Friday, January 30, 2015

I Heart PBS

There are many reasons why I love PBS, but my latest fave-rave is this show:


It does make me want to rush into the kitchen and bake something decadent, but then I remember that I don't need quite so many cakes or biscuits or pies (ahhhh, pie!) and I settle for a piece of dark chocolate and another episode...

Incidentally, you can watch full length episodes of this program, and others, at www.pbs.org

Monday, January 26, 2015

Smarty-Plants Book

I recently got a used copy of this book for a whole dollar--and I'm rather pleased with my investment.  This is actually a pretty approachable book.  Granted, it is likely more a textbook type book than an entertaining gardening book, but it is really quite interesting.  The language isn't difficult to wade through, and you know, it's nice to read a book where you can feel your brain expanding and saying "ahh, information!".  Makes a change from my recent diet of all things cheap fiction...

In any case, I'm really enjoying reading about the ins and outs of plants, how they grow and adapt to their given part of the world.  Each chapter is broken into small sections, which is perfect for bedtime reading: good information, in small doses, to mull over before sleep claims me.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pinterest Inspirations

I love Pinterest.  Recipes, garden ideas, fanciful frocks...you name it, I've likely pinned it to some board or other.  What a wonderful site for all sorts of inspirational pictures!

Take, for example, a few photos that have piqued my interest (and inspired a new garden project):

from the gardendiaries.wordpress.com  
from thecottagemarket.com
found on ebay.com
A trip to my favorite farm supply store yesterday revealed the unexpected and wholly delightful surprise of short stair risers on sale and distressed wood on clearance--that, combined with a quart of inexpensive teal paint, will hopefully yield me a creation to display my pots on this summer (between the two large plastic pots, which I plan to fill with miniature popcorn and trailing beans).  I'd show you a picture of the project thus far, but all it is are some boards propped on plastic sawhorses with a first coat of teal paint!  With our current run of warmish weather, it's nice to work on a garden related project on the south-facing porch.  Not only should the paint dry in good time, but Ernest Hemingway the Cat loves having some company as he lounges in the sun.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Super Shopper Score!

Right.  So, you may have realized that this little Farmlette runs on a fairly slim budget.  We recycle, we repurpose, we create from the free pile...you get the idea.  But sometimes, there's stuff (like, say, a hoophouse) that needs to be purchased.

That's where The Google comes in handy.  I do some research on various products, I price compare, I figure out what can I find locally versus what I might be able to acquire with free shipping.  I ponder the merits of building my own in true D.I.Y. fashion versus a premade kit.  I measure and remeasure and plan and plot...

For the new southern exposure I suddenly have, I wanted a smallish hoophouse.  Nothing too big, really.  Even a small D.I.Y. hoophouse would run about $100 or so, if I could find everything on sale, and there was the time factor of needing to build in time to catch the early season.  And then again, did I want a permanent structure?  Maybe something that looks fairly decent but can be easily taken down before winter might be good...because then, I'd have more sunlight streaming into the porch...

Then I stumbled upon this: the Flowerhouse brand Farmhouse Pop-Up Greenhouse.  Seriously.  It bursts out of a bag and tah-dah, you've got a fancy little instant greenhouse in your yard.

All it needs is a man in a kilt to come out of a cake...

Ahem.  I digress.

The instant greenhouse, in its glory.
Cute. Perfect dimensions.  Sturdy yet temporary.  Then I checked the price tag: $399.  Yikes.

It's even sexy from the side...
Commence price stalking.  Over the past couple of months, I've been tracking this particular beauty.  The local hardware store chain had a few, then fewer, and finally, down to one lonely greenhouse...and then, the price began dropping.  As I had hoped, by the time they reached one left in stock, they had decided to "discontinue" this item, and sell at the lowest price possible if no fool picked it up sooner.

Lower it fell, and lower still...until it was a whole $270 off.  And then came the 11% discount, and the extra clearance discount, and it was on sale for a little over $100.  I was gifted a marvelous gift card for Christmas (thanks Mom!), and made the run into town on a quiet Saturday night to pick up my lovely.

There was a bad moment where they couldn't find it, and then it was finally located on a dusty shelf in the abandoned garden department in a rotted box.  After discounts and gift card, I scored my beloved-and-stalked-after pop-up greenhouse for the princely sum of....

(insert drum roll here)

Fifteen whole dollars, which was pretty much the sales tax. 

Yes folks, my Machiavellian machinations paid off and I scored a four hundred dollar (more or less) greenhouse for fifteen smackeroos. 

Now, to wait patiently until spring creeps in...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wintertime DIY


I've been pondering what I want to make to grow peppers and melons this summer in the new south garden hoop house/green house.  I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the extra sunlight, and hopefully having lots of success with peppers (which would make for a nice change) and melons (which I attempt every year or so, and never have too much luck, sadly), but I don't want to wind up using a ton of well water to keep things hydrated.

I'm envisioning a system of grow buckets (like the ones in this video--ingenious use of cheap effective materials!), plus a homemade water barrel to collect rain water from the roof.  I need to replace the gutter on the south side of the house, after it was unceremoniously yanked off the house by a falling tree, and I think this would be the perfect time to install a water barrel system to keep things happy in the new hoop house.  I rather like this model:
For ten bucks, I like it.  And I can connect it to irrigation tubing and connect that to all my grow buckets...and then, with luck, bring on the happy melons!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

TV Influences


This is the episode of BBC's Gardener's World that launched me into thinking about growing dahlias.  I love this program, it's perfect for settling down with a hot cup of tea and some knitting on a cold winter's evening, and getting lost in the garden.  ( I believe I've mentioned my love affair with Monty Don before...)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Great Dahlia Experiment

mignon dahlia mix, from www.rareseeds.com




I've been inspired by the many British gardening programs I adore, and I'm going to attempt to grow dahlias this season.  I love the bright, cheerful flowers, and the fact that bees seem to love them, too.  I've opted to try growing from seed, which may or may not work out, but I couldn't resist the Mignon mix offered by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I've been reading up a bit on various techniques, and this helpful guide from Gardener's World (one of the BEST BBC gardening shows, ever) has me motivated to get sowing coming February.

With any luck, I'll have a host of happy little plants that will grow into beautiful flowered shrubby things in summer.