February 9, 2017

Time to Sow Again

©Marie Anne St. Jean
A friend asked last night if I still had my gardening blog, and I was ashamed to admit that while I did, I hadn't posted in a long time and had allowed it to lie fallow.  I was even more embarrassed when I popped in and saw that it's been almost three years since I posted here.  :::: gulp ::::

I guess now is as good a time as any to sow a few seeds on the blog and see if I can get it to sprout again.  Since I hope to get a decent garden in this year, it should provide ideas for fresh material to share with you.

Watch for posts about my own adventures with this year's garden, as well as -

  • Seeds vs seedlings
  • How to start plants from seed
  • Starting indoors vs sowing directly in the ground
  • Hardening off
  • Container gardening
  • Gardening on a dime
  • Raised beds vs traditional gardening
  • Straw gardening
  • Composting
  • Putting up the harvest
  • Various other gardening, sustainability, hobby farm, and homesteading topics

I haven't decided yet whether I want to get chicks again this year, but you can bet there will be a blog post or two about chicken farming somewhere along the line.  I'll probably throw some pet-related and livestock articles in here too.

While I don't claim to be an expert in any particular subject, I've picked up a thing or two over the years, so if you have a topic you'd like to learn more about, please leave a comment.  If it's not something I'm knowledgeable enough to write about from my own experience, I can certainly research and network with friends and get some answers for you.

See you soon!

~ Marie Anne

April 7, 2014

And Then There Were Sprouts!

I posted the other day that I had planted a few things -  four lettuce seeds in a large flower pot, and a couple of old Big Boy Hybrid tomato seeds in flower pots - and that several days before that I had stuck one or two tomato in an eggshell.  The one in the eggshell still hasn't sprouted, so I tossed it in the compost this morning and see no sign of activity from the tomato pots yet, but all four of my lettuce seeds have sprouted!

Lettuce seedlings

The photo was taken a few minutes ago but they actually popped through the soil day before yesterday, so germination only took four or five days.

I'm not surprised about the tomato since the seeds are several years old, and the ones I planted the other day have been sitting in the mudroom where it's chilly.  Lettuce doesn't mind cooler temps as much and those seeds came from this year's packet, so it's no wonder they germinated when the tomatoes haven't done anything.

After poking through my old seeds, I planted a couple of bell pepper, cucumber, and Roma tomato seeds in eggshells this morning, but I'll be pleasantly surprised if any of them germinate, because like the Big Boy, they're all a couple of years old.  If they don't, no big deal, I'll just get more seeds and try again.

Burpless cucumber, Roma tomato,
and bell pepper seeds planted today

I've moved the egg carton closer to the light I have over the brooder for the six chicks, so the warmth from that should help them sprout, if they're viable.

I got two new chicks after losing two of the original six the other day, and all of them seem to be doing well.  I've been wanting to post about them, but having trouble getting decent photos since they don't listen when I tell them to hold still!

Since it's chilly and rainy here today, I guess I'll have to amuse myself watching TV (both chick TV and my large screen) instead of putzing outside.  I hope you're having a blessed day!

~ Marie Anne

April 1, 2014

Let the Seed-Sowing Begin!

I've taken one more step towards getting my garden in this year, albeit a small one - I planted tomato and lettuce seeds today.

I only had one good eggshell from breakfast the other day, so planted one Burpee's Big Boy Hybrid yesterday from seeds that I had on hand, then bought more dirt and some lettuce seeds when I was out yesterday.  I grabbed some pots this afternoon that I had saved and planted four Simpson Elite lettuce seeds in the larger pot, then two more Big Boy tomato seeds in each of three slightly smaller pots.

I prefer to start seeds in something a lot smaller (like eggshells) and then pot up, but I didn't have anything smaller on hand, so I went with what I had.  I still only filled the pot partially with dirt so that I can add more as the seedlings grow taller and get more leggy.  Adding the dirt higher up the stalk helps them develop more roots there, which makes them more sturdy.  This slideshow shows how I've started tomato plants from seeds using eggshells in years past, and I've always had great success with it.  I explain more about starting small and potting up, adding more dirt as you go, in "How to Start Tomato Plants From Seed".  Click to check out the size of one of the tomatoes from that harvest!

If the seeds germinate, I won't pot up the tomatoes since there's enough room in these containers to allow them to grow tall and sturdy as I add more soil, so they'll go right into the ground when the time is right.  I'm going to leave the lettuce in the pot and not put it in the ground at all.  If all four lettuce seeds germinate and become too much for that size pot, I'll thin and plant more in another pot, and keep the harvest going through the summer.

I'm getting a late start this year, but at least I AM starting!

~ Marie Anne

March 31, 2014

Old Seeds - Will They Be Viable?

I found my bucket of old seed packets last night and realize that I had a lot more seeds than I first thought.   I have a couple of different peppers, several varieties of beans (some bush, which is good), a packet of cucumber, and tomatoes - both Roma and Big Boy Hybrid.  I have sweet corn too, but don't think I'll plant any this year because I'm supposed to be staying low-carb and shouldn't be eating it. Same goes for the cantaloupe, but we'll see.  I'd want to plant that directly into the ground after it's good and warm, so there's no rush to make that decision anyway.

With all the seeds that I found, I don't think I'll buy more just yet.  Some of them are a couple of years old so I don't know how viable they'll be, but since I've got plenty of them, I figure that some of them are bound to sprout.  The only thing I'll need to buy is lettuce, so after buying a couple of bags of dirt, I should be all set to get my little garden started with very little expense.

I'm excited to get going and will probably start tomatoes today, if nothing else.  I saved my eggshells from breakfast this morning, so if I can scrounge around and find some seed starter medium and/or good garden soil in the garage, I'm ready to go.

I never buy tomato plants, but start my own tomatoes from seed in an eggshell and have always had great success with it, so as long as these seeds are viable, I expect this year to be no different.  Stay tuned to see how things turn out!

~ Marie Anne

March 30, 2014

New Beginnings

Since I haven't written to this blog in a very long time, I figured that with spring almost here (I don't care what the calendar says, it's not here yet!), it's a good time to dust it off and get things rolling again.

After a horrible winter in south/central Ohio, it's fairly pleasant today with partial sun and temps in the 50s.  I spent some time outside with the dogs, and decided to figure out where I might want to put a small garden this year.  I planted a patch here 2-3 years ago, but I haven't had anything in the ground at all the last two years.  Last year I used that area to burn some brush, so it's the likely spot to plant a few things this year.

I raked some of the brush (and cat poop) out of the way, then remembered I had some plastic left so dragged it over to cover it in hopes that it'll keep anything from sprouting until I'm ready to tend to the soil and plant.  I might go just a bit bigger than what I show in the photo, but not by much.  I do have another piece of plastic, but it's got some junk on it still and I didn't feel like messing with it today.

My back started to hurt after dragging just those few cement blocks around, so as out of shape as I am, I opted to stop there before I hurt myself further. After the knee injury 18 months ago (that never did heal completely), I'm not taking any chances.  I played with the pups a bit more, while brainstorming what else I want to do.

I don't need a big garden, and there are many vegetables that I don't eat anyway, so I'm keeping it small.  I don't eat tomatoes but love growing them (and have a friend who'll take all I can harvest), so I'll definitely put a few 'maters in, and probably a mound or two of cucumber.  I want lettuce for sure, but will probably put that in a container since roots are shallow, and again, it's just me so I don't need much.  I might put a row of beans or snap peas in too.

I suppose if I expect to grow anything at all, I should get some seeds started, huh?  I'm a bit behind in that department too, but better late than never.  I'll be going to Tractor Supply in the next day or two to look at chicks (yes, I'm seriously contemplating chicken farming again!), so I'll pick up seeds while I'm out and about.  I do have some seeds left from previous gardening adventures, but I'm not sure how viable they are.

So, it's not much, but it's a start.  I hope the good weather holds out so that I don't lose motivation.  I'm determined to spend more time outside this summer, and after the cabin fever that came with the crazy winter weather, I need it!

~ Marie Anne

June 7, 2012

With Molly and Jethro, Off on a Jaunt

There's nothing really exciting to see around here, but since I'm easy to please, I still enjoy it when Molly and Jethro take me for a walk.  There is plenty of flora and fauna in our little neck of the woods, and I tried to capture a little of it with my cell phone camera to share with you.

There were more pictures of various wildflowers and such, but my cell phone is being ornery and not letting me have them.  Some of the photos aren't the best, but here's what I was able to get.

I hope you enjoyed our little jaunt!

June 3, 2012

New Windows = Stunned Oriole (Not a Goldfinch After All)

I finally have all the windows in my house replaced, much to the chagrin of my feathered friends.  I don't think there's a window in this house now that hasn't been christened by a bird, usually with a loud whack.

Just now as I was reading email, a bird hit the window beside me.  I knew it was a hard hit, so I opened the window and looked down and sure enough, the pretty little Baltimore Oriole (originally was thinking it was a goldfinch) that had been playing in the quince bush was on the ground.

I went out to look and at first she appeared ok, was sitting upright and looking around, but not moving.  I bent to pick her up and she didn't even flinch.

(Click photos to enlarge)

Pretty little Baltimore Oriole let me pick her right up

When I turned to get a better look, I could see that she had blood on her beak on both sides, so she must have whacked her head good.

Oriole after flying into my window

I had a friend hold her so I could get a better photo.

After a couple of minutes she still showed no signs of wanting to fly away on her own, but I couldn't leave her in the back yard for my dogs to get her.  I still had shavings from when I had my chickens, so I tossed a few into a plastic tub and set the oriole in that, then put the tub inside my large chicken coop with the pop door open.  She'll be safe from the dogs, and if she can fly up out of the tub and out of the coop, she should be able to make it to safety.

Sure hope the little gal makes it ok.  I'd hate for word to get out that it's dangerous to visit my bird feeders.

Update:  About ten minutes later I saw movement in the quince bush and a flash of yellow.  I checked the tub and my little friend was gone, so apparently she was ok after a bit of a rest.  As I walked over to the quince bush, she flew off.

After looking at the photos again, I don't think this is a goldfinch at all.  The beak is too long, and the bird is larger and I think the tail is longer than a goldfinch.  A friend suggested she might be a Baltimore Oriole and after looking at other photos, I agree.