Thursday, March 31, 2011

Out in the great outdoors finally

The hottest day of the year so far and maybe not the best day to transition these guys. I've got two tomato seedlings, one Japanese Black Trifele and one Sungold, now out in the great outdoors, repotted and all. I'll give them some time to adjust, then I plan to plant directly into the ground. Eight more seedlings to transition. Definitely easier to buy them ready to plant but the benefits of doing it this way is intangible.

Yesterday seems a long time away. Here they were.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tomato on my mind

Grown from seed, planted 2/28/11. My babies are about a month old. I have been putting them outside at night to harden them for the great outdoors since our nighttime temperatures are up in the 50s. We've been getting these amazingly warm sunny days so my plan is to take them to my garden tomorrow to repot into a larger container.

Nine days ago, they looked like this.


Monday, March 21, 2011

The second day of spring

Our first day of spring was cold and rainy. I didn't venture out yesterday but today I did. The thornless boysenberries are blooming.

Hopelessly devoted

To tomatoes, that is. If you knew me, you would know I spend too much time meditating on my tomato seedlings as they sit perched on my window sill.

A late start for me this year: I planted only 12 seeds on Marcy 28th of this year.  About ten days later, I had ten seedlings. tomato seedling 1
Not bad, considering I was being a bit brash. I don't have much room in my garden so even a 50%  germination rate would be swell.  I've got three Momotaro, one Black Krim, two Sungold, two Japanese Black Trifele, two black cherry.
Transplanted a week ago from the yogurt cups, they are in a larger container.
In the next few weeks, I'll harden them off.  I may plant them again in another yet larger container before planting into the ground.

I'll keep posting their progress.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Disaster in Japan: resources

If you want to donate, this is a good site which makes it easy.  I read that the Japanese Red Cross Society was the first to respond.

Other organizations where you can donate. These are reputable US based charities.
Shelterboxusa provides emergency shelter in disasters and are sending their boxes to Japan. An organization based in the UK, their site has international links.

Page with a list of uptodate information, includes live streaming from major media and twitter with real time updates

Excellent post by a garden blogger in Japan with even more information, personal story and more places where you can help

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spider surprise: The Sow Bug Killer

what type of spider
While weeding, I lifted up a rock and saw this fanged creature sitting quietly in the dirt. I quickly pulled out my camera, took this shot, and placed the rock back into place, very careful not to smush the guy.

In the Family Dysderidae, Dysdera crocata
Common name: Sow Bug Killer

Easy to find online since it is so distinctive: long orange legs, large shiny body, fangs. Apparently, this is an invasive species, originally from Europe. It is not known to bite humans as far as I can tell, though feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Rather, the fangs are used to pierce the armor of the sowbugs, plenty in my garden as you can see in the photo. In my eyes, he/she looks like a very shiny tarantula.

The local Natural History Museum site on the local spiders, scroll down
On Cincibugs
Berkeley based site, scroll down

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sending prayers to those in Japan

Stunned and shocked by the news of the devastation from the quakes and tsunami in Japan today. I'm putting up this link with information on how to help. Here's a post from a garden blogger in Japan

One block away from my garden, the local  beach was under a tsunami warning. No authorities anywhere except for the helicopters so I walked over to the park next to the beach.  However, when we experience a quake here in southern California, not just a tsunami warning, I will be hightailing it from my garden as quick as I can.

The police in the helicopter kept flying up and down the beach announcing "Tsunami warning still in effect".
police helicopter

Needless to say, I saw that there were people still out on the beach though you can't see them in this photo.
surf tsunami watch
A small crowd gathered to look in the park right off the beach. If we did have a real tsunami, we would be goners.
Yes, even the dogs were looking.
looking for the tsunami

Thursday, March 10, 2011

California poppy surprise

ca poppy wet
With my community garden plot, I've had numerous gardening surprises due to the previous gardener, who left a legacy of interesting plants.  I was told she was cultivating a moon garden, with only white or very light flowers allowed. And so, not surprisingly, the California poppies that bloom every year aren't the brilliant and blinding orange but rather a dreamy cream color.

I don't mind. I take care to save seeds each year so I can keep this ongoing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dealing with gardening procrastination

Funny, it almost felt like a clock was ticking, this dire need to get the tomato seeds going. But I was procrastinating big time this season for some reason. So I ended up doing what usually helps me in the past: I broke the task into microactions.
Step one: find those darn tomato seeds. Since they are buried somewhere in the back of my fridge, stored in a plastic box inside a plastic freezer bag, this might have turned into a project of its own. But I forged ahead and it was actually pretty simple and easy.
Step two: figure out which ones to use. The hardest step because I have so many to choose from and very little space to plant. I narrowed it down to six varieties.
Step three: find the pieces to the task. The sterile potting soil, the cups to plant them in, the wooden labels, and the containers to put the cups in. I finally found them hidden in the balcony storage.
Step four: fill the cups with soil and then water. I let them sit overnight to make sure the soil is not too soggy and not too dry.
Step five: plant the seeds, make the labels, and rewater.

A week after planting, I have 5 out of 12 germinating (I planted two seeds each, I am a gambler). This year will be a minimalist tomato garden. I'm hoping I'll have one of each in the end: Sungold, Japanese Black Trifele, Momotaro, Ace, Black Cherry, Black Krim. These are ones I know can handle being in a coastal garden where the summers are cold and foggy and the sun doesn't shine much.

I'll keep you posted on how many germinates in the end. The Sungold and Black Trifele have germinated first, one Momotaro next.

What do you do to deal with gardening procrastination?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My secrets of gardening

sweet pea vines
So it's raining today which is why I am inside reading Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent A Year Trying To Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotole, and Generally Have More Fun,  almost out of breath here. Despite the overachieverish title, it has been a fun and fascinating read so far. When I got to Rubin's 'Secrets of Adulthood', p. 11 in my book, I had my own lightbulb moment. I have my own list, we can call it my 'Secrets of Gardening' as inspired by Gretchen Rubin. I'm sure you have your list as well. I think we all carry a list like this somewhere in our brains.

Here's mine so far, a work in progress.
Don't plant tomato seeds directly into the ground. Umm, don't laugh. I followed the directions on the back of a seed packet.

It helps to figure out what is your zone. Mine: USDA 11a. I now have a pretty good idea when to plant and what to plant.

I finally figured out what variety of tomatoes are happy in my zone. Mine: cool climate only.

Green beans and zucchini are summer plants. Do not snicker. I learned the hard way.

I can plant arugula all year but it doesn't grow really fast when it's cold despite what it says on the seed packet.

Nothing grows very fast when it's cold except for the sugar snap peas, radish and kale. And they could grow faster when it's warmer.

Crop rotation is a very good idea.

I must continually improve my soil: add compost and fertilize or face the consequences.

Soak your pea and bean seeds overnight before planting.

Those instructions on the back of the seed packet: take them with a grain of salt. See the tomato seed line above.
So what are your secrets of gardening?
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