Sometimes by Step

Today is a Potting Shed Day and I am thinking about all the steps in our lives right now. We are carefully going through steps to avoid COVID-19:

  • Stay Home
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t touch your face

I am also going through steps to see that my seedlings have the very best chance at making it into the garden to flourish.

All of these steps remind me of one of my all time favorite songs Sometimes by Step by Rich Mullins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAhw1Fq1ZLo

Rich Mullins’ music is my go to music and has been since the release of SONGS in 1996. I have it blaring in the Potting Shed today. This is my go to music in good times, bad times and when I need an extra measure of closeness to our Creator. Every song speaks to me. Do you have music that speaks to you at a time like this – when a pandemic rages around us?

My job today is potting up my seedlings. Some have needed this for some time. 🤦‍♀️ 

Let me go back and tell you about my original plan as far as seeds were concerned back in January … Plant a few tomatoes, some zinnias and a few things for FUN!

Practically every day since the pandemic hit our daily life, I have pulled out more seeds. I am so thankful for my hoarding tendencies when it comes to plant containers and seeds. I bought a few things this winter but not what I would have bought if I had known. It is probably good to note that my last trip out before quarantine was not the grocery story – it was Lowes for a few extra seeds and pansies. I WISH I HAD BOUGHT TONS MORE! While on that Lowe’s run, I was caught by my daughter who called and asked where I was. I couldn’t lie. Her reaction was, I WANTED YOU ON QUARANTINE YESTERDAY – now go home! 🙄

Now that I’ve confessed all that, let’s get to the tasks for today. I’ll take you through my process since several have asked but know this – I have never done mass production before. Some of these STEPS are not tried and true because I am using what I have on  hand.  Thanks for going through this experiment with me. I’ll share reports later.

Click on an image to open the gallery…

There are still many steps to go and pitfalls to avoid before we are successful –  like damping-off and too much “outside” too soon. Damping-off is a real issue for me as I tend to over water – which I equate to over loving.

These are scary times friends, but we are learning so much from the experiences too. My son put on social media his thoughts on how we can emerge from this…

As I struggle with all of this – the virus, mandatory closings, the lock down.. I am trying to be hopeful. I am trying to see this as a precipice.

I want to think that we can emerge from this as…

  • people who slow down
  • people who are passionate about our local community
  • people who cook at home more often
  • people who support local restaurants and farmers
  • people who think about where our food and goods come from
  • people who garden
  • people who go on walks
  • people who communicate better with our friends and family
  • people who check in on our neighbors

Changing behaviors and routines is one of the hardest things, but they say it only takes 21 days – we happen to have been given a whole month.

Yes, we can turn the scary into blessings.

BLOOM THYME

There is a lot of Spring springing here. I’ll post pictures tomorrow on Bloom Thyme Friday.

Today I’ll close with another of my favorite Rich Mullins’ songs – While the Nations Rage …

 

Seeds: Tiny Miracles

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:11-12

THINGS ARE GOOD AROUND HERE!

I just placed my first seed orders and already simply can’t wait to get them in the ground. But, wait I will — as rushing any type of gardening is most often futile.

Seeds heading my way:

RENEE’S GARDEN

I am always looking for more bokay makers and found a couple to add from Renee’s.

Mulberry Rose Nigella  (link)

I already have two other colors and love them even though you have to keep your eyes on them. #overcheivers

White Bishop Lace (link)

 

Flashback Caledula (link)

Loving the colors and will add these to the yellow ones I usually plant.

 

BURPEE

Steak Sandwich Tomato

I happened on plants of this tomato at Lowe’s last year from the Bonnie Plant collection. Since I had never heard of this variety, I immediately took to my phone to do some research (don’t you love on the spot research!). I found a YouTube video of someone who was testing this tomato and things were looking very good. I took 3 home.

Background: WE LOVE LOVE LOVE TOMATOES. Every year we plant many varieties (mostly in pots). While we get a few good tomatoes per plant, we find that most “slicers” are stingy with their fruit. Our goal is both taste and quantity. This year the goal was met. Tons of delicious tomatoes (medium sized). Not being sure we will find the plants again, buying seeds is our insurance policy.

If you are interested in knowing all things tomatoes, I would recommend Craig LeHoullier’s Epic Tomatoes.

Image courtesy of Bonnie Plants

Senora Zinnia (link)

Look at that color. I can already see this one making beautiful bokays with roses!

SEEDS ALREADY WAITING IN THE POTTING SHED:

Look at this plethora of “special” seed packets that my grandsons helped me pick out while I was in England. I love each one for the memories they evoke. Many will make it to the garden this year. Some of the packets will adorn the Potting Shed.

 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SEEDS.

Seed packet reading will be high on my list especially with so many new seeds from the UK.

Then, I will begin to jump start with indoor planting…

I take a small and simple approach to indoor seed starting based on my limited time, space and light. I use basic seed starting grow pots or starter kits filled with seed starting mix. When: For the seeds I am starting, I need about 5 – 7 weeks before our last frost date (see your seed packet for specific info) to get the seedlings where they need to be at planting time. Planting time is the last frost date and around here (Zone 5) that is Mother’s Day. The potting shed does not receive enough light and few spaces do this time of year, so I will have a grow light over my plants.

For additional details about seed starting, here is a quick but excellent video by Epic Gardening. Take a look

I find the whole seed process fascinating and fun! This is truly a special, miracle filled part of gardening! What a glorious day it will be when I see green! 🌱🌱🌱

LITTLE MIRACLES INDEED:

While not all seeds are tiny, many of our flower seeds are. Hard to believe something so small has everything needed to grow! Size certainly does not determine their effectiveness. Of course for many of them we do have a role to play in providing light and water. However, as I pull over achievers, whether cultivated or wild, out of my garden … I know all too well that seeds do their job very well — often without my help. They are quite proficient at recruiting wind, birds and such. I don’t know about you, but I am blessed with many over achieving seeds. 😉

2 Corinthians 9:6 says… The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

YESSSS! LET’S GO AND SOW BOUNTIFULLY IN LIFE AND IN THE GARDEN!

PS: I’ve been ordering a few roses too.😱 We’ll talk about that later.

Bloom Thyme Friday: Oops!

Oops! Where did those tomatoes go! They were just here a minute ago.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that several years ago Mr. G built gorgeous little raised beds for “his” tomatoes and other veggies. I say “his” even though, I have to plant them and water them but they ARE his. We have several things in our relationship like that.

Me and my roses have trellises. He built them. But I “control” them.

You get the picture. It works!

Back to the tomato and veggie beds…

He is very territorial about his raised beds. He even made a sign in the early days reminding me of something #noroses! WHAT! His point is well made and “usually” I am very respectful of his space.

Like I said I am ‘usually” very respectful. Well, this year I had extra nasturtiums and I hated to toss them so I asked Mr. G if it would be okay if I added a couple to his raised bed. He said fine! There appeared to be plenty of space as the tomatoes were tiny at the time. #whatwashethinking

Then I had a weak moment at Lowe’s where I bought a tiny little cucumber plant and thought it would do very well in Mr. G’s raised bed. I love cucumbers so much. He hates them. HATES them. But, when I asked, much to my surprise, he said yes. #whatwashethinking

It had been a while since I’ve planted cucumbers. OH MY WORD, they are everywhere. In a heartbeat they took over the raised bed. Well, at least what was left of it after the nasturtiums had their way #OVERACHIEVERS. There were a few days there where I was actively looking for the tomatoes. 😳

The cucumbers climbed over the tomatoes, jumped out of the raised bed, covered the daisies and ran through Celsiana who had finished blooming and is making a great trellis. I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon!

The tomatoes have emerged from the depths and are beginning to see daylight and make up for loss time. Now we have tiny cucumbers and tiny tomatoes growing happily together. #harmony

 

Mr. G has been giving me looks when he passes the raised beds but, I just keep watering and smiling!

Hope you are smiling too and …

Happy Bloom Thyme Friday!

Tomatoes…Seriously

Mention tomatoes to any veggie gardener and stand back! From heirloom seeds to cages, those of us who grow tomatoes take it very seriously. And, why shouldn’t we, tomatoes are valuable… Anything that starts out as a love apple and ends up on my beloved BLT and Tacos The Mom Way …. well that’s serious.

Every year I go into Tomato Frenzy … trying decide which ones to grow that taste the best and produce the most in my limited space. (We will not talk about the fact that I seem to have an unlimited amount of space for roses!) but, back to the tomato…

Last year I asked my garden friends on Twitter and Facebook to tell me their favorite tomatoes. My goal this year is to plant 5 regular sized tomatoes and 3 patio tomatoes. But, my resolve is crumbling and my mouth is watering.

A Favorite tomato QUOTE

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard

Recommendations from some SERIOUS TOMATO GROWERS

TOMATO TRIVIA … Did you know that?

  • When the tomato was introduced to Europe in the 1500s, The French called it “the apple of love.” The Germans called it “the apple of paradise.”
  • Thomas Jefferson first ate a tomato in Paris and sent seeds back to America.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat between 22-24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year.
  • Heinz released it’s first bottled ketchup in 1876.
  • Tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio.
  • Tomatoes are a natural antioxidant and high in Vitamin C.
  • In 1897 Joseph Campbell came out with condensed tomato soup.
  • The “Hornworm” can eat an entire tomato plant in ONE DAY.

Do you have tomato stories? Ever get in to a tomato frenzy? Come on, you can tell me!

Can you say BLT?

I love BLTs. Don’t you? I think I may have to try this Monster BLT from The Pioneer Woman…. click here. If you take a look at that sandwich she prepared, your mouth will water for sure!

Nothing is better on a BLT than your very own homegrown tomato! And, yes, we are starting our 9th week of drought. Last week we had our first rain (1/2″) and as grateful as we are, we sure would love some more. (I recorded the rain… click here to hear that wonderful sound and see how fresh it makes everything look!)

Regardless of the lack of rain, Mr. G and I are committed to watering our tomatoes and to feeding them Annie’s Moo Poo Tea. When all the water your plants get comes from your efforts, well that is a lot of work and with so many days in the 90s and 100s, we have had to be vigilant.

A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

Last February I surveyed my garden friends who also love tomatoes and got a ton of suggestions on what tomatoes to plant this year. (You can read about it here.)

Based on the their suggestions, I am growing Rutgers, Mortgage Lifter, Brandywine, Lemon Boy, Beefsteak, San Marzanos, Cherokee Purple and a few others that “grabbed” my attention at the local garden centers and Lowes.

OUR EFFORTS ARE PAYING OFF…

What is your favorite variety of tomato? Do you have a unique BLT recipe you’d like to share? I’d love your recommendations!

Bloom Thyme Friday: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. Part 2.

The gorgeous Flamenco rose has required very little water / from the Biltmore Collection

Today we start 9 weeks of drought… as you know my garden is very large and I have had to limit watering to my roses and tomatoes and alternating trees and shrubs that are closest to our living area.

As I write this I am in the garden looking up at a simply gorgeous summer sky… not a cloud in site! Even in times of drought, God does amazing things… with people and with plants.

There is always an up side, I read that it looks like the US will set a record in the month of July for the fewest tornadoes on record. After the horrible storms of last summer (remember Joplin, MO), that is sure welcome.

And, as far as the roses are concerned, they are usually covered in Japanese Beetles at this time of year and so far we have seen very few. In their place are beautiful blooms without bug bites! That is sure welcome!

Zinnias can take the heat…
Roses get watered once a week and still keep going!
Tomatoes get water a couple times each week….
Hydrangeas in the side yard…
Sunny Knockouts and wave petunias can definitely take the heat!
Black-eyed Susans can take the heat.
More Zinnias with Phlox that is also beating the heat very well.
First bloom of Tropicana … rescued from sale table.
Gold Medal Grandiflora….
Picture worth a thousand words…

Container Gardening: From Ordinary to Extraordinary

I love growing in containers. I grow everything from tomatoes and herbs to exotic flowers and shrubs. Each year it is fun to decide what containers to use and what plants to try.

Through the years I have turned just about everything into a container for plants. Sometimes I find something unusual and the container is more important than the plant. But, most of the time my containers are ordinary and it’s the plants that make them special.

However, there is one container that I use every year that is very special to me, this little metal water pitcher that is filled with lemon mint…

Mammy's Pitcher
Mammy’s Pitcher

This pitcher belonged to my grandmother … the same grandmother who went to see her doctor when she was in her 80s and asked the doctor to give her a pill that would make her feel strong enough to hoe in the garden. This little pitcher was a part of her everyday, ordinary life. To me it is completely extraordinary in the memories that it holds!

I am told she had the greenest of thumbs and could grow anything. And, you can be sure that I love it when other family members say, “You remind me of your grandmother, Mammy!”

Here are some containers in my garden and even a picture of me taken a few years ago dressed in one of Mammy’s dresses, holding her water pitcher…

My favorite plants to use in containers…

  • Tomatoes (Because I am obsessed)
  • Chile Peppers
  • Roses
  • Mint (…Because I love it and use a lot of it BUT it will take over if you plant in ground!)
  • Most used cooking herbs
  • Nasturtiums (Planted around my tomatoes)
  • Dorotheanthus Mezoo (Big name but excellent trailing plant)
  • Lantana (Hummingbirds & butterflies love)
  • Wave Petunias (’cause they can take the heat)
  • Geraniums
  • Coleus
  • Ferns
  • Gardenias
  • Succulents

For more on container gardening, click here.

What do you grow in containers?

You might also enjoy these family stories…

Memories of My Mom…

My Dad the Sailor…

Bloom Thyme Friday: Frosty News

Here’s the frosty news report… Last night I got home in time to assess the damage. Yes, there is some. When you have a garden as large as mine, it is difficult to cover. As much as I have enjoyed the early spring, it sure is hard to see burnt leaves and buds bending down that I know won’t get to bloom. 😦   I guess you would call me greedy when it comes to blooms.

All in all, the damage is very minimal. The 10-day forecast looks good and includes some much needed rain.

More Roses

Last night I also planted Red Drift Meigalpio Roses as a border for my new bed. (Mr. G actually hung a huge flashlight thingy for me! He is the BEST!) I think the little Red Drift blooms look so cute and will be great to use in arrangements.

Red Drift…
Here’s how they will look when they grow up…

Red Drift® has the most petite flowers of all of the Drift® Roses. It is perfect for use in front of border plantings. Red Drift® makes a beautiful statement when it drapes naturally over a rock wall or edge. Mature height is less than 1½’ with a wider spread. Great flower power and disease resistance.

Frost-free Zone

Things in the frost-free Potting Shed are doing very well! Take a look at the Mortgage Lifter tomatoes (seeds from The Art of Seed)… Actually there are a few peppers in this picture too!

Baby Mortgage Lifters!

Nasturtiums are doing great too…

Nasturtiums to put around my potted tomato plants…

Coming Soon!

Soon the roses will be blooming and I’ll be planting tomatoes. Around here we take roses and tomatoes seriously!

From the look of the Harrison Yellow  buds, that rose may bloom in the next few days … and that will be 6 weeks early! 🙂

Frost or no frost, I still love an early spring!

Have you been having frosty mornings in your neck of the woods?

Tomatoes … Seriously!

Mention tomatoes to any veggie gardener and stand back! From heirloom seeds to cages, those of us who grow tomatoes take it very seriously. And, why shouldn’t we, tomatoes are valuable… Anything that starts out as a love apple and ends up on my beloved BLT and Tacos The Mom Way …. well that’s serious.

Every year I go into Tomato Frenzy … trying decide which ones to grow that taste the best and produce the most in my limited space. (We will not talk about the fact that I seem to have an unlimited amount of space for roses!) but, back to the tomato…

Recently I asked my garden friends on Twitter and Facebook to tell me their favorite tomatoes. My goal this year was to plant 5 regular sized tomatoes and 3 patio tomatoes. But, my resolve is crumbling and my mouth is watering.

After hearing all the recommendations, don’t be surprised if I end up planting a whole lot more! And, I have my new Yes, You Can! book … packed with easy-to-do steps for canning. Now to find extra time to can!

A Favorite tomato QUOTE

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard

Recommendations from some SERIOUS TOMATO GROWERS

Where to BUY SEEDS

The Art of Seed Co.
Seed Savers Exchange

TOMATO TRIVIA … Did you know that?

  • When the tomato was introduced to Europe in the 1500s, The French called it “the apple of love.” The Germans called it “the apple of paradise.”
  • Thomas Jefferson first ate a tomato in Paris and sent seeds back to America.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat between 22-24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year.
  • Heinz released it’s first bottled ketchup in 1876.
  • Tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio.
  • Tomatoes are a natural antioxidant and high in Vitamin C.
  • In 1897 Joseph Campbell came out with condensed tomato soup.
  • The “Hornworm” can eat an entire tomato plant in ONE DAY.

Tomatoes in CONTAINERS
For some great tips for growing tomatoes in containers, click here.

Taking care of  your TOMATOES

Last year was my best tomato year ever! All I fed them was MooPooTea from Haven Brands. Read all about manure teas here.

These are healthy!

Do you have tomato stories? Ever get in to a tomato frenzy? Come on, you can tell me!