Mar 31, 2011

Seedy Adventures

Get your mind out of the gutter!!!  OH, it was just me?  Sorry, I have the mentality of a middle-school student. Last night I decided to plant some seeds.  I had been scratching around a garden plan to see how many of each plant I would need.  Here is my plan:
I still have a few more seeds or plants to buy, and some of it has changed already.  That's the beauty of a garden plan: You should just assume you are going to throw it out the window.  I started planting seeds with a lot of enthusiasm.  So much enthusiasm that I forgot to really pay attention to what I was planting.  Minor problem.  LOL.  Luckily, I did lay out the seed packets in the order that I planted seeds. 
Above is the disorganized chaos that I had to try and make sense of.  I raced upstairs after planting 6 rows of seeds, grabbed a notebook, and walked calmly downstairs while muttering to myself and trying to remember what I had just done.  Frankly, I blame the seed starting tray.  There just isn't room for a thousand tiny labels in there.  So that threw me off my game.  Or something.  =)  Anywho, I was able to (hopefully) remember what I planted where, and continued on with my meticulous record keeping. 

This garden is doomed, isn't it?  

However, I am having a lot of fun doing everything and blogging about it.  I hope you are having fun laughing at my expense.  I think that is quickly becoming the point of this blog.  =)  

I took a few pictures of the seeds that, quite frankly, surprised me for one reason or another.  First up, carrot seeds:
Yes, you should plant a dime with your carrot seeds.  It helps them grow stronger.  Just kidding!!  The dime is there so you can notice exactly how tiny carrot seeds are... Who knew?  Not me, that's for sure.  Now jalapeno seeds:
 They look just like... JALAPENO seeds!!!  Again, I am sure this is common sense to someone, but I was really surprised by this.  I also didn't know if I needed to wash my hands after touching the seeds.  Note: There was nothing on the packet about this, but I did it anyway.  Also, please kindly ignore my misspelling of jalapeno above.  Apparently, I was tired.  Finally: green beans:
It is a big seed, and looks like a burnt pinto bean.  I hope that's not what grows in my garden. (Tonight's vegetable: burnt pinto beans, yum!)  Also, you should soak it overnight before planting to help with germination.  Just like you are supposed to soak pinto beans overnight before you cook them. 

I am suspicious of this bean, in case you can't tell.  If a giant beanstalk grows and you never see me again, blame the bean. 

Side note: My WH (wonderful husband) had a GENIUS idea to set up the shop light for our seed starting shelf with our Christmas light timer.  So now the light is going on at 6 and off at 8 with no one having to remember to take care of it!  Brilliant!! 


Today I looked over a book a friend let me borrow.  I have to say it was quite depressing.  The writer went on and on about having the perfect soil temperature and pH and a whole book of what to do to make your plants happy.  I almost gave up gardening before I even started!  SO, my new advice to myself and to you all:  Don't take gardening so seriously.  IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!  In that spirit, here is the funniest picture that was in that book.
The author is talking about cutting stalks and vegetation to make them break down more quickly.  Notice the huge machete?  Is that truly necessary? 

Mar 29, 2011

Seed-starting shelf

I got new gloves!  They are awesome, and not just because my old pair had a blow-out.    Leather palms and stretchy backs and slim fit.  I can't wait to actually work in the garden!  In the meantime, I am getting ready to start seeds indoors.  I am tired of waiting on this unpredictable Kansas weather, and I am going to take control! Ha!  At least I am trying to think about taking control.

First things first, supplies!  We stopped by our local Menards, and picked up a few necessities.  A shelf and shop light were on our list.  You might also want to pick up some 40 Watt bulbs for the shop light.
Don't worry about getting anything too fancy.  I picked a deeper shelf, but have other things to put on that shelf.  Also, the shop light is 48" long and the shelf is only 36" long.  I am prepared to deal with that, because the longer shelf was MUCH more expensive.  If you aren't cheap and ghetto like me, you could get a smaller shop light and/or longer shelf.
Yeah, sure, assembles in 2 minutes.  Many, many minutes later, the shelf was assembled, with some help from my wonderful husband.  What can I say, I have girly chicken arms that aren't built for strength.  Then we decided to put it in an empty space in the unfinished part of our basement.
Then my husband noticed it would be right in front of the plumbing.  Probably not the smartest idea... So we moved the shelf... A couple of times.  And by "we" I don't mean me. =)
Finally, the shelf was in it's final resting place.  (Pay no attention to our emergency stockpile of water and food.  My husband likes to be prepared.)  Then, using some twine, the light was attached to the shelf like so...
It can now be raised and lowered, depending on the plant height.  In the meantime, I broke out the seed starting tray I was forced to buy before Menards came to town and had a plastic tray like I wanted.  Bitter, party of one?  Your table is now ready. 
I followed the handy-dandy directions on said greenhouse, and now have spots all ready for my seeds to start growing! 
Now for the hard part.... Planning how many seeds and plants I will actually need in my garden.  So, I will be planning and drawing and erasing, and cursing seed packets for a while.  But, if I lose inspiration, I can sit back, and admire my new seed starting shelf!
Happy Planting!

Mar 28, 2011

Ready...Spring... Break!

I arrived home yesterday from the Tour of Texas to find that Spring arrived while I was away... Kind of.  With Kansas, you can't really tell.  Snowflakes were falling, so I raced to cover my broccoli before it became frozen broccoli.  (Thanks, sis.) Although it was jarring to move from 80 degrees in Texas to snow when I arrived home, I found some evidence that Mother Nature had been working while I was away.

The pear tree that I have been waiting to see in bloom since we bought the house made a sneaky Spring attack while we were gone.  It is really beautiful.
The tulips that I didn't know were there have also made an appearance. No blooms, yet!  This is the fun part of having a new house.  You never know what the people before you planted!

The daffodils I planted last fall have also started to push their way up.  (Flash back to last fall:  My husband says, "You're planting something that won't bloom until next year?  What's the point?")  I was a little worried about these, because I cheated when gardening them.  What's that?!?  You didn't know you could cheat at gardening?  =)  All I did was dig 3 inches down, and covered with 3 inches of mulched leaves, instead of digging 6 inches down as recommended.  What can I say, I am a rebel.
Finally, even the bush I hate out front will have it's 15 minutes of beauty.  This is the not fun part about having a new house.  You never know what the people before you planted.  =)  I love spring! 

Mar 25, 2011

A rose, by any other name...

Please excuse this non-garden (kinda)  related post.  I have to take a moment and thank my friend Melanie.  Not only has she put up with me, (SINCE 3RD GRADE!!!!) she is also responsible for the perfect name of my blog. 

Those of you who know me (that's all of you reading this right now) know that I am a HUGE NERD.  I prefer reading to almost all other things.  I like to learn, and pass on my nerdy knowledge. 

Melanie... dear, sweet, poor Melanie has endured and loved my nerdy self through so many years.   When the time came to name this blog, I turned to her.  After a short while of trading names and fantastic (but taken) ideas back and forth, she struck gold.  The gardenerd.  That's me in a nutshell.  =)   She is also responsible for taking this blog from an idea I was tossing around, to a reality.  She convinced me, as good friends do, that if all else failed, SHE would read my blog. 

Thanks, Mel.  I can't imagine my life in the past, present, or future without you. 

Mar 15, 2011


One of the things that is hardest for me about gardening, is that there is no "recipe" for success.  As someone who really enjoys cooking, and rarely follows a recipe exactly, this should be wonderful!  However, because this is my first true gardening season, I WANT RESULTS.  Good ones.  Where I get to eat what I am growing, and everything turns out perfectly.  Perhaps I am asking too much.  =)

So, in the spirit of relaxing my high standards, I am already experimenting.  Experiment #1: Freezing veggies.  Do I really need a sun box when the temperature is in the 20's and plants are supposed to be cold hardy to 32?
If you will notice at the bottom left, I kept one small broccoli plant out, just to see what would happen.  One morning this week we had a hard frost.  I looked at the poor plant left out, and it was deep purple in color, and wilted.  I knew it was a goner...  And because my gardening knowledge is so vast, and I have so much experience.... I WAS WRONG!

That sneaky little veggie had the last laugh.  I checked the weather for the next 10 days and decided to remove the sun box today, and there was that broccoli plant.  Healthy and happy as the rest of the plants in my garden!
That just goes to show you... Never trust broccoli.  =)

Experiment #2: Plant spacing.  Most of the time, plants will tell you on their label or seed packet how far apart they need to be planted.  Easy, right?  Follow the recipe.

Unless the recipe says, "Throw all caution to the wind and just go with the flow, dude."  Like my lettuce plants.  I swear, it says exactly that right on the label.  Okay.  Maybe not exactly.  The label says to plant 4-12 inches apart.  Well, which is it?  4 or12?!??  Or something in between?!?  Results of this experiment are TBD. I have a feeling the lettuce and broccoli are going to gang up on me.  I can already tell who is going to win.

Mar 13, 2011

Planting when you live in Kansas

Most of us get that "itch" to plant something when the weather is nice and sunny.  I'd like to be one of those fair-weather gardeners, but I am trying to make the most of the shorter growing season here in Kansas, so it requires a little more planning and help from a local nursery.  I got a nice 5 pack of broccoli and lettuce at Johnson's, and decided to plant last weekend on a cold, overcast day.  What was I thinking?  Oh yeah, I was thinking I would like to get some edible produce soon!  So, first things first, I have to clean out my garden beds!
Looks awful, right?  However, the logs/branches are there on purpose to hold down the chicken wire.  The chicken wire is there to keep outdoor cats from using my garden as their own personal bathroom. And the leaves...the leaves... well, it's windy here!  Stuff blows in. 
Here's my garden after a little clean up.  I moved the dirt around and planted my little plants.  I was very excited to find some earthworms had moved into the garden, but I didn't snap any pics, because... Well, I am new to this whole blogging thing. And maybe you wouldn't be as excited about worms as I am.   

Now, to protect my plants from the still-below-freezing nights, a sun box is necessary.  I picked up this window for $7 at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Then, my wonderful husband built some simple square frames.  (The beauty of these being separate is that I can move and arrange this by myself.)  Next, I stacked the frames around the plants I want to protect.
Because I stack the frame on the bed at an angle, to take advantage of the sun, there is a gap on the left side of the frame.  I used some styrofoam to cover this gap.  It worked perfectly!  Last year I had small wood blocks, and they did not work as well as this seal I made.  
Then I stacked the next frame, and added the window.  It sits in perfectly, but because the window and/or frame are imperfect, there is another small gap I had to cover with styrofoam.  
Above is the gap.  It would let out a lot of hot air, which defeats the point of creating a sun box!!  All of this styrofoam is just leftover packaging that I stored away this winter.  Look around, and see what you can find, if you have a gap to fill.  Last year I used a rolled up t-shirt to fill this top gap.  But, this works so much better!  
Finally, here is a picture of my completed sunbox, with happy plants inside!
The above idea is from Mel Bartholomew's book, Square Foot Gardening. 


This is not a great way to start the gardening season!  Guess it is time to go shopping for new, sturdier gloves!