Thursday, April 26, 2012

New birds, walks, and don't forget...

We had a new arrival at our bird feeders. It is a Evening Grosbeak or for you latin scholars Coccothraustes vespertinus. The three didn't stay for long, but we hope they'll make us one of their frequent stops.  

Also, a reminder that this weekend is the master gardeners sale here in Tacoma/Puyallup. It is right down the hill from me, but if you need directions, you can google the master gardener sale and it will give them much better than I can.

Last but not least, well not in my book, is a video of what's blooming in our neck of the woods. I love this time of year because everything is changing almost daily. The fruit trees are all in bloom and the tulips are in full swing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Giant Monster Pumpkins...

Over this last weekend, we went to the spring fair. While there, we met a gentleman selling pumpkin seeds for giant pumpkins. Part of our yearly fun is a pumpkin contest that starts whenever we want to and ends approximately the end of October.
It has been going for many years and ages, well this is the second year and all ages are welcome. It mostly consists of our 4 near neighbors and 1 that used to be near and moved to Olympia. We all have younger children, so it is also part of teaching them to grow good stuff. I lost last year, but this year begin our unending string of victories!
Like I started with, though, this gentleman grows XXL pumpkins all of the time, so I tried to learn as much as possible with one child squirming in my arms and the other crying in the stroller (I rocked it with my foot while taking notes on my iPhone). Now I am going to pass them on to you, so you can grow monster pumpkins as well.

Step 1. Buy seeds.
Step 2. Use a nail file to file off the edges of the seed (except for the pointy part and 1/8" on both sides of the pointy part.
Step 3. Soak in 80 degree water for 1 hour.
Step 4. Wet a paper towel, then wring out all of the water. Fold it three times in half, placing seed in between the last fold.
Step 5. Place paper towel in ziplock baggy and store in an area that remains 80 degrees.
Step 6. The seed will germinate and when it does, plant in good soil (adding some fish fertilizer). When safe, plant outside and fertilize until your eyes bubble!
Step 7. Practice subtle gloating for when you win. (examples: that is a very nice pumpkin. It might have won I hadn't entered! or perhaps. Good try, maybe when I stop entering the contest, you'll have a chance.)

OK. I put step 7 in myself, but when we've never won yet, you might just have to imagine that you did. 

Giant Pumpkins in the seed. 

You can file your nails while you are at it!

80 degree.

The cookies go well with pumpkin planting.
So, there are the keys to success. Here are some pictures of me doing the steps. Now We just have to wait for germination.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Puyallup Spring Fair

The sailors and Shakespeare were right! Red skies brought on a gorgeous weekend. After our usual shopping, we went to the Spring Fair. Lucy wasn't too sure about the animals but they were fun from a far. Petting them seem pretty risky, so she let us do the petting. You've got to be careful around the chicks, bunny rabbits, and baby goats. 
She also went on her first rides. I think that deep down she wanted the extreme scream and the zipper, but for our sakes she only went on the merry-go-round and a short canoe ride. 
After that we walked through their large area of "stuff for sale." It is truly amazing the booths that a small fair can bring. Specialty candles, rain gutter systems, magnetic bracelets, shoe cleaning, garlic sauce, knives, and many many more. I was more interested in the other end, what was labeled the horticultural area. 
We only stopped at a few because not everyone was as interested as I was, but we did make it to the master gardeners booth. Victoria gave me lots of good advice (check out I asked her about companion planting and it being one of her pet subjects, well I learned quite a bit. A few things, which normal people probably already know, are the following: companion planting works well in one way because the roots on the plants put off chemicals (if you are scientific you can insert a large word that starts with a "c" and is unpronounceable) which the other roots of neighboring plants love. Example Apple trees like my columnar apples like onions like green onions or chives. So you plant them around the roots of the tree (next week). Also, tomatoes like lots of support (they had a string contraption they were selling, but I can make with stuff around the house), sunlight, roses (more companion planting) and under the eaves of the house. The "eaves of the house" part is because they don't like rain on the leaves, they do like the extra warmth of the house, and you can support them with a trellis on the side of the house. The last tip was to plant green onions and carrots next to each other. The fancy way if you aren't too fond of thinning (like me) is to get Charmin toilet paper, put dabs of flower/water paste every inch or two, and put a carrot and onion seeds alternatively in the paste (so that they stick to the toilet paper). Then plant the toilet paper with seeds down and sprinkle a little dirt. Now they will all grow at the right distance and no thinning!
The next stop was the monster pumpkin grower. His secrets (they are on a paper so they aren't too secret) are to file the edges (but not the tip) off of the pumpkin seed, place in 80 degree water for 1 hour, put in a damp paper towel for 3 days @ 80 degrees (sprouting should happen), then plant them in a pot until May 1st. After that put them outside and over fertilize all year (fish fertilizer and steer manure is the best). He says we'll be the talk of the town. Only time will tell!
The last stop was the Puyallup rose society. The lady and gentleman told me how to prune, fertilize and otherwise love the roses and make it easy for them to bloom! Also what pesticides and miticides to use. Last, if you are looking to get roses, check out raft island roses in Gig Harbor. Get the roses with the canadian rootstock. The website isn't too amazing, but the green house has around 3000 roses (so I was told). We may need to go on a drive next weekend, and who knows? It may even be since we happened to be in Gig Harbor, we may need to stop in!

After that was more rides and food - elephant ears are still the best. 

Hope your weekend was loads of fun also!

1st Merry-go-round horse ride!

At the Master Gardeners booth! (Helen had some questions)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mostly about red skies...

Shakespeare once said, “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.”

Or in modern parlance, "Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailors warning."

If you lived right where I did and looked out your window tonight you would have seen this: 

So, since its kinda red, I'm expecting good gardening weather for tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mostly about a mid week update...

An excerpt from Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.
"What is the name of that geranium on the windowsill, please?"
"That's the apple-scented geranium."
"Oh, I don't mean that sort of a name. I mean just a name you gave it yourself. Didn't you give it a name? May I give it one then? May I call it - let me see - Bonney would do - may I call it Bonny while I'm here? Oh do let me!" 
"Goodness, I don't care. But where on earth is the sense of naming a geranium?"
"Oh, I like things that have handles even if they are only geraniums. It makes them seem more like people. How do you know but that it hurts the geraniums's feelings just to be called geranium and nothing else? You wouldn't like to be called nothing but woman all the time. Yes, I shall call it Bonny. I named that cherry tree outside my bedroom window this morning. I called it Snow Queen because it was so white. Of coure, it won't always be in blossom, but one can imagine that it is, can't one?"
This was a conversation between Anne and Marilla, but it got me thinking. Maybe that is why some of my plants don't grow well! If I named them, they might do better. Feeling the love and all. Only time will tell. 
For this Wednesday, I thought I'd take you on a short walk through the garden, knowing how much you've been wondering how it growing. 
Lucy can lead the way.
First, step into the garage, these are the (from left to right) Cucumber starts, Summer squash start (some didn't germinate, so I started more last weekend) and Starship summer squash. 

Here are Lucian, Heather, George, Godfrey, and Kevin
Out front we'll pass the bird feeder, so you may as well see that the gold finches have arrived. Also our Flicker is back. He likes to hang onto the bird feeders tipping them over and the food falls all around him. In the picture, he's trying out the suet squares we made.

Now to the garden. On the right you can see our strawberries. They are growing well, but no flowers - and therefore no fruit quite yet. 

This is Phyllis, Horace, James, Jim, Redwood, Scarlett, George, George II, and George III.
The raspberries are only in their beginning phase of transplanted life, but each are showing signs of growing and that sure makes mama happy. Within a few years we'll have more than we can keep up with.

The herb garden is only beginning, but growing well. There is garlic, chives, chocolate mint, parsley, oregano, and thyme.

Now to the main garden. The first bed here, is red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, spinach, green onions, broccoli, bush beans (nothing showing quite yet) and peas in back. 

Say hello to herbert. 

Here is Lillian

Jeffery, alice, and Jamie.

In the second bed, we have carrots, radishes, beets, more broccoli (these are transplanted starts), and storage yellow onions.
Red, Balmy, and Phillip

these transplanted broccoli seem to be doing alright in this mild weather. 

A clump of storage onions (Margery, Megan, and Michelle

Walla walla onions in a side 4X4 frame

The poor asparagus isn't doing well, but hasn't handed in its dinner pail yet.

I love how the water drops lay on the flower right after a nice refreshing rain.
The last stop is the back yard cold frame. We planted everything here last winter, and have been eating from them since march 16th. We are through all of the radishes, but the lettuce and spinach is doing very well. Most of the Pac Choi bolted, but one plant is still producing. 

One side of our cold frame. Carrots, radishes, and beets. A stray red leaf lettuce is also growing. I call him Lost.

One side of our cold frame. Beets, Red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, Spinach, and pac choi
 Well, that's the grand tour. I hope you have enjoyed yourself! We hope to see you around here again soon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gardeners bloom day!

I finally feel like participating because there actually are thing blooming in the old garden. Some things seem a bit behind and some are ahead (and that is scary too), but I just try to enjoy my rambles and weed pulling!

Enjoy more blooms at where Carol is hosting bloom day!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Morning Jubilee...

What would you do if you woke up early, emptied the rat traps (#4), cleaned out the area where corn is going to be planted this evening, cleaned out the old radishes in preparation to plant more, opened the cold frame and saw that there is a lot of delicious lettuce, pac choi, and spinach that might bolt if not eaten? Why, make a spinach omelet of course!
Well, that's what Lucy and I did. We chopped up some spinach, ham from the pig out in the sty, mushrooms from the mushroom block in the root cellar, and some tomatoes from our hot house - well almost. We don't have any pigs in the back, or a root cellar full of mushroom blocks, or even a hot house (yet) so I settled for stealing from the refrigerator instead (until we get all of those, Safeway and Walmart keep a good supply for us). We all have our dreams though, and I imagined that was where we got all of the ingredients. It makes you feel like ma kettle or maybe Laura Ingles Wilder's pa. 
Then we sat down at the dining room table (possibly hewn from a large tree during the winter snows) and watched the birds eat their breakfast in the front yard. 
Lucy thought it was delicious, but contented herself with "Hot." Which of course means, "Gosh, dad, that was smokin' hot delicious!"

Tootaloo for now and I hope your breakfast was as entertaining and fun as mine! and for the PacNorWesterners in my area, Enjoy the sunshine!

I chopped up Spinach, Ham, Mushrooms, and Maters. The cheese we melted on the top.

Omelet w/ parsley and chocolate mint to garnish (fresh from the herb garden of course) 

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