Tuesday, March 31, 2015

GARLIC.. I see garlic

The garlic is up. All those little bits of green are garlic plants. Pooka saw the plants and started singing "Yay, the garlic is up, I will not need to eat grocery store garlic." over and over until Daddy got annoyed.
Garlic appears
Now to hope for big bulbs of garlic.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Moving her orchaid

Around Pooka's birthday, she got an orchid that was on clearance. It is surviving okay, but it had a bit of a hard time (even with the stick) staying upright. We decided maybe it needed a bit bigger pot since that is usually the problem. Remember, we know nothing of orchids but that hasn't stopped us before.
Orchid ready to be moved
We had to find the orchid potting soil since I knew it was different from regular dirt. Beyond that, I knew nothing. Fortunately, our favorite nursery was open and we went there. They knew exactly what we needed and even opened the unopened greenhouse for us to get an new pot for the orchid. She kept saying "I am so sorry its messy back here" but Pooka was in heaven. I swear she was ready to dig in and help. But, Miss A found a wonderful little pot for Pooka and we headed back home.
New home for the orchid
I will say, I thought the new pot was a bit bigger, but part of me is rather surprised at the lack of extra dirt we needed. All in all, after a few weeks now, it is doing much better in the new pot, and we still water it with an ice cube. It does need to move back to Pooka's desk, but for now, its doing well and its not as floppy. Maybe I should look up care for it, or we can wing it as we always do.

All settled in

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Trying "The exotic"

I decided it was finally time to start the most daunting of Pooka's birthday presents, a banana tree. Well actually, if you read the box, its not a tree so much as it is an herb. Either way, it was time to get it started.
Opening it up
It came with the standard giant disk that will become dirt if you add enough water to it. Now, here is where we went our own way with the directions. It took SO LONG for the disk to turn into wet dirt, we poured the water on it and left it for 2 days before we got around to planting seeds.
And time to inflate
The banana seeds came in a very interesting little packet. I will say that Pooka enjoyed reading it and thinking of what she could grow. The fact this is not a "tree" but an herb is right front and center. I think this is to keep parents from freaking out over the "What did I get myself into"
Seed packet
Now, I will admit, I don't really remember seeing seeds in bananas, especially not ones that look like these. This entire project is a case of "I didn't know that."
Those are bigger than I expected
Once everything was ready, we placed the seeds in the house and put the lid on. The entire set up is in the front room now and is waiting. I did save enough seeds that we can try this again. The reviews online said sometimes they mold instead of grow, so I wanted to have a second shot if that happens. Now to see if we can get something to appear.
Now to wait

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cross your fingers

In some ways, it feels as if spring is here already and we are behind. Days where the temperatures are in the 70s will do that. Other ways, I fear we are so excited for spring, we may be putting the cart before the horse. You see, last weekend, the lilac was starting to bud out. It was so happy and to be fair, it was warm. The more we looked at it, the more we thought about starting to put it in the ground.
Lilac overwintering
Last week was a rough one, that started off with Monday being Pooka's school concert. She did beautifully, but when it came down to it, the concert ran past her bedtime and we had a Grandma visiting. Daddy and I both got home tired but twitchy. So while we left Pooka to "re-eat" dinner and we saw Grandma off, we realized it was the lilac needed to go in. The buds were opening and everything I had read about lilacs was to move them before they get leaves.

Picture if you will, Daddy and me, both in fairly nice clothes and hair (Daddy his work clothes, me I put on a nice shirt) digging a hole in the middle of the circle of the herb bed and trying to gently transplant the lilac without hurting it. Did either of us care if we got dirty (not really), but also doing this as the light continued to fade.

In it's new home
All in all, we got it in, although you missed all the pictures. The lilac seems to be doing well, but I won't know for sure until it opens. We have been watering it, We did put some miracle grow in the hole to help it get established. Now, to cross our fingers, and hope and pray to whomever you do (Brother has said we need to put a prayer into Demeter and Persephone since they are the greek gods of gardening and spring) that we didn't kill the one thing that if it dies, I will be devastated. Personally, I am asking Gremo to help us out here. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Starting Pooka's dragon

The time had come. Pooka wanted to start growing her dragon from Aunt B. It was a simple enough kit. Pooka opened the cardboard part on her way to bring it to me. Pooka said she hopes it grows a live dragon and I told hit wasn't very likely. But I suppose if we believe in fairies, one must believe in dragons. I just looked at the "pot" and thought it looked like a take out container from a restaurant. Pooka has since been calling it her "takeout container dragon"
The purple dragon 
I will say I had a bit of a time finding the directions, but once I actually looked at the inside of the package I felt dumb.
The kit came with this little card and sticker. The card gave some fun facts about the "dragon" and how tall to expect it. I let Pooka put the sticker on her sticker shelf in her room. It is an old bookcase we don't care much about, so I don't care if she covers it in stickers.
extra bits
The kit was fairly straight forward. They were the standard water the pellet then plant the seeds. The seeds themselves have gone on the top of the dirt and are under our grow light to help it germinate. We had to wiggle a few things, but it fits fairly well for now. Pooka asked as she put it under the light "what happens if it grows a real dragon? Can I keep it? What if my dragon shoots plants instead of fire or ice? Will Daddy still let me keep it?" I told her we would cross that bridge when we come to it. I fear the day she finds a "real" dragon. Daddy says it must shoot fire or ice and fly. If anyone could find one, it would be Pooka.
Now we wait.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Plans... making plans

We all remember the side bed, the bed that has contained only sunflowers for years and that was mostly due to the fact they kept the weeds down. It was not the prettiest angle of the house, but we have realized that we need a tad bit more garden space. Since the garlic took up a bit more space than usual this year, we need to utilize this bed for either basil or hot peppers. However, the rocks and the weeds would be an issue, and really the border bricks were falling into the dirt so they were not as noticeable.
Daddy and I talked, and we talked some more. Now it looks like this spring (hopefully) we will be redoing this bed to match the same brick work as the front of the house. We will put in multiple rows of brick and add some fill dirt (and cardboard) to smother the weeds while making a nice new bed. We will still have to be careful what we plant here due to the utility equipment, but it will give us just a bit more room and since this is the sunniest side of the house, whatever we put here has to be able to handle full sun. Now to see if we get it done. Cross your fingers we have time for it.
We started planning. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Fuse is lit

Some days, I really wonder about us. I mean we have taken over a large chunk of the yard to allow someone her dream of a garden. We have gone to a more simple life, even if it means more work. Now, we grow things for other people and I wonder what part of my brain thought this would be a good idea.

Let me back up. After Christmas Daddy's coworker, Mr. S came into work and said to Daddy "So you are going to be fostering some plants for me." Daddy had the same reaction "What?" Turns out Mr. S's daughter gave him what is called a Man Crate. I admit, I had to look it up, but inside his crate (which is the one I think I linked to) came with 2 little cans. The cans apparently hold the seeds and growing medium for a Ghost pepper and a Moruga scorpian pepper plants. Now, if you are unfamiliar with these peppers, they are HOT. Like melt your fillings, the death peppers are NOTHING hot. I admit I had to look them up.
Oh dear... 
 Well, Mr. S has a very black thumb, but he wanted to see what they were like. He asked the office's guy with a daughter with a very green thumb if she would "foster" them for him. Daddy agreed and came home and told us. Well, this is what he brough home. 2 things that look very much like soda cans. I will admit, I am a tad nervous of what we are now growing, but we will see. I wrote on the cans in sharpie to keep track of which one is which. My only response was that Mr. S had to take like 90+% of any fruit they produce. Pooka heard how hot they were and has already refused to even harvest the things. Daddy said we may want gloves. What did we do now?
Not a soda I want to drink
Over the weekend, we decided we should probably get these things started. First you pop the soda tab at the bottom. This is the drainage hole and the little while "Cover" allows it to store some water and act as a catcher.
It is open
On the other side is a pull tab much like you would find on a canned good. That one you just pull completely off. Once you remove the lid, you find this very sandy growing medium. The seeds are already planted inside, you just fill it with water until it drains out the bottom and then set aside in a very warm place. It said it could take up to a month or more to sprout, and it needs to be over 80 degrees.
tick, tick,  tick, tick
We followed the directions and then I placed them in a glad ware container (To better contain the drainage). We placed them under our new grow lights and as close to a heat mat as possible. I need to make sure I save the directions, but this will be an interesting experiment. However, Daddy said it best, "These are just a very small bomb with a very long fuse" since I think it said it can take up to 8 months for harvest. Now to hope that it goes well enough that Mr. S gets what he wants and we don't all die in the process.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Let there be light...

After just 3 days, I checked the tomato tray to find this. Plants abounding and they were already getting rather spindly while they reached towards the light. That first row you can see is the Pooka tomatoes which were apparently VERY viable. Seeing how quickly they had started reaching made me worry that they were not getting enough light. Especially with how cold and dim it had been recently. I mentioned this to Daddy, which got him thinking.
After only 3 days we have tomatoes.. lots of tomatoes
The more I talked to him. The more we both started wondering about a grow light. I told him my research (which was always in the "someday" category), said that all we needed was a florescent light kit and a chain. I was really on the fence about it, but and we decided to do it. Now, this light will spend 8 months of the year helping light our dim basement, but during seed starting, it would be removed and brought upstairs.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted, but really, I told Daddy "it just needs to do this" and he ran with it. A quick run to the local home improvement store, and $38 and about an hour and a half later. We had light. Daddy set it up for me with the seed starting table and put the light on a timer.
The finished product (Please pardon the mess, We are honest here)
Daddy took some scrap lumber in garage and built a free standing stand since we did buy the 4 ft light. We decided since this was proof of concept, if it indeed works, next year we can knock together a better table then the old blue card table we have been using. The light itself is hung from a chain which will allow us to move it up and down as needed. And when we are done, everything can be torn down and stored until next year. We placed a timer on the light so we don't have to worry about remembering to turn it on or off. We only had to buy the light, the bulbs, the timer and the hooks. Everything else was already on hand. Now to decide if this really helps as much as we hope it will.
Let there be light. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Now we wait

Last week, we finally got the tomatoes started. Fortunatly this time Pooka was right on top of things and we were able to knock them out after school one night. The big question mark this year is how well will the Pooka tomatoes do. These were the seeds we saved last year.

Pooka's Tomato seeds 
I will admit, that once we opened our little paper envelope, the tomato seeds from the Pooka tomatoes looked slightly different. Slightly more "fuzzy" but it was completely dry and didn't feel like mold. I do wonder if this is the difference between commercial seeds and home grown.

Pooka seeds. 
 Due to the differing nature of the seeds and the fact I forgot to viability test them, I will say I told Pooka to be a bit more heavy handed. Usually, I only allow 2-3 seeds per cell, but with these, I just kinda let her go nuts. Hopefully that doesn't come back to bite me. I know she just grabbed a clump and placed them in each cell. We are not really expecting much from these seeds, so anything is a bonus.
Placing seeds
The other new seeds we are trying are some seeds from Pooka's Great Aunt B. She mailed Pooka these seeds in her birthday present. I placed in the website on the package to see where these seeds came from, and was more than a bit confused to be taken to a record company. However, the seeds were on the website and they do appear to be very interesting tomatoes claiming to "attract moose like creatures to the 1 ton tomatoes." Daddy hopes it is just good marketing, but we will see. Either way, these do seem to be rather fun tomatoes that I know Pooka is looking forward to growing.

These should be interesting seeds.
We also planted some yarrow and Valerian in this tray, as well as our tomatillos and eggplant and the new ground cherries. Pooka is all excited to try her new plants fruits. All in all, the seeds are all planted. Now we begin waiting as the heat mats under the trays hopefully jump start the process.
Now we wait

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Signs of life

Seedlings are sprouting in Pooka's fairy garden she got for christmas. They are still small in this picture, but considering they are not on a heat mat, that is a good thing they have started.
Fairy garden
The cauliflower and the broccoli we started just a few days ago is already sprouting as well. It is good to see signs of life when the weather outside is one of cold and snow. It brings hope that this too shall pass. Now to wait on the peppers.

Cauliflower and broccoli

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Time to get into gear

That time of year has snuck up on us again. It is time to get seeds started. Pooka has been so excited to get the seeds going, so we started them on the last Monday of Feb. I lied to myself and said I am not that far behind since I still got them done in Feb. We decided to start our pepper plants first, since they do tend to take the longest. 

Seeds everywhere
In our first tray, known as tray A we had 9 varieties of peppers, as well as 2 types of broccoli and some new purple cauliflower. Pooka received the purple cauliflower in her stocking from Santa.  She also recieved these Violet sparkle sweet peppers for her birthday. They are purple, they sparkle (supposedly) and they are sweet peppers. It kinda had to happen. I don't know how many kids will get excited to open a present of seeds at her birthday party.  
Pooka's two favorite new additions
Now, there are times I hate being a mom, not many, mind you, but a few. Monday was one of those times. I started rehydrating the seed tray before I went to collect Pooka from school. I told her all evening "Get your chores and homework done and you can do seeds. I am doing them with or without you." The seed trays re-hydrated, and Pooka was being, well Pooka and not getting her chores done. 
Seed trays rehydrating
Now, I love Pooka, I do. With all my heart, but some days, she can be the most pokey, easily distracted, hey look a shiny person you will ever meet. This was sadly one of those days. That Monday, true to form, I had to start seeds without her. I kept telling her "I am doing seeds, hurry up." I finally got them all in the tray except for her sparkle pepper and her purple cauliflower. She got to come in and put those few in the tray. She was disappointed that I started without her, but even Daddy reminder her I had been telling her for awhile I was ready to do them. It is a hard lesson, one I hated having to teach her, but I saved her favorite two for her, and maybe, just maybe she will be a bit quicker to get moving. 

Work in progess

In the end, we got to finish the seeds together. Pooka got to put her favorite ones in, then she helped me lay out the seed mat and move the newly planted tray to the seed raising area by the front window.  She was so happy to see that this means spring is coming, even if it is still freezing  cold outside.  

Signs of spring