Gardening Archive

General updates

Posted May 30, 2016 By Ruth

My rain barrel system that I was putting together when I caught myself with the drill bit is up and running.  Course, it helps when you remember to close the drain taps before you try to fill them.  But I’ve got one barrel full, and two more half full, so I’ll take it.


Now to set up the soaker watering system so I can use that water!  BTW, that scratch is well healed now, just a shiny scar down my arm.  Though you can still see the marks from the bandaids too.

Good god Robins are stupid birds…..ever since we put in solar power the Robins have been determined to nest on top of the switch box for the panels.  Several home made deterrents failed and we resorted to bird spikes to keep them off the box.  It was a bad place for several reasons, including that in the event of a fire we would need access that box in a hurry.  Plus it was easily accessed by a pair of dogs.  A week or two ago a Robin tried to build a nest on top of a tiny light fixture on the side of the garage, equally accessible to the dogs, though at least a few more feet higher in the air.  I went to go dig out the spare bird spikes, but by the time I got back I discovered that the nest had fallen off the light!  Over the next 4 days the scene was repeated, Robin would build a nest, and an hour later it’d fall off the light.  The bird finally gave up.  Yesterday I found where it had moved too.


Those boards are the remains of the A-frame I used to cover the broccoli over the winter.  The nest is nose height on Apollo, along a path we walk along several times a day with the dogs.  Its under the edge of the pool, which is only about 4feet high, which is why we’d not noticed it till I happened to look in the right direction while gardening.


To late to try to convince the bird to nest elsewhere, we’ll just have to watch out for the nestlings I guess.

The weather has been an almost literal killer lately.  We’re pushing record breaking heat, temps in the upper 80’s to even low 90’s, and harsh sunny.  Very little rain, what there is has been only in scattered showers, or thunderstorms.  So I’ve been watering the garden daily.  Course, then there’s me, working in the garden dept of said big box store, during the Memorial day sale madness.  Normally SPF 55 is all I need, but when its this hot even reapplying it twice throughout the day isn’t enough.  I came home from work Saturday decidedly pink.  On top of almost collapsing from the heat despite drinking water constantly.  I spent my last two hours on Saturday inside the building doing non-difficult tasks after that.  Yesterday I picked up some of the sun screen that is supposedly sweat proof, and while I was at it made I picked one that was 70 SPF.  Gotta find a hat I can stand to wear at work that’s legal for the dress code too.  They’re predicting a hotter than average summer, so I’m going to need it.

Yesterday (Sunday) started out equally hot and nasty, but mid-afternoon a string of storms rolled by and we even got some rain, cooling things off enough to make it possible to work outside.  I got the 2nd level of the potato bed on and the potatoes mostly hilled:


Here’s a shot of the entire garden from a few days ago:



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Planted tomatoes

Posted May 20, 2016 By Ruth

I started planting out my insane tomato seedlings today.


These are the Black Icicle Tomatoes.  They look leggy, but the stalks are nice and thick, they almost don’t need support.  And none of the other seedlings look leggy.  Just how tall are these going to get??



White CHerry Tomatoes



Blue Berries Tomatoes

I’ll plant out the Black Plums this weekend hopefully, I gotta construct more cages first.



German Butterball Potatoes are doing nicely



Notice the one big carrot on the right?  Thats the one that survived the winter



Lettuce, and onions (oops, and radishes, how did I forget the radishes??)



Sugar Snap Peas

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Posted May 1, 2016 By Ruth



For now at least I’ve removed a shelf and just lowered the level the plants are sitting on.  Hopefully the space will work out since we’re not THAT much short of average last frost and the weather is looking like it might be warming up.

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Garden update

Posted April 26, 2016 By Ruth



You can’t quite see it, due to the color of the plastic cover on the new greenhouse, but the tallest tomato plants are about to hit the top of it.  Less than an inch to go.  At that point I guess I’ll have to look at pulling them out to sit on the porch during the day or risk them scorching on the top of the greenhouse.  My other option is to lose another shelf and drop them down a row.  And although right now I have lots of space to do that I’m about to start the seeds for the melons.  I guess I could pull the poppy pots and put that shelf back in, and add the poppies to the routine with the baby tree, which is inside for the cold nights and on the porch otherwise.  Despite the warm spring I just don’t dare plant anything sensitive out now, it’s still 3 weeks short of average last frost!  I do have frost covers, but the taller they get the harder it is to make sure they’re covered.

Sugar snap peas are sprouted (I’m trying a bush variety this year instead of a vine), lettuce and radishes are also up.  And it looks like most of the carrots are also sprouted.  I need to plant out the broccoli seedlings in the near future.

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Garden update

Posted April 18, 2016 By Ruth


I actually took this picture a week ago and forgot to post it, but you get the idea.  The big pot on the bottom shelf is an American Chestnut seedling that I found at Tractor Supply for $6 and couldn’t resist.  They’re one of the trees I’ve been considering putting along the front line as a privacy screen at some point in the future.  Next to it are a couple pots of Icelandic Poppies from work that I couldn’t pass up.

I spent yesterday setting up a 2nd greenhouse (btw, for anyone who’s looking for a greenhouse like this, my local Tractor Supply has them for $20), and dividing the tallest plants between the top shelves of the two.  The seedling tree is now tall enough that it had to come out of the greenhouse, and is on the back porch, being brought in and out every night.  Almost all of my current batch of seedlings are out in the greenhouses now, only a couple tiny late starts are still inside.  I’ll probably be starting the melons and squash in the next week or so.

Remember me talking last year about a tomato plant that sprouted out of my compost pile?  I still have no idea how it thrived there, constantly saturated ground and almost no sun and the coolest place in the yard, but the plant ended up taller than me, and although it wasn’t prolific, it DID produce a fair bit of fruit (which appeared to be Black Plum tomatoes).  I saved seeds from it and started seedlings this year, with the intention of planting them in the compost pile again to see what I get.  I’d been treating them just like every other seedling though, and they went out to the greenhouse.  Turns out that might not have been the best idea.  They sprouted well, and were the tallest of the tomato seedlings…..till the greenhouse turned warm due to the weather.  While every other tomato plant is thriving in the very warm greenhouse the compost tomato seedlings died!  I’ve re-started with new seeds and this time I’ll keep them inside under lights till I can plant it out.  It really looks like they just couldn’t handle the heat after having been grown in the cool last year!

One of the two carrots that survived the winter died in the cold snap we had.  The other however is thriving:


I’m still shaking my head over how it possibly survived, but it’s very cool!

Weather wise we’ve gone from snow and almost record breaking cold just two weeks ago, to lovely above average warm and sunny and everything in the yard is trying to sprout leaves.  It’s a little scary, it’s still entirely possible for us to get another good freeze before the season ends, but if we get one now after this week of warm it’ll kill an awful lot of plants.  This coming week will be closer to the “average”, but still nice and sunny with lows well above freezing.

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The gardening process

Posted March 26, 2016 By Ruth

Ok, so in case it wasn’t obvious previous posts, my current employer is a certain big box store, the one whose employees wear orange aprons.  I’d worked for them previously, several years ago, working at the service desk.  So I had some idea what I was getting into.  This time around I’m working in the garden/seasonal department.  I have to say, if you’re looking for a job that keeps you moving, and periodically changes everything on you (not QUITE literally), then the garden/seasonal department of such a store is the place for you.

Anyway.  When I started there last spring it was late enough in the season that I’d missed almost all of the seed starting “stuff”.  It was still on the shelves, but the only folks who were buying were the folks buying for next season.

This year of course I’m right in the middle of it.  And I’m realizing just how far from “normal” my own personal seed starting process is.

I gave up on using pretty much anything “seed starter” labeled at all.  I don’t use peat pots, or even the little peat expandable bases any more.  I don’t even use a seed starting dirt mix.  Instead I bought a BUNCH of 3.25″ square plastic pots in bulk (the filled pots are placed into a larger tray so I can keep the bases of the pots wet), and I use standard potting soil in them to start the seeds in.  EVERYONE says this is a big no-no.  That you need either a seed starter mix, or those peat things.  And then transplant up when the plants get big enough.  Honestly, my germination rate is just fine this way, and if anything its better than when I used to use such seed starter stuff.

I tend to start seeds early by the standards of the local gardening community and when my average last frost is.  SO MUCH data says that if you let many garden seedlings get to big before you transplant them out that they’ll not handle the transplan well.  But I’ve found the exact opposite.  By transplanting out big seedlings who are close to being too big for their pots I find they take off quite happily as soon as they’re transplanted.  I almost never lose a seedling on transplant, basically the only time I do is when the seedling was looking sickly due to some other issue.

Course, I use a greenhouse as soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle some temperature fluctuations.  So that helps, the seedlings don’t get nearly as leggy as they would if I tried to keep them under lights.  And I have the black tires as my garden beds, so the dirt in the beds is warmer than the ground, so I can plant out a bit sooner than most folks.  If I can ever get a proper, good sized, greenhouse built I’ll probably start them even sooner, with space to put them into bigger pots if needed, where plant height is less of an issue than it is with my current setup (plants will scorch their tops on the top of the greenhouse with my current setup, if I let them get too tall.

Garden update

Posted March 23, 2016 By Ruth

The biggest seedlings are out in the greenhouse.  I’m having more trouble keeping the greenhouse from overheating than I am with it getting to cold this year.  Usually thats not a problem till closer to the end of April, not March!

In comparison to last years pictures I definitely started the seeds later this year.  I was having trouble last year with the tallest of the tomatoes scorching themselves on the top of the greenhouse, cause they were just too tall, by the time I could put them in the ground.  Its still some trial and error to tell when I should be starting them.  Not at all helped by the screwy springs we have here.

I’ve added a new post category, 2016 garden, in hopes of helping keep track of things better this year.

Garden and Carrots for seed!

Posted March 17, 2016 By Ruth

Since the weather was lovely again this morning I went ahead and prepped the beds for sugar snap peas, radishes, lettuce and carrots, and then went ahead and planted those crops.  It may end up being to early for the lettuce and carrots, but its been such a warm spring I’m crossing my fingers.  Seed is cheap and I have lots more if they fail.

In the process I dug up and turned over one of the containers that had carrots in it last year.  I’d ended up not picking all my carrots last year.  As usual I over planted, and we were having such a mild winter to begin with that I decided to let them go and see if they’d produce seed for this year.

Then of course we had those painful cold snaps.  So much for over-wintered carrots.

Or so I thought.

Certainly most of the carrots that I’d left in the ground were either completely gone or only had a rotted shell left.

But these two little ones not only survived but are now producing leaves!


I’m not even sure which variety this was as I planted at least two varieties of “little baby sweet carrots”.

I carefully replanted them off to the side of the current carrot spots, where they’ll be able to get lots of sun.  Here’s hoping I can harvest some seeds this summer!

General update

Posted March 14, 2016 By Ruth

I hung on till the appointment Friday evening, and the doctor confirmed another sinus infection.  She wasn’t happy about it being the 2nd one in barely a month.  And warned me if I end up with a 3rd in equally short order they may end up prescribing me the heavy duty nasty drugs which do bad things to how my body copes.  I’ve taken them before.  I know what my body does.  Its bad.  So cross your fingers this is the end of it.

Mother Nature appears to have remembered its only March here in Upstate NY



That is much more like what I’ve been expecting to see.  Here’s hoping it won’t kill the apple crops.

Most of my seeds have sprouted, and I’m considering replanting the ones that haven’t.  Seriously considering planting out the snap peas and other such cold lovers this week.

Arty’s been enjoying this warm spell, while Apollo hasn’t started shedding yet and I’m sure he’ll be delighted by the return of normal weather.

I saw my first Bluebird of the season this week.  Cross fingers he’ll stick around!

Sick again

Posted March 10, 2016 By Ruth

Woke up Monday with a scratchy throat.  I drank lots of hot tea and tried to ignore it.  BTW, this home-made cough syrup works almost as well on a sore throat as it does on coughs.  Though next time I make it I’m cutting the amount of lemon in half.

But by Tuesday morning it was obvious it wasn’t going to go away so I called my doctors office.  No openings available till Friday evening (and that with a different doctor in the practice)!  “But you can go to the urgent care in the same building if you want.”  Yay.  I hate going to urgent care, especially for something as minor as a scratchy throat, I always end up sitting there for hours.  I took the Friday appointment, figuring I could always cancel if need be.  If I didn’t really really like my doctor herself I’d have already changed doctors because of things like this.  But I really really like my doctor, and she LISTENS to me, and I’ve just had a painful lesson in how important that is…….

By Wednesday morning I was pretty sure that what I actually have is the early signs of a sinus infection.  The sore throat being caused by the post nasal drip.  My sinuses themselves don’t hurt that badly yet, but my ears itch, which is a “good” sign of a sinus infection.  Still wasn’t feeling really sick.  Worked a 4hour shift at work after spending most of the day out in the 70degree early spring weather that Mother Nature gave us.

This morning, Thursday, I have almost no voice, and am feeling decidedly draggy, though I still have no real sinus pain.  Maybe its not a sinus infection, though my ears still itch.  I don’t work today, but I am supposed to work tomorrow morning.  I’m sitting here trying to decide if I should give in and to go urgent care.  One thing for sure, unless I’m feeling better by this evening I won’t be working tomorrow….

In other news, all my tomato and pepper seeds have been planted, along with seeds of the Tzimbalo Melon Pear, which caught my eye as I was seed browsing.  Peppers have mostly sprouted.  If the weather holds the sprouted pots will go out into the greenhouse next week.  Which seems awfully early, and I keep waiting for Mother nature to dump a couple feet of snow on us…..but I have to admit I wouldn’t mind an early spring.  I hope it stays decent though, if we do get a hard freeze after this 2 weeks of warm (that’s currently being predicted) its going to totally kill the apple crops.