April 27, 2011


I spent TEN DOLLARS on this Disney growhouse for Marielle. In my defense, I didn't know it was $10, because Home Depot had it marked as $4, and I didn't see the receipt until later. She has been quite excited by it, but I guarantee will not be getting a new one next year. I'll probably just wash this guy out!

We grew Zinnias - for Z sharing week at school - using a different packet of seeds than the one that came with the kit. I didn't want pink and red and whatever Disney assigned me; I wanted purple. Marielle insists they will be pink, because Sleeping beauty is pink, but she didn't see the switcheroo I pulled.

Anyway, here is proof that Disney even give you overpriced-shitty dirt. The plant on the left (top) was grown with the soil disc thingie that came with this set. The one on the right (bottom) was grown with one of those Jiffy refill thingies that costs 25 cents. Everything else was exactly the same. The seed, the lighting, the watering, the day planted -- everything.

Sorry about the orientation of the photo. I was going to fix it but then I decided I wanted to take a nap instead.

After, part 1.



This is taking a very, very, very long time. Very. But I did move all that dirt PLUS the actual box by myself, which makes me feel like a total badass.

One down, one to go. (See that pesky little guy in the far left? He's moving too.) Luckily the second one is only 10" high, not 20", and doesn't have posts inside sticking another foot into the ground, so hopefully I can finish this project before August.

I'm already fantasizing about what else I can squeeze in there to make it look even better. A bench? A long, skinny raised bed or two? All of the above?

April 19, 2011

Much work remains to be done

Here's my new box.
Actually it doesn't look so bad; you almost can't tell it's not symmetrical. Pretty lined up with the fences too, but then you see the other problem. I've been digging out the old box (and soon his next-door neighbor too) to relocate them about 2 feet east but still haven't had enough daylight and strength to finish.
Today was spent driving to Spring Break camps, activities and playdates. (And then napping to recover.) So far I am unable to convince my four year old of the fun of doing things like relocating a half ton of dirt about 2 feet to the right. I am dying to get it done, but also know I can't really plant much for awhile, so I am trying to relax about the whole thing.

I envision eventually I can con someone into helping me make beautiful paths between the beds, but until then we're gonna stick with our current whatever-the-heck-grows-can-grow motif between the boxes. My only job is to make them wide enough to get a lawnmower through.

I'll be relocating the onions, which started as seeds last summer, went mostly dormant during winter and now are thriving. Looking into a lot of companion planting this year to maximize space. Planted several rows of carrot seeds today. I don't love carrots and don't even care if they end up edible, but I hear they're great for tomatoes. I can never remember which plants make the tomatoes taste better (basil?) and which keep away bugs (marigolds & carrots, I think) but I do know which ones are BFFs with tomatoes for whatever reason. And, for good reason, it's all about what's good for the tomatoes.

April 17, 2011

A farmer's work is never done

A few weeks ago our back fence blew over. I briefly considered not replacing it right away until my father reminded me bunnies et al would eat my vegetables. We had a new one 3 weeks later!

The new fence is shorter and lets in more light. (Let's say we wanted it that way, and not that we were too poor for another privacy fence. That's the ticket.) I'm hoping this means a little less shade in our backyard and more sun for our garden(s). We expanded our fence all the way to the property line, which opened up some space for another raised bed, right in the prime sunny spot of our yard!

Farmer Nacho helped me procure supplies, top soil, leaf gro, etc. from our favorite local garden center but was smart enough to flee town right after we unloaded it all. I went at the building alone in my garage, learning many lessons, most of all, I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN SHOP IN HIGH SCHOOL. Stupid other electives - what good are you to me now?

I had a couple of pieces of leftover wood I never got around to using last year. I recommend 10"x2"x8' for beds. (Yes, I probably did that in the wrong order. Figure it out.) You can make one long bed or do a nice 4'x4' bed too.

One piece of wood turned out to be warped pretty bad. Rather than stopping what I was doing and getting a new piece from Home Depot, I just though I could make it work. Due to this and many other misteps along the way, I've ended up with more of a 6.5'x4' bed that is slightly trapezoidal rather than the 8'x4' I had envisioned.

The frame is now in, but in order to leave enough room for a path, I had to put it pretty close to the old beds. This means I'm going to have to remove all the dirt from the other two beds and move them slightly, which I kind of needed to do anyway since the new fence shows just how crooked I put them in the first time.

The more I work, the more I realize needs to be done. I can't wait for the depressing part of the season to be over and the harvesting to begin!

April 16, 2011

Adoption Day Instructions

The Hectaro Lagrimoso grow houses were overflowing this week as our tomato plants took off. I needed to make room for more plants so I distributed many of  my precious tomato plants to good homes. (Peppers = slow & not ready yet.)

There are a million websites that will tell you how to plant tomatoes, like this one or this one. But for those who have better things to do, here's a short summary of what to do with my babies:

1. Don't put them outside yet. I swear, do NOT do it or I will forever ban you from my list of suitable homes. Wait until it's warm. No earlier than Mother's Day, but if you can wait until Memorial Day, even better. The plants will not grow any faster if you put them outside, and you might even stunt their growth. I relearn this lesson every year.

2. Keep seedlings in a sunny place like a windowsill, or next to a sliding glass door.They need as much sun as possible. (I keep grow lights on 14-16 hours/day!) When the stem starts to grow towards the sun, turn them around.

If it is an especially sunny, warm day, feel free to temporarily put them outside. I move mine to the deck. But you have to bring them back in at night!  Put them in partial shade the first few times they have go outside.

3. Water them, but not too much. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

4. If your containers start to disintegrate or the plants just get too darn big for their peat pot, transplant into a larger container, but leave them indoors. If they get to be 10" tall and it's not yet warm enough, you'll have to transplant them into a larger pot (at least 4-6", but the bigger the better).

Curious what varieties you have? I actually remembered to label the plants this year, so you can look them up by using the search box here or find them elsewhere on the internet.

Go ahead and start preparing their outdoor homes. Turn the soil, add fertilizer if needed, buy and put out tomato cages and stakes, etc. (But do NOT put your plants out. I will mock you publicly if I catch you.) If you want to build some raised beds, now's the time. Each plant needs about a 3 foot x 3 foot space at minimum.

If you are growing in containers (pots), get the LARGEST pots you can find. Add all new potting soil because in such a tiny home they will need all the help they can get. I like Costco's Miracle Gro Moisture Mix. You don't have to water it quite as often, and at Costco you can get a huge bag for about $11.

You should definitely cage & stake plants in pots. Remember containers dry out fast and you will need to water almost every day, so make sure a hose can reach wherever you put your containers.

This concludes today's lesson. As we get closer to super-sunny-fun-time, I will provide more instructions for you to ignore.

April 15, 2011

He's back!

And I put him right to work.

Well, after we ate nachos of course.

April 10, 2011

What's a margarita without a nacho?

Remember when Farmer Nacho fled for Thailand, leaving me with sole custody of Hectaro Lagrimoso?

Well it's time for some serious garden prep, which is why Farmer Nacho is returning to the US!! (Or maybe it was for a wedding? Unclear, so let's go with TO BE MY BITCH  to provide 365 days worth of entertainment in one day.)

I have been assigned one day, which I am going to take to mean 24 hours rather than 9 am to 5 pm or something similarly inadequate. Many uppers have been obtained and will be used in an attempt to be awake for every one of those 1440 minutes.

My to-do list for him us is growing so long I fear it's reached the point where he will arrive, we'll read it over and say, "Let's sit down and think about what we want to do first." 24 hours later we will wake up hungover, half naked in a Korean spa, with our new RV in their parking lot, wondering what just happened.


Now is the time to pick your carrots and onions that grew through the winter, and start your lettuce, broccoli, kale, etc.

Or, if you're like me, you can just be lazy and spend all energy forcing yourself to wait another month (or more) until the REAL food can go in.

Seriously, I'm not wasting time on carrots. I want something that tastes amazing and cannot be bought for 20 cents a pound at every other store in America.

Gimme delicious tomatoes!! They are taking over my bathtubs and anxious for warm days ahead.