Hey guys, it is so wonderful to finally be able to say that spring is finally coming to our northern home in Minnesota! According to the calendar the official first day of spring has come and gone of course but being this far north means that that isn’t exactly translating to the actual outside temperature. Regardless, spring IS coming and we’re seeing temperatures now above freezing almost every single day. Could we still have a snow storm and see ridiculous cold? Of course we could! But we probably won’t. On average last frost for us will either be May 1st or June 1st so I’m a little early with starting my seedlings but that won’t stop me!
This is my first attempt at starting my own seedlings because (as far as I can tell) if we’re going to grow our own vegetables and its going to be smart and/or feasible for us financially in any way, I have to start my own plants. Otherwise, I’m paying $5 for one bell pepper plant that may or may not give us that in bell peppers throughout the summer. Here I am confronted with the question: am I more frugal then I am health conscious or vice versa? I know I am not the only person who has been forced to choose cheaper options at the expense of what I consider to be my family’s health. I would LOVE to be able to go to the store and never leave the organic aisle but that just isn’t in the cards for us and I would rather make or grow my own everything anyway. Do I think putting in a garden is actually going to SAVE us money? No, in this case I believe I’m being far more health conscious then frugal but, in the end, we will eat ALOT more fresh produce throughout the summer, it will be much better for us then anything we could buy and it will help me replace the canned/frozen vegetables that I still buy from time to time. And, let’s face it, when put in black and white like that, OF COURSE I would choose our health over the cheaper option if I could afford to!
Last year was a fun learning experience when I planted some herbs, bell peppers and lettuce in the little wrap around garden we created by the front door of our house. It confirmed two things I already knew: I would much rather have flowers there and it doesn’t get enough sun to grow much of anything else. Our lettuce did incredibly well but I made the mistake of buying an “Italian blend” that was so terrible no matter how hard we tried to eat it it ended up just going to seed. Our herbs did pretty well but because I buy dried organic herbs in bulk from Amazon they saved us nothing money-wise and may have even actually cost us money. (Though I absolutely loved having fresh herbs so I’m hoping a couple of them will come back this year.) So I’ve concluded basically what I thought I would conclude: If I’m going to get serious about growing our own produce I need to designate a space that gets great sun and has easy water access somewhere else in our yard.
The location of our new garden was Joe’s idea. Many many years ago a 10×10 foot (roughly) concrete slab was poured in front of our barn. It serves absolutely no purpose except to confuse guests who, at some point or another always ask, “What was that for?” It was actually a place to park and spray off farm equipment but right now it just looks strange. Putting a garden on top of it seems like a good idea to eliminate the eye sore as it will also get sun all day and being near the barn means it will be easy to water. So, the plan is to buy a few railroad ties and build a square raised bed inside of the slab. By making it smaller then the concrete no grass will be able to grow around it (or under it) so we won’t have to weed wack around it or anything like that, we can run our mower right over the slab so it won’t be a hindrance or add more chores to our lawn keep up. It is NOT flat at all so two sides will probably be two railroad ties tall and two sides with be three tall so we can level it out. Putting it on the slab also means we can bring in fresh dirt that won’t already be tainted with weeds and grass seeds etc. So, I’m excited!
If these seedlings turn out I will post here in major detail on my plan and exactly how I did it but for all I know I’m going to fail terribly and none of my little seeds are going to survive. Only time will tell! Yup those are styrofoam cups sitting inside disposable roaster trays I bought at Walmart: my own little inexpensive green houses! All in I spent less then $30 on this setup and I’ll be able to reuse the roaster pans year after year and I used far less then half of the seeds I purchased so, if this works, I’ll only have to buy more cups next year for a whopping $4. Why did I use such big cups and not seedling trays? Well, because this is Minnesota there is always the awful possibility that I won’t be able to plant until late May (lets hope that’s not the case!) I wanted to be sure to put them in big enough containers that they can grow comfortably for awhile if the weather delays us. I planted Cucumbers, Peas, Green Beans, Tomatoes and Asparagus (Yeah I’m approaching this garden thing with baby steps.) The asparagus is a perennial and it will be planted (and hopefully spread and go crazy) in the garden by the house. The rest will go in the new garden up by the barn.
I also cold started my Milkweed seeds! We already have milkweed in our yard as it is a common wild perennial for our state but did you know that Monarch numbers are down 90% of what they were in 1992 and the milkweed plant population, which is indispensable to the monarch, is also down 90%? For just a $25 donation they sent me 1,500 seeds! (I copied some of that text directly from their home page – go check them out, you can’t go wrong donating for such a good cause!)
Anyway, it turns out the best way to start Milkweed seeds is to wrap them up in a damp paper towel, put them in a baggie and drop them in your refrigerator for thirty days before starting them in pots inside. Did I do this with all of my seeds? No, I don’t have that kind of room in my little flower bed beside our house. I’m going to spread the rest of the seeds this fall in various areas I think they will do well in our yard and I also plan on donating every year I can afford to. So the little flower bed by our house still has all of the perennial flowers of my grandma’s that I dug up from around the yard last year (I still have a few more to snag this spring) and now it will also include milkweed and asparagus. I have this image in my head of that garden just growing like crazy with perennial flowers and things all summer long!
If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I have acquired my fifth rocking chair and, guess what, it used to be my grandma Eleonora’s! My cousin asked if I wanted it (everyone in my family knows not to get rid of furniture before asking me) and, of course, I said yes and Joe brought it home for me last weekend! Check it out!
Oh my gosh it is SO ugly though lol I love it so much! But my gosh I really need to figure out what I can do with it. I first thought, “I’m going to paint it!” because I’ve seen so many painted fabric tutorials on Pinterest but then, after too much research, I thought, “Why don’t I dye it instead?” And after looking into that now I’m about convinced I’m going to rip all of the fabric off of it and see what’s underneath. I haven’t taken the plunge yet, I’m really suspicious that there is a lot more pretty nice wood on that chair that’s been covered up… I am really not in anyway a seamstress, the only uhpolstery project I’ve tackled was this rocking chair (passed on to me by the same Grandma) and there was no sewing involved at all, I just used staples and then covered them with pretty trim and hot glue. I am hoping I can manage something similar with this chair… but I won’t know until I take the big plunge and I am very scared I’m going to wreck it. Wish me luck guys!