Gardening in the Blind

Starting seedlings
March 25, 2012, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Indoor Gardening, Seedlings

After three weekends worth of cleaning in the basement, it was finally ready to start the seedlings.  I thought I would document just what I do as I have never done that before.  To start the seedlings I have heating mats that are designed for gardeners.  I leave these on the entire time.

Using a smaller plastic, fill it to the top with some good organic seed starting soil.  I try to not have a lot of peat in it as I find it dries out too quickly.  I then have to go upstairs to the kitchen sink to fill it with water as I don’t have access to running water downstairs.  After you pour a lot of water in it, mix it will with your hands.  Make sure the entire container of soil is wet.  You want it wet but not so wet that you can grab a handful and wring it out.  Too much water will hinder the germination of most seeds.

After you have mixed the soil you are ready to fill each cell of the tray with soil.  Notice I have a solid tray that it sits in.  This prevents water from leaking out every which way when I water it.  You want to make sure it is packed firmly in each cell.  I fill it to the top as I find it is easier, but it creates an additional step that you need to do before putting the seeds in each cell.  Some might find this a nuances, but I find I spend less time skimming the dirt off the top before planting then trying to get each cell filled just right.

After I use the soil that I have wet (it fills three trays for me most of the time) I start to pull out the seeds and figure out how many of each I want to start with.  I never do just one.  On a rare occasion I will plant just two.  I want to make sure that if I don’t have strong germination I still have one that I can use.  I grow more than I need so I can pick the stronger ones for my garden.  Every year I try something new for labeling.  This year I am on the cheap.  I have chopped up index cards and used a sharpie.  I might have to replace as we go, but it is the cheapest I have done!

After you have the labels, skim the soil off the top so that you have room to cover the seeds.  Be careful and read the seeds as some will need the light to germinate, thus no soil to cover it.  I then go through a tray is a very systematic way.  I place the labels in the cells for one item I am growing.  I then open the seeds and place two seeds per tray and repeat this process until the entire tray is finished.  Then I grab some of the soil I skimmed off the top and start from the back forward covering each cell so the seeds are not visible.  I lightly pat it down and place on my heating pad.  I keep the lights on it from 5 am until 8 pm.  The heating pad is left on throughout the night to keep them warm.  I will post what they look like in a few days.


It has been too long
February 21, 2012, 3:29 pm
Filed under: chickens, Garden Planning, Indoor Gardening, pests

soon to be started in a basement near you!

It has been too long since I lasted chatted.  We have been too busy lately.  Between dance classes, rock climbing and the gym we really don’t have much time to do anything else.  I am not so keen on this schedule, but we are trying to train for the Tough Mudder in May.  I have a lot of running to go so I am prepared for it.  I have also started a weekday “Paleo” Diet.  That means no gluten, dairy, grains etc.  It makes me appreciate the garden and miss it even more.  But I am in hopes that with the warm week ahead, the ground will thaw so that I can dig out my parsnips.  My mouth waters just at the thought of eating them!

I am still getting some seeds filtering in that were on back order.  I don’t think that I will ever be disappointed when I open the mailbox and see another package sent to me.  It makes me feel so special.  I bribed my husband to deal with the mice in the basement.  We went to Home Depot and picked three different options for traps.  So far we have only caught one well fed mouse.  Deron is in hopes of more as I promised him a nice manhattan for every dead mouse he had to deal with.  It has proven to be a wonder bribe in the past and continues to be.  The trickiest part is hiding the alcohol so he can not find it!

I have a three day workshop I am taking this weekend for my mid-life crisis of changing my profession.  I am going to try to become a personal trainer.  It should be quite fun.  When I finish the weekend, we are going to celebrate by organizing the basement for planting to start.  Hard to believe that it is already that time again.  I will keep you posted as I plant.  This year I am changing a few things for when to start, I hope to see a better production by doing so.  Only time will tell.

The girls are still not laying.  I just purchased a new feed in hopes that might encourage them.  I really miss my eggs that is for sure!


My Victory Garden
May 30, 2011, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, outdoor gardening, Seedlings, Squash


This year I was going to do something completely different in the front.  I would need to expand it, tear up the “grass” and supplement the soil.  Well, it took one hot day for me to change my mind.  The soil was rough and the weather was HOT and HUMID.  So I went back to the drawing board quickly.

Here is what I decided on doing:

I expanded the garden by 12″.  I then turned all the soil and leveled it out a bit.  Last year I dumped a lot of leaves on top of the garden, then continued my efforts of supplementing the soil by dumping all my pots on top.  This worked out better then expected.  I think do it again this year for one or two beds.

Next I planted a row of tomatoes.  (at this point 31 tomatoes planted) After planting the 7 tomatoes I marked out two rows of 3′ squares. Here I planted CT field pumpkin, zucchini, ground cherries and butternut squash. The remainder of the space was for terragon and cucumbers.
After a trip to home depot, I put a fence around it and will keep my fingers crossed!

Hardening off plants
May 17, 2011, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Herbs, Indoor Gardening, outdoor gardening, Seedlings

It is just about the time I start to harden off plants for the great outdoors.  My plants are much smaller than last year.  I didn’t start my seeds early like I have in the past.  I feel almost self conscious about it.  It was just such a hard winter, it was hard to think of spring.  My fault.

Celery and Thyme Seedlings

Because plants have not gotten use to the bright sun, one must gently expose them so that you don’t get a sunburn.  Many plants will not survive or be as productive as they should when they have to try to recover from a sunburn.  To prevent this from happening, you can not have tough love with them.  You need to be gentle and loving.  This week is partly cloudy and raining, but still in the high 50’s-low 60’s.  This has proven easy for the plants to have a transition.  I started with my thyme, lavender and leeks.  I set them out on my covered front porch that will get limited sun and be protected from the rain.  I bring them in the first couple of nights and leave in my bathroom, setting them back outside in the morning.  After 2-3 nights indoors, I start to leave them outdoors for nights as well.  I will slowly move them to a protected space that gets even more sun, then pending on the plant, I will plant them.  The whole process takes about 1-1/2 weeks to 2 weeks to complete.  Yesterday I brought out celery and more thyme.  Tomorrow I will bring out the rest of the thyme, marjoram, summer savory and maybe a few more herbs.  I won’t start the vegetables until this weekend, when the weather gets just a little better.

Busy Weekend


The snow is melted, the weather is beautiful – in the 60’s- and I have had spring fever for a while now.  So, it has been a very busy time in our household.  No rest for us this weekend.  I went to Harvey’s garden center to see what they had and see if the asparagus was ready yet.  Of course it was not ready, which was quite the disappointment, but I started to notice the price of seedlings.  Wow, they were expensive.  I did however, purchase a small primrose.  It was just so pretty I could not pass it up.  That was the start of a busy outdoor weekend for me.

On Saturday, I woke up and worked on cleaning my herb beds which were a mess.  I just didn’t have the time I needed last fall to get everything done.  After cleaning the first level, I was so excited to see my chives, oregano, mint and lemon balm all starting to have new growth.  My lavender survived the winter, that is a first for me.  I then made my way out front and cleaned my buckets so I could plant lettuce in them.  All pots should have both green and red lettuce in it.  My mouth was watering just thinking about it.  Oh how I can’t wait.  After finishing planting the lettuce, I made my way to the side of the house, where I cleaned and prepped for planting my kale and mustard.  I seeded the mustard, the kale will have to wait a bit.  By then I needed a nap which turned into a very long nap.  But I still danced out on the deck while Deron was making dinner.  It was so grand having daylight still at 7pm. 

Today, Sunday, I had to clean the coops for the chickens.  I decided to have the chickens in the portable coop while I cleaned it out.  They loved it!  I scrubbed the coop out and started to prep the bed next to them.  Amelia was raising a lot of ruckus, so I decided to let them back into their own coop.  As I picked Amelia up first to bring her to the coop, she pooped all over me.  Gotta love it!  She ran to the nest box when I put her in.  I finished bringing the girls back and changed.  I figured there was no reason to change until I moved them all. 

I changed and took the boys for individual walks.  It was great to be out with them.  They loved it as well as they were both perfect!  I then went to work on Bed #1.  This is the raised bed that is closest to last year’s compost bin.  It gets a little bit of shade when the trees fill out, so I decided this year it would be the lettuce bed.  I planted 2 rows of parsnips, 2 rows of red swiss chard, 1 row black spanish radish and 1 row of lettuce.   I will plant more in a couple of weeks. 

Now, I just have pate to make, seedlings to water as well as plant downstairs and do the work I brought home to do this weekend!  I think it is the start of busy days/nights for me!

The picture is of a younger red tail hawk that has been hanging around our yard. It is quite beautiful!

My seedlings
April 5, 2011, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Indoor Gardening, Seedlings, Uncategorized

Today is April 5.  The day before my father’s birthday.  So dad, if you read this, “Happy Birthday”.  I hope I beat Wendy in saying it first!

Veggies starting to grow

So I have all tomatoes planted as of last weekend.  It is too early to have it germinate yet, so I have an update as to what has germinated in my basement.  

The furthest away in the picture is shallots.  I am trying shallot seeds to see what will come of them.  I also have a six-pack of Radiator Charlie tomatoes I started before the rest of my tomatoes.  In the front which you can just see the seedlings emerge from the soil is Apple Bell Peppers.  My hot peppers are coming up, but it is taking a long time.  My basement is running cooler than last year and the hotter it is for them, the better!

To say I am ready to get outside and have another successful (hopefully) year is a understatment!  I even started celery to try to plant this year.  Mustard seeds are going into the ground this weekend along with a few others I think.  I will let you know what I end up planting in the dirt outside after I do it this weekend!

I hope you enjoy the little breath of life in the picture.  And again, Dad if you are reading, Happy Birthday!

Starting Planting Season
March 14, 2011, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, Indoor Gardening, Seedlings

The snow is melting, the daylight is getting longer and my hands are aching to touch soil in lieu of snow.  It is right about time to start planting. 

My white shelves

This winter I found something terrible had happened.  During the summer our humidifier stopped working.   It was a couple of months before we realized it.  By that time I had mold on my shelves.  It took three weekends and I am almost finished de-molding my shelves and painting them with Kilz2.  It brings a smile to my face to see all the shelves white.  I know it is clear I have not used them like this.  Soon, they will be the color of soil and have green plants growing up from them. 

Next I organized all the planting items, got seed starter and realized I really needed to disinfect all items before planting in them.  So as my tallow is cooking down, lard is starting to work, my dishwasher is finally washing what I need to start my seeds.  It is only making me a week behind though.  Simple to catch up.

Newly planted seeds

After the round in the dishwasher, I took my “bucket” and filled it with the starter.  I then carried it back upstairs and added water.  Oh how my hands had been craving the opportunity to be covered with soil.  It made me smile ear to ear!  Mixing it until moist, I then filled each pot that I had washed packing it tightly.  Placing the seed on top it was placed on a tray on the heating pad.  Celery, Rosemary and Thyme to start, leaving room for the weeks to follow. 

Oh how I have missed the soil and seedlings and plants and sunlight and green stuff…Here is to another year!