Saturday, March 30, 2013

My New Toy


I purchased a new toy today.  A Troy-Bilt electric tiller.  I looked at this last season, but didn't purchase it.  It was the same price as last year, so I decided to treat myself.  It's getting great reviews and as of today I can vouch for it.  It's light weight and will cut through sod like a butter knife.  We were able to put the handles on in 10 minutes and it was ready to go.  I used it today to break up the leaves and newspaper that I've been placing in the garden through out the winter, and to prepare a spot for my onions and garlic.  It did a good job.   

I plant to put in a few flower beds this year, and wanted something that I could maneuver without breaking my back or have it jump away from me.  This little baby does the trick.  I love the fact that it's electric, and I don't have to fool with gas and oil.  I have miles of outdoor electric cord that I use for Christmas lights, so reaching long distances from the electric outlets is not a problem. 

I was concerned that I would have a problem with the cord getting in the way while I was working, but it's manageable. 

I got a few rolls of garlic, white and yellow onions in today that I will be storing.  It's calling for rain tomorrow, so they should get a good soaking.  I going to plant a few red sometime this week.  Red onions are my favorite.  I love to use them on burgers and in my salsa in the summer.  If you plant red onions, what kind do you plant?  

I checked out one of my compost bins today.  It's looking good.  It broke down nicely.  I'll be able to use quite a bit of it in the garden this season.  The other bin is coming along.  I need to get it heated up, so I'll be able to use it next season.  When I first started the compost bins, I was getting grass from my neighbor since I have lawn service.  It was the one ingredient that heated the bin up quickly.  She has lawn service now, so I wasn't able to add grass to my second bin.  They mulch your grass so there's nothing left to bag.  How do you get your compost heated up?  Have you planted anything in your garden yet? 


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No Dyed Eggs for Me

This year I decided to not dye eggs.  As a matter of fact, I won't be dying them ever again.  I will be exposing my grandchildren to a variety of naturally colored eggs.  I have been blessed with light brown, dark brown, white, green, pink and light blue eggs for my edification.  Who needs dye!   The photos don't do the color of the eggs justice.  I'm able to purchase these eggs fresh, and the only date stamped on the egg carton is the date that I write on an Avery label.  I even provide the egg cartons.  

I want my grandchildren to learn about nature and all its beauty.  I want them to be able to share unique experiences with classmates and have special memories when they're visiting me.  I want them to remember grandma cracking colored eggs for their omelets and brownies.   I can't wait to hear the giggles. 

                                                                         Jersey Chicken

                                                               Black Cochin Chicken

Speckled Sussex Chicken
                                                                      Easter Egg Chicken

 I've started purchasing fresh eggs a year ago.  Here are some of the chickens that work to produce my order.  I place my order and the next day the eggs are retrieved from the hen house and brought to me.   I've never been into chickens, but I think the black Cochin chicken is beautiful.  My grandparents had chickens on their farmette, but they where just your regular chickens that laid white eggs. 

If I could withstand the smell and cleanup, I might invest in a few of these beauties.  Okay, that thought didn't last long.  I'll just continue to purchase them when I need them.   What do you think about my colorful eggs?  Do you  have chickens?  If so, what kind. 

Happy Easter!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Is Buried

This is what I woke up to this morning!  Spring is under there somewhere, I'm still waiting for it to emerge.  These are containers that I winter sowed.  If snow is suppose to good for them, I have happy seeds today. 

I mulched my garden with leaves throughout the winter, so I left up my fence to contain the leaves.  I had planned to take it down this week-end and get it ready for tilling.  As you can see that didn't happen.  I'm going to expand it 3 - 4 feet to the right this season.  I want to make my paths a little wider, so it will be easier to get through.  I like to take my grandson in to pick veggies, and the paths are little to narrow for him.  I also want to add an area for garlic and onions and a few more tomatoes.  I planted 8 tomato plants last season, I plan to add 2 more this year.  My salsa was so good, I want to make sure I have lots of tomatoes.   

I'm trying a few new varieties this year, Tiffen Mennonite, Delicious and Homestead.  I haven't met a garden tomato yet that I didn't like.   

The bird bath and feeder are snow covered.  I've seen tons of birds in the backyard.  I have no idea what they are.  This week I'll be spending time making homemade feeders for them.  Stay tuned for that post.   Years ago, I didn't even notice them unless they were making a mess on my car, sidewalk or deck.  Now, I'm curious about my feathered friends.  I'm going to invest in a camera with a nice lens so I can start taking photos of them.   Do you feed the birds? Do you know the different species?  I'm familiar with the cardinal since it is our state bird, robins, woodpeckers, wrens and humming birds.  Otherwise, I have alot of studying to do on various species.  Maybe I'll put a "Species" book on my Christmas list this year.    


Sunday, March 24, 2013

DIY Plant Markers

I'm always looking for ways to save money.  Sometimes I want to save to purchase another item and there's times when I just don't want to pay the asking price.  I don't consider myself frugal, I just choose wisely on what I spend my money on.  When I started gardening I decided to do it as economically as possible.  I weighed my start-up cost, and decided to invest in good quality tomato cages, fencing and a good supply of heirloom seeds.  My thinking, I won't have to replace flimsy cages, my fencing will last for years and I can save seed from heirloom plants for the next growing season.    

Since I work outside the home and divide my time between the job, family and my home I decided to also weigh cost versus my time.  For example, other gardeners have suggested newspaper pots versus the peat pots that I purchase.  For a few bucks versus an hour or two of my time, I purchase the peat pots.  I purchase them on clearance and save them for the next growing season.  I have made the newspaper pots, see my post here, but I prefer the peat pots because of the time it takes to make them.   They work great and I may use them again when time is on my side or when I need to save money for something else that I want.  Maybe a new variety of seed!   

Now lets talk about plant markers.  I just couldn't spend the money that retail stores were asking.  Here's where I make my trade, I made my own.  I had tons of milk jugs from my winter sowing.  More than I needed.  I will save the extra for next year's sowing, but decided to use a few to make plant markers.  I cut out as much as the milk jug as I could from each side, and whipped these babies out in 10  - 15 minutes.  Nothing fancy, but worth the effort and the money that I'll save.  Maybe enough to cover the cost of my clearance peat pots or new seeds for next season, hehe.  You can use a marker or pen to trace an old marker or just make them free hand.  I made mine free hand.  You can make them as long or as wide as you like.  Use a permanent marker for writing the name of your plant.   That's my DIY gardening tip for the week.  If you've already purchased markers this year, there's always next year.  Happy Growing!  Please share a DIY project that you use.  Maybe I'll implement it next season or this one if  I can. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Seed Swap Anyone?

I would like to broaden my garden at the cheapest manner, so I will start saving seed this season.  I was thinking about doing a seed swap with anyone who is interested in participating.  I thought I would put the idea out there so everyone who's interested can start saving seed for next season's use.  The seed can be for flowers or veggies and they can be purchased or saved.  Seeds from your garden must be heirloom only and all exchanges must be free.  If you're interested in participating please leave me a comment.  I'll provide details on how the exchange will work later.  

I'm thinking the more participants the wider range of seeds that will be available.  If you have followers that would like to participate, please post a link to my blog so they can let me know.  If you have suggestions or ideas I'd like to hear them.  Looking forward to swapping seeds with you.   

Winter Sowing Part II

Although spring is around the corner, my winter sowing continues.  I wasn't sure if I was going to add more containers since this was the first season that I've tried this method, but I saw sprouts from my first containers and decided to move on.  Seeing those little sprouts of green was just the motivations that I needed.  I have 30 containers sowed.  Here's the status: 


Sunflowers - Lemon Queen
Sunflowers - Velvet Queen
Dill - Long Island Mammoth
Petunias - Mixed

Sowed but no germination:

Cherokee Purple
Germaine Johnson
Paul Robeson
Brandywine - Pink

Added this week:  

Lettuce - Green Salad Bowl
Spinach - Giant Noble
Greenbeans - Blue Lake (Bush & Pole)
Greenbeans - Jade (Bush)
Greenbeans - Gourmet
Sunflowers - Mexican
Sunflowers - Evening Sun
Snap Dragons - Mixed
Calendula - Mixed

Anyone else winter sowing?  How are things going for you?  See Part I of my winter sowing endeavor here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blue Ball Jars

Happy Anniversary Ball!  I came across these limited edition blue pint jars by Ball and had to share them.  Aren't they beautiful!  To celebrate Ball's 100th anniversary, they are launching a series of limited edition canning jars.  These are the first in the series.  It is hard to believe that Ball has been providing preservers jars for 100 years.  My first experience with canning was at my grandmother's.  I don't remember her jars being this blue, I thought they were more of a bluish-green color.  That was 45 years ago, many things have changed including my eyesight.  I do remember her canner, it was black enamel.  Oh how I wish my family had kept more of grandmother's things to pass on.  They kept larger pieces of furniture, but not these type of items. 

I don't think the price is too bad for a limited edition collection, $12.99 for 6 jars.  I'm thinking about purchasing them for my scrapbook buttons, brads, glue sticks, scissors etc.   What do you think about this Ball collection?  Do you remember the blue jars from back in the day?  Please share your memory. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Most Wanted Green Houses


I'm retiring in 2 years I will have 37 years as a public servant, and I'm hoping to have a greenhouse waiting for me as a retirement gift.   I have these greenhouses dancing in my head.  The picture at the top is my favorite, and the gift I'm hoping for just a little bigger.  I like the third one simply because the windows open.  There's a few other projects that must be completed before the greenhouse.  I'm adding a sunroom off my kitchen this spring.  It will be used for my craft room and the children's playroom.  I want to replace the kitchen lighting, repaint, and add a fireplace.  I need a new storm door, the guest room needs a make-over and so does my office.  The list goes on and on, so the greenhouse is at the bottom of the list. 

I've picked out the perfect spot for the greenhouse.  It will receive plenty of light and it's close to the garden area.  Not sure if it will have water, but electricity is a must for the grow lights,  heaters and fans.   I was thinking that I could install a few rainbarrels for the water supply.  A girl can dream can't she!  Which is your favorite? 

Repotting Seedlings

I have sprouts.  The top picture are French Dwarf Marigolds that germinated on my dining room table.  I planted them with the intention of winter sowing them.  I left them on the table and when I went to set them outside I noticed that they had already sprouted.  I set them under the grow lights for about and week and they took off.  I repotted them this past week in this flat.  Hopefully they will continue to flourish.  My plan is to put them in the garden.  I like to place them between my tomato plants and anywhere else I can find a spot.  They did well last year. 

Here are a few plants that I repotted over the week-end.  So far I have repotted the following:

2 Tiffen Mennonites
2 Crook Neck Squash
2 Zucchinni
2 Jalepenos
2 Salt & Peppers cukes
8 National Pickling cukes
1 Early Girl
2 Cilantro
2 Dill
2 White Belle
2 Mixed Belle

I planted Basil, but it's not looking good.  I'll plant a few more this week.  Hopefully I'll have better luck.   

These are Dahlias that have sprouted using the winter sowing method.  This is my first time using winter sowing.  It looks like 1 sunflower has sprouted as well.  I have about 10 tomato plants that are being winter sowed, so I'm hoping they will germinate.  I did start tomatoes inside just in case I'm unsuccessful.  If both methods work, I'll have more tomato plants that I can use.  Not to worry though, I'm sure I can find someone to take them off my hands at the office. 

I found these fabulous 5" pots at Big Lots.  I couldn't pass them up, 36 for $4.00.  I love that store.  I got 36 3" peat posts for $3.00.  I'm hoping to use the 5" for my sunflowers.  If my tomatoes get too big in the cups, wishful thinking, I'll repot them in these as well.  These pots are made out of a mesh type material that can be directly planted in the garden.  How's your indoor sowing going?