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Showing posts from May, 2015

It's not ME: it's YOU! 2015 Garden Part 7

You know that famous break-up line: "It's not YOU, it's ME?" Well, after spending the last week in Alaska and Canada, I have come to the realization that all my gardening struggles are not my fault. Well, most of them anyway.

In case you have never been to the Pacific Northwest - let me explain it to you in 5 words - greenest temperate tropical jungle ever! It was mid-May and their rhubarb plants (taller than me by the way!) were already to seed. Their strawberry plants were bigger than mine ever get. Everything was green and HUGE.

I stopped to talk with a Canadian in his front lawn and he said they start planting in January, it almost never gets below freezing, and they get rain like crazy. He showed me plants that were like living monsters. Unreal.

I was depressed. As I walked along the green and luscious streets, I decided I would be moving to Canada. I had already ruled out Seattle (though green and gorgeous) because of the hills and gray weather and Alaska becau…

2015 Garden Part 6 - It's ALL planted!

The entire garden has been planted as of 5/10/2015! Very scary for zone 4, but I have quite a few legitimate reasons for planting early. One of those reasons has to do with the fact that I am keeping better records and testing previously held gardening assumptions. This is a year of research.

I grew everything in our garden from seeds using a coldframe/greenhouse or by direct sowing into the ground. I am growing more perennials, testing out new methods of producing organic compost/mulch/fertilizers, I'm pushing the boundaries of our zone, and I am even experimenting with a host of new plants (new to me!)

It's been an exciting year so far.

Here is the list of what's in the garden and pictures of everything as of 5/10/15.

Sweet corn (unknown and unexpected variety from my son's classroom)
King of the North bell peppers
Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe
Golden Midget watermelons
Pineapple Ground Cherry
White Stemmed Pak Choi (bok choy)
Yellow Crookneck squash (from seeds my son…

How to get Bell Pepper seeds to germinate

Pepper seeds are notoriously difficult to germinate! I started with different varieties (California Wonder and King of the North) and had no success germinating them indoors (in soil and on paper towels), under growlights in soil, or outdoors in a cold frame.

My goal was for my garden to be self-sustaining. To grow all my own plants from seeds without the use of electricity or relying on nursery transplants.

I ran a bunch of experiments with various plants - starting seeds indoors, under lights, outdoors, and in the outdoor coldframe. I started some in winter and some in spring.

More than a month went by before I finally got the pepper seeds to germinate - and those were in the cold frame outdoors.

To be transparent, I live in zone 4, and our spring was mottled with 20-70 degree weather. We had long stretches of warmth and long stretches of cold. We had rain, snow, and hail in April and May.

But I finally got half of my bell pepper seeds to germinate.

Just leaving them in a cold frame…

Best way to chop and store herbs - onion chives

Herbs are easy to grow and if you plan ahead you can store enough for winter. You can chop and dry or chop and freeze lemon balm, oregano, basil, thyme, chives and more.

Pictured below are the onion chives in my garden. This picture was taken in late April and we are in zone 4. They are the first thing to come alive each spring, they last through the worst winters, they have beautiful purple flowers, they continue to grow after cutting them, and they survive transplanting well.

I had just transplanted these chives (again!) in March so that I could have a permanent onion/garlic area within my garden beds. They are perennial and will come back year after year. You can divide them and transplant them into multiple locations to increase the amount of chives you can harvest. They are very tolerant - and best of all - they freeze super well.

So if you have not already starting your chives, it's time to get to it. They will continue to grow and replace the cuttings so you can store up a b…