Tag Archives: flowers

Spring Garden, 2014

We got a late start on this year’s garden, due to the harsh winter that ran into spring. However, this spring has been mostly nice and cool, and our garden is looking pretty good so far! My goal this year was to space things appropriately (everything was super cramped and overgrown by October in years past) and to stay ahead of the weeds, which overcame the garden in previous years. I’d get to point where I just gave up, and the weeds won.

This year, I laid much more leaf mulch, thanks to the nifty leaf compost bin that my husband made out of wooden pallets last year. It was packed full of leaves that we collected in the fall.

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I’ve also been trying to get out there regularly to pull weeds and cultivate. It’s working so far, although I fell behind in a few rows… mainly the peas and the radishes/carrots. The weeds don’t seem to be bothering the peas, but I know I have to clean up the row with the carrots or they won’t grow. Does anyone know the best way to weed around carrots?

We started harvesting a couple of weeks ago. First out of the garden were lettuce, radishes, and spring onions.  I love growing radishes and spring onions because they are so easy.

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This year we had better luck with lettuce, too, partly because we started with plants. I think the last few years I sowed lettuce seeds too late, and I waited and waited for them to get big enough to pick, and then they bolted. It’s working out much better this year, from plants. We have big, full heads of lettuce. I’m sure the cooler spring is helping too.

Our most recent harvest from the garden has been peas. During our first year gardening, we had a great row of sugar snap peas that seemed to produce early, and just kept giving us peas. This year I sowed three rows of peas, one of Frosty Pea, one Sugar Bush, and one Sugar Snap. Not sure why I dedicated three rows to peas, but I did. They grew strong and big, but it seemed like the blossoms were never going to develop. I even considering pulling out the plants so that I could put something else there, because I was starting to think they wouldn’t produce for us. Then, after a recent weekend of heavy rain I walked out there and they were full of beautiful little pink and white blossoms! It’s been my favorite part of this year’s garden so far, particularly the pink pea blossoms. I went out there last night and snapped some photos before the blossoms were all gone.

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Are you keeping a garden this year? How is it doing?

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Simple Things: Missing Summer

I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I think I just got tired, but I’ve also been missing it. Just needed a little break, I guess. I tend to work that way. I’m very passionate about something for a while until I burn myself out. Then I move on to something else, and eventually find my way back when the time is right.

It’s been a mild winter so far, which I have mixed feelings about. I don’t mind the mild weather, except for the fact that I find the unseasonably warm conditions (a la global warming) unsettling. Despite the light-jacket-weather, I finally took the kids to get snow boots, in anticipation of a heavy snow that we’re bound to get at some point in the coming weeks.

I don’t think I have the winter blues, but I do miss the sights and sounds of summer. I also just upgraded my Photoshop Elements software and bought some textures and brushes from 2 Lil’ Owls Studio today, so I wanted to play with some photos I took back in July. It’s a bit of a cheat for the “Simple Things Sunday” link-up, but I didn’t think anyone would mind. 😉

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Then I did a little more playing with a Florabella action and got this, which I like even more.

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Simple Things Sunday: Sunflower

We’ve had some crazy weather lately… extreme heat and a “derecho”, which I’ve never heard of before. The weather was so strong Friday night that I considered waking the kids and heading to the basement. Though the lights flickered several times, and we lost power for a moment or two, we didn’t lose power long-term. It turns out that many people in our community are without power, so I guess we were lucky.

We did have two casualties in the garden. The two biggest sunflowers that I had growing in the garden were laying flat on the ground Saturday morning. One was open; the other had a head on it but hadn’t bloomed yet. I decided to use the downed open sunflower and get some macro shots. They’re hard to photograph from 6 feet over your head, so might as well seize the opportunity and not let it be a total waste. 🙂

Notice the ant at the bottom right.

Simple Things Sunday: Scallion Blossoms

I’ve been enjoying the Simple Things photography link-up. There are some great photos posted every week, but I gotta say some of my favorites have been from  Gigi Marie Photography, especially her macro photography. She takes some amazingly creative photos of sometimes ordinary things using a macro lens. For instance, check out her photos of the sewing machine needle from last week’s Simple Things post. Awesome.

Though her skills and equipment are definitely a cut above mine, I do have a 100mm f2.8 telephoto/macro lens that I bought a few years ago, so this week I decided to try to get creative with it in the garden. The scallions that I planted from seed last summer are blooming, and there is just something about onion blooms that I love. So, I captured a few close-ups.

The photos would have been crisper if I had used a tripod, but it was getting late and the sun was setting. I stole a few moments before supper time to get these photos, keeping one eye on the kids to make sure they weren’t getting themselves into any trouble. There just wasn’t time for a tripod. In fact, in the five or ten minutes I took to take these photos, our basset hound snatched and ate a handful of radishes we had just picked. Bummer.

Lastly, I wouldn’t normally choose to go monochrome with garden produce, but I thought the combination of the structure of the blossoms and the low sun shining on them created some nice shadows, lending them to black-and-white. I also love the texture of thin, papery sheath these flowers are pushing their way out of. The first photo is on the soft side, but I thought there was something sexy and moody about it. (Imagine that… a scallion being sexy and moody.)

In the future, I probably won’t plant scallions from seed. They take FOREVER to grow! But I am enjoying their beauty.

A Lesson Learned About Poisonous Plants and Kids

Earlier this week we went to a garden store and I promised the kids they could pick out a plant for their garden. Miss D is a little too small yet to have much of an opinion, but Mr. D quickly settled on this colorful lantana.

He was very particular about waiting until he was “ready” to plant it. Here he is hard at work, patting down the soil around his new plant.

Now, I didn’t realize it until I looked up lantanas on the web, but it turns out these plants are poisonous. Actually, it turns out that a lot of plants are poisonous. No kids or pets have taken a bite out of this lantana, and it’s unlikely that they would. However, last year my daughter was quick to take a bite out of any veggie she found in the garden and so far this year she’s been plucking the heads off the pansies. Though she hasn’t put any of them in her mouth, I wouldn’t need to be concerned if she did because pansies are actually edible flowers. Lantanas are not, and several sites say the berries are poisonous. (This one doesn’t have berries yet.)

Here is my next course of action.

  1. Talk with my kids about edible versus poisonous plants and how they shouldn’t taste or eat any berries, leaves, or flowers, unless Mommy, Daddy or another trusted adult says it’s okay.
  2. Move the lantana to a (non-edible) flower garden, or pot it and put it up and out of reach. (Perhaps in a hanging planter.)
  3. Institute a new rule: edible plants only in the children’s garden (or at least no poisonous plants).
  4. Find myself a good list of poisonous plants (native to Virginia, or common household plants) and familiarize myself with it.

Phew. I was feeling like a bad mama… letting my kids put a poisonous plant in their garden. But now that I have a plan for fixing it, I feel better.

Make Your Own Seed Packet Organizer Using a Tissue Box

Since last year was my first year with a big garden, I start accumulating seed packets and was looking for a way to keep them somewhat tidy and organized. (Kind of a stretch for me, being neither a tidy nor an organized person.) I searched online for some special seed containers or something that might be available at a garden store, but came up with nothing. I did, however, find a page that recommended using an old tissue box to hold seed packets. I tried it and thought it worked out just fine.

Over the past year and into this growing season, my seed collection expanded threefold and I needed more seed holders. Since we have two small kids in the house, we go through our fair share of tissues and don’t have to wait long to have an empty tissue box to put to use. So, I made two more today. Here’s what you do.

Start with an empty tissue box and cut a rectangle out of the top.

From the corners of the inner rectangle that you cut out, cut diagonally to the top corners of the box, essentially creating four flaps on the top. Then fold those down and staple them to the inside of the box.

Ta-da! You have yourself a seed box. I suppose if you were feeling crafty, you could even decorate your box.

As a result of this little bit of effort, my seed collection went from this:

To this:

I had to figure out a way to divide them up into the three boxes, so I put cool weather (frost tolerant) plant seeds in one box, warm weather (frost intolerant) plant seeds in another, and  legume, flower, and herb seeds in the last box. Then I grouped them in each box by plant type (tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, squash, etc). (I realize now that I have way too many squash and pumpkins seeds!) I also thought of using some index cards as dividers between plant types, but haven’t done that yet.

Surely the best way to make my seed packets more manageable is to stop buying so many! That isn’t nearly as fun, though. Nonetheless, I’m sure this isn’t the last of my seed organizing efforts. I’ll adjust or try something else later. I did find a site online that recommends using a pocket-style behind-the-door shoe organizer to organize seeds, while others simply use binders with sleeves to hold the packets. I’m curious to hear what you do. If you have a system that works for you, or any ideas or suggestions, please do share!

First Harvest: Spring Onions

What an incredible weekend to be outside in the garden! I didn’t want it to end… especially Sunday. The weather was perfect.

With the snow and rain we got over the last couple of weeks I was starting to get anxious to plant and wanted to get as much in the ground this weekend as I could. We got the garden mostly tilled and ready, which included mixing in some horse manure that my husband picked up two weeks ago. My in-laws were in town and helped keep the kids busy, which gave me some larger chunks of time in the garden than I usually get. (Thank you to E, G, and my hubby!)

Saturday I sowed yellow and sweet onions, lettuce (arugula and simpson), and spinach, and transplanted some lettuce and chard that had come up from last year. I also planted some broccoli and cabbage plants that we got at the garden store just up the road, along with some garlic chives. On Sunday I sowed garden peas, snap peas, kale, turnips, broccoli rabe, and kohlrabi. My son went to the garden store with me on Saturday and he picked out some pansies for the kids’ garden. So, we planted those too, and added a few other fun things, like some pinwheels and river rocks.

As I mentioned, there are some plants that overwintered and are showing new growth. I moved the lettuce and chard to the appropriate plot, based on my crop rotation plan. (The spot where there were will have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes this year.) Also, while taking compost out of the bottom of our compost bin to put in the garden, I found four cloves of garlic that were sprouting, so I planted them in the garden near the onions. (Why not?)

Finally, we had a bunch of onions in last year’s onion plot that had grown new green stalks. They weren’t onions that I planted in the fall with the expectation of an early spring harvest. They were onions I missed when harvesting them last year, because I wasn’t really sure when I was supposed to pull them out and I did it a little too late, after the stalks on some of the smaller onions completely dried up and withered away. So, they grew back this spring. At the suggestion of my mother-in-law, I pulled them to have as spring onions. They filled a quart size mason jar nicely, so I decided to get a little creative with them before eating them. I’m so excited Spring is finally here!