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Unofficial Projects

I haven’t posted for a couple weeks, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. Since I haven’t officially been doing any organizing projects, I thought I would give a quick re-cap of some of what I have been doing and share my very limited knowledge or the resources I’ve used.

Project #1 – I started my garden. Well, the seedlings for my garden. Though our sunny weather has been tempting me to get out and plant in the ground, I’m resisting because March in Idaho still freezes pretty hard at night. We are starting to see a little bit of green popping up!

Plants

I’m not even close to being a gardening expert, but this is what I do to get my seedlings started:

First, I determine what to start and when to start it.  Most plants shouldn’t be planted outside until the danger of frost has passed, which is around the beginning of May in my area. A quick look at the back of your seed packets will determine when and where you should start your seeds.  Many seeds will instruct direct sowing, which means planting them directly into your outside soil.  I wait on most of these until May. I might plant some cooler weather plants (peas, broccoli, lettuce, beats . . .) a bit earlier. Other packets suggest beginning indoors 6 – 8 weeks prior to planting.  Typically, I stick with my tomatoes, my peppers, and sometimes my cucumbers to begin indoors. This year I also started a few grasses and flowers for fun. My friend over at Kate’s Kitchen Garden begins a lot more than I do a lot earlier because she likes to get a jump on her garden (for serious gardening advice check out her blog). It all depends upon how much work you want to put into it. If you start indoors early, you will have to do a lot more transplanting into larger pots before taking them outside.  I will transplant, especially the tomatoes because in my experience they really need to be larger than the planter allows in order to have a better chance of survival in the garden. But I don’t mind a later harvest, so I don’t plant but what is absolutely necessary indoors.

Next, I find what I will plant in.  This year I bought a seedling planter.  It’s convenient and easy to use and not terribly expensive.  In the past I have used egg cartons as starters. I also buy a bag of planting soil. I will dump it in a bowl, then slowly add water until the soil is damp but not saturated. Then I put the soil into the planters and make a small depression in each partition for seeds.  I will place 3 of 4 seeds in each partition just for a better chance, then thin each down to one sturdy plant later.  Finally, I cover the seeds with a little more soil and add just a little more water.  It is important to keep the soil damp at this stage, so if I have the store-bought planter I will use the lid on top as a sort of green-house and to keep in moisture while the seedlings are getting started.  I find a nice sunny place (usually by my kitchen window) and check daily to ensure the soil stays damp.

Project #2 – I started Dante Alighieri’s Inferno with my homeschool co-op literature class.

Inferno2

It was the class request (homeschool kids – sheesh), but we are having so much fun with this one.  I’m not sure if there is much of a market for resources for this text, but if needed, here is a link to one I have found particularly helpful (and free!) as I prepare.

Project #3 – We (and by we, I mean me – the hubby was on-board long ago) finally broke down and got the kids a puppy.  They have been wanting a dog for years. So after a little research and a lot of looking on Craigslist and in the paper we found a little labradoodle we’ve name Daisy.

Daisy

She’s awfully cute, but puppies really are a lot of work. We’ve been reading every article we can find and wading through all kinds of opposing views on how to and how not to train your puppy. We are new to puppies, so it can be confusing.  I’m still not sure if we are doing it right (check back with me in about a year or so), but click here for a link to an article on puppy training that seemed to present the least confusing method.

Project #4 – This is not really a project, but something to check off the to-do list.  We finally took the kids to the zoo!

 Kids at Zoo

There you have it . . . a sampling of what has kept me busy the past couple weeks.

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Organizing My Garden Plans

Each year when I “plan” my garden, I follow the same process. First I select my seed packets using my “Oooo, that looks good!” or “Oh, that would be fun!” method. Then I pull out the seedling planters and start popping in seeds. When it comes planting time, I lay it all out in the garden, trying to keep in mind size when full grown so large plant won’t shade or over-grow small ones; then I start digging holes. I’m not sure it qualifies as a “plan”. It has worked reasonably well, but this year I want to do it right. This year, I truly want to plan. So, this week, as I start planting my seedlings (thanks for the reminder that it’s time, Kate’s Kitchen Garden), I also will be planning my garden layout so when planting time comes I know what and how much I will plant where.

Currently I have a traditional backyard garden measuring 18 1/2′ X 11′. I also have plans to add a couple raised beds this year. I’m working on finding the best ways to fill those spaces with what we will eat and preserve this summer. While working on my plans I found some great online planning resources.

The above, from Vegetable Gardening Online is an example of one of several free pre-made vegetable garden plans. The site is full of detailed instructions for when and how to plant just about anything, in any zone. There is even a “free garden planner” link that allows you to customize your garden size, then drag and drop vegetables onto the planner.

I am using a similar customizable garden plan from the Gardener’s Supply Company site because it allows for a larger garden layout. Check it out here.

I’ve been wandering around cyberspace today drooling over all the fabulous garden layouts. Here a few I especially loved.

This is a potager style layout is from a Squidoo page with several other ideas. Wouldn’t you love to have a space like this? I think I’d have to make my whole back yard my garden in order to do this, which would be fun but probably wouldn’t survive my kids.

Pizza anyone? This, found on the same site,  would be a lot of fun for kids.

This layout from Better Homes and Gardens is just my style. Very traditional, but a lot more organized than mine typically is . . . maybe this year!

Also from Better Homes and Gardens is this “Children’s Vegetable Garden” with detailed plans. I’d like to use one of my raised beds to do something similar. Happy planning!