March 31, 2009: March in Review

3/9 Returned home from Arizona with a picnic cooler full of tomato & pepper plants. Only three tomatoes and four peppers survived the trip.

3/12 Started tomato seeds indoors in peat pots: Black Cherry (3), Brandywine (3), Cherokee Purple (3), Green Grape (3), Kellogg's Breakfast (3), Marglobe (3), Tumbling Tom (3), Chico III (3), Russian Persimmon (3), Persey (3), Homestead (3), Rutgers (3), Sun Master (3), Red Rock (3) and Volvograd (3).

3/13 Started pepper seeds indoors in soil blocks: California Wonder 300 TMR (4), Purple Beauty (8), Golden Cal wonder (8), Quadrato Rosso D'Asti (8), Early Jalapeno (8), Early Snowball cauliflower (3), Golden Acre cabbage (3), De Cicco broccoli (3), Buttercrunch lettuce (8), Prizehead lettuce (8), Red romaine lettuce (8) and Red Sails lettuce (4)

3/14 Started mesclun seeds indoors in egg carton (18). Started seeds indoors in peat pots: Parsley (4), Chinese Parsley (2 pots, 5 seeds per pot), Dill (6), Basil (4), Calabrese broccoli (4), Golden Acre cabbage (3), Early Snowball cauliflower (2).

3/16 John built me a mini-greenhouse in the garage. Nearly everything planted 3/12-3/14 has shown signs of germinating, except the peppers. Most were moved to new greenhouse in the garage, I left the older plants and the mesclun in the laundry room window.

3/18 Cleaned and prepped four 4x4 gardens, the 4x3 and two 4x8. Added slow release fertilizer to them. Also dug along fence for sugar snap peas, added slow release fertilizer, will add manure before planting. Planted 4 Canby Raspberries, 21 Tristar (day neutral) strawberries. All three pansies in blue planter are growing, the clematis is showing some green. Planted 60 sweet onion sets and 53 yellow onion sets. Made 4 seed mats, four varieties of carrots on 12”x12” sheets of newspaper, Elmer’s Glue. Laid aside to dry. Each mat contains 84 seeds for a total of 336.

3/19 Spread four bags (4 cf) of manure blend on two pea beds and dug it in. Planted 1 pkt. Alderman peas and 1 pkt. Super Sugar Snap peas. Planted two 8-foot rows of spinach on 2” spacing in raspberry bed. Planted the four carrot seed mats (336 seeds) and 52 beets.

3/20 Planted 9 Red Norland potatoes and 6 Yukon Gold. I think. I forgot which varieties I chose! Also planted a row of 42 radish seeds next to the beets, and two blueberry bushes (Misty and Sharpblue) in barrels. Got four packets of seed from Dan Chapman; Yugoslavian Red Lettuce, Compatto Dill, Savor F1 Melon and Petit Gris Melon. Planted 15 of my saved yellow marigold seeds and 15 “Crackerjack (large 2’ tall) marigolds in peat pots.

3/21 Planted 12 Yugoslavian Red lettuce, 8 Compatto dill and 20 basil seeds in mini-soil blocks. I made the blocks by packing a mini-ice cube tray with wet potting soil mixture and freezing. Popped out the cubes, and when they thawed I made little planting holes in them with the end of a toothpick.

3/27 Planted 36 parsnips and 18 spinach in soil blocks. Planted 4 Calabrese broccoli, 4 Golden Acre cabbage, 4 Early snowball cauliflower and 4 Prizehead lettuce in soil blocks. Earlier plantings were very leggy growing under lights, will try growing these outside as soon as they sprout. Transplanted earlier broccoli, cabbage & cauliflower to Dixie cups and added soil to cover long stems. Left them in plant window. Placed all other brassicas, lettuce and regular dill outside to harden off, covered with plastic tent. Planted 24 green onions (store bought).

3/28 Planted 18 Godetia and 18 Glorious Gleam Mix trailing nasturtiums in soil blocks.

3/29 Transplanted 6 each Red Romaine, Buttercrunch & Prizehead lettuce (3/13). Might have some Red Sails in there, lost labeling. Transplanted 17 mesclun (3/14) and 8 Yugoslavian red lettuce (3/21), 2 cabbage (3/14), 1 Calabrese broccoli (3/14) and 1 cauliflower. Spinach (3/19) and radishes (3/20) are showing in outside garden today.

3/30 Mowed the leaves and grass from side yard, put them in the three new garden boxes, will cover with compost later. Picked five daffodils, the first of the spring. Made note to divide and replant next fall, as many (most) did not bloom. Potted the second largest Tumbling Tom tomato into its permanent pot. Had to remove a shelf in the plant window to make room for the large tomato, which had reached the top of the window. Watered all the indoor seedlings/plants with a liquid (diluted to 1/4 strength) vegetable fertilizer. Started an inventory of all the seeds I've planted, and sorted the seedlings into "keep" or "dispose". I had planted way too many, of course, so I began potting up and labeling those I want for the garden. Others will be given away or put in the compost. Ran out of potting soil, so will continue this job another day. Pruned all but one of the roses and trimmed the thyme, which had become very unruly. I am v. v. tired. Remembered I had two bags of cheap potting soil in the garage, so I mixed them up with a bag of seed starter mix and half a bag of vermiculite. Potted up 8 of the larger tomatoes. Not real happy with the texture of the soil, I need to add some peat and perlite.

3/31 Bought 1/2 yard of compost from the nursery, and with the help of my youngest son, we filled the three new beds and had only a five gallon bucket left over. Since I still have a half-barrel to fill, I'll have to buy some bags of potting soil. The wind was blowing at 30 mph, with gusts of 50 mph. Just as we finished it began to rain. Went to Wal-Mart and picked up some peat moss to add to yesterday's potting soil mixture. Made 18 more soil blocks and put them in a clear plastic container with lid. I had drilled holes in both the top and the bottom, for drainage and air circulation, and I seeded the blocks with 6 each of broccili, cauliflower and cabbage. I'm quite sure the ones I transplanted on 3/29 are toast after today's strong winds. They were still too small and fragile to withstand such force. The ones I planted in blocks on 3/27 had sprung up overnight on the heat mats, so they were moved inside to the plant window. At one day old, they are already looking leggy, so I'm going to experiment with those in the clear plastic container, and take them outside to a sunny spot in the garden to germinate and grow, ala Winter Sown. I am determined to have some decent brassicas! If I can find another container tomorrow, I'll also put some lettuce outside to germinate. The parsley (3/14) is finally showing today. I have it under lights for now.

March 28, 2009: Seedling Saturday #2

I can't believe it's Saturday already!

My son came over yesterday and added a hanging shelf to the mini-greenhouse. I'll add another light to this second story and I'll soon be potting up the tomatoes into those red 16-oz. containers. The shelf will only hold 24, so the rest will have to go somewhere on the lower shelf. I may end up raising the hanging shelf and using it for small seedlings, and putting the taller plants below. It's all a learning experience for me, a period of trial and error, never having raised my own seedlings before!

The tomatoes are looking good. I might be potting them up by this time next week.

The peppers are also growing well. I was worried about the Purple Beauty peppers, as all the others had germinated long ago and there was no sign of life with these. But patience paid off, and yesterday a Purple Beauty peeked out at me, and another was showing this morning.

The only other plants in the greenhouse right now are a few marigolds.


I moved the lettuce, mesclun, dill and some of the brassicas outside under a plastic tent yesterday. They were all looking very leggy, and I think the greenhouse is just too warm for them.

The lettuce plants, except for the red romaine, were really looking floppy.


Inside the house, the plants in the plant window all seem to be doing well, even those without artificial light. I had potted up some of the leggy brassicas into Dixie cups, and they seem to be growing sturdier in the cooler atmosphere. I also have marigold seedlings sprouting here, as well as basil, dill and lettuce. The onions that were in pots last week have been planted in the garden.

Basil, dill and lettuce grow from tiny soil blocks that were made with a mini-ice cube tray.

The cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants that I moved inside to the plant window are looking much better.

The largest Arizona grown tomato plant is 16" tall (22" including pot). The middle one is 9", and the largest pepper is 9". I think I'll toss that tiny tomato. It just never recovered from the freezing it took on the trip home. The smallest pepper is showing some new growth, finally.

A bud on the largest plant has turned into a blossom. I tickle it every time I get near it, I hope it pollinates and gives me an early tomato.


Parsnips and spinach have been started in soil blocks, and are residing on my bathroom counter. I made a new, smaller soil blocker out of a medicine bottle, which is nice for the smaller plants.


When I buy green onions at the grocery store, I always pot up the extras or plant them in my garden. This time I had two pots of them saved up, and then I bought another bunch, so I ended up with two rows of spring onions in the garden. I put them next to the carrots (under the boards, they have yet to germinate) and in the same bed where I've planted beets and radishes. Later, there will be two rows of sweet peppers in the center of this bed.

My garlic wintered well, and is really growing now. I think I planted these way too close together, so I'll be pulling some to use fresh before long, just to thin them out. I thought I'd lost the rosemary, which was a new plant just last year, but I see a tiny bit of green at the base. Maybe it survived after all.

The bare root strawberries that were planted last week are showing some new leaves, the onion sets are beginning to peek through the surface of the soil, and two birdhouses have now been permanently atop the raspberry trellis and the other on a ladder in the squash patch. It's pouring down rain now, so I'll wait until next week to take photos.

Happy gardening!

March 24, 2009: R-E-L-A-X. E-N-J-O-Y.

Reader Helene, this blog is for you.

In the past two days, I have read almost identical comments from two different people. Basically, they said "Help! I'm freaking out. I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm finding it too stressful". Helene left a comment on my blog that she felt that way.

Hey...just R-E-L-A-X. E-N-J-O-Y. Unless you are in the business of growing your garden as a source of income for your family, or if it is the only source of food for you, don't sweat the little things.

No kidding. I freak out sometimes, too. Like when I woke up and everything was covered in white hairy mold (which went away once I provided ventilation for the growing chamber). Now my broccoli and cabbages are getting leggier and leggier. I've done all I know to do about it. They are an inch or less from the light source, and all the other veggies look great. They may be unusable in my garden. So what? What have I lost? Maybe 12 seeds out of a couple of hundred that were in a packet? What is the worst that can happen...that I'll have to go to the nursery and buy a four/six pack of each for a couple dollars each? Or wait and plant seeds directly in the garden this summer and enjoy a lovely fall crop?

Now, if all your seedlings keel over and die, THEN you panic!

Psssst...I'll let you in on a little secret. This is the first time I've started my own seedlings inside. I've had gardens for nearly 50 years, but I always bought my tomato, pepper and cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower plants from the nursery. We'll learn how to do it together, and it will be FUN, RELAXING, ENJOYABLE. Believe me, once you let the kids put a few bean seeds in the ground and they see what happens, you'll have some great gardening buddies.

I've always said gardening is only as difficult as you want to make it. All you really need to do is make sure you have decent soil. That might mean buying a few bags of composted manure or, once you decide you're really having fun, start a compost pile or start digging shredded leaves into your beds in the fall. Yes, it's nice if you can afford peat and vermiculite and have a source for unlimited compost, and can have your soil tested a gazillion times a year, and buy all kinds of stuff to make your soil "perfect". But come many of us does that apply to? My grandma had the most beautiful garden, with nothing but her native soil and some cow/chicken manure. That works for me.

Then you need to know the average dates for your last freezing weather in the spring and the first freeze in the fall. Sit down with a pencil and some graph paper and make a rough guess at where and when you want to plant things in your garden (believe me, you'll change your mind several times and then probably not stick to your least that's how I am!) Just remember "tall things to the north, short things to the south" and you'll be pretty safe there. Actually, in my garden, I have tall things to the north in some beds, and tall things in the middle in other beds. Stuff still grows! the back of your seed packet to see how deep and how far apart to plant, go out and put those seeds in, water them when they get dry and stand back and watch them grow. Unless you stomp on them, spray them with weed killer or completely withhold water, they WILL grow.

Know that it's inevitable that you will have disasters...bugs eat plants, plants get viruses and die. It happens to all of us, but you just learn to say "Well, dammit".... and plant something else.

And by this time next year, you will have learned to R-E-L-A-X and E-N-J-O-Y. Well, most of the time anyway. Unless you wake up and all your plants are covered with white hairy mold ;-)

March 22, 2009: Lavender Honey Bunches

Mommyamy at From A to Z And Everything In Between had a contest this week, the prize being her Lavender Honey Bunches. I was surprised and happy to hear I was a winner! I'm looking forward to receiving my prize, which will be made with love by her own hands. Be sure to visit her blog and say hello to Amy and her darling twin girls.

Thank you, Mommyamy!

March 21, 2009: Seedling Saturday

The lights and two heating pads keep the mini-greenhouse at around 75F during the day, and it drops to 60 degrees or so at night with the lights off and the two heating pads turned on low. A few of the seedlings have had some white hairy looking mold form on them and the soil around them, but I spray them with chamomile tea and that seems to take care of it. Last night I took all the trays out and gave them a good watering. This morning I went out to turn on the lights and there was white hairy mold everywhere! I assumed the interior was retaining too much heat and moisture, and I needed to provide some ventilation. As a temporary measure, I propped the top part of the front plastic flap partially open with a couple of rolls of paper towels. Later I removed the towels and taped off an area on each side, at the top, and cut a couple of 2" vents. I'm hoping that will provide a bit of air circulation without letting in too much cold air. I also removed one of the heating pads and turned off the other one. I'll just turn it back on at night when the lights are off.

So here are the seedlings so far:

These are what are left of the Arizona seedlings. Believe it or not, all of them were planted at the same time, but the tiniest tomato was quite frostbitten during the trip, the middle one was just slightly nipped, and the large one escaped damage. I suppose the same thing is what stunted some of the peppers. They look healthy enough, but one is just way ahead of the others, and the tiniest is a real runt. To give you a better idea of size, the larger tomato is planted in a 12" pot, and the other plants are in 16 ounce cups.

The larger Tumbling Tom tomato is beginning to get some blossoms.

These are the mesclun seedlings, which were started March 14th.

Seventeen of the 18 mesclun seeds germinated in their egg carton bottom.

The Arizona plants and mesclun live in the laundry room window, along with two pots of green onions (store bought), 39 marigold seedlings (9 have sprouted so far), and 12 Yugoslavian Red Lettuce, 8 Compatto Dill and 20 basil that were planted in mini-soil blocks just this morning.

Plants in the Garage Mini-greenhouse

Brassicas in soil blocks. Eight of nine sprouted, but one has succumbed to damping off. They sure look leggy, but they are nearly touching the light.

A mixed flat of tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley and Chinese parsley.

Four varieties of lettuce, dill and basil.

Thirty-six pepper plants, 5 varieties.

Another 36 tomatoes. Notice the white hairy mold.

At nine days from planting, some are already developing their true leaves.

This is where they live, seen here with the lights raised.

And here is how they live with the lights lowered.

Today in the Garden:

Rain, glorious rain! Just in time, as I finished planting the early spring garden yesterday. Well, almost...I'm thinking a rhubarb plant would be a nice addition.

Happy gardening!

March 20, 2009: Another Good Day in the Garden

The temperature was really close to 70F today, the sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day to get more garden chores finished.

First I went to town and bought my seed potatoes. I had planned on just twelve plants in the small 3x4 bed, but decided I could crowd in another three. In past years, I've always cut my seed potatoes into 2 or 3 chunks and let them cure for a few days before planting them. However, being a bit late this year getting them in the ground, I opted to buy the smallest potatoes I could find and just plant them whole. They were only 79-cents a pound, so two dollars gave me 9 Red Norland and 6 Yukon Gold. I think....I forgot just what types I bought! I know I got a red and a white/yellow.

I had prepped the bed earlier, removing a few mesclun plants that had overwintered and loosening the soil with a hand cultivator. I placed the seed potatoes on top of the bed to check their spacing, then planted each one by digging into the lovely, rich, soft soil with my hands. I didn't even need a trowel, and it felt good to finally get my hands into dirt.

The seed potatoes were covered with about 2" of soil. The sides of this bed will get built up another 6", so there will be plenty of room to hill up the potatoes another 4-6 inches as they grow.

I had my grandson, Keven, help remove the remaining carrots and spinach from the middle bed. The spinach was taken inside to be used in our dinner salads, along with a small volunteer garlic. The carrots, which were quite small, will be a real treat for our house rabbit, Cookie.

We added two bags of composted manure to raise the level of the soil, and took turns digging it in. It was an easy job, as the soil here was also so loose and friable that it took no effort at all to turn the manure under. All of the 4x4 beds are now ready for planting, and I took a few minutes to plant a row of radishes next to the four squares of beets I had planted yesterday.

It was time to move on to the north garden. First I removed the two old blueberry bushes from the half-barrels. I had just moved them there last fall, but I decided they were long past their prime bearing years and it was time to bite the bullet and purchase new ones. So two little bushes got planted and watered in well. I added this morning's coffee grounds to the water, and they (and the strawberries) will now get our coffee grounds each day.

That pretty much finished up the garden preparation for now. I still have to weed the squash circle and the 4x8 tomato bed, but that will take mere minutes. Wire will be strung on the raspberry trellis as soon as it is needed.

The area next to the 4x4s has to be given a couple of inches of compost, and that bed will probably require some digging as it is native soil with just one year of amendments added to it. The garlic in that bed is thriving, the shallots look so-so, and the chives are just pushing through the soil. I may have lost my rosemary to the harsh winter, but I'll give it a couple of weeks to show some green before I pull it out.

My big black compost barrel will become a big black planter (or two) this year. I disassembled it, and nothing had turned to compost, it was just full of stuff that will have to be run over with the lawnmower and recomposted this year. I probably have 20 bags of leaves behind my shed, just waiting to be shredded. Than I'll try my darndest to find a source for horse manure, and build myself a real compost pile.

Just look at what came in the mail today! Dan, of Dan's Urban Veggie Garden Blog, sent all of these to me!

Now I will have "Daphne's Dill" in the main garden, and "Dan's Dill" on the patio. The Compatto Dill is supposed to be a compact plant that will do well in containers. Yugoslavian Red Lettuce is described as being "Extremely decorative, this beautiful butterhead produces burgundy tinged leaves on loose heads. Sweet and tender; a wonderful addition to the salad bowl." And I'm really looking forward to the melons, which will make much better use of the big black compost barrel than the compost did! I may even paint the barrel blue (like the blue clematis/pansy planter), and it should look really nice with melon vines tumbling over the sides. Thank you, Dan!

Come back to visit my blog tomorrow. I'll have "Seedling Saturday", with photos of what's growing in the mini-greenhouse and on the windowsill.

Happy gardening.

March 19, 2009: Finally! I Get Outside to Garden.

Finally! Two lovely days in a row, which allowed me to get outside and begin the 2009 gardening year for real!

Yesterday I cleaned out and prepped four of the five 4x4 gardens (#5 still has 2008 carrots and spinach to be harvested), the 4x3 which will eventually be the potato bed, and two of the three 4x8 beds. There were no weeds to be found in the small beds, so all I did was loosen the soil with a hand cultivator and rake them level. The larger beds had never been planted, and there were a few healthy weeds in them, so they should be good to grow this year. The weeds took less than five minutes to pull from the loose compost that fills the beds.

I planted 4 Canby raspberries and 21 Tristar (day neutral) strawberries. I got shortchanged on the strawberries, as there were supposed to be 25 in the bunch (they were bare root) but there were only 21. To make it even, I put 20 in the 4x8 bed, spacing them 12" apart in all directions, and stuck the spare in with a blueberry bush. I'll let each plant put out one runner this year, which will help fill in the bed. In the 12 squares that were left in the strawberry bed, I planted 60 super Sweet onion sets and 53 yellow onion sets...don't ask me how it came out at 53!

All three pansies in the blue planter are growing, and the clematis is showing some green, so it must be spring!

In the evening, I made 4 seed mats, four varieties of carrots on 12”x12” sheets of newspaper, using Elmer’s Glue. Each mat contains 84 seeds for a total of 336. Once these dried, I set them aside for next day planting.

It was really easy to put a dab of glue every inch and then drop a seed into it. It didn't take long at all to fill the sheet of newspaper with 84 seeds.

Today I spread four bags (4 cf) of manure blend on the two pea beds and dug it in, then I planted 1 pkt. Alderman peas and 1 pkt. Super Sugar Snap peas. To plant the peas I open a trench about 4" deep and scatter the peas very closely in the bottom...I crowd them in pretty tightly, some even touching. Then I cover them with about an inch of soil and firm them in with the back of the rake. As they grow, and as the weather warms, I will continue to gradually fill the trench with soil. The Alderman (Tall Telephone) peas have a six-foot high chain link fence to climb. The Super Sugar Snap peas only have a 2' high wire fence, so some type of trellis will have to be added as they grow.

I also planted two 8-foot rows of spinach on 2” spacing along one edge of the raspberry bed. This will be harvested long before the raspberries need the room, and I will use the small thinnings for salads. I then planted the four carrot seed mats (336 seeds) and 52 beets in one 4x4 bed, leaving room in the center for three of the cabbage plants I have growing in the garage. Here is how I planted the carrot mats (this is an experiment...let's hope it works!)

First I leveled and wet down the soil and laid out the paper seed mats. There is one variety to each square, and I placed them in alphabetical order so as not to forget which was which.

Then I carefully sifted a layer of soil over the top. I think I got it a bit deeper than the 1/4" it should be, but I needed to cover the entire surface of the paper.

I then covered the entire area with boards. This is how I've started my carrots for years, as the boards keep the little seeds from drying out. It is very important to start checking for growth in a few days, as the boards must be removed as soon as the carrots begin sprouting.

My work isn't done for the week, so I hope the weather stays nice for just one more day. I have to buy and plant my seed potatoes, and plant the two new blueberry bushes I purchased today.

I had planned on turning the five 4x4 beds into one long 22' bed, but found I'd built them too well! Rather than take the chance of completely destroying them, I'll simply put some containers between the beds to hold the overflow. If all my peppers sprout, I'll definitely need extra space for them!

Happy gardening!

March 16, 2009: Sprouts Are Springing Up All Over

With the exception of the peppers I planted on March 13, everything else is starting to sprout. Tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce and mesclun are all showing signs of growth. I only had one single bulb, 18" florescent fixture and that certainly wouldn't be of much use with something like 168 seedlings, so I called in my son John. By this afternoon, I had a cute little "greenhouse" on the counter in the garage. It has two 4' double light fixtures, it's four feet wide, two feet deep, and high enough that I can add a wire shelf and two more light fixtures if I need them. He made it with an OSB top and bottom, framed it with 2x2s and stapled a double layer of heavy plastic sheeting on three sides. The front is a flap of doubled plastic sheeting that is weighted at the bottom with a 1x1, and has a big bungee cord to insure it stays shut. I can just undo the bungee and lift the flap, laying the weighted end on top of the box, and access the plants and lights. I have two heating pads, turned to low under the peppers and tomatoes. They, with the lights, are keeping the air at 70F. I'm going to add a sheet of aluminum foil insulation to the back to reflect light forward, and possibly a foil tent over the top of the lights to reflect the light down.

Look hard...the sprouts are yellow, the perlite is white. These were planted two days ago!

John is a good builder, a good thinker and a good son......he's going to build us a new garden shed this spring.

March 14, 2009: Baby, It's Cold Outside...But Inside Things are Cookin'!

The tomato seeds that I planted Thursday are all warm, moist and toasty now. I have them sitting on two heating pads on my bathroom counter for now. Once they sprout, they will be moved to wherever I end up setting up a lighting system.

Thirty-six tomato seeds in peat pots filled with MG Organic potting soil + perlite.

Yesterday I got out my new soil block maker that John made for me, and had a productive day playing in the mud. I ended up with 36 blocks that I planted with 5 varieties of peppers, 28 blocks planted with 3 varieties of lettuce, and 9 blocks of 3 each broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

Thirty-six blocks of peppers and 9 blocks of brassicas.

The peppers really need to be on the heating pads, as they are so slow to germinate. I may have to move the tomatoes and let the peppers have the extra warmth.

Today I will start seeds of parsley and mesclun. I'm going to use the peat pots filled with MG for the parsley, as I still have a lot of those left, but I think I'll try an egg carton for the mesclun seed. Of course, everything will sit under humidity domes. I have a lot of the clear plastic containers that I've saved through the rabbit eats a lot of expen$ive greens!

I do wish I could have found the seed starting mix like I used for my earlier tomatoes and peppers. That, mixed 50/50 with a cheap potting soil, worked extremely well. This Miracle grow seems awfully heavy in comparison.

March 13, 2009: My Body is Back, My Mind Has Gone Bye-bye

I'm getting too old for all this moving back and forth! For those of you who don't know me, Mr. H and I have homes in Pasco, WA during the summer months and in Bouse, AZ during the winter months. We have been spending winters in Arizona for the past 15 years, which means I must pack up everything and drive 1200 miles, leaving one house or the other empty for six months of the year. I was really quite organized with my packing to leave Arizona, but right now about 90% of everything is still sitting in my garage, waiting to be brought in the house and put away. Because....

The plants....(tomato and peppers) had to be rescued from their picnic cooler and brought into the house. Unfortunately the cooler didn't insulate them against the cold as well as I thought it would. One of the four Tumbling Tom tomatoes succumbed, and two others were frostbitten but will survive. The largest of the four made it just fine. Four of the peppers survived, which is fine since I really only wanted four of this variety anyway. The rest of them were frozen. So the survivors are warm and comfy, under the light in the plant window.

Plant plans on installing two 4' shop lights on the shelves of the plant window have been abandoned. Why? Because my 48" wide window has an actual 46" usable width, so the four-footers won't fit. I'll either have to find shorter fixtures and use multiples, or I'll have to rig up a system in the garage.

The pups....Otto had a big bubble-like growth on his ear. I assumed it was a hematoma, and I put off taking him to the vet until we returned to WA. Our nearest vet in AZ was 70 miles away, and I figured there would be follow up exams after his surgery, so I opted to wait a couple of weeks and have it done here. His surgery was successful, the incision was right along the edge of the ear where the fur starts so I doubt the scar will even show. Himself got four stitches and looked like a cone head for a few hours.

Little Annie also has to go to see the vet today. She's only 14 months old, a very light eater who eats mainly roasted chicken breast or thighs and green beans, and very little of that, yet she weighs twice what she should. Lately she has managed to hurt herself several times by jumping out of a chair or out of the car and landing on her plump little rump. Then she limps for a while, and it breaks my heart to know she's hurting. Today she'll have blood work done to see if she has a thyroid problem.

Mr. becoming a real pain in the butt. We decided to drop DISH TV after having subscribed to it for the past 12 years, and to go with a Charter bundle for cable TV, phone and high speed internet. I bought new V-Tech phones and Mr. H can't quite figure out the green button is to answer and the red button is to hang up. He is really electronically challenged (grandkids have to turn the computer on and off for him) and it did take him about a year to master the cell phone, but really...

And he doesn't like the cable, because it doesn't have old western movies on it. so I have to add to our programming and get him Starz. And he can't see a bit of difference in the regular versus high definition programming, so I might as well drop the HD and save $5 a month...that can pay for his Starz. I have to admit, the non-HD is just fine with me.

Mr. H is getting very crotchety in his old age.

I've saved the best for last. I think I had a "senior moment". Only it was more like a "senior entire day". I went to Wal-Mart yesterday morning to get all the stuff I need to get my seedlings started for the garden. I bought a big bag of Miracle Grow potting soil, some perlite (couldn't find the vermiculite that I wanted), and a couple of those Jiffy trays with the fiber pots just to get the trays so I can start making soil blocks. I got everything home and decided to go ahead and use the pots for all my tomatoes, and put them into the clear plastic produce containers that I use for mini-greenhouses. I ended up filling 45 pots with three of each of fifteen varieties of tomatoes....what on earth am I going to do with 45 (make that 48 with the three I already have growing) tomato plants? Well, I had the Charter cable guys here all day doing installations, I had daughter and her baby visiting, I had son and his dog visiting, I had Mr. H complaining about anything and everything. I went to get my purse so I could drive my son home and...MY PURSE WAS MISSING! We turned the entire house, car and garage upside down. No purse. I called Wal-Mart. No purse. We drove to Wal-Mart and checked out the carts (like a purse would still be there after 6 hours had passed). No purse. I called the police and filed a report, then began calling to cancel all the credit and debit cards. I had canceled my Chevron card and my Bank of America credit card, and was in the process of canceling my BOA debit card when the customer service rep asked for my Social Security number. Well, I've never memorized it, and it was in the lost purse, but I knew I had a spare in my drawer in the bedroom. So I went in the bedroom and opened my underwear drawer...and guess what was in there. My "lost" purse. I NEVER put it in a drawer, I always set it on the dresser. I have no idea why I put it in the drawer. My brain must be tired.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.


Seeds Planted Inside 3/12/2009

Tomatoes (3 of each variety):

Black Cherry, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Green Grape, Kellogg's Breakfast, Marglobe, Tumbling Tom, Chico III, Russian Persimmon, Persey, Homestead, Rutgers, SunMaster, Red Rock and Volvograd

March 4, 2009: Arizona Garden Finale

With only four days left before I leave Arizona, it was time to clean out the last of the little salad garden. I pulled or sheared off everything except the beets, and got my largest mixing bowl full of greens. It added 14 ounces to my total 2009 harvest, which does not include the weight of the beets. None of those roots were large enough to bother with, and the greens were really tough, so I left them for the wild rabbits to consume. All in all, this garden was a bust (compared to my northern garden)...but it gave me something to tend to through the winter, and my pet rabbit enjoyed it. It also paid for itself with baby greens being worth at least $3 for 5 ounces at our nearest grocery. If I garden here again, I will definitely spend more time amending the soil and probably just plant lettuce, mesclun and carrots, all of which did quite well.

The Tumbling Tom tomatoes (2/4) and the California Wonder 300 peppers (2/7) are growing like weeds. The peppers have their second set of true leaves now, and the tomatoes outgrew their pots again. The only thing I could find that would fit in the picnic cooler for the trip home, were 16-ounce styrofoam cups. I repotted all four tomato plants and four of the pepper plants before running out of potting soil. The rest of them will just have to wait until next week.

March 1, 2009: Updated Seed List

I can't let the first day of March go by without blogging, so here is an update to my seed/plant list for this year's garden. It still isn't complete, I don't have my strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. onions or potatoes. I may want to buy a rhubarb plant. I have to start new sweet potato slips, because my daughter killed the ones I had (she forgot to water the plant). There are some seeds I still want to buy...I'm dying to try Honey Bear Squash. I don't yet know if my garlic and shallots survived the cold winter. If I can find the room, I'd like to plant a few melons. But for now, this is what I have:

Basil, Italian Large Leaf
Beans, Contender (bush)
Beans, Kentucky Blue (pole)
Beans, Royal Burgundy (bush)
Beet, Detroit Supreme
Beet, Red Ace Hybrid
Broccoli, De Cicco
Cabbage, Golden Acre
Cabbage, Bok Choy
Carrot, Chantenay
Carrot, Imperator
Carrot, Rainbow Blend
Carrot, Scarlet Nantes
Cauliflower, Early Snowball
Cucumber, Spacemaster
Dill, Daphne's Dill
Godetia, Double Azalea Flowered Mix
Lettuce, Prizehead
Lettuce, Buttercrunch
Lettuce, Red Sails
Lettuce, Gourmet Blend
Lettuce, Red Romaine
Marigold, Yellow
Marigold, Red/Yellow
Mesclun, Mesclun
Mesclun, Mixed Salad Greens
Nasturtium, Dwarf Jewel Mix
Nasturtium, Glorious Gleam Mix
Parsley, Moss Curled
Parsnip, Andover
Peas, Super Sugar Snap
Peas, Tall Telephone
Peppers, California Wonder 300 TMR
Peppers, Purple Beauty
Peppers, Golden Calwonder
Peppers, Quadrato Rosso D'Asti
Peppers, Early Jalapeno
Pumpkin, Small Sugar N. E. Pie
Radishes, Gourmet Blend
Spinach, Tyee Hybrid
Squash, Waltham Butternut
Squash, Burpee's Fordhook Zucchini
Squash, Early Golden Summer Crookneck
Squash, Acorn
Sunflowers, Vanilla Ice
Tomato, Black Cherry
Tomato, Brandywine
Tomato, Cherokee Purple
Tomato, Green Grape
Tomato, Kellogg's Breakfast
Tomato, Marglobe
Tomato, Miracle of the Market
Tomato, Nyagous
Tomato, Tumbling Tom

So far I've only spent $14.49, including shipping/handling, for everything on the list! I have received free seeds from Your Choice Tomato SASE, Garden Girl, Ed Hume Seeds, Daphne's Dandelions, EG and my daughter, Amy (my Christmas present).

I know I'm going to run out of garden beds for everything I'd like to plant this year, so I'm planning on a few containers that can be set wherever I find room. These boxes, photo from Better Homes and Gardens, would be a cute and easy way to add a bit of space. They are lined with landscape fabric to keep the soil in: