Thursday, March 31, 2011

Backyard Picnic and Fort

 Max and I had our first Backyard Picnic of the year today!  Nothing says warm weather like a sun and wind dried sandwich!

Then while I cleaned up the yard and planted some new bulbs, Max played in his fort.  A swing set, a blanket and an Ikea tent= HOURS OF FUN!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Watercolor Wednesday Week 9


Vivian Park

Click HERE to view my others.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Planting Peas and Spinach

 Let's start with seeds shall we.  I like to buy my seeds online.  I use THIS company.  When I've bought seeds in stores, they've come up fine the first year, but wouldn't sprout the following year.  Seeds need to be kept in a dark, cool, dry  place.  The ones you buy in stores are usually kept in the the store where it's very warm and bright.  Also you never know if they are "last years" seeds.  The ones you buy online are guaranteed fresh and you know they've stored them the right way.  Who needs any more chances of seeds not coming up?  Seeds will keep for 5 years if stored correctly and still have a good sprouting ratio.  They'll still sprout after that, the ratio between non-sprouting to sprouting just increases.  I keep my seeds in our storage room in the basement where it stays between 56-60 degrees year round.  You can store them in your fridge, just make sure you put them in a Mason jar or other container with a tightly closed lid.
The first tip I have for planting peas is to pre soak them in water overnight or for about 12 hours.  Why? You ask? Because the first step in the seed sprouting process is moisture absorption.  Nothing can happen until the seed is sufficiently water logged.  The seed starting process happens more rapidly in a cup of lukewarm water than outside in the cold ground.  Presoaked seeds will usually sprout several days earlier than those not soaked.

Now for smaller seeds, like different varieties of lettuce, the seeds are so small, I don't bother soaking them.  If you really wanted to, you could lay them out on a damp paper towel and then lay another damp paper towel on top of the seeds and keep it wet for 12 hours or so.  I tried it once and it was more work than it was worth.

 Here is a diagram of how to space your peas and spinach in the ground, in their individual square foot.  See HERE for more info on Square Foot Gardening.

Now let's get to how deep to plant them.  Peas needs to be placed about an 1 1/2 inches deep.  I usually measure this by, sticking my pointer finger into the ground until the soil reaches my middle joint.  (where your finger bends)

Here are the holes, ready for the seeds.

Here are the seeds in the holes.

 Here they are covered with dirt and watered well.  I usually pour some on and let it sink in and them pour some more.

 For spinach I just barely push the seed into the dirt and cover lightly.  Water both spinach and peas well and keep moist until they sprout.
Now I'll show you what I built to keep them warm.  I got chicken wire and cut a piece about 18 inches long and bent each end down at about 3 inches like so:

 Next get a piece of thick clear plastic and tape it on to the chicken wire.  I usually fold it around the outside and tape it like a present.  Then I turn  it upside down and tape the plastic to the wire in several places.

 Then cover your newly planted seeds with the plastic and put a rock or two on top to keep the plastic from blowing off.  This acts like a little greenhouse.  The sun warms it up and it holds in the heat.  It also helps it stay warmer at night and keeps any frost or snow off.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Planting Time Again

3 years ago, I checked a book out from the Library called Square Foot Gardening:

I was instantly in love!  I kept the book for the full 6 weeks I was allowed.  I loved the idea of a garden not taking up the majority of your yard and producing so many vegetables that you have to beg people to take them from you.
 I loved the fact that literally NO vegetables are wasted because you grow just enough for your needs.  The vegetables are also grown close enough together that there is pretty much NO weeds, because their isn't the room for them.
The ground never needs to be tilled because you never need to walk on it.  You can reach all places from around the sides.  See how straight and long my carrot is in the first picture?  The dirt doesn't  ever get compacted, allowing vegetables to grow straight and long roots.
He gives calculations to figure out how many square foot gardens you will need.
He gives times when each vegetable should planted (based on the last freeze date in the spring and the first frost date in Fall).  The beauty of it is that by the time most people get around to planting their gardens in May, you've already harvested a crop of peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots,  and radishes.  This method also automatically keeps crops rotating.
You grow all vine vegetables vertically (taking up less room)
There is no thinning of the seeds once they start coming up because instead of sprinkling an entire package in a 30 foot plot, you place only the 1,2,4,16 seeds that you need.
I could go on and on about how great this idea is.

Here are the basics: You build a square foot garden 4ft by 4ft.  The first year I did it, we just had it ground level.  We placed boards around the sides to mark it off.  The next year, we built a raised garden with recycled concrete blocks.
We bought a pack of LATH at Home Depot and my husband cut them in half lengthwise and I stapled them together and painted them.  Thus dividing the garden into 16 squares.
Each square gets a vegetable....or 16 depending on their spacing.  Carrots for example you plant 16 to a square.  4 rows of 4 (within a square foot).
The frame that vegetables grow up is made from Electrical conduit, as explained in the book.  I then hang string from it, to let the veggies grow on up.
Tomorrow is the day at least for my zone, (5 weeks before the last frost) to plant peas and spinach.  I'll share with you tomorrow how you keep the little plants from freezing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Sketches

I finally did it.  Sunday sketches, on Sunday! The first one I actually sketched really quick yesterday evening up the canyon, and finished up after dinner tonight.  It's up at Vivian Park.  I went fishing there with my sisters and Dad and uncle one summer.   The other 2 I did real quick while the family was downstairs holding still for a few seconds.

xbox anyone? The arm on the right, I just couldn't get right, and I didn't have enough time to study it out.
Happy Sunday Everyone!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Twirly Spring Skirts

 Made Lilly and I matching twirly skirts....awwww, now we can be twins.  I made my own pattern using this tutorial.  I had to add a lining to our skirts because the fabric was so thin.

 Look at that twirl action!

I'm not nearly as graceful as Lilly.  It's actually really awkward twirling and having someone take your picture and...I might add, trying not to show your under garments.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Easter Time

Here is a sneak peak at Lilly's Easter Dress that I designed.  I used an existing dress that I liked to make a pattern and then made a few changes to it.  I'm in the process of drawing a dress up for myself.

After St. Patricks Day I always get out the Easter baskets and plastic eggs.  Then for the next  3 weeks or so, we play Easter Egg Hunt every day, in our living room or other chosen room of the house.  The kids love playing with the baskets and eggs that they only get to play with the 3 weeks before Easter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Watercolor Wednesday Week 8

So I put this together by the seat of my pants.  One of these days things will calm down over here and I'll actually do some real painting again....on actual stretched paper not 15 minutes in a Watercolor pad...although sometimes those quick ones actually turn out better because I didn't "think" about them too much.

View the other 7 weeks HERE.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Sketches again

So this whole Sunday sketches thing, it's beginning to be more of a Monday sketches type thing.  This one is all about the kids since I haven't had time to do anything but clean, paint and organize the last 3 days.  Our new desk we got from Ikea came in two parts and had 2 gigantic pieces of paper that came with it.  So to keep the kids occupied while I cleaned and my husband put the desk together, we put the paper in the only spot in the house that wasn't covered with junk....the hallway.  The kids had a blast.

Max's picture is a map.  With a sun and mountains and red rain that is falling sideways.......from fire.

Lilly told me that hers was from the movie Megamind.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What we've been up to

So pretty much this entire weekend was spent painting the office and putting together new office furniture.  Remember back to that post where I was drawing our  office with "to scale" furniture and room?  Well here is the new and improved office, minus a before picture of how it was arranged, with our old desk:(

Here are the old walls.  This was Lilly's room once upon a time and so it was ...purple!

 Waterscape is the new color and I love it!

Here is the new arrangement.  I'm still going to be getting ALOT of shelving but I need to "live" with the office like this for a while  before I can decide where the shelves will be.
 I wanted to keep this BIG table so I can spread out and paint still.  I like that we can now access 3 sides of the table.  (It was up against a wall before and we only had one long side accessible.)
We also got little stools for the kids from Ikea that slide completely under the table, to free up more space when they aren't in use.