Saturday, April 30

Oh She Grows: First Sprouts!

Last week was beautiful weather, and I managed to plant out a bunch of cold-hardy seeds in the garden beds after cleaning them all up. Here are the first sprouts, taken earlier this week.

We planted radish, spinach, peas, carrots, onions, garlic, rapini and bok choy. The radish were the first up; showing up early this past week. They were followed by the bok choy and then spinach. The Rapini is just saying hello today, and the peas won't be long behind (I can see them trying to push through the soil).  I covered the boy choy and rapini with netting right away - those pesky flea beetles are not going to eat them this time around! I've also already put out some 'earwig' traps...try to get some while they are young.

The robins have been digging up the gardens a bit, so some areas may need replanting. But overall, things are going relatively well right now.

The next project in the beds will be introducing drip irrigation. I will be picking up a kit this weekend, hopefully, and getting that all sorted out. We have a lot more seeds to go into the gardens - some of my old favourites, and some new plants this year. We just have to wait for some warmer weather :)

It just makes me so happy to be out digging around in the dirt again :)

Monday, April 25

Oh She Grows: Planting Potatoes in Containers

This weekend, I planted my potatoes out. My fellow Canadians may be shaking their heads, saying it's much too soon, with very real threats of frost...but just take a minute. I'm planting my potatoes in containers this year. Yup! That's right...containers. Meaning, upon the threat of frost, I can move them indoors if needed; and now they will have a super head start!

I was inspired by the video below on YouTube:

It appears that is is possible for it to be very successful. I had potatoes my first year in the garden, and then decided that with my limited garden space, that I wasn't going to grow them last year. But, after seeing that video I see I can have garden fresh potatoes, and save space in my raised beds for harder to grow vegetables! :o)

I watched the flyers from all the department store in my area, and waited until large storage bins went on sale. I got these guys half - a great deal! They are approximately 60L. I drilled holes in the bottom and sides for drainage - very important according to those who have done this. The holes prevent the soil from getting 'water logged' and the potatoes rotting.

I let my potatoes "chit" on a windowsill for a couple weeks - and they gave me these lovely sprouts. It is important for these sprouts to be 'short and stout', not long and gangly (like what you find if you left your potatoes in a bag for too long). These shorter sprouts are healthier. You don't have to do this, but this way, you know which way to plant your potatoes.

Above is a Blue Russian seed potato, and below are chitted Banana Fingerling seed potato. 

I ordered my seed potatoes online from Eagle Creek Farms, in Alberta. I ordered: Russian Blue, Banana Fingerling, Bintje and Candy Cane. They all have different harvest times: early, mid and late season so hopefully we have potatoes throughout the season, plus a few to bring us into early winter.

I put 2-3 inches of soil in the bins, along with compost. I placed the seed potatoes in, sprouts facing up, and then covered with another 2-3" of the soil mix. When the plants reach 4-6" high, I will add more dirt to the bins to simulate "hilling up", and continue to do so as the plant grows until the bin is full.

We will see how it all turns out in a couple months. I'm hoping that it is successful - reusing the bins every season will make the whole project very cost effective.

Chewie of course helped. ;)

Thursday, April 21

Oh She Grows: All Ready!

Chewie is showing off all the hard work we did. This past week, we cleaned up the garden beds - there were a lot of weeds, and dead plants from last fall when things got really busy and we weren't able to do a proper clean up then. We also amended the soil with some composted manure. It is all ready for seeds and plants! First up will be: onions, peas, spinach and carrots...and then some warmer weather for the rest :)

Wednesday, April 20

Garden Experiments: Starting Slips from Sweet Potatoes

A long, long, time ago I started some sweet potatoes in water, with the hopes that they would grow "slips", and that I would be able to plant those slips in my garden and grow more sweet potatoes. You can read all about my initial endeavor, here.

It's now been two months. After the first month and a bit, I noticed absolutely nothing was progressing. So I cut the sweet potatoes in half, thinking that might help. And again, time went on and, well frankly, nothing.  This week, I was about done with it all. The sweet potatoes were not looking great, so I thought I would just throw them out - I did just buy these from a supermarket, and I did read that if they got close to 'freezing' at any point it wouldn't work anyways. I figured they were duds, and that I didn't want the house to start smelling like rotting sweet potatoes, and windowsill space is prime sunning property for my indoor plant starts.

The first one I pulled up was rotten - I will save you the gross and mushiness of a picture of it. The second one surprised me...

When I pulled it up, we had three roots! So it was alive, sort of! I more closely examined the sweet potatoes, and found one, single bud on it:

It is not at all very big yet...I still wouldn't even claim it will be 100% viable. But it is a sign of life.

I'm not sure if it is far enough along, to be a successful "slip" but the time I need to plant it out at the end of May / early June. But, knowing this, I may try again next year starting even sooner. We will have to see. It might also just be that there wasn't enough window light / warmth during the beginning of this experiment to push it along like it needed to be.

Regardless, it was a surprising discovery after what I thought was a failed experiment. 

I will keep you all updated.

Friday, April 15

Oh She Grows: Signs of Spring!

We are finally getting some spring weather - sunshine and warmness! Last week, we were still have days where it was snowing! But the warmer weather is bringing to life the outdoors. Above is a crocus that is blossoming. Now, it did also blossom earlier in the month as well, but we got such a hard frost it killed those blossoms.

Mounds of tulips are popping up more and more everyday. I can't wait until they all blossom - I believe I have lots of pinks and reds. I must make a mental note to plant more in the fall, and dig up all the "duds" - tulips that are no longer giving blossoms.

We do have some of the early ones giving up some colours though :) These are just super small, super short blossoms - but also super early ones! Yea! You can tell the weeds have been loving the warmer weather too.

My oregano survived the winter, and it's grown since I first saw it during a February melt - I almost couldn't believe it, but it must be true. It is right up against the house, so it would get all the heat from there to help it out.

More and more perennials are starting to say hello. I will have to do some spring clean up of all the dead foilage that I left through the winter - this plant in particular, sedum, looks wonderful in the winter under all the snow. It keeps all of the plants beautiful architecture and just dries right in place.

The garden boxes are of course, bare and in the need of some weeding. They shouldn't need another dumping of soil, like last year where it settled half way down. But I will give some nutrients back into the soil with some compost.  The warm weather is supposed to keep up, so I'm hoping peas in the garden next weekend? That's only a week behind of last year.

We maybe...teeny tiny chance, might, be building a fourth box. I really, really hope it happens! I have already drawn out a plan, and at first I found it hard to actually 'use' that extra space, since I've been so use to cramming everything into three boxes, 144 square feet. But to get another 48 square feet would be amazing!!!! I'm thinking more flowers, more food in the freezer, utilizing the space for better companion plantings. Eeee!!! I'm hoping as well, that I might be able to convince him to build a teeny, tiny box for an asparagus bed....just maybe.

Indoors, the plants are growing so much better with the sunshine we have been getting. Above is my tray of flowers that I started indoors. The sweetpeas have already gotten a "haircut" and are starting to branch out more.

Some of them, like this Nasturtium, are 'direct sowing' flowers. But I wanted to experiment and see if starting them indoors would give them a little head start on blossoming. Anything to get flowers in the garden sooner!

The tomatoes got repotted and are already less leggy - combination of more sun, and being planted deep down of course. I planted way, way more tomatoes than I needed this year - thinking that some wouldn't make it - but when they didn't make I couldn't stand to give up, so I replanted....and now I have 24 healthy tomato plants....usually I need 3-5 extras for plants that don't transplant well, or get damaged for whatever reasons (ie. dog jumping in the garden, rabbits, ect)...but that still leaves me with probably 5-8 extra plants....I guess I will be giving them away....

The peppers (not shown) are doing wonderfully as well. Starting them as early as I did was a good idea, and they will be nice and strong when their time comes to be put out, end of May / early June.

The wonderfully weather is just making me so happy that I'll be digging the dirt soon :)

Monday, April 4

The Wedding Dress Original Mixed Media Painting

"The Wedding Dress" - Original Mixed Media Painting
I have a new painting to share today, "The Wedding Dress".  I created it using leftover pieces from my wedding veil. The tulle was a little finicky getting onto canvas, but I got it on and it created a beautiful dimensional aspect to this painting. It is similar to my wedding dress, not exactly - once I got playing with some textures, the painting took on a life on its own.

Here are some detail shots of all the wonderful textures in this piece:

It is available, here.