Dec 032016
 

This post contains affiliate links to a great book.  I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.

This post was originally shared last autumn.  Since then I have thought of it several times.  As the holidays approach, this would be a great gift consideration for the gardener in your life … or for you.  😉  Once the moving boxes are no longer a daily decoration in my home, I plan to go back and read this book again.  Yes, I liked it that much.

This past summer we were able to take a last minute trip to our nation’s capitol.  Between visits with several different friends, we made stops at various sites around the area.  Many I had been to before, but a few were new.  For our kids, they were all new and most were about times in history they had yet to learn about in class.  A few of the sites, however, really peaked their interests.

The White House was a favorite as they had heard of it before (my husband often watches reruns of The West Wing on Netflix).  The kids found it even more interesting when we finally convinced them that the President is a real person, not just an actor, AND that he actually lives in the big white house behind the gates.

A lot of the history I know about the White House itself, which is not much, has to do with random facts throughout history that I have picked up while reading.  I love history, hearing the how’s and why’s as to events, details that make it come alive in my imagination.

When I began reading All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses, How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America I expected to pick up a few tidbits here and there on the gardening practices used on the White House grounds and long lists of plants used.  In general I thought it would be a boring read that would require cups of coffee to help me stay awake.  What I found surprised me and showed me a new way of looking at this home that has become a symbol over the years. 

Gardening history is not something I have been exposed to previously.  In my past there were mentions of how the Native Americans planted and how the early settlers gardened to provide for the table during winter months.  I have also visited sites such as Mt. Vernon (Jefferson’s home) and the Biltmore Estate, learning about how they landscaped, invented, studied and produced tools, methods and plants that we now think are common.  However, I never had found a book that actually walked a reader through the history of gardening in a particular place and how the look of the gardens were also affected by events of the day.  As it turns out, I had exposed myself to a book that kept me up at nights, long after I really wanted to be asleep, exploring our nation’s history and the people and gardens it contained.

Marta McDowell did a thorough job of researching the various gardeners, plants, sources, designs, struggles, Presidents’ preferences that have resulted in the gardens and the house we now see today.  She showed how the political events of the day – protests about wars, the Great Depression, the war of 1812, etc.- also had a result in shaping the look and use of the gardens and grounds.  The reader was taken along a path showing the various gardening styles and philosophies, and how they flowed from one style to the next – English, Italian, french, formal, practical, native and exotic.

All the Presidents’ Gardens quickly became one of my favorite history and gardening books.  I loved the flow, the story behind the story feel, and how it all felt tied together in a smooth fashion.  It was so seamless that I often forgot when a chapter had ended and another began.  There were a few points that I wondered why they were mentioned, only to find a  few paragraphs or pages later how it was all tied together.

All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses, How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend for you to read.  You will have to wait a bit though, as it will not scheduled to be released till April 27, 2016.  You are able to pre-order it now so you will be able to receive one of the first copies.

I also learned that the White House holds a free garden tour twice a year.  This past year’s Spring tour was in mid-April, so you may be able to get in on this year’s tour if you keep watch for the announcement.  (The fall tour was held in October.)

Sep 282015
 

This past summer we were able to take a last minute trip to our nation’s capitol.  Between visits with several different friends, we made stops at various sites around the area.  Many I had been to before, but a few were new.  For our kids, they were all new and most were about times in history they had yet to learn about in class.  A few of the sites, however, really peaked their interests.

The White House was a favorite as they had heard of it before (my husband often watches reruns of The West Wing on Netflix).  The kids found it even more interesting when we finally convinced them that the President is a real person, not just an actor, AND that he actually lives in the big white house behind the gates.

A lot of the history I know about the White House itself, which is not much, has to do with random facts throughout history that I have picked up while reading.  I love history, hearing the how’s and why’s as to events, details that make it come alive in my imagination.

When I began reading All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses, How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America I expected to pick up a few tidbits here and there on the gardening practices used on the White House grounds and long lists of plants used.  In general I thought it would be a boring read that would require cups of coffee to help me stay awake.  What I found surprised me and showed me a new way of looking at this home that has become a symbol over the years. 

Gardening history is not something I have been exposed to previously.  In my past there were mentions of how the Native Americans planted and how the early settlers gardened to provide for the table during winter months.  I have also visited sites such as Mt. Vernon (Jefferson’s home) and the Biltmore Estate, learning about how they landscaped, invented, studied and produced tools, methods and plants that we now think are common.  However, I never had found a book that actually walked a reader through the history of gardening in a particular place and how the look of the gardens were also affected by events of the day.  As it turns out, I had exposed myself to a book that kept me up at nights, long after I really wanted to be asleep, exploring our nation’s history and the people and gardens it contained.

Marta McDowell did a thorough job of researching the various gardeners, plants, sources, designs, struggles, Presidents’ preferences that have resulted in the gardens and the house we now see today.  She showed how the political events of the day – protests about wars, the Great Depression, the war of 1812, etc.- also had a result in shaping the look and use of the gardens and grounds.  The reader was taken along a path showing the various gardening styles and philosophies, and how they flowed from one style to the next – English, Italian, french, formal, practical, native and exotic.

All the Presidents’ Gardens quickly became one of my favorite history and gardening books.  I loved the flow, the story behind the story feel, and how it all felt tied together in a smooth fashion.  It was so seamless that I often forgot when a chapter had ended and another began.  There were a few points that I wondered why they were mentioned, only to find a  few paragraphs or pages later how it was all tied together.

All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses, How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend for you to read.  You will have to wait a bit though, as it will not scheduled to be released till April 27, 2016.  You are able to pre-order it now so you will be able to receive one of the first copies.

I also learned that the White House holds a free garden tour twice a year.  (Last year’s fall tour was in mid-October, so you may be able to get in on this year’s if you keep watching.)

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.

Aug 202015
 

vegetable vine growing into tree collage

There are some garden issues you just have to chuckle about, while making sure they do not produce larger issues.

If left up to themselves, almost all of our vines would have grown up into trees, like this one has.  The first to try was a pumpkin vine.  I was  not exactly looking forward to having pumpkins growing 20 – 60 feet off the ground, so I kept pulling it off the limbs and redirecting it.  As the trellis it was grown up was located directly under the tree, this was an ongoing issue.  Then the cucumbers decided to try and got away with it for a while, till I noticed and pulled them out too.

What I forgot to pay attention to was the back side of the compost pile.  In previous years our vine producing plants have not grown nearly this vigorously, so it was never an issue.  Seem the pile was just high enough for them to reach up and grab the lowest edge of a branch.  That was all that was needed.  Now we have a pumpkin growing on the vine about 10 feet in the air.  I will let you know how it goes, as I am too curious to pull it out now.

Jun 192015
 

birds eye view of garden june 2015

 

A “This Week In The Garden” post has not been done for quite a while.  There just did not seem to be much happening.  Then suddenly I turn around and there is a lot to do and a lot seems to be happening.  While there is still A LOT to do still, here are some of the goings-on.

Actually, my garden is coming along … perfectly imperfect.  🙂

  • The raised bed nearest the garden shed – I thought those were three zucchini plants I planted along the edge, and they were.  However, what came up was 1 zucchini plant and 2 vining plants of some sort.  The seeds in the compost had not decomposed all the way, which I knew.  However, the chances that something were to sprout in the exact spot I planted something else was not very likely.  As small plants you could not tell them much apart.  However, while being gone last week it seems my garden decided to explode! and now you can obviously see a difference.  For one, the vines are … vining.
  • A random seed must have gotten out when I added the compost, because there is also a vine growing between the far left raised bed and the one to its right.  At this point, I figure it is growing toward where grass does not grow, so I will let it go and see what it produces.
  • I still have not found the charger for my weed-eater and it has been raining nicely at least once a week since the beginning of grass growing season.
  • The clematis on the left edge of the pictures, along the deck, also exploded with growth while I was gone.
  • For some reason, 3 rows of singles have come off over the past few years.  Only those rows.  Not sure what is up with that.  For about $400, which is what the contractor doing the major work on our house quoted us to re-shingle the whole shed roof, I can live with 3 missing rows for a while longer.  Anyone know a young adult needing some extra money who knows how to replace shingles.planting peppers collage
  • One bed still needs to be fenced.  However, I planted it with about 18 hot pepper plants.  If the rabbits and squirrels really want them right now, then I will let them have them to their hearts content.  These were plants that I either had to get planted or try to give away.
  • So much for the decision to not plant tomatoes this year; I can get them cheap enough at the produce auction.  And so much for the revised decision to plant ONLY cherry tomatoes this year, so we will have them for our salads.  I am now the proud owner of about 15 various tomato plants, and a few volunteers.  Yeah, they are sort of like cats, they multiplied when I was not looking.radish banana pepper collage
  • The middle bed above is the strawberry bed that I left covered too long.  With the extra space I planted radishes, which have done better than in any other spot I have tried them in.  In the past week I gathered two bunches, which did not last long as I love radishes.  No one else does, but that is okay.  I am allowed to grow things that not everyone in the house likes.flats of flowers salvia dahlia collage
  • Yesterday, between rain showers I planted not only the the peppers above, but also a few flats of flowers.  Most went into the front flower bed, but a few found their way into open spaces among the vegetable plants.  These flowers really should have been planted early last week, but with getting ready to go camping it was not high on the priority list.  Once they got planted, I had to dead-head them so they will grow new flowers soon.  The dahlia, on the right above, will be planted along the new portion of the garage. There is a lot of sun shine, as that is also where we had two trees taken, and currently no landscaping. Well, unless you count the tree saplings that are root sprouts of the trees, and those are weeds, not landscaping.  🙂 small black snake collage
  • Last week, we had an unexpected visitor at our place.  I was mowing the grass when I saw a stick move into the daylillies.  Knowing what it was, but wanting to identify it before the kids came out to play, I (carefully) looked for it.  This little guy was camera shy but I finally got a shot of him.  Turns out he was just a black snake.  No worries and I told the kids to leave him alone, let him do the job he was created to do – eat mice and other small rodents.


 

Apr 292015
 

Working in a small space can either be viewed as a challenge, requiring creativity to make the most of what you do have.  Or it can be viewed as a reason to whine about what you do not have.  This is true whether you are talking about your house or your garden.  I choose to view it as a challenge.

Since we live in town and our lot is not a huge one, having a large garden is not something that is possible if I still want to have room for the kids to play.  I have tried to make use of spaces tucked here and there, as well as use raised beds.  The raised bed garden has done okay the past few years, but I knew that it could be doing better.  I was missing something.

With planting season very close at hand, I was looking for some help in taking my garden to the next level.  Enter The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden, grow tons of organic vegetables in tiny spaces and containers.  I have read books on having small gardens, checked out blogs about small spaces, and looked up tips and tricks.  Most have told me things I already knew – go vertical, plant what you like, tuck plants in among your flower beds, etc. Or maybe they mentioned something new, but never in enough detail for me to implement it and work around problems.  The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden takes the concept and layout of gardening in a small space further, giving me details that would help a small garden succeed in growing more in that space.

Growing plants pesticide free was not an intentional decision; it came out of not wanting to spend a lot of money on chemicals and learning just how bad they could be for you.  For a short time, I even worked for a tree care company, applying chemicals to people’s yards.  (I will not being doing that again; it really is not in line with who I am.)  One of the things I learned was that a chemical was not always needed, but of course they would not sell you the service of applying soapy water to get rid of your bugs.

Not applying pesticides to my garden has not always meant there were problems.  I lost parsley one year to caterpillars before I figured out what was going on.  Another time I have had some trouble with squash bugs and lost two of my three zucchini plants.  All together though, it has not been a difficult growing without pesticides.

Along with the decrease and final exclusion of pesticides, came the thought about fertilizers and other things added to the garden.  “Are they really good for the soil?  Should I use them or is there a more natural way to get the same results?”  I began looking into other ways to add nutrients back into the soil, ways to garden that did not require chemicals to be added in large amounts.

I have some favorite websites to look up issues on, but often I am left trying to find someone to ask or searching pictures online to see if I can figure it out myself.  While reading The Postage Stamp Garden I came across a very useful table – The Soil Nutrient Deficiency table.  This will become my quick reference for those times when I am not sure what is going on with the soil.  Rather than applying a general fertilizer or adding more compost in hope the issue will disappear on its own, I will be able to focus on what is lacking.

Another surprise was when I came across multiple garden layout ideas.  Side notes about how you can use the space once certain plants are gone or as they are growing were even included.   What a great way to help those of us who are better visual learners than auditory learners.

The Postage Stamp Garden has several other additions that I really enjoyed:

  • The comparison between various animal manures is something that will be helpful, as I am looking for some right now to add to my garden beds.  It is not all created equal and if I am going to go to the trouble of finding, hauling and applying it, I would like to know that my effort is resulting in what I am actually looking for.
  • When talking about planting, they go beyond cool and warm weather plants and talk about planting with the phases of the moon.  They do not do this to encourage you to use this method, but so that you will have the information if you do choose to use this method.
  • They also talk about planting zones being on a larger scale, not able to represent all the microclimates that exist in that every garden area.  To help compensate, there is a table that gives you clues in nature which you can look for to help pin point even closer when might be a good time to plant.  This will help take some of the guess work out of the date ranges often found in planting dates.
  • A full 93 pages of information on plants to grow!  With each plant there is information included on planting, crop stretching, recommended varieties, typical problems gardeners have with these types of plants, harvesting, storage, and growing tips.  I particularly found the crop stretching and typical problem section useful.  This is information that I feel I have been missing these past few years to make my small garden work even better than it has been.
  • Chapter 8 is titled “Controlling Pests, Diseases, and Critters”.  They even cover the soap-and-water treatment I mentioned earlier.  I have successfully used this to get rid of scale and was glad to see it included in this book.  6.5 pages were used to create a table helping you find the answer to, “What kind of control do you use for what pests?”  No more having to search online in hopes of finding the answer among all the search results.
  • The book ends with a listing of 33 various seed companies ranging from small companies to larger ones.

Karen Newcomb has made the most of the 200+ pages in this book.  Within those pages she has create a great guide to gardening when you do not have a lot of room for trial and error, but want to make the most of what you do have.

I am very glad that I took the time to read through The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden and will be keeping it within easy reach during my gardening this year.  In the next few weeks I hope to get the garden planted.  Keeping this guide on hand will help allow me to make better use of all my spaces and to think outside of what has become ‘normal’ for me.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

This post contains affiliate links.

May 272014
 

Garden Update 2014

Last week this was the plan for the week:

Still left to do:

Seed and fertilize grass – when you don’t remove the piles of leaves you gathered quickly enough, you end up with very large areas void of grass the next Spring

Plant spinach

Plant cucumbers and zucchini

Create plan for the rest of the large raised bed

This Week’s Gardening Goals:

Finish re-potting vegetable plants

Remove grass from driveway

Seed and fertilize yard

Plant spinach, cucumbers and/or zucchini

Weed beds along front walk

Spread wood chips in front walk beds

Then a bad storm came through and and that all changed.

hail damage collage

The goal at that point was to save all the garden transplants I had on the back deck when the storm came through.  Instead of having 50 tomato plants to plant and give away, I now have less than 10.  The 15 or so parsley plants were completely ruined.  I saved the plants in this container by placing the kids’ card table over them, or else they too would have been a complete loss.  As it was, one of the two basil plants didn’t make it, nor half of the parsley planted here.  The marigolds, though, are looking great and ready to start blooming.  (This is a picture from a few weeks ago.)

raised container garden 5 13 14

Instead of seeding grass, the kids and I spent two days raking leaves and picking up sticks.  It felt more like fall than mid-Spring.

At the beginning of the week I was feeling like a horrible gardening.  The week before last we had several days of rain.  At first I saw it as a blessing and put the transplants out to get a good soaking rain on them.  Turns out it was too much rain and they were beginning to look bad.  So I put them out in the sun to dry off.  Yeah, wrong idea.  It stressed them even more.  So back into the shade they went, to grow some new leaves.  The majority of them were beginning to do just that when the storm came along.  By the time I realized the hail was no stopping, but actually coming down faster and larger it was too late.  I chose to move my car into the garage before saving the plants.

I also realized my pepper plants were not growing like they should have been.  In my excitement to get them into the garden, I think I put them out too soon.  They really needed to have stayed in a sheltered area and grown for a few more weeks.

On a brighter note, all my onions are looking fabulous, the blackberry bushes have come back from the beating by the hail, the strawberry plants have produced their first strawberries and the Stevia plant in the herb garden is blooming.

Poppy flower

I also was able to save some poppy seeds before the storm came.  These are gorgeous flowers and are so easy to propagate.  When we first moved to this house I loved these suprise flowers that first Spring.  They began to decrease in numbers the following years and I couldn’t figure out why.  Now I know it was because their seeds were slowly falling further and furter outside the flower beds.  Now I make sure to save some each year and add to the snow covered ground or bare soil in late winter.  Their numbers are coming back and I LOVE their bright splash of color in my yard.

This upcoming week I’m not exactly sure what I hope to accomplish.  I’m thinking I am going to keep the list short and focus as much as possible on those things.

  1. Cover the strawberry and blackberry plants with netting to keep out the birds.
  2. Till parts of the yard and spread grass seed.

What do you do when you find yourself setback in your gardening by unforeseen events or mishaps you may have caused?

May 272014
 

raised bed your solution

The blog has been a bit quiet these past few days as the demands of life have taken over.  While there have been some smaller details taking up  my time (hunting down the source of stinky clothes and ultimately cleaning out the washer’s drain filter, finding or requesting paperwork for taxes, IEP meetings, etc.), the largest activity has to do with shopping, of sorts.

We have begun our home search in earnest this past week, attending a few open houses, going to see a few homes currently on the market, driving around the area to get a sense for various neighborhoods, and contacting a realtor for us to work with.  We are not in a rush to purchase a home, but view it as a good time to start as we do not have to find a place to move into right away.

My time has been spent viewing details and photos online, comparing numbers, and really taking a look at our desires and needs, prioritizing them as no home will likely fulfill them all.

I also have spent more than my fair share of time mentally laying out many yards, trying to work out gardening options – current raised beds vs. adding them, container gardens, amount of sunlight (there will be many more leaves on the trees come summer) and the optimum growing seasons here, as well as balancing it with leaving room for the kids to play and us to grill out.

With the soils here, I am almost certain that raised beds or container gardening are in my future again.  The question is, what kind?  Also, how can I utilize the vertical spaces as well as the horizontal?  (I will save my thoughts on fruit and berries for another post.)

Here are a few raised beds I have seen at various places.  No two look alike or are laid out the same, as each need and location are unique.

The first one below is an example of a square foot garden, located at the U of I Arboretum.  While not technically a ‘raised’ bed, the borders would act as such if you are needing to amend the soil contained therein.

garden-marked-in-square-feet-1024x576

Here are more examples of a raised garden beds, from the same garden.  The first doubles as a greenhouse in cooler weather with the addition of a cold frame.  This time, the bed is raised off the ground.  This could be for a variety of reasons (ease of reaching the plants, to keep it above damp ground, etc.  These particular plants are great early spring additions to your garden.

hoop-house-frame-raised-bed-1024x576

This circular garden is actually a child’s fairy garden.  It is smaller in size, which is great for shorter arms.  It is meant to invite creativity, not necessarily economical use of space.

child friendly gnome garden with border

Here are several beds from my previous house.  These are all in different parts of the yards, addressing different growing challenges (wet ground, poor soil, weed control, etc.)  Notice how the borders are rarely made of the same materials?  Often I used what I had or could find for free.  
raised bed collage

While raised beds are not often thought of as container gardens, they are in a way; only much larger.  Your typical container garden might look something like these:

raised-container-garden- with border

blueberry bush in container pot

 

 

kids-garden-containers

concrete flower container with pic border

 

The two photos above are of containers found either on the University of Illinois campus or in their arboretum.  I figured I should give credit where credit is due; their gardeners have done fabulous work adding color to may peoples days.

If you are interested in seeing the solutions others have come up with, here are several links for you to explore:

Container Gardening – is just so happens this is a link to the U of I extension office.  I am not trying to promote them, pure coincidence I promise.

HGTV container gardening ideas and video

Urban Gardening with Vegetables

Container Gardening With Vegetables And Herbs – Mother Earth News

Raised Bed Gardening 101 – Planet Natural

7 Secrets For A High-yield Vegetable Garden, Even When You Are Tight On Space

Raised Beds – Soil Depth Requirments

Raised Bed Gardening Tips From Master Gardeners

 

Are there tips you have learned along the way?  Do you use a traditional method of gardening, raised beds/containers only, or a mix?

May 132014
 

Garden Update 2014

This past week has been a busy one.  The whole start to the gardening season this year has felt full, busy, rushed, as if I were running out of time.  Turns out it payed off this week.

Since my last update I have been able to knock several things off this list:

Mow grass

Spay yard for insects

Remove posts on deck from built in table and benches – table top and benches were removed a few years ago so this was way overdue

Add mulch to bed along deck

Add fencing to bed along deck to deter plant-eating rabbits

Plant tomatoes and other vegetables in bed along deck

Put up trellises for tomatoes along shed and in long raised bed

Plant tomatoes in long raise bed

Plant sunflowers (the last planting resulted in only one seed germinating)

Plant herbs that I started from seed

Spread rest of (saved) Zinnia seeds

deck garden bed

Still left to do:

Seed and fertilize grass – when you don’t remove the piles of leaves you gathered quickly enough, you end up with very large areas void of grass the next Spring

Plant spinach

Plant cucumbers and zucchini

Create plan for the rest of the large raised bed

raised container garden 5 13 14

Our “lawn boy” handed it down to younger sister so we had a bit of lapse in mowing.  At first I was not too worried, “Surely they’ll do it today.”  After saying that for a week, I realized I could not wait any longer and just did it myself.  That is something I have not done for several years thanks to the birthday/Christmas/Anniversary/Because I love you gift from my husband.  It started at a time in our lives when ALL of our energy was being zapped by a foster care placement.  There was no time or energy left for things like mowing the yard.  Turns out this young man was earning money to pay for the insurance on his car once he turned 16.  AND his dad works with my husband. AND he only lives 2 blocks from our house.  Perfect.

I quickly realized how much of a blessing this was when the school bus brought our school aged child home.  See, the first half of the yard took 30-40 minutes.  The second half of the yard took over 2 hours.  For the “lawn boy” they stand at the window and watch.  For Mom, well, they take a more in your face approach.  Especially if there is another kid to aide them in doing so.  Yes, training would solve this.  So does having a “lawn boy.”

If you have checked the Facebook page, or took note of the meal plan for the week, then you know there is a friend here this week.  Today that increased on very short notice yesterday, meaning I had to finish yesterday what I had planned to do today.  There is no written rule that you can only garden when the sun is up.  I was not sure how long the extra two kids, in addition to the friend, were going to need a babysitter, so I had two plans formed in my head.

Plan A = my kids plus friend = ability to do minimal gardening or easier yard chores such as pulling grass out of cracks in the driveway or adding pepper plants to a raised bed

Plan B = my kids plus friend plus two little ones = no gardening work, no yard work, no housework, just the basics

Neither of these situation would be for very long, a few weeks at most.  Basically just enough time to get into a routine before school was out for the summer.

Today I started out with my plan for the day, but by the end I had learned many lessons.  For one, do not have “sandbox day” on a day when you have a crawling baby and a toddler who likes to constantly thrown the sand out of the box while sitting (literally) in the middle of it.

poppy flower ready to bloom

One of the reasons I agreed to watch these kids, besides helping out some Moms who were in tight situations which were the initial reasons, was the opportunity to see how my youngest would react to having other/younger kids in the house taking Mommy’s attention away.  With the potential for new foster kids to come into our home, I wanted to see what I may expect in terms of attitudes and behaviors.  Our youngest has been the youngest for the past several years, and I realize he is a bit spoiled – he hasn’t had to share his Mommy during the day all school year.  He can also be stubborn and is not used to sharing toys with younger kids.  Now, isn’t that a great combination?  It was not the smoothest of days, but definitely can be improved with some heart work and encouragement.

Our oldest on the other hand did wonderfully with the younger kids.  This was not a surprise as this is a strong suite for this child and one reason we had no reservations about saying we are open for little kids.  If allowed, I think this child of mine would have been thrilled beyond belief to change a diaper.  The look of “I’m such a great helper” that showed up when I taught this child how to feed a baby and then let him do it was a great reminder that God makes us all unique and gives each of us different gifts.  This is where this child thrives.

Okay, so back to gardening.  Today was also a reminder to how life was just a few years ago when I had virtually no garden, put up very little food at the end of the season, and felt very much not like myself.  There just was not the time or energy to do so.  This has been a lot of the driving force for this year – I’m finally at a point that I can get to the old “to-do” items, such as removing posts on the deck.  There may be a point in the near future where I will not have that luxury, so now is the time and I am trying to get as much done as possible.

I felt no quilt for taking the day off and spending it with kids.  Walks were taken, books read, crafts completed, lunch made, snacks had, naps taken, toys spread out and picked up.  I could have done more, though for having no routine set, I think it went fine.

This upcoming week is going to have several more scheduling items to make working in the yard and garden a challenge.  I’m up for it.  There is nothing that can not be worked around with some forethought.

This Week’s Gardening Goals:

Finish re-potting vegetable plants

Remove grass from driveway

Seed and fertilize yard

Plant spinach, cucumbers and/or zucchini

Week beds along front walk

Spread wood chips in front walk beds

How is  your garden coming?  Had any evenings spent planting in the fading light?

 

 

 

Apr 182014
 

trench in garden for onions

We have had several warm days of late – 60’s and 70’s.  The evenings have been cool, but usually above freezing.  Usually.

row to plant onion sets

A month or so ago a local farm store has onions sets on sale for $.99 per pound.  I picked up about 2 lbs.  Now, 2 pounds may not seem like a lot, but onion sets are not large.  This equated to a few hundred.

I knew it was too early to plant them, but I also knew that if the weather warmed up before most people thought it would then I would be ready.  If these were planted too early and didn’t come up, then I was only out $2.  It was worth the risk for me.

planted row of onion sets

Saturday of last week was a nice day, in the 70’s.  The day before I had put the fencing up around the beds and sprinkled Deer Scram around, to help keep out rabbits and possibly squirrels.

I had a few minutes to do something with the garden, so chose to plant the onions sets.

It was a little early, I knew I was running a risk of still having cold weather.  The tipping point was knowing that if I didn’t do something with these, they would mold in the bag and I would lose them all anyway.  At least if they were planted, I had some chance of getting a return.

In the end, over 400 were planted.  (I lost count after 350, but know that I planted more than 50 after that.)

Sunday it rained, nice summer-ish type showers.  Still warm.

Monday it rained and was cooling off.

Monday night … it snowed.

We are not talking feet of snow, but enough to still be on the roof tops the next morning and put a layer of precipitation to be removed when I got in the car to leave.

The cold lasted at least one more day.

Will these survive to come up or will they have frozen into onion-set-popsicles?  Only time will tell.

I knew I was being antsy planting so early, but I knew the risk and was willing to take it.  Sometimes it pays off, and others become lessons to remember in the future.

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On a more positive note, the strawberry plants are looking good.  I only lost one, and that was to a squirrel last fall I think.  Pesky rodents like to plant buckeyes in my raised beds.  The more I get to know them, the less I like them.  (Squirrels that is, not necessarily buckeye trees.)

Mar 152014
 

Garden Update 2014

This past week has seen me doing very little in the way of gardening.  I was able to take a few minutes here and there to thin out the seedlings I have already started.

So what was I doing instead of gardening?

  • Catching up on over a week’s worth of laundry – something that is possible now that it isn’t 5 degrees outside
  • dental appointments
  • having required home visit for our foster care license
  • finished patching kids’ jeans
  • making the spare bedroom visitor friendly again.  It had become a catch-all room plus a DIY project in progress.
  • making our bedroom visitor and kid friendly (chose to place these visitors here due to the work we are doing in the spare bedroom.  It is very much not kid friendly right now.)
  • making meals for the freezer
  • finding an outfit to wear to court
  • updating my wardrobe (if I was going to toss out clothes I needed enough left to actually have something to wear, by choice I don’t have a lot of clothes – I decluttered 9 shirts)
  • setting up and going to MOPS
  • entertaining 2 different sets of overnight visitors
  • watching a friend’s kid (my kid loved the impromptu play-date and lunch out)
  • going to an all-day conference

Oh, yeah and ADOPTING OUR KIDS!!

I was hoping you all would understand why this just wasn’t the week to be doing a lot of gardening and why my posts have not been my normal schedule.  It has definitely been a full week, and the house looks so much better for it.

picked up bedroom

This upcoming week has a lot more free time, very few required places for me to be or things to accomplish.  I  plan on making the most of it while I can.

Gardening and Home Goals for the week of March 16, 2014:

Call school to inform them this will be the last week in preschool for my youngest.

List all the start dates for the seeds I have.

Start seeds that should already have been started.

Work on removing 2 lilac bush stumps.

Plant peach tree? – I may hold off on this one for another week.

Add mulch to areas around the yard, if the mulch pile is no longer frozen on top.

Declutter 49 items.

Cook and freeze pork roasts in refrigerator.

Create more omelette kits for freezer.

Plant 200 – 300 onion sets – if ground isn’t still frozen.

green onions in raised bed 2I am very ready for the 2014 gardening season.  However, if I don’t start now with my garden jobs, soon it will be an overly busy time and I’ll get behind.  The warmer weather will appear before we know it – though I’m not convinced we are through with snow storms or freezing temperatures.

How are your gardens or garden preparations coming along?