container garden

Spring Fling Blog Hop!

Happy Spring! Today, fellow writers (links below) and I are participating in a blog hop to celebrate the vernal equinox. We’ll each be talking about spring-y things.

As an avid container gardener (my only option for gardening, as we live on property that’s mostly deck), spring for me starts in January, when the seed catalogs start rolling in. They are a welcome sight, I have to say, and help me dream of greenery in the midst of the gray-brown backyard. Usually I start seeds–cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and vining flowers such as morning glory and cardinal climber–in mid-March:

Cukes, tomatoes, and peppers in this pic. Notice the capillary wicking mats, which is the best way to water seedlings.

Recently we had a week or so of 70-degree days that lulled me into a false sense of security, and I direct-planted sweet peas, scallions, and lettuce seeds outside. Um, well, that turned out to be ill-advised, as you can see by this pic of my lettuce pot (taken three days ago):

 

uh oh…I may have to replant….

But the false starts and hard work are worth it, in the end. Here’s a photo montage of how things look by mid summer:

 

So, what are your favorite things to do in the spring? I’d love to hear from you.

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog-hopper sites, and see how these gals ring in the vernal equinox:

Allyson Charles

Connie diMarco

Gilian Baker

Layla Reyne

Kirsten Weiss

Mona Karel

Misterio Press

Shannon Esposito

Victoria De La O

 

Until next time,

Kathy

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Tuesday Terrific – Backyard Gardening

Welcome to Tuesday Terrific, where we celebrate getting over the Monday bump and picking up speed for the rest of the week.

With so many fabulous things out there, it’s often hard to choose.  But when I got three gardening catalogs in the mail this month, my decision was made.

 

 

The Joys of Backyard Gardening

 

I know – for most of us who are above, say, 32 deg N latitude, or in hardiness growing zones 1-8, we’re looking at a bleak, grayish/brownish backyard right now.  That lush yard of last summer seems a distant memory.

Part of my backyard, last summer. Container gardening works!

But it’s not too early to start planning your idyllic backyard for this year.

It’s all about the seeds, baby:

More folks than ever are turning to gardening as a pastime and a stress-reliever (where it’s okay to get dirty, yay!).  Others start gardening as a money-saver, either because they want to grow their own vegetables and herbs (and herbs are so easy to grow), or because they want to make their backyards pleasant destinations in their own right: a cheap mini-vacation spot.

Gardening can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be.  That’s where seeds come into the picture.  A lot of gardeners are going the seed route and starting them indoors, rather than buying established plants at the garden center come spring time (and if you value your sanity, avoid Mother’s Day at the garden center at all costs.  It’s almost as scary as brunch at Big Boy).

Besides being cheap, growing plants from seeds has other benefits:

 

image via growbetterveggies.com

1. There are many more varieties of plants available in seed form, including heirloom and other rare plant varieties.

2. They are easy to grow; you don’t need a fancy pot, just something that will hold soil.

 

image via squidoo.com

3. You experience the satisfaction of seeing something start so small and become something you can be proud of (kind of like parenting, but a ton easier).  You even start reminiscing/bragging like a parent:  “I remember when the seedling was only that tall, and now look at it!  Taller than me!  I got two baskets of tomatoes from one plant this year!”  Yep, they don’t stay little forever. *sniff*


4. In those late winter months, you’ve got green growing things in your window to look at.  A great “winter blues” chaser.

 

image via Urban Farmer

Here are some resources to get you started:

Weekend Gardener – Seed Starting Page – just click on the hyperlinks for “vegetable seeds,” “flower seeds,” or “herb seeds”

Squidoo – Seed Starting – kid-friendly, with great tips for making your own potting mix, planting in eco-friendly containers such as egg shells and toilet paper rolls.

Fine Gardening – 10 seed starting tips

Burpee has a “How To” video on seed starting (check out their site for other tips and supplies):

And of course, don’t worry that you need fancy grow lights or heat mats – they will get you near-perfect results, but your seeds should do just fine in a bright room away from drafts.  I like the capillary wicking mats, though – they help control the amount of water your seedlings get so you don’t drown the poor li’l things.  Mine came with the seed-starting kit I’d ordered, but you can buy them separately here – three mats for $5 is fairly cheap.  Click here for info on how to make your own self-watering tray.

One caveat: some seed don’t like to be germinated indoors and transplanted later, such as beans, corn, lettuces and root vegetables, and are better off sown directly into the soil once it’s warm enough outside.  The back of the seed packet will tell you.

Have you tried growing plants from seeds?  What works for you?  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy growing,

Kathy

 

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