Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
Send stories and pictures of your horticultural adventures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Sorry for those who are bored by seedling news, but this is a gardening blog...
This year, I'm experimenting with two different ways of starting seedlings and I promised I'd report.
So far, I'm thinking the grow light works better than the biodome,although both are producing larger, healthier looking seedlings than anything I managed to grow last year with the light of my southern-facing window. I guess those medical marijuana people are onto something.
This is what my tomatoes and peppers looked like last year when I transplanted in May.
I think the ones I've started this year are already bigger than what I had in May last year.
Carol told me that she had talked to someone who had already transplanted tomatoes outside. It's too early for me, I don't care how warm it gets this week. I'm waiting at least until May.
I haven't examined my electricity bill to see how much it's costing me to have my grow light on every day, but I don't care if it means I'll actually have tomatoes in July.
Yes, I know this is a lot of tomatoes and peppers. I'm starting plants for my gardening buddy, Jan, who doesn't have near as much room for an indoor greenhouse and who splits the cost of gardening supplies with me. I think we'll still have extras, but some plants always die when you transplant them outside, so we'll be prepared this year.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Anyone else get anxious about spring garden work you haven't done? Our young peach tree blossomed before we had a chance to put the dormant oil on it. We did get the pesticide applied, but now I am anxious that it won't get pollinated because we may have killed the bees! I may have to go out with Q-tips and help the process along.
Sorry, we are not organic gardeners. I know I am a perishable item and should live accordingly, however, I hate bugs and will risk poison to make sure they don't get to my fruits and veggies.
Other chores we are working on:
Compost in the garden beds
Trimming bushes and trees
Cleaning flower beds
Spreading bark in flower beds
Keeping the compost watered so it doesn't blow away
We all make gardening mistakes and since I don't have my grandparents here to show me how to do things right, mistakes are inevitable. I am reminded to enjoy the journey not just the destination. Increase your joy and decrease your expectations. Enjoy the best that spring has to offer....besides, hand pollinating your peach tree can be an exciting, stimulating experience!
Here is Bing Crosby's spring song:
Well now, the barnyard is busy, in a regular tizzy
And the obvious reason is because of the season
Ma Nature's lyrical with her yearly miracle
Spring, Spring, Spring
- Johnny Mercer and Gene de Paul
By Penny Stine
Thursday, March 29, 2012
I haven't passed on too much information from the Master Gardening program because it's all left me feeling a bit overwhelmed. Attending the class merely opened my eyes to the wealth of information out there and all the things I don't know about gardening.
That said, I wanted to pass along this tip we learned in the last class on growing vegetables. Folks (researchers and gardeners) are starting to experiment with something called biochar. It's essentially pure charcoal, produced without oxygen and containing no added chemicals. It works as a soil amendment, increasing soil fertility and water retention.
There's a reason I make my living with words and not numbers or science (which, frankly, all seems like magic to me) so I don't understand all the science behind it, which is sad, because it's really not that technical. However, if you want to learn more about it, go to re-char.com.
In the meantime, our class instructor showed us photos of huge lettuce, Swiss Chard and lemons produced with the help of a little added biochar. It was enough to prompt me to go buy a bag of charcoal. Yes, a bag of charcoal from any hardware store will do, provided it's pure charcoal with no added chemicals (nix on the stuff that's easy to light because it's been dosed with something highly flammable). Our instructor had a photo of this particular brand, so that's what I bought.
It's supposed to be relatively easy to make your own biochar retort for creating your own biochar out of tree branches, grape vine cuttings and whatever other biomass you find in your own yard. I'm an idiot when it comes to anything that I have to build, so unless I can convince my husband that we need to find a 55-gallon drum so we can make our own furnace for converting dead tree branches into biochar, it ain't gonna happen in the Stine's backyard. The re-char website sells some of the necessary materials to convert a 55-gallon drum into a biomass burning, soil amendment making miracle.
Buying a bag of this particular charcoal was much easier. It was not, however, cheap. On large bag of charcoal was $15, counting tax. That's an expensive soil amendment. You don't have to add it every year, though, it stays in the ground for years and years.
I bought a bag with the intention of using it in certain beds. I'll keep you informed about the results. You're supposed to use it at about 20 percent in your soil... I'm just gonna smash it with a sledge hammer (but not into a pulverized, finely ground dust) and mix it in with the soil and compost before I plant in select areas. No, I will not be measuring the amount of soil, compost or charcoal so I will have no idea whether I'm adding 20 percent or two percent. Remember what I said about me and science?
BTW, do not add ash from your charcoal grill, woodburning stove or fireplace to your garden soil. Generally speaking, it has too high of a salt content. Our soils are pretty salty already and that could put them over the edge and make it impossible to grow some things.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Someone from work sent me this photo yesterday in an e-mail. I totally relate to the sentiments.
Monday, March 26, 2012
One of my all time favorite flowers, daffodils, symbolize friendship, spring and new birth. I do love tulips, but they are sometimes a little late for the Easter scene. Of course, I love the crocus because it is the first, hardy even in the cold freezes, but nothing says it's spring like clusters of daffodils with their yellow bonnets. Every morning I look out the front door and they are facing east like they can't wait to welcome the rising sun.
"And then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodiles."
In Elizabethan times they called them daffadowndillys.
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And cursied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And wispered to her neighbor,
"Winter is dead."
by A.A. Milne.