Tag Archives: seed starting

Out My Kitchen Window


How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Spring arrived in the Shenandoah Valley with balmy mildness in mid March and carried into early April. Glory days. Roses and other beloved perennials responded to the unseasonable warmth by leafing out–too soon. Raw wind blasted the vulnerable plants as I battled to cover them with blankets. Tender leaves suffered from hard frost. Sigh. On the brighter side, early vegetables escaped and the roses, delphinium, foxglove…are growing out.

Image of the hills and mountains behind our farm taken from the kitchen window on April 27th.

Virginia is headed into the third month of the quarantine, so heaven knows I’ve had ample time for garden projects. I’ve expanded my memorial garden and enclosed the addition with a low stone wall and wiggly Piggly fence, laboring over them for days. The whimsical fence is made from lengths of wood, including the special sticks Dad had saved to carve into canes, far more than he completed. I incorporated a few he’d worked on.

Other wood I gleaned from our farm, my folk’s place, and daughter Alison’s field above the creek, plus I repurposed objects and old metal. Everything is carefully chosen. Dad would heartily approve as he believed in recycling and making things yourself from materials at hand. I’ve also gathered worms and composted manure from the farm and added wheel barrow loads to my garden and beds.

(Wiggly Piggly garden fence with water feature made from an old metal tub. I added the solar fountain. Bunny statue below by my stone wall. Only the bunny wasn’t repurposed, and is from Wayfair.com  And yes, I own stock in the company. 🙂

Garden savvy folk probably know this, but seeds from online catalogues are selling out like mad. I’m a seed addict and have a large box filled with packs. Even so, I need to restock a few varieties and was challenged this morning in my efforts. Like many others, it seems, I’m choosing heirloom kinds that produce savable seed. These are especially sought after. I’m also avoiding local nurseries this year and starting many vegetables, herbs, and flowers on my sunspace.  So far, they’re sprouting well.

Image below of my spinach patch we’ve harvested from for weeks. I sowed the seed last fall and covered the patch over the winter, added compost when I uncovered it. The spinach has thrived, as has the asparagus pictured below. It’s been here decades. And seedlings on the sunporch below that.

In these uncertain times, people are putting in gardens more than ever. If you have any interest, best hop to it and get your seeds while there are any left. The garden world, like many others, has run mad. Seed and plant companies are sending out emails saying they’ve never seen anything like the deluge they’ve come under. Some have had to shut down, others are sold out and or experiencing shipping delays. Oddly enough, you’re more likely to find a rose bush for sale online than beet seeds. Who the heck knew this was coming?

Not me.

The last of my tulips. These beauties are in a sheltered spot and have bloomed for weeks. My new favorites.

Onward ho and good luck with all your gardening endeavors. I’m in hustle mode before the heat settles in, planting and mulching like crazy.

Oh, and baby chicks are sold out. Backyard chickens have taken off.  I’m toying with getting an incubator and eggs, or ducklings…

Is It Still January?


2 Heirloom Seeds packages on antique table resized

A most uninspiring month. So I’ve combed through wintry quotes and nah–let’s think spring. Time to peruse my burgeoning stack of seed/plant catalogs and ponder what to plant where, after sorting through the seed saved from last year–of course. Many heirloom varieties reseed themselves outside with no help from me, but a number get their start in my little greenhouse. It’s a happy place, but chilly, as it depends solely on the sun for warmth. I can plug in a space heater, rather costly to run, so don’t much. Built against a hill on the side of the barn near the dairy, the greenhouse is barricaded from bitter northeast winds. That leaves wicked westerly blows and general chilliness.

Beth in solar greenhouse

When the temperature consistently hovers above 20 or so at night, I’ll get out in the heating mats that go beneath the pots. Some are improvised from yogurt/cottage cheese containers filled with Pro-Mix, my favorite soiless potting medium, and my chosen seeds. Bottom heat aids germination in such a cool greenhouse. I also start tuberous begonias and other bulbs. Most anything that appeals to me. The hardy seeds are planted first.

(Pics of seeds and me in the greenhouse from last season taken by daughter Elise. She and the grandbabies are my garden assistants. She’s the biggest help by far, but some of the little people try hard.)

watering in the greenhouse

Years ago, hubby dug back into an unused concrete receptacle that once contained cow manure, located in the bank the greenhouse is built against. His goal: to create a dark root cellar. Turns out the sides and ceiling leak, so we have what we term ‘the grouch pond’ after Oscar the Grouch of Sesame Street fame. The kids thought the unintended pond would appeal to him. Oscar likes broccoli and liver flavored ice cream and lives in a garbage can, so why not? I’ve tried gold-fish in the grouch pond, and the occasional frog hops up from the large farm pond in the meadow, and I’ve added water plants. Some of the plants survived. It needs new fish.

Grandbaby Chloe in my flower bed

We’ve started vegetable gardens around the greenhouse in the last few years and found tomatoes and pumpkins thrive there. Some vigorous vines trail up over the greenhouse and the bank. Orange globes appear in unlikely places, which is part of the fun for zealous pumpkin fans such as we. This year we shall have the best pumpkins, the loveliest, most fragrant herbs and flowers, the tastiest vegetables, and sweetest berries. EVER. Our own mini Eden.

I actually believe this and work toward accomplishing it every year. Amazing, really, how undaunted I am. My gardening triumphs keep me going, and the less than stellar results of my efforts fade into the background during the long winter months. Snowy blasts, icy rain, and endless mud combine to bury any discouraging recollections. All are blotted out. Only the glory shines bright, beckoning me to strive once again for the best gardening season ever.

shirley poppiesThe many seed and plant companies I patronize count on this near religious fervor to keep me and countless other gardeners coming back with new orders each year. The worse the winter, the more orders I zap their way. Last year, I was so demented during the long winter, I sent off a LOT. In return, I received box after box from UPS deliveries in the spring. Where to tuck all this bounty in was a challenge. But now, I wonder, what if I seed the entire front yard in wild flowers? How glorious that would be. Sigh. Dream.

I have some vague memory of weeds and quack grass contending with whatever I plant, but in my mind’s eye I see only the wonder of it all.

(Images of Shirley Poppies and my grandbaby Chloe smelling flowers in the garden taken by Elise.)