Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Blend Found by GPS

Ahhh... NOW I can make those early morning cache runs (or flash mobs)!

(It's a trackable geocaching coin.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seed Housing Expanded!

DH and I were recently off our usual path. Couldn't resist a quick browse in a new (to us) thrift/charity shop. Thought I could feel the old Mar-Crest cereal bowls I'm looking for calling me, but it was something else instead. There sat an expansion unit for my seed housing system! One for veggies, one for flowers/herb, and one for...? Oh, the possibilities! Room for lots of pumpkin varieties. Yes, former diskette & CD housing.

There are many projects going on at our little desk. Not sure about DH's geocaching Jeep thing. But, then he walked in and plopped down the latest catalog. I'll leave the Jeeps to him.

I worked on my growing list earlier in January, but then the rest of the month distracted me. Time to get back to it!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mossy Gardens

On a rock in the pumpkin patch, above.

The garden bed endcaps have a garden of their own growing. It didn't help that the massive catnip plant kept it covered all summer. Here is a clean shot from the first year in place.

In the pasture near the hill. And if that isn't enough, I'll be visiting North Bend again. Always a mossy treat! See the link below for other Lichen et al Adventures!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's Growing Today

This is what is growing in the garden today! Any idea what variety they might be?
Above, is a view of the underside.

They are growing on the north side of a bed. The land slopes down a little here so the bed and pathway act as a little terrace in the middle of the garden. The north side of the bed can be very shaded, especially during the winter. I've noticed mushrooms along this area before. I don't see them in other parts of the garden.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Encouraging Sprouts

I lost track of remaining garlic bulbs last year. No worries - look what I found popping up through the "composting in place" layers!

I don't remember any blooms in the garden so I didn't even try to make the Bloom Day post, but it's nice to see something showing signs of spring. And are you noticing the additional daylight each day?

I thinned out the compost over the garlic and will let it grow. 'Course, that close together, I don't know if it will mature. Maybe I should try to thin each bunch?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 2009 Garden Photo

This is a misty January 2009 view, vs. the clear sky January 2008 view. This year, I trimmed up the herbs around the bird bath a lot more, and really need to do some thinning in the herb bed this year. The leaves I'm "composting in place" need to be spread around to more bed, and eventually dug in some. It is just to wet right now.

Click on the label, below, to see monthly garden photos throughout the year. How hard it is to remember even August 2008. And 2008 was such an odd summer. The flowers and herbs were content, but the beans and many other vegetables where just not very happy.

After the cold weather and the cloche collapse, everything but a few weeds where brown. On Sunday, I noticed the first green shoots of chives from the cloche area!

Monday, January 12, 2009

What to Grow 2009 - Lettuce

Meet Speckles, a butterhead type lettuce, reported to be an old Amish heirloom. This photo is from Sunday, Jan. 11! Sure, maybe not in his best form. However, not bad considering those 18 degree days and snow we had in December. This little guy is from a fall planting and is slightly protected by a window cloche (two sides of protection, two sides open). After the worst of it, I brushed off the remaining slush from the center of the plant, and now we have new growth! In the summer, I think there were more red speckles.

After a few years of growing a lettuce mix, not knowing for sure which plant went with which name, last year, I picked specific varieties: Speckles and Crisp Mint. Still growing some remainder of the mix, but noted where I planted these two.

I will be growing more Speckles this year. I tend to pick the leaves as needed and let it keep growing. I thought these were good all spring and summer. I did start new plants a few times during the year, although I cannot remember if any of the Speckles plants bolted.

I will also grow Crisp Mint again. It is a romaine lettuce. From the fall planing, I had been harvesting leaves up until that December storm. Its leaves are larger than Speckles and were crispy good in salads, sandwiches & hamburgers. I don't recall any bitterness during the summer. It was a larger plant than the Speckles, but it doesn't seem to have survived the snow.

Soon, I'll be "winter sowing" the lettuce seeds and others. After some repairs to the larger cloche, maybe I'll have some new seedlings to plant in it soon.

Friday, January 09, 2009

What to Grow 2009 - Cabbage?

Do you grow cabbage?

I know Molly does! See her recent post here.

I haven't grown it before, simply because it is not something I buy often, and I know nothing about growing them. However, twice recently, I've had a salad with cabbage included that I really enjoyed.

Molly's post made me think about it (harvests in January?!). Then, in my Seed Starter's Handbook, it contains this warning: "Since cabbage seeds seem to germinate 100%, keep a rein on your seed-sowing hand..." Gotta love that!

So I'm open to your suggestions! What varieties do you prefer? It looks like there are early varieties and late varieties. Any preference there?

What growing tips do you have? When do you start them?

Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Don't Be Shy!

Mark your calendars for a Garden Bloggers meet-up in Seattle at the Miller Library, UW Center for Urban Horticulture: Saturday, February 7th at 12:30 - 2:30 pm

Go visit Karen at Greenwalks and her We're On post for the details (and the potential group name that's developing a following).

Thanks, Karen, for organizing this event! This is just what we need to get us thinking past the snow storms and the current downpour that's threatening to move us all to houseboats and floating gardens. I look forward to meeting everyone.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Colors of January

So here I sit, innocently bopping along on the internet looking at photos of Costa Rica jungles, forests, beaches and researching places to stay with balconies and hammocks. DH comes in and turns on the patio light...see above. Earlier in the day, we had taken a walk and I noticed all of the January colors (the sky, however, was gray). More snow was not on my radar. Persistent snow seems so unusual here, I feel like I'm on a winter holiday (like the wonderful one we had to Germany years ago). That is, until it is time for the morning commute.

Costa Rica is looking better and better!

What to Grow 2009 - Pumpkins

It's time to start planning for the 2009 garden. I'm starting with pumpkins and need your help.

Snackjack pumpkins have been a favorite of mine. They are a nice size for cooking and they provide rather hulless seeds for roasting. I didn't locate seeds last year, however. So instead, I grew Small Sugar pumpkins. They have been good for eating, but the seeds were not so good for roasting. Here is more of the 2006 Snackjack harvest.

This week, the R.H. Shumway's catalog and Territorial Seed catalog arrived. I've never ordered from Shumway's as I've tended to favor northwest seed suppliers and their recommendations for our somewhat cooler summers. There in the Shumway's I found the Snackjacks! Do you have any experience with Shumway's?

MORE QUESTIONS:
1. Is it true that if I grow more than one type of open pollinated pumpkins, I'll need to keep them isolated?
2. If I don't succeed in keeping them isolated, will it impact the quality of the produce or will it just mean the seeds (& future generations) won't necessary be true to the parent?
3. Snackjacks are a hybrid. Will they have any impact on the open pollinated variety?
ANSWERS from Molly: Nothing will affect this year's crop. If you wanted to save seeds for planting you'd have to keep your pumpkins far away from not just other pumpkins, but winter and summer squash.

MORE VARIETIES:
Territorial Seed offers a little white and orange stripped pumpkin that looks a lot like my mystery pumpkin in this post. It is a Lil' Pump-Ke-Mon pumpkin. Mine grew from a decoration I had bought the year before so I didn't know if I should eat it. This PKM one is cute and edible.

I will grow more Rouge vif d'Etampes (below), but as a open pollinated variety, my questions above apply. They are beautiful and good eating. For some reason, mine didn't store well, however. And from my neighbor, I have some Holland's Land O Giants pumpkin seeds to grow. These are mondo prize-winning pumpkins from a Washington grower. ... I think it is time to start that second pumpkin patch on the other side of the house!

From Tina: Blue Moon pumpkins have flavor, seeds and color. "The skin is a nice blue/gray, but the flesh is the most beautiful, rich color - makes fab cookies and pies. The seeds are plump and delicious.It's really a wonderful pumpkin!"

From Molly: Suggests Mars pumpkins for our cool NW. "...Although I needed to ripen them in the greenhouse after the weather got cold, they did turn orange and they are really nice and sweet. They seem to be keeping well, also."

I appreciate your input on the open pollination questions and more pumpkin varieties!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sweet Excursion

The annual gingerbread house display had a "super hero" theme this year. Gingerbread displays are created by Seattle's architecture firms and the Sheraton's culinary staff. Donations from the displays support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

This one has a lot going on, but in person, it made for a very creative display. As noted, it is all edible (although it has been sitting the hotel lobby for a month...). Here's your chance to eat an pre-algebra book!

The designers did not forget the drawers, either.

...and cheery little snowman from another display.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Garden Tours by GPS

Our traditional New Year's Day geocaching excursion took us to the end of the runways this year. The landings weren't bad, but one departing flight looked like it might trim some trees!

And also to a neighborhood botanical garden... with a frozen garden pond. Brrr!

...and with interesting growth on the log arbor. Above, the bottom of one log.

Above, the side of the log. It was quite overcast and I didn't have much luck capturing the growth all along both sides (didn't help that it was well above my head). Maybe I'll be back that way for another try.

As it my fingers get cold (& gloves lost) when I take off gloves to use the camera. I thought I'd try my favorite gardening gloves. They worked, but they didn't help for warmth! They were surprisingly cold. Finally, the best of both worlds. Fleece gloves over garden gloves for warm. Garden gloves only for photo attempts.
Happy New Year, Everyone!