Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rainy Sunday

It's a soggy day today. Such a contrast to yesterday, which was sunny, blue-skied, and a balmy 60 degrees. My husband and I went for a nice long walk around the loop at Sharon Woods, one of my favorite parks in Hamilton County. I can tell the nice weather yesterday really gave the raised beds a chance to warm up. When I peeked on them today, quite a few more seedlings are up, including both types of radish:

French Breakfast

and Saxa 2

One thing I can say, while the black plastic of the raised beds isn't the most attractive material to look at, I can see how the black will help keep the soil warm once the sun hits it. Maybe it will give me a slight growing advantage?

My husband's mom and her partner stopped by today to drop off an early Easter gift - a beautiful glazed ceramic bird house. I love that look, the swirly rainbow iridescence of glazed clay. I've always wanted to be able to throw and glaze my own pottery ever since I took an art class in high school. Unfortunately, not a cheap hobby.

We'll have to find the perfect protected nook in our yard so we can hopefully attract a bird family (and discourage the hawk from preying on them).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lavender Dreams

I must be learning at least one or two new things as I continue to garden over the years, because I finally got my lavender to sprout from seed - I have two healthy looking youngsters!

I can't say that I know what exactly the trick is, but I do know that you can't have the soil too wet. It's better to have it on the dry side and to just mist every day with a spray bottle. I also think I was sowing the seeds too deep last year - surface sowing seems to be the best. Soil temperature also seems to play a part; the warmer the better.

One lonely catnip has also sprouted this week! The cats are going to have to ration their stash this year if there is only one plant...

As for the rest of the indoor garden, things are starting to explode. The tomatoes and herbs are ahead of schedule, and the eggplants and peppers are not far behind.

Look at the beautiful variegated leaves of the Purple Jalapeno:

The basil is looking fat and licoricey:

The bee balm is a lush jade green:

And in other news I have my first sprouts in the new outdoor raised beds! Both the arugula and some of the European Mesclun Mix have braved the cold weather the past few days and are poking through the earth.


European Mesclun Mix (maybe this is some frisee?):

When I planted this specific mix, the assortment of seeds looked like the toppings on an everything bagel - all sorts of sizes, shapes, and colors. Here's how Baker Creek describes this mix: "Flavors range from sweet-mild to sour-hot-tangy, and colors come in red, purple, yellow, and green. Colorful lettuce, radicchio, arugula, endive, orach, mizuna, kale, mustard, corn salad and more."

It's kind of a restful time right now - I just sit back, let things grow, and wait for the weather to get warm enough for more planting.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Salamander Sighting!

Oh, I am so freaking excited right now - we went to pick up a load of soil for my new raised beds this morning, and while we were unloading the dirt, I found a Redback Salamander under one of my old pots!

You have to understand, I am a tomboy animal-lover going way back to my childhood. I was always chasing after frogs, turtles, crawdads, snakes, you-name-it. Salamanders were always very elusive - I only remember my Mom finding them in the garden once or twice. This tiny guy today was so wriggly and squirmy and plump. His froggy little face and small little webby feet had me squealing - isn't nature amazing? And beyond the simple coolness of it, I have also read that the presence of animals such as frogs, toads, and salamanders is an indicator of a healthy environment. Granted, we don't live in a nature preserve, but it's nice to know that our neighborhood is healthy enough to support these little guys.

Once the raised beds were all filled with soil, I made sure to place him in one so that he could get out of the sun and into some soft wet dirt. I'm naming him Sammy - hopefully he will bring good luck to the garden this year!

I'm excited about the soil I decided to go with. It's a mixture of topsoil, peat moss, manure, mushroom compost, and sand. Originally I was hoping to mix my own soil from a recipe my uncle in Pennsylvania sent me (equal parts peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite), but our budget and my time both came up a little short. This was a very affordable alternative, and the soil looks nice and rich.

After we topped off each bed with soil, I proceeded to sow my early spring veggies:
  • Radish (Saxa 2 and French Breakfast)
  • Beet (Cylindra and Golden)
  • Carrot (St. Valery and Red Core Chantenay)
  • Evergreen Onion
  • Arugula
  • European Mesclun Mix
  • Dill
I partitioned each raised bed into squares for planting - stuck some nice labels in the ground and now the waiting begins. We're supposed to get some nice rain tomorrow, so that should have them well on their way.

The garden has finally taken the leap from the indoors to the great outdoors!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Little Late to the Party...

...but better late than never! The last two veggies that I was waiting on to sprout have finally decided to make a fashionably-late appearance. I think that the temperature of our basement had a lot to do with their slower germination rate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here they are!

Jimmy Nardello Pepper (two sprouts):

Reisentraube Tomato:

In terms of veggies, I have had a 95% germination rate. The only plant that hasn't sprouted yet is one of my Carbon tomatoes - that may change in the next few days. All in all, I'd say Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds knocked it out of the park with their seeds this year.

Here's a beautiful picture of a Carbon tomato, well on its way to developing several sets of true leaves - pretty boy!

The only last things I'm still waiting on to sprout are my catnip and lavender. I was reading up on lavender earlier this week and realize that I'm not the only one who has troubles sprouting it from seed - it appears to be a bit of a diva. I wasn't able to grow it last year either. But I can't understand the catnip...maybe it's the temperature issue? I had no problems sprouting it last year. Maybe I need to re-seed...

This week I also motored through the traumatic task of thinning-out the herb sprouts. My basil, oregano, thyme, and bee balm all had terrific germination rates, so I needed to thin out the playing field a bit - never a fun thing to do for the devoted gardener. The remaining sprouts now have more room to reach for the sky (or the grow light, for the time being).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Spring Flowers

The bulbs that I planted last fall have made their first appearance, officially ushering in Spring!




Mystery nubbin with spindly Grape Hyacinth foliage

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More Sprouting

More new sprouts to report this weekend!

Purple Jalapeno:

Black Beauty Eggplant:


The only seeds that haven't sprouted at all yet are the lavender, catnip, Jimmy Nardello Pepper (sweet), and Riesentraube tomatoes. I was getting a little impatient yesterday so I poked around a bit in the Jimmy Nardello Pepper cubes - there are definitely sprouts trying to poke through, they are just a little more developmentally challenged than the other peppers. Patience!

So, after several weeks, here's what my "garden" looks like so far: