Growing Up in the Garden

I grew up in the garden – literally!  When I was young, I had a section of the garden that was mine at my grandma’s house.  I mostly made mud pies, but also pretended to hoe and “plant” whatever I found.  When I got older, I joined 4-H and had my first garden of my very own, a small flower bed around our flag pole.  I continued to take gardening projects, including house plants, various flower garden projects, and even a tree/landscaping project.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I first planted vegetables.  I started with peas and potatoes, and have added a few more plants each year, experimenting with new and different things each year.

My main garden, located behind my rabbit/cavy shed, is currently overgrown with spearmint.  For this year, my goal is to grow some veggies in another bed, while battling the spearmint.

I started some cabbage and parsley seeds in coconut coir pellets.
I made a little notebook to keep track of what I plant where, and also planted some kale.
Two little cabbage sprouts.
I organized my seeds

The Neighbor Kids

I have many posts to write about the things I’ve been working on around the house, but something happened tonight that I just have to write about.  I was going to write a tweet to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, and realized that what I wanted to say wouldn’t fit in a tweet.

A little background story first, in my new house, there is a family that lives next door who has several children (four or five? I’m not sure).  Based on what I know, let’s just say, they don’t have a very stable home life.  They spend a fair amount of time in their yard, and if I’m out, they like to come over.  Two of the boys love to play “what’s that?” with pretty much anything – the spouting on my house, the electric meter, and of course any flower, weed, bush, bug, etc. they see.

If I’m working, they want to “help” with whatever I’m doing.  Mostly they help by weeding, asking questions, and retrieving tools (after moving them so I don’t know where they are).  Now, granted, they get tired quickly and there are some weeds that are pulled off by the leaf rather than the root, but they try!  I end up with pulled up weeds all over my yard, but I’m happy and their happy, so who cares?

Today, they were asking about the flowers and wanted to dig holes.  I told them soon I would be digging holes for bulbs, like tulips, and told them they could help.  They asked what tulips were and what color they were.  I went inside and brought out my copy of The Whole Seed Catalog, thinking it would have pictures of their bulbs.  It turns out it didn’t have bulbs, but we spent time looking at the plants and they asked what their names were and we talked about what they liked and didn’t like to eat, and which one was the prettiest and who would eat a yellow watermelon.  When we got to the carrots, there was a picture of the tiny, round Parisienne carrots, which reminded me that I had a package of them that I had gotten in an exchange.  I asked them if they would like to plant some seeds – I’ll let you guess the answer!

I pulled out my Seed Keeper and found the carrots, then realized that I had some Red Romaine that I had gotten free in my Baker Creek order too.  We got out a window planter that had herbs that I’d harvested and we put dirt in it, took turns adding seeds, stirred the dirt (so we didn’t have clumps of lettuce and carrots), then watered it.  We made two sticks that said what we planted, then they wanted to write their names too, so we all put our names in the planter too!  They were so excited, they brought their grandma over and showed her what they had done.

It all brings back happy memories of when I was younger and grandma had a section of her garden that was all mine.  She had some tools just for me and I could do anything I wanted there – dig, push dirt around, make mud pies, whatever.  In fact, I almost wish I had a square foot garden where I could just let them go and they could do whatever!

Spring has Sprung

Between the seedlings inside, the plants popping up outside, and babies popping up all over, I think it is safe to say spring has sprung.  And finally the weather agrees, with two lovely 60 degree days!

The plants in the basement are growing and growing.  I can’t wait to put them outside soon, but it needs to warm up a bit more.

Daffodils have popped up and should be blooming soon in the backyard.

Even the sedum mom dug up to save from our building project last year has begun to show green leaves.  I think the fact that it has been in the green house gave it a head start.  But it is nice since we lost quite a few pretty flowers around where our deck used to be.

The baby pigs are growing like weeds, they are getting bigger and bigger every day.

The baby rabbits are getting big too, I just weaned them today, their markings are coming in nicely, another month or more and I should be able to show them at their first shows.

The younger litter has their full coat of fur and I’m hoping to see eyes opening in the next day or two.  They are in the popcorn stage right now where they pop all over – you touch one and they all move!

Broccoli and Tomatoes

I’m not feeling very good today, I thought yesterday that my kidney stone had passed, but now I think it just decided not to move yesterday.  But…

…look what happened to sprout up today – Broccoli!  Just one, I’m hoping the other is close behind!

I also repotted tomatoes after writing yesterday’s blog post.  They have their first true leaves coming in and have roots on the edge of their pellets too.  I did them the same way I did the cabbage and kale.

I planted two different varieties of tomato, one Sweet 100 and one Amana Orange.  I’m not a huge tomato fan, however I do like cherry tomatoes and Sweet 100 is my favorite, though it is a hybrid and not heirloom.  Amana Orange is an heirloom, and I bought seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.  I’ve had Amana Orange before and they are good, not as acidic as most tomatoes and more fleshy, which is just how I like them.  I plan to try to keep the seed from them and continue to grow them year after year.

The only problem is that when I wrote down what I planted, I only wrote “tomato” so I don’t know for sure which is which!  They look a little different, but I won’t know for sure which is which until they have fruits.

Repotting Cabbage and Kale

I’m finally starting to feel a bit better, I had the influenza and then a kidney stone – both of which left me miserable.  But while I was out of commission, my little plants grew and grew!

My cabbage and kale (the first things planted) especially grew.  As I mentioned in a past blog post, they grew quite tall and lanky.

They were starting to show their roots on the outside of the coir pellets too – so it was time to replate them!

I gathered all my supplies.  I decided to pot them up a bit into recycled paper pots and to give them a little organic fertilizer mixed with the soil.

First I put a small layer of soil on the bottom of the pot, this varied from plant to plant.  I wanted them to be repotted so that long, lanky stem was mostly under the soil and the true leaves were just above the surface level of the soil.

Then I added a small amount of organic fertilizer and mixed that into the soil.  I will note, that this stuff smells pretty bad and don’t have your face too close when you dump it out, because it made a little cloud that puffed up and about choked me!

Then I set the seedling into the pot to see if I had gotten the height about right.

Next, I filled in the area around it with soil – almost right up to the very top of the cup.  I didn’t fill it all the way to the top, because I want to be able to water and not have the water run off right away.

Then I watered them, the soil was partially dry, so it took a few soaks to get it good and wet.  I added a bit more soil after the soil compacted some when it got wet too.

Ta-da!  Happy plants in their Big Boy Pots and back under the light, which had to be raised a bit to accommodate their taller pots.

Easy to Grow Flowers

This is my comment in response to Dee Nash’s post Which flowers are easy to grow from seed? Here are several I like it ended up being long so I decided to make a post of my own, I want to go find pictures, but I’m sick, so pictures might come later..

My favorite easy-to-grow flowers are Cosmos and Bachelor Buttons.  Cosmos grow all over my mom’s garden – I had some of my senior pictures taken in the garden with the cosmos.  She has the ones that are primarily pink but occasionally throw purple or white (incomplete dominance at work).  We didn’t get Cosmos until we moved, so I was at least 9 before I learned about them.

Bachelor Buttons and I go much further back.  My grandma’s garden has Bachelor Buttons all over – in all the colors.  I didn’t even realize some of the colors weren’t as common as others as far as selling the seed – but I knew that when I was younger, I loved running around picking the flowers and trying to get one of each color.  I would squeal with excitement when I found a color I didn’t have yet.  She has both the white outside with colored inside and colored outside with different colored inside, and same-colored inside and outside – she has variations I’ve never even seen for sale!

Sunflowers are beautiful, but they can be pests too.  For several years, I fed my rabbits black oil sunflower seeds as a supplement to help them have better condition.  Inevitably, some of the seeds would find their way into the manure that we put in the garden.  Mom’s garden is filled with sunflowers and they can be annoying because they shadow the things you want to grow and if you let them grow, their big stems and heavy roots make it hard to work the soil for the next year.  And of course, they seed themselves down for the next year when the birds snack on them.  But I must admit, I love the Goldfinches who come to snack on their seeds!

One other flower I like to grow that is quite easy to grow around here from seed are Marigolds.  You can save seed from one year to the next and to grow, I just mess the soil a little, scatter the seeds, water, and mess the soil again.  They are beautiful (of course, orange is my favorite color), don’t require lots of water, and they can repel bad bugs and deer.  I believe they are edible and can be used in essential oils, but I’ve never tried that.