Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring?

Not a lot to report here. We've been doing some more seed starting (some early romaine lettuce and lots of peppers followed the onions). Little M's sunflowers sprouted and are likely nearing the transplant out of their 4-pack stage. We of course got a very wet and very unwelcome 2-3 inches of fresh snow this morning, startling everyone as most of the snow had melted except in the deep spots down in the shadows of the hills in the fields down by the creek. Happily it was (mostly) melted by the time we got home this afternoon from an afternoon appointment down in the 'city'.
The gate into the new side garden area, as seen from the back deck.

The mister and I have been doing some great fence-building work. And by we, I really mean him, although I've been helping him keep the posts level and pound the dirt in around them! We've got a fair number in, including cross members making up the H-braces on the ends of the fence; many more than the 2 around the gate that the picture shows, I just couldn't bear to take a picture with all the new snow this morning! We're getting to the point where he'll need to cut some more from the woods if we are to continue, though. I think we might be able to make it work with what we have now in terms of the new garden space, with the addition of some temporary t-posts, and the additional fence area between the house and the new garden space will just be an added perk to keep the dogs a little more contained until we get the entire perimeter more secure. Once we have the fencing up on it, I'll do a more detailed post about the fencing stuff.

Hope you enjoyed the first day of spring in your neck of the woods!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Seed Starting with Little M

So last week Little M and I got the final components of our seed starting mix, combined the mix materials, left it to sit overnight to give the peat moss enough time to soak up water, and then the following night we started planting our garden seeds for 2013. That first night we just planted 2 types of onion seeds - Walla Walla & Cipollini, and a six pack of sunflowers for Little M. It kept us nice and occupied, filling our little pots, patting the soil in with the potting spoon, then carefully placing and covering the seeds. Then we covered them with a bit of plastic or a clear tub, and set them on the seed starting shelf unit, not yet under the light until they actually sprout. Little M has been back out to the sunporch several times since to check on her little seeds, ever the watchful mother, that one! Here are some pictures of her process, and some better daylight shots of the seed trays themselves.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New seeds for 2013

So Friday afternoon I called and spoke with the owner of our local garden store, to see when she would be around for Little M and I to drop by and pick up some seeds. As luck would have it, she was available the very next day, and Little M and I already had plans in town and would be driving right by her store. Saturday rolled around and we stopped in and picked up all the seeds on our needed list, as well as a few on the potential list.

Here is what we picked up:

Walla Walla Onion
Cipollini Onion
Dark Green Zucchini
Romain Lettuce
Carrot Mix
Yellow Pepper

The only brand of seeds this store carries is Irish Eyes Garden Seeds, a relatively local (aka eastern WA) seed company. I was crazy happy with the seeds we got of theirs last year - our Walla Walla onions that we harvested last fall are just nearing the end of their lifespan, at about the same time as we are running out of them, and we really haven't started eating the more storage-type Cipollini onions. We did get a bumper crop though, and the onions are actually the one plant that I feel we nailed the right number to plant to harvest enough to get us through the winter & it looks promising to keep us in onions until the next crop is ready.

Other seeds we purchased from them last year included a packet of mixed hot pepper seeds. The peppers were great, although getting a hot mix resulted in Little M learning her first lesson of - no, don't eat that, its hot.... no.... okay lets run up and guzzle some milk there little one...We had one plant of what I think were long slim cayenne peppers (which Little M learned not to sample), and two plants that I think were both hungarian hot wax peppers, which were really great in stir fries for a bit of extra kick (although leaving them to grow too big equaled a bit too much kick on one occasion!). Although we don't have room in the main garden to grow the hot pepper mix again this year, since pepper seed lasts several years, and we still have lots of the hot mix packet left, I'm going to start a bunch and plan room for them in the new area. I want to see if there are any other types in the mix than the 2 we had last year. After all, if they don't make it over there, they are just extras!

We also got a couple of other packets of seeds from them last year - sacred basil (which my husband hated the smell of, which is why we're trying a different basil variety this year!), a lettuce blend that we really liked and will grow again this year, cilantro which we loved and let some go to seed and will grow those seeds this year, and kale.

As I look back at our 2012 seed list, I'm not really adding any new plants, just changing the variety in some cases, and changing the quantities - mostly in an upwards direction. We're hoping to use the new garden space for some of the less important (to us) food - the dry beans that we don't use too much and the peppers that my husband isn't too fond of, as well as adding extra plants of some of the food we want to grow more of that we think might do ok over there right away - including raspberries and perhaps green beans.

Little M and I started our seeds the other night, but I'm still waiting on the camera & my laptop to talk nicely to each other to show you the photos! I guess that post will have to wait until Monday :) Happy Weekend Folks!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Seed starting excitement

Over the weekend Little M and I went in to our local garden store and picked out the seeds we needed to add to our seed stash for this summer's garden. I'll share what we purchased later this week, I promise. We then tried several different stores over the next few days to get vermiculite, which was all that we needed to have all the seed starting mix ingredients we needed, but I struck out at three different stores! This afternoon I finally tracked down some vermiculite, though, so we've got everything we need to get started.

Right now Little M is down for her quiet time/nap, so until she wakes up and we can get started on planting our onion & pepper seeds, I'm distracting myself by writing this post and working on finishing up the crochet bunting I'm planning to put up in her big girl room over her bed. Is it corny to admit that I can hardly contain my excitement about seed starting later this afternoon?

If anything, seed starting gets more exciting every year. With Little M getting older, each year she will be more and more of a help with the process, which is also really exciting and rewarding for me. I think this year I may even give her her own container of potting soil to start seeds in - maybe I'll get her started on some of the cherry tomatoes that she loves so much. Or sunflowers. Or both! I'll share pictures later this week!

Friday, March 1, 2013

New seed list for 2013

So after some quality time spent on the couch last night with my seed bin of past years seed packets and last years saved seeds, I've got my seed list ready, including the new seeds I will need for this gardening season. For new seeds, I've got:
  • Arugula (at the misters request
  • Romain Lettuce (also at the misters request)
  • carrots
  • walla walla onions
  • cipollini onions (or another storage onion depending on the selection at the garden store)
  • basil (specifically not sacred basil as the mister hated that variety last year!)
  • Potatoes - yukon gold, russet, red pontiac, fingerlings? (depending on what the store has later in the season)
There is also a list of potentials, if I want to spend the money, and/or if I see a neat new variety:
  • cucumber (still looking for an heirloom variety that does really great here)
  • zucchini (same as for the cucumbers)
  • green/yellow peppers
  • tomato (my seed might be getting a bit old)
  • brocolli (if I'm feeling ambitious!)
I also will need to pick up some more vermiculite and perlite if I decide to mix seed starting soil again this year. I might just get lazy and mix dirt and peat moss together and call it good, will likely depend on availability and my budget after my main seeds are purchased! One other thing on my list to add to my seed starting set up is a heat mat or two, but I suspect that might be a later addition.

Other than the additions above, I'm just growing my usual - beans, squash, corn, peas, garlic, etc. I know what I normally grow, and what seeds I have, so once I add the few additions necessary, I should be good to go. At some point in the next week or two I'm going to sit down and work out my seed starting/planting schedule, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

Right around this weekend in past years is when I've planted my peppers, and shortly thereafter my onions, but until I make it in to the garden store that won't be possible (and since they don't have regular hours for another month I will have to call and set up a time to stop by). I'm not worried though, this year will be a laid back year in the garden, and if I don't get around to any of the above tasks, I'm really not too worried! Our second little girl will be born & grow this summer and that is the highest priority item on my horizon!

What about you? Started any seeds in your neck of the woods? Figured out what seeds you need to add to your seed stash this spring? Made a list of what plants you will grow in your garden this year?
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