Archive for March, 2011

Easy Way to Grow Sugar Snap Peas

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Sprouts, sprouts, everywhere…  My sugar snap peas are breaking through just 7 days after planting them. 

Sugar snap peas are one of these easiest veggies to grow.  I’ve had great success with sugar snaps year after year and have some tips to share with you.  Sugar snap peas are cool weather veggies.  Check the zones on the back of the seed packet, but they generally like to be planted in the early spring. 

For fool proof peas, you’ll need a trellis, a soaker hose, and sugar snap pea seeds.  See my post about preparing the garden to get yourself ready to plant. 

After you’ve dug your garden up, laid your soaker hose and installed your trellis, we prepare the seeds.  If you plant the seeds straight from the package into the ground you’ll probably lose 50% or more of the seeds to rot. 

A trick I learned is to sprout the seeds indoors to boost your success rate to 90%+.  Place your seeds on a dinner plate in between some paper towels.  Significantly wet the paper towels to soak the seeds, but don’t use so much water that it pools on the plate.  Every day, sometimes twice a day, check to see if the paper towels have dried out.  Keep adding water to the plate to keep the seeds moist.  After 4-6 days, the seeds will produce little roots. 

Here is a pic of the original dry seeds versus my rooted seeds. 

In the garden, I used a chopstick to drag a line all the way down my fence/trellis.  I followed up with my hand to create a trench about 2 inches deep.  Next, I dropped in my rooted seeds and covered them up with dirt.  With rooted seeds I normally plant every 1 – 2 inches and have less to thin out when they grow in.  For this year, I rooted way to many seeds and sort of scattered them all down the trench.  I’ll have to do some heaving pruning when they start growing to thin them out.

After planting I ran the soaker hose for 30 minutes and that’s about it.  A week later, voila! we have sproutage.  Check your garden throughout the week to see if you need to water before they sprout.  We were lucky to have a rainy week.

When they are a few inches high I will go back and thin out the seedlings per the directions on the seed packet.  As they grow, the peas will grow little tendrils that will cling to the trellis.  Sometimes I provide extra support by using twist ties to loosely secure the stalks here and there in the event of a bad storm.  Otherwise, I’ll water regularly and sit back until my  peas come in!

Blowout on the Highway

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

This was our rear passenger side tire.  Totally shredded, both sides.

My hubby and son were heading out to borrow a power washer from a friend and traveling about 70mph on the interstate when, BLAM!!! the tire blows out.  They were able to safely pull off on the shoulder.

He calls me to tell me that Oliver is freaking out being strapped alone in his carseat as cars and trucks thunder by while daddy is changing the tire.  I got dressed and packed Evelyn into our other car to go rescue Oliver.  Poor Oliver’s eyes were wide as saucers when we showed up and he was ready to get the heck out of the van.  What an adventure we had!

From start to finish it took about 5 hours to change the tire, drive to a repair shop, swap out carseats and screaming, hungry, and sleepy children, and get the van back to the house.  I left the hubby at the shop and he managed to talk them down $20 on the new tire.  It never hurts to ask for a discount, especially if you are the only customer.

Needless to say, I didn’t get to plant my lettuce, radishes, and onions today.  :-(  On the plus side, we made a trip to Lowes and Home Depot to buy small holly bushes.  Lowes had them for 6 bucks each, Home Depot had the same ones on sale for $2.50 each.  We bought 6 of them and will go back tomorrow for another 6.  We always do a price comparison between those two stores when we go out to buy something from either one.  One of them is always less expensive than the other for various items.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a better day and we get our seeds and plants in the ground!

Fingerpaint and Cookie Cutters

Friday, March 11th, 2011

One morning it was cold and icky outside.   With cabin fever looming I searched for an easy pick me up for the both of us.

What could be easier than finger paint and cookie cutters?  I have a box of 101 plastic cookie cutters and searched for something St. Pattyish.  Of all the holidays that they included they didn’t include St. Patrick’s Day.  Not a four leaf clover in the bunch! 

We settled for some green finger paint instead and a few random shapes.  I smeared the paint onto a plate so it would stay wet longer and then taught Oliver how to dip the cutters and press onto the paper.  It didn’t take much encouragement and he was off!

He only had a small dab of paint on his bottom lip this time.  He’s getting better at not eating his craft supplies!  The fingerpaint is very easy to clean and now I’m wondering what else we could use it for around here.

Tell me, how have you used finger paints with your little ones?

Preparing the Spring Garden

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Ready to get dirty?  Two weeks ago, we prepped the spring garden. 

My hubby turned over a plot of dirt 18 ft long by 3 feet wide to a depth of about 8 – 10 inches.   We ran it down the length of chain link fence to take advantage of a natural trellis for our sugar snap peas.  I had previously gardened here before and had amended the soil with a ton of compost in the past.  Can you believe this used to be red clay???  I was serious when I said a TON of compost…

My sweet baboo helped to turn over the dirt with his daddy.  He worked on his little plot for almost 1/2 an hour!

We used a nifty little hand tiller to break up big clumps of dirt and to pull small weeds out.

Next we layered on the Moo-nure! (I love saying that)  Following the instructions on the bag, we only needed 1/2 the bag.  The hubby raked it into the soil and leveled out the garden bed.

We are using the chain link fence for the bottom half of our pea trellis.  We staked some simple fence posts into the ground and clipped in some wire fencing for the top half of the trellis. 

We are using a soaker hose for the spring garden due to the nature of the plants.  We are growing sugar snap peas, lettuce, radishes, and green onions.  Since there will be so many of each plant, it made more sense to use a soaker hose and deeply soak the ground.  We are using drip irrigation for the summer plants as those are lesser in number, are much larger, and require more water. 

We laid the soaker hose out overnight to uncoil and relax.

The next day I dug a 2 – 3 inch trench and buried the hose under the ground.  I did one straight run about 6 inches away from the fence to water the sugar snap peas.  Then I came back down the plot and made big curves. 

I choose to do curves for 2 reasons:

1) I didn’t want to spend the money on extra soaker hose to make 3 straight runs in the garden.
2) I’ve found that plants like leaf lettuce and arugula grow great between the curves.  Not too much water and they can be grown in clusters.

I placed broken pieces of sticks at the peak of each bend to mark where the soaker hose was buried.  I can reasonably follow the path from stick to stick to know where to plant.

After installing the hose, I ran a test for 15 minutes.  You can see my pattern and saturation after 15 minutes.  During the growing period I’ll water for about 30 minutes, once a week.

We are ready to plant!  The only thing we’ve purchased so far was the Moonure and the soaker hose.  The rest we already own or we’ve borrowed from friends or neighbors.  You’d be surprised at how much you can save if you ask around.

Garden for 2010

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

To plant, or not to plant, that is the question.  Almost a year ago, I wrote a great post about Saving Money With Gardening.  Even though I wasn’t able to tend to my garden properly last year, we still reaped the rewards with an ever blooming tomato plant, hardy bell peppers, and bundles of herbs that grew well into the fall.  This year we are going all out and will be trying many different methods to generate a bountiful harvest as frugally as possible.

Here’s how we got organized last month:

1) Make a list of what you want to plant.  Flowers, veggies, herbs, etc..  and the space, light, and water requirements for each.

2) Determine which item loves cool weather or hot weather.  Examples of cool weather crops: sugar snap peas, lettuce, radishes.  Examples of hot weather crops: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers.

3) Figure out the technical details: irrigation (drip, soaker, rain barrels, garden hose, etc…), garden supports (tomato cages, bean trellises, etc…), animal barriers (protection from rabbits, deer, etc…), weed barriers (mulch, garden borders, etc…)

With items 1, 2, and 3, create your garden plan.  Go out in your yard and figure out where you can put your garden(s).  Do you have ample space?  Will you use containers to grow in?  Do you want raised beds?  Will you have separate spring and summer gardens or will you do a succession planting of summer stuff amongst the dying out spring crop?  Where is your water source located?  Where do you get the most sun?  Sketch out some ideas on paper to get you started with your plan. 

Next steps:

4) Decide if you want to start your own seeds, sow in ground, or buy seedlings?  This all depends on what you want to plant.  Spring crops do great by sowing in the ground directly.  Some summer crops should get a head start indoors, whether by yourself or by buying seedlings from a store to plant.  The reason for that depends on how long your summer is.  By the time some plants mature to produce fruit, summer is nearly over.  For example, last year I grew Thai pepper plants from seed and by the time the plant was producing fruit it was already late September.  If you are new to gardening, you might want to pick up some established seedlings at your local garden center or home improvement store when they come into season.  If you want to start your own seeds, stay tuned for my post about seed starting.  After my miserable seed starting failure last year, we are starting from scratch and going semi-pro.

5) Now that you have the beginnings of a plan, you can start talking budget.  Gardening takes money.  On the low end, you can buy a big pot, a bag of soil, stick a tomato plant in it and water it with a glass.  On the high end, you can build a raised bed, haul in truckloads of soil, and install drip irrigation on timers.  Figure in the costs of the plants, whether you plan to purchase grown seedlings or start your own (extra expense there).

We fall in the middle.  Every year we keep adding to our gardening treasure trove.  We have trellises, tomato cages, and drip irrigation built up from years of gardening.  We also have 3 very large areas of our yard that we’ve tilled truckloads of compost into over the years to go from clay to rich soil. This year we are adding seed starting to our budget.  We will spend very little for everything else.

6) Determine date for preparing garden.  This includes digging it up, checking the pH and amending the soil (compost, fertilizer), and taking care of any of the details from #3 that you can (ex. bury soaker hoses, dig in rabbit fencing, lay your border around the garden, setting up trellises, etc…).  Some things will have to wait until your plants are in the ground (ex. mulching, drip irrigation, staking, etc…).

You should now be ready to go shopping.  You have thought about your garden carefully and all it will require.  You have weighed the pros and cons of all aspects.  You will grow what your budget allows, even if it’s only an herb garden on your window sill this year.  Next year, you can expand upon what you already have.

That’s pretty much what I’ve been up to last month.  We dug our spring garden up, setup the trellises, and buried the soaker hoses.  I planted my sugar snap peas last weekend and will plant everything else this Saturday.  I’ve been stymied by thunderstorms for the past 2 weeks.  I can’t plant delicate lettuce seeds only to have them washed away during a storm.  It’s supposed to rain like the dickens for the next two days and we are cutting it close for a spring crop.  I’m starting our summer plants indoors this weekend, so at least we’ll have a bumper harvest mid-year.

Feels so good to get my feet dirty again!

Sick House

Monday, March 7th, 2011

So I never got the garden posts up.  All my kiddos are sick, sick, sick (including my hubby).  We sat for my friend’s son this weekend while they were having their baby and he came with a cold from daycare.  Ahhh… I don’t miss those daycare colds.  Oliver had one long perpetual cold the entire time he was in daycare.  It took 2 weeks for him to get healthy after I took him out.

The hubby was too sick to go to work today and the kids have been miserable.  I slept on the floor in Oliver’s room last night, because he kept waking up crying.  I’m off to cram in some sleep before Evelyn wakes up to eat again.

Somehow I am not sick yet.  Keep your fingers crossed that I make it through this week!

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

Sound Off: Family night, gardening, and babysitting

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

It was First Friday at our favorite kiddie hangout (meaning they were open late) and we squeezed in another family outing.  Oliver and Barry took off leaving Evelyn and I in the dust. 

It is so nice to have some time with Evelyn in the baby area.  Normally, I’m toting her around in a sling while chasing after Oliver.  It’s nice when the hubby can join us.

Evelyn is 4 months old now and can sit up pretty well with support.  She also flipped herself over this past week for the first time and scoots herself all over the floor when she has tummy time.

She’s a cutie!  I can’t help kissing her chubby cheeks all the time.  I have to get them in now, before she doesn’t want them anymore.

Quintuplets!  More cheeks to kiss!

With all the activities that they have setup for kids, Oliver loves climbing the stairs…again and again and again.  We love that he passes out at night after the work out!

I am so glad we were able to get to Marbles last night.  February sort of turned into a rough month for us.  Tons of appointments kept the family on the go.  We also worked hard outside on the weekends, which left me little time to recharge.  Normally, the hubby takes care of the kids so I can recover from the week.  When we have a honey-do list, its business as usual for me and I get really run down after several weeks of little sleep.  If you ever see a drop in posts on this blog, you know I’ve been hit with a ton of bricks and need to sleep it off.

We’ve also been watching our friend’s son, while they’ve been having their second child – Congratulations!!!  As you can imagine, it’s been crazy juggling all three kids.  On the plus side, we aren’t on standby anymore and I can take the phone out from under my pillow! :-)

I’ve got the photos for my garden posts lined up and ready to go.  If the kids cooperate tomorrow, hopefully I can get them up on the blog.  Until then, hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

The Magical Oven

Friday, March 4th, 2011

 

My son has finally started noticing the oven.  It started when he watched his dad put in a pizza – one of his favorite meals.  We turned on the oven light and he found something better than Sesame Street to watch!  We kept telling him that when the timer went off the pizza could come out and he could eat it.  It was so cute watching him look at the timer and then squat to check in on the pizza.

Now he wants to put everything in the oven!  I’ll even put his food into the cold oven just so he can “watch” it cook. 

These are those moments when you just want to scoop up your kids and wish they would never grow up…

Project 52: Glimpse Into Motherhood

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