Thursday, May 28, 2015

May Updates

It seems like I just completed the A to Z Challenge in April and here it is already the last week of May. I'd say I've lost a bit of time but all I have to do it step outside and see where it went.

During the A to Z Challenge I did manage to post a theme, (gardening), post everyday and made fairly good use of the letter of the day. The one thing missing was being able to visit every blog at least once during the month. I did hot quite a few  and picked up some new favorites. I'm getting a second chance, with the 2015 Post Challenge road trip. last time I tried to pick blogs that I thought might have a craft or garden theme first then I checked out ones with what I thought was a catchy title. This time I'm working my way down the list from 1 to whatever the last number ends up being.. it's a bit of a work in process right now.

So in that theme I'll go ahead and update you a bit on some of the projects I talked about in April.
Did they work out? Was a it a bust or would I try it again. Check it and out see.

The garden has been planted and it's in full swing. The Umbrella Market stared last week and it was awesome to see our favorite customers again.

I'll start with an update about the Potato Towers.  Despite our later than normal start and the crazy weather we've had the towers are doing great. I even saw a bloom to two the other day!

I think that it's going great so far. It hasn't been much work other than keeping it watered, which I was smarter this year by adding the soaker hoses to the towers. I'll give you a poundage update at harvest time! I'll mark this one as a success and add it to the list for more towers next year. Sweet potato slips are coming on now. I'm wondering if we can do them the same way. There might be a post about that coming soon.

The Pallet herb garden is a so/so project. we got it built but we need to move it to a shady area. Once we get it moved we'll add the rest of the herbs, which are currently residing in pots.

Now that we have worked out the bugs we can write up a tutorial about what not to I love the idea and I can't wait to get it moved into the shade and have it full of plants.

I'm always promoting trying something every year in your garden. This year I'm working on Artichokes, real ones not the Jerusalem artichokes that I talked about earlier.  Although those were a "new" product one year too.

These are the  Green Globe variety and we're hoping for a small harvest this year. We are on the edge of the zones for perennial, but we have a plan for over wintering it this fall. Check back for updates!

You can see the kale in the back ground there, I've been busy making Kale Chips with the curly and puppy cookies with the Dino.

 The fuzz butts are about out so I'll be making more soon. I should even share my great recipe for their favorite Carrot, Kale, Cheese Krunchies. I can't tell you how much I love hay for the garden. We are doing the straw bales on the other end of this garden but these are some that were left over from winter crops and we just spread some around the spring plantings. It cuts down on the work and for that I'll take all of the help I can get!

 I'll be working weeding the garden, baking and creating fun jam flavors so to hold you over here's a few more pictures of our fruits that are growing great, so enjoy and check back soon for more ideas, recipes and updates.

Super excited for the plum crop this year. I'm thinking about all of the great flavors of Jam we'll have for the fall!

 And of course my all time favorite is concord grape.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book Review- Rooted in Design

It's a been a crazy couple of weeks around here but I've been using the rainy days to catch up on some reading. I would like to share with you a review of a great book I received from Blogging for Books.

As you know I spend quite a bit of time outside in the garden but I'm not the greatest when it comes to indoor plants. While I would love to have tons of happy indoor plants to liven up the house it just hasn't happened. Of course I have the obligatory pothos plant hanging in the window and a Christmas Cactus that is valiantly hanging on, there isn't much else positive to be said for the inside garden situation. That's why I jumped on the offer of reviewing Rooted in Design by Tara Heibel & Tassey de Give.

The chapters and the information given range from on the wall options, using plants as room dividers, to options that work well in our dog and cat house stylish hanging options and terrariums. No matter your style, the full color stunning picture will help you find something that will bring your space up to the next level.

Are you like us and like to do things for yourself. There are ideas to use things you already have laying around. Looking to be adventurous check out the Kokedama. It's a "free-form planting method that derives from bonsai" (chptr IV in the air page 95) I've seen these in magazines and loved them. The best part is that they give you detailed directions on how to make your own. Check back soon, once I get a free minute we'll be making some for us.

My daughter was impressed that they even took time to add a chapter on indoor Kitchen gardens and Medicinal herbs. Lots of great information, showing that plants don't have to be just decorative.

Heibel and de Give's ideas run from elaborate design to everyday simple. They show examples of great thrift store finds re-purposed as containers and even how to create macrame hangers, Not only do they cover how to use plants they have a couple of great chapters on how to pick plants for the right area, by checking your lighting situations, they also go into detail on super ideas that help the rest of us busy people, such as watering balls.

Basically this book covers how to make simple moss walls as pictured on the cover, to picking elaborate plants for decorative chandeliers. I suggest is you'd like to add a little outdoors to your indoors this book is a great jumping in point!  I did receive this book from Blogging for Books for this review but If I had run across it in my travels I would have picked it up quickly

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Planting Peppers

It's finally time for our peppers to make it into the garden. I say Finally, because it seems like it has been a really drawn out process and I'm ready to see some headway.

Most gardeners will start with a few plants picked up from your local nursery or big box store but if you are planning on a lot of peppers, starting them from seed is your best bet.

We are lucky enough to have a bathroom in the shed that doesn't get much use and it was converted to a mini greenhouse late in January so we could start our Peppers. Yes, we started these seeds in late January. Sounds crazy doesn't it, but peppers are a picky plant and take forever to get started. These are a few weeks into the process. The soil needs to be a good 70 to 80 degrees for them to sprout, so if your trying it be prepared with grow lights and a warming mat. We cheat and use rope lights that I got on clearance after Christmas one year, for under the pots to help warm the soil as well as the lights. We got them up and running and in late March we moved them to the Green house. Of which I of course have no pictures..

The seed package is very misleading for peppers, it says that most peppers will be mature and produce peppers in 60 to 90 days, some can go as long as 130 days. This is from the time it is transplanted, if you are using those seeds from that package, go ahead and add 8 to 10 weeks to that number. I say seed manufactures need to have more truth in advertising. If I have started my first garden, bought seed from a big box store and direct sowed into my garden, I would realistically expect to have peppers in three months.
If your lucky, conditions are great and your chickens don't eat them, this is what your pepper plants will look like in 90 days. No where near ready to fruit.Give them another  90 days and the weather would probably be turning really hot and you might not get a chance for peppers this summer. Not fair at all. Then the gardener feels like they have failed at pepper, which isn't fair to them at all.

 Peppers are one of the few vegetables that we recommend getting from a grower. Let someone else do all the work but remember that you'll still have to wait a while before you enjoy those Jalapeno poppers you have been dreaming about.

Two more tips for you before you plant your peppers into the garden. Peppers like a lightly sandy, well drained soil. And sometimes when peppers are grown in greenhouse or the weather goes up and down and you end up with young plants that are already starting to bloom. Before  you plant them it's best to go ahead and pinch those blooms off. Otherwise the small plant will pour all of it's energy into producing the blooms and fruit. It's better to take them off ,let the plant mature and then it will produce blooms again. This will ensure that you have a healthier plant that will produce larger and healthier peppers even if it takes a bit longer.
These are some of the blooms I had to pick off before planting this week. Hopefully we'll continue to have warm nights, peppers need to have night temperatures drop no lower than 50 degrees. Just last week we dropped into the 40's, so we are going ahead and rolling the dice with Mother Nature.

If you're south of us you could be a bit ahead but this could be very timely if you are north of us. You guys have a bit more time before the pepper planting starts!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope to have some updates on the projects started during the A to Z Challenge last month!

Monday, May 4, 2015

A to Z Reflections

This was my first year of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and I want to Thank every one who stopped by, who left a comment or just browsed. I'm a fairly new blogger, in all honesty, both of my blogs have been around for a while, I just haven't been able to complete the follow thru. So having said that I'm glad that I took the challenge, dug in and produced a mostly readable blog for all 26 days.

I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with something for each letter that related to a theme. For me having a theme helped me plan the month. If I hadn't had that, I think it would have been much harder to come up with ideas. I will always have random postings but one thing I will take away from this is that it really helps to schedule posts, or ideas.

My one downfall was keeping it within the 100 to 300 words. I haven't counted some posts but I'm sure I went way over on a few. But even in the ones I cut a bit short, I'll get to bring them back at a later time with more information and maybe better pictures.

I wish I had more time to visit each and every blog. I found some that I wouldn't have found on my own just by wandering around and following links, and I appreciate the opportunity to add to my reader list. Some were outside of my normal areas of interest but I found that I really enjoy them. I will make a point each week to check out a couple of more until I hopefully hit them all. I did find the Google + site a bit late. I wish I had known about it earlier, that might have helped me too.

Will I do it again? I'm not sure. I loved my theme, since it followed right along with my normal blogging. Could I do another 26 days/26 letters under the same theme..maybe. Will I be back to check out the list next year, definitely. Maybe I'll try it with the other blog and see what happens. After all I have a few months to think about it..

And finally Thanks to all of the moderators who took so much of their time to visit blogs and encourage us along the way. It was greatly appreciated!