Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I just bet the veggie patch.

I probably need my head checked, because I just invested a decent chunk of change in a 4 x 6 patch of dirt.  Some of you may remember some ramblings last year about my plans for a permanent coldframe, one in which I could successfully grow greens in for 3 out of the 4 seasons, or one that  I could screen and attempt to grow cole crops that don't get eaten by worms.  Can't do a greenhouse, and I can't do a hoop house.......but I can do a tricked out coldframe.

Mini steel hoops, aluminum shade fabric (that will both retain heat in cooler months, and more importantly, reduce temperature up to 10 degrees in the warmer months),  heated soil cables, and kelp enriched coir blocks are all on their way to me.  Here is the mini hoop system shown below (we will construct our own bed):
(photo couretsy of FarmTek)
The hoops come with a section of greenhouse fabric and clips.  The steel tubes should stand up to snow and wind.  The heated cable is run 3-4 inches below the soil and turns itself on when the soil goes below 74 degrees.  I really liked this set up for a number of reasons.  First, no glass.  After having a storm window shatter in the garden this winter I am all set with trying to use glass on a coldframe.  I also liked the height of the structure, should be easy to work in and access.  Tall enough to tuck in a pepper plant at season's end to ripen under cover.  Heated soil just gives me a little something extra to manipulate the seasons with.  I believe I have achieved garden Nirvana.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The (Almost) Truly Official 2011 Tomato List

I better hope that my clumsiness and a canine named Ivy spare me all past potato catastrophes this year, because as of right now there are no extras.  No back-ups.  I am starting to sweat a bit over this.  I have nine seedlings stretching towards the light.  I want to sow a few more.  I really do.  There may be a Neves Azorean Red, Amish Paste, or a Black Krim being added to this list last minute if I break, but as of right now, here is the official sown tomato list for 2011:

1. Sungold - cherry
2. Sungold (for my mother)
3. Juliet - sauce/freezer
4. Polbig - early determinate; great for those 'green tomato' recipes I love
5. Amazon Chocolate - slicer
6. Ella's Pink Plum - sauce/freezer
7. Ananais Noire (aka Black Pineapple) - slicer
8. Black Cherry 
9. Green Grape 

Are you all proud of me?  Betcha didn't think I could stick my reduction plan......I sure as heck didn't!

We will be eating lots of cherry tomato salads this summer, can you tell?  Think diced, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of oil & vinegar alongside some nice, crusty, garlic rubbed bready-toast stuff.  Mmmmmm........I think I am drooling.  Napkin please.

There are also 2 pepper plants (both Carmen), and an eggplant (Fairytale) growing.  Yup, I went for that hybrid, and no, I don't feel bad.  :)   I am going to miss the other pepper varieties I normally grow, but we will live.  Some peppers is better than no peppers.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Do YOU still double knot?

My husband just exclaimed "you still double knot your shoes???  Ha-ha-ha!!!!  So here is my question for all of you- do YOU?  (I was not aware that this was some childhood tradition to feel ashamed about.  Who needs to deal with an untied lace while going about their day?  To the double-knot, I say ROCK ON!)

And as an aside, how do you  live with someone for 10 years without realizing this difference in lacing practice?  Wow, I am just as amazed by his lack of knot-age.  So please respond.  The husband and I will be waiting.  :)

Some Progress Made

It is C-C-C-Cold here today.  The garden soil and heaps of compost are frozen again.  I had planned on pruning and tying up loose ends on the fruit trellising today, but is just too nippy out.  Hubby is building me an official potting bench in the shed.  What a mess it was in there!  He just needs to add the shelf and it will be finished.  We re-used the section of counter top we cut incorrectly when updating the kitchen last year.  I keep my soil tray over the opening so no space is lost.

I finally managed to sow some kale, chard, and lettuce.  The tray went out into the coldframe.  Not sure  how quickly the seeds will germinate, but if the weather warms and actually starts to be spring-like I will have greens sprouting up in no time.  I was going to direct sow some spinach in the coldframe as well, but all my compost is frozen solid.   Oh, and peas?  What peas.  I REALLY want to sow some peas.  Sautéing up those fresh pea greens with my egg sure has me jonesing.  I saw a robin in the yard today.  The peepers, however, have stopped peeping.

The first true sign of growth for the garden:


On a festive note Mommy did a craft project, and boy was it messy!

And just for fun, a little bunny-love:

Monday, March 21, 2011

What happened to Spring?

I did a garden walk-through over the weekend.  The lasagna bed we threw together in the Fall is coming along nicely, I continue to be impressed by this technique.  The only destruction that was apparent was to my lovely rosemary plant which appeared dead.  After pulling back the straw mulch I saw a critter had made a nest right in the root system.  Sigh, I filled in the hole and cut the branches back hard, but only one out of seven or so was alive so I think it's fate may be sealed.

The asparagus bed was cleared out, and I threw down some compost, amendments, and the first batch of wood & bunny pellets courtesy of Bun-Bun.  It was a tough call......so many beds to feed, so little poop.  :) Alliums are sprouting up all over the place, and the one lone rosemary cutting that survived the winter (indoors) went out in the cold frame.

This area here stretching from the trees back to the fence was destined to become a wildflower patch LAST year, and it just didn't happen.  Lack of time and money is a valid excuse, but one we can not afford to make again this year.  Hoping all the seeds I ordered are still viable.  Now we just need a truck load or two of loam and lots of luck to pull it off.

Seedling update:

(Why did I not sow more peas here, these greens will be adequate for garnishing, but that is about it.)


We finished the bathroom re-do this weekend, so next weekend, and likely the couple following it, will be dedicated to garden projects:  A potting bench in the shed, and a full-size cold frame/bed out in the garden. And now to the finished bathroom:

The chandelier:

Limestone tile and a true representation of the wall color:

No-sew curtain project:

Voila!  My flash didn't go off when I took this last night so it all looks quite dark, 
but you get the general  idea.

(P.S. - Still no kale sprouting on my seedling shelf.  What a poor excuse for a gardener I am huh?)


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meet "Bun-Bun"

Here is my new garden friend:

This is Bun-Bun, my daughter's birthday present.  It is a mighty cute creature, and I am looking forward to letting it fertilize my garden.  The problem is that my dogs are interested in eating Bun-Bun.  Very interested.  I am hoping this small fuzzy critter will eventually stop looking so exciting to the canine members of the family.  They keep their noses to the cage, and the photo is always blurry thanks to their licking, bumping, and pawing.  Luckily Bun-Bun just thinks they are silly.

In garden news the tomato/eggplant/pepper seedlings are growing, and herbs and greens have been sown.  Everyday I say I am sowing kale.  It has not happened yet.  KALE, KALE, KALE!  Must sow some kale.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blog-cation Over

The seeds have officially been started, yay!  Only the nightshades so far.  Herbs, spinach, and pea greens are next on my list.  I made little flags of sorts to label the soil blocks this time.  Last year's plan written out on paper did not work out so well, the problem I see with this set up is my dog requiring emergency surgery because she ingested toothpicks.  I think I am going to order little aluminum tags to attach to the stems once the seedlings become plants and are being put outside for acclimation to the elements.

Unfortunately that is all I have for garden news.  The rest of this post is about our household projects, the stuff that has been keeping us busy this winter.  You have been warned!  ;)

We finished my daughter's room while I was on blog-cation.  She is happy with it but I am beyond irritated on how messy it continues to be, even after my lovely husband built shelves for one of the closets, and I organized all the toys in bins for the new shelves.  Sigh, here are some 'after' photos while it was still neat and tidy.  If I showed you what it looks like now you might cry.

The whole family has been down and out with a nasty flu virus.  This struck at an inopportune time (not there is ever a good time)- but this struck after we had removed the sink, toilet, and flooring from our downstairs bathroom.  Thankfully I laid new tile and made a curtain to tie in the new red paint before falling ill, and my husband repaired leaky plumbing and shored up the wall behind the sink.  Otherwise things have come to a grinding halt, and it really stinks to be without that bathroom for weeks on end.  Here is our progress so far:

Hubby is about to rip up that blue tile.  The splash of red on the wall is the future color.

I went for honed limestone on the new floor.  Quite a change from the old blue aye?!

A small chandelier is on it's way, I am going to wire it on the wall above the mirror and swag it up to the ceiling if I decide I like it in the space.  See, I have a bit of a lighting problem.  The problem is that I really only like fixtures from Pottery Barn in my home.  Any time I settle for something out of a big box store I ultimately replace it over and over until I just splurge on what I REALLY want.  Which is PB.  I also have the same problem with duvet covers, but I digress.

Also from PB is this adorable bird hook, I purchased the large single bird to replace the towel bar.

And lastly, here is the fabric & ribbon used on the curtain.  (My apologies for the poor lighting.)  I wanted something that would lighten the room and make the red less formal.  I found some hand towels in the nice silver-blue color seen in the fabric, so hopefully it will all pull together nicely when the room is done.

(P.S.- Happy March!)