Thursday, February 20, 2014

When it Pops Up - Cover it with a Bucket!

~ look what's popping up already! ~
 Despite the gray, cloudy & mostly rainy days, Spring is making a valiant effort to step forward.

One of my much anticipated chores is to check on my rhubarb plants. Over the winter, I will put my kitchen compost directly on the dormant plants instead of into the compost tumbler.

It's amazing how quickly the compost breaks down & at this time of year, I'll gently remove the thick layer of mulch to see if shoots are starting to pop up.
~ remove the compost covering the crowns ~

Last week there was not much to see - but this week we have growth! So that means it's time to cover it with a different sort of cover.

I carefully remove the compost from around the crowns & check to see if the plant will require dividing this year.

~ cover them up ~

Now I just pop a tote or bucket over top the plants & wait another month or so. The stalks will grow, looking for light & I'll be able to harvest tall, tender stalks (with not much leaf growth) much sooner than usual.

I'll check on them weekly to make sure they are getting water & on really great, warm days, I'll remove the covers to let them get a bit of sunshine.

Can't wait to cook or bake with some fresh rhubarb!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Learning from the Experts - I Hope

~ seed tape station ~
Well, I usually have several trays of seeds started by now but this year, I'm holding back a few extra weeks due to the unusual 'spring' weather. It may have been nicer in January than this month is shaping up to be!

So, I'm doing a whole lot of 'arm-chair gardening' & came across a wonderful idea from a fellow on-line/hands-on gardener: Gardening Jones. I love reading about other people's successful ideas & this one she shared (making seed tapes how-to) could possibly make life so much easier this spring.

I'm making seed tapes. I've purchased radish seed tapes & they worked really well. Don't know if it was because they were all planted & spaced properly or if the seeds were better than what I had tried earlier in the season, but I was convinced to try seed tapes again. I just don't want to pay for them!

Today is perfect for making my own. It's raining...

I'm doing up a bunch of beets, some carrots, parsnips & left over salad greens. These are all my 'old' stock, so I want to use them up first.
~ seed tape finished product ~
I'm very intent on growing beets this year. I have some over-wintering in a covered bed & hope they don't bolt immediately once the spring weather straightens out.

I really want to make beet-horseradish this fall when I dig up my first harvest of horseradish.

I lay out my toilet paper (actually I fold it in half), dab a mix of flour & water paste where I want the seeds to be spaced, drop on the seed & fold over the TP. I label the tape & once they are dry, will package them up & have them ready for planting. Easy!

Maybe this year I'll be able to do staggered planting instead of putting all my seeds out at once & then reseed everything a few weeks later when nothing pops up.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Holidays & Houseplants

~ California bay ~
I have lots of houseplants. I LOVE having green things in the house & I'm really good at keeping certain ones alive & then I'm really good at slowly killing others.

It's a constant game of fighting for survival for a few of them...

Traveling away for holidays doesn't really help either. I generally leave them to fend for themselves & sometimes there are winners & sometimes there are losers...