Weed ‘Em and Reap

Greenhouse Update:

I meant to post this weeks ago, but with Easter, Spring Break, and mothering 3 1/2 children, I can’t always find time to sit down and blog! Oh well.

So, after 4 years of sitting on my front porch, we finally got the green house started.  It seems like every step has been a lot of work.

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First, we moved the box to the back yard.

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We discovered that we needed to build a foundation, which we weren’t prepared for. But luckily my sister, Taylor, was visiting, and was a happy little helper.

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We worked on it all Saturday, but it got dark before we could get much further than unpacking the basic structure. The next morning I sent my oldest outside to pick up a piece of trash that was on the other side of the yard. It turned out to be a bag of nuts and bolts that our puppy, Hei Hei, had gotten a hold of.

(By the way, you can always tell when we get our family pets based on which popular Disney character they’re named after.)
It took us a few more days, but we finished the structure.

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Just a couple more things to take care of, but we should be planting by Monday!

-Lexi

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You had one job!

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I have good news and bad news. The good news is that garlic and basil are cold hardy. The bad news is that zucchini and cilantro are not.

Last week, the glorious sun shown down and warmed our little valley to a comfortable 65 degrees. I thought that on such a fabulous day I’d leave my plants outside to soak in the natural light and harden up against the wind. Then I went to work.

I’ve lived here for 5 years. I should have known better.

By the end of the day, a storm had blown in with a chilly rain, and the temperature dropped to around 29 degrees.
Zucchini and cilantro are dead.

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Zucchini is the one thing I’ve been trying to grow the past two years.

I had one job!

The good news is that planting season is coming up in the next two weeks, so I’m not out of the game yet. I also have amazing friends who have already donated to my garden venture. They include a heating mat, pots, soil, seeds, and a garden plot. I just need winter and spring to get along and work it out.

– Erica

 

 

Natural Rhetoric

Natural Rhetoric
What does that actually mean?
No, I’m seriously asking what does that mean?

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I see the label “natural” slapped on everything, so I started asking around. I live outside a town of around 12 hundred people (just within the city limits), and a large surrounding agricultural area. These are the people who I would claim are experts on what qualifies as “natural.”
The responses were “things grown naturally.” Yes, ok, but isn’t all organic matter grown naturally? And that brings us to the argument of organic vs. synthetic, which is in reference to chemicals to help with growing. Which is a totally different argument than GMO and non-GMO. And we are only focused on foods right now. I’ve seen soaps and cleaners that are labeled “natural”. And that is just a whirlwind of a headache waiting to happen. And do we want to go there? What is in soap that has been grown? I mean actually cleaning-really works-removes all traces of dirt-soap! I guess that lye does come from the ground. Are you following my point here? Why can’t we agree on the same definition on what the word “natural” on our labels mean?

I feel like I’m in an Emperor’s New Clothes situation here, and I’m going to get sacrificed by those who are radical “naturalists.” I’m still working out how you get a unnatural chicken, I haven’t found any growth hormones for them yet… unless they are trying to pass off rat meat as chicken? How would I know if they apparently taste the same?
I’m trying to do my due diligence. I’ve learned about GMOs and even helped with my husband’s study of them. I’ve learned how foods gets the “organic” label. It all seems like the hard way of doing things. 

Also, people who do things “naturally” usually have a soap box to stand on. There are some mothers who are martyrs because they want to protect their families from the raging chemicals in their homes. Unfortunately for such a mother, she was not alive before boiled water and now has to save her kids from modern ingredients that could cause skin irritations, lung damage, blindness, poisoning, and death if ingested. In all the billions of houses with chemicals in them, kids die of these causes. That kind of rational thinking turns me off.

After a lot of studying about it, though, I’ve decided to do some things naturally. Why? Because it’s cheaper. Think about it. I’m already half way there. I’m growing my own garden so I can have homemade salsa, I get my beef and eggs from the family’s ranch, I can and preserve peaches/pickles/tomatoes sauce, and I make the occasional jam. I have a kid who has extremely sensitive skin and needs special soaps and lotions. With one income, I’m always looking for ways to cut my grocery bill with homemade/ natural things. And some how owning goats makes my stance more convincing. Talking about stances, I’m not sure I’m following this anymore, but the point I’m trying to make is this: “natural” can be cheaper! But I’m cherry picking what I can do “naturally”.  There will always be 409 in my cleaning arsenal, my kids will be given Tylenol to lower their fevers and reduce pain, my deodorant will be Sauve and toothpaste Crest. Somethings in my life will always be considered  “unnatural,” like how I give birth. And I am ok with that. But if I can do it in bulk and do it cheaper and it’s just as effective as store bought, then I will try it and say it’s natural. 

To bring all this around to gardening, I’m doing it because I can. It’s not for any other reason other than “why not.” I had a discussion with someone recently whose point of view for not canning and going with store bought was it was cheaper and faster.  I 100% agreed. The discussion was based solely on which was cheaper. I argued that the initial investment could be pricey, but then I had the satisfaction of enjoying my hard work all year long. 
I didn’t notice the labels on my food until a college roommate had to make an extra trip to buy organic chocolate chips in bulk. Then, in my married life, I’ve lived in a world of agriculture, and I have gotten to see and live with the food markets. Which is different then how I grew up. For example, I didn’t know what FFA was until I was 19, and then I though it was kids learning the different types of meat cuts. So my question is … What are your thoughts on the rhetoric of food labels?

~Lexi

I Got Worms

You know your life has taken a turn for the best when you are excited for the shipment of worms you’ll be getting in a few days time. Step aside friendships and fun! I have worms!
You know what else is a clear turn for the best? Having nothing to talk about on a date other than your worm hobby.
“Yea, I have worms. At least a hundred.”
This is a sure way to be safely home and tucked in under your blankets by 10pm that night.
Step aside social life! The worms have made it!
…just counting down the days until they arrive…

-Erica

All things merge into one..

A few years ago, I called my friend Josh after reading “A River Runs Through It.” He happened to have a passion for fly fishing and I was feeling motivated. We drove to Strawberry Reservoir, and the same evening some friends were having a bonfire. We told them we’d meet up with them with fish to roast over the fire.
We drove up to Strawberry and spent the whole afternoon on the river. We moved up the river and down the river and caught nothing. We tried different flies and casts and watched the sun sink over the mountains, but caught nothing.
A bit downhearted, I exclaimed that our friends would be disappointed.
“We’ll just stop at the grocery store and buy one,” Josh said.

“You can do that?”

“Sure. I’ll tell them how, with destiny in your eyes, you cast the most graceful cast, and as the fly landed, a fish came up to meet it and you reeled it in!”
So that’s the story of how we bought a fish from the grocery store, but told our friends I caught it, then ate it around a bonfire.
How this story relates to gardening:

This summer I’ll be baking lots of zucchini bread, frying up lots of veggies, etc. If my gardening skills are like last year, you may just wonder if it all came from the store. But I’ll never tell.
The end.

-Erica

Lettuce See

I’ve been looking at a planting calendar lately because I’ve been excited to get my garden started. February is coming to an end, Spring is nearly here, and the random snow storms have not dampened my excitement for the warm weather. 

But as I’ve looked at the planting calendar I’ve noticed that the only things to start in March are “greens”. Things like lettuce, kale, and sprouts. And don’t need negativity in my garden, so I guess I’m waiting another month to start planting. On the plus side, it’s another month to build a green house. 

A few years ago we threw some seeds out in our garden plot. We hooked up the garden to our automatic sprinklers and wanted to see what would grow. Unfortunately, we did plant different varieties of lettuce. Growing them was easy. You cut what you wanted and the plant grew back. You would think it was pretty awesome-Salad all summer long. Wrong! The lettuce was gritty with dirt or bugs. We tried insecticide but that was a labor intensive activity, so not worth the effort. The bugs would climb way down into the plant. The bugs were the grossest but not the worst problem. It was the dirt, and we just couldn’t get each individual leaf clean. You are already weary of each bite, and in the back of your mind you’re sure there is a bug in each bite. But then your teeth grinds against dirt. Sending shivers down your back. So I will not be adding lettuce/kale/sprouts to my garden this year, I can’t look at the clean packaged lettuce at the store with out being filled with nausea.

~Lexi

Tropic Like it’s Hot

During my weekly shopping trip, I found myself staring off into space in the produce section. The pineapples had caught my eyes. I stopped and was trying to figure out if I had seen on Pinterest that you can regrow pineapple. After being jostled by a few people trying to get their bell peppers, I figured I would buy one and then figure it out.
All of them were pretty green still, so I picked the one with the least amount of green and added it to my cart.
Now I will admit it’s been sitting on my counter for a few days and the leaves don’t looks so fresh any more, but Pinterest did confirm that it can be done, so tried to emulate the picture I saw, with tooth picks and a mason jar. Mine is actually an old pickle jar, but the thought is the same.
So while the weather is too cold to start planing outside maybe I can get the roots started in this pineapple.

~Lexi

Tropic Like It's Hot

Update on Pineapple: Attempt #1 didn’t work. It died. 

There are a few reasons why I think it died. 1) The pineapple fruit was too green. 2) The pineapple fruit was green, but it was too ripe. 3) I had it on my kitchen counter where it didn’t get long exposure to the sun. So the next attempt I need to find a place with better light. If only there was a building for growing plants that is made of all windows so it could get all that exposure to the sun….

 

You Herb it Here First

Two weeks ago I had mandatory paid time off from work. You would think that’s exciting, but it meant a whole week off with absolutely no money, no where to go, and nothing to do.

On the plus side, it was paid, so who am I to complain? Sheesh! Anywho, it did give me plenty of time to think about this blog and what wintery indoor gardening projects I could do. Since it’s January and we will get more snow storms, I don’t want to start planting outside.

This is the first project I came up with:  Herbs!

I decided to grow Cilantro, Basil, and Oregano.

Using 3 mason jars, I put river pebbles at the base, filled the jars with miracle grow seed starting soil, and planted the seeds. Full disclosure, I work at Lowe’s and I bought all this product at Lowe’s. I may be a bit bias, (since I do get an employee discount and all) but I’m not getting paid to promote the store.

I was curious about how to successfully grow herbs in my basement apartment since it doesn’t get too much light. Two fellow employees told me not to worry about grow lights and that they are just a gimmick. They said any lamp would work fine.

I am using my desk lamp, and I think that is ok. The herbs are getting about 2-3 hours of natural sunlight a day plus about 7-8 hours of artificial light.

Here’s to hoping all goes well!

708FB989-4F8F-43B4-B4C1-21F53BEDF333.jpegAs a side note, I put the mason jars in leg warmers and a sock. That might be silly, but I figured that since it’s winter and my apartment is cold, the jars would need extra insulation to stay warm. I believe I read the indoor temperature should be no colder than 65 degrees. The little plants are sitting on my kitchen table next to a space heater that will kick on if it gets colder than 65 degrees. That’s especially a concern I have at night. I figure putting the plants too close to the window this time of year will ice them out.

-Erica

UPDATE (February 24th):

Herbs are coming along just fine. I’m beginning to see mini little cilantro leaves on the cilantro plants. The basil and oregano are coming along just fine too. What worries me is everything seems so mini. When do these herbs get all huge and when can I start eating them!?

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P.S. Using a lamp and space heater have worked out just fine. Don’t go wasting your money on grow lights!

First Steps are the Hardest

There are opinion blogs (Right now politics is a hot topic.), but this is not one of those blogs. There are blogs about finances, (I can’t balance a checkbook. I don’t even own a checkbook.) but this is not one of those blogs. There are DIY blogs, (This might seem like a DIY blog, but don’t let us fool you. We don’t know what we’re doing.) but this is not one of those blogs.

If you’ve always wanted to start a new hobby, but you’ve been afraid of failure, this just might be the blog for you. 

We are starting a new gardening hobby. Erica will be gardening in the city, and I, Lexi, in the country. We will be sharing all of our steps, processes, plans, ideas, progress, triumphs, failures, and weekend projects on this blog. 

So what type of blog is this? It’s the “I’m-afraid-to-try-something-new-so-I’ll-watch-these-two-screw-up-first” type blog. We’ll let you know if all the effort is worth it. 

Where I am starting from:

My husband and I have a garden plot in our back yard. Before the weather warms up I need to convince my husband–in between his work/training/hobbies/chores/sleeping– to help me set everything up. We have had a green house kit from Harbor Freight sitting on our front porch for two years now. We’ve put off setting it up because….well, you pick an excuse. 

Our first step is to set that up. Once that’s done I’ll then post about the rest of getting our garden plot ready…once that’s done…you know how that goes. 

–Lexi

 

Introductions

Folks! You made the jump from Facebook to the blogosphere, and I’m so glad you’re here!

If you have found this blog, you probably follow my Facebook page, Page for Erica’s Zucchini . You know that Zucchini has a great bikini bod, is an excellent co-pilot on road trips, and had a wacky first year trying to grow up in a rather small red pot on my porch.  You also know that that pot and my lack of gardening skills didn’t give Zucchini much of a branch up on, you know, actually producing fruit. But, whatever, we move on.

This year, my hope is to give Zucchini a better chance at growth. By the time spring rolls around, Zucchini will have moved on from the puny pot to the shared quarters of other veggie folk like Tomato, Onion, and Pepper. For the next few months, I’ll be looking for a new space to accommodate Zucchini and co. I may find a community gardening plot, a larger container, or ask my landlords to lend me a bit of their garden space. (Fingers crossed!)

Second, my sister, Lexi, will be a regular contributor to this blog as she was to the FB page. You will get to know her and her sense of humor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, 3 children, 2 dogs, 1 naughty cat, and a little plot of land. This year she plans on growing cucumbers, bell peppers, salsa peppers, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and maybe more.

Third, we think it will be fun to see the differences between our gardens. A bit of country vs city gardening if you will. Since we are both novice gardeners, we will be passing along everything we learn, starting with the basics such as “plants need good soil, water, and sunshine.” (Who knew?) We will be gleaning from books, online articles, and the combined knowledge of her agriculturalists husband and my expert gardening associates at Lowe’s. Hopefully their advise will take root and we will have lots to show for it.

As always, we would love your participation, advise, enthusiasm, and suggestions, as we, in the next few months, begin to grow!

–Erica