A Garden Post!

It is the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Now as it heats up, I am watching my summer flowers grow and set buds and the veggies start to produce. This year, my grandmother’s peonies bloomed for the first time. They are next to my white gas plant. It is a beautiful combination.Image may contain: plant, flower, sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Many of my iris bloomed for the first time, this year. There were some definite show stoppers and almost all of them were true to name. I lost only one to rot over winter and only one was not true to its name. Jurassic Park is a yellow and purple iris, however, mine bloomed blue and white. So, I decided to order it from a reputable grower, plus a few others! I will have to do some updating on my “Iris Obsession” page. I have some updating for my “Heritage Garden” page as well, now that I think about it! Below is a small sampling of the ridiculous amount of iris photos I have. I actually have plenty of pictures of individual varieties, because I am hoping to catalog them all and have a little booklet printed!

The back garden underwent a few big changes this spring! Todd finally got around to building my new raised beds, I dug and edged two new “U” beds in front of the raised beds, and we started edging flower beds with large rocks collected from a friend’s farm.

I also decided to plant in-ground for all my veggies this year. The raised beds still need to be filled, which we will get to some time this summer. I chose in-ground over my grow bags simply because it has been just such a weird year getting to hardware/garden stores. I typically use Pro-Mix all purpose, but as of right now I can’t find it! I expect that will change soon. I also chose to plant in-ground just to give it a shot in the freshly made beds. Next year, I can just lay mulch and return to grow bags, should I choose to do so. Right now, everything is looking good! I like the idea of having different options.

I did have to finally fence in one U-bed because the bunnies are so prolific this year…and I really would like some green beans and kale for myself! As always, it is still a work in progress, but our yard is really turning into a sanctuary! I think I need more beds though…I still have a lot of historic and heritage plants I need to collect!

 

Pinterest: Saving Gardens of the Past

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. It’s a great way to search for new ideas, aesthetics, and daydream about gardens. I joined in it’s earliest years. My sister sent it to me knowing how much I would love it. Before pinning stuff online, I was tearing out magazine clippings and saving those (I still do!)

I will admit I spend a lot of time pinning gardens and garden ideas without looking into their sources. I’m just their for the pretty pictures…and that is O.K.. Have you checked out my Farm and Garden board? Please do. It’s where a lot of my garden plans start. While you’re at it, check out my board for Family History. I use it to save research tips, info relevant to my personal genealogy, and ideas for creating.

 

Today, I want to share a new board I am creating called Vintage & Historic Garden. This one is all about historical gardens and images that relate. For this board, I will not be re-pinning, I will be on the hunt for photos found elsewhere. Most of the pins I hope to find from Open Access collections. I  also plan to share photos from sites I use often in my research: The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Both have really wonderful digital archives.

I have just made this board public, I hope you enjoy the images I have discovered! Maybe they will add context to a piece of your family history or inspire a heritage space in your garden! I plan on adding to the board every week. It will be interesting to see what sort of images I find. I’m sure the pins will reflect whatever garden mood I am in that week!

Here is just an example of one of the images I’ve pinned!

Peppers for your Victory Garden!

Last week, I started with some good tried and true tomato varieties to include in your 2020 Victory Garden. Tomatoes are hands down my favorite vegetable to grow, but peppers usually end up the 2nd most grown vegetable in my garden.

I honestly, don’t remember or have any stories of what my grandparents grew, pepper wise, but I can almost guarantee a bell pepper was in the mix. Oddly enough, I am horrible at getting bells to grow. Since they are prolific at the farmer’s market, I don’t worry about it. We typically grow medium hot peppers and whatever weird ones I think are worth trying. There are a handful of the common peppers I vow not take up space with but, by mid summer, I’ve stashed some into extra pots.

So today, I am going to share a handful of different pepper varieties that fit into today’s Victory Garden. Once again, I’ve tried to link to seeds still available, and varieties likely found at garden centers.

  1. California Wonder: This heirloom has been the standard green bell pepper since 1928. While I couldn’t find a ton of history right off the bat, you can imagine it being a staple in every Victory Garden of the past. I have never had much luck growing these, but they can be prolific. I find them best eaten fresh, or stuffed and baked.
    svpep122-1_medium

    California Wonder photo via Eden Brothers

     

  2. Sweet Banana Pepper: Grown for many decades, these yellow peppers are excellent for pickling. They are also a great starter pepper for anyone growing for the first time. I am never without a jar (canned myself or store bought)! We also like to add the juice/brine into our favorite Bloody Mary.

    Sweet Banana photo via Urban Farmer

     

  3. Jalapeno:  I have tried a few heirloom varieties of jalapenos in the past, from the old standard Early Jalapeno to a newer variety called Craig’s Grande.  Both were good producers. Early Jalapeno is one of the older, common varieties that have been grown in many gardens. It is said to be an excellent choice for cooler climates. Either would fit into a 2020 Victory Garden wonderfully. For me, I’ve found a hybrid that I just can’t turn down. I grow Mucho Nacho  every year and have found it to be a prolific producer of hot, good sized jalapenos. Jalapenos are in or on almost everything we cook and is perfect for pickling. This year, we are also growing an Italian jalapeno called Dieghito. I am excited to see how it turns out.
  4. Mini Bell Pepper Mix: Looking for a colorful snack? Look no further. Mini Bell Peppers can be found in a rainbow of colors! I’m not sure what their story is, but it’s reported to an heirloom passed down through an Ohio family. They are also perfect for stuffing with a little herbed cream cheese!

    mini-bell-mix

    Mini Bell Pepper Mix photo via Baker Creek 

  5. New Mexico Chilies: Several years ago, I was in Arizona and bought a package of Sandia Green Chili Powder. I loved it. And it took me years to track a company that offered a Sandia Green Chili and I have grown the peppers ever since. The Sandia Seed Company, based in New Mexico, offers a wide selection of peppers seeds centered around Mexico and New Mexico’s glorious traditions of growing some of the best, hot peppers in the world. Pepper traditions span hundreds of years in the Southwest and greatly influence its cuisine. While maybe not a widespread choice of past Victory Gardens, I think New Mexico chilies definitely fit into today’s gardens! You can choose from the huge array of pepper seeds or stick to some well-loved heirlooms like:
    • Anaheim: This well known pepper was developed in 1913 at the New Mexico State University. The university is famous for developing and perfecting hot peppers!
    • Hatch Green Medium: A classic named for the Hatch Valley, New Mexico where it has been grown for generations.
    • Poblano: An heirloom that needs no introduction. While not growing my yard this year (not yet, anyway), I’ve grown this pepper many times and have never been disappointed.

 

*Side note, for many years, I have referred to any open-pollinated seed variety as HEIRLOOM (even if it is a newer variety).  In doing research for my posts, I’ve come across the notion that “heirloom” should only be applied to open-pollinated varieties grown pre-WWII. I suppose I see the point and I guess it’s a topic to be debated. From my point of view, I’ve always referred to any open-pollinated seed as “heirloom” and will likely continue to so. But, as you may know, I am always interested in the past and usually point out the age of the variety. I typically denote when a variety is newer by saying so.

Updates and Upgrades!

UPDATE: Despite having more time than I know what to do with lately, I still don’t fee like I’ve caught up on chores. Ugh. That being said, I am getting ready to pot up my little seedlings, dig up some new beds, and I have a ton of posts in my draft section. There should be a good mix of history, genealogy, and plants in topics coming soon!

UPGRADE: I have acquired 24 landscape timbers to start laying out two new garden beds in the vegetable area. After doing some research on landscape timbers, I decided I am OK with using them in the veggie garden. I have been watching so many British garden shows lately that I am starting to want to call it a “veg patch.” Oh. Boy. The newer process of treating lumber means they are now safer to use in gardens. I did some research and double checked the description on the lumber I bought. So, I feel confident in using these. But, be sure to double check any lumber you choose to add in your garden!

UPGRADE: I have a fancy new camera. I bought it in January, but I am just now starting to get it figured out. It’s aNikon D3500 which I got as bundle from Target while I still worked there. I was able to stack several discounts and get a good deal on it. It will definitely be an upgrade from my S7 phone and my Nikon Coolpix L310. I also bought a few accessories: this Altura wide angle lens and this Altura viewfinder eye piece.  The camera and both accessories are great starting points for people like me. I like to take beautiful photos, but really only have high school photography class knowledge. Todd and I both agreed we need to document more adventures and visits to ancestral places!

Enjoy photos of life so far! Can you guess which are from my phone and which are from the new camera!?

Well, here’s to catching up, praying for a lift on the stay-at-home order, warmer weather, and more posts! I can’t wait to get more projects and posts rolling.

 

~p.s. I am trying out ‘affiliate’ linking. There are affiliate links in this post, but they are only for products I appreciate or use personally!~

 

2020 Seed Starting and Garden Plans!

I started this post a few weeks ago. When I reopened the draft, I realized just how much has changed.  Last year was a bit of disappointing growing season. Between work, bad weather, and a number of other things, a lot didn’t happen.  This year, my original plans were to focus on the infrastructure our garden and scale back on growing. Well, beyond just my inability to actually cut back on seed starting, current events have made me realize the importance of my garden. Even though garden centers are still open, who knows what the next few months will bring.

Just before the COVID-19 crisis began, I put my two weeks notice in at Target, where I had been working just over a year. My last day was March 21. It was a bit surreal to be in the thick of the panic buying. I am thankful that we have to opportunity for me to stay home this summer. Todd is a railroader and he is deemed essential, and there is  a lot of stress there during the best of times! So, this summer it really is going to be about our house, garden, and spending quality time together (and hopefully some family history sleuthing too).

We plan on expanding beds, building the raised beds, and just working on a lot of the projects that need finishing up. While we do plan on going to the hardware stores and garden centers, Todd and I have been diligently making lists and checking inventory, to make as few as possible trips. Only Todd is going to the hardware store and I do the grocery shopping.

So….here is how my ‘cutting back’ on seeds went and how I’m growing them this year:

This past fall, I used some pre-made supports and 1″x 6 “boards, stained with deck stain, to create two different plant stands. Since, I can’t quite reach my little green houses, and don’t want to completely take over the kitchen again, I’ve added an extra shelves to the larger of the plant stands. I also, for the first time ever, bought grow lights. These ones on Amazon.com.  They have several different options and the best part is how affordable they are! It took me only about a half hour to have mine set up and going. So far, I love them.  Here is my set up this year…

I started a few of my flower seeds earlier, then the majority of peppers, tomatoes, and herbs on the first day of Spring.  I decided I should start more. So, I added one more flat of herbs, peppers, and tomatoes. It’s a little late for a few of them, but I’ll give it a go. I also have all my summer bulbs potted up. While it’s a bit early for them, I typically just let them relax in there dirt and gradually pick up on watering as I get closer to plant times. So far, my set up has worked pretty well. My biggest complaint is not having quite as much control over the humidity and temp as I do with my little green houses.

Here is what I started this year  with links to where I’ve purchased them!

Here are my seeds I have picked out to direct sew (if it actually happens):

I also have big dreams to put in lettuce/greens, grapes, strawberries, garlic, potatoes, onions, and start an asparagus bed also. We will see. I currently have five urban and columnar apples planted. Two of the apple trees were cast-offs and may or may not survive. The other three are planted into my flower beds. I’m hoping for a first small crop on the Scarlet and Golden Sentinel apples.