Posts tagged ‘garden’

January 22, 2014

Seed starting/gardening

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. –Gertrude Jekyll

It’s almost that time again, spring is around the corner and I’ve got the fever! The greenhouse is back up and running again after a few modifications and my seed wishlist is complete. I’ve gone through all the seeds I’ve saved and was given and those I had left over and I am primed and ready!

I wanted to share the sites I use to determine when things are started from seeds and when I put my plants in the ground, where I order seeds from and a few different styles of gardening I like (or would like to try).

Dates for planting will vary, of course, depending on location. Some seeds can be direct sowed -meaning the seed is put right into the ground- (melons, corn, beans, carrots…), while others need a month or more to germinate and grow at warmer temps and thus need to be started indoors or inside of a greenhouse (peppers, tomatoes, some flowers…).

It’s important to know what zone you are in. Knowing this will help determine what dates are better for starting seeds and/or putting certain plants outdoors. Back home in Northern Cal. (zone 8A), we did not put the majority of the summer plants out until around May 1. As a general rule, the week/weekend before Mother’s Day was our target date to have most of the summer plants in (earlier for spring crops of course). Here in Central Kansas (zone 5B), I aim to start planting the 2nd week in May so I can be sure the chances for frost to kill my plants is slim. Putting some plants out too early may cause frost to harm them and that can lead to wasted money and time as plants may need to be re-purchased and re-planted. Starting them too early indoors can mean needing to transplant in larger pots or risk having the plant get “leggy” or root bound.

I haven’t come across a general “all inclusive” website that I like to use that encompasses all of the gardening advice or spreadsheets I use. I pick and choose information from a lot of different sources, including books! Some of my sources have overlapping info and it may be a bit redundant but I am including them anyway as it may be helpful to others.

I will also list several links at the bottom of this post to different styles of gardening I like, will be trying, have tried or would like to try. There are so many gardening styles it’s mind boggling and by no means is what I have listed all inclusive!

Find your zone here:

Look up your frost dates here:

If you know your zone you can use this handy chart:

I love Sprout Robot for a weekly schedule of planting/seed starting both indoors and out:

By entering your zip code and “x’ing” out of the pop up window, it will give you a weekly run down of what to do. For further details (instructions, etc.), you must pay to join but I like this handy dandy free tool to keep me on track.

I also love this one! Once you know your last frost date, enter it into the box and it will tell you when to start your seeds and set out your plants!

I use this plant/harvest print-out as a tool throughout the year:

This guide below is in my “Kansas Garden Guide” book that I picked up at our county extension office but I found this same one through a Google image search. I have seen them for many different states. If you Google image search “(your state) garden guide” you may find one for your state. They don’t usually vary too much. I have listed a couple on a quick search. Try calling your county extension/research/ag dept., they are usually a wealth of information!




Here is a handy general planting guide:

It doesn’t take a lot to grow your own food. Even a container or two with a few pots of tomatoes on an apartment balcony can be rewarding. I love to see community gardens popping up!

Lasagne Gardening:

Potatoes grown in bags and containers:

Straw bale gardening:

General “all-purpose” gardening sites:

Amending your soil:

Hardening your plants:

Pinching (pruning tomatoes):

Pest control:

Gardening Forums:

Germination temperature:

A few of my favorite online seed stores (usually they will send you a seed catalog for free even if you don’t order). I like to try to stick with organic non-GMO seeds.

Books I love:

  • Vegetable Gardener’s Bible
  • Sunset’s Western Garden Book

Happy planting!

July 18, 2013

Farm and Garden Photos

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July 17, 2013

Vacation from the farm

Anyone who has animals knows how hard it can be to leave for any extended period of time. For those with dairy animals in particular it can be downright impossible. My family lives in California (northern and southern) and Jer’s family lives in Wv, Ky. and Ohio (mostly). Living half way in between (or close enough to) makes it extremely difficult to see them and boy do we miss them greatly.

We have the most awesome neighbors and friends ever and we are so blessed to have friends and neighbors who know how individual and needy animals can be. Last Christmas we drove to California and spent 10 wonderful days with family. Meanwhile our neighbors cared for the farm in our absence and this was NO easy task when the high temperature most days were around 22 degrees!!! It made for mighty cold mornings and evenings.

Wintertime is actually not the season I cringe leaving for though, despite the cold. Summer time is especially brutal as there is milking to be done. Let me just tell you, friends and neighbors of ours gladly took on the responsibility of morning and evening chores AND even made a special point mid-day to check on everyone the days we had very hot temperatures. AND AND, a second set of neighbors offered to pitch in too! I find this incredibly awesome because despite doing the chores day in and day out, writing out all of the chores makes me realize how much there truly is. We know each individual animal, their needs, their special quirks and it’s often important to make this known to caretakers. They did it all, happily.

The garden has doubled in size. The children are now on egg and garden collection duty. The goats all look wonderful and I am pleased to announce that Josephine, who had not so much as had a handful of days in the milk stand before kidding, was standing “like an angel” to be milked for a “stranger”. What a sweetie!

The meat birds have doubled in size while we were gone it seems. We butchered the first batch the Saturday before we left. This next batch should be ready in about 6 weeks and that will probably be the end of meat chickens for the year.


I posted before I left on our piggy, Ann, and piggy pregnancy. You can read more about that here: . Just before we left I noticed that she was building an udder, much like a dog getting ready to whelp would. Upon returning home it’s quite clear she will farrow fairly soon. Our chore is to get her pen set up and get the boar separated, get her farrowing hut bedded down well and sit back and wait. If you’re looking for more information on swine farrowing check out the following links:

This is by no means a complete list of what I’ve read, just a few I found helpful. 100_9555

Jer and I spent a couple hours in the garden this morning weeding. I looks like we got about an inch of rain while we were gone and yesterday evening the sky opened up. I took shelter in the greenhouse for about 20 minutes until it passed. This morning was humid and I felt like I was back in Ky! I’m glad the weeding job is done, I really thought it would take us a couple of days! we’ll be planting more potatoes soon and before I left I planted more black oil sunflowers which have all popped out of the ground. We made it home in time to see the first of our sunflowers in full bloom. I love sunflowers =).

February 18, 2013

Greenhouse- Post 1

Saturday afternoon we got a late start on the greenhouse but we were able to get it 1/2 up. We worked on framing the front Sunday but without measurements or real plans – plus wanting to tweak the photos we have seen a bit to suit our needs- it takes a lot of forethought. It’s not huge (6′ x8′), but will suite our needs perfectly and can always be added on to.

Back in Ca. my husband and a friend put up a Harbor Freight 10′ x 12′ greenhouse. He swore NEVER again. He said it was  entirely too complicated to put together plus the pieces weren’t manufactured all that well for pieces to fit together well. We’re no slouches when it comes to construction so it’s not as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. A friend of ours living in NE Kansas constructed one about the same time, I think hers lasted less than a year with the winds we get here in Ks. The spring winds in Northern California aren’t much better. Fortunately for us, we reinforced ours with more than what HF included in the kit and attached ours to 3″ galvanized posts set in concrete, it’s never gone anywhere!

Knowing what a pain in the butt the HF kits are and needing one sooner rather than later, we’re going with a temporary/permanent hoop house design. We had the extra panels and the plastic, staples and some of the lumber.  I’ll update this at a later time with a current supply list. We’re using a lot of what we have around which includes 8′ sections of 2×4’s and our plans are changing some as we go so it’s hard to get an accurate list to start.

  • 2 16′ cattle panels
  • 28′ of pressure treated  2″ x 6″  – (2) 8′ pieces, (2) 6′
  •   fencing staples
  • utility staples
  • staple gun
  • t posts
  • 4 mil plastic roll
  • plywood
  • misc. lumber

Last year when we put up our garden fence to keep the chickens out (cattle panels lined on the inside with 2′ chicken wire), we left a 6′ opening in the fence in the corner of the garden for a future greenhouse. We put up one of our  tubed 6′ gates (lined on the bottom with chicken wire) in the opening in the mean time to keep the animals out. We took that gate down to put in the greenhouse so some of the t posts were already there on the one side.

We’ve seen some hoop houses put together without lumber along the bottom attaching it only to t-posts on each side, with our winds and the dirt, I felt lumber along the bottom would serve several purposes so we started by attaching our panels to a pressure treated 2×6. We used 2 panels side by side length-wise overlapping one square the entire length.

Stapling panels to pressure treated 2x6

Stapling panels to pressure treated 2×6

After attaching the panels to the 2×6 at both sides, we rolled out our plastic and cut it long. Coincidentally the roll of plastic’s width, opened up, is big enough to cover the 8′ span of the greenhouse perfectly so there won’t be any seams. We used double the plastic, one on top of the other. I think it’s 4 mil, it may be 6 mil thickness but anyway, we used 2 layers. The second layer we cut longer than the first and wrapped the 2×6 with it so it was stapled to the inside of the greenhouse. I have no idea what difference this makes, we just did it without any concrete justification =). At the very least it prevents soil contact with the pressure treated lumber, AKA defeating the purpose of buying pressure treated, ha!

I don’t know if it will make a difference or not, but way back when when Jeremiah’s Grandma would cover her windows with plastic in the winter, she’d put a piece of paper between the plastic and the staple gun and tear the paper away after she stapled. He said he had no idea if it made a difference but when I saw him carting a piece of paper, I asked what on earth it was for. That was his response. The whole “tearing away the paper after stapling” left us with nothing but torn paper and nothing between the plastic and the stable so I cut strips, folded it 4 times and then we used those little pieces and actually, it seems to work really well!

First he squared up the corners with just a staple (that was how we knew tearing away the paper wouldn’t work) and the plastic did tear a bit when pulling taught. However, the plastic with the folded paper didn’t budge, so maybe there is merit to it. I just thought I’d mention it.

plastic rolled out

plastic rolled out

plastic stapled down

plastic stapled down in one corner to square it (opposite board stapled in same corner after pulling taught across the length)

hoops complete

hoop complete

stabilizing hoop to t-post

stabilizing hoop by wiring it to the top of the t-post tightly

At this point, since the t-posts (on the left of photo) were already sunk into the ground as the garden fence is preexisting, getting the hoop up meant nothing more than Jeremiah lifting and pushing the 2×6 (right side of photo) as I was lifting in the center. It’s a little heavy but pretty much bounces into place after the initial lift proving the other side is jammed against something (in our case, the preexisting t posts and fence).

We secured the panel at the top and bottom (of the t-post) with wire to the posts in each corner. We’ve seen some people add ridge poles on the inside for stability. With just these 2 panels and in the location we secured our panels (corners), Jeremiah can hang from the panel in the center inside and it does not budge. Unless there is a 200+ lb. snow load, this thing isn’t going anywhere! No ridge pole for us, in other words.

front framed

front door framed

The horizontals are 2x4s cut at 21″. The outside verticals along the panel are 36″. The verticals (for the door frame) came to 89″. The door opening is 24″. The cattle panel is just a tiny bit cattywampus (notice at the top of the door frame there is uneven space?) but this will all be pulled together with a few fencing staples through the panel into the top of the door frame, no big deal.

The horizontals not only support the door frame but they will also hold the shelves inside. I’ll get 6 shelves, 8 foot long (3 on either side).

another view of the front

another view of the front

And that’s as far as we made it yesterday. I had hoped to get farther, but like I said, not having a plan takes a little time to think it all out. Well, then there’s this…

cardio workout!

cardio workout!

I about died when I walked out to the barn, camera in hand to see that the miter saw had not been set up…or even brought out for that matter! Nor had the air compressor, or the nail gun, cordless drill or screws. “Nope”, he said, “we’re doing this by hand. I brought you a hand saw too!”. How sweet! See, we’ve decided we need more cardio in our routine. This was his idea of our cardio workout. Nice right? (Probably why we only got as far as we did!). Well, whatever, it’s good fun nonetheless!

The lower portion of the front will be in plywood that will be painted (red to match the other buildings). The upper will be plastic. The back will not have a door. We talked about it because it leads right out to the garden but, in the end, I think more shelving along the back would be better suited for this application so it’ll get framed differently.

We have majorly high winds today. I looked out the window and it’s still standing well, so all seems to be great. I’m thinking about ideas on how to attach the side plastic to the top plastic and it’s either going to be a “cut long” and fold method into the inside or a seamed method. I’m not entirely sure yet. We also discussed an idea with pipe foam insulation and attaching both roof and side plastics to the inside and installing that but that’s entirely too difficult to describe and something I’d have to show, if it were to even work. I’m thinking a hot glue gun may be a perfect application. But, we’ll see!

We’ll pick up some bags of pebbles too to put into the bottom to help retain heat. We’re a little ways from that. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Our ounce of prevention is a lot of pre-thought so we’re not having to do this 50 times over.

More next weekend…for now, I think I’ll start seeds inside this week =).