Heirlooms and Chives, Oh My!

Time for a garden update! We’re still flirting with a frost each night, so I’ve been covering up the Grow Camp and the herb garden most nights. Here’s the latest:

The “salad bowl” lettuce plants have been great. I can barely keep up with them! They have made some lovely salads and added the perfect crunch to our sandwiches.

The little lettuce blend I planted from seed is coming along well, as is the swiss chard, which is showing it’s true leaves (far right of the photo, in shade.) It’s time to thin out the chard. I’m going to try to transplant what I thin, since there is still room in the camp. Crossing my fingers and hoping they survive!

The spinach seems to be aphid free for now. I’m still noticing some white specks under the leaves, but I think these are just calcium deposits. Notice the yellow bowl hanging out between them?

The red cabbage seem happy and bug free. The yellow flowers are the ranunculus I planted to lure the aphids. Ironically, I see no aphids on them. They’re pretty, though, either way.

The microgreens have sprouted, but they have been a bit of a pain in the toosh. On Easter Sunday, I neglected to water them in the morning and about a third of my containers bit the dust. I’ve been trying to nurse the survivers back to health ever since.

In the herb planter, the parsley and thyme have weathered the cold nights with the help of a cardboard cover my husband made for the top. The basil and cilantro sprouted, but the chives never did. So I bought some! So there, chives!

We finally have some activity in the light hut. My bell peppers have been major slow pokes. Three out of the six are finally sprouting.

These are Paul Robeson heirloom tomatoes my dad gave me from his seed collection. They were a little slow to sprout as well, but they seem quite happy now.

Dad also gifted me with some Dagma’s Perfection heirloom tomato seeds. They too have sprouted. In the background, those are Sugar Sweetie cherry tomato sprouts. These are the bad boys that took over my Grow Camp last year. They will have a home on our deck this time around.

So that’s the latest! Have a fantastic weekend!!

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DIY Garden Light Hut

I can’t take credit for this idea. Our science book for homeschool last year, Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Botany¬†by Jeannie K. Fulbright, included instructions on how to create this as its first lab/activity. I knew as soon as we put this together at the beginning of the school year that I would be using it again in the spring for my seedlings! Last year’s did get a little mildewed by the end of the season (what with all the watering that was going on,) so I made a new one this year (pictured here.) It’s assembly is pretty straight forward, and all the supplies can be easily picked up from your own stash or at a hardware store. Best of all, it works! My little sprouts were healthy and happy during their entire stay.

You’ll need:

  • A cardboard box (about the size of a copy paper box)
  • Foil
  • glue or tape
  • 13-15 watt fluorescent spiral bulb
  • light socket with plug
  • extension cord
  • plastic oatmeal lid, or styrofoam plate
  • scissors and exacto knife or box cutter

The Assembly:

  1. Cut a 1 inch hole in the center of your plastic plate or lid and trim it to create a 4-5 inch disk with the hole in the center.
  2. Position your box on its end and cut a 1 inch hole in the top center of the box.
  3. Cut ventilation slots on the top, upper sides, and back top of your box (this will aid air flow and allow heat to escape.
  4. Line the inside of your box with foil, covering all the sides (photo does not show all sides covered yet, obviously) using tape or glue to secure the foil in place.
  5. Cut the foil away from the top hole and the ventilation holes. Take care to secure the foil by the center hole so no loose foil hangs around the hole (you don’t want it to come in contact with the light bulb, which comes next.)
  6. Push the base of the light bulb through the hole in the top of the box and place the plate on the box so that the base of the bulb sticks through it as well. Then screw the socket onto the bulb. (I’m sorry I don’t have a better photo of this step, hopefully you get the idea from the photo below.)
  7.  Attach your extension cord and you are good to go!

Place your little peat pot darlings on some kind of saucer so that the bottom of your box doesn’t get wet. Last year, mine managed to get wet anyway – I’m trying to be a little more careful with my watering this year. :-)

There you have it! Now, a little word of caution: I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to electricity, heat and paper products being in such close proximity to each other, so I am very diligent in checking my box to make sure it’s not getting too hot around the bulb or socket – and it never does. Even so, I never leave this on while I’m away from the house. Just sayin’.

If you decide to make this light hut, I hope you and your plants enjoy it thoroughly!