Monday, July 4, 2011

How to Make Newspaper Seed Pots


Here is my first go at a how-to video on a blog. This one is really simple: how how to make newspaper seed pots. 

All you need is newspaper, a common sized can (like the size soup usually comes in... in the video my wife Mary is using a can of black beans) and some masking tape. Do like she does in the video, fill with potting soil or what you use for seeds and you have it ready to plant. When the seedlings are ready for transplanting, you can remove the newspaper or just open the bottom and put it in the soil. The newspaper will decompose. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Go Go Garden

As you can see the garden plants are really taking off.
The rapid growth the heat brings make me grateful to live in Florida. Have some tiny squash growing already. These things sprout and grow so fast!

Tomato cage filling up.

Love the brilliant squash blossoms. Accidentally overexposed this one.
Happy accident. The little flowers scattered on top are the last of the
jasmine blossoms.

Hello future tomatoes!
Morning sun on big squash leaves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gathering Heirloom Seeds

This is lettuce seed. Like a tiny dandelion it opens with little fluff transports.
Been gathering these tykes for weeks now, winnowing them and putting
in a glass jar. Sitting in the sun and plucking these little things put me in a
poetic frame of mind.

A word is a seed.
From my lips to your ears.
From my fingers to your eyes.
Chosen carefully, it grows food.
Chosen poorly, it grows hunger.
Makes and releases it's own.

Seeds don't look like much in the Tupperware dish. But they are magic. Food.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Warm and Really Growing

One of the benefits of spring: the delicious smell of jasmine blooms.
With the temperatures hitting 90 degrees in Florida, all things green begin growing rapidly- sacred sod included. Need to mow weekly now. Sigh.

But the happy upside is my garden is growing rapidly too.

Two raised beds are in now with room for more. No complaints from
neighbors or Homeowners Association so far. The plants nearest the camera
are various kinds of squash. Will need to set up something for them to climb.

The herb department now has oregano, basil, English thyme, and rosemary. Numerous kinds of tomatoes are taking off and some peppers, broccoli and leeks. Squash too.
Don't worry, it only looks like a thermonuclear device! It's an 80 gallon
tumbling composter. Bought with Costco rebate check.

I put in some sweaty hours cutting sod where the planters were put in and moved the good sod to spots that had died over the winter. 

We had been saving fruit and vegetable scraps for weeks when I finally bought the composter and set it up. For a couple days, it dripped and smelled like a dumpster behind a grocery store. But now it's starting to do its magic of converting food garbage to soil-snacks.

The day after a friend and I planted the seedlings, we had a violent rain storm come through. It tore off the little PVC and shade cloth shelters I had set up. But that storm did thoroughly water everything.

Coming soon: saving lettuce seeds.
If you love fresh basil as much as I do, this picture makes you weepy. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Raised Bed Is In

Got two beds built and the first one dug in. Digging up all that sod was dirty
good work! Filled up two garbage cans with the sod and roots.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Powdery Mildew?

 I think I have a bit of powdery mildew growing on some of my new sprouts. I may have over watered with a mister that was a little too fun to use. 

Found this easy to make spray and will give it a try.  
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid
Says to spray your plants weekly, preferably on overcast days to prevent it from burning the foliage.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Alive!

How many years ago did I save these yogurt cups? Don't even
want to think about it. But I did find a use for them! A rare
pack rat triumph.
It's quite a gray day in Orlando. Been raining like  California or something.

Here are some blurry pictures. I like playing around with an art lens called a Lens Baby and I think I need a smaller aperture. It is also quite dark outside because of the cloud cover.

Broccoli sprouts fast!  So does Calendula (Marigold). Also have tomatoes, leeks and peppers poking their little leaves out of the soil. I enjoy just looking at these little sprouts and taking care of them. Think I need to snip the extras in the seed cups next. Newspaper cups work great!

Gives me a warm green feeling.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Germinatorium

I have been rewarded with a couple sprouts coming out of the soil this
morning. I tried to figure out a way to rig watering from the shower head but
it was going to take too much time and money to work and might have too
much pressure. Behold the $6 watering can. Fill in the tub and sprinkle.
I've sprouted ideas in this room before but seeds? 

With the addition of a pair of scrap two-by-fours, a cheap plastic watering can and cheap plastic trays, the upstairs bathroom is now the germinatorium. Upstairs is good because it is warmer and little used at the moment. It gets some good sunshine too.

Seeds of many kinds are now being reanimated in yogurt cups and newspaper cups: four kinds of peppers, five kinds of tomatoes, six kinds of herbs, two kinds of cucumbers, broccoli, leeks and some others I don't remember now.

Growing food to eat seems very much a numbers thing. I eat much and therefor will plant much. I don't expect all my veggie needs will come out of our garden but I'd love it if much did.

Say hello to my little friend!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dirt Cupcakes

I had the idea to use the plastic packages we got apples in from Costco to
germinate seeds in. They got a dozen wells per side. I cut a slit or two in
each well to let water drain. Seems to keep the soil in and let the water out.

These dirt cupcakes will hopefully be collard and chive flavored in a
couple weeks or so.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What's On Hand Now

Here's the seeds we have to start with laid out on our potting bench.
Lots of herbs and some vegetables. To me, seeds are tiny miracles waiting
to happen. Each little pod has life.
Bought a new wheel barrow and shovel. Never owned a barrow before
but have gone through several shovels. All the handles have busted trying to
dig up plants. This one has a fiberglass handle. Stronger than wood?

The cilantro is starting to prosper finally. I think it needed more sun and 
it's vacation on the side yard helped. One of my all time favorite things
to cook with. Gonna need more!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thinking Big, Starting Small

Too much to start with but it's good to have a master plan.
Garden will be built over time.

Did a little thinking yesterday afternoon and here is one idea for a master plan. It is more garden than I want to start with. I think one row of eight 4' x 4' planters is ambitious enough for now. But which row? I'm feeling middle row because it displaces no landscaping against the house.

A mental checklist is forming in my brain: buy wheelbarrow, research and build a composter, look into a rain catchment (side garden gets pounded with rain off roof and that water could provide irrigation for gardening).

Also need to figure out which vegetables to plant and when. My wife has been referring to an excellent book for years that is helpful with this: Month-By-Month Gardening in Florida by Toni McCubbins. This provides much local wisdom.

I'm going to start everything I can from seeds. So much cheaper ($1.75 for packet of seeds, may be enough for hundreds of plants versus buying one potted plant for $3.75).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's Just Grass Now

Grass. It does not look good. It hasn't fed me yet.
I feed it. Maybe if I became a cow?
I love the beginning of the year. Everything seems possible. It even seems possible that my small back yard in Florida could include a garden. We have a small garden now on the side of our tract house.

What's stopping me?

One of our neighbors might not like it. Our homeowners association forbids cutting the sacred sod without permission. But unless they want to pay my mortgage, I feel at liberty to plant food in my own backyard. I'm going to take the risk. I've been nurturing the lawn for a decade now at great expense and effort and I feel when it comes to grass, less is more.

Some used books that are the start of my gardening library.
I don't want cash from my garden, just food.
I want local and organic food. Our nearest CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a half hour drive away and it is expensive. This will be cheaper in the long run, I need the exercise and it doesn't get any more local than your own back yard.

Other tasks call me now but my intent is for this blog to record our journey from grass to garden.

The small side yard garden with lettuce and some frost-bitten
tomatoes. We were surprised at how well the lettuce has done.