Archive for the ‘garden planning’ Category

I’m not a winter person. By the time Christmas comes, I have been ready for spring for about a month! ūüėČ As soon as we dismantled the garden in the fall, I was already dreaming about my 2021 garden, and I just haven’t stopped.

Recently, I saw some neighbors discussing winter sowing, which was a completely new concept to me. I did some research and I was intrigued. Basically, some seeds need to freeze+thaw and/or experience soaking in order to successfully germinate, and winter sowing is an easy way to enact that process with minimal involvement.

Here are some sites for additional reading, since I’m not an expert, but there are lots of more knowledgeable people sharing their expertise on the internet:

I particularly wanted to try this with lavender seeds that I’d received from a neighbor. She mentioned that stratification was necessary, but I don’t have the refrigerator real estate for that process. I contacted my local Extension, and they responded by saying that winter sowing would satisfy the conditions that stratification generates. They also recommended the first link that I shared above.

With this confirmation on February 15, I eagerly jumped in! While reading the comments on the Joe Gardener post, I got the idea to try germinating some (very old–the seed packet says 2011) parsley seeds that I had on hand from a previous garden in addition to my lavender seeds. My daughter took photos of the process for me!

I started by cutting open two empty (clean) plastic milk jugs; I left a small section uncut for a hinge and punched plenty of holes in the bottom for drainage.

Note: I made sure to label each carton with the type of seed I was starting. I not only labeled it on the top, but I also wrote it on the base of the jug so that if weather wore my writing away, it would hopefully still be on the bottom. In addition, I got fancy and used two colors of duct tape to distinguish the containers!

In an empty pot, I mixed about equal parts of seed starting mix with leftover potting soil, then wet it down– it’s what I had on hand! Thankfully from what I read, you don’t have to have all sterile seed starting mix for the winter sowing process.

I filled the bottom of each milk jug with the damp soil mixture…

Once the soil was in the cartons, I added the seeds on top.

these are the lavender seeds!

After sprinkling the seeds into the soil, I used duct tape to re-seal the jugs closed.

I set the jugs in my empty garden plot. The lids are off to allow for some air circulation, and they’ve weathered ice and snow. I’m really excited to see how these seeds will do!

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Wow, I was so pleased with the garden in 2020!

The 2020 garden–back to containers, testing a “deer fence”– was essentially a trial. If it wasn’t successful, I was prepared to give up gardening for a while.



I’d say it was a success!

May 23, 2020
July 3, 2020
August 4, 2020
August 31, 2020

Some quick thoughts:

  • Because the plants were in containers, the garden remained much tidier, with fewer weeds, and therefore I was more easily able to care for it. This meant that I (or my daughter) watered it almost every day (unless it rained), and the produce was good! (no sour cucumbers!)
  • The string deer fence seemed to work! I don’t know how the carrot greens got eaten at the end of the season, but that seemed to be the only thing that wildlife got this year. If all I need to do is plant carrots to divert animals away from my tomatoes and cucumbers, I will do it!
  • The cucumbers and tomatoes were delicious this year. Next year, I want to expand my garden to have even more tomato plants. I think the two pots of cucumber were sufficient for our family’s consumption, unless I want to try to make pickles!
  • The Tiny Tim tomato plant was prolific and tasted better than I remember in previous years, but it’s not my favorite. The tomatoes also seemed to go bad quickly–even while still ripening on the plant (and it was not blossom-end rot). If I have more seeds in the original packet, I might plant this variety again, but I will not buy these seeds again.

I started writing this post back in September, but I got bogged down with homeschooling, and so I didn’t get a chance to chart my produce production like I’d hoped. I’m glad that I recorded the reflections above!

Stay tuned: I’m deep in the preparations for this year’s garden, and I’m so excited!

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Now we had some seedlings growing, and not much of a plan to do anything with them. But it’s always been a dream of mine to have a successful garden.

If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you might recall that the garden plot that we have here in our current location (MD) has not been very successful. I think that there are some major problems with the soil, and add in a veritable menagerie of local wildlife (we have deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes (yes, I know they’re not herbivores, but they’re still around), groundhogs, and who knows what else!) that persists in eating the garden produce just before I harvest it, and the fact that last summer I was dealing with ankle issues, and it has all added up to a disappointing track record for this garden.

So this year, I have a new game plan.

I think.

At least, we’re going to try it.

I have decided that I prefer container gardening, after trying in-ground gardening here and in upstate NY. This year, I’m going back to container gardening, and we’re testing out a few things to protect the garden from deer, especially.

After an extensive discussion with Husband, we have decided to reconfigure the garden plot and change our fencing strategy. The old plot (you can see it here at the beginning of last weekend, with the chickenwire fence removed and weeds mowed down) was 8′ wide by 15′ long.

After mowing around it for years, Husband decided that he would vastly prefer it to go all the way up to the corner of the house (the right side of this photo) to close that gap.

We decided to remove the chickenwire fencing we’d been using and use some black plastic fencing material that we already had on hand to create a low fence that would be easier to maintain (the weed-whacker would get tangled in the chickenwire and so the weeds were unpleasantly bushy at the corners and along the sides of the old garden. Husband cut it lengthwise because we wanted it low enough for us to step over it.

We had thought that we had enough of this black material to completely fence in the “new” 8’x20′ plot, but we didn’t. So we made the garden narrower– the footprint is now 4’x20′.

Since I was only planning to have a small number of containers, this isn’t a problem, and if this configuration turns out to work well, we can adjust in the future. (This is basically becoming a test year– will these measures to prevent wildlife from eating our garden be enough to make it worth having a garden?)

After lying fallow for a year, there were a lot of weeds to clear. I attempted to use our tiller tool, but it was getting so tangled that I just attacked it by hand.

Once the weeds were cleared in the new garden footprint, Husband began installing our little fence. He dug a trench so that we could bury the bottom 5″ or so. There are also taller supports for our deer fence (more information on that coming up below).

We put down Vigoro Weed Control Fabric over the entire plot, tucking it into the trench Husband had dug for the low fence. We are hoping that it is effective, especially since we won’t be cutting holes into it to plant in-ground. I will be putting mulch in, as well, but I haven’t bought it yet! (That’s a project for this weekend!)

My container set up is pretty modest this year. I had three terra-cotta pots that have survived since my original 2007 garden, as well as some other large pots that I’ve acquired over the years. I filled them with potting soil and started planting. The first priority was getting my tomatoes out into the containers, and I also brought our pot of carrots into the garden enclosure. Any extra soil would be used to plant cucumbers from seed. Using potting soil completely circumvents the issues that we seem to have with the in-ground soil in this garden plot. (P.S. I’ll be adding stakes and trellises for the tomatoes and cucumbers after I add the mulch.)

In the end, (after a lot of reconfiguring the order of my containers, haha!) we have six containers. On the left, there are two pots with two different cucumber varieties, planted from leftover seeds I’d stashed away from old gardens (Ferry-Morse Tendergreen and Burpee Pepino/Salad Slicer). Next come three tomato containers: a smaller square pot of Tiny Tim and two large terra cotta pots with the Best Boy seedlings. To the right of them, I placed the pot with our carrots.

Finally, we installed the deer fence. After talking to some neighbors and doing some research online, I found a University of Maryland Extension blog post that confirmed that the idea of fishline or similar cord strung between supports could actually work to protect the plants from nosy deer. Husband found some bright orange twisted mason line that we’re using to test the idea. Husband lashed some of my tall tomato stakes to the shorter metal stakes that support the black fencing so that we would just reuse what we have on hand already. Then, we strung the cord as tightly as we could between them. If you look closely, you might be able to make it out in the photos below:

I like this solution for keeping away the deer (well, if it works!) because it’s visually non-invasive and also inexpensive. We left a gap at the end closest to the inner corner of the house so that I can climb in and out over the black fencing. We’re hoping that this gap is close enough to the house and the basement window well (and also narrow enough) that the deer won’t use it as a private entrance into the garden!

I’m looking forward to the upcoming warm weather to see how my plants grow in their new home– and I’ll be getting some mulch soon, too!

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It all started because I felt the itch to see something growing. A bit of stress relief for me, and an activity for the kids as pandemic news was starting to skyrocket.

I had recently found a tiny packet of carrot seeds among some papers in my kitchen, and I thought it would be fun to plant them in a pot that we had outside.

And then, about a week later in mid-March, my kids’ school closed.

At that time, we had no idea that school would be closed for the rest of the academic year, and that our school system wouldn’t start any sort of distance learning for a LOT of weeks. But I wanted to do some fun but still “learning” activities in the meantime, so one of the first things we did was dig out some more old seeds and plant them in some seed-starting soil I had on hand.

We planted some lettuce seed that I had leftover from my second garden ever (way back in Illinois, on the balcony), as well as parsley seeds and a few different tomato varieties from packets leftover from various years.

At this point, I had no real plans for these seeds, just some vague ideas that maybe this year, without ankle troubles to hinder me, we might be able to use our garden plot again.

I had warned my kids that the seeds were pretty old (and they hadn’t been stored perfectly and had been through a couple of interstate moves), and so we couldn’t be sure if they would actually sprout. I think that made it even more exciting when they did sprout!

Of the lettuces and the parsley, only the arugula seeds in the mesclun mix sprouted. It took an extra long time for the tomatoes to germinate, and I had given up on them, but in the end, we had two Best Boy tomatoes and a few Tiny Tim tomatoes– what a happy surprise!

I had also given up on the carrot seeds outside (the theme of this whole garden is seeds that are at least 5 years old!), but we were thrilled to see them sprout and watch them start growing.

Now that we actually had some seedlings growing, I needed to actually decide what we were going to do with them! But that’s for my next garden 2020 post!

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At the end of last year’s garden, I was pretty discouraged and frustrated. ¬†As I considered what to do this year, I realized that I would have to put in a significant amount of work to squirrel- and deer-proof (or even just make an attempt, since those animals are particularly wily and persistent about garden theft) and to “heal” the soil.

And so, I don’t think I’m going to have a real garden this year. ¬†Aside from the years that I was moving right in the middle of the summer, this is the first garden season in ten years¬†that I have deliberately decided not to plant one. ¬†It’s a little sad, but really, I’m kind of glad to have a break this year.

However, you don’t think that someone with a blog named “Vegetablog” could actually go without trying to grow *something,* do you? ¬†I couldn’t resist trying to plant some old seeds in a pot that I’ve had on my kitchen counter (it occasionally held herbs). ¬†I tried some old lettuce seeds (from that first garden in 2007!) and while some of them sprouted, nothing has thrived. ¬†So I added some Tiny Tim tomato seeds (from 2008 and 2009) and I just noticed that they were sprouting at the very end of May. ¬†So perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, I will have a miniature tomato plant growing by my kitchen sink.

2017-05-30 08.22.17-Edit.jpg

It’s not pretty, but it’s functional. ¬†Ish.

I took my kids to a library class in mid-May, and the theme for the series was garden science. ¬†One of the activities was to make something that the teacher called “window greenhouses:” a zip-top plastic bag, into which we dropped some bean seeds and a wet paper towel. ¬†We taped them into the window to watch the seeds sprout.


The kids’ ¬†window greenhouses on the day after our library class.¬†

I was pleasantly surprised how quickly the beans started putting out roots. …I was amazed to see that there were roots on the third day! I think I was just as excited (maybe more?) than the kids.


Day Three: Do you see the little root?

We watched more and more roots appear, and then a couple of them put out their first leaves. At this point, we needed to open the bags so that the trapped moisture wouldn’t rot the leaves.


Day Seven: roots, and even some leaves starting.


Day Eight: Definitely leaves starting!

Look at how big that one sprout is!  We've had these for a week now.

Day Nine: time to start planting these beans

Look at how big that one sprout is!  We've had these for a week now.

Day Nine: It was so amazing to see the whole process.

Since it had been so much fun to watch the beans sprout, I decided we should plant them in a pot outsideРso the kids helped (more like watched) me fill one with soil and plant the seeds (with the paper towel, to which they had attached themselves with the roots).  V did drop one of the seeds into the pot, but otherwise, they were surprisingly hands-off!

At this point, the weather turned nice and sunny and warm, and so these beans really showed their speedy growth. On the day they planted them, the beans looked like this:

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Beans right after we planted them

The next day, we played outside for a couple of hours. At the beginning of our time outside, the beans on V’s side were just barely starting to lift the soil to poke through, and by the end of the time we were out there, they were absolutely above the soil. It’s amazing and so fun to watch.

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The beans in the pot, one day later!

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I really hope the squirrels and other beasties spare our bean pot so that we can watch these plants grow!

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I planted my 2016 garden last Sunday!


I purchased tomatoes and cucumbers at Home Depot and planted some (probably very old) Burpee zucchini seeds.  I had seriously considered decreasing the number of plants I put into the garden, but Husband (easily) convinced me that if we were going to put in a garden at all, we might as well plant 6 tomatoes again.


To be planted! zucchini seeds. TamiG grape (hybrid) tomato Cherokee Purple (heirloom) tomato Super Fantastic (hybrid) tomato Burpless (hybrid) cucumber Husky Cherry Red (hybrid) tomato (for kids’ pot on the deck)

Since we put the weed-blocking cloth down last year, it was so much easier to get the garden set up for this year!  Wow.  I just had a few weeds to pull, and I was good-to-go.

garden before.  the weed-blocking cloth actually worked really well!

garden before. the weed-blocking cloth actually worked really well!


Garden after.  Everything is planted!

Garden after. Can you tell??  Everything is planted!

This year, I decided to switch the sides on which I planted the tomatoes and cucumber/zucchini. ¬†I don’t know, call it crop rotation or something! ¬†I just had the idea that it might be good to switch. ¬†Otherwise, the planting is exactly the same as it was last year– I separated the layers of weed-preventing fabric and planted the seedlings (and in the case of the zucchini, the seeds). ¬†We bought new metal wire trellises for the cucumbers this year, since the wooden ones we got for our first garden in this location had lived their life.

Garden after.  Everything is planted!

Garden after.  Everything is planted!

We’ve had so much rain here recently that I was easily able to water the whole garden from the rain barrel!

After I had the in-ground garden planted, the kids “helped” me to plant their cherry tomato in a pot on our deck. ¬†I helped them to use the spade to replace the soil around the plant, and they took turns watering. ¬†I hope that they will really enjoy watching their plant grow and have a fun (and delicious) time eating its fruit!



...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

TamiG grape (hybrid) tomato
Cherokee Purple (heirloom) tomato
Super Fantastic (hybrid) tomato
Burpless (hybrid) cucumber
Husky Cherry Red (hybrid) tomato (for kids’ pot on the deck)



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So here’s the plan!

This year’s garden is not going to be much different from last year’s.¬† For two reasons: 1) It’s going to be a busy summer!¬† 2) I didn’t feel like spending any money on new seeds, so I’m using what I already have.


I’ll have 2 cucumber trellises, two zucchini plants, and two plants of each of three tomato varieties.¬† I’m going to try and squish in two red bell pepper plants, too!¬† I’ve had mixed success with peppers in the past, so we’ll see how they do here in this garden plot.

I planted the pepper and tomato seeds on Saturday, 08 February 2014.

I planted seeds for our garden today!!

Just for my own record, there are:

  • Four seeds in each pepper cup
  • Three seeds in each Best Boy cup
  • Two seeds in each Jelly Bean cup (the last of that seed packet)
  • Three seeds in each Fourth of July cup

The cups are living on a tray balanced on a luggage rack in my craft room, where I can leave the blinds completely opened all day long for them to capture as much sunshine from the southern-exposure window as possible.

On the 15th, I was delighted to see cute, fuzzy, little Best Boy sprouts poking up in two of the cups!  Can you spot one in the photo below?

Spotted my first sprouts today!  Two tiny, furry little Best Boy tomato sprouts

On the 18th, I noted sprouts in the Jelly Bean cups, as well.  (From left to right, in this photo, the cups are bell peppers, Jelly Bean, Best Boy, Fourth of July)


And one last photo from the 18th, because the sprouts look so cheerful in the sunlight, in spite of the snow on the ground outside!


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I’m not going to set very many official goals for July.¬† I want to focus on just enjoying my summertime with my family and friends… and doing some crafting when it fits my schedule, because I love it.¬† That being said, I do want to keep a few things on the “official” list:

    • Floss each night this month.
    • Maintain the garden (and write an update post or two!).
    • Exercise at least 2 times per week (along with abs+arms every day, as possible/reasonable).
    • Make some new recipes from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.
    • Make (at least) one new recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
    • Do some scrapbooking, if it fits my schedule.
    • Do some sewing.¬† (I’ve started a new hand-stitiching project!¬† Remember my skirt?¬† Well, I’m making some throw pillows for our living room…Hand stitching will be great for being in the car, or for something to do with my hands while I hang out with friends.)¬† I also have a T-shirt that I’d like to alter/refashion/refit… I might have to resort to Pinterest to get a good idea of what/how I’m going to do that.
    • finish the Project 366 album.¬† In my June recap post, I listed my remaining “tasks,” and they should be completely manageable to accomplish this month.

That is it for now!¬† Happy July ūüôā

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I think I did really well on my goals this past month! (my original goals/comments on the goals for June can be found HERE).  Not only did I accomplish everything on my list, but I also managed to fit in a few other projects, too.

  • Make (at least) TWO layouts this month. I made three!¬† See them here, here, and here.¬† I had a lot of fun with them and I’m excited to feel like I”m back into the swing of things with my scrapbooking.¬† I’m also learning to work on my paper projects only when I’m feeling inspired.¬† I have enough other hobbies to work on in between that I don’t need to “force” my creativity–and I’m much happier with the results.¬†
  • Sew fabric napkins (three sets).¬† Well, I only made two sets, because I liked my third fabric enough that I might make something else with it, rather than just napkins.¬†
  • Finish an altered photo board book for my daughter.¬† See it HERE.¬† It has been so fun to watch her connect the people in the pictures with the people she sees in “real life” or on Skype ūüôā
  • Floss each night this month. Done!
  • Maintain the garden.¬† I owe an update post…It’s a jungle out there!
  • Exercise at least 2 times per week (along with abs+arms every day, as possible/reasonable).¬†I logged just over 43 miles in June!¬† wooo hoooo!¬† A little over 8.5 of those miles were jogging by myself (avg. pace 9:15/mile, wow!¬† never thought I’d be that fast…), but the rest were walking/jogging with Vivian in her stroller. ¬†
  • Make (at least) three new recipes from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.¬† We made Slow-Roasted Beef, Rice Salad, Steak Fajitas, and Nut Crusted Chicken Breasts.
  • Make (at least) one new recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. We made the S’more Layer Cake.¬†
  • “Sort” my computer.¬† I made some good progress on this.¬† My surprisingly-vast digital scrapbooking supply collection (considering I don’t really make digital layouts) is almost transferred to an external hard drive for storage, which definitely cleared some space.¬† I also took care of some redundant files and sorted some photos that were “lying around loose” in my pictures folder.¬† The conclusion after all of this is that I still need more storage space, though!¬† I need to figure out how to divide my Lightroom catalog and keep part on an external hard drive.¬†

And the unofficial item:

  • finish the Project 366 album. I did end up working on it this month!¬† I have decided to split it into two binders.¬† I’ve purchased a second binder and hope that it comes in the mail soon!¬† I’ve finished all of the inserts, and I have made the two cover pages and finished the last page in the first album.¬† I have half of the last page in the second album to finish, plus one journal card needs to be written out (I’ve already written the text, it just needs to be copied onto the card).¬† I also have the backside of one insert to fill with photos.¬† But that is it!!¬† I will share my cover and last pages on the blog soon, probably. ¬†

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Husband set up the rain barrel for me!

rain barrel set up

It collects water that runs off of the roof of our garage.¬† A bit after I took the photo above, Husband came home from work one day and said, “I’ve been thinking about the rain barrel…” and proceeded to tell me a plan to make my garden watering even easier (he knows me well, haha!).¬† He suggested that we get a soaker hose and run it from the barrel through the garden.


This way, I can go out each morning, open the spigot to the hose, and then come back inside for a while as the hose does all the work for me!¬† I set a timer so that I don’t forget to turn it off later.¬† The photo above shows the initial arrangement of the hose.¬† We have been experimenting with how to snake it around the plants so that they all get a good amount of water.

We were so excited to see how it worked the first time we hooked it up.  Since the water pressure is low (there is no pump on the rain barrel, of course!), the water oozes out of the pores in the hose like little jewels.  So pretty!


Everything got set up just in time for… several days of storms with heavy rains.¬† I’ve only used the “irrigation system” twice, but I definitely love the way it works!

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