Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chicago: Transplanting, at last!

Transplanting is complete! Finally the weather has turned a little warmer which means that all the baby plants went outside on Friday. We have quite a few pots out there this year. I can't wait until they all get bigger; it will be like a jungle out there. Part of me is afraid that the little plants won't survive but all we can do is wait and see.

Joe's mom gave us a new pot that is actually a big milk jug! We thought it would look good as a planter and drilled a few holes in the bottom. I planted the oregano in it so I can't wait til it starts growing up over the sides and spilling over.  And, guess what? We have our first zucchini flower!

This is the first bloom of the year! Looks like we might be getting some zucchinis soon! The weather was a bit harsh over Memorial Day weekend so a few of the transplants were hit hard. Luckily, nothing got singed that couldn't be remedied (sorry no pics of burnt basil leaves).
The big slicer tomato plant surrounded by its marigold guards.

Time to harvest some spinach!
 So I guess I planted my lettuce a little haphazardly because I seem to be getting clumps of lettuce with some bare spots in the planter. The unfortunate part is the lettuce seeds have disappeared so I can't fill in the planter with new lettuce. Oh well, hopefully these little areas will grow well and I won't need more lettuce. I wonder where that pack of seeds got off to???

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Seattle- INFESTED!!!!

OH MY GOSH I HAVE BUGS!! I realize I just posted yesterday but how could I have missed this? I'll tell you how. About two weeks ago I noticed that my mint looked a little weepy. So I watered it. Next day it was gorgeous and had perked back up. About four days later, it looked weepy again. I knew that mint was pretty hardy, it shouldn't need this much water so I left it alone. And it looked better! And yesterday when I was taking pictures for the blog it looked good. But I just got home from church and I glance outside and it looks gross, even kind of dead in places.
My wilty, shriveled mint

So I take a closer look and see these little white threads all over the leaves. They can't be bugs, it looks like the plant was producing some sort of fuzz on the leaves as if it was under duress. But then I looked closer and wait, is that a bug? And then I found them. There must be thousands!!!
 All those little green dots on the stem? Those are individual bugs.

Well crap. So I sprung to work and filled up my spray bottle with soapy water. Oh, and I also sprayed all of my other plants and moved my gorgeous lettuce, after close inspection, far away from that stupid mint.

I am also now so full of the heeby-geebies that I am scratching involuntarily. Looks like I've got some research to do. I hope I can save the mint.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Seattle- Persevering

It's a GORGEOUS day here in Seattle! The sun is out despite weather reports of rain all weekend. My plants are so happy!! I can see them stretching toward the sun. But, even though they are all wonderful plants I'm still having some problems.

First off my spinach! I got spinach envy seeing Devon's huge leaves last week on the blog. I planted mine first!! They just aren't seeming to grow quickly at all. She can practically eat hers already and mine are teeny! Look at this, this one below is the largest in the bunch. The only thing I can think of is that the soil was incredibly saturated with water when I planted since it was winter and in Seattle that means nothing but rain. Maybe there's just too much moisture in there. I'm hoping sunny days like today help correct that. I'm watching them closely.
My pathetic little stunted spinach

Next off are those un-growing pots. Oregano. Basil. Chives. My friend Sara even said, "They should just grow for you because you're Italian. This is blasphemy!" I agree! So I took Devon's advice and went kindergarten style. I figure I'm pouting about it kindergarten style, I may as well act like it to. So, the remainder of the seeds went in to labeled (I'm learning!) baggies. I then placed them all in the sunniest spot in the apartment: on top of Matt's Wurley. 

A last resort

Let's hope this works!

The rest of the plants are doing so well. I guess there's not too much more room for complaint. Weirdly though I am seeing a difference between pots. For example, both of these pots below are cilantro. What is causing this difference?! I water them at the same times, I planted them at the same time. Did I forget to seed half of the pot? I don't think so. But regardless of this Matt was home to taste it last weekend and just about melted. He's super excited to start harvesting.
Cilantro, yes in both of those pots.

Biggest success? LETTUCE! It's ready to harvest!! It is just spilling out of the pot. Yummy! I see a salad in my immediate future.
Wowee lettuce!

And look at the amount of blueberry blossoms! We are going to have amazing berries this year. Yay! Matt was also excited to hear that. This is probably my favorite success this year, especially with what happened last year. This plant just looks amazing.
Beautiful blueberry blossoms

And though not edible my geranium is finding some time to blossom. I'm so excited! They tell you that you should pinch off all of the blossoms in order to keep the stress of blooming low priority when you transplant. So I did and am now being rewarded (finally) with blossoms! Can't wait to see how many this plant rewards me with.
A shocking pink geranium

And the catnip is really taking off. I may have to thin this one out too. It pretty much allows a single plant to take over if last year was any clue.
Catnip leaves

And finally the carrots. I have been systematically pulling out leaves as they get bigger to thin them. I don't want funky shaped carrots to sprout. Right?
Carrots are thinned properly now

So that's the garden. For those of you interested I have also started a crafting blog called "The Land of Crafts". Please feel free to follow. I figure, when I'm not in the garden on the patio I'm in the apartment sewing, knitting, or quilting. I figured you'd be interested in seeing it all. I think I finally found my niche.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicago: Weather Issues & Stowaways

What have we here? Stowaways! I'm afraid we barbeque and shish-kabob stowaways on this ship!

Look at those little stowaways in the zucchini's pot! How rude! These little sprouts just popped up. I wonder what they are? When I planted the zucchini I used half new soil and half old soil from last year so I'm guessing whatever was in the soil last year left a little present for my zucchini. How fun and interesting! As you can see the zucchini is growing so strong. He loves it outside and has really grown.

This past week I was getting prepared to transplant all my seedlings into their outdoor pots. I was hardening off my sprouts all week by taking them outside for 1 hour on Monday and gradually increased 1 hour of outdoor time per day until they were spending all day outside. I was just so excited to transplant on Saturday when the weather took a turn for the worse.

All week we were struggling not to turn the air conditioning on as it reached 85 degrees during the day and suddenly we were back to the 40s! Too cold for my baby plants. Unfortunately, it hasn't even been getting up to 55 degrees during the day so I had to bring in the zucchini and strawberry plant. They are so sad that they can't play outside anymore :(

Needless to say, this week has been way too cold for transplanting so the seedlings had to stay indoors. Now I am planning on transplanting this weekend. The weather should be turning warm again by Thursday so cross your fingers. I'm afraid if I keep these guys inside any longer they will be stunted and won't grow well. Hopefully, they will take to their new pots like the zucchini did and grow with vigor!

Carrots are getting bigger

Spinach going strong

Additionally, Joe and I picked out some flowers to start from seeds. Although I started them a little late a lot of them have already sprouted. You can see pictures of the ones we chose below.

Top row from left to right: Four O'Clock Marbles Mix, Blue Enchantment Convolvulus, Antique Shades Pansies
Bottom row from left to right: Magic Carpet Petunia, Four O'Clock High Tea mix, Peach Melba Nasturtium

I love the colors and I hope that starting these flowers from seeds will make them healthy and happy (not to mention its cheaper). I chose varieties that could tolerate full sun all day, had blooms for up to 10-12 weeks, and love the heat. Our deck gets A LOT of sun in the summer and I noticed that the geraniums could not take it last year, but the petunias thrived. Not all of the flowers have sprouted yet so I'm anxiously awaiting their sprouting.

One of the Four O'Clock sprouts

Also in case you are counting down, only 17 more days until I sit for the RD exam! I could be an RD for my birthday! Hooray.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seattle- Starting to Get Worried

The weather here in Seattle has been quite unique this spring and that's the nice way to put it. I'm surprised the blueberries are doing as well as they are with the low temperatures we've had. Sidenote: all those blossoms mean berries this year!!! SO EXCITED!!! But anyways, back to the temperature. Those THREE pots still have not bloomed! I even dug through the dirt to look for teeny-sprouts and they're all a no go. I don't know what the problem is but I'm going to blame the weather. Hopefully if it gets warmer? Maybe I should move the pots around for better sun exposure? Hmmm...

On to wonderful things-- look at my luscious lettuce! It's getting so big, should be tasty soon. At least it loves this cool weather.

Lettuce sprouts galore.

And then of course it's just another pat on the back knowing my deduction of cilantro was correct. See the newest leaves? The jagged ones that look like cilantro leaves? Yeah, it's cilantro. I'm awesome.

100% Cilantro

And this one is how I know it's bad news bears that the other three pots haven't sprouted: Catnip. The last plant last year that I was worried would never sprout. That Devon made fun of me for? Yeah, it's sprouting at full force. I guess that's still pretty exciting.

Catnip for my cat to nip (I know that was bad).

And of course my spinach now looks like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, doesn't it? A slow growth but sure.

Spinach sprout heading to the sun.

And of course the carrots. I thinned them proper this time, though probably soon will need a little more. The leaves are changing as well which is exciting. It's like the next step!

Look how much I pulled! For shame!

A properly thinned pot now. Still some serious grouping.

I am now obsessive about watching those three pots. I may have to take Devon's advice and start over by starting my sprouts kindergarten style: the plastic baggie. We'll see. I'm still convinced they're coming. And in just a couple weeks I get to plant the zucchini and oregano! Keep an eye right here!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seattle- A Focus on Relaxation

Let's start with the bad news. The garden is fine (that's not the bad news). Unfortunately my hand is not. I was spending a lovely evening cooking for friends when long story short I sliced my finger. And not only did I slice it I sliced part of it off. I won't go into the gory details but needless to say I am out of commission. So gardening this week has been very much a watching sport. I was able to get some stuff done though...

Middle finger of my dominant hand is really causing some problems.

So for starters I really needed to thin the carrots but again I am worried about over-thinning. But I pulled a few big chunks out. Super funny too because I expected minuscule carrots to pull out. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't anything but white roots.

Before thinning...

After half-assed thinning.

The cilantro is kicking!! Matt is super excited. It looks beautiful but I've noticed an uneven growing in the pots. Did I heavily seed one side of the pot and not the other? Are they getting different light? Maybe I dumped more seeds in one pot than the other. Not sure. I'll keep an eye on them (which is about all I can do right now anyways).

Cilantro is a'growin!

Remember last week when I thinned out the lettuce? Well, as you can see it helped! Even that little bit! They've gotten much bigger already. I'll give it a little more time and then begin to thin again. Maybe bigger pots next year OR I could plant each teeny-tiny seed with tweezers. Hmm, there's a thought.

The lettuce is growing strong.

Biggest scare? I still have basil and chives that have not sprouted!! What did I do wrong?! I have been watching them like a hawk too. Super fun though? The catnip sprouted!! Neti was even out there with me when I found it. I think she's excited.

Itty-bitty catnip sprout.

So all in all things are going well for the garden. I just need those other two pots to bloom!! It would be an amazing morale booster. I'll just keep checking on them everyday. Stalking them really. Until next time!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chicago Photos of the Week

The view from the office of my swanky externship job downtown. 65th floor of the Aon building.

Seattle- Gotcha!!

So remember that mystery bloom that I had in two pots? I got him figured out! It's cilantro!! Know how I know? See those little brown balls that seem to have attached themselves to the tops of the sprouts? Yeah, those are the seed coats which just won't let go. And I know that the seed version of cilantro is coriander, a huge seed, circular and besides spinach, the biggest seeds I purchased for the season. So... GOTCHA!!!

Matt's going to be happy, it's cilantro!