Garden Thoughts

Gearing up for Spring, and dreaming of gardens and growing and harvest, reality comes crashing in and sets the tone.  That reality washed over me as I posted my recent activity in my garden journal.

I use an Excel spreadsheet to track what I plant and when and how it progresses, with notes to mark target dates, spacing and sunlight needs.  I use a new sheet for each garden year, copying the previous year and revising it to start the new season.

garden plot

Plot of garden spaces and containers, showing the sunlight by color

Distracted from this progress by a newly discovered idea, I had been engrossed in creating a garden plot on a separate sheet in the workbook and forgot to start my new tab.  Last night, I copied the tab – realizing that I was copying from the previously noted season of… 2011.

garden journal

Chart of plants and their needs with planting dates and progress notes, color coding left over from 2011

I’ve had a rough couple of years, and I was very aware of that fact.  I just hadn’t realized how drastically it had affected my garden plans until last night.

The past few months have been busy with bursts of organization, purging, and planning.  Activities that had been lacking for the most part during these years evidenced as missed tabs on my garden journal.

I was stirring last year, laying down a plot for a permanent garden, plotting about how to attract beneficial insects, and setting down ideas for permanent plants.  It’s time now.  Time to sink some roots.  Time to take hold of the time I have available and figure out how to do things I need to do.

Time to start gettin’ busy.




Partial Progress

It’s an oft-made mistake, to expect that a DIY construction project will be completed within the projected time frame.

And then there’s the extended time frame that occurs when said project goes on indefinite hold.

Definitely in limbo status, our kitchen project is now in its eighth month.  Since the kitchen has been extremely functional for the past five months, we’ve had no pressure to move it forward, along with little to no enthusiasm for the process.

But the project is nearly at the halfway mark, and it’s time to give an update ( since we’re beginning to feel compelled to get back to work):

This little portion of the project was an addition to the original plan.  The skillets had been planned for an under cabinet hanging mount installation (the corner is part of the unfinished business) in the corner cubby.

kitchen sink area

I was concerned about this plan, as I couldn’t satisfactorily determine the weight limits of the cabinet top I have planned.  I’d considered purchase of a wall mount iron rack to mount to the top of this window frame and I’d finally located a rack to match the measurements and was nearly ready to place my order.

kitchen skillet rack

Then it struck me that the best option for weight support would be between the two cabinets, with a closet rod for the rack.

kitchen skillet rack detail

A quick trip to the nearest hardware store and I’d found my skillet rack:  a metal closet rod, cut to the proper length, with closet rod mounts, and large (and hard to find) S-hooks with rubber tips for added safety.  The total cost was less than $40, with the S-hooks being the greater portion of the cost.  SCORE!

kitchen closed corner

In the corner cubby, I decided to pull one of the cabinet doors to leave an open cabinet.  I can’t decide if it’s a win, but it’s not been a loss.  Sometimes you just opt for so-so and call it good.  Seriously, it keeps the open cabinet door out of the work space and has spared a few head injuries.

Also, I installed the towel rack and utility rack.  The utility rack isn’t pretty, but it’s been one of the handiest options so far.  How nice to just grab what you need rather than opening a cabinet or drawer.

I’m not showing you the bottom portion of the corner, as that’s an incomplete part of the project.

kitchen open cabinet

Here’s the close-up of the open cabinet.  Part of the remaining project is to paint the cabinet interiors the pale green you see on the sink window sill.  It will add some depth and contrast.  In the meantime, this cabinet functions well and looks decent enough, with my obsessive use of glass containers.

kitchen end view

The impact is the new hardware and paint.  Hardware was chosen to match the faucet as I had no reason to change it out.

I chose a dark paint color for the bottom cabinets, trim and corner walls, to continue the dark line of the oven.  I chose a monochrome light color for the upper walls, trim,  and cabinets to give the illusion of space.

The floors will be dark laminate tile squares, while the ceiling will be white bead-board.

We opened the cabinet above the stove to allow easy access to cooking condiments, seasonings and spices.  The bonus is the exposed brick from an original stove chimney.  We’ll frame off the opening and give the brick a sealer coat to liven up the color.

dining room view

The dining room has returned to its normal state (and left with its own unfinished projects, lol).  We live here and it’s evident.

Here’s a quick summary of what we have left to complete in the kitchen:

  • Floor tiles and trim
  • Ceiling bead-board and trim
  • Interior cabinet paint
  • Frame off brick chimney
  • Install corner cubby counter top and shelving
  • Hang iron shelf over microwave cart
  • Create mini pantry in basement door cubby

There’s where we are, with a practical approach project and a work in progress kitchen.

Dreamin’ Girl

Container Garden Plan

This year I’m going to grow most of my early starts in containers. I like to try new things each year and keep what works as a gardening standard

I’ve had very little practice with container gardening, mostly casually grown flowers and herbs, so this project will have a learning curve. I thought you might like to follow along.

Before we start, I have to share my bargain purchase from last month:  heirloom seed packets from Menards for .09 per packet. I bought 55 of them! They’re mostly flowers, because I’m such a food/seed snob.  I have a terrific resource for heirloom vegetable seed.

Ah, the bees and butterflies will be ever so happy!  :)

Getting Started

The plan.  Seedlings are going to be handled a bit differently this year, I am planning to start the early crops directly in their assigned containers.  Why stress them out by moving them, right?

I think I’ll also do mixed container tests: early short season, mixed with later long season crops, and a few flower seeds tossed in for attracting the beneficial insects we began luring last year.  Here’s a quick guide to a growing calendar for zones 4 and 5.

I used this approach to gardening in the ground last year with mixed success. The best benefit was the overall space savings.

What I learned last year is that timing, sun, and water needs have to be considered for this to work well.

Here are a few of my containers:

Isn’t that exciting?!  I know, I know, I’m such a sap over rusty old things.

The containers on the ground were salvaged items, so I just couldn’t beat the price.

The washstand was an auction purchase – I’ve removed the rollers for the project.

I’ve placed them next to the stationed water trough planter so that they’ll receive full sun.  An added benefit is that this creates a nice border for the west edge of this garden plot.

The metal containers will be used for the late season crops: summer squash, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and peppers, since the containers are pretty sturdy and can handle trellises.  I’ll also use these containers to do succession planting of the early crops that will have a second season.

I’ll intersperse lettuce seed and onion sets with the strawberries in the water trough, adding spinach and dill later in the season.

I have other plastic/resin containers that will be reused for the cole crops and started in my front porch “greenhouse”.  The current soil will be dumped onto the garden areas and covered with leaves.  (It will be interesting to see how the walking onions and wild violets in the containers react.)

The leaky 5 gallon buckets will be used for the carrot test, mixed with cilantro and a beneficial flower for fun.  One leaky bucket will be saved for the washstand, to grow the sweet potatoes and beneficial flowers.

I’ll duct tape the worst bucket, leaving some exposed crack for water drainage.

The remaining container will grow onions, lettuce, spinach, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and radishes.  It will be a self-watering container.  I’ll show you that project later.

The soil I’ll use will be sterile soil and I’ll use the sterile potting soil mix that the seeds will start in for the duration of their growing period.

This is the mix I’m using this year (I play with all recipes, it’s just one of those things about me):

Here is my planned soil mix recipe:

  • Peat moss  – 2 parts
  • Vermiculite  –  1 part
  • Perlite and Compost mix  –  2 parts
PS – that limestone will go on the garden in the fall.

There you have it!  The “practical” container garden plan:  affordable.  Now to start the main garden plots plan.

Have you started your garden plans?  I’m late to get started on my seedlings!


Dreamin’ Girl