Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter Sowing Starts!

I just did my first batch of winter sowing this past week… I think it was Tuesday? I got a bug up my *** that evening after a lot of loafing, so there I was, putting containers out at 11pm, ha ha!

I got most of the edibles I want to do, they are:

Mexican Sweet Gherkin Cuke
Dwraf Grey Sugar Pea
Green Arrow Pea
Moon and Stars watermelon
Edisto 47 cantaloupe
White habanero pepper
Hot Portugal pepper (seeds that I collected, yay!)
Black Seaman tomato
Black Krim tomato
Black Cherry tomato
Sugar Lump tomato
Cherokee Purple tomato
Great White Beefsteak tomato

I still want to plant some greens – I have several lettuce varieties to try, and I need to get some Brussels sprouts seeds and would like to try broccoli again. I may do carrots winter sown and see how they do, and then transplant the seedlings to a large pot. I've read about growing carrots in pots and it sounds cool!

I'll be sowing some flower seeds soon, maybe even today. I want to do flowers that are considered good edible garden companions, need to do more research on that. Sunflowers again for sure, marigolds... zinnias? Nasturtium? What else?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Early summer update

Wow! Time flies when you're having fun, eh?

Before I went away for two weeks in May, I planted out the chile plants we ordered from Cross Country Nurseries, around May 10th or so. I thought it was a bit early, but C. remembered that last year we planted at about the same time and had great success. I think it was colder this year (we had nights in the low 40s where I was in Michigan!), but the plants are still alive and kicking. It's been quite hot the past few days, so I am hoping that they will really kick in the coming weeks. Here are the varieties we're growing this year:

Salmon, Szechwan, Jalapeno Early, Fire, Takatsume, Punjab Small Hot, Mirasol, Carmine, Lester Williams Red, Tasmanian, Chocolate Habanero, and Harold's St. Barts. I've also got seedlings that I grew myself, both on the windowsill and through winter sowing, using seeds that we saved from the previous year: White and Red Habanero, Island Hellfire, and a couple others whose names escape me at the moment. Those plants are going to have to go in pots as I've run out of room in the big garden plot I made last fall! (Laying down cardboard and shredded leaves in the fall to create a new a plot is a really easy, fool-proof approach!) I'm going out of town for the weekend, so I'll take care of those when I get back next week.

I had some success with my winter sowing, even though I had such a late start. I didn't get things planted until February and March! Here's what I ended up with this year, and what I planted in the ground yesterday, all tomatoes.

Black Cherry, Cherokee Purple, Accordion, Bonny Best, Fuzzy Peach, Coyote, Black Krim, Yellow Pear, Black Seaman, and... a mystery volunteer from last year.

In addition to all this, I planted in marigolds, and there are sunflowers, walking onions from my mom's place, strawberries (we just ate some this morning – YUM!), three varieties of garlic, two varieties of peas, Mexican cucumber. These were all winter sown. I also bought from a local nursery some Brussels sprouts plants and chives, as well as a couple hot cherry pepper plants (not that we needed them, really). I'll also be adding in some pansies to the main garden plot, and after doing some reading about companion planting would like to add some nasturtium and zinnia.

All in all, this has been a fun and successful planting. Now, the waiting – will things grow? Will they flourish?

One thing I am doing differently this year is using mulch – I know, duh. I've used grass clippings so far and they seem to be working well, but I also splurged and got some cedar mulch with a gift certificate I got on my last birthday. I have yet to put it down as I want to get everything in the garden first so I don't have to mess with it too much, but I am excited to see how it will look and whether it will make everything grow that much better. I'll definitely have to water less, and hopefully it will help with pests like slugs, too. Hey – I read today that kelp, seaweed, makes for great slug repellent mulch. Go figure! I wonder if the kind I can grab from Lake Ontario would fit the bill.

I will be getting some photos up next week. I'm pretty proud of my efforts this year!

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Winter Sowing

I finally got around to sowing the last batch of seeds I ordered, as well as some of those from last year's Seed Savers order that we never did anything with. Those plastic salad and strawberry containers sure come in handy!

Anyway, here's what went out today.

Green Arrow Pea
Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea
Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber
Moon and Stars Watermelon

Yellow Pear Tomato
Orange-Fleshed Purple Smudge Tomato
Great White Beefsteak Tomato
Black Seaman Tomato
(was going to do the Goldman's Italian American tomato, too, but the seed packet was empty!)

Peaches and Cream Sweet Corn
Chocolate Morning Glory
Dwarf Blue Alpine Columbine

Phew! I hope it all takes! Or maybe not... that's a lot of stuff... ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring! Well...

The weather has been decidedly spring-like these past few days. I was even surprised and pleased to see that all the garlic that I planted in the fall has sprouted as of yesterday — they weren't there a couple days ago.

Then, I woke up this morning. Much to my surprise, what do I see out the window?

Several inches of snow.


I know that it's March and I live in Niagara Falls, NY, and that it has been known to snow well into April, but goshdarnit!

In happier news, I got more heirloom tomato seeds in the mail that I am excited to try:

Orange-fleshed Purple Smudge
Yellow Pear
Goldman's Italian American

Plus, I am going to try corn this year! Peaches and Cream. Hoping to get all these into winter sowing containers by this weekend.

Spring, spring, where art thou?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And almost a year later...


I can't believe I just stopped garden blogging just as the season was starting last year. What a bummer. I guess it just amounted to being very, very busy throughout the summer (basically holding down two full-time jobs plus a bunch of other stuff on top of the gardening duties) and just didn't carve out time for writing about the greenery.

Well, I can tell you that we had a pretty successful season last year overall. The winter sown plants performed beautifully once I got them into the ground, which was late, believe you me — I think it wasn't until July that I actually planted most of them, poor babies. Most of what worked really well were the tomatoes, cherry varieties in particular. Among our favorites were Sungold (the plant purchased from a local grower), Coyote, Sugar Lump, and Black Cherry (all of which were winter sown). We had a bunch of chiles from Cross Country online, plus I tried out a couple sunflowers which were a lot of fun. I am planting more of those this year and excited about it!

In the fall, I ordered three varieties of garlic and planted those in October or November... Chesnok Red, Transylvanian, and Simonetti from We Grow Garlic. We planted some (six cloves each), but ate most and let me tell you, each of those varieties are delicious and just something over and above what you get at the grocery store. Our favorite was the Chesnok Red and next year I'm hoping to try more varieties, too. Crossing fingers that they will be showing up in the garden soon... well, OK, sometime in July, I guess... but that's soon, right? ;)

This past week, I finally got around to doing my winter sowing. I was worried that it was too late, but read in a forum somewhere that generally, it's never too late to try it. Especially considering how unpredictable the spring season is in my area, I figured what the heck. Here's what I've got so far:

Cherokee Purple
Bonny Best
Black Cherry
Sugar Lump
Super Sioux
Black Krim
Fuzzy Peach

Other Delectables
Teddybear sunflower
Sweet basil
Edisto Cantaloupe

And I am hoping to plant a few more seeds in the coming days, too.

Last fall I also managed to expand our growing area by laying down layers of cardboard and shredded leaves in preparation for easy spring prep! I have a few small compost piles going, too.

Finally, the best news of all is that at the end of last summer, I quit my day job as an in-house graphic designer at a small book publisher in order to pursue teaching at the college level and having more time to build my career as an exhibiting artist! This means that my schedule is very flexible and much more free — I will have plenty of time to spend in the garden, more than ever before. Not to mention more time to document what I'm doing in the garden as well!

See you again soon!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Photo Update

I took some quick photos this morning, after realizing how few visuals I've been sharing here this season. All kinds of stuff going on, but man! Do my gardens need some work! Thank goodness I'm on vacation starting tomorrow.

I have another mystery plant. Two, in fact. I have no idea what this is:

And no idea where the heck these lovely irises came from! Did I put those there last year or something? Ack, my memory is terrible. I hope I wrote about them or something. They were NOT there last year, I know that.

Here are some shots from the back garden, which has really filled out. Here is the Pan-Am hosta I bought from my friend Gordon last year at his epic plant sale; it is said to be a descendant of one of the plants used at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo back in 1901.

And here is my new White Feather hosta! I love him.

Scented geraniums I took from my dad's wooded yard in New Hampshire. These are thriving, almost to the point of taking over!

The New Hampshire garden is an overgrown mess in the matter of a couple weeks! Eek! I also happened to notice that someone's using this garden as a buffet... lots of little holes in many of the leaves. Rats. I guess I should start sprinkling the eggshells that I collected all winter out there!

Fortunately, I DO remember planting these. They're the irises my cousin Marianne gave to me two years ago. Some came up last year, others didn't. Hm, I may have moved these over last year, actually. Ugh. Bad memory strikes again. Anyway... aren't they absolutely gorgeous? I am in love with them.

Finally, I will leave you with a close-up shot of my Wiegela Florida, which is in full bloom now. I just planted a variegated variety in the back a few weeks ago, and I can't wait for it to grow! This one is at the front corner of the house.

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Getting Ready to Work

I am getting excited. May 2010 has been insanely busy for me, and I am impatiently awaiting the arrival of Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off a nice two week long vacation for me. Unlike many people who take vacation, I look forward to staying at home and doing things around the house—especially gardening. I haven't had a lot of time to devote to my gardens yet and I am really itchy to get out there and do some major stuff!

This week we got our hot peppers into their larger containers and they're outside enjoying the very warm weather we've been having this week. Into the 80s during the day and the 60s at night. Just what peppers really love. My poor butterfly bushes are still in a holding pattern sitting in pots, and I really hope to get them in the ground this weekend.

In the meantime, I'd like to share a few photos I've taken in the past few weeks.

Violets! These came with the house, but I now also have four other varieties.

Here's what the little corner in the backyard looked like a few weeks back. You wouldn't believe how much the plants have filled in since then! I was shocked.

The shade garden abutting the back of the house. Solomon's seal just starting to unfold, plus a mystery plant. Can anyone help ID the one with the pretty blue flowers? They're lasting forever! The flowers look similar to forget-me-not, but the foliage is totally different. ANSWER (I think!): Omphalodes cappadocica, or Navelwort. Neat!

And the Bridal Wreath Spirea is performing the best it has in the three years we've known it. Just gorgeous.