Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kitchen Garden

"Kitchen Garden" has a whole different meaning to me in the apartment. My order of strawberries came in from Henry Fields this week, and I was able to pot them up in my new "Topsy Turvy" strawberry planter. Obviously, it's not the most ideal way to grow strawberries, but my space is at a premium. I also reseeded some lettuce and radishes. A few things have sprouted, but my camera was with my husband for school, or I would have pictures.

I get to head to St. Louis this week while my husband is on Spring Break. I am looking forward to helping my friend Mandi replant her garden this week with her 4 year old.  She still remembers last year when we planted their garden.  I had her plant almost every single seed, which may have taken longer, but it seems the memory has lasted. 

I was able to harvest some basil from the Aerogarden and a little more lettuce this week, but not a whole lot else.

Pictures to come. Happy Gardening all!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Harvest Monday

I have a harvest for Harvest Monday again! The Aerogarden was needing a trim, and my hubby expressed interest in a salad from the balcony, so he got one.

We harvested a few leaves from the plant in the front left a few days ago. This is actually Red Sails, though you certainly can't tell that from the picture. It is still growing like crazy though! The plant in the  front middle is the Tristar strawberry plant. It's doing really well, and much better than the ones planted outside so far.

Overwintered lettuce and spinach pre-harvest.  The weather forecast this week gave me enough reassurance that these plants will bounce right back even with a heavy harvest.

Fresh, crisp lettuce for some delicious salads!

Side note: I understand why lettuce can be so expensive when I remember, and experience, how laborious the process of cleaning each individual leaf can be. It was still the best tasting salad we've had in a long time though!

To see what others are harvesting, head over to Daphne's Dandelions, and check in on others and their Harvest Mondays!

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Another new adventure for me this year has been growing my own alfalfa sprouts.  This is pretty much the "instant gratification" of the gardening world- a week from start to finish.

I used a jar, a jar ring, and a cut piece of pantyhose.  The seeds are soaked for a good 8-12 hours the first day, then rinsed twice daily after that. Lastly, they get a sun bath for about 15 minutes before they end up in a container in the refrigerator.

My favorite way to have them so far has been on a tuna salad sandwich! I've been missing sprouts on Jimmy John's sandwiches! I also ordered a "crunchy bean" mix to sprout that was on sale, but something about "crunchy beans" has me less than excited to jump into those just yet.  Anyone have any experience with those?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Potting Up!

I had several days off this past week, one of the perks of having to work 12 hours shifts as a nurse.  Aside from catching up on lots of garden blogs, and researching container gardening, I potted up a lot of house plants, and my dwarf Tophat blueberry plant.  

My blueberry plant has buds all over it that I know will open soon, and I remember this was about the time the plant was delivered to me last year, so I figured it was safe to pot it up now.

I love getting to look at the root system of plants out of their pots!

Definitely full of roots! The white roots on the bottom picture look like some new growth to me, and I'm pretty sure this plant will be happy in its much bigger home for this year. Maybe I'll even see a few blueberries!

Hopefully, I won't have to go any bigger than this pot because now it's heavy!

 This houseplant is a dragon tree that I bought from Ikea little over 4 years ago.  It has survived my indoor growing skills, and is now the biggest plant we've got.  It switched places with a very sad Japanese peace lily that needed to be divided into two smaller pots.

The dragon tree's last two homes are the two pots in the picture below.

Here is the root growth. Not TOO badly root bound this time! (It has seen much worse!) Only one row of pencil thick roots on the bottom.  The peace lily on the left was a gift from my husband in our first year of marriage. It has also survived my poor houseplant care, and I believe the division I made is the 4th or 5th extension of the original plant that is long gone! The little plant on the right is a new addition also purchased from IKEA. We'll see if it fares better!

The dragon tree's new home.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Strawberry Fever

Strawberry fever got me this weekend at Home Depot. I already ordered 25 Fort Laramie everbearing strawberry plants from Henry Fields, but couldn't resist buying a few more plants at Home Depot.  

I stopped in at a Home Depot just to see what they had in terms of seeds and plants this time of year being that I'm in a different zone now. I found their current lettuce/cabbage/broccoli/strawberry stand had some plants that were seriously hit by some frost. I asked an employee if they were marking any of the plants down because I figured I could save some of the strawberry plants, and would happily take them off of their hands for a reduced price. I was disappointed to find out that they are subcontracted through Bonnie's plants, and Home Depot has no authority to reduce the price. They said that Bonnie's will just throw them away.  

I left empty handed, disappointed, and with a new "need" for strawberry plants. The "need" grew, and I headed with the hubby to a closer Home Depot the next day.  Their plants were in excellent condition, and I reasoned that I was planning on being out of town for the "estimated delivery date" of my strawberries from Henry Fields, and wanted some back ups. I also know (as evidence of the whole cart of half dead plants at the first Home Depot) that they don't always take the greatest care of the plants at Home Depot after they've arrived. That means that the earlier I can take care of my own "backups" the better!

I brought home 10 Tristar bareroot plants, and one established Quinalt plant with dreams of luscious strawberries.

I planted 6 in new dollar store planters to add to my balcony rails and three in the terra cotta planter that I borrowed from a cousin for my tomato plant when I moved here early last year. I'll be returning it to her with these three strawberry plants as a thank you. The last one I swapped out with a lettuce seedling from the Aerogarden and planted it there.  This will be a science experiment of sorts (nothing fancy), but I also bought a topsy turvy strawberry planter while at Home Depot, so I'll plant my Henry Fields plants in that. 

Yesterday, I e-mailed the customer service at Henry Fields explaining that I'd be out of town for the estimated delivery date of my strawberry plants, and that if it was possible, I'd rather have my plants earlier than risk them sitting in a mailroom for a week.  What do you know, my estimated delivery date is now this week.  Talk about service!  All of these "back ups" for nothing.  I love strawberries though (and so does my sister in PA, who will be benefitting from this fever of mine with some plants of her own!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gardening Bug

My gardening bug has me again.  This season is a new zone for me, and a new (quite a bit smaller) garden in containers. I've been researching and learning a lot of things from scratch. I'm going from a supposed 5B (I always planted sooner than recommended) to 7A.  The last frost dates, however, indicate a later last frost date here in Alexandria than in St. Louis. Besides those differences, everything is in containers, and has its own microclimate being that I'm 9 stories up, and actually tucked away from much, if any, wind.

My lettuce, spinach, and green onions have all overwintered well on the balcony.  I frequently run out for a few clippings of spinach and scallions to add to my morning omelet.  I gave most of the lettuce a good trim a week or so ago to clean out the burnt leaves, but all of the plants seem to be putting out plenty of growth.

My Aerogarden is in full swing again. It's about time to harvest some lettuce! I am growing three kinds of lettuce, two basil plants, and a strawberry plant in my Aerogarden right now. I found an excellent Thai recipe for Red Coconut Curry, and it uses a lot of basil. I have never had much of a use for the basil I've grown, but the $2.49 I've been spending on a small container for this recipe meant that basil was a priority for the Aerogarden planting!

Here is a lone lettuce seedling I pulled from the Aerogarden when I bought some strawberry plants, and decided to try one out.  I couldn't bear to just trash this, so I'll eventually transplant it outside.

Planted so far, I've got radish, spinach, lettuce, and snow peas. I also grabbed a few strawberry plants from Home Depot this weekend, and I'm trying my hand at some wintersowing.  I decided that since my apartment doesn't really allow for the room to have my full light set up (nor plant many tomatoes/peppers), I'd go this route with a few varieties.  I ordered a few plants from Henry Fields, (and will have to share some of those even!) but decided back up plants never hurt.  I threw in some jalapeƱo, Green Zebra tomatoes, marigolds, Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, and some saved Cherokee Purple seeds that came from a tomato I got from seed given to me by Jeff at Our Engineered Garden.   All of those seeds went into a divided gallon milk jug and a water bottle, and now they're just waiting.  We'll see how they do! I like the idea of not really having to harden the seedlings off when the time comes.

Well, this post has gotten wordier than planned, so that's all for now.