Sow seeds outside in the WINTER??
You guys! I just found a new way to garden and I feel like my world has been turned upside down. It's called winter sowing, and I had never even heard a peep about it before until I saw it in the Jan/Feb 2014 Northern Gardening magazine in the break room at work. I was sort of puzzled and excited - could it really be true? Can you plant seeds and stick 'em outside in the winter and magically have seedlings to plant in the spring?
I googled it, and the answer is a resounding YES! I don't know how I had never heard of it before because there is tons of info about it out there. Even Bachmann's and Home Depot have info about it. Where was I - under a rock? How had I never come across this magical method before? Well, who cares - I am SUPER EXCITED about it now - can you tell? :)
I am also stoked that it will be WAY more green than using grow lights, and you generally use recyclable containers to plant the seeds. Also, seeds that say "soak overnight", "pre-chill" or "nick with a knife" you just plant and let the elements take care of that for you. I have many seeds I have never had much luck with that require this and now it'll apparently be easy as pie. I'm telling you, it seems like the best thing ever!
I don't know about you, but as a seed addict I have dozens of seed packets for flowers that I thought would be so pretty that I've never ended up with time for - or space under the grow lights for that matter. Now I can plant them out in containers and forget about them until spring!
Ok, so by now those of you like me not in the know are screaming at your screen - but how does this seemingly magical and impossible trick work??? Well, here are some resources with all the info you need to get you just as excited as I am:
Rest assured, I WILL be doing this for sure this year, and I plan on posting how to's on it as well, so stay tuned!
The August Garden
Well, here we are in August, and here is my raised garden as seen from the back. Not quite as much of a jungle as last year, which is both good and bad. The tomatoes are smaller both in plant and fruit and the squashes too. But, things are easier to pick because they are not so jammed together. Small consolation though for less bounty. My cucumbers, seen in the front of the picture are barely doing anything. I think they don't get enough light with only the afternoon sun. I thought I had a pretty nifty way to squeeze more tomatoes and also cucumbers in to a small space. Oh well, back to the drawing board with that one.
The yellow crookneck squash on the far right is doing a bit better, but not as well as I'd hoped. I thought it would get nice and big since I was giving it so much room (not my normal instinct in the garden), but so far it's kinda puny compared to the first year I grew it. That sucker was huge! Leaves the size of elephant's ears I tell you and not the garden variety - the mammalian. You just never know what your garden will do from one year to the next. I guess that's part of the fun, but also part of the frustration.
I'm certainly grateful for all that we have eaten and picked from the garden, but I can't help being disappointed as well, because I put so much into certain parts of it - namely the tomatoes - and they are just seeming kinda lazy this year. I have 26 plants - yup two six - and so far barely any actual fruits of my labor. Plus now it's August, and August in MN is when you truly can see just how much yield you're gonna get. You can see the end even though the tomato cannot. Consequently, it's also a good time to prune those new suckers and tiny buds that will never make it to tomatohood. I'm not sure if it truly helps with the remaining fruit, but it makes sense it would.
Here's the messy side jungle, and more tomatoes. The plants here are the healthiest, but some are not producing very much anyway. I have one plant over here with only ONE tomato on it. Yeah, I'm kinda pissed at that one. I think it's the Bulls Heart, and I was really looking forward to that one. I guess I'll really have to savor it.
This year, I'm realizing how much I still have to learn about gardening, but especially growing tomatoes. For instance, I don't know why mine always get yellowish leaves, or why sometimes they curl. I've read the curling is caused by aphids - but I don't really see the evidence for it. Some plants have brown spots on the leaf edges, and others the blossoms are turning yellow on the stem and eventually shriveling and falling off. I think I need a good tomato book. Any recommendations?
Well, that's enough complaining for today! Any one else got garden frustrations they'd like to vent? Blast away!
Beans! Beans! Beans!
It seems about this time every summer I realize, holy crap! I haven't been blogging! And then I quickly write a post such as this. Well, I apologize once again dear readers - if there are any of you left. I promise to try and keep up, but as you other MN gardeners know, it is just coming in to major harvest time and well, it can be kinda busy. Actually though, all summer is busy so, I dunno. Is there really any down time in gardening? What is your busiest time in the garden?
Mine's gotta be spring, but then again all my berries went nuts this year and I spent a good 2 hours or so every day after work just picking them late spring/early summer when I had other junk to get done with planting and weeding etc. Oh well, always behind. Now the beans are kickin' it as the title of this post suggests. I really planted a lot this year and also at least 4 varieties, including a climbing green bean this year which I have never done before. So far it is not as prolific as the bush ones, so we'll see if I plant them again next year. They do save space though and that is one thing at a premium for sure in my garden.
Tomorrow I hope to pick my first ripe tomato - a bit later than most everyone else, but I got mine in late too. Perhaps I'll even post about it tomorrow!
In the mean time, anyone got any great green bean recipes they like?
Lorika in the Star Tribune!
Hurray! I'm in the Home and Garden section of the Star Tribune today!
The article is on the rise of vegetable gardening in the city.
Check it out!
Homegrown heats up
April Showers and April Flowers
When I went out to check out the garden in the balmy 60+ temps on saturday, I found this little guy. Every year I get a few pansies that reseed in the garden, but this one seems to have actually survived the winter, which is crazy because we had some pretty cold temps. I guess having snow cover really does insulate. I brought it in 'cause I figured it would be easier to enjoy inside this time of year. Then, sure enough, just when I had my pea seeds all nice and soaked and ready to plant - it rained all day sunday!
The tulips are coming up in a few spots, daffodils, and crocus too. It happens every year, but it's always so amazing when the snow melts - and there they are already coming up. This is why I love spring. It's full of surprises, which are fun, even if you expect them.
What's popping in your neck of the woods?
This is what I like to call a Carrot Bonsai it is just the top of a carrot cut off and put in water. I was using some carrots that had been in the fridge for a little while and had started to sprout little anemic shoots from the tops where I had broken off the greens. I thought, hmmm, that's kind of interesting, I wonder if they will continue to grow. So, I just cut off the tops like I always do, and then stuck one into a jar top with some water on my window sill, and after a few days I had what you see above. A nice little bit of green for a long cold gray winter. It seems to work with any carrot top - give it a try!
So strange to me that a carrot would do this. I wonder what would happen if I planted it?
What's still growing?
"The Jungle" side view.
"The jungle" full on.
Mini Peppers! Still going despite the cold (40's and 50's) Not ripening though. : (
Yellow Crookneck - smaller but still producing a few. They're about 6 inches long.
Fall raspberries, what a treat. Last year, they froze before they even had a chance.
Blondkopfchen cherry tomatoes. These guys are still going crazy. They aren't very flavorful, but they produce a ton. Good for salads and dipping.
Pineapple Tomato - one of my all-time favs. In one of my wine bottle cozys. It's supposed to keep the varmints out - it kinda works.
And finally, Fall Peas! They are Tom Thumbs - not a very good pea at all, but they produce when they are very small, and can grow in pots. These actually sprouted from some peas that had rotted in a plastic bag in the fridge. (shhhh! Don't tell anyone!)All in all a pretty good fall. when I can still pick tomatoes mid October, I guess that's pretty good. SO glad I didn't rip everything out yet. I'll probably regret it though when it snows before I can do fall clean-up again.
Next up - get those tulip bulbs and garlic into the ground! "Course it would help if the damn rain would stop!
This is the first and only zucchini I have picked so far this year. I am very disappointed! I know I planted pretty late, but I don't think that's the cause of my squashy woes. Most of my zucchini are turning yellow and shriveling when they get about two inches long. Their flowers aren't even open yet when it happens. Anyone else having this problem? The only thing I can blame it on so far is the weather. It was really hot and dry for weeks and now we are getting tons of rain and it's cooled way off. I watered every day though when it wasn't raining, and the plants look good.
Everyone always says they are swimming in zucchini by now, what gives? I sure hope to be bathing in it soon myself.
Raised Garden August '07
Here's the raised garden as of yesterday (8.6.07) It's a little hard to see, but those are tomatoes on the right and along the back. Beans are in the center, carrots on the left. On the far left in back are 3 of the Romanesco plants - still no sign of a floret or whatever it's called on any of them. Someone told me they took forever, I guess they weren't kidding. Hidden in various spots are some beets, leeks, and scallions.There's some peppers on the right and left hand side, and finally, a bunch of dill sprinkled throughout.
I didn't pack it in as much as I usually do, but instead, this year I went for a more random disorganized approach. Some areas are packed in and others are nearly barren and constantly needing to be weeded. Oh well, one of these years I'll get it just perfect! Then We'll probably have a tornado or something. ; )
btw, that's our garage in the background, not our house!
So, how do the rest of you out there find time to both blog (or do anything else) and garden this time of year? I'm having a really hard time with that, as you can tell...those of you that are left that is.
We are heading into what I like to call; the best time of the summer however. It's that time of the season when all the deliberating, procrastinating and planting has been done. All that is left now is the feeding, weeding and - hurray! - harvesting. I've nearly finished now with planting everything - yes, I know, a bit behind - but then when am I not? I have most of the large raised garden all set, providing all the beans I just planted come up, and only have a few more spots to fill. If it weren't for all that danged volunteer dill I've got all over the place, I'd have a few more holes. I would just rip it out, but I keep thinking I might need it. Perhaps a manic pickle making phase may strike? Never mind the cucumbers are barely in the ground.
So, How do you all do it, and what do you have left to do? What's your favorite time of the gardening season?