Saturday, May 14, 2011

Note to self...

If I ever hear someone is getting married and starting a new job all at the same time, tell them NOT to grew plants by seed and definitely NOT to get any bright ideas about doubling gardening space.  Needless to say this season so far is a total bust.  I'm getting married in 2 weeks, been at my new job for 5 weeks and not much has survived that I started :(  I made the HUGE mistake of starting a lot of my seedlings in those peat pots and WHAT A MISTAKE!!!  I just couldn't keep up with the watering. It was like they needed to be watered every day.  Also, I think my lights may have been too close to the plants as some of them almost seemed to have possibly singed a bit.  The other thing is, forget about doubling the gardening space because as it turns out, we're moving in a year so I'm not wasting the money to build new raised beds and put beautifully expensive compost in them just to have to leave and spend all that money again next year.

After the honeymoon I plan on going to my local nursery, buy a few veggie plants so I can at least have some veggies, but I will be sowing some seeds so I have something for a fall planting.  Back to wedding stuff...

Friday, April 8, 2011

I'm back!

Whew! Things have been crazy here. I should have listened to my fiance and eloped lol  Our wedding is less than 2 months away, and I have found a job!  hopefully I start monday but I'm still waiting for the medical clearance.  I have had some problems with some of my seedlings. The biggest problem is a big fast black cat... He doesn't eat table food, weighs 17 pounds and hasn't list any weight even though he's been on a diet for years.  Turns out he likes broccoli seedling leaves... I put 3 trays of seedlings on the dining room table when I brought them in from outside (was working on gardening them off). I woke up the next day to 3 trays of sticks in dirt... I saw RED!  So I planted a bunch more and this time when bringing them in I put them on the kitchen counter... Sticks AGAIN!!!!Anyone want a cute fat cat??  So I've started more broccoli...AGAIN.  I wonder how cat sure tastes hehe
This weekend we are finally getting the wood for my flower beds. I'm kind of deciding whether to reduce my original layout since it looks like we'll be moving next year to be closer to my new job & my fiance's job.  I have peas and lettuce praise under a frost blanket and they are doing wonderful. I'm also going rip pick up some pvc pipes to build a hoop house.
I still have pictures to put up but it will have to wait until I get a few minutes to breathe.
God bless you all!

Update:  I got the call from HR and I start work on Monday!!! =)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Ok so I'm freaking out just a little bit (ok a LOT on the inside) because I just realized it's March already and I have so much to do!!

-I'm suppose to be planting lettuce and broccoli outside!  But then I look at the weather and it says it's going to be 25* tomorrow. ugh this weather is driving me crazy.  How can I harden plants off when it's still freezing outside (sure wish I had those mini hoop houses set up already!) I'll have pictures of how everything is doing tomorrow or Friday.

-The wedding invitations have to go out in 2 weeks YIKES!  The place I'm using told me I'm good with the timing since I sent out Save-A-Dates but I am still flipping out because I realized today that the girls and I need shoes, I need a headpiece/veil, the girls and I need our dresses altered, I have NO idea what to get the the girls for a gift for being my matron of honor and brides maids and then my sister asks me: what room do you want pictures taken on the morning of the wedding. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Who cares!


Then to top this all off, I received an email from the place I went to for the 2nd interview yesterday. They want my references.  My friend who was recently hired by them as an RN said that if they are requesting my references that means I'm IN!! I just might have a job!  And not just any ol' job. It's a job that is actually what I do: administrative assistant (experience in the financial industry).  Woohoo!!!  But I'm trying not to get excited yet because I haven't been made an offer yet.  The downside of this job is the commute will be about an hour each way but at least I don't have to take the train into the city (NYC).  My dog will have to go into daycare because I'll be leaving so early I won't have time to walk her before leaving. The hours are 8-4 so I'll be out early enough for us to still go to the dog park in the summer :)  Life will be great!

It was beautiful outside today so I was laying cardboard on the areas where I want to add new raised beds.  I guess it was an odd choice, but when my sweetie asked me what I wanted as a birthday gift I said "CEDAR!!"  hahaha  So, we're going shopping this weekend to buy cedar wood for my beds.  After being outside and locating the sprinkler heads, I have laid out where I want my new beds.  The sprinkler heads really are in the worst place for having these beds but I'm trying to keep my gardening contained to one side of the yard (at least for now!).  I will be more then doubling my space so hopefully I'll have lots of veggies to freeze and can.  I want beans and tomatoes for over the winter.

Happy Gardening Everyone!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blogger Awards!!

I want to thank Lynda from Cortina Creek Farms for giving me this award. My first award! Lynda has a great blog and she's a really nice person too :)

Now I have to divulge 7 things about myself and pass this award on to 15 other bloggers.

Lets see...

1 - Today is my birthday :) I'm 46 and am busy planning the 'big' New York wedding I never had the first time around.  I have had a very busy day but very enjoyable.  I had a 2nd interview this morning with a big hospital service here that went very well.  Hopefully God has this job in his plans for me!  And the wedding invitation planning is officially underway.

2 - I am a Tea Party nutcase :)  I attended my first meetings in the beginning of 2009 and went to my first rally on Tax Day 2009 (April 15th for our international bloggers) and brought my mom with me.  It was a great experience to be around other people who were fed up with the spending of our new president, Obama, the dems and the establishment republicans aka career politicians who don't have a clue what 'We The People' want.  I loved how so much emphasis is put on our Veterans that have served for our country to give us the freedom we enjoy and the camaraderie with others who love this country and are willing to stand up to get things back the way the Founders meant for it to be.

3 - I come from a Chinese heritage.  My grandfather was born and raised in China.  When he was 9 he had to quit school to go to work because his family was very poor.  He often times went hungry.  When he was 16 he was a merchant sailor and when the ship came to the United States, he jumped over board and swam to shore.  He had a cousin who lived here who helped him get food and shelter.  He learned to speak Engrish :)  and I loved it when he got mad and swore because it was very funny "Sum Ditch!"  :)  All of a sudden us kids figured a way to swear without getting in trouble lol  My grandfather was an entrepreneur.  He owned a lot of chinese restaurants all over New York City, Long Island and Connecticut.  He met my grandmother in one of his restaurants. She was Italian raising her brother and money was tough.  They were often hungry but when my grandfather fell in love with my grandmother, he told her that she would never be hungry again.  And he made sure that everyone in his family was well fed.  He brought his brother and his brothers wife and 4 children over to America.  I remember all the summer BBQ's we had over his house and our big family seemed quite normal to me.  It wasn't until I was older that I realized how very blessed I was to have such a big close family.  We still celebrate Chinese New Year every year with the whole family in Chinatown in NYC.  It's a LOT of eating authentic Chinese food (not this americanized stuff in the local chinese restaurants).  I have wonderful memories of my grandfather and I miss him very much.

4 - I went to college for Nursing for a year when I was 20 but when I became pregnant with my oldest son the choice was either I attend college or my then husband because we just didn't have enough money for both.  I figured I was going to follow in my mothers footsteps anyway and be a stay at home mom  so I dropped out of school.  As it turned out I still had to work but just not during the day when there was no one to watch the babies.  So I would take care of the kids all day, and was a home healthcare aide at night and during the day on weekends.  In the evenings of the weekend, I worked nights as a cashier at a local supermarket.  I think back to how much I worked and I have no idea how I wasn't a walking zombie. Ahhh to be young again lol

5 - I volunteer at my churches food pantry and the nursery.  The nursery has about 7 kids under the age of 3 and I do that Wed. mornings (until I get a job).  They are adorable and I sleep well at night after spending a morning with them.  I love helping and giving to others.  I think I was a born caregiver.  :)  I've also volunteered to help with the garden beds outside around the church this year.  This will be the first time doing that.

6 - I met my fiancé online.  We live 40 minutes away in neighboring counties and I always tease him that MY county  is better then HIS county  hehe  When I first met him, he called me 'electronic brat' because he found out just how much I love electronic gadgets.  I love technology!  I have a laptop, a mini laptop, a smart phone (android) and am looking at a tablet.  I have always been able to have the latest technology and hopefully I always will. Everything is getting smaller and faster! :)

7 - I like to crochet mostly blankets and scarves.  I have been doodling with crocheting since I was 12. I remember my grandmother and great aunt teaching me the techniques that they used.  Before that I never even knew my grandmother knew how to crochet.  Very nice memory :)  I have yet to attempt anything more difficult but I recently bought a pattern book so who knows, I just might challenge myself as soon as things slow down a little.

Here are the blogs that I read and find excellent sources of information, amusement and just pure entertainment and would like to give this award to:

.09 Acres
Compost in my shoe
Tim's Square Foot Garden
Sinfonian's Garden Adventure
Our Engineered Garden
Backyard Farming
A Gardener In Progress
Full Freezer
Backyard Organic Vegetables
A Country Farmhouse
Obsessive Neurotic Gardener
From Seed To Table
My Garden, My Hobbies
Uncle Dutch Farms
Urban Veggie Garden Blog

There were definitely others that I would add to the list but I can only put 15.

Happy Gardening!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ski trip took a rough turn...

We have an annual family ski trip every year with my siblings and their families and my parents and some close friends with their families. It's a great time for all, with plenty of company for all ages.

I guess I should have known something wasn't right when we arrived at the hotel first on Friday.  (Confession: being on time is a challenge for me.).
My oldest son, 23, came with us which he hasn't done in the last few years so that was really very nice.
My middle son, 18,  wasn't able to be with us (very weird not having him with us) because he had a school charity function that whole weekend at his college.  *It's worth mentioning that Penn State Univ. raised a record $9.56 million for childhood cancer.  The kids worked really hard. The motto: FTK! (For The Kids!)

Then, Sunday morning we were the first ones down for breakfast...  My fiancé said: Something is not right here when we are early.  :)
That morning my youngest son, 16, started not feeling good and didn't ski.  By the afternoon he had a fever.

Best Part:

Sunday night my 18 yo surprised me by coming to the hotel from his college to see us for a couple of hours. It was so wonderful to have all 3 of my boys with me - sort of with me.  The 16yo was up in our hotel room sleeping with a fever, but at least I had them all in the same building!  I really miss my 18 yo.  He's the only one that watches NCIS, CSI and American Idol with me.  I kept hugging him and he was really good about it even with having a couple of his frat buddies with him.  We have so much fun watching 'our shows' together.  We've had some of our best talks during the commercials.  For now, I have to be happy with text messages :)

Rough Turn:

Sunday night I had my 16 yo stay in my room so I could watch him overnight instead of the room we had for the teenage boys (I have to say - I don't know what it is about teenage boys but they were in that room for 2 days and it had the gross teenage boy odor.  ick!).
Monday morning we woke up to 4 inches and still snowing.  Luckily by the time we left at 10am to go back home the snow had stopped.
We arrived home to 3 inches of snow... the guys shoveled our driveway while I lugged all the suitcases and stuff into the house.  By the evening, I had a fever and sore throat.
By Tues morning my fiancé called me - he had a fever.
This morning my sister called me and her 2 yo just got a fever.  What the heck is going on?!

I had enough and went to the doctor to find my white blood cell count high and was given antibiotics for the throat infection it seems I had - I get these often.  I think it's related to the removal of my tonsils and adenoids when I was 3 yrs old but I can't get any doctor to actually say that has made me more susceptible to infections.  What I do like is at my doctors office they take a bit of your blood from your finger and test it to see what your white blood cells are up to.  I am totally against giving antibiotics 'just in case'.  That's part of why we have so many antibiotic resistant strains out there (that and not finishing your medication).   If there isn't a bacterial infection, let my body's immune system do the miracle it was made to do - fight infection.

Back to Gardening! :)

I hope I'm feeling better in a day or so because I've changed my garden plans yet again and I have to plant another 5 tomato plants.  My birthday is coming up in a week and my fiance said he'd get me whatever I wanted.  I want the cedar raised beds for my new beds so hopefully I'll get at least one of them :) I also had to actually 'think' about the fact that growing potatoes means I need a deeper bed then what I use for my other veggies.  As it so happens, the one bed I have decided to make raised would be perfect.  I won't add compost soil to the raised bed at first.  I'll add it as I need to build up the soil around them as they grow.  I'm really looking forward to this growing season!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Over Wintering thoughts

We're on our way to our annual family ski trip and I'm reading a copy of Mother Earth News Living Series: Guide to Organic Gardening.  One of the articles discusses low tunnel growing for over wintering veggies. Its a very interesting article.

The veggies that over winter well for an early spring crop are:


This gives me a few ideas of what to grow over the winter for the 4 seasons challenge.  Peas, onions and beets are pulling at me so I think I'll look into adding those to my winter plan. 

It also gives an easy look at how to build a low hoop tunnel,with the help of a conduit bender available at Johnnys Selected Seeds (will include link later after arriving at the hotel).  Since we always get snow here I'll be using metal conduit for my tunnels to give them the strength to hold up under snow.  I'm hoping to have the money to do this sometime in March so I can get some other veggies out early. 

When I get back home I'll be sowing the last 4 Broccoli plants.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2011 Growing Challenge: 4 Season Gardening!

I have joined this 4 Season Challenge & the Seed to Seed Challenge over at One Green Generation.
Join us!!

The 4 Season Garden challenge is to obviously garden in all 4 seasons - Now the winter is going to be a challenge for me (and perhaps some of you as well) but it's something I've been thinking about and wondering how to make it work on a budget.  Now there's a challenge!  With all the snow we still have (I actually can see 1 corner of one of my raised beds), growing things under lights in my basement is looking good!

2 - Grow something new each season and grow it from SEED! I'm growing a bunch of new things this year and all from seed.  In the spring, I have new lettuce varieties and broccoli.  In the summer, I have corn and potatoes along with new varieties of pole beans, bush beans, cukes, tomatoes and carrots.  For the fall, I was planning on growing what I did in the spring but perhaps I can kick it up a notch by adding something.  Oh the possibilities!!

3 - Spread the word! Blog about what your doing, tell people about what your doing, or go to the website and comment about what you're doing. Encourage 3 others to start gardening!! I know I've already encourage my bestest friend who lives in Texas to encourage his soon to be fiance who has been wanting to grow a garden.  She just planted her first strawberry plants today! :)

An optional challenge is if you can't grow it, buy it from a local farmer.  I definitely plan on doing that this year.  I have to learn about preserving veggies (freezing/canning) since there's not much available in the winter and I don't know of any local farmers that are even open to the public right now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seed Sowing Saturday

I sowed De Cicco Broccoli & Rossa Di Trento Lettuce last week but had issues uploading the pics.  I'm going to be following the sowing schedule of Dave from The Home Garden & doing Seed Sowing Saturdays.  I like the schedule it puts me on since part of my issue last year was not having seeds sown at the right times and running out of summer growing season so my great plan fell apart.

These are the first Heirloom seeds I started to grow this year.  The reason I picked Rossa Di Trento Lettuce? It's from Italy!!  Also it sounded very fancy. The fact that its so pretty was a huge bonus.  I love a pretty salad!  Will let ya know how it tastes!   I only put 1 seed in each section hoping to not waste any seeds with having to thin them.  Every seed grew!

Look at my itty bitty 1 week old lettuce seedlings!!!

I love this seed sowing container!  I can grow 49 seedlings in it.  I bought 2 last year from Veseys and I'm going to need to buy another 2 this week.  I planted 49 lettuce last week & another 49 today in my 2nd container so I just need to sow 28 more and my spring lettuce plants are done. These containers enable me to grow solid seedling plugs without damaging the roots when I remove them like other containers I've tried.

The cover has spikey things on top and are used upside down to put a small dent in the soil so you have a place to put your seed.  Best part?? It's dishwasher safe!  I love it!  It's also self watering with corners made to easily add water.  It is easily the BEST container I've ever tried.

This is my first year growing Broccoli so I'm really looking forward to seeing how it comes out. I'm starting out small - 4 plants last week, will plant 4 more in a week and then 8 in the fall (possibly more if I swap out lettuce spots for extra broccoli plants).

Here are what my 1 week old broccoli seedlings look like. Aren't they so cute??

Today I sowed another 49 lettuce seeds but this time I used Grandpa Admire's.  I really liked this one because it's slow to bolt which is what I need in the heat of the summer.  It's also a butterhead so I'm thinking it's a great mix with the loose leaf lettuce I sowed last week.  WOW going to be a lotta lettuce!!

I put 1 seed in each spot again so hopefully they will germinate as well as the last batch.

Below are very sorry looking lettuce plants I've been trying to grow over the winter without lights in my kitchen window. Obviously, not very successfully.  I have them under lights now so hopefully they'll grow  (don't know why I didn't do it earlier then now!).

Here's my current set up. I have a metal shelf with a T5 high output light.  It has 2 different types of lights: 2 for growth and 2 for blooming.  I've ordered 2 growth bulbs to replace the blooming ones since I'm interested in good strong seedlings.  I have another light set that will be here hopefully by Monday so will be able to put like-heighted seedlings together to help with light intensity.  That will give me 2 shelves worth of room.  Over the summer I'm going to have to seriously consider what I'm going to do so I can grow veggies over the winter.

I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to Lynda from Cortina Creek Farms for sending me celery seeds.  This will be my first time growing celery and I'm very excited!  I will be saving my own seeds this year too and will be sending some your way!!

Happy Sowing Everyone!!!


I remember what green looks like! There is a patch of grass in my front yard that is peaking through the mounds of snow.  It's screaming SPRING!!!  I can feel it! It's coming!! :)  Now, if they would stop talking about snow storms so we can get on with it already! :)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's rainbows and lollipops in my world!

I think I have finally found a way to totally embarrass not only my children (and their friends) but my fiance and he is not an easy person to embarrass.  I have been watching all these movies about how our meat is processed, how the animals are treated, about Monsanto, and I look at all the food labels and OMG corn syrup or corn in any form really is in almost anything you buy. It's amazing!

Anyway, I haven't really been cooking dinner because the thought of looking at meat and then wondering how the animal was treated (or really, how poorly it had been treated), and then wondering what crap was put into it during the processing (did poop rub off from one carass onto the one I'm eating?!?).  I blame it on trauma. That's my only excuse. As we're sitting in the diner, I open the menu, and it's everywhere MEAT MEAT MEAT

OMG, I'd be a vegan if I actually liked a broad selection of veggies (which I don't).

So since I eat at this establishment often I figured I might as well get this out of the way. But when the waitress asked what I was going to have, I went to ask a question, but then I stopped. Then I remembered something my fiance has been telling me for the last 6 years or so that I've known him: Don't worry about what others think about you.  So really it's his fault this happened in the first place.  How could he instill this confidence to step forward if there were rules??

So I didn't worry about what my son and his girlfriend would think about me, nor did I think it would embarrass my fiance, and as for the waitress, well, surely I can't be the FIRST person to ask the question: "The meat you serve in the hamburgers... Is it real?? Is there any "stuff" added to it?"

Yup... I asked it and I thought my sons eyes were going to pop out of his head! My fiance was good, he just shook his head and looked at him and listened as the waitress said "Of course it's real. Absolutely." Ok, that solved that issue. So I ordered a burger. :)

Now I wasn't expecting the barrage of comments from my loving family once the waitress escaped from my presence.  "Mom if you EVER do that again I swear I'm not eating out with you again!"  I was must have looked like my middle sons face did when he would play soccer.  He'd be running for the ball full force,  push the kid who had possession out of the way, gain possession and when the ref blew the whistle for the penalty he held his arms up, his halo shining so brightly in the afternoon sun and said "What?! I didn't do anything!"

Needless to say, I looked lovingly at my fiance and said "This is all YOUR fault" (can you see MY halo???)

Than came the reality of it all: "Sweetheart, you do realize that she probably doesn't have a clue what kind of meat they use?"  Why is someone always trying to burst my bubble, rain on my parade, chew the lollipop instead of seeing how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll center?  Everything is so nice and rosy in my world.  :)  I think that's why a part of my brain has blocked off my ability to care if she was lying or if she was just guessing.  After all, unless you see these movies, how can you know?  Tell me something I want to believe, and I'll believe it.  I wanted that hamburger!

It was a great burger (even if it may have had poop and corn in it...) and now I have to research this meat & monsanto stuff on the sly as I've pretty much been banned from watching anymore movies :)

One last thought - Can someone please come haul all this snow away? I'm really getting tired of not even being able to see the wood of my raised beds. Will post more later about my seed sowing.

Blessings! :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Future of our food

It's 18* here and we're expecting yet another snow storm this week.  Spring, where are you??!!!  It snowed a couple of inches this past week and you can tell people are tired of shoveling when the driveways are no longer clean shoveled as if it hadn't snowed on it.  Now? Shovel the end of the driveway? Why bother when the cars/trucks can drive right over it! :)

The other night I was having trouble sleeping so I turned on Netflix and decided to watch a documentary called The Future of Food.

It was a real eye opener and will definitely change how you garden if you aren't already using organic, heirloom seeds. I know it totally changed mine!  I guess I should let you know that I'm one of those crazy right wing terrorist Tea Party members :)   I believe in less government involvement in our lives and it really disgusted me because the governments involvement not only effects the food we eat and the farmers who are trying to make a living growing it, but it effects our pockets and puts our future food supply at risk.  It started with genetic engineering and was made worse with the government allowing a company to copyright a seed.  The entire nature of a seed goes against this concept of copyrights.  The wind blows a seed, and it plants itself wherever it lands.  Well, if that seed happens to have a copyright and it blows itself into a farmers field and grows, the government can, will and has, taken all plants from the farmer as if he/she has done something wrong.  How can you control what lands on your field or in your backyard garden?  You can't.  What's next, copyrighting the animals or humans that are cloned in the future?  Don't laugh (ok I'll admit, when they said this in the movie I laughed at first) but our ancestors never would have thought you could copyright seed dna...

Now if copyrighting seed dna isn't disturbing enough, the fact that this one big company genetically engineers seeds using unethical methods is beyond disturbing. They use toxic materials (bacterias, etc) to get certain characteristics to attach itself into the seed cells.  And yes, that includes bug killing chemicals.  Now, imagine growing a plant from a seed that has even cells of a chemical that is engineered to kill bugs.  Now imagine feeding the veggies or fruit from that plant to yourself and your kids.  I just want to be sick!  I will be making great strides to use heirloom, organic seeds going forward.  At least I can control what I grow for my family.

NOW THE FUN PART!!!! Ordering seeds!!!  This just makes me beam from the inside out.  I have extra energy that just lifts my spirits in this frigid cold weather.  I found out we're expecting more snow this week - about 2 feet (NOOOOOOOOoooooo)  so I really need all the uplifting of my spirit as I can get!!

I have decided to go with Seed Savers Exchange because they sell only heirloom seeds and have a trusted reputation for my first go at growing heirloom (and mostly organic) plants.  I particularly looked at seeds that were labeled as organic (a very huge selection) and I have to say, I feel really good about my selections.  The hardest one to pick for me was cucumbers. I don't like pickles and I don't pickle (yet) so I just wanted a regular cuke that I can use with the lettuce I'll be growing.  I'm used to growing a burpless cuke but that was genetically engineered (GE) so I won't be using that anymore.  I'd rather burp then support GE seeds.  Here is my list:

Bean, Sutan's Green Cresent
Bean, Provider
Broccoli, DeCicco
Carrot, Danvers
Corn, Golden Bantam
Cucumber, Bushy
Lettuce, Grandpa Admire's
Lettuce, Rossa di Trento 
Runner Bean, Sunset
Tomato, Martino's Roma
Potato, Yukon Gold

I have decided to create an area to grow potatoes ( They just looked too good to pass up!) and I'm going to have to place my cukes somewhere else since they won't be bush types again (need to find heirloom bush type!) and will need to have a trellis. I've also decided to grow Broccoli instead of Eggplant. No one here really eats eggplant except for me, but I use brocolli often with dinner so that makes more sense.  I'm going to put the Runner Bean by the arched doorway into my backyard so it can climb up the sides of the arch. I thought that would be really interesting as the flowers are beautiful, but it grows veggies. 
And the adventures begin again!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

January Give Aways & Raffles

January is an exciting time because Spring is getting closer! The holidays are over, and the seed catalogs are arriving!!! Here's a listing of excellent bloggers who are having January give aways or raffles. Good Luck!!

Texan is having a drawing to give away a little goat/dog coat that is simply adorable! It will be personalized with your goat/dogs name on the back.  Please visit Texan and enter now!
Texan's Kid/Dog Coat Giveaway

Cortina Creek Farms is giving away extra seeds she has. I've requested the celery, but an interesting 'mystery squash' package is available. Wish I had the room! Pop on over and see if they have anything you want to experiment with!

Over at Backyard Farming, Marisa is having a raffle of a $60 gift card to purchase any of the really cute bags from CSN because she hit 500 followers. Go join in and put your name in the hat!

The Girl Next Door is having a writing contest giving you a chance to win a $50 gift card and a Coach hangbag! Click here to join in the the January edition of iWrite-iBlog-iWin!!

A Rural Journal is giving away several things! Jewelry, a black mini-moleskin journal, and a handmade "This Mommy Makes Pretty Babies" magnet. And if there is room in the box, she may even throw in a bar of her homemade soap!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow dog!

Ok this has nothing to do with gardening and everything to do with total cuteness! This is a video of Bailey after our latest blizzard jumping around our front yard. Most people have kids that trample on that nice, smooth, pristine new snow covered front yard, but I have a 2 yr old lab mix that decorates mine =)

Now back to Gardening! I wanted to point out this website that I found last year Grow Veg and I have totally fallen in love with it. It's a garden planner, but it's the BEST one I've ever seen. Did I mention it's FREE?!  You start with a grid where you plan your beds which can be square, rectangle, round or oval (Yes, it sounds very 'typical' at this point, but hang on!). They have a wide selection of vegetables to chose from that you click on and place in your beds. You can even plant 2 plants in the same spot - radishes with lettuce, for example. They recently put in "Square Foot Gardening" abilities which is a tremendous help for those of us following that type of gardening since it takes the guesswork out of how many plants will fit into a square.    It has a separate list of all the plants that you have 'placed' in your garden in a list where you can add notes (either next to each vegetable/fruit or below in a bigger 'Notes' area).  You input your zip code so it knows what your first and last freeze dates are so it can tell you when to get started!   It tells you how many of each plant you are planning on growing (so you know how many to sow!), when to sow your seeds indoors, when you can sow outdoors or transplant outdoors and when to harvest.
Here is a pic of what my plan for this year looks like (so far) along with my 'plant list'.  If you click on the pictures you will be able to see the tabs on top. One of their 'main' page with tutorial videos to get you started in using the plan, my 2nd tab is my actual 'grid' garden, and by clicking on "plant list" on the grid plan, it brings up my 3rd tab which is my plant/note list.

Because it saves your plans on their site, when you go to put together your second year, it uses your prior years plans to assist you in rotating your crops.  When you click on a veggie/fruit, it will highlight where that plant or one in it's group was planted in the prior 5 years. The darker the highlight, that means it was planted later then the lighter highlights and you will want to avoid those areas.  Since I have a small gardening area, this was a problem for me. But since I plan on continuing to expand my garden, I'm hoping one day to have a set up that will work with rotating my crops.

They also have a blog with very interesting articles, and areas for comment beneath each article.  The 2 authors are VERY good at answering any questions that are asked.  I recommend this site very highly!

Happy Gardening!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!!

So, the big blizzard of 2010 has finally arrived. We got over 2 feet and Bailey, my 2 yr old lab mix, had a blast!! She loves water in any form, especially snow. I haven't seen my backyard deck since Christmas Day and now I can only see the top of my BBQ what with the snow drifts being so high. I haven't ventured out into the yard yet, there's only a small path along the house Bailey created for the couple of times she 'had' to go out. Tomorrow I'll shovel a path and check things out back there. I still want chickens, even if I had to wade through the thigh high snow drifts. Perhaps my fiance will soften up over time about 'farm animals' lol In the meantime, I'll go out back and check the area where I want to plant Blueberry bushes. Bailey will love it as she flies through the untouched snow. Before long it will look all trekked upon like the front yard =)

I have been DREAMING of gardening. I went and checked out all my gardening equipment. I need to order some peat pots to put my seedling plugs into. I checked out my new grow light I bought last year and it's all ready for new growth to begin. I went through all my seeds and made a list of the couple of new ones I want to try this year. I have just enough seeds of a couple of other veggies (tomatoes for one) that I won't have to buy, so there aren't as many seeds as I thought that I still need. Cha Ching! Money saved is a great thing!

There has been some confusion where I live as to exactly what zone we are. I grew up and have been gardening thinking I'm zone 6 like the rest of southern NY - that's what everyone around Long Island will tell you we are. Well, last year I started looking into the actual zoning maps when one caught my attention and did more research today since I'm snowed in, and found out that the USDA differs from other maps. I found one interactive map that I absolutely loved, and it states that my area is 7a - a small area is 6b and others are 7b - but mostly Long Island is 7a. Finally I know what zone I'm in! Not that it would change much since I typically make sure I get plants that are zone 6 and above anyhow =)

Interactive Plant Zone Map

Order seeds needed plus peat pots
Enter date into calendar for first seeding =)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Garden Plan coming together

As I've been going through my seed catalogs I've been deciding what new veggies/fruits I'll be trying to grow this year. I was going to create 3 new beds, but due to a lack of full sun I'll be working with 2 new beds, which will give me 4 beds each 4x4. I plan on dedicating one full bed to trying corn. I've never grown this before, but have always wanted to try it. Now's as good a time as any! I have been reading up on growing corn and feel pretty confident about growing them. Found out I have to grow them in a 4x4 area for pollination. That's easy since my raised beds are 4x4. I have a variety picked out that says its good for northern gardeners. I still need money to build the 2 new beds (along with ordering compost from different areas to fill them) so lets hope I get this job I'm interviewing for so I can get the same type of beds I have already. Otherwise it'll be a DIYer this time around. I saw in the Burpee catalog that there are cornors you can buy (much cheaper then the whole set) and then just purchase the wood. I'm going to have to price out the wood. My other beds cost $100/each and I liked knowing I was helping to support the amish (in Ohio) who made them.

To buy heirloom, or not to buy heirloom. That is the question...I've been thinking on lately. I know the advantages of being able to reuse the seeds it creates, but that's as far as my education goes. Not to mention that I don't have a clue how to save the seeds, at least properly to ensure germination. I guess I will look into the pros and cons and perhaps I'll grow my first heirloom plants this year.

Go through current seeds and decide what seeds need to be purchased.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hope Springs!!!

My favorite time of the winter is when the Burpee seed catalog arrives! This season it arrived right after our first blizzard which is really quite timely. Oh, just seeing all those beautiful colors, and the different varieties of veggies and flowers, it just creates this warmth inside me that just overflows into a rather stupid looking grin that won't leave. I call it "Hope". Hope that Spring really will be coming again. Hope that I won't always have to bundle up when I go outside. Hope that one day I'll be able to walk barefoot on the grass again. Hope that I will learn from my previous mistakes and create my fantasies of an overflowing veggie bed that will fill the pots and freezer in my kitchen so we can have deliciously healthy meals for the summer and last through the winter.

This year I have the same fantasies I always have: that I'm going to have so many veggies I'll have enough to give to family after filling my freezer. I will be trying some new things and coming up with some habits to ensure I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

I found this book that gives symptoms of plants and possible causes of their illness called What's wrong with my plant? (And how do I fix it?). I chose this book firstly because the layout is so very easy to read. If you can SEE your plants problem, they have a picture for it and I think that will make things easier. The other thing I liked about this book is they use Organic remedies. I totally believe in doing everything in my veggie garden the organic way. I refuse to put any chemicals near anything my family will be eating. I buy organic milk and organic eggs. If I could afford it I'd also buy organic meat, but being unemployed, that won't be happening at this time.

Every weekend check plant health
Mark calendar when feedings are to be made