Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pass-along plants and perennials

By now, you know that I don't like to spend money on something I can get for free, or close to it. This is one of the reasons I have so many "pass-along" plants in my garden. I also love finding deals on the clearance rack at Lowe's and Southern States, especially when they're perennials.

Since this week is my spring break, I've been spending some much overdue time in the flower gardens... weeding, planning, dreaming, planting, and moving things around to fit my vision for this year. I acquired some pass-along plants from a few co-workers who know my passion for gardening (I also teach a gardening exploratory course to my middle school students, so we're constantly acquiring new plants people donate.) and through some donations of plants we couldn't use at school (we have mostly sun at school, so shade loving plants don't do well... so I bring them home to live behind the house). I've added some varigated Solomon's seal, more pulmonaria, helliobores, and will add some more hosta tomorrow. I'm working on splitting some of our larger hosta to fill in some areas along the steep bank behind the house (hostas are a love of mine in the landscape... they're so easy to grow and propogate and they'll grow in almost any situation). My phlox and lady's mantle began to self-sew last year, so there are baby plants popping up all over the garden, which is a nice surprise and a great way to fill in the blank spaces. Now that some of our gardens have been in existance for three years, it means that I now have the joy of sharing some pass-along plants with friends, so they'll benefit from some phlox, pachysandra, lemon balm, and lady's mantle.

Of course, with all this spring gardening, this required the obligatory visit to Lowe's. I went with the plan of scoring some Easter lilies on sale after Easter (they'll come back year after year, so don't toss it after the blooms fade if someone gave you one... plant it!). But, alas, there were no Easter lilies to be found... but there were a TON of spring perennials on the clearance rack for, wait for it, 50 cents a piece! They weren't dinky little guys either, one and two-gallon plants. All they needed was a little water, some deadheading, and they were perfect for my gardens. I grabbed five bachelor's button plants and some other things I don't remember the name of, but for under five dollars, I walked out of the garden center with eight perennials that will add color and texture to my gardens year after year. It doesn't take much to make this girl happy... a trip to Lowe's and five dollars well spent!

How's your garden growing this year? Have you had the joy of sharing plants with others, or started your garden with pass-along plants friends gave you? Any good deals you've found at local garden centers? I'd love to hear how you're living and saving green this spring!

Our Ghetto Greenhouse

Back in late February, I began planning for our veggie garden. (Some of this was done over snow days browsing seed catalogs and drooling over Barbara Kingsolver’s descriptions in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.) The seeds were ordered and each day we checked the mail, I was like a kid waiting for a letter from Santa… “Did they come yet?” The little packets of seeds arrived one day and I began the next phase; setting up our ghetto greenhouse.

This began with getting out all the plastic egg cartons and assorted yogurt/sour cream/ricotta cheese containers I’d been saving all winter. (I told you we reuse everything around here… well, almost; we draw the line at toilet paper.) I punched drainage holes in the egg cartons with an ice pick and nested the two halves together. I did the same thing with the larger plastic containers, saving them for transplanting later.

This meant that I could water them from the bottom and not disturb the seedlings’ tiny roots once they germinated. I filled the top one with organic soilless seed starting mix and then moistened each pod. The seeds were pushed into the moist soil and then I slid the whole set-up into a large bread bag and closed it with a twist tie. We started peppers, heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, basil, brussel sprouts, and cilantro this way. Once these were all ready to go, we put them on a card table in front of our sunny, southern facing window… right in the middle of the living room.

In about six weeks, we had some fabulous seedlings in each pod. I transplanted the tomatoes, lettuce, brussel sprouts, and peppers to the larger yogurt/sour cream containers I had prepared earlier. Using a spoon to scoop them out made this process really easy. Transplanting them to deeper containers really gave the seedlings a jump start.

In the meantime, Benny built some raised vegetable beds for outside in the yard where we’ll transplant the veggies this weekend, after we fill the boxes with a mixture of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. We’re looking forward to good fresh veggies this spring and summer—as local as they get!

We’ll update tomorrow on how we constructed the beds and managed to fit all the materials into the Jetta. I’ll also fill you in on our new additions to our edible landscaping.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing in your garden this spring, so leave some love in the comments!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Long Time, No See

Just a quick post to say that I've been busy with life, but I'll return to post several updates this week. I finally finished my National Boards portfolio and got it in the mail, so I feel like I have some of my life back! :)

We've been busy with getting veggies started, cleaning out flower beds, and planning our veggie garden layout. I'll share that and some indoor projects as well.

Looking forward to getting back to you tomorrow!