not putting my money on them for performance as they were a last minute throw the seed in the garden kind of thing. I've read carrots are very easy to grow - eventually we'll see if my timing and planting method worked :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Feburary Garden

It's the beginning of February and I've got tomatoes on the brain. What kind? How many? Better yet..what can I possibly do to make my garden more productive than last summer?? It was our most productive garden yet in our 3 short years of gardening and unfortunately I did not write any notes down. I can remember the names of *almost* all the tomatoes we grew thankfully & those unforgettable ones will for sure be invited back. This year we are going to try new things and hope to push the bar a little higher. Composting being one of them & starting tomatoes from seed, harvesting/saving seeds and jarring tomatoes. Of course squash, cucumbers, peppers and anything else I can get in to our raised beds will find a home here too. I am going to try to document as I go taking notes and uploading pictures. Feel free to comment, question or share your fabulous tips with me! We are learning as we plant & eat and we love it!