Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raised Beds

Yesterday my Dad and I built our raised beds!  I am thrilled to have this checked off my list.  It was a nice project to be able to complete with my Dad.  My Dad has always been surrounded by a household of women where most of the time he does these projects for us not with us.  So I know he thought I was just using him for the free labor which I fully appreciated but I also appreciated the time on the project together. 

We built three 4x12 beds that are 8 inches deep.  We built them in my "workshop" (aka garage) on the floor and had really high tech equipment such as a large outdoor garbage can and hand saw to cut the 2x4 corner stabilizers.  All joking aside it took a little bit of time but was a easy project.

I bought eight 1x8x12 untreated cedar boards, two of which were cut to 4 foot lengths for the edges.  Luckily the man at the lumber store was feeling nice and since we only had 4 cuts did this for us.  We also bought a 2x4 to make the corner supports.  We cut the 2x4 into eight inch lengths since we bought 1x8 boards only to find that a 1x8 is technically really .75x7.5, whoops.  The extra half inch on our corner supports will be used the anchor the beds in the ground, so it worked out.

Once we had the 2x4 cut we attached the end pieces to the corner supports first and then set up all the boards attaching the long sides to the end pieces.  We had an assembly line set up where I drilled all the pilot holes and my Dad followed with the screws.  I also had the chance to put a few screws in as I am constantly wanting to learn how to be more handy.  The beds look great and next on the garden expansion to do list is to turn over all the sod and till up the ground.

I'd also like for you to notice that on March 30th when it should be in the fifties it was in the high 30s and snowing as we were building our raised beds.  It just felt off to be getting ready for gardening as it snows.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Our peonies are coming in which excited me since they are my all time absolute favorite flower.  Their delicate layers and frilly petals are just absolutely gorgeous.  I am delighted at their arrival.  Unfortunately I have no clue if we will have blooms this year.  The largest of the three was an established plant from my Mother-In-Law.  She gifted me the plant because she knew how much I loved them and it needed a newer sunny spot since the surrounding plants had matured and shadowed it at her house.  Last year as expected there were no blooms due to the transplant.  This year will be a guessing game as to if it will bloom or need another year.  The two smaller plants were new rootstock I planted last year and I don't expect blooms from them for at least another year.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Battle Begins

You are looking at a picture of my tulips.  Yes those are tulips.  Tulips that have been eaten all the way to the ground, buds, stems, leaves and all.  ALL of my tulips with the exception of 4 or 5 plants in a different spot.  The deer last year had the courtesy to allow us to enjoy the tulips for a week or two before eating them all.  I appreciated their politeness.  I got to enjoy pretty flowers, they had a yummy snack.  This year their blatant disrespect has gotten my attention. 

Andy has actually already been having anxiety about our garden expansion and the deer.  We have seen signs of deer in our empty garden but during the season we never noticed the presence of their ravenous appetite.  The current garden location is against the house and a fence tucked in a corner.  There is only one way in and out so it has been harder for deer to just happen upon the garden.  Our biggest thief last Summer were the squirrels.  The new garden is much more exposed, the deer will wander by it and who knows what will happen.

We have deer scram ready to sprinkle.  I have planned to plant borage in the borders of our beds.  I read about one gardener in Organic Gardening who always plants borage because it seems to deter deer.  With my long hair I have a plentiful supply of hair from my brush that we can place in the garden.  Supposedly the scent of humans via our hair helps to deter deer also.  However this method seems a bit hokey to me and makes me feel silly.  Short of sitting outside in the dark with a shotgun we are preparing and planning our defenses.  I expect some grazing from the deer however if the ominous tale of our tulips are any foreshadowing of what to expect this Summer the deer should watch their backs.

Order Placed

I have finally placed my seed orders with Johnny's Seeds and Pinetree Garden Seeds.  I tried to place a small order with Seeds of Change but when I called most of the items I wanted were canceled for the year or back ordered.  I was bummed because they had a few varieties I was excited to try but I was able to find similar replacements with Johnny's and Pinetree so it worked out.  Here is what I am getting:

Kenearly Yellow Drying Beans
Red Leaf Vegetable Amaranth
VIT Corn Mache
Toscano Kale
Space Spinach
Bouquet Dill
Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

Tendergreen Bush Green Beans
Jacob's Cattle Drying Beans
Red Cored Chatenay Carrots
Cosmic Purple Carrots
Bright Lights Swiss Chard
New Red Fire Lettuce
Beleah Rose Lettuce
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
Red Sails Lettuce
All Year Round Lettuce
Hollow Crown Parsnips
Cherry Belle Radish
Purple Plum Radish
French Breakfast Radish
New Zealand Spinach
Perser Mixture Asters
Pampas Plume Celosia
Cut and Come Again Zinnia
Grandpa Otts Morning Glory
Pumpkin Pepper

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bee School

This weekend I had the chance to attend a bee school/conference through SWOBA (Southwest Ohio Beekeepers Association).  This year I took the beginners beekeeping and seasonal management sessions.  The seasonal management sessions were in invaluable.  Next year I look forward to taking classes on pest and disease management, beekeeping chemical free, bee friendly landscapes and other such topics. Most of the time when I tell people what we are about to undertake I get the look of: Are you completely off your rocker?   So it was nice to be around hundreds of other beekeepers and see the wide range of ages and types of people

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Yesterday it reached 74 degrees and we had been experiencing days of beautiful warm weather.  Right now it is 35 with the hopes of reaching 39.  All weekend it will be in the 40s and we might reach the 50s by Tuesday.  Next week is Spring Break and I have plans of doing lots of outdoor chores and I need the beautiful Spring weather to come back!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Over the Rhine

Over the weekend Andy and I were downtown driving through a very run down part of town that is trying to revitalize.  Amongst some of the renovated buildings and mostly run down buildings we passed a green lot that caught my eye.  I turned the car around to inspect and realized we had happened upon Over the Rhine's community garden! 

There were dozens of raised beds in neatly mulched rows, a covered shelter area, compost piles, and a beautiful mural.  I can't tell you how excited I was to discover that a part of town that seems so down and out with almost no green space had such a well maintained and welcoming community garden.  It's exciting for me to see the gardening bug catching on everywhere and for people to want to grow more and improve their communities!   

Monday, March 21, 2011


I am running late on planning our garden this year.  I have yet to buy any seeds.  Only this past weekend did I finally look at the seeds I currently have, which is only a bunch of lettuces.  We've been otherwise occupied with our decision to become beekeepers, planning the garden expansion, and everyday life.  I need to hurry and pick out what we want because in a week or two I need to get some seeds in the ground!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring

As of today Spring has officially sprung!  I am excited and looking forward to warmer weather and the world reawakening.  Our indoor tulips are blooming and a welcome reminder that Spring is here!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pruning Sage

Last year I pruned the Sage back in the Fall and it came back bigger and better than ever.  I let it go all Fall and into the Winter to see how long it would last before it went dormant and the leaves turned.  It was definitely time to give a haircut to this mangled mess.  The photos aren't all that great but they give you an idea how much I took off.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Urban Farm

I currently subscribe to Organic Gardening and devour it in one sitting once I pull it from the mailbox.  I reread it a few times in the following weeks to further absorb the information and then stash it in my collection as a resource.  This weekend I found a second new favorite, Urban Farm.  I have checked it out in the past and enjoyed the articles.  On Saturday I pulled it off the shelves again and have officially decided to get a subscription.  It is all about growing food and raising animals within a city or in small spaces. 

Andy has been wanting blueberry bushes for well over a year now.  But knowing how big they get at the local blueberry patch we just don't have room.  The current issue has an article on dwarf varieties that work well in containers.  So guess who is getting a blueberry bush!  There was also an article about creating a homemade, affordable, indoor grow light; which has been high on my want list.  Additionally there were other great articles on urban beekeeping, chicken raising, community gardens and others.  Each time I read the magazine there is always 1 or 2 articles I want to keep as resources.  I am definitely looking forward to the new subscription and would highly reccomend it to any other urban gardener, farmer, homesteader.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Today is my 29th birthday.  To celebrate we are going to a gardening class on how to care for your tools and shopping for cedar lumber for our raised beds.  To some people this would be torture but to me it's fun.  For dinner we are going to a great restaurant that only cooks local, organic, sustainable food.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Goodbye Row Cover

It has gotten warmer and thus I finally pulled off the row cover I put down in the Fall as an experiment to see how long it would extend the plants.  I pulled up the radishes to see how they fared.  They looked ok but were no longer firm and had not weathered the elements well.  The cilantro however continues to thrive and I am going to do my best to use it all up in the next couple weeks before we prepare the garden for Spring.

Monday, March 7, 2011

First Growth

The chives have begun to break through and is the first thing to grow and show up in the garden this year!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


This week I pulled my potted asparagus experiment out of the garage and back outside.  I originally put it in the garage because I was afraid that it wouldn't make it through the winter since it isn't insulated the way an in-ground asparagus plant is.  The garage isn't insulated so the asparagus experienced a milder winter than it would have outside.  We will see what happens with this experiment.  I have been contemplating adding a bed just for asparagus in our new garden plans.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I just couldn't resist these $4 sunflowers at the store this week.  Flowers just make me happy and are a welcome reminder that Spring is around the corner.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Our garden slopes downward.  In the lowest section moss has started growing since the end of the season last year.  I knew the drainage wasn't great but I didn't realize this bad.  The higher end of the garden drains really well without any problems.  Since we are adding raised beds in other parts of our yard we are considering adding beds here to alleviate this issue.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Peace Corps turns 50

Today the Peace Corps turns 50!  In celebration The Cincinnati Enquirer did a story on organized volunteerism and interviewed Andy since he is in charge of his company's community outreach.  The story is here.

Signs of Spring

It is March 1st and Spring is right around the corner.  With the unseasonably warm weather the bulbs are starting to come up!


Daffodils peek out 

Tulips breaking through.  I will be interested to see how well they fare since this will be their second season.  Normally tulips do their best year in their first year.