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Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunflowers Emerging

Sunflowers Sprouting (2012)
Sunflowers Emerging 2012

Last year I harvested a lot of sunflower seeds.  This year I planted the seeds along the fence to create a wall of sunflowers.  I still have about a half of gallon-size Ziploc bag full of seeds from last year's harvest!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

First Bloom: Dutch Iris

Photo: First Dutch Iris Bloom of the Season
Photo: First Dutch Iris Bloom of the Season

I love starting my morning off in the garden especially in Spring when there is so much activity.  This morning one of the Dutch Iris bulbs I ordered from Michigan Bulb Company last year greeted me in full bloom!  I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

DIY Apple Carton Seedling Starter

Apple Carton Seedling Starter
Apple Carton Seedling Starter

This empty apple carton looked like it could be a great seedling starter.  Keeping the soil evenly moist is critical in getting seeds to germinate, and as you can see in the photo above, this container traps moisture well.  This is my first time using this type of container, but I have high hopes.

DIY Apple Carton Seedling Starter

  • Empty apple container or similar container.  We got this one from Costco.
  • Permanent Marker
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Water (use a hose with a mister nozzle, a spray bottle, or gently pour water from a cup)
  • Pen and Paper (to track what seeds you planted)
  1. Close the container, and number each dome.  This makes recording what you planted in each dome easier. 
  2. Open the container, and fill each space with soil.  
  3. Then plant your seeds in each pod, and make sure you write down which seeds were planted in each pod.
  4. Then gently water the soil in a way that does not disturb the seeds.  Water until the soil is moist, but not soggy.  
  5. Close the container and place it on a level surface in a shady area.  Then wait!  You should not have to water the plant for several days.  Only water the soil if it looks or feels dry to the touch.

Photo of Empty Apple Carton
Empty Carton

Photo of Empty Apple Carton Converted into Seedling Starter
Planting Seeds in Empty Apple Carton

Spittle Bugs Are Hatching

Photo: Spittle bug hiding in "foam" or "spittle"
Photo: Spittle bug hiding in "foam" or "spittle"

Foam or a spittle-like substance has appeared on my strawberries, kohlrabi, fennel, parsley, chamomile, African daisies and calendula, which means the spittle bugs (also known as froghoppers) have hatched.
In its earlier stage, spittle bugs take in the sap from plants and secrete bubbles from its other end to cover itself.  This layer of bubbles provide protection from predators.

Although spittle bugs do feed from the sap of plants, the amount of damage is minimal.  Therefore, insecticide is not necessary when there is only a moderate infestation.  Instead I have been dislodging the "foam" and the spittle bug by spraying the affected plants with a strong jet of water from the hose.  Without its protection of foam, the spittle bug will be exposed to natural  predators and the elements.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

DIY Plant Supports for Less than a Quarter

Are you looking for cheap plant supports?  I picked up some fence stays for only 18 cents each at Home Depot.  Then I unravelled them and shaped them to create plant supports for my peas.  When shaped into arches, they are sturdy enough to support light, trailing plants like peas.

I created several arches out of fence stays.  The whole project cost less than $2, and took less than 20 minutes of my time.  The peas will grow along the archway, and red giant mustard greens and spinach will grow beneath the archway.

Photo of Fence Stays Converted to Plant Supports 2012
Fence stays transformed into plant supports

Photo of Fence Stays 2012
Fence Stays

Photo of Peas Growing on Fence Stay 2012
Peas growing on fence stay support

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sage Blooming

My sage plant is blooming.  I love these flowers, and the foliage stays green year round over here.  I am considering planting some in our flower bed.  

Photo of Sage Buds 2012
Sage Buds

Photo of Sage in Full Bloom 2012
Sage in Full Bloom

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

Borage Seeds from last year are emerging from the soil

Happy Earth Day everyone!  Sunny and warmer days are finally here, and I have been hard at work in the garden.

Newly Planted Strawberry Surecrop Bed

New Transplants: 
  • Strawberry "Surecrop" - I planted a new bed of surecrop strawberries.  These were advertised to be high-yielding crops at an average of 3 pints of berries per plant, and is supposed to be a consistent producer.  
  • Early Girl Tomato - This hybrid tomato plant is an early producer and is supposed to bear 5oz fruits. 
  • Grape "Catwaba" - These grapes are supposed to be great for making jams and jellies, and even red wine or champagne.  I will have to patient because this is its first year, and grapes generally produce fruit in their second or third year.
  • Raspberry "Thornless Canby" - This plant is suppose to produce extra large, bright red raspberries, but I chose it mostly because it is thornless.  
  • Horseradish 
  • Jalapeno

From Seed:
  • Radish "Early Scarlet"
  • Spinach "Bloomsdale"
  • Red Giant Mustard Greens
  • Cantelope
  • Black Zuccini
  • Bell Pepper "Yellow Monster"
  • Watermelon "Sugar Baby"
  • Elephant Garlic
  • Edamame
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Bell Pepper "Horizon"
  • Stuttgarter Giant Onion
  • Swiss Chard "Northern Lights"
  • Anise
  • Balm
  • Siam Queen Thai Basil
  • Sweet Basil
  • Caraway
  • Fragrant Lavender
  • Chives 
  • Horehound
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Peppermint
  • Sage
  • Summer Savory
  • Dill
  • Calendula
  • Marigold
  • Sunflowers
  • Carnation (mix)

Cuttings - I am attempting to propagate the following plants by cuttings.
  • Maple Tree (green)
  • Purple Ice Plant
  • Geraniums
  • Mosquito (repelling) Plant
  • Hydrangea