Starting Seeds Indoors …Free seeds

 There is nothing quite like the feeling that fills your every cell when you spot those first seeds starting to sprout.   The excitement just wants to burst from your insides as you stare in amazement at the little green stems pushing their way out from underneath the dark black soil.

The journey that lies ahead for these tiny sprouts of green is nothing short of a miracle.   From tiny seed to fresh juicy vegetables and colorful blooming flowers in a matter of months …… a lifetime for most garden plants. 

These are my pepper seedlings which I started back in December.   Rather early to start seeds indoors for the coming season, but I have found peppers grow at a slower rate than other plants.   This year I want to transplant some big ole pepper plants into the ground!   That way I will be able to harvest peppers earlier than in the past … which was late summer.   I may need to transplant these into bigger pots before they find their final home in the outdoor garden.   I have attempted to start tomatoes earlier and they tend to get leggy and unmanageable so it’s best to wait on them for a few more weeks.

Back in November I also started some herb seeds indoors and they are doing great!   I plan to harvest some this week.   I am fortunate to have a nice setup of wire shelving racks with grow lights that supply constant heat and light for my little growing garden.   I do water at least every other day since the air in the house is very dry.

Can you name the types of herbs in the three pictures above?   Three common every day herbs ….   During the winter months I go through my saved seeds every few weeks and decide if there’s something I can start planting.   Since I have accumulated quite a number of flower seeds this past season (I am obsessed with saving seeds), I decided to send some along to you!   So watch for next week’s Tuesday post and how you can receive your free seeds.   It will be easy so don’t worry.

I also like to send a Thank You to Renee’s Gardens for the recent Media Kit they sent along with a packet of  Mesclun seeds (which I might just start any day now).  Thank You!

Also take a look at P. Allen Smith’s plant suggestions.   If you are new to gardening or looking for Spring ideas, bookmark his site which is filled with helpful ideas.

Happy Gardening Thoughts!!

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Garden Wrap-up

Fall is upon us and the summer gardening season has pretty much ended – a few tomato and pepper plants remain, but most have been removed.   It came on suddenly, hot in the 90s very early in the season and the temperatures reached heat indexes of over 100 – now all the sudden it’s Chilly!   The cooler weather is welcome and fall colors have to be some of the most spectacular of the year; just hoping those cold snowy days don’t arrive too soon!

The Nasturtium flowers continue to grow and bloom in the container on the deck and I am sure they will flourish up until a frost covers the ground.

These flowers were planted as a team GROW project with many other gardeners across the country and all documented their progress throughout the summer months.   “I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”  

I also planted and just recently harvested TriColor Bush Beans also received from Renee’s Garden and I will be blanching and freezing these later this afternoon.

 TriColor Bush Beans – yellow, purple, green

I have some mini pumpkin gourds I will be working on this week and these were actually from last year’s harvest.   My mini gourds this year didn’t take off like I had hoped so I only have a few and they will have to dry before I can work on them.   The larger gourds are still out in the field and they were doing great until the 115 degree weather hit and I was not there to water them – they suffered, but I will have some gourds regardless.

 Mini pumpkin gourds setting in the sun to dry after I washed and scrubbed them getting ready to decorate.  

I want to Thank everyone that entered the Garlic Giveaway and we did announce the winner last week … this will be the last week the garlic is listed for sale in the shop; then it’s Garlic Planting Time!!!     

Thanks again and Happy Fall!

First blooms of the season

My most recent trip down south was exciting with all the new blooms we were able to witness – I hope they can all survive the heat the next few months!   It did cool off somewhat and rain before we left so that was encouraging.   The nasturtium flower seeds that were direct seeded sent out a bloom well before the transplants in the deck pot (which I found interesting, since the transplants had a head start).

 Direct seeded in the ground

Climbing Nasturtium Spitfire Bloom

Beautiful deep orange color !!

The largest pot contains the nasturtium flowers I had transplanted and as of this picture there were no blooms yet – but about a week later , one did appear … yay!!!

I also planted Container Cucumber from Renee’s Gardens and they were doing Great – we even had our first baby cucumber!

Container cucumber

Some other firsts I was able to capture on film –

 First tomato

 First bottle gourd

 First watermelon

 

First zucchini flowers

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.”

Garlic Scapes

This year I decided to harvest the garlic scapes from the hard garlic growing in the garden.   Some folks do this and others don’t – last year I didn’t and all the garlic harvested seemed quite large to me.   This year by cutting the scapes (the curly stalks that hard garlic grow) I am giving the bulb in the ground an even better chance of growing larger – the growing energy is directed towards the bulb and not the stalk or scape.   So now I have all these Garlic Scapes

and browsing through the blogs participating in the GROW project I spotted this perfectly timed post by Colleen at In the Garden online  and spent the day yesterday making Garlic Scape Pesto and canning up 6 pints of pickled scapes.   The pickled scapes will make a great addition to my Father’s Day gift since my Dad loves garlic and the garlic bulbs are not ready yet to harvest.

I cut the scapes to fit the pint size jars (I made 6 pints) and added the hot brine along with some red pepper flakes and dried oregano.   To make the liquid brine you heat up 3 cups of vinegar, 5 cups of water and 1/4 cup of kosher salt.   Then you use the hot water canning method and cook 45 minutes.   They need to set for 2 weeks before eating to allow the flavors to blend.

I also made the Garlic Scape Pesto and it is totally addicting – I am thinking even better than a Basil Pesto ……. really good!   I modified the recipe a bit.   I cut up 1 cup of scapes and added them along with 1/3 cup of walnuts to the blender.   Blended a while and added 1/2 cup olive oil and lastly about 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.

 So very delicious!!!   Thank you Colleen for your timely post – I am enjoying my Garlic Scapes to the max!

I recently returned once again from the trip down south and my mailbox was full of wonderful treasures …. 2 new magazines I have subscribed to;  Runner’s World and PaperCrafts.   I have decided I now have to purchase the Provocraft Gypsy to go along with my Cricut simply because of all this back and forth traveling.   The Gypsy will allow me to travel and create without lugging the Cricut machine each trip….how exciting is that!

Renee’s Garden once again floored me with their promptness and generosity.   I received the media kit with my Nasturtium seeds and decided to send for the 18 free packages of seeds they offered.   I received them all within a few days and am overjoyed with all these wonderful new possibilities to add to the gardens down south.

Happy Gardening!!!

Nasturtium GROW Project

This is the first official post on the Nasturtium flower growing project I am participating in through GROW – check out the website for all the members who are involved.  Once a month we will be reporting on the progress of our Nasturtium seeds which were donated by Renee’s Garden and we can compare notes and share ideas!

I planted most of my seeds on March 19th – 4 per pot, 6 pots inside under grow lights. 

I made sure the soil was moist and covered the tray and set under the lights.  It took 7-9 days for the seeds to start growing – we were out of town and when we returned, there they were!

 3/28/10

I have about a month and a half  before I can transplant them outside after the frost danger has passed.  From past experience I know Nasturtium is a viney plant so I may have to repot inside if they start to take off!  Seedlings on 4-3-10

I have also enlisted the help of some “little gardeners”, Natalie and Charlie.  I had some seeds left over and since we will be planting a garden for the first time over at their home this year I think the Nasturtium will be a great addition and such fun for them to watch grow.  So we potted up the seeds for them today and found a nice bright spot for them.  They will be reporting in each month also so watch for their progress along with all us other gardeners!

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.”

22 Days till Spring

Encouraging!  Even though we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground signs of spring are starting to appear! 

The sun is shining brightly outside and I received my Nasturtium “Spitfire” seeds from Renee’s Garden yesterday in the mail.   These are the seeds I am planting and posting about each month for the Grow project along with many other garden bloggers.  It will be very interesting to compare notes with everyone from all over the country!

I have been a fan of Renee’s Garden for some time now.  It started the year I received the kitchen garden cookbooks as a birthday gift (from my cousin Renee ironically) along with a beautiful selection of seeds that I planted that year.  Seeds, gardening books, cookbooks are absolutely fantastic gifts for the gardening person …… they will love you forever!

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.”

I have also secured my ticket to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show this year and I am totally excited!  The schedule of events and vendors looks fantastic and of course, I will share all my photos here.  The ideas that can be developed from the displays is truly remarkable and I definitely need some sound ideas for our place down south….much, much landscaping and gardening and planting to be done!

Going through all my records and charts I am starting to put together for this growing season, I decided I would like to create a nice Garden Journal and once again this may be something I make for The Great Garden Giveaway gift also!  I will be going to the local Joann’s craft store tomorrow to watch several demos on the Cricut machine (a scrapbooking marvel) and will decide if I want to invest in one.  I have been researching on the Cricut message boards and there is alot of information and members there.  If I do purchase I may have a pre-giveaway giveaway to celebrate …..Stay tuned!!!

Online Gardening Fun!

I have worked out most of the details for The Great Garden Giveaway which is set to take place in a little over 2 months from now.  This will allow us time to tell all our garden friends, family and co-workers.  It will also give us time to decide on the gift we plan to give away!  Running the event for 2 weeks ending on Earth Day (when we will announce our winner) works well since once the gardening season is in full swing most of us will be outdoors digging in the dirt!

Make sure to check out the details and the About page and send a tweet if you use Twitter announcing the event.  There is a subscribe box you can sign up to receive updates when a new post is added to the blog so make sure to do that.  If anyone has suggestions, don’t hesitate to share them with me.

I have also signed up to participate in another fun project sponsored by Renee’s Garden.  Project GROW is a communal seed project for garden bloggers across the US.  We will receive Nasturtium “Spitfire” seeds from Renee’s to plant and we report monthly on our blogs on the growing progress.  Check out the link GROW if you are interested and make sure to watch my blog here to see my Nasturtium flower seeds grow!

One more fun garden activity …. One Seed Chicago which is another neat project.  This one is limited to folks in the Chicagoland area and we can vote on our favorite seed between 3 choices….Bee balm, Nodding Onion and Purple Coneflower.  Once the votes are tallied and the winner determined, all the participants will receive the winning seed to plant in their gardens!

Now if the snow would stop falling and the temperature turn upward to about 70 degrees I would be one happy gardener!!!