Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker

I'm not sure why I went into the guest bedroom this morning on my way down to make breakfast, but I looked out the window and saw a pileated woodpecker pecking at the large old maple in the front yard. Matt ran down and got the camera and I got a few photos through the window. It was early (6:30) and the sky was gray so the contrast wasn't great. However, iPhoto does a great job enhancing images.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Recent Knitting Projects

Here are a few recent knitting projects.

I made a lace scarf from a skein of alpaca yarn I bought this fall. I finished it and blocked it but haven't worn it yet.
I knit a bag called a ball band bag, but it is waiting to be felted. It was an easy knit and I'm hoping it felts well. I'd like to make a larger one in the future.
I used some Christmas money to buy yarn for another sweater for myself. I designed the pattern on excel. Here's a picture from a few weeks ago, where I was working on the yoke. I've recently divided the arms off the sweater and am working on the body.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

First Sprouts

Yesterday and today the first seedlings appeared. Here on the left is kale, and on the right is oakleaf lettuce. I'm eager to plant more but my seed starting calendar tells me I need to wait. Maybe I'll start a cherry tomato or two in hopes of early tomatoes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So much for an early spring!

For the first time ever, I got a call last night to say that school would be canceled today. It had been lightly snowing all day but started to pick up in the evening and the forecast for today was for a heavy wet snows. Local weatherman called for up to a foot. That sounded nice, we haven't had much snow this winter. When I went out this afternoon to clean off the car, I could hardly see it.
I took out the yardstick and found 21" so far.
When I brushed the snow off the top of the car it seemed to only encase the car in snow.
So had to shovel double the snow all the way around the car. Now I'm ready to drive the car out when the plow comes for the driveway. Luckily I baked bread today including adding a cinnamon sugar swirl to one loaf. So I enjoyed a slice of warm bread when I came in from all that shoveling. Yum!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Seeds Started

Spring is on its way. Each day we can feel the sun getting warmer. Our temperatures have been unseasonably warm (above freezing!). Today I cleaned my seed starting trays with a mild bleach solution and started my first seeds.

I started my herbs because I found last year they were not big enough nearly soon enough. I started Rosemary, Oregano, Summer Savory & Sage. I have overwintered two thyme plants , one rosemary and two sages but the aphids are starting to attack those and so I'm hedging my bets by starting new seeds. These overwintered plants have been babied under the seed starting lamp but now they have been relegated to a sunny window so I can start other plants.

I also started three Winterbor and three Lacinato Kale, and six oak leaf lettuce. When we move I want to be able to move the cold frame in the new garden and place these inside.

Finally, I started my hot peppers. Last year I struggled with germination, and it took over a month for one. This year I'm finding a warmer spot and starting a month earlier. I planted 4 Habanero seeds from some peppers my mom gave me this summer. And I seeded 8 peppers from a Burpee Hot Pepper mix.

Here's the list so far:
Summer Savory
Lacinato Kale (3)
Winterbor Kale (3)
Oak Leaf Lettuce (6)
Habanero Peppers (4)
Mixed Hot Peppers (8)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Garden Update

This week we had a home inspection on the house we are hoping to buy. Everything went well with no surprises. While my husband followed around the home inspector, I measured rooms so we can think about paint and furniture etc. I also took the opportunity to measure the garden. The snow has melted even more since we were last there, and it was easy to see the boundaries now.
I had estimated from my earlier photo that the garden was about 20' by 30'. I was close on the width, but way off on the length. The new garden is 24' by 54', that's 1298 square feet! My current garden is only 48 square feet so that's a 2700% increase! I discovered today that in addition to the three apple trees, there are four small blueberry bushes, and a grape vine on the front fence.

I'd made a rough plan for my earlier estimate but I got to revise it for the additional space. I'm excited that I'll be able have the space to grow summer and winter squash more successfully, try potatoes, and give other vegetables a little more breathing room. I've also laid out space for future purchase of perennial vegetables and fruits like strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, and raspberries. Even still I have some extra space. I don't have garlic planted this year and I know I will want to have it next year. Here's my rough plans. I'm going to make into rows that are 3 feet wide, except for the space at the northern most end for the perennials. I've divided it up into one foot squares on the excel to think about in the square foot method for area so I have some reference to last year's experience. Shown below it is split into a northern and southern half because it won't all print on one excel page and still be readable. I've spread out my solanaceae , brassiceae, and cucurbitaceae familes so that they wont be as inviting to pests and so that I can more easily rotate crops next year. Here's the plan.
Northern Half
Southern Half
I'm going to have to start a lot of seeds in the midst of moving to fill up this garden. I decided to experiment with sweet potatoes and so have two on the windowsill to start growing slips. They've already sent down some roots in the past week. I'll write more about the varieties of vegetables I'm planning in another post.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cold Frame Update & Harvest

Today the temperature was above freezing so I ventured out before dark to check on the cold frame before the snow hits tomorrow. Things look pretty sad in there. The only plants with signs of life are the tatsoi, winterbor kale, claytonia, and mache. The claytonia and mache are too small to amount to anything as is the tatsoi. They were planted to late.

The kale looks rather shriveled but I picked some anyways. Some seems freeze dried. I also pulled a few carrots. The little ones that were there in the ground didn't do much, but now taste sweet. I had to go get a trowel to dig out the stubby larger ones because the ground was frozen after the first 1/4 inch. Next year I'll did carrots before the ground freezes.

So here is my token harvest for February: 1 oz kale and 2 oz carrots.
You can see other gardener's harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A New Garden!

We made an offer and now have a contract on our first home. We're very excited about the house, the town, and the garden! We settle next month so I should be able to jump right into gardening in the new space this year. The previous owners had a larger section under cultivation and they have three fruit trees they recently planted.
Now I can start to plan for the spring and expand the varieties and amount of each vegetable. I don't have measurements of the space but I know it's much, much, bigger than my current space of (2) 3' by 8' raised beds.

EDIT: My mom asked, "What are we looking at?" The answer is that all the rowed hills of dirt show the area that was in cultivation. At the back are three tiny sticks of the newly planted fruit trees. The large mounts of snow are a snow fort the current kids built, and behind is a field owned by someone else. So most of the photo is the new garden space.