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.