Thursday, April 30

Note to Caroline: Peat pot disaster and ripening Strawberries

A few re-potted squash and new pots of melon seeds

So this is the second year that I have used peat pots to start seedlings. And every year I have had problems with leggy seedlings. Is it something I am doing wrong? They are very convenient to use , and I always see fast results. Maybe too fast! I googled to find out what the problem could be and it seems as if I did not move them to the window sill quickly enough after they emerged.

I decided to ditch most of the peat pots except for  one  variety of squash (Winter Keeper), that was not a problem.  I think you idea of sowing directly in mini pots is a good idea and cuts down on transplanting. I have also seen many people using plastic drink cups to plant their seeds.

Potted Pineapple Sage and Oregano

It was another day in the 80's here in Portland, Oregon. I am not complaining, but I am just not used to it being so hot here in April. I had to abandon some of the projects planned like planting beans, just because of the heat. I did manage to plant this pineapple sage today in this pot of Oregano.  Herbs seem to grow fast and take over, so I am keeping them in containers this year.

I planted 3 Tomatoes and a Sweet Pepper today

I did get to plant 3 tomatoes and a sweet pepper. I usually plant these in late May, and sometimes I have to even wait until June before it gets warm enough. I can't get over the fact that I am planting summer crops the same time as my peas are just barely a few inches tall. It might be a great year for all our summer crops here in the Pacific Northwest. I have started some watermelon and cantaloupe seeds on the patio. I am planning to put in more tomatoes and peppers, but I am running out of space.
Can you see my half ripe Strawberries?

Another example of this planting season being weird, is that I already have Strawberries. They are half green and half red. I planted these a few weeks ago, and did not expect them to produce much this year. I love Strawberries. I like the ever bearing varieties that produce fruit the entire season. Although, I think the June bearing varieties are bigger and a tad sweeter.

Rhododendrons in full bloom 

Considering the Roses are in full bloom here, the Rhododendrons seem to be late this year. They just decided to bloom, and can be found all over the neighborhoods of Portland. Another spring favorite that have finished flowering here, are the Tulips and spring bulbs. Oh, I forgot to tell you that there is a repeat visitor to my garden this year. No, not they Coyotes, although they are still around, but moles. I thought they were long gone. I noticed a mound of soil right by one of my raised beds. 

Does anyone know what this is?

A lovely splash of tropical color in April

When do you think you will be able to start planting? Lets plan on getting our 2015 Seed List up soon for our readers. I am glad that we are both excited about growing more flowers this year, and thinking of ways we can save money gardening.

Tuesday, April 21

It's finally Spring in Maine!

It was a brutal winter here in New England. This is what my deck looked like in February.
One snow storm ran into another. We still have some snow in spots, but it's finally melting! Everything seems late this year but we are happily in the midst of mud season now.
I set up my little greenhouse on my deck recently. I started some seeds a few weeks ago in pots indoors. This little tote is working out well to put them outside during the day. It makes it easy to bring them back in at night. Since the greenhouse isn't heated and night temperatures aren't warm enough yet, everything comes back in the house at night.
 I have a few projects in the works indoors. We eat a lot of clementines in the winter. I wondered if the seeds would sprout. They did! I made a tiny greenhouse from a soda bottle and a bread bag. I planted the seeds a few months ago and hung the little greenhouse in a sunny window. Now I have little clemantine plants. Some seedlings are shriveling and dying, but I have a few strong survivors. I hope at least one will grow into a plant that will bear fruit. We'll see!
 This is a begonia I wintered over inside. I love begonias because they are so easy to propagate. Just take a cutting and pop it into some water. Soon, roots will appear.
 I also wintered over my geraniums with success this year! I've tried this before with no luck. I read a bathroom is too humid for geraniums, so this year I kept them in a sunny window in a bedroom. They are doing well and even flowered through the winter. I love this color so I'm pleased this was successful.
This little rose is blooming indoors. My daughter gave it to me for Easter. I will plant it outdoors when the weather is warm enough.
Speaking of outdoors, I don't have much to show you other than mud and shrinking mounds of snow. No daffodils, crocus or tulips yet. Really the only thing growing are my Egyptian onions. No matter what I can count on my amazing Egyptian onions!

Happy Spring everyone!

Monday, April 20

Preparing for the growing season in Portland,OR

A side view of the community garden

This spring continues to be the craziest planting season I have seen while living in Portland. I have been waiting it out for many weeks now to see if the warm weather will take a nasty turn back to winter. It never did. We have had stretches of 70s for a while now, and it even went up to 80 today. I decided I better get going when I saw roses blooming everywhere, and tomato plant starts for sale at the nurseries.

Time to put up twine for the peas to climb up

It makes for an interesting planting season. I am planting cold weather crops like peas and lettuce at the same time that I am planting summer crops like tomatoes and cucumber.
Basically, I am running out of planting space because I am used to planting and harvesting the cold weather plants before planting the warm weather ones. Did I mention that there are giant bumble bees everywhere? I first noticed them last month. Maybe bumble bees in March are normal, but I have never noticed them being around until the summer months.

One of my rectangle community garden raised beds

Here is a photo of one of my community beds. Sorry, it does not look too pretty right now. I just planted them with peas, onion, lettuce, beets, potatoes and a few herbs. Another obstacle to over come is the lack of water. Because it is April, the community garden has not turned on the water yet. We have to wait it out until May 1st, which is going to be interesting. We have put out buckets to collect rain water, but there has not been any rain- making me wonder if I have been transported from Portland, Oregon to somewhere else. I never thought I would be complaining about not enough rain here in Portland, Oregon.

My clematis leaves are really dry this year, but the flowers look great 

My poor climber looks very dry this year. I have got used to the fact that I now have to water everything daily even though it is April. I think the flowers look fine. This variety also flowers in the fall. I love clematis and wish I had more space to add a couple more.
I wonder how hard it is to make cuttings of it? I know that is one thing that Caroline and I both want to try this year. Seed saving and reproducing from cuttings. We also want to grow more flowers and herbs as we have mostly been concentrating on vegetables.

One of three wine boxes that I am planting in this year

I bought these wine boxes for a few dollars at a yard sale last year. We will see how long they last because I did not treat, or line them with plastic. I recommend that you do both if you want yours to last more than just one season. I was planning to add this hosta to a  new shady area bed I was going to create, but decided it would be best to stick to containers since I am renting.

Small raised beds on my apartment patio

 I am slowly adding more growing capacity by moving these small raised beds to my apartment patio from the guerrilla area I had in the back. I was able to find more mini drawer beds for the back area. The small white raised beds come apart quite easily, so if I ever move from here they should be easy to take with me. I also want to add more pots of herbs. I planted one of the small raised beds with onions, and I plan to add 3 tomato plants to the other one next week. As you can see, I have quite a bit of weeding still to do between the patio stones.

A new set of found drawers used as mini beds in my gorilla gardening area

Remember my drawer mini beds? Well, they worked out very well. The only problem is that they lasted only one season. However, they broke down really well which was beneficial to the soil. It appears that most drawers are made of real wood on the fronts, but the sides are made of particle board. If you need them to last you may need to seal them before planting. However, I think it is best to plan on them only lasting one season in wet climates. Another option is to store them in the winter. 

More mini beds. The first one is planted with strawberries

I found new ones a few weeks ago in a trash dumpster by my house. So I have 10 new mini beds which will help with the lack of planting space problem. This season I am using goat compost that was given to me by my neighbors next door. I was shocked how rich it was and did not have a poo smell. It is so much fun living next to mountain goats. Not to mention how easy they make weeding. When it is growing season all I do is throw my weeds over the fence for them, and in late fall they come over to clear the land. Now there is the extra benefit of having a supply of great compost. This growing season is going to be great!

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...