Thinking Outside the Box (Store)

Resist the Swan

Is it just me, or has anybody else noticed that every box store in North America has jumped on the gardening goods bandwagon? You can find everything from seeds to manure at the mall these days. Thank goodness for the independent greenhouses and gardening supply companies or we’d all be producing the same petunias in the same swan planter as our neighbors.

I want to share another creative idea I came up with this week: my chimney flue planters. I bought four of these bad-boys for $30 from a guy on kijiji who had recently renovated his home. I thought they’d be ideal planters, so I dug them into my garden and filled them with soil. Voila. What do you think?

Chimney Flue Planters



Homesteader School Vies to Win $20,000 Prize

Homesteader School in NE Edmonton needs your votes! They are competing in the Majesta Tree of Knowledge Competition 2012 and have made it to the finals. Homesteader is Alberta’s only remaining elementary school in the competition to win a $20,000 outdoor classroom.

Why does this have gardeninggrrl’s attention? Homesteader’s outdoor class design features a garden where they plan to grow vegetables and fruit for consumption by students, staff and the community. They want to clean up an unused area of the school grounds, providing not just a garden but a central learning area. This school is teaching about the importance of healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

You can help Homesteader by voting (once daily) before the May 11th deadline. Voters are eligible to be entered in a draw to win $10,000. You must be over age 18 and a Canadian resident to participate.

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings

36 carefully transplanted tomatoes

Today was transplant day, which means that I carefully moved 36 tomato seedlings to their new pots. This isn’t difficult, but it is tedious. Also known as pricking out, transplanting is an important step in growing plants from seed.

I started by filling three dozen three inch pots with sterile, slightly moist potting soil. Each pot needed a marker to indicate which tomato it held, so I cut 36 tags from a plastic yogurt tub and labeled each one.

After making a deep hole in the soil of the new pots, I carefully lifted each tomato plant from the bottom using an escargot fork (and you thought you didn’t have any use for an escargot fork?). I only touch the seedlings on their cotyledon leaves, as damage to the stem or first set of leaves can stunt the growth of the plant.

It’s really important to plant the tomato seedlings as deep as possible – this allows them to develop strong roots. I’ll have another chance to transplant them to a larger pot in about 3 weeks, and I’ll plant them even deeper at that time.

Planting my Lilies

Last fall my sister-in-law in Manitoba gave me a couple dozen lily bulbs that she had dug up from her garden and didn’t need any more. Ideally it would have been good to plant them last fall, but I wanted to place them in the new bed I created in my front yard through the Sheet Mulching Workshop.

I decided to store the bulbs in a cardboard box, carefully layered with plenty of sawdust between bulbs. I then stored the box in my basement in the coolest spot I could find.

This week I pulled the box out and found that most of the bulbs appear to have survived their winter in the dark, at least as far as I could tell. I shook the sawdust off and took them out front to their potential new home.

Much of the sheet mulched material in the top two or three inches hasn’t degraded much – probably because it would have been the first to freeze. I dug down six to eight inches, added a layer of potting soil, then a bulb, and covered it with another layer of soil. Finally, I moved the still-decomposing material over top of the bulbs and hid them from view.

Now it’s a matter of waiting and watching. I don’t expect flowering lilies this year, but even a bit of green would make me happy. The anticipation of waiting to discover what color they might be is half the fun… isn”t it?