Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rain and little Mini Greenhouses

3.07'' of rain is what they tell me we got from the last day or so.  The sump in the basement has been triggering here and there, but its really just upwell seepage and not over the wall flooding- so though annoying, it is not truly damaging....  but then i have not been down to see it since yesterday morning when i had to go down there for some fish tank odds and ends.

I found what looks to be a good deal on another mini greenhouse seed shelf:
Flower Tower

It is much like the one i got 2 years ago and that i like very much, but this also comes with not just the clear cover, but a tinted shade cover and a black-out cover.
Not sure how well made the extra covers are, but the price of $49 for each unit is better than the replacement price for the one i already own- which i can't find for under $65 now... then add shipping. 
But the extra covers are the deal breaker. I have seen replacement covers- just the clear one- cost over $20.

Two Flower Towers with shipping come to $123.30

So, yes.... mentally i am justifying the price!

I can use the shade and blackout for the mushroom projects i plan to begin later in the fall, and if i do try growing seedlings under lights again, the blackout will make a bright shelf easier to live with indoors and keep the seedlings from reaching for the windows when the lights are off.

I think i will try just one for now though. There is no shipping discount on multiple items. I just hope the price won't go up between now and when i want the second one!

...especially since i just bought two more garden books for the eReader...

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
 by Eliot Coleman
Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times
by Steve Solomon

these links go to Amazon, but i got my eBooks from Sony/Border's bookstore. Great prices!

So i'll be busy reading..!  Yay!

Well, children allowing, lol

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rosemary pie...?

Before i sowed my rosemary seeds, i tried to read up on how best to go about it. Half of the sites i encountered claimed that rosemary was bordering on impossible to germinate and took forever- better start with cuttings. I even found a paragraph on the garden watchdog site where a person was berating Richter's rosemary seed age and germination rates.

My seeds are from Richter's ... so i was thinking, maybe this was going to have been a disappointing waste of my money, since my Rosemary seed are from last year and not fresh right off the bat.
So i sowed the whole packet, i didn't even squander a precious seed flat on the doomed seeds,  i sacrificed a single pie tin and about 3 handfuls of soil covered with a sheet of clingwrap.  The seeds were planted 3-19-10 and set in the window sill of the bathroom upstairs in anticipation of being forgotten with no regrets and no expectations....

and imagine my surprise when i happened to go to the window and move something...and i saw a few specks of green...

So, since i didn't wintersow them, i have to provide light artificially for now because its too cold to plunk them outside. 

Planting tool....
Ok, so i'd say "i need a hobby" when i get excited enough about a new found tool to blog about it, but its a rainy day and i'm too achy to do much housework and i thought it was such a neat thing i took pictures of it.
But this IS my hobby.


 Strawberry seeds are tiny... not the tiniest seeds on the planet, but very small!
And there are neat things that can be begged off the nurses at the Pediatrician's office.

I don't  know if they simply call it a probe or if it has a special extractive name, but its a pencil shaped tool for extracting things from kids' ears, noses and who knows where else a small child will stuff any number of foreign objects. They come in a few sizes, but this one looked immediately promising from the second i saw it: 
Handy-dandy tiny seed tool.

See how small they are in their cozy little glassine packet?

When i dredge the stick in the packet, it tends to pick up only one teeny seed at a time, exactly what i want. My fingers are too dull to do this job as they are.  So this is an awesome help!

So i was able to plant 27 seeds into 27 Kcups with little effort and i didn't drop any. No seedlings wasted to thinning.  Strawberries are a little iffy in germinating, so this is probably the best way to go about it.

Apple trees.

Hubby went to Home Depot during his lunch break and i had him pick me up a pint of Bonide Fruit Tree spray.  I don't think it is organic, but this year i'm going to simply attack the apple problem with the biggest guns i can find.  I can go organic once i get other preventative measures in place- like deep fertilization, companion plantings-( the ring of chives and welsh onions i plan to plant at their bases) and i can get the trees pruned correctly and get their trunks straightened.  So the non-organic spray will hopefully beat out anything that might add to their weaknesses...


I need to figure out if my soil will be fertile enough to do the square foot gardening system this year. It looks like the method begins with raised beds...which i  am not going to do, and they want you to use a combo of premixed soil, compost and vermiculite.  I need to find a way to make sure that after my large amount of kitchen compost (from the outdoor Darth Vader helmet-like composter) and the worm castings from the indoor worm hotel, plus the horse manure and the tilled-in rye grass will be potent enough to feed my plants in such tight spacing. I also need to look at drainage of the soil....  vermiculite might be a challenge to find in large quantities,  i can get peat moss in large bales though.

I won't know any of this until it is all tilled and mixed together... but i want to be prepared if i have to buy more amendments.

So, those are the things i am thinking of on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.... with 52 days left 'till last frost date.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another Monday...

And its raining, which is fine. Its tomorrow that will be the problem, quite a bit of rain is expected. Along with wind.
The mini greenhouse is holding up and so is the makeshift seedling box.  I managed to get the six-pack flat to accept water enough to sow some Oriental Poppies in it. I hope i get many viable plants from it. I love poppies.

My dad's birthday was this Saturday, so he took the day for himself as he should.  But he did tell me that he works with a guy who boards horses and he can get a few loads of old manure for both my garden and his.

So if the ground stays too wet for him to get to the grass and yard waste compost, we will at least get some well-aged horse poo.

Justin went out Friday afternoon and got me my Remay row cover stuff.  It looks good, giant paper towel roll.  The material looks suspiciously like fusible webbing for stitchery, lol. It seems silly that i feel like i am looking at the same material in a totally new light. As long as it works....and by-the-yard, the real fusible webbing is way more expensive!
I expect, from the thickness of it, that it will let a lot of light through, but i don't think it will last more than one season. But that's ok, i would spend way more than its cost for twice what i need if i were using pesticides.
I am going to get a slug and earwig killer though, i need that to keep the bugs out of my flowers at least.

I am doing yet another graph re-do of the garden, i may steal another 3 feet of space along the shorter side (30'x28') just so i can get one more full 4 foot row. If i don't. i will have 4 rows 4 feet wide and the last row will be only 1 foot wide. I don't need another walking row for the edge rows... so if i don't take 4 more feet, i might just relinquish the extra 3 feet of space that is along the back. It depends on when i plot out the Square-Foot method if i have more room than i really need.
I also need to remember to get myself a few bundles of cotton clothesline to run along the tops of the hoops to make a sort of backbone.
Then bricks, i will need at least 30 nice bricks. I hope i can find some with rounded edges so the Remay isn't worn more quickly than necessary.

I am starting to wonder about my wintersown seeds. I think  its newbie jitters i guess. This year was an experiment, so i shouldn't let it get to me.  I tried a few things that i know may not work, but i had to try for myself. This has been such a bizarre spring it just might work out anyway.
I'm most concerned about those darn Imperial Star Artichokes.  I think it was last year, i tried the method that requires chilling the seedlings for a week,  i did something wrong because the chilling simply killed them. So this year i wintersowed them, but i'm not sure if that will just kill the seeds... and the seeds were from 2008 anyway and artichokes do not have the greatest germination rate. I think i sowed 10 of them..? I guess i didn't write that down. Even if they do sprout, i don't think the early start will replace the chill method that is supposed to convince them that they have already lived one full year.
Even if they don't produce the first year, i may be able to save some root cuttings and use something of a forcing method on them. So its not my only shot as long as the seeds sprout and the plants last the summer.
I love artichokes  so much that i don't plan to stop trying until i am sure i am defeated.

Off, to plot some square foot plantings, study succession crop timing and review companion & intercropping ideas.

Friday, March 26, 2010

We had a little bit of snow last night, not much really. Its the kind that looks sort of like wet felt lying on the ground. It only stuck to the coldest places. Its supposed to stay cold today.
It will be the right time to sow the strawberry seeds, since they need cold treatment i can bypass using the fridge and enlist the aid of the great outdoors. My main gripe is the six pack seedling flats i let myself buy. They never get moist enough from top to bottom. I try watering from the bottom and expect it to draw up, but the top is always dry, i guess i am too timid with the watering.  If i try and water from the top i end up washing out the soil from the cups. its just a messy ordeal. I much prefer the Peat Pellets because they are evenly moist all round, or they don't expand evenly- cluing me in.
But i'm going to use them anyway, but i'll be picking up more pellets when i go get the Remay at Paris Farmer's Union today.  I hadn't gotten a call telling me it was in yesterday and i was too busy in any case...

nope, strike that, they just called, just now 8:13am.  Yay!

Ok, so either i get to have hubby pick it up for me or i will go out after i get the oldest after school. I can't lug both little one and 13'x300' of Remay into the truck without assistance.  I need more seed flats too.... PFU sells plain ones and all the assorted entrails, like 6, 8 and 4-packs, clear domes... I think they have the pellets too.... they even have things like parsnip seeds in bulk.

Besides the natural foods store it is my favorite place to shop.


I wetted the tops of the filled six-packs and the dry bits of soil shed off the water. miffed

So i gave up on that for now and just went with K-cups.
Pinetree gave me 27 Temptation Strawberry seeds. I think they only promise 20, so that was nice.
Got those planted. Also had a few more of the Mary Washington asparagus seeds, so i finished those off and then there were 4 K-cups left so i put in a few Shisho seeds.

So, 50 more cups of seed planted.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some pictures

Makeshift coldframe of sorts... or maybe a frost chamber...where the wintersown sprouts go to wait out the frost, but it allows them to get full or partial sun during the day and shelter at night.

Broccoli (gypsy) in the front, buttercrunch lettuce next, then cauliflower (graffiti) in the back.
Its a Rubbermaid or Sterilite semi-transparent tote with a scrap of 2x4 and a recycled, frosted, plastic shower curtain folded over it.

I think this is the first garden item we planted when we moved in. It does well every year, but i never had the chance to make much of it, but i could have.  Anyway, when its up you know the ground is thawing out for sure!

Hoop test.
One of the 1/2'' PVC pieces, bent to a 4' wde base, steadied by a makeshift footing of cinder blocks. This way i know how high the hoops will be at the center....about 48".  I wanted to see what the minimum straddle i could get, 4 feet will be perfect since i am thinking i might try a hybrid Square Foot technique.  The hoops placed 4' apart and spaced 4' wide will mark my plots nicely...convenient. :-)

Lilac buds are swelling.
My camera can't take macros to save its existence.

Trying to open, maybe by the time this area gets full sun today, it will.


Goldfish plant. 
It finally bloomed. I grew this plant from a clipping i took from the waiting room of my Dr's office when i had my test to confirm my pregnancy that resulted in my second daughter. She turned one last month. :) It is quite lush and full now for starting from so tiny a piece.  I wish i had done something like that for my first daughter.

Bay Laurel.
 This foolish thing has been little more than a stick for over 8 years.  I have had this plant for a long time. I have used a few of its leaves. I think three years ago it finally developed a second branch- that forked bit at the top,  the shoot from the bottom developed around December of last year.  It has got to be the ugliest plant i own, but i keep it cause it is legitimately a useful plant.
I need to find a way to make it branch out more. I'd snip the tips, but since there are only 3 and they contain all the leaves i don't want to murder the thing.   I have been told to pot it in bigger pots, and in smaller pots... i fertilize it carefully.  It just drives me nuts for being ugly.

This is the plant shelf i made to hang above the sink, under the light.
I overwintered my 6 Hoyas and two of my 3 remaining Passiflora there. Darned spider mites took out my other Passiflora plants.  The window gets nice and bright and there is the tube light up there that comes on in the evenings.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Winter is trying to come back.

But it can't fight the inevitable.

We are  getting some large snowflakes but the ground is warm and wet enough that nothing is sticking. It is almost 40 degrees,  the forecast is calling for colder temps on Friday, an overnight low of 9 (yes...nine) degrees.  This might change or it might not.  This is the time of year that i'm sure makes the weather forecasters seriously question their chosen profession.

Still no luck in getting more seeds started in the flats.  Too many things getting in the way.  When the little one won't take her nap its a challenge to even unload the dishwasher.

But Park's order did come in, so its only a matter of time until i get those seeds going.

I ordered:

Hardy blend Hen & Chicks
"Tiger  Eyes" French Marigold (heirloom)
Chives (i could not find the packet of seeds i know i already had...)
"Arizona Sun" blanket flower (gaillardia)
More marigold seed, could not resist the name: "Aurora Mix"
and some Italian Oregano.

I'm having one of those days, so i don't know if i wrote it down that Paris Farmer's Union called yesterday afternoon to let me know that there is a slight change in my item. It will be in on Thursday, and it will be 13' wide but the same length. It also should be the same material and they said it will be the same price- i don't know if it costs the same or if they are simply being courteous and giving me the price quoted. But i plan to pick it up tomorrow after their expected call.

Grampy did well through the operation, last i knew he hadn't woken up from the anesthesia, but all his signs were looking well.  It took them twice as long as normal to simply remove his bladder which was full of growths...  i pray we get to keep him with us longer... this operation should make things much more comfortable for him.

My sister and her youngest son  will go back to California tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Many things...

Rainy out today.  I was having a hard time getting the Agribon-19 in the dimensions i needed. I must have it at least 12' wide. The Agribon is available in 12' widths, but the  only place i fount it was at Vesey's, and only of 50' lengths.  I expect to have four rows needing 29 feet or so (gotta have extra at the ends to close them off) each.  Tried emailing them to see if they can get me 150' in continuous length, but i doubt they will be able to even if they are willing, often the stores get them precut and packaged and they dole out the pieces.

  But on the way back from visiting my Grampy at the hospital, my sister and i stopped at Paris Farmer's Union to see what they might have, and they looked in their catalog. Found something called Remay (or Reemay, a search for "Remay" bears  results in both spellings). This should be a very similar spun material like Agribon. Internet search results in a number of short mentions of the  Remay material, seems all positive-  for uses such as bug repelling, light frost protection, increased direct-sown seed germination, soil warmer, wind protection, sun protection, & small critter and bird baffler.  Just what i need.  Paris can get me continuous 300' for the same price as 3 packages- equaling 150' from Vesey's --- and no shipping charges.  Yeah it could be way more than may need this year,  but for the same price...  it was going to cost that much no matter what i did anyway.  Might as well get twice the material.

So it should be in today at the earliest.  They will call. I'm  going out with my sister to see our Grampy again today so i will check in after that because i will probably be out when they call the house.

I really hope its the right stuff. All this plotting, planning and obsessing....!

Been too busy hanging out with my sister to get any more seeds started,  but she's only here until Thursday morning and its back to California. And Grampy's operation is tomorrow.  It will be a little scary.

Hubby took me to Lowe's on Saturday and we got the PVC for the hoops.  I poked the ground with a shovel the other day to see how deep the frost was, its still there, so no rototilling yet even if it wasn't raining,  but the rain will soften it a good bit.

The Winter Rye has taken off again, very green out there, not even Easter yet.

Not sure what to do with the apple trees.  I don't dare to prune them myself,  i have a book to read about it though, just need the time and the daring.  But i guess i can't make them any worse.  Next i have to look in on what sort of things i can use to organically control what is bugging them.  Companion planting tells me to grow onion family plants around them... i think a bed of chives will do much for them, and chives are easy. Maybe toss in a few Welsh Onions....

Gave my sister a huge basket of yarn the other day.  I opened up my stash and told her to grab whatever she wanted, don't be shy.  Very glad of it, i have lots of nice yarn but no time. She is a knitter and knitting brings out the best in the yarns i had, crocheting does not do them justice since you get a bulkier result. At least with the stitches i use.  We are going to have to mail it to her in a box because it will be too expensive to send on the plane,  think laundry basket of

So, we will see what today brings.

Friday, March 19, 2010


My wintersown broccoli has sprouted, lol

Uh, garden not ready.  I guess i will have to move them in and out of sun/shelter daily until a few weeks before last frost.  Or  may have to pot them up.

This warm weather is rather disorienting. I simply don't know what to think. We are missing like 3 snow storms and i don't recall having 60 degree weather in March for many years. I do remember it though....but i am not used to it!

My dad can't get his tractors out of the yard because they have areas that are still very wet, so until they dry out, no work can be done on my soil.  No compost, no tilling...  well i could drag out the Mantis, but the riding lawnmower's rototiller will do the preliminary job better and faster.  And hubby desn't want me playing with the Mantis anyway, i can't control it well on account of my leg. He's afraid i'll either break myself or the tiller. He's probably right. :-p

I may have to order my Agribon first thing on Monday.

My Buttercrunch lettuce is also beginning to sprout, but they were never meant to get planted out, i just want to see if i can get a few mini heads of baby lettuce.  The rest of the buttercrunch seeds i plan to direct sow under the hoops as soon as the garden is assembled.

Off to wrestle with 6-pack planters....!
Another sunny day today.

I went to Lowe's last night with my sister (who is visiting from CA this week) to check out the  PVC they have and to get a bead on the prices.  They were what i expected.  Which is good.  Only change to the plans (so far) is that i found out that the 3/4" schedule 40 will not accept the 1/2" sched 40. It isn't a lrge enough interior diameter-- but the 3/4" pressure pipe is. But the pressure pipe is rather thin walled, and 10 feet of  1/2" sched 40 does not bend to 2-3' wide very easily, i don't know if  the  pressure pipe will split due to the tension.

Any excuse to draw:
I have a feeling that the hoop will not arch as pretty and nice as that, i think the uprights will bow so i get more of a half-oval (no straight sides), and the inside edges of the uprights will create pressure on the inside top and the outside bottom of the socket pieces.  But i am not knowledgeable enough to calculate these things.

So i'm going to get hubby to go to Lowe's with me and make sure it is going to work. He is sure it will, but since he will likely feel the need to rescue me in this project if   i flub it, i'm going to try and reduce the level of rescuing needed as much as i can.
He needs to get himself some PVC so he can do some ground wire burying for his radio antennas,  so we will make an evening of it.  I am also going to print off Home Depot's price on the pipe and see if Lowe's will price-match for me.  If they do, the savings might cover the sales tax.

Another thing i was thinking about... if the pressure of the hoops on the anchors will be enough to hold the hoops down if we get wind. If not, i essentially will have made a giant, white, Chinese Dragon kite...  So, i will have to make sure the Agribon is pinned down with heavy things like bricks or we will have to drill holes through the hoops and the sockets and pin them together with some stiff wire (think cotter pin)...adding another step.

Now this is beginning to sound really complicated, but i'm reminding myself that we only have to engineer it once. If it works, it will work the same way for the next number of years. If it does not work, there are a number of ways to fix it.
One of which is to simply cut the 10' 1/2" pipes down to 5' and just do it like the majority of people i have seen online-- shorter hoops, but simpler structure.

Why do i want the hoops to be so tall?
Because we have such a short growing season that i want the plants to be inside the hoops, under cover, in the warmer and more stabilized climate of the hoop houses for as long as possible. I also need long term pest control,  i hope to only need to completely uncover the rows once or twice a week in order to allow things to get pollinated. There are also cats in the neighborhood who have uprooted my plants before in using my smaller garden as a litter box.
Also,  snow cover,  if i leave some of my root crops in the ground, the taller hoops will be less likely (i hope) to get buried in the snow. I am hoping the taller walls will distribute more snow weight more evenly across the structure. ( I also plan to get a more sturdy Agribon material for winter use on the few hoops that will be used all winter.)

Do i think the hoop houses will do all these things?

Won't know unless i try, but from what i have been studying, there is a good chance they will do it, or they will at least help a good deal.

I need to start getting  the companion herb seeds going. I bought a 3-pack of flats with domes that have the dreaded 6-pack seedling compartments.  I dislike the 6-packs, i have the worst time filling them evenly and i don't like the crinkly sound they make, but they were fairly cheap and i needed more.I guess i will see if i can cope this time!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I just had to comment on the awesomely wonderful weather we had today...  it was well above 60 degrees, i have a thermometer that says it was 70...

and i have a crocus!!!

That is

Seed flats... and cost calculations.

I have not been visited by the sprout fairy yet... which i understand is a good thing. If stuff sprouts too early any hard freezes might wipe things out.
But i took some pictures:
This is what i have gotten done so far, the tray on the bottom with no condensation in it is the Mary Washington asparagus i finally got planted.  Just before i was about to plant them i read on the package that they needed soaking...  so i put them in a quart jar full of water.  Then i remembered the cool thing about wintersowing... it bypasses all steps like soaking, knicking, stratifying, cold treating and other time consuming steps. Duh.  But after i started them soaking, i could not find the time to plant them.

 This is where most of  the tomatoes live. I started them in the black plastic meat trays that 2 1/2 pounds of hamburger comes in if you buy it at Walmart.  They are only a little larger in dimension as the cardboard trays i have bought tomato seedlings in at the nursery. They also fit perfectly in the fruit and vegetable bags from the grocery store. The yellow tray is lettuce, Buttercrunch.

This row has two flats of mixed seeds. I have 5 of each planted, 10 different seeds per tray. So, 20 different things in total. They are a tomato or two, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, melons, cucumbers, etc.  The little deli tray on the top is Striped German tomato... very old seed. So old that the company i got them from went out of business more than 5 years ago!  And they tiny white meat tray behind the Striped Germans has 5 peat pellets of Siberia Tomato.

This shelf has the mentioned Mary Washington asparagus and the other tray contains Welsh Onions and  Mirage Shallots

Sixty-five days till planting time! My blog gadget ticker stopped working and when i tried to reinstall it, my computer gave me a virus warning. So i have to count on my paper calender,  but 65 days is how long i have until any hope of planting is advised.

I did some pricing of hoop house materials. I was going to go the metal electircal conduit route for the hoops, but the prices online at Lowe's and Home Depot were showing me that that was going to be way more expensive than i had thought. Most of my sources were saying or implying that the metal would be cheaper in the long run because it was supposedly less expensive per length... but if the online prices are correct, it is not true. Lowes had 1/2" conduit for $1.87 per 10' length. Home Depot had the same online price.  Schedule 40 1/2" PVC in 10' lengths  at Lowe's is $1.13,  Home Depot has it for $1.03.
I also had read at first that the PVC would have to be painted for long term outdoor use, but researching it further, it should hold up for more than 3 years of use without any treatment. It is inherently UV resistant due to its makeup.
So, not only is the PVC cheaper, but it needs no treatment.
The metal conduit might be sturdier, but it is more expensive by too much of a margin, and then i'd have to bend it... a bender for 1/2" conduit is around $38-$45.  Then, since i can't shove the conduit into the ground about 18' without it hanging up or kinking the smooth shape, i'll have to construct anchor pegs- i have seen rebar and dowel pegs used. The rebar is worth a couple dollars each and the dowels need cutting and sharpening even though they are cheap...

Now i do plan to do much of my garden. The corn will be mulched simply with black plastic to heat the soil,  so that part won't need hoops, but the rest i do want to at least start the growing season with them.

*7 rows
*24' per row
*1 hoop per 4' = 7 hoops per row + end hoops
 = 49 hoops (PVC lengths)

*7 rows
*30' of Agribon per row (allowing for extra at the end to close)
*Agribon 6' wide
=  210' Agribon

Whether we use metal or PVC, we still need ground anchors. Hubby and i decided that it would be best to use 3/4 inch PVC lengths about 18" long, sunk 12" deep, leaving 6" sockets for the hoops. Each 10' 3/4 PVC will yield at least 5 anchors.  We will need 98.  So we will need 20  of those.

According to HD, the PVC total before tax will be $79.30
If i go with Vesey's 6' wide Agribon-19 i will need to buy 3, 6'x100' lengths and i'd have 50' to spare, the cost would be with shipping $124.80

About $204.00

If i go with the AG-19 from Johnny's, their 83"x250 is only $45 and about $10 shipping.
And i realized that 6' width won't get me enough edging to anchor it to the ground if i my hoops are up to a 6' span.  I could cut the hoops in half and get 2x as many and have them be shorter but i'd really like the taller hoops and the excess Agribon  on the sides will make a mess if the hoops are too low.

The more i think about it, the lower the cost estimate becomes

My original original estimate with the metal conduit was around $225
Then with PVC replacing the metal it was $204
Now with the wider Agribon from Johnny's, it looks like $135. will do it.

I hope my calculations are correct and that Home Depot will give me the online prices if the store price is different. But, if not, Lowe's will price-match HD and i think the Price Protection policy will apply to PVC.   That is the scary part. Hubby said he saw the 1/2 PVC was around $3 a length when he went there the other day. But the online price is very different:

Now i will need clips to hold the Agribon to the hoops, that should only add a couple more lengths of PVC to the order. The instructions i have seen for making PVC clips is as simple as cutting a 1/4 inch strip out of the entire length of the PVC, then cutting the length into 2" pieces. One 10' length of PVC  should yield about 60 clips. Adding another $2.50 to the total.

So if the prices work out this will be great... if not i will be miffed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Photo Tutorials and odd root veggies:

 I read quite a few blogs. Normally they are gardening or crafting blogs where the author is constructing some fascinating contraption or modifying something in order to repurpose it.  I decided that i am jealous of never having done my own photo tutorial. So, i think today is the day!

So, to set the stage:

I love the seed starting product known as Peat Pellets.  They are very convenient.  They allow me to sow seeds without having to buy anything but them and the seeds.  I can place the Peat Pellets in most every container i want.  What works best for me is to save  styrofoam meat trays and set the PPs on those. The trays take a Sharpie marker very well and there is plenty of room to write.

But, like i said, they aren't very cheap. I usually buy them by the bag - about $15. for 100.
It saves the work of having to individually fill those rotten 6-pack trays, which always give me trouble,  and they are more compact to store than bags of soil.

My mom gave us her Keurig coffee pot a few months ago, the timer on it ceased to function so she was getting a new one. We don't use timers on coffee pots, so it was a good match for us.  Now the one-cup system always sort of bothered me,  i'm not an environmentalist- really.  But the one-use plastic cup just kinda irked me even though i absolutely adore the brewing system.

Being the seed-starter than i am (i'm a better seed-starter than a gardener, big plans, bad luck, little follow-through) i pretty quickly realized that they were about the same size as my peat pellets. And better, by function, they already have a drain hole precision- punched into the bottom. All that needs to be done is to  remove the lid, the grounds and a quick rinse.  This is a project that is well within my skill level.

So i saved the K-cups over a number of months (about 130 saved), disemboweled them and set them aside (much to my hubby's annoyance) until around now.
Here are the Disemboweling instructions for making the Keurig K-Cup into a little pot for seedling propagation.

 This is a K-Cup. Recently used. Its good to clean them out shortly after they cool off or else things get a bit scary in there.

 Perfect seed-starting size.

Break the foil lid and peel it off. It is a little harder to pull off than usual foil tops because these are not really made to be removed.

It dosen't take very long even though it might separate into a few pieces, the cup is tough enough.

Now, dump out the coffee grounds. They stick to the mini filter, but that is ok. Usually i dump the grounds into a bowl (when i do 20 kcups at a time) and feed them to my worms.

 Then i poke my finger through the center of the paper filter, hook it and yank, peeling it away from the edges.

Dismantling complete.

I don't even have to poke a drainage hole.

Just a quick rinse...

Don't even need to use soap.

All clean and ready to be filled with potting soil.

 The white cups are best because they take a label so well. They also come in black plastic, but i only use those if i must.

They fit 50 to a standard flat, just like the Peat Pellets, and if you drink the coffee anyway, they are technically free.

Yay! My first tutorial.  LOL

So, you see, it is pretty simple :)

I spent some time looking up some info on growing a couple of the unusual root vegetables that i want to try this year.
Burdock is one of them.
Apparently it is quite good, shows up on cooking shous occasionally and is said to be loaded in good vitamins and minerals. Its downside is that the roots can grow about 3' long,  can get quite large around and are tenacious- so harvesting them is challenging!
But i came upon an ingenious idea for making the harvest much easier- if not the prep work:
From one of our customers, W. Takahashi:
I have a tip for growing Gobo without the intense digging normally associated with gobo. I start seeds early inside on a hot pad (Zone 5). Garden prep: Cut 4" PVC into 36" Lengths and then in half lengthwise. Bury the PVC starting 2"-3" deep at surface and the deepest end at 12" (at a cant). I plant the seedlings at the top end, positioned to ensure roots will follow PVC, keeping plants watered & fertilized. Once established, I mulch heavily with straw. I normally overlap each PVC with a 15" spacing of the plants requiring harvesting from the last plant first. Harvesting requires minimal efforts.  Source
I think its brilliant.  Hubby just sees it as more work. I'm wondering it it might be worth it, its a great idea but i don't know if it will ever happen, to be honest. But at least i know the best way to do it if ever!

The Salsify seems pretty straightforward, they are like thinner, foot-long carrots. But i learned that the foliage can also be eaten since salsify is related to the dandelion.

So, off to read a couple more gardening books. "Cash from Square Foot Gardening" and "Garden Encyclopedia".  The Cash book is basically the original "Square Foot Gardening" book, but with extra tips for making it a backyard business... not terribly interested in that- though i hope to be getting enough produce to both donate (and not just tomatoes and zucchini) and put away, bit it was the only square foot book we coulf find for free on the internet.

The Garden Encyclopedia is full of info, as it should be. It even has a section to help me decide how much of each item to grow- production estimates. This will keep me from getting carried away and planting too much of one thing and barely enough of another- while allowing for the plans to preserve.

Between the two books, i am being reminded to also stagger the planting of multi-harvest crops, like lettuce, cabbage, radishes and bush beans, so i don't have them all coming to bear in one week, but that we have one or two harvestables at a time.

More reading, graphing, planning, calculating and thinking.   Yay!

During the little one's nap today, i hope to get the onions, shallots and welsh onions (similar to chives) started and set outdoors with the other wintersown flats.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weather and aspirin...

Colorful radar this morning:

It says we are in snow, but it must be melting before it comes down low enough to see.

I decided to abandon researching this Planting by the Moon stuff.  For one thing, it seems too rigid, who has time for rigidity when it comes to spring gardening? And i suspect it is 95% superstition, and we all know how ridiculously limiting superstitions can be.  The 5% that i think is not superstitious mainly has to do with coastal tides and the weather effects of this.  This far inland, any effect is limited... and i'm not going to fret over a missed planting date and then wait around for the next 'window of opportunity'...  so there is that.

But i did recall something about Aspirin being useful to plants. Aspirin is a derivative of willow and i remember my grandfather doing the trick of soaking willow twigs in a bucket, then using that willow tea to root woody cuttings.  Apparently it makes a good foliar spray (1 or 1/2 tablet per gallon of water)  and acts as something of a tonic and helps the plant fare better all around, fighting off insects and diseases. Something of an echinacea for plants.  I figure it is worth a try, since the dollar stores sell aspirin for  $1 a bottle of more than 100.  So, we are going to try that this year.

I still have my gallon  bottle of beer fertilizer concentrate waiting for the lawn to wake up.  I wonder if i should pop an aspirin in there too.

Oh and slugs, added to the research list (they reach plague proportions here)....and a few articles:

Since it is raining, there won't be any yard work happening today... not just  because of the rain, but because when the snow melts in the spring my parents' yard gets so soggy my dad won't be able to get the big tractor out for a while.  So that will halt things quite a bit unless we get some really dry weather for a bit.
 We have not gotten nearly as much rain and snow as the rest of the state and those blizzards that hit last month, they barely grazed us.  Although we did get one storm a couple weeks ago that brought us a huge amount of rain.  This current system is not doing much to us right now.  Very light precip,  but i guess it has drenched everyone south of us.

Still thinking about hoop houses. I want them for the whole garden...  well, most of it anyway. Not for the corn...   But i'm thinking pest control, season extension, frost protection....  i don't want to use or buy a bunch of bug sprays and such.  I will have to for the apple trees, but i simply don't want to spend money like that.  It is expensive and i always feel like i need to take a shower after dousing my plants with the stuff. I'm not a stickler for Organics, but i like to avoid unnecessary steps and expenses.  If i can eliminate most pest and disease issues with reusable Agribon, Diatomaceous Earth, Aspirin, companion planting and beer traps, i am willing to try it.

I am also thinking that it might be interesting to combine the hoop houses with beneficial insects.  I have wanted to try ladybugs,  i understand they will eat spidermites. We have a lot of spidermites. They even attack the weeds- i have never seen so many, its quite amazing.  What has kept me from trying ladybugs is that i have such a small yard, i bet they'd just all fly away.  So i wonder if i were to release a few in my sealed up hoop houses, they would sort of have to hang around and eat what they find. They would get air and moisture and light, and it would be lots of room, not like putting them in a glass jar where its so small they know it is something they should try to escape.  I'd stick my houseplants in there to be 'cleaned'...  my houseplants get infested so bad that Safer's soap hardly helps.  But i think i might dig out my bar of Fel's Naptha soap and see if that might help.  I only bought it to make my own laundry cleaner, but it is said to have many other fine uses (like everything over 50 years old does).

I found some marigold seeds among my stash, they were from 2006, which is within decent germination expectancy  range. And i have a ton of K-cups saved up for planting in. I'm hoping to get the Asparagus seeds started today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Final plan:

Ok, i think i will stick with this plan. Now i just have to decide how many repellent plants (chives, oregano, basil, marigolds, etc.) i need to get ready for.  Park Seeds is giving free shipping right now with a coupon code (SAVEGREEN) so i will be getting some new Heirloom Marigolds, oregano and Chive seed as well as a packet of Hens & Chicks mix to replace the ones hubby thought were dead from overwintering....he threw them out.  I have had them forever, and i tried to not be upset... but i'll just plant some more. *Sigh*  I need to get 25' of trellis netting, and it will be placed closer than i drew it on the plan. Burpee has a really good price on it, but i'm going to try and save shipping if i can find it locally.

Off to order more seeds...!  Really?...Yup!

Oh, i hate the mornings...

Well not always, really. Just the ones where you wake up to the reality that you do indeed have a cold.
But dad is coming over today to assess things...  the other project that needs doing is that retaining wall at the back fence. It needs to be made to retain better.  One good thing about the former owners of the yard is that some of the trash they left behind has turned out to be somewhat useful. There is a rigid but flexible pool wall out there that the guys think they can cut into a length and use. They are going to take down the fence panels, pull out the posts and dig the retaining wall trench out, then lay the pool wall against the retaining logs, backfill, then reinstall the posts and fence.

After that it will be time to get the garden going.

I have to re-plan it now. I finished my graph with the new dimensions, took my seed list, counted up what plants i expected to get out of the starts (i assumed less than half to be safe) accounted for direct-sow items and stuff yet to be started....

And now i decided, after looking at lots of pictures of small gardens on the web, that i probably can get away with 2-2.5' between rows rather than a full 3'. Or it might be a better idea to make my planting rows be 2' and have 2' walking rows between them. I was graphing 1' wide plant rows and 3' wide walking rows.   Until i realized that it was not going to work if i expected to do the mini hoop house idea,  even floating row covers might not work  with that spacing.  Also,  hubby found me a square foot gardening book online and i plan to study that to see just how much i can cram or not cram into how much space.

So,  between studying that and re-plotting my graphs....  i have stuff to do this weekend.

I'm also looking forward to getting a dog. I'm anxious to get her here and get the cat used to her so she can blend in as a seamless part of the family. Transitions make me nervous, so i like to just get things going...  but we thought it would be best for her family to spend as much time with her as they can, so we won't have her until a bit before they begin packing up.

Ok, off to play with graph paper, rulers and pencils...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ahhh, visualisation...

I just finished mapping the garden out, stakes and surveying tape.  Now i know i drew up plans for a 20x30' garden... but i could not resist taping it out 25x30'. This would give me an extra row to work with and if hubby is ok with it i will be happy. If he wants an extra row of lawn i can let it go i guess... but the little bit of lawn we do have tends to tire him out mowing... he's a very smart guy but he works at a desk and he can't do a lot of physical labor even though he is willing... so i really think that he is going to almost regret having a wider expanse of lawn to mow. He may almost "order" me to plow more of it into garden space by the end of this summer.  But then, i have to be able to handle gardening myself. This disabled leg of mine is going to give me trouble. Just taping out the dimensions is going to have me eating Tylenol like candy.
I plan on mulching deep to discourage weeds and i'm going to have to work my 11-year-old like a rented mule this summer. lol

Ok, so here are the pics:

I did not include the plot of JA's in my dimensions, since i didn't plan for them before i planted (it was kind of a rush job) and i need to bed some asparagus between that plot and  the taped off garden.
The garden is 7' forward of the back fence and i didn't measure the distance from the side fence next to the apple trees.

now i need to decide which beneficial herbs  i might start today
Oh i can't wait to get this going!

Hubby came home this afternoon and he looked at the area i taped out and he's fine with the size,  he had expected me to take over much more than that so we have a pretty good balance. There will be plenty of room left for his intentions and also for the kids to enjoy.  When i was a kid i considered my parents' garden a part of my play area, i spent a lot of time in it.
So this means one more full row in the front since i am going with the lengthwise row setup.

Changing weather... and a Basset on the horizon...

There may be a Basset Hound in our future.  The Basset is a 4 or 5 year old ladydog named Molly. Her owners are divorced and her family can't keep her. Her family are the nice neighbors across the street. They asked us last night if we'd take her, so the hubby and i decided that we would be willing.  So i spent a good deal of time last night researching the Basset.
Now i wouldn't say that i am not a dog person, but i admit i am much more a cat person... and a Basset is a very dog dog.  Molly is a good dog, so i think things will go well once the cat adjusts. My only concern is that if we are taking the dog it needs to be permanent, i don't want to end up being expected to relinquish the dog after a few months or years of bonding and ownership expenses, only to have them expect us to just hand her back.  My youngest daughter will grow up thinking of Molly as if she has always been ours, it won't be fair to take her away. A similar thing happened to my sister when she was little and 30 years later she still remembers it sadly.
So i do have to be sure that this won't happen, not that i expect it to, they have always shown themselves to be decent people, but emotions change things...

As a side note- and this concept makes me giddy (so i keep repeating it over in my head, almost savoring it)...  i may have found my solution to the woodchuck issue! 
Her simple presence and occasional lunge in their direction might scare the dickens out of them and the scent of her presence i hope would keep them away.
Of course just having a dog again will be nice even if it makes no difference to the 'chucks. I was raised with Shelties, so this will be different indeed. Shelties are a dignified and fastidious breed,  Bassets are.... well, let's just say they are not. lol

And now for the weather...
Well...  its supposed to be partly cloudy today, but they keep changing the forecast on me for the weekend and next week. Yesterday evening they were expecting 50's  next week, and now maybe 40's and overnight lows in the 20's...  this should be ok since i have no sprouts in the WS containers.  This i understand is the point, that the seeds don't sprout too early.  Its keeping them cool right from the start which is the key. I guess if there is too much of a freeze after they sprout, that is when the problem arises.  I do have a heat mat that fits inside the mini greenhouse. If we expect true freezing weather i might plug it in on an empty shelf and hopefully it will warm just a few degrees to ward off the worst ice crystals.

Here is a simple site on row sized hoop houses:

I might try the PVC pipe method this year, i understand the PVC will break down sooner rather than later, unless painted but i will simply have to cut a few corners where i expect to run out of time quickly.  I have tried to find the clips for the covering, but if i am looking in the right places, the things are priced a bit too high for what they are. I have a large amount of somewhat stiff vinyl tubing, i have a feeling a few short lengths of that with one side cut through will make a reasonably secure clip.  I'll have to get some material together and play with it.

The plan for the garden is to almost literally "install" the soil that the plants will grow in.  My dad has been building a large compost pile in the last 10 years or so of grass clippings, pine and deciduous leaf litter.  This is what we plan to use for the garden.  I am wanting him to dig the shape of the garden out of the existing dirt- which is mostly builder's sand and gravel and then back-fill it with a few large loads of this compost material.  The dirt from the hole will be used to level off the rest of the back yard and fill in some of the washouts.  The compost will be tilled in well (with our own great kitchen scrap compost and my worm bin's black gold) and then i will get the hoop houses installed ASAP.
I have no idea if this can be a one weekend project or how soon it can be done, my parents do have other things to do around their own home. lol

I am really hoping to  get things ready to plant under the hoops before we go to camp on Memorial weekend.  We may have to rethink our standing plans on that since we may have the dog by then and the campsite used to allow dogs- which would have been great, but some irresponsible butthead messed it up a couple years ago.
So my dilemma is whether the plants will be safe from woodchucks in the hoophouse and i'm not sure we will stay the whole weekend on account of a new family member.
Since the entire family goes to the same camp, it will be difficult to either find a dog sitter or for someone to look in on her at least 2x a day. 

But the real rush is going to simply get the plants out there so they don't linger in the flats either getting leggy or too demanding of water or needing to be moved in and out of sun and shelter.

Off to do more dog and garden research!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm going crazy...

Somewhere between the first flat of seeds and the one i planted yesterday...there was another bunch of seeds that i planted.  But since they are outside and bundled up, i can't see the date i planted them. But the list goes thusly:

Winter Squash-  Red Eye, 2008,  ( these were sooo yummy when i planted them in 2008, i will always plant these if i can)
Winter Squash- acorn,  Carnival 2008, pretty- if you don't eat them, decorate with them!
Melon-  Rocky Ford , 2010
Melon- Hale’s Best, 2010
Brussels Sprouts- Bubbles, 2008
Summer Squash-  Sundance ("very prolific"- is an understatement even as far as SS & Zucchini go ) 2008
Cucumber- Summer Dance, 2008
Winter Squash-  Long Island Cheese, 2008
Artichoke-  Imperial Star, 2008 - this is the one that i messed up last time, i hope to get beyond seedling this try
Cucumber- Alibi, 2008
Melon- Banana, 2008

So, that brings me to around 30 planted items.  And i still have more to go. I have gotten some graph paper to plot out what sort of trouble i have gotten myself into. This is based on the garden being 20x30'.  I made sure hubby knows that i expect this to be a minimum dimension, at least for this year. If i find that i cannot handle that size garden, i will agree to make it smaller. I would really like to have it 40x20' but for now and planning purposes 15x30' is good to start... i think i will have lots of stuff crammed a bit.

I did plant 5 of each packet of seeds, but i don't plan to keep all of them and i don't expect 100% germination anyway. If 5 sprout i will keep 2 and send 3 to my parents for their garden.  If 2 sprout, i will either split with them or depending on what it is, i may keep both if it is something they won't use.

I am also trying to plot which direction i need to place my rows to maximize the space, i planned for 3 feet between planted rows and it looks like i am losing a lot of planting area, but i know when stuff fills in, i will be glad i put that much room between things.  Especially the tomatoes which are almost all indeterminate types!

Scale is 1/4"=1'. The shaded areas are the walking paths and the white sections to the right are where the corn and beans and asparagus is destined. the back row in the top picture is where i plan to put the cukes, melons, radishes and winter squashes.

I hope to install some trellis netting in the back so the vines don't ramble too much, the orientation of the garden is pretty good. North is to the Left, so the sun will rise to the back and the space to the "front" of the garden is wide open for full summer sun all day long.

I did some more research on companion plantings and jotted down some  notes:

Plant the bush beans to the left of the corn to shade them
Start some basil seedlings to plant within the tomatoes
Start some parsley to grow between the asparagus
Remember  to divide the chives and plant them under the apple trees
Don’t plant the kohlrabi near the tomatoes
No sage near the cucumbers
Onions with chamomile , but not near the beans
Start borage to plant around the squashes, tomatoes…and oregano also deters stuff
No dill  or kohlrabi near the tomatoes
Broccoli likes dill and mint
Rosemary or sage  repels cabbage  butterflies
Thyme for flea beetles
No fennel near caraway, or coriander
Carrots next to sage and onions and chervil
Eggplant is protected by amaranth
Marjoram  and oregano everywhere
Nasturtiums are traps for aphid
So, now i have to get started on my herbs!

I did also get to check on some over wintered stuff i got from  Oikos Tree Crops. I bought 4 Beach Plum plants from them last year (they sent me 5) and though it looks like only three made it through winter i consider it pretty successful considering that my husband and dad kept forgetting that the fluorescent pink tape all over the flower box meant that something was living there....and dropped landscape timbers and construction debris all over them.... Great prices, discount on multiple items and they are no smaller than the sad little twigs i have gotten from other less reputable companies. But the Oikos stuff is really very nice.  I plan to get some blueberries from either them or from Pinetree.  Oikos also has stuff like hazelnuts and persimmons, medlar, pawpaw etc.  Got the JA's there too.

Ok, have to go plot the plant spacing on the garden graphs now...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another beautiful weather day, maybe too beautiful. I'm not sure it this is good... for the last 3, maybe 5 years we have still had snow on the ground at Easter. But for the last few days i can have the windows open and incense floating in the breeze. No snow anywhere except the shady areas of the street edges.

I hope this does not cause problems for my wintersowing attempt, i'm afraid that the seeds will all sprout too quickly and get big, then it will turn cold.  I decided to stroll on over to the Gardenweb forums and check out the Wintersown forum, i asked about this but have not gotten a reply as of yet.

AS it is, i planted some more today:

Watermelon- Pony Yellow, 2010, Pinetree
Watermelon, Tom Watson, Heirloom, 2010, Pinetree
Summer Squash- Patty pan "Sunburst", 2002, Johnny's
Tomato-  Roma VFN, 2000,  Better Homes and Gardens
Pepper- Fooled You, no heat jalapeno, 2008, Pinetree
Pepper-New Ace, sweet pepper, 2008, Pinetree
Eggplant- Slim Jim, 2008, Pinetree
Pepper- Zsa Zsa, sweet pepper, 2010, Pinetree
Tomato- Black from Tula, heriloom, Totally Tomatoes

I know i have a lot of tomato plants, there are five in each batch that i am doing. But many of these seeds are 8 years old and if i don't get good germination out of them i will probably give them one last shot by mixing them together and direct sowing them someplace- or i will have to throw them  straight into the compost. If  i get good germination i will keep planting them until they are gone,  many of the seeds are heirloom types and i might have good luck saving seed from them, so its worth a shot even if i am overloaded in tomatoes.  If we can't eat them i can give them away, preserve them (dehydrate or can) or enrich the compost with the excess fruit. That will be a blessing any way you slice it.

I'm not certain of the wisdom of starting the melons this early because they do tend to rot away in cold soil, but it seems that the soil in my flats is anything but cold.  I may even end up having to move them in and out of shelter each day if they do sprout early...Eep!

I might plant some more today... most of the veggies, besides the ones i plan to direct sow (corn, green beans, shell beans, soybeans) or make seed tape with, are planted now (like parsnips and carrots for seed tape and direct "toss" sowing like radishes). There are a few Perennial veggies or other long season types that i have not decided if i should start in peat pellets, the recycled K-Cups or in larger pots like 2 liter soda bottles...  Salsify, Burdock and the Asparagus.  Also some of the things like Kohlrabi, Collards, Kale, Bok Choy, the ones that are one harvest from each seed items... the tiny, bunching types- onions, shallots etc...and some i have to decide if i am even going to do this year, edible Amaranths, Swiss Chard, and then there is the Shiso.  I haven't even gotten to the herbs, which need enough of a head start to be companion plants or beneficial attractants,  pest repellents or decoys.

Hmmm, looks like i'm not as close to done as i thought i was, lol.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I began the great wintersowing project last week and managed to get a tiny bit more done today.
I am planting a mix of new seeds from this year, seeds from 2008 and some older seeds from as far back as 2002 and  even 2000!

This is what i have planted so far:

Tomato- Pruden's Purple (2008)
Tomato- Yellow Pear (2010)
Tomatillos- Purple (2002)
Cauliflower- Graffiti (2010)
Broccoli- Gypsy (2010)
Tomato- Polfast (2008)

Everything  but the Tomatillos were from Pinetree Garden Seeds. They are, in my opinion, the best seed place by far. They sell seed packs in home gardener size and the prices average about $1.20 a packet. They still have some seeds that are only .99 a pack.
The Tomatillos were from Johnny's and they are also a good source for seed, but i suffer from sticker shock every time i open their catalog. I love them, but i can't afford them anymore.
I once did a side-by-side wish list with Johnny's prices vs. Pinetree and Pinetree beat Johnny's by almost half. I think there were only two seed items that Johnny's had that Pinetree didn't (but i found similar items that were very much alike)... my list was about 60 items long. I have been a loyal customer of Pinetree ever since.

So those seeds are planted and covered in plastic baggies, sitting outside under the overhang by the back door. I have one of those little 4-shelf greenhouses that have the zippered plastic cover.  I need another one if i can find them. I bought mine for $50 a few years ago, they are now around $60 or more. I may get a larger size instead of another small one.

Ok, so back to the stuff i have planted -
 i think it was Sunday i planted some Buttercrunch lettuce. A seed packet i got at the grocery store (Liberty Garden) last year and planned to plant but never did.

Today i got a tray ready of 50 #7 peat pellets, but so far i have not gotten anything in that, but i did plant a small flat of Siberian Tomatoes from a pack of seeds i bought from Totally Tomatoes in 2002. I went tomato crazy that year, it was the year that i was going to try growing in planters on the balcony of the apartment we lived in at that time.  I bought about 20 different tomato seeds and was able to use maybe 3 or 4 seeds from each of perhaps 5 varieties.  I just couldn't decide what to limit myself to, so i went crazy and i have grown at least one variety from that order almost every year since, but this is the first try of the Siberian.
The experiment worked out so-so, the slats on the balcony were too narrow for much sun to get through to the plants and i had started planting a bit too late because i had to save up for everything.  Then they were hard to water because my husband kept throwing out my milk jug that i was using....  its hard to water plants in a 20 gallon Rubbermaid tote with a 12oz drinking glass.

The only other thing i planted today was Caraway seed, straight out of the Spice Islands bottle :)
I was doing some quick research on companion planting and there was something that said caraway attracts some winged critter that is good, i can't remember off the top of my head, but i will figure it out or read it again.  Hopefully they will sprout and grow.

I printed out a few pages on companion planting to read later and i am thinking about looking into some of the planting by the moon stuff. First i need to make sure that isn't some old wives' tale sort of hooey. It could be scientifically sound, but unstudied - companion planting is sound but it is being studied a bit, but even that has been invaded by new agers a little bit.  But the planting by the moon is old stuff and i did read up on it once when i was much younger and reading through the Farmer's Almanac, now the Farmer's Almanac, though it has many good points and is informative, does have a tendency to dish a lot of hooey.  Its entertainment after all.

Ok, that's it for now...