Saturday, May 29, 2010

End of May and the Garden is Planted!

This week has been extremely wet here in western Oregon. By Thursday morning, the rain was really getting to me. I was worried my new starts were going to drown and that the seeds I'd planted last weekend were going to rot. Luckily, there was sun that afternoon and when I went into the backyard I discovered many of my seeds had sprouted, and everything other than the two lemon cucumbers was still looking fairly healthy. We now have nearly everything in, except for the corn. From left to right, our beds contain:

1. thyme, rosemary, lettuce, broccoli, cilantro, oregano, and cabbage.
2. carrots and potatoes (planted late - just a couple of days ago)
3. 8 tomatoes and 2 peppers
4. strawberries
5. half of the bed is strawberries (which we might move to join the other bed to give us more room for other things), cucumber, one lone eggplant, and a couple of echinacea
6. empty for now, but it will be soon filled with corn - we are doing seeds in containers and will move them one they are up. We plan to do them in stages because last year our corn did very well, but we had more than we could eat for about 2 weeks, and none the rest of the summer.

Here are a few photos I took last week, and I will continue to update through the summer as things grow.

the bed of tomatoes

raspberries, reaching for the sky (today they are up to the second wire)

all six beds


moss in the path

the dog yard
I have also planted climbing flowers at the posts of the dog yard, and am hoping for lovely flowers around the fence as the summer progresses.

My main goal for this year is to get all areas of the yard with bare dirt fully covered with plants. With the rain, Glen the dog gets quite muddy every time he goes outside. Does anyone with a dog run/dog area have tips for keeping the mud to a minimum? I finally got a kiddie pool yesterday to use to bathe him before bringing him inside in case the rain continues. If the rain doesn't continue, we will have a fun place for Sweet Pea to splash around when it gets hot.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baby Words

Sweet Pea is using many words now, at nearly 15 months old. She understands much more, but these are the ones she uses consistently, in order of daily occurrence:

that (izzat)
thank you (tee dee)
diaper (bahpoo)
outside (uhsiee)
shoes (ish)
*the parenthesis are for her pronunciations/interpretations of the words

and she signs for:

Learning language is so much fun! We do have frustrating times where I know she wants something or is trying to tell me how she feels about something but is struggling to get her point across, but those seem to be rarer right now. Although I guess that could get more common again soon as her desires become more complex? She is a very physical child and will go stand at the door and try to open it when she wants to go outside, bring her water bottle to the sink when she wants it filled, and has even brought me a diaper when she needed to be changed. So, most of the time she can make herself understood, even with a small vocabulary. I have heard that language often starts to really explode in the next few months. Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bicycle, Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bicycle!

My wonderful husband got me the greatest birthday present: a new bicycle! He works at a bicycle shop, so this is not the first bike he has given me. It might be the coolest, though. It is an old black Univega frame with parts that he hand-picked for me. I have ridden it several times so far, towing Sweet Pea in her trailer on a few of the rides, and it is fantastic. It rides smooth and quiet, shifts with the littlest "click," and fits me well.

I feel very lucky to live in a town that is relatively easy to bike around. We even rode our bikes to Home Depot the other night and strapped our purchases to the trailer. What is your city or town like for biking? Have you tried running errands by bike or do you just bike for fun?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Planting Starts

I ordered seeds this week from the Territorial Seed Company, a local Northwest seed and plant supplier that supplies only non-genetically engineered seeds (where genetically engineered means "outside of natural reproductive methods"). I ordered corn, green beans, squash, spinach, carrots, and broccoli. Then, today I went to a plant sale that my garden planner was hosting and bought a bunch of starts: tomatoes, peppers, basil, and lettuce. So within a matter weeks to months, we could be harvesting food from our garden! Last year, we did almost all of our vegetables as starts, meaning we planted the seeds in small containers indoors before moving them outside to the garden. This gives the delicate sprouts a chance to grow a little bit before being exposed to the more variant outdoor weather. Doing your own starts is much cheaper than buying them, although a bit more work. It also allows you to plant your best plants into your garden, and to trade starts without wasting seeds like you would if you didn't plan the whole package, or planted them all and then had to thin a lot. Last year we were given starts of several vegetables that friends had extras of. This year, I plan to do some trading of starts and it looks like we're going to end up with a fantastic variety of fresh vegetables in our garden with a pretty small outlay of cash (not counting building the garden, that is!)

How to: To do your starts, just find a sunny spot in your house, fill a seed tray with good soil, and place a seed in each space. Instead of buying a new plastic tray, you could use old yogurt or any other plastic food containers, with a hole poked in the bottom. There are also small pots for starts that are made of fully biodegradable/compostable materials that can be planted directly into your garden! Water regularly to keep the soil moist, and watch your plants sprout up! Once they approach too big for their containers, either move them to a larger container or directly into your garden. Make sure to give them a good watering when you transplant, and I've heard it's best to do this in the morning or evening rather than full heat of the day.

More resources: The Territorial Seed catalog, which you can request for free, is a great source of information, as are their customer service representatives (by phone). Another good place for garden info is the Oregon State University extension service's gardening tips section. OSU extension agents also will answer questions if you go into an office, I've heard (if you are lucky enough to live in Oregon, that is).  I haven't yet found a really strong all-around resource for vegetable gardening online, but please share if you have a favorite. My top book is The Backyard Homestead, available on Amazon. I get a commission if you buy after clicking my link.

I'll be posting photos once I get my seeds in the mail. Can't wait!

Please share any tips you have for starting seeds -- I am still a novice gardener.