Friday, April 30, 2010

Today is Save the Frog's Day!

Today is the second annual Save the Frogs Day! Founded by Dr. Kerry Kriger, this fine organization is blazing the trail for amphibian conservation worldwide. They have been working very hard, and gaining recognition for this worthwhile cause. Check out the article on the National Wildlife Federation website about the "America's Top 10 Most Threatened Frogs".

Today there are many activities worldwide for Save the Frogs Day, but we still need to do what we can to spread the word...'s the only way to save the frogs!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Product Reviews: Beauty and Function

Check out the awesome goodies I get to try out! I was contacted by Allsop Home Garden products to review some of the items they offer, and since I just love to try new they are! First we have "Pot Pads" to maintain air circulation under outdoor planters. They prevent damage to decks and patios, and come in four different colors! This will really protect my deck, since last year's veggie pots took a toll.

Next is a beautiful solar light called "Firefly". It came with good instructions and excellent packaging...

....with its' own solar collector on the pole (near the ground to be less noticeable).

Looks cute already...
....this is the "Calla Lily" topper....'s made of glass with this neat crackled pattern on the outside....
....even more beautiful after dark!

Thank you Allsop!

Disclaimer: Allsop Home Garden gave me these complimentary items in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed here are honest and all my own.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Shiitake Surprise

Look what I found the other day-a shiitake mushroom on my log outside! Last fall, I thought it was done, which is certainly reasonable after 5 years of production. There's even another one pinning! ("Sprouting" in mycology lingo.)
This is already shaping up to be a yummy season! :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Holy Germination, Batman!

My indoor seed-starting project began on April 16th, and just two days later I already had germination!
The next two days brought even more.... all the trays except peppers. The first tomato to germinate indoors was 'High Carotene' ...

....and by the 20th I've begun thinning! I seem to have over-sown this row of okra with a couple different basils. So far the okra seedlings seem to have transplanted well into a bigger pot to grow all together.

In my wintersown tray outdoors I have lift-off with my SeedGrow project nasturtium 'Spitfire'...

....despite low temps below freezing at night. I'm enjoying wintersowing more and more, but for "fast action" you can't beat a heat mat and indoor lights!

"I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project, thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds."

Monday, April 19, 2010

To Soak Or Not To Soak

That was the question when I prepared to start seeds indoors under lights, especially when it came to the nasturtiums. This packet came right out and said to do it... ...but this one didn't. (Funny how different seeds for the same plant can look so different.) I figured that soaking them can't hurt I did. (Plus I have the wintersown ones that were not soaked to compare somewhat, though growing methods differ.)

There! These were set in a tray that went on the heat mat, so I'm hoping they'll germinate soon. (Still nothing from the wintersown seeds.)
I have two more varieties of nasturtium that I'll direct sow outdoors later, and I will soak them...
....but I decided to go ahead and try some of the 'Alaska Mix' and 'Spitfire' soaked seeds out right now in small pots.

Let's see what happens :)

"I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project, thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's Go Time

On Friday it was time to get my indoor seed starting underway. This is a couple weeks later than last year, but still 6 weeks before our frost-safe date, so what the hey. A few seeds were pre-soaked overnight...
...and I decided to try a row of sweet pea 'High Scent' with filed seeds to compare to the soaked ones.
I'd never filed the seed coat before, hopefully I did it right (at least I have the pre-soaked seeds in case this doesn't work out.)
Just like last year I'm using this heat mat under the trays to assist germination, but I don't have the same insulated metal mat to put under it. I improvised with aluminum foil, although it may not be necessary...just makes me feel better to cover the wooden boards with something to insulate and reflect the heat back.

And away we go! There's six 36-cell flats in all, with five on the mat and one for seeds that need "cooler germination" sitting nearby. One flat is all flowers, one all peppers, one all tomatoes, and three a combination of flowers, herbs and veggies.
My handy fan is ready to help strengthen the stems of emerging seedlings, as well as keeping the soil surface somewhat drier to prevent damping off. (I don't turn it on until there's germination.)
Here sets the "cooler germination" tray. I figured it can sit here about a week, then I'll move it under the lights but off the heat mat surface so it will be somewhat warmer but not too much.
How can they fail with this crowd cheering them on? :)

On a side note, check out my new orchid pot! I've priced these online at over $20, but found this one on sale locally for $4.45!! Self discipline and patience pay off after all!

Breaking wintersowing news: a tomato has germinated!! This is cherry tomato 'Stupice' from Czechoslovakia, listed at 52 days. All I can say is wow!
Some other wintersown seedlings needed to be thinned.... cabbage 'Caraflex'. That's better. It always bugs me not to "save' the culled sprouts, but it's just part of the process.

I have no qualms about "sacrificing" flowers though... enjoy in the house of course! Got my spring on now for sure! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Miscellaneous Veggies 2009

Okay, one more 2009 garden review and then back to real-time blogging. This is a tall vining tomato, 'Tomatoberry'......the fruit is a nice, large-ish cherry. Rather firm and hollow though, so I'd use it as a stuffer for Hors d'Ĺ“uvres. Good taste despite last season's very un-tomato like weather.

This small, manageable vine is spaghetti squash 'Small Wonder'.....

.....the fruits are single serving size and quite delicious!Speaking of fruit, my raspberries did well last year (even though I had to share a couple :)Despite having the appearance of a green bean, this is actually a "soup bean"... ....'Papa De Rola', an heirloom from Portugal. I only got a couple pods, but they were pretty!

This was my most successful tomato, 'Matt's Wild Cherry'. I grew it in three hanging baskets......and boy did the plants deliver! The fruits were held upside down on the plant which looked kinda funny, but the taste was amazing. True to the name, the "wild" seeds came from "...Hidalgo in Eastern Mexico. It's the region of domestication of tomatoes, and where these grow wild" per the catalog. They sure grew and fruited like some sort of weed, which really eased my cold season pain when the other tomatoes all pouted.

My leek experiment was nothing short of hilarious. I tried the seeds in a very tall enamel planter, believing that if it were deep enough they would grow alright. Well I'm here to tell you that leeks are not carrots, but they sure need to be thinned well and planted properly (a.k.a. in the ground). But if you want to wait all summer for chive-sized results...then this is how it's done :)

This unusual-looking flower belongs to a fava bean, 'Broad Windsor'... weird season yielded one lonesome pod (of course deer chomping the plants halfway through the growing period didn't help either). I'm pretty sure I let the pod get too full...
....and the contents look buggy as well. No worries, there's no waste around here since either the worm bin or composter get to "enjoy" the duds.
Now on to the current season. Ready....set...GROW! ;-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

That's More Like It

The snow melted and spring has returned to normal... if that was a regular rain shower....
....the flowers almost seem to have enjoyed it!
Beautifully blooming their hearts out...
...right through the grass and lawn debris.
Some spring bushes have begun to bloom as well, this is white forsythia Abeliophyllum distichum...
...hooray spring!!