Saturday, April 20, 2013

Starting Seed Indoors

In hopes that spring is indeed coming to North Dakota eventually, today's post is about gardening.  Oddly enough, on Monday the school that I teach at had a 2 hour late start because of a snow storm on Sunday.  Yes it snows a lot in North Dakota but it is not a usual occurrence to get 10 inches of snow in mid-April.  I know that the Minnesotans are feeling our pain as well since many of my teacher friends in our neighbor state had 2 hour late starts or no school yesterday (the 19th of April!!).  We all have to believe that spring will indeed come and eventually summer as well.  With that in mind, I have started my vegetable plants indoors.

This is the 3rd year that I have done this and it has been quite successful.  My set-up is fairly inexpensive and anyone can do it. I have it set up in my basement.
The supplies necessary are:
  1. A wire shelving unit-the one I have is from Target-wait for a sale and you can get one for around $30
  2. 2 shop lights-about $25-30 a piece
  3. Bulbs for shop lights-you don't need special plant bulbs, I just use regular old fluorescent ones.
  4. A couple of s-hooks-really cheap at any hardware store
  5. 2 jiffy pot kits with plant warmers-They are usually about $35 a piece but I got the second one for $25 because it was on clearance.  The plant warmers are necessary for our cold unfinished basement but you may not need them if you are setting yours up in a heated area.
  6. A power strip for plugging in the lights and warmers

The s-hooks are essential because they allow you to adjust the shop lights.  You want them to be as close to the seedlings as possible without touching them.  For planting the seeds follow the instructions on the jiffy pot units and the seed packets to see how many weeks they need to be planted before moving outside.  I don't turn the lights on until I have a lot of seedlings popping up.  While the seeds are germinating I keep the lids on and then prop them open a little bit once the first seedlings start to appear.  Here is a look at my tomato seedlings.  Notice how low I have the lights.

Once the plants grow too large for the jiffy pots, I transplant them to larger pots.  Here are is a look at the various peppers and tomatoes from 2 years ago

My first year I only had one seed flat and no warmer.  I only grew perennials and herbs that year and the success was not great.  The black-eyed susans were a product of my first year of starting seeds indoors. 

When it is time to plant them outdoors, you need to expose them gradually.  This is called hardening them off.  I start by putting mine on the porch for a few hours, then eventually outside for parts of days.  The biggest adjustments for my little plants in North Dakota is the wind.  My second year I decided to grow tomatoes and peppers and since our rental house had hardly any yard, I decided to grow them in containers.  The first year they did really well and I had so many banana peppers that I ended up canning a banana pepper mustard (we still have 3 or 4 jars left).  Last year I had some problems with end rot on the tomatoes.  They also had to suffer the trauma of having their containers moved since we moved mid-summer last year.

This year I am excited to have a backyard and plan to plant them in a raised vegetable garden.  The peppers will be planted in the containers still.  I also decided to grow squash, green beans, and cucumbers this year.  I cannot wait to get outside and start gardening.  Come on North Dakota, bring me some spring!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Watercolor Painting Fabric

Wow, it has been a long time since I posted on this blog!  My entire life has been consumed by studying for my written comprehensive exam.  I was kind of a zombie for a while but little house projects did get completed when my brain couldn't take anymore.  The following picture shows how I have felt the past 6 weeks.

My biggest project lately was one that was started the day after the exam.  I have been having trouble finding fabric for the window treatment in the kitchen so I decided to make my own.  My inspiration was poppies which are some of my favorite flowers.

The supplies I used were Tulip soft fabric paint in several shades for mixing, cups and water, fabric markers, white cotton fabric, and a spray bottle full of water.

 The process was pretty simple.  I mixed the paints until I came up with an orangish reddish color.  Then I sprayed the fabric with the spray bottle so it was damp.  I also mixed a fair amount of water in to the paint.  This allowed the paint to bleed just like watercolor paint on paper.
 I covered the entire length of the fabric with flowers of random sizes.
Once the fabric dried I went in and added details with fabric markers.

Then I took the fabric and went through similar steps that I used in the making of the living room curtains.  I tore apart the roman shade that was originally there so that I could use the wood piece and brackets to mount this fabric.  I used safety pins to create the gathered effect.  I also sewed velcro onto the fabric and glued stapled velcro to the wood piece. 

I think it turned out nicely. Now on to a smattering of small projects that have been my brain restorers over the past month and a half.  First of all I finally got around to painting the door in the kitchen.  Goodbye mauve, hello tangerine cream!
I also purchased some curtain rods that I have had my eye on at my beloved Target for the dining room.  There was some frustration putting up the brackets, however so one window has one bracket only so far.  Plaster walls can be tricky sometimes but I still love old houses.  I am pretty awesome at wall repair though so you can't even tell anything happened and once I buy some more anchors I will attempt to mount the other bracket again.  I'm also excited because the fabric for the dining room curtains arrived yesterday so I can get started on that soon.

This sad little curtain rod wants a home;)
I also hosted Easter dinner for my family and it was a success.  I forgot to take a picture of most of the lovely food but here is the delicious dessert.

Next up, I will be posting about a starting seeds indoors in hopes that spring will soon come to North Dakota! 

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