By Penny Stine
Monday, March 19, 2012
Men know that the secret to success is having the right tools, so anytime they do anything, it's an excuse to go buy a new tool. Preferably one that makes a lot of noise and is capable of destruction. Women (or at least this particular woman) will often make do using whatever tool is on hand, on sale or otherwise convenient. I have learned the error of my ways. Look what I bought this spring, thanks to my master gardening class:
These are some seriously awesome tools. The hand shovel is a nice, sturdy little tool. The middle tool (sorry, I don't know the right name. A hacker/chopper/slasher?) is awesome. It slices, it dices and it really cuts stubborn roots from your neighbors' trees that insist on spreading into your garden. The long-handled hand-shovel is great at digging up grass, which tends to have long, spreading, annoying roots that are trying to stake a claim in your flower beds.
Last year, I discovered a pitchfork was essential for making compost. More on that tomorrow.
By Carol Clark
Friday, March 16, 2012
While we are waiting for planting season to arrive, I thought you might enjoy a few pictures of vintage seed packets that I found on Pinterest.
I am always disappointed when I receive packets in the mail and they are white envelopes with black lettering and no artwork. I know this saves me money but wouldn't you love to get some of these beautiful works of art in the mail?
It would be a treasure to own a collection of these packets from the past.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Ok, so it doesn't roll off the tongue like John Denver's more famous song, but anyone who's lived here in the Grand Valley of western Colorado for more than a couple of years understands what I mean. I was out taking pics the other day and I saw these:
Now, I don't want a globe willow tree in my yard, nor do I want my next-door neighbor to have one, since its leaves and branches would end up in my yard. But I do love seeing them in early spring. Crocuses start blooming in late winter, but once I see the fuzzy, greenish yellow willows, I know that spring is here.
I think this photo this yard has both a weeping willow and a globe willow in it. These homeowners must enjoy picking up branches. The first year we lived here, I was convinced that I wanted a globe willow tree in my yard. I'm glad we never got around to planting one, but I do appreciate the ones that are in somebody else's yard. (Who lives at least three houses down from me!)
By Penny Stine
Monday, March 12, 2012
My insane gardening pal and I decided it was time to start the tomatoes. We decided to go buy another grow light at Lowe's so we could put all the tomatoes under it, as well as a few other plants that needed better lighting. While at Lowe's we also went to Hobby Lobby (who knew it was a gardening supply store?) and got multi-colored popsicle sticks so we could color-code our tomato varieties.
I thought we had 10 different kinds of seeds, but it turns out that number was only nine. Our popsicle sticks only came in six different colors, so we had to use the same color more than once. We did write our color-code down on a piece of paper. Now it's my job not to lose it between now and summer, when we'll actually be picking tomatoes. It will probably go somewhere so safe that I can never find it again.
The number of seeds we could start was limited by the number of plants that would fit under the grow light. I won't say how many tomato plants we started. If I did, you'd know why I'm now calling Jan of the awesome garden my insane gardening pal. Let's just say we have plenty of plants in case half of them die when we transplant them.
I have the mechanical aptitude of an earthworm, but I was able to figure out how to assemble and hang the lights from this plant shelf. So far, the broccoli is still too droopy and spindly, but I'm hoping it will start standing up straighter any day now.
I have some extra Kellogg Breakfast and Virginia Sweet seeds left over (they're ones I collected from what I grew last summer) so please let me know if anyone wants them. I'll be happy to share.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, March 8, 2012
I started some of my slower-growing seedlings at the end of February with high hopes that this year my peppers wouldn't be microscopic when I transplanted them outdoors. I also started cauliflower and broccoli, which don't need to be started indoors, but are fun simply because they're easy to grow.
The cauliflower is looking pretty good, as are the herbs on the tray next to it. They're both in a prime window spot.
The broccoli, however, is on a lower shelf due to my crazy tomato plant. It's getting a bit too spindly.
At least the tomatoes are happy (and pretty tasty, too). I'm thinking I need to buy another grow light and move the broccoli under it so it won't keep reaching for the light coming in the window. I have one grow light that I bought at Lowe's that I haven't set up yet, but it's reserved for tomatoes.
I'm trying a new tactic with peppers and eggplant. Some of them are under this desk lamp. They appear to be fairly happy and are already taller than the ones I grew last year with only the light and heat from the window. There's also basil on this tray, for any eagle-eyed gardeners who are scoping out the blog for accuracy.
Although the pepper seeds I started under the biodome didn't pop up as quickly as the ones under the desk lamp, I'm still fairly pleased with their progress. I took the lid off to spritz the top (which was totally unnecessary, but it gave me a good excuse to see what was going on inside the dome) and could see that most of the pepper seeds are sprouting.
I'm convinced that this will be the year that I'll finally grow an abundant crop of peppers. Of course, I've been telling myself that for a couple of years now.
Some people may question the sanity of gardeners who take over the living room for a few seedlings. After all, plants at the greenhouse aren't that expensive. In the few years that I've been doing this, however, I've discovered that there are thousands of plant species out there and the nurseries carry a limited supply. Buying seeds allows you to try varieties that you'd never see anywhere else.
This weekend, my gardening buddy, Jan, and I plan to start our tomatoes. We're trying 10 different varieties this year, which is probably eight too many, but neither one of us could resist trying a few new ones and both of us wanted to grow some of the same varieties we tried last year. If you're considering starting tomatoes from seed, try to get your hands on some Kellogg Breakfast seeds. They produce huge, low-acid tomatoes that are unlike anything I've ever tasted. Virginia Sweet is also a tasty option that you won't find in the nurseries.
I'll admit that perhaps I go a little overboard buying seeds. It's still cheaper than therapy.