Sunday, February 28, 2010

Michele - Fruits and Berries

The seeds are planted and sitting in the kitchen windows. There is a pretty good variety there, and I hope we have success in growing them. The spinach is the only thing that has sprouted so far. It's the seed that I wasn't going to plant, but my young daughter really wanted to, so we did. Funny how those things turn out!

As Jenn said, spring is sneaking up on us here. Last year, I took a fancy and decided that we needed more fruit trees and berry bushes here. To go along with the apple trees we planted a few years ago, we added some peach and pear trees. I have decided that apple trees are not the thing to plant around here. There are hanging in there, and half of them are still growing but they're struggling. The long, hot summers here are just hard on them. The peach and pear trees seem to be fairing better. I'm anxious to see what this year's growth will do to them. I also planted some pomegranates. This is pretty far north for them, but a friend in Dallas told me she was able to grow them there. With this winter being a little cooler than usual, I'm a little worried. I'll keep you posted. Let's see - my binge planting last spring also included grapes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pecans. The blackberries went wild and seem to be very happy. I planted the blueberries in a peat moss, compost mixture to get the soil acidic. They did ok. Not as happy as the blackberries, but they hung in there. I'm very glad to announce that half of them are already budding back out! The winter didn't bother them at all. I'll have to just wait and see on the other berries. I'm going to try to restrain myself this year and concentrate on keeping what I have healthy instead of adding to the plant menagerie around here.

By the way, I haven't pruned my roses in five years and it's high time I did. They look awful and I'm determined to chop them back this year and allow them to grow beautifully again.

Until next time, happy planting!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jenny - Prepping for Spring

I'm glad the temperatures are warming up around here (hope it lasts) because I need to get a jump on preparing the garden beds for spring. It's wisest to do this in late fall or winter, but I put it off. Now I've actually got a few plants popping shoots, so I've got to hustle. There are quite a few things to be done, but foremost is the trimming back. The decorative grass that I left up for fall & winter beauty needs to be trimmed to within maybe 5 inches or so from the ground. My rose bushes got spindly at the bottom last year (didn't cover them during a bad frost), and I've decided to embark on a rescue mission before giving up and replacing them. So I'll be trimming those back pretty heavily to see if they bounce back for me. I would never trim back the canes so heavily if they hadn't already become unreliable. The veg garden still has some dead to clear out and throw in the compost pile. Lots to do. But I hate working in the cold, so I'll pray that it stays warm! :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Michele - Planting seeds

Well, we are sitting around the fire today watching it snow. That's pretty exciting in this part of the country! On a day like today, spring planting seems a long way off, but the kids and I are preparing to plant our seeds. I bought a bunch of heirloom seeds last year, but they came in too late to plant. That means that I have a slew of seeds that I can start early this year. We have a bag of potting soil, seeds, and little plastic pots. We're in business! The biggest question is where we're going to put several dozen little pots in the house. I have a small greenhouse outside, but the winds here can be fierce at times, and the plastic didn't survive the winter. My husband has proposed getting some thin plexi-glass to replace the plastic, but that might be a few months in the future. For now, I fear the kitchen windows are going to be transformed into mini greenhouse shelves.

Plants make me happy, so maybe this is a good thing!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Hello everyone. I'm Michele, Jenn's Texoma land friend. I do like to garden, and learning how to do it properly around here has been an ongoing experiment. Although I live here in black mud country, my soil problem stems from the fact that the rock is only a few inches below the surface in a lot of the garden. We plow it up each year and pick out the largest chunks. The older half of the garden is starting to look pretty good now, but the half we plowed up new last year is still a rocky mess. I'll get the kids busy in a few weeks when it dries up and we're preparing the soil. We're trying some new fertilizer this year. Ash from the fireplace and rabbit and chicken droppings. Sounds nice, huh? No much fun to work with, but if I'm going to deal with the mess anyway, my garden might as benefit from it. I'll let you know how it goes.

I love this time of year. It's still cold (which I don't like at all), but you know spring is just around the corner because every farm, ranch, garden, or lumber store you go into will have onion bulbs out. They do go fast, and I only got a small bunch last year. That's ok, because like Jenny said, they grow great. The kids and I stuck them in our poor, rocky ground and up they grew. No fertilizer or bagged soil for them, but they still grew fat and happy. Now if only I could get the corn to grow so nicely. I'm working on it and will keep you posted!

Happy gardening. I look forward to sharing what I learn throughout the year with you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jenny - Couldn't Help Myself

I couldn't stop myself from buying a few tulip and hyacinth bulbs yesterday while out shopping. I'm going to put them into twin half barrels that flank my front door. I love changing up the flowers in there each season. For the now though, they're hanging out in the sunroom. I also picked up onion bulbs for our veg garden. Pickins got very scraggly very fast at the stores, and I don't want to deal with that again. Texas Super Sweets (natch) and some red onions also. The reds betrayed me last year. Let's see if I can do better this season.
Onions by the way are probably the easiest thing to grow around here. They're even easier than tomoatoes. They seem to do just fine in our black gumbo soil, though to be honest, I mix mine pretty liberally with garden soil just to play it safe. You stick them in the ground, keep them decently watered, and pull them up when the tops start dying and flopping over, preferably before that stupid flower comes shooting up from the middle. Really the trickier part is curing them. I cut the stalks off (to make them easier to handle) and stick them in a sunny windowsill until the top looks nice and dry. Once I'm sure they're dry, into a dark drawer they go until I'm ready to cook them. I've kept home grown onions for MONTHS in this way. It's pretty foolproof, though I've lost a few to rot storing them before they were cured properly. So just be sure your onions are nicely dried out before storing them away, and you should be fine.