Friday, February 26, 2010

Help With Blotanical Picks

Alrighty, since everyone seems to be going through major pick withdrawl because they can't do it the usual way on Blotanical, here's an alternative that should work while Stuart is busy kicking the servers :)

Sign in to Blotanical
Go to 'My Plot'
On the left, 'visit a blotanist' or 'visit a blogger' - pick whoever you're looking for.
When you get to their plot, click on 'MyBlogs'
The latest post will be at the bottom in blue.

If you right click on the blue link and open in new tab/window (whichever you prefer) you can just close it out after picking (or not) and go back to the left list of 'visit a blotanist' or 'visit a blogger' without losing where you were.

Sounds complicated, but it really isn't. Besides, it's a really good way to discover some new blogs you wouldn't have known about otherwise!
Oh, and you can always click on the person (upper left in blue under how many picks for that post) that picked that post before you and see if you'd like to pick their post. A nice circle!

Happy (picking) Growing!

One Ingredient Ice Cream

Besides the fact that I absolutely hate ice cream, I was kind of skeptical that this would work when I first read about it, but then we gave it a try.

It's magic! One minute it's just crumbs and suddenly, Whamo!, it's ice cream!

Instructions are here: One Ingredient Ice Cream

Try it, you'll be surprised.
What's better than guilt-free ice cream? I bet it'd be even better with pureed strawberries slathered on top.

And everyone likes it - including me! Getting someone who hates ice cream to actually like it is quite an accomplishment.

Happy (ice cream ingredient) Growing!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Plant A-Head!

I was doing my daily Stumble through (Oh, how I love that site!) of garden sites, and came across something very, very cool:

Check this pic out - (Linky cause I didn't want to be accused of stealing the pic, especially since it comes from a TV channel that I absolutely loath): Planted Heads

I know it's not a new idea, but I still find them totally cool.
I need to find some heads . . .

Happy (new garden hairdo) Growing!

Winter Robins & Icey Beauty

I was rather jealous of Flighty when he posted about his robins on the 21st.
I hadn't seen mine since December and was missing them.

People think they're strictly summer birds that leave for warmer parts in fall and return come spring, but this isn't completely true.
Though solitary birds most of the time, those that choose to stay around for the winter, mostly juveniles, will flock together and show up periodically through the winter months.

Even though there were about 50 of them in my yard, I wasn't as lucky as Flighty to get a good closeup shot, but I did manage to click a couple of one of them,


until he noticed me.


They are shy birds most of the time, but I've found that in winter they are overly skittish. I don't blame them since it's a lot harder to hide in all this winter bareness.

Since I had the camera out and the sun peeked out for a few moments, I thought I'd take some pics of these beautiful sparkling gems . . .


(I don't know what happened when I took this one, but it looks cool)


This is my favorite-


Although I am terribly sick of all this snow (another 10 inches coming today) there is still so much beauty out there it might not be all that bad. Yeah, I'm fibbing - winter still stinks!

Happy (winter beauty) Growing!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When to Start Seeds

I get a lot of search hits about 'when to start seeds', but new gardeners inevitably end up at a post I did two years ago, Don't Make Seed Starting So Complicated. That post might help on the how, but doesn't give them a darn thing about when.

I guess it's time to help out with the 'when' to start those seeds.

First, the one thing you must know is when the last and first frost dates are for your area. This post should help out with that.

Mother Nature doesn't always work around those dates. Recently, it has been a very rare year when she does. But, the least you can do is give it a try and maybe she'll decide to look at a calendar this year.

Instead of giving a long list of what to start, since everyone is in different areas of the country, and even different countries altogether, I'm going to show you something that is so simple it's ridiculous. (yeah, it's one of those 'why didn't I think of that!' things). And the best part is that it will work no matter what part of the country, or world, you live in!

It's called The Grow Guide* and it looks like this when you first get there:


It's ridiculously easy to use.
First, pick your growing season. At this time of the year it's going to be spring. It also works great for planning that fall garden come summer time - just change the season to 'fall' and switch the planning date. But, right now, we're only going to deal with the spring garden.
Select a planning date. If you leave it as is, it will automatically pick today's date.
Next, simply pick your first and last frost dates and click 'process my grow guide data'.

Since there is nothing planned for me right now and I wouldn't have had anything to show you but a blank chart, I moved the 'planning date' forward and this is what comes up for the week of March 8th based on my own first and last frost dates:


One of the best things about this program is that you can keep moving the dates forward so you know in advance what you'll be sowing weeks ahead of time. I click through from week to week and transfer the sowing dates to paper. This way I have the entire sowing season at my fingertips.

One of the great things about this planner is that it not only shows you when to start what seeds inside, but also outside, when to start hardening and when to transplant. This is my result for moving the planning date to my last frost date of May 31:


The rest of the Weekend Gardener website is equally awesome. You can find seed starting info where "One page is devoted to each vegetable, flower, or herb seed."

This is just some of the info you'll get if you click 'broccoli':

About This Plant...
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus and species: Brassica oleracea (Botrytis group)
Growing Season: spring and fall
Indoor Sowing...
Time needed to reach transplant size: 6-8 weeks
When to transplant to garden: 4 weeks before to 2 weeks after last spring frost
Outdoor Sowing...
When to sow outdoors: 4 weeks before last spring frost
Other Sowing Guidelines...
Approx. germination time: 4-20 days
Germination temp.: 45-85 degrees F.
Sowing depth: 1/4 inch
Days to maturity: 50-80 days from transplant

So, if you have questions about when you should be starting vegetable seeds, I hope you'll give the Grow Guide a try. It's easy and fun and isn't that what gardening is suppose to be?
And, of course, if you don't want to bother with all that starting seeds inside thing, there's always my biggest obsession: WinterSowing! (seeds started in recycled containers outside in the snow)

Happy (when to start seeds) Growing!

*I am, in now way, affiliated with the Grow Guide or Weekend Gardener. I just think it's an awesome program and equally awesome website for both new and experienced growers.

The Tuesday Chuckle

A man walks into a flower shop "I'd like some flowers please."

"Certainly, Sir. What did you have in mind?"

He shrugs "Well I'm not sure, I uh, I uh, I uh..."

"Perhaps I could help. What exactly have you done?"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Community Garden Resistance

I've been following the story of this proposed community garden for a while.

Rivals Dig in as Public Garden Plan Divides.

I still don't understand the resistance, or rather, I don't understand their reasoning.

"On one side of the fence are those who want to turn a corner of the Hardy Gallagher Reserve into a community garden, with 60 plots leased to people to grow vegetables.

On the other are those who fiercely oppose the alienation of public parkland for a select group. Mr Fraser said opponents were not concerned about the idea of a community garden, rather the suggested location and the fact that 1600 square metres would be fenced off. "

But, later in the article they say - "The reserve has already lost an area to parking, a bocce court and a large children's playground."

That means there have already been sections partitioned off to select groups. So, that statement doesn't hold water.

"Chris Fraser says losing part of the park is untenable given that space in inner city areas is so precious."

Doesn't it make that even more of a reason to use that space for something useful - like letting people grow food? Because, yeah, bocce is more important than sustenance.

Mr Fraser also said, "Vegetable gardens don't look the best when they start to go to seed.''

Ummm, what does that have to do with anything and why is he assuming the plot holders would let them go to seed? Or is that just a nice way of saying 'they won't keep up on maintenance and weed the dang things'?

Negotiating has been going on for 20 months. Do they have any idea how much food these people could have grown in those 20 months?!

The whole round and round is simply maddening. And the resistance seems pointless.
I think they need to think up some better reasons to keep saying no.

Happy (plot) Growing!