Got My Funk on AGAIN?

I am ready to plant NOW!  There are so many things that must be done before we get to the planting stage that somedays it is just overwhelming.  The tornado late last summer started the refurbishing.  Then the bomb cyclone last week and now our continued winds-from-hell add to the projects:

  • Pinback the hair (even with the best of pony-tail holders, it won’t last more than five minutes before something breaks loose and inevitably ends up whipping in my eyes.).

wild hair

  • Dress in layers (cold now, hot in an hour, then cold again later).
  • Put bricks in the bottom of the trash can so it won’t fall over and dump everything to blow around just to be picked up again.
  • Keep several bags in the bottom of the trash can because trying to open one in this wind just won’t work (I think one should be at my friend’s place in Kansas by now).
  • DON’T BURN WEEDS YET – but pile them up and make sure to throw bricks and huge, heavy logs on top of them to keep them together (ya, like that works? In this wind I will be continually picking up tumbleweeds – grr!)

tumbleweeds

  • WATCH THE WEATHER CHANNELS LIKE A HAWK – not for the storms, but for the winds. We were supposed to be mild today (Wednesday 3/20) at which point I could have burned some of the mess down.  But nooo – now we are not going to mellow down to the burning stage for at least the next 10 days.   May have to have the fire department on standby for the next burning as the pile is getting huge!

Then there are all the “other” projects we want/need to get done:

  1. New dog pen. This has to be first because we cannot go another year with them in the front yard.  They are destroying everything, and the damn Boxer (his name is Pig, and it fits) won’t stay in.  The next phase on the new space for them will be an electric fence.  Yes, I am serious!  He has killed 3 cats and five chickens, and that was all just for fun – JERK!  Bad enough we have foxes and coyotes here, now we have to watch our own monster.  Too bad he is so fun to watch normally – quite the character.

BB pig dog (yes, this was him but two years ago – notice that his foot is holding down a stuffed pig doll)

  1. We have new fruit trees that are supposed to come in next week. We have plotted out where/how we want them, but can’t do anything until they are here.  So that will be a drop-everything project when they come.
  2. Our seedling veggies are getting way too big already and must be moved somewhere soon. We want to put them in the greenhouse area again – but it’s not ready either.  We are looking at some new covering, and if we select it, we need to get to all the rungs for hanging.  If the plants get too big too soon, won’t be able to get the scaffolding around/over them.  (I could pretend I am Tarzan and swing around the rungs – but I wouldn’t want to embarrass others my age by doing it – ya, sure!?!)

Best Tarzan (my fav Tarzan!)

There are many MANY  more things that are swirling around in my head that need to be started.  Guess I will just have to chalk it all up to spring fever, although I don’t think that ever-mounting chores are what they had in mind when they created that phrase.

One last tidbit to share:  If you read last weeks post you know I love gardening until it’s dark then watching the stars – but – there a real thing that I also love which is gardening by the moon.  Well, my buds at Farmer’s Almanac have sent a new article via email that gets into better detail:

WHY DO WE GARDEN BY THE MOON  by Jaime McLeod

garden by moon phases

If you want some fun and interesting reading, check it out.  They share the best time to do certain gardening steps by following moon phases.  Enjoy!

garden by moon 1

 

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

 
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One More Sign Or Just Legend?

I just love stories like this one:

Rare oarfish, regarded as omens of natural disasters, found alive in Japan                          By Alex Stambaugh and Junko Ogura, CNN

Makes me wonder what the true reason is?

Owning or working anything that requires you to mess with nature, should make you think about these things.  The very least you should take notice of them.  I do believe that all things happen for a reason.  Our home was destroyed by a tornado late last summer.  Not the house so much, but the gardens and greenhouse.  I’m still not knowing what the reason was behind it, but I could drive myself nuts playing with theories:

  • First was punishment: We got disgusted, frustrated, and angry at all the people mooching off of us, so we threw them all out.  On is in jail – again –  but that is now for his own mother to worry about.
  • Second was preparation: Prepping us for something worse to be happening soon.
  • Third was par-for-the-course: Just when I think things are going better for us, something else pops up and shits on our parade.

That’s just three, but my list keeps building.  Then I read stories like the one above.  These are based on real news – things that are happening now.  Then they throw some flare like “legend has it” in there for reader interest.  Well, it works on me every time, especially when it has to do with nature.

One of my biggest why is this happening theory is based on the thought that someone, somewhere is trying to tell us something.  It could be something that we are not doing right?  Maybe it is something we are doing all wrong?  Maybe we should be doing more?  Maybe we should be doing it all differently?  These thoughts are also endless for me.

Now that we (humans that is) have evolved into such creatures of technology, we are better able to track and record things.  Simple things that we tracked just for the sake of tracking decades ago have now developed a purpose, and sometimes a greater meaning.  (WOW – do I sound deep here or what?).

Personally, I love the weather.  Humans have been trying to track and control it for centuries, and we still get it wrong.  I love to follow the old wife’s tales of the past:

  • If your barn animals have a thick coat come fall, you are going to have a harsh winter (not necessarily a full of snow winter, could just be extremely cold.).
  • Achy joints – the weather is going to change. (This one I do believe because mine will kill me when the weather does a severe change.).
  • It’s going to rain because the cows are all lying down. (NOT – those huge 4-legged monsters get just as tired as we do, but it is funny to see a whole feed of them on a hot sunny day lying down on the job.)
  • Head to the southwest corner of the lowest part of your home (like a basement) when a tornado hits. They say this isn’t true, but  – to this day – that is EXACTLY where I went and will continue to go when they strike.
  • If the Wooly Bear caterpillar has a thick coat, it will be a heavy snow winter. Have no clue on this one and here in Colorado I have not even seen many of the Wooly Bears. We did see one really early last spring – totally out of season. Then had that tornado in July – hmmm.  Maybe it was trying to tell us something?

My point is that I do believe in signs.  I think there are things all around us in nature that if we just stop and pay it a little bit of attention, we may just learn something.

I watch the skies for signs of rain or a bad storm.  I watch the soil to see if we are getting enough moisture for the gardens to make it, or will I have to put in a lot of extra time watering to help them out.  I watch the geese fly overhead and if they are traveling north or south (north for summer, south for winter as the saying goes).  Then again here in Colorado, this one can be a bit off.  We have geese here year around, but we only have snow geese in winter.  On a warm day, you can see them traveling north one moment then south a bit later?

I do keep a really close eye on the budding of the trees.  We have such odd weather here.  If it is too nice out too early and the trees start to bud, they could be in for trouble before they are ready.  We have lost blossoms many years because it would be 65+degrees in March then dump snow and below zero temps in April.  One year on two weekends (back-to-back no less) in April Friday reached up to the nineties, but by Monday we were below thirty and snowing like the east coast is now (ooo – new phrase: Snowing like the east coast in 2019!?!).

According to the article above and the tales connected to it, there may be a natural disaster headed for Japan within the next year.  The scientists even agreed that these rare creatures may have popped up because of some underwater change.  However, they also agree that this does not mean they are headed for another 2011 tsunami.  Will be interesting to check back on this post a year from now and see if anything happened?

Do you believe in the signs around you?  Do you even watch for them?

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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THINK ABOUT IT – 3-Rs OR JUST “T”?

The last several decades have been all about the 3-Rs:

  • REUSE
  • RECYCLE (or repurpose)
  • REPAIR

I’m going to blame mom and her being a child of the depression again.  SHE NEVER THREW ANYTHING AWAY (yes, I am yelling it – on purpose – at her because I know she is listening up in heaven.)!  This is a great habit to get into, to a point.  There does come a time when you just have to say “throw it out!”

Garden hoses are a tough one for me.  If it just has a split or two or an end is shot, I will repurpose it.  The first three years on our farm were major drought years (worst in 100 years according to locals).  We soaked in and tried every bit of advice from where ever it came from:

  • Overhead spraying (big waste of water, especially 90+degree days.)
  • Ditch watering. Not bad except for it being a great way to feed a ton of unwanted weeds.
  • Spot watering. Best, but doing it by hand was awful.  I had to split our gardens into three separate areas because it took me all morning just to do one of the three.

Then one day (like it always is – better late than never) it dawned on me:  Cut up the old hoses and attach connectors to the ends.  This created a bunch of mini-hoses that I could run from area-to-area or plot-to-plot without losing any water in between.  I can connect the main hose to the outside faucet.  Run that to the first plot and attach a Y-flow connector.  Then I can either turn on that plot for watering, or shut that one off and turn on the flow to the next plot/tree/row.

hose y-2way splitterI can also take smaller bits of older hose and just connect them to flow from growing space to growing space by putting male and female connection ends on them.

Then, a couple of years ago, I found one of the best inventions for gardeners in a long time – The Quick Connector:
hose quick connect setWe have a number of rows instead of regular box plots with growing stuff.  We also figured out that putting the drip line below the ground by the roots was more efficient than just placing it on top of the soil.  After a while, the drip lines can leak or split bigger holes.  Having it below ground stops it from spraying in a place we don’t want to be watered, keeps the moisture by the roots where it is needed, and if it is a big leak, it will cause pooling.  When I find pooling I mark it until I am done watering that row.  Then I grab one of these:

hose -repair connector  (This one, by the way, is awesome!  The ends (green parts) keep it all together much easier, tighter, and quick to switch out as needed.)

The just “T” in my title stands for “trash” it.  It takes a lot for me to decide to toss something in the trash (my sister can verify this – eek).  Tin cans, coffee containers (tin and plastic), odd size glass jars (meaning we never use good Ball type jars except for canning), and any size plastic jars are all hung on to by me (Drives the sister nuts – hee hee).  Here are just a few of my uses for these things:

  • Larger ones like coffee containers are used for my yarn stuff. I can fit one large or a couple of small into a coffee can.  Then simply cut a hole in the top and viola’ – perfect way to manage yarn especially if you’re doing more than one color in your works.

 

  • Medium and smaller plastic is great for loose screws, nails, or bits and pieces in the shop that we don’t want to get rid of yet. If it is good shape, it will get reused on some project at a later date.
  • Tin cans all sizes and shapes are great for crafting, painting (craft, room or building), holding pens and pencils and stuff.

tin can use-grandson craft  (Grandson made this one for me)

  • Smaller pieces of broken glass, old rusty nails or metal, any other small sharp material found around the farm (especially in the driveway – after roofing is the worst!) can be put in the tin coffee cans. When it is full, we simply duct-tape the snot out of it and throw it in the trash.  Most of it (in a couple of million years) will decompose down and not lead to more flat tires around the house.

There are tons of uses for these types of containers.  Just throwing them in the trash seems like a huge waste to me.  It does drive my sister nuts, so I promised to try to cut back on the number I save (maybe?).  A good friend of ours also used the tin coffee cans to help with his seedlings.  He puts the small, delicate plant in the spot he wants it.  Then cuts off one end of the can completely (already should be off if you used the coffee.), and only cuts off about 3/4 of the other end.  He peels back the partially cut end and places the open end over the young plant.  Our winds will dry the heck out of anything young very quickly.  This not only protects it from the ugly winds but keeps it a bit warmer in case of a fluke freeze.  It also keeps the water in the spot he wants it (the can is sunk part way into the ground to keep it from flying off), and it even helps to keep unwanted critters from attacking or eating all of the young plants.  Only had a couple of cans to try his plan with, but it worked.  Then the tornado took off with my cans.  Time to start saving new ones – woohoo!

tornado lifing stuff

I wanted to share this bit of info for those of you that are garden-a-holics like us and have started planning out this season.  We are starting seeds this weekend and hope for a mild, boring growing season this year.

crazy gardener - snl   (Ya gotta love SNL and everything Christopher Walken does – both are classics!)

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I NEED YOUR GARDENING INPUT PLEASE!

I was perusing my Old Farmers Almanac and came across a Gardening Adage:

If you grow it for the fruit or the root, you need full sun.

If you grow it for the leaves, partial shade is all you need.

I have never heard this adage before but find that it is very true.  The blurb even highlighted the specifics of the statement (which I have bolded and underlined).  It gave me an idea for updating my blog.  I think I will create a page that is nothing but these adages and wife’s tales from the past.  Some of them will be bizarre, and some will be true, but most of all they will be fun to find and read.

happy cabbage

Cares melt when
you kneel in the garden.

I find that one to be very true for me.  Especially when it is time to do weeds, I can really get into ripping those suckers out, and I surprisingly find that my cares have drifted away – after about two hours of doing it.

zen frog

Can’t see the forest
for the trees.

This is a huge truth for me in the garden and regular life.  I can’t count the number of times I was working on a problem or project wishing for an easier way.  Then, usually years later, it just pops into my head.  It was right in front of me the whole time, and I just did not see it.

cant see forest

A dedicated
gardener dwells within.

Ok, I admit I have no clue on this one?  Is it supposed to mean that gardeners are introverted, or is it just stating the fact that someone who really works hard on their garden is living in the house?

dedicated gardener

In spring at the end of the day,

You should smell like dirt.

Margaret Atwood, Canadian Writer (1939)

This was actually a quote and not an adage, but I have heard it tons of times growing up on the farm (never knew who started it before).  Most adages are simply passed down through families with no real concern for it being a quote or not.

chicken digging in dirt

This one made me giggle:

Gardening is just
another day at the plant.

Then last, but not least (I hope) is one of my most favorites:

Dirt poor, filthy
rich.

I think it should be the other way around.  If you have dirt, you should be rich because you can feed those you love.  Then again, I get really filthy when I garden (or any work out on the farm), and yet I am nowhere near rich.

I would love to hear from you all!  Please share any family goodies that you carry with you in your gardening endeavors.  I would love to add them to my new page — the funnier or sillier, the better.

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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GARDENING HELP SHOULD BE FREE

I read a lot.  Most of what I read is a huge variety of “how-to” stuff.  I really enjoy learning new things, improving on the skills I already have, and helping others who hope to enjoy these things I love.  I just think that of all the great things I know how to do, gardening help should be free.

I’m not talking about spending hours or days teaching someone how to garden.  That could (and should) take a lifetime.  I am also not talking about the things you create from your gardening expertise.  You grow gourds then turn them into gourd art – you should sell your wares.  What I am talking about, is sharing what you know with others, then we can all benefit from growing our own stuff.

Not everyone has a green thumb, nor does everyone want to be one, but for those that do the information should be free.  I love sharing my gardening info with others.  I especially love sharing my mistakes.  The mistakes (for me) are my best way of learning.  I find it funny that the mistakes stick in my head forever, do it right and I will have to go back and remember what I did. (Heaven forbid I have too much junk floating around in my head all the time that distracts my remembering!)

I am connected to a ton of blogs, forums, and Q & A sites that all find sharing is caring when it comes to gardening.  It corks me off to see someone want to charge for a bit of helpful advice.  If you are building a book, that’s fine and more power to you; but if you are asked a simple question on how to solve a specific problem, just help a buddy Green-thumber out!

Gardening is not easy, but it is rewarding.  Not just in the awesome food you can produce all by yourself, but for the great feelings you get along the way:

  • Playing in the mud when you are older than ten – and getting away with it!
  • The first seed that sprouts.
  • The first flower on your plants.
  • The first fruit (veg or whatever you are growing) that shows up.
  • Running out in a storm to cover and protect your babies (you put a ton of work into them).

The first time you grow enough food to have extra to share with others, well that’s a feeling that you will never forget! 

So live, laugh, learn, and love your growing efforts; be it flowers, fruits, veggies, trees, bushes, or whatever trips your trigger.  Just don’t forget to share!

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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WHAT WOULD OUR WORLD BE LIKE IF…

Being a small farmer/gardener and doing it all as chemical free and natural as can be, I watch all the signs.

  • Weather: Current, future and even past.
  • News: Any changes current or future that may affect what I grow and why.
  • Critters: This is my biggie! I watch what the wild and natural critters are doing around me.

This third point leads me to today’s post.  I read a lot and have “cut the cord” so I read even more now.  I get my news online and in print.  When I turned on my cell phone this morning, one of the first articles was this:

Since it is about the insects, one of my three main critter groups, I had to check it out.  WARNING:  If you follow these things like I do, and if you are a gardener of any type, is a bit disturbing.

multiple insects The Insect Apocalypse Is Here – The New York Times

Sune Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that …

We have a Bee Keeper that comes up every spring, unloads 600+ colonies of bees, and for three days distributes them around the northeast corner of Colorado.  Those three days are a ton of fun.  BEES EVERYWHERE!  I set out extra dishes of sugar-water so they can get a drink and a boost after their long trek.  I love that; once things settle down, they will land on me while I garden.  I leave them alone, they leave me alone, and all gardening is mutual love.

Then I received another article which caught my attention.  Again, it has to do with things that affect me – like weather (which has been way off whack this year):

Global Ocean Circulation Keeps Slowing Down: Here’s What It Means

Trevor Nace Contributor Science

I know a ton of people out there do not believe in climate change, I am NOT one of those.  I think it is a very real thing and it worries me. I have read some articles on historical documents and found that part of the problem with the past cold spells may have had to do with things just like this.  Part of the reason they are tracking it so much more closely now.  When you are a natural farmer/gardener, you try to grow in the best possible means available.  When the weather decides to turn cold – and stay there – it’s hard to get a good handle on your crops.  We cover when necessary, but to keep them covered for extended periods can also be a problem.  We also do manual pollination, especially in our greenhouse.  This is time-consuming but very necessary.  Yes, we have some insects in there that help – but not enough, and usually not bees.

I hope reading this you will join me in being conscious of your surroundings.  Please feel free to share with me if you have anything like this going on in your neck of the woods.  I am also interested in finding out how others are handling things like missing pollinators and extreme periods of unusual cold.  Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing!

flower and bee

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HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR WATER?

A farmer or gardener perspective for decades now has been to avoid plastics as much as possible.  They do not biodegrade which, of course, is not good for the earth.  This was my main concern when it came to plastics, specifically plastic bottles.

no plastic bottles

To-go containers for us are usually cardboard, paper bags, or reusable containers.  Yes, some of the reusables are plastic, but they are the good plastic that gets recycled.  We do love our redo, reuse, repurpose things on the farm, but most of these things are items that will biodegrade.  If they don’t do that then they had better last forever.

Well, my blog buddies at The Whoot.com have found a new danger from plastic, and it has to do with drinking water purchased in plastic bottles.

Plastic Bottled Water Does Damage With Every Sip

They share some fantastic info-graphics describing how the plastics are labeled, what the label means, and what the level of danger is.  I have saved several of these graphics for our own future use, and I hope you will do the same.  They even have a mini-video explaining how/where the plastic danger is.

We found it easier years ago to just purchase the heavy-duty refillable water bottles and carry them wherever we go.  We can load ice cubes in them more easily, and even freeze part on some of them.  Nothing better when working out in a hot garden than a cold drink of water.  We also have the huge advantage of our own well.  Some people don’t care for the taste of well water, but we prefer it.  To us, some city waters taste tinny or sterile.  We have the added benefit of natural minerals in our water, nothing cooked out.

This week my plow-share is all about safe, drinkable, water.  Simple, short, and hopefully refreshing.

good water bottle

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Plowshare Thursday – Watering Help.

What a wild planting year we have had:

  •  It was cooler than normal spring.
  • Wind gusts that decide to get nasty and take off half our greenhouse roof.
  • Now the intense (constantly increasing due to climate change – yes, I do believe in it.) heat is on again.

The year we bought our farm (August 2000) was the first year in 100 years that Colorado had a serious drought. This drought went on for another two years. It was a good thing, back then, that we knew something of water conservation. Luckily, several elderly farmers in the area shared lots of their conservation ideas.

Since we love to try new things, we decided to give some of their methods a go.

  1. We were just using a sprinkler type system that worked fine in the city of Denver, but out here on the plains with drought conditions was not a great idea. We then purchased a huge drip irrigation system. This was the, most costly, investment in our new watering methods. It was also the most time-consuming.
    1. Main connector.
    2. Mainline with all its t-joint connector lines.
    3. Row lines connect, again with t-joints, to the secondary lines.
    4. Row lines tapped with a special hole-making tool to install the drip line(s).
      That first year took forever to get it all installed, but it worked well. The next hard part of it was uninstalling to put it away for winter. Since it was all above ground, it all had to be taken apart, drained and sheltered for the winter. The next spring, we brought it all out again.
  2. We tried digging trenches like the big farms around us do. They then place short tubes into irrigation ditches. The tubes carry water from the ditch up into the fields. This idea didn’t last long with us. It just felt like too much water was being wasted.
  3. Next, we tried a bunch of different mulching methods.
    1. The first was the cheapest, but the biggest disaster. We have a local hydroponic tomato plant that uses coconut husks for mulch. When they do a “change-out” of plants and start newbies, they throw out all their old tubes of mulch. This was then free for the taking – so we did. After putting it around almost everything, we noticed some things were dying. We lost our first huge strawberry bed to this mulch. Gave away everything we could gather and never used it again.
    2. The next was “free” hay. Those that do not know, there is a difference between hay and straw mulch. Thick packing of hay can really help to block out the sun and kill weeds, just make sure you do not have weed seeds in the hay. That was our mistake. It took us future years of spot burning to get rid of all the Goathead goathead pic 1 (The cute little green pods become dry hard “spikey” beasts!)
      goathead pic 2(This is a younger full-size plant – the cute yellow flowers will become the green pods which, in turn, become the ugly beasties!)
      and

      sandbur weed grass . (Up close and nasty – the fuzzy end is not soft but spikey painful sticks to EVERYTHING – ugh!)

    3. After years of burning the sandburs and trying to coax our chickens, ducks, and geese to eat the little yellow flowers (best way to stop the Goathead from spreading). Our local energy company sent some tree cutters around to trim up the lines. They happened to stop by one day when I was in the garden and actually ask if it was ok to come onto our property (they have a “right-of-way” on file ) which I thought was very nice. I asked them what they were doing. Then I asked what they were doing with the wood chips. We now have a great agreement. They dump several piles of wood chips on our property for free. We get some awesome compost within just a few years. The piles cook down into the most beautiful dark dirt. We have learned how to use the older stuff as both new, good soil and great mulch. The one thing we did learn about wood chip mulch is that you cannot place it close to the base of a plant, bush, or tree.
    4. omewhere along the way, we started buying clean (no weeds) straw and found that using our Sucker/Blower (what we call our leaf blower) to chop it up into smaller pieces and mix it in with our wood chip mulch. We now have some stellar compost piles.

My whole share for today is to try to extend to you the opportunity to find new ways to use and save water. We all need to do our fair share to help. Conservation methods – even trial and error will help. Mulching, planting more items that will keep our earth cool, build shade covering where you can, building or creating spaces that provide use and beauty without wasting or using too much water. These are the methods we adhere to now and hope that you will too.

Happy Gardening!

PS: Here are some other helpful places to learn about using water wisely:

MNN: How to water your yard during a drought

The Spruce: Drought Tolerant Landscaping: What You Should Know

Gardening Know How: Xeriscape Design Ideas
High Traffic Lawn Options: What Are Some Lawn Alternatives In Play Areas

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Plowshare Thursday 10-12-17: TO SEW OR NOT TO SEW?

To sew or not to sew?  To use standard seed start containers, or to purchase the fancy setups with all the extra thrills and frills?  So many questions and so many answers.  Where do you begin?

We begin with the end – where will the mature plant end up growing.  We still have many years where we over-start on our seeds.  I blame it on all the great food produced the year before.  It is usually only a few months from harvest/food processing time until our next year’s seed start time. (Processing usually ends in Oct. or Nov., and seed start is usually end of Jan. first part of Feb.)

This year will be no exception.  We have received such a bounty from our work and the bartering with our great friends, that it will be impossible to not dig into starting a ton of seeds asap.  Right now, we still start ours in the house, and it is a joy to see.  Plant setups all over the place.  Grow lights glowing until after dark (got to get those eight to ten hours of light in).

We have found, through a ton of trial and error, that the type of plant needs a certain type of container or all the magic grow methods in the world will not save it.  Here are the things we have found:

  1. Plastic trays: Usually with the cover to help heat them up and keep the moisture levels up. They are great for smaller starts. Usually, flowers as most of their seeds are tiny.  If you do not have the covers (after a while ours all split, so we used them as extra support for the trays), plastic wrap works.  You must watch the growth carefully.  If you do not take the top off soon enough, your starts can get spindly.   You can use a cut up the straw to prop up the plastic higher over the trays to allow more growth space (do NOT use toothpicks).

germination-station-400x400- trays

  1. Pressed cardboard cups: This is still our medium of choice for any plant that does not handle transplanting well.  Usually, we will tear the bottom off or splice the sides before we put it into the ground.  This allows for easy root expansion as it grows.
  2. Newspaper DIY:  This is more earth-friendly than the cardboard ones. However, they do not usually hold up as well.  If you are going to use these, make sure you have a good, strong support under them; and do not get them too wet.

newspaper-pot-maker-400x400

  1. Wax-lined disposable drinking cups: (like Dixie brand) We discovered this by cruising around on Pinterest.  I was not sure it would work at first.  I was afraid the plant would flood (they are meant to “hold” water), but then found that if we simply poked a hole about the size of a pen top in the bottom of the cup, place the planted cups in a tray, then water when needed – works great!  We got a ton of cheap cups from the local dollar store.  We used the flat trays we already have.  Moisten the soil before planting and – ta-da – great seed start setup.

dixie cup

We also tried the major dispersement method this last year.  That is where you take a ton of smaller seeds like tomatoes or carrots and throw them spread out over a prepped soil flat tray.  As the plants start coming up you simply thin out the grouped bunches to just one or two.  The only thing this went well for us on this method was the chipolini onions (FYI – small but outstanding flavor!).  We decided that we loved our tomatoes and carrots too much even to toss out just a few.  Broke our hearts – and tummies.

In conclusion, my plowshare Thursday note to you would be, decide where you are going to plant something before you start your seed sewing.  If it is a large plant in need of full sun – try the cups or cardboard.  If the plant does not like transplanting, start it in an earth-friendly container like the cardboard.

My very last tip for you is Beat the Snot out of it while you are planting it!  We do this on everything we plant – no wimps here.  This may just be our experience, but we have also seen how plants that get the snot knocked out of them during an early spring hail, usually come back great-guns after that.

Whatever you choose, make sure you do it with love, fun, and a bit of singing or humming never hurts (plants love music).

Happy Gardening!

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PLOWSHARE THURSDAY – Do you have one?

There are so many times that I have been asked for help, or asked someone else for help and got hung up on the description.

“WHAT IS THIS GROWING ON MY HERB LEAVES?”
“WHAT KIND OF BUG HAS WINGS AND IS EATING MY PEPPERS?”
“WHY IS MY PLANT DYING?”

Sound familiar? Either you have confronted someone with these issues (and more), or someone has approached you is just as vague. This brought me to my plowshare today – cameras.

Yes, it sounds simple enough, but try to remember it every time you go outside or to your gardening area. I usually take my cell phone with me. However, when I go out to water, I don’t (fear of getting it wet). I finally figured out that’s a dumb thing to do. When I am watering is when I am up close and personal with most all of my plants. This is usually when I spot something I need help with, or that I can use to help someone else.

So instead of being afraid of getting it wet (yes, I get carried away with water, and I am proud of it!), I am now trying to remember to bring it with me outside more.

The biggest reason for this change is (after whacking myself in the forehead a few times) physical proof. It doesn’t matter if you are using your cell phone, an Instamatic, digital, or even an old-fashioned camera; just as long as you can get a clear picture.
I can not believe how long it took me to figure this one out, especially in light of my home repair methods. Decades ago I taught myself an invaluable lesson:

When needed a piece to do any home repair work – remove the old one and take it with you.

This has become my subconscious creed. It is automatic for me to do this anymore. So, duh, why am I not doing the same in my exterior areas as I do in my interior areas. Both are in need of a variety of maintenance procedures. Well, as of this fall all that silliness has ceased. I now either carry my phone or a camera with me every time I go outside, even if it is just to sit and relax for a nice evening, a mode of picture capture is in my grasp.

I hope that all of you reading this, begin this habit IMMEDIATELY! I wish I would have years ago. I would have enough pics now for a full book on problems and conditions in gardens and what to do about them. Oh well, life goes on. Happy gardening!

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(Leaf Bug – first year on our farm that I have ever seen them – woo hoo!)

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