Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

Earth Hour 2012 - Dare the World to Save the Planet and this year for the first time I am not being reminded of it the day after and missing it all together! 

click pic for link
What is it all about....
Switch off your lights for 1hr on Saturday 31 March at 8:30pm (Yes people that is TONIGHT!) to be part of the world's largest voluntary action for the environment, sounds pretty great!
Earth Hours Mission is to send a universal message of hope and action to protect the one thing that unites us all – the planet. Together our actions add up.
Share the positive action you will take for the planet beyond the hour. Most people go a few days without power or use less water, which are all great things to do, but I have an autistic child to think about too and that would just spin him out.
  • My on going pledge for the month of April is to...Buy nothing new! (except for groceries/hygiene needs) I have a passion for salvage and keeping usable items out of landfills. Anything we need, things I would normally go buy new, we will be re-purposing and salvaging, also thrift-store finds, hand-me-downs or borrowed! Time to get creative!!

    Are you participating this year? What are you going with-out?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest blogger & lessons from a seeding workshop!

OK so I am beyond excited for this post! This is my first ever guest blogger spot....woot!!
My wonderful friend, fellow blogger and newbie seed starter, A'mee from Paying Our Way has embarked on her journey of starting veg from seed and growing them container style on her apartment balcony. In an effort to see if she can save money by growing vs buying.
Thanks A'mee for allowing me to share your seed sowing journey and our recent visit to a seeding workshop!


 How I'm Learning to Start a Garden From Seed

by A'mee - Paying Our Way

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend a Seed Saving Workshop (free!).   The people giving the workshop were fantastic.  I’m such a gardening novice, and I confess to having forgotten nearly everything I learned in Biology 101 (let alone Microbiology).  I tend to be of the “stick a seed in a pot and cross your fingers” variety of gardener.  This, of course, means that my garden generally doesn’t produce much.

After this workshop, I’m really excited to get some seeds started this weekend!  I got to take home some beans in potting soil, so hopefully they will get going.  I also want to get started on my radishes and lettuces.  Apparently, it’s getting to be prime time and they grow pretty good in cool spring.  I could be having my first homegrown salad in about a month’s time!   Looks like I need to pick up some potting soil and fertilizer this weekend too. 

This is how big a novice I am when it comes to gardening:  I was under the mistaken impression that fertilizer was fertilizer.  Bzzzzzt!  Wrong!  I wasn’t even aware of the nitrogen/phosphorous/potassium ratio.  I have a pretty good idea now why my tomatoes last year went insane with the greenery but only produced about three tomatoes.  Apparently my fertilizer was too heavy on the nitrogen side.  For tomatoes, I should have been using a low nitrogen, high potassium blend.  (Don’t laugh—I’m aware of my gardening ignorance!)  But I’m betting that what I used last year will be great for my lettuces.

One of the speakers at the workshop was a local gardener named Caitlin Moore, aka the Urban Food Warrior.  I highly recommend you check out her blog, since it’s just loaded with great information.  I plan on making it a regular resource.  She also works at a place called Cascadian Edible Landscapes, which is apparently not too far from me.  I fully intend to check it out, maybe this weekend.

I wanted to share with you some of the cool things I learned at the workshop.  If this isn’t news to you, I apologize.  Once again, gardening idiot in the house!  I fully intend to grow a decent garden this year!

  • If you want to save seeds, don’t buy hybrid.  You don’t know what you will get.  Open pollenated seeds are the best for seed saving.
  • You can store seeds for ages as long as you keep them in a cool, dry place, like a jar in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t fertilize seeds.  Fertilize seedlings about once a week.  Use liquid fertilizer if you are using sterile seed starting soil, pellets if you are using potting soil.
  • Plastic strawberry containers make great miniature greenhouses!
  • You can reuse your gardening containers as long as you sterilize them with a vinegar/water solution.
  • When thinning seedlings, you should cut, not pull, to avoid disturbing the surrounding roots.
  • Seedlings need 16 – 18 hours of light per day!
  • You should “pet” your seedlings to encourage them to develop strong stems that will help them survive once they are planted outdoors.
  • Soil temperature should be about 50 degrees before you plant seeds outdoors.  Containers (like I use) tend to keep soil slightly warmer (so what they heck am I waiting for??). 
I’m looking forward to getting the garden growing this year!  What other great seed starting tips do you have that aren’t commonly known? 


For more posts by A'mee check out her blog. Paying Our Way - One family's journey out of debt....

Please let me know if you would be interested in being a guest blogger, I'd love to share your stories too!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Seed Starting...stop procrastinating & just do it!

What am I waiting for and why are my seeds still snug in their packs? Worlds greatest procrastinator here! Thank goodness for the drive and motivation of others, really all it took was a garden workshop and hearing the excitement and infectious passion for sowing seeds. It was all I could do to not run home and plant my seeds that night, finally the dose of motivation and the confidence needed to get me started!!

 Home-made newspaper pots, one of the free things I creatively adapted for sowing seeds

I attended a wonderful (free) seed sowers workshop at my local library, hosted by Sustainable Renton, with guest speaker Caitlin Moore also known as the Urban Food Warrior (also known as the one to finally get me to sow!! if you ever get a chance to hear her speak, oh my gosh do it! Seeds are her passion and her knowledge is priceless!) I was fortunate to attend the workshop with a blogging friend and fellow seed sower A'mee, who has graciously agreed to be my guest blogger here and contribute her wonderful post, stay tuned this week for her post on the seed sowing workshop...its great!!

Only a few weeks ago I posted a very elaborate schedule for when my seeds needed to be started, the reality was I was scared to take the step and commit. I was using excessive research and preparedness as an ongoing stalling method....Well strike that! I have read and researched, I've now decided its time to do!
Without further waiting and procrastinating (which I am very good at), over the weekend I made my containers and started sowing! Did you hear that...I Started Sowing!! Doing a happy dance! One seed led to another and before I knew it they were mostly in pots and ready to go! Woo-Hoo...My lesson for starting seeds, don't over think them, just do it!

So now I am pleased to say my seeds are potted with only the direct sowers left to go. It sure does feel good to have something in a pot, actually doing it rather than just talking about it. I know me, another season would've passed with the tag line...oops missed seeding time again!

While I agree preparation and providing a perfect environment can be key to a successful grow season, putting it off and being distracted by making it perfect can cause you to miss the seed sowing boat all together. I will post my how-to this week along with the re-purposed seeding containers I made, its an exciting and productive week here at Polka Dot Galoshes!

I am excited this growing season to finally say...I sowed vegetable seeds! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The spring has my step!

What is it about a gorgeous spring day...
one that is full of sunshine filled blue skies that energizes me so?

Seriously, I have not been this productive in a longtime (just ask my So many chores happily crossed off of my once stagnant to do list, so much accomplishment. It's wonderful to get out and make the most of these bright sunny days for a sun deprived person, to soak up some vitamin D and relish in the simple delight of sun...ahhh these days I long for, all dreary winter long.

 Yes friends SPRING is finally here in the Pacific Northwest! 
And the spring has returned to my step once more! 

With the sun in full shine I finally got out and attended some weeding of my front beds, fertilized the lawn, dead headed the hydrangeas, trimmed some over grown wisteria, raked the paths, I even bravely swept about two seasons worth of cobwebs away from my front porch...eeek!
I ended my day with a tidy up around the place and basically made the house look like someone lives here once again, I can here my neighbors cheering! But my biggest achievement of all was finally putting the Christmas tree away. I know its March, I think I may of set a new record for keeping the thing! Few, what a day! There really were so many "finally did it" moments today and boy does it feel great!

So, welcome spring with your soul-filling sunshine and your blooms full of hope, thank you for the well needed optimism and rejuvenation!! 

Here is a wonderful article from the The Old Farmers Almanac that tells you a little more about the first day of each season and how the sun determines the dates, very interesting!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday....Finding sunshine

Sometimes you just need to look where you least expect it!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Journey of a Seed Sower...sowing caledar 2012

When is the best time to sow veggie seeds in the Pacific Northwest? Seattle is just like most other places and is dependent on the Last Spring Frost date! Whether you are starting your seeds in/out doors or direct sow in the ground it all comes down to timing and the freezing bite of mother-nature.

After speaking with many nurseries, gardeners, bloggers and local sites, the consensus for the last frost day here in Seattle is Mothers day weekend. 
However if you want to be really sure of the last spring frost date in your area and you like the science, check out - Climate Norm's very cool tool, just enter your State then location and it bases the date on local weather patterns. You can choose from a 90% chance of frost, a 50/50 chance of frost or play it real safe and opt for the 10% chance of frost.
  • My 50/50 date would be: April 11th
  • While my 10% date is: April 27th (which I would feel safer using)
  • Mothers day this year is May 13th (I figure by this date it will be safe for me to start sowing or transplanting to the veggie beds! I'm so not a risk taker when it comes to sowing for the first time!)

So why is the last spring frost date so important? Basically most seeds prefer to be sown when the ground is warmer and the last chance of frost has passed as to not burn any new shoots or freeze and shock the seed (I can relate, who likes being in the garden when it's freezing anyway!)
But in saying this, I am surprised by how many cold season seeds thrive in these conditions, many of the green's like lettuce, broccoli and pea's love the colder weather and its been suggested to plant before the last frost as it can make for a tastier yield, they kinda like it...crazy seeds!

My Sow calendar for Spring 2012

March 12th - 18th - set up an area for indoor sowing!!
March 19th - 25th - Start sowing tomatoes indoors/coldframe (10-14days germination)
March 26th - April 1st - Indoor/coldframe sow onions* (21-30days germination)
April 2nd - April 8th - Indoor/coldframe sow broccoli (6-10days germination)
April 9th - April 15th -  Indoor/coldframe sow lettuce (2-14days germination)
April 16th - April 22nd -
April 23rd - April 29th - Transplant Broccoli (thin12-18in apart)
April 30th - May 6th- Direct sow beans (6-8days germination, thin to 8in when plant has 4leaves)
May 7th - May 13th - LAST SPRING FROST -
May 14th - May 20th - Direct sow carrots (14-23days germination) Direct sow cukes (5seeds per mound)
May 21st - May 27th - Transplant lettuce (10-15in apart) Transplant onions
May 28th - June 3rd - Transplant Tomatoes (1.5-3ft apart) Thin carrots (1in apart) Thin beans (s.a)
June 4th - June 10th - Thin Cukes to best 3/mound

*onion thinning - 25mm(1")-50mm(2") apart and then again later to 10cm(4")

Like most things in the world of gardening, this is all subject to change and is a rough outline for what I should be doing during what week. It might help me stay on track better when I work the plan and not just guess as I go. I have had so much wonderful advice on what to start when and little tips that fellow bloggers have suggested. Check out the awesome comments here on my I have my veggie what? post! Thank you for all your wonderful advice!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A most wonderful Companion Planting Chart...

So while this week I am sinking my teeth into learning all there is to learn about sowing seeds and where to start, I came across this wonderful companion planting chart for my veg garden. As my goal is to be completely 100% organic in my seed to plate method, these combinations will be great at combating possible disease and insect attacks! Love the natural insect repellant tips on the side...just wonderful!!

IDEP's Companion Planting Guide - Thanks to

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday....Spring buds in anticipation

First little Cherry blossom still not sure if she should venture!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I have my veggie what?

This is the start of my journey from seed to plate! Something I have not successfully achieved before!
I really have to admit I am scared when it comes to growing vegetables from seed, knowing when to sow and what vegetable to! I think my blog is turning more into a confessional for a gardener who really doesn't have a! But like anything I am hear to learn...woot! My track record with seeding has not been very successful, so usually I stick to growing veggies from a "start" purchased from my local green house or kindly donated by a sympathetic friend....When it comes to seeds I'm scattered! Although when it comes to seed quality I know exactly what I want, check out my post on Seed labeling.

I have decided that now is the time to dig in and take this seed growing seriously, I am excited to learn as much as I can about starting my veg from seed right. I just hope I am not to late for the season? (see not a clue!) My interest is stemming from a "passion" of knowing what I am really eating.

Organically Certified Seeds I have just recently purchased, ah I love Seattle Seed Co home to GMO free seed!

Tomatoes: Washington cherries & Brandywine
Cucumbers: Early Fortune & Tendergreen (going to try pickling!)
Leafy greens: Buttercrunch, Spring mix & Roquette
Onion: Walla Walla
Beans: Kentucky Wonder (Bush) Still deciding on a pole bean?
Carrots: Danver
Zucchini: Black Beauty
As well as a number of herbs, Coriander, Thyme, Basil, Dill, Oregano, Spring onions and Sage! oh and Parsley.

So now that I have my seeds, now what? Time to sow, but which ones and how? Things I am really looking forward to learning more about....

When is the best time to sow what veggie?
Should it be started indoors or direct ground sow?
How do I know if a seed is growing correctly?
If I have sowed indoors when do I move them to the veggie bed?
What veg from seed grow best in my area?

So many questions not to mention so many seed packs collected over the years, you might even say I have seed hoarder tendencies. The fun of buying, lured in by pretty packaging or with dreams and plans to one day sow!

Is it sad to say I have probably framed more seed packets as art than I have!

This is the year and I'm're all witness!!! Its my testimony and I have to stick with it! I'm looking forward to this learning journey and hope you will join me and share any insights along the way!
This week I am building my small salvaged garden bed with removable cold-frame top. As well as learning...Which seeds on my above list I should be sowing first?
Its going to be a wonderful, productive week and can't wait to post about this soon!!!

Julia xx

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Seattle's first edible food forest!

The Beacon Hill Edible Food Forest in Seattle is due to open this year and the prospect of foraging for locally grown wild food is making me giddy with excitement! What's even more exciting is that it is located a short 10mins away. This is to be built in stages, while still in the planning stage, committees are forming and funding is being raised. 

Full seven acre proposal to be built over the next few years.

Photo courtesy of Harrison Design/

There seems to be no official opening date, but will be watching and posting further developments on this like a hawk! Please check out the links for more info on this exciting local, sustainable undertaking.

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