29 February 2012

peas and peas and peas

Well, I think I've outdone myself with the Peas here. I simply planted every single pea that came in the seed packet, and when time came to move them from trays into first pots I had a problem: not enough tubes! So for the first time ever I went to the store and bought biodegradable seedling fiber pots. I got fifty of the smallest size, forty of the next, and ten circular ones. And even that wasn't enough. I just have too many plants right now.

I counted them, after potting up all my Peas. A hundred and twenty. I'm happy to think I might realize my goal of blanching and freezing enough garden peas that we don't have to buy any before next growing season, but unsure if all the plants will fit in my space! I'm going to give them the entire kitchen-window bed, that runs the whole length of the house. Don't know if it will be enough.
They do look incredibly healthy, though. The color is wonderful, the leaves unspreading fast. I've weeded and turned over all the soil in their bed, so now just waiting for a sunny day to rake in compost, stake twigs and set the plants out!

28 February 2012

baby tomatoes

All my Tomato plants in the windowsill are doing well, growing very nicely. I have six cherry tomatoes, which is twice what I need, so after these grow larger (in regular kind of pots) I'll probably sell or swap the extra seedlings.
The other plants got mixed up when a tray fell off the sill earlier on (before they were in individual cardpots). So I wasn't sure which were the beefsteak and which the brandywine tomatoes. But I've never seen tomato plants without lobed leaves before. So I think the three with entire leaves are brandywines, as those tomatoes are new to me this year.

23 February 2012

green fans

The Daylilies are finally emerging!
And here come some early Tulips as well.
Spring is on the way!


My favorite purple Crocus are finally here. They've actually been blooming all week, but I only just barely got out to take a few photos.

21 February 2012

more plants

Spent the evening potting up more seedlings, after the girls were in bed.

Four Bell Pepper plants, in recycled plastic containers. That front left one was a little ice-cream cup from a fast food place.
A handful of Nasturtiums
I am rather sad that I didn't end up with many of these from my second planting. But a few have sprouted later than others- this one just came up a few days ago- so I've left the tray atop the fridge in case a few more are coaxed out by the warmth.
The seedlings in the herb tray were crowded, starved and leggy. Most had grown twisty
but I untangled them and planted the straightest ones. For the Marjoram my index finger made a perfect hole to sink each seedling into. I have two plastic pots of these (as you can see, using recycled cottage-cheese containers)
and one of Summer Savory. These were smaller plants; I made holes with an old chopstick to sink each leggy stem into.
The savory and marjoram seedlings look almost exactly alike, but the marjoram leaves are a bit broader. As I handled the teensy plants noticed that Marjoram has a distinct, sharp scent. It reminds me of those scented fruity markers.

Also a bunch of quite pathetic-looking Dill. I hope these survive and perk up!
I also have four tiny baby Brussel Sprouts seedlings! but can't get a decent pic yet, they're so small. They look a lot like broccoli (of course) just itty bitty.

Now there just remains a bunch of Marigolds and Cosmos in their seedling trays. They seem to be doing okay, but I'll probably pot those up too very soon. Also a tiny tray of Chives and Oregano got knocked off the windowsill; I lost the chives but think I saved the oregano...

19 February 2012

new peas

My second lot of Pea seedlings are coming up! Tons and tons of little teeny green shoots. I planted the entire seed packet- so there are two very full trays and three bunches (at least a dozen in each) full of sown cardpots.
So happy. My plan is to have enough peas to blanche and freeze some for future use. If my daughter doesn't eat them all straight out of the garden. She loves them fresh-picked, raw.

18 February 2012

brussel beginning

I started a bit more seed today. Brussel sprouts, which I got from my seed swap with Chris. Are they seed you gathered yourself, Chris? That's even more awesome!

17 February 2012


I have not been doing well by my fiery Croton plant. Ever since I got it, it has been steadily dropping leaves. They loose their shine, get brittle and dry, fall off at the slightest bump.
I was despairing to ever find it a suitable spot where it was happy, or figure out its watering particularities. Then did more reading online and the consensus seems to be that crotons are very hardy, but also temperamental. They resist change, but will settle in if you give them time.

Mine does have a few tiny sprouts of new leaves. I take this as a sign it will recover and live.

16 February 2012


to compliment yesterday's post.

Cherry Tomatoes:
Simpson Lettuce:

15 February 2012

some failures

I started it all too soon, this year. I should have remembered, january is time for planning, for hoping. Not for planting yet. Dig some weeds out, turn the soil over, let it sit and ready itself on those warm spring-like days. But I did very little of that. I've only weeded clear two spots out in the garden, and they're not where the earliest crops will go (lettuce, broccoli, peas). I've turned nothing over yet, nor added any compost.... and I have all these desperate seedlings in my windowsills, where there's not quite enough daylight yet. The few lamps are overcrowded. I lost my Tithonia and Nasturtiums to the cold- they were out in the coldframe and I forgot to bring them in the same night it snowed.

So I've started over, with the Nasturtiums at least. Four new seedlings in that tray already. I've been busy the past few days potting up some stuff- all my Tomatoes are now in cardpots in the mudroom windows, where the best light is. All the Simpson Lettuce are in cardpots too, happy in the coldframe, and a dozen of the best Broccoli seedlings. I also potted up some Peppers into my smallest pots- because for once I ran out of cardboard tubes to use. I hadn't hoarded enough of those over the winter. They look so teensy in there, but needed to get moved.
Because I realized something about using seed-starter mix. It is so sterilized, there are very few nutrients in there for the plants. You either have to give them liquid food (which I don't have) or transplant them into a regular potting soil very soon after they come up. The little plants look too fragile to move yet, but they also don't seem to be growing as quickly as they should. I keep forgetting to transplant them, because I'm in the habit from past years of leaving them in their seedling trays until they're nice and sturdy. It's been enough of a bother that I wonder if I'll use the stuff next year. Yes, I got almost a hundred percent germination- now I have more tomatoes and peppers than I'll be able to use, because I'm used to only a half or two-thirds coming up- but now I'm troubled to get the seedlings into proper pots quickly enough...

Oh, and I started over with Peas too, just yesterday:
I've set up the plastic box thing from last year, over a bed of bricks (to keep the young plants away from drafts at the bottom, at least for starters) so on sunny days these myriad seedlings can go outside and get enough light. I just have to be careful to remember to bring them in at night, until it's warmer.

11 February 2012


I should have listened to A. He reminded me that february is always our coldest month. But I was beguiled by the springlike weather and started planting anyways. A few nights ago we had a hard frost, then a drifting of snow, and tonight the wind is blasting shrieks around the house. My garlics are well-tucked in with an extra layer of leaf mulch, and the rhubarb still covered with glass cloches and leaves, but I was rash and uncovered the Strawberry patch.
I do hope they survive.

10 February 2012

more jades

One of the older Jade cuttings starting to look quite top-heavy
so I decided to pinch it back and encourage a stouter base.
I ended up with quite a few leaves that could easily be rooted but didn't bother this time.
Really, who needs more than fourteen jade plants? which is what I've got now, and it seems far too many. I like looking at the bold green little forest, though.

08 February 2012

more seedlings

More stuff came up overnight. Now have Beefsteak and Brandywine tomatoes, also Chives, Oregano, Basil and Ancho Peppers sprouting. My windowsills are getting crowded. The fast-growing Nasturtiums have been moved up to cardpots, and now stay outside in the coldframe, even overnight. Some of the other larger seedlings (tithonia and cosmos) I set outside on the shelf when its sunny.

07 February 2012


My Cherry Tomatoes are sprouting in their tray! Also some of the new herbs- Marjoram and Summer Savory, I think. Teensy. Thus no photo. I planted another tray of Nasturtiums also, I do love them so they make me cheerful and my daughter likes to bite and sip the nectar. She calls them "honey flower".

05 February 2012


I have made Jenna's bread. I'm feeling pretty pleased with it! It's a very simple recipe, just flour, salt and yeast. Rises twice, gets folded over on itself a few times, thrown in the oven and that's it. I was happy my fam all loved it, they were very impressed and want more! I was a bit concerned that I don't have a standing mixer to use, but figured if people have been making bread for centuries without mixers, surely I can. And I've made pie crust without it, many times. So I just used arm power to stir the dough. It worked fine.
My one hangup was that when the dough raised overnight (in a slightly warmed oven, because my kitchen is rather cool) it got stuck to the towel and then sank back down. I think next time I might put plastic wrap over it.
and maybe grease the bowl, too

seedling progress

The little Onions are growing quickly! a teensy forest of grass
And look at the lovely Nasturtiums. They're bending because my light source wasn't enough for them, so I've put them outside in the coldframe. I hope it's not too chilly. I'm checking on them frequently; if they show signs of stress from the temperature change I'll bring them back inside.
I've also got Tithonia, Marigolds and Cosmos just sprouting. I don't think the Peas are going to grow. Last year when I tried to direct sow them outside, nothing ever came up. I think the seed is just too old and not viable anymore. Peas only keep well for about two years.

03 February 2012


The green onions (also called scallions or bunching onions) are up! I have eighteen teensy little threads of plants in this tray. My husband is already anticipating enchiladas made with garden-fresh onions.
And here are the Nasturtiums sprouting! I never started nasturtiums inside, before, and always got frustrated when most didn't grow. Hopefully they do better this way.
By the way, my attempt at sprouting orange seed failed. None of them grew roots, only mold. Discarded.

more seed

Started more seed yesterday. I planted in various trays: more cilantro, pink cosmos mix, oregano, basil, chives, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes and brandywine tomatoes, bell peppers, ancho peppers, a hot pepper mix, summer savory, sweet marjoram, marigolds and tithonia.
I was curious to see that the pink Cosmos seed looked smaller, shorter than my orange cosmos seed. They don't have the long 'tails' I'm used to seeing.
The top of my fridge (near a heat vent) is quite crowded now, but I hope the peas sprout in a few days, and then there will be a bit more space.
What's left to plant? Okra and wheat grass (for the kitties). The ones that do better direct-down outside: carrots, beets, swiss chard, borage (supposedly). All the heat-loving plants that grow quickly: beans, cucumber, cantaloupe, zucchini, pumpkin. I think that will be it!

02 February 2012


There were just enough coffee grounds left to sprinkle some among the herb bed, after I'd done the chore of clearing out the weeds. Here's the three main plants, the Rosemary and Lavender I grew from cuttings, and my two-year-old Thyme from seed.
Nearby are four Parsley plants simply bursting with growth (from my mom's seed) and off to the side the Sage (from neighbor's cutting).
I love the blue-green and violet shade of the Sage foliage.
My little Oregano survived, but it looks so tiny.
The Lemon Balm is coming back, too.
I can see signs of the other Mints growing as well, but they're already reaching searching stems out over the sunken pot rims. I'm going to have to dig those up and keep them just in pots, after all. Don't want them taking over the herb bed, especially when I plan to add so much to it this year- majoram, summer savory, borage, cilantro and basil, chives and shallots...