Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Planting for Spring

Ok, in all fairness, THIS is why I never have time to blog.
Seeds, products, t-shirts, other creations, other ideas for creations - I think you get my point.  It can be tricky to juggle, particularly where the seeds and plants are concerned.

All I need now is a stretch of sunny weather.  Fat chance of that this week.  We've gone from a blanket of snow to two days of sunshine to five days of rain.  The melting snow would have been enough to create a mess to slog through, but the rain has added insult to injury.  Every step between greenhouses today was squish-squish-squish, interrupted only by an occasional slip and shoe full of mud.
I cannot believe how many varieties of herb and veggie seeds I have started.  And let's not forget the edible flowers.  This was the view a couple of weeks ago.  Some of these have since been potted and more have taken their place. You can hurry through some things, but you can't grab a seedling by its little leaves and make it get bigger.  Add to that two bouts of illness where I lost serious greenhouse time and it's understandable why I fight a feeling of panic every time I walk through the doors. So much of growing is completely out of my control.   My husband will tell you that I'm not a patient person.  I have great expectations - I don't care that the seed packet says 6-12 days for germination.  I'm convinced that if I stare at the dirt every day looking for signs of life, it will speed things up.

Very soon, I will list all the varieties on the menu for this season.  I have to ditch this panic and get back Down To Earth!

Worst Blogger Ever?

I often wonder how people find the time to blog on a regular basis.  Perhaps I have too many irons in the fire, but I like all my activities...so...I will once again TRY to do better.  Promise.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Year of Playing Catch-Up

We are nearing the end of November.  When did that happen?  It seems like just yesterday I was posting about the newly planted garden.  Seems I have plenty of thyme, but not plenty of time.
I often wonder how people manage to make regular blog posts, Facebook posts, Tweets, follow things on Pinterest, etc.  I dare not even create a Pinterest account...

Shortly after the first of the year, I was running behind & have been running that same race all year.
To recap the summer, while some things in the garden did well, others didn't.  Scored some Tidwell's peaches & our blueberries yielded a decent harvest.  Here's the final tally in the larder:

  • Canned:  43 quarts of green beans, 6 quarts of tomato sauce, 12 pints of Kosher dill pickles, 18 pints of lime pickles, 44 half-pints of peach butter, 20 pints of peach syrup
  • Frozen:  28 quarts of yellow squash, 8 quarts of blueberries, 8 half-pints of roasted red peppers, 12 quarts of pink banana pumpkin/squash
  • Dried:  a pound of cayenne peppers

I think I'm finally at the point were I can take a few deep breaths before it starts all over again. However, I'm mapping out some potential improvements on paper.  For starters, I am going to be more specific with scheduling my tasks.  Only time will tell if this will be effective (there's that pesky 'time' thing again).

I promise you (and myself) to do a better job.
Promise yourself to take time to be Down To Earth!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Planting Has Begun!

When I'm digging and planting, I'm in my element.  Mark did a fine job tilling the garden earlier this month, but after a few showers a crust had developed (along with some young weeds).  I'm using the small tiller to reestablish soft soil for rows.

To say I have an aggressive plan for the garden this year would be an understatement.  If all goes as planned, I will have 3 varieties of yellow squash (Lioness, Fortune & Cube of Butter), 2 varieties of peppers (Big Red & Joe's Long Cayenne), 2 varieties of eggplant (Fairy Tale & Orient Express), 4 varieties of cucumbers (Tasty Jade, Bush Pickle, Arkansas Little Leaf & Rocky), 10 varieties of tomatoes (Mortgage Lifter, Martian Giant, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Super Sioux, San Marzano, Principe Borghese, Yellow Pear, Maglia Rosa, & Sweet Pea Currant), and at least 3 varieties of beans (Bountiful, Gita & Lazy Wife Greasy Bean).  Of course, there are other things I will start & plant later in the summer for fall/winter crops.  I'll reveal those later.  When I look through the seed catalogs, many things catch my eye.  I'll never know if I like a variety or not unless I try it...right?

Yes, your Honor, I have lost my mind.  Well, maybe not completely...yet...  The mission, should I choose to accept it and weather permitting, is to sell any excess we may have at market plus give some away.  My Dad always said your garden will do better if you give some away.  Makes sense to me, because I watched him do just that and his garden always prospered.  I hope he would be proud of my agricultural accomplishments.  I know I'm pretty proud, but not so much that it will keep me from being Down To Earth.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Companion Planting

While I was at the Master Gardener's Expo, several people asked about companion planting.  As promised, I am posting some information on that subject.  This is by no means a complete list, but it should be extensive enough to get you going.

Companion Planting Guide
          May repel flies, asparagus beetle, mosquitoes & thrips
          Beneficial with tomatoes, squash, strawberries, grapes & peppers
          Avoid planting with rue or sage
Bee Balm
          Beneficial with tomatoes
          Attracts beneficial insects & bees
          May repel flea beetles, Japanese beetles, aphids, ants, weevils & squash bugs
          May repel rodents
          Beneficial with cucumbers & onions
          Increases essential oil in peppermint
          Attracts hover flies & wasps
          Beneficial with broccoli, lettuce & radishes
          May repel aphids, slugs
          Incompatible with beans & peas
          May repel tomato pests, aphids
          Beneficial with carrots, grapes, roses & tomatoes
          Helps prevent apple scab
          Attracts beneficial insects
          Nitrogen fixer
          Attracts beneficial insects, particularly predators of the wooly aphid
          Emits ethylene gas that is beneficial to fruit trees
          Attracts beneficial insects
          Incompatible with carrots, caraway & tomatoes
          Beneficial with cabbage, lettuce & onions
          May repel aphids, squash bugs
          Can attract the tomato horn worm
          May repel ants, cabbage looper, & Colorado potato beetle
          May repel aphids (I have not found this to be so)
          Attracts beneficial insects
          Incompatible with dill, potatoes
          May repel fleas, moths & whitefly
Lemon Balm
          May repel many bugs
          Beneficial with most plants
          Attracts ground beetles
          Beneficial with vegetables & herbs
          Attracts beneficial insects, particularly predatory wasps & hover flies
          Use cuttings to mulch beets
          May repel rodents, ants, cabbage moth, aphids, fleas, flea beetles
          Beneficial with cabbage & tomatoes
          Beneficial with grapes, cabbage, squash & hot peppers
          May repel cucumber beetles & cabbage butterflies
          Beneficial with tomatoes, roses, asparagus, carrot, hot peppers, chive & onion
          Attracts beneficial insects, particularly hover flies & parasitic wasps
          May repel asparagus beetles
          Incompatible with mints
          Beneficial with hot peppers, carrots, beans, cabbage & sage
          May repel carrot flies, cabbage moths & bean beetles
          May repel white cabbage butterflies, beetles, flea beetles, carrot flies & cabbage moths
          Incompatible with cucumbers
          Beneficial with cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower & rosemary
          Beneficial with most vegetables
          May repel a variety of pests
          Beneficial with eggplant, potatoes & tomatoes
          May repel cabbage worms, whitefly & cabbage looper

We Survived the Whirlwind!

What a week!  It was stressful & exhausting, but we survived our cluster of events.  I could not have accomplished any of it without the love & support of my dear husband Mark, plus help from Taylor & her mom, Cindy.  The encouragement of loving friends was also a big, big help.

Thursday, 4/10 we attended the Grand Opening of the Lookout Farmer's Market.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures there, but will next time.  Everyone was very welcoming and excited about their new market.
Friday was a firestorm of activity, getting organized and loading up for 3 venues on Saturday and 2 on Sunday.

On Saturday, Taylor manned the tent at St. Alban's Farmer's Market.  Mark had his maiden solo market voyage at the Hamilton County Master Gardener's Expo and I manned (so to speak) the tent at the Crabtree Farms Spring Plant Sale.
The weather was beautiful, but a bit breezy and the Crabtree staff was supportive, as always.  The farm is such a nice setting; it is an oasis in the middle of an urban landscape.  The only thing I dislike about the event is that, as a vendor, I'm never able to browse through the plants THEY have to offer!  Mark took over there on Sunday and had a rough time with some gusty wind.  He was certainly a trooper.  I think he has made it halfway through his market apprenticeship training without being scared off & is still willing to do it again! 

The Master Gardener's Expo was better than ever and it appeared they had even more vendors than 2013.  There were a wide variety of vendors, including nurseries, landscape companies, garden clubs, agricultural supplies, yard art/birdhouses, garden
tools, nature artists & more!
We had a great spot for the booth and a lot of help whenever we needed it.  On Sunday afternoon I gave a 45 minute talk on incorporating herbs into the home landscape.  There were a lot of good questions and I even helped with some veggie garden issues.  It must have been well-received because I received an excellent rating on the participant evaluations.  That makes a Garden Girl feel good!  Many thanks to those who stopped by any of the locations to support the business.  We appreciate your patronage!

Needless to say, we were both exhausted by the time it was all over and spent today taking it easy and getting back Down to Earth!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I Must Have Lost My Mind

More than once this week I've wondered, have I completely lost my mind?  Never mind that I'm running behind on almost everything.  I have four events this week.  Oh, and never mind that three of the four happen on the same two days.  Have I completely lost my mind?

This Thursday, 4/10, from 3 p.m. till 7 p.m. I will be at the grand opening of the Lookout Farmer's Market atop historic Lookout Mountain.  Saturday & Sunday I will be at both the Crabtree Farms Spring Plant Sale & the Hamilton County Master Gardener's Master Your Garden Expo.  I will also be represented on Saturday morning at the St. Alban's Farmer's Market.  Yep, I'm beginning to rethink my position on cloning.  Luckily, I will be able to pull this off with the help of my dear husband and some very good friends.  I will personally be at the Crabtree Farms location on Saturday & the Expo on Sunday.  On Sunday, I will be giving a talk from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. on incorporating herbs into your landscape.

So if you're out and about this weekend, there are ample opportunities to check out my plants, teas, seasonings & Garden Girl T-Shirts.
I'm sure that by Sunday night there will be some really tired people wanting to get back Down To Earth!

Almost Garden Time!

While we've had some rain, it hasn't been the deluge we experienced last Spring.  We were able to get the garden tilled in between showers without turning it into a mud bog.
There's something about the smell of freshly tilled soil that does my soul good.  So now I'm chomping at the bit, ready to mark rows, plant seeds/seedlings and wait for the fruits of my labor.

I can already envision cages leaning under the weight of rosy tomatoes on healthy branches.  There will be towers of pole beans creating green, leafy columns.  Ah, and let's not forget okra stalks resembling a nuclear holocaust after the marauding deer eat all the leaves...  I can hear my Dad saying 'deer need to eat, too.'

There is something therapeutic about digging in the dirt, planting seedlings that you've watched germinate and reaping the rewards of your labor.  Everyone who eats a vegetable should have to spend one day working in a garden.  People need to understand what it takes to get the food to their plate.
Just maybe that would keep them Down To Earth.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Catching Up...

"The best laid plans..."  Do you sometimes wonder why we bother making plans at all?
After the Fall of 2013 and Winter/Spring of 2014, I had to ask myself that question.  Beset with a couple of health issues, then losing power in the greenhouses during our last snowstorm, I found myself woefully behind on many things.  But while I might have been down, I was definitely not out - at least not yet!

So with the determination and perseverance my Father taught me, plus the faith in God that sustains me, I moved and continue to move forward.  I managed to get more cuttings done and  more seeds started.  Thanks to heat mats and blessings I have been potting seedlings for the past month.  Here's proof that I wasn't slacking.  There were seed trays lined up for 30 feet down one side of the greenhouse.
These pictures are from mid-March.  Things are coming along nicely, with a few exceptions.  This seems to be one of those years when all the difficult seeds germinate and the run-of-the-mill seeds decide to be challenging.  This is the first season I have started with no dill or curled parsley because the seeds just sat there...and sat there, while the wormwood, milkweed, pleurisy root and other persnickety seeds popped through the soil like they were on steroids!  Go figure...  Those are the joys and frustrations of growing useful weeds.  Through the sanity and some insanity, it keeps us Down To Earth.
Note:  April 5th I will be at the St. Alban's Market with teas, seasoning, bath brews & salts, note cards & Garden Girl T-shirts.
More to come!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Garden Progress

After an iffy start, the garden seems to be coming along.  This is the weeded part.  I'm ashamed to post the unweeded part!
Leading the charge are the cucumbers. Jackson Classic Pickling Cucumbers, to be exact. From the looks of things, I may be buried in cucumbers...  I already have enough for the first batch of lime pickles.  I've never had much luck with dills, but would love to give them another try.  There should be a trick to keeping them fairly crisp - that is where I have failed in the past.  If anyone knows this bit of sorcery, please share!
The squash is starting to produce just a bit.  They didn't weather the heavy rain as well as everything else.  So far the tomatoes are doing well, as is the okra.  On the tomato list there is Cherokee Purple, Super Sioux, Legend and some pre-Monsanto Big Beef (older seed).  Unfortunately, I've forgotten the variety of okra.  The beans are climbing their strings and will wrap around your leg if you stand still too long near them.  They are Gita, which is a long, slender gourmet bean with a nice nutty flavor.  And when I say long, I mean 18-20 inches long!  They are also stringless with a nice bean production.  I also planted a few 'greasy beans' for a dear friend.  Those are a first for me, so I'm not sure what to expect.
Soon I will be transplanting broccoli and cauliflower, and propagation in the greenhouse seems never-ending.  All of it keeps this Garden Girl digging in the dirt and Down To Earth!