In the garden today

{Looking for a Teaching Thursday post? I’m posting that exclusively over at the Etsy DListers blog today.}

I spent some time out in the garden today — I should have been out last Friday to sow more seeds in the mini hoop house, but we have been having nasty weather for a week — first it was cold and cloudy, then rainy, and then really windy. Today was the first mostly nice day in a week (it was still rather breezy even though it was warm), so I thought I better get out there.

The crocuses are still pretty, although the little purple ones are done, and the remaining ones are pretty beat up by the big wind we had yesterday. A lone grape hyacinth has made its appearance, and the tulips are coming up nicely. The daffodils are beginning to bud, and the hyacinth are too, although they are still weeks away from blooming.

So what did I actually do out there? I discovered I needed to enlarge my mini hoop house, so I loosened the soil with my garden fork (instead of turning it over and letting sunlight reach the weed seeds, I read this tip in a magazine a month or so ago),  and pulled out the grass and dandelions. Then I added my plant markers and seeds for kohlrabi, napa cabbage, cabbage, and beets. I also sowed more arugula, but I just added those seeds to the existing arugula section. Then I added more hardware cloth and a row cover. After watering both hoop house sections, I tacked the row covers down with plenty of garden staples.

Then I headed across the yard to my existing vegetable bed, which was sadly neglected last year. I found last year’s onions and the bulbs were a little soft but they’ll make great baby green onions. After harvesting those, I forked the rest of the bed and pulled out the grass and dandelions (and something that looked like some kind of tree but not the usual suspects for weeds). Then I sowed my seeds: arugula, spinach, mache’, and lettuce.

I also watered a few beds and weeded a flower bed. I also hoed the new bed I partially dug out last week — grass was popping up & I’m not ready to cover in compost yet.

All in all, a productive afternoon.

Indoors, my sweet william, pac choi, yellow pear tomatoes, kohlrabi, and cabbages (2nd sowing) have sprouted. The celery, celeriac, leeks, onions, and cabbages (1st sowing) continue to do well.

First Seeds Started

In past years, I have always started my seeds too early and ended up with leggy, unhappy seedlings. So this year, I made myself wait until 3 months (12 weeks) before the last frost date to start any seeds, and I am spacing them out more carefully. I hope this results in happier seedlings. I also have a grow light, now.

Yesterday I started seeds indoors: celery, celeriac, and leeks (2 varieties to space out harvest) under the grow light; and onions, napa cabbage, and cabbage in the window. Both flats are on heat mats.

Today I built my first-ever mini-hoop house in the backyard, and planted endive, more onions, and mache’ (corn salad) in it. I built the mini-hoop house with hardware cloth, a row cover, and garden staples. It won’t stand up to heavy snow, so it’s not a winter hoop house, but I’m hoping it will stand up to the winds and light snows of early spring. So far, the cover hasn’t blown off with the mild breeze we’ve had today. (Well, it’s a mild breeze for eastern Idaho, it might be considered more of a stiff breeze most anywhere else). If it continues to hold up, I will post a how-to article here. I am planning to build a more substantial hoop house next fall for next winter, but I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with stakes, heavy-duty hoops, and half-frozen soil today.

Yesterday, I made a trip to the plant nursery to pick up some large peat pots and new gloves (I go through gloves like you wouldn’t believe). I couldn’t resist two tiny kalanchoes in bloom, one pink and one white. They are very sweet.

Another Fall Gardening Update

Dried CornstalksDon’t worry, soon it will be too cold & snowy for gardening, and you won’t have to hear about it anymore. :)

List #1 (Imperative)

  1. Still: Rake leaves — mostly done — half the backyard & most of the leaves are raked, must do the other half of the backyard and all of the front — Can you tell I don’t want to do this?

List #2 (Nice to do but not imperative)

  1. Prune currant bushes, flowering quince bushes — DONE
  2. Trim grass around currant bushes
  3. Prune cherry tree, sycamore tree watersprouts — DONE
  4. Cut back chives around sycamore tree — DONE
  5. Cut back irises in backyard

And I also finished weeding and trimming around the front patio. The lists are getting shorter. Which is nice, because I am tired of clipping back grass & perennials. Now I will go pour candy in a bag for early trick-or-treaters.

Fall Gardening Update

Dried CornstalksToday we got lots and lots done in the garden on a nice, sunny day. The yard is almost all ready for winter, even the things that I didn’t absolutely have to do.

List #1 (Imperative)

  1. Pull up sweet pea plants in front of house — DONE
  2. Rake leaves — mostly done — half the backyard & most of the leaves are raked, must do the other half of the backyard and all of the front

List #2 (Nice to do but not imperative)

  1. Prune currant bushes, flowering quince bushes
  2. Trim grass around currant bushes
  3. Prune cherry tree, sycamore tree watersprouts
  4. Cut back chives around sycamore tree
  5. Cut back irises in backyard
  6. Cut down cornstalks and fertilize soil in barrel where corn grows — DONE
  7. Fertilize soil in barrel where mini pumpkins grow — DONE
  8. Empty containers on deck that don’t have plants to overwinter — DONE
  9. Take strawberry pots in driveway to back deck — one moved, the other is still in the driveway — DONE

I also cleaned up the leaves on the back deck and threw away the wind-blown trash that had been hiding in them, cleaned out the back shed, put away the deck hose, the front hose, the container feet not needed for the winter, and put away the deck & patio furniture. The last hardy geranium and the mini rose are inside, and the succulents transplanted into containers that will overwinter outside. All in all, a productive afternoon. Hopefully, tomorrow will be just as nice and I can get the rest of the list completed.

Fall Gardening Update

Rake in Fallen LeavesYesterday was a very productive day in the garden for me. My helper and I spent 3 hours out there, and we finished most of the things that had to be done before the snow comes. And not a moment too soon, it snowed in the night tonight — an inch is on the ground right now. Update: After actually going outside, it seems we got more like 3 inches of wet snow last night.

List #1 (Imperative)

  1. Mulch roses and protect canes — DONE
  2. Wrap blueberry pots and hosta pot (bubble wrap and burlap) — DONE
  3. Plant 1 more bag each of daffodils and tulips (must trim/pull grass in beds to do this) — DONE
  4. Pull up sweet pea plants in front of house
  5. Plant new chrysanthemums and lavender plant — DONE (and weeded around the front lawn patio, and trimmed up the perennials there, giving us room to plant the new plants, this is where the tulips went, too)
  6. Rake leaves — mostly done — half the backyard & most of the leaves are raked, must do the other half of the backyard and all of the front

List #2 (Nice to do but not imperative)

  1. Cut up branches trimmed from trees, mulch vegetable beds with them to keep cats out — DONE
  2. Prune currant bushes, flowering quince bushes
  3. Trim grass around currant bushes
  4. Prune cherry tree, sycamore tree watersprouts
  5. Cut back chives around sycamore tree
  6. Cut back irises in backyard
  7. Cut down cornstalks and fertilize soil in barrel where corn grows
  8. Fertilize soil in barrel where mini pumpkins grow
  9. Empty containers on deck that don’t have plants to overwinter
  10. Take strawberry pots in driveway to back deck — one moved, the other is still in the driveway

So the must-do list is almost done, leaving the nice-but-not-imperative list. Very nice — I feel pretty good about it. There’s a chance I’ll get it all done before the snow (or really bad weather) comes. If I can get the second list done, I’ll have a good start on my spring chores too. Here’s hoping.

A Rainy Fall Day

Today is the kind of rainy and dark fall day that just makes me want to stay indoors. I have gotten most of my fall garden work out of the way, so I feel even better about it. I’m sure there will be a few more sunny days before the ground freezes, and I will be able to finish up the work (or at least what absolutely must be done). I have 2 lists. The first is what absolutely must be done before the ground freezes, the second is what would be nice to have done.

List #1 (Imperative)

  1. Mulch roses and protect canes
  2. Wrap blueberry pots and hosta pot (bubble wrap and burlap)
  3. Plant 1 more bag each of daffodils and tulips (must trim/pull grass in beds to do this)
  4. Pull up sweet pea plants in front of house
  5. Plant new chrysanthemums and lavender plant
  6. Rake leaves

List #2 (Nice to do but not imperative)

  1. Cut up branches trimmed from trees, mulch vegetable beds with them to keep cats out
  2. Prune currant bushes, flowering quince bushes
  3. Trim grass around currant bushes
  4. Prune cherry tree, sycamore tree watersprouts
  5. Cut back chives around sycamore tree
  6. Cut back irises in backyard
  7. Cut down cornstalks and fertilize soil in barrel where corn grows
  8. Fertilize soil in barrel where mini pumpkins grow
  9. Empty containers on deck that don’t have plants to overwinter
  10. Take strawberry pots in driveway to back deck

Do you think I will get it all done?

 

 

 

Return to the Garden

A painting of peonies by Chinese artist Yun Sh...

A painting of peonies by Chinese artist Yun Shouping, Qing Dynasty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have sadly neglected my garden for the last month or so. But today I finally had time to go in and trim the flower bed edges, do some weeding, and check on my veggies. The first tomatoes are coming soon, the pumpkins have survived the neglect, and everything generally looks pretty good.

The Siberian irises are blooming, which is wonderful since they didn’t bloom last year, and the pinks under the box elder look lovely (their first year in bloom after transplanting). I hope that the peonies bloom next year (I planted them last year), and I hope the lavender blooms soon.

I think the added phosphorus fertilizer has really helped with the summer blooming, and I hope it helps with next spring’s, too! (I didn’t know about it in time to help the spring bloom this year.) Thanks Town & Country Gardens!

It was so relaxing just to pull weeds and clip grass. I am still enjoying using my new grass clipper (the old one, almost 5 years old, broke irrevocably a few weeks ago), although I wish I could get enough leverage to close the blades without my hand as far back on the handles as possible.

Everything looks much, much better. I hope I can tackle the front yard tomorrow or Wednesday.

Freezing Tomatoes: A How To

Small tomatoes in Korea

Image via Wikipedia

Do you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with? I don’t yet, because here in Idaho we are still anxiously waiting for the tomatoes to bloom and set fruit. But for those of you with longer growing seasons and real spring, I thought I’d share this here. It’s instructions for freezing tomatoes that I wrote for another blog I occasionally contribute to. Read Freezing Tomatoes.

You will notice that I do not remove the tomato skins before freezing them, nor do I boil them. I believe the nutrients in the tomatoes keep best when the tomatoes are handled as little as possible, and many of the nutrients are in the skin, anyway. This way the nutrients make it into your final recipe, instead of being drained away with cooking water and discarded with the skins.

Hanging Garden Project

This is the garden project I wanted to tell you all about the other day but it was, at that time, a disaster. Thanks to my friend, D., it’s not a disaster any more and looks beautiful.

Making a succulent hanging garden for your wooden fence

(You can make any kind of garden, I chose succulents because they can stand being dried out and don’t need much water. In my dry area, I couldn’t keep this wet enough for most other plants, like vegetables.)

You Will Need:

A canvas hanging shoe organizer (mine has 24 slots)

Potting soil (I started out with cactus soil, but I ran out and finished with regular potting soil)

Plants (succulents are also great because you can pull them apart and each part will keep growing so I bought only 7 plants for the 24 slots)

Finishing nails (I used 7, but you might want more in case you bend one or drop one) — finishing nails are the thin ones that are about 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) long.

Hammer

What To Do

1. Get your plants — you can buy them, divide existing plants you already have, or get a friend to give you some.

 

2. Lay out your shoe organizer.

 

 

3. Get out your soil.

 

 

4. Lay your plants alongside the shoe organizer where you think you will put them.

 

 

5. Fill the bottom row of slots with soil.

 

 

6. Add plants.

 

 

7. Hang on fence. Continue filling slots with soil and adding plants.

8. Very Important!! Do not skip this step if you live in a windy area. Nail the hanging shoe organizer to the wall using the finishing nails. I used three along the top, 2 at the bottom (1 above each of the end bottom slots), and 2 in the middle (1 on each side). Thank you, D., for the suggestion!

9. Water the plants. Water every day until the plants are established unless the soil is wet to the touch.

 

 

Tuesday Treasure: Rose Potpourri

For today’s Tuesday Treasure, I want to highlight the rose potpourri I made for my Etsy shop. Made of organically grown roses from my backyard, dried in the sun and sprinkled with rose oil, this rose potpourri is nothing but roses. Open its tulle bag and be transported to a rose garden.

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