Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tomato Plants - Lessons Learned (yes, already!)

Well, my tomato plants are doing well in their cozy lighted area of the basement!

Here's what I've already learned.

1.  72 tomato plants -- what was I thinking?!  Thankfully, I have a gardening friend who has agreed to swap some out with me as he planted some Jelly Bean, Black Krim, and Purple Prudence, none of which I've tried but all of which I am eager to taste!

2.  Transplant, transplant, transplant.  According to my colleague and tomato grower extraordinaire, I should have already transplanted these as soon as they started growing their first pair of actual leaves.  Which means I'm behind in the game already.  I don't have anything to plant 72 plants into, for one thing!  And apparently I'll probably have to transplant them again before planting because it is only March in Minnesota, after all. 

3.  This is so much fun!  I enjoy taking a peek at them every day to see how they're doing.  You can almost see them growing right before your eyes!

So at this point, between the lights, the peat pods, the seeds, the peat pots and potting soil that I still need to purchase, it's been a bit of an investment.  And worth every penny to be able to extend our short growing season.

So... tomato experts... what lessons have I yet to learn when it comes to starting tomato plants from seed?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring has Sprung

I spent this past weekend in Rochester, MN, located about 150 miles or so south of Moose Country, and was feeling insanely jealous of the green grass, budding trees, and blooming bulbs.  When driving through the countryside, my daughter said "Mom, it smells like a garden down here!"  And she was right.  Rochester seems to be about three weeks ahead of us every year when it comes to spring's arrival, and I imagine winter arrives just a few weeks later as well.  But when we did return on Sunday, I was delighted to see "ice out" (the official term for an ice free lake) on our lake... on March 25... unheard of!

If you live on a lake, you know the incredible mental health boost you feel almost immediately when you see open water again after the long winter.  Already our old friends the bald eagle, the blue heron, the lonely loon, and the river otter were back to visit yesterday.  We've missed you.

Of course the mental health boost brings about a surge in energy as well which was spent removing mulch from the perennial beds and sowing some lettuce seeds.  Being that we are in Northern Minnesota, the mulch is lying closely to the newly exposed beds in case temperatures decide to take a nose dive... I'm no silly slouch, it happens often around here!

Now I finally feel like I can relate to the other gardeners around the country who are enjoying the season.  Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Ducks of the Season

This morning, we saw our first duck visitors along the newly open shoreline.  I wasn't able to get the camera poised for a picture before they flew off, but I was able to see that they were common Wood Ducks, two male, two female.  I'm looking forward to seeing more open water, and more winged visitors, in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I've got worms... they're multiplying!

Yes, that's right!  I've got worms.  I entered into the world of vermicomposting this winter!  You can see that I have it set up right alongside of all of our recycling, which seems very appropriate.

We've been doing this for a couple of months now.  I really appreciate that I can compost pasta and bread products in limited amounts using the worms, as these are things I wouldn't put in my compost pile.  I'm also not as likely to bring stuff out to the compost in the cold Minnesota winter, so worm composting helps us keep food waste out of landfills and will hopefully give my garden a boost this summer.

A close up of the little guys in action

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The babies are growing!

We have baby tomato plants!  Right now I just have them sitting in the bay window sill, which faces south.  I need to get a new timer for my grow lights so I can set them up to get more direct sunlight and prevent them from getting too spindly.

Yay for tomatoes!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Toe-May-Toe, Toe-Mah-Toe

Yesterday, I started tomato plants.  I have never started tomatoes from seed before, but it was one of my "gardening resolutions" for the new year, and a way for me to get a start on the season during the long Minnesota winter.  I planted Early Girl, Better Boy, and Roma plants.  I'm a little concerned that it may still be too early to start these, but I'm operating under the advice of a co-worker/gardener extraordinaire. We'll see what happens.

On the weather front, winter FINALLY arrived in Minnesota this last week.  It's been a very dry, warm winter.  It's nice to finally see a decent amount of snow, and more tolerable knowing that it won't be around for long as 40+ degree weather is supposed to return this week, just in time for spring break!

The March issue of Better Homes & Gardens arrived this week and again I am reminded of our shorter season here in the north.  The issue is featuring spring paint colors, spring ephemerals, spring annuals for container planting... and my zone envy is raging yet again!  Ah well, spring should arrive eventually in the great northwoods.  In the meantime, I should enjoy the last (hopefully!) hurrah of an uneventful winter and go play in the snow.