Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy, Happy Color: Sunroom

More paint is coloring the walls here in Ohio!  The sunroom is decked in a super fun, inspiring green.  LOVE IT.  The paint is still tacky so we couldn't put the wall hangings back yet, and anyways that's another post.

Flora supervised the entire paint process.  Pretty kitty.

The overwintering geraniums are in bloom and it's fabulous.  The bright red contrasting with the green makes Jennifer's heart happy!

Doesn't your spirit just love all this color?  Ours do!  Thank goodness we shed our adult color fear.

This is not the first time we painted this room unfortunately.  First, we painted it sage and next to our willow green , sage is so blah!

 Alvin approves of the new color...

Bounder approves too, maybe...well as much as she approves of anything.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2013 Seed Starting Begins!

To ward off the February doldrums that always roll in, we've been planting seeds.  It feels so good to think about growing again!  We started hundreds of onions a week ago.

Look at all these sprouts!  We purchased young onions sown like this last year and it worked so well we decided to do it ourselves.

We started peppers today.  We will hold off on the tomatoes for a few weeks, but the peppers are always so slow we thought it would be good to get a significant head start this year.

We are still eating all sorts of produce from last years garden: winter squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, roasted peppers, tomatoes, and dry beans.  Our greens and cilantro in the cold frame are doing ok.  We moved the cold frame this past fall to a much less hospitable spot so we learned our lesson for next year.

Besides vegetables, we are also starting native plant seeds.  We planted an entire flat to milkweed, which is under the grow lights, but then started the rest of the seeds outdoors to undergo natural stratification.  We save pots picked up over the growing season so it's a pretty inexpensive seeds collected around the area and reused pots.  We did purchase this seed starting mix from Garden's Alive, but plan to start mixing our own this year.

Check out the cute chestnut oak germinated all on its own.  Many acorns in the white oak family do this making them easy to start.

Besides chestnut oak, we planted mapleleaf viburnum, basswood, white ash (yes we know - just acting hopeful) and a few others.

We plan to take advantage of a warmer day on Monday and do some more lasagna gardening out front to rid the area of grass.  We bought black-eyed susan, butterflyweed, purple coneflower and little bluestem seed from Ohio Prairie Nursery to plant this area.  We are super excited to see this area filled in with many blooms and hear it humming with insects.  

Happy weekend everyone....hope your February is marching right along.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Hand Seed a Prairie in Winter

We completed our first small wetland creation project this past summer, but decided to seed the surrounding land with native flowers and grasses during the winter.  This method is super simple and very successful.  Here's what we did.

1 - We purchased a bag of the Basic Prairie seed mix from Cardo JFNew and stored it in the refrigerator until we decided on the perfect day for seeding.  (You can also collect seed if you have some good sites.)

 2 - We headed out to the land surrounding the green barn and wetland.  Look at the wintry landscape!  Soon the garden will be in full bloom again....already our seed orders are rolling in. Yippee!

 3 - We took handfuls of the seed...

4 - and scattered it about. With the snow on the ground it was very easy to see where we had seeded and where we still needed to put seed.

5 - After we hand seeded the entire area (10 minutes maximum), Steve thought to run a garden rake over the  area to mix the seed in with the snow a bit so the birds wouldn't eat it all.  The new snow falling also helped to quickly cover it up.

6 - Finally, we wait.  Yup, that's all there is too it.  Winter seeding allows the various seeds to go through all their necessary dormancies and stratifications to ensure successful germination.  Normal freezing and thawing will work the seed down into the soil with no more effort on our part.  The ground underneath the snow is ready for the seed and we plan to monitor to make sure no invasives creep in and try to take over.

For such a small amount of effort, the process gave us a gargantuan amount of satisfaction.  No more mowing, many flowers and grasses to appreciate and an incredible new home for wildlife.  If you've not read this article, check it out.  It's why we do what we do and discusses one of the most meaningful, impactful things we can all do at our own homes.

The snow is falling here again with another 3-5 inches forecast.  We are grateful for a real winter this year!