Loving My Seedlings, a Lot!

I really am! This appears to be my breakthrough year in the seed starting world. I think I got it and I love it! The time that I spent this winter reading and researching really seems to be paying off. I have quite a few plants ready for the garden now and there are more coming. Next year, look out, those seed companies won’t know what hit them! Did I mention that I finally got it and that it’s fun?

Okay, enough… here’s what I have at the moment:

IMG_5728This is my seed starting set-up. It’s simple; two shop lights with one fluorescent and one plant bulb in each. Next year I’m hoping to add a third light in the middle so that the entire table is covered.  I used the plant bulbs here at home, but at Bass River (work) I used one cool white and one warm white bulb. The seeds did very well there but I do see a faster growth rate and a sturdier plant with the plant bulb. The idea is to create light that mimics the light outdoors and the plant bulb is much brighter which is ideal for seedlings that would thrive in full sun.

IMG_5727These cantaloupe and watermelon seeds emerged from their bags (you can read about my handy dandy bag system here) the other day. They’ve been living in soil for two days and their well on their way.

IMG_5725This is cumin and purple alyssum. I have a love/hate relationship with these jiffy pots. They dry out quickly and I need to keep a very close eye on them. Actually, keeping a close eye is very helpful to new seedlings, peat pot or not.

IMG_5721The cilantro on the left is organic slow bolt, and the pots on the right are coriandrum sativum… there’s kind of a big difference in success rate so far.

IMG_5720We’ll have three varieties of basil this year; Genovese in the back, Red Rubin in the middle and Siam Queen in the foreground.

IMG_5714I started a little bit of summer squash in a jar a few days ago, planted it in the soil last night and I think they’ll be ready for the garden by the end of this coming week. I have some new ideas to help deal with the squash bugs this year so I caved and planted zucchini, even though I swore I’d take the year off after last year’s difficulties.

IMG_5702Up in my office the marigolds are showing their second set of leaves. I’m probably moving them outside later today to maximize the light and good air circulation.

IMG_5695These pumpkins and cucumbers from a few weeks ago need to be planted out asap. The weather looks pretty good so they should be in by Monday.

IMG_5691 If I could go back several weeks, I would have transplanted these tomatoes into larger containers. I think/hope the yellow at the bottom is because they need more root space. Looks like it’s time for these to hit the garden too.

IMG_5731

As you can see I have a lot more to do. The carrots need to be direct seeded, the beans will follow the peas that are growing, and the squash will probably be quick started then planted outside in the next week or two. I think I missed the window for growing peppers. What should we do? Start them indoors now anyway, direct sow or buy some plants?

IMG_5733My little girl started these seeds all by herself.

This is the best motivation in the world to share the garden with my kids, and with all of you. 🙂

Hope you plant something today!

Love, Michele

 

 

Foolproof Cucumber Seedlings- You Can Grow That!

The other day I blogged about the fun I’ve had this year with growing tomatoes. I’ve been in kind of the same mode with cucumbers (and pumpkins, and squash, and peppers, and several varieties of flowers). There’s a background story to my seed starting obsession that I have to share. In February one of the women who I work with in my job as an adaptive gardening specialist at Bass River approached me with a package of cucumber seeds that were dated 2011 and asked if we could grow them. I thought that starting them successfully was a long shot but I also saw the challenge as a chance for a fun learning opportunity. We decided to plant some of the seeds in pots of seed starting mix, and to try to germinate another group on a damp paper towel in a jar. Within a few days we had a jar full of cucumber sprouts that were flourishing. The seeds planted in the soil never did germinate, not one. We transplanted the sprouts to a container of soil and now we have little cucumbers growing on a trellis in a sunny window. So, we concluded that a little bit of humidity goes a long way in sprouting seeds and even older seeds might respond to this special treatment. I’ve been reading a lot about adding humidity to help the germination process and I brought the idea here to my home garden.  I’m growing all kinds of things in plastic bags and jars!

Here’s a step by step description of my easy foolproof way to grow cucumber seedlings:

IMG_5338I start with a paper towel, a clean jar with a lid, a water spray bottle, some tape and a package of seeds.

IMG_5343I dampen the paper towel and spread the seeds evenly over it.

IMG_5345Roll it up gently…

IMG_5346and place it in the jar and close the lid.

IMG_5354Then I mark it with a sharpie or as in this case I tape the seed package to the jar.  I did this on April 25th, remember that date!

IMG_5355Here’s what I found when I took them out on April 29th. These are a little bit overgrown, they could have come out of the jar on the 28th or even the 27th.

IMG_5357I gently placed well moistened seed starting mix in cups with a hole punched on the bottom… I don’t usually use paper cups but I had these on hand and the seeds needed to be transplanted right away.

IMG_5360I dug a little hole and placed a seedling in each container with the root facing down,

IMG_5362and just barely covered it with soil.

IMG_5363I put the cups under the grow light,


IMG_5432
and here they are on May 3rd. The first leaves are sprouting and the second set is close behind!

They would be ready to go out in a few days if our last frost date were closer. Unfortunately it’s not quite time for tender plants to be planted outside here on the New England coast. I’ll move them out from under the light when they get a little bigger and keep them in a sunny window for a few weeks. When transplant time is close I’ll put them outside in a protected spot for the daytime hours for several days to harden them off (help them get used to outside temps) before I plant them in the garden.

Just to summarize the dates; I started them on April 25th and eight days later their well on their way. That makes the turnaround time from putting them in the jar to being garden ready about 12-14 days.

Guess what that means? You have plenty of time to do this! And it’s easy, and I dare say it’s fun!

I hope that you get some seeds started soon!

Remember, you can grow that!

Michele

Displaying ycgt_web.jpg

“You Can Grow That” is a website hosted by garden blogger and author C.L Fornari which was created to widely share the message that plants and gardening enhance our quality of life. On the fourth of each month garden bloggers participate by publishing a “You Can Grow That” post. The hope is to create a national conversation about the benefits of gardening and to encourage people everywhere to participate in and experience all of the joy that the garden brings. Be sure to visit the “You Can Grow That” website to learn more about this wonderful effort and to find links to other bloggers’ posts.

Overnight Pickles

I published this post last August and I’ve noticed lots of visits this week from people googling overnight pickles, so here it is again!  These are wonderful!  

I’m an aspiring canner but I haven’t got it down yet. In the meantime this is a wonderful way to make pickles. They’ll probably keep for a few weeks in the fridge if you don’t have a crew like mine who eats them all before you have a chance to test how long they’ll last!

Overnight Pickles

4 cups of water

1/2 cup of white vinegar

3 tablespoons of pickling or kosher salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

garlic cloves (3 per quart jar)

1 teaspoon of mustard seed or 1 tablespoon of pickling spice

dill seeds or fresh dill

8-10 pickling cucumbers

Wash and quarter pickling cucumbers (or slice into rounds if you prefer) and pack into quart or pint jars. As written, this recipe makes 2 quarts and one pint, I double it to make five quarts.  Make a brine by bringing the first four ingredients to a boil and then cooling. Once cool, pour into jars over cucumbers and add spices, garlic and dill. Close jars and refrigerate overnight. They’ll be ready the next day!

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and a favorite at our house. It’s perfect for this time of year when there are lots of cucumbers to use up.

Enjoy!

Cucumberly Neighbors

My very sad excuse for a cucumber this year… holy moly what happened here?IMG_2126 The very lovely cucumbers that our dear neighbor Becky sent over… these are real cucs!IMG_2125 What my youngest daughter did with one of the cucumbers just above (she even took the photo, she was so cute )  😉 IMG_2119 This, Mom, is a cucumber!IMG_2124

Guess I’ll try to grow them down in the garden again next year..

Thank God for great neighbors!

Enjoy everything, especially all of your homegrown cucs!

Michele

This Year’s Deck

DSC00769Here’s our deck last year. It was a construction zone and kayak storage area. I felt very, very anxious every time I set foot out there.

IMG_1953It’s really cozy this year. We finished the office construction and found other storage for the boats. Then we put up a canopy, added furniture and I filled it with flowers. I feel that some type of “roof” is really important on a deck. It can be an umbrella or a canopy like this, or a really nice pergola, but it reigns the energy in and makes it feel good, kind of the way an area rug makes a difference in a room. It provides shade too.

IMG_1927There’s lots of color!

IMG_1943There’s also cucumber plants because I kept them out of the garden beds in the hope of outwitting the cucumber beetles.

IMG_1941Remember when we painted this bench last summer?

painting chairs and benches
IMG_1935I planted a pot of succulents this year and I love them. Margaret Roach said that their everywhere and I have to agree. I’m seeing them in lots of posts and ads right now. Their very forgiving and easy.

IMG_1936I love this pink metal stool.  We painted it on the same day that we painted the peach bench and the metal chairs that are near the cucumber pot.

IMG_1924I also put out a little pot of kitchen herbs. They were growing beautifully until Maddie (the cat) jumped out of the window and onto this planter on the deck railing. She and the planter went flying into the succulents. The herbs are coming back and their very nice to have on hand when I’m cooking. Fortunately Maddie survived her flight with no problems.
IMG_1932Aside from being a wonderful place to relax, the best thing about our deck is the view of the garden. We like to plan our day here over morning coffee, then we’re on the move until lunch or dinner. It’s a great place for a rest or for family time.

Did you decorate your deck or porch this year? It’s as simple as adding as many plants as you’ll enjoy taking care of, creating a roof of some sort and finding a chair or two so that you can relax a little bit.

Enjoy everything!

Michele

Overnight Pickles

I’m an aspiring canner but I haven’t got it down yet. In the meantime this is a wonderful way to make pickles. They’ll probably keep for a few weeks in the fridge if you don’t have a crew like mine who eats them all before you have a chance to test how long they’ll last!

Overnight Pickles

4 cups of water

1/2 cup of white vinegar

3 tablespoons of pickling or kosher salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

garlic cloves (3 per quart jar)

1 teaspoon of mustard seed or 1 tablespoon of pickling spice

dill seeds or fresh dill

8-10 pickling cucumbers

Wash and quarter pickling cucumbers (or slice into rounds if you prefer) and pack into quart or pint jars. As written, this recipe makes 2 quarts and one pint, I double it to make five quarts.  Make a brine by bringing the first four ingredients to a boil and then cooling. Once cool, pour into jars over cucumbers and add spices, garlic and dill. Close jars and refrigerate overnight. They’ll be ready the next day!

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and a favorite at our house. It’s perfect for this time of year when there are lots of cucumbers to use up.

Enjoy!

What’s Happening in the Garden — August 24

I’m a bit behind on my “What’s Happening” update.  Packing and going to camp in New Hampshire took lots and lots of time. We didn’t exactly rough it (other than sleeping in tents) on this camping trip. One of the huge, huge benefits of camping at Calumet is that you can eat in their dining hall or on their beach for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With so many kids, we usually cook many of our meals at our campsite, but since this year’s trip was just for three nights we enjoyed the luxury of eating inside. That said, I still had a zillion loads of wash to do and lots of things to put away and catch up on. So, here we are, the soccer and golf seasons have started for my high school kids and fall is right around the corner. I’m trying to make the most of my garden time!

We have zinnias scattered around, I love the bright orange zinnias!

Here’s some mesclun that I planted on Saturday, I hope it keeps growing at this rate so we can enjoy it soon!

We have several pepper plants producing fruit. Peppers can be a little tricky for me, so this makes me happy.

I think there will be salsa in the next few days!

We have lots of Roma tomatoes. I froze a few gallons (whole) and made pizza sauce. We eat fresh tomatoes non-stop so we can never have too many.

The pumpkin vine is creeping quickly past the chicken coop.., Michael put that light there to help us remember not to step on it. Good idea!Here’s one of the pumpkins! There’s another one that’s this size (about fifteen inches long) and at  least a couple of smaller ones. Pumpkin carving will be extra fun this year!

Here’s my disaster, the cucumber beetles have pretty much wiped out the cucumbers. I did try hard to use a large size photo to show you. First the computer couldn’t seem to export this photo to my blog, then it wouldn’t size correctly. I don’t care, in the  interest of transparency, I’m sharing this smaller photo so you can see what happened. I need to pull the plants and add something in, maybe kale or brussel sprouts if I can find some plants. I need about ten more hours in my day! and next year remind me to take a break from the cucs!

In the chicken coop, this girl has suddenly taken to pecking at my foot. I don’t know what’s up with that but it hurts! Our egg production is better than it was a few weeks ago.  Here’s the strange thing: around the time that I posted that we had an egg deficit, one of our chickens started to look  unwell. This happens sometimes with older chickens, they stop eating and start to look tired and glassy eyed. They just seem to be ready to pass on. Well, we had a buff orphington who was going through this and I was trying to shore her up with some extra vitamins, food, and water in a corner of the coop. Strangely as soon as she died (very peacefully) the chickens started laying again. Three eggs that day, and we’ve had an average of six a day since. Any thoughts on this chicken keepers? Share your thoughts in the comments below please!

Is this a weed? Michael and I have been going back and forth about it for a few weeks. I have to admit that I think he’s right, it is a weed. But I like it.

The kentucky pole beans are growing. Next time I need to remember that they need poles. I think they’d be happier.

And finally, the potatoes. Their supposed to wilt and die just before their ready to harvest. I added soil as they grew but I’m worried that I didn’t keep up with them. I think we’ll check to see if it worked in the next week or so. I will be thrilled if we get a potato out of this pot!

I’m looking forward to drying some of this rosemary and thyme. I tried to dry bananas last week but they didn’t turn out as well as the basil did. We may try some apple slices.

There’s my update! How’s your garden growing? Share, share, share!!

Love,  Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden

It’s always fun to return after a good amount of time away from the garden to see the changes.

Here’s what we came home to this week after our twelve day road trip.

Our pot of potatoes took off!

The bee balm had bloomed

along with the lavender

.

The cucumbers had come along nicely.

Maybe this will be a good year for cucumbers since I only planted a few?

The carrots needed  weeding and thinning asap.

There were plenty of peas for the 4th..

Did you know that in the state of Maine salmon and peas is the traditional Fourth of July dinner?

It was time to pinch back the basil!

And the zucchini had done it’s thing

along with the Roma tomatoes!

It really felt like magic to come back to this.

What are you growing?

How are things in your garden?

Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Michele