Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Bit of This... a Bit of That...

Happy Equinox!  

I got my new gro-light.  I had a brain-storm a few days before and borrowed my son's Ottlite, which has a natural light bulb.  I'm not sure it is plant worthy, but it tided me over until my light came. 

Mine is really something!  It's like Medusa!  No one in the family likes the light it gives off though. I wish it were a traditional gro-light with the full spectrum white light, but this was much less expensive, and I love the clamp base.  It was sunny yesterday, so I put the baby tomatoes (and white eggplant) outside.  They are off the heating mat, of course, you only use those until the seeds germinate. 

Ottlite temporary light

new light clamp-on base - very handy and fits my kitchen counter perfectly!

3 goose-necked lights

the light it emits
Gro-light prices have come down since marijuana growing has become legal in more areas.  That's good for vegetable seed starters!  The reviews for this particular light were very positive.  The light also has an on-off switch with each head controlled separately.   I winter sowed some tomatoes recently, just in case these don't work out.  I failed at starting tomatoes the only other time I tried.

I found some miner's lettuce growing in one of the blueberry containers!  I haven't seen it in my yard before.  Now I notice it in weedy areas around town!  Was it there all along and I never payed attention?  I like it's looks, just wish it were in a different location.  Know why it's called "miner's lettuce?"  It's high in vitamin C, so the California gold miners ate it to ward off scurvy. 

I am harvesting asparagus.  It only lasts a few weeks, so we have to enjoy it while we can!

The winter sown seeds that have sprouted are doing well.  I love the little "hats" on the cilantro!

Here are the fast growers...

chocolate cosmos - planted March 4, this was taken March 20

Russell lupine - planted February 15, this was taken March 20 - nice little "true" leaves!

I opened their "greenhouses" yesterday to let in some fresh air and unfiltered sunshine...

The peach blossoms are beginning to open...

Monday, March 19, 2018

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal - A-Z of the Garden

Okay, so let's just admit I'm a little confused!  There is more to this A to Z Blog Challenge than just posts throughout April having some connection (theme) to the letters A through Z.  I am not a spreadsheet person, so I am starting to get worried I may not be able to do this, at least "officially."  I mean, I am writing my A-Z posts, and will post them, but will I understand the "finding the forms for the links to each letter" part of the instructions?  I am not even sure what the means!

I'm even confused by this "theme reveal" deal.  I checked some of the participants who have already revealed their theme, and seen what they did, which has helped some.  I think what I want to do is tell you in this post what my theme is, and then include the link to this particular post (not the blog's main page) in the Theme Reveal form.  Right?  Then maybe repeat that process with each week's post, using the "links" to "forms"?   (😟 insert deep breath)

If I have it straight, here goes!

 2018 A to Z blogging challenge
It's almost April, which is time for the 2018 A - Z Challenge Theme Reveal!


So far, so good...

My theme? 


Butterfly Garden 2017
Each day in April (except Sundays... except the first Sunday... which happens to be April 1), you will find posts here all relating in some way to gardens or gardening.  It may be a post as simple as where I buy most of my seeds (E), or inexpert advice on brewing "teas" from the garden (H), to suggestions on container gardens for specific purposes (C, L and M). 

Front Yard Rock Garden 2017
Sign-ups are still open, so join the fun!  Yes, I'm having fun planning my letter posts, learning new things to share too.  Sign-up are open until April 1st. 


Herb Garden 2017

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Spring or Winter? Open or Close?

The weather keeps fluctuating between early spring warmth and cold winter chills.  The flowers don't know whether to open or wait.

The Flavor Supreme Pluot is open... (and Boo and Edward the Goldendoodle grazing like a couple of goats)

The Frost peach is closed...

More crocus is open, this is a shallow terracotta bulb pot... (there's Boo's ball!  He tried to tell me it was stuck on the overhang!)

More Tete a Tete daffodils are open...  (These are in a ceramic planter in the front yard "herb bed."  That's a Tuscan Blue rosemary behind it, and more wild violets under the rosemary.  In the lowest right corner you can see Golden oregano just starting to come back.)

The best indicator of spring, the forsythia, is opening...

Flowering quince is open...

In the rock garden rock cress and sea thrift are open... (see those little clumps of grass?  Those are baby blue fescue.  I won't let the ones in the background go to seed this summer!) 

But, the Lewisia is closed... (ignore the weeds, it's been too wet to work in the yard)

I am itching to get outside and get to gardening! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

No, No! Too Soon, Too Soon! Heating Mats Sure do Work!

I just got my heating pad set up and planted on March 8th.  Now the seeds are already up!  I'm not ready for them!  I ordered a nifty gro-light that isn't here yet! 

I couldn't think of many places to put the mat, since one cat gets into everything.  He doesn't often get on the counter on one side of the kitchen (at least that I know, he isn't supposed to), so I put it in the corner where he wouldn't really see it. 

 I filled my Dollar Tree cells with Dollar Tree seed starting mix.  I poked one hole in each cell and dropped two seeds into each hole, then pushed on the mix to cover them. 

I planted 5 kinds of tomatoes, 6 cells each.  Yellow Brandywine, Ditmarsher, Golden Jubilee, Hoskins-Barger, and Dr. Wyche's Yellow (a free gift). In the last 6 I planted white eggplant, just for the pretty plant.  If they don't grow, I'm fine, the seeds were an eBay bargain from China.   I don't need 6 plants of each kind, but my seed starting success isn't very successful, so if I get one to grow well that's plenty.

Today, just 5 days later a lot of the tomatoes have sprouted!  I moved it all into my room for the day, where there is some daylight.  Wouldn't you know, yesterday was sunny and warm (the first warm days always feel hot!), and now it's dark and rainy. 

I'll have to transport them back and forth and hope my light gets here soon.  That bottom heating sure did get those seeds to germinate super fast!

What Type of Gardener are You?

I just took a short (15 question) quiz to "tell me" what my gardening  personality is!  I think they got it right! 

I'm a Hobbyist!

"Some people like model trains, some like knitting, some like sports... but you like gardening.  You enjoy trying out new tools, making neat rows, or just growing one thing really, really well.  It's not about food production so much, since you give away most of the extra.  It's the sheer enjoyment of making things happen in the dirt that keeps you gardening."

That's pretty much my "type" in a nutshell!  Not so much the new tool part, and while I like to think I've moved beyond "neat rows," I still find myself planting that way, even though I vow to myself to do it otherwise.  I forget, the "row" thing is just so ingrained!  That's probably why the Square Foot Garden way insists on the dividers, so are constantly reminded not to row! 

I think the give-away question was probably the reason I garden.  I answered, "Because I like it."  It's really that simple.  Gardening makes me happy.  Not gardening as in mowing lawns (I'd plan on less grass to mow eventually!), and planting annuals for the neighbors, but raised beds, herb gardens, perennials for the butterflies.

Take the quiz yourself and see what your green thumb personality is!  


Below are some current photos of my little flowering plum (in a ceramic planter on the deck) in bloom.  It's the first year I've had it (given to me by a former co-worker last year, her son grew it from a pit!), hopefully it will have more flowers in the future.  It's very cute!  

Friday, March 9, 2018

Pretties in Late Winter - Crocus

I don't remember planting so many crocus bulbs, in so many places last fall, but they are flowering all over the place! Some in impossible to plant places.

Along the edges of the under-used area off the deck, in empty pots. I do remember planting these!  The planting areas are limited in my large yard, due to clay soil and cedar tree roots, so I have to squeeze bulbs into containers and existing planting areas.  This particular area is due for a spring make-over! 

Among the oregano...now, I know these were not planted, it would have been impossible!  There are some on the other side of the herb garden that were planted though.  The creeping wallflower is just bursting into bloom around the oregano and crocus. 

In the far back yard iris bed...

The Butterfly Garden. I thought it could use some early spring color, since so many of the plants are "die back to the ground" perennials. 

The front yard (sorry this one's blurry).  This clump has been around for a few years, it needs dividing.  It's half under an overgrown rockrose, which is in desperate need of pruning it's winter death branches.

Pretty, aren't they?  These are a Dutch crocus mix (Crocus vernus), which should have included yellow.  The only yellow I got was a single flower in the front yard.   The flowers open in the sun, close again at night, and when it's cloudy or rainy.  I think they are great bulbs to break up the winter doldrums!  Plant in the fall and enjoy the spectacle in spring!  Mine are just inexpensive bulbs from Winco, less than $2.00 a box for around 10.  This fall I'll buy lots more!  Just plant them (3" deep), water, and let them work their magic.  For best show, plant them 12 per square foot.  A lot, yes, but spectacular. 

It rained last night, so here's what they look like right now, waiting for the sun...

Just gorgeous...  they may just have replaced violas (or Johnny Jump-ups) as my favorite flower!  Maybe. 


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Winter Sowing Update #3

So many seeds have sprouted in their snug little winter sown "greenhouses!"  Of course, it is nearly real spring, although our last frost date is still weeks away, so some might have germinated anyway, but this way they won't need hardening off, and I'll have an earlier start (I usually plant after all chances of frost are past) planting.

Up today:

tall nasturtium
broad leaf sage
hardy geranium (crane's bill)
Russell lupine
sweet pea (interesting how peas look like pea plants right from the seed leaves)

Getting bigger:

Swiss chard
lettuce - black seeded Simpson
snow in summer
rock cress

Cilantro is doing the best so far.  It doesn't like to be transplanted, so I'll have to be careful, maybe just replant the entire Slurpee cup's worth of seedlings and cut off the weakest.  It is one of the recommended winter sowing seeds, which given it's dislike of disturbances, perhaps shouldn't be.

I planted more containers.  A succulent mix, marigolds (Sparky mix), mealycup sage, forget-me-nots (the woodland type, myosotis sylvatica, not cynoglossum amabile, a Chinese forget-me-not), milkweed (the seeds that started the Butterfly Garden last year!  See the Nov. 20, 2016 post.), and sanguisorba (burnet)  'pink tanna.'