Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Flower Fever!

We are right around the average last frost date in the Oklahoma City area (you can put your seedlings outside, if you've hardened them off!).  This past Thursday was also our fourth wedding anniversary, and Chad knows me so well.  Aside from sending beautiful flowers to work, he also gave me a $40 gift certificate to Lowe's intended for flowers around the house and yard.

Normally, I'd be spending it on all things related to vegetable gardening.  But this year, vegetables will be limited to a few pots, due to the fact that growing a baby and having a giant belly in late summer kinda takes some fun away from things like bending over to weed, harvest, and prune.

We were drawn to bold colors and selected a pot of red and orange daisies, petunias (a basket of deep purple, two six-packs of red and white striped), multicolored celosia, and a red variety and white variety of some low, small, slightly bushy looking flower whose name can't recall at the moment.  I got so excited about this and all of the flower pots we have (between our own and several this house's last occupants left behind), that I've been fishing through our seed stash pulling out all of the flowers and herbs that can be successfully sown outdoors around the last frost date.  It also comes to mind that we have a bare spot in our front flower bed... though I'm tempted to grow a few little baby sized heads of lettuce there instead of flowers, until the weather is too hot to easily grow lettuce.

One pot I'm particularly excited about is the one full of striped petunias.  I placed them in a circle near the rim of the pot, leaving a bare patch of soil in the middle where I seeded a burgundy okra plant.  I don't know how long the petunias will have their pretty blossoms, but if they last a good amount of time the okra will grow up above them and have a pretty little border.  (If they don't last very long, I'll just remove them to give the okra a little more room.)  It may not have enough room to really thrive and fruit in a pot, but I've been curious to see this burgundy okra plant since I first got the seeds.  I'm hoping it'll at least be healthy enough to put forth blooms.

I still really love vegetable gardening, but this is a fun change of pace for me, too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day Seedlings!

Yesterday morning was officially a blizzard here in the Oklahoma City area (and much of the Midwest!).  Chad took a lot of pictures, all from the warm safety of the inside of our house... which is much warmer than our last one!

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Even our covered, screened in back porch was covered with snow!
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That meant that Ali, our indoor princess of a cat, got to walk in snow for the first time ever!  She's been pretty excited about it but won't stay out there freezing her paws for too long.

This doesn't keep me from thinking about warmer months.  I moved my seedlings away from the cold windowsill and decided to take a quick snap of them to share.
From bottom to top: Yellow Tumbling Tom tomatoes, Red Tumbling Tom tomatoes, globe basil, genovese basil, and Red Robin tomatoes.
Tiny Alpine strawberry seedlings in a Jiffy pot.
All of these varieties are ideal for containers, since that's pretty much all I'm going to do this year.  I'll probably also grow one larger determinate tomato plant and maybe some baby-sized lettuce varieties.  Simple is my motto this year!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Diabetes Killed My Plants!

It's been months...  last growing season wasn't blogged my me at all.  I'm afraid I had a rather large issue that overshadowed everything.  I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in early May.

No, not type 2.  Type 1.  (I know at least one of you was like, "She must mean type 2." :p )

Yes, that's the autoimmune variety that used to be called "juvenile diabetes," which is more commonly developed in children, and which requires lifelong insulin therapy.  But at the age of 30, I got it.  I won't go into detail about that here, but you can check out the blog I've been keeping about it, Type 1 at 30, if you're curious.  The earliest post gives the story of my diagnosis.

I suppose the one other thing I'll say about that for now, because it's actually gardening related:

Diabetes killed my plants!!!

OK, really, it made me so preoccupied and focused that every last seedling I'd started died from neglect.  I had no garden, no potted plants, nothing.  Sometimes, your energy just has to be focused on other things... like learning how to survive without a properly functioning pancreas.

Oh, priorities!

But this year, I'm starting again... on a small scale because, again, I have something else demanding my energy: a baby due in August!

Oh, and we also moved to a new home, and I got a new job.  Can we possibly pack any more life changing events into these two years?

There's no way I'm going to be bending over to pull weeds as a great big pregnant lady, so I'm keeping it simple with potted plants and early-fruiting varieties.  Honestly, this is back to my favorite kind of gardening: small scale, simple, creative, container gardening.  *love*

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Year-old Onions

So I had some green onions that I never used last year, and I just left them in the garden to do their thing. They came back after winter, but I was too skeptical to try eating them... But scapes are another story!

A scape is what happens when an onion (or garlic!) "goes to seed." These huge ones you see in these photos probably aren't tender enough to eat, so I'll leave them and experiment with collecting their seeds.


There were several smaller scapes that seemed nice and tender, and a few more that should be perfect in a couple days.


You could cut them up for a stir-fry. I'll probably cut them into very small pieces and saute them to add to a rice dish.

It just goes to show that, in the right climate, nature keeps doing her thing. Volunteer tomatoes appear, plants survive harsh conditions, and a neglected onion offers forth new bounty past its prime.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hardening Off

Oklahoma City's last-frost date has passed! You can put most of your plants into the garden now, if they've been hardened off. If they've not been hardened off, and you're not sure how, here's my usual process:

Day 1: Put plants outside, in the shade and away from the wind, for about an hour.
Day 2: As above, for a couple hours... and letting them get a few minutes of sun before bringing them in.
Day 3: Put the plants in partial shade for a couple hours, in an area where the wind won't hit them full-blast. (Be careful of that Oklahoma wind!)
Day 4: Similar to day 3, but for about half the day.
Day 5: Similar to day 4, but for about the length of a work-day.
Day 6: Similar to day 5, but with more exposure to to sun and wind.
Day 7: If the plants are doing well, give them full-sun most of the day... but check on them periodically.
Day 8: If all is well, transplant them.

Pay attention to your plants during this process. If they start looking wilty when you put them in the sun, then back off a bit and take smaller steps! And check the forecast before you put them in the ground. Freezes can happen after the last-frost date.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Seedy Saturday and Baby Chives

This past Saturday, some friends and I got together for a seed exchange. We each brought whatever extra seeds we had, which amounted to a lot since we are all just backyard gardeners. Each person put their seed packets in a bowl and I set out coin envelopes to serve as our new seed packets (along with pencils for labeling). We then passed around the bowls and took samples of the seeds that interested us. Everyone seemed to feel like they came out a winner. We could all have variety in our gardens without going broke!

Give it a try. It's a great way to expand your garden and try new varieties on a budget. Throw in a veggie tray and some tea, and you'll have a pleasant afternoon of seeds and conversation!



I've started a few seeds lately. It may seem a bit early to traditional gardeners in this area, but that's one advantage of being a container gardener! You can put your plants outside on nice, sunny days (not that we have any just yet!) and bring them inside whenever they need protection from the cold.

I'm particularly tickled by my pretty chives pushing their way out of their soil.


I also have tomato, strawberry, parsley, and basil seedlings that I'll share pictures of when they get a little larger.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Alpine Strawberries from Seed (Kit)

Speaking of cute kits, Target has these adorable little strawberry growing kits (as well as flower kits) in their dollar section for Valentine's Day. I've picked these up a couple years in a row, and they're pretty cool... but they're also an example of how a kit could result in frustration for a first-time gardener.

First of all, keep in mind that growing strawberries from seed isn't the easiest task for a beginning gardener. The seeds are minuscule, the seedlings dry out so easily, and they're delicate. It can be done, but you have to check on them daily and handle them carefully. Second, the kit suggests that 10 seedlings would flourish in virtually no space at all! It comes with a teeny tiny pot, a small packet of about 20 Alpine Strawberry seeds, and a pellet of growing medium. But trust me, you don't want to put 10 seeds in that teeny pot! It's not nearly enough room.

Instead:
  • Use something like peat pods (or my budget version: toilet paper roll pods) or seedling cells with seed-starter mix.
  • Put only one or two strawberry seeds in each pod/cell.
  • Water from the BOTTOM by pouring water in the seedlings' tray, because those tiny seeds could wash right away if you water from the top.
  • Keep everything consistently moist! These plants are so tiny that they dry out FAST when mere seedlings.
  • Later, you can harden them off and put the plants in hanging baskets or a strawberry planter... or maybe along the edges of your flower bed, as they are quite lovely little plants.
But let's not waste that gowing medium pellet and teeny pot. If you want, you can use them as directed but sow only one or two seeds in the little pot. Just don't over-water, because the pot has no drainage hole. You can also use the pot as a cute container to give away one of the seedlings when they're almost grown. I did this as a gift to a gardening friend of mine, a couple years ago. (In this case, you can hydrate the growing medium pellet and mix it into the rest of your seed-starting mix for another seedling project.)

Alpine strawberries are a small, everbearing variety. That means that, instead of one large harvest at once, it'll give you several small harvests. It's one of the easier varieties to grow from seed, and it's less likely to take over your garden if you put them in the ground. They're about as close to a "wild strawberry" as you'll get in a domesticated plant. They're fairly similar to Alexandria strawberries.