Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Peek at My Square Foot Garden

I suppose I should share some of what is going on in my garden- we have managed to get out there the last few weekends- despite the fact that we have had a year's worth of rain in the last few months!! The local weather man says that since November, we've had 60% of the yearly total, and should we have had it all as snow it would be 300 inches deep!
But I digress, back to the garden :)

About 2 weeks ago, I repurposed an old mailbox we had sitting under the back porch. We just replaced the mailbox post out front, and now we had the old one, kind of feeble, but still useful. We have been using the old box for years, so it seemed quite logical when my son suggested putting it outside of the garden, to do just as he suggested.

I painted the mailbox beautiful bright colours :) Because I think they are pretty and because I wanted it to obviously NOT be a mailbox in use for mail ;)

Inside are stored garden tools- the small ones- and the kids' gloves for gardening. Plant labels, twine... you know the kinds of things!

Here is the working garden. Through the arbour, down the path- you are in the middle of my square foot garden. Not all have grids yet- I need to work on those!

This one in the front has the new raised bed frame around it. Eventually they will all be like this. Those are peas in the front there, and the recently added soil is covering Swiss Chard :)
The back one has 4 squares shallots, 3 square lettuce, 3 squares spinach, 3 squares beets... and 3 spare squares.

The grid in this bed is actually a tomato tower. It is a great temporary grid! Those 4 squares are carrots. Behind it are potatoes and broccoli and the one in front will eventually house beans.

The yearly Easter garden sits in front of newly planted strawberries and transplanted garlic chives. I need to clean up our gravel some though...

So there it is, a sneak peek at what is happening in my central Virginia garden :) How is your garden growing?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Signs of Spring Outdoor Hour

I was excited when I saw Barb's challenge last week was 'Signs of Spring'. Because- well because we'd been watching them ourselves!! Somewhere in the house, the kids have journalled their signs of spring.
Unfortunately I think they might have had their work appropriated for display!

First sign of spring in our garden (apart from weeds) is always my sorrel:
It has a tart lemony flavour, and one day I will find a recipe that is great to use it for LOL One of my first plants of the year is my first edible too :)

The hyacinths were next to appear. This is a bulb which has been in the garden a few years- which is why it doesn't look as full as normal ones. Typically hyacinths do this. Still smells good though!

Speedwell and it's cultivated cousin, this particular Veronica sp. are frequently the first bloomers in the garden. I like the colours of the cultivated one better- the flower near the top on the right is in front of one of the wild ones, so you can see the contrast :)

I have never planted daffodils- we transplanted these from some wild ones growing down our hill. I love them for what they mean- it's spring!!

If you look back in my files, you'll see other photos of our Vinca major from years past... it always blooms early :)
The Bradford pear blossoms are beautiful- but they really don't smell very nice! Still, they look good on camera ;)

My kids HAD to have some strawberry plants. I think they are hoping for a crop- well they'll definitely get a couple of berries if nothing else :)
The best part about the first few days of spring, is that it finally gets warm enough to sit outside and draw.

And I actually have things to draw!! You can see I have actually drawn some of the things I photographed :)
I can tell you now, we also have grape hyacinths and a few peach blossoms. Photos to come later!!

P.S. Yes, there is a new look to the blog, I am still working on it though, so it might well change :)
Blogger has allowed new template adjustments, so I am messing with them ;)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring
Originally uploaded by Spinneretta
It happened suddenly. The weather hopped up 10 degrees, maybe as much as 15 degrees between one day and the next, and spring arrived.
The first week of March was cool- in the 40's and 50's (that's between 4 and 12 degrees C). By the second week we were hitting the mid 60's (17C) to low 70's (22C).
Spring is here. We'll ride the rollercoaster of temperatures between the mid 50's to mid 70's over the next month, before gradually evening out into our summer temps by the end of April, but in the meantime, we are going to enjoy the progress of spring.

I have already seen my first crocus- hidden down in the woods and discovered by the kids. In some parts of the neighbourhood, daffodils are blooming- while they remain stubby leaves in my beds right now. My Hyacinths are ready to put forth flowers, though they will never be the showy blooms we got that first year (apparently that is perfectly normal, though I do wonder why).
So on a warm, but overcast day, I sat outside and drew some signs of spring.
I do it every year now.
A year ago, the crocus and daffodils were out and our neighbour's Bradford Pear was in blossom I have the pictures to prove it.
2 years ago I have pictures of me doing the gardening :) I didn't have a scanner then, so I have to actually look at my journals :) According to those, we first got into the garden in mid February and by this time in March, the trees were all blossoming and the henbit was out. So you can tell we have had a longer winter this year!!
In my picture, you can see the wild speedwell (the cultivated is not yet blossoming), purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), daffodil leaves and Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica).

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Originally uploaded by Spinneretta
With the arrival of warmer weather, we took the opportunity to put our solar powered fountain back out. This has always been a huge draw for the birds, and sure enough we were inundated with them.
Even when I am outdoors, sitting at the patio table, the birds will happily come and drink from the fountain just a few feet away from me!
So while in the garden one day, I decide to draw the fountain and any birds that visited.
Of course THAT day, the kids stayed near me and no birds would visit while they wriggled around, so I drew the pair of brown-headed cowbirds that had visited the day before :)

I can't say that cowbirds are my favourite bird, they are notorious for their bad behavior- they are the cuckoos of North America!! The females lay their eggs in other birds nests, usually at the expense of the other bird's own offspring!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Originally uploaded by Spinneretta
I was thrilled when the weather forecasters told us what the weather would be like this week. Sunday was about 60 degrees F (about 15 degrees C) which is warmer than it has been for AGES. An unusual cold winter for us- normally we see warm patches here and there, but not this year.
Today they say it will reach 74F (23C).
So it is not too surprising that I got out my seed packets and planted some seeds- in peat pellets inside :) Truth be told, most of these could probably go outside too, BUT my square foot beds are not quite ready- the snow covering them and the rain after just made this happen a lot later than normal!

The kids helped me plant the seeds- DD was especially excited because she is looking forward to eating them all ;)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Moon Pillar

Moon Pillar
Originally uploaded by Spinneretta
The other day, we were out and about after the full moon had risen. It was a beautiful moon- but most astonishingly, it had a shaft of light above and below it- rather than the usual corona.
I asked my weather expert (yes he is 10, but he is really into this LOL) and he tells me it is called a "Moon Pillar".
I was not able to draw it on site or take photos (we were never stopped in a place where it was visible :( ), but I had my memory- and I used it (and my watercolour pencils) to record it when I got home :)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

First Signs of Spring

The weekend just gone by, was finally warm enough to get some yard work done. Usually we've been able to do this work during January- on the one or two warm weekends then, or earlier in February. This year it was almost March, and I was beginning to despair of ever being able to get the garden beds ready in time. I am still not sure they will be ready, but it wont be because *I* didn't try!
I took the opportunity the following day, to record my hard work with some new watercolour pencils. I am not absolutely familiar with them yet, but I shall enjoy learning to use them ;)

First I drew the garden beds I had so lovingly prepared. They are 4' by 4' square beds. Eventually I hope to have a taller and thinner frame so I can nail my grids to them, because yes, I am planning on another square foot garden :)
The beds were originally 4' by 4' squares, then I merged them into two long beds. Now I have taken them back to 4' x 4' squares because I just liked them that way, and my husband said it was a more useful shape :) We'll see!
That right hand square on the lower right is one I am planning to use for salad stuff- it gets shady in the summer allowing me to keep the produce going longer.

I have yet to make the back bed into the two 4' by 4' squares. I am hoping to get to that this coming weekend :)

March begins a very vibrant time of year in the Virginia garden. We can already see hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses and irises popping up- and in a few weeks they will be blooming. Right now, the maple trees are the main thing blooming. You can see a haze of red buds surrounding the limbs of the trees- and one might be able to imagine them to be like cherry blossom. They aren't of course, but in a way they are just as beautiful. For when you see them, you know spring is not too far behind!

The birds are beginning to pair up, and birdsong has been very familiar in the garden the last few days. In fact, I heard one particular bird that sounded a whole lot like my daughter- screaming! I have yet to see whether it is a natural call of a jay or something, or a mockingbird, mocking a certain someone who screams a little too often...