Monday, January 31, 2011

Odds and Ends

It feels ages since I last posted.  Sometimes I get really busy with work and projects and sitting down to write gets pushed to the back burner.  So here's a recap of recent stuff:

I discovered a kindred spirit at work last week.  She isn't about to run out and get any chickens, but she has dramatically changed the way she eats thanks in part to Food, Inc. and other like-minded publications.  I knew she was a reader of my blog, but I thought it was just out of curiosity.  We saw each other at a work function, and she mentioned wanting to grow some vegetables this summer and even do some canning.  She just baked no knead bread for the first time this weekend too.  I really congratulate her on making a change against the tide.  When more people jump on this bandwagon, perhaps we can get the food industry to sit up and take notice.  B:  Whatever I can do to help, just let me know!

Up until last week, I had a blender I really hated.  It's apparently a pretty nice blender.  It has a glass jar, which I love, but the level of control over the speeds really frustrated me.  Whenever I would try to add the oil to salad dressing, I would spray the ingredients everywhere because I had no control over the speed!  I tried holding a towel over the hole, but I would end up pouring oil on the towel and making an even bigger mess.  Eventually I just stopped using it and started using just oil and vinegar.  Well, last week, I really wanted to make honey mustard dressing, so I pulled out the blender and decided to accept the consequences of my actions.  Then, it dawned on me!  You may know this already, but I'm slow on the uptake sometimes.  I pulled out a funnel, and stuck it on the hole.  It is so perfect!  It covers the hole and allows me to add the oil slowly and evenly without splatter.  Necessity is the mother of invention, right? 

Sundays seem to be the busiest day for me.  Because it gets dark so early, it's the only day I can get Nate to help with some projects that are just out of my league.  Yesterday, he made some self-watering containers for me.  I've never used them, but I'm excited to see how they do.  I'm hoping I can put them at the back end of my neighbor's yard that gets good sun, but for now, they are on the back end of my yard.  They will get some sun there, but not like they would in his yard.  I just need to discuss it with him before I plop them on his property.  In them, I've planted shelling peas, snap peas, lettuce seeds and transplants, and broccoli transplants.  Things are coming along nicely with my first set of dwarf pak choy and lettuce seedlings.  I'm hoping to harvest some really soon!  With the new ones I planted yesterday, I'm working on my succession planting.  I also transplanted some brussels sprouts in large regular pots, and along the border of one of my front yard beds, I planted onion sets.  One of my raised beds received radish and carrot seeds.  Each day, as I have time, I've tried to get some seeds going in the greenhouse as well.  This is the first year I've really tried to extend my harvest and I'm learning as I go.  The greenhouse has been wonderful in that regard.

I'm experimenting alot with different areas of my yard, timing, and growing techniques.  Sun exposure is a large stumbling block for me.  So, as I gain more experience about when to plant things and what I can successfully grow, I know I will work on producing more food.  I've started small and am growing from there. 

What are some of your gardening successes and failures?  What have you learned recently that will make you a better gardener?

Happy homesteading,




  1. It sounds like you've been very productive! I can't believe all the seeds you planted! Spring is just so far away for us up here in PA. We are a solid 6 - 8 weeks behind GA. Our temps are still quite low (a high of 29 today) and there's lots of snow on the ground. I can't wait for spring to get here. We are already thinking of our garden and seriously contemplating getting some hens.
    Last year was our first successful year of vegetable gardening. We have a large population of groundhogs who always mow down our garden. They are quite tenacious and can get into just about any area - even when you think it is as fortified as Ft. Knox. Yes, we did borrow a neighbor's live trap, but as soon as we caught one, another took its place - and I have to admit, they are so darn cute!

    Last year our most success was with a vast array of pots on our deck (which gets a lot of sun and is protected from the critters). We did very well with lettuce, tons of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and herbs. Our garden in the yard didn't fare so well. Along with the groundhog doing his damage, I think there wasn't enough sun exposure in that spot. We planted both radish and carrot seeds, but they only grew to a point, then petered out. We harvested ridiculously miniature carrots and radishes. I think the space was too small for them to really take off. The only thing that would grow there successfully was jalapeno peppers. We also simply could not get our zucchini to produce at all!! We would get huge vines with tons of flowers, but no fruit! Wonder what the secret to that was? Any ideas? I absolutely love zucchini, but have never been able to grow it.
    Anyway, it is interesting to experiment by trial and error to see what will grow in a particular area. I'm hoping we do even better this year! You are really inspiring me to try growing more things from seed.... What would you recommend for a beginner?

  2. Awweee... thanks Candace! It is wonderful to have a friend that "gets" me! I have two Michael Pollen books that will be in your box tomorrow!

  3. Bekah: Back at ya! Thanks for the books!

    Carrie: I've learned with gardening you have to take the good with the bad. Vine borers took out all of you squash last year, so I think I harvested one very small zucchini. Talk about disappointment. It sounds like pots are working well for you, so maybe you could branch off of that and build your garden. No groundhogs around here, but the tree rats, I mean, squirrls, are my worst nightmare. They eat ALL of my peaches every year. We need a guard animal to chase them off. This is my first year of really intensive seed starting, so I consider myself a newbie as well. So far I'm having good luck with lettuce, dwarf pak choy, and my tomatoes are starting to pop up. No peppers yet, but it might still be a bit too cold for them. I've never grown them before, but another seed starting success has been huckleberries. Almost all of my seeds have come from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. A small seed starting greenhouse and a sunny window would probably get you going. Keep me posted on your progress.