Friday, January 30, 2009

Garden planning II

Looks like I made a couple errors on my initial plan. I didn't allow enough space for the number of tomatoes I would like to grow. Since tomatoes are a staple in our home, I need to tweak it a bit to allow for the maximum number of tomato plants. It looks like I will give up some of the space for corn to allow for more tomato plants. Don't get me wrong. We love corn, but for my small space and the variety of things I would like to grow this year, corn will be easier to purchase fresh at the farmer's market. I will, of course, give growing corn a try to see if I am successful. If the corn grows well for me, I will plan a larger area next year.

The 16 sq ft of space I allowed for the herbs is also going away. The herbs will be placed in the 2'x50' bed (and/or pots) this year as the permanent plantings will not be fully established yet. In place of the herbs, I will be growing edamame, mung and adzuki beans. These will help meet our nutritional needs during not only the summer, but into the winter as well. From past experiences, I know that just 2 mung beans will give plenty of seeds for sprouts and will assume the same for the adzuki beans. The remainder of the area will be devoted mainly to the edamame and other "new" seeds acquired to try this year.

I also need to develop a plan for my seed saving bed. It will be devoted strictly to plants I wish to save seeds from that are not easily obtained such as tomato and melon seeds. It will be relatively small but will allow me to better control the growing conditions for my seed plants of broccoli, carrots, lettuce etc.

Looks like I need to learn how to use a spreadsheet to help with this planning phase. I'll have to ask around to see what I can find.

Happy continued planning, Kim

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Garden planning

What else is there to do in the deep snow of winter except dream? I have finally put a good working plan down on paper for my gardens this coming spring. I have 2 established beds and am planning on adding a couple more.

The one bed is directly behind the garage and is 30"x16'. In the bed I plan on planting: 8 cauliflower, 12 broccoli, 6 cabbage, 2' of kohlrabi and 1' of rutabaga (not sure how many per sq ft yet). Against the garage on a trellis I will have a row consisting of peas and pole beans. Sprinkled between the larger crops there will be radish, chard, turnips, celery, beets, carrots, leeks, lettuce and spinach...these can be harvested before the larger crops need the room and later replanted in late summer.

In my already existing bed of 4'x24' I plan on planting: 16 peppers (4'x4'), 4'x4' of bush beans, 2 (2'x4') zucchini, 4'x4' of herbs and 2'x8' of potatoes with the same of sunflowers behind them.

A new 4'x24' bed will be added containing 22 tomato plants with a 2'x24' row of corn behind them...stagger planted of course to extend the harvest.

Not sure where yet, but I will be adding a narrow strip (probably along the other side of the garage) for vining/climbing crops of cucumbers and melons.

A 4'x4' box will be made in the middle of the yard for my granddaughter's giant pumpkin which will be allowed to sprawl across the lawn (sorry dh but you won't know what hit ya until it is too late lol).

I will be adding a trellis along one side of the fence for a grapevine and down the line further my 2 blueberries under planted with lignon berries.

A new bed of 2'x50' will go along the back fence behind the existing 4'x24' bed. This will leave a walkway of 2' between them. The long, narrow box will be home to permanent plantings consisting of asparagus, herbs, rhubarb, strawberries and a few flowers to attract bees. I am also adding a box of 3'x8' in an out of the way spot for raspberries.

There is also a really ugly corner with an even uglier telephone pole right in plain view. I will plant some kind of climbing flower on the pole and then fill the corner with beneficial, bee attracting flowers.

In total, the planting area will take up a solid 1/3 of my back yard. I'll have to see how my husband reacts to this as he is "not a farmer" and doesn't understand my desire to become more self-sufficient and my love of gardening. I figure by next year, he will have time to accept this and I can squeeze out a few more feet for more beds.

Oh yeah, I have tons of pots which, of course, will be filled with edibles. Happy planning, Kim.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lettuce is a keeper!

I am so happy with my little lettuce experiment. I have been able to pick a small salad four days this past week. The lettuce leaves are about 1 1/2" long now and are doing very well with my simple (and cheap) shop light set up in the basement. I am also growing the mung and adzuki bean sprouts for added flavor and nutrients in the salads. The celery from the cut off end is now a couple inches tall and I can cut off a little piece every couple days to add to my salads. I also have some golden beets growing and a few radishes to see if I can at least get some greens to add to the salads. In very early March, I also plan on starting lots of pots with lettuce, radish, beets, spinach, 7 top turnips and just about anything else that I can pick leaves from for salads. These will be moved outside as soon as the temperature stays above freezing. I hope to purchase some PVC pipe to make a small hoop house to keep all the plants in.

At work I found some nice rectangular, plastic containers that get thrown away in large numbers. They will fit nicely on my only south facing window sill. I am going to start some more lettuce, spinach, radish and beets in them to grow some more salad greens. I will rotate with the other plants growing under my shop light in an attempt at keeping them from getting too leggy. I hope to be able to pick more leaves to add to my salads in a few weeks.

I found this neat Utube video on one of Patti's websites that shows one person's experiment growing potatoes in pots. Basically, a piece of potato was planted into 1 gallon pots and 90 days later it was harvested. She had a really good yield for the amount of space provided. I have a couple spuds in a brown paper bag to see if I can get some of them to sprout so I can grow potatoes in pots. I'm not sure if the light from my east facing window will be enough, but I am going to give it a try anyway. I figure I have nothing to lose except the opportunity to grow a couple fresh potatoes for the table.

I'll keep you all updated as I can...I've been picking up all the over-time I can and find myself pretty tired at the end of the day. You know the old saying, gotta may hay while the sun is shining. In my case, gotta get the work while the work is available. See you next time. Kim

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter fun

Jordan and I have been sledding a couple times this week and I have to say, I had a great time. I haven't been on a sled since my children were very young. I do have to say though, I don't remember being quite so sore those many, many years ago. On one of the last runs, I hit a rather large bump and was launched! I have a feeling I am going to be even more sore tomorrow.

My little lettuce leaves are now large enough to pick a small salad each day. I am also growing the mung and adzuki sprouts for some added flavor and crunch. My golden beats are up and I hope will be large enough soon to pick some leaves for the salad. I am really amazed at the celery end I planted. It is not only sending up leaves but, the center is putting out stalks as well.

Jordan and I also wintersowed 13 more containers today. We used some water bottles and milk jugs I gathered from a neighbors recycling bin (with permission of course). We are trying to find ways to not only recycle but to recycle twice. When the vegetables and flowers are due to be planted, the containers will be put out in the recycle box.

I think it is time for these poor old bones to go soak in a nice hot tub! See you next time in My Little Corner of the World. Kim

Wintersown 1/21
Hyssop blue, eyeball plant, blue-eyed daisy, lemon balm, 4 o'clocks, white bunching onions, bronze fennel, lime basil, bright lights chard, catalonga lettuce, Isikurio scallions, scenic spinach

Monday, January 19, 2009

Celery from root

I read online somewhere that celery will sprout of you place the end you would normally discard into some damp potting mix. Well let me tell you that it works! I placed mine in a cut down water bottle (recycle twice) with some potting mix. The center of the celery end is not only sprouting, but is about 2" tall now. I placed it under my simple light set up next to the lettuce and will watch and see how large it will grow. I figure that even if it only grows a few inches tall with lots of leaves, I could use them to flavor soups, meatloaves and other foods I normally put chopped celery into. I have another stalk of celery in the refrigerator and will definitely be starting that end as well.

My little lettuce plants are now at the top of the container and have enough leaves to pick a few for a small salad for my lunch today. I will add a little piece of the celery chopped up for flavor and some of my mung and adzuki bean sprouts. I'll have to let you all know how good it tastes!

It is still pretty cold but my granddaughter is begging me to take her sledding. It looks like I will have to borrow the husband's insulated overalls as it is only in the teens today. Oh what we don't do for the grand kids! Looks like I need to take a HUGE thermos of hot chocolate along for some added warmth, besides, what girl doesn't like a little chocolate.

Hope I don't freeze too much. See you next time. Kim

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bitter cold

It is bitter cold outside at -12 degrees. It is simply too cold to go outside. Schools in our area are closed because it is so dangerous for the kids to stand at the bus stop. I had both of my 4 year old grandkids over yesterday. It was a lot of fun but today I am moving a little slower. Jordan spent the night and I was supposed to drive her to school but since it is now closed, it looks like we have to find something else to keep us occupied today.

I received a surprise from Patti, the Garden Girl, in the mail yesterday. She sent me a wonderful assortment of heirloom seeds from her Baker Creek collection. Jordan and I are going to grow a few of the golden beets so we can eat the tops in our salads. The lettuce we started last week is growing well under lights in the basement. If I wanted to be really fancy, it is at the perfect stage to be considered a micro salad. Since I am not in a 5 star restaurant, I think I'll let it get a little larger for my salads.

The lettuce is growing under the simple light set up I have which cost under $20. It is great for growing salad greens in the winter and starts for next season's garden. I am saving up for another shop light so I can grow more this year. The gardens need to expand in order to grow the ever expanding number of vegetables I plan on trying this year.

Well, I need to go since Jordan wants to plant those beets. Hope you can come back soon to join us in My Little Corner of the World. Kim

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bloom time

After working 2 very long, hard 12 hour shifts this weekend, I was greeted by one of my geraniums beginning to bloom. My grandmother passed away 12 years ago and I was able to get a piece of one of her geraniums. I have taken cuttings each year since and overwintered it in the house. Yesterday it began to bloom. Each year in the middle of winter this same geranium blooms and brings back wonderful memories of the time I spent with my grandmother. As the winter progresses, the plant will reward me with many more blooms. In late winter, the geranium tends to get a little leggy and I will take several cuttings and root them for planting outdoors in May.

I am so lucky to have this little piece of my grandmother that I have passed on to my daughter and now my granddaughter. I was very fortunate that my mom also did the same with a peony that belonged to her grandmother. I wonder just how many people have saved something as simple as a plant to pass down among the generations.

Here is a photo of my granddaughter, Jordan, enjoying one of my grandma's geraniums last winter.


Time to go and smell the flowers in My Little Corner of the World.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Saving seeds

One of the new things I learned last season was how to save various seeds. I am planning ahead this year on a way to save a larger number of seeds. I belong to a small group that gives seeds to those in need called Need4Seed. The concept developed by Robin was simple but has had a great deal of impact on many people. She wanted to help others help themselves. She started giving away fruit and vegetable seeds to anyone who had a need. I was one of them. In turn, I saved many different types of seeds and donated them back to her. I also have plenty saved for this year's gardens and will learn how to save new varieties as well.

As a way of saving more seeds, I have decided to make a little seed saving garden. I will plant a few different vegetables utilizing the square foot method with the sole purpose of acquiring seeds for the following year (and to donate to Need4Seed). I figure that a garden of 2'x6' should be plenty of space to grow out things such as carrots, lettuce, broccoli, beans and a variety of other vegetables. Things that normally are easy to save seeds from such as tomatoes and melons will have their place in the other gardens. I'm also going to save a square foot or two for cuttings from my grape vine and blueberries.

Looks like I need to make up a detailed plan on how I want to space the different things I plan on growing. See you next time in My Little Corner of the World. Kim

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Time to get healthy

I don't plan on writing too often in one day so as not to bore you too much. I work a 12 hour shift tomorrow and doubt I'll be writing. As I said earlier, I have made a commitment to myself to become healthier with this new year. I went to the doctor today and got a complete physical, EKG, labs and mammogram. The appointment went well and we decided in order to be at a healthy weight I need to lose about 60 pounds. My goal is to lose this in the next year. This is a healthy weight loss of about 1 pound a week. In order for me to meet this goal and, most importantly, keep it off, I feel this is a good goal. I need to change some bad habits that I have developed over the past 46 years and it won't happen overnight.

After the appointment, I went to the store and purchased lots of vegetables and some fruit. Healthy lean meats and just a few low-cal frozen meals also went into the cart. I don't plan on eating many prepared frozen meals but need something I can grab on my way to work just in case. I would rather be prepared than caught off guard.

One of my favorite low calorie snacks is celery and salsa. I get the same crunch as tortilla chips without the fat and calories and I get a couple vegetable servings in this way. I cut up the celery and put into zipper bags and put some salsa into small containers ready to be eaten on the fly. I also washed and chopped up my Romaine lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, onions, and mushrooms. This way I can make a salad on the run by grabbing a big handful of lettuce and some toppings. These fixings are also great to add to egg white omelets as a quick meal.

After cleaning up the mess...for some unknown reason when I cook things go flying...I decided to take the ends of the celery and onion and place them in a little damp potting mix. I have read that they will sprout and you can use them as cuttings. It is worth a try anyway. If it doesn't work they'll end up in the compost pile later rather than sooner. While I was out shopping I also picked up some mung and adzuki beans at a bulk food store and have them soaking for sprouts. This should add some fresh taste to my salads. This spring I also plan on planting a couple of the seeds to grow my own.

Well if I am going to get in a little exercise, I'd better get off the computer. Hope to see you again soon in My Little Corner of the World. Kim

New Year, New Me

I did it. I finally got my mind straight and rejoined a diet support group. Having worked the midnight shift the past 3 years, I really packed on the pounds. Well now I don't have any more excuses. I am back on the day shift and need to get this weight off. Here is to a healthier weight in 2009.

Eating healthier in the winter is very difficult for me. I prefer to eat the vast majority of fruit and vegetables fresh. The choices are dismal as far as I am concerned. The foods I prefer most taste more like the wax models I once tasted as a child (don't ask). To help ever so slightly, I sowed some lettuce seeds and have them under lights in the basement. The little darlings have sprouted in just 3 days. I don't think they will ever get large enough to produce my entire salad, but they will get large enough to take clippings to add to store bought lettuce. Today I will go through my seed stash and sow a couple more pots of greens to add to the lettuce. I am thinking beet tops would be tasty and add a little more color.

Starting a grow light system does not have to be expensive. I started mine for just $20 last year. The common "shop lights" sold in most home improvement stores are all you need. You can add a 'plant and aquarium light' if you chose to broaden the light spectrum but the seedlings will do just as well without one. The shop light I purchased was $8.99 and the grow light was $9.89. I was able to start all my tomato plants as well as spring crops last year with just this 4 foot set up. I have my little lettuce seedlings growing under the light now. When it is time to start the broccoli and other brassicas as well as the tomatoes, I will set the lettuce seedlings outside with protection.

As soon as the ground thaws, I plan on setting up a hoop house and starting a large cut and come again salad patch. I needed some heavy guage plastic in the winter and was able to pick up a 10'x100' roll for $14.99. I had plenty to do my project and have more than enough to cover my salad bed. I figure for under $15 I can purchase enough PVC pipe to make a small hoop tunnel.

I'll post pictures once things get going so don't forget to come back and join me in My Little Corner of the World.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Winter gardening

The seed catalogs are beginning to arrive and fill my dreams with the new gardening adventures awaiting me in just a few short months. I sit and study the catalogs and find exciting things just waiting to be grown and eaten. I find offers of purple carrots and cucumbers that already taste as if they have been pickled. It doesn't matter that the space my garden occupies is under 100 square feet. I must find a way to incorporate all the wonderful new flavors just waiting to be tasted. (Looks like the poor old husband is going to lose a little more of has lawn this year.) I have this intense need to dig into the soil and have an ever increasing patch in which to plant my new finds.

Oh but the obsession has already started. I have been collecting milk jugs, water bottles and other containers for seed starting. I found a way to get my fix playing in the soil and planting seeds that does not require me to have a greenhouse or expensive lights. I found a method called Winter Sowing. Oh to my delight! I can start planting now when the temperatures outside are below freezing. With winter sowing you get a jump start on not only starting the early spring seeds, but it takes so little effort you would think it is not possible. How could I possibly plant my seeds and put them outside to freeze? How can they possibly grow? These questions have been asked and answered by Trudi of Wintersown. She developed the method which has been tried time and again and has proven it works.

The method is so simple it seems too good to be true. As do most people, I didn't believe it was possible and was quite skeptical. I started out small last spring with just a few containers. Much to my delight, I was able to grow flowers and vegetables with very little effort and expense. Much to my dismay, as many others before me have found, this method soon turns into an obsession. I cannot walk past a container without thinking what I can plant. Luckily, I have things under control....well I am trying anyway...ok I do have a few things going and I do have plenty of more seeds waiting for the perfect containers...oh well, I give up. The more containers I collect, the more containers I plant. I haven't taken wintersowing to the extreme yet as I only have 22 containers started and another 12 waiting for my next round of seeds to arrive in the mail. I hear of others who have 300+ containers sitting on the frozen ground just waiting for Mother Nature to give them their wake-up call.

You may not want to read any further. I'm going to tell you just how easy this method is. Ok, last chance, stop reading now unless you too want to get hooked. Oh sorry, it is already too late? Don't say I didn't warn you!

milk jug or other suitable container
a razor knife or scissors able to cut the containers
potting mix (NOT soil)

Just how simple is this? Using the razor knife, cut a door in the side of the milk jug. Punch a few holes in the bottom of the container. Fill 3-4" deep with potting mix, water and let drain well. Sprinkle seeds on top and lightly pat into soil (for larger seeds barely cover with more potting mix). Place lable inside container and tape the door shut. Discard the lid! (You don't want to fry the little guys when the temperatures start to warm up.) Place the container outside. Now for the hard part...wait! When the time is right, the little seeds will begin to swell and soon you will see the beginnings of green. Yes, it really is that easy. What are you waiting for? Give it a try.

Before you go, take some time to visit for complete details on how and what to plant. If you still have questions, hop on over the the message board at Garden Girl Tv and give me a shout . Then don't forget to come back and join me in My Little Corner of the World.

Happy planting! Kim

Wintersown thus far:
12/9/08 (a little too early I later found out) asparagus, alpine strawberries, leeks, broccoli, garlic chives
12/21/08 kohlrabi, cauliflower, dill, oriental leaf mix, romaine lettuce, red rock mammoth cabbabe, Italian market wonder tomato, freckles lettuce, minnesota midget melon
12/31 red cardinal flower, lemon bee balm, gaillardia, marjoram, thyme, sage, creping rosemary, Wyatt's Wonder giant pumpkin

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My favorite places to visit

I said last time I would share some information about me but that is boring (and in my profile). I would rather share my favorite places to visit.

As a young, struggling mother of 2 very young kids, I was fortunate to discover Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew on PBS some 23 years ago. We were living below the poverty line and barely making ends meet. The food budget was a dismal $30 a month plus some government rations given to the children. Mel taught me that in just a few square feet, I could help feed my family fresh homegrown vegetables. My adventure started out small in just a 2'x8' area. I took a few dollars from our meager food budget to purchase a tomato plant and some green bean seeds. Thanks to Mel and his Square Foot method, I was able to supplement our diet with the first fresh vegetables we had eaten in a long time. Sorry Mel, somewhere I got lost along the way and my adventure developed into hundreds of square feet of flowers instead. My vegetable gardening turned into a couple of meager tomato plants that is until the spring of 2008. A new house and a desire to eat fresh, organic, homegrown fruit and vegetables has once again taken over. I am back!

In early 2008 I was fortunate to stumble across Garden Web while searching out some much wanted seeds. WOW! Is all I can say about this extensive source of gardening nirvana. There are hundreds of forums in all aspects of gardening. Much to my delight, and the dismay of my poor husband, I found thousands of people who have a passion for growing their own. I have bubbly after bubbly coming to my house full of seeds. Our tiny yard is slowly losing its boring, green, flat lawn and becoming a blooming mass of flowers and vegetables. I think he has figured it out though. He grumbles about his ever decreasing mowing space which in turn I tell him he is nuts, go play golf, leave the yard to me, why do you want to mow anyway???

Then along came my friend, Patti Moreno, The Garden Girl. Through a small post on Garden Web I discovered some incredible videos on YouTube. The Garden Girl showed me that in my tiny little yard I could, indeed, have my own little urban homestead. I am totally hooked as Patti is now my gardening guru. She has shown me the light and the way....ok...enough...I very much enjoy learning the techniques she teaches in her videos. She is a sweet, wonderful person who loves to share what she does best with the rest of us. I would highly recommend checking out her website and videos. When you are done, come visit those of us who are like minded on her forums. There is a ever growing wealth of information from some more great people there. Don't forget to give me a wave when you come to visit.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea whichever you prefer, take some time and check out my links. When you are done, don't forget to come back to share a little more of My Little Corner of the World.

See you next time,


Friday, January 2, 2009


Welcome to my little corner of the world. This is where I get to share my experiences with anyone interested enough to take the time to read them. This is going to be a new experience for me and I hope you will have some patience as I learn the ropes here. Next time I visit, I will tell you a little about myself.