Saturday, February 28, 2009

weed whacking

I spent a few hours outside while the kids napped with the weed hacker and tried to 'scalp' it off as close to the ground as I could. I managed to get the whole perimeter before it started to smoke and the motor, I guess I killed the weed whacker. whops.

The hill is so- holey! Those gophers have a freaking city there. And while I was working I saw one of those big bushy tailed red squirels in the trees. Dangit, another rodent that could eat my veggies. I'm hoping to use a liberal amount of well fastened row floating row covers, between the birds and the critters I'm hoping I can minimize as much damage as I can, but still planning on 'overplanting' to account for some loss.

I'm still kinda iffy on the garden layout, I really liked having 3 x 25 foot beds instead of a bunch of 4 x 8 boxes, but the boxes make it easier to work around and 'customize' the bed for the veggies planted there.

We went out earlier today and went to a local lumberyard, but at .53 a ft Lowes is def cheaper for the wood. However this place did have 4 ft x 100 ft rolls of 1/2 in poultry mesh for $96, which is way cheaper then anywhere else I've found. I still need to price out the planting mix for the raised beds. So the wood, mesh, pvc, row covers and drip irrigation stuff should bring my garden total up to around $400. My planned budget was 500, looks like I will be over. I spent about $200 in seeds, lights, the shelf, starting mix, containers for 5 SWCs and bareroot plants.

I'm hoping to be up at 5:30 am (ouch) to rake up all that cut grass and get it into the 'green barrels' for green waste pickup. I was going to just make a huge compost pile with it, but I dont have a large enough space thats readily accessable and theres SO MUCH GRASS I dont have enough 'browns' to add to those greens. I may save some to put in the bottom of each raised bed as a sort of slow rotting amendment, but right now I need all this grass out of there pronto so I can see, dig, and level.

This was my last free Saturday for the next 3 months. LA county master gardeners classes start next sat, 9 am - 4pm. So I'm trying to take advantage of hubby being here to watch the kids while I try to work my ass off to get it plantable by mid-March.

My garden layout

Friday, February 27, 2009

Price of lumber

comparison of different wood dimensions available at Lowes and the price. Beds will be 4 feet by 8 feet and 12 inches deep. I have a nifty coupon for 10% off my total purchase at lowes as well.

I am thinking of building the beds similar to this:

Various 2" x 6" x 20' Top Choice Green Douglas-Fir LumberItem #95724
$6.72 x 26 =$174.72

Various 2" x 12" x 20' Green Douglas-Fir LumberItem #231297
$17.66 x 13 = $229.58

Various 2" x 12" x 8' Top Choice Green Douglas-Fir LumberItem #91796
$7.12 x 32 =$227.84

Various 2" x 4" x 8' Top Choice Green Douglas-Fir LumberItem #45116
$1.70 x 96 =$163.20

Various 2" x 6" x 12' Top Choice Green Douglas-Fir LumberItem #95705
$3.98 x 44 =$175.12

Various 2" x 4" x 20' Top Choice Green Douglas-Fir LumberItem #53001
$4.25 x 39 =$165.75

Various 2" x 6" x 8' Top Choice Green Douglas-Fir LumberItem #53056
$2.69 x 64 = $172.16

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Productive day

Today I woke up to FINALLY see the sun shining- and I couldnt hold it in any longer: I needed to do something on the garden, touch dirt, pull a weed, SOMETHING or I was about to go nutts. seriously.

So I threw my almost 2 year son on my back in his ergo carrier, gave the 4 year old the 'task' of picking up rocks and throwing them out of the planter I wasd working on, and I managed to de-weed, rototill, smooth, dump a ton of starbucks coffee grounds, till again, and rake smooth again a whoping 6x3 ft area. I could have done it alot faster without a 30 pound toddder trying to sqiurm off the carrier on my back and if my daughter would just STAY PUT in one area and not go bolting off into the driveway....ugh. I am trying to stay calm, but I am living in a house with 8 other family members and when I have to ask anyone to watch the kids ( like for a routine doc appointment for me, I havent gone to the doc in 2 years) I felt like I was really asking too much or something. I just feel really guilty having other people watch my kids. * sad sigh* Everyone is freaking out about jobs and finances and such so everyone is in a bad mood/dont want to do anything, well so am I, except my frost date is next week and the ground isnt going to till, amend, and plant itself with a magic wand. Oh well, I'd rather take out my frustration on weeds then people. Especially because I can rip the weeds to shreds and cackle about it.

I guess I kinda feel like the little red hen here....I may start dropping more less subtle hints about needing help, but oh well, this is my project, I dont think anyone is going to understand the work involved or why its so important, I know they get its food, but they dont know the work involved or how hard it is to do with 2 small kids underfoot.

After I came inside sweating after my 3 hour gardening ordeal I decided to get out of the house and drive to a few places ot price stuff out. So armed with a clipboard, a graph pad, and half a dozen pencils ( if the kids touch it I'll never see it again) I went to Home Depot, Lowes, and OSH to price my 'necessities' like potting soil ( for price comparison), fertilizer, chicken manure, floating row cover, lumber, hardware mesh, 6 foot stakes ( bean teepees) and veggie plants. In every store I must have spooked the workers with my clipboard and frantic scribbling. I kept reassuring them I was just a gardening comparing prices to get my moneys max worth but I think they all thought I was some sort of crazy AR secret shopper. Found 2 little bags of vermiculite for $4 each, got them anyway. Tomorrow I plan on making a 'mix' of coconut coir, vermiculite, and miracle grow potting soil. I figure it lets me stretch the pre-mixed stuff without making it too much of a water sponge. but back to shopping...

Of course I couldnt resist the lure of the bareroot plants and starts, I got starts for shallots, some mary washington asparagus plants, and 2 dozen bareroot strawberry plants. Lowes had all their bareroot trees 25% off and a decent selection, but I had to hold back and just get a 'wonderful' pomegranite. They actually had low chill apricots, pears, and apples that would grow well here, but I dont know when I'd find time to make nice large amended holes for them out here. But I couldnt resist the pomegranite tree for $10. I'm going to put the pomegranite in a huge pot I have, and maybe some strawberry plants around it for right now.

I think I figured out what to build the raised beds with. 2 x 6 x 20 douglas fir is about $7, and Lowes will cut as many as I need for free and build the beds 12 in high. So each 20 gives 2 8 ft sections for the long side and a 4 ft for the short side. then i'll just need a couple cut just into 4 ft sections.

The hardware mesh is the expensive stuff, a 4 ft x 25 ft roll of 1/2 galv mesh is $52. so like $18 per bed just in mesh- and only home depot has it that big. lowes only has 3 ft wide mesh rolls. wood comes in even sizes, so I really wanted to make the beds 4 x 4 or 4 x 8 for simplicity. Especially since I am the one who will probably end up assembling them I need to make them simple, and having the mesh 4 ft wide helps make it easy on my female carpentry skills.

eh, why can't my hubby be home to do this shit. I hate designing/building things. Hes the engineer. I just like to plant and paint.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thanks blogging buddies!

I really appreciare your links and advice :) I'm still debating how on earth to make this the best garden ever without breaking my very pitiful budget. Priced out wood at home depot, redwood is 3-4 times the price of untreated fir. We could probably build a 4 x 8 foot, 12 ft deep fir raised bed for around $25, not including the screws, anchors, pvc for hoops, floating row cover or the hardward fabric to line it with. I'm still researching the cheapest way of buying those.

I'm excited to report that my new lights came in! They are some cheap plug in play shop lights from . I was a bit worried since the reviews warned that they are shipped in flimsy boxes and the units almost always get damaged- but for the price ( and my impatience) I tok a chance. The boxes looked like shit to be true, but both lights fired up ok. I got some cheap T12 40 watt bulbs at Home Depot, a 6700k and a 4100 K- I don't remember what the 'best' bulbs were for growing plants, but since its a short term thing anyway, I just grabbed one of each. I had been hoping to have more help from Mr.Sun himself, but apparently hes been on vacation the last few weeks with all the rain and clouds, so I needed to do something other then switch trays from the 1 shelf with lighting every day. Now for sure anyone who walked by the window would think I'm growing 'stuff' LMAO. Heres my nice new setup:

I'll probably turn the trays on the top shelf to squeeze 1 more tray I want to get started with some more lettuce and some of the seeds I got at the swap.

Grow my tomato/pepper/eggplant babies!
onions, swiss chard, and pak choi.
I'm also in a quandry about what potting mix to use in my planned SWCs. I was going to do a DIY potting soil mix ( 1/3 coir, 1/3 compost, 1/4 vermiculite or perlite) using coconut coir instad of peat moss, but I was outside checking on a bin on pure coir that got rained on, and even tho it looks light and fluffy, you can take a handful and wring out a good amount of water out. Like, almost equal to its volume in water. Thats good news in that it holds water, really, really well- but now I'm worried that in a SWC design it may hold TOO much water and lead to waggerlogging issues with the plants. Adding perlite or vermiculite may help, I dont know till I've made a few 'mixes' on a smaller scale to see how they compare. Spring frost date is this week, ahhh! I'm so not ready, and with the ground still soaked from todays rains not much I can do out there but plan and obsess.

So now I'm debating how to make a new mix for the SWCs, or if I should just skip the water resivoir part of the SWC altogether, and basically just drill holes at the bottom of these rubbermaid bins for drainage, plant in them, and just top water as needed. I could even make some of those watering stake bottles with 2 L cola bottles if the mix starts to dry out too much.

I have to consider tomatoes, esp indeterminates are heavy drinkers, plus our summers are over 100 easy, very low humidity, and oftentimes windy. All very drying factors. Its a big scale in my head...too much water in the soil....too many factors that can dry the plants out to a crisp in a container. Luckily both areas I am planning for SWCS get morning sun from sunup to around 2-3pm then are shaded partially by the house, so I'm hoping that will help prevent blossom drop and poor fruit set in the hottest part of the year.

Gah, why do I do this? I have this idea I'm all confident with and then I read so much of other peoples opionions and experiences I get nervous, panic and lose all confidence in what I thought I had figurd out! LOL Its what I love about the "blogosphere" its this huge everchanging library of information at my fingertips whenever I escape to the computer and want to learn something.

Or drive myself nutts from an information overload!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Working on Garden Layout

Now for the funnest part: planning the garden layout and where to put all these plants I want to grow! Behold my subpar photoshop abilties! Voila!

I measured it out and the actual 'flat' squareish area is 25 ft x 25 ft. I drew that out on graph paper, and made beds 3 feet wide and path ways 2 feet wide. ( Last years walkways were 18 inches and it was a tight squeeze in some places). That gives me 5 beds that are 3ft x 25ft and are further subdivided for different veggies.

Now I have to figure what do I want to plant near each other and what should not be planted near each other. I just don't want one's vegetable pest to wreck havoc on another if I can somehow minimize it my mixing plants and scents, as well as companion planting garlic, marigolds, leeks, and basil thruout as needed.

anyone have a good website with companion planting info?

Seed swap a success!

My meetup group did our first seed swap and monthly get togetjer, and I am proud to sya it went extremely well. There were about 10 of us and we had a grand ole time chatting for 4 hours about gardening, the safty of our food supply and all the nifty things you can use for DIY garden stuff at the dollar tree. I brought some tomato and eggplant seeds and left with more goodies :).

I ended up with some seeds I didnt have and am excited to plan on using:

'Lee' Okra
'Henderson' Bush Lima
'Pearson' Tomato
'San Marconi' Sweet Pepper
'Ca Wonder' Bell Pepper ( none of my seeds sprouted, so some fresh seeds may work better)
'Bavaria' Endive
Kaffir Lime
'San Marzano' Tomato

plus I got a small Loquat tree seedling and a 'Patio Pixie' tomato in a pot I'm hoping to use for my "Gardening vegetables in containers" talk in March.

I was really excited about having even more tomatos, my main goals were to can at least 2 dozen quarts of tomatos this year, and I now have a few canning varieties: Roma, Big Mama, San Marzano, Pearson and Amish paste. I had never been able ot find Pearson seeds locally, I read it does well in our extreme heat and used to be a big commercial canning variety in CA in the 1950s. woot! I love seed swaps!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Soil Testing

Picked up a set of soil test kits at Lowes a few weeks ago, tonight I finally got around to testing my garden soil...

pH: 6.8-7 ( good)
potassium : low
Nitrogen: Low ( boo)
Phosphorus: very high

eh, I wasnt expecting miracles from it, its Middle Miocene Modelo Shale, so around 12-15 million years old. No I'm not making this up. I can walk up to the cut sides in the hill, pull out rocks that have been untouched for millions of years, crack/peel the layers apart and if I'm lucky find a fossil fish. Usually theres just tiny leaves, what looks like ashes/burnt grass, and the occasional fish scale. Tomorrow I'll go poke around if I have time and see if I can find something cool to show you.

Being a geology brat gives me a better understanding/appreciation for this sort of stuff, almost enough to go finish my degree in geology.


but not quite.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maybe the rain isnt so bad afterall....

I took this photo Monday Feb 16th 2009 @ 3:10 pm. Beautiful isn't it? I havent seen a full arc rainbow in years, and it looked so closeby too! I could literally see where it was 'touching' the ground, but didnt see a pot of gold LOL.

Monday, February 16, 2009

An afternoon Adventure in my own backyard hillside

Today it finally cleared up ( and dried out a bit) enough for me to put on my hiking boots and take a stroll (hike) thru my new 'backyard' a.k.a the rest of the hillside of this property no one pays any attention to EVER. I felt adventurous so armed with my camara, my cell phone ( in case I stupidly tripped in a gopher hole and hurt myself) and a pair of pruning shears I set off to hike the wilds of our hillside.

Hiking thru that iceplant is a royal pain in the ass, it does a great job holding the slope in place and preventing erosion but years of overgrowth mean your walking in this stuff halfway up to your knees and can't see where the actual ground is, and the top layer of iceplant seems far more of a gentle slope then it really is. The photos don't do a very good job showing how steep it is in a few places, but then again I'm the only one crazy enough to bother caring whats growing around here.

To the south theres some citrus trees my father in law planted years ago and installed a sprinkler for each then promptly ignored for 4 years. The hard freeze we got last winter did kill a couple of them, or maybe it was the 120 degree summers, but there are about 10 or so hardy trees still alive along the bottom of the hill on the SE side of the property

I saw a moro blood orange, a few valencia orange trees, a washington navel, a couple of unknown orange trees, 2 mandarins, and an unknown with teeny tiny fruit I first thought was a kumkwat, but after eating the only one ripe on the tree realized it was a very tiny tangerine. They all need a bit of pruning to remove some dead branches and open the form up a bit, and all were yellowing, I need to put some fertilizer spikes and blood meal around each one. It was a wonderful surprise tho, from my bedroom doors I could see what I thought were random shrubbery at the bottom of the hill, I had no idea it was citrus. I had been trying to figure out where to sneak in and plant a few fruit trees, so it was awesome to find some already established. They all have flower buds forming, so I'm hoping to take better care of them this year and hope they produce better.

Up the hill some directly below my 'balcony' outside the bedroom theres an apple tree that every year gives a great display of blossoms but no fruit. I have no idea what the variety is but I'm guessing it needs a cross pollinator of some sort or something else is amiss. I noticed that the iceplant has grown rampant up and over the tree, which isn't looking too hot this year, so I went to investigate. Heres the tree after pulling the front of the iceplant off to show just how much iceplant was burying it:

It was bad. So after cutting and swearing and having a fun ole time ripping plants away I found out why the tree wasn't looking too good.

Look at the bottom along the soil line, theres some sort of mildew/fungus eating away at the bark. Apparently the iceplant was holding way too much moisture against the tree itself and the resulting fungus was literally eating away at the bark and girdling the tree.

And THIS kiddos, is why you are NEVER supposed to put too much mulch/compost/dense plantings right up against the tree trunk itself. Between the moisture and I'm sure some insect damage it just left that bark vulnerable to this type of damage. Judging by the sorta healed over edges this has been going on for quite some time now. One whole limb has been completely girdled and is totally dead, I'll need to get a saw to remove that limb. The other 2 limbs have about 50% and 20% bark left form what I can see. I cleared as much soil from around is as I could, hopefully some sun and fresh air will help give the tree a fighting chance. Makes me sad tho, that this tree that has braved years on this hill before my family ever bought the house to be felled by petty landscape negligence and some overzealous iceplant. tsk, tsk.

Then I stumbled my way across to the SE side of the hill, to where my father had some Hass avocados planted 2 years ago. This part of the hill is a bit more 'native' in that there isnt any iceplant but plenty of invasive castor bean plants, Cucamonga manroot vine ( its a wild luffa), tumbleweeds, Tonyon and some other tall plant I haven't been able to identify yet. I even found some wild strawberries sending off runners, so I excitedly collected a handful to plant elsewhere and observe. I am such a nerd.

I managed to find 1 avocado on the ground under a tree but it was pretty buggy so I went tree to tree trying to find avocados to pick. No such luck. I did however noticed what seemed to be some sort of a disease (blight?) on the trees that warranted further investigation:

My first thought was fireblight, but I thought fireblight only affected temperate fruit trees, not tropicals. Breaking off some of the dying/damaged branches gave more clues but no answers that came to mind. The bark starts to darken and the leaves shrivel, die, but cling onto the plant. What was even odder was the innermost part of the stem (xylem) was dark brown and looked very watery, almost syrupy. This discoloration was noticeable in branches cut a few inches past the blackened bark, so whatever this infection is its spreading to the rest of the tree. I have no idea if it can ultimately kill the entire tree or not. I've been doing Internet searches on avocado diseases and not seeing anything like this. I am tempted to go out there with a bucket of bleach water and prune out all the infected branches like it was fireblight and make sure to disinfect the pruners after each cut.

I also got to spy on the neighbors property just a bit, the land right below us has a lovely little lantern studded brick path winding thru some well maintained citrus trees and I even spied a small fenced in area with red winter tomatoes. Impressive!

Theres an area of trees there that makes a beautifully covered shady area filled with a bunch of native plants I need to dig out my guidebook and identify. I think one was horehound, it was very fuzzy and had a strong mint scent, and some other bushes with tiny red berries. Funny how less then a 10 minute walk from the house and I was a whole nother world, away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, it was a little piece of REAL California- at least to me. After following the southern most edge of the fence around I realized it comes right up to the side of the battling cage/basketball court my father in law put in years ago. At least getting back up the hill afterwards was easily then getting down!

Last but not least I visited my future piece of paradise and realized that flat area is AWESOME. the dirt there is very friable and loose and no stubborn weeds like bermuda grass, that soft fuffy velvetgrass rips right out in large tufts roots and all! And theres EARTHWORMS in the soil! Eureka! This soil isnt as craptastic as I thought! I was standing there almost orgasmic ripping out tufts of grass and giggling to myself. I think anyone else watching me must have thought I lost whats left of my mind. But after 2 years of dealing with having to pull out bermuda grass, spurge and common mallow by hand you bet I was THRILLED to see the only stuff I was pulling out was that 'nice' clumpy grass you can rips lots of out and leaves the soil neat and clean looking.

I'm almost tempted to just rip all this stuff out by hand where I want to plant, it pulls out super easy, too hard to mow, we'd need to take a weed eater to it. But now I got to thinking, this this stuff isnt nearly as annoying as most grasses are, maybe I can just rototill it into the soil like a cover crop, as it rots it adds some organic value, and then double dig the beds and amend the beds only with some horse manure and coconut coir to help 'lighten' the soil ( its almost as dense as clay but its not clay its diatomaceous earth). I have about 6 weeks till I NEED to plant outdoors here, I could also put plastic over it and solarize, or just lay out alot of cardboard ( I have alot of empty moving boxes) in this weeks heavy rains and let that smother the grass out a bit. Decisions, Decisions.

So yup, that was my fun afternoon of playing outside in the dirt while hubby watched the kids. woot!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Intro to home vegiie gardening video (part 2)

Just for you sinfonian:

this deals with irrigation, weed control and use of hoop houses and floating row cover. nifty!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Garden Shopping list ( aka what to stalk freecycle for)


6 x 6 concrete reinforment mesh for trellises....and wood posts...I have some nylon trellis netting but learned last year it starts to sag with heavy vines. Good for beans & peas, not as good for tomatos and melons

wood for raised beds....redwood and cedar are probably best, but more expensive...I wonder if I can get away with a inferior wood like oak or pine since its so hot and dry here, and with drip line the wood should not be getting too wet...I think...

still need to find some vermiculite locally. Got a few leads from people on freedomgardens, need to actualyl drive out and check.

price out decent compost. armstrong has bags for $8 each and its great stuff, but unless they have a discount on volume I think I am going to have to find something cheaper. worse comes to worse I can make a 'mix' of 50% mels mix and 50% miracle grow potting soil *shudder* hate to do that but I really need to do this as cheaply as possible and miracle grow is usually on sale at this time of year.

quarter inch 'rabbit hutch' mesh to line bottom of raised beds with- to keep out voles. I am thinking of recycling all my moving boxes by lining the beds with these as well to deter the weeds a la lasagna gardening.

question, how tall should the raised beds be?

I can probably reuse alot of the drip line I had at our old house, just need to buy new connectors and find a irrigation pipe I can tap a spigot onto.

need to call city about having them dump a truckload of 'mulch'- i can use that on the 'pathways' around the raised beds, I think.

Friday, February 13, 2009

UC Master Gardener Videos on the web

Came across this gem when checking out the files section of the 'private' Los Angeles County Master Gardeners. I was lucky and was able to get 'transferred' from Sb county to LA since we moved out here, so my MG classes start up (again) in March every saturday thru May.

This list videos are really awesome, I started playing the vegetable gardening one in the background while searching the web. Great lecture so far! UC ANR has made them availible on the web for the public, so by all means enjoy!

heres part 1 on vegetable gardening

My new Garden in its infancy

Alrighty then, so our new 'digs' are on the side of a hill. Literally. The only real flat planting area I have is this section where my sister in law had as her garden years ago when she lived here. Its the only area with any real soil, since this hill is all uplifted medello shale- which for you non geology people means its a giant pile of diatemacious earth. No organics, no worms, nada. I'm not even sure how this weed/grass grows here, the dirt is pale grey and when you crack open the rocks you can occasionalyl find impressions of soft bodied oceanic critters and fish. Very cool fossils. But back to gardening.

This stuff sucks for growing in. It absorbs water like a sponge, but can't grow anything without some serious heavy amending.

Heres a short photo tour of what I'm dealing with in all its slanted, concrete glory.

So it looks like my best bet will be to create raised beds on this slanted flat area (looking North in the first photo, and then turning to my left looking west in the second one)

heres a wider view of the area. The only tree I want to keep is the avacado in the center of this photo, the rest of the bushes are weeds of some sort that need to be dug out.

view from our bedroom doors that open to the deck- a lemon tree, more concrete where I plan to set up some SWCs, and the 'garden' beyond. Still looking North- so the whole area is in full sun year round.

walk around the corner we're now looking northeast to part of the pool deck. More concrete area for SWCs and other containers. That window on the left is that south facing window I talked about where my seed tray setup is. I also have my potted trees and herbs below my window right now ( not shown in this photo) Awesome view of the San Fernanod Valley from this deck.

swivling around looking due East is more of the valley view, the non-functioning spa ( oh I hope they fix it soon!) and the area edging the pool deck I want to 'line' with SWCs.

The Beauty between Rainstorms

Ok rain, can you please go away now? I want my sun back.

ugh, its cold and raining. I love the sound and the smell of rain, but its this cold I can't stand...I know I know, I'm a weak SoCal wimp whining about cold since its below 70 degrees, but its a whoping 48 degrees, which for me is pretty damn cold.

At night its been dipping into the 40s- if it gets to 38 tonight I need to go cover my potted plants & citrus- right now I have them in a kinda wind wheltered corner on the south side of the yard, which hopefully should help keep them a bit more protected. I'm dreading having to go outside in the rain and cold and fight a giant tarp to cover them.

The 2 things I hate most in life are being wet and being cold, and may the gods help you if you get caught in my wrath when I am both ( think; geology field trips in college).

Right now I am sitting here in these warm fuzzy PJs with feet like the sleepers little kids wear, with wool socks and flannels underneath and my feet are still icy cold, and as I sit here trying to type my hands keep going icy cold. Ugh. Excuse the horrid photo.

I don't mind the occasional SoCal cold spell to have an excuse to wear a sweater and to snuggle up under extra quilts, but alfter 2 weeks of some 80 degree weather in January its a shock to the system to have it cold and raining for a week, with a 1 day break and now 2 more storms moving in tonight For the last week we've kept a space heater on in 'our' wing of the house to keep it warm- its really drafty with so many single pane glass windows. I put curtains up which help a little but we just need to seriously get some weather stripping and caulk and fix all the gaps. No one has been living back here on this end for years until we recently moved in, so no one paid any attention.

We have a fireplace on this end, but it hasnt been used in over 10 years, so I'm really paranoid about starting a fire and burning the house down from dust catching fire or something. I'm going to bug my hubby and brother in law to check it out and see if its safe to light a fire- rather then waste gas on the furnace trying to heat this drafty house I'd rather get a bit of firewood and have a nice bank of coals going for heat and some romantic fireside snuggling for valentines day. Plus then I can make s'mores!

I'm kicking myself for not buying a better space heater. When I was at Lowes getting seed trays they had all their space heaters 75% off, ( only ~$30 after the discount) and I walked right by, thinking to myself how rarely it is that we're cold enough to bother with a space heater, and it would be a waste of money- arg.

I'm strggling to keep my seed trays warm. I jimmy'ed up a growing area with a rubbermaid garage storage shelving thing, some bungee cords, aquarium lights, and shoe boxes to raise the trays up close to the lights. Woohoo for being cheap!

They are in a south facing window with 2 aquarium lights. they are tiny so still have that plastic tray cover on that should help keep the warmth in overnight, I hope. So far the tomatos, eggplant, broccoli, swiss chard, basil and lettuce have sprouted. I'm still waiting on the leeks, pak choi and peppers to make an appearence.

spring cleaning

Ok, the kids are down for a nap, I have unpacked 6 boxes, plus made chicken soup from my own canned goods and have a roast in the oven for dinner- I think I have earned some ME time to work on updating my blog.

so if things get wonky, text boxes out of whack and links broken, its OK, its just me playing around with the code.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Seed orders are in!

Busy, busy, busy unpacking, painting, and trying to keep the kids out of everyone's way. But my seeds are here at last!

listed by source:

Amish Gold
Lemony (aka Limmony)
Jaune Flamme
Aunt Ruby's Green
Sunset Red Horizon ( Thanks Sinfonian!)

already had:
Cherokee purple chocolate
Gardener's Delight
Big Mama Hybrid

Botanical Interests
Cucumber -Armenian
Cucumber -Homemade Pickles
Cucumber -Spacemaster
Eggplant -Black Beauty
Eggplant- Long Purple
Eggplant -Rosa Bianca
Lettuce -Mesclun Gourmet Baby Greens
Pepper- Chile Ancho/Poblano
Pepper -Sweet Yolo Wonder
Squash- Summer Baby Round Zucchini
Squash Summer -Blk Beauty Zucchini
Swiss Chard Bright Lights Blend

Renees Garden
Lettuce, Ruby & Emerald Duet
Pak Choi, Green Fortune
Peppers, Habanero, Suave
Basil, Italian Cameo Catmint, Ornamental
Dill, Dukat Melons, Three Flavor Mix
Haogen Melon
Yellow Crookneck squash
red Dandelion

Seeds of Change:
Thai Lettuce
Golden Purslane

Seeds from last year:
Buttercrunch Lettuce
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard
Lacinato Kale
California Wonder Pepper
Serrano Chille