Kicking off the 2015 Garden: Indoor Planting

Garden planting time might be my favorite time of year. The weather is finally turning warm, it’s pleasant to be outside again, and the whole world feels full of potential. This March has been warm and sunny so far, and in a fit of vitamin-d influenced optimism, last weekend, I started our 2015 garden.

spinach_seedling
Our first seedling of the year was this little spinach sprout. I planted three pots worth of spinach, which are living in our dining room window. I have three more pots to plant next week, to hopefully keep greens in rotation most of the spring. We didn’t have much luck planting greens in the ground last year. A combination of too much clay and ants made the leafy parts slow to grow, but the plants quick to bolt, so I’m sticking with pots this year.

tomato_seedlings
I am attempting grow all of our summer vegetables from seed this year. We spent a ton on seedlings last year, and this year I’m hoping to grow more plants. We currently have about two dozen little tomato seedlings, and I’m hoping to put them all in the ground.

basil_seedlings
Last year was a disaster four our herbs. We got a late start on them and the soil in our yard was so poor, the only thing that took was the mint. I missed fresh basil so much, that this year I’m hedging my bets and have a whole pallet of basil seeds sprouting.

Basil seedlings are so cute and determined looking, I find myself peering into the tray multiple times a day, just admiring their fortitude.

root_vegetable_seeds
If our Earth boxes are thawed enough, because last week they were still big blocks of frozen dirt, I’m going to bring them inside and start our first rounds of root vegetables. We also had trouble with these in the ground last year, they grew, but they were slow to take off and by the time they were sizable, they were also bitter. The ones we ate small, however, were delicious.

I’m hoping that planting the spring vegetables inside this year will give us more opportunity to get the yard ready for summer veggies and herbs and flowers. Our soil is so full of clay, I could take up ceramics and never need to buy it. We’re planning on working the compost we’ve been making since we moved in a year and a half ago into the soil and building up a few inches above the ground–we did this last year, but we decided we needed to go a few inches higher than that.

What are you planting this year?

2013 Balcony Garden

The balcony garden is officially started. Not everything is planted yet, nor do we even have all of our seeds or seedlings, but we got the balcony fully de-winterized this weekend and a bunch of stuff planted. It’s only a matter of time before we are resting cool behind our food-bearing wall-o-green ™.

sugarsnappeas2013
First, the peas I planted a few weeks have finally started to come up. I swear they have grown three inches since Saturday. (You’ll also notice that we are using Hefty bags instead of Earthbox approved mulch covers. As much as I love my Earthboxes, I am not paying $15 a mulch cover for every planting when a garbage bag and duct tape serves the same purpose. We used this method last year as well.)

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These are summer seedlings, and will likely live inside another month before they get Earthboxed.

basilseedling

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Our herbs so far are basil, mint (for Athrun), and sage. Has anyone ever had luck with oregano? It has never grown enough for me to do much with. What are your favorite herbs to grow?

Let’s Talk about Gardening

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It’s time (or perhaps a little past time) to start putting the summer garden together. The photo above shows just about the entire extent of my gardening abilities. We have three Earth Boxes two potato planters and a few pots for herbs. Last year we had a modest new potato crop, two good tomato plants, an eggplant a day, plenty of fresh herbs and one super giant zucchini.

059 Garden from 2011 with strawberries and cucumbers. (The cucumbers were awesome that year. Last year we had one and the plant shriveled and dyed because of the heat the very next day.)

I have tried and failed for the last two years to grow spinach and peas. Is that going to stop me from attempting them this year? No way! I realize though, that if I am going to grow them, I need to get a move on. I haven’t even started cleaning the balcony up from winter yet. That’s first on the agenda. Then tracking down fertilizer and dolomite for the earth boxes.

zuchinniblossomI can’t tell you how excited I am for spring and for growing things and big yellow blossoms and the promise of fresh, sun-warmed produce.

The balcony garden is not the only thing I am doing this year. During the summer, I will be tending a Sunflower garden out at my Dad’s house to grow some flowers for the wedding. Then, at my Dad’s church, they are starting a community garden project.

What are you growing? Where do you grow it? And how?

A Garden Party Under the Big Top?

People keep asking me about wedding colors, and me, being me, immediately don’t know how to communicate all of the things that go through my head upon bringing up these thoughts. I usually end up saying something lame, “You know, summer wedding in Kansas, so Sunflower, which I guess means yellow?” Finally, someone read my mind and put it all into a neat little graphic on pinterest.

It encompasses the garden party aesthetic I am envisioning closer than anything else I have seen–possibly because it wasn’t originally meant for a wedding. And while it involves sea foam, it is not just yellow and sea foam, which frankly, resembles vomit in my head (I can’t explain why), and for some reason seems to be the thing at the moment–at least according to Pinterest. And if Pinterest doesn’t have the pulse of the nation, I don’t know what does.

The thing is, most people ask about wedding colors, and I get the feeling they mean bridesmaids dresses and cummerbunds. Since we’re going informalish, and having no wedding party, there will be very little of all of that. “The colors” I am thinking about are more to set a mood for the day. That I want things to be a little whimsical, a little romantic, a little self-deprecating, and a lot of fun. For instance, I stumbled across this invitation on etsy, which is a little circusy, but also pretty hilarious. Let’s be honest, the only thing that could make this invitation better was if dude had a monocle. (Bonus, the artist is from Lawrence, so local!)

Then, I found this dress.
weddingdress
Which yes, is from Old Navy, and yes, is white, two things I would not have expected for me to want in a wedding dress, but it’s kind of perfect.

So things seem to be coming together rather nicely at the moment. I am gathering ideas and finding some sources of inspiration. I have a great surprise for wedding favors up my sleeve, but I’m not quite ready to share just yet.

Sunflower Skeletons on a Snowy Day

I am not a spectacular photographer by any means, but I work and live in a truly beautiful place. The Kansas Historical Society, location of my day job, is on the edge of town, and we are lucky enough to have prairie reserve as part of our property. We have hiking trails that wind through the prairie, sometime surrounding the hiker in grasses and sunflowers seven or eight feet high. It has taken me six months to remember to bring my camera to work and take some pictures during my lunch-break walk. But it’s good that I remembered today, because we are getting the perfect “White Christmas” snow right now. (It’s a week late, but I’ll take it.)

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Tallgrass Prairie. This photo was shot at my eye-level. I am 5’4″.

skeletonsinthesnow
In August, these were all sunflowers in full bloom. (And it was 110 degrees, so I was not outside much)

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Sunflower skeletons covered in snow

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tallgrassschoolhouse
A wide view of the prairie and the old one-room schoolhouse.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s a good start for you all.

Seedlings at Four Weeks

Athrun and I planted this years seedlings four weeks ago. I know it was a bit early for pretty much everything but the peas, but we’ve been having fun tending them. Since we have very limited space for planting, we only seeded one flat worth of vegetables for the year. We had 100% germination for every variety of plant except peas. Now, I have up to five seedlings when I really only have room one or two plants out of each variety. Some of the seedlings were getting so large that I have already put them in larger pots (I’m looking at you squash and cucumber). They seem to be thriving, I just hope they survive the move from pot to earth box. There is also the secret hope that I can somehow find room all of the seedlings to grown out on the balcony. Of course, then I have to contend with whether I will be able to get out there and water everything.


The start of this year’s yellow squash.


A jolly cucumber seedling. Last year, we were giving cucumbers away with only one giant plant. This year I have plans for at least two giant plants. The cucumber plant also kept producing through the six weeks we had at 100+ degrees when the tomatoes took a break.

My tomato seedlings are still rather small, therefore not pictured. I waited too long to thin them out. They are doing well, but they look small compared to the rest of the giant seedlings in the tray. (Also not pictured are peas, which are already outside and doing pretty well. Maybe because I am covering them with a blanket at night.)


I have to say that if it hadn’t been for Athrun, I probably wouldn’t have tried to go sunflowers in containers. Sunflowers are so lovely in the summer, and they can really be good bug deterrents, but they are just so darn big. Plus, flowers aren’t food. But, like every year, the balcony garden is one great big experiment. Imagining a row of giant sunflowers on my balcony in late summer gives me enough joy to try it out, even if it doesn’t happen.

And now for the plants that will likely prove the biggest container garden challenge.


This my friends is a cheerful little watermelon seedling. One of five cheerful little seedling full of sweet, refreshing, mouthwatering mid-summer potential. This little watermelon seedling is mocking me. It’s daring me to plant it in an earth box and train its vines to grow up while training it’s fruits to grow down. This will test my limits as a new gardener. This plant is telling me that it wants to grow and thrive, but if I don’t take care if just right it will mock me unceasingly until I can afford a house with a yard.

I saved my favorite seedling for last.

The pumpkins. I know I shouldn’t play favorites, but look at this gigantic plant!

When Athrun and I planted the tray a month ago, we opened our little packet of organic pumpkin seeds and there were three–THREE!–seeds inside. We both felt as though the seed company had pulled one over on us. I mean, have you ever pulled seeds out of pumpkin? There are only about a million! And here we had paid $3 for three seeds. We made little soil mounds in the box and planted our three seeds. And then waited. All the other seedlings were bouncing up out of the soil. We had a veritable tomato sprout forest (which I used a magnifying glass to thin), and the peas were getting too tall for our plant shelf.

Then, one week ago something started to pop out of the row marked “pumpkin”. It has been ONE WEEK since the pumpkins germinated. All three seeds are up and growing strong. These seedlings are just defiant. Unlike the watermelon, these guys are saying to me, “I am going to go grow no matter what you do to me.” And I can get behind that kind of attitude in a plant.

So far, everything but the peas are growing in the balcony window on a wire shelf. I need to prune my basil plant and chuck the oregano and start over. Athrun’s mint plant is full of new leaves, but needs a little cleaning up after the winter. The hardware store down the street had started setting up its garden center in the parking lot. That means it’s just about time to grab giant bags of potting soil and some fertilizer and replant the earth boxes, even if I have to move them in and out for a couple weeks. (Then I can also direct seed some spinach!) The trellis needs to go back up, because it’s been rolled up in the corner of the balcony all winter and it’s really starting to look sloppy to me. I want my clean, green balcony back.