Friday, December 3, 2010

The Harvest

Kale harvest on December 1st

We had a record low of 14 degrees (F) on November 24th, 2010. December 1st, I harvested a good bunch of this Dwarf Siberian Kale from the back veggy garden. No, it's not growing under a sheet or plastic. It was insulated by about 6 inches of snow at the time of the record low. They say kale is sweeter after being touched by a light frost. I wasn't sure it would survive such cold, but it did. I used the leaves to make a kale pesto. You know, so the kids would actually eat it.

Here's my "December kale pesto pasta with peas and chicken" recipe:


Kale, roughly chopped, enough to fill a 2 quart pot
2 Tbsp. dried basil, or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
salt to taste-I like it salty so about 1/2 tsp.
Cooked pasta from 12-16 ounces dry pasta
1 cup warmed peas (from fresh or frozen)
1 pound chopped, cooked (warm) chicken, if desired
fresh ground pepper
extra Parmesan


1. Steam chopped kale. I used the steamer pot over my 3 quart sauce pan and steamed the kale for about 15 minutes. I steam the kale because if you don't, it is a gritty pesto sauce.
2. Place steamed kale, basil, Parmesan cheese, salt and garlic in your food processor and pulse. Drizzle olive oil in a few batches and continue to process until it is smooth. Now you have pesto sauce.
3. Put half of the pesto in the fridge or freezer for later. Mix the other half with hot cooked pasta (from a full package of about 12-16 ounces dry-I used a gluten-free quinoa/corn flour macaroni). Add warmed peas and cooked chicken and mix. Add more olive oil if it looks dry. Serve with freshly ground pepper and more Parmesan cheese on top.

The great thing about the macaroni and peas and feeding kids is that the peas get stuck inside the macaroni, so the kids can't pick the peas out. : -)

October 25, 2010 Gypsy and Miniature Bell Peppers

October 25, 2010 Kohlrabi and Spaghetti squash. It was the year of the tiny squash.
Kohlrabi tastes like a cross between broccoli and green cabbage. I peel, slice, and stir-fry.

Sugar Pie Pumpkin and Jack-be-Littles. October 25, 2010

Kale, tomatoes, peppers, Rosemary. October 25, 2010. It was a good day for harvesting. I have lots of 12-ounce bags of chopped tomatoes in the freezer, just waiting to be made into Mexican rice for the coming year. Should be enough cilantro stored away too. That recipe is worth sharing too. Maybe next time!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gypsy Pepper

Yes, we have some peppers this year! The gypsy peppers are turning from green to orange to red. We had this one last night, sliced into a taco salad. I made the salad with organic romaine lettuce (from the store), my Oregon Spring tomatoes, my Gypsy peppers,my sliced green onions and my cilantro. I finished off the salad with re-fried pinto beans, tortilla chips, organic non-fat plain yogurt, Mexican shredded cheese blend, Pace picante sauce and a bit of hot taco sauce. It was a great dinner, and so fun to see that so much of it was from my garden.

More great news is that there are six healthy Gypsy pepper plants outside and more are beginning to ripen up. I'm hoping to have a bunch to freeze. I might have to pick some still green if a frost gets into the forecast, but we will see how many red ones we can get before then.

In tomato news, I have baskets of Honey Bunch grape tomatoes on the counter along with a few Oregon Spring tomatoes. The Roma VF's are being really slow to ripen and the plants don't look very well, but we will take what we get.

The kids still get a strawberry or two each day and have even started "grazing" on the green onions...hmmm. I get a handful of green beans every few days and the chest freezer has lots of sliced zucchini stored.

We picked one cucumber last week!!! It was a great day for preschooler, who ate the whole bowl of sliced cucumber before anyone else made it to the dinner table. So, it's the summer of the lone cucumber.

We have lots of kale sitting in the garden. It's fun to chop it up into any soup. I even made a pizza with kale pesto sauce. It takes a lot more cooking than you'd think by looking at it. Cook it as long as you would carrot slices, at least.

I continue to be amazed by the production of my little garden for such an off year. We are getting more than we can keep up with each day, and we are eating more vegetables than ever. One of my lessons this year is to always grow a small tomato. Those Honey Bunch grape tomatoes are producing just like it's been a hot summer. They don't care about the rain or the cold. They keep growing and ripening up and looking healthy . They're so much fun, and they taste great!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

There's Always Something

This year, the garden may seem slower than usual, but since the harvesting began, there's always been something from the garden for dinner. Last night we had turkey cakes (mini turkey meatloaves broiled like burgers) with a big Oregon Spring tomato chopped up and mixed in. On the side we had sliced fresh zucchini with ranch dip. The only veggies we are buying are potatoes and slicing onions. Those are too cheap at the market to be worth the space in my little garden.

We are loving our Honey Bunch grape tomatoes! They are so sweet, I barely recognize them as tomatoes, which is a good thing for the kids and I. We can just hang out by the plants and have a tomato snack. The plants are also staying especially healthy. Only one has yellowing leaves, and that one is in a pot, so I don't know if that is part of the problem. The other three, planted in the ground against the south facing wall, are beautifully green despite being surrounded by other sickly looking tomato plants. The Honey Bunch tomatoes are listed as resistant to verticillium and fusarium. The funny thing is, my Roma VF tomatoes are listed the same yet they are the ones looking the most sickly this year. Could it be late blight? I am trying not to let the sickly plants bother me. They are still producing tomatoes so really I need to let it go!

You have to take what the weather gives you. This year we got a cold and wet June and yet we have plenty to harvest. We just have different vegetables than years past. Still no cucumbers, but plenty of Kale! I am so glad I planted a variety of vegetables. Crop diversification is keeping dinner fresh.
These Gypsy sweet peppers are getting pretty big. I wonder which will be the first to begin to turn red?

Honey Bunch grape tomatoes.

The main vegetable garden. View from our rooftop. As usual, the zucchini is taking over and feeding us well. The "Eight Ball" zucchini is fun, but we've decided we like the regular green zucchini better and next year will try a yellow variety as well. There is a pumpkin growing in there. It's fun for the kids to have a pumpkin patch in the back yard. I enjoy having plenty of green onions to cook with. I've planted a second set of dill and cilantro. The kale is supposed to keep into winter, so we will see how long we eat out of the garden this year.

The main vegetable garden. Here you can see my second planting of kohlrabi, center front, and of kale front left.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The First Tomato

This afternoon, I was outside with preschooler watering my potted tomato and pepper plants. She was playing on the patio near me and I asked her to come over and see the pepper plants. She asked me if they were red and I told her they aren't yet, but they will be after they grow some more. She exclaimed happily, "I know where there's red!" I didn't really pay attention as she ran off to the other end of the yard. I still didn't pay attention as she came running back, "It's red! It's red!" Until she got closer. What I thought at first was a red strawberry, which the kids are allowed to pick at will, turned out to be the year's first red tomato. Which I had been watching and waiting for, waiting so it could fully ripen in the sun for best flavor. Well there it was, a little red grape tomato being proudly held up to the sun by my little preschool garden helper.

OK, so finder's keepers. After explaining that she must ask from now on before picking any tomatoes, I told her, "Well, you picked it I guess now you should eat it." She did, but later said it made her throat sore. It probably needed a few extra days to sweeten up, but the good news is that the tomato harvest has begun in our little garden!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Snap Peas in August

Oregon Sugar Snap II Peas still producing in August! Yes, it was a cold start this year. I am very glad that I am growing a variety of vegetables. I am especially glad that I started a good amount of peas. We had Wando shelling peas for several weeks and even had enough to freeze a few bags. I tore out the Wando peas last weekend and re-seeded that spot with Siberian Dwarf Kale. I decided to leave the snap peas because they looked like they were still producing. Glad I did because tonight we had a stir-fry with snap peas and Eight Ball zucchini. So, while we are still waiting on the pole beans and cucumbers to catch up from the cold June, at least we still have peas. We also still have lettuce going just August.

The warm weather plants might do OK. I saw a Honey Bunch Grape tomato that looked close to being ripe today. The Oregon Spring tomatoes look great but still green. The Roma tomato doesn't look very good, but I'll take what I can get. I do have a few Gypsy sweet peppers starting to form some nice-sized fruit. Given that we still have a full month of warm weather, and another month at least after that before any frost, and I have hopes for lots of tomatoes and peppers yet this year.

The strawberries are putting on another set almost ready to eat, and the blueberries out back might be ready in a week or so.

Something I have learned this year, is that when a gardening how-to book says that something is a cool weather plant, that does not mean that I should plant it in early spring. So-called cool weather plants are doing a lot better for me in full on summer. The radishes I planted back in March and April were full of trouble, but the set I put out in early July grew just fine with no root maggots and no woodiness to them. The Kale didn't take off until now, and the Kholrabi I started back in April never took off. I am starting to accept that I live in a land where spring is just a warm winter, and summer is a just a dry spring.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Starting to Grow

I wanted to show you my vegetable plot. It is slowly filling in. The peas enjoyed the cool spring and we've had handfuls of snow peas daily for a while now. The "Wando" shelling peas still need a few more days to get to a good size. I don't notice many new blossoms so I think our heat wave may have told them to stop producing. The zucchini are doing OK, just a bit behind previous years. Some of the zucchini appear to have vine borer damage. I just learned that you can bury the stem of squash if it gets damaged, as it will grow more roots along the stem. I will try burying the damaged areas. The plants themselves look great and leafy. We have had some lettuce to eat, though not nearly as much as last year. The kale is starting to look respectable. I think I'll plant more kale where the peas are when the peas are all done producing.
The sweet peas have finally woken up and started blooming. We've had enough to bring in two full bouquets already. They say the trick is to keep them well-picked so they will keep blooming, and to keep them cool. They've been sitting out there waiting to grow since February, so I hope they've put in a good root system to keep themselves cool and watered on our few unusually hot days. I wish I could post a scent for you. They are just lovely.

My Oregon Spring tomatoes are looking pretty good. I don't think we'll have any in July as these are advertised to do, but it's been a strange year with the weather. I'm just happy to see a tomato!

The scarlet runner beans are climbing up the trellis very quickly with huge leaves. The Kentucky Lake Pole beans, on the other hand, have had a hard start. We had a lot of rain and cold weather when I first planted the seeds, and most of the first set got eaten by slugs. I bought more seed and tried again, with the addition of slug bait every other day. That sounds excessive, but the slugs have been out of control this year. I finally have a good bunch of pole beans going and husband added more slug bait last night. In the middle of the picture is a Sugar Pie pumpkin volunteer plant. I threw our pumpkin out there last fall just to see what would happen. And now I know! I don't think slugs like pumpkin leaves. They appear to be untouched.

I ran out of cultivated, non-lawn ground, so I'm growing four tomato plants and four pepper plants in pots. The tomatoes are in 5-gallon buckets. They are looking pretty good for the most part. They are in a nice sunny spot and I have a few green tomatoes growing. The peppers are starting to blossom. It's a late start because of our cold spring. I hope that with the number of plants I have, I will have a respectable harvest sometime in August.

Our Berkeley blueberries are getting bigger but we still have a while to wait till they are blue and ready to eat. We put up some netting in the hopes that we will eat the berries before our resident robin family gets to them.

Sorry, no pictures of the strawberries. The kids eat them as soon as they get red. Few make it inside the house.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Between rain-showers today, I went outside to survey my flowers. Here is a surprisingly early Indian Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella). These flowers first came to my garden via a wildflower mix I spread around one year. The only flower I can remember getting that year was a single marigold, but the next year I had some Indian Blanket flowers and some Bachelor's Buttons. I have been letting them seed themselves and they faithfully return each year. The Indian Blankets have gotten better each year and flower through October. So I have several months still to enjoy these.

I just love Violas, and this one has some unusual coloring.

Out in the back yard, I've eaten a few very good Tri-Star strawberries already. The kids have eaten a bunch of Alpine strawberries. They love foraging for them. Preschooler has enjoyed a radish or two though I'm afraid most of them have some tiny icky worms in them.

The cold weather and rain seems to have been slowing down the garden. We still haven't had a salad from the lettuce, but I'm hopeful that we will by the end of next week. I had to spread more slug bait because everything had holes chewed into them. The kale is slowly recovering from the slug damage but the kholrabi just doesn't look like it's going to produce anything. Maybe I'm being impatient. The spinach is languishing. I'll dig up another spot for spinach seeds with more compost and see if it does better there.

Yesterday, we had a dry spell for the day and I took advantage of that by putting out three spaghetti squash seedlings and planting cucumber, dill and green onion seeds. Now, because of the rain, the spaghetti squash is practically laying down in the soil so I spread a bunch of slug bait around to keep those pests from chewing down my potential harvest. I also managed to seed my pole green beans and scarlet runner pole beans.

During the next dry spell, I will set out my "Eight Ball" zucchini, regular green zucchini and sugar pumpkin seedlings. I still need to wait for warmer weather before I can get the pepper plants outside. Looks like next week will be warm so maybe I'll give it a go then and see how they do. I still have carrot and fennel to seed. It's a busy time here even as I wait and hope for a relief from this rain.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peonies in the Cold

I got three huge blooms from the peony this year. The first spring that we were in this house, I decided to clean up the border along the back of the house where the roses are. I weeded, laid out newspaper and covered it with mulch. I started to see something growing up next to the roses and was annoyed by this stubborn weed growing up through my mulch. So I cut it back. I'm not sure for how long I cut this thing back, but last year I let it grow and saw big beautiful flowers grow from it. Soon I realized that it is not a weed, but a peony. Huge blooms with lots of petals. Glad I took a photo because the blooms really don't last long.

This is one of my birthday irises. Blooming the first year in, not bad!

I was surprised to see the Spanish Lavender growing out front already. It's beating it's peers by a few weeks at least. The Spanish is my favorite lavender. I like it's purple tufts at the top.

In other garden news, preschooler has already eaten about a dozen Alpine Strawberries. The Tri-star and Seascape strawberries might be ready within the next month. Apparently, I made a mistake when I planted tomatoes behind a row of strawberries. Of course, I researched my garden placements too late, once I'd already done it. It turns out the strawberries can get some of the same diseases (Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt) as tomatoes, so it's not recommended to plant them in the same spot. I will leave things as they are but I will keep it in mind for next time. There's always the chance that both the strawberries and tomatoes will grow and ripen just fine. My tomatoes are all resistant to at least one of those diseases, and both Tri-star and Seascape strawberries are labeled "disease resistant", so I will call it an experiment and see what happens.

I think I'll have some pepper plants to pass out soon. I have about a dozen down in the basement and I don't know where I'd put them all. We really need to dig up some more of the lawn for a bigger garden next year. Peppers are great for freezing and the whole family loves them, so the more the merrier if I have a place to put them. Perhaps I can squeeze a few into the flower garden out front?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Yes, that is a new word. Mayuary means a time when a given area has the exact same weather in May as it did in January. As is happening here. A few days ago, we had a winter storm warning with high winds and snow up in the mountains. The good thing is, the snow pack is back up and once again we have no worries for drought this summer. Nonetheless, our high summer water rates are back. I really wish I had another option to water my garden, but all we have is city water. Anyways, right now it's a balmy 49 degrees outside on this 5th day of May 2010. I'll admit it's a little humorous. I'll also admit that I am tired of the chilly weather and I am wishing for a perfect 73 degree day. The lettuce is just sitting out there barely growing and the spinach looks extremely sad. Looks like my cold weather plants have some more time left. The peas are growing happily as are the strawberries.

Which brings me to the battle against ants and their aphids. I have learned that little sugar type ants farm aphids. The ants bring aphids into their nests and keep them over the winter, then in the spring, the ants plant the aphids onto your favorite plants with new growth, and farm them. Sometimes, the ants remove the aphids' wings so they will just stay in one spot. Then the ants feed off of the "discharge" from the aphids as they suck on your plants. The ants also go after the natural predators of aphids, such as ladybugs and their larvae. What I have done is allow husband to go after the ants any way he chooses, because only by getting the ants can we control the aphids. I'm refusing to spray my plants with anything besides insecticidal soap, so it works to let husband go after the ant nests as he hunts and destroys them. I hope we can get the ants under control, then I plan to buy some extra ladybugs and "plant" them in our yard to build the ladybug population back up. I'm providing a link to one of the many articles on this creepy ant behavior:

In other news, I was curious as to why some of my tomato plants have leaves curling inwards while they otherwise look fine. I found an interesting article that put my worries to rest. I will just try to water more carefully and hope for the best. Here is a link to the article in case your tomatoes are doing the same:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spanish Bluebells

The first spring that we lived in this house, I was happily surprised to see a few Spanish bluebells growing at the edge of the walk. A year or two later when I saw them getting crowded, I decided to dig some bulbs up and spread them around out front. Now they are lining the front flower garden on two sides. They do spread like mad, so I don't worry when I go to put in a summer annual and spear or dig up several bulbs in the process. Spanish bluebells spread by growing baby bulbs and also by seed. I've decided to cut them down before they go to seed to keep them contained to certain areas. Right now I am enjoying these super easy bloomers.

These forget-me-nots put themselves here out front! I laughed when I saw a 3" pot at the nursery going for $3.49. Seriously? Maybe I should start a forget-me-not nursery business.

Here's a little view of that front flower garden. A few plants are waking up and it's looking prettier each day. I went out and seeded some dwarf Cosmos, Cosmos Sensations, German Chamomile and Pansies.

These tulips came with the house. They have, surprisingly, been naturalizing. This is unusual because tulips don't like our soggy winter soil. I think these have been happy because they are under the eaves against the house where they keep dry.

Wando shelling peas are starting to creep up. I also have spinach, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, arugula, cilantro, green onions and chives planted outside. I need to get on with the parsley but I admit I've been procrastinating due to past failures. I need help with germinating parsley seeds. Last year I just bought a parsley plant.

Here are my Seascape strawberries in the strawberry pot. This is only 10 of my 29 plants.

Indoor gardening:

I have several pepper, basil and tomato plants started inside. I have "Gypsy" pepper, which is sweet and matures to yellow, and miniature red bell peppers. I also started "Honey-Bunch Grape", "Oregon Spring", and "Roma VF" tomatoes.

I double-planted my gypsy peppers because they were being so slow that I almost gave up on the first set. I decided to put them in a warmer spot. I have a kitchen cupboard that has an old heat vent underneath. I used to use it to rise bread, but now I've found that it's a good, warm place to put basil and pepper seeds to germinate. I plant the seeds in my cell trays as usual, and keep them in the warm cupboard until I spot any growth. Then I move them into light. It works and now I have at least 9 gypsy pepper starts. It's my version of greenhouse gardening, without all the fancy supplies.

The tomatoes did fine germinating in the basement along a large south-facing window. Once it starts warming up into the mid-60's outside, I will probably start hardening off the tomatoes, peppers, and basil by putting them outside on dry days, and bringing them back in at night.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Early Spring Bouquet

I am so happy with this blend of "Tete-a-Tete" Narcissus and purple Crocuses in a back border. It looks like a little patch of Easter colors. The Crocuses have been here and gone already, but these Narcissus' just keep sitting pretty back there. I planted these in fall, actually there are several drifts just like this; the bulbs were my birthday gift from husband. Definitely the gift that keeps on giving.

More of my birthday gift peeking up for a surprise. This is Puschkinia libanotica. It is very tiny, 3-4 inches tall. I planted a mixed pack of bulbs that also came with large Crocus, Iris danfordiae and Chionodoxa luciliae. I now wish I had planted them in drifts according to kind, because now they are spaced few and far between and flower at different times. I have heard that this particular flower will naturalize in time, so I might have to wait for more. I do like this tiny flower with its dainty stripes.

This is an Anemone (windflower). It is supposed to naturalize very well, so though they are a bit thin this year, I am looking forward to them filling in over time. They've been blooming for several weeks now and keep getting more flowers.

The vegetable plot is ready to go. This year I put a little path down the center. I plan to plant more closely together this year in square plots instead of rows, and use the center path to access everything. Just waiting for some warm weather. After an unusually warm winter, spring is now COLD. Back in the warm stretch, I put up some cages for my bush peas. I planted Wando shelling peas in two cages, and Oregon Sugar Snap II in two more cages. They are finally starting to come up, and I have been sprinkling slug bait every few weeks to keep my seedlings from turning into slug-fest 2010.

I have also seeded in the garden: spinach, kale, kohlrabi and radishes.

Twenty-nine bare-root Seascape strawberry plants arrived in the mail from Nichols Garden Nursery a couple of weeks ago. I was able to plant ten of them in a new strawberry pot, and found room for the rest in borders along the back of the house. Hopefully, with this many plants, I will have so many berries, we will have to share! They are already growing fresh green leaves and look happy and healthy at their new home. I chose Seascape because my dad is growing these and said they grow fruit all summer and taste real strawberries.

In other gardening news, husband planted two Olympia Blueberry bushes in the front lawn. We are slowly trying to break up that flat expanse of lawn out there with some food producing plants. It will be a while before they get very big, but they are "high-bush", so they should get up to at least six feet if we allow them to. We hope to get a few berries before the birds find them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Early Bloomers and the Return of the Bumblebee

Who would not be happy to see these beautiful dark purple crocuses growing in their own backyard? All I can say is, "I want more!" The good news is, in my garden research, I have read that crocuses usually naturalize quickly, which means I will most likely have more...someday. These are the crocuses I was worried that I buried too deep, so it's extra wonderful to have them now.
More and more daffodils in the front border. The little ones have been naturalizing quickly. When my Grandma came up to visit one spring about six years ago, she gave me a little pot with daffodils and tulips to put by the front door. When they were done flowering that year, I moved the bulbs to the garden and hoped some would come back. I think most of them did and it's always nice to remember Grandma's visit when these flowers come back each year.

Bumblebees are very loud. By the sound of this one's "buzz", you'd think he was unfriendly, but he was kind enough to stop for a photo-op on the rosemary bush.

Other Work in the Garden:

I set the sweet pea starts out along the side fence in the backyard. Husband stapled twine to the fence for me so the sweet peas will have something to grow on. We had a minor catastrophe when I used my organic fertilizer to amend the soil along the fence-line. Apparently, the bone meal in my Whitney Farm's All-Purpose Plant Food was too much of a temptation for the neighbor's dog, who tried to dig under the fence to get at it. Our other neighbors saw the dog poking through the fence and gave us a call, but by then husband was already on his way to plug the hole with concrete and put up a few new fence boards. You never saw such and instantaneous fence repair! A few of the sweet peas were a bit trampled, but they seem pretty tough and I think they will all survive. I am waiting a bit nervously for them to grow. I just don't know what to expect as I've never grown them or even remember seeing them firsthand. Will definitely post pictures as they grow.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


First crocus of 2010!

Alpine strawberry has its first blossom. Preschooler will be so excited!

These green onions over-wintered in the garden. Late last summer, I realized that I can just cut the greens off the tops and let the plants grow some more. I used to just pull the whole plant out because that is how they are sold in the market. So now I can just plant once for the year and keep harvesting from the same plants, which means I don't need a lot of successive plantings and the space that takes up. I did pull these plants out though because I needed to clear the garden of weeds and it was easier to do without trying to get around these plants. I'll try to transplant some back and see how they do. In any case, it was very nice to have some of my own fresh green onions from the garden in February.

Ahh here is that same crocus from above, this time wide awake with the sunshine.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waiting Not Quite Patiently

I'm so happy to see these crocuses and daffodils emerging in the backyard. I thought I might have dug them in too deep, but they are making their way up just fine. I saw one being gnawed on by a slug so I spread Worry Free Slug and Snail bait around. Still waiting to see a flower from any of the bulbs, but it's great to see their leaves at least.

Here is our Rosemary bush in the back. Always has lovely blue flowers in early spring. It really likes this dry southern exposure spot under the eaves.

Camellia is getting ready to bloom!

Our Bergenia are reliable perennials. They are getting pretty crowded so it's time soon to attempt to thin them out. Suffered a bit of frost bite but giving us some nice early flowers. I had to laugh when I read this description from our Sunset Western Garden Book: "Will endure neglect, poor soil, and some drought..." Yep sounds like a plant for me!

The Magnolia is tucked back in a shady corner.

I went seed shopping and came back with spinach, carrot, round green zucchini, and shelling pea seeds. Also spent some time thinking of plans for an additional vegetable garden plot in the back. It's still a bit too early to plant outside but I might try a few seeds in mid-March just to see what happens.

Toddler and I planted some sweet pea seeds in peat pots last weekend and have them in my mini greenhouse trays inside near a sunny window. I cracked a corner off each seed coat with nail clippers to aid in germination, as the seed pack suggested.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Signs of Spring

Evergreen pansies are the first to flower in my 2010 garden. What welcome faces! They are surrounded by lots of babies so it will be fun to watch them spread. I have a bunch of weeding to do around them as well. I need to figure out the best way to mulch while still allowing my self-sowers to grow. I've been thinking about putting in more ground covers, especially creeping thyme, to help control weeds and make the area prettier.

This little crocus is smaller than appears on-screen. I didn't even see it from the kitchen window but discovered it when I went outside to take pictures of daffodil shoots. I'm very happy to see something emerging after digging it in this fall. Directly behind the crocus you can see one of my perennial carnations, looking very woody but with a tiny bit of new green growth starting near the base. I need to research how to trim it up for spring.

On the left you can see what is most likely a pair of daffodils emerging from the soil. You can see them just barely pushing up. On the right may be a crocus or a thinner-leaved daffodil. I'll know within weeks. There are lots of tiny alyssum seedlings scattered all around the flower bed. It's nice to have been gardening for at least a few years now so I'm getting to know my flowers from the weeds.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First in 2010

Well, it looks like the Irises are up a little early this year. They are in the back near the south wall of the house. Maybe their location makes the conditions a bit warmer and now they think spring is upon us already. Or maybe I got them in the ground too late and they are just plain confused. Just hoping they make it. I think if there is a freezing snap, I will get out there and cover them with some bark mulch. Is that a good idea? If they freeze this year, will they have a chance next, or will they need replaced? Right now we are in the upper 40's, so no worries for the moment.

I've been devouring the Territorial catalog. I lost the first one they sent me, and then last week another just showed up in the mail. I asked husband if he ordered me a new one and he said no. So it's a catalog miracle and I'm very happy to read and re-read it. I've to it with a highlighter a few times, marking which tomatoes and other plants I'd like to try. (Then I left said highlighter out in the living room and toddler promptly found it.....) Then those irises decided to pop up and now I really can't wait to get started. I'm planning a field trip to the Territorial nursery this spring. It might be a good idea to organize a seed share with my fellow gardeners.

The new flower I plan to grow this year are Hollyhocks. They can grow up to 6 feet tall. How fun! Almost time to convert the basement back into a working greenhouse.