Garden Update

I have been such a slacker! I haven’t done anything with Zero to Hero or anything. I apologize.

But I am so excited about the garden! My peas are coming up wonderfully. The lettuce is looking great. I don’t think the spinach is too happy. I recently learned that you should seed that in the fall so it will be happy in the spring. So we will try that next year. Check it out:

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Peas are in the four squared in the back. It is difficult to see but there are strings hanging from the posts that are tied to the grate things for the peas to climb on. Total cost for those was about $18. Two kinds of lettuce in the two on the left. Next to them there are carrots, then onions. On the far left is the spinach. We also started green beans yesterday. The strawberries are also looking good this year.

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I am going to be starting my pickling cucumbers next week and since I love green chili I am going to try my hand at growing the peppers I need to make my own.

On house plant news the English Ivy is almost dead. I cannot figure out why I can’t grow it, but I am giving up. I need to focus on things I can be successful at that will give me food. On that note, the avocado tree is still alive. I put it in a semi dark corner where it gets a little light and it seems happy. No more leaves have started looking burned and it’s still growing and happy. We’ll have to see what happens.

I’m still unemployed. I have 3 pimps and am still looking on my own and nothing. Nada. I have had 4 interviews in the past three months. It’s really sad. But I know there is a reason for this. The perfect job is out there! I am also starting my volunteer work with Denver Botanical Gardens on the 24th (http://www.botanicgardens.org/). They have an agricultural site that I toured and trained at last weekend. I am so excited! There is so much to learn when it comes to growing food. The people seem wonderful and the site is just beautiful. At least I will have that to distract me and keep me from getting in trouble.

Anyone else gardening this year? What have you planted so far? How’s it going?

 

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Getting Caught Up

So I changed my theme! I realized that my previous one didn’t show my tagline “It may not be perfect, but it is Preston Perfect!” This is information you sort of need to understand my blog title. It is a running joke around our house. Sort of like “it’s good enough for government use.”

While I like the blue I would prefer a different color. However, I can’t afford to pay for custom designs on a yearly basis. Does anyone know if you purchase a theme is that yearly as well or a one time fee? I can’t seem to find that information.

I also added widgets and dressed up my sidebar. What do you think?

Challenge Slacking

I have been a bad blogger this week when it comes to the Zero to Hero Challenges. I haven’t done Day 5: Love Your Theme, Day 7: Start Personalizing, Day 8: About Page Widget, Day 9: Post Inspired by Your About Page Widget, Day 10: Dress Up Your Sidebar and today Day 13: Build a Better Blogroll.

I have no good reason for slacking other than all these challenges touch on things I have no experience with and have never done before. So I am learning. It will take a few days, but I will play with themes, templates, widgets (don’t really know what these are), and sidebars this coming week. I just won’t have time to fully delve into it sooner but am really looking forward to learning the more techie side of blogs. Anyone have any advice or suggestions?

Dream Reader, This One’s for You

As the main focus of my blog is gardening and sustainable living I am writing to all of you who share similar interests. Fortunately, today I have an update.

It rained yesterday in Colorado. My garden likes rain so much better than when I water. I wonder if that is because of whatever additive they use in the water? Hmmmm. Anyway, the garden outside is looking good. Peas and lettuce are coming up nicely and I see a hint of my carrots, onions and spinach. Unfortunately, the butterfly bush that was super tiny when I got it has passed. I continue to water it in hopes it will make a miraculous resurrection, but I am not counting on it.

Indoor plants are a different story this week. All of this is relatively new to me. In the past when I have grown houseplants I always sort of assumed they had a self life. I put them in the window where they would get light, I watered them and when they died I just accepted it as their time and said goodbye. But this year I am making it a priority to make sure they all live. It is not as easy as you would think. The plants that were in my eastern facing living room window had all of a sudden started shriveling up. It took me two weeks to realize they were getting too hot. It didn’t make sense to me. They have all been fine there since last September, but they are now just getting too hot. So I moved them to a shelf in the same area, just out of direct light. That was Friday night. It’s Sunday. Almost all are already so much happier. I have started a spreadsheet with the types of houseplants I have and what their care should be. I am trying really hard to be a great plant mom. Even the avocado tree is happier, but this might just be a hospice situation with it. Only time will tell.

In February I ordered several plants from Michigan Bulb Co. They send them out depending on zoning areas and when it’s the right time to have them. I ordered an orange tree, lime tree, coffee plant, banana tree, immortality herb, and they included my now (probably) dead butterfly bush for free. I know, I’m nuts. It is Colorado after all. But I am going to give it a shot. All these things are super small when they get to you, so they will grow into the space. I tried an immortality herb and orange tree last year with resounding failure. So, with my renewed confidence I am trying again. The lime and orange tree are in pots in the south windowsill in the kitchen where it gets really hot and they have 6+ hours of light everyday, as my research shows they like. Last year, the orange tree was not happy. This year, it is already growing new leaves!Image

I wish I new what type of soil I used between last year and this, but I am happy so far.

I also received the coffee plant the other day. According to my info they like moist soil, lots of humidity and bright dappled light like they would get on the side of a tropical mountain. I can do moist soil but humidity in Colorado is a hard thing to come by. This will change when I have a greenhouse, but in the meantime I was wondering about maybe putting it in the bathroom and getting a grow light. Anyone have any experience with these?

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The only thing I am waiting for in the mail is the dwarf banana tree. I bet it will need the same type of care that the coffee plant needs. Perhaps I have gone overboard? Nah! Nothing ventured, nothing gained 🙂

Please, if you have any experience with these types of plants, any tips or advice would be appreciated. Just so you know here is a semi comprehensive list of my houseplants:

  1. African violet, that will not bloom again. This is my mother’s plant. I think it needs a new pot.
  2. Aloe vera, which needs to be replaced as I over watered this winter not realizing plants sort of hibernate.
  3. Avocado tree, which is having trouble.
  4. Bonsai tree, much happier since I moved it out of direct light
  5. Coffee plant
  6. Corn plant, I have had this for about 8 years. It loves to sit in a corner and be ignored. I water it once a week and that’s about it.
  7. Dwarf banana tree, waiting it’s arrival
  8. English ivy, loves to be misted.
  9. Ficus tree
  10. Immortality herb
  11. Lime tree
  12. Orange tree
  13. Orchid
  14. Palm type tree
  15. Philodendron, three types
  16. Peperomia
  17. Pineapple top
  18. Purple clover, which I thought was completely dead until I planted the pineapple top in the same pot. They are best buddies.
  19. Sensitive plant, this thing is neat. If you touch, bump or blow on it the leaves close.
  20. Snake plant, aka Mother-in-laws tongue plant
  21. Swedish ivy

I think that is about all the plants I have. I am not planning on adding anything new, I want to be successful with these as well as my garden. But you know, the plant nurseries are hard to avoid when the weather is nice. I am happy to post pictures of any of these if you don’t know what they look like. Just ask and ye shall receive.

 

 

A Penny for Your Thoughts

I am participating in Word Press’s Blogging 101: Zero to Hero Challenge, so you will see posts over the course of the next 27 days about things that aren’t necessarily what I want the main point of my blog to be. But I am doing this to improve my writing skills, to reach out to more followers, to gain and give support and encouragement, and to hopefully learn something. No worries, I will still post about my garden and all my other ideas 🙂

Today’s assignment is to talk about what was on my mind when I started an account and began to blog. This is a relatively easy request to fulfill as I have only been blogging for about 6 weeks. I was starting something new and needed help.

As I have stated in other posts, my goal is to live a fairly sustainable life. I would like to say this is a 5 or 10 year goal, but it is an ongoing goal, it’s the way I want to live my life forever. I want to grow as much of my own food as possible, I want to raise chickens for eggs and meat, I want to use solar and wind power, I want to lessen my carbon footprint and treat Mother Nature with love and respect. I want to eat healthier, know where my food comes from and what went into growing it. I want to rely on myself for everything I need and not depend on anyone for my food and care. I don’t want the government to control what is on my food and what I put into my body.

This is a relatively new desire. It started about 2 years ago when I visited a few friends in Florida and I realized how much less expensive it is to live there. The housing is so inexpensive compared to Colorado. So I pondered the idea of leaving Colorado. Then I thought, ‘well if I am leaving the only place I have ever known I want land, and as much of it as possible.’ I wanted a buffer between myself and my neighbors. I wanted my own space to live my own life. But how can I do that if I still needed to buy everything for my survival.

That’s when gardening came into my mind. I wanted to grow as much of my own food as possible. So last spring my mother (who lives with me) and I decided we wanted to have raised garden beds and do square foot gardening to hopefully yield as much food as possible out of our small yard. We spent most of last spring making beds and creating fancy dirt to put in them (made of vermiculite, peat moss and 5 types of compost). But this is still Colorado and the air is dry and the weather is unpredictable at times. Also, last year when we finally planted, which was late in the season for some things, our space was bigger than our knowledge. We were not successful in anything.

There is a lot to know when it comes to gardening. Ph levels in soil, the difference in soil and what will grow in what type of soil, what plant needs what type of watering schedule, what will grow great next to each other and what won’t (called companion gardening), diseases, compost feeding, pest control, time to plant different things, what does well in full sun, what needs shade… I can go on and on.

So this year I am taking a different approach. I am growing a few key things for canning purposes. We are focusing on cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, peas, lettuce, spinach, and a couple of other things (check previous posts for what we planted last year, it was crazy). But I need help. So I started the blog to discuss things with other gardeners, sustainable lifers, DIYers, and the like. But because this idea has opened a flood gate of inspiration, I am also blogging about other things too, just to keep it interesting.

We have also decided after so much effort in Colorado, we are going to stay here. Our friends, family and jobs are here. We still want land and are planning on moving next year when my son graduates high school, but no sense in wasting a growing season. Also, to gain knowledge, I am going to start volunteering with Denver Botanic Gardens in their agriculture area to learn more about gardening, farming, watering, pest control, ect. Exciting stuff!

On that note, the peas and lettuce are doing really well and the carrots are starting to show. We planted onion seeds this week. The stuff we are trying to grow in peat pots inside are not doing well. I don’t think that they will here, we need to try again when I can build my greenhouse. The little orange and lime tree I ordered are in a south facing window and are starting to grow new leaves!

I may consider bee keeping in the future as well, as they seem to be endangered and we cannot live without them. We see how brave I get later in life. I am 36 now, so I have a long way to go and lots to learn.

Who I am and Why I’m Here

To help my writing skills, focus my attention and hopefully learn a lot I have started this blog. I have tried this before in the past, trying to focus the topic of my blog to one thing and it didn’t work. This time, I am writing about everything. Plan to use tags well to keep things organized but write about life in general, my hobbies, not the best written book reviews, and whatever else pops in to my head. I do have specific topics I write about on a regular basis, most notably my garden.

The garden is what my blog is mainly about. This is my second year gardening and it has been trial and error all the way. I am gardening in hopes of eating healthier and lessening my strain on the environment. My overall goal is to live a fairly sustainable lifestyle and the blog is sort of my journal in this quest. While I could have just written everything down in a notebook I decided to go this way for a couple of reasons. One, because I will need help, advice, and encouragement. Anyone who has ever had a garden knows its not necessarily that easy to get started and be successful. Two, perhaps the problems I am write about someone else is also having and my blog may help. This may or may not be true. But it helps me. I always felt that the question left unasked is the question left unanswered.

I may write a similar blog post like this from time to time, just to remind myself why I am doing this.

Also, to help with my writing and motivation I am participating in a ‘Zero to Hero’ 30 day exercise being put on by the great people of Word Press, so you will see a post from me every day for the next month, if all goes well. Wish me luck!