Monday, April 16, 2012

A Tip for Planting in Pots

I've had success with this garden tip on how to keep soil from coming out the bottom drain holes of a pot when you water, and I would like to share it. If you so happen to be a quilter as well as a gardener, you are sure to have scraps of polyester fiberfill around.  Trace around the bottom of your pot onto the fiberfill, and cut out this circle; (see picture). Place it in the bottom of the pot before adding the potting soil. When you water the plant, the fiberfill will keep the soil from leaking out, but will allow the extra water to drain so roots won't get water logged. You can do this with large deck pots, also, to keep your deck tidy.(I would refrain from using a thick all cotton or wool batting, as this might keep water from draining out).  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

WELCOME BACK! After a long winter hiatus, this gardener is ready to go!  How about any other garden friends reading this blog?

First, I would like to share how I start my seedlings. I know most large scale gardeners plant each seed tray with the same seed, then label that tray with the type of seed planted. He/she usually doesn't bother with jiffy seed pellets like you see below, but rather plants the seeds directly in some sort of seedling starter/ soil mixture. But since I am a small scale gardener with limited indoor space, I plant many different seeds in the same seedling flats. In the tray below I have red peppers, 4 varieties of tomatoes, 2 varieties of basil, yellow strawberries, kale, kohl rabi, cauliflower, red cabbage, cilantro, and stevia.  There are also a few flowers/herbs, including chamolmile and calendula. 

As the seedlings outgrows the jiffy soil pellet, I repot them in small individual pots filled with a mix of perlite, organic soil, and peat moss.     As I move one jiffy pellet out to re-pot, I add a new jiffy pellet with a new seed to replace it in the black tray.  So that I don't get mixed up what seed is planted where, I have devised this system:  The black seed trays I reuse every year have 6 rows up and down and 12 rows across (a total of 72 spaces for jiffy pellets).   On a colored piece of   8x11 cadstock, I draw a grid making 6 rows up and down and 12 rows across. (See below--only my picture cut off atrow 8 of the page).  I pencil in the type of seed I put in each space.  That way, when I take out the seedling to re-pot, I erase it on my cardstock template.  
You would be surprised that you can't really tell a cauliflower, kale, broccoli, or cabbage apart when they're seedlings, so this really saves the confusion of having a bunch of "mystery plants".  (Except for one year when one of the little grandchildren toppled the tray by mistake. )    

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thoughts at the end of the season

    This blog entry will be pretty boring, no pictures or family information.  Just some things I've learned this season that will be useful for me next year.  However if you're a gardener, too, you may want to keep on reading.
  The most important thing I've learned this year is how wonderful a fall garden is! I learned that although finicky, hard-to-grow cilantro doesn't do well for me in the spring,  it grows wonderful in the cool fall; the same for broccoli and cabbage.  I still had to combat a few green loopers, but bugs and worms were minimal in the fall.  And my, how the flavor of spinach, Swiss Chard and lettuce is so much better in the cool months! No bitterness and good enough to eat like a snack. They will grow through December if you have a covering over them.  My fall/winter beets were much better than my spring/summer ones. The same for carrots. The turnips I planted late fall grew quickly and were so sweet, tart, and crisp added to a green salad or veggie tray.
    I guess old time farmers and experienced gardeners know about the wonders of a fall garden, but like many people, I never tried one before. Everyone I know pulls everything up by September. So even though I will be out there early for a spring garden, and will depend on the hot summer for my beans, peppers, tomatoes, and melons, next year around the end of July, I will look forward to planting that fall garden!
   Now, I'm busy with quilting, Christmas preparation, grandkids and such, so this gardening blog will temporarily be retired. However, come late Feb. I will be ready to start the indoor seedlings, so will start up again with the Thankful Gardener posts.
God Bless you till then!     

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Joy of Herbs All Winter Long

     There are a few different ways to preserve fresh basil. Some people like to make basil pesto and freeze extra  in ice cube trays. Once frozen, put the cubes in a freezer bag, and throughout the winter pop a couple frozen pesto cubes into spaghetti sauce, soups, etc. I do like this method of preserving basil, however my very favorite way is from a hint I read on the internet shared by the Italians in"Old Italy". You put a few clean basil leaves in the bottom of a glass jar, sprinkle with some kosher or sea salt (about 1/2 t.), then pour a little bit of good extra virgin olive oil over the salt & basil (about 3 Tablespoons.  Repeat these steps for several layers, till jar is full. Refrigerate.
     The oil and salt preserve the basil for a few months, and in the refrigerator, the oil becomes semi-solid.  Along with garlic powder, I spread it on bread, stick it in the oven, and have a wonderful garlic bread.  I also put a tablespoon or so in a package of frozen vegetables
before cooking, or add to spaghetti sauce, etc. I am so thankful to enjoy the taste of basil all winter, plus the olive oil is better for you than butter. (I do add it sparingly because my hubby doesn't like a lot of basil). I am going to try preserving fresh sage, rosemary, and other different herbs this way next week.
     My 2nd favorite way to preserve herbs is to put them in seasoned rice vinegar.  Many combinations work, especially lemon basil with lemon sorrel! It is great splashed on salads, to marinate meat,  and in veggie dishes.   
     So, what is your favorite herb?  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The 20th Was A Special Day

Yesterday was grandchild # 14's 1st birthday.  What a sweetie.  Her middle name describes her well--"Joy". Can't wait to see her this week end to celebrate her birthday. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Perennial Spinach-- casting my vote

Last year I planted a perennial called "New ZealandSpinach".  True to it's description, it kept producing in the heat of the summer when all other spinach types gave up.  It is still producing good green leaves now that fall is coming. It slowly spreads, and grows upright to keep the leaves off the ground if lightly supported.  Those are the pros.  Now for the con.  It doesn't taste good!  I've  tried to disguise it by mixing it with other greens, and it still has a bad taste that ruins the salad.  Maybe I'll try cooking it.  I will probably end up pulling up the roots to make room next spring for something tasty.  Just wanted to share my view so others might not waste the money on seeds and valuable space if your garden is limited in size. Regular spinach is my choice, even though it's not as hardy as the  New Zealand perennial.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Garden pictures

Wouldn't you say these green dill pickles and red cinnamon ring cucumbers will look nice together this Christmas on a white platter?
This little tomato-- he was just begging for me to give him some magic marker eyes.
If you can tell by this picture, these two lovebird squashes grew up together and swore "till death do us part" (a knife and the frying pan).