Saturday, May 16, 2009

Belina's Bloomers

This will be a gardening post. It will have three parts plus a P.S. at the end. You've been warned.

First, a photo montage of what is blooming in my garden as we speak.

The Spanish Lavender

The Dogwood Tree

The Azaleas (top one is an Exbury "Mt. St. Helens", I think the lower one is called "Mother's Day")

The Rhodies, such sentimental little things.

The Green Onions, who are descended from my mother-in-law's garden, and who seem to have very charismatic personalities.

And finally, my favorite flower in all of plantdom, The Bearded Iris. I bought two bulbs at a Winter farmer's market four years ago for a whopping 50 cents. One was yellow, one was white. Now they have children and grandchildren.

Oh, you beautiful things.

Now for part deux. You may remember last month when I wrote a post about starting your vegetable seeds indoors. I was supposed to follow that up with a post about what to do after your seeds sprouted. Well, here it is. Give them lots of light after they sprout and keep them watered. When they get their first true set of leaves (after seed leaves), transplant them fiber pellet and all, into a larger pot. Feed, water, change diaper. Think you can handle that?

Well, I couldn't.

To counteract the dark Oregon rainy days, I bought a grow light (super cheap, check your local nursery). I used it last year in conjunction with Mr. Sun and was able to produce huge, vigorous plants by the time they were ready to go in the garden. Well, this year we've had many dark, rainy days AND the bulb on my grow light burned out.

And I was too lazy to go get a new one.

And now some of the babies are dead or dying.

So, today I went to a nearby nursery and bought veggies who were all ready to plant and I brought them home and stuck them in the ground. It was a heck of a lot easier than starting my own seeds inside, then thinning, transplanting, and transplanting again. But it was a lot more expensive, too, just under $30.00 for 16 plants.

I suppose the point is this, if you don't care about spending the dough, if you don't have a lot of time or patience to spare, or if you suck at starting seeds inside, just buy your plants from a nursery. If they are outside when you buy them, you won't have to worry about the week-long hardening off process, either.

On the other hand, I must warn you there is a huge sense of accomplishment that comes from growing your food from seed, then saving the seed from the fruits and planting the seeds you saved again the next year. It gives you a feeling of self reliance that I haven't found doing anything else, and I am still growing some veggies from seed that can be sown directly into the garden, like peas, beans, and carrots.

So there you have it, decide for yourself. There is no right or wrong. I would advise you in one area though. If you go to buy your veggies from a nursery, go to a local, independent nursery that grows it's own plants. The people working there will be much more knowledgeable about the plants, there will be greater variety, and the plants haven't had to travel 50 billion miles to get there. Read: J & L Garden Center or U & D Nursery over Lowe's or Home Depot (or Wal Mart, k mom?).

Not to mention the fact that you'll be giving your money to an independent business owner instead of a big box superchain. But that's a whole other post altogether...

This concludes part deux.

Even if you're not a gardener, you've probably encountered garden pests before. In my garden, I've got major problems with Cucumber Beetles, Crane Flies, and slugs. Last year, it was the beetles who almost decimated my entire yard. This year I can already tell it's the slugs.

Last Saturday I went out to check on my second planting of sugar peas. Instead of finding inch-tall green leaves I found the seeds above the soil. Not understanding why this was, I crouched down and had a closer look. Each little pea was being devoured by hundreds of slugs. Some were big, some were teeny, but they were all very hungry. The damage to the peas was total, and my second planting was a bust.

So I went to war.

And this is how I did it.

I took some snail and slug bait and some empty beverage bottles (water and Sprite).

Then I cut the bottles in half,

and then poured the bait into the bottom half and inverted the top half inside of it. Presto, a death trap.

The slugs (or little snails) go in and they don't come out without being dead or ready to die. I like this trap for a couple of reasons; first, your kids and pets will be less interested in this little trap than if the bait was just poured in a pile or line in the dirt; second, you can hardly see them if you place them strategically (refer to Exhibit A); third, I hate the idea of putting poison in my soil where my food will be growing. This way, no bait has to touch my dirt.

Exhibit A:

The bait I used is supposed to be safe for use around dogs and children, because it causes the slug's digestive system to slowly shut down and they die from starvation days later. As a result, the slugs went in and out of my little traps. But they worked nonetheless. If you want to see a bunch of dead slugs in your trap, then use different bait. Just still keep an eye on the kiddos and pets, just in case. You can never be too careful with poison, you know.

How well do these work?


Today in my garden I saw ONE slug. I picked him up, walked him to the patio, and stomped him to death.

So I would say pretty freaking good.

Happy Gardening hose.

P.S. The slug trap idea, sadly, was not mine, but Ed Hume's, who is a famous Northwest Gardener that I had the pleasure of meeting at a gardening show in Portland earlier this Spring. I came away with so many awesome tips (including not letting your onions go to seed, oops) and I think I took four or five pages of notes. Here is a sampling:

And yes, slugs and snails don't like sawdust very much because it sticks in their goo. So sprinkling a line of either around the perimeter of your beds will keep them in the neighbor's garden instead.

Here I am with Ed Hume, arguably one of the coolest moments ever.

And those peas, carrots, and beans I'm growing from seed? Ed Hume seeds. Oh, snap bean.
Check out the goods at


Chris said...

Christopher Alan Kilpack likes this.

For my part, I pulled some weeds this week. But I'm just getting started. I'm just beginning a phase of life called Summer 2009. Up till now the only plants that I've been cultivating is dandelions. But I recently got Martha some flowers that she can put in the ground and two spikey grass plants.

Abby said...

Abby Lyn Kilpack Roberts likes her brother.

You could always plant those seeds I gave you for Christmas. The marigolds and the sunflowers should be super low maintenance.

Kimba said...

So one question: how do you keep Cookie out of your garden? Because if I planted anything Bear would be all up in it. Either pooping, peeing, or traipsing through with his frisbee.

One more chalk mark on my Reasons Bear Drives Me Insane list.

Mellanee said...

Mellanee Kilpack likes Abby's brother and Chris's sister.

Mellanee Kilpack doesn't like slugs or weeds.

We buy our plants at the Rockin E, better known at our house as "The Cowboy Store". They are local growers, very helpful and knowledgable. We too are fans of supporting our locally owned stores.

The Kilpacks said...

Great post Abby. I got all of my garden in last week. Sad to say that I am not patient enough to start everything from seed though. I am much to happy to go down to J & L and purchase my yearly crop. I did however start my peas and lettuce from seed. (They are way easy!) I am happy to say that my Marigold seeds that you gave me have sprouted! Yeah!! As long as Chili will not dig over there, they will do fine. Our garden is fenced, but my flower bed is not! Happy Gardening!

Mellanee said...

"You took him to the patio and stomped him to death?" What happened to that little blue eyed, blond haired, baby girl who was left handed and Auqua Net bangs that used to go hunt snails, put them on a frisbe, and stick them all over the neighbors porch?

I love you. Dad.

Abby said...

Yeah, the dog is a bit of a problem. She has gone in a few times and walked through the plants and she got in major trouble, so she pretty much avoids the area.

Last year we had it fenced off but it didn't look very great. Now I'm just letting it go.

Allie said...

Dude. You rock.

Abby said...

Thank you, Allie, so do you.

Abby said...

Dad, the slugs here are worse than the snails back home. If I saw big fat snails like you have in Utah here in Oregon I probably would still collect them and stick them elsewhere. Slugs are just gross.

bridge said...

I remember being with you when you bought those iris bulbs. And we both thought it would be sooo long before you ever saw them bloom. My, how time flies. Your babies have grandbabies! Just beautiful!

tom + lisa said...

I admit I've launched a few slugs over the fence, but that's a crime of passion (much like stomping them to a pulp on the patio). So, thanks for the pre-meditated slug murdering system... it's much more appropriate.

You've done Ed proud.

Jessica and Reecey said...

You've inspired me to have a garden one day. Unfortunately, the cats eat/tip over/demolish anything potted in our apartment. And let's face it, I manage to kill everything I try to grow. Poor basil leaves never had a chance...

turleybenson said...

Is this comment a little late? Yes, yes it is. You are AMAZING! AAAAH! And here I was so proud of my one measly patio tomato plant in a bucket. Can I be your neighbor?

Cody and Jocelyn Pehrson said...

I am super impressed with your skills, your gardening skills, Abby! I wish I had a yard of my own. But I have taken the pleasure to pot some strawberries and blueberries from seeds and they are getting big . Can't wait for the fruit! When I do get my own yard, I'm starting a garden and calling you.