Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring fever!!

Seems everyone is in the spirit with spring looming large. The snow is finally melted, the tulips are reaching for the sun, and the birds are singing. The weather is on and off, but, the kids are thrilled to have more than a few short minutes to spend outside a few times during the week. The neighbors have all reappeared and it feels so good to reconnect. You don't realize just how much you hibernate until spring arrives. Winter seems so long, dreary, and isolating. Spring, then, feels so freeing, so liberating, and so beautiful.

The kids and I decided last week that it was time to start planting some seeds which would eventually be transplanted outside. Ethel got a very cool set for Christmas, and has been chomping at the bit to open it up. Containing basil, zinnia, and sunflower seeds, I couldn't wait, either! Two weeks ago we followed the directions carefully, and Ethel has reminded me daily to check our seeds. The kids were soooo excited when they finally saw sprouts!

Here are our seedlings today:

Left to right: zinnia, sunflowers, basil
Today we decided to plant some other seeds, some of which we also planted last year. To assist our seeds, I went to the back yard and opened up the composter. Yes, I compost. Year 'round. Last year I got a healthy bit of black gold, but this year I've hit the mother lode! I have an Earth Machine, and this will mark my second spring with it. I started my composting in the summer of 2008, rather unsure of how I'd do with it. I had the same fears that many have; will it smell; will it attract unsavories; will it work? The answers - no - no - YES!

Earth Machine

I add all my kitchen scraps to this thing, from tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells and banana peels. I keep a plastic coffee 'can' on my kitchen counter next to the sink, and when it's full I take it to the Machine and dump it in (as long as I can get to it, and it's not blocked or covered by snow). On weekends when I can maintain it, I add grass clippings, leaves, newspaper, and other brown matter as needed. In the spring and fall I add soil from the very back of the lot, as it's wet soil that is rich in nutrients itself, and very helpful to the compost. I try to remember to turn it several times throughout the warmer seasons (basically the summer). This really just entails a shovel and garden pick, and moving it around inside the Machine.

When I opened the trap door (which you can see at the bottom of the Machine) this morning, I found nice, healthy, black compost. I looks like dirt, is moist like mud, and is filled with good sized worms. Yes, my worms are alive and well in the Machine! I'm so thrilled. Seriously. Ethel was equally excited that we have so many worms, as she's a big worm lover. Eew. OK, I digress.

So I opted this morning to add my compost to our seed starter potting soil for our yellow and red tomato, green pepper, clover, and some seeds which Ethel got in a Valentine this year. I don't know what kind of seeds this small wonder contained, but it was very cool. I haven't been able to find anything like it on the web, and didn't get a pic before we planted it. Basically, it's a small piece of biodegradable paper with seeds pressed into it, which you soak in water, then plant directly in soil. It's so cool! I think it's a wild flower mix, but, will reserve further comment until we see some sprouts.

We took an old egg carton (luckily I'd used all the eggs just last night) and two cups from the House of Evil (Chuck E Cheese). The cups have two nice holes in the bottom for optimal drainage. I'm quite miffed with my camera at the moment, as it seems to be having issues keeping the batteries charged, so I had to settle with only getting pictures of the planted seeds, rather than documenting the whole process as I'd hoped to. The kids looked so cute in their pint-sized garden gloves. Again, I digress.

When all was said and done, we planted our seeds in our desired containers, and the kids have checked on them three times today already. We set them on a large table where I have my African Violets, as it gets full Eastern exposure, and is in our living room which is bright and sunny all day (windows on the East, South, and West in this room).

Here is our little garden-to-be:

I'm really excited that we got to plant our seeds. We have some plans for where to put our plantings when they're strong enough, and the weather is good enough, for us to plant them outside. Our sunflowers last year were taller than Daddy, and the blooms almost as big as Ethel's head! I know Fred and Ethel, my two young gardeners, will remind me often enough to water them and nurture them to maturity.

Yeah for spring!