Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Started our seeds....check!  Built raised beds....check!  Ordered soil and compost....check!  Waiting, waiting, waiting......

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gentlemen, start your seeds!

Its my favorite time of winter!  Just when you think you can't take the cold, snow, wind, sleet, anymore, you realize its time to start thinking about your gardens.  I start seeds indoors every year.  I definitely don't really know what I am doing, and could probably do things a lot better, but what I do is simple and it works.  I will be picking out the seeds I want this week and ordering them from  I can definitely tell a difference between these seeds and seeds from Lowes or Home Depot.  Plus, Sheepers has tons of varieties and great instructions to go along with each packet.  To start seeds indoors, I go to Lowes and for $8 buy a seed starting tray with the little dirt pellets in it.  All you do is add water and watch the pellets expand, poke a hole in the dirt pellet, and drop in a seed.  Cover the seed with dirt, and then repeat until they are all full.  Put the top on the tray and set in a warm room out of direct sun.  With in days you will see sprouts!  Very low maintenance at this point!  Here is a seed starting time table to help you out.  I don't even have my own veggie beds yet, in the past I have just put the veggies right into any vacant spot in my flower beds.  I know its probably not the best practice, but it just proves, you don't need to have a farm or even raised beds to grow your own  veggies.  Happy planning!
Here is the general seed-starting schedule. It is based on the standard rule of thumb (for seeds that need to be started indoors) to start seeds eight weeks before the last expected spring frost date.

Eight-week General Seed-Starting Timetable
Horticultural Zones 9 & 10:  Start seeds indoors now.
Horticultural Zone 8:  Start seeds indoors in early February.
Horticultural Zone 7:  Start seeds indoors in mid February.
Horticultural Zone 6: Start seeds indoors in late February.
Horticultural Zone 5: Start seeds indoors in early March.
Horticultural Zones 1-4: Start seeds indoors in mid to late March.

There are vegetables, herbs and flowers that require more or less time than the standard eight weeks. Here are the seed starting schedules for them:

Vegetable/Herb Seed-Starting Timetable
Eight Weeks: EggplantTomatoesChilesSweet PeppersChivesSageStevia and Thyme.
Nine Weeks: BroccoliCabbage and Kohlrabi (transplant out four weeks before the last frost date).
Ten Weeks: CeleryCeleriacJicama and Lemongrass.
Eleven Weeks: LeeksArtichokes and Cauliflower (transplant out four weeks before the last frost date).
Twelve Weeks: Cardoons and Brussels Sprouts.
Sixteen Weeks: Strawberries (for first year crop) and Rosemary.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Canoeing on the Schuylkill River
Yes, that's a minivan with a canoe on top!  We decided to canoe from Pottstown to broken up legs of course!  The girls toughed out a long 5 hour paddle from Towpath Park to Black Rock Park.  According to them, that was way too long!  A very easy leg, but lots of paddling as the river is severely slow.   Before you go you should check  They have a simple traffic light feature that lets you know the water quality levels.  Don't let rumors of the river being dirty scare you off.  It is a wonderful piece of nature right in our backyard!

We made a lot of stops along the way for the girls to explore (and pop a squat!).  They loved seeing tadpoles and numerous Great Blue Herons along the way.  The river was shallow enough, almost at every point I checked, to get out and walk in less than waist deep water.  

That's a grocery cart buried in the river bed!  We saw countless tires in the river along the way.  I would estimate 1 tire every 10 feet!  There was a lot of debris and I wished we had a way to collect some and drag it out while we were there. (speaking of cleaning up the river, check out if your are interested) Even with the litter everywhere we looked, this was a spectacular way to get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.  We plan to do more legs this spring and summer until we make it all the way to the city.  If I were to do this leg again, (with the kids again), I would cut it in half.  I would still put in at Towpath Park, but would have finished in Royersford after the bridge at a little opening on 1st. Ave.  

Squeeze in the fruits and veggies

Banana-Blueberry Smoothie
Getting the girls to eat enough fruits and veggies can be a fight to say the least.  To avoid the power struggle at dinner, I squeeze them into yummy snacks.  In the summer, I pour the smoothies into popsicle molds.  The girls always love gathering whatever ingredients they are in the mood for, and dumping them into the blender (I add the "yucky" ingredients when they aren't looking).  I always keep a large container of vanilla yogurt on hand as my girls prefer a thick smoothie versus an icy smoothie. Today we made this purple mix from  We used vanilla yogurt, 1 banana, honey, peanut butter,  blueberries, and blackberries.  The peanut butter makes any smoothie better (even if it has spinach in it).  Try it next time!