Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My May Garden To-Do List

We are soooooo close. MAN spring is taking its sweet time to warm up this year though! I am in zone 5b, and normally we are seeing leaf buds on the trees at least.

Despite the slowness of spring, May might be the busiest month in the garden - and it starts TOMORROW! There is so much to do - but the work now should pay off come July & August when things are flourishing (at least that's what I'm telling myself...). I have to contend with the black flies too, once they start - pesky little buggers!!

What I've done already:
  • Weeded raised veggie beds
  • Raked in a few bags of compost, and even worked in some used coffee grounds (one day I will make my own compost... one day...)
  • Threw in a bunch of worms I dug up elsewhere. Hopefully they are happily making their way through the beds now -- go worms! 
  • Beds were also covered with dark fabric, both as a weed deterrent and to try to warm up the soil
  • Sowed some spinach, green onion, leeks, and peas. Not sure how they will do as it's been so cold, but we'll see! Bit of an experiment with these.

My To Do list for the veggie garden for May:
  • Put out tomato cloches - I'm trying a few Kozy Coats this year and I'm told I can put them out before the plants, to try to warm the soil where the plants will go.
  • Cover hoops with light-weight plastic. I'm hoping I can warm up my raised beds by a few degrees, and get the seedlings out a few weeks early this year (May 15 versus June 1 for tomato and pepper plants).
  • Sow remaining cold-weather seeds like green leaf lettuce, romaine, more spinach, green onion, more peas
  • Build folding cucumber trellis - something like this but maybe not as tall
  • Start hardening seedlings off - second week of May
  • Hook up hoses and install irrigation hoses in beds. 
  • Plant out seedlings and plants started indoors - May 15 ish (under plastic), later for peppers. Include blood-meal in tomato holes. Give peppers a spray of epsom-salt water.
  • Sow all remaining seeds: beans, more green onions, more cucumbers, carrots, parsnips... 
  • Plant out flower seedlings started indoors
  • Set up trellis for cucumbers and supports for peas (these need to wait until the plastic covers are off - end of the month)
  • Once plastic is off: hook up motion-sensing sprinkler to ward off the deer

Outside the veggie garden: 
  • divide hostas and lillies
  • clean up and re-mulch flower beds
  • plant annuals
  • prune lilacs and forsythia once they're finished flowering
  • find somewhere to install a hammock and put it up, and then lay in it for a few hours. (Hahahaha)

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Seedling" Update: Check em Out!

Aka: Why I Really Need Mid-May to Arrive

To say that my "seedlings" have gone bononkers would be, well, an understatement. I know my last post (about my non-green babies) I said I wanted time to slow down... But honestly I just need the good weather to arrive and stay so I can get these puppies outside!! Until then, I'm tending to them as best I can. (I may have a FEW too many tomato and pepper plants. Maybe.)

Leeks, romaine, green onions, Tiny Tims
Cucumbers, Tiny Tims

Scotias, Little Sweeties, Yum yums, Early California Wonder
Early California Wonder (I think)

Most of the peppers and tomatoes stretching to the light

C'moooooooon May!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stop it, stop it, STOP.IT. Just STOP.

 - Gretchen Rubin
"Please, please just stop growing up. PLEASE. STOP."

This was me pleading with my 14-month-old this morning, after she had lovingly placed a drooly kiss on my cheek, and then slapped me in the face with both hands. As you do.

Despite the slapped cheeks - or possibly because of them? - I found myself looking at her with tears in my eyes and trying to stop time by hugging it out of her: if I hold on tight and squeeze, maybe I can stop the growing up. Please, honey. Seriously - please stop.

That goes for your brother and sister too.

I see them changing before my eyes and I don't like it. Not one bit. They're getting bigger. They're getting those "big kid" eyes - the ones that one minute are laughing because you said "boogie" (I didn't mean THAT! Oh nevermind.), and the next they're looking at you sideways because you said no treats after supper. The big kid eyes that tell you they know stuff. They're starting know some stuff that I don't know. The balance is shifting. I don't like this growing up business AT ALL.

It's the little things:

I no longer need to unfold The Girl's socks for her, or button up her one pair of button-up PJs. I don't know when this started.

I pull jeans out of the dryer and don't immediately know whose they are - mine or theirs?

The way The Boy asks if I can play Mario Kart with him, and when I tell him I can't right now, he shrugs and says, "That's okay." Wait - what? It's okay? Like, that's cool. Whatever mom. I'm cool. *shrug* No whining? No tantrum? When did this start?

The way The Girl brushes her hair away from her face while she's drawing.

The way Baby Girl nodded and said "Yes." when I asked her if she wanted another cracker. Excuse me? Since when do you nod and say "yes" like you're a teenager or something? (I was so distracted, I didn't even do the requisite parental "Yes... please?")

The time The Boy was telling a story and added, laughing, "It was so random."

You don't even notice these things evolving, just one day they are happening and it's all around you - your kids growing up, having the knowing eyes and shrugging and tossing of the hair - and you can't stop time the way you'd like. They just keep doing their thing and getting bigger and it's just... it's not cool, okay?

So, I'll take those slobbery kisses (baby drool does have that faintly sweet smell that you never thought you'd love, but you do...) and even the double chubby-hand face slaps. And I'll just keep trying to hug the growing up out of them. It's worth a shot, right?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Even a Dum-Dum Can Grow Yum-Yums

I am proof that even someone who knows (next to) nothing about gardening and plants can grow stuff.

In fact, even someone who starts their seeds far too early, keeps them in containers too small and forgets to water them sometimes can grow decent sized plants.

IN FACT, even after trying to kill half the plants by letting them grow up to touch the lights they are under and half of them burn and whither as a result, I still have somewhat healthy-looking plants. The Yum-yum peppers - which I admit I ordered based solely on their adorable name - are doing so well that even though they got scorched, they are still producing flower buds (which I plucked off... should I have done that?). So far I am loving the yum-yums!

Monday, April 14, 2014

THIS is why I don't plant tulips!

Ahhhh spring. Finally -- the bulbs I lovingly tucked into the ground in the Fall are popping up.

Daffodils, hyacinth, crocuses...

... Tulips.

Uhm. Tulips? Right. I forgot -- tulips are like candy to deer. Frikken deer.

Note to self: don't waste time planting tulips!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Simplify: Not That Simple! (But one thing you can start TODAY)

It turns out, simplifying one's life is not that simple.

It's one thing to say, "Get rid of half your stuff"... and would definitely lead to a simpler, easier to maintain lifestyle. Thing is, paring down your stuff takes time. Then you have to do something with it -- donate it all? Yard sale? Sell it online? All these things take time, planning, organization.

There's a huge limit on my time and energy these days... with three kids, meals, chores, activities, and just the basics of keeping a household running (somewhat) smoothly, there is very little time OR energy left over. I guess this whole simplifying thing is a process -- a  long one, with a bunch of steps. It can seem a bit intimidating at the outset (like exercising! which I'm also not doing much of these days!)...

However, there is one thing you (and I) can start doing TODAY that requires no advance planning, no tools or research, and no real adjustments of the schedule. Yet it's something that makes a HUGE difference in your life. Are you ready for it?...


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

April: The Month of Waiting

I'm told Spring is coming. It WILL come. It HAS to. We are nearly there...

April... Inside: I've got lovely little plants flourishing under grow lights. Outside: everything is sopping wet. It's still pretty cold and dark. Every morning going to the window to see if the clumps of snow have finally disappeared (answer: no... but we're close!). The ground is probably pretty frozen under all that mud and yuck.

The waiting is killing me.

Knowing how much work awaits me in the garden, I am itching to get a jump on it, but the weather this Spring just hasn't cooperated. As I'm limited to the weekends, it really depends on a few hours of sunshine at just the right time (in our house: baby's nap time!). Do you hear me Mother Nature?? I need some warmth and sun please! 

In the meantime, I've got thoughts of planning and decisions to make:

  • compost versus aged manure? Both? What about mulch? When can I put it all in the raised beds? Is there anything else I need to add (lime?? bonemeal??)
  • hoop tunnels versus cold frames?
  • when to start hardening off
  • what to use for supports for peas, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes...
  • when can I really start planting out the lettuce, leeks, onions, spinach...
  • can I convince The Hubs to build me a garden shed next to the house?
  • is this Spring really going to be as cold and crappy as the Almanac predicts?
Who knew veggie gardening would be so time consuming... and complex... and addictive?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Pics of my Green Babies

As promised, here they are… my little green lovelies! (Click for larger images) Mother Nature may be playing a cruel April Fool's joke on us (it's been snowing all day… enough already!!) but I've got these little guys tucked in and warm.

veggie seedlings
Doesn't get much more (Eastern) Canadian than Tim Horton's cups and Keith's beer box. Ha!

sweet pepper seedlings
So pretty

seedlings under grow lights
From left: Yum-yums, Tiny Tims, Little Sweeties, leeks, Scotias (crying to be repotted, which I did as soon as I drank more coffee!)

growing seedlings
Go to the light, green dudes.

Here's what I've got started so far:
  • Peppers: Yum-yums, Early California Wonder, California Wonder
  • Tomatoes: Tiny Tim, Little Sweetie, Scotia, Sungold
  • Leeks
  • Green onion (not yet sprouted)
My furnace room smells heavenly!