Monday, February 21, 2011

Garden Expo And Garden Graph

This last week started with a great visit to the Garden Expo, continued in an upward direction with warmer temperatures and melting snow, and has ended with.... FREEZING RAIN!  Ugh!  Well at least there was one bright spot in this thing we call winter.  The freezing rain is expected to turn into snow over night and everything outside already has a nice coating of ice on it making for some sparkling twigs!  But we mustn't focus on such chilly things, so let's see what is happening in the land of gardening!

I finally got a graph made.  You can click on the photo at left to see a bigger version of the finished product.  I can't say it is 100% "the" finally layout that will be in my garden, but it should be pretty close.  Upon viewing the graph, Tom's first comment was, 'what are you going to put in the big space on the right?'.  Well, that is technically for the vines that will eventually want to take over the garden, but I may put in some beets in the beginning so that there isn't a giant empty spot.  No one likes wasted space in a garden!  And since the vines will take a while to grow, there should be plenty of time for some beets to mature.  You may also notice that the garden looks much more rectangular than last year.  With the new fence that we installed, the garden is finally more normal in shape, and I was able to safely make a rectangular graph!

As I mentioned, we did make it to the Garden Expo. It was my first time going, and I definitely will plan to go again.  My main focus for the trip was to see if there were any interesting seeds I may want.  Of course there were TONS of seeds, and I did want most of them.  However, I had to focus and only get a few, since most of the garden was already spoken for.  I zeroed in on hot peppers and heirloom tomatoes for possible treasures.  I was not disappointed!

There were several different choices and the difficult part was not grabbing every seed packet that looked interesting.  Since I already had some of the standard hot peppers, I decided to get something that I haven't tried before.  After going back and forth between Thai peppers and a variety called Rooster Spur, I decided on the Rooster, because it has purple leaves which will add a fun color to the garden even before any fruits form.  The peppers themselves are only two inches in length and turn red when they are ripe.  I expect they will have a bit of a bite, as the seed packet describes them as HOT.  Should be good for adding to chili and possibly salsa and hot sauce!

Next stop was the tomatoes.  After looking at several different kinds I picked out an heirloom variety called Tigerella.  As the name implies, the fruits are red with orange stripes.  It neglects to say how big the fruits get on the seed packet, but upon investigating the world wide web, my suspicions were confirmed that it produces a medium sized fruit.  So not a beef steak size like the Mr. Stripey tomato.  Apparently the two are very similar, especially in taste, and with a predicted plant height of 8-10 feet, I can see the relation!  I can always trim it down though, so we will see.  Nothing like using a step ladder to harvest your tomato plant!

Satisfied with my Tigerella choice, I turned to leave the tomato section when something caught my eye.  "Italian Heirloom"  I had to check it out as my dad is Italian and anything Italian and food related makes me think of my dad's side of the family.  My Italian grandmother did not have a garden, but she was quite the cook, and I think she would have liked these tomatoes!  The seed packet reads like a salesman after my own heart.  "Outstanding heirloom from Italy"; "Fruits weighing over a pound!"; "Ideal for canning" with "very little waste and easy to peel".  Had I not been in a public place with several strangers within earshot, I would have said, 'Sold!' out loud.  I then decided I had better leave the tomato section before more packets made their way home with me!

I did pick up two more vegetable items before ending the seed search.  Giant Musselburgh leeks and Climbing French beans.  I needed to get some green beans as it was, and the Climbing French variety looked good.  I also decided getting leeks again would be fun, but this time I got big ones as is indicated in the title.  And not to be outdone by their edible cousins, I got a few flower choices as well.  I am still pretty determined to turn our steep hill into a prairie.  We will see how that goes in year two of the mission!
And finally in this never ending post I get to some plantings!  I planted some green onions which can be seen at right (there are more, but I decided to crop the photo).  You may be wondering what all the pictures in the rest of this post are of, as I just sort of threw them in there with no explanation.  Starting at the top after the graph photo we have what I like to call, 'preparation'.  You can see the plastic seed trays I have purchased so far, as well as seed packets, my garden notebook, and some measuring devices.  The next photo down is of the long table I purchased to put my seedlings on.  Four trays will fit comfortably, and as you can see, they will get some good sun light!

Next we have the 'planting room', aka the laundry room, where I planted the onions and will do the rest of my indoor plantings.  The pot in the photo is an old pot I use to mix the soil with water, so that it is moist when I put it in the trays.  And yes, I do keep my seed packets in a box in alphabetical order, with an index card (baring the correct letter of the alphabet) separating each section.  If only I was that organized in all areas of my life!

And that last photo before the plantings is more fir fun than anything else.  I was just overcome with joy when I saw GRASS!!! that I had to take a picture.  I will be referencing that photo often in the coming days as I wait for the grass to re-appear.  Before it got dark tonight, that spot in the photo was already freshly covered with a thin, but most likely persistent, layer of snow.  Repeat after me: Spring is coming!  Spring is coming!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Planting Time!!!

After neglecting my blog for months (oops!), I am back!  Now we'll see how much time I leave in between this post and my next post to determine if I really am "back".  :-)  And since mostly nothing in the way of 'gardening' has occurred since my September post, I feel just fine moving on to the here and now!  So here goes...

I can tell it is 'that' time of year by the commercials on TV advertising commercial grade herbicides and other similar products.  And by 'that' time of year, I of course mean planting time!  But Sara, have you looked out your windows lately?  Particularly after the HUGE snow storm that hit and is now pummeling the East Coast?  Yes, yes I have.  And as I stare out over the 4 foot snow drift that sits on my back porch, I imagine green grass and vegetable plants heavy with ripe fruit.  And I know that some day, months from now, I will no longer have to imagine it, because it will be real!  But not without some careful planning, and that begins now!

So far I have collected several seeds, mainly from joining a seeds of the month club.  The club has been providing me with four packets of seeds a month! (Seed Club which I highly recommend!)  I have also purchased Jiffy 5063 Seed Starting Mix - 16 Quart Bag, some plastic trays, and a long skinny table that will sit behind our couch in the sun with the seed trays on top.  In addition to these items I picked up some hot pepper seeds (they do not send hot pepper seeds from the seeds of the month club), and plan to get some more items next weekend at the Garden Expo!  (  And last, but probably the most important for the planning process, I have made three graphs of my garden plot.  I have yet to fill them in, but at least I started the process!  I made three graphs so that I can change my mind and not have to cross things out.  The graph making process involved going to the store to get a yard stick, because my 12 inch ruler wasn't quite long enough.  And that was making each foot of my garden only half an inch!  I wanted to make each foot a whole inch, but it turns out my paper isn't long enough for that.

I hope to have pictures up as soon as I plant my first seedlings.  That should be within the next couple of weeks!  Until then, happy gardening!