Book Review: You Bet Your Tomatoes

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You Bet Your Tomatoes is a humorous guide to growing tomatoes.  For example Chapter 2 is sarcastically entitled "The Joy of Germination" or "Killing Your Own Tomatoes from Seed".  This almost turned me off from the book thinking it was all play and no knowledge, but it is actually full of relevant and helpful information, covering everything from choosing the best variety for your growing season to building strong tomato cages.  It is also great reminder that gardening doesn't have to be serious all the time.  If you want to learn more about growing successful garden tomatoes and you don't mind some irreverent humor, I definitely recommend this book.

My First Plant

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chives from my 2010 garden
I was raised in a home with a large yard and a veggie garden every year, so plants were never strangers to me.  But I do clearly remember the first planting project I took initiative on.  There was an article in my beloved American Girl magazine that had a plan for a circular herb/salad garden.  At the age of probably 13 I was determined that I would grow this garden.  Dad let me have a patch of the yard and I planted the seeds with the help of my mom and sister.  I remember it included chives, lettuce, basil, marigolds and others. 

The garden of course did not turn out just like the pretty magazine picture.  The worst failure was the lettuce.  I remember trying so hard to like the bitter bolted leaves, but they were just nasty.  The chives, on the other hand flourished and returned the following year much to my excitement.  That continued to be "my" garden through out my teen years.  The chives are still going strong there at my parents house and the plants I have at my house now are some that I dug up and divided from that old garden.  They were my first successful plant and remain a favorite still. 
This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy 1st Day of Spring to you all!  Enjoy these photos of my Pink Lenten Rose, whose lovely, early-blooming flowers help cheer the days of unspring-like weather.

Book Review: The Authentic Garden

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

As you can see from the cover, The Authentic Garden by Claire E. Sawyers focuses on five principles for creating a garden or landscape.  The first is to capture the sense of place, which I interpreted as making your garden landscape reflect the actual landscape "in the wild."  Not that I want a yard of sagebrush, but perhaps juniper trees are more fitting than Japaneses maples and meadow flowers and grasses over tropical plants.

The second principle is to derive beauty from function, which reminds me of the saying, "If you can't hide it, flaunt it." There are many pictures showing how utilitarian items have been embellished or redesigned in order to make them beautiful focal points.

"Use humble or indigenous materials" is the third principle.  This seems instinctive in my garden because I have used what I could rummage out to the junk/treasure pile to make paths or build beds and terracing.  I guess there is a benefit of having a small garden budget.

I will leave you discover the last two principles yourself when you read this book.  It was a good read, but not necessarily a must-buy title so look for it at your library. 

Note: My book review posts are all books I have checked out from the library unless otherwise noted.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

My greenhouse is finally finished!  My husband commissioned my uncle to build it for me for my Valentine's Day gift.  It didn't quite get done by February 14th, but I won't complain.  

The panels were salvaged from a large greenhouse where my dad works.  We couldn't let all that good material just go to the dump.

 My uncle did a great job of using materials we already had on hand and adding his own artistic flare in the details.

 There is a door, a window and two smaller vent windows at the top.  Inside I have benches for my plants, but we left a space, just in case we got carried a way and grew a lemon tree or something like that.

Bambi's Baby

Friday, March 15, 2013

My cow, Bambi, finally had her calf on the 11th of March.  Bambi is half miniature, so we were a bit worried about her since she had be inadvertently bred to the regular bull.  The calf did have to be pulled, but both baby and momma were fine.    

 If that wasn't enough, baby tried to tempt fate again just three days after she was born.  I walked out to the pasture to take some pictures of her, but I couldn't find her anywhere.  Cows often hide their new born calves until they are strong enough to keep up with everyone else, so this wasn't too unusual.  I figured I would try another day and was walking back to the house when I saw a little tail.  The calf had somehow made her way under the fence and into the irrigation ditch and across the water to the edge of the other bank.  The water is several feet deep and the bank is steep, so we had to drive around to the other side of the ditch and lift her out.  I am glad I saw that little tail with the white spot because there was no way she would have climbed out by herself.

Look at that tongue!

I was going to name her another name from the Bambi movie, but after all that I thought I might have to name her Trouble.

She sticks to her mom like glue now, so I hope to avoid a repeat of the wet rescue.

What do you think?  Faline, Thumper, or Trouble?  

Book Review: Ann Lovejoy's Organic Garden Design School

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ann Lovejoy's Organic Garden Design School was a great book to read after Understanding Garden Design.  The book Understanding Garden Design helped me look at my space honestly and consider all the less glamorous elements of garden design (i.e. anything but the plants).  The book Organic Garden Design School focuses much more on the plants and caring for the garden organically.  The author is located in the Seattle area so it was a bonus to hear from another Washington resident even if our climates are very different. 

There were two great principles that I gleaned from this book.  The first is the rule of thirds.  The author states that a pleasing garden recipe is comprised of one third evergreens, one third structural deciduous plants and one third seasonal color plants, such as perennials, annuals and bulbs.  This is helpful to have at the front of my mind when I start looking at plants and get overwhelmed by all the beautiful options. 

The second garden principle from this book that resonated with me was the Golden Bowl Effect.  Basically, plants are placed to form a bowl shape, starting with an outer ring of tree canopy, followed by a tall understory, a low understory, and finally grasses and perennials.  This creates a lush planting that allows areas of shade and sun.  I have often seen this in glossy magazine pictures of mature gardens, but I had never recognized the idea until it was explained so clearly in this book.

Note: My book review posts are all books I have checked out from the library unless otherwise noted.

Tomato seedlings

Sunday, March 10, 2013

On March 6th I planted my tomato seeds indoors under lights.

I planted 32 cells of Sungolds and 16 cells of Sun Cherries with only one seed per cell.  I will transfer the best ones to four inch pots later.

I sowed the rest of the seeds 2 or 3 per pot directly in the four inch pots.  9 of Isis Candy, 6 Super Sweet 100, 6 Roma, 6 Cherokee Chocolate, 4 Virginia Sweet and 4 Oregon Spring.

I also started 4 tomatillos and 9 Cute Stuff peppers at the same time.

As of March 10th more than half have sprouted!

first veggies in the ground

Monday, March 4, 2013

On Feb 25th I got my onions in the ground.  Columbia Grain and Feed sells the thinnings out of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion fields and this year I got them nice and fresh.  Of course the onions never are exactly the same as true Walla Walla Sweets, but they still have a nice mild flavor.

On March 1st I planted a four pack of broccoli starts in my terrace garden.  I covered them with plastic jugs that had the top and the bottom cut off.  It may be a bit early, but I really like broccoli. :)