Showing posts from April, 2011

Basics on Composting & The Benefits of Compost Tea

This past winter we discovered compost tea.  I have to admit, when I first heard of it my very first thought was "OOOHH GROSS!"  After a bit of research though and hearing lots of good things about it, I decided to give it a try.  So I went to Youtube like I almost always do to scout out people who are familiar with it.  I was lucky enough to almost immediately find this video from Ray at Youtube.
So starting February we purchased a bucket from Lowes and kept any vegetable or fruit scraps and threw it in there.  We actually kept it inside for a bit but it started to stink come March so we brought it outside.  It takes a bit longer for the compost to actually breakdown in the cooler temperatures but we figured that would just be the price we would have to pay for an UNstinky house!  Little did I know at the time that the extreme smell was due in part to too much nitrogen remains and not enough carbon. Here is a list of high carbon items that can be composted. Ashes, wood Cardboa…

New plantings, loads of work

Wow!  I mean really WOW.  My feet are so sore, my legs hurt but a quick look outdoors at how things are going makes me feel better!
This weekend we planted:
dill(3 varieties Bouquet, Dukat, and Mammoth),
tomatoes(in the ground)
eggplant (a cheat!  We purchased some ichiban, a personal favorite for stir fry)
Bell pepper (another cheat, simply because we're afraid of our own not growing enough to plant and produce later)
Sweet alyssum (cheated because there is no way I would have the room to start this!)
Marina di Chioggia (now in the ground.  Please I hope they like it there! Pictures following in a moment)
Marigolds(cheated simply for that instant gratification of seeing our front yard look pretty.  Sorry, couldn't help it.  Along with the marina di chioggia pictures soon to follow)
Our Salad bed (Bed 1) is going great~  Upfront you can see spring onions(all planted via the the method I posted earlier)  Regular onions that we're doing the same process as the…

Potatoes planted, backyard beds now complete and other updates

Today we planned to run to the gym since we haven't been there in decades however after breakfast we began talking about all that needed to be done with the yard, then we got caught up planting, cleaning up, etc so we never actually made it to the gym.
Good news is that we got loads done!!!  Early this morning we took some advice from Ray at Youtube.
Well that then led to our desire to work a bit outdoors to clean up after the lovely storm we had yesterday.  Let me just say, I never, ever want to work out there again in flip flops in the cold, wet mud.  My feet were FROZEN!
After an hours worth of work we decided to head on out to Walmart in search of chicken wire for our potatoes(see further down for instructions on that!  A new modified way to grow potatoes, much like a potato condo!)
Walmart didn't exactly have everything we needed however my husband treated me to a brand new set of rubber galoshes!  Let me just say working out there in the mud does NOT faze me now!  No m…

Sad News

Well I really feel horrible to say this but my tomatoes and some of my pepper seedlings have died.  I think in the end it was the cooler temperatures that I subjected them to one day and then over watering.  Plain and simple.  The plants that have started coming back I haven't watered at all for about 2 weeks, if you can believe that!
I still have some of my bell peppers, my chili peppers, two different eggplants, and one single lonely Mortgage lifter tomato plant.  Luckily enough the things like the winter squash, the summer squash, and some of the pea/bean plants are still alive.
Unfortunately my artichokes bit the dust when I transplanted them outdoors.  So a lot of not so good news. 
I think it boils down to me making the newbie mistake of watering like mad and thinking I needed to keep them really moist to make them grow. 
Next big hurdle seems to be how to get the small seedlings to start actually growing bigger!  They're so darn small.  The only thing that is growing…

Soil Testing

Today after a bit of work outside we decided to test our soil again.  Last year our soil quality was really miserable.  Only thing that would even grow in the yard was moss and slugs.  We planted a mixture of tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and squash.  The squash never really produced much other than lots of flowers, which was neat anyways as I made fried squash blossoms with cheese inside.  Super yummy! Here's a link to a blog discussing how to make this yummy treat!
The tomatoes only produced AFTER we had put them in large containers, which left the eggplants and cucumbers which were our star performers.  We were swimming in cucumbers which we loved thoroughly!
So here are the results.
PH has most definitely gone up dramatically!  Our soil last year was very acidic.  Now it's turned more alkaline.  Nitrogen is pretty low as is Phosphorous.  Potash is getting better now.
To combat the Nitrogen and higher alkaline levels we plan to take our used coffee grounds and throw them…

Seed Saving & Mail Day!

A while ago I posted a blog on Seed Saving where I shared my own idea of storing seeds.  Well imagine how surprised I was when I found that Walmart sells the exact type of container that I wanted to use.
So, since they were so cheap(aka affordable) I picked up two of them up.
I labeled each container by number so that I can always switch things around later when I run out of one type of seed and replace it with another.  Next I just made up a list or legend that tells me what number container has what type of seed.  Too easy!

I did find that the bigger seeds don't fit into the larger containers (the larger ones have small screw top lids that fit about 5 of the larger type of seed.  No good) so I found a type of container that has larger storage areas.  Then I just numbered that and again, made up a legend.  Done!
Takes up so much less room than before.  I've also swiped some of those little moisture control packets that you often find in shoe packages or sometimes in medicine…

Status of the onions, more lessons learned, etc

First the wonderful news!  Remember the onion from the blog entry "You learn something new everyday".  I planted the bottom of a green onion (also called a scallion) and discovered it would grow.  Well this is how it's doing now!
So it appears that not only is this possible to do, but it's easy as pie, and the onions grow superfast!  I can see no more buying green onions in my future!!!As you can see I now have four onions planted in that one cup and I just keep adding as I go along.  Later this Spring I intend to move this little bunch out to the garden in our Salad bed.
I have this experiment also going on with leeks currently.  The growth is a tad bit slower but I do see some progress.  These will most likely be going in Bed 2 which also houses currently our Swiss Chard and will also contain some carrots, Red Russian Kale, and various types of peas and beans.

Now, I have to report the sad news that a good portion of our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and a few other…