January 26, 2019

Winter Sowing--Let's Try This Again!

Last year my winter sowing results were decidedly mixed. I was expecting greatness and instead I ended up with a handful of plants, none of which were particularly great. I thought I would be seeing growth by April, and when early May rolled around with one seedling growing in one of the jugs, I pretty much gave up on the rest. Just a few weeks later, however, I noticed there were at least 2 other jugs with something green inside. Alas, I had already moved on by that point! I got the bachelor’s button transplanted, but the rest (both of them) languished inside the jugs. So, this year I’m going to try it again. I will keep a closer eye on them and not expect results so early.

However, I don’t want to waste a bunch of seed on this method that didn’t really work for me last year. So. Here’s the deal: I tried starting a bunch of seeds in my greenhouse at the end of last July, before it was completely finished. I had a devil of a time keeping them watered, as the wind kept blowing the plastic domes off the top, and it was very hot during this time. Consequently, none of them even sprouted. The trays have sat in my greenhouse since then, dry as a bone and silently mocking my paltry attempts.

Enough of that! So I filled up my jugs partway with potting soil, then scooped the sections out of each tray and nestled them into their new homes. Watered well, labeled, taped up, and away we go. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot by not starting out with new seed. On the other hand, my expectations are pretty low here! If they manage to sprout and grow in their new milk jug homes, fantastic! If they don’t do anything, I won’t be too sad or too surprised.

I did not use all of my seeds in those trays of yesteryear, so I will start another round in the house as time draws closer to spring. Best case scenario: I’m swimming in baby plants come spring! Worst case: I’ll at least have some to get a jumpstart on the growing season.

Here’s what I’ve got in the milk jugs, in case you can’t read the labels: bee balm, Echinacea of 4 varieties—’Cheyenne Spirit’, ‘Primadonna White’, ‘Primadonna Deep Rose’, and ‘Mellow Yellow’ mix, 2 varieties of Jupiter’s Beard—Pretty Betsy and Snow Cloud (2 jugs each,) and Scabiosa ‘House Hybrid’ mix.

The milk jug method—we’ll see how this goes!

I’ve got 4 more to do: yarrow, white liatris, another scabiosa, and one more I can’t remember. (I guess I should have taken a picture of the tray when I trekked out to the greenhouse just now!)

You may notice that they’re almost all perennials. After last season’s struggle with starting annuals from seed, I have decided I need a much bigger section of perennials to fall back on, in case my annuals fall through. I did purchase a few at local nurseries last year, but they are so expensive!

One of my big goals for this year is to conquer this seed-starting business. If I can do that, it will save me so much money! Not time—it’s definitely a time-consuming operation from start to finish, but the few that I have had success with have been so satisfying; I think the time spent will be well worth it! 

All lined up! I put these between the greenhouse and the east fence back there. As spring heats up, they’ll get a bit of shade here and protection from the wind. They’ll also be protected from children kicking them over as they play in the snow. :)

January 18, 2019

Gardening Goals: How I Did Last Year

Looking at these, I'm happy to have had some success last year!

2018 Gardening Goals Recap

1. Successfully grow the vegetables we like to eat.

We did! We had peas, carrots, beets, tomatoes, and squash. Even some cantaloupe and watermelon!

2. Grow enough produce to make salsa, tomato sauce, pickles (a new canning adventure!), and some vegetables to freeze or can for future use.
I actually did make homemade tomato sauce this year, but I was heavily supplemented by my parents' tomato harvest to have enough. I also helped my mom prepare and freeze a whole bunch of corn (of theirs), which we are still eating. As our cucumber crop was a total bust this year, pickles continue to elude me.

3. Get my herb garden started.
Well, let me think. I got several feverfew starts from a neighbor that survived all summer.
Didn't use it as an herb though! 
I really tried on this one. I planted dill, oregano, chives, and basil more than once and have nothing to show for it.
Next year!

4. Plant grass in the "aisles" of the orchard. Prune/stake trees as needed.
Didn't get the grass planted. Managed to weed whack the knee-high weeds down to respectable levels end of June, and that was about it! 
I did a lot of pruning last spring. I'm hoping this spring the trees will just need more of a touch-up.

5. Prune lilac bush.
Yes, I did this, but not as thoroughly as it needed it.
However, I have since purchased a pruning saw for myself and plan to put it to good use on the lilac bush come spring. There's a lot of dead wood in the middle that needs to come out.

6. Get irrigation system set up for garden and orchard.
Sort of. We had a long pipe dropped off by the guy who fixes our sprinkler system, and it has threads on one end for a hose, and I never did use it. So I do need to figure it out for this year.

7. Start as much as I can from seed, either winter sown or in my greenhouse.

I tried. Boy, did I ever try! Decidedly mixed success on this one and a lot of lessons learned.

Flower Farm Goals

1. Figure out licensing/zoning/permits.

Get what I need to be legit.

Did it! Yay!

2. Write a business plan. Do my market research and figure out pricing, etc.

Business plan is still about half written. Hoping that's a project I can get on this month, after I get my taxes paid.

3. Decide on a name and register for the web domain.

Yes! Bluebird Flower Farm. 
Currently working on a getting my website up and running at--you guessed it: bluebirdflowerfarm.com

4. Purchase the basic supplies needed to get started.

Yes to this one too!

5. Grow enough flowers to cut bouquets all summer and fall!
You know, I did grow enough. In fact, I didn't sell nearly as many as I cut.

6. Make back my startup costs, plus $2000.
That was quite optimistic, as it turns out.
I will say, though, that I grossed more than I expected, and since the startup costs included finishing the greenhouse I can't be too disappointed about not making them back.

* * * * * 
I've got another post coming about this year's goals and more about my business.
Stay tuned!

January 17, 2019

Reading Goals: Last Year's and This Year's

So, let's talk about those reading goals, shall we? I'm thinking I did not do very well on them, but here we go:

1. Read memoirs and biographies about inspiring women.

I did great on this the first quarter of the year. (I feel like my entire post is going to be a variation on this theme.)  Eleanor Roosevelt, Temple Grandin, and Hannah Moore? Check.

Since then? Um...not so much. That I can remember, anyway.

2. Read Newberry Award winners and Honor books from the past 5 years.

I did read and review a few. Meaning, 4. Yes, all in the first half of the year as well. I enjoyed the ones I read, for the most part and I do intend to continue seeking out these award winners to read each year. I think for next year, though, this goal is getting retired.

3. Read aloud to my kids on Sunday afternoons/evenings.

I am happy to say that I have rocked this one! Rather than just on Sundays, we carved out some time at bedtime for me to read to my 6 year old and my 9 year old and have been pretty consistent with it. Even if it's late, I try to squeeze in at least 5 minutes of reading with each of them.

In fact, my daughter (the one who's 9) and I read the entire Book of Mormon out loud from October to December. That was a lot of reading, let me tell you! It was a neat experience for us to share. Now we are back to reading fiction and it feels like something is missing. We may have to add a few scriptures at the beginning or end to get that substance!

Then, for my (almost) 11 year old son, he and his dad have actually started reading out loud together in the evenings, as well. I'm so happy about that!

So yay to reading out loud!

4. Read at least one book published in 2018.
I didn't do this one. I don't think. I may have to go back through my Kindle list and check. If I did do it, it was by accident! Ha!

5. Listen to Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan and at least 3 others on audio.

I never did get to Echo, but the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to The Tale of Desperaux, by Kate DiCamillo, this summer in the car! We loved it! It was so well done, with all the various accents and of course the engaging storyline. So if you haven't tried it on audio yet, go for it!

6. Read 4 classics.   Nope. Didn't happen.

7. Read 1 book of poetry. Another nope.

8. Find a middle grade graphic novel series for my daughter to read.
I didn't really find one that I loved. She's been reading the Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, which I don't love particularly. Still could do some work on this one.

* * * * * *
So yes, percentage-wise, I did pretty dismally bad on my reading goals last year. However, I've always been of the type to give myself some grace if I don't reach my goals. I don't feel one bit guilty about this. Unsurprisingly, I did the best on these goals when we were living in the basement apartment, waiting for our house to get fixed from the fire.  Then in April/May, I started a business, we moved back into our home, and things have just gone on from there. So you know. Other priorities.

I do wish I would have done better at reviewing the books I've read. I have the worst memory! Seriously. I fell way off the wagon with book reviews the second half of the year. I'm not completely sure what I even read.

So for 2019, I'm going back to the basics!

My ONE reading goal this year is going to be to review every book I read!
If by some miracle I can remember enough to catch up on reviews from last year, I'm going to try to do that too.
Technically, I suppose that's a writing goal. So be it. It stands!

Now can we talk about the gardening goals? I did much better on those!!