Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hope your Easter was happy

Sometimes get together with my husband's family for an Easter party the Saturday before Easter. We are in charge of the dessert this time.  So we decide to make sandwich cookies.  We made sugar cookies and then added some food coloring.  Then my daughter wanted something fun with the last bit of dough so she and my husband made the bears.  So now they've changed their minds and want to decorate them.  

I'll post a photo when they are all done.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Learn about Romaine and Summertime lettuce from Anderson's Seed & Garden

This is the Romaine Lettuce Plato II.  I purchased the seeds at Anderson's Seed and Garden last year.  As you can see, the seeds are still doing well and had no problem sprouting.  I think after I harvest the spring crop I am going to try the Outback Romaine - it grows taller and is exceptionally heat tolerant.  Nothing like fresh lettuce with grilled hamburgers, especially when you're allergic to wheat and can't enjoy a hamburger bun. 

More about Romaine Lettuce Plato II from Anderson's Seed & Garden:
This popular Romaine has upright growth reaching 10 inches tall with large, thick, medium green, slightly rumpled leaves with creamy white centers. Tender, crisp, and sweet flavored. It is tolerant to many lettuce diseases and is slow bolting. Approximately 65 days to maturity.

This is the Summertime Lettuce.  I purchased the seeds from Andersons.

More about Summertime Lettuce from Andersons:
Summertime head lettuce is an excellent choice for cultivation in warm to hot climates. Here in Cache Valley it can be treated like loose leaf lettuce. This sure heading iceberg variety produces medium-sized, firm heads in about 75 days from direct seeding. Heads are medium green, with a short core. Summertime has demonstrated very slow bolting under high temperatures, and shows good resistance to rib discoloration and tip burn. 

Here is one of my many jalapenos transplants.  I have learned that peppers take a long time to sprout and need a heat mat.  I use an old heating pad.  To get the Serranos to sprout I actually had to turn it up on high.  Serranos take the longest. If you are going to start your own - plant January 1st.  I started the bell peppers and jalapenos the same time.  They really don't need to start until February 1st.  They can't go outside until all danger of frost has past unless you plan on covering them. 

Here's more about Jalapenos from Andersons: 
An improved, medium maturity Jalapeno type with blunt-ended, dark green fruit, ripening to red. The upright medium sized plants produce excellent yields of very hot peppers and provide very good foliage cover for them. A popular type for certain markets.  80 – 110 days to harvest.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More about Dutch Cabbage and Blue Kale from Anderson's Seed & Garden

The cabbage is looking really good.  I found that while Dutch round ball cabbage tends to split, it also grows quickly and around here we want it done and out of the ground before the July heat hits.  I just have to keep my eye on it. 

Here's more about it from AndersonsAn Anderson’s favorite.  Danish Ballhead is a heavy producing blue-green variety with large 6-7 inch round heads that often weigh 5 – 6lbs. Late fall and storage variety that is good cooked or raw in salads and coleslaw. Plant cabbage in sunny location where no cabbage or broccoli was grown the year before. Rich soil and regular waterings are to its liking. 110 days to harvest.

I am trying to grow Kale this year for Kiwi and Mambo but also to try some kale chips. I found a recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine the other day while at instacare that I can't wait to try.

Here is more about Kale from AndersonsLow, compact plants with finely curled, bluish-green leaves. Good cooked or fresh in salads. Grows best in cool weather. Can be grown as a spring or fall crop. 55 days to harvest.

I purchased the seeds at Anderson's Seed & Garden and the peat pots at Lowes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Utah Celery transplants - what a difference the right pot makes

So maybe you remember this post from a few weeks ago. That was March 3rd and if that wasn't enough to convince you then I hope that this will.

The stalks of the celery in the peat disc are so much smaller that those in the 3" pots.

And even the color is different. I stuck the small one in next to the larger dark green leaves so you could see the difference up close.  The leaves are much larger and darker green in the 3" pot.

It's almost unbelievable.  And of course, just a reminder - I purchased the seeds at Anderson's Seed and Garden.

And as you can see, my transplants are starting to really fill in.  This is the time to make sure you are using a fan to prevent mold and damping off.  Pretty soon the snow will be gone here and I can start to harden the cabbage, kale, broccoli, and onions that need to be transplanted to the garden.  This is when the super duper tough tubs come in handy.  They are sturdy enough to handle the trip upstairs every day and sit out in the sun for a few hours until they can handle being outside all day.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Take advantage of the few warm days in March to get the garden going again

The snow is almost gone from the grape vine area.  We will need to tighten the wire soon.  The grapes were fertilized in the fall so hopefully they will grow this year.  We have really terrible soil here in this spot.  It's free of rocks which is wonderful but the soil about a foot down is terrible.  It took 4 years for these grape vines to get this big.  The middle one doesn't even reach the wire yet. Not cool! 

The two grape vines on the outer edge are disease resistant.  The one in the middle is not.  All three are red grapes perfect for the table.  I suppose you could juice them as well.  Maybe someday we'll have enough grapes to do a taste test.  My neighbor across the street is Catholic and they were teasing us about our vineyard, wondering what kind of wine we were going to produce.  They know we are Mormon and don't drink alcohol.  They are the nicest neighbors and we all got a good laugh.

I tilled around the Hydrangeas and added the Bluing Formula.  I don't mind the pink blooms. It's just that I really love the blue blooms.  They also got a dose of fertilizer.

You can see the extra propane hose that will need to be buried soon.  We got that for the generator since we prefer having water from our well when the power is out. One step closer.

Here are some before shots of the flowerbeds.  They really look sad.  The plants here will have pretty white blooms.  I can't wait to see them actually bloom over here on the west side of the house. I transplanted these here last spring.  The original plant came from a neighbor.

Between the two Dwarf Burning Bush plants here are a bunch of purple Alliums.

Again the area with the peach tree and then looking down the west side of the house.  

And another side of the flower bed that needs to be cleaned. This area has great looking Black Eyed Susans and a Honeysuckle Bush.  The Honeysuckle Bush also needs to be fertilized. 

My goals this year are to get rid of the black drain pipes AND add river rock.  That will be a huge improvement in our yard. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Parrot Flight Training and Parrots playing fetch caught on video!

Kiwi's wings are starting to do better.  After a trip to the vet and some blood work we learned that he was picking because he was in pain.  His kidney's weren't functioning properly and so he couldn't get rid of the uric acid which builds up in their joints and breaking feathers helped to keep his mind off the pain.  

I have a couple of cute videos with my green cheeks showing off their skills.  Mambo is getting quite good at flying to me and my daughter on cue.  Having a bird that can fly verses clipping their wings is quite wonderful as long as they are trained.  Of course when we adopted Mambo her wings were a little clipped which is actually kind of nice because having a bird fly to the top of 9' cabinets in the kitchen can be a little annoying.  

And of course, I have to share some of Kiwi's skills.  He is feeling much better and moving faster.  He loves playing fetch and I am going to order him his own basketball hoop. Mambo will be learning this trick soon.  I need to get her a ball in another color so they don't fight. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Those terrible voles!

This first photo shows a little bit of the vole damage next to the Improved Canadian Choke Cherry on the West side of the house.  They eat the tender part of the grass leaving the tops as mulch.  There are trails all over the yard.  The best thing to do is uncover all those spots.  I use a tine rake and put all that grass in the garden or flowerbeds.  Then the tiny bits of grass trying to grow again can have air and water.  I'll show more photos of that in another post. 

When I was adding in the arrows I felt like the blue Genie in Aladdin saying, "Here, here, here, here, here, here, and here." Did you have Vole damage this year?

Here is a close up of the base of the tree.  It's not cleaned up yet, but will be as soon as I get the curtain rods put up downstairs.

And the other tree.
 And the last Choke Cherry tree.  It is part of a large flowerbed that I haven't done much with yet.  It looks much better since I tilled it.  I will till it again when it dries out a little more.  Then it will look much better.  I am going to fill in with river rock mulch here.  You can see the voles were busy here.  I'm almost terrified of the upper hill.  It's going to be a lot of work raking.  I'm already thinking having it power raked would be very beneficial.

In this photo you can see that most of west square foot garden is free of snow.  It's still frozen solid but doesn't take long to thaw it out.  I can hardly wait to plant.  It will be filled mostly with Little Finger carrots this year. I only grew a few last year but they are my absolute favorite carrot.

I will be designing a cover for part of my other square foot garden so I can grow broccoli and a few other items so they'll be safe from bugs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tilling the South side of the house makes the garden look so pretty!

So this is the south side of the house.  The first part of the garden is a strawberry patch.  I'm tempted to fill in the rest with strawberries except the grass creeps in and the strawberries creep into the grass.

Last Friday I raked out the strawberry patch.  Then I tilled the rest of this flower bed.  There is one little straggly bush that lived. The Salvia is doing well as usual.  I plan on putting Mountain Box Wood back here.  It doesn't turn golden like those I have out front, it will stay a pretty blue green and they can handle the heat coming off the rear of the house. Thank you Fonnsbeck Greenhouse for that tip!

I also tilled up the flowerbed on the West side of the deck but it was still really muddy.

And then I tackled the edge of the hill but it was also really muddy.  I made a huge mess here so I had to grab the rake and fluff up the edge of the grass and try to scrape some of the mud back into the flowerbed.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The snow is melting and I am already tilling the soil!

This is the North side of the house and it has the most snow.  Not the side of the house that is getting tilled right now.

It's kinda pretty when it's not covering the sidewalk. 
The area around the peach tree no longer has snow but it is very wet still.  Good thing I wore my Sloggers today! I really should have taken a photo of my muddy boots.

Today I finally had the guts to chop down the center branch.  When pruning peach trees you want a main North branch, South branch, East branch, and west branch.  Opening up the center of the tree makes for better fruit because the sun can get to it. So the center branch had to go.  I also cut away any branches headed straight to the ground and trimmed the end of a few of the branches so the energy would go into making bigger branches that can support the weight.  I still may need to cut a few more branches but I don't want to stress the tree too much after that big cut.

Here's the pile of peach tree branches.  

You can see that the tree is really leaning north.  We have a lot of wind around here.  I even tilted the tree to the south when I planted it.  I may need to add a little support this year. I can't wait to see it bloom!

And the flowerbed in front of the steps needs some major cleaning up too.  I want to add a couple more Box Woods up here.  And clean up the grass, edge and such.  I may put down river rock instead of mulch. The color of the river rock really looks good next to the house.  
I also learned something interesting about mulch.  If you use wood chips, don't use them within 18" of the house. Wood chips are a combustible material. I hadn't thought of that. We live in the high mountain desert and there are a lot of fires every year.  It's a good precaution to take. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

My heirloom tomatoes are starting to sprout

My summertime lettuce is looking good.  I can't wait to see what it will look like in a few weeks when I can finally put them outside in the covered square foot garden.  The snow was just starting to melt and we got 2 more inches last night.  I'm not convinced it will be an early spring unless the ice melts on the reservoir before my son's birthday.
 I thinned the bok choy down to 2 plants.  It survived a trip to the elementary school in the hands of my littlest.  When he reads for 20 minutes he gets to fill out the Read Around the World folder.  Each continent and a couple of the oceans are represented.  There are 15 twenty minute sections for each. After that is completed they write down 5 facts and draw 4 pictures to go with the facts.  Then he gets to create something to represent that continent or ocean and present it with 5 facts about the subject.  

We were talking about the bok choy and how it originated in Asia and he got all excited and asked to bring it for his report.  He printed off a list of facts about bok choy and shared it with his class.  For each report he gets something and then at the end of the year he gets ice cream and all the toppings that go with each continent or ocean.  Daddy has volunteered to help that day!

Back to my plants: My blue Kale has sprouted and will be thinned soon.

And last of all, my heirloom tomatoes are starting to sprout.  When I save the seeds myself, I'm always a little worried.  But they always sprout.  The 5" peat pots are holding up well too. 

Well, Mambo has been sitting quietly on my shoulder for quite a while.  I think she needs some flight training.  She loves it! So here we go...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week Garden Theme

Last week I was in charge of Teacher Appreciation Week for both of my children's teachers. The school has the teacher's Wish List in the office.  I found out my daughter's teacher loves gardening - that was the hobby on the list.  The students sent donations home to me. I purchased 5 metal buckets that the teacher could use to organize gardening supplies, one for each school day last week. I also purchased all of the items in the buckets with the donations.

I purchased 10 V8 in the large cans and put 2 in each bucket.  Then I added in a gift card or gift and also the teacher's favorite candy bars.  One of the other Room Moms helped to deliver the gifts.  I delivered gifts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The bucket has a spade in it - to which the teacher said, "How did you know I broke mine last year?".  I just laughed.  I really had no idea but as a gardener myself, it's always great to have an extra spade around.  

I also got to decorate the door.  I made the book in Adobe Illustrator and then I used the print and cut feature on my Silhouette Cameo to cut out all of them.  I took them with me to the school and kicked the teacher out for a few minutes while the students wrote something nice.  I also used my Silhouette to cut out vinyl letters and added the words "[teacher's name here] Digs a Good BOOK, Our Teacher Rocks!" I put the whole thing together at home except the lettering because I wasn't exactly sure where the window was.  This was the first garden door the teacher had ever had.  

As I brought other gifts the reactions were, "You're spoiling me." And "I'm going to have to hide the Panda Express gift card from my son. We love to eat there."  And "I'll be able to buy all my seeds at Anderson's with this gift card.  It's just what I needed this year."  And with a happy chuckle, "Look at all the candy bars!" And when the kids were asking "What are those???" the answer was, "Peat pots for starting my seedlings. Just what I needed!" 

Teacher's don't make much money and so I can't even imagine how fun and helpful these gifts are. It wasn't until after that I realized it, especially since they just sent a missionary off. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm short so I get to hem my new Silver Jeans

So here are my new indigo Silver Jeans. I love them because they are so comfortable to wear and because the pockets don't extend clear down the back of my legs and the stitching on the lateral side creates a sort of cut off making my "mom hips" look smaller. I purchased them along with two denim capris and a blouse on sale at Maurices and the extra $25 off /$100 spent. The price was hard to beat. I've tried dozens of other brands but none are as comfy.  The Suki and the Aiko are my favorite fit.

I have a pair of Silvers that I currently love and had hemmed already.  I placed those jeans on top of these jeans and made the cuff so that I could hem them. 

Then I removed this part of my sewing machine.

And picked out the zipper foot.
 The nice thing about the zipper foot is that you can change which side you attach it on, allowing you to get closer to the original hem of the pants. 

 While I was working on the pants I heard a little scratching and realized that Kiwi had made his way downstairs and crawled up the pant leg to say hello and get some attention.

After hemming I stitched up the medial side of the pants to keep the hem from falling out. If you can serge the hem, you will still need to do this but the cuff will be really small.  

This is the lateral side of the pants and I just stitched up that side as well, still using the zipper foot.

So now you can see that my size 26x31 jeans are still a 26 waist but much shorter leg which I didn't measure because I really don't want to know...

And as you can see, the original hem with the heavy stitching is still there but you have to look hard to see the new hem.