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Transitioning from the Garage: Perfect Seedlings

Small lettuce plants

They’re perfect little plants. This was the most surprising thing about starting my own plants from seed. You expect lanky, anemic, small little plants. In reality though with the right light, right soil/fertilizer, and some time…the plants look just as good as nursery stock. Sort of delightful.

The Tomatoes

Lots of tomatoes this year. Canning tomatoes last year was a big success. Salsa, sauces. As was drying. Pounds and pounds. About 1/2 of what I canned or dried (or froze!) came from my garden. My plan for this year: more cowbell (or tomato plants and planting space for them).

Last year, I gave up on blanching and peeling for canning. 20 jars of salsa with skin. 20 jars of salsa without. No difference. So I decided to give some tasty, prolific cherry varieties a whirl: Tomato Black Cherry, Morning Sun, and A’Grappoli D’Inverno. And, of course, the Amish Paste variety I grabbed at the Seed Swap.

The Whole Veggie Clan – seedlings and purchased starts

In addition to the 100+ seedlings this year, the garage greenhouse has Continue Reading Transitioning from the Garage: Perfect Seedlings >>

Garden and Green Travels of 2011 – Part 3: Best Hardscapes

Oh, the final push for spring. Time for one more look at great inspiration from last year’s travels. Last part in the series…

Best Hardscaping

Great Stairs: Abkhazi Garden – Victoria, BC

What garden wouldn’t be a better place without a veg covered stone stair? Exactly! Although my very different climate would take more water to generate this look, I hope to find a way to incorporate this inspiration in my reality with water-wise sedums and succulents this year.

Great Sideyard: Store in MA

What a great use of a could-be-full-of-dead-grass-and-old-lawn furniture area. This year, hoping to borrow the thought and incorporate showy grasses (with solar uplighting) and perhaps some hardy evergreens into my own full-of-dead-grass-and-old-lawn furniture area.

Trail rail in Idaho

Metal makes everything better. This trail (any guesses?) in a Southwestern Idaho carries the metal into signage and rails. Continue Reading Garden and Green Travels of 2011 – Part 3: Best Hardscapes >>

My First Seed Swap

Seeds Headed to Swap

I’m grateful for the local food movement here in southwest Idaho. Okay, I’m grateful to local food movements anywhere, but most local to me at the moment because of the wonderful Seed Swap they brought together this year.

Last year, it was at the local Farmer’s Market. A couple tables, medium-sized crowd. I walked past thinking “I have no seed to swap and I already bought a bunch of envelopes of seeds…”. This year, it was a larger gig at the Idaho Botanical Garden. Twenty minutes in a seed tent adjusted my thinking…

1. Even the Seedless Can Swap

I took leftover seed with me and one packet I’d saved. Didn’t matter though. Many folks brought and gave freely. This was good because I think the ones I saved might not be viable…they were a little shriveled and other saved corn seed looked plumper. The very kind Continue Reading My First Seed Swap >>

Sigh…the bothersome bug…

Aphids Attacking Swiss Chard

Sometime in November, I planted greens. Sorta after the first snap of Fall. Things went swimmingly for almost two months. Then…alas…whap…aphids. In the garage.

One immediately looks for answers after several weeks work. It went from nothing to serious over a weekend when my light timer didn’t kick on and I’d sogged the flats a bit to keep them moist while gone.

Much of the lettuce was ready to harvest, so I washed and washed and ate. Don’t dare whine about drowning insects to save the food…I worry more about the perfect perfect lettuce from the supermarket. Yes?

I contemplated what introduced my invaders. TBD still on that one, but in a house that has supported two ladybugs at different times this winter…who am I to say?

In the end, I think the temperatures inside the greenhouse were too warm during the day. I moved to a clear, plastic drop cloth this year (last year was a greenish color), but with three lamps (6 bulbs) and a mild winter, the garage Continue Reading Sigh…the bothersome bug… >>

Bring on Spring: Garden Containers and Forcing

Daffodil bulbs sprouting in a coffee can

Every year is like this. February, that is. Sun comes out. Temperature warms up. Wind ceases to exist. A Peregrine Falcon lands on my fence. All clear signs it’s time to do something foolish. Something that won’t be finished before winter returns.

One year it was 17 yards of gravel, sand, and soil to build a raised paver patio. All wheelbarrowed around the house to the back, mind you. Another year it led to several truck beds full of huge boards to make raised beds. Regardless, the outcome is the same…two weekends after project start, you’re out there (usually with innocent, unsuspecting friends and family) hauling extremely heavy things in 20*F with a 40 MPH wind.

As luck (and wisdom) would have it, a out of town trip is keeping my lawn intact, my garden un-weeded, and new projects from being kicked off…so far.

It does not mean, however, that a few bulbs cannot be forced or the first garden baskets cannot potted and gifted. Early spring mixed veg and flower gardens are a snap. If you’ve started your greens, you are Continue Reading Bring on Spring: Garden Containers and Forcing >>

First Winter Harvest, Second Winter Planting

Growing beet tops after 3 months

Now early February, the winter plantings are getting a little crowded. Especially the beets. Having some seedlings in the garage pushed me from “thin the beets” to “pull them all for beet tops”.

Three Months = Three Pints of Beet Tops

Here are my precious pints. I figured they’d make a lovely addition to soups and stews. Little worried we’ll be eating a lot of pink colored stews for the rest of the winter. But before we go there, back to the harvest…

Every last beet plant. None with roots bigger than a bean seed. Fantastically soft and crisp tops though.

Washed up and ready to blanch. Certainly a nice burst of color in the middle of yellow and gray winter…that doesn’t include a Continue Reading First Winter Harvest, Second Winter Planting >>

Garden and Green Travels of 2011: Part 2 – Best Plantings

IMG_1382

In mass, different, unexpected, and the practical. Here’s the wrap up of best plantings for 2011:

Black Eyed Susan and Russian Sage. Planted in mass and filling the entry to a otherwise ordinary housing development in Boise, Idaho. You could pull in and be completely engulfed in window-high color. Not a space unfilled. Not a concrete barrier or retaining wall left uncovered.

This watering trough full of carnivorous plants was quite possibly my favorite of all. Sitting in perfection at the Idaho Botanical Gardens, I had to admire both the cleverness of the container and the abilities of the gardeners to keep such specimens in the dry, high desert heat.

There are fences. Then there are white picket fences. Then there are white picket fences Continue Reading Garden and Green Travels of 2011: Part 2 – Best Plantings >>

Other Adventures in Winter Gardening: The Wine Barrel Greenhouse Project

Wine barrel greenhouse in the snow

For three months now, two wine barrel greenhouses have kept my front porch company. Three good cuttings of swiss chard. Now some garlic sprouting and slowing growing beets that may be more for tops than roots.

Random Donated Street Lamp Covers

The inspiration came from a pair of huge street lamp covers (opaque with an opening at the top for the light fixture) that I found for just $5.00 at a local recycled building materials store. I was looking for things I could use as cloches. Cloches I found. They spent a few months out in my garden, but I have square beds out there and the circular covers just didn’t make for good use of space.

As winter approached, I was thinking about winter-friendly containers for my front porch (shatter a few ceramic pots by freezing and you stop with the ceramic pots). I realized my lamp covers had about the same circumference as whiskey barrels. With that, my plans went from dinosaur kale to other winter hardy (but less winter hardy) greens.

A Long March for a Barrel

Continue Reading Other Adventures in Winter Gardening: The Wine Barrel Greenhouse Project >>

Garage Greenhouse: 20 days into 2012

Pak Choy Seedings

Seeds in 1/5. A table full of green happiness by 1/25. Here are the baby pictures.

This Winter Density is more cold tolerate than most. Another week or so and I will move it out to my wine barrel gardens out front.

The perfect salad mix. Baby Asian greens and Fernleaf (ala PERFECT LEAF!) lettuce. The Asian mix and the Fernleaf did great last spring indoors, great last spring outdoors, great last fall indoors, and are on their way to many salads this spring.

No Mache. Something there is that doesn’t love a Mache. Year two. No germination. I read this is slow germ, but think I need to sharpen my skillset to get this to grow in mi casa.

Lolla Continue Reading Garage Greenhouse: 20 days into 2012 >>

Garden and Green Travels of 2011 – Part 1: Best Buildings

Azabhai House at Azabhai Gardens

Finally snow here (well, in the mountains) after much adieu. Normally, I cannot wait for Spring this time of year, but with limited snow comes limited summer water…so keep winter coming this year, I say.

Despite my current reframing of the cold, gray winter…a girl still needs some color. Here’s a recap of my most memorable garden and green travels of 2011…starting with best buildings.

We came into Victoria by ferry. Dreary day in Vancouver, amazing day in Victoria. Dropped bags at our hotel and headed out on foot past Parliament toward the beckoning Empress Hotel. You can see the Empress and her green covered glory from across the harbor. A great inspiration (on a grand scale) in connecting one’s structures to one’s gardens.

The weeping sequoias are almost a religious experience. The experimental iris beds completely changed my perspective on irises. Not the bearded purples that occupied most of my childhood summers…digging and splitting. Some months later, I’d find one of the striking varieties I’d Continue Reading Garden and Green Travels of 2011 – Part 1: Best Buildings >>