Wednesday, February 27, 2013


So,  hubby is really helping quite willingly this year.   He went out and bought me 100, 3" Jiffy peat pots and 15' of jack chain to suspend my shoplights over my seedlings. (I'm gonna need more seed starting soil.)
My 14 year daughter even said she'd really like to help me garden this year!  That would be awesome since i could really use the help.
Hopefully i can keep the weeding down by using black plastic mulch.  
If i can work out a soaker hose DIY,  we will be particularly golden.  If not,  i'll have to do the "find a puddle and poke a hole" method.

Maybe i'll eventually succeed in being that great stay-at-home housewife i have always wanted to be. :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seeds came in

Order from Pinetree is in:

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and for the heck of it,  here's the hibiscus from Renee's

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Right now i'm boiling some water to saturate my seed starting mix.  I have used Miracle Grow's brand of seed starter for a few years and my only issue with it is that it is so dry right from the bag that it is impossible to water.  The peat just floats and it takes days before the water seeps in.  So,  i'm going to pour very hot water straight into the bags and see if it helps.  I have done this before with very dry peat moss and sphagnum moss.  This should also help sterilize the soil better.  It will take ages to cool,  which is no big deal because i'm not quite ready to plant yet.

This weekend i may plant the hibiscus and leonotis if i get my lights hooked up to my mini greenhouses.  I'm having a hard time deciding how to do this simply and still allow me to raise the lights as the time goes.  I don't have enough chain to keep the lights low.

I'm almost tempted to buy more seeds,  but i really need to stop.  I have enough!  Really!

I did get my seedling heat mat.  I found a nice one on Amazon for about $26.00.  It should be here by Thursday since we have Prime with free 2 day shipping.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Snowy February

January was fairly dry,  but we are more than making up for it in February.  We had the big storm 2 weeks ago,  got well over two feet of snow from that.  We had some cold rain last week.  Saturday through last night,  we had another storm that left us with another foot of snow.  As of now,  the weather forecast is telling us that more may be on the way this Wednesday through Friday.  This storm is expected to be mixed with rain and we may have snow accumulations of at least 6 inches.

This was yesterday morning when we had about 4 inches:

I wonder how long this stuff will take to melt this spring?

I'm hoping to order my seedling heat mat today so i can start my pepper seeds as soon as the time comes.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Schizandra from seed

Chinese magnolia vine is another name for Schisandra Chinensis.

It is a medicinal plant with red berries that grow in clusters a little like grapes and a little like currants. Its also called the "5 flavor berry" as the berry has the tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent. The berry is basically supposed to be good for just about everything and contains antioxidants, trace vit/min and other goodnesses that i can't think of off the top of my head.  Basically,  its considered another of the "Superfruits".

Ok,  that said,  i'm going to try growing it from seed.  I bought a packet of seeds from Bountiful Gardens the year before last and just never got to do anything with them.  The price was around $2.00.

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I looked around online to get more ideas on how to germinate the seeds,  they are considered difficult.  Apparently it can take over a year with some seeds,  but can be just a few weeks in others.  Hopefully i have good luck.  The other thing with this plant is that there are 2 sexes and both are needed for berries.  I need enough to germinate so i have a chance at getting at least one male or at least one female.  They grow well from cuttings i understand,  so if i get one of each,  i'll be fine.  I tried searching online to see how to tell the sexes apart visually (before berries, of course) but i didn't find anything,  so i'm working blind.

Dried berries:

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Soaking the dried berries.

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I'm using one of my seed sprouting jar toppers.

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Berries after about 12 hours of soaking in room temp water.

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Seeds removed from the pulp.
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Some of the berries had 2 seeds and others had one.  I ended up with 26 seeds to work with.

I'm also following some directions given here:  How to grow Schizandra from seed.  They say to soak the seeds for about 5 days,  changing the water daily. 
Back in the jar they go. 
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A bunch of them  are floating though.  I hope that is not a bad sign.  Usually floating seed is bad seed...  who knows?   A packet only costs $2.50 now,  i could always try again if this does not work...  but it will set me back in the time it will take to get berries.

We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

All ready

Seed orders are complete.  I'm 99% sure i have everything i need for this year.

Product #: 3201-BOLTARDY BEET (46 days)
Price: $1.25
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $1.25

Product #: 35-RUBY QUEEN BEET (60 days)
Price: $0.95
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $0.95

Product #: 48-MAJOR BROCCOLI (F1 hybrid 43 d
Price: $1.50
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $1.50

Product #: 13201-GENERAL LEE CUKE (F1 hybrid 66
Price: $1.35
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $1.35

Price: $0.95
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $0.95

Product #: 139-DIVA CUCUMBER (58 days)
Price: $2.25
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $2.25

Product #: 146-BOSTON PICKLING CUKE (heirloom
Price: $0.95
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $0.95

Product #: W482-MINOWASE RADISH (55 days heirl
Price: $1.25
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $1.25

Product #: 371-EARLY BUTTERNUT (F1 hybrid 82
Price: $1.50
Quantity: 2
Subtotal: $3.00

Product #: 41602-MORTGAGE LIFTER TOMATO (77 day
Price: $1.35
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $1.35

Product #: 41204-MATTS WILD CHERRY TOMATO (55 d
Price: $1.65
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $1.65

Product #: 428-MARTINOS ROMA TOMATO (heirloom
Price: $1.35
Quantity: 1
Subtotal: $1.35

Product Total: $17.80
Discounts Applied: $0.00
Tax: $0.89
Shipping: $3.95
Special_Handling: $0.00
Order_Total: $22.64

I have my seed starting soil, plenty of plastic pots from last year,  though i might get some square peat pots for the cukes and squashes later on. I would like a seedling heat mat,  but i don't have the $20-$40 to spare right now.  I will need something to warm my pepper seeds.
 I'm going to try one more year (did i say that last year?) to grow peppers at home,  this will use up the rest of the seeds i have this way.  I don't have much luck with them,  germination or growing. If they do germinate well,  they don't produce much in the summer or the earwigs get to them.  Same with eggplant.  But....  i am planning to use black plastic mulch this year.  It might be just the thing.

Oh,  boy.  I got some serious sticker shock the other day. 
I get tons of catalogs every spring and i will flip through some of them if i have time.  The last 3 years or so,  i really haven't done much browsing in other catalogs.  Well,  the nice, shiny Burpee catalog caught my eye and i started paging through.

Holy. Moly.
There are some insane prices in there.  Average packet price seems to be about $5.  See above prices from Pinetree and why i almost choked.
Ok,  in Burpee's defense,  i'm sure there are more seeds in their packets than in Pinetree's....  30 from Pinetree to Burpee's 50....  but if i only need  5-10 seeds each year and can save my own seeds,  that is just crazy.
I'm ok with buying the occasional $4 packet of seeds for something unusual or unique or perennial but at those prices i could not fill my garden. 

There.  That is pretty much it for buying,  just have to wait on things to arrive.  Meanwhile i'll find the time to clear off my seed starting spaces, sort through things and get organized.

Maybe i'll actually get some pictures to post instead of these pure text entries.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Order up!

Started ordering things this weekend.
Went to Renee's Garden Seeds and got my hibiscus seeds,  then over to Pinetree and ordered a couple pounds of Adirondack Blue seed potatoes.  The picture at their website is not very good,  i don't think they are trying to be shady,  but the example photo is extremely blue, lol.  Anyway. I also bought some bush bean seeds for Dragon Langerie and Carson Yellow.  Oh and a nice sunflower mix.

I went through my stash and found that i am in the market for new tomato, cucumber, beet and broccoli seeds.
I only have 5 Beit Alpha cucumber seeds left and 5 Boston Pickling as well as 5 Spacemaster (which i think i'll skip this year).  I have plenty of Specialty White, but all these seeds are getting old and i expect maybe 2 plants out of the 5 seeds.

I have plenty of seed for the two varieties of San Marzano tomatoes (Lampadina and the ones i got from Providence Acres). I also have plenty of German Orange Strawberry. I don't think i grew those again last year.  The year before, they got horrible blossom end rot,  not a one was edible.  I also have plenty of Banana Legs left,  but we really didn't like them all that much. Too acidic, not very flavorful. The Sweet Chelsea cherry tomatoes crack and split like crazy...  not impressed.   I'm not sure if i will plant Pruden's Purple again this year.  Absolutely delicious tomato,  but last year the stem end scars and radial cracking were so big and deep, half the fruit was useless for slices.  It was annoying in years past,  but 2012 was unacceptable.

I only have a few beet seeds left,  not enough for even a small block of them,  so i will need to get a new packet of something.

I only have Waltham broccoli seeds left, though i have plenty.

There was something else i was sure i wanted...  but it has totally slipped my mind at the moment!
Well, on to studying the catalogs.

I may get some seeds for Starbor kale....  i honestly don't remember what became of the seeds.  There seems to be no evidence that i ever grew it.  I think i started some last year,  but they were no-shows...  its a mystery.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm itching.. get going starting seeds.  However,  its still too soon.  I could go ahead and Wintersow i guess,  but the way these last few springs have gone,  i'm not sure how well it will work out. Wild temperature swings are not helpful.  Also,  i don't really have an open surface outside to put anything on. I do still have those two, tall greenhouses,  but i have nothing to strap them to when the wind blows.

I do need to go through my seed stash again, begin to plot my garden and clear off that pathetic excuse for a seedling shelf that gets cluttered up with all sorts of things in the off season. lol  I wish i could use my greenhouses for shelves instead.  Maybe if my mental state (which has been on a low for a few weeks) perks up i'll be able to come up with something.   The good Lord knows i have plenty of odds and ends to work with!

I know i'll have to mail order a few packets of seeds this year.  Those hibiscus seeds i want can be found at Renee's Garden Seeds for $2.99 a pack currently.

I'm going to try and start the leonotis leonuris early.  I was going to try and direct seed them,  but i have the worst luck with direct sowing and weeding.  Another reason i don't like to grow carrots. The leonotis take time to flower and we are just on the low end of being hot enough for them to really take off.  I intend to get a big head start on them. My concern with starting too early is keeping them from getting leggy before i can plant them out.

I'd like to try growing a half or whole row of sunflowers perhaps. The wild birds enjoy the seeds from my Jerusalem artichokes very much,  so maybe they'd like big sunflower discs?  I'm going to see if our oldest daughter (now 14) would like to help me select the varieties.

Ground cherries are a definite "go" for this year.  Interestingly enough, i found canned ground cherries at Reny's a few weeks ago. They were labeled as "Golden Berries". They were packed in a heavy syrup.  I picked up a couple cans for $2.99 each.  They were ok, wouldn't buy them again really  but i would consider trying to can them myself if i could find some recipe guidelines.  I have also seen them sold on the interwebz in dried form.  Quite expensive. I do have a dehydrator.  Lots of the berries went to waste last year simply because i couldn't keep up and they can be somewhat tedious to harvest.

We're planning to use plastic mulch in the rows this year to keep down on those cursed weeds.  It seems that every year the worst thing that happens is that the weeds take over so quickly. I just can't seem to keep up.
I'm considering the possibility that the plastic mulch might make the ground cherries easier to harvest.

I'll also have to do something about tomato blight.  It took my plants down so quickly i didn't have a chance.

Since today is Friday (it took me three days to pick this entry into existence), i'll plan on making use of any uninterrupted time on Saturday to look through seeds.  I especially need to get my garden mapped out and printed off before my GrowVeg subscription runs out.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Looking around online...

I wanted to know more about the type of hibiscus that is often found in herbal teas.  I found that it is a plant often called sorrel, roselle, and even Florida cranberry.

 Here's a website with photos:
Discover the many uses of the Roselle plant.

And a website with a nice video:
Roselle, Plant of the Week

 So...  now that i know what it is called,  i of course want to find out if i can grow it myself...
 Looks possible,  but it needs a lot of room... 3 foot spacing minimum- but it can be container grown.  I think if i decide to try it,  i'll go with the container option.  I have a nice 30 gallon rubber tub that i could fill with soil.
Dave's Garden

Seeds available at Amazon:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just a bit of snow...

For my area at least,  this predictive map was spot on:

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It was nice to stay in and watch the snow fall,  and blow around.  We were lucky like most and didn't lose power which allowed us to enjoy two days of quiet, enforced relaxation.  School was called off for Friday
When all was said and done we got around 24-28 inches of snow.  its hard to tell really because it blew and drifted so much.
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Poor Molly had to go pee in this. It was still blowing and snowing when she had to go out on Saturday morning.  We had a 4 foot drift on the front steps that she and i had to plow through but the wind had blown a clear spot at the end of the drift.
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Here's a couple videos of the clearout.

Front part of the house.  I took this leaning out of the living room window.

Backyard from the driveway:

We had a snow drift that covered the kitchen window entirely.
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Well,  that's it for the storm update.