Friday, October 31, 2008

Garden Dreams

This love lies bleeding amaranth came from Garden Dreams. I love Garden Dreams! They are located at 812 Holland Avenue in Wilkinsburg.

This place sells seedlings, mostly tomatoes. This past season if I had known about them I would have got all mine there but somehow I was oblivious. They have somewhere around 100 varieties of tomatoes and use organic methods.

Anyway, I got this lovely plant there and of all the things in my garden, it receives more compliments than anything else.

Garden Dreams has a website but it seems not to be active right now. I think they won't be doing a lot until February or so.

In addition to tomatoes they also sell pepper plants, eggplant plants, various herbs and a few flowers. I believe that everything they sell is edible in a way including this amaranth though I honestly have not intention of harvesting it, at least not this year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What do you do with Basil at the end of the growing season?

I grow a lot of basil. In theory if you tuck it in with your delectable plant, it confuses pests. I have found this not to be true but I do it anyway. I just have basil growing everywhere.
Unfortunately, it is tender so when it gets cold, it dies. There's nothing like fresh basil. I keep a couple pots indoor through the winter though my success with that is still iffy. What I have done and found very worthwhile is freezing basil in ice cubes.

This series of photos shows the process, 1st, some cinnamon basil insitu. Cinnamon basil is not my favorite. I get annoyed by it because it resembles Thai Basil, and tastes similar, but not quite as good to me. I think it grows better in my climate too.

So here we have my ice cube tray, a fancy one I got at
Bed Bath & Beyond. Browsing their site, I do not see what I got. These cubes are slightly larger than most and make a very square cube. It's also that nice squishy silicone so it's easy to get the cubes out.

You'll notice that I just jammed as much basil as I could in each cube. I'm not tidy by nature and here it doesn't matter.
Once they are frozen, you just pop them out and put them in a plastic bag or something. If you are like me and have several varieties, you might wanna label the bag.

Hmm, below, there is some lemon basil, one of my favorites, tucked in with some random plants, like thyme and butterfly bush. This one I let got to seed. I don't just use the leaves, I throw in the flower buds and flowers themselves. The only part of the basil I don't use are the roots and the stem.

So the ice cube let's you use a measured amount of basil, for these cubes I think I managed to stuff about 2 teaspoon per cube, but I didn't measure. When I use the cubes, I generally add it to whatever I am cooking right at the very end. I just let it thaw out and get warm. Otherwise, it's almost the same as using dry.

You may do this with whatever other herbs suit your fancy. It's very nice with tarragon. Some folks make a mix, say something that would be perfect for seasoning chicken soup.

Anyway good luck!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pittsburgh Farmer's Market

In the lower sidebar, I list the farmer's market as a gardening source. A lot of farmers not only bring fresh local produce but they sell locally grown garden and house plants. The lady that brings us fresh eggs from her farm also sells pelletized chicken manure. The fresh locally grown garlic may be planted in your own garden in the fall.

In theory I try to start my vegetable plants myself but this doesn't always work out. Plus sometimes they have things I didn't think about before or maybe I just love buying plants.

What you see here is some red swiss chard. This is beautiful in a garden and very good to eat too. I honestly cannot remember whether I got this as a seedling at the farmer's market.

Seedlings from other sources often come from very far away, especially when I get them from home depot. I have bought seedlings that were shipped from California and Oregon by mail. This is an improvement over getting the actual vegetables shipped from 1,000s of miles but I am doing better if I get them locally.

Topics I want to cover

As promised, I am posting a pretty picture. Here's my 7 bowl paperwhite narcissus, before bloom. My sister gave me this lovely thing last summer and I initially did not know what to do with it.

I ended up placing basil flower buds in it which took root. I ended up with dozens of extra basil plants which I planted out wherever I could. I never did have any one basil plant that was huge, but I had lots of little ones everywhere.

When it started getting colder, the basils stopped readily rooting. I tend to be in denial about the change of weather so I tried for a while but now I've let most of my basils flower. I think that this week my garden will mostly die. But that's another story.

So, in giving up on rooting basil, and also rosemary and whatever other little sprig of whatever, I washed this lovely thing. Come September I was at Home Depot and they had all their bulbs out and believe it or not, I am a sucker for flowers.

The paperwhites came in bags of 10 for 11 or 12 bucks, which is a deal. I got some others which given this long cold season, I will talk about more. Anyway, below, you see my lovely thing with 7 bulbs in it.

The terracotta 'pebbles' you see are actually hydroton, which is something I experimented with for making self-watering pots which had limited success. This could e a reflection of my own limitations, but they have worked well for this purpose.

I did not plant the bulbs all at once. I planted them at 5 day intervals, which is why the plants are different sized.
So here it is a month or so later, showing one set of blooms. lovely isn't it? I sorta wish I had started it later. I mean, it isn't even Halloween and I have these Xmas flowers!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this eyecandy.

I actually started this blog with what I posted below. I want to be focused. I want people to look at this and get inspired, but I also want to do some specific things here.
  • how did I get into this?
  • what kinds of people did I work for?
  • what kind of people do I want to work for now?
  • what did I do before this?
  • where do I like to get my supplies?
  • what books do I enjoy?
  • what plants do I enjoy?
  • how do you make your garden grow?
These are just a few off the top of my head.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I love my tarp

I guess I am allowed to only upload 4 photos at a time. Well gee.
OK, I love my tarp. If you are reading this you probably haven't read my 1st post about my wonderful supertarp.

I took all these pictures just to show how wonderful it is.

Here I have a few wheelbarrows shy of a yard of compost in my bed and you can see how the tarp works.

This next 2 pictures(above) show how I attached a carabiner type rings to my tarp, actually a bunch of them, which I use in conjunction with bungee cords and other things to keep things the way I want them. They let me quickly attach and detach things.

Next we have my wheelbarrow sitting on a smaller, cheaper tarp. This lets me toss my stuff faster and sloppier. Hmm, how many readers have I lost with this post?

Anyway this compost here is a must for gardens. You can either make your own by collecting various biodegradable things, or get it elsewhere. I explain below how more or less, commercial compost humus is made and how I arrange my tarp when getting a load. I decided yesterday that I might get a second tarp, about 6X6 to rest on my cab and slightly overlap the main tarp. I may or may not want another bungee to secure that one. I dunno, you can never have enough bungee cords or tarps. They all wear out eventually so I generally keep well stocked.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I am tired. I did 2 yards of compost today. The picture you see is not from today but last May.

Typically I go to this place and they dump a load in my little truck just like that. I told them it's OK to dump it on the roof of my truck. I guess some people don't like dirt on their roof, but I find it easier and they just can't dump it tidily in my bed.

I have a special tarp I call my 'supertarp' that I always keep in my truck. I have other tarps for doing other things but this one just lives there.

I have a special way I keep it spread on the bed so that the compost stays neater. I use at this point 3 bungee cords to hold it in place. In this picture you can see one bungee cord stretched from the tarp to someplace off screen which is my rearview mirror, there was another bungee cord attached the same way on the other side.

I've modified my method since last May by keeping the tailgate open and using a third bungee to keep the tarp secure at the gate. I also attached the other 2 to the actual corners of the tarp and higher up.

Not only does this keep my truckbed neater but it also makes it easier and faster to unload. I don't have to scrape my bed at all because when the compost gets thin, I pull the tarp and the dirt just slides down.

So anyway, compost humus, one small truckload is bout a cubic yard. If you have a garden, especially if you are breaking new ground, topping it with some compost helps a lot.

The compost comes from various sources, a good portion from landscapers dumping the yard debris from cleaning up things, this is weeds, branches, grass cuttings etc. This stuff is taken somewhere where it is composted with some other stuff, sometimes they accept roadkill, sometimes it's something else, like one place uses a lot of potato peels from a potato chip factory. Anyway, I do not know the specifics but they compost the stuff like you might if you had the space and were so inclined. It's good stuff.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogging annoyances

I don't understand how this works. I know some basic HTML and it's easy. You want things, pictures, words aligned left or right and whatever and you can do it.

This thing annoys the hell out of me. I want to arrange things outside the daily blog and I keep doing things guessing and the results are not what I want.

I uploaded a picture to picasa because if I upload it to this blog it makes a new blog entry and that's not what I always want. Then in picasa I have to think, "How do I find where this picture is actually hosted?

I guess I should stop bitching. If you see a picture of a lady holding some green feathery thing on the right, that's me holding a fennel plant I harvested in July of 2008. I'd love to post something more glamorous but I don't always photograph well. I have these illusions of myself.

Just for fun I'll post this photo of some paperwhite narcissus I am growing. Oh my god! The alignment command I typed in worked!

I love paperwhites because they are easy to grow and they keep things green and flowery when it is horrible outside. This image shows just 3 bulbs in this container. What I did is every 5 or so days put a new bulb in, which in theory means that they will bloom over an extended time period. This container has 7 bowls so that's stretching it by 5 weeks.

Anyway, as a rule, I want to post a picture with almost every post I do.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vegetables growing in my front yard

Well, I've managed to put my own picture on top but I need to blur it or something so you may read it better. I sorta want to put a lot of info I have there on a sidebar but I haven't figured that out yet.

If you stumble on this, the picture is from my lovely garden. I want to encourage more people to have gardens like mine. There's some red cabbage, scarlet runner beans and lettuce, all quite lovely.

Above is a picture perhaps taken the same day as my theme picture, I can't remember, but you can see some pansies make it even prettier. There's an onion there too and in the foreground is some sea kale that a groundhog munched on.

To be honest my ideas did not come from thin air. A major inspiration is Joy Larkcom and her book Creative Vegetable Gardening: Accenting Your Vegetables With Flowers(that's an amazon book link) If you go there and see the cover photo, the influence is obvious.

Anyway, this is what I want to see in other FRONT yards, yes, that's my front yard and I haven't shown you a 10th of it.

Well, I've seriously got to get to work. I hope somebody out there finds what I am doing as amazing as I do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Podcamp Pittsburgh

YesterdayI went to Podcamp Pittsburgh and I did get a lot from it but I am sorry to say I was not in the best physical condition to get the most out of it.

On Friday I spread 3 cubic yards of compost on a front and side yard. It took longer than expected though I was asked to sorta double dig a very clayish slope. Anyway, after 5 and a half hours labor, I really wanted to sleep in Saturday but Todd (My live in boyfriend) dragged me out. I could be at podcamp right now but alas, I don't feel ready for it. After the intro plus 2 classes I wanted to go home. Nothing scheduled at one was really right for me so I went to a video class that was too technical for me principally because I knew the speaker. He was quite engaging and while I think adding video would help get my word out (I think I might be entertaining, informative and easy on the eyes) I'm not ready, and I'm really not ready to spend 2,500 bucks on a camera.

Next was analytics, and I did get something out of that but I seriously would have slept in my seat if I didn't feel guilty about the dozens of more people without seats. This really is NOT a reflection of the instructor. Like I said, I got something out of that, I intend to use some sort of analytics to see what kind of traffic this blog generates. I have an idea of what I want to do with this blog but I haven't gotten to stating what that is. One primary goal is to keep this from being an 'embarassing blog'. I honestly have a few of those which I will NOT share with you.

Anyway, in the interest of being fair, I'll give a shout out to
  • Cynthia Closkey, her session, Intro to Blogging, was easy for me to get, with Mike Woycheck of Pittsburgh Bloggers
  • Justin Kownacki and a bunch of other bloggers, Success! (Blogs, shows, podcasts) this also was quite helpful
  • Dr. Dave Mansueto, Video Compression Best Practices,this was over my head but having known Dave from his fabulous variety shows in the past and not being drawn to anything else in that timeslot, I went anyway.
  • Andy Quayle, Using Analitics, yes, Andy I almost fell asleep in your class but it's not your fault.
Maybe next year I'll go and get more out of this. If I do I will make sure that I am not physically exhausted.

OK, now how do I add links? Thank you Todd! Almost forgot,


This morning I discovered this. I currently have a worm bin but I'll tell you, there's a lot of trouble with that. Troubles I have had include fruit flies, fungus flies, other creepy crawly things and this year another weird fly.

I love the fact that I can put MEAT in this.

I'd post links but at this point all I've done is googled it. I've never heard of this being done in Pittsburgh. I will post pictures of what I do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


This is an idea I had. These are hyacinth bulbs. below are bulbs in traditional hyacinth glasses.


here's looking at you cat. wtf?hhhello??? where's the picture?
thanks todd!
now may I add an image of my lemongrass from june? why is there an add image button that does nothing?


Well, I want this to actually have a purpose. I've got work to do but most if but should actually be outside. I have in theory a landscaping company but I need to promote it. I want to have a different focus than normal landscaping. I don't want to just make yards look pretty. I want to encourage life, animal and bird life.
So what do I need to do? A lot. What have I done? Uhhh...
I hung up a few signs in places where I think my kind of clientele would hang out.
It might be nice if I had a website that showed what I want to be doing here.

So I want to start a picasa account or something.
done. now what?