Saturday, April 30, 2011

And the hardening off begins....

 I started hardening off my plants today.  I have put them on the east facing porch of the house.  It is terribly windy here today, but I think that they will be okay.  They don't seem to be getting blown around too much.
The 5 flats on the right are all tomatoes.  I have given some away already.  I usually plant 40 plants, have reserved some for a neighbor, and think that the rest will probably go out on a table in the front yard for sale.
This is my "mystery" flat.  When these were just starting to germinate, I tipped the container over, and ended up with a heap of dirt and seeds and no way of telling what plants and seeds were which.  My prized Black Krims were in this mess.  I just dumped everything back into the pot, replanted the four plants that had sprouted, and hoped for the best.  They did well.  Any guesses as to which is which?  The choices are:  Black Krim, Amish Paste, Juliet, Jelly Bean, and Marcellino.  Unfortunately, they all look the same.  :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Morel mushrooms

 After a dry mushroom year last year....we literally didn't see a single mushroom...Bill brought home this bunch.  From the posts on my friend's facebook pages, this looks like it is a better year.  I have heard that when the lilacs bloom, that the mushrooms are also out.  It has proved true this year.  A good rule of thumb to remember...
No, these are no low cal snack!  Dipped in egg and crushed cracker crumbs, then fried in real butter.  Paula Dean would be proud!  They tasted wonderful.  It is probably a good thing that there weren't more of them to eat.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Eve

My messy potting area.  I pot plants about as neatly as I cook, but I have been told that I am a good cook, so how about a messy gardener is a good gardener?  :)
My seedlings under the lights.  I have repurposed a lot of yogurt containers this year.  The bottom row in the picture on the left are my many, many tomato plants.  Not all of my varieties germinated this year, but what did grew well.  The picture on the right are the tomatoes.  They look small, but when I pot them up into bigger containers, I plant them deep which encourages a better root system.  They will be bigger again in no time.
 I usually don't leave my seedlings on the heat mat once they have germinated, but the peppers seem to be growing so slowly that I thought a little extra heat might be helpful.  The temperature in my shed is low to mid 60's so it can't hurt.
The lilacs are starting to bloom.  We are fortunate to have a hedge of lilac across most of the back of our property.  The scent in the spring is awesome.  The rule of thumb around here is that when the lilacs bloom, the morel mushrooms are also out.  We haven't mushroom hunted yet this year, but people are starting to find them.  Yum!

The maple tree is full of seeds this year....all I see are all the baby maples sprouting in the flower beds.  :(

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Potting "up"

It has been a crazy time around this house for the past month or so, and I feel like my time in the potting shed is so limited.  I was able to get out there for a bit on Sunday and transplanted my pepper seedlings and some of my tomatoes into bigger pots AKA potting up. 
Many of the peppers did not sprout which was disappointing.  I do have Sweet Chocolate, Big Dipper, and Pepperoncini plants though.  The tomatoes are doing very well.  I am thinking of selling some of the plants this year since I have so many.  I have never sold any of my plants before.  I love being able to share them with friends and family.  I believe that I might be able to sell them to strangers though.  A bit of extra spending money...  :)
I didn't get my Sunday growing and blooming picture updates taken either.  I guess that I will just have to say I missed a week.  It wasn't for lack of thought and wanting to....just a lack of time to do it justice.
Hang in there...more pics will come soon. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Weed killing and infestation update

Yesterday commenced the first grass moving of the year.  When you have two hounds that daily "fertilize" your backyard, things tend to get a bit clumpy out there.  :)  I also broke my own rule about non organic weed killers and fertilizers this year.  My husband goes so far as to personally cut out dandelions as they appear.  We usually just aerate and overseed as needed.  Over the years, the crabgrass and clover has gotten WAY out of hand!  Walk in our yard and you run a high risk of getting stung by all the busy bees gathering pollen from the clover flowers.  Well, this year I am taking action.  Bill applied the crabgrass killer....sorry earthworms....and the weed killer is coming next.  The downfall to all of this is that once we kill the bad stuff, there will be a lot of bare areas that will need to be seeded and will not be able to for quite a period of time.  This will be a challenge because weeds love to grow on bare areas of soil!
I checked my seedlings this morning and the infestation seems to be better and the plants are looking much healthier.  Thank goodness...I was getting worried. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Seedling update and spring blooms

Ah....spring is certainly here.  Even if there is a chance of a rain/snow mix Friday night. 
I heard a frog "singing" outside my dining room window last evening.  The frogs always make me think spring.

Toward the end of this winter, I started to have problems with an infestation of my Gerbera daisies.  I thought that I had that problem under control.  Seems that I was wrong.  I went to check on my seedlings tonight and found that my little seedlings were literally being sucked dry.  The tomatoes were wilting.  I am very protective of my seedlings since I grow varieties that I cannot find at the neighborhood nursery and losing seedlings corresponds to losing a harvest.  I sprayed them with my Ortho spray and now am hoping for the best.

The warm temperatures of the last couple days have really caused things to bud, blossom, and grow. 
(L) Maple seeds AKA helicopters :)  (R) Cherry blossom

(L) More cherry blossoms - I'll bet the birds can hardly wait!  I hope to outsmart them.  (R) Spider on PJM Rhododendron

(L) The peony on east side of house is sprouting much slower than the one on the south side.  This one was from a friend and is supposed to have pink flowers.  My south side peony is knee high now and will have white blooms.  (R)  Peach blossom.  This is the first year that our two peach trees have bloomed.  I am hoping for peaches this year.

(L)  Additional peach blossoms  (R) Lilacs

Tulips - they seem to have much smaller flowers this year.  They also appear to have been frost bitten as pictured on the left.

Grape hyacinths - these always remind me of our dear neighbors from the first house that we lived in when we first got married.  They grew these.  I think of Ken and Edna everytime I see these.
Dwarf Fothergilla - their blooms resemble a bottle brush

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spouting seeds

The seeds are sprouting very well. Yes, they do look crowded, but I purposely planted them like that. Once they get a set or two of true leaves, I will transplant them into their own cups. I really wasn't sure how well they would germinate.  The alyssum sprouted very quickly.  I am definitely a fan of heat mats.
 Pictured above are alyssum, broccoli and several varieties of tomatoes.
 Above-Various tomatoes, broccoli and a couple pepperoncini plants just starting to emerge. Note the leaning broccoli.  They were on the edge of the flat and leaning toward the light.  I keep the florescents directly over the flats, but the plants on the edge have to be rotated to the middle to keep them happy.  It doesn't take long at all for them to start their lean.
 There is a story to this set of cells.  I was moving the cells that had sprouted out of the covered flats so they could get air and this group dumped upside down like a slice of buttered bread.  I was sick!  There were so many varieties of tomatoes in here and no way to tell what was what.  I salvaged the seedlings that I could and just scooped the soil back into the container, replanted the seedlings, and hoping for the best.  My beloved Black Krim tomatoes were in this bunch.  Note the markers all bunched together.  These seedlings could be any of these types of tomato.  If they make it, I will have a surprise.
 Sweet William sprouts
Coleus and one salvia sprout.