Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sprouting — chives + lettuce seedlings


The chives are up and moving pretty quickly. I had them in a hanging planter last year, but I think this year I'll keep them in a pot where they'll get more light. I transplanted these a couple weeks ago. They started growing almost as soon as the snow melted. I have more that wouldn't fit in this pot. I think I'll divide them into a few other pots and take them to my parents/ grandparents/siblings for Easter.

I sowed the lettuce almost 2 weeks ago. I first noticed seedlings on Friday, but by this morning they had some company. But it frosted last night; I wonder if they'll be OK.

No sign of the peas (sowed at the same time as the lettuce).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring daffodils


It's like the sun is shining indoors :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What to do with sprouted onions?


Everyone has run into this situation at some point. You buy a bag of onions at the grocery store. Down the road they sprout before you can use them all. You see those greenish spikes and think, "Now what? Can I still cook with it? Could I plant it and get baby onions?"

Once an onion (or garlic bulb) sprouts it's quality for eating slides downhill quickly. You could use it, but it's not going to be as tasty since it's putting it's energy (sugar) to work growing the leaves. Besides composting it, there are a couple other options.

One — set it in a window in a jar with a little water, and let the leaves grow. When they're a nice size chop them off and use them like green onion.

Two —Plant it. It won't grow baby onions (it's not a potato). But it will flower. You can treat that as an ornamental; onion flowers are rather pretty, though not as showy as an ornamental. Or you can let it go to seed and give a shot at growing onions from seed next year.

One additional thought about this... If you're going to go through the trouble of growing onions from seed, I wouldn't use the boring old grocery store variety. I'd like to try a cool hybid or heirloom variety. But I don't have a lot of room for onions. (They don't produce much for the space it takes to grow them.)

So I'm going to plant my sprouted onions and see how it works out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Update: overwintered herbs


All winter I've been pretty careful to keep the herbs watered, but I haven't given them much attention otherwise. But, inevitably, some got a little dry, and dropped a few leaves.

The sage, lavender, rosemary, and greek oregano held up the best — they rarely dropped leaves and are still looking pretty nice.

The thyme and lemon thyme were next best — I let them get a little dry and they'd have a little dusting of teeny leaves at their feet, but still they don't look lanky or too sparse. The regular oregano did alright, though it was pretty thirsty, but it lost a lot of leaves and I just cut it back to get some fresh, tasty growth.

The lemon verbena was doing ok, until last week when it suddenly got very thirsty, dried out and dropped a bunch of leaves...or so I thought. When I looked closer I saw that it was putting out new growth and was covered in aphids. So it got a major trim. It needed it anyway; it put out a lot of spindly growth when I brought it inside last fall and it was starting to look like a tumbleweed.

The mints were pretty bad — they just didn't like it inside I guess. I couldn't find a happy medium between too much and too little water. I ended up hacking off everything. They'll have to start fresh this spring.

And I almost lost the marjoram. One day I discovered that it completely dried up — every single leaf was crunchy. Oops. So I cut it all off and let it sit, gave it a little water every now and then, but pretty much ignored it. And a few weeks later I noticed one teeny green leaf. It's put out a few leaves now. But they're very tender, so I'm going to have to be careful with it.

And the hardening-off has begun! I started putting them outside for a couple hours at a time in the late afternoon when I get home from work — when it's about 50º outside. :D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

To spring or not to spring.


Thursday was absolutely beautiful. I think the temp hit 60º! So, I did a bit of spring cleaning inside — opened all the windows, vacuumed, dusted, etc. Also moved the herbs that were in the bedroom to the living room. I'd have kept them in the living room all winter, but they were my humidifier.

It's so nice to not feel like our bedroom is being invaded by plants anymore. A few succulents, a couple orchids and a goldfish plant are enough.

Friday, however, was icky. Cloudy, windy, high of 37º (feels like 25º) and it started snowing around noon. Ended up with 1-2" >:(

But today it warmed back up (most of the snow is gone already) and all next week is supposed to be 50º and sunny! :D

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Snow is melted, spring is coming!


I finally got out on the balcony today! It looked so weird without a 7' tall snow drift. I did have to kick off one little patch of slush/ice, but otherwise everything melted in the last few days.

I'm really anxious to get things moving this spring — much more so than last year. Maybe it's because we had such a harsh, snowy winter. I don't remember any winter being that bad for at least 10-15 years. And unlike so many other Marches, this one gently eased out of winter. It even rained the other day. Not snow. Not sleet. Rain! I hope it keeps it up.

So today I finished some of the clean-up I didn't get to last fall — trimming the dead leaves off the strawberries and a few annuals, dumped out the melt water from a clogged pot and unclogged it, swept away dirt and dead leaves, and tilled the soil in the pots. Mostly everything is thawed, though the very middle of the biggest container, about halfway down, is still frozen solid.

The compost bin sort of did it's job. The stuff on the bottom rotted in the melted snow that got in the container. The stuff in the middle grew some mold. And the stuff on top didn't break down hardly at all. So I pulled most of it out and buried it in a couple containers. It'll break down there. Then I drained it really well, dug around to aerate it, and left it open so some of the moisture will evaporate.

I sowed lettuce and mesclun in 6 of the hanging containers. By the time they're done, it ought to be time to plant the summer vegetables. I also planted peas. And put up stakes for them, I'm not bothering with string this year.

I feel like I'm much more on top of things this year. This week last year I was still finding pots and it was a whole month more before I planted anything. But now I know better — I can't wait till April to plant lettuce and peas if I don't want the lettuce bolting and the peas frying in June.

When it gets a bit warmer I'll start hardening-off the herbs I overwintered. Maybe next week!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Plans: sticking to my guns


Last year I planned on having a completely edible garden. But by my first trip to the garden center that goal was shot dead.

I went to the garden center to get pansies, violas and marigolds — which are edible, so don't think I was there to cheat! But I started loading up my cart, and I couldn't help but get one of almost every color. They're all just too pretty! And then I saw the alyssum, and the strawflower, and the petunias....

And the lantana, and the sweet potato vine, and the black sweet potato vine, and the snap dragons, and the vinca vine, and the hyacinth, and the iris....

So, yeah, I was bad. It was so beautiful! But this year I'm going to stick to my intention to have a food garden. Not a flower garden.

Still going to have nasturtiums, pansies and marigolds, though. They're...salad garnishes. Yeah. Garnishes.

And maybe I'll find a very good reason to cheat. :)