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Rebel Gardens

Not Your Grandmother's Flower Garden

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Rebel Gardens



May 29th, 2011

Things I have learned so far this season:

1) Nine-cell trays are an abomination; you will never get your seedlings out without breaking half the roots.
2) Four-cell trays work much better.
2.5) I don't actually need nine plants of any species.
2.6) Except basil.
3) I may try soil blocks yet.
4) Seed-starting works much better with a lid for humidity control, a heat mat for temperature control, and a sundew for fly control.
5) I have more garden than I think I do.
6) I cannot just dig little holes in the turf, plant onion seedlings, and expect to be able to find them later.
7) The same is only slightly less true of dicots.
8) The sod will grow back aggressively if i don't rip it out.
9) Ripping out sod is hard work, but rewarding.
10) Rye makes an excellent cover crop. The seed heads are fuzzy and pettable. It doesn't try to take over the way turf grasses do, though it needs aggressive mowing in the spring.
11) One snake is not enough to eat all those slugs.

What lessons has the season taught you, friends?

April 10th, 2011

Torii Trellis
Torii Trellis

Sunday project with a bit of help from podisodd: Torii-inspired trellises, made out of super-cheap 8-foot 1"x2"s, screws, drywall nails, and twine. They're not sunk into the ground as much as I'd like, but at a depth of about 18 inches, our ground is red clay with huge rocks in, and we eventually gave up. The reinforcement in the top, incidental to the design, should help them withstand the wind tunnel that is our back yard, as it goes East-West across their narrow side, rather than making a sail out of the poor plants.

So far at least one of the neighbors likes them. This is a particularly good thing, since at seven feet tall in the center of a rowhome block, they kind of stick out.

April 6th, 2011

Greenhouse idea...

===Saw a site showing a few photos....so I did a search on getting more info. Here, have a search link:

Soda Bottle Greenhouses

===Now, I do not drink soda, but damn...I am going to go collect some of these from my parent's basement...(grins)

March 25th, 2011

So I have read all sorts of stuff suggesting in colder climates painting your cold frames a dark color on the inside but I have never seen any reports on the outside color (which I think is a more important issue) does anyone have any thoughts on this?

March 19th, 2011

Last year, for the love of dark red flowers and want of discouraging rabbits from eating my vegetables, I ordered a pack of Tashkent Marigold seeds. I then spent the first three frost-free months worried that not enough seeds had germinated. The flowers would never fill in enough of the edging of my garden to repel any wildlife until late fall, by which point I and the rabbits would have eaten everything anyway. This is exactly what happened. Yet come October, my garden was edged with beautiful red and orange little flowers in tidy knee-high balls of green fluff, and I suddenly understood in terms of seasonal flora why marigolds were so important to Dia de los Muertos. And most of my vegetables had been eaten by rabbits.

This January, I bought more seeds, and tried to start them in the basement. Less than a third of them germinated, and I lamented that the same situation would play out again, save that I would now have at least two large orange puffball plants to place at the southern garden gate. Yesterday, I went out in the lovely weather to pull up the dead pineapple sage and marigold skeletons and invading grass and plantain. Then I realised why so few of my seeds had taken the previous year, or in my basement experiments. It's a good thing. It means my garden is not entirely made of marigolds. And it should have been bloody obvious, but I'm still learning as I go with this whole gardening thing, and woefully inattentive. In this case, it took literally being stabbed with splinter-like seeds when they got stuck in my shoes.

This sandwich-sized container, you see, contains the approximate seed output of *one* Tashkent marigold plant. Every one of those pods is ten to twenty or so little black and tan seeds. And I had seven plants. The woodpile on the back of our property now *rains marigold seeds* when touched. It may well sprout with overwhelming red and orange love late this summer.

tashkent marigold seeds

So, er, does anybody want some?

(photo totally not mine)

March 11th, 2011

(no subject)


I redid the basement seedling setup this afternoon. Somewhere along the line, I remembered I was a lighting tech once upon a time, and have in fact installed complex systems of focused, adjustable, ceiling-mounted lights for a living. And while these adjustable lights are $7 (or less) each, instead of the $1000 monstrosities I'm historically afraid of dropping, there's really no excuse not to at least organize them.

  • 1x40 watt incandescent (in fish tank of flats)
  • 1x60 watt incandescent (out)
  • 4x 100 (14) watt CFL
  • 4x home depot adjustable fixtures
  • 1x goodwill bendy desk lamp
  • 1x paper lantern fixture, minus paper
  • 2x 3-outlet extension cords, max 1000 watts each
  • twine
  • basement rafters
  • removeable 'floor' crates

  • February 28th, 2011

    It is that time of year when every piece of discarded plastic packaging - mine or anyone else's - in my vicinity causes me to pause and think "can I start seeds in that?" before the usual "can it be recycled?" or even "does that leach BPA into my food?"

    It's also that time of year, for one of the first but certainly not the last time, when I am hyper-conscious of every tiny piece of scrap paper that passes through my hands. Does it need to be shredded? Can it be shredded? What is the ink made of? May I absolve myself of responsibility for its production and processing costs by putting it through the automated whirling blades of death and feeding it to my garden? WHIRLING BLADES OF DEATH! The compost pile needs dry stuff! Decluttered cancelled cheques! Yellow pages! I had spent entirely too much time recently staring at too-large $60 commercial compost bins at the Home Depot garden center before deciding $12 and a chance to play with power tools was a better use of my resources. We'll see how it goes.

    February 24th, 2011

    More seeds =P

    Silent Rave
    Visited a lovely household of friends and got more seeds that I can share:

    a few habanero
    a few black beauty eggplant
    plenty of extra beet seeds
    lots of Danver 1/2 long carrot
    a lot of Seneca Mini-Indian popcorn
    much upland cress
    many kale seeds
    king richard leek seeds
    tons of extra dill

    February 22nd, 2011

    So, last year i sucked and didn't get around to mailing out seeds.
    But actually going to this year!

    Have not bought new seeds this springs yet but here is a list of the seeds I have enough of to easily share [some bought in Nov 2010]:
    echinacea purpurea
    dill bouquet
    mammoth basil
    Spicy Blobe Basil Bush
    Large Leaf Basil
    Lemon Basil
    Resina calendula
    Mammoth Long Island Dill
    CSA saved Acorn Squash seeds
    saved seeds from a tasty oval yellow CSA squash
    sugar pumpkin saved seeds from roadside farmer stand pumpkins
    pickling cucumber seeds
    Snow Pears Dwarf Oregon Giant
    Dwarf Sugar Ann Snap Peas
    red Russian Kale
    Asparagus Beans
    Bloomsdale Spinach
    De Cicco Broccoli
    Black WIsconsin Corn
    Black Aztec Corn
    Hopi Blue Dent Corn
    Saved Blue Corn
    Baby Pam Small Pumpkins
    Forono Cylindricl Beets
    Hong Vit Radish greens
    Jade Mache Corn Salad greens
    Lombardia Smooth Leak Hybrid Spinach
    Concept Green Grand Rapids Lettuce
    Apple Sweet Pimento Peppers
    Osaka Purple Mustard Greens
    Arugula Discovery
    Queenette Basil
    Fino Verde Basil
    Blue Spice Hybrid Basil
    Serata Basil
    Common St Johnswort Hypericum perforatum
    Small fruited tiny bottle gourd

    Please let me know what you'd like some of, and I will mail them out!

    Also I highly recommend checking Johnny's Selected Seeds's online Sale Rack--you can get really good deals, in bulk or in smaller packets.

    February 15th, 2011


    I am considerably more excited about this setup than I have any right to be. But after years of having no south-facing window space or room in the basement and now a kitten that gets into absolutely everything, I've had no way to start more than a single dim windowsill row of seeds before last frost in May. This year, with tens of boxes and bags of clutter removed from the basement and closets, there is cat-proofed sturdy shelf space in the laundry room. Clearly I had to grow something in it.

    Feesh tank: $20, craigslist, came with fish supplies I'll keep for later
    Translucent tarp: free, already had from painting the kitchen
    Bendy desk lamp: $4, goodwill
    Thermometer: $2, home depot
    Timer for the light switch: $3, home depot
    Pole and base for lamp: free, already had from camp fence and Pod's weight set
    Biodegradable pellet seed-starting trays that fit perfectly inside the fishtank: $7 each

    To be honest, the trays (there's a second one to be started at 8 weeks before frost rather than 10) were the most unnecessary purchase, but they were cute. And simple. I'll probably do something else next year. Right now, I have tiny tiny baby kale and leeks and Tashkent marigolds. I have a plan that will see them into cold frames before last frost, and into the garden after. I have the opportunity to double the tank space in a few weeks. And I have a plan to start fall crops in the same space during the dog days of summer that would fry them if started outdoors.

    It's rather embarrassing how many years this has taken me, but it's what I've got now, and it's almost entirely re-used parts.
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