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East Sacramento Farmer’s Market Begins!

Help support the East Sacramento Farmer’s Market by stopping by this Saturday April 4 in McKinley Park! This will mark the second season of our market. I’ve been helping organize the market this year and I am really excited to be involved. You can find out more information at the market’s website here. Also click contact if you want to join the mailing list!

 

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Seedling and Garden Updates

DSC_0725 DSC_0726DSC_0732 DSC_0733 DSC_0734A few weeks ago, my seed starting operation was in full swing and I was at a tipping point of having too many seedlings and nowhere to put them! I have a heat mat which can hold four trays of seeds. Each tray can hold 8 six-packs of seeds although I only use space for 7 for easier watering access. I start fast growing things such as lettuces, spinach, kales in six-packs. I start bigger plants in larger containers mainly because I want to do as little up-potting as I can before the plants go out in the ground.

At the beginning of March, my problem was that I have three trays on my grow light system and it was filled to the max. This means I had to do a lot of shuffling around when my newly sprouted seeds come indoors to the grow lights. My top tray is for seedlings in their first week of life and as the plants grow bigger they get kicked down to the medium tray and finally to the bottom tray. I have rigged the lights on each level at various heights. Now the problem lies with the lowest tray which has the tallest plants. These plants look big enough to be transplanted outside but one always worries about the impending last frost (that may or may not happen). So a few plants are now bravely outside.

DSC_0735Last weekend, I finally got out and added some plants into the ground. I first sifted my large compost pile and dug big holes into the ground. I put in a huge bucketful of my compost into each hole, added egg shell powder and some E.B. Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food into each hole. DSC_0723DSC_0740DSC_0741DSC_0742DSC_0743DSC_0744DSC_0745DSC_0746

After preparing the soil, I planted some tomatoes. My front yard has a little strip of land between my driveway and my neighbor’s. This would normally would be non-productive grass but I converted the space to be one of my main tomato beds. Amongst the lavender and fruit trees I planted 5 tomato plants. I used one of my raised beds in my backyard for the rest of the tomatoes.

Here are the varieties of tomatoes I have in the ground so far:

  • Hillbilly
  • Fox Cherry
  • John Baer
  • Better Bush
  • Moonglow
  • Persimmon (2)
  • Big Boy
  • German Pink
  • beefsteak
  • Black Krim

I interplanted tomatoes with basil, borage and nasturtiums. I am really hopeful that this year is my year for tomatoes since last year was so pathetic. I’ll keep you all posted on the progress. Wish me luck!

Here are a few photos from my garden today:

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I haven’t been good about my garden tally lately but February was a one-veggie-harvest. All I harvested was kale! I have been eating about 4 cups of kale a day in my delicious kale caesar salad which has completely stripped my Lacinato plant bare. I had to give it a rest and let it grow a bit so it was the first month I actually had to BUY kale. All to feed my kale habit. March added lettuces and strawberries to the harvest. I’m looking forward to my upcoming harvests!

 

 


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Unrelated to Garden: Baby gift

I know I mostly write about gardening but occasionally I have other things in my life I would like to share. I have been working on a special baby gift for the last couple of months for my sister and brother-in-law and although it is not garden related I thought I might share it anyway.

I have been trying to work more on my woodworking skills (which do come in handy while gardening) and I wanted to make a small bookshelf for the baby. Now as a former teacher, setting up an environment for a baby or child is very important to me  so I didn’t just want to give the baby a bookshelf but an entire reading “environment.” So my gift expanded as I began working on it and I love the results.

First the bookshelf. I came across this cloud bookshelf while searching the internets and thought I could make this myself! So after a little bit more searching I found a DIY version over at Lay Baby Lay. Although she made a heart bookshelf I knew I could easily make a cloud shape instead. I asked for my dad’s help and to borrow his saber saw and after breaking two blades we had clouds! Although the construction is fairly easy, you do need two sets of hands to hold the wood together while assembling.

First we cut down the 1 x 10 x 4 common board into two 2 feet length pieces. I attached them with four #6 1 – 1/4 brass screws making sure to counter sink the screws. Then I took a large piece of cardboard to make a stencil to figure out how big I wanted the clouds to be. This took several tries but once I got it right I traced my stencil onto the 1-1/8 inch x 23-1/4 inch x 4 ft. edge-glued board. I used a saber saw to make the cuts. The rounded edges of the cloud proved to be a bit difficult for the saw blade but working slowly helped.

DSC_0649DSC_0651DSC_0661 DSC_0664 DSC_0667 DSC_0668 DSC_0669In the process of making my cloud bookshelf, my brother-in-law decided to do a star and galaxy theme for the baby’s room so my cloud theme couldn’t have been more perfect!

Let’s move on to setting the mood for reading…

Since my sister-in-law has hardwood floor, the baby would need a cozy rug to be placed in front of the bookshelf. And a baby always needs a sleeping cloud pillow to keep him company while reading. I made this cloud pillow using some of my mom’s scrap fabric, and her sewing machine. I hand stitched the eyes and cheeks using embroidery thread. For a simple cloud pillow tutorial you can click here.DSC_0677 DSC_0678

Now you can’t have an empty bookcase so I searched for books about clouds, stars, and other classics to add to the shelf. I also added this Sleeping under the Stars nightlight because you can always use some mood lighting when reading books.DSC_0671 DSC_0684 DSC_0680 DSC_0682 DSC_0680

I framed an inspirational quote for the baby (and parents) because one must always remember to, “Keep calm and read a book.” For me, usually it is a gardening book.

I wrapped everything in craft paper and heart and cloud washi tape! I made little cloud tags to write little messages to the baby on some of the gifts. I also used my new skill of embossing to make handmade cards and wrapping paper.
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Garbage Workers to the Rescue!

20150304_101212Today I had two babies sound asleep in the back of my car while we were driving to music class. I happened to stumble upon a mountain of trash in front of a house which had a perfectly usable large roll of mesh fencing, perfect for building compost piles frames. I was trying to figure out a way to get this large roll of mesh into my car (which clearly was not going to fit with the babies in the car) when the garbage truck and claw came by. The workers asked me if I wanted anything else from the pile and despondently I had told them that I didn’t think the mesh was going to fit in my car. These two men took 10 minutes of their day to fold the mesh into quarters (using their most powerful tool… the CLAW) so it would fit in my trunk. One said, “This will grow great beans!” City workers after my own heart!

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Crushing the mesh with the claw!

A shout out to the great city workers who helped me make sure one person’s trash could be diverted from the waste stream into my garden! And they didn’t even wake the two sleeping babies!