Monday, May 21, 2012

An Interesting Infogram

Now, I first saw this picture from a post about heirloom seeds and why they are so important on an excellent blog that I follow Two Men and A Little Farm. He found it on the National Geographic site. I believe I actually remember reading this article when it was published (thanks Dad for subscribing to their magazine). Two Men and A Little Farm writes a few comments on why it is so important that heirloom seeds continue to be used. The most important fact to know is that since 1903, we as a global community have lost 93% of our food varieties! That's a HUGE percentage. I wish I had remembered this before I grew my vegetables because I would have bought heirloom seeds instead. But now that I'm aware, I will do better next time. And that's what it's all about - spreading awareness so that we as a community can do better, and not lose anymore of our food varieties! 


Today, the number of pageviews of this blog broke 100! Whoohoo! Thank you to everyone who stopped by and read my posts :) That's the first milestone of many more to come. My next goal is to get 50 followers! So help me and join this site to follow my blog!

Also, I'm currently working on three new posts so keep watching! Topics include: planting new seeds which means four new vegetables growing in my house, beginning of a bonsai hobby, and my own terrariums (which turned out to be much more difficult than I envisioned).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Flowers & Home-made Vases

     I just wanted to share this photo! This is the window sill of the large picture window in our living room/dining room. I cut and separated the flowers from the bouquet that was on the coffee table (on my other blog I explain that my cat was eating them) and thought they would look pretty sitting in the window.

     Also, I have recently fallen in love with the idea of gluing twine around glass bottles/containers. The three pictured are ones I have done, and I am currently working on another larger one. I hope to be able to sell these on an online art forum, like Etsy sometime soon. I hadn't thought of trying to sell them as vases, but as you can see they work out quite nicely. Here is a close up of a former syrup bottle up-cycled to a vase:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Up-cycling - Working With What You Have

      Since I am only growing things out of containers and because I keep acquiring more plants, it would make sense that at some point I would run out of usable containers. Well, it happened a couple days ago. I had managed to use the ridiculous amount of plastic containers that I bought plus any and all ceramic planter-looking things I could find in my house. Unfortunately, I discovered this after coming home with 12 tomato plants from the farm we visited (see prior post). Now, it wouldn't have been a big deal if it were say, 1 or 2 plants. I would have just gone to the store and pick up the couple pots I needed. But 12 is a great deal more than a couple. Why I didn't think about this dilemma before buying the tomatoes, I'm not sure. It is a question that C. asked me once we got home though. Sometimes I get so excited about new plants I fail to think through where I'm going to put them. See, and this is another thing that I miss about living in Maine. If we were living in Maine and I came home with 12 plants without sufficient number of pots for them, it wouldn't be a big deal. It'd be more like, oh well that part of the yard doesn't get a lot of foot traffic and gets a lot of sun, so let's put them there! Alas, our house here on base is one that doesn't have a garden bed in front of the house. At least, one of a usable size and in a sunny location. So this leads back to the need for more containers. My first thought was to go in search of big tubs for these plants to go in. I succeeded, finding three big tubs at wal-mart (a place I hate, but sometimes their prices are just too good to pass up). But even in the car ride home I was regretting my decision not to think about what I could use that we already had in the house. So when I got home, I searched the house for bigger boxes. Recently, we recycled a bunch of our cardboard boxes that we had left over from moving, so I was hoping to find some that I had missed. Mission completed! Then I did some research online to make sure that the cardboard would actually work as a substitute for plastic (which it does). 
      Now I don't know about you, but the sight of a cardboard box is not that appealing to my eye. And it does absolutely nothing visually for the beautiful plants that it would hold. So I found the blue duct tape my husband bought (good color choice, C.!) and starting wrapping the boxes. Turns out, there's a lot more surface area than one might think. After almost three rolls of duct tape, I now I have four boxes. 

This one is the smallest. It is probably 10"x10" and maybe 5" deep. 
I made this one specifically for the four dianthus plants that needed to be re-potted
from their previous containers that provided no drainage. 

These are the boxes for my tomatoes. The two smaller boxes hold Roma tomatoes
and Patio tomatoes, while the bigger box holds a bigger variety Early Girl tomatoes.

 Those boxes might get too small for those tomato plants, but I can re-plant some of them into more boxes if it becomes an issue. We still have more boxes and duct tape is cheap!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our First Visit to A Local S.C. Farm

Yesterday, C. and I headed out of the house to go visit a farm out in Holly Hill, SC. After doing some searching on the Charleston City Paper's website, I was able to find a list of local farms that had been reviewed by the paper. The one that was closest to us was Hickory Bluff Farms and was about a 20 minute drive to our West. They had U-pick strawberry fields, which was our main reason for visiting. Who doesn't love fresh right-off-the-vine strawberries?

When we turned into the dirt driveway we saw that it was a nice-sized farm, not too big. There were strawberry fields on our left extending for a ways towards the distant tree line, some other fields to our right, and a nice farm stand. We parked and went over to the stand. We were greeted by an older woman shucking strawberries and once we explained that we were after the strawberries, we were given a gallon bucket. The price per pound was unbeatable at $1.59. We filled the entire bucket and it only cost us about 8 dollars, what a deal! Now, just the very fact that C. and I can pick strawberries at this time of year is amazing. Being from Maine I find my self in a constant state of surprise at how early some things can be harvested down here. In Maine, the strawberries aren't ready until July usually.

Before we picked strawberries, we wandered through the tables of container flowers and veggie plants they had under a tent. I distinctly remember be very surprised at the sight of a little lizard scampering across the table. Oh, the abundance of creepy crawly things in South... I didn't mind the lizard though. In fact he was sort of cute. But back to the plants. They had the regular annuals (petunias, impatiens, etc.) but they also had 7 or 8 varieties of tomato, a couple varieties of cucumber, and a handful of different pepper plants.

After reading so many blogs about tomatoes recently (and specifically about how to grow tomatoes in containers) I was adamant about getting a couple tomato plants. After looking at all the different kinds, C. and I decided on Roma (the other variety that we recognized we liked and wasn't a huge tomato like a Brandywine) and a variety called "Early Girl" which we knew nothing about and bought on a whim. With the eight tomatoes plants (four of each type, they only sold them in 4-packs) and the strawberries in our arms, we cheerfully went over to the farmstand to purchase our goods. Enticed by the sign saying "fresh eggs" and the container of fresh squash in front of me, we also got 1 1/2 dozen eggs, 2 summer squash, and 1 large zucchini. See?

After engaging in conversation with our farm hosts, we found out the older man also served in the Navy. We also found out that the South does not generally grow Rhubarb, unlike in Maine. But, that didn't stop me from buying my own rhubarb to make an apple strawberry-rhubarb-crisp (which was delicious). The South does grow blueberries, which I found surprising. The blueberries will be ready to pick in about 10 days, so we will be going back since C. really wants me to make blueberry muffins.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cucumbers, eggplants, and peas, oh my!

     The newest addition to my garden of containers include two cucumber plants, an eggplant, and snow peas. As previously mentioned, these were bought when C. and I went on a plant excursion on Monday. The eggplant and cucumber plants got put into containers right away. The snow pea seeds were just planted this morning.

     Now, cucumbers are a go-to vegetable but why eggplant you ask? First, I was inspired by this post about growing eggplants in containers on a blog called Our Happy Acres. They recommended the Hansel variety of eggplant and that is what I purchased. The pot I'm using is bigger than the one they show in their pictures, because as they say "larger containers will grow larger plants and therefore, grow more fruit." Yay for larger eggplants! Secondly, after talking with C. we realized that we would eat eggplant a lot more if we didn't have to buy it. We like to steam or saute this type of veggies (summer squash, etc.).

Here are our plants:

     I mentioned that this morning I planted the snow pea seeds. Out I went, coffee in hand, with my dog to keep me company. If you look closely you can see that Galen is passed out in the yard in the picture below. I got those starter biodegradable crates for only two dollars each, and for 72 pea plants, I'd say that's a good deal! I put two seeds in each hole, just to be safe, and I still have over half the packet of seeds left. What am I going to do with those seeds?! I guess I'm going to have to think about if I really want up to 144 snow pea plants before I go get two more crates. Oh, and that brings me to my next thought: I've decided that living in such tight quarters with other houses is not something I really enjoy. Too much concrete and too much supervision. But they do mow your lawn for you... so I guess that's a plus, especially in the next couple months, when temperatures will be 100 with high humidity. But back to the seeds, here they are:

     I will be keeping the peas inside, because they are very sensitive to heat. And heat is something that is very common down here. This morning when I went outside around 8 am, it was already 73 degrees. But it was also 100% humidity, according to accuweather, so it was hot and sticky. I was working up a sweat just sitting and planting, in a tank top and loose sweatpants. While I was doing that, my husband was off to his mandatory physical training and even though it was early morning, the heat must have been miserable. When C. got back from his P.T., he was all excited that I had gotten the seeds planted. And I guess we're not the only ones who are excited either, by the looks of it:

Future Project #1

This is my first post involving projects that I want to do at some point. There will many of these types of posts, trust me. I follow a lot of different blogs and sometimes one of their posts makes me really excited. This one did. It's called How to Make a Succulent Terrarium and it's written by an awesome blogger I've found recently named Thrifty Decor Chick. Terrariums have made a huge comeback recently. I've been seeing how-to's and DIY links on Pinterest for awhile now. But they're so cute and pretty I can't see any reason why people wouldn't love to make one themselves. Here is a picture of TDC's beautiful new terrarium: 

I've also been seeing these types of plants around a lot of different stores. Most recently at Lowe's. My husband, C., and I went there on Monday because I was in search of vegetable plants. After seeing me plant green beans, C. expressed interest in growing peas, or rather, adding them to my growing collection of plants. Either way, he was excited about the mission of finding seeds. But after I found the two cucumber plants and the eggplant I wanted, I strolled around the entire plant section at Lowe's admiring the plants. We happened upon the terrarium-type plants about the same time C. found a bonsai tree and a venus fly trap. Now, in a competition, I'd say that those two types of plants are definitely more exciting than terrarium plants so my attention went to those instead of trying to decide which little terrarium plant to buy. But sometime soon I will go back and rescue a few of those pretty little plants.