Cotton from boll to FO

Cotton boll, Cotton removed from seed, Cotton punis, Handspun Cotton Yarn, and Handknit Cotton Leaf
Just a little something I’ve been working on for the harvest party this weekend.

March Garden Update

Seed Packets

It was an unusually warm and dry February here in the Midwest. The plants have started to wake up from their winter slumber and I’ve started to plan what I’m going to grow this year. I’ve decided to focus mostly on the vegetables that I eat, with a few new ones that I’ve never grown before just for fun. While I don’t have the layouts quite figured out yet here’s what I’m hoping to grow this year.

Community Garden Plot:
Green Beans
Tiger Eye Beans

Currant Tomato (just one this year)
Lemon balm
Thai Red Roselle Hibiscus*

* denotes plants I’ve never grown before

I’m still waiting on my order of ginger to ship, and I still need to find a source of lemongrass, but otherwise I have all the seeds/plants. My spring break is next week so one of the things I want to get done during it is get my seeds started. We also have a planting day at the community garden next Saturday so I’ll find out which plot I’ve moved to. Gardening season is SO close!

What are you growing in your garden this year?

Gardening Year in Review

Another year gone already! It was a pretty decent year garden wise. I found a community garden run by awesome people. I was put in charge of an orchard at the same community garden. I started graduate school for a masters in horticulture with a specialization in urban food systems, and I grew a lot of yummy fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

One of my favorite things I did this year was take regular pictures of my garden plot from (about) the same spot. This has allowed me to put together a slideshow of sorts and watch the entire garden season go by in a manner of seconds, and I thought I’d share it with you.

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There aren’t any pictures from July because I was fairly sick that month and didn’t make it out to the garden.

Looking forward to next year, I’m hoping to be a bit more practical with my garden plot and focus on growing the vegetables I use like carrots, beets, spinach, and not so many tomatoes. I’ll still probably pick one or two new/fun plants to grow as well. I’ll also have the orchard to care for, which is exciting, but also a little daunting since I have no idea how much work it’ll end up being.

Mid-October Garden Update

Well, things in the garden are beginning to wind down for the winter. This past month has been a lot of clean up and getting ready for the off-season.

For the plants on my deck winter prep mostly consisted of moving the herbs from the big planter into little pots so I can bring them indoors over the winter. I debated letting them overwinter outside, but I cook a lot during the colder months and want to be able to have fresh herbs. Besides, I’m sure I’ll appreciate the green in the dead of winter. The plants in my house have all been rearranged to make room for the herbs. The lime tree also made the move indoors a few weeks ago once it started getting cold at night.

White and purple blossom surrounded by leaves
The African Violet likes its new spot.

As for the rest of the deck plants, the stevia died pretty quickly once it got chilly. It was a neat plant to grow, but I didn’t use it at all so I’m not heart broken over the loss. I cut the strawberries back a few weeks ago to get them ready for winter and they seemed to take it well. Once they start to go dormant I’ll move them into my garage to overwinter them. I’m thinking that next year I’ll put them in the black boxes I have to give them more space. The last plant on my deck is my beautiful blueberry. It grew so much this year, and I’m very happy about that. I’m going to overwinter it in the protected corner of my deck since it’s a bit big to move to the garage.

Raised bed with tomatoes and marigolds

Things at the community garden plot are going similarly. Left in my plot are two tomato plants, some carrots, three beet plants that survived the voles, and some marigold bushes. While the tomatoes are still growing, both they and the marigolds are probably coming out soon. I’ll leave the beets and carrots in a bit longer since they’re more cold-tolerant.

Young trees in a fenced in area.
Our new orchard!

The big news from the garden is last weekend we put in an orchard with some help from a neat organization called the Giving Grove (check them out here). There are now a total of 9 trees (2 Asian pears, 2 European pears, and 5 apples) and 2 bush cherries at the garden, and I’m in charge of caring for them! I’m very excited and also very glad that Giving Grove will continue to provide support, knowledge, and training for the life of the orchard, because I have no idea what I’m doing yet.

Other than that I’ve been thinking ahead about what I want to do in the garden next year and how I want to organize my garden notebook/journal (because my current system is NOT working). I know gardening isn’t done for the year quite yet, but it’s hard not to think about what I want to plant next year. Does anyone else have this problem?


September Garden Update

We’re halfway through September already? Where did the month go? I swear it was August yesterday…

Things in the community garden plot are at an awkward in-between at the moment. The summer crops (tomatoes and beans) are still producing but the fall crops (carrots, beets, and spinach) are starting to sprout and grow. That combined with the hot weather we’ve had the last few weeks that kept me from being outside too much means that the garden is kind of a mess. Hopefully with the cooler weather we’re supposed to have the next few weeks I can get out and get things cleaned up a bit.

Community Garden Plot

The plants on my deck are doing well. It’s about time to harvest another batch of herbs and pull the calendula and lemon balm. I also need to start thinking about what plants I want to bring in for the winter. Definitely the lime tree and the rosemary, but I’m still undecided about the others.

As for the rest of this month, I don’t have much planned garden-wise other than a clean up. The orchard at the community garden is going in on October 17th so I’ll be preparing for that as well. I’m super excited now that it’s close and actually happening. This week I got to pick out varieties for the apples, pears, and asian pears which was fun.

I also may start planning my garden for next year. There are some things that I learned this year (direct seeded beans do better, DO NOT plant two currant tomato bushes, I cook with carrots more than I eat them raw) that definitely affect what I’ll plant next year. I’m also debating sticking with spring and fall crops, since summer is not the best health wise for me. Also maybe garlic, I haven’t decided.

How has your garden done this September?

August Update

Hello again! It’s been a while. Typically there is the word “garden” in the title of these updates, but this one is going to be a bit more general since I haven’t posted since June.

So where have I been the past two months? At home mostly. At the end of June I got a project at work that required a lot of time and energy so I briefly (or so I thought) put aside writing to work on it. Then shortly after finishing the project in early July I had a health flare. This is not entirely unexpected as my illnesses wax and wane, and flares in July seems to be becoming sort of an annual thing. I immediately focused my energy on trying to stop the downward spiral of worsening symptoms and everything else got put on the back burner…

… Which brings us to now. While I’m still very much in the flare, I am happy to report that things seemed to have stabilized a bit, at least at the moment. I think the flare was caused in large part due to the weather (hot and humid) so hopefully as we move from mid-summer towards fall things will improve.

Feeling worse hasn’t stopped me from doing things all together however. I’m still working (a very limited) part time, which is only possible because the PhD who is supervising me is SUPER understanding and all around awesome. This past month I’ve tried my hand (and failed) at making sauerkraut, I’ve slowly made progress through the herbalist course that I started last fall, and I continued to practice my mandolin. I also participated in Ravelry’s Tour de Fleece this July and seem to have caught the spinning bug. And as usual I have a few knitting projects that I’ve been working on.

Drop spindles, spinning fiber, and a bobbin full of singles.
Some of my spinning for the Tour de Fleece this year.

I also have been trying to go out to my garden plot semi-regularly, usually with recruited help from family. Even if the heat and humidity didn’t cause my flare they certainly make it worse, so I have to be very careful not to spend too much time outside. The past two months have brought large harvests of currant tomatoes and green beans. I’ve been dehydrating the tomatoes and freezing the extra beans so I can enjoy them this winter. The beans and sunflowers are about at the end of their lives so they will probably come out soon to be replaced by beets and spinach (my planned fall plantings).

raised bed with red and yellow sunflowers
(this picture is from July)

I’ve also had a decent herb harvest from the plants on my deck. The blueberry bush continues to grow and now looks like a bush, which is exciting, and the lime tree has branches. Overall, considering the level of neglect that most of my plants have been subjected to these past few months, they’re all doing remarkably well.

Bowl full of cut herbs
Clockwise from top left: Stevia, Thyme, Oregano, Calendula, Lemon balm, and Sage (in the center)

As for what’s going to happen this fall, it all depends on what happens with my health. I start grad school next week, which will be a priority, and I also plan to continue working part time. I hope to be able to go back to writing posts regularly soon. I do miss blogging, but unfortunately other things must take priority.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer!