Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lilacs

My lilacs are starting to bloom and I just had to cut some to bring inside. They smell wonderful!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Starting Seeds

Starting seeds is a good way to make those last few weeks of winter pass a little quicker. I use a variety of recycled containers for seed starting. The sturdier nursery containers can be used over and over again; I just wash them with a mild solution of bleach water before planting. I also use clear plastic berry containers and pint sized ice cream and whipping cream cartons. I like to make homemade ice cream so I probably go through a lot more whipping cream than most people... Last year I made newspaper pots, and while they worked great, it took a long time to make as many as I needed and I kept running out of paper! It seemed like they were a good alternative to peat pots though, which never seem to break down for me so they always end up killing my plants.

Tomatoes

Peppers

Tomato

Oh, and I start my seedings in regular old potting soil. Lots of people say that you should use a special seed starting mix but I've never had a problem with potting soil, and I figure if the seeds have a hard time sprouting in soil, they're going to have a real hard time growing once they get out to the garden. Survival of the fittest I suppose... 

Flowers

Indoor set-up

Moonflowers

Coleus

Once my seeds are planted, I group the smaller containers together in cardboard flats (mostly saved from buying things in bulk at Costco), which makes it easy to carry them outside on nice days. When it's cold out, they spend their days in my sunroom listening to The Current. They get a lot of sun from the south windows, but I also have grow lights to add a little light when needed and give them a few extra hours of light after the sun goes down.

Outdoor set-up

The weather this spring has been unusually warm so I'm itching to start planting early. I've already started a bunch of seeds in my garden, and in a couple weeks I'll probably be planting my peppers and tomatoes outside. I'm curious to see what a few extra weeks of warm weather does for my garden...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tulips!


It's nice to come home from a long day at work to find a little bit of sunshine and the first few tulips blooming in my garden. They're my favorite!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Herb Garden

When we moved in there was a small patch of grass on the south side of our house next to the porch. It was cut off from the rest of the lawn by the driveway on one side and the back patio on the other. My husband would mow it, but the grass would grow back much faster than the rest of the yard. He figured  it had been planted as a garden of ornamental grasses...I wasn't so sure. After doing some research online, I discovered that we had a patch of Yellow Nutsedge - not a plant I wanted to keep around. 

In the fall, I took a shovel and dug up every inch of that weedy grassy patch. Afterwards I carefully dug through the loose dirt pulling out all the nutlets and rhizomes I could find, then I covered it with a thick layer of newspaper and waited for winter. The next spring I still had some sedge to pull up, but eventually it stopped coming back and I was able to plant my herb garden in it's place.

In Zone 4, most of the herbs I plant are considered annuals, but I'll take perennials when I can get them! Chives were the first to go in and the least fussy. I'm convinced they'd shoot up through the snow if the sun could get at them! I planted three different kinds of mint in pots (to prevent them from taking over the garden) and kept them in the garage for the winter. They're all starting to come back, although next winter I'll have to remember to give them a little water from time to time. I also planted lavender, sage, oregano, and a border of creeping thyme, which I'm happy to say have all survived their first Minnesota winter! I covered them with a thick layer of leaves in the fall and we had good snow cover the entire winter, so that probably helped. 

Lavender

Oregano

Sage

Since so many of my annuals survived, I'll just be starting basil, chamomile, and cilantro from seed. I can barely wait to make my first batch of pesto!

Friday, April 9, 2010

First Signs of Spring

I get so excited when things start poking out of the ground after the snow melts. It's always a relief to see that at least some of the things I planted survived the winter! Here's what's coming up so far:

Peony

Hydrangea

Parrot Tulip

Bleeding Heart

Hosta

Clematis

Siberian Squill

When my husband and I were looking at houses one thing we really wanted was a nice yard. If we had found a house we loved with a small yard we probably would have bought it, but we were lucky enough to find a cute little house with a nice big yard...not acres of land but large enough for a couple vegetable gardens and lots of flower beds. Only problem is we live in Minnesota.

Two months ago my front yard looked like this:


Today I planted the first seeds in my vegetable garden. Let's see how well this experiment turns out...