So the mystery flowers are budding up in the window garden. They look too spindly for crocus, so I really don't know what in the world they might be. They're too small for lilies. Anyone know what these are??
I've got more new sprouts coming up in the containers. Introducing the very first sprouts of Siam Queen Basil, Blue Curled Scotch Kale, and Lupine.
The containers aren't the only sign of life out there. My much adored Silvermound plant is growing back. I'm so happy it came through winter. I adore this plant. My mother-in-law took me garden shopping many years ago, and I pointed it out at a nursery commenting on how pretty and very soft to touch it was. She bought several and planted them in her front yard. For years I tried to figure out what they were and track them down to no avail, until my wonderful friend bought one and I saw it in her yard. Happy dance! I went and bought this plant the very next day.
The Beaver Early Strawberry that I got from the USDA last year is coming back as well. The leaves from last fall are still on and are slowly turning brown, but you can see the newer growth in the center. I'm hoping that it will spread in years to come, filling in more space.
And of course my ever present tulips have started coming up. They are always a sure sign that spring is arriving. I love that they require no maintenance at all. They've been growing in this bed for the entire 11 years we've been here, and aside from picking them, we've done nothing to or for them.
Today has been another beautiful day - high was 76! Got a bit more winter sowing done - mostly squash and melons today, and all of my eggplant too. Spaghetti squash, Table Queen acorn squash, Delicata squash, Black Beauty eggplant, Japanese White Egg eggplant, Early Long Purple eggplant, Listada di Gandia eggplant, Fordhook Zucchini, Golden Bush Zucchini, Blacktail Mountain Watermelon, Honeydew Green Flesh melon, Baby Pam pie pumpkin, and Blue Pumpkin #2. I did all of these in the small water bottles, so I'm hoping for the best. It seems that other Winter Sowers rarely use anything smaller than a 2-liter bottle, despite the actual wintersown website showing directions to use take-out containers. I'm stuck for a bit now though because I used up the last of my duct tape and won't be able to pick up more for a few days. I'm already feeling gardening withdrawal (haha).
Spaghetti Squash, Table Queen Acorn Squash, Delicata Squash, Black Beauty Eggplant, Japanese White Egg Eggplant, Early Long Purple Eggplant, Listada di Gandia Eggplant, Fordhook Zucchini, Golden Bush Zucchini, Blacktail Mountain Watermelon, Honeydew Green Flesh Melon, Baby Pam Pumpkin, and Blue Pumpkin #2.
With the beautiful weather, more of the containers are starting to grow. We now have sprouts in the Churchill Brussels Sprouts, Yellow Wonder Strawberries, and Cilantro containers.
We didn't get the thunderstorm I'd hoped for, but I'll take the 76 degrees and breeze over the snow and cold.
It was absolutely beautiful today. Bright and sunny, I think we got to 65 degrees or something like that. Two more containers are starting to sprout - Romanesco Broccoli and Purple Broccoli. I'm not sure if the purple one will actually produce anything as I believe it's meant to be over-wintered (which we can't do up here due to hard freezing). Worth a shot anyway, since I already had the seeds on hand.
I got 19 of the 24 tomato varieties I'll be planting this year all ready to go outside. So far I've planted Nicholaevna Pink, Chocolate Stripes, Homestead, Large Barred Boar, Blondkopfchen, Great White, Fantome du Laos, Rose Beauty, Monkey Ass, Cow's Tit, Solanum Spontaneum, Emmy, Kosovo, Bosque Blue, Silvery Fir, Pink Sunshine, Reisentomate, Uluru Ochre, and Lemon Drop. What a line up! I tried to do some of each color and a variety of sizes. I do have five more varieties yet to plant. Hopefully I'll get to that tomorrow or Monday.
The Kosovo I only had two seeds left, so one is in the container outside, and (if I get around to it) I hope to plant the other indoors to see if I can get either of them to grow.
The Silvery Fir seeds looked almost green, so I wonder if they are moldy. I planted them anyway and we shall see if anything comes up.
Rose Beauty is one I'm really excited about. In researching our family tree I found that this family heirloom is actually from a branch of our own family! Very neat to have our own family heirloom! I'm also excited for Fantome du Laos and Cow's Tit. Cow's Tit, despite the odd name, is said to be one of the very best paste tomatoes available.
According to the Weather Channel, we are expecting a thunderstorm tomorrow. I'm very excited as I love the sound of thunder, and we could use a good rain (it's better than snow). I'm hoping we get a nice little storm, but it's just as likely to miss us. We have this weird weather phenomenon that us locals like to call "The Brainerd Bubble" - where storms and such will often split and go around the Brainerd area, then reform once it passes us. It happens way too often to be just an odd occurrence.
My plan was to do a bunch of tomatoes in containers for winter sowing today. But when I got up and looked outside...
Snow! Yuck. Thankfully it was a nice warm day. The kids got to play in the snow in the morning and it was melted by lunch time. I didn't winter sow my tomatoes, but I did get a couple more containers in. I decided my garden just couldn't be complete without two more flower varieties, so I planted some Milkweed and Four O'Clock seeds.
Today was also a little bittersweet. Today the Vikings are 6-weeks, 2-days old. Today they are as old as Azkadelia was when she passed away last year. In honor of her memory, here is a photo of the kittens hanging out by the grow light. Floki doesn't look impressed.
I'm still having difficulty getting them to eat. They seem dehydrated and thin, but I offer them mushy food and water, and they do eat and drink until they loose interest and wander away. They're still playful, and Mabel is still nursing them throughout the day. Anyone weaned kittens before? What else can I do to help them? Lagertha liked the canned food I offered yesterday, but Floki wouldn't eat it at all. She did dive into the softened kibbles when I offered them though.
I spent a good portion of this afternoon sanitizing containers. Milk jugs, juice containers, a couple 2-Liter pop bottles, a few more water bottles, and a strawberry container. Now to find time to get some of my tomatoes and peppers planted. It's supposed to be in the 50's and 60's in the next week.
The Vikings are six weeks old today (42 days). We're still working on getting them to eat kitty food, and they've both taken an interest in mushy food now, but Mabel will push them away from the dish to eat it all up herself. We have to keep an eye on that one... The kittens look very small and thin, but they are eating and drinking and nursing, so I'm trying not to be too worried. Besides, Henry is a very slim (but muscular) cat and he has access to the all-you-can-eat buffet of grain-free cat food. Now if we could only get them to use the litter box.
Three more containers are showing green! Southern Giant Curled Mustard, Early White Kohlrabi, and Di Cicco Broccoli are joining the group of containers with sprouts!
A couple new seedlings have emerged from the Winter Sown containers. Warm welcome to Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, and Calabrese Broccoli!
Last fall we cleared a lot of extra unwanted trees that had been left to grow right up next to the house and garage. In doing so, we cleared out two border gardens that (to the best of my knowledge) have never actually grown anything besides the accidental unwanted trees. But here one of them is sprouting something new! It has to be about 10-years dormant, but it appears they're blue crocus plants. I posted them on Facebook and friends and fellow gardeners seem to believe them to be crocus anyway. I have no idea. I think it's neat if they are. Just last year I had commented about how the crocus plants in the tulip garden were all white, and how I'd love to have some blue ones. I'll take more photos when they bloom.
So with a warm up coming, I figure I should hurry up and winter sow the last of my planned seeds - and there are a lot of them! I finished all of my onions today. I planted Stuttgarter, Flat of Italy, Walla Walla, White Lisbon Bunching onions, Purple Root Leeks, and what I believe to be Tokyo Long Bunching Onions (they were labeled "chives" but the photo included is a stock photo for Tokyo Long - seeds looked like onion). We'll see what comes up.
I still have plans to winter sow tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, pumpkin, and cucumber. I'm going to have to forego any more flowers for lack of time and containers (edibles are more important). I'm so thankful to my wonderful Auntie Jan, who brings me regular deliveries of milk jugs and 2-liter pop bottles to plant in. Even with the rate we go through milk and juice (5 kids - you'd be amazed), I'm still finding I have more seeds to plant than containers to plant them in.
Despite the new coating of snow on everything, I've added more containers to the winter sowing collection. This morning I did Mountain Mint and Lemon Mint. This afternoon I did Broad Leaf Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Garden Huckleberry, and Blue Curled Scotch Kale.
I still have all kinds of seeds I want to get into containers, especially tomatoes and peppers. I've been trying to read up on what can and can't be winter sown. I guess some plants don't care to be transplanted, so aren't really a good option for starting in containers. I haven't come across anyone in colder climates that has seemed to have success with cucumbers, watermelon, or similar large leaf, fast growing, vining type plants. I wonder if it's because they outgrow their greenhouses too quickly. I'd like to try a few, just to see for myself, but some of my seeds are pretty limited, so I also don't want to waste them.
Yesterday when I went out to feed the rabbits, I was startled when a wild rabbit bolted from under the bunny barn. I knew we had wild rabbits, but I thought the neighborhood cats and dogs had taken care of our friendly neighborhood wild bunny. He (I use the gender generically here) used to visit us regularly when we had lots of bunnies, but stopped coming around when we sold off all of our rabbits. I guess he's back now that it's warm and there are other bunnies he can visit with. Or maybe he's just hanging out for the food that drops out of their cages - who knows.
Happy Easter. This morning I planted some seeds for chives and chamomile in buckets. These buckets will be the permanent home of these plants. The chives are perennial, so they'll just keep growing in their bucket. The chamomile is supposed to readily self-seed, so I'm hoping it will do well and come back year after year, re-growing itself.
And then of course the weather forecast changed from 30% chance of snow on Tuesday, to 80% chance for tonight, Monday, and Tuesday with up to four inches possible. Well, I'm glad I haven't winter sown any tomatoes or peppers yet! I'm hoping this will be our last snow until the end of the year (fingers crossed, but this is Minnesota, and we've been known to get snow in June).
In other news, we're trying to introduce the Vikings to hard food, but they're not impressed just yet. They're over five weeks old now and need to make this critical transition as soon as possible before Mabel loses interest in nursing them. They do seem to like the food moistened, but then the other cats eat it faster than we can soak it. I'm sure barn cats do not have someone there to mush their food up, and they survive just fine. I hope Lagertha and Floki can figure this out soon!
I received two letters recently with more seeds. One from a freebie offer and one from that free $25 offer I had blogged about last month. They actually held up on their end and shipped me the seeds completely free of charge! The email said they'd be mailing the blueberry plant later in the month to make sure it was more weather appropriate (wouldn't freeze in transit). Very cool! Thank you Gardens Alive! for the fantastic offer!
I will update the Seed Stash list with the new tomato and radish varieties that arrived!
We dyed our Easter eggs today. For most of them we did the standard Paas dye kit that we've done every year. For a select few (18) we tried something new. A rice method!
Get some small containers (we used sour cream and frosting containers), and add just enough dry rice to cover the bottom. Add a few drops of food-safe coloring. Close the containers and shake to spread the dye through the rice. Once it is thoroughly colored, add a hard-boiled egg. Close the container and gently shake.
The eggs turn out brightly colored with interesting designs.
The kids enjoyed this project, but I did find it a little wasteful of the food coloring. You really need to add more dye for each egg or there isn't enough to color the second one. In the photo above you can see one purple and one orange. After the kids lost interest, I added some red dye to the yellow container (orange) and some blue dye to the red container (purple). Just so we wouldn't waste the rice, I cooked it after our project.
Unfortunately, cooking it took out most of the dye. It ended up looking about the same shade as fried rice, which is really deceiving since it still tastes like plain white rice.
I went out early this morning to check on the winter sown containers and discovered the Red Giant Mustard has come up as well!
The Half-Pint (Tom Thumb) Peas I planted indoors on 3/30 are also coming up.
I've been spending some extra time getting more of my photography listed in my RedBubble shop. I'm about half way through the photos I took in 2010 on my trip through South Dakota (Custer State Park and the Badlands). Some of them are really spectacular, especially considering I don't have a professional camera.
As of right now we're getting pummeled by wind. Gusts up to 40 miles an hour, I haven't been outside, but I have a sneaking suspicion I may have some clean up to do in the morning.
I've decided to name the new doe Penelope. Sorry for the short post today. I'm not a big fan of April Fools day. I am enjoying the 70-degree high temperature though! The rest of the ten day forecast is back down in the 30's and 40's - Yuck! Hey, perhaps this is Mother Nature's best April Fools joke yet. I just hope my winter sown seeds don't start sprouting today only to freeze out tomorrow!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.