April 30, 2006

"there's been talk about your sink..."

Hello all. Today was a glorious day in the garden. I feel dirty and freckled and I couldn't be happier. In about 2 weeks I'll be picking up my seedlings and start planting in a bigger way but, today was a good first step.

I added lime and organic fertilizer and moved a bunch of perennials around to better spots. You're really supposed to do this in the fall but, whatever. This is the first time I've done that without supervision from someone more experienced but, I think its pretty simple: dig a hole, dig up all or part of the plant you're moving, put the plant in the new hole and then give it lots of water for a few days. The most impressive thing growing right now is the chive plant(first photo). Holy herb! I also met a new neighbor who seems really nice. She has some daylilies that she's going to give me too! I really need to lay off the orange and yellow flowers but, you can't pass up free stuff.... its like being invited over to someone's grandma's and saying no to pie and ice cream.

On Wednesday I went to the first garden meeting of the season but, I had to leave early. I am considering running for the Steering Committe but, I'm not sure that I'm up for the neighborhood-y politics of holding office. My impression is that the people on the committee get a lot of grief from neighbors and gardeners who have a problem with things that are happening but who would rather complain than work. In fact, it seems that I have been the source of some complaints......not me personally but, my sink.

My Friend from Greenbay had a sink in her garden and another one on her porch that she grew plants in. I always thought it was pretty cool and funny so when she left town and offered them to me I took them and put the pink one in my garden plot. I'm not saying its not noticeable but, its definitely not an eyesore or anything like that. Anyway, as I was leaving the meeting and paying my annual plot fee one of the guys on the Steering Committee (who is kind of a cranky guy but, funny and I like him) said to me "there's been talk about your sink" and went on to tell me that some people don't like it and have complained but, that I don't need to worry yet because there haven't been any votes and he actually thinks its cute. I just left but, HELLO!! is my sink seriously the biggest thing to worry about??!! Where is the sense of fun and whimsy and humor PLUS all the little kids in the neighborhood think the sink ROCKS and play with the faucets!

It seems like the dumbest thing in the world to me to care about my sink but, in an effort to pretty it up I put a bunch of large perrennials behind it and a bunch of flower seeds around it. My strategy is to deepen the support of those who like the sink and draw attention to its wonderful-ness for all the haters.

April 18, 2006

Dibblers and Misters

I started another gardening class tonight. It is mostly made up of people who were in the other class and with the same teacher but, this time its only 4 sessions and all the lessons are very hands on and about starting things from seed. My assigned partner and I planted so many teensy weensy collard green seeds that our hands started to cramp. Anyway, I learned a few things that I did wrong with my attempt at home and I heard about some new tools that I absolutely must have. Here is a short list:

1) Grease Pencil - first you need someting like a popsicle stick to mark your seeds but then you absolutely must have a grease pencil to write on it with because no matter how "permanent" the marker claims to be, after a while in the sun and the rain the writing is sure to disappear. This, according to my teacher is not so with the grease pencil.

2) Dibbler - a golf pencil is what we used but, its basically a thing that makes the little holes to stick the seeds in.

3) Mister- to make sure you give your little seeds a fighting chance you must give them just enough water but, not too much and a mister is the perfect thing for the job. This is especially good for making sure you don't wash the seeds far from where you planted them with a too-powerful stream of water. This happened to me a lot last summer and my plants ended up halfway down the little mounds I had made for them.

4) Soil Thermometer - I am definitely getting one of these. You see, the temperature outside is NOT the same as the temperature of the soil so if you want to be sure you're planting things at the right time you need to take your garden's temperature. I do not care how nerdy this sounds. I am absolutely getting one!

I have been away for the past week so I have a couple of highlights from the time away.

1) Orca the Orchid is still doing really well. All the flowers are open now and I got some orchid food to use when I water.

2) I was visiting a friend in a nearby state and I helped her plant some flowers and herbs (AND STRAWBERRIES) in pots on her very sunny deck. She's never been able to grow anything so I am excited to coach her through it. I have promised that it will work so...I hope I'm not a liar.

April 11, 2006

Orca and the Seeds

Meet Orca. So far so good orchidwise.

The seedlings are another story. Its been cloudier and colder than I had expected/hoped but, I am hopeful that a few days of warmth will make all the difference. Most of them are sleeping and a few seedlings have already sprouted and wilted. Luckily seeds are really cheap.

I also got my results back from the soil test. My lead levels are "low" which I guess is better than "high" but not as good as "none." My soil is slightly too acidic for vegetables but good for flowers so I have to figure out how to add lime in certain spots to get the pH to 6.5. I feel like I've read that there are some things that like more acidic soil though so I plan to check before adding anything.

The Calcium level is good but, I need to add Phosphorous and Potassium. The instructions are actually very specific so I'll need to do some precise shopping and measuring to make sure I add just the right amounts. I am headed out of town again so it will all have to wait a week.

Hopefully the seeds will surprise me when I return.

April 4, 2006

Starting Seeds Indoors - First Time

This weekend I started some seeds indoors. I had purchased this funky plastic greenhouse with 25 "pellets" of planting "medium." a while ago and I finally felt comfortable going for it on Sunday. At first they just looked like little disks but, then I added a bunch of water to the bottom of the tray and they puffed up into these columns of soil-like stuff and I was able to put a few seeds into each one. I had to create a little map so I would remember what I planted where and I removed one "pellet" so I would know how the map was supposed to go. I felt like Hansel and Gretel leaving breadcrumbs or something although, that didn't turn out too well for them did it?

I planted marigolds, 2 types of onions, lavender, purple coneflower and arugula. The clear plastic cover is on right now and after the first sign of sprouting I'm supposed to lift the cover slightly and then once they've all sprouted I'm supposed to remove the cover and put the whole thing in a sunny location. Once the little plants seem big enough I need to "harden them off" which is basically getting the little guys to toughen up enough to handle life in the great outdoors.

I'm most worried about the following things:

1) Cats - How do I prevent my cats from turning this whole endeavor into a "salad bar"?
I think I have a plan which involves a high chair next to a window and possibly cutting the top panel off of the cover instead of removing it completely. Those cats are freaks!

2) Sunlight - One of the keys, it seems, is making sure the seedings get enough sun. I think I have a good window in mind but, having never done this I am not positive that any of my windows are sunny enough.

3) Temperature - warmth is one of the other key factors in getting seeds to germinate and although this weekend was warm the temperature is colder today and it is supposed to drop further overnight.

I checked this morning and I think I spied 2 little sproutlets of something. I kept the cover on because I'm worried about the cold but, pretty soon I'll need to take the plunge and put the whole thing closer to a bright window (which is sunnier but colder). Wish me luck.

This was actually a pretty big garden/plant weekend for me, In addition to planting seeds:

I figured out the rest of my garden plan. I decided to drop a few plants I'd had in mind (limas and turnips) and to include some more paths so I can get to everything. I think I am regretting my decision to try to grow zucchini this year because it takes up A LOT of space but......I'll give it a whirl and just ditch it for next year if it doesn't seem worth it.

Oh and I bought an Orchid which I adore and I've been calling it Orca. Its reeeeeeally pretty but, I think it might need to be repotted and I'm nervous about screwing it up. I'll post a photo soon.