Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Starting My Own Seeds

For Christmas, my sister got me a seed delivery service. Basically they send me 5 seed packs every month.  And I have access to a website which provides tips and tricks and what have you.  Supposedly the seeds are sent at the time when you're supposed to plant them, but I question it since they sent some summer direct-sow seeds in the winter and some winter seeds this month, but whatever - they'll keep in the fridge until the right season.

First, I had to go buy myself some little seed starter setups - I could have probably used 4" pots, but I could get more variety by using the little Jiffy Pellets.  Be sure to somehow label your seeds you start so you don't go all forgetting what you planted.
See packets from Grow Journey, Jiffy Pellets, a Sharpie for writing, and Masking Tape for Labelling.

After getting my little seeds planted, I finally went and got myself the stuff to start my plant grow light.  I bought the stuff and came home to plug it all in before realizing that the lamp I bought was meant to be hardwired, not a plug in version.  So after doing some research (and some fast and furious texting to a coworker whose dad is an electrician), I managed to figure out what to do to convert it into a plug-in light.  As I was banging away in the bedroom (trying to break out a round piece for the plug I used - an old computer monitor cord), Shawn came in and was like "oh dear lord you're going to electrocute yourself." So he took over and finished the wiring.

Then came the fun part of trying to figure out the best way to hang the light from my shelf; the answer: Paper Clips - I had the wires, I just needed a way to raise and lower the light.  I actually figured out that using books under the plants was better because it allowed for each plant grouping to be moved closer or further from the light.
Tomato seedlings starting to grow.

After the ceremonial plugging in of the light, Shawn looked at me and (quite dejectedly) said, "well, great, we've just joined the legions of pot growers out there and are now paying money to grow plants when there's this thing called a sun."

After a few weeks, the seedlings were big enough, and it was warm enough that I moved them outside. So, in the end, I only used the light for a few weeks. But of course, I had to move them in during inclement weather.

Tomato seedlings, Spruce Campbell (my spruce tree seedling), and my home made ginger & cranberry infused vodka in lemonade.

After a few more weeks out in the sunshine, I transplanted the seedlings into 4" pots, and then a week or so later (3/26), planted them in the garden.  Naturally, growing 24 plants is WAY more than I have space for in my garden (especially when I also went to the Sunshine Community Garden Sale with Roberta and got 3 tomatoes and 2 peppers), so I took a lot of the seedlings to work - I got rid of 4 of them before even getting to my floor; and while I thought that I would end up with some extras at the end of the day, they all found good homes.

Now to just get some eggplants, peppers and tomatoes this year...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 Try New Things

So it's 2016, and I'm trying to do new things.  This means that my gardening has been falling to the wayside.  BUT, it also means that I went to the Lonestar Roundup (i.e. the classic car show) with Roberta and her husband, Michael.

The show is for classic American cars made prior to 1963.  This means that there aren't any of the standard American Muscle cars that most people associate with classic car shows (no Chargers/Challengers/GTOs/Mustangs/Corvettes).  That being said, I think the only requirement was that the chassis be from prior to 1963 because most of the cars were modified, chopped, or otherwise customized.  Even the ones which looked accurate on the outside had the engines altered - for example, the day after the show I drove down the highway behind a Ford Model T and a Ford Model A which were easily going highway speeds.

Roberta reliving the memories from driving her boyfriend's 1948 Ford pickup back when she was a teenager.

An old Chevy outside the show (probably 1930's)

RatRod hood ornament.  This was on the MadMax car (see photo below)

Roberta and Michael's favorite Hot Rod at the show.

Chevy gages.  I think it was from a Chevy Apache (which I've decided is my favorite old pick up)

Mad Max RatRod. You can tell because of the skeleton arm from Mad Max: Fury Road.

Pepsi cooler in an old pick up with the wooden bed.

Roberta found this truck driving around town on Saturday morning (and texted me a photo at 830). We were so excited to have found it at the show!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ginger Harvest!

As per usual, I harvested my ginger in late March and ended up with more than I normally use (yeah, I usually use about the equivalent of 1 finger's length in an entire year).  I gave away a lot of it, and planted a portion for next year.  I plan to try Alton Brown's homemade Ginger Ale, and, if I have enough, AB's candied ginger.

I've found that ginger is one of the easy plants to grow in Austin (in a pot, of course) - it rivals garlic for ease of growing and actually takes just as long (longer actually since ginger takes almost a full year, while garlic takes about 6-7 months).  I usually just have to remember to water it - and it's usually on my list of plants to recommend for people who don't garden, especially people who have bright filtered light, but no direct sunlight. 

I've blogged about ginger before, here and here, but have been growing it each year since 2011.  I started with a piece about the length and size of my index finger split into 3 pieces; and I haven't purchased ginger since - everything I grow comes from ginger grown from that original piece.  Now then, of course, if you use a lot of ginger, you'll probably want to grow more than just the one large pot that I usually do.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Winter Harvest Veg

My "Graffiti" Cauliflower.  It's 'falling apart' - this is mostly because I never pick them when I'm supposed to because I hold out hope that they'll get bigger.

"Graffiti" Cauliflower with "Pacman" and "Marathon" Broccoli.  All chopped and ready to be added to the Mac n Cheeses

Added to the pot of water in the last 3 minutes of boiling the macaroni.  Drain, add your cheese and voila! Dinner!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

They get me, they really get me.

I love my family.  I mean, they're my family, I have to love them; but also, they get me.  Even though they may not understand all my gardening desires, they'll humor me.

For example - 'why would you want to attract bugs?  but whatever, she's got "bug house" on her list, so a bug house it is.'

Also, Ollas - now Ollas are something that's been on my list for YEARS and I finally made some homemade ones during the summer.  They've been working great, but it'll be even better to have these two so that I can see which type work better (always with the science experiments with this one).  It also would mean that I probably wouldn't ever have to surface water since I'll be able to have 2 ollas in each garden (one homemade and one official).

And that's not where it stops - oh no!  my sister got me the 20-30 something Garden Guide by Dee Nash.  She also got me a seed subscription to Grow Journey, and they've already sent me my first shipment of seeds which was the impetus to FINALLY build my seed growing lamp set up and get some mini greenhouse seed starting things so maybe I'll actually finally be able to grow some tomatoes from seed.

The toughest part about getting seed starter set up going was wiring the light - I bought a fluorescent light which is supposed to be hardwired into the ceiling and used an old computer power cable to convert it into a plug in light (or rather Shawn did it because he was worried I was going to electrocute myself).  Of course I needed to get the plug into the housing and the light was very industrial and had little punchouts on it, but I couldn't get the little thing punched out and ended up bending it which then meant that Shawn had to bend it back into place.  And then I had to figure out how to hang the darn thing from the shelf.  In the end it probably took longer than it needed to - and may have been worth the extra $30 to buy the ACTUAL grow light or a terrarium light that already is a plug-in. Oh well, at least doing it this way was a good way to spend 2 hours on a Saturday.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mother Nature

So Mother Nature has decided that we weren't to have any freezes here in north Austin until late in the year - like I don't remember going quite this long before getting a freeze.  We may hit freezing tonight (predicted low of 34), and we'll likely get a brief freeze tomorrow as well (predicted low of 33).  And of course it's coming in with some rain which means that the sheets I put out are soaking wet and the Christmas lights on the plants keep tripping the CFGI on the outlet. 

Now you may be asking WHY I have Christmas lights on the plants - and I really only have Christmas lights on 2 plants - the tomato plant and the mum plant that has a queen chrysalis on it.  To be fair, the added heat isn't for the mum. 

This is the latest I've ever had a tomato plant; and it is loaded with green tomatoes. I may end up having to make Jenny's famous Green Tomato Chutney (which is very good); but I was so hoping to get some ripened tomatoes.  I just wish I had paid more attention to when the plant was flowering because then I'd have a better idea of when I should be expecting the tomatoes.  I feel like it was in early October because I was expecting them to be ready around Christmas-time...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Your Mid-Fall update

It's like the middle of fall.  I've got some shrimp plant blooming; and the Mexican Petunia (or Carolina Petunia, depending on who you ask) is putting out blooms like no tomorrow.  The milkweeds are all still blooming and the grasses have their fall seed heads.  Yet, it seems like everything is getting ready for winter.  I've pulled in the ginger and the tender succulents/cacti.  I have my Vorlon tomato wrapped in Christmas lights (as well as one milkweed plant that I keep moving all the caterpillars I find to); but I keep forgetting to bring in my pepper plant (it's totally going to die).  The tomato plant has a few huge tomatoes on it, but they don't look like they're getting ready to turn and I know what's going to happen is that it's going to get down to freezing on one of the nights that we're not home and that's how I'm going to lose my tomato...which is fine as long as I actually get the tomatoes off of it first.

Now's the time to do projects, and I've got a big one lined up; but it's also going to require getting some PVC pipe and drilling holes in it (easy), and then laying them down and filling an area with angular rock (much harder if only because it requires my husband to help), and then mashing them with a weight thingy until my arms fall off (extremely hard).  Needless to say I'm putting it off because I'm nothing if not a procrastinator.