I do a lot of garden planning.
One of my main gigs is as a member of the leadership team at Peterson Garden Project, where we have 6 small to large community gardens. There’s micro and macro planning to do– from helping new gardeners plan a 4×8′ plot to helping our team lay out 200 plots, to planning what to grow for donations to nutrition programs and food pantries (5% of every garden is set aside for community growing and donated to various programs).
This year we’re also planning to install a seed saving garden at our flagship site; our partners on the site have already put in bee hives.
Our partners are an urban farm that has been built to help refugees from Bhutan and Burma achieve financial stability. These traditional farmers grow for themselves and for commercial sales. Beekeeping is a traditional skill for the Bhutanese farmers at Global Gardens, but will be new for those from Burma. Both groups are eager to learn how to raise bees in the United States so they can provide honey for their families and earn needed income by selling honey and beeswax products. Bees will also make Global Gardens more productive by pollinating our vegetable crops.Global Gardens farmers learn about farm and small business management so they will be able to operate their own enterprises – perhaps including a few new apiaries for Chicago.
Our seed saving garden will be a traditional row garden forming the boundary between the community garden and the farmers; another portion may form a living backdrop for a stage in the community area. All seeds will be provided by the world famous Seed Savers Exchange, and will include seeds from the private collection that are not available commercially. Seeds will be preserved and shared with other seed savers in the Chicago area. The project will include an army of volunteers to care for and learn about the plants (if you’re in Chicago you could be one of them), educational classes, and events to teach people about food heritage and seed saving.
We have a Kickstarter to help fund it, and we’re very proud that we’ve met our goal (but there’s nothing stopping us from going over it!). Watch the Peterson Garden Project Facebook page for updates. If you choose to make a pledge, post in the comments; there’s a special extra incentive just for NDiN readers– seeds if I have to mail to you, or a seedling if you’re in Chicago and can pick it up.
Let us know about your own adventures with bees and seeds!
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Posted in Gardening, photography, Seasons, tagged garden, garden planning, Gardening, Peterson Garden Project, photography, Photos, planning, spring gardening, sunday photos on April 21, 2013 |
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Spring has arrived in some parts of the US while other parts are still, not-so patiently waiting. Last week we had fun looking back at what we harvested last year. This week we are looking forward and sharing our garden plans.
Oh, I (Sincerely, Emily) always seem to have a lot of plans, but as you know, there was a big wrench put in my plans so far this year. My friends have planted peppers and tomatoes for me and I will get the okra seed in the ground in the next week. That is about it for my garden plans. If things had gone according to “plan” I would be adding tomatillos to my garden this year. I have wanted to plant them for the past few years, but it just didn’t happen. That plan will wait until Spring 2014. Right now I have peppers and tomatoes already forming. I am glad to have things growing out there.
Cubanella pepper 4-19-2013
Tanglewood Farm is always abuzz with plans; some come to fruition, some shrivel up and die like a cast bug. Heh.
So far this year my biggest plans have been to try to pick up where I left off last spring. The weather last year was so atrocious that I admit I threw in the towel early. Okay, I planted a lots of things, and I admit I got to harvest a handful of tomatoes and some greens, but it was just such a bummer, especially after I had ordered and planted (and paid for) 80+ new berry bushes, including raspberries, dewberries, blackberries and gooseberries. By the end of the summer, regardless of watering, everything was crisp and brown to the roots.
So this year I have reordered most of the plants that died last year and I am starting afresh! I am also putting a lot of the young (wimpy) bareroot plants that I’ve ordered in pots until they are a little more established and until the ground is a little more planting-friendly. Right now we are soggy and sloshy from the house gardens to the back orchard (which, actually, is currently two feet under water!) so planting will have to wait, but planning… planning is always going on here at the farm!
It’s killing me, but I think this year is probably a no-corn year. I’m working on my rotation, and finding that without corn I have almost too much space, which I think will be filled with beans– boring, but practical (all the practical stuff is boring). Follow my gardening fits and starts at MyFolia.com/gardener/Xan!
Are you planting something new this spring?
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Our wonderful Jen at Unearthing This Life has been posting these great month-by-month planners for a few years. Just because she’s not writing here anymore doesn’t mean we stop the reposts!
I’ve been pretty productive this April– completely reconfigured the usage of my house to reflect the new reality of being in it alone. Lots of painting, moving and patching. The garden’s been a bit neglected through all this, but I’m hoping to get back on track. You can follow my garden progress at MyFolia.com/gardeners/Xan.
Here’s Jen’s April planner:
- Tilling garden beds where necessary to work in compost and get rid of weed seedlings
- Edging beds or digging the last of the new beds
- Add supports to garden beds for plants like tomatoes, peas, gourds, roses, peonies, and beans.
- Sowing outdoor hardy annuals
- Sow last of the peas, potatoes, and onions. Continue starting beets, lettuces, cabbages, radishes, and carrots.
- Planting rooted raspberry canes and strawberries
- Hardening off and planting of vegetable seedlings
- Plant any remaining saplings and transplants
- Rake around fruit trees to help with invasive bugs and/or treat for them. Use treatments only after flowers are gone.
- Questions about what to plant when? Go to Mother Earth News!
Outdoor house and yard Chores:
- Clean up fallen branches and sticks, nuts, and leaves.
- Hang bird/butterfly/bat-houses. If you’re not a beekeeper consider hanging a mason bee box. Set up bird baths and drinking holes for beneficial critters like bees.
- Tidy up gutters and look for winter damage.
- Bring out water hoses and setting up water barrels.
- Repair screens check caulking/insulation around windows and repair if necessary.
- Purchase/raise chicks
- Consider any expansions and rotations for this seasons’ critters.
- Repair fencing.
- Add supers to beehives. Check brood.
- Wash windows and curtains.
- Organize and collect glass canning jars.
- Clean out freezers and storage for this year’s crops.
- Plan simple, yet filling meals for lots of energy.
What will you be working on this month?
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Posted in Gardening, Local Food, photography, tagged courgette, garden, harvest, last years harvest, photography, Photos, sunday photos, tomatillos, zucchini on April 14, 2013 |
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As we get ready for the new growing season, it’s fun to look back at what you grew last year!
Probably my (Alexandra) last year in my big garden has me thinking about what I’ll want to grow that I really use. Tomatoes, of course, but what about carrots (cheap to buy) and tomatillos (also have way more than I need).
I (Chiot’s Run) was just thinking about this yesterday as well, looking through my old photos of delicious vegetables, dreaming of the wonderful bounty my larger gardens will produce this year. Here were some of my favorites from last year:
I (Sincerely, Emily) loved all the peppers that came from last years garden, but there was one particular vegetable that I was the most thrilled about growing last year. The allusive zucchini (courgette.) For several years I had tried and tried, and struggled and struggled to grow zucchini. Last year was a HUGE success.
What did you grow last year?
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Up here in Zone 5 (ish), March is a slog.
It’s not that the weather is terrible, or not just that the weather is terrible, but Illinois March is cruel– you know there’s a springlike day just struggling to get out, but winter Just. Hangs. On.
What’s a gardener to do?
Seed Starting 101
Roughly my presentation
at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show
DIY stage, March 10
- Space—how much space in your seed starting area, how much space in your garden
- Cost—I never started seeds until about 7 years ago, because I wasn’t growing all that much; once I started expanding my garden nursery starts got too expensive
- What you’ll eat
- Something new
Type of seeds:
- GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) produced by any means of genetic modification, whether by modern genetic engineering or age-old plant breeding methods
- GE Genetically Engineered—these are your Frankenseeds, and are not commonly encountered in home gardening
- Hybrid- An “F-1”, or first generation hybrid, is created when a breeder cross-pollinates two pure plant lines to produce a seed with desirable traits (such as disease resistance, uniformity, or color) from both parents; not stable from generation to generation
- Heirloom, aka open pollinated is a stable hybrid—breeds true from single parent. Generally the plant needs to be stable for 50 years to be considered an “heirloom”
- Winter sowing
Materials to start seeds indoors
- A warm surface or a seed heating mat
- 12 to 14 hours of light—a sunny window is not enough. Get specifically grow lights, or just get a shop light with one warm fluorescent tube and one cool flurorescent tube, OR get can clamp lights with a 150 or 200 W CFL bulb
- Sterile containers*
- Seed starting mix
- An electric fan
Sterile containers can be purchased seed starting kits, biodegradable pots, standard ceramic pots, plastic 4” starter pots, TP tubes, DIY newpaper pots. But if they aren’t new, you must sterilize them with heat, 10% bleach solution, or rubbing alcohol.
Step by step for indoor starts
- Make a calendar—you want 4” tall plants on planting day, with at least 4 sets of leaves. Your seed packet should tell you how long from planting to sprouting; assume 3 to 4 times that for plant out date. So a tomato will sprout in about 6 to 8 days; and get to four inches in 3 to 4 weeks. In other words, don’t start tomato seeds indoors before the beginning of April or later, because you can’t plant them until late May.
- Sterile containers can be purchased seed starting kits, biodegradable pots, standard ceramic pots, plastic 4” starter pots, TP tubes, DIY newpaper pots. But if they aren’t new, you must sterilize them with heat, 10% bleach solution, or rubbing alcohol.
- Moisten the starter mix (only moisten what you will use today)
- Slightly underfill your containers
- MAKE MARKERS BEFORE YOU PLANT. Again, creative reuse, popsicle sticks, plastic plant markers, etc. Use a black sharpie or laundry marker so the writing doesn’t fade or run
- Lay your seeds on the surface of the cell or planter, then cover with the correct amount of starter mix/soil—the packet will tell you how deeply to plant, but generally you want the seed twice the depth of its largest dimension.
- Overplant. Assume 80% germination on freshly purchases commercial seeds, 50% if you’ve gotten seeds at a seed swap or by saving them yourself.
Taking care of your seeds
- Most vegetable seeds will sprout in a week. Some, like beans or radishes, will sprout in a couple of days. Some, like basil, parsley and parsnips, may take a month.
- Keep them moist but not soaking. Until they sprout you can help keep the soil moist by laying a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the pot.
- Water seeds and sprouts from the top, seedlings from the bottom
- Because no indoor light is the same as sunlight, keep those lights on 14 to 16 hours a day. Use a timer.
- Once they’ve sprouted, place a fan on low in the room. Doesn’t need to be blowing on them direct, but this will help keep fungal diseases like damping off at bay, and will make the stems stronger.
- Be ruthless—pinch off weaker seedlings until you have only a few more than you need. Once you plant, donate the ones you don’t need to your local garden club sale or school garden.
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My winter garden is doing alright this winter. It is missing a few things that did well last year, mainly turnips, but all in all I am happy with what is growing out there.
Parsnips and salsify are the two new things growing out there. Neither are growing in abundance, but they are growing. After reading the seed package, I decided to start the salsify seeds inside. They can take up to 3 weeks to germinate so I wanted to give them all the help I could by starting them inside. The parsnips and the turnips I started outside. With the combination of heat and bugs. and then an early hard freeze the turnips gave up and only a few parsnips survived. I will give them a better chance of survival next fall and start them inside too (and a bit earlier)
I didn’t plant as much lettuce as I did last year. Last year we were rolling in it and I was giving it away, so I cut back this year. Now I don’t have enough so I have new lettuce started. It is growing slow slow slow, but it is growing and we will be eating it before too long.
This year the big producer is spinach. I have struggled to get spinach growing really well the past few years. I have tried starting the seeds indoor, direct sowing them and even transplants. This year, I put in transplants again and they have grown great. So the spinach is filling in were the lettuce left off. Along with the chard and kale, the greens are great.
I am still dealing with limitations since my surgery and I am unable to harvest anything in the garden, so I rely on my husband. A few days ago we headed out there. The spinach was in desperate need of a hair cut and I told him that if he wasn’t going to be home during any daylight hours anytime soon that I would be out there holding the flashlight for him. That spinach really needed to be picked!
The spinach was finally picked. There was a lot of spinach out there. After I had washed it I needed to figure out how I was going to get it all in the refrigerator. I turned to the plastic grocery bags saved from days gone by and collected for friends (we use them when we scoop out the litter boxes.) It took four Target bags in the end – stuffed full of spinach. After a few days of eating spinach I finally took a photo of the refrigerator for my step-dad. He will be planting his greens before long (up in Minnesota) but until then he is drooling over my greens (I do the same when he has a flourishing garden in the summer and I have no greens growing!)
As you can see, spinach has been on my mind (and in our tummies.) It gets chopped and thrown on top of pizza. It goes into every fresh salad. It get steamed. It goes into quiches. Every meal seems to have spinach (or another green) it it one way or another. In fact, I am going to try to extend the harvest by making up some spinach pesto to stash in the freezer for the dead of summer when it won’t be growing here. I will be making Green Linguini – the reversed version. Using spinach pesto and fresh chopped basil instead of the other way around.
Have you made pesto out of green thing other than basil?
You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.
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Posted in Animal Husbandry, Daily Life, Dark Days, Gardening, Homekeeping, Homemaking, Livestock, Living, organization, Planning, Seasons on February 5, 2013 |
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This is the second in our repostings of Jen’s wonderful posts on monthly planning. Originally posted in 2011, here’s what to do in the traditional dead of winter.
February can be one of the last chances to get indoor projects completed before the spring thaw arrives. Gardeners are getting excited and it won’t be long before the first of this year’s farm babies are here! Spring is really just around the corner, so start wrapping things up inside and get ready to head back outdoors.
- Check basement or crawl space for leakage during thaws.
- Check bathroom caulking for re-sealing needs. While you’re in there, check your pipes for leaks.
- Freshen your kitchen sinks by pouring a mixture of 3 cups hot water and 1/4 cup vinegar (or the juice of one lemon) down each drain.
- Keep an eye out for cracks in your drywall caused by settling during thaws and freezes. There are expandable putties and spackles available for problem areas. While you’re at it, you may want to mark outdoor masonry to be repaired. Plan to complete this project after the last hard freeze and once your biggest worries of the house settling are past.
- If you don’t have a cold frame or greenhouse, set up an area to start seeds for your garden. Few seeds need light to germinate (be sure to read the directions) so you may be able to get by without any lights other than a window for the first few weeks. (Check out chiotsrun seedstarting 101 guide).
- Research and prepare for any animal purchases for the year.
- Keep a tray of water and spray bottle near indoor plants to adjust humidity levels, especially if you have central air. Running the heater can dry them out quickly and cover leaves with dust.
- Keep fresh water available and free of ice for birds and wildlife.
- It’s National Bird Feeding Month. Keep feeding those birdies! Seed, dried berries, and suet are great meals for our feathered pals.
- If you live in a climate with mild winters, this month may be a good time to dig new beds. You may also want to repair or build new composting bins to be prepared for this year’s cleanup.
- Southerners could get away with planting bare root trees on warm days.
- Keep driveways and walks free of snow and ice. Have shovels, plows, and salt/brine accessible and stocked.
- Watch gutters and roofs for ice dams.
- XAN EDIT: if you’re in a short-season zone (5 and up) start long season seeds like onions and leeks indoors
- If you didn’t get to it during fall, now would be a great time to oil and sharpen garden tools.
- Be prepared for early birthing. Have any equipment you’ll need ready and accessible.
- Nights are still very cold in most parts of the country. Keep your critters warm with fresh hay, heat lamps, or blankets, but be sure to avoid fire hazards.
- If you’ve been leaving a light on for your chickens you can begin weaning them off of it. The sun is setting noticeably later and your gals should begin laying more regularly soon.
You can also find Jennifer in archive at Unearthing This Life where she used to blog (or as she called it “blarg”) a bit about good food, home schooling, raising chickens, and being a suburban Yankee transplant in a rural southern town. She’s not writing right now, but her wonderful posts are well worth scrolling through.
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It is winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. Some people have no chance of a garden to grow anything this time of year. Others are able to grow some things with the help of green houses or row covers. In some areas people have gardens that are flourishing and growing strong in the winter.
I (Sincerely, Emily) am thrilled to have a growing season in the winter. Our winter garden is flourishing and the farmers markets have an abundance of winter veggies to sell.
I look forward to the winter planting of lettuce, kale, chard and spinach because it is the only time of year that is will grow here. It is just too hot in the summer. I am picking broccoli and onions. Soon to be picking cabbage. Green is a lovely winter color in my garden.
I (Xan) feel like we’ve barely even had winter this year. Far less than an accumlated 10 inches of snow (maybe less than 5), and very few days below the freezing mark, and here it is February already. The most amazing success of my winter garden this year has been the canna rhizomes that I potted, never believing they would actually grow. But here’s my canna “forest!”
Northern or Southern Hemisphere – What are you growing right now or What are you buying?
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Posted in Canning, Cooking, Crafty, Creative Pursuits, Food Preservation, Frugality, Gardening, Handmade Holidays, Holidays, Make Your Own, REAL Holidays, Recipes, tagged food, Gifts, handmade, Homesteading in Maine, recipe, Recipes, rick bayless, salsa verde, tomatillos, what to do with zucchinis, zucchini, zucchini relish on December 2, 2012 |
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Are you inspired by all the great handmade gifts our writers have been making? We like to cook things for the ones we love as well! Here’s some handmade recipes for holiday giving!
Of course, sweets are the mainstay of homemade holidays, but this year I decided to go savory. Every year I grow tomatillos, make pints and pints of salsa verde, and then it sits on the shelf because no one eats it. Naturally, this year I decided I’ll make it in half-pint sizes, and then use it for gifts. I made 20 half-pints. When I went to check for this photo, I was down to 11; I think my husband has been eating it because of the nice small sizes. I used Rick Bayless’ wonderful recipe, and grew everything myself except the limes. By the way, this stuff is great on pizza!
Well, Xan has me drooling over her salsa verde.
With the successful zucchini growing season this fall, I (Sincerely, Emily) knew exactly what some people were going to be getting this year for gifts! Zucchini Relish! I started making this recipe back in the fall of 2009 with a few zucchini from my garden (before the nasty borer got to it!) and more from the farmers market. Now I am thrilled I can use all of my own, homegrown zucchini for the recipe. I have not harvested my horseradish yet, or I would have used that too!) I found the recipe over at Homesteading in Maine and I also have the zucchini relish recipe posted (with permission) over at my blog too.
We love this relish on sandwiches in place of mayo.
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