Monday, June 5, 2017

Polliwog Grows Up!

A month or two ago, I gathered a bucketful of polliwogs for our pond. I thought that the fish had eaten them all. Apparently not.

It appears that at least one grew up.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Simon & Garfunkel Hanging Planter

I'm making a few hanging herb planters this year, just to see how they work on my patio.

This one has Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme. And some basil.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Impatiens Experiment

I was warned that it's a real bear to grow Impatiens from seeds. Someone told me you could keep cuttings over the winter, but I couldn't. So the options were: pay through the nose for plants. or grow my own.

Well, that one is easy. What can go wrong?

I found a package of 500 seeds online for three bucks delivered. And I set up for it.

Instructions call for warm soil: 60 - 75 degrees, but don't ever go above 85 or you'll kill 'em.

I got a larger heating mat (20x20), and it turned out to be warmer in the middle. With a little juggling of the cover, we could keep it in the range.

I set the seed package in there overnight, waiting for the moist soil to warm up: I wanted to plant into warm soil.

But condensation soaked the package, so I spread the seeds on the surface in a hurry and left to mow the lawn and help a friend build a gate.

No problem. It takes a couple of weeks to germinate. I'll check 'em in a week.

I couldn't wait. Four days later, I found this: They were sprouting!

I could see which side was warmer, so I flipped 'em around. A few days later, we had this: this was getting out of hand.

For several days, I watched the temperature and marveled!

A week later it looked like this:

Now they were getting real crowded. And if I looked closely, more seeds were just now germinating.

So I grabbed some small tools and some small pots and began transplanting the ones that were forming their first pair of real leaves.

I had a small tray with sixteen pockets, so I planted one or two impatiens starts in each pocket.

And I decided I wanted a flower pot this year.

I hooked chains on one of my larger (3 gallon?) greenhouse pots, drilled some holes in the sides, and planted impatiens!

I also planted some marigold starts, and some seeds for some black-eyed susan vines, and left room for some schizanthus later on.

That reduced the crowding on the impatiens for about two days.

I needed to transplant them to real pots, starter pots, but real pots. Fortunately, a friend gave me a bunch recently.

I got busy.

I only transplanted the bigger plants.

But the more I transplanted out, the more seeds germinated. The tray stayed full.

After all this, the tray remained as full of impatiens starts as it ever was.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with so many flowers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's a Mystery

I was cleaning up some things in the greenhouse, and a came across a yogurt container. I pulled off the lid and found this:

A cup or so of bench sweepings – dirt and seeds and composty-bits – and a note that says, “Plant me!” and a tag reading “Bench.”

I felt a little like Alice down the rabbit hole.

But I though it was worthwhile. So I planted it.

I have a vague memory of sweeping up after a session dehydrating peppers. I suspect that this is that. 

So I suspect that what sprouts – if anything – may be a variety of festive peppers.

This could be entertaining.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mid March in the Garden

A bunch of stuff going on in the garden today. Only dry day in weeks, and NOAA tells us to expect a very wet week.

I planted some radishes.

OK, nice, but they're the only seeds I have, for the 2012 gardening year. I don't have my hopes up.

The cover is to keep the birds from eating the seed.

I cut back the mugwort and the wormwood.

A number of the branches I cut back of the wormwood had leaves sprouting. So we'll see if we can sprout these into plants.

I've had a tray of leek starts since last fall. Planted a row of those.

Most of the asparagus is out.

I've been letting the asparagus starts tell me when they need to go out. When they have stalks at least 4 or 5 inches high and they're seriously root-bound, it's time to go out.

Tomato cages and trellises are in place. They won't have tomatoes for around two more months. But tomatoes benefit from having some garlic growing among them, and I wanted to get the garlic in. So the cages and trellises are in place.

And since it's such a beautiful day (and not likely to be again for a week or three), I mowed the back yard.

OK, I admit: I mostly vacuumed the back yard. But I got the yard cleaned up some. I think we'll make use of this yard this year.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Busy Day in the Dirt

Asparagus is doing well. Started three varieties from seeds last year. All three varieties - nearly every start - seems to be sprouting right back up this spring after dying  back last fall.

They're going into the asparagus bed outside, a little at a time. It's February: I'm nervous about putting things outside.

Seem to be doing well. Still being careful. 

Notes: Small round pots: Mary Washington. West. 
Square pots: Argentueil.  East end of that bed.. 
Large round pots: just "Asparagus." Center. 
   (From Mike the Gardener.)

Tomatoes are a couple of inches tall now.

Added some more:

* Firecracker tomatoes (determinate, slicing, reportedly yummy).
* Monster (huge slicer: a pound or two).
* Beefsteak (an "organic" slicer)

Some of the last batch of peppers are sprouting, too.

Added some peppers:

* Lemon Drop (Small, yellow, spicy). From saved seed. From TJ's seed saving.
* Felicity. (jalapeno flavor without the heat). These are a hybrid, so I'm de-hybridizing them. This is the F1 (first generation out of hybrid).
* Habanero. (yep: hot).
* Hatch peppers (I don't know: the grocery store had sold out of hatch peppers, but there were seeds remaining. I've been told that they're yummy).
* Gatherer's Gold Sweet Italian (billed as a "golden variation of the sweet Italian frying pepper")
* Anaheim (mid-size; little bit of heat; dry really well).
* Feher Ozon Paprika ("Tasty and substantial paprika-type peppers break through the tops of compact plants")

Comment: Some of these seeds came from a friend of Sue's who had too many seeds. I thought it important that I do my part to help. 

'Nother comment: the little tent things were fun to make. The tomatoes & peppers are all on warming pads, but this is still February in an un-insulated, un-heated greenhouse. So they all have tiny little personal greenhouses, too.

I also set up some grow lights for some of the starts.

Brassica starts there include Raab, purple broccoli, 4 kinds of kale, plus collards and lettuces.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Early 2017 Starts

It's the middle of February. I started my third set of starts today.

First set: late January: started one tray of "Assorted Chile's." I've observed that peppers in general are usually not ready when I want to set them out, so I'm starting earlier this time. But I'm also starting with things I'm not life-and-death about.

That's the left tray in the top photo.  They've been on a warming pad since then, with a plastic "mini-greenhouse" over the top.

Second set: early February: brassicas. A fair bit of kale and broccoli and cabbage and kohl rabi and other brassicas.

No warming pads, but they're under cover.

Also at that time, a friend had given me a load of inexpensive peat pots. That's the right half of this photo.

Those didn't expand to their promised 2" height (they didn't hardly expand at all), but I'm still experimenting with them. I've got them soaking in a tray, with four or five lettuce seeds in each one, hypothesizing that the roots might do something.. We'll see how these do, if indeed they do anything at all.

Then today, 2/12, I started quite a few more. Mostly tomatoes, a few peppers. Also on a warming mat, also with a plastic "mini-greenhouse" over them.

Tomatoes this year:

Slicing: for real: firework tomatoes. Supposed to be large, even, and delicious. Indeterminate (correction: determinate. Darn.). Also a batch of multi-colored tomatoes, largely for fun; who knows whether they're determinate or indeterminate.

(Science trivia: "determinate" tomatoes try to fruit all together - that's good for agribusiness and large scale canners. And when they're done, they stop growing. "Indeterminate" varieties keep growing for approximately eternity, given enough food, water and warmth. )

Paste tomatoes: San Marzano, as before. We've liked these.

Cherry tomatoes: We've had great success with Chocolate Cherry in recent years. I also planted some 2013 seeds of a sweet cherry tomato. We'll see if those even sprout.

Spring is coming.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My First Olive

OK, I'm excited.

I just found an olive on my olive tree. I'm late, this should have been harvested some time back, but I hadn't seen it in the back of the greenhouse.

When do you harvest olives? "October, November and December: Depending on the olive variety and the area and the weather, green olives are harvested in September and October for the table. Olives for oil are picked around early to mid-November, when the olive have just turned green to purple and they're at their fullest with oil."

So it's an over-ripe olive, but it's an olive.

How long does it take for an olive tree to bear fruit? "That is a function of cultivar. 'Arbequina' and 'Koroneiki' begin fruiting at an early age (about 3 years). Other cultivars do not make fruit until they are five to twelve years old. Most olive cultivars will not produce fruit without a pollinator tree of a different cultivar."

My tree is two years old. 

Of course, it's hardly edible yet. The process for making olives suitable for eating is long and arduous. I'll wait until I have an actual harvest before trying that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

UpCycling Chicken Feed Bags

What do you do with used chicken feed bags?

Here's what I've done.

They make excellent grocery bags. If you leave the diameter alone (as I do), then they'll be big grocery bags, but grocery bags are smaller than is completely useful anyway.

And the "fabric" is stiff enough that you can sew a box for your industrial size spools of thread.

Works pretty well.

I used a standard sewing machine, with regular needles and regular thread. I needed to be careful, particularly with hemming the top, but in the end, it worked just fine.

These are "quick & dirty" sewing, which is my specialty. I wouldn't want to sell these at the local farmer's market. But they hold groceries great. They make use of empty feed bags great. And they certainly are unique!