Tag: #gardening

Gardening In January

As I sit here and watch my backyard flood in the beginning of January I immediately think how good this rain would be for gardening. In Ohio we haven’t been getting much snow until late January into February. Last year it was so warm in December my garlic began the sprout and when the winter finally came and killed it I couldn’t get it to grow back. This is the main reason I decided I’m just going to plant my garlic in early spring next year. The rain also reminded me that it’s time to grab a warm drink and start ordering seeds.

I’ve learned that with some planning I can garden all year round. I might not be able to be outside in the garden, but I can do something garden related. Today I’m going to go through all the seed catalogs and place some orders.

I’m so happy to report that while almost everything has gone digital seed catalog still come in the mail. This gives me the ability to see all the wonderful things I can grow and then I’m able to recycle the paper in the compost pile. Call me old fashioned but I still love the feel of turning pages.

Below are a few of my favorite seed catalogs. Each year Gurneys gets a good chunk of my seed money. I also got some seeds from Seed Savers and Seeds and Such. I will do another post after I place some orders. I will also give you a glimpse of my favorites and seeds I wasn’t so impressed with. If you are sitting around wondering how to get in the garden spirit order yourself some catalogs.

FYI- in case you are wondering I did start by getting seeds from big box stores and those seeds are great. The reason I switched to catalogs is because of the varieties. They are endless with catalogs. You also can get heirloom seeds as well. I just love options, and the catalogs give you endless options. I mean just look at the picture, there is a whole catalog about tomatoes. Eighty eight pages of tomato varieties. You will not find that at big box.

Gardening #14 Playing In Dirt

“Play in dirt because life is too short to always have clean fingernails” – Unknown

My job has been a little stressful. Hell my life has been a little stressful. This year I decided to not do fall crops and begin prepping the garden for the winter. I have too much going on. This weeks tasks was to simply begin to take out all the old plants and start to prep the soil for winter.

After I got on my gardening gloves and grabbed my fancy garden tools I headed to the garden. When I started on my journey outside I had fifty thousand thoughts in my head regarding how my week has been going and what I needed to do. Even though I was listening to music to try to drown out my thoughts it wasn’t working and I will still running though check lists.

When I got in the garden and began tearing out plants and sifting dirt something odd happened. My mind went blank. I got in this rhythm. Take out the plant, sift the dirt, compost or don’t compost, make a trip to the trash can. It was such an easy flow to get into and I realized then how much I missed it. While dealing with all my stuff I didn’t go into the garden. When you make the decision to let the plants die there is no reason to go out there. No watering, no fertilizing or picking. I just watched the plants die from my office window.

What I was now doing was playing in dirt and letting all my issues fade. My husband jokes and asks me each time I come in the house if I’m done playing in dirt. I usually say yes and keep moving. Today something hit me. I am never upset when I’m in the garden. Even when things don’t go the way I want them to I’m never upset. If I need a break from reality I go to the garden. Being stressed and not gardening was a horrible plan.

I also thought about small children. Have you ever seen small children upset while playing in dirt? It’s impossible. Kids literally get to do something we always tell them not to do, get dirty. I think as adults we place too many negative images on playing in dirt. We think about pulling out weeds, cutting the grass, or trimming bushes. Chores instead of fun. I’ve decided I’m going to play in dirt a little more often and simply let it be what it is, fun.

If I’m pulling weeds, let’s get dirty and pull them. All yard work going forward as well as gardening just needs to be thought of as fun time with dirt. I always get amazed at what pops in my head when I simply just pause and stop making things more complicated than they are.

Gardening #13 – Onions

“Onions are the bullies of the veggie world. The strong ones make you cry” M.Ross

I’ve done so many post about potatoes I figure you wanted to know some other easy veggies that I grow.

For the past three years I’ve grown onions and this year I attempted leaks. I will tell you that as much as I rave about the ease of potatoes, onions are just as easy. Onions are very forgiving. There are days when I didn’t make it out to the garden because it was just too hot. Some crops need constant care. Onions do not.

I would suggest you grow onions a variety of ways. First you can buy bulbs at any garden store. I usually get 100 bulbs for about $4 a bag. This will yield you quick easy green onions in about 4-6 weeks.

Second way to grow onions is of course from seed. You need to plant these rather early and then transplant them into the garden. Truth is this was my least favorite way. Transplanting onion seedlings is tedious. I watched video after video on YouTube and several people said it was stress relieving. Um, no. No it was not.

The last way is of course to direct sow. If you plant early in the Spring you can get descent size onions in the fall with minimal labor.

Pro tip- label your onions. When they grow they resemble grass. If they are not labeled you will find yourself pulling onions thinking their weeds. Also make sure you leave proper space. If you want large onions leave large onion space. I usually interplant onions with other veggies like green beans or spinach. This provides me with a lot of growing space.

We ended up with so many onions this year I decided to purchase a dehydrator so I could have them all year long. It was a toss up between dehydration and freezing and my lack of freezer space made the decision for me.

Let me know some varieties of onions you love. This year I grew red, white, yellow, Evergreen Long, Crystal White Wax, Bulk Warrior, Guardsmen, Red Burgundy, and Pikant shallots.

For The Love of Gardening

“It’s not work, it’s gardening” – Unknown

I didn’t think I would ever say this, but as an introvert I am not thrilled that the world is opening back up. I’m not a fan of large crowds, noise, or anything fast paced. This made me a perfect gardener. Gardening is slow, calculated, and in my case planned. I figure out what I want to plant in the winter and purchase seeds after New Years. I sit with my catalogs and create little maps of my garden so I know everything will have a home. I start my seedlings indoors when there is still snow on the ground and begin looking at cold frame placement. When it’s time for the seedlings to go outside the decision on pot size and soil amendments is decided. I put a lot of work into going outside to move slow.

There are days when I can sit in my garden for hours. I will prune something or pick something, but normally I’m just watering and sitting. Yes I enjoy the harvest, but in truth I enjoy the process. For some reason I love knowing that most of this garden is out of my control. As a perfectionist you would think I would hate this, but I don’t. I’ve accepted that nature will do what nature does. Last year it was severe thunder storms that knocked the greenhouses over three times. This year the cicadas had me hiding in my house. So why has gardening began to lose some of its luster for me?

I’m tired. Now that the world is open if you are invited somewhere you have to go. People believe that since you’ve been trapped in the house you are dying to see them. Guess what? I’m not. Now that the world has opened up I believe I should be attending things I missed out on due to the pandemic. The truth is I didn’t really miss them. During the pandemic I felt like I had all the time in the world. I would be in the garden, working in the yard, and planning all these vacations that I wanted to take. Now these vacations are here and I’m thinking “who’s going to watch my garden?” Should I not be worrying about this?

I’m also traveling more for work and working on larger projects since the pandemic is over. Again this creates time away from the garden. Let me clearly state that this is 100% a first world problem. I am not changing any lives with my garden outside of mine and the people I give veggies too. The garden does provide a level of sanity that I would like to maintain, but outside of that it’s a luxury that I know I have. The garden is my mini sanctuary that just happens to have corn and green beans. The garden is something that I created, maintain, and benefit from with the help of Mother Nature.

I don’t normally experience garden burnout this early, but coming out of the pandemic something is different. I don’t feel like I should spend as much time there. I feel like I should be doing other things. I should be hanging out with people, working out, cooking, cleaning, or anything other than just sitting in the garden. I can’t really explain the feelings but figured I would share them in case someone else was going through this.

I typically would classify this as just feeling “off.” I just feel “off” regarding my garden this year. I love gardening and everything that goes into it, but recently the love has turned into a like. I want to love my garden again. I want to appreciate all the wonders and the beautiful colors it holds. The marigold and lavender make me smile each time I enter.

I told a co-worker the other day you need to fake it. I need to fake my happiness in my garden until I get that feeling back. Until I get that love back. The garden has not changed, I have. I have to remember why I fell in love in the first place. I have to simply appreciate the garden for what it is.

The marigolds that greets me 🙂
The second potato harvest

Let’s Start Gardening #10- The Invasion

“If this tiny cicada can make such a huge noise by its tiny wings, what’s your excuse not to trust in your abilities” – Manu Kalathil

I’ve had to adjust the way I garden for many reasons. I can only garden for an hour a day without my back feeling like I’m being stabbed with daggers. I can only garden in the morning or late afternoon to beat the heat. I can also only garden with a goal in mind or I will be there all day lost in its beauty. All that changed when the cicadas arrived.

If you have never seen a cicada, well lucky you. I live in Southern Ohio and this year we had the cicada apocalypse. Apparently every seventeen years the Brood X cicada crawls out of its home to mate. I’m not going to give you a life lesson on cicadas because as always you can Google it. I’m going to tell you how this tiny creature halted my gardening.

First cicadas are loud. They basically scream all day trying to find a mate so they can reproduce and then die. So picture this. You look outside your window and you see what looks like hundreds of giant bees flying around. Only these giant bees have red glaring eyes and they won’t stop screaming. Mentally you know you need to go outside to the garden, but if you hate insects like me you just stand at the window. News reports have explained they “are less active” at dawn and dusk so you think I got this. Dusk and dawn gardening it is.

You wait to hear less screeching and figure it’s ok to leave the safety of your home. You quickly learn what “less active means”. You learn it means there are fifty cicadas flying around instead of one hundred. All the cicadas did not get the less active memo. What you also learn is they are waiting for something to “mate” with. Sometimes they believe that is you, so they decide to land on you.

At this point I feel I need to clarify. Cicadas do not bite. They do not attack, and they don’t realize you are not mate worthy. They also don’t harm the garden in any way because they don’t eat veggies. They just get freak me out. What makes you appear mate worthy is if you working with anything that makes noise you attract them. Lawnmowers, hedge clippers, edgers, and even screeching water hoses. I was holding the screeching water hose. Also to clarify I didn’t get ambushed by fifty cicadas. One flew on me and I flipped out and ran back in the house. Ok back to you.

Now you need a new tactic because your old one didn’t work. This new tactic is to decide to put yellow sticky traps in the garden to attract and trap the cicadas. They won’t come after you, they will just stick to the yellow traps. Oh the joy. This tactic worked marvelously. The problem with this tactic is now you have sticky sheets with ten plus cicadas attached and that’s freaking you out more than the cicadas.

Last and final tactic. Garden as fast as you possibly can. This is the winner right here. You turn on your water hose and spray the garden quickly. No base watering here. You are also mad that you didn’t finish putting in the irrigation system. Next you run and harvest anything that needs to come in quickly. Things like cabbage, lettuce, onions, and some potatoes make the cut. You’ve done it.

You go back in and see the spoils of your victory and you believe you’ve won. That’s until someone points out you have a cicada on your back. DAMMIT! You must admit the cicada as well as every living thing in nature is much better than you. Until tomorrow my friend, until tomorrow.

My garden suffered a little and I lost a few plants. I had succumbed to this realization when I heard the cicadas were coming. The only saving grace for me in this whole cicada apocalypse is knowing I won’t have to worry about them for another seventeen years.

If you haven’t figured it out this is my story. I only had one cicada land on me during my quest but it was stressful enough that for two weeks I gardened like speed lightening. I was able to get a lot of items from the garden but watering, pruning, and fertilizing went out the window. If I couldn’t get it in fifteen minutes I didn’t need it.

The only saving grace in the adventure is cicadas won’t be back for another seventeen years. My two weeks of sprinting was not as bad as others. I saw stories of people’s entire yards covered. I’ve heard about people who planned their vacation around the invasion so they didn’t have to leave the house. This bug got the best of a lot of people. I’m just glad it over for now.

Here are a few things that I managed to grab while sprinting.

Russian Fingerling Potatoes and Green Onions
Early Jersey and Katrina Cabbage
Mixed Varieties of Collard Greens, Peas, and four Berries

Let’s Start Gardening #7

“If size matter the elephant would be king of the jungle” -Unknown

I know a lot of people don’t have a lot of space to garden. I currently have an 8ft wide by 16ft long plot and still I have plants on the patio and outside the garden. I just recently built a ledge to hold my 20 extra potato plants simply because I’m extra. We love home grown potatoes and we were so successful last year I added an extra 20 bags to the garden this year.

If you don’t need 20 bags of potatoes I wanted to show you some small planting options.

This year I decided to try an experiment. I planted each variety of each plant three times. I planted the item in a one gallon bag or pot, a five gallon bag or pot, or a five gallon bucket. First let me point out that a five gallon bucket is actually the size of a ten gallon bag. This takes much more soil.

The reason I did the experiment was to see what would actually grow. I also wanted to see if I could maximize space and still have a great harvest. Let me tell you I was blown away.

I’m still early into the season but the easiest items to downsize have been greens, lettuce, and cabbage. Full transparency I haven’t really started cucumbers and tomatoes yet.

Cabbage in one gallon pot.

Above is a container cabbage plant in a one gallon pot. I thought it looked fantastic. The tip to growing plants in smaller containers is to purchase container varieties. I don’t think people realize these even exist. If you take some time and do some research you would be surprised. You can grow almost anything in a container.

Same cabbage variety in one gallon pot and five gallon bucket.

I wanted to show a side by side picture so you could actually see the progress. I will fully admit that I think this will be the maximum size for the cabbage in the pot. If you plan to simply grow a head of cabbage for yourself you just can’t beat this.

Lettuce and onions.

A rectangle pot can bring so many options to your garden. I love these for greens, onion, spinach, and Chinese cabbage.

Spinach and onions
Chinese cabbage

I’ve shown you a lot of pictures but the bottom line is TRY IT! I planted three of everything so if something doesn’t make it you have two more options. My goal is to see what works so I can downsize pot sizes next year. Soil cost a lot of money. I’m trying to spend my money on seeds not soil.

Let’s Start Gardening. FYI- I still have tons of time to get some seeds in the ground.