And Now for Something Completely Different

A few months ago, J came onto our sunporch from outside and announced that the screen over one of the basement windows had a big hole in it.  I went out to look, and sure enough, the screen was mostly shredded and all over the ground by the window.  We determined that it was cat sized, and we made mild accusatory statements about our favorite assistant gardener:

He has been making an active attempt to come live with us, so we thought it made sense – at his house, he can get in and out through an open screenless basement window.  Why not try and remove the screen and see if that works here?

You are disturbing my nap

J repaired the window screen with wire mesh to prevent the hole from occuring again, we continued to accuse our favorite feline, and life went on.

Several mornings later J was getting ready to leave for work when he heard what sounded like banging on the house.  He realized it was coming from the basement, so he went downstairs without turning on the lights.  There, in the window where the screen had been torn out, was a crow.  Pecking on the window.

Now, J has a thing against crows.  He says they always look like they’re up to something.  Supposedly they’re very smart birds, but I fail to see the wisdom of ripping out a window screen and then leaving the mesh on the ground.  It’s like it was done just to be destructive.  (J says they tore out the window screen to distract us, because they’re always up to something. I will only be impressed if they do something really sneaky, like steal my car.)  J’s response to the birds was to put up a sign letting them know they were not welcome:

I laugh every time I walk past that window.  We don’t see crows on that side of the house anymore, either.

Forward Thinking

Happy first day of spring!  It’s a whole lot of nothing at the moment with the gardens.  While it seems like the weather has been warmer this spring than any in recent memory, we’re still months away from a full, lush garden, and those seeds are making us peevish while we wait.  (Well, they’re making me peevish.  Grow already!)

Last year as an anniversary gift I bought J a plant cam.  He set it to take photos three times a day for the whole gardening season.  Surprisingly, only once did we capture a photo of non-plant living creatures in the garden (J and Max) and the photos show a really neat gardening progression. 

I am definitely going to get us a second one for the back-40 field to record the progress of the corn and pumpkins this year.


So I have an extraordinarily busy schedule for this week and next after work.  Unfortunately, we are in prime seedling starting season, which means that poor J had to start my snapdragons.

Not grown by me

Snapdragons are native to North Africa and the Mediterranean, and are apparently incredibly fussy when it comes to getting them started.  The package directions say to sow them in vermiculite, and to only sow them on top of the soil and not to cover them as they need light to germinate.  They also need cooler temperatures, so they can’t be placed on a heat mat.  After sprinkling the seeds on top of the soil, they need to be misted lightly with water and monitored – they can take up to three weeks to germinate.  I picked about 4 different colors to grow, plus a type that drapes so I can grow my own hanging baskets this year.

The geraniums, apparently, need a completely different starting process.

Also not grown by me

We’re apparently already behind the 8-ball on this one, as many online gardening sites suggest sowing the seeds by mid-February for a mid-May planting.  The particular brand I selected this year requires soaking before planting.  Geraniums are sown into the soil and then thoroughly watered from underneath rather than sprinkling water on the top of the cells.  They need a lot of light and temperatures between 70-75 degrees during the day and 55-60 at night.  Under the right conditions, they will germinate in about 7-10 days. 

Ours germinated in two days.  Two.  And two of the five planted seeds germinated the next day.  Moral of the story?  Don’t believe everything you read on the internet; sometimes it’s wrong.  So our new concern is not killing them.  After all, this was the most expensive package of seeds – $2.25 for 5.  But a potted 4″ geranium retails for $3.99 around here, so if we can keep them alive, it’s a significant savings.

When we were placing our seed order, J told me that he was going to put all the flower seed starting in my hands.  So far he’s done all of it.  What a guy!  Of course, if this is successful, I will be unable to say that I grew all my own flowers from seed, because that will be categorically untrue as I have thus far done none of the work.

In August, when the gardens look great and my flower containers are at their height, I am always enormously pleased with how wonderful everything looks.  I forget what a pain in the you-know-what this is to get going.

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of…..

This past Sunday J started the pepper plants – all except the jalepeno, which he started this week.  They are down on the new rack and we’re waiting for them to germinate:

Before filling them with new seed starter, he washed all of them out, just in case there was any residual fungus or bacteria in the cells.  Of course, he had help:

It was windy, and our favorite assistant gardener helpfully watched the empty cells blow off the deck.  I like this photo, because it looks like he’s laughing at us.  Which he probably is – after all, we’re working hard and he’s napping in the sun.


I meant to post a few weeks ago when the seeds arrived in mid-February.  In the past, Pine Tree has shipped our seeds in a padded envelope.  This year?  We got a box:

And because we purchased so many items, we got a free reusable tote:

Currently we are storing the seeds in the box in the tote.  I will eventually appropriate it for grocery shopping.  What constitutes a lot of seeds, you ask?  Observe:

And not everything has arrived yet.  And we still have some seeds left over from last year that we’ll be using.  Still missing are the two types of potatoes, garlic, and hops – basically all the root plants.

This year I am going to try and grow all the flowers for my flower boxes and pots, as opposed to purchasing seedlings from the nursery.  But of course, once I started poking around in the flower section, there were so many new! and exciting! options for flowers.  I somehow ended up with lupin seeds (which always remind me of Monty Python) foxglove (which is making Himself nervous, as it is poisonous if ingested) and some unordered poppy seeds.  I hate poppies.  I’m going to plant them anyway, that’s a $1.35 of free seeds!  I can always Freecycle them.

Also on the purchasing agenda?  A larger seed-growing rack.  This is the one we purchased last year:

And this year’s upgrade:

Bit of a difference, no?  The added advantage with the new system is that the lights are standard sized and so we can steal them from our attic, insert new bulbs, and use them during the growing season.  J was telling me the other day about how the bulbs he just purchased have different UV spectrums, which are supposed to be good for seedlings.

This is such a complex setup and process for growing seeds.  If the Mayans are right, and the end is coming in December, we’re going to have a really hard time getting the seedlings started next year without electricity.

Especially if there are zombies.