Thursday, December 31, 2009


I started to incorporate my garden stuff into my other, family-ish blog.

BUT now that the seed catalogs have started coming in, I'm all excited anew to get cracking on planning my 2010 garden!!!

I'm planning to do a lot more vertical planting, and definitely want to try to grow grapes, too. I want to put a playhouse for my girls in the back corner of the garden (I use planter boxes for square foot gardening) so we'll see how that goes, too.

What are you going to grow next year?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

September already?!

How can it be September?

If you're in the Chicago area, you know that our summer was, well, let's say atypical at best. Some of my plants that really love the hot suffered as we had some nice 90 degree days in June, and then spent most of July below 83 degrees. And rainy. Blech.

I have not planted some of the things I wanted to get going for fall, but I'm going to give it a whirl anyway, even though it is kind of late, and hope that we'll just get some late summer weather that'll be conducive to a longer growing season.

Here's some random items from the garden - I've been super neglectful on posting on here this summer.

The onions:

Onions came up a little on the small side. A friend told me that if you step on the green as it comes up, they'll get bigger (energy will go to growing the bulb instead of the greens). Any thoughts on this? Makes sense to me, and I'm going to try it with the ones that I planted for fall
Onions drying in the garage

In other news, we had a pretty phallic summer over here, too. It was our first year growing zucchini, and man, I GET THE JOKES NOW about having too much. Good grief. I have bags of shredded/grated zucchini in the freezer so I can use it off-season to make zucchini bread, etc. Cucumbers started off strong, and I am not sure if it is the weather or how I had them set to grow that failed me, but they've not been producing - tons of leaves and vines, but very very few cucumbers.
I grew them vertically up a trellis of chicken wire, and put a "roof" on top for them to grow on, too. I had visions of cucumbers growing off that and just dangling from the roof for us to grab. That has not panned out. Dang. Making me rethink my idea for next year which involved growing cukes in two separate boxes and putting a canopy like that between two trellises to make a covered walkway between the garden boxes.

One day, my older daughter Charlotte and I looked over the fence and saw this: Yep, volunteer cherry tomato plants. I will admit to occasionally tossing overripe tomatoes over the fence. It's not very mature, or, I guess, neighborly, but it is the library's property and I certainly didn't think anything would grow (the terrain is rocky. Like landscaping rocks.) but I WAS WRONG. The nice thing is, we are getting a kick out of having these extra plants to harvest from (there's some on the side of the house, too, where I have never tossed a tomato, so we know that birds and the like are involved in this, too.) and my girls get to learn how nature really works - plants growing because of animals bringing seeds to different locations, etc.

Corn! I agree with people that corn is not worth the space it takes up. And with the abundance of local growers at roadside stands and farmers markets, there is no reason to grow corn. EXCEPT that it is fun to watch grow, to see if it is really going to be "knee high by July," and to finally harvest it. Plus we have the stalks ready to go for fall/Hallowe'en decorating. So I think it'll make an appearance in coming years.

Bush beans have continued to ROCK in our garden. I have so many in the freezer right now, it isn't even funny. Plus we've been enjoying them at meals every couple days. My brother, raised on canned green beans (soggy, metallic flavor tinge, etc.), has hated green beans with a passion. He gave our crisp, fresh, delicious garden fresh beans a try, and he's a convert! Amazing!

My first batch of peppers tanked. I didn't water enough (I rarely water, I like to see what Nature can do for us. Oh, and I'm awfully lazy) and the cool weather sucked the life out of them. In July or August, I purchased more pepper plants to toss into the garden, and coddled them a bit...we had some hot weather, and BOOM goes the peppers. Hurrah! (FINALLY!)

Finally, the carrots. Oh dear God, the carrots. Every couple years I get a wild hair to grow carrots. We love them! We all eat them! Let's grow 'em!
But the vigilance to make them grow up right...I can only commit that kind of dedication to raising my kids. Thinning them out to prevent overcrowding is not my thing (um, that's why we only have 2 kids, too) so I end up with this gnarled insane gross mess:

I put one in Char's lunchbox to freak her out at lunchtime. She came home and said it was really weird and no, no one liked it in there at all. Kids have no sense of humor.
Anyway, they were still tasty enough, so I grated 'em and froze em for off-season use.

I don't know why my pictures are all tiny, so sorry about that. That's kind of the summary of summer stuff. I've been canning tomato sauce made with cherry tomatoes for the past few weeks and have about 7 pints in the pantry now. Making it with the cherry tomatoes has been a colossal pain in the ass, but what're you going to do? I've been adding in our little yellow pear tomatoes and they make for a really nice sauce.

Happy growing!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Garden in July - the hits

So yeah, I had some missteps. And that is just the veggie garden! Not touching the flowers and such! Here are some of the more promising developments in the ol' garden.

1) I like the square foot gardening method. The boxes are attractive and orderly, and some day, when I get my act together, the garden will be a little more like a retreat kind of place. I'm a fan.

2) We have about 8 tomato plants, in two boxes. One box is producing a lot more ripe fruit than the other, mostly grape and cherry tomatoes, but now the Black Krims are coming in (as of today) - cannot wait to try them!

3) Broccoli - We are so happy that we grow broccoli. It grew nicely this year, though a couple times we missed our harvest time and they started to get flowers/bolt/whatever you call it before we could get to it. Dang.

4) Lettuce - From May on, we've enjoyed salad after salad after salad. Right now, our romaine is all done, but we're enjoying some soft, loose leaf type lettuce pretty regularly. Yum!

5) Cabbage - First year growing it, and so far so good. Harvested one head, made a slaw, it was good!

6) Sugar Snap Peas - First year, again, and delish!!! Loved picking 'em right off the vine and popping out the peas and noshing on 'em. Mmm.

7) Bush Beans - Just about the only thing we grew from seed that grew well. I have blanched and frozen tons of the beans (and broccoli) for use in the fall/winter. We used a lot for dinners, and they taste so much better when you eat them 10 feet away from where you picked them!

8) Random structures - As my small wire "supports" became epic FAILS, I started hauling through the random pieces of wood in the garage rafters and constructing more stable supports for tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. They are totally hillbilly rigged, with twine and chicken wire accents, but they do the job nicely. I think when fall comes I'll start making more permanent structures for next year. Maybe starting it in the fall will keep my memory fresh as to JUST HOW HUGE tomatoes, zucchini, etc. get! Looking at the pictures, maybe they should be back in the MISSES post! But they are getting it done.

Tomatoes before supports
Tomato support structure 1
Hey, it was all random wood from the rafters, it ain't pretty!
Ahh, the cucumber cage. Someone said it looks like a jail. I guess the chicken wire resembles barbed wire a bit.

The structure I WAS actually proud of was my strawberry pyramid (also from scrap wood in the garage). However, it took a beating from the dog (see misses).

9) Onions - We've had tons. None of them are getting HUGE like the ones you'd buy at the store. I've been picking them for green onion use, and some of the smaller bulbed ones for burgers and cooking. Is it because SFG doesn't go deep enough for them to really settle in and get huge? I really wanted to dry some, too. They are delish, though!

10) Raspberries - OH MY GOSH - they grew out of control in the spring. Canes sprouted up EVERYWHERE and we just kind of ran with it. Cut down a whole bunch of them, let a whole bunch more stay where they were, and have been munching on tasty raspberries all summer, just about. It seems like production is dying down a little, not sure if it is because we just had a huge storm, or just end of season for them. But I've been loving picking it straight from the plant and popping 'em in my mouth - the kids have, too!

Anyway, though I don't think the harvest numbers are anywhere near impressive enough to say "oh, we saved a ton by growing our own veggies this summer" I have still kept somewhat track of what we've yielded. Obviously some stuff didn't get weighed (especially berries, as they were just munched outside!). Here's the rundown (in pounds):

Lettuce: 5.05 (We didn't weigh all of it in the early harvesting days of May)
Strawberries: 1 (that made it into the house for weighing)
Raspberries: 1.05 (ditto to above)
Broccoli: 4.58
Beans: 2.22
Sugar Snap Peas: 1.15 (see strawberry and raspberry thing)
Tomatoes (Grape): 1.38
Tomatoes (Cherry): 1.54
Tomatoes (Black Krim): 1.3
Tomatoes (Yellow): 1.10 (That was just one tomato!)
Onions: 2.14
Cabbage: 1.25
Cucumbers: 2.09
Zucchini: 2.66

I thought I saw, at some point, a counter widget for blogs that you could use to track your harvest...anyone know where I can find that?

How is YOUR garden growing?

Garden in July - the misses

As always, a garden has certain wild card elements. Some in my control, some out of my control. This year is no different.

Here are some of the issues I've faced this season:

1) Compost heap: I had a dream. A dream of compost piles in the back corner of the yard. No tumbler, just heaps. And then the ugly rodent situation reared its ugly little head again, and I ditched that idea. Not ditched it, but put it on hold until I can get a tumbler.

2) Rain barrels: After getting all excited because our water reclamation center was selling them, I didn't buy 'em. A friend said he had old clean barrels I could have, and then we didn't hang out for awhile, kind of forgot, and then each time it rained I just got pissed as I remembered I wanted rain barrels.

3) Cauliflower: There was some mildewy yuk on the heads when they started to come up, and after cutting it back and waiting for new heads to come up, they didn't really co me up. I pulled it up to clear space for peppers (see #6)

4) Broccolini and Broccoli Raab: Neither grew well. Spindly and didn't really look "right" - a real shame as my grocery store no longer carries broccolini and we miss it. Horribly.

5) Supports: So I thought that the metal square cages - you know the ones? They can fold flat, but they can be put like a long fence, or folded into squares around plants? Anyway, thought I was all slick, used those along the back of my boxes to support tomatoes. How do I have the selective memory that allows me to forget HOW DAMN HEAVY tomatoes get??? Every year I forget. Anyway, they were obviously not strong enough to support my plants and I had to modify my plans and rig something up. Ghetto, but functional. See upcoming "HITS" post to see the pics. Maybe it should be in "MISSES" - you be the judge!

6) Zucchini takes up a LOT of space. As does watermelon. And butternut squash. And if you think you can shove a bunch of any of these in a 4x4 box, and try to slip something else in there...just don't. I had peppers planted in the back box with a variety of HUGE things, and ended up transplanting them to other boxes. They weren't really thriving where they were (I had them in a couple boxes) and they seem to have perked up a bit since being transplanted.

7) I guess my strawberries were mostly June-bearing. What a gyp. Great for those few weeks, and now we're strawberry-less. Sigh. Will have to remedy that next year. Also, my beautiful strawberry pyramid that I fashioned out of spare wood in the garage rafters? Yeah. Almost entirely dug into by THAT DANG DOG. In fairness, it was in her fervored pursuit of the rodents mentioned above, so I had a hard time being too angry. But it still sucked.

8) Square foot gardening is both boon and bane. Love it in so many ways. However, was lulled into thinking that with the landscape fabric underneath, there would be minimal weeding. DUH except for the ones that come from airborne sources. Or sneak over from the lawn. DUH, Amy.

9) I need to get things in order. As usual, I let things go, and have great ideas on paper at the beginning of the season, and then...well, life happens and I have half finished projects all over the place and that happened in the garden, too. I put in a brick pathway between two of the front boxes. Um...I am not good at this. I am going to get a pretty wood sign to put over it that reads "Ankle Breaker" in another language. It's a bit uneven, and not super great, but I am still proud of it. Ish.

Stay tuned for the "Hits"...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Garden pics - June 14th

Here's some pics from today showing the garden progress this season...

Following are the issues I'm facing and concerns:

1) Cauliflower has a black weirdness on top of the head. Looks like dirt/dust, but doesn't wipe off easily
2) Mini-roses have black spots on the leaves. I'm actually not too concerned about that
3) Honeysuckle smells great, but isn't really filling out/growing as much as I had hoped
4) We had one little hot pepper, and something swiped it/ate it. Our peppers in the same box as tomatoes seem to be slow to grow, and I realize they have huge tomato plants in the next row, but the tomatoes are at the north end of the box
5) The compost heap...Sigh. I need to get cracking on this, closing it off and really dedicating myself to it and getting it going
6)Corn is already knee high, and it isn't July! Just waiting for it to bring some horrible pests to the garden at large
7) Our herbs are not taking off as well as they have in the past. I guess when a 70 degree high is a HOT day in June, it could stump some of our herbs, but I really thought I'd have a ridiculous amount of basil by now. Not so much
8) Does anyone know where I can find the widget-or-whatever-you-call-it that tracks how much produce you're harvesting throughout the season?

Harvested almost 2 pounds of lettuce today, and half a pound of strawberries (awesome in comparison to the fact that we yielded about 3 strawberries - TOTAL - in 2008).

A friend of ours gave me a new water canning pot and a case of mason jars and lids to prepare me for the fall harvest and canning season. I'm going to be making some sauce this week to jam through the rest of the tomatoes I canned last summer.

How does YOUR garden grow???

Thursday, June 11, 2009


So I marked off my little area in the back of the yard/garden for where I'm going to put the compost pile. But I haven't yet put up the pallets for walls. Which I think I need to do lest critters come about to nibble on our fruit remnants.

And I didn't yet purchase my kitchen composter, but decided to start collecting anyway. So whenever I'm cutting fruit, cracking eggs, or peeling potatoes, I toss the remains into a flower vase that has been sitting on the kitchen counter for a month (I had flowers in it, at some point...Mothers Day maybe? and I washed it, and never got around to bringing it downstairs to put away). I should snap a pic of my hillbilly kitchen composter, filled to the brim with stuff. So far, no fruit flies or stink, so I'll go with it. I do enjoy that there's some sweet nasty liquid at the bottom!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Garden update - May 22, 2009

Dinner tonight: Grilled southwest chicken salad. All the lettuce freshly cut from the garden. Dressing made with chives and parsley from the garden.

Nothing tastes better than eating the little guys that you've been watching grow from little seedlings.

I need to get one of those harvest tracker thing-ama-bobs because I'm meticulously weighing anything I cut/harvest from the garden (not herbs, but veggies, which has only been lettuce/greens thus far). I'm sure that will get hard to track once the tomatoes start up, as we pop so many little ones as a snack when hanging outside and just pick and give away over the fence.

Anyway, here's some pics from the past day or two of what's been shaking/developing. The lilacs finally bloomed - the scent is fantastic! We went from a late frost to mid to high 80 temperatures in the same week, and I think it took a minor toll on some of the plants, but all seem to be doing okay.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Green in the wrong kinda way...

Two of my friends who live up the block have an empty lot next to their house. Their father owns the empty lot, and they just put in a huge garden today. And when I say huge, I mean HUGE.

I am super jealous, and openly told them that. Their aunt and cousins were helping them put it in, and I think it is going to be more of a family kind of garden, but...did I mention it is HUGE? I swear it is bigger than my whole yard.

I can't believe I have garden envy like this. Sad, sad, sad.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Plea for Help

Ever get started looking for one little thing, and then you find a great forum, and then BOOM all of a sudden it is 3am and you still don't know if you can move your strawberries or how to do it, but you have about 8,000 new ideas for your garden and the wheels are turning because you're trying to think of where you can put this great new thing you just HAVE to grow?

Um, so it happened to me. OK, it's happened to me a lot. And it happened again last night. Sigh.

Anyway, in the week and a half since I last posted, a lot of stuff has started coming up and making itself known in the garden. Other stuff...not so much. I am doing a square foot gardening (kinda) thing, and still have two completely empty boxes, which is especially good since I always SUCK at succession planting and this way I will have some space to play around at the end of summer.

So here's the stuff I have questions on:
1) I gather that I cannot move my strawberries now (just planted them last year). However, is it okay for me to pluck out some of the daughter plants/runners that have rooted to transfer to a pyramid box set-up I'm building?

2) And if so....with the strawberry pyramid set up, I get the nesting doll thing with the box sizes. But do I fill the WHOLE bottom box with soil/compost/sand mix and then put the next box on top? I feel like that is wasting all that soil under the second box. I can't find a straight answer.

3) Is there a chance that the sunflower seeds I meticulously harvested from my rockin' flowers last summer/fall won't take this year? I planted a bunch today, and am now in fear that they won't grow for whatever reason and I'll be sunflower-less. I guess I can wait and see, but wonder if there are any odds for that kind of thing.

4) Our birdfeeder is currently right in the garden. We can move it with some effort, if we need to. Will the bird poop adversely affect the soil/plants? what about the leftover seed/feed that spills out? Just wonder if I need to move it for the benefit of the garden.

5) I want to start a compost pile. I'm thinking in the back of the yard, by the fence and the garden. I'm wondering if compost piles smell really bad. I know, I know, logic would dictate that they do. But just curious. I want it close to the garden, but don't want to have a stinky pile of compost spoiling my fake nature retreat.

6) Everyone's lilacs are blooming in town, except for mine. WTF? It is really annoying me as I cruise through town and smell the blooms, see everyone's pretty purple and white flowers, and come home to my shriveled looking whatever the heck is on there. Picture below, let me know if anyone has any insight.

Overview of them behind the swing. There are 4 bushes total.

Close up of the "blooms" - are they just not ready to burst open yet? Or is there something going on here?

Ditto to the above caption.

7) My raspberry canes, planted last summer, multiplied over the fall/spring. I pulled out a ton of the little scraggly ones, but some of the sturdier, thicker ones I have left. Will these become regular canes and produce fruit? The stalks aren't wood-like yet, like the canes I planted last year, but I am thinking this is just how these things work, right?


OK, so if anyone has any insight of any of these questions, I'd appreciate it!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Garden thus far...

So I've been taking advantage of the great weather we've been getting around here and planting some goodies in the garden.

I built a small cold frame using old windows and spare boards we had in the garage. Imagine my excitement as my little seedlings from my "Ghetto Greenhouses" made their way into the cold frame!! Imagine my joy as they seemed to be in the right place, some sunshine glowing in there, a little moisture building up!! Imagine my sorrow when I realized that I didn't pop it open on a warm day or two, and everything in there ROASTED. Sigh.

Also, a bunch of the seeds planted in ghetto greenhouses didn't sprout. Another sigh.

BUT...that's why we have garden centers with people you like running the show. Even though I now feel like a cheater. And even though I put in a lot of effort on those babies. Oh well. We will still have produce this season, by hook or by crook, and I planted a bunch of seeds directly into the garden boxes.

Also, I am giving the "Square Foot Gardening" method a whirl, but with some modifications. I built all the boxes and grids. Went out to buy the materials for the "Mel's Mix" and realized I'd have to sell my first born to fill every box with it, so I poked around on the internet and came up with some alternatives for Mel's Mix using compost, soil, some peat moss, and ran with it. Fingers crossed that it'll work out well enough.'s the play by play on what is planted. Frankly, I am just so damn excited to see GREEN happening all over the yard, I'm in a great mood every time I walk out there!!

Overview of the garden area (aka the back third of the yard)
Lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, rapini, broccolini
Chives & garlic chives in the mini-barrel, peas, beans, lettuce
Tomatoes, peppers (hot and bell), bush beans
Middle left - onions, leeks, celery, tomatoes. Middle middle - cucumbers. Back row - empty. Smaller box to the left - potatoes. Herbs in the pots (rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender).
Raspberries and hyacinths (which blossomed today and smell amazing! And the cold frame of doom.
Strawberry patch. I'm building a pyramid box, and am unsure if I can move them at this stage or if I have to wait until next season? Thoughts?
Cherry Tree!!! and butterfly garden in the background.
I think this is the salvia from last year. And I planted a few snapdragons to get some color in there now.
Lilacs are nice and green, can't wait for them to blossom so I can smell them as I lounge on my swing!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Garden 2009: State of the Yard/Garden

Well, today was a very busy day for the fam. Hubs hauled through the garage and set up our new workbench while I built 4x4 raised bed boxes for the garden.

* We're going to proceed with some Square Foot Gardening this season and hope it will be successful for us, with less fuss and muss and more yield in the end. After poring through Mel Bartholomew's book, I decided to do some advance work on locating vermiculite, which I had been unable to find at our Menards/Home Depot over the past few weeks, at least not in large bags. Thankfully, I found out that Wannemakers (Downers Grove) carries it in large bags, so when I'm ready, I'll be heading there to pick it up for my "Mel's Mix" for the beds.

* I'm definitely not a crafts(wo)man by any stretch. Considering the "horses" I used to cut the wood are actually, um, two patio chairs, I'm impressed anything got done at all. So I've made four 4x4 boxes so far. I think I'm going to try to make two or three more this week and then configure the garden space. I've also made a couple of 3.5x3.5 boxes that I plan to use for potatoes. I was going to give the garbage can method a whirl, but had some random wood lying about, so made some boxes that I can stack and fill with dirt as they grow.

* Some pleasant discoveries...While clearing out the fall/winter debris, I discovered that the strawberries are already starting to green up and look like they're as excited for spring and warm weather as I am! We yielded about three last year (Yeah, like 3 strawberries. Total.) so I have high hopes for some tasty fruit this year. There were some errant runners that seem to be coming up outside of the allotted strawberry patch, so I think I'll extend it a bit this year.

* And in a very happy surprise, I went to move a pot, and in all the dead, dry foliage from last year, tons of fresh green chives were already coming up!! What a thrill! We pulled a couple pieces off and chewed on 'em. Tastes like spring and yumminess. I transferred them from that pot into a cute little mini-barrel planter I picked up at Tuesday Morning for under $10.

* The "ghetto greenhouses" are coming along... I think. Of everything I planted in them, I think broccoli raab, swiss chard, spinach, and lettuce are the only things really starting to come up. Reserving hope for them as the weather warms up, though two were subject to some abuse by the hound from hell, Millie.

* OH, and since we got new windows, I made a cold frame. Kind of. I didn't do it properly with angling it and so on. I basically made a box to match the window size and then attached a window with the hinge. And my measurements were off a tad, so it looks a little askew. Hmm... Tossed in some peat pots with seeds planted and I'm crossing my fingers. I liked seeing some condensation in it today, and popped it open as it was about 65 or so outside. We have a bunch of windows left, so I plan to make one or two more. If anyone in the area wants a couple, let me know! We're right by Brookfield Zoo.

Soooo....That's about it for where things are so far. Slowly but surely marching into growing season, and hoping it is the best year yet!

Way behind on posting, but catching up elsewhere!

OK, OK, OK...I've been incredibly errant in keeping up with my blog here, but with good reason! I've been taking advantage of the lovely weather that has been shining down on us here and there and getting a lot done outside!!

I went to the Flower & Garden Show and have to say it was amazing. Separate post forthcoming on that shebang. Needless to say, saw an awful lot of ideas that made me think I should just demolish the garage and half the driveway to make more room for garden space. Alas, I'm stuck with my little backyard garden and a yard overrun by a dog and two kids. Sigh. A girl can dream, though. Right?

Been reading up on Square Foot Gardening and decided that I'm going to give it a whirl this season. Worth a shot, and seems like it may be easier to tend and easier to protect than rows if I want to try to extend the growing season well into the fall.

Otherwise just puttering about, enjoying the green smell in the air, and time outside with the family!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show

Hi folks!

Mr. Brown Thumb (a great local gardening blog, if you haven't checked it out yet) was able to score some great passes for some of us garden bloggers for the Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show. I'm scoping out the seminars to determine what days I should get someone to watch the girls so I can head down there unfettered.

I'll be posting about my adventures there. I recommend checking out Mr. Brown Thumb's blog to check out some of the great stuff he's already posted from the show.

More to follow...

Friday, February 27, 2009


I just looked at my list of what I've started already and the things I want to start, and I think I should knock down the garage to make room. Eek! Going to work on some square foot gardening principles, companion planting, and succession planting to get it all in there!

Are any of you Chicago gardeners growing grapes? We'd like to give it a try, but space is at a premium and I'm wondering if it is feasible to train them on our back fence or if that is a poor idea?


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jump starting the garden season (hopefully!!)

From one of the gardening blogs I follow (see sidebar), I linked through to a site about Winter Sowing seeds in plain plastic containers. Mr. BrownThumb also had a great post about starting plants from seed in 2 liter soda bottles. As one of my issues EVERY season is starting too late or letting seedlings dwindle away because I don't have things ready for transplanting, I thought maybe I'll give this a whirl. Plus I like to make my backyard and garden look as completely white trash as possible.

Mission accomplished.

For the record, I LOVE that Mr. BrownThumb calls these "ghetto greenhouses"

Anyway, it was simple as pie, and I'm hopeful for great results. My husband was, I think, a bit put out that I put a "2 liter bottles ONLY" rule into effect for soda consumption the past month or so, so tons of healthy transplants would be the only way to compensate for that.

Check out the links above for details on how to do this, but I had 14 bottles (2 liter soda bottles, translucent milk gallons, and juice bottles) to work with today, and had to fish around for seeds that I wanted to start. See, unprepared! Plus it was really odd to have my hands in soil since we just had about 3 inches of snow dropped on the Chicago metro area over the past day or so.

But I digress. Here are the seeds I went with for round one. I put them all out today, February 21st, and plan to do more once I get my orders in at the seed shops. I've got so many pages dog-eared in all the catalogs I have, it is ridiculous, and at this rate I will need to demolish the house to make room for more garden space!

Basil, Broccoli Raab, Lavender, Swiss Chard, Bush Bean, Broccoli, Leaf Lettuce (2 varieties), Spinach, Carrots, Garden Peas, Zinnias (I told you I had to scrape for seeds to fill up the bottles I had on hand), Sweet Pepper, and Cauliflower
ADDED 2/24: Chives and Onions

So hopefully that'll be a good jump start. I'm going to try to get the rest of my seed orders in tomorrow or Monday and maybe start some more seeds next week. My only real fear, is that the nemesis of my garden, the hound from hell, will leave my bottles of goodness alone! Because, you know, she looks a lot less evil than she is, and I just hope that she'll behave herself, resist the temptation, and not force me to pen her up outside so she can't get into it. If I sound bitter, it is because I busted her several times last year eating cucumbers from the vine, running around the yard with a raspberry cane in her mouth like a bone, and digging through more beds than I care to recall.

Fingers crossed!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

2009 Green Goals

OK, I've been thinking of some things that I want to accomplish this year in the garden and yard. As usual, I'm going to put it on a blog, because then I feel more accountable, and more apt to actually do something.

- Get a composter and start composting
- Get rain barrels and put them to good use
- Put together a solid plan for the garden, including succession plantings so I have good stuff coming up all through the season with no empty/dead zones
- Keep close track of how much produce I'm yielding through the season
- I'd like to go without purchasing ANY produce this summer - grow what we'll use, and use what we grow
- Set up a seed-starting table inside, and use it
- Build my cold frame (we have lots of old, lead-free windows)by late February/early March
- Build my garden boxes/beds well in advance of planting outside
- Get a decent canning system and book, and use throughout the season

So that's it for now. I hope to be able to check most of these items off my list! Anything I should add?

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