Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pea Stand

There are perks to dating a handyman. Especially one who welds.

I was pretty excited to have peas this year, and even more excited that the Handyman made me a scrap tower for the peas to climb. With all the cool weather we've been having in Missoula, my peas are going crazy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

my zinnia curse

Zinnias aren't safe around me.

Last year it was aphids.

This year, there was one hot day in the greenhouse after spending two weeks longing for sun in my mudroom - these guys were toast.

I'll start a few more from seed and see if I can coax them into blooming before winter... but I think in a past life, I wronged someone who had something to do with zinnias.

(The tomatoes and nasturtiums and sweet peas along with many others are looking FANTASTIC.  It's just the zinnias.  I'm cursed.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

which varieties work best for upside-down tomatoes?

I hate to disappoint you, but I really don't have an answer.

The Handyman and I were discussing the possibilities after we noticed a very sad roma hanging from the upside-down bucket on the right.

He's got a few crispy edges and doesn't seem to want to make that full turn towards the sun.  

The other two sweet 100's look great, so if the roma doesn't perk up soon, he may be transferred to the raised bed space (and replaced by my favorite, gardener's delight!)

The first year of upside-down tomatoes, the handyman did a brandywine, a juliet, and a forgotten-variety of cherry.  The brandywine did okay, but it had a pretty average yield with quite a bit of weight-strain on the plant.  The others were superb.

 Last years patio princesses and gardener's delight and tumbling toms were all quite successful, even if the patio's didn't ripen very quickly in our cool summer.

No matter what works best, my favorite's still the gardener's delight (have I already mentioned that?).  We went to Moeller's Nursery down in Corvallis - they'd advertised in Craigslist that they have twenty-something tomato varieties, all for $1.25 a piece.  They definitely didn't disappoint.  

They didn't have gardener's delight, but they said the cherry red's were identical (I hope they're right!)  I also got some sunsugar and sweet millions to try... In the meantime, I'll poke around the old interweb to see if I can find a more definitive answer to the question!

(P.S. Moellers had bell peppers and hot peppers for a buck each.  And holy moly, it was petunia heaven - even Burpee doesn't have that many varieties for sale! It was great!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

to garden or not to garden...

It's not really a question.

Despite other pressing needs... we're heading to the garden plots right now!

Monday, May 4, 2009

tilling Martha's garden plot

Remember Martha from last year?

She's got her same plot again this year.  And it needs some love. 

Supposedly there's some garlic in there.

Luckily, the Handyman bought a tiller off Craigslist (thank you to two retired gardeners in Helena!).   After having such a good time blazing through our plots, he's decided to post a few flyers advertising his rototilling services for $15 per plot - not so much to subsidize, but more to justify his new purchase.  

It's a bit of a beast to handle (so I've heard), but it does the job pretty quickly.  If I were sans Handyman, I'd probably have to go for a little Mantis or something... But since I've access to the beast and the Handyman, I'm pretty content to watch my plot - and Martha's - get chewed.

Someone needs pull up his pants.  I wish I could be like the Pioneer Woman and brag about my fella's backside, but handyman just don't wear levi's like the cowboys do (or carharts).  

I'm okay with that.

I'm not okay with fingers heading towards sharp things.  

Don't be fooled though, the Handyman is quite safe. 

So... how bout them Red Wings?  For those of you luckier than me, it's Stanley Cup season, by the way.  

The final product? 

Dandelions destroyed while the garlic is safe and sound in a bed of straw.

Can't wait to check back, Martha!  

Sunday, May 3, 2009

late for the party

Not only are we extremely late with the starts this year, I'm extremely late posting about the starts. 

I'm glad we didn't just to skip it all together this year.  There's something about planting seeds and watching for those first little leaves that makes me feel like spring has arrived.  It's become the apple cider smell of fall or the bright lights of Christmas. 

I decided not to start any cosmos or calendulas from seed.  The calendulas have reseeded themselves nicely in one of my beds, and I sprinkled some of the cosmo seeds that we gathered from the 2007 season into another bed.  We had better germination from them than from the original seeds in the packet - so I'm hopeful they'll all turnout.

I did a few annuals, but I'm trying to start several perennials.  I have oodles of shastas - painted and alaskan, some more delphinium, more columbine, a few butterfly bushes, and some geum. 

Oh, and of course, lots of veggies: pumpkins and squashes and luffa, and spaghtetti's. (We don't eat butternut so we don't grow that one.)  

The organization I work for has recently undergone a name change.  I have a large box of business cards that will soon become obsolete, and I've been trying to think of interesting ways to use them.  They made nice markers for the starts; by the time they disintegrate, I bet the starts will be big enough to be recognizable on their own.

Does anyone else have any ideas about how I could use the other cards?  I have about seven hundred to go...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

flagstone short path and a weed-whacking precaution

Last summer, the Handyman and I gathered a bunch of flagstone, and that flagstone sat through the winter, untouched... 

Until today!

I have two beds by my backdoor that have dandelions anchored all over.  I've weeded and weeded and weeded and weeded and my mom's even come to visit and weeded and weeded.  

There's been quite a lot of weeding. 

It took me much longer than I'd like to admit, but no more pulling from the top - they've all been dug up from the roots.  (I refrained from a "root of the matter" pun there.  You're welcome.)

So, dandelions gone.  Flagstone in.  Take a peek before the lillies and dahlias make their appearance.  

Evetually, that path will end at a nice-looking patio by the backdoor (the current one is uneven and full of weeds).

And, because I was having so much fun with the shovel - or because I needed a tidy beginning-to-end-on-a-Saturday-afternoon project - I made a new little bed by a corner of fence that was sorely lacking some embellishment.

I put in clematis, some dutch iris, and a scattering of cosmos seeds collected from the 2007 season.  Last year, we had better success starting the collected seeds than the purchased seeds, so I have high hopes for these.

If you're wondering about the pavers under the fence, they're there because I'm not so accurate with the weed-whacker.  I think there's just enough space to run the mower wheel on the paver-side that's next to the grass.

That way, when the clematis vine onto the fence, I won't cut them off accidentally when I'm really aiming to trim the grass.

P.S.  The Handyman was in pursuit of athletic excellence today (aka hockey), but my sore muscles sincerely hope he returns to the garden soon - the shovel's more his style.  ;)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

pergola practice

I would love to have a pergola in my backyard. I think I've said as much to the Handyman on a number of occasions.

Apparently, Handyman, Sr. has been hearing similar requests regarding the hot tub at the Handyman Ranch in California.  Somewhere along the way, there was a request for some extra hands.

We jumped at the chance to go help (and the chance to thaw our Montana-cold bones in some California sunshine).

I didn't really help with this stage, but I think it's sort of self-explanatory, right?  I'm pretty sure I was still in the thaw stage.

Yeah, didn't help too much here either , but I definitely delivered some lemonade before this stage.

I'm pretty sure I gave words of encouragement at this particular moment.

And you can't tell, but I'm actually spotting them on this little move here.

A-hah!  This looks much more like my department: Handyman-in-training.  This little guy's eyeing a hammer that's lying just outside the shot thinking, "I'm totally helping out next year."  

Good for you, little guy.  That's way more than what I'm doing.  I can't wait for the day I get to tell you I changed your diapers.

So it's almost done.

And surveying the work... (I was a pro at this... I gave the Handyman a few tips on that ladder lean so he could really get the most out of it.)

At the end, we celebrated like every new pergola owner should: roasting smores over a fire pit and drinking Aquavit before taking a dip in the hot tub. 

Practice over.  I think I'm ready now.

Friday, April 10, 2009

baby steps

When did I ever have time to write a blog?  

I have no clue how I managed it last year, but I'm committed to trying again.  As with everything that seems overwhelming, I'll start small... baby steps.

Kind of like this tiny shoot from what I hope is garlic (and not grass or some other random plant that exists, instead, where my garlic should be).

I made a small tactical error last October - I thought you put garlic in the ground in the fall and harvested it in the late spring right before growing season.  Why would I think that?  Because I really am a novice at most of this growing stuff.  The result of my tactical error is that I now have two raised beds FULL of garlic.

The Handyman assures me I can grow some lettuce in between, but I'm still going to have to solicit his help in setting up new raised beds for the rest of what I usually like to grow during the summer season.  Hmmm... maybe my tactical error was just a ploy to get more gardening space!  Well keep that to ourselves...

Anyway. I love that people found me again and left a few comments!  I'll try not to disappoint with long absences and I can wait to go catch up on what everyone has been doing!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

we're not going to the moon or anything

I'm back!  Needed a little hiatus from the blog, but today's snow has already melted, and there's a new set of grow lights in the basement for starts (pictures later.)

But today, I have to share this movie.  You might learn something about cold frames if you've never thought about building one before. Whatever you do, don't let this guy teach your kids math.  

Maybe I just liked it because Emma eats tomatoes and apples, too.