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This Months Garden Chores

October 2nd, 2007 at 03:44 pm

I know it really isn't gardening weather, at least where I am in WA state.......but, I always try to get outside so I don't end up hating myself come spring.

I'd much rather do some sort of nasty chores now, than have them staring at me when I'm all jazzed up to get out in the good weather come April or May. So....donning my gloves and waterproof shoes, out I go!

I've still got some annuals trying to add color, even this late. Too bad. Gone to the compost heap. Left in the gardens, they will become more slime than plant.....truly yucky to try to pull out.

The tomato & zuchinni plants are still producing, although not at a very fast clip......They get to stay, as there just isn't anything better to add to dinner than something straight from the garden. Oh, there are onions left in the ground too.......many covered up most of the summer by annuals gone amuck. They get to stay too, until I need an onion in the kitchen.
NOTE; Be quick about bringing all these inside if there is a threat of a freeze!!!

I'm planning to get back out in the gardens one more time before calling the job 'done'. We have some sword ferns growing throughout the gardens but they haven't been trimmed up for years. So, they are a mess of old brown fronds, as well as this years growth. I'm going to give them all a crew cut haircut with the hedge trimmers (what a time saver this tool purchase was!!) so I don't can catch up with these guys. Next spring, there will just be the new growth & they should all look better.

Besides some leaf raking the next couple weeks....(less if the wind really blows), I will be able to call the gardens 'ready for winter'. I'm going to attempt to mulch most of the leaves and rake them into the garden beds.....we'll see how that process goes!

Putting the Garden to Bed

September 23rd, 2007 at 08:04 pm

I actually love this time of year; for lots of reasons. As someone who loves gardening and the results of gardening, this is sort of final curtain time with the yard.

I cleaned out the lettuce beds last week, nothing worth harvesting, they had all got too damp......so into the yard waste bin.

Today I brought in an armful of cucumbers.....twice......and pulled out all the old vines. Lots of cleared ground after this one, it was amazing how far a few plants went. We've had fresh cucumbers now for a couple months which has been very yummy.

Harvested a zuchinni that had got away from me, so it's going to become spice cake as of tomorrow. There are a handful of tiny ones that I'll be watching and try to get them in before they freeze if we have some nasty weather roll in. Hoping we have nice enough days these will continue to mature as we didn't get our fill of zuchinni pancakes! No matter how many of these plants I manage to put in each spring, I've never had too many. The zuchinni jokes are lost on me!

I've got many other projects to take care of before I'm going to be happy with the gardens. I am a stickler about getting the work done right away, because I hate working with slimy wet remains of plants in the garden. Today was sunny at times, no rain here and not cold yet........perfect gardening weather.

I won't be planting anything this season, as we've still got our fingers crossed about our beach house deal. (tomorrow should bring us some news about the title search/easement & well issues) So, the work is only cosmetic here; everything will be trimmed and picked up before I feel like settling in by the wood stove with my knitting!

Gardeners Make Great Friends

September 18th, 2007 at 03:09 pm

Almost 2 weeks (maybe even 3) ago, I answered a 'Wanted' post on freecycle, regarding rhubarb plants. Today, I was finally at the old house and got to meet Joy, the woman wanting rhubarb.

Joy came bearing gifts. She had everything from starts of chocolate mint to fresh tomatoes from her garden. (If you have never had the aromatic type mint plants, you really should try some, kids as well as adults love them.)

We visited while she did the work....digging up 2 of my rhubarb plants the current tenants are just letting go to waste. It always bugs me to see food going to waste anyway......and these plants were starts from my old place.......which was from a start from my dads garden when he was still living, so to me, they were even more important.

Before Joy left, I had managed to convince her she "needed" some other plants from my garden......strawberries, crocosmia, Japanese anenomes, lavatera, and a minty little ground cover. I hate for people to come all the way for just one plant! And, despite the neglect in this garden, things were growing fairly well. With some attention in Joys' garden, they should flourish.

On my way home, after spending the last couple days at the old house, I was pondering how gardeners seem to be so friendly. Is it just because we share plants between us & we are outgoing in order to share?? Or, perhaps gardening is usually a solitary pastime and we are thrilled to spend time with someone else?? I don't know for sure, but as we got starts for Joys' garden, I was reminded of the generous gardeners I had met because of the garden.

Thanks Joy, for making my day! I know each of us will be working in our gardens today, getting our new to us plants settled in!

Roses, Rhubarb and Leek

September 2nd, 2007 at 09:22 pm

Went to the old house (rented to former room mate person) for the afternoon. Had to go drop off the week end young man, so planned to spend time packing a van full of my things to bring home.......

Ended up in the garden since it was such a great day here.

Picked the rhubarb first......I know, it's not spring anymore, but these plants are still producing nice tender stalks. Since I'm not into wasting anything, I picked them. (no one at the house cooks anything more complicated than top ramen)

Noticed my rows of leek were dry as dust, so set the hose out while I was there. Three of the leek were decent sized, so picked them to put in the freezer for homemade potato/leek soup on the next rainy day.

And, before I left, I scalped the rose bushes........I had quite a bouquet when I was done. I did forget to grab some water to put them in for the trip home, so they didn't look nearly as great when I got them here. Hoping they get themselves refreshed by morning!

I always feel so self sufficient when I can pick fruits/veggies and flowers from my own gardens! And, grabbing 4 dozen eggs from the chickens while I was there was fun too!

The First Tomato

August 18th, 2007 at 07:05 pm

We harvested the first tomato and had it on a salad for dinner this evening.
Is there anything that tastes as different fresh than its' counterpart from a grocery store??

What is it exactly? Most likely the time from picking to plate. Let's see......about 5 minutes here! With lettuce & cucumbers from the garden, topped with this almost sun warmed tomato.....and drizzled with homemade blue cheese dressing. A taste treat for sure.

Watered the flower/veggie beds even tho there are reports of rain. (I don't believe them!) Watering is important even if it is raining; as the summer rains often aren't enough to get to the roots of the plants.

Have a kettle of fresh applesauce simmering on the stove too......from the tree at the edge of the patio. Applesauce always signals fall to me; although I haven't noticed other signs of the season changing.

Gave all the container gardens a shot of fish fertilizer....hoping for another month of flowers; especially from the begonias.

Used the new hedge trimmer again, but now I've got a different problem. No where to put the trimmings. Our yard waste container is full (with 2 piles in waiting too) and pick up isn't until Wed. Can't believe we only get pick up for this 2X a month.

I've decided this waste bit is one of my biggest difficulties in getting used to city gardening. Where to put it all?? On the positive side, I'm really enjoying having a finite space to work with. Having acreage for a yard, I never knew where & when to quit. This way, I've got some pretty definate limits as to where I can garden!

Gardening Updates

August 13th, 2007 at 01:54 pm

I've got to take a break from the constant gardening chores here. Not much weeding to be done due to the heavy layer of compost spread everywhere.

Deadheading takes a few minutes in each garden bed; picking off the old spent blooms keeps the plant in top shape and it will usually kick out more blossoms this way.

Regular watering.......but not as much as mom has been used to. Again, because of the heavy layer of compost; holds the moisture longer.

Then there is the harvesting bit. Broccoli; more than we can use by ourselves. Need to come up with someone who would like a bunch & soon! Apples from 5 trees. Zuchinni coming at the rate of one a day right now. (so far keeping up with them) And, the first cucumber picked and ready to use for tonights dinner. The rhubarb is up to date; just chopped it and tossed it in the freezer for later use. So much all at the same time....wouldn't it be great for this to last longer??

And, lastly.........I took out the new hedge trimmer again and attacked the front of another 40 year old shrub by the house. Gutsy enough to do one right out in the open where people can see I don't know what I'm doing yet! So far, not too bad. Have no idea how to trim the back side of it, as it is right next to a window well into the basement. Just an accident waiting for me I fear! Smile The ground is only sand so there isn't much in the way of solid ground either. The sand has been sifting out through the rockery for 40 years, leaving some areas that look like ground, but are just full of empty spaces underground. Yep, another accident just waiting for me.

So, the shrub by the house has a bit of a reprieve while I dream up how to balance myself in exactly no space & trim this guy back to what could be called 'shrub size'.

Garden Recipes

July 11th, 2007 at 02:30 pm

Remember the new rose bushes I planted in moms garden? Well, along with the bushes, I now have a mold problem. The dusty white stuff on the tops of the leaves sort of problem.

Not one to head to the garden store to purchase a chemical product to get this condition in check, I began to research and experiment.

Seems that regular old baking soda from your pantry is the ticket to clear up the mold. I found two "recipes" and can give results on one at this point.

Recipe #1: 3 t. soda
1 t. dish soap
1 gal. water
Mix and put in a spray bottle. Spray every 7-10 days throughout the growing season.

Recipe #2: 1 t vegetable oil
1 gal unchlorinated water
1 t plain listerine
1 t dish soap
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 T vinegar
Mix and put in a spray bottle. Spray every 7-10 days throughout the growing season.

I've been using Recipe #1, since I wasn't about to go buy mouthwash for a tablespoon of it....and I wasn't going to buy water either.

The spray has certainly kept roses from getting worse and I do believe they are making progress towards being healthy bushes.

I've had roses before and never had a disease problem, so this caught me by surprise. Supposedly, it can come from the shock of being transplanted, poor soil or poor circulation and of course, watering over the top of the bush. I've added better soil, we are now watering with the soaker hose from freecycle and I'm trimming out some of the leaves to open up the bush for better circulation. Since mom actually paid for these bushes, I'm on a mission to see they all survive........and thrive.

I'll keep posting the progress, hoping I can get these bushes on track without spending any money. All suggestions welcome!!

Vandals in the Garden

June 15th, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Yes, there are vandals. The winged types I believe......but I haven't spotted the offenders.

I have been watching the peas (or beans, I can't remember which is which in this new garden) as they began to break through the earth.... And, suddenly, they were all up one morning. Then, the very next day.......I went for my usual stroll throught the garden with the dog in the early AM., only to find the little sprouts picked up out of the dirt and laid on top. All down the row. Whatever did this, only missed 3 or 4 starts. I replanted as many as I could find that weren't all dried out...we'll see what sort of crop I get!

Odd if it was a bird, that they didn't eat the sprouts. Can't think of anything else that would just uproot the seeds and leave them either. Gotta love all the mysteries a garden brings!

On the flip side......tonight was the first brocoli from the garden. Totally yummy! So satisfying growing and then cooking your own food. Tastes nothing like what we get from the grocery store. Also had radishes, but that never feels quite like the TA DA of growing brocoli to me!

A Peek at the New Gardens

June 13th, 2007 at 11:32 pm

Here's a few pictures of the new garden spaces at moms. Most of the bare dirt has been planted in seeds, so you need to use your imagination & fill in all the empty spots with lush foliage and prolific vegetables!

The firewood holder thingy is the container garden I'm copying from the farmers market booth we visited. Still have some work to do on this, but having a tough time getting the rocks to stay put on the ends. Might need another trip to the market!

The refurbished picnic table & benches turned out quite well & even matched the existing umbrella. Gotta love those happy accidents! Free paint too!

New seedlings are up this morning; can see the beets, lettuces, radishes and also the beans & peas! Can hardly wait for a garden fresh salad!

This last picture is a before shot, we'll see what it turns into!

Greenhouses: ??'s, $$, ..........Help!

June 7th, 2007 at 11:27 am

We're seriously looking at adding a greenhouse to the back forty here and seem to be collecting more questions as we go along. Fortunatly, we have the luxury of time as it is just now heading into summer in our garden.. Won't need the greenhouse til the fall/winter season.

Historically, our area has greenhouses on special at our 'fair time', which is late August/September, so we're hoping to know what we're doing by then. No point in negotiating a good price if we have no idea what we're shopping for.

With all that in mind, I'm asking for some help here from anyone who has had or currently has a greenhouse.
1) Any tips in general for me?
2) What do you really love about the set up you are working with?
3) What do you wish you had added to your set up?

We're getting ready to visit a local outlet for greenhouse kits and I feel like I'm so out of my element here. I've gardened, but never had a greenhouse. The more research I do on line, the longer my list of questions I have gets.

I do have the dimensions now laid out for a middle of the road sized set up...so we can get an idea of placement, sun exposure, etc. Also, thinking of clearing out the back access road to the place (currently the parking lot for all the relatives vehicles they want to 'save', as well as a couple dead items, camper, old truck, etc) so we can get the delivery truck in as well as a truck to deliver soil. No shortage of jobs around here, that's for sure!

Can't wait to get some of your advice on this new venture!

Gardening Update

May 29th, 2007 at 07:30 pm

I figure I have made it to the half way point on the compost spreading event here. Getting progressively more tired and a tad sore. The rain over the week end made the dirt twice as heavy it seems.

I added a row of beets, along with a couple rows of cosmos from seed. Stuck in a couple dozen onion sets for good measure and transplanted some veggie starts that were apparently in the wrong place. Fairly wimpy versions of brocolli and brussel sprouts. With the new compost, perhaps they will come around.

Planted the cucumbers and zuchinni I had started from seed. Felt very frugal doing it this way rather than purchasing starts at the nursery.

Found stakes for the dahlia tubers that got divided and re planted yesterday and got half of the annuals in the ground.

Made good use of the patio furniture that I'd just put out.......There is nothing like sitting in your garden, viewing all your hard work! Smile

Just when I was thinking I was coming real close to having everything in the ground, a friend drove up with 4 pots of perennials from her garden for us. We had mentioned when seeing her yesterday, that we were putting in a new garden. So, we're blessed with 2 types of iris, a pot of flags, and a great lupine plant. It pays to 'talk' gardening with others..... Everyone needs to divide their perinneals & is usually looking for others to share with.

Crossing my fingers re; the weather & the garden tomorrow. We're supposed to be in the high 80's ....not exactly transplanting weather.

Name That Bug!

May 22nd, 2007 at 04:36 pm

I'm working in the new to me garden (seems like I've been doing that now for awhile) and I kept turning up these odd bug/larvae type critters.

Anyone have an idea as to what this is?

They are located in the sod I'm tearing up......they are right in the root area, so only about 1"-2" under the surface.

I can't get a picture to turn out any better, although I tried. Thank goodness for digital, I'd hate to think of all the film I'd just taken of a BUG.

He (she, it??) wiggles at the front end (assuming it's the front end) but doesn't seem to have legs. I've watched it for a bit on the surface of the ground and it doesn't burrow....

The 2nd half of my problem is the lawn is full of ridges. Not that you can see, but when walking on the lawn it feels like the sand on the beach when the tide has gone out and left the ridges...
Wondering if these critters have anything to do with the weirdness of the lawn.......or if they are a food supply to something else that is doing the nasty work to the lawn?

I have a bug-in-a-cup that I'll be taking to the garden center tomorrow to see if there is anyone there that can identify this critter.......but, I thought I'd try this avenue too. I've never seen anything like this before.

A Garden Update

May 9th, 2007 at 06:42 pm

The garden is loving the taste of spring weather we're having this week. 60 and sunny out..........I can almost hear the plants growing!

I know this isn't a picture of the veggie garden, but it just screamed Spring!!! to me. Veggie seedlings just didn't have a 'wow' factor!

The rhubarb looks full grown and it is barely spring. I've harvested a couple times already and will be sharing with freecycle by next week. There is no reason I have 4 hills of rhubarb. I'm still finding packages of this in the freezer from last season. Must share another hill.

Broccoli, brussel sprouts and strawberries are all growing like crazy. Berries are starting to set; there are at least twice what I had last season.

Sugar snap peas, bush green beans, radishes and cucumbers were all planted from seed and they are now all up and putting on true leaves.

Still no sign of the lettuce mix I put in from seed. Hmmmm Might have to re do this one. Cilantro not up either, but it was planted most recently.

And, there is a row of something coming up, but it was before I made my vow to mark everything, so.....it's a wait & see crop!

Cosmos from seed are coming up; I love having flowers among my veggies as I think it helps bring the bees to the garden. Sweet William and Love in the Mist also planted from seed.........no sign of the seedlings yet. Lupine seedlings are growing great.

This is the time in my garden where there seems to be little to do......compared to the getting ready to plant stage.....or the keep up with the harvest stage. I'd better pull up a bench in the garden & enjoy it!

Garden Update

April 30th, 2007 at 01:25 pm

I so enjoy reading other gardening blogs, it spurs me on to get out in the dirt here, as well as gives me new ideas.........so I'm jumping on the bandwagon & going to try to keep up with a listing of what's growing here in my corner of the world.

The seeds inside are in all stages...
Cucumbers up and almost a true leaf stage
Cosmos up and growing
Pumpkins sprouting

Seeds directly sown outside...
Lettuce of all kinds......no sight of them yet
Cucumbers..One seedling showing itself this AM
Multiple packages of flower seeds outside...lupins are up, so far no sign of anything else.

Starts of onions, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts all growing like crazy.
Rhubarb producing enough I have been sharing already.
Strawberries; Many flowers this year and already noticed a few tiny berries forming.

Just added a row of carrots, beets and radishes....too early to start looking for signs of life there! Smile

The cost to me is almost zero this year, as my mom paid for all the seed and starts this time. I put all her things in for her, so she paid for my plants & seeds. Since the water is from the well, no water bill......and the fertilizer is from the flock out back...... I can't think of anything this is costing but the work. And, I'm pooped!

Frugal Fertilizer .......Delivered

April 29th, 2007 at 06:42 pm

I'm working hard to have a garden that is a true cross between Organic........and Free.

Here's a picture I took today, of the crew out back; Rocky (the rooster) and his flock of Ladies, busy at work, creating my absolutely free and most definitely organic fertilizer.

I don't have to go far to get my fertilizer...right out the back door. I'm currently taking a bit of the bedding from the coop each week and distributing it through the garden beds. The plants that are up already are loving it! I also rinse out the nesting boxes and use that water on the gardens too. Nothing goes to waste here!

The chickens have a 2nd job these days, like all the rest of us! Besides being in charge of producing all the eggs we can consume, they are taking care of all the weeds I can pull every day. Busy gals out there... Smile

Finally Coming in from the Garden

April 23rd, 2007 at 01:29 pm

Since I last posted...........I've been in the garden if it has been daylight. Nothing like a film crew scheduled to visit your garden to spur one on!!!!

The crew just left & said they had some "good stuff." Hopefully, I answered the questions with reasonably intelligent responses??? I did get to sit down for most of the interview; so all my gardeners muscles were grateful!

Never did come up with a local gardener to participate in the feature; perhaps the producer has been more successful. The crew was asked not to film things like evergreens or palm trees for the spot........no problem with palm trees here, but there are evergreens everywhere you look from my yard. No idea how they will get around that problem.

I'm glad to be back to my version of "normal" here.....gardening when I want to, instead of ALL the time! I have to say....the front yard here has never looked so good!

I Can't Garden in This!!!

April 2nd, 2007 at 07:28 pm

No gardening for me today..........I was planning on planting the seeds I soaked overnight, but when I woke up, this was what I saw here......in April no less. Some sort of delayed BAD April Fool's Joke it seems!

I re did my to do list and left off all outdoor activities. Lit the wood stove and pretended it was winter all over again.

I did make progress in the garden yesterday, so much so that I was VERY sore this morning. All my bending, reaching and lifting muscles were complaining to me this AM....

The rhubarb bed is all cleaned out and fed; and I do believe there will be rhubarb ready to pick in a week or so.

First crop of lettuce seeded, as well as pumpkin and cucumber seeds indoors.

Hard to decide whether to really get in the gardening mode.........or haul firewood for the stove a few more weeks???

I Spent the First Day of Spring in the Desert!

March 29th, 2007 at 08:13 pm

Being frugal AND a gardener, my recent trip south had to include an inexpensive gardening fix. Was that even possible in the Palm Springs area, known for high prices and soaring temperatures?

I had Googled public gardens before leaving and had one in mind for our week long stay in Palm Springs. After calling to find out the hours and costs; off we went to look up the Moorten "Desertland" Botanical Garden. The property used to be a private estate and is now open to the public for tours in addition to being a location frequently rented for weddings and other parties.

Admission was $3.00 per person so it didn't break the bank. We strolled through pathways that led through gardens planted according to different desert areas, were amazed at the odd varieties of cacti in the Cactarium and surprised to find a water feature in the center of the gardens.

All four of us had to use new eyes, as we viewed the plantings since we were SO out of our gardening comfort zone. (think Pacific NW, rhododendrons, ferns, evergreens and lush green everywhere.....)

There garden features over 3000 varieties of desert plants ....all shapes, sizes and colors. Our favorites seemed to be areas planted with a variety of textures grouped together.

We also could see signs of spring....even in such stark conditions. Blossoms and new growth were there; just smaller and less flamboyant than in our gardens at home.

Be sure to check out gardens open to the public when you travel; they are great sources of information and inspiration for your own gardens!

Bad Day for Chickens!

March 4th, 2007 at 02:16 pm

Looked outside early this AM to find one of the chickens in the front yard, just enjoying herself.... Threw on some shoes and headed out with the "chicken bucket" which holds our kitchen scraps...thinking maybe she would follow me to the coop. Nope. She took to the air as soon as she saw me and one would think she was used to flying long distances. Took off over the pasture area and finally came down, to start wandering the acreage.

As I was outside anyway........I proceeded to the coop, to find most all of the hens headed my direction as soon as they saw The Bucket. No idea how many had flown the coop. Called for back up .....to do what we call Chicken Wrangling. Caught all of them minus the one grazing in the pastures. Clipped the wings of everyone we caught before depositing them inside.

The free range lady is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase.

It was so nice here today, I did manage to get all my veggie starts in the ground. Also got a 'gift' start from a friends plant in the ground, it had been living in a bucket for the last couple months....and doing just fine. Fed the rose bushes, as I see they are already leafing out after being pruned. This is only my 2nd year with roses so I'm still experimenting with them. They were gorgeous last year....just hope to do the same this year.

Will take a walk around the place at dusk just to see if I can find the escapee hen and entice her back to the flock!

It Used to Look Like Spring

March 2nd, 2007 at 01:28 pm

I had just taken pics here of bunches of my bulbs coming up..........some even showing color and a few brave ones blooming away...

And, then.....this week: More Snow. Lots of it. We're back in the frozen tundra sort of look and the bulbs are nowhere to be found.

To top it off, I had purchased some veggie starts last weekend in a first of the season garden center visit. Now, they are nestled up on a table I pulled in front of a window: INSIDE. No idea when I can get them into the ground!

Spring: Where did you go???

Temp Tops Out at 50!!

February 8th, 2007 at 08:48 pm

Amazing..........but it wasn't raining (truly amazing when you know I live near Seattle WA)......and the temperatures today hit 50 degrees. The sun was even attempting to shine a couple times...I saw it! (not enough to run for the sun screen however.)

So, I tossed the sewing projects onto the table and headed outside to pick up my forked hoe and take a break, working in the gardens!

I know it's only mid February, but in my gardens I can almost hear the weeds growing during the winter....so I like to get a head start on them. I hate getting ready to plant something in the spring and finding my garden beds filled with weeds that have been taking over while I've been indoors all winter.

I don't have many beds here at the new place and they are all brand new gardens, so I made serious progress on 2 of them today. There is something quite heady about seeing the dirt all ready for new plants or seeds. (I can tell I'm a serious gardener now; finding a thrill in a totally cleaned out patch of ground!)

I've become adept at wielding my forked hoe; finding it to be my best weapon against my gardens getting ahead of me. Just disturbing the little weeds keeps me running about even with them; they don't keep multiplying that way. If I can truly pull them out of the beds and feed them to the chickens....I win!

I am getting itchy about the gardens here...it has been months since we picked our salad out of the garden and headed to the kitchen to prepare it. I'm longing for fresh pea pods to add to stir fries, there truly isn't a substitute, even if I did decide to spend the money for fresh pea pods in the dead of winter!

On my last turn through the gardens, I checked the rhubarb beds........nope. Nothing yet. That will be a sign spring has arrived here in my garden and I can work outside without wondering what people think!

I'll be sleeping well tonight after an afternoon of fresh air and exercise......dreaming, I'm sure.....about seed catalogs!

And Again: More Winter

January 11th, 2007 at 10:43 am

We are snowed in again here....seems more like weather that should be in North Dakota or something, not a suburb of Seattle! But, it's a winter wonderland outside....cold as can be, with no sign of warming up today.

All's well however, as we aspire to the scouts motto of always being prepared! It's one of those Prepare for the Worst, Expect the Best sorts of events.....but I'm getting tired of the whole scene & long for spring!

Gardening catalogs are arriving daily now (if someone is willing to slog their way to the end of the road to get the mail!)so someone thinks there is going to be an end to this weather! Smile I have thumbed through the pages, making notes as to what I want the garden to contain this year....deciding what needs to be done first once the deep freeze lifts and making rafts of TO DO lists for anyone who is willing!

It's almost time to order seeds.....since I can get them started indoors next month. Again, more lists! The seedlings I started last winter worked out well (first time for me) and ended up being a neat item to trade with other gardeners.

I've got garden chores to do.....but can't get out to do them! Very frustrating, to say the least. I have some free to me straw for the garden (actually locally grown hay, but it is too coarse to feed to animals I've learned), but I'm not going to put it on the garden beds until I think we're done with the gale force winds.....as I'm not sure the people down wind from me would want to be covered in straw! Smile

Watching the thermometer, sipping tea by the wood stove and taking another stroll through my virtual garden via the stack of seed catalogs........and waiting for spring!

Don't Forget Gardening Gifts (frugal style)

December 10th, 2006 at 09:26 pm

Most frugal gardening gifts require a head start........but here are a few ideas off the top of my head just in case you've still got a gardener on your gift list.

-Bundle up a couple landscape/gardening magazines from your stash (or the thrift store) and include a coupon for an afternoons help in their garden.

-If you've gathered seeds from your garden, include some in an envelope or waxed paper packet with a photo of the plant & directions for planting in their garden come spring/summer.

-Cuttings from your houseplants make great gifts, either rooted in water or potted. Be sure to include any specific care directions.

-Home made certificate or coupon for an afternoons outing together, visiting public gardens in your area.

-A gift of membership to their local garden club, usually a very modest fee.

-A framed print, using a photo you took in their garden.

-A custom stepping stone (or stones) using broken dishes, glassware or shells. Only cost; a bag of quick set concrete!

-Divide up a plant from your garden & pot up either in a nursery pot or something more creative like an old boot, a teakettle or bucket.....use your imagination.

* * * * Snow * * * *

November 26th, 2006 at 06:58 pm

We don't usually get many snow days here in Western WA......at least where I live, but tonight we're getting blanketed! I'm not sure how one is supposed to measure snow, as it packs down as it lands....but it seems like we're in the 6" range right now and it's still coming down.

I've got nothing on the schedule for tomorrow, so it's fine by me. Will keep the fire going and finish some sewing projects (that's IF the power doesn't go out).

My gardens are all covered, the trees are dressed for Christmas and my yard never looked so good. One benefit of a great snowfall...........everything looks like perfection, no matter what it looks like on it's own... Smile

Still in Harvest Mode Here

November 12th, 2006 at 10:30 am

So much for relaxing the entire day ....I just couldn't resist getting a few more pumpkins roasted up and in the freezer.

I did one yesterday and am feeling compelled to get the rest of them cooked up and in the freezer before we get another freeze & I loose them all.

Just chop in hunks, (saved all the insides for the chicks....they love all the gooey stuff) toss in the oven & roast til tender. Scrape off the rind and cool.......(saved the rinds for the chicks too). Put in zip locks, label and toss in the freezer.

So, the ovens chalk full of pumpkin & I haven't even made a dent on the pile at the front porch. At this rate.....perhaps I'll be done at Christmas! Smile
I think all my pumpkin is going to be headed to the soup pot, as we have a new favorite soup here Creamy Pumpkin/Curry Soup. It's a lick-the-bowl sort of event!!

Putting the Garden To Bed

November 8th, 2006 at 06:22 pm

I found a break in the weather over the week end and spent the time outside doing the not-so-popular end of season chores in my garden.

I don't know about the rest of you, but after the rush of spring planting and watching things sprout and grow...........and then the fun of harvesting and cooking with the things I've grown; I'm just about done with gardening.

So, it was with no enthusiasm whatsoever I headed outside. Pulling out spent flowers & vines, harvesting the last of the squash and cleaning up the weeds that had the nerve to come up in the garden.........I'm not done, by any means....but I'm DONE for this season.

If I could figure out a way to make a layer of leaf mulch on top of my garden beds I would, but with the wind blowing so hard; it would be futile. So, the beds are cleaned up, weeded and raked smooth; ready for spring. What a good feeling! I'll start next season with a good top dressing of compost and be off and running to do the same thing again!

Note to self: Do this end of season clean up marathon BEFORE the first freeze of the season. Afterwards, the vines & such get really slimy!

End result for the work........no money spent, good exercise (also free) and the great feeling that I'm already a step ahead for spring. Can't beat any of that!

Frost on the Punkin'

October 30th, 2006 at 07:04 am

My parents used to say there was frost on the punkin' when we had a cold morning and this morning........I've got the real thing for the first time.

Since I discovered my mystery plants were truly pumpkins....they are covered with a thin coating of frost, making them look like they have been covered in glitter. Very pretty, but a chilly 27 here this AM.

I'm glad I spent time yesterday hauling produce into the shed. I've got several boxes of acorn and butternut squash, along with 9 pumpkins that are basketball size AND have ripened to be totally orange. (not sure if there is anything to be done with all the pumpkins that are still totally dark green) I managed to salvage a colander of green tomatoes and have them inside beginning to ripen.

Two huge zuchinni were the last veggies to be brought in. Despite all the jokes about this vegetable, I had more requests from family for side dishes with this than anything else over the summer. I had 4 plants and think it was just about right for our household.

I managed to collect multiple envelopes of seed from flowers and veggies over the last couple weeks, so FREE plants next spring. Dreaming of a green house now....or at least a cold frame set up.....or a couple of other local gardeners I could share seeds with. Gardening is definately one of those hobbies where it is hard to be satisfied! Smile

Still Eating From the Garden

October 8th, 2006 at 04:18 pm

Summer is definately gone, the leaves are starting to color up here in the Pacific NW and I've got a fire going in the wood stove.

But, after a short walk to the garden, I just put a couple acorn squash in the oven for dinner. They will be yummy with a little maple syrup drizzled over them!

Salad is also courtesy of the garden.....diced cucumbers & tomatoes with a bit of mayo/sour cream dressing.... tastes like it's still the middle of summer!

The main dish is from the pantry: home canned beef tips and veggies. I'm going to heat this up in the oven, with a topping of home made biscuits with snipped chives, fresh from the herb garden.

It may be more work than going to the grocery store, but this sure tastes better. And, this particular meal took only a few minutes to prepare & is happily going to cook on its' own. (giving me more time for my wintertime hobby of knitting!)

At this stage in the garden game here,
it's just a matter of watching the weather report and waiting. I will want to get things indoors prior to the first real frost...but until then, things are still ripening on the vine here and we're eating for close to nothing!

I've Got a Mystery Veggie

September 8th, 2006 at 08:35 pm

I'm stumped. I've grown many kinds of squash in the past.......and have planted a few varieties this year. However, this one has me totally stumped.

I didn't plant this patch of squash.....the only possibility I can think of is they came up "volunteer" from the previous owners garden or compost pile??

The size and shape are just like pumpkins, but they are mostly all green. Some have a hint of stripes on them, but all still in green shades. Some are now the size of basketballs; even though I haven't watered this patch at all. (so obviously, they thrive with NO care!)

I've cut one open & discovered it's a real thin meat sort of event, with tons of seeds in the center. The meat of the veggie is light green to white. The outside is very thin and I can put my fingernail right into it, so it seems more like a summer squash rather than a hard winter one.

And, no..........I haven't cooked one yet. Not sure how exactly. It would be great if it turned out to be yummy, as we have wheelbarrow loads of them!

Any ideas as to what this is? Or do we have some kind of Ripleys' Believe it or not Squash here?

Rain: The Automatic Watering System

August 29th, 2006 at 10:25 am

Finally, my gardens are getting a bit of a drink.......other than me leaving the hose out overnight. I have no idea how many days it's been since a rain here in the Pacific NW; too many in my opinion.

Todays fine mist can't really be called rain, but it is a nice break from the string of 80+ days we have been having.

Although everything is enjoying the cool damp change, some things are not benefiting from being watered from above. Flowers are drooping, some plants I had not staked are now spreading out to become ground covers and the last of the roses are dropping their petals as they become full of water.

I have discovered I'm such a lazy gardener; any excuse & I'll try to skip out on my regular gardening chores... Todays excuse: Too wet! The most I got done is to pick the cucumbers and check for ripe tomatoes.

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