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Showing posts from March, 2011


In my 'spare' time (ha ha, that's funny), I'm reading a super cool book from the library about Potagers, i.e. fancy kitchen gardens.  It's called " Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook ", by Jennifer Bartley.  I have been trying to decide where to build the new raised beds I want for veggies and I haven't been able to find a logical spot in our already disorganized yard.  Then I realized to be a proper kitchen garden, it should be really close to the house, like REALLY close.  So, I'm contemplating right next to the back patio, which will require much transplanting of existing stuff to...some places to be determined.  But for now, I'm enjoying the inspiration and the planning stage.  To be continued...


Yesterday was eight weeks until our last frost (supposedly), so the Girl and I did get around to starting our pepper plants today, all nine of them!  I am trying not to overplant seeds this season, as Lord knows I don't need peppers from as many plants as I have seed for in three packets.  We planted 2 to 3 seeds per cell, to be thinned to the healthiest sprout when they emerge.  We'll have two Jalapeno plants, three California Wonder, and four Carnival Mix.  The latter has by far the funnest colors, so I decided they'll get the most space.  Google Images of Carnival Mix peppers and you'll see why.  Incidentally, when I say the Girl and I started the seeds, I mean I did it and it took three times as long as it should have while herding her out of all the forbidden junk in the basement and trying to keep her from drinking out of the watering can (no fert or anything in it, but still, gross).  She's quite a helper.  Ay, dios mio!

I want to be a beekeeper when I grow up

If you stop and think a minute, we all should really give the honey bee more credit.  I think we take for granted the little buzzy friends that help put food on our tables, and I don't just mean honey. Bees actually pollinate our fruit trees, many of our veggie crops and even some field crops like alfalfa and sunflowers.  I've read as much as 1/3 of the world's food crops are dependent on bee pollination.  And guess what? Bees are apparently disappearing.  EEK! The bottom line is, bee populations are decreasing due to many different environmental and disease factors, and human populations and food needs are as always, increasing.  DOUBLE EEK! I started thinking more about bees a few years ago when I stumbled upon an ad for a Haagen Dazs ice cream flavor called 'Vanilla Honey Bee'.  Who knew one of my favorite snacks could be so educational?  I'm not sure if you can still find this ice cream flavor anymore, but Haagen Dazs has a website you should definitely

Garden Inspiration

I worked at the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show a bit over the weekend.  While there, I did get a chance to wander around a bit, and I am always amazed at the effort and creativity that goes into the display gardens built in the convention center for this event.  For just a 5 day event, those folks sure go all out.  One that caught my eye was an arching arbor built over a wide walkway.  I've been trying to find a shade solution for over our patio for years and I could picture something like this as a possibility: The reason I like it is the frame is made out of metal tubing which is something I hadn't considered.  I've been paralyzed by the thought of a traditional pergola made of wood, and I figure we'd probably have to get lumber custom-sawn ($$$) to reach across our 19' x 19' patio (a stamped concrete behemoth that came with the house)  The tubing and assembly of this looks like a hoophouse frame, painted black.  I happen to know a welder/metalworker who

Dirt at last

So, when I made my planting schedule I found out I'm already behind!  Pretty normal for me.  Onion seeds need to be sown 8-10 weeks ahead of last frost so I'll have sets ready to put out in the garden early.  That means I should have planted them March 1st (for 10 weeks, I technically have two weeks of slacking I guess before I hit the 8 week mark and become truly late).  Next task was to find the seeds I already bought.  I know I put all my veggie seeds in an ice cream bucket w/ a lid and put it...somewhere.  Finally found the bucket and the Girl helped me look through all the seeds.  Alas, no onion seeds to be found in said bucket.  One trip to Menards later, we had procured replacement onion seeds.  They didn't have the Candy Hybrid I had originally bought, and I had to settle for 'Spanish Gold Hybrid', a large yellow type supposedly good for storing (140 days to maturity), and 'Evergreen Long White Bunching', a scallion type for cooking (60-120 days to m

Starting Seeds

I'm finally planning to start some seeds indoors.  Usually our last frost is around Mother's Day here but I did a Google search to find something 'official' on last frost free dates in this area.  I found  which claims our last frost is usually between May 3-9th.  I'm going to go w/ May 10th for a good round number.  I'll double check my seed packets for how many weeks ahead they suggest to start indoors and mark my calendar to make my planting schedule.  I am such a planner!  Now hopefully I can just follow the dang schedule once it's made.  Good thing Hubby already has built my growing setup in the utility room in the basement.  It is not fancy, but works just fine: a piece of plywood on two sawhorses w/ two 4' fluorescent light ballasts above, suspended on thin rope.  The ropes are on pulleys so they can be pulled higher and extra rope wrapped around nails in the ceiling joists to raise th