Posts Tagged ‘garden’

An idea for mothers day

This is what I made my mom for mothers day last year. It’s a compilation of a few different ideas that morphed into it’s own idea.  My mom likes gardening and flowers.

It is a “bouquet” of plantable flowers. The idea is you can stick the stem in the ground where you want the flowers planted. The seeds fall off in the weather onto the ground and grow. (Or you can pull them apart and put them on the ground to spread them out a little better). I don’t know if it actually works to just stick them in the ground- maybe the birds think it’s a great snack! My mom pulled them apart.

The first concept was the handprint flower. You trace around your hand, cut it out, curl the fingers by pulling them along the edge of a pair of scissors, and wrap them around the end of a stick, dowel, etc. I traced a master pattern of each of my girls hands, as well as mine and my husbands. Then I didn’t have to fight as hard to trace multiple flowers! I cut and curled, then used some various diameter fallen branches from the backyard as the “stems.” I used glue to secure the paper to the stick- I just glued, wrapped the paper around, slightly overlapped, and secured with a clothespin or rubber band until it dried.

The second concept is a home made seed tape. I’d seen a posting at giverslog that used strips of newspaper dotted with a flour paste at appropriate intervals, then you can stick your seeds on for perfectly spaced veggies and fewer wasted seeds. (I didn’t make any seed tapes last year, but might get to it this year.  If I do, I’ll try to share how it goes.)   I made a flour paste, brushed it on the flowers I had made, and sprinkled them with seeds. It took about a package for each handprint, but it probably depends on how carefully you apply the seeds and how large your packages are. I also labeled the flower variety at the base of the flower.

My two problems: The flour paste caused my pretty curled petals to get floppy. It also lacked much staying power. I gave it to my mom within hours of making it, but a little agitation seemed to make seeds fall easily.

If I was going to make them again, I’d just try spots of washable glue. It probably would keep the petals from getting so wet and flopping, and would better secure the seeds, but still let them drop outside once wet. You could also work to come up with a more reliable home-made glue. I’m sure there’s some recipes out there!

I had also thought about the swirled paper roses, but they didn’t work well for me when I tried them, so I abandoned that idea. If you can make the paper roses look good, or tissue paper roses, or any other paper (degradable) flower, they would probably work also.

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Here’s the list of seeds I put an order in for at heirloom seeds.com.  Most I haven’t tried yet, so I’m going on descriptions from the site.

Climbing French Beans– a climber with lavender flowers.  something different.  I wasn’t particularly impressed with the climbers I had last year (Kentucky wonder and a climbing blue lake, I think it was), so thought I’d try something different.

Rattlesnake beans– a climber that’s supposed to be good for fresh beans, or dried.  Plus the pod is striped with purple.

royalty purple pod bean– a bush bean, grew well for us last year from old seed, and John liked them well.  I didn’t remember to save any seed from them, though.  Purple, turns green when cooked.

russian cucumber– a pickling cuke.  I didn’t save any cuke seeds, even though I’d grown some open pollinated varieties (boston pickling and national pickling, I think I had, plus maybe a marketmore slicer?  they grew well and produced for quite a while last year), and thought I’d go with something not available at the store rack.

golden midget watermelon– rind changes color when it ripens!  We had a horrible time trying to get watermelons picked at the right time last year.  It’s so disheartening to throw them out of the garden when you find they’ve rotted!

autumn king carrot– again, not available locally.  Although I doubt I will try to save seed yet, as carrots are biennial, and will cross with the plentiful queen anne’s lace making for an inedible carrot

giant prague celeriac– the experimental crop this year.  It’s supposed to have the same flavor as celery to add to soups, etc, and stores well.

strawberry spinach– we only eat spinach fresh, and this one has a bonus of some little raspberry-like fruits that grow on it that are supposed to be kind of sweet.  We’ll see.

bonny best tomato– medium size, supposed to be very good flavor and somewhat dual purpose

super italian paste tomato- to try for canning.  not at the store seed rack.  I didn’t grow any paste tomatoes last year, and so I’m sure had a tougher time canning what we had to work with.

tiny tim tomato– a cherry tomato, hopefully it will fit John’s expectations.  He loves those grape tomatoes and I’d like to find an heirloom that fit the bill.

ashworth corn– I wanted to try an heirloom for corn on the cob/freezing.  I don’t know how seeds will save, since we’re next to a corn field.  Hoping there’s enough distance to isolate appropriately.

laxton’s progress pea– one to try that’s not at the seed rack.

romaine multi colored mix blend lettuce– John wants to try romaine.  I’m happy to try it, and the fun colors are always a benefit to me

de cicco broccoli– nothing too exciting, but an heirloom to try.  We haven’t ever had much luck with broccoli, but haven’t tried in a few years and hope the difference in location may help

miniature white cucumber– any chance the kids will like them since they’re minis?  I think they’ll be fun to eat.

and, last but not least, scarlet runner beans– my mom saw them at Fort Niagara last year and said she’d like to try them.  I’m getting them for her, and maybe I’ll try a few.

I saved a few seeds from last year’s garden-

moon and stars watermelon– cool looking, definitely not your average melon.  Really liked the flavor, although we didn’t manage to get one picked when it was at it’s ultimate ripeness.

standard, small variegated watermelon- from seeds I’d saved another year.  Not sure what they are, but they grew, and they tasted fine 🙂

small pie pumpkin– even though we don’t use these up well, I’m hoping livestock will take a liking to them, especially since I’ve read pumpkin seeds contain a natural de-wormer.  I had a volunteer in my garden this year, I’m assuming from one my mom gave us last year.

Atlantic dill pumpkin (?) I’m pretty sure that’s the variety.  I saved them from the giant pumpkin my uncle gave us this year, one of the “smaller” ones he didn’t take to competition.  It was probably ‘only’ 400-500 pounds.  I won’t get anything that big, but we’ll see what grows, hopefully have some decent sized jack-o-lanterns, and maybe animals will eat it.

Snackface hybrid pumpkin -yes, I know it’s a hybrid.  But I’m willing to throw them in and see what happens.  The hulless seeds are delicious and easy, and again, hopefully animals will eat the rest of the pumpkin.  Here’s my understanding of the possibilities in planting a seed saved from a hybrid: 1) they don’t even sprout (okay…) 2) they sprout, grow beautiful vines, but never fruit (bummer, but not much lost as long as I have the space and don’t have to do too much weeding) 3) they revert back to parent stock (as long as it’s the hulless parent, I’m happy) 4) they come close to type this year, but another generation down the line revert (great if they’re the same this year, okay if they revert next year as long as I get a hulless) or 5) they are a hybrid, but have been stabilized for enough generations that they’ll come true to type

Burgess buttercup squash- My favorite squash.  It just has the right extra flavor to it- I don’t have to add a thing to it to season it.  John, with his sweet tooth, adds brown sugar.  I’m pretty sure what I have wasn’t a hybrid, but I’m not positive.

Random heirloom tomato– I have some seeds left from the heirloom mix I purchased last year, and I saved a few from a maroon colored tomato that I planted last year.

hulless popcorn– I tried growing some 2 years ago.  Not great luck with it, but since I still have some of the seed from that years crop, I may give it another try.

I also may try to sprout a few kidney beans and/or black beans.  I’ve never grown dried beans before.

I have a few more I’ll be picking up elsewhere-

Silver queen corn– a hybrid, but John’s favorite

Easter egg radishes– fun colors and an heirloom variety

banana cantaloupe– I haven’t had much luck getting a nice, sweet melon, so I thought I’d try a little something not so traditional.  Also an heirloom

stuttgarter onions, and kennebec and yukon gold potatoes

So, if you’re interested in sharing some seeds, especially if you’re local, contact me. I make no guarantees about what I save, germination rates, and if it will come true to type, but it might be worth a try if you have the space.  As I learn more, hopefully my seed saving will be more reliable.  For this year, I could share some of the moon and stars or small variegated watermelon, the pie, atlantic dill, or hulless pumpkin seeds (if you want to chance it with me), or buttercup squash.

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We’ve been looking at our goals for the year and trying to decide project priorities.  This of course all comes after taking care of the kids!

Major priority number 1:  We’ve been planning to build a masonry heater since the time we started drawing our house.  Now we’ve reached a point that we can take some more definite action.  We’re talking with someone who knows how to design them, digging out our supplies, and brushing up on all the information we’ve collected over the last few years.  Hopefully we’ll be able to have a drawing in hand over the course of the next several months and start building it this fall/winter.  I’ll share some more of the details as plans solidify for us.

Major priority number 2:  Chickens.  Okay, a much greater priority for me than for John, but he’s willing to let me do this one this summer.  The plan is to double our current garden space, divide it in half, and enclose it.  This will let us run chickens in one side and garden in the other, switching sides every year.  The idea is the chickens get to clean up the goodies left from last year, including bad insects that can over-winter in the garden, as well as scratching things up and making “deposits” for the following year’s garden.  It’s an idea I ran across at backwoods home that I think would work well for us.  I’ll let you know what kind and why later.

Major priority number 3:  The garden.  Last year was our most productive year so far, and I’m hoping for even better this year.  I’ve ordered most of my seeds.  I’m trying heirloom varieties, with the hopes of being able to save some of my own seeds for next year.  I doubt I’ll get into saving any of the biennial crops this year, but we’ll see.  I’ve also selected some less common varieties to try. More about what I picked and why later.

Major priority number 4:  Alright,another major priority for me.  John’s not thinking it’s a good idea this year, but I just can’t help but keep an eye out… I’d like to get at least one Dexter cow to milk.  Eventually 2-3 on a staggered freshening schedule to meet our milk needs.  Right now we go through 5 gallons a week, and the girls are only 2 1/2 and 1!  The major obstacles right now are time (of course) and a barn.  For some reason, the garage isn’t available to me for this purpose ::)

At some point, I’ll have to do a posting of our goals for the year.  Maybe it will help us stay a little more on track if I have to check in here with how things are going!

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