Thursday, February 27, 2014

I cleaned up my square foot gardens in February

I cleaned out the weeds and I raked the tops of each of my square foot gardens. I also cleaned out the  remaining carrots (half eaten by voles) from the west square foot garden.  I couldn't turn the soil yet, still frozen about half way down. Probably a good thing. I'm thinking of creating a wire mesh cage of some sort to keep the voles out. Any ideas? I will probably have to also cover the top somehow and let the plants grow through. The voles here don't just eat my plants from underneath.

Kiwi and Mambo joined me and got some much needed vitamin D. I kept them close to the house when I switched to the south garden so they were less likely to be prey for hawks.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Growing Plants Indoors

After spending a day outdoors I also took a look at the plants I have growing indoors. The Cilantro has started growing real leaves. I can't wait to share a few with my Green Cheek conures. They love spicy greens. And I love salsa.

They also love sprouted wheat. After only 8 hours of soaking the birds are ready to eat them. Most seeds eaten by birds out of doors are already sprouted. That means their nutritional value is at its peak. That makes for healthy birds. One tip I've learned that I'll share with you is that it's best to sprout only one type of seed or bean at a time. Beans must be cooked or sprouted to be safe for birds.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pruning the peach tree

4 weeks ago about 250 wards (a ward is a congregation of about 350 people in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) in our area were asked to fast and pray for moisture. Just a little info, congregations are divided up geographically.  Since then our dry winter has changed dramatically. 

The weather has been amazing the past 4 weeks in the valley. We've had a few nice snow storms and a lot of rain. Most of the snow has been in the mountains which makes for some epic ski days which we have enjoyed as a family. Some may call it a coincidence but as we looked at the doplar weather report the storms were directly over these 250 wards. The Lord was quick to hear our cries. I wonder if it has something to do with the increase in temple attendance and the 20,000 person increase in people serving full time missions. Snow pack levels went from 26% to over 100% in the mountains in just 3 weeks. I am so grateful, and I'm sure my garden will be grateful too.

Today we finally had a little sun and it was warmer too. So I got out my new fleece Jacket. I bought it yesterday at Kohls. You can see from the price tag it was marked down to $9. Then I used a coupon in addition. My very inexpensive fleece Jacket was the perfect thing to keep me warm on the shady side of the house. If you need a few warm items for Spring (and since it's suddenly the end of February, fall really isn't that far away), check out the clearance rack at Kohls.

I grabbed my pruners and my favorite pair of garden gloves and headed out front to the peach tree. You should never cut more than 1/3 of the tree or it will become stressed and die. But at the same time, you don't want crowded branches and peaches that can't get any sun. I always have a hard time cutting them back but I do it and feel better once I can distract myself by digging in the dirt.

I did save a few branches for snow men next winter.  And I trimmed a few branches so I can use them as natural supports for my pepper plants and such.

I'm looking forward to seeing the apple and peach trees bloom, and as always we are looking forward to the fruit.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Garden changes slowly

Since the tomato plants were growing up into the lights, I decided to move the front set of lights up a few inches.  And since the plants on the left are newly sprouted, I switched some of the tall plants into the left tub. That way the short plants would be closer to the lower back lights.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cold weather vegetable transplants

Right now I feel very much like we are playing the watch and wait game. I simply have to remember to water my plants every few days. I must admit, my broccoli was looking a little dry. But it's still alive and I'm looking forward to putting everything out in the garden. Well, the cold weather veggies anyway. I need to buy a more water permeable agrabon cover to keep the bugs out. Do you have a preference? I purchased mine locally the last few years but I think this year I'm going to order something online. 

In my life outside of gardening I've been dreaming about building a nice outdoor Aviary for my parrots. I plan on owning a beautiful macaw one day so the Aviary will need to be large enough to  accommodate a larger bird, prevent snakes from getting in, and have plenty of flying space, some shade, and some sunny spots. My birdies need their vitamin D. And when we clean out the Aviary, we can compost everything.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Full Spectrum Grow lights help plants grow straight and more compact

The nice thing about grow lights is that the plants grow straight up and more compact in than in a window. When I first started gardening I started everything in my window sills. The more cloudy days you have the skinnier and longer the stems of your plant will be. Of course, Windows aren't the only thing that can cause that problem. It's tempting to get ahead of myself sometimes and move the lights up when the plants are getting closer to the grow lights. But if I move the front row of lights up too soon, the plant will more than likely become "leggy". The plant will stay more compact if I leave the lights close for now. This will help the plant to not grow tall and spindly. A weak leggy plant is more easily damaged by wind when I transplant it outside. Of course it is not as bad with tomatoes. I bury most of my tomato plants in an eastward trench filled with egg shells so that only a small portion is visible. The eggshells prevent blossom end rot by providing much needed calcium to my tomatoes (I have the most  nutrient lacking clay known to mankind in my yard). Keep the lights close. I've never had burn issues with my plants touching the bulbs.  

Why do my plants follow the sun?

Why do my plants follow the sun? It is not like they have a brain and a central nervous system.  They do have cells and those cells need a certain environment to grow properly. So why is it that my Cilantro (coriander) is bent? The cells on the shady side of the plant grow bigger and the cells on the sunny side of the plant are smaller or more compact. This causes the plant to lean towards the sun and because it is sitting in my window, the sunlight is filtering in mainly from one side. How do I help my plants grow straight and tall? Simply turn them around as often as needed. The faster the plant grows, the more often you'll need to do this. I turn my Cilantro about once a day. The second photo should really be first but it will not let me change it on my phone. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Preparing Peppers

I mentioned yesterday that I would share more about the jalapeño peppers as well as the Keystone Giant Bell peppers that I am growing. I have been growing both in my garden for a number of years. I've also grown Serrano peppers and Cayenne peppers in the past. I really didn't use the Cayenne peppers so I'm not growing them again. I'm the only one who likes spicy food in my family and medium is enough heat for me. I will probably buy the Serrano from a green house this year and transplant them. I just didn't have enough room. I doubled my broccoli plants and added Swiss chard this year to my sprouting tubs. Peppers like heat. They need a warm climate to get started. I placed a heating pad under the tub directly under the peat pots with the peppers. My basement is cold so this helps them germinate and more seeds germinate this way.  They transplant easily while they are little so if one pot remains empty and if I get a few in another I can just move a some. This year all the Bells are sprouting. Yay! You can see I set the heating pad to low. I've used medium once or twice. Depends on the chill in the air.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February garden update

It's that time of year again. My gardening is off to a great start and I have renewed energy to work on it. My daughter is beginning her Personal Progress in April,  and Moms can complete their's as well. Gardening is my main project for the value Faith. Heirloom tomatoes can take months longer than hybrid tomatoes to even bloom, much less produce fruit, so I started them in January around the 2nd or 3rd.  I'm growing Cherokee Purple and Pink Brandywine yet again. Yum! The second tub holds the seeds that I planted last week.  So far the cabbage has sprouted. It's probably due to the heating pad on that end to help the jalapeño seeds sprout. Jalapeños take at least 3 weeks, if not 4 weeks to sprout, so if you haven't started yours yet, you still have a little bit of time. More on that tomorrow!