Green! Its Green!

Radishes, spinach and lettuce seeds are all happily sprouting on the window sill in the kitchen where I can water them, love on them, enjoy them and talk to them.  The ground is still mostly covered with snow.  The skies are often gray but oddly bright with frequent white fluffy flakes drifting down.  And inside, green is growing.

spinach seedlings

LettuceSeedlings

RadishSeedlings

I’ll use them as micro greens and will probably transfer many of them as starts into the mini-greenhouse out back.  As often happens, you can see the spinach seedlings are reaching for more light (I understand perfectly.)  All will need either to be trimmed or relocated to help them along, but for now, it’s a hopeful, happy symbol to have as I cook along in the kitchen.

The mini-greenhouse is now all set.  The plastic has been laid and three bags on potting soil added.  When I was out a couple of days ago to wipe snow off of the windows, the temperature was about 40 degrees under the glass.  A few hours later, when I returned to collect eggs from the hens, the temperature had risen to 60 degrees, even without much sun.  I’m still fascinated by how this works – simple science, I know.  I’ve set the plastic up so that its both a layer on the bottom and a extra layer on the top for those colder nights that are sure to still come.  Again, lettuce, spinach, radishes and the like will all go into the soil and hopefully by next week I’ll be reporting on their progress.

Annie
Growing Micro-Greens

First Seedlings of the Year

I couldn’t take it one more day.  The seed catalogs have begun to saunter in and I’ve resisted looking at one, but instead have filed them in the cabinet next to my desk.  It’s February you see.  If I look at seeds and green and growing, I will start to yearn – for seeds and green and growing.  Like this…

green garden

And I will no longer love the snow, which is gorgeous, clean, white and covering the entire garden.  Like this…

fresh snow

Until today I succeeded.  Until I didn’t, and then I just had to plant some seeds, just a few.  Because it is so cold, I didn’t feel up to braving the garden shed for containers and instead got ingenious with the newspaper.  These little window boxes fit perfectly on my window sill and contain spinach, bibb lettuce and radishes.

PaperWindowBoxes

It didn’t take but a few seconds before I was on a roll and thinking creatively about how to use the misplaced mini-greenhouse out in the back garden to squeeze some greens out in late April.  Because it isn’t over a garden bed right now, but instead just in a path, I won’t plant directly into the ground, but will fill several shallow boxes with several inches of dirt and actually plant rows.  The edges of the greenhouse will need some straw for insulation and I think a row cover or two will do the trick to protect the seedlings…

Seed packets

Annie
Yup, I’m on a roll and green is in my future!

Building a Greenhouse – ups and… downs

Certainly when the girls and Jon gifted me with a greenhouse for Mother’s Day last year, this is not what I was hoping for when I walked to the back of the house one recent blustery day!

The winds blow so hard on our property that securing this house to the ground somehow becomes a bigger priority than we thought.  Luckily, it wasn’t that difficult to straighten and we didn’t loose the kale or the Swiss chard growing inside.  Jon drove rebar stakes to which he affixed the base and then reinforced the sides with long 2 x 8’s.  This should do the trick, but a winter of Maine weather will tell us for sure.

All of the other season extenders – cold frames and mini-greenhouses – are producing as well.  The leeks and carrots are completely covered and insulated with straw and it was only last week that I harvested the last of the Brussels sprouts and broccoli from the beds.  The hens were so excited to still be getting greens this late in the season.

Traveling back in time to when it was constructed in the spring…

ella helping to build a greenhouse

The girls got into the act, donning drills and hammers.  The base is made of 3 – 2x12x12’s, the frame of electrical conduit piping with dry fit 45 and 90 degree corners at the ‘roof edge’ and topline.  The whole is encased in 6 mil. plastic which we may find isn’t strong enough to withstand our property’s micro-climate.

Chloe working on strapping while Ella works on the framing.

Jon and Ella getting the last piece fitted for the base.

Rebecca used the greenhouse all summer long to grow veggies for the Riggin.  I can’t wait to use it as we go into spring!

Annie
Why is chard ‘Swiss’ and sprouts ‘Brussels?’

Mother’s Day Gift

The things that I use everyday that give me a moment’s pleasure are some of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  When the kitchen faucet handle came off in Jon’s hand the other day and I turned to see what his sound of ‘uh, oh’ was all about, I almost jumped up and down.  Being a frugal girl, there wasn’t any way that I would have pushed to replace the faucet, functional but tired, mostly working but not perfectly, until it really died.  When it died, however, I felt free to get jump-up-and-down excited.  The new faucet is a thing of beauty.  I turn it off and on what must be at least 20 times per day on a day I’m only heating up leftovers.  On the days I’m testing recipes?  I have even more good, just a blink moments of, “dang, I love this faucet.”

growing tomatoes, green house, Maine gardening, four season gardening

The new tomato green house is another one of those gifts, given to me by my family for Mother’s Day.  What clinches it for me as a top ten gift is that we all spent time in the garden working on it together.  When I walk through the framed in door for the first time to plant my tomatoes, I’ll think of them, if only for a second.  When I walk in again, the second time, same thing, if only for a second.  I love them for giving me this memory everytime I’ll stoop to weed the tomatoes or string a vine up a line or pick a fully ripe and warm tomato from it’s stem.

Annie
Grateful