Spring Treasure; Starting Seeds

If you are garden savvy or want to try your hand at growing your own food, it is easily done with the right information to start you off. It is easiest to buy a plastic seedling tray, or humidome, with a lid if you are trying this for the first time.

Most seeds should be started between 4-8 weeks before the last frost, depending on what it is. Some seeds such as flowers and peas are sowed directly in the soil after all frost probability has passed. Each pack of seeds has instructions as to how to handle planting.

Once you have your Humidome, fill each rooting cell with pre-moistened ‘seed starting soil’ about 2/3 full. Place a couple of seeds on top and cover with a thin layer of soil. Mist all cells with warm water, lightly. Be sure to label or separate between different types of seeds. Cover, keep moist and in a bright sunny spot, but not somewhere that gets direct sunlight. Take the lid off when your plants are an inch or so high. Once you see fine white roots you can plant them in large containers or in your garden after the last frost.

I have failed with starting seeds of some flowers at the point when I have to take the lid off. I still am not sure why. Nevertheless, it was much easier than I thought. All you need to do is read the seed requirements, keep soil moist and watch the progress. I listened to my intuition as well.
Either way, it is very rewarding when they grow those tiny little plants right in front of your eyes.

I encourage people of all ages, abilities, time and space restrictions to try a garden of their own.
When my mother-in-law visits us from El Salvador, she frequently watches and picks from the garden. She seems to take pride and much joy in choosing what she wants for us that day.
It is especially relaxing. I am adding this self-sufficient, observant, patient, gross and fine motor activity to my daughters learning right now.

I’d love to hear what you grow and what worked or didn’t in your garden!

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Spring Treasure; Spring Ahead

This past weekend was daylight savings. The third sign of warm days and prolonged outdoor fun to come. The first, a melting thaw with fresh breezes. The second, finding fuzzy buds on tree branches.
It is just days from the First Day of Spring. The sun seems to have a renewed purpose as it shines brighter than ever. I’m finding more tracks in the snow than previous months. Just yesterday we heard migrating geese passing by. Are we really that close to walking around, in public, with tshirts and shorts??!

The first day of Spring is March 20th, the March Equinox, which is observed around the world by means of cultural celebration, religious events and historical tradition. I once worked with a woman who was from Iran. The Persian New Year, Nowruz, started in the March Equinox and lasted 12 or so days. She would get everyone in the family new clothes and clean the house from top to bottom. I remember her bringing in fantastic spiced lentil dishes for lunch.

The Spring Equinox is a fascinating time; globally, spiritually, culturally, traditionally and in a general sense of needing to take care of an earth that has provided in all aspects of life but is in trouble of not being able to sustain this healthy cycle.

In community guides and newspapers alike I am seeing trash pickup events, growing food seminars and conservation workshops. Earth day, which is observed on March 20th or April 22nd, was first observed in 1970.

I am going to see how tree planting goes with a toddler. Obviously our home garden will be a daily activity. The forest and conservation areas are great for learning, observing and teaching little people how to tread lightly in a fun way. I’ve got to find an Aquarium nearby. Plus, Local farms; here we come!

Let’s try to do our part in preserving the life of our world, creatures, plants, friends and family.

Spring Treasure; In my Garden

I bought a big bunch of flowers this week and my house has a fresh, sweet bright feeling. Oh, the power of greenery, scent and colourful fruits and vegetables. I enjoy picking the fruits of my labor. It’s just as relaxing as putting my laundry outside on the line in the summer sun.
I don’t necessarily have a natural green thumb, but I read a lot and choose a few vegetables to experiment with. In past years I have been successful with tomatoes, green onion, peas, lettuce, herbs, tulips, hostas and my juniper tree.
This year I want to try a raspberry bush, squash, a full flower garden and peppers.

Another plan is to plant vegetables in the flower garden. Blooming perennials showing in spring will die out and will then be followed by hardy foliage and colourful fruit from summer into fall. It would be nice to have some vegetables closer to the house.

Last year throughout each season whenever we would take walks, I would snap photos of neighbours yards. I’m not part of the neighbourhood watch, nor am I some sort of spying stalker. I took the photos to remember great landscaping ideas, styles, plants, trees and so I could use the photos to show at the garden centre to track down what I want to plant in my own garden. It is also very helpful knowing how a bush or tree looks throughout the year.

I have read some tips in the past that have rung true.
Firstly, planting onions help ward off rabbits, but beware if you have a dog because onions are toxic for them. There are many plants that are toxic for dogs, like rhodendrons, grapes, tomatoes, apricot, catnip, mushrooms, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, tiger lily, hydrangea, jade, poinsettias and larkspur are a few to watch. Some dogs are said to be fine when exposed, but I don’t like to take chances.

I have read that planting basil close to tomatoes strengthen the growing season and aid in them tasting better. I’m not sure if my tomatoes tasted so great because of the basil or because tomatoes are so tasty straight from the garden.

My Mom has two green thumbs; she has things happily growing and blooming all over her property.
Here are some tips that have been beneficial and I recommend doing; keeping in mind I live in zone 5 of Canada:
• Mow your lawn in the early warmth of Spring before it turns green.

• Fertilize your lawn in late March and pull any weeds you see while they are young.

• Fill in patches or thin spots of grass once the risk of frost is done. Mix the same grass seed in a good soil then sprinkle generously into the patches. Follow with a good watering. It is usually recommended to keep the seed moist for 4-6 weeks.

• I have a rain barrel for watering and even for clean up. It has been valuable with the unpredictable, dry weather. Our city had a sale to the first however many hundred to promote green living. The barrel came with a hose.
I will set it up, on the platform my husband made under the downspout, the beginning of May. It not only saves you money on the water bill but, saves carrying water through the house, can be used for everything like washing the dog and rinsing tools and bird poop or filling up the kiddie pool.

• My husband built a raised flower bed out of 4×4 pressure treated pieces of wood by notching the corners, stacking in a brick pattern, putting metal rods through them and building a wire fence around with a little gate. It’s 5 feet x 5 feet which is a perfect “starter” size. (It doesn’t have to be raised, but you’ll want to dig and replace soil with nutrient rich, well draining, fertilized soil with the right ph levels for your area and what you’re growing)
I am still trying to figure out what all the soil lingo means so please ask a professional or get the mixes that are marked for outdoor vegetable gardens in your area.
Each Spring when it’s warm enough to move the soil, I mix in a soil rich in manure (or similar). About a 6 inch deep layer.
I also placed it where it gets the morning and early afternoon sun.

• Once there is no risk of frost, end of May for me, you can plant seeds, vegetables, fruits and flowers or split existing plants. I have split my hostas, iris, hens n chicks and lavender many times. You just have to look for the natural thinning or separation in the roots. Make sure to water well right after replanting.

• I find tomatoe cages are not strong enough nor are they practical when I try to pick from the garden. This year I am going to attach a lattice design of thin bamboo to my fencing and weave the tomatoe plants through there. I think even a thick rope tied to a simple box frame or a mini railing made with a few wooden stakes would work.

• Salt or boiling water are quick and effective ways to keep ants away.

Some of these are food for thought because March, in most zones with four seasons, is not warm enough to be planting outside. One reason for this feature is to stay informed and focused at the right times so that what you love or want to try doesn’t pass by unnoticed.

On my Pinterest “Garden” board there are sites that tell you exactly when to plant each vegetable; as well as many other useful indexes. Search Dawn or carpediemmama.

Thank you for reading my take on garden greatness.