Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 Garden Theme - Baby Garden

After a year of bad garden juju in 2010, we are particularly excited to greet a new year at the South Sound Garden.  Last year's weather led such garden disappointment we stopped posting altogether in disgust!  But all the time not spent in a depressing garden gave us a little time to attend to other things:
We are tickled pink to be expecting a baby girl in late February.  Since babies aren't candidates for solid food until they're about 6 months, and even then very simple veggies and grains, we're planning to plant baby-friendly produce and freeze whatever gets harvested before she can eat. The good news is many baby-friendly favorites are easy to grow (even in a crappy year!)

Baby-Friendly Veggies

Baby Friendly Fruits Already Growing in SSG

We picked up this book from Williams Sonoma on cooking for baby and it has a lot of good tips on what/when/how.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Keeping Dogs and Other Critters out of the Garden Beds

One of our biggest helpers in the garden is our sweet dog Annie. She's always there to supervise (as well as a nearly blind 15 year old dog can...) and lend a helping paw.  One challenging thing about a senior dog who can't hear or see very well is teaching them new ideas (what is that about old dogs and new tricks?), like please don't tramp through the onion bed.  After she played Godzilla over Tokyo a few times and broke a few onions, we decided we better make a way to keep the peace (where's Mothra when you need her?)
Who me?

We wanted something that was not too distracting or expensive so we put our thinking caps on and came up with rebar corner posts (we bought 4', which gave us 2' underground and 2' above, you could adjust by the size of your dog. Around the corners, we stretched some bird netting that they sell at the hardware store.  If your dog is bigger they also sell wildlife netting or even construction webbing.  We've been mulching with grass to keep the soil wet, that's what the greenish tinge is under the onions.
So far this works pretty well, sound the all clear in Tokyo.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Blue MayDay

It's May and the sun is shining, oh wait it's raining, oh hey the sun is out again!...We've been suffering the gardener's dilemma where every time we get dressed to work in the yard it rains.  As soon as we go in it's sunny again! Oh well...

The yard is full of Blue Flowers!  Well sometimes purple...But that doesn't go with the song.

From SSG
Purple Money Plant - Lunaria annua - the seeds will be around soon - let me know if you want some.
From SSG
Comfrey - A great composter, did you know? Apparently full of nitrogen!
From SSG
Vinca Minor, though it should be called Vinca Major in our garden. We grow it under a plam and it goes nuts.

From SSG
Bluebells (and cockle shells?)
From SSG
Even the Asparagus is tinged with purple. This was the first crop  of the year - check out the giant! It was still tender and delicious.

I have a feeling June will be pink - ROSES!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where ARE those nutty South Sound Gardeners?

A postcard from the gardeners

Tuesday, April 27th - Postmark Steilacoom Chain Gang

Dear Friends,

We've been up to our dirty old tennis shoes prepping beds, putting up a fence, and chasing the dog (aka DogZilla!) out of onions.  The soil prep has developed a meditative sort of repetition (dig, sift, dig, sift, compost compost...notice me avoiding the word boredom...)  But still, it is gratifying to be outside under the big blue sky (ok sometimes grey) and to catch the chickadees and robins eyeing us curiously, wondering what treats we're going to uncover (mmmmm centipede!).  We comfort ourselves by discussing how the bed prep we're doing this year will yield dividends for years to come. Hoping to have more exciting things to report very soon.

Oh wait, the bare root raspberries we planted are definitely getting big and bushy and the bare root apple trees we planted are leafing out nicely. Plus, hey the asparagus came up, yum.  And some days we were working in the garden and I'd go in covered in cherry blossoms. 

Wish you were here! No really - we could use the help.

Amanda n Mike

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Seedling Experiment - Round 2

Considering our miserably wet week, I'm thankful to have my little garden of seedlings to play with on a soggy Saturday morning.  After our first seedling experiment which pitted plastic trays against Corningware casseroles (spoiler alert, casserole won!), we switched tactics.  Hubby was pretty curious about how those little magically expanding peat pellets would perform against starter mix.  We had read in at least one pepper book that peppers don't dig peat (testing that next) so we tried it out some tomatoes.
The results were pretty drastic. Here's some seedlings that were started on March 14th.  The front row is all Oregon Spring tomatoes. See the peat one on the left is huge! I had to repot the peat seedlings this morning.  The same variety on the right is respectable and healthy, but half the size.  Yogurt anyone?
Bob in a party hat, he watched on with cool detachment
 Post repotting comparison
We have been hearing good things about Coir, which is a more sustainable medium than peat.  If we can get our hands on some we'll run another test.  A couple of interesting notes. About 1 out of every 5 seeds don't make it.  Since we're hoping to have 2 of each of the varieties of tomatoes and peppers that we start and have 2 to give away, we start 5 of each variety.

Crossing fingers for dryer days,


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunny Day Garden Tour

Today it POURED all day!  But yesterday, oh yesterday, was another tempting little preview tease.  Just a brief taste to remind us of summer.  When I woke up to see the sun shining in and opened the back door to hear the birds singing away (it's like they remember summer too...) I grabbed the camera and wandered out in my robe and slippers. Here are a few things I caught in the golden light.
Oregon Grape, A great northwest native
 Chinese Camelia Riot
Cherry Blossoms
New succulent bowl I put together (hanging out at the garden center is dangerous!)

Dreaming of more golden days to come,


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Side by Side Seed Tray Experiment

With the weather as warm as it has been (prior to this week!!), and with our mailbox stuffed with seeds every day it was impossible for us not to go ahead and get started on seedlings. Most of the tomatoes and peppers we ordered are under 70 days to harvest, a good way to maximize the odds for harvesting ripe fruit off the vine in our sometimes all too short maritime summers. Those did not require an early start. But we did make a few bets on some over 80 day plants, San Marzano Gigante and Japanese Black Trifle tomatoes, as well as several peppers hubby picked out.
This is our first time starting seeds for vegetables indoors, so we were choosing between recycled toilet paper rolls or a plastic seed starting tray. Loved the recycle-reuse approach of TP rolls, but also admired the high-density in a small space of the plastic tray. We decided to hold a showdown! We picked up a commercial plastic seed tray for 5 bucks at local drugstore (half the price of the local big box hardware store hmmm..), a small square "Corning" style covered casserole from Goodwill to hold the toilet paper rolls - also 5 bucks, and a good organic seed starter mix. The TP rolls were free - but we did cut them a little smaller than halves, to minimize the soil required.

We soaked the seeds overnight in warm water and it was off to the races! Our house is 100 years old and pretty drafty, but the Mr. had installed lovely heated floors in a bathroom remodel recently. This made a perfectly warm spot to park the seeds while we waited for them to germinate. The Corning/tp casserole under it's thick warm glass and the plastic tray under it's snug lid. Both stayed nicely moist under their covers.

The results!? Shocking! I admit I was expecting a bit of a tossup and maybe writing a little comment here about picking what mattered most to you, but that wasn't what happened at all! The Corning/TP seedlings germinated over a week earlier and are so much sturdier! It's shocking! The tomatoes are all up and the peppers are all uncurling today.

The plastic tray seedlings are limping along. They are germinating much more slowly and the few that did make it up already are stringier. Even where we planted the exact same variety...

TP rolls in Corningware is unequivocal the winner!!! I suspect the insulative properties of the glass may be the cause.

Happy seed starting,


3/10 Post Script: The absorbant nature of the cardboard is nice too. When you're going to be gone a bit too long one day and can't be home to spritz as often as you like, you can spray the cardboard liberally and it wicks the moisture to the plants throughout the day.