Gardening Fun: Seedlings Already!

I never thought that a week after I posted that we planted our seeds that so many of them would have sprouted already! I wish I had caught on videotape my son’s excitement when he noticed them and started shouting, “Plants! Plants!” Every little second that went into planting those tiny, near microscopic seeds was worth it just for that moment. Check out our new little sprouts:

That happened on Tuesday and for the last few days, he keeps running over to them throughout the day to peek in to see if they’ve grown even more. I think he may have seen one too many cartoons with “Jack and the Beanstalk” type story lines making him think they’d grow even faster! We’ll need to do a little “thinning” yet since more than one sprout came up in some of them. Teresa does a great job of explaining all of that in her posting. I’m so glad to have her advice on all of the gardening stuff!

In an attempt to get some fresh air yesterday, the kids and I took a quick walk around the yard to see if anything was blooming/budding yet. Here’s what we found:

A tulip making its way into the world….

A cluster of Irises getting ready to grow. These are so beautiful! I’ll show you some pictures of them when they bloom. Every year I get a neighbor/friend asking me what they are so they can grow some. I need to split some this year so I’ll be sharing those with them!

And I saved my favorite for last – Lilacs! The one thing I knew I was going to have when I bought my first house were some lilac bushes! Some friends gave me some starters and they are now to the point where they’ll have a lot of blooms this year. One of these years, I’m going to have my hubby take me to Mackinac Island in Michigan for their Lilac Festival. We used to vacation there a lot when we lived in Michigan but never during that time of year.

I’m hoping that you all are able to get in a little seed planting fun with your kids. It’s a fun time watching as they grow little by little each day. And take a little time away from the daily activities to explore your own yard. We saw several other things but I’m saving those findings for another posting. :)

Also, I wanted to share with you a site I found a few years back called Pick Your It has several locations listed of where you can find farmstands and even some farms that let you pick your own. I miss out on strawberry picking every year as I forget their season is so early (May-June and as early as April in some states.) I’m hoping to get a day of strawberry picking in with the kids and my family this year. I’ll try to keep you updated on what is coming in season next. And a good book to add to your library list is Simply in Season (World Community Cookbook.) It’s a good book for finding recipes for things that are in season in your garden. I picked mine up on a good deal at the end of last summer. The pages/recipes are broken up by season and even color-coded for easy finding.

Don’t forget that you can enjoy more gardening info and pictures on Teresa’s site. She has a beautiful shot of some crocuses and some good tips for plants for beginners.

Gardening Fun: Planting Seeds with the Kids

So this week, the kids and I decided that we were going to work on getting some seeds started for our garden. After our library class, we headed over to Ace Hardware to see what kind of selection they offered. I love supporting the local businesses (and they are super friendly at ours) so that is why I chose to go there.

I let Nathan pick out several of them, as I thought that would make the experience more enjoyable for him to watch the plants that he chose as they grow. Some of the seeds said we could start indoors, while others said to wait to plant outside after the danger of frost is over. My FIL is a really great gardener and he always tells me to wait until around May 15th for most plants in our area. He’s never let me down with that advice so we’ll probably stick with it. He basically has two green thumbs so I trust his advice!

These are the seeds that we are going to plant now. I picked up some eggplant and tomatoes and I also grabbed some spearmint (for tea) and rosemary, as some of my recipes called for it. The kids can’t get enough cherry tomatoes so I had to pick up some of those. And I love the Roma tomatoes for tacos so I picked up a pack of them, as well.

These are mostly the ones that Nathan chose. He clung to the packet of Sunflowers like they were his baby. I’m really hoping those grow well after we plant them this spring. He also loved the Poppies and he chose the color of marigolds we’ll plant, as well. I also decided to try some zucchini from seeds, too.

I had saved up some yogurt and other containers to plant the seeds in but when I saw the “little greenhouse” that wasn’t very costly, I decided it would be the best route to go. It would just be easier for us to keep them all in one container and quicker to water. Don’t worry, I have other plans for the other containers I saved. :)

This is Nathan trying to fill the sections equally with dirt (can you tell he’s having fun?)

He had a blast watering down the dirt before we put the seeds in. I put our kitchen sink sprayer on real low and I was surprised at how well he did at making sure not to flood any of the sections—or the kitchen.

Next, he used the blunt end of a pen to create little holes for us to drop the seeds in. By this time, Kaydi had gone down for a nap, but she loved watching all that was going on up until then. It was a good thing she was napping as it took a lot of concentration to get those tiny little seeds into the dirt holes. Nathan did several of them and then I think he just got too antsy to help finish. But it was a nice little lesson in patience and hand-eye coordination. It’s hard picking up those little seeds, that’s for sure!

I watered everything down again after the seeds were planted, as it stated to do in the directions. This time, I didn’t let Nathan water them as I was afraid he’d flood the seeds out. Now we just wait for them to start growing and try to remember to water them often.

I’m hoping that the seeds will grow well. But if not, we still had a really fun time in planting them. I also had plenty of seeds left to share with a friend/family member so they can start a little garden, too.

I’m hoping that you are enjoying some gardening fun with your families, too. I’m hoping to show you some pictures of little plants here soon! Have any of you decided what you are going to plant this year? After seeing Teresa’s posting on rhubarb, I’m thinking maybe I should look into planting some this next year. I am a huge fan of strawberry rhubarb pie and I never think about growing it myself!

Gardening Fun: Butterfly, Bird and Flower Garden

As I mentioned last week, I’m doing a little gardening segment each week with mini-updates on our garden status. I am lucky to have the help of Money Saving Maine-ac, as I’m merely a newbie and knowledgeable only in tomato plants!

Over the last week, I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do with our yard this year. I stood on my deck for a bit looking around trying to picture what I wanted it to look like or where I’d want things to be. I reflected back to going to the Butterfly Exhibit at Brookfield Zoo the last few years. What a beautifully, magnificent place it was. I could have stayed in there all day watching the butterfly flutter to and fro and even stopping to get some water in the tiny pools of water they had created.  Someday, I’ll have a large butterfly garden like that. But for now, I’m just interested in a mini-version. I found some good articles at HowStuffWorks and TheButterflySite. I’m going to be using the guidelines they offered there for picking out some plants.

Also, our Menards sells these rolled up seed mats that are just full of seeds for flowers that are geared to attracting butterflies. I bought one last year and gave it to my Mom and it did well. So I’m debating if I’m going to go that route or just buy some individual plants. We’ll see what treasures we find as it warms up a bit here.

A few years back, I found this great plant called a Weigela that was discounted at Wal-Mart. It turned into this beautiful bush in our backyard that attracted so many butterflies and even hummingbirds. The red color and long flowers are a huge draw for the hummingbirds. The best image I could find online of one was from a Maxwell Garden Center:

That one is real close to what ours looks like when it blooms. This year, I’m hoping to find another one and those will be my “endcaps” to our butterfly and bird haven. We picked up several bird feeders on clearance last year and the kids loved filling them up and watching the birds eat from them. I think I’m going to look for a discounted bird bath this year, as well.

I’d also love a little “bouquet” flower garden. This would be an area where we could go to cut some flowers for bringing mini-bouquets to people. So far, I’m thinking daisies, carnations and possibly a smaller rose bush.

As far as my veggie garden, I’m still debating if I’m going to do raised beds or if I’m going to bring in some higher-quality soil/compost, etc. I think I’ll have to price them both out and see which one is in our favor. But while scanning Amazon for some gardening books, I found an interesting one on Square Foot Gardening. It talks about making the most of your garden. I have to get my hands on that at our library to see if it’s something I want to pursue or not.

So this week we are working on getting our “gameplan” together and then next week, the kids and I will start to plant our seeds indoors. I think it will be a fun little activity for all of us. I’ll share with you which seeds we end up choosing.

Have you all decided what you are planting this year? Has anyone tried the Square Foot Gardening?

Gardening Fun: My Soon To Be Garden

Yes, it may not look like much all covered in snow and dog footprints but this picture will soon (hopefully) turn into an array of beautiful flowers and an abundance of veggies for us.

When I first met Teresa, she was a reader of mine who always sent me her fabulous deal findings. One day I told her that she really should start a blog of her own, as she had this great knack for finding deals. Well, she now has her own blog home at Money Saving Maine-iac. And I’m sooo glad that she took my advice because I always enjoy reading her stories and tips. She has this amazing way of making the outdoors a huge part of her family’s life. I asked her a few months ago if she’d consider taking a newbie under her wing and teaching her the ropes of gardening and she was quick to welcome me in with open arms.

I’m definitely no expert on the subject of gardening. My yard is full of clay soil, to the point that I could take a shovel to our yard and the kids and I could sit and make clay figures on a warm, sunny day! So I know I have quite a bit of work cut out for me. But I’m excited about it and I’ve decided that this is the year it’s going to happen. As a Cubs fan, I’m used to saying, “Maybe Next Year” but that all ends when it comes to the idea of having a bountiful garden.

I’ve mostly just dabbled in tomato plants up to this point, but I did have some luck with jalapeno plants last year. And that’s where most of my luck ended! So Teresa and I are hoping to get a little gardening segment up each Thursday sharing our experiences and all those little gardening things we are enjoying throughout the year.

Teresa found a Hardiness Zone Finder for determining which zone you are in simply by inputting your zipcode. I’m in Zone 5A, as is she! Even just this little bit of information is helpful when it comes to picking out your plants and flowers.  It will help you find the ones that have a better success rate of growing and flourishing.

I haven’t decided what all will be in my garden yet, but I do know I’m going to try some seeds this year. I think this will be a fun little activity for me to do with the kids. And with my son’s help, we’ll have a better chance of remembering to water them, as it will be on our daily tasks list.

I’m hoping you’ll enjoy our segments and hopefully, like me, you’ll learn a lot as we go along.

(If you are looking for a fun series to read, check out Teresa’s “Yucky Stuff is the Lucky Stuff.” It’s my fave!)