Archive for ‘Flower Gardening’

May 5, 2011

Community Garden and such

I know, I’m sure after my last post you thought that I had a terrible run-in with the raccoons and that was the end of Walnuts and Pears.  You can relax, the raccoons have not gotten the best of me, yet.

A while back a friend and neighbor asked me to help her get a Community Garden started at her church and pre-school.  How could I refuse?!?!  So I took a little hiatus from blogging (perhaps you noticed) and dedicated my energy to drawing up a plan.  The plan actually consists of more than the veggie beds for the Community Garden.  Since this is for a church and pre-school, there are elements for the children and the young at heart.  The church was built in the 1950s and an addition was added years later.  Since then, there really hasn’t been much in the way of landscaping on the site and what once was there, is now gone.  So, other than the new fence and some existing retaining walls it was pretty much a blank slate.  There were also requests for flowers, minimizing maintenance around the fence and even addressing some water issues.  The goal is to make a hands-on learning space that is both bountiful and beautiful. The plan includes 4 raised planting beds, including one seating-height bed, a number of pots and planters and tee-pees for the children to grow gourds and ornamental vines on as well as play in.  There will also be a butterfly garden and edible landscaping incorporated throughout the rest of the site.

Even though our growing season in Minnesota is off to a bit of a slow start, they have a pretty aggressive schedule.  The goal was to have everything installed by April 30th so cool crops could get planted.  Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly cooperate so the digging didn’t start until May 1st, but things are progressing nicely now.  They should be able to start planting by the end of the week and since the weather is still pretty cool, the crops should do just fine.  Check out the Bethany Gardens blog to see their progress and keep tabs on the gardens throughout the season:

In the mean time, I’ve yet to get my cool crops in yet either, so hopefully this weekend I’ll be digging in too.

As a side note, the metal containers from my front steps have given themselves back to Mother Earth (rusted out) so I’m looking to buy or make some new planters/pots for my front steps.  If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!


April 18, 2011

Sometimes it snows in April… but the seeds keep growing

It’s April 18th, and we have a Winter Storm Watch.  Really?  Seriously?!?  Unfortunately, yes.  They’re predicting 6 inches of snow or more.

“This is a problem” my 6-year old son said, “because it’s Spring…. and it’s a Winter Storm Watch…”  I concur.  This is a problem.  Mostly for my spirit, but some plants and flowers are getting nipped as well.  Hopefully the snow over this past weekend and the weather we’re going to have over the next few days won’t set us back too much. I really hope the forecast is wrong.

I started my spring clean-up when it was in the 60s a or so week ago.  This weekend I had hoped to do more, including getting my cool crops planted in my veggie garden.  Unfortunately, the cold dampened my spirits a little and I didn’t get out there.  Oh, well. That’s what spring in Minnesota is like.  Next week I’m forecasting 80.

Regardless of the weather outside, if you’ve already planted seeds inside, they should be clipping along pretty well.  If you’re growing under plant lights make sure to keep the lights low (not touching the plants,  but close to them) to prevent them from getting leggy.  I usually keep a fan running too. It keeps the air circulating which helps strengthen the seedlings (mimicking wind) and also prevents damping-off.  If you’re not familiar with this term, damping-off is when one of a variety of fungi infect the seed or seedling, sometimes preventing germination, or after the seed has sprouted, it weakens the plant at the point where the plant touches the soil which eventually causes the plant to rot and fall over.  If this happens to you, try not to get too discouraged.  It happens.

Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture: the life cycle of plants.  A plant’s goal in life is to reproduce.  It’s that simple.  The seed germinates, the plant grows, produces flowers to entice pollination in order to produce fruit/seeds.

Every type of seed needs certain conditions to germinate.  When we start seedlings inside we add heat mats, plant lights, fans, etc. to recreate the perfect environment for germination and growth.  However, we need to keep in mind that the reason plants produce so many seeds is because the plants “know” that not every seed is going to germinate, and of the seeds that germinate, not all of them will survive and of those that survive, not all of them will live long enough, or have the right conditions to produce more fruit and more seeds (reproduce).  Since seeds are the future generation of the plant, and there are many things that could go wrong along the way, plants will typically produce a lot of seeds.  It’s kind of like plant reproduction insurance.

What this means is not every seed you sow will germinate.  Some of your seedlings may die.  Some of your plants may die due to weather or animal damage.  The strong plants will survive and produce fruit.  So, if you happen to lose some along the way, hard as it may be, do not get discouraged. This is all a part of the larger plan.  Things happen, nurture what you can and let the rest be.

Now where did I put that snow shovel?