Earth Day 2013

Earth day has come once again. It is the day we need to be reminded that the earth is not the I breakable spaceship that we treat it as sometimes. Since the weather was good this morning I decided to bike to work and bring a camera along. (Ok it wasn’t an actual camera just the camera on my iPod touch)

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The water treatment plant is on the left and a small creek on the right.

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The little creek, its got a nice relaxing sound most mornings.

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The city recycling place. I drop off my clear glass here cause they don’t pick up clear glass curbside.

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Going under the Benton Street Bridge

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Now going over the Benton Street Bridge

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The Iowa River

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Solar cells that the University uses to power their electric vehicles across the river.

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The dam across the Iowa River.

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The Old Capitol Building

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I pass a nice magnolia tree on the hospital campus. The flowers are just starting to open.

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Bike parked and waiting for me to go home.

I hope that this might inspire some people to do something to help the planet for at least a day.  Every little bit helps.

Look what I made!!!

So it happened again.  My garden has gotten bigger.  It started with just a couple of 4ftx8ft beds.  That was expanded to “The L,”  it encompasses a total of 6-4ftx8ft beds connected together.  And now I have added another 4 veggie beds and extended the strawberry patch.  The backyard was pretty much full so I had to expand out to the side yard.  I also decided that it would be better to go with actual raised beds this time around.  Why you ask?  Well, that whole area is riddled with cable and phone cords.  Those aren’t buried very deep so I didn’t want to chance hitting one with the tiller.  Always call before you dig.

Strawberry Patch

This was last year’s strawberry patch.

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This is the side yard after this weekend. The strawberry patch is extended the entire length of the fence and four raised beds for veggies have been added.

The veggie beds need more compost added.  There is a bag of peat moss in each bed currently so I now just need to fill’em up with dirt and they’ll be ready to go.

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RHUBARB!! 🙂

What would strawberries be with out rhubarb.  There was about four feet left on the end and I was going back and forth on what to plant there.  I was going between asparagus or rhubarb.  Well clearly rhubarb clearly won out.  I think it goes better with strawberries and will make great jams and pies eventually.

The vegetables that are in the garden are moving along as well.  Next weekend is the Backyard Abundance plant sale and I’m really excited to get more strawberries to put in the new bed.  Good growing everybody.

 

Anticipation or Apprehension, which is it?

I’ve been going back and forth about what to write today for the last hour or so.  I’ve got so many different felling going on about everything that it’s all a bit confusing.  The problem is my brain is fighting over whether it should be feeling anticipation or apprehension.  I’m excited about the radish seeds just starting to germinate, but worried that the peas haven’t come up yet.  I’m glad that the current plant is budding out new leaves, but the blueberries have not.  I’m excited to see the day lilies, the snowdrops and the other fall bulbs come back up but I see my tons of seedling still under grow lights.  Unfortunately I’ll only know which this feeling ends up being once its too late.  Will my anticipated success be fulfilled or will my apprehension be justified by failure?

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Snow drops in bloom

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Day Lily, so easy to grow but still good to see them back from the heavy dividing I did last year.

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The bee balm plants are really coming back strong.

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The currant bush has leaves just starting to bud out.

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Just next tot the currant, the thyme plant has started to leaf out as well.

Good growing everybody.

 

Spring…finally

Two full weeks of spring have passed and how many plants did I have in the ground? None. St. Patrick’s Day passed and there was snow on the ground. Easter came and went and still it was too cold. Well today I rolled the dice and decided I was ready to plant and the garden is just going to have to like it. Ok ok, its not that bad. The ground is still a little cooler and wetter than I would prefer, but it should be good enough to plant the cool crops. So…

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The onions and broccoli have started their hardening off process. Hardening off is where the indoor transplants go outside in a protected area for a little while everyday. This is important because the little plants have been grown under lights much weaker than the sun for their whole lives. So the leaves are not prepared for the intense light of the sun and will actually get sunburned as you can see happened to some of the leaves after the first day.

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Sunburn ouch

But now comes the good part. The soils is ready (or at least as close as its going to get anytime soon). It’s time for the early planting. Yesterday I spent a hour and half or so tilling up the garden beds. Oh yeah I got a mini tiller. I guess I never really put anything up about that. Anyway, I tilled in some more compost and some perlite to help with the drainage.

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The bed of planted peas.

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Carrots in DIY seed tape in the foreground and beets in DIY seed tape further back

Once they are fully hardened off, the onions and broccoli transplants will go in the ground.  I hope everyone can get something in the ground soon.  Good growing everyone.

First day of Spring-Inconceivable

I don’t think yhat means what you think that means. The news keeps telling me its spring and I just don’t see it. The high today is forecast to be 24F. NOT EVEN ABOVE FREEZING!! That’s all I have to say about that. Ugh…

Seed Germination Update #2-Tomato Time

Its finally here.  The day I plant my tomato seeds.  The long journey to summer tomato season has begun.  As such I needed to set up the large light fixture to accommodate the new flats.  The bulbs in this fixture seem to have much more red tinge to the light  I’ll get right to the pictures then.

DSCF2265[1]First off, the broccoli seedlings were starting to get all tangled amongst themselves.  So I had to thin them a bit and pot some of them into larger yogurt cups.  Now there is one entire flat of broccoli seedlings.  They seem to be doing well after transplant and if the weather would just cooperate I could get the beds ready for these guys.

DSCF2266[1]Here is my miscellaneous flat.  Its got the basil, catnip, ground cherry (which have now gotten their true leaves), violas and now have recently planted cells of big bluestem (a prairie grass) and bunny tails.

DSCF2267[1]The onions have started to slow their growth.  I think they would really like to get into some larger space.  I will oblige them as soon as the weather allows.

DSCF2264[1]And last but certainly not least, the tomato seeds are in their flat and should start to germinate in a week or so depending on the temperature I can keep them at.

Not much else is going on here.  I’m feel like I’m in limbo.  The snow is melted (well most of it), but its still to cold to get out and do anything except for the most basic cleanup work.  I hope that everyone else can get in their gardens this week and get something done cause I’ll just be inside here waiting and watching.  Good growing everybody.

Waste not, want not- DIY Seed Tape

I love to plant seeds, water, fertilize and I even don’t mind weeding that much.  But there is one garden task that I hate, thinning.  I hate to have to thin out my seedlings.  It feels like such a waste.  Why did I plant a whole row of these seeds only to pull up every other plant (sometimes more)?  The result, plants not having enough space.  Last year was the year I first really say the consequences of my thinning phobia.  My carrots were small and many had long tap roots, some of the lower leaves on lettuce plants ended up rotting because of lack air flow, and some of the radishes were too small to be useful.  One might ask, “Well why don’t you just plant fewer seeds?”  Have you ever planted carrot or lettuce seeds?  They are teeny tiny little things.  Trying to plant single lettuce seeds is like trying to count dimes with oven mitts on.  Solution time…

When I was younger my mother usually some of her vegetables as seed tape.  These long strips of paper were embedded with seeds at the appropriate intervals.  She would always buy her’s premade and simply plant the long stands in the ground.  So I decided that this was the perfect answer to my problem.  As with most thing I wanted to do it myself though.  Most seed tapes are only made by the bigger companies (Burpee, etc) and I wanted to use the heirloom veggie seeds I already had.  So after a bit of research I concocted my plan.

(Note:  I’ve seen a lot of different ways people do this, but this is how I did mine with the supplies I had on hand)

First I cut a bunch of newspaper into 1-2 inch strips. I also mixed 1/4 of flour and enough water to form a thin paste and grab your seeds.

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Then dab a small amount of the flour paste onto the newspaper strips at the regular intervals (a small paintbrush is perfect for this job).  For these carrot seeds I spaced them two inches.  Add two or three seeds per glue spot.DSCF2262[1]

Then simply label and allow to dry for a couple of hours to overnight.  DSCF2263[1]

Then plant the whole thing in the ground when you are ready.  The newspaper will dissolve away pretty quickly once buried.  I will also be doing this for my radishes, beets, and lettuce.  You don’t have to use newspaper either.  I seen people using toilet tissue and paper towels.  I’ve also seen people using the good old, white Elmer’s glue, but I liked the idea of the flour paste.  I will still have to do some thinning out but hopefully this will allow me to have well spaced vegetables this year.  Thanks for reading and good growing everybody.

 

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