Friday, February 24, 2012


Seed-starting updates.
The true leaves of the eggplant and pepper seedlings are just beginning to emerge.
The kale, broccoli, and cauliflower look a little leggy, but the grow lights are as close to them as possible (only raised here to photograph) so I guess I'll need to research that more.
 In the garden, I've seeded spinach, turnips, a few stray parsnips and carrots, peas, lettuce, beets, leeks, and scallions. And now the fun--and the spring-like weather--ends, with 40mph+ winds today and tomorrow.
That is a good excuse to head to the garden center and pick up some compost to top off the beds. The waiting is the hardest part.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Beginnings

Dinky Do has a new look! I was bored, and spring cleaning and such. Another gorgeous weekend (and they had called for snow, ha!) spent surveying the garden brings thoughts to renewal but also reminded me of my main goal for this season: avoiding pain!
Gardening is really hard on the body, whether you are 25 or ... ahem, approaching 40. Even less strenuous tasks can be repetitive to the point of pain, especially when you are endowed with a single mindedness for finishing a task that borders on obsession. This season, I am going to try harder to not be so hard on myself. I began research into "gardening yoga" today and found articles from two great resources: Yoga Journal and Organic Gardening.
We'll see how it goes, and in the meantime, enjoy this preview of Fritillaria bulbs, blooming soon along with the bleeding heart above (whose sprouts I saw emerging from the soil over the weekend--it's always amazing to see it return since it dies back so thoroughly in summer).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Belated Valentine's Flower Post

I don't give much thought to Valentine's day, but this article gave me pause: There's a 1 in 12 Chance Your V-Day Flowers Were Cut by Child Laborers. There's no way to make sure all of our purchases are positive for humanity (something I'm sadly reminded of every time I use my iPad), but this article is a good reminder that flowers should be on the list of things we try to buy locally. In addition to child labor, there is the issue of pesticide use and the fact that it is just insanity to import flowers. I'm lucky that I grow a lot of my own, and I try to get the rest at the farmers' market or Whole Foods, where they sell Virginia-grown flowers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waiting for seeds to grow

The seeds are planted. I get anxious waiting--will they germinate? Will they get damping off? I sprinkle cinnamon on the top just in case it helps, but it also smells nice. Once these germinate, the table will be folded out and a grow light added to the setup.
My broccoli and cauliflower are from Botanical Interests. Both are recommended for fall in my area, but I keep trying in spring. The kale is from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Cabbage worms have decimated my kale in the past--I will be trying row cover this time.
The eggplant and Tunisian baklouti peppers are from Baker Creek. They both did super last year, and this year I am trying a heat mat to speed germination. I typically only need a couple of eggplants, so once I run out of this seed, I'll return to buying seedlings from the farmers' market, where I can get varieties I like--like this listada di gandia heirloom. I also did not see much difference in the productivity of seed-grown plants versus transplants. The peppers, on the other hand, are great all-purpose peppers as well as being authentic for Harissa, one of my favorite condiments.

I prefer direct sowing, but to get the most out of the season, get practice, and choose unique varieties, seed starting inside has to done.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Whither Winter?

No, it's not snowing, my new header photo above is from a couple weeks ago when we got a "dusting." It is also to remind me that this is winter. This week, we had two 60 degree plus days following a non-winter of mild temps. Lots of hand wringing has ensued. As much as I detest cold weather,  I do worry about pests coming back with a vengeance in the spring.
I was looking for a good article I recently read that explained the "warm winter" when I came across this hilarity: Brutal Winter Predicted for U.S.
Here is the article about the jet stream's influence on this winter.
 The mild snap has ensured a steady harvest of greens, but it is also making me even more eager to start planting! I'll have to bide my time with seed starting and planning. After all, the last frost date is still early April, and I know winter is nowhere near over.

Ever the optimist, I'm sure the predicted cold February will set things right, and March is usually pretty miserable around these parts. The Farmer's Almanac long-range forecast is predicting a cool spring and summer, so maybe I should try again with plants like broccoli and cauliflower--both have eluded heading for me in past brief spring seasons.
Coming soon: seed orders arrive and a new seed starting station!