Rooting for You

HI EVERYONE!!!!! Spring is almost here!!!!!!!!!

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Don’t let last week’s snow fool you. Or this week’s forecasted snow fool you either.

 

SPRING IS ALMOST HERE I PROMISE!

And you know what that means…….? Gardening Season!

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I’m so excited!!! Can you tell?

I’ve been getting antsy for Spring, but since it’s too early in the year for starts, I harvested the “humus” from my worm farm instead.

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Can I tell you how wonderful it smells? Just like the earth after a rain storm. Aaahhh.

The worm-humus goes into the soil for my house plants, and I guess I’ll let you know how the plants fare in a few weeks.

If you are interested in vermicomposting (composting with worms), then keep reading! Everything you need to know and/or purchase can be found at the website posted below.

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

They have compost bins, worms, organic fertilizer, seeds, etc., etc., etc.

I purchased my worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm in the dead of January last year. I ordered the smallest amount, which was 100, but you can order up to 10,000 if you want. For an apartment compost bin, 100 was enough. And the worms arrived alive! I was impressed.

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Rather than buy a compost bin, I decided to save a bit of money and make one out of stuff I had at home. It was so easy!

Stuff I Used:

  • Two 23″x  16″ x 15″ bins

(It doesn’t really matter what size bin you use, but keep in mind that you need space for food scraps)

  • A drill with a 5/16″ drill bit

(Any size will work, but you want the holes you drill to be smaller than the worms. Or smaller than the diameter of a pencil)

  • Newspaper Scraps
  • Dirt
  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Tape

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The first bin, I left untouched. Honestly, I don’t know if that bin is needed. I liked the idea of stacking one bin inside the other in case the inside bin cracked or something.  For the second bin, I drilled holes in the lid and along the sides near the top for air flow.

I then tore newspaper in to strips, dipped them in water, and placed them criss-cross on the bottom of the bin. On top of the scraps, I place a bit of moistened potting soil for the worms to burrow into. Note: You don’t want the newspapers and soil to be too saturated. It should feel like a wrung out sponge.

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There is a set of instructions that come with the worms, and honestly, I don’t remember what those instructions were. But I placed the worms on top of the garden soil and within a few hours they had burrowed into the soil.

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With the paper and marker, I wrote a list of what could go into the compost bin and what couldn’t, and taped it to the lid.

Yes:

Fruit and Veggie Scraps

Tea Bags

Coffee Grounds

Egg Shells

Shredded Paper

Shredded Cardboard: egg cartons, paper towel rolls, etc.

No:

Dairy Product

Meat

Breads

Citrus

Garlic and Onion

Processed or Cooked Food

Fats and Oils

Glossy or Colored Paper

I tossed in food scraps that I had been saving for a couple of days, and voila! Project Complete.

For the first week, the compost bin took a bit of adjusting. I came home one day to my apartment reeking like a garbage bin. It was horrible! I immediately threw open all the windows. In the dead of winter. Smelly and cold….

Luckily, I didn’t have a roommate at the time, who surely would have hated me!

I opened the bin, nose covered, and noticed there was a lot of moisture in the bin. It didn’t look right so I added dry shredded paper for absorption. I didn’t take long before the smell was gone. But the next day I came home to the same thing!

“My landlords are gonna kill me,” I thought.

Maybe there just wasn’t enough airflow? I drilled a few more holes into the lid, opened the windows again, took a drive for a few hours, and came back to a fresh smelling apartment.

The compost bin has NEVER smelled bad since.

If you’re doing things right, the bin should smell clean and earthy. (Aaaahh). You want a decent amount of moisture in the bin. However, if there is too much moisture with no air flow, just beware that house-mates might want to kill you. Your compost bin should NEVER smell like a trash bin. If it does, something is wrong.  

But don’t fret too much. Making adjustments was super simple. If I can figure it out, any one can.

So that’s that. I throw in my food scraps and the worms eat it. I’m not sure how long it’s “supposed” to take for food to break down, but after a year with the worms, I have a 5 gallon Lowe’s bucket full of earthy black gold!

-Erica

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I Eat Local Because I Can

Yikes! Time flies so fast when you’re not paying attention to your garden!! Thanks, again as always, to Todd who practically manages my garden for me, everything in the garden grew to outstanding sizes. From the peppers I was able to make 6 jars of salsa, with many more peppers still on the vine.

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From the cucumbers I made 6 jars of pickles…which turned out to be disgusting. I have about 6-12 jars worth of cucumbers left over to try again.

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And with all the zucchini I made about a dozen different desserts and meals. They say you only need one zucchini plant per family for the whole summer…I had three thriving plants for just myself. I eventually ripped them out because I can’t take anymore zucchini!! That being said, here is another amazing zucchini recipe:

Lemon Zucchini Cake

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This recipe made in onto my top favorite’s list of zucchini recipes. It’s so light, fresh and zesty while the zucchini keeps the cake moist.  By the way, dear reader, if you want me to make you zucchini cake, or bread, or brownies, even if you live out of state, send me a message. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on all this.

-Erica

Garden Hoe

“I am writing in the garden. To write as one should of a garden one must write not outside it or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden.”

-The Secret Garden. 

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Today I am not writing in the garden. Instead, I am writing in my kitchen, mapping a course out of this zucchini maze. Currently baking is a loaf of chocolate chip zucchini bread. The smell of warm roasting cinnamon, wafting from the oven, is taunting me.

Fact: One zucchini plant can produce enough fruit to feed a family for the entire summer.

Question: What does one single person do when three thriving zucchini plants produce enough fruit to feed an army? (Remembering my mishaps from last year, I’m in a state of shock.)

Answer: Your coworkers get lots of free zucchini treats.

Here is a list of the zucchini desserts that have been a hit:

  1. Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana MuffinsHealthy-Zucchini-Muffins-with-Chocolate-Recipe
  2. Zucchini Coffee CakeBrown-Butter-Zucchini-Coffee-Cake-1
  3. Zucchini BrowniesZucchini-Brownies-1-of-6w

I had a roommate who made chocolate chip banana muffins every Sunday. Have you eaten one? It’s heaven! It spoiled me, so now I look for every opportunity to put banana and chocolate chip in pastries. It’s so tasty! Throwing in the zucchini makes me feel like the muffins are a little healthier. They couldn’t possibly be, though, because they’re too delicious.

The coffee cake is my personal favorite. It’s a simple recipe, easy to make, and easier to eat. I shared this with my coworkers and friends. Then made some more. Then made some more.  Don’t skip the cinnamon glaze that goes on top!

I thought I had under-cooked the brownies because they were sooo ooey and goey. The chocolate frosting was amazing! Also a treat I brought to work that was gone immediately! As the recipe calls for, you’ll have to eat them with a fork!

I have many more recipes to go and will post as they’ve been tried and tested. What are your favorite zucchini recipes? Any recipes you want me to try out? Comment below!

-Erica

 

You’re a Fineapple

Pineapples. Where to start with this emotional roller coaster? The pineapple plants were forgotten for a few weeks and I thought they were dead. I had a post already write about giving up and ending the pineapple growing experience. After 3 attempts I was not going to try again! 

In the late hours of the morning I was out in the yard; looming by the green house. I peeked in and  to my unsurprise, on the work bench was a dried-up pineapple plant, BUT on the ground, tucked next to a storage container was a growing, living pineapple plant. I was quite surprised. 

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I watered the crap out of that pineapple. With fingers crossed this plant will continue grow. 

-Lexi 

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Sometimes You’re the Pigeon. Sometimes You’re the Statue.

The pigeons came back, built a nest, and laid an egg in one of my planters. 

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This was serious. If the pigeons were planning on raising their young right there on my porch than surely they’d never leave. 

So drastic measures had to be taken. I apologize to the faint of heart, but the egg was disposed of. In all fairness, I did ask my friend who raised pigeons if he wanted it and he said no. 

Again, I didn’t want to spend any money on pigeon deterrent products because reviews consistently show the pigeons will come back.

Aware of the pigeon problem, my roommate brought out her two air-soft guns and stored them in our coffee table. Whenever she or I heard coo-ing outside we’d very quietly open the door, take aim, and fire. I’m no quick-draw or sharp-shooter, but a couple times I nailed ‘em right on the neck without their suspecting.

Ha!

Honest, it was pretty fun. I kind of want the pigeons to come back so I have something for target practice.

But thankfully they’re gone! I’ve seen them around the apartment complex perching on someone else’s balcony.

Disclaimer: I’m sure the air-soft pellets were nothing more than an annoyance to the pigeons. At the very worst they may have felt similar to being hit by a paintball. Which isn’t at all comfortable. But no pigeons were killed or maimed in the course of this story.

-Erica

I Love Gardening From My Head Tomatoes

I haven’t been holding up on my end of the blog posts. There has been a lot of new additions to the garden out here in Idaho; a watering system, fence around the garden, a new baby, an arch and grapes!

The “Before” pictures were taken in January.

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The “After” pictures were taken the first week in July in the same year.

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What a difference 6 months make!

-Lexi

Trowel and Error

Spoons.

Spoons of any kind, but wooden spoons in particular, are great garden markers. I pick wooden spoons because of their size. However, because they are wood, will be in the dirt, and the weather will wear them out, I also spray paint them.

I picked orange spray paint because it’s unnatural and easy to spot. 

I don’t read directions, but I do follow pictures. So here are the steps in pictures:

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~Lexi

 

 

Origin story and such

Ok y’all, I wanted to tell you Zucchini’s origin story because it’s my favorite. It starts with a few friends, a Bachelorette, and a nerdy sense of humor.
First, I have to confess that I have a lame obsession with the show, The Bachelorette. The obsession is beginning to fade as it’s apparent that one season is exactly like every-other-season. However, it had been a few years since I had watched the show. A few work friends and I needed an excuse to get together more often, so that was our weekly get-together show.

Note: I loved Rachel’s season, and I totally called it that she’d end up with Bryan. (Hope they’re still going strong!?) Peter was suave, but also a total boring, manipulative jerk.
Anyways, back to my story.
So, while sitting there enjoying completely mindless entertainment that appeals to some weird need to be meaninglessly involved in someone else’s life, my friend Josh asked me to like his fan page.
“Fan page?”
“Yea.”

Taking my eyes off a Rachel and Bryan climbing into a convertible Bentley,
“I mean, I’m a fan of you, but what do you do?”
“Nothing.”
“What?”
“My friends have fan pages for themselves. One is a photographer. One is a model. I don’t do anything…but I’m making a calendar. You should like my page.”

As I sat there and watched the bachelorette and her future beau drive around Geneva, I thought, “sure. Why not?”

Fast forward a bit. There was a bunch of garbage in the news. All about dirty, corrupt politics. Looming war. Racial tensions. Gun violence. Marches in the streets, etc. The economy was still struggling a bit and work was stressing me out.
One night, around 11:30pm, I was just getting home and feeling depressed. I just wanted to sit outside, in the dark, to look up at the stars and feel a cool summer breeze. I grabbed a mason jar of pink lemonade and walked out to my back patio. I sat in my pink Walmart lawn chair and looked up at the street lamps. The air conditioner kicked on next to me and a plane, descending on its flight path, flew overhead. The sky was dark, but I felt muggy and hot.
Next to me was an empty blue Walmart chair and next to that was my zucchini growing in a little red pot. I lifted the pot onto the blue chair and in my mind started talking to it and felt a little less lonely.
I stared up at the sky and watched plane number three fly over head. The thought occurred to me that Zucchini needed something to drink, so I put my mason jar of lemonade next to it. It also needed to look more human so I fixed on a pair of sunglasses. It made me giggle a bit.
“This is almost as lame as watching an entire season of The Bachelorette,” I thought to myself.

-Erica

Dang Girl, You Pine!

Attempt #3 

I finally just looked online and read how to regrow a pineapple. This is a brief overview of what I found…

Directions:

Twist off top, “crown.”

Place in water.

Basic need-to-know information about pineapple plants:

Roots starts growing in a couple days. 

Needs lots of light. 

They are hardy and tolerant. They can come back from a lot, unless the crown has been cut in half.

Once the roots start, they can be placed in soil. But can stay in water for a year. 

You need to try really hard to mess this up. 

Takes 18 months to 2 years to get fruit. 

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So this attempt I’m putting this plant out in the greenhouse and it’s not coming out until it’s brown and rotten. 

They are a beautiful plant and even if I don’t get fruit from it, it will be fun to see the progress. 

(I call this filter “sticky fingers,” in honor of Billy, my youngest, who steals my phone and continually has sticky fingers.)

-Lexi 

I Wet My Plants

More updates from me:

Project One: Composting

The baby worms are still alive and growing up. Yay! They are eating, sleeping, and composting to their hearts’ delight. One unexpected benefit of having a compost bin is that I’m much more confident in purchasing produce. I usually eat half of it and the rest goes bad. With a compost bin, all my rotting produce goes into the bin and gets recycled so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my money.

Project Two: Indoor Herbs

I tried to imitate an indoor-mason-jar-herb-garden that I saw on Pinterest. How many Pinterest projects of yours have been successful? I’m still sitting at zero. Although, I did try to get things going in the dead of Janurary, with blizzards raging outside, little natural sunlight, and the minimal warmth of a space heater, so there is that. Perhaps it’s a project I’ll try again later this summer. But round one on the mason jars didn’t work.

I didn’t give up on indoor herbs, though. Thanks goes to my friend, Melanie, who gave me a window sill herb garden kit. I didn’t open the kit for the longest time because I was bitter about the mason jars. However, I felt foolish when I did open the kit because everything I needed to grow herbs was ready to go. The package had the seeds, the soil and the labeled planters all ready for me. I just needed to re-hydrate the soil, bury the seeds, and put the container near a window. How easy! The next step is figuring out when and how to “harvest” the herbs for consumption.

Project 3: Patio Garden

This project for me is the most daunting. I’ve read from so many sources that beginner gardeners should start small. One or two plants only, etc. Then build up over the years. And you wanna know why!? It’s not that gardening is THAT difficult. Really, a lot of it comes down to proper soil, proper sunlight, proper watering. Pretty easy! The reason you want to start small is because it’s expensive! You have to buy the planters, the soil, the gardening tools, etc. Not too bad. But if you get too ambitious you have to buy more planters, more soil, more tools, and you have to find a place in your apartment to put all your starters. After that, you run the risk of everything dying and having to start from scratch. I’m not saying you can’t and shouldn’t be ambitious. I’m just saying it’s a lot to manage.

I have starters for onions, tomatoes, bell and jalapeño peppers, radishes, carrots, zucchini, and cucumber growing in my apartment that I started from seed.  So far all is going well since nothing has died. However, the trick will be transplanting them, as that could be the end to it all. They will probably be fine. But I’m just telling you, don’t be ashamed to start small.

-Erica