Sunday, February 22, 2009


I always feel a wee bit like a new parent again when my seeds sprout or my plants produce their first fruit. And, we have lots of little sprouts! When I get a chance, I'll post a picture. I'm not exactly sure what's sprouting--there are some in both trays. I'm pretty sure some parsley has sprouted and some peppers (it's going to be a challenge to keep these peppers going until they can be put in the ground!!!). So, let's see... that means the peppers (I think) sprouted in less than a week. Same for about half the herbs. No tomatoes, greens, cabbages, etc. yet. Speaking of cabbages, we haven't actually gotten our regular ol' green cabbage seeds yet. Better hurry!

Next project for me: getting that garden ready so I can plant cold weather stuff! We have a bit of work to do (compost, digging, bean/pea teepees...). Thanks, Katie, for the tip about letting peas climb up branches! 

Garden Dreaming

I am laughing that our fine editor-in chief, Mrs. Betsy, has listed me as a gardener with "lots of experience" ! If I happen to have any more experience than any of these ladies it is merely because I am the only one with a significant collection of gray hair and an age that is dangerously close to having a "4" as the first digit! Anyway, I am thrilled to be able to record our gardening journey this season and share what I am learning.

This February afternoon finds me stuck in the "reading, planning, dying for spring to arrive" stage of gardening. I have been intending to buy supplies to get our seeds started, but regular life just keeps happening all around me! As I have been able to create a spare moment I have been reading garden encyclopedias and books and jotting down notes to help in my planning (when to sow indoors, when to plant outdoors, companion planting, and so on). Our biggest challenge is that we are living right smack in the middle of a city and have very little sunlight. Last year I had several little garden patches scattered around the yard. I believe this will continue to be our only option, so I am having to plan carefully. I am also trying to aim for continuous crops this year and am attempting to take careful notes about which plants need new seeds sown every 10 days, which ones we should plant early-summer/mid-summer/ late-summer and so on. My focus is always on producing the foods we eat the most of: peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, and as many greens ( Swiss chard, spinach and lettuce) as I can possibly fit in our garden spaces! * Although I miss my herb garden dearly, I am trying to limit my herbs to window sills and containers so the sunny ground can be used for produce.
The book pictured about is one of my recent reads. It is packed with interesting and educational material. Although our family of 7 consumes everything our tiny garden produces, it gave me lots of ideas about storing locally grown summer produce. I highly recommend it! And now, regular life is calling again...happy garden planning to you!
* As an aside, this year I was able to keep Swiss chard going nearly all year round. I love my daily green smoothies and being able to go out and pick my own greens ( and organic greens at that!) was a huge money saver. Next fall/winter I am going to try some kale as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Free Green Onions!

Here's a potential way to get free green onions! Worth a try!

Harvesting Tomato Seeds

Here's something to think about this summer if/when we can't use all of our (hoped-for) tomatoes: letting tomatoes rot for seed.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Well - I haven't started anything yet! I feel behind already! LOL!

I was looking around outside, and I think I'll have a lot more work to do than I originally planned. I also need to get some tools!

I think I will plant the things that definitely need started indoors to thrive the most - tomatoes, peppers, broccoli - those are things that I've had the best results with when starting indoors. The majority may need to be started from seed this year. I just don't know where to start my plants that will be safe from little exploring hands!

I did take some pics around the house to get a good idea of the sun-fall on the property. I also took some close ups of a few plants that I am unsure what they are. I may have to make a trip to a nursery and get some idea of what they may be and what I can plant near them. Part of me wants to ask the landlord if I can just rip out all the bushes and start my own project - lol. But, that's probably being very ridiculous when you aren't planning to stay in a particular place for years and years! (it's tempting though...)

I also discovered that in one of my front beds, I have a lot of ivy growing (which just looks like a mess), and there are some flowers poking through amongst the ivy and bushes. I am unsure what they are yet - but almost look like they may be tulips. No actual flower buds yet, so I'll have to wait and see!

I've also discovered some things for later - when we actually have a house of our own. I think I love lilies the most. I found one that I've decided will be a must have in our future garden - it's called the fire lily.

Makes me want to paint - lol! I am very excited about planting all the flowers this year as well. I can't wait to have fresh cut flowers in our house! I know I will completely over do it this year - but I will love it! Even David seems to be excited about the prospect of my gardening!

I think I will review that seed guide and force myself to get some things started by the end of the week. I'm just going to have to do it!


Looks like we can/should start most of our flower seeds in the next couple of weeks! 

We should also be starting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. in the next couple of weeks (indoor), as well as prepping soil for peas, greens/lettuces, cabbages outside! 

Any tips?

I'm going to start cabbage, broccoli, bok choy inside. I think I'm just going to do greens/lettuces/spinach outside with the peas--any thoughts?

My basement is going to look like a greenhouse! I don't know if I have enough little Jiffy pots for all the seeds we have. I'm going to try to have a tray that can be reused: plant it with cold season stuff, move the cold season stuff out, then start basil and other later starting seeds. I suppose we'll be transplanting seedlings to bigger cups and then I can put new little pots in.... Hmm... I'm feeling overwhelmed and I haven't even started digging yet!!!! 

Herb Seeds Begun--February 16

Well, I planted most of my herb seeds today! According to a new site I discovered, dill doesn't transplant well, so I didn't start that today. I'm also waiting to start my basil from info I wrote down (can't remember from where!): it said start basil 2-3 weeks before FFD. So, here's the line-up in my Jiffy tray: parsley (2 rows of 6), cilantro (1 row of 6), chives (1 row of 6), thyme (1 row of 6), lavender (1 row of 6), savory (2 rows of 6), sage (1 row of 6), marjoram (2 rows of 6), and peppermint (1 row of ?? super tiny seeds, so not quite sure). I did 2-3 seeds per Jiffy pot. 

Most will go in the garden--both to eat and to help be good companion plants. I'm thinking of using the excess as plants elsewhere in the backyard--especially along back fence. If all grow well, I'll have excess marjoram, lavender, and thyme. The others will be interplanted with beans and tomatoes mostly. These will be ideal plants for our backyard: they aren't poisonous to kids, have pretty flowers, and can always be eaten! So, I've officially begun my gardening adventure this year and gotten my fingers dirty. Anyone else planted anything yet?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Flail? Winnow?

I did a quick peruse of a new seed-saving site today after our discussion of saving seeds for next year (since we had so much fun sharing seeds today!). Well, girls, it looks like another work day:

PROCESS: Small amounts of pods can be opened by hand. Flail larger amounts. Remove large chaff by hand or fork. Winnow remaining particles.

That's a direct quotation for the section on beans. I laughed... there's another work day for us in the fall. I'm sure our kids would love a chance to flail something....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Red Wheelbarrows

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

(William Carlos Williams)

Wouldn't it be great to have kid-sized wheelbarrows, too? I covet, but will stick with my Dollar Tree, neon plastic variety....

Gardening with Toddlers

Since we all have kids who love to dig in the dirt as much as their mothers, we're in the process of raising future gardeners! Here are some of my favorite toddler tools for gardening-alongside-Mommy: Small Garden Hand Tools. You can get them through this link, or you can get them (cheaper) at Lowe's. They're made of metal and wood, so they look, feel, and operate much like Mommy's! My kids also like using heavy plastic trowels, toy rakes, and the like. Lowe's has a nice little selection of bigger tools like hoes, shovels, and rakes that are sized for younger elementary aged kids.