This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT


You know you're a gardener when...
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Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Jan 31, 2011

With a little work…

 

We have manure.

I helped a friend clean stalls and an arena. We were paid with a truck load plus a utility trailer heaping full of very nice composted manure (or gold as some, myself included, would call it!).

As of today our temps are dropping, so it will be a while before I can wheel barrel it back to my crop beds. I recently put a different load of manure back there and it wasn’t as nice as this stuff. I plan on moving that to my flower beds and using the nice stuff on my crop beds (or a portion of it- there is so much). The other stuff was okay, but it had tiny rocks it in from the arena and the new stuff has none. The rocks are small enough that they just add air pockets, but I think my flower beds would be a better place for them.

My experiment in the greenhouse is so far coming along fine- the radishes have been up for a while and I think I saw a few lettuce and spinach popping up. Now that the temps have dropped, which I expected, I need to figure out a easy way to add the double protective layer- a chenille is not going to work because this bed is under one of the greenhouse benches. What ever I decide to do I’d better do it fast because of the low temps!

I also have some pansy up- although I will say I think I forgot where I was and started them too early. I remember having problems with bluish leaves one year in Jan. because of the cold- and that was in Portland! So, I plan to start some more mid-Feb.

And the last update- I decided to try winter sowing this year. On the 25th I started some Hellebore and some clematis seeds I gathered from my mom’s garden last year. We’ll see what happens. The Hellebore seeds are older and the clematis seeds were not stored right so I’m not sure they’ll germinate. I probably should have used fresh seeds for my first attempt- and I do plan on sowing some fresher seeds in Feb.

Hope all is well with you and as usual-

Happy Gardening,

 

Tessa

Jan 29, 2011

Very Scary!

 

I know this is totally off subject, but I had to pass this along. Apparently it is not enough to avoid posting your address, phone number, etc. Geotagging can be dangerous! And for all my blogging friends that regularly post pics of their kids I’m passing this on to you- be safe everyone!

 

Scary!

Jan 23, 2011

What a Nice Little Tool

 

I ran across this handy little tool- it’s especially good for new gardeners, or gardeners who have just moved to a new zone and no one seems to have nailed down an accurate last frost date and who like to have great salads in the winter…

It was written for 2009, but it doesn’t matter as you’ll be putting in your own dates anyway. It’s small so you can carry it in your purse- which is handy when you’re at the store and you see some seeds that you just know you forgot to order from a catalog.

Just follow the directions for printing and putting it together and there you go- very nice.

 

Little House in the Suburbs

 

Happy Gardening,

 

Tessa

Jan 22, 2011

Little by little…step by step

 

It takes time to get to the point where things just flow in your yard. At least that’s been my experience. Our yard in Portland was a lot smaller, and the soil there, in the beginning, needed help just as it does here- here it just needs different ingredients. I try to remind myself that the soil we left behind there in Portland was in great shape, but that took 8 years. Now the reasons for it taking so long were partially because I had no idea what I was doing- there was more trial an error. I’m grateful for everything I learned there because it allowed me to just take off here- with confidence. Still, soil improvement takes time- no matter what.

There are things that need to be thought out, built, purchased, or borrowed. There are resources that need to be found, preferably free, in order to get soil built up. We managed to get quite a bit done our first year here- and that’s even with Pat gone a lot for work! I’ve got 2 resources for composted manure, and straw or hay. We’ve purchased a small utility trailer (we still have to put it together). I’ve found some great local soil suppliers. The greenhouse is up, with one ground bed in too. Slowly but surely it  is all coming together. If there is anything gardening teaches you…it’s patience.

I especially like using what we have on hand. For example, Pat and I built a compost sifter. Nothing fancy, just a simple sifter I can place over a wheel barrel and sift away- without too much trouble…or back pain. We used some scrap wood from an old dog house that was left by the previous owners, and I purchased some 1/4” hardware cloth- simple.

I made sure to put handles on this one-

I’ve managed to get some short rows of some things planted in the greenhouse bed- not much, but it’s a start.

I planted-

Carrot, radish, spinach, 2 kinds of lettuce, mache. I’ll sow more in 2 weeks. Just a bit here and there to get things going, and have some baby greens. I also sowed some chard yesterday in a pot by itself- I think it’s too early for it here, but Pat really wanted me to start some. All these things will be experiments, and I’m using a double cover- first in the greenhouse and then covered with a tunnel. It will be interesting to see how it all works out, but if Eliot Coleman is right we should have some early crops. I love it that we’re now in the same zone and latitude (approximately) as he is so using his ideas and dates  is easy.

I also had a few bulbs left over from last fall and noticed that they had started growing- so I threw them in a pot in the greenhouse too.

I’ve planned out the crop area beds and laid some hay out (yes, I’ll have some weeds to deal with this year!). Next, I’ll top it with composted manure and add greensand, rock phosphate, and peat. Then comes the shallow tilling and I’ll mark out the beds and put in paths with some newspaper and straw. The soil in this area was used for crops before we moved in, but I have no ideas what, if any, amendments were used- my compost was started last year…and we all know compost fixes everything. I’m looking forward to having some to top these beds.

I’m planning on 30” wide beds for most of the area (again Eliot Coleman) as I always seem to go back to that size if I change things.

As you can see above, it was a bright sunny day today! It was 90 degrees in the greenhouse and I had to vent. The high outside was 50 degrees- I love it! I could have worked in a tank top easily, but I didn’t want to get burned :). That doesn’t mean we won’t get more snow and cold weather though…I have to remember that it is still January!

As I finished up today I looked out from the deck and was amazed how much everything has changed already. Here is a before shot (taken when we first looked at the place) and a shot taken on this beauty of a day today.

               ~Taken 10/24/2009~                                         ~Taken 1/22/2011~

Just a slightly different angle- but you get the idea, just focus on the telephone pole. The tree is gone (it was just to the left of the greenhouse in the current pic.) and I put paths right through those big beds because going all the way around was a pain. When I look at it like this it is amazing how much has been done and this is just one corner.

Here is a drawing I did before any work was done. I tried to do to scale…you know how that goes.

 

Here is the same drawing with some things changed- some of which have been done.

The greenhouse is in the upper right. The blue area is where we’d like to put a stream some day and make the pond in the upper left a little more interesting. The green area is the small grass area we put in last year- and it is much smaller than how the drawing looks! I’ll post some photos when the grass comes back to life- and we’re hoping it will ;). I used some plastic to overlay the original, so I can make changes and start over, if necessary. I wish I could make the detail better so you can see the deck and the trees and where the chickens will eventually go, but for now this is it. I plan to do this on my computer, but that will take some time.

Very soon I’ll do a series of tours of our new place so you can get a good picture of everything- so much work to do, but things are starting to take shape in my mind- very fun!

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Jan 15, 2011

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day…sort-of

 

Today when I was trying to catch up on some blog reading, I was reminded of GBBD on Catherine’s blog- A Gardener in Progress. Great blooms by the way, Catherine!

It’s been so long since I’ve joined in the fun- and so here we go…

 

 

Okay…I know I can’t fool you for long…I can dream though- right? These are just a few seed packets I have, some are new. You all know I’m working hard on things right now to get to the point where the flowers above, and many more, will be gracing our new yard with their presence!

So this month for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (and probably the next few months!) I’m dreaming of some blooms I’ll have some day soon…until then, head on over to Carol’s at May Dreams Gardens and enjoy all the blooms!

 

Happy Gardening,

 

Tessa

Jan 10, 2011

Gearing up…

 

I finally went to BIGS (Bend’s Indoor Garden Station)! I was hoping to find good deals on large quantities of what I put in my soils- greensand, rock phosphate, blood meal, etc. I can get the larger quantities, but at a much higher price than what I paid at Concentrates in Portland. I could get a #50 bag of greensand of $17 at Concentrates. Here in Central Oregon I’ll pay extra because of the cost of trucking it here- When I showed the nice guy at BIGS how much I was paying at Concentrates (I printed out the price sheet), he said he could go as low as $27 (He gave me a ‘growers’ price-not a gardeners price:). So for now whenever Pat goes to Portland for work, he’ll be stopping by Concentrates! However, I won’t be needing these larger quantities until I’m ready to work on the field beds…more on that later.

What I did find was a great local soil! And some smaller quantity soil amendments.

 

The soil is Wolf Pack Blend and it has lots of yummies in it! It comes from a nice family owned business. I purchased 2- 2qu.feet bags @ $11.90 per bag- which I think is a discount. I think once I asked for larger quantities, Byron, the sales guy, figured I was a serious grower :). Here is a closeup of the yummy ingredients-

This will be a good start for a few raised bed boxes we’re building in the greenhouse and maybe the cold frames I’m trying to get up and going. The previous owners of our new home were nice and left a couple windows in a trash pile on the side of the house- it feels good and right to use what we have on hand.

                         

 

The other great find was Diatomite Rock-

 

I was concerned about the corn weed blocker and cottonseed meal being products of GMOs, but then I saw that the distributors were in Eugene, Down to Earth- home of the tree huggers…we’re good! They have quite a few nice amendments to choose from- nice size for starting out, #7 box.

Both local products to support our local economy! Perfect! I look forward to trying them out and for all you locals reading, I’ll be sure to let you know how they perform.

 

Happy Gardening,

 

Tessa

Jan 7, 2011

If this is any indication…

 

Of the coming year, I feel encouraged! This bloomed right on the first day of 2011 :). I tried to get some frost in the shot…

 

 

This image courtesy of Taylor Neill (see more @  http://www.wix.com/downtownamoreux/web)

 

Happy New Year (late) everyone,

 

Tessa

Jan 4, 2011

The Right Plant in the Right Place

 

I won’t kid you, I’ve killed more plants by forcing them to grow and survive in a spot that is obviously not to their liking. I’ve tried to ignore this simple rule many times because I just love a plant! Only to send it to its death…

So far this is not the case with a houseplant I bought last summer. A common houseplant that I’ve hesitated getting because I always felt I had too little light, and that was probably true for our old home in Portland. I’ve placed it in my sunniest spot with the most humidity- a corner in our bathroom. It seems to be happy and now it’s blooming.

 

Wandering Traveler

 

In truth, I’m not really sure what plant this is- I know I said it’s common and it is, but some say it’s Tradescantia albiflora and others say it’s Zebrina pendula- commonly named Wandering Jew, inch-plant, or Wandering Traveler (the latter being my preference). Here is a nice site for care instructions- Guide to Houseplants. And in case you’re lost as to how to pronounce these names here is a pronunciation guide I found at Fine Gardening.com - I’ve looked everywhere for a site or some software to help me with this because knowing the plants botanical name is the only way to get the specific plant you’re looking for. If anyone knows of some software I’m all ears!

 

Happy New Year to you!

Tessa