Thursday, July 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – July 2010

I write lots of garden blog posts in my head, but since this is the first one making it to the blog, I don't feel I can claim the title of "garden blogger" yet. Still, I have to start somewhere - and I've been wanting to start Bloom Day posts for quite a while, after seeing the beautiful Hayefield bloom day posts every month for over a year now.

July is a good month to start - lots of beautiful things flowering in the yard! The most stunning are the 'Blackout' Asiatic lily flowers.

Then there are the volunteers...

And even a few ornamental flowers that we planted...

But my favorites are the food plants - beautiful and delicious in the same plant! :)

'Blondkopfchen' cherry tomatoes

'Spookie' pumpkin

'Alaska Mix' nasturtium

'Ambrosia' corn

'Neckargold' pole bean

'Blue Marbut' pole bean

'Sugar Snap' pea


Cinnamon basil

'Rattlesnake' pole bean

'Insuk's Wang Kong' runner bean

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day is brought to you by Carol of May Dreams Gardens

Make sure you stop over there and check out all the other garden bloggers sharing their beautiful July plants!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts

Planted some Broccoli (De Cicco) and Brussels Sprouts (Long Island Improved) seeds today (from Sand Hill Preservation Center. According to the U of M extension, early varieties shouldn't be planted nearly this early; they should be transplanted outside at 25-35 days old, and "Early varieties should be transplanted no later than 28 days after seeding."

I'm not sure what they consider an "early" variety though; I thought De Cicco WAS an early variety, until I saw the Tendergreen type in Fedco's catalog, which matures 30 days earlier than De Cicco!!

So I decided to start two pots each this early, and then start some more along with Tendergreen Broccoli and my Snowball Cauliflower on March 13, when the U recommends they be started.

Sheila helped me roll 6 newspaper pots (so I could try to start Monstorpolgi Celeriac seeds again; I still haven't replanted it since Xander helped me dump the entire seed tray on the floor...) She got bored and wandered back to her room before we started putting dirt in, though, so Xander helped by watching me put dirt in (and continuously pointing out the ones that still needed dirt), and by picking the seeds out of the palm of my hand and putting them into the dirt for me. He was excited about that part, since I wouldn't let him help with the lettuce seeds (they were too small for his dexterity level). He did get mixed up a lot and some pots ended up with 10 or 15 seeds instead of the 4 I was intending to plant... but I have lots of seeds, so I don't think I'll miss an extra dozen or so!

Unfortunately, he did manage to dump one of the broccoli pots upside-down off the shelf before we even got water in them, but I guess I'll try to remember which one it was and add seeds tomorrow...

We went to Menard's for some sump-pump parts and found their woven-metal outdoor baskets (lined with coir) on sale for $4 each! So I grabbed four of those (they were $12 at Home Depot last week); they're probably too small for tomatoes (they'll dry out too fast) but I'll try anyway, or maybe just plant flowers. They also had 4" coir pots on sale, so I picked up about 30 of those - I'll use them for the peppers and tomatoes in a few weeks. I was going to roll newspaper pots, but after discovering how long it took to get just 4 of them done with Xander and Sheila helping, I think this year rolling my own is a luxury...

Poopy diaper meltdown behind me, guess it's time to finish up this post!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Celeriac Update (and Lettuce!)

Well, the Monstorpolgi celeriac seeds got to enjoy almost 3 days before my toddler discovered them... and dumped the entire seed tray upside down on the floor. (Well, actually on a pile of dirty laundry waiting to be carried to the basement.) This was much like the scene this morning, when he managed to drop a nearly-full McDonald's sauce packet upside-down on the floor... toddler talents at work.

By the time we'd flipped the seed tray right-side-up and got it back to the shelf, it was obvious that I was missing the first 1/4" or more of the dirt... which pretty much included all of the celeriac seeds. Guess I'll be started them over this weekend...

On the good side, my daughter helped me get some lettuce seeds planted midway through the week (Feb. 17); we started three sets of each type (7 kinds), with about 5 seeds in each set. (I don't know what people call each little hole in a commercial seed tray... "pot" doesn't seem quite right, but "set" is confusing... I'm sure there's a better name...)

We also planted some very old (8 years+) "nematocidal marigold" seed from Seeds of Change that was stuck in the cracks of an (apparently) empty packet, and some equally old Rosemary seed. We'll see if either one germinates...

Dyeplants for 2010

Making my notes in one place about what I've got in the yard for dyeplants in 2010.

For dyeplants, I've got Northern Bedstraw (Galium boreale) in place of Madder for reds; it will not have nearly as strong of a color but it's native to this area. So is alumroot (Heuchera americana), so I've got that planted, if I get a chance to experiment I'd like to see what kind of colorfastness I can get from its roots. Although I imagine the amount of alum in any given year has a lot to do with soil composition and growing conditions, so I'll still use store-bought alum for anything I want to know is mordanted properly. Sunflowers are also native to the area, and I was able to get some Hopi Dye Sunflower seeds; it will be interesting to see what color I can get from them. We have a wonderful red mulberry tree (Morus rubra) in the yard, but my attempts at getting good berry color last year resulted in nothing but an ugly pinkish gray - obviously I made some mistakes...

Non-native plants I added include Dyer's Coreopsis (some Coreopsis species are native to the area, but not that one). Although I got the seeds from Park Seeds, a large company, so I don't know if they'll even be the right species. I also have daylilies (they've naturalized in the neighborhood); I got an absolutely beautiful clear yellow from their spent flowers last year. We have a delicious rhubarb (much better than anything we get from the store) that's been in our yard since before we bought the house, but it's so good I hate to dig up its roots for dye! The patch in the front yard probably does need to be divided this year anyway, though.

I'm starting onion seeds (I hope, I didn't order them yet!) but they're a biennial, so I won't have my own home-grown onion peels until the end of summer 2011... so they don't really count.

I know I've got a few more that I'm forgetting; guess I'll have to come append to this post later on! Doesn't do much good to have my list in one spot if it's not complete yet...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Planted Celeriac

Wasn't intending to try celeriac this year (although it was on my list of things to try someday in the future), but Sand Hill Preservation Center sent me a trial of Monstorpolgi seeds with my order.

According to the University of Minnesota extension, I should have planted the seeds back on February 1, but I'm going ahead with them today (two weeks later) to see if they'll work. Even planting 6 squares (5 seeds each) didn't make a noticeable dent in the pile of tiny seeds in the packet, so I'll still have plenty to try in future years.

Since I'm not sure I'll be starting anything else (even broccoli) for another three weeks, I decided not to get the lights, etc. set up yet. My heat pad hasn't even arrived in the mail from Southern Exposure, so I couldn't set that up if I wanted to! Instead, I just stuck the seeds in 6 sections of a paper egg carton, set that on a plastic disposable plate, and put it on my desk near the window. If Xander doesn't knock the whole thing on the floor in the next few weeks, I'll move it down with the rest of the seedlings once I get them started.

So I launch into this overly-ambitious gardening year with a brand-new type of vegetable that I've never eaten, or seen, or even heard of until I read the Seed to Seed guide over this past winter! Probably a fitting summary of my gardening plans for this year...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dye - Black Walnut Husks

Finally, a foolproof dyestuff that really was proof against me!

Collected about a dozen walnuts from the neighbor's yard (our young black walnut didn't like this spring's weather and dropped all its nuts on the ground before the end of June). Husked them and laid out most of the bits to dry, but saved one walnut's worth (93g fresh) and dropped the bits in ~1 gallon of water (which turned dark yellow instantly).

24 hours later, added 1/2 c white vinegar (recommended in J.N. Liles' book).

48 hours after dyepot started, simmered 1 hour and strained. Added 6g buff-colored wool (previously dyed with either mulberry or buckthorn) and 6g alum-mordanted undyed wool to the warm dyebath.

72 hours after adding wool, removed and rinsed it. Can't tell which wool was predyed, but both bits have a very noticeable green tinge!

Added 25g more of the predyed wool, tied in various places with sock yarn, to see if I could get patterns of light/dark dye. Simmered for 2 hours, left to soak 24 more hours, then rinsed and set out to dry. Looks like there are definitely dark/light spots, but it looks more like the dyestuff had settled to the bottom of the pot; the parts touching the bottom are very dark brown, while parts floating just below the surface are light. Guess that teaches me a lesson about remembering to stir the pot once I'm done simmering, not just let it sit there untouched for 24 hours!

Still no pictures, haven't worked out where to host my photos now that Flickr's complaining about reaching 200...

Dye - Curly Dock Leaves

Spent part of the weekend weeding, so while I was at it, I pulled all the curly dock roots and leaves into a pile to see what I could do with dye. I knew that sorrel root was supposed to give an orangey color, so it seemed worth grabbing its relative, curly dock (since I don't have any sorrel growing wild in the yard!)

I laid out the roots on newspaper in the garage to dye, since I knew I wouldn't get to them for a while. I chopped up the leaves into a 164-gram pile, added to 8 cups of sink water, and simmered for 60 minutes (never quite boiled). The water was still very pale, so I left the dyestuff to cool in the pot.

8 days later I got back to the dyepot, which had fermented (didn't smell nearly as nice anymore!) Added 3g of wool, 1/2 alum-mordanted but undyed, and 1/2 previously-died wool (buckthorn? mulberry? not sure which) that was a pale buff color.

Left to soak for 2 days at about 67 degrees, then turned the heat on to a simmer after adding more water (about 3/4 had evaporated). After simmering one hour, let the dyepot cool until the next night, then rinsed and dried the wool. Got a muddy yellow color.

(No pictures this post; Flickr tells me I'm at my limit for free photo hosting. Need to figure out where to move that won't impose a 200-picture limit...)