A Stroll Through the Garden

And by garden, I mean "my dining room".

3 short days ago, I sowed my most exciting crop yet - the crop I've been waiting months for. TOMATOES!

I sowed about 14 or so different varieties  along with some purple basil, mammoth basil, rainbow swiss chard, and a few different kinds of flowers. They were started on a heat mat set at 80* and under lights.

3 days later I saw this:

That was in the morning. I went about my daily routine, and by lunch time, saw this:

They've been coming up like gangbusters ever since, which is incredibly exciting. As soon as they have their first set of true leaves, they'll get their own comfy digs and some food.

I've planted a couple varieties for size that I'm especially excited about - the spoon tomato and the super sauce tomato.

Spoon tomatoes are exactly what they sound like - teeny tiny tomatoes that fit on a spoon.

Spoon tomatoes

Super sauce tomatoes are a new release by Burpee, and are supposed to be enormous. (5" x 6" high)

Super sauce tomato
The super sauce seeds haven't sprouted yet, but the spoon tomatoes have. The seeds were incredibly tiny, and the resulting seedlings are tiny, too.

The peppers are starting to get their 3rd set of true leaves.

And the broccoli has been hardening off for 4 days now. I'm hoping to get it in the ground in the next week or so. Granted, it would have to stop raining / snowing for longer than 20 minutes for that to happen.

What do you have started in your garden?

Making My Own Rainbow

My favorite movie of all time is "Steel Magnolias". My favorite scene in the movie is when Shelby is talking about her wedding colors while Dolly Parton's character is styling her hair.

Shelby: "My colors are blush and bashful".
M'Lynn: "Her colors are pink and pink."

That is pretty much how I feel about today, except that instead of pink, it is grey and grey outside. We badly need the rain (the cold I could do without). So I decided to make my own rainbow.

I really enjoy mixing my own Procion colors. I don't exactly play by the rules, though. I don't write measurements down. I dump some dye into some water and go from there. I like not knowing what the end result will be. I love the surprise of opening the dryer and pulling out the finished piece. (Never judge a wet piece of fabric. 9 times out of 10, it will look completely different when it is dry.)

Enjoy the rainbow!


Peppers 8 days post sowing

The Songs Have Started

There is a boggy area in my backyard right next to my garden. Every year, winter snow and rain fills the bog. In the spring, toads frolic to my backyard to make lots of wee toad babies. (Did you know that about 80% of male toads return to the place where they were spawned during mating season?) Their croaking starts gently, and by the time spring is in full swing, it's incredibly loud. 

Toad hanging out in my garden.


When the songs start, I know spring is coming. I took said songs as a sign to build a row cover / small hoop house. It's covered in 6 mil plastic for now, and when it heats up outside the plastic will be replaced with tulle.

I bought an outdoor thermometer to monitor the temperature, and it was 80*F under the cover. Our 10 day forecast is pretty mild, so I decided to take a chance and planted my swiss chard today. It has been hardening off for a little over 2 weeks.

5.5 week old swiss chard ready for the garden

The row cover - PVC frame covered in 6 mil plastic sheeting

One of the really cool things about chard is that the roots are the same color as the leaves.

Yellow swiss chard

My goal this year is to grow 500 pounds of food for my family. So far, I'm at 4 ounces (I harvested my basil plants for a lasagna). I have 16 chard plants under the row cover, and sowed spinach, arugula, and radishes.

Swiss chard planted

Do you like swiss chard? Is the weather hospitable enough for you to get gardening?


Thanks, Phil!

Phil the Groundhog did not see his shadow this morning, which supposedly means that spring is going to be early this year. I'm going to ignore the fact that Phil has been wrong 61% of the time. I'm beyond ready for spring to get here. I'm longing to get my hands dirty and to eat my first tomato of the season.

Today also happens to be Imbolc, which is the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. So to celebrate, I started sweet potato slips.

This is the first year I'm trying sweet potatoes. I discovered a fantastic tutorial on starting them (as well as an overall awesome blog) called Outlaw Garden. We're practically neighbors, though she is in zone 7a and I'm in zone 7b. I feel the same way about my HOA that she does about hers. One of the covenants out here says you can't plant more than 10% of your property with edible food. I'll plant what I darn well please, thankyouverymuch. I'm a firm believer that our lives (as a whole) would be much better if we went back to the days of the Victory Garden

I purchased a bag of organic sweet potatoes before Christmas for Christmas dinner. I didn't use all of them, and they've just been hanging out in my pantry. When I read on her blog that I didn't need anything fancy to start sweet potato slips, I decided to give it a try.

Per the instructions, I cut the healthiest looking one in half and put it in a glass dish, cut side down.

After a few weeks, these will supposedly start growing slips. In the meantime, I roasted a couple out of the bag for lunch. Topped with butter, salt and pepper = nom.

In other gardening news, the broccoli is doing really well. It's about 2 weeks old, and will be going into the garden in another couple weeks.

I have a gardening complex that removes any and all patience. So I poke my seeds a lot to see if they've germinated, and today (2 days post sowing) I noticed my giant marconi pepper seeds are starting to sprout. Because I'm aware that normal people don't poke their seeds a billion times, I've put a green arrow pointing at the beginning of the sprout. Then I tucked the seed back in.

I saved the sad news for last. My peas didn't make it. *cries* I put them in during a pretty warm spell, and then we got the coldest temperatures we've had over the past several years. Down into the very low teens, which they just didn't like. So note to self - don't plant peas in January. (I'm sure I'll forget all about that next year, and plant them anyway.) I'll drop some more seed in the next week or two.

Don't forget to stop by the shop - I'm having a 20% off sale for Easter! Use code EASTER13 for 20% off all orders.