Tag Archives: planting

Getting Ready for the Garden!

This past weekend when the sun was shining and the temperatures were in the 50s and even 60s, my mind started to think of spring. The hardest part of this time of year is the waiting. I know, that’s common for many people dreaming of bathing suit weather and summer, but for me, I just want spring. I want to be cleaning out the garden, raking out the winter mess and cutting back that late season growth. I want to make the changes I’ve been dreaming about all winter. Really, I just want to play in the dirt! 🙂

As you may remember, we moved into our new house a year ago. This past year, spring, summer, and fall was all about assessment and clean up. Since we only ever saw the house in the winter, it was fun to watch it come to life. I spent many weekends pulling invasive vines, replanting saplings to better areas, trimming trees, chopping wood, and really bringing back the garden that had been neglected for a long time. After a year, it is great to see the yard take shape, and now we’re ready for the next planting, planting.
Planning the Garden

This winter, I’ve been like a kid in a candy store. Every catalog I get my hands on, I devour. Every book I’ve had on gardening, and ones I’ve been able to borrow, I consume. I’ve been doing a ton of research to make sure I’m ready for this spring, and, boy am I ready! I have some gardens laid out, and I can’t wait to get started. So, while I patiently wait for the weather to be ready, I thought I would share some of my posts over the years about late winter/early spring prep work for the garden.

Garden Planning and Catalogs

Ordering Seeds

Garden Clean Up

Think About Starting a Compost Pile

Even if you’re not as excited as I am, hopefully these posts will give you an idea or two. I just hope the warm weather continues so I can get out there, although something tells me someday soon I’ll be outside in my winter coat and gloves, raking out the beds! 🙂 Hurry up spring!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

GardenIt seems like only a few weeks ago when I was writing about planting seeds, but it was actually March 21.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 months, so I thought I would give you an update and let you know how I went about planting everything.

Even though I was on top of the seed planting, my transplanting outdoors was delayed.  Sure, I can blame it on the long winter and the rain we kept getting in the spring, and I can even blame it on the trip we took to Greece in May that took up my time Tilling(more recipes from that trip later), but, really, I was just late! 🙂  I finally tilled the garden and planted everything about a month ago, and, even though things are a bit behind, they are doing really well!

This year, I did try to be strategic about my tilling the garden.  If you turn the soil and then it rains in the next few days, it’s a bad scene.  All of those weed seeds that were just turned get fed with the water and start to grow.  However, if it’s warm and sunny, the seeds will dry out and die.  This year I seemed to time the tilling right and the weeds haven’t been that bad…so far.

Ready for PlantingOnce I got the tilling done, I was ready to plant.  You may remember I had a lovely diagram that I put together for my garden.  And, even though I had the best of intentions, my garden doesn’t exactly look like that diagram.  Things happen!  The beets didn’t quite make it when I took them outside…I didn’t end up with as many squash plants as I wanted…you get the idea.  So, no worries, I adjusted.  However, even Marigoldsthough you may need to make adjustments, I still stand behind the diagram!

After I planted, one trick I always use is planting marigolds around the perimeter of my vegetable garden.  I’ve found that this really keeps the deer away.  The one year I didn’t, the deer had a feast.  So I keep doing it!  I guess it could be a coincidence, but I’m not taking any chances. 🙂

I’m pretty happy with the progress and looking forward to a good yield.  If you’re growing this summer, how are your vegetables coming along?  Here is how things are coming along in my garden…

As you can see from the top picture, my tomatoes are starting to bloom…slow but steady!

The eggplants are coming along!

EggplantThe arugula is doing great…but pay no attention to those weeds growing in there! 🙂

ArugalaThe zucchini is getting huge!ZucchiniBaker Creek Heirloom Seeds was nice enough to send me some complementary red romaine lettuce seeds that are coming along!Red RomaineSince I didn’t have luck with all of my seeds, I did get some spaghetti squash to fill in, and it’s doing great!Spaghetti Squash

Garden Update and the One Lovely Blog Award

Flowering PearI was out of town last week and when I returned, it seemed like spring was finally in full swing.  My fruit trees and ornamental trees are covered with beautiful flowers.  Even though most of the daffodils are spent, the tulips are bursting on the scene.  All of my perennials are pushing through and growing.  And now, I already feel behind in the garden! 🙂  Isn’t that always the way though, I can’t wait to get started, then, before I know it, I’m thinking I’m behind and need to start weeding or planting or something.  Scroll down to see some of the latest happenings in my garden.

One Lovely Blog AwardWhile I was away last week, I also received a wonderful message.  StrictlyDelicious nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award!  Needless to say, I was thrilled, and humbled. Even though I haven’t been blogging for very long, I’ve been amazed by the wonderful people out there.  I’m also amazed that so many of you wonderful people actually read AND LIKE what I write!  It’s been a truly humbling experience, and an absolutely great experience.  Thank you so much StrictlyDelicious!  I’m thrilled you like the blog.

Now, on to the award.  It seems I’m supposed to tell you 7 things about me…so…here goes!

  1. I actually started building this blog a year before I had my first post.  I secured the name, set everything up, but just couldn’t write that first post.  Not sure why, but I was incredibly nervous.  Thankfully, with a little encouragement from someone special, I finally took the plunge this January, and I haven’t looked back!
  2. In addition to loving food, gardening, and all those wonderful things I write about, I also LOVE TV.  I do.  I can’t explain it, but I always have.  When I was little I would sneak downstairs at 6:00 in the morning on Saturdays and turn the TV on really low just so I could get as many cartoons in as possible.  I couldn’t get enough…and still turn on the TV probably way more than I should.
  3. I really admire Martha Stewart.  I do think she’s amazing at cooking, gardening, decorating, blah, blah, blah, but that’s not why I admire her.  I find it fascinating that this woman was able to take what so many people hate doing…the chores for so many people of cooking, cleaning, etc….and build a billion dollar empire on it.  It takes incredible business sense and determination, and boy did she do it.  Even with her unfortunate incarceration, she went, she owned it, and she came out on top, selling those ponchos!
  4. I come from a big Italian-American family.  And until I started writing this blog and thinking about the recipes and customs I wanted to share, I didn’t realize how much that would impact what I share.  Of course, lucky for you, that means I write about Italian food or share Italian recipes often.  Let’s face it, Italian food is delicious! 🙂
  5. I have had an odd part time job for as long as I can remember.  In 1946, my grandfather started a beer store.  It’s still in the family, and, today, my brother runs the store.  But, from a very young age, I was always hanging out there.  I was playing in the beer store, spending time with my grandfather or dad there, even waiting for the school bus there, and eventually, working there.  I was probably the only kid in high school who was selling beer on the weekends.
  6. I hate the gym.  I go and put up with it, but I really hate it.  Enough said on that.
  7. When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a chef.  I was incredibly excited until, thankfully, my uncle helped me get a job at a restaurant.  I then realized the hours and weekend work that goes into being a chef and quickly saw it wasn’t for me. As much as I loved the work, I couldn’t imagine always working when everyone else had off.  I am obviously still obsessed with food and cooking, but I know being a chef isn’t for me, but I have an amazing respect for chefs!

And here are my picks for the One Lovely Blog award.

  1. Ice Cream Magazine-I love this blog.  I also love ice cream, so that may be swaying my vote heavily.  But there are amazing recipes and creations, and the pictures are just, so, well…lovely!
  2. Rambling in the Garden-This is another great blog with wonderful pictures.  But, it also includes an amazing garden.  Very inspirational, especially the different plants and arrangements.
  3. Home on 129 Acres-I have a love/hate relationship with this blog.  I love what they are doing, renovating a 129 acres farm, but the hate comes in because I’m totally jealous.  It’s a great journey to follow though.
  4. The Novice Gardener-This one is just so fun!  Not only is it an excellent blog with great writing and terrific pictures, which I love.  But every Friday, she has a party.  Yes, a party.  Fridays are Fiesta Friday, and people come together and share their cool stuff, and it’s just amazing!  I’ve met so many other bloggers through the fiesta…if you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to.

If any of the wonderful 4 above would like to nominate other, here’s how.

  •  Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post
  • Share seven things about you.
  • Pass the award on to seven nominees.
  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs.

And again, thank you to StrictlyDelicious, and thank you to all of you who continue to read, comment, and interact.  It has been an excellent adventure so far, and I look forward to more sharing, meeting, and fun!  Thanks!

Clematis ReachingIt’s a good thing I painted that trellis, the clematis is reaching for it.

WisteriaWisteria about to open.

TulipsTulips looking great.

HostaHostas poking through.

Apple TreeThe apple tree is covered in blooms.

Grape HyacinthGrape hyacinths showing their stuff.

An Update on the Garden and Seeds!

Today was finally the kind of day I’ve been waiting for.  It was beautiful, the sun was shining, the temperature was in the mid-60s, the grass was turning green, and everything outside seemed to be green and growing.  It finally feels like spring, so I took the opportunity to check things out in the yard.  I also wanted to provide some updates on the seeds I planted a few weeks ago.

Bearded IrisAs I wander through the yard, it’s always nice to see mother nature in action, sending up new shoots.  I spotted some of my bearded irises first.  They have such beautiful blooms, even though they are short-lived, but the spikes of leaves last longer and really add contrast to the garden.  The other great things about bearded iris is that they multiply fast.  What starts out as just 1 small rhizome quickly spreads.  You can divide them also to have more and also spread them out.  I’ve found that after the clump gets too big, you really need to divide or the flowers aren’t as big.

PeonySome of my favorites, especially in the spring, are peonies.  I love the big flowers.  They put on quite a show.  I have both tree peonies and herbaceous peonies.  The tree peonies are interesting in shape, but I think I lean towards the good, old-fashioned herbaceous ones.  Thankfully both are starting to show growth in the garden.  The herbaceous ones always send up these amazing red shoots.  They are easy to spot in the spring soil.  They will be bursting with color in May.

Tree PeonyThe tree peony is a very interesting specimen.  As the name suggests, it grows as a tree, and it sends out new shoots every year.  These shoots will include the buds that will also put on quite a show in a few months.  The one very nice thing about the tree peony is that the flowers don’t weigh the plant down.  Often times, towards the end of the blooming season, especially if we get a good rain, the herbaceous blooms will end up on the ground because they weigh the delicate branches down.  The tree peony comes with its own built-in support!

DayliliesDaylilies are just starting to burst through the soil.  The bright green shoots are coming up in a number of places.  They prefer a little bit of shade and do really well, growing into very substantial clumps, sending up big, colorful blooms.

20140331_161038Even though many people think of mums in the fall, they do start to sprout now if you have them in the garden.  They are a hardy perennial, and I’m always lecturing people about how they can plant their fall potted ones in the ground.  The good news is a bunch of friends have no desire to do it, so I get their leftovers!  These will need a cutting back before July 4th to make sure they don’t bloom too early.  Any later than that, and they won’t have time to bloom at all this season.

Probably the favorite plant in my garden as far as my Strawberryniece and nephews are concerned, the strawberry plants are doing well already.  They will have sweet, delicious berries in a few months.  One thing to note, they spread like crazy.  I have a few sections on the side of my house where there are beds that are surrounded by sidewalk.  They have done great in this location, and also can’t take over anything!  It’s a win/win.

TulipsI have a number of bulbs that I’ve planted over the years.  Some of my favorites are daffodils and tulips.  I love that the daffodils are one of the first to bloom in the spring.  They are such a welcome sight, and they multiply and create full clusters in the garden.  Tulips are another favorite, and you can really spread out their bloom time with the different varieties available today.  They are just starting to poke through, although they will take a little while to send up buds.  Even so, they are always such a welcome sight in the early summer garden.

As for the seeds I wrote about a few weeks ago, I’m happy to report that I have seedlings for all of them.  Some have definitely done better than others, but I’m not loosing hope.  There is still time for a few to come through.  Here is what’s growing so far:

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Eggplant

Eggplant…small, but coming along.

Kale...I've gotta thin these!

Kale…I’ve gotta thin these!

Tomatoes...these are both the San Marzano and Brandywine varieties.

Tomatoes…these are both the San Marzano and Brandywine varieties.

Beets...you can't miss these...I love the red color.

Beets…you can’t miss these…I love the red color.

Fava Beans...these are growing like crazy!

Fava Beans…these are growing like crazy!

Sage

Sage

Chives...these are also so tiny.

Chives…these are also so tiny.

Taragon

Tarragon

Squash

Squash

It’s Finally Spring and I’m Planting!

I think we can all agree, it’s been a long winter, or at least those of you not in sunny, warm locations that don’t really have to deal with winter.  Even though I know there is more cold weather in the forecast, it was a great first day of spring yesterday.  The temperature hit the mid-50s, the sun was shining, and I took the opportunity to plant my seeds.

SuppliesThere were a number of seeds in my order that required early planting, and yesterday was the perfect day for it.  I received my order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company a few weeks ago, and I purchased my supplies, pots and soil, so I was ready.

The last few years, I’ve used biodegradable peat pots for planting seeds.  It works out really well.  They soak up the water and stay moist, and you can plant the whole thing when you’re ready to plant outside, great for those tender transplants.  This year I Stripspurchased Jiffy Strips from the Home Depot.  They are cheap, $2.49 for a 5 pack, which can hold 50 plants.  The other great thing is, you can write directly on them.  Instead of needing popsicle sticks or some other way to mark which seedling is which, I just use a Sharpie and write on the outside of the strips.  It’s that simple.

For this planting, I like to use an all-purpose potting soil.  It’s full of nutrients and stays moist.  VIgoro All-Purpose Potting Mix was the brand of choice this year, because it’s what I Strps Filledhad left over from the fall.  And a side note about potting soil, make sure you keep the bag closed once it’s opened.  I like to twist the top of the bag and fold it over itself.  Even if it’s a resealable bag, it never seems to stay closed for me. If it’s left open, the soil will dry out.  If that happens, before using the soil, just dump a few cups of water into the bag, toss it around, and leave it sit for a day or so.  The soil usually perks right back up.  I know you’re probably thinking that you can do the same thing in the pot, but you really can’t.  The water drains too quickly and it can’t hold the moisture, so it never perks up.  Throwing some water in the bag before using it definitely works better.

Fava SeedsSo once I have my strips labeled, I start planting.  I follow a pretty simple process.  For seeds that need to be planted deep, like the fava beans, I fill the strips with soil, then drop the seeds on top.  I always plant multiple seeds, at least 2-3, just to be sure that something comes up.  Then I push the seeds down deep into the dirt.  These need to go 1-2 inches down.  I top them off with soil and pat everything down a bit so there isn’t any loose soil.  Done!

TarragonFor finer seeds, like the tarragon, which didn’t need to be planted that deep, I fill the strips with soil, then I push down the soil first.  I spread the seeds then sprinkle some additional soil, but only a very light layer.  Press down again to smooth the tops.  Done again!

Once I had all of the strips planted, I started watering.  I don’t like to pour water on top.  Some of the seeds are so fine, the water can carry them away.  Instead, and this is another great reason to use the peat strips, I soak Tubthem in a tub for just a minute or two.  I fill a tub with a few inches of warm water, but not enough to cover the strips.  Then I soak the strips until the soil is moist.  Once they’re moist, I pick them up to drain, then set them on a big tray.  For this, I use a huge sheet pan that was my grandmothers, covered in foil to cut down on clean up later.

The next trick is critical for me.  I cover the whole thing with plastic wrap.  This basically creates the same environment as if you got one of those kits in the store that comes with the clear plastic cover.  You’re creating a little greenhouse to start the seeds off right.  The plastic will start to get little drops of water, and that’s how you know it’s working.  The water is staying in and not evaporating.  This also should Seeds Donekeep you from having to water for a little while.  That also is a good thing.  Once the seedlings emerge, you have to be careful with watering to not disrupt the tender plant or create any kind of mold or fungus that could kill the very delicate seedlings.  Once the plastic is covering them, I set the whole thing in a warm, sunny spot and wait for the growth!

Before you know it, it will be time to plant outside!