14 April 2015

Chewie in the Spring!

Chewie, as big as he is getting, is still a total puppy (8 months old this past week!). I think he keeps forgetting that he 80 lbs now, not the 15-ish lbs he was when we brought him home, and thinks at times that he is a lap dog.

He has been in love with spring, and all the new smells - and all the sticks! He carried this particular one around with him all throughout the yard as I dabbled in garden beds here and there.

I just love comparing recent pictures to when he was just a pup :) Below is the first stick (uhm, twig) he's ever chewed on - he had an affinity for them right from the start! 

Stay tuned...I hope to share the end result of a huge painting that I've been working on for months this week :)


12 April 2015

Seed Starting Diary

Blogging (uhm, awake) before 8 am on a weekend that I don't have to work - a miracle in so many ways...I'm a shift worker, I now lack an internal clock to wake me up like normal people ;)

Yesterday was a gorgeous day - so sunny. So warm. I took the pooch out and about the yard to check out all the flower beds, and maybe clean up a little here and there. It was too nice to not be outside, but still too wet to do much of anything outside. The pooch is recovering from a sprain (and as of yesterday, a cut paw - poor, accident prone guy), that we can't go out and about too far with him.

The raised beds are thawed. I dug around a little to look at the soil - it's not muddy or mucky, its getting warm and there's even worms starting to work away in it. Raised bed win again! Some of the boxes need some more dirt of a sort - we are hoping to get our hands on some more of that rich compost. But after digging around a bit in it, it looks pretty rich still. Now the huge question: when do I start planting my peas and radishes?

Or, better question, when should I? I've been reading around - and a lot of literature says that they can take the spring flip flops between cold and warm, and are even slightly frost hardy. That they actually like the cooler weather, so this is perfect for them, and they know when it's warm enough to come up. So they just chill out until they feel it's right, and then they pop out of the ground.

My rhubarb thinks it's spring!
I was all ready yesterday with the beauty weather, and then it was a little frosty this morning. Making me think: am I jumping the gun? I'm just so anxious for fresh veggies, and not having to rely on the grocery store as much!

All of my indoor - to be planted in much warmer weather - seedlings are still hanging out.

The peppers got upgraded to their paper pots this weekend, as well as a few more tomatoes.

The peppers are so slow growing - but I remember it being the same last year too. The cat only ate two or three heads off (lil'bugger!) - and those plants are already starting to recover and grow their next set of leaves anyways.

Third round broccoli has sprouted, and I've now reached my final number of broccoli plants required to fill the spaces (with one extra, just in case). I started my broccoli April 9th last year, they went outside June 2 (a little late, because we had to build the boxes and find soil - hoping for a week or two earlier this year), and harvested first head just before the beginning of July. I've hoped that with starting a few of the plants a little earlier (a whole month), we may get some broccoli a little earlier. It likes the cold, so I hope getting it out early, and a little bit bigger, will give us some bigger heads. There's always the chance that it won't make a difference anyways, and it will do what it does when it wants to - the joys of gardening :)

My ground cherry plants have sprouted - they are supposed to be a little like tomatoes - but my are those tiny, tiny, stringy seedlings! I am being very careful with these poor guys and once they are a little bigger, I will repot them with most of this stem down to try and 'stabilize' them a bit. Right now, I think any re potting attempt may end up breaking these delicate guys. I'm very excited to possibly have 'fruit' in the gardens though!

05 April 2015

Seed Starting Diary

Most of my little seedlings are thriving and growing merrily on their way. I watch the snow melt a little more each day, anxiously awaiting when I can get my hands in the dirt again and start growing outside. I feel with a more 'solid' seedling base than last year, I will have a little bit of a head start in the garden this year - hopefully producing a little bit more, a little bit early. 

My first planting of kale and broccoli (80 day) is doing splendidly. I have a second round of broccoli (60 day) that has emerged, and some Red Russian kale seedlings almost ready for repoting. Hopefully they will look like the plants above shortly. 

My unknown flowers are doing wonderful as well. They have such cute little fuzzy leaves. The pansies are doing just as well too. I have just planting a handful of marigolds (after visiting my mom and growing through all her seeds and borrowing some of them ;)

My tomatoes seem a little 'leggy'. I don't have many pictures of how they were this time last year, but I'm not too overly concerned. They are getting repotted early next week on a day off (just have to assemble a massive amount of newspaper pots). I will just plant them lower in their new home, and a stronger root system will develop all long the stem. 
I started Basil seedlings this past week, and they are already beginning to emerge. I've never really had a hard time growing basil - I just wanted it started inside, as some of my seedlings last year didn't fare so well against the earwigs (it seemed the larger plants were okay against them). My oregano has finally come around, as well my mint is growing good.

My Rosemary on the other hand has been frustrating. A lot of seeds have gone into this planter, and only one seedling emerged. I'm not sure if it's just taking a really long time to germinate, or if I just have duds.
My peppers are working on their first true set of leaves - once we have those, they can be repotted. tI have one more tomato plant to start (again, courtesy of a visit to my mom's seed stash), a couple peppers to start again (to replace the failed ones) - and in another two or so weeks, some cucumbers / zucchini to start. I'm about a month and a half away from our predicted last frost date...

03 April 2015

Early mornings

Last week I worked a stretch of nights at the hospital. I got off just as the sun was breaking through the horizon. This only last for awhile during the year - I get off at 7am, so in the winter, it's still dark when I arrive home, and in the main summer months, the sun has already half way up in the sky. I often see the sunrise on my way to work, but I'm usually just focused on getting there - not stopping to take a photo.

Because I live in a small town - a village actually is what my dear home is referred to :). I get to drive through all the country back roads to get there - giving me spectacular views. This one above, with the orange rays reflecting off the waterlogged field is my favourite of the bunch.

While it is so beautiful, I'll admit it's depressing to see the sun,  knowing that you're just going to sleep, to face another night shift the following eve.  But what a small, beautiful 'reward' it is :)

24 March 2015

Chewie is growing like a weed!

Our dear Chewie has been growing like a weed right before our eyes!

Look how small he was in that bed less than 4 months ago! I can't believe how fast it is! Good thing I take lots and lots of pictures!

His handsome face is always ready for pictures!


I know he is not happy at all about the snow melting, but I think that will change once we introduce him to the lake :)

22 March 2015

Seed Starting Diary

Most of my seedlings are coming along pretty good. Most of my tomatoes are up and growing. There is a couple that I will replant this weekend, just to be sure something comes up in time. Some of these seedlings are working on their first true set of leaves. I am considering whether I should wait for those or not to re-pot into larger homes. I also went through - after this photo, and chopped down one of each 'sibling'. I always plant two seeds, just to be sure I get germination - and then try to decide which plant to sacrifice for the greater good of the other.

My Mountain Magic variety (my super disease resistant one), has been very slow to come up. I was just about to replant, when I saw the starting of one (above). I figured they must be a little slower germinating. Considering I only got 10 seeds, I want to be sure I don't waste them by replanting too soon.

My peppers have all begun to come up as well. I was concerned that my Yellow Hot Wax peppers were dud seeds, but they have finally just started. I regards to my experiment with the pepper seeds sitting on top of the soil vs. planted in the soil. They seem to have caught up to each other about the same. I would say a positive to having them above the soil is that you can see that, yes they are germinating - they are just the slowest things ever, whereas under the soil, you wait and wait and ponder if you need to reseed. My purple peppers are doing the best / growing the fastest coming up.

My first round Kale and Broccoli are doing very well. They are working on another set of leaves. The broccoli planted here is an 80 day variety. I started a 60 day variety a little later, and it is super stringy and not as robust as this one...so I think I may plant more of the 80 day than the 60 day for my 'second starting'.

 My herbs are going alright, but nothing spectacular. I guess as long as I have some growing, I should be grateful - I was just hoping for the massive amount of seeds I put in (newly purchased this year), that I would have a higher germination rate. This oregano has got to be only 10% germination. 

 My pansy's and mystery pink flowers are doing really well too...I have thinned them out, a lot, and I am debating wearing to leave a partner with each one or not.

...and just in time for the first day of spring, my kitchen plants have blossomed yet again - I gave them a new potted home a couple weeks ago, and I think they're saying thank you :)

Still yet to start: second round kale / broccoli, ground cherry, more herbs, head lettuce, cucumber / zucchini (those will be a week or two before I want them out).

Does anyone have any comments about starting your beans / peas inside? I have seen a lot of that this year, and I was always on the, "direct plant outside" bandwagon. But if it helps to start some inside? I know I won't for my green beans....I had over 90 plants last year, so that's ridiculous. But the runner beans? Sweet peas? Or do you not get enough started indoors to have a substantial enough harvest for a dinner for two?

11 March 2015

Cenote and Snorkling

The first part of the second excursion that we went on while in the Mayan Riviera in Mexico was a set of Cenotes on private land. Cenotes are 'sink holes', naturally occurring pits and caves. Some were not deep enough to snorkel in, like the one above, but were so pretty to walk through and look at.  All of them had crystal clear fresh water. According to our guide, there are many of these interconnecting Cenotes in the Mayan Riviera. Some people scuba dive through them, as some are only accessible that way - others find out about them the hard way, when it creates a sink hole in their home.

A lot of the walls and 'ceilings' of the cenotes had these gorgeous shells embedded into them.  Such a beautiful texture!

Next we went to an 'open' cenote - most of it had no ceiling. For our first snorkel attempt. Since there were many first timers, including us, our guide wanted us to try in a less intimidating setting.  You can see us floating around above, with another couple.

Thanks to my 'nifty' underwater camera - we caught this turtle! This trip was the first time using it "underwater", as I bought it specifically for this trip.  I was so nervous at first! But so happy I bought it - so many cool underwater shots! 

We also got to take an underwater selfie - I think this is my favorite picture of us from our trip! After we were done in this pond, we moved on to the more true Cenote:

There were steps down, and a rope along the whole distance to help guide you through all the rocks. It was pretty above water, yes. But the view under - spectacular!! 

There were tons of huge rocks underneath - but they were 10-20 feet away from us - this was a deep Cenote! The streams of sun breaking through the water was just breath taking - these photos do not do justice!

Of course, with the lower light levels, the photos are grainier - but still remind me of how stunning it was in person!

There were all these formations on the ceilings too as we got deeper into it.

Just such a great experience and would definitely be up to exploring other Cenotes if we ever head down that way again!