East Sac Edible

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Starting Seeds

DSC_0612 DSC_0613I always like to start some seeds in January to give my seedlings a good healthy start before I set them out. Last week I cleared off my work bench in the garage to make room for my heat mat. I started many varieties of lettuce, kale, pepper, basil and tomato. As the seeds germinate I move them indoors under my grow lights. Once the seeds have germinated I make sure to remove them from the heat because the heat can damage the young roots and the plants will not thrive. Heat really only aids in speeding up the germination process and then after that the seedlings need light. I move the plants indoors because my garage is just too cold for the young plants.


This is my second year using the heat mat and grow lights system. The year before I tried to start seeds indoors and just put them by the window but they got very poor light. Last year the grow light system really gave them the boost they needed so they didn’t become spindly plants. Since the lights are on a pulley system, I am able to move the lights close to the plants and retract the lights as the plants grow taller.

I keep track of everything I start with dates of when I sow seeds, when they germinate and when I transfer them outside. I also keep notes on how well the plants do during the season so I can keep track of whether I am starting seeds too early or transplanting them too early. I especially like to keep track of what worked well (rather than what failed) so I can repeat the same timing from the year before. This also helps in succession planting because I always try to have something in the ground. For example, I noticed planting turnips before tomatoes works great because turnips are quick and out of the ground before the tomatoes are big enough to go in.DSC_0615 DSC_0617

Last week I also started some seeds directly outside. After amending the beds, I planted Green Arrow Peas, carrots, various turnips (Purple top, Shogoin, and Mikado), and beets (Red Baron, Early Wonder, and Detroit Red). I had put a layer of leaf mulch on top of my raised beds a few months ago and while the bottom layer was pretty well decomposed, the top layer was still a visible layer of leaves. I just dug these into the soil so I am a little worried about them tying up the nitrogen as they decompose. Hopefully it wont affect the growing seedlings!


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Seeds, seeds, and more seeds!

Well January is one of my favorite months because of seed catalogues! Do I need to buy more seeds? The answer to that is definitely, “NO!” but am I going to buy them anyway? The answer to that question is definitely, “Yes!”


Here is how I currently store my seeds. DSC_0604 DSC_0606I have a lot of seeds. So I don’t know why I feel the need to buy more but the other day these seeds came in the mail…
DSC_0609In my defense, most of them are going to According to Ai and Seed Sowing Mama so I am not the only one with the problem!


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A New Composter!

As you may know, I have been battling some sort of rodent in my compost for awhile now. Small mice were living in my black stacked compost bin a few months ago so I took apart my bin to make an open air pile (taking apart my bin involved a lot of screaming from me and the mice and play out in a similar fashion to this earlier episode). So I thought taking my bin apart was going to allow me to turn the compost more often and discourage the mice from living there. I didn’t see any more mice, however each time I went out to put some new scraps into the compost I noticed large tunnels into the compost. Like tennis ball size… One tunnel even went under my compost, under my DG path and up into my raised bed! I tried to do some research about mice tunneling but I didn’t come up with much, plus these tunnels were huge. Every time I went to my compost I would just cover the holes and hope this would discourage whatever was making them.

DSC_0600About a week ago, I went to take out the compost and in the very corner was the largest rat I had ever seen. I almost thought it was an opossum it was so big! Unfortunately for this guy, he was looking rather poor and definitely on his final breaths. He didn’t even try to move away from me. He died right there next to a kale stalk and a spent pepper plant.

Well, even though he lost that battle, I am done battling the rodents! Enter my new solution: a 50 gallon tumbling composter!


Isn’t it beautiful?

My plan is to put all my kitchen scraps in this bad boy so I wont attract any rodents and then when it is partially decomposed I will move the contents into my open air pile. I think this will be a good system going forward.

And since the death of my rat friend… no more tunnels!


December 2014 Harvest Tally and Year-End Review

DSC_0484DSC_0490 DSC_0461 DSC_0437Happy New Year! Over the holidays, we spent the nights building fires and viewing the lights in East Sac. We also took a day trip out to Willows, California for some bird watching at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. We saw many snow geese, herons and hawks. Let’s not forget one of our favorite nights of the year, a caroling party at a friend’s mom’s house, full of musicians, singing and food. DSC_0404DSC_0409 DSC_0421 DSC_0414

As we say hello to 2015, let’s take a look back at the gardening year of 2014. Lots happened in the garden over the year and although I didn’t meet my goal of 500 pounds, I had lots of interesting new things happening in the garden and I learned a lot. I am excited to start fresh in 2015.

My yearly total for 2014 was 382 pounds!

My yearly total for 2013 was 425 pounds. The main culprit for my low numbers this year was a bad tomato season. In 2013 I had 207 pounds of tomatoes! In 2014 I only had 41 pounds with even more plants. Not all produced poorly in 2014. Some of my heavy hitters were: greens (8.27 pounds), basil (10.47 pounds), beets (15.33 pounds), carrots (7.77 pounds), cucumbers (47.85 pounds), kale (16.87 pounds), trombetta squash (72.89 pounds from 1 plant!!), onions (22 pounds), peppers (34.39 pounds), and turnips (19.27 pounds).

Here are some of my garden highlights of 2014:

1. Being part of the East Sac Edible Garden Tour was by far my best gardening moment of the year. I was able to open my garden for visitors to stroll through (and all for charity!) and spent my day talking to amazing gardeners full of useful and inspiring information.DSC_2830

2. My monster trombetta squash made it on live T.V. It’s famous! DSC_2694

3. Spending time in the garden with my daughter. DSC_1608

Thanks for being part of my 2014! Here’s to another great year in the garden!