Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Kitchen Window

Rosemary cuttings being rooted in simple recycled planter.

January 31st - Rooted Rosemary
     I had a bunch leftover in a pack I bought from the store so I dipped it in rooting hormone and stuck it in a recycled planter I made myself.

Garlic Cloves Sprouting in a Self Watering Planter.

 February 9th - Planted Garlic
     Some of my garlic cloves started sprouting. Instead of throwing them out I buried them 3/4 in soil. They are also in a recycled bottle planter.

February 13th - Started Stevia
     Stevia is a plant with sweet leaves. My seeds are really old (2001) but I thought I would give them a chance. They are in recycled Bowl of Noodles containers that I poked holes in the bottom of with a toothpick. I covered the top of the planters lightly with kitchen plastic wrap to keep moisture in but not tight enough to restrict air flow.

February 15th - Started Basil
     I had the hankering to plant something. I decided on Sweet Basil since pesto is so amazing.

Left to Right: Rosemary Garlic and Basil in the back, Stevia in front

Check back soon for a picture tutorial on how I made my self watering planters. If your bored check out the new post on the Tiny Tipis Blog.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Turning Soil - Day 1

 Composting: My Winter Workout

It can really hurt when a shovel breaks!
  I decided to completely turn my compost yesterday. It was a lovely 56 degrees out and I knew it needed to be done. I've gotten away with minimal work on it this winter but with Spring quickly approaching I wanted to make sure it was on track for starting my grass. I also knew I was overdue for some photos.

Above is the shovel I have been using since I moved into this house. It is old, heavily used, and has many memories. Since I've been lazy and only shifted my pile this winter (instead of fully turning) it was sort of packed down and heavy. This meant I got to use the pitch fork to loosen and the shovel to lever out the contents. In the process of using the shovel as a lever it snapped. My suggestion: don't put all your weight on an old shovel handle. My ribs took the punch like a champ but I still won't be doing that again soon.

Below is what I call Compost Corner. It's the spot I sunk my old plywood box (that would have otherwise been tossed out) into the ground. It is far enough away from my house that it won't offend my nose even if it gets kinda funky. So far so good - no crazy smells even close up. The box did have 4 sides but I got tired of trying to dig out the contents that were down deep. I went ninja on it. Now it has 3 sides and a detached lid!

I call this "compost corner" - as if my yard is big enough I could map locations on it.
You can see the pile I dug out in the upper left corner of the picture. Up close the darker color (and lovely earth smell) are more obvious as well as the large chunks of hard dirt from my yard. The white in the pile is all my shredded junk mail.

I learned a lot in the process of doing this.
    - My pile needs to be watered more often. It was just a bit dry to work at optimum levels.
    - I need less brown waste (the tan weeds you see piled in the lower left corner of the pic) and more kitchen scraps. The areas where kitchen scraps had been buried were better composted and had a richer looking soil leftover than areas where the weeds were. Also the weeds are taking way longer to break down than anything else. Part of me thinks I should call them weed trees since they were over 6 foot tall when we moved in.
    - I need to make myself flip this pile more often. The parts near the top that get shifted more frequently are already a useable dark compost. The bottom of the pile didn't get enough air circulation and almost nothing broke down at all.
    - I need to mulch the giant weed trees before I put them in. The smaller branches were decomposed but the thumb width and thicker trunks were hardly touched.

I largely consider my first attempt at true outdoor - in the winter - composting to be a success. Sure, I'll do even better from now on but at least I didn't fail!

More updates to come later. In the meantime if your bored hop on over to my other blog and see what it's all about!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

OCD Garden Planning

I pulled out a massive pile of seed envelopes today. They all came from Grandpa. Even at 80 he kept a garden. I'm spending the better part of this week planning my garden now. No more tossing seeds at some random dirt for this girl!

This year I have several goals for my garden:
  - Use more space since I have it.
  - Spend as little money as possible.
  - Over plan so I know exactly what to do each week.
  - Grow enough to serve several meals from my produce.
  - Teach my son about gardening.

My first goal will be the easiest to accomplish. I have nearly half an acre which is considered a lot in the city. Even though I am planning a large garden I should have a bunch of extra space.

The second goal will be accomplished by not buying seeds, soil, or pots. Since I have "inherited" seeds their quality is unknown but the price is right. I will be using my own compost to mix with soil I have on hand and recycling plastic containers again for seed starting pots. The only price I anticipate at this time is water.

My OCD planning is in progress. Once I finish the calendar I will upload it along with my scribbles and notes. Don't expect my notes to be organized - they aren't. The calendar will be color coded and take into account room for sudden changes in my busy schedule. It will cover Frost Dates, Planting Days, Transplanting, and Harvesting Times along with big picture events I have to work around.

Last year I was able to eat chives and garlic greens for all my effort. I blame factors such as lack of light, almost zero planning, and horrible care as I was in the middle of moving. This year I have a greenhouse on my side and a large unshaded yard. I'm also not planning on moving so I should face fewer problems in general.

I want my son to learn about the life cycle at an early age. He will be two and a half this summer - the perfect age to play in the dirt with mom. I will take this as a chance to educate him on growing, tending to, harvesting, cooking and eating, as well as composting the waste back into useable material.

What I am growing, you ask? A lot. Here is the outdoor list:
    ~ Tomatoes: 4 Types
    ~ Lettuce: 5 Types
    ~ Spinach: 2 Types
    ~ Radishes: 3 Types
    ~ Squash: 2 Types
    ~ Onions: 2-3 Types
    ~ Carrots
    ~ Corn
    ~ Cucumbers
    ~ Swiss Chard
    ~ Sweet Peas
    ~ Watermelons
    ~ Cantaloupe
    ~ Grapes from Concord Seeds
    ~ Loofah Gourds
As for inside:
    ~ Rosemary (already rooting extra from a "live herb" container bought at the grocery store)
    ~ Stevia
    ~ Marjoram
    ~ Savory
    ~ Thyme
    ~ Sweet Basil
    ~ Chamomile
    ~ Cilantro
    ~ Licorice

More details to come soon. I feel much more prepared this year. :)