Saturday, May 30

Note To Michele: Memorial Day Drive to The White Mountains in New Hampshire

Hi Michele,

We've been having lovely warm weather here in Maine. On Memorial Day the kids and I drove to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I thought you might like to see some of our favorite spots.
This is the Albany Covered Bridge just off the Kancamagus Highway. This pleasant area has some nice hiking trails.
Then we stopped at Rocky Gorge, just a few miles beyond the covered bridge on the same highway. The little bridge you see in the distance traverses Rocky Gorge.
A spectacular view from the Rocky Gorge bridge. In the summer, this spot is packed with swimmers, however no one is allowed to swim in the gorge itself, for obvious reasons. 
This is a root-y trail near The Basin in Franconia Notch.
Crawford Notch has always been one of my favorite spots. 
We had the most delicious rocky road fudge in the snack bar.  I've loved this area since I was a little girl. It's always breathtaking, but in Autumn, it really is a sight to behold with all the beautiful colors. A cup of hot apple cider tastes better here than anywhere else. I think we will need to do a return visit in October.

 This marker commemorates a massive landslide which occurred in the early 1800s. Sadly, the family who lived here perished.

In other news, the garden is doing well so I'll be posting regular updates now that things are in full swing. We already harvested rhubarb, mustard spinach, black seeded simpson lettuce, some microgreens, chives, and asparagus. My greenhouse has made a huge impact on my garden this year....more on that later.

What's happening in your garden this week?

~Caroline

Friday, May 29

Prom Flowers: Orchid Wristlet Corsage and Boutonnière

As anyone with teenagers knows, May means Prom Time.
These two lovelies made an appearance at our house last weekend for Prom.
Wristlet corsages are oh so fashionable these days. This one is made with a large white orchid, baby's breath and (I think) delphinium blossoms. If anyone knows for sure, leave a comment and let me know.
This is a sweet little boutonnière made from a smaller orchid and a single blue blossom.
Here is the bracelet to which the flowers are attached. Very sparkly!
You should have seen the happy smile at the first site of these prom flowers. It was the start of an evening she'll remember for years to come!

Sunday, May 17

In My Greenhouse-May

My little greenhouse is serving me well. I used it well into November last fall. I stored the plastic cover inside for the winter, but the frame stayed outdoors and survived the deep snow. Now it's back in business, on my deck, for 2015.
I have had a problem with bugs, bees and this little ruby-throated hummingbird. They fly in the open door when they see blossoms, but can't find their way out. I've helped many to the door and freedom these past weeks. This little beauty was just fine and I've seen it flying around my garden since this particular evening.
Since the hummingbird incident, I've taken all the tempting blossoms off the plants. I also close the door when possible, but on sunny afternoons it gets so hot inside the little greenhouse, it has to be opened to let the heat out. So I keep a close eye on things.
Inside, I have tomato seedlings...
flower seedlings from the seeds Michele and I are sharing. I'm also growing greens in containers like this batch of mustard spinach.
These petunia seedlings are from seeds I collected last fall from my 2014 petunias. It will be interesting to see what color flowers I get with these. I can't believe how many germinated. Good thing I like petunias!
You'll also find geraniums, zucchini, lettuce, herbs, and a variety of other veggie starts in my greenhouse this year. I'm so glad I decided to get it. I'm thinking of getting a second one when they go on sale this fall.

Below is a video by John of Growing Your Greens about this very greenhouse. He demonstrates how to put it together and discusses the pros and cons of this model.


Saturday, May 16

Propagating Geraniums From Cuttings

For many years now, I've tried to keep my geraniums through the winter, with very little success. This winter, however, all survived. 

In the past, I kept geraniums in a bathroom, erroneously thinking the humidity would be beneficial. However, by March most had died. Two years ago, I tried storing them without soil in the attic in paper bags. That failed me as well, but I know others have had success with the method.
Two things I did differently this year- I kept them in my sunniest window away from the humidity, and I watered sparingly, just enough to moisten the soil and letting the soil dry out between watering. 

They continued to grow and bloom throughout the winter. The plants were now quite lanky and in need of pruning. 

I researched starting new plants. I learned Spring is the best time of year to propagate from cuttings. Since my geraniums needed pruning back anyway, I gave it a go.

Here's what I did:

1) Removed dead or dying leaves and all blossoms
2) Cut a few inches the tops off each stem

3) Removed leaves on lower part of stem
4) Dipped stem in rooting powder
 5) Pushed stems down into potting soil
6) Watered well.

If what I've been learning holds true, I hope to have some new geraniums this year.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, May 15

Spring has Sprung!

It's really and truly starting to feel like spring around these parts. To prove it, here are some of the plants blooming in my garden. It's lovely to have blooms after such a snowy winter.








Saturday, May 2

Note To Michele: Seed Starting

I am envious of your 80 degree weather! Spring is coming slowly to Maine, but even though the temperatures are rising, it still feels chilly to me. My greenhouse gets nice and warm on sunny days, but nights are still cool enough I'm bringing almost everything inside at night.
I'm sorry to hear about the problems you've had with peat pots. In general, I have not had good luck with peat pots. This year I even tried just the biodegradable pots with my own seed starting mix, and those also failed. I don't know what is wrong, since many people have success. Because I've used a variety of containers, all is not lost.

I've re-purposed some items to use in the greenhouse. I always save the plastic pots, trays and flats when I buy plants at a nursery. So some seeds were started in those. But this year I've also tried small Dixie cups. I lined them in a tray saved from a garden center purchase last year. I did put a little newspaper in the bottom so the cups don't tip.
Also, I saved the foam trays you see in the photo above. These are very shallow, but I have found this method works well for starting greens, especially if you are growing them to eat as microgreens.
 These fit nicely together. I poked holes in the green trays and set them in the yellow tray, which will catch the water.
I filled these with a fine seed starting mix. But I didn't water as I usually do with a watering can.
Instead, I used a spray bottle. This works great with very fine seeds and starting mix so you don't create a duluge of water which then washes the seeds around.
With the Dixie cup method, I poked holes in the bottom and filled with seed starting mix. Then I planted the seeds.
 
I do have a few plants which have sprouted. Above is Mustard Spinach which I'm growing for micro-greens. I may also transplant a few strong seedlings into pots.

These are tomato seedlings I started about a month ago. They have been transplanted once.
Very little activity is going on in my garden right now, but my rhubarb is coming up nicely. You may remember I bought this plant about three years ago. Last fall, I divided it up because it had grown so big. I worried it wouldn't survive the winter if I did anything wrong, but as you can see, the plants look healthy. I won't be long before we'll enjoy rhubarb. 

I have packaged up the seeds I'll be sending along to you, so those should arrive soon for you to plant. For our interested readers, do check the pages at the top of this blog to see a list of the seeds we'll be sharing in 2015.
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