Mother of Pearls & an Emerald

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First Seeds Sowed this Season March 9, 2012

Filed under: Garden — motherofpearls @ 10:30 am

I can’t believe we haven’t done anything but dream about the garden until now. Maybe we didn’t do any winter sowing yet because we hardly had what you could call a winter here! We did sow our first seeds indoors though on March 7th, 2012. We are trying Copra onions for the first this year. It is said to be a very good winter storage onion. Next year, I think they should be sowed even earlier, but our first batch of ordered seed was lost in the mail in February. GraphixMuse’s Garden Spot’s post was my inspiration to try growing onions.

It is said that in Chicagoland, Zone 5b, you can sow peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Last year we did and it took them forever to germinate in the cold soil and a longer time for them to fully grow. We weren’t eating peas until early June and they were in a bed that we wanted to sucession plant pole beans. This year, we are going to pre-sprout our pea seeds and then plant them in hopes of earlier peas. Supposedly they grow well in cold soil, they just don’t germinate well in cold soil. Also, I think we lost alot of seeds to garden foes…

Finally, we need to go through our seed stash and determine what we will be “winter” sowing and what we need to start indoors within a few weeks. I think this year we will opt not to grow tomatoes from seed. We really had a lousy year last year for tomato production. Not sure it was weather, our plants grown from seed, heirloom varieties we choose, but this year we will go back to purchasing some nice disease-resistant, early varieties instead. It was fun to grow them, but it did take alot of nurturing, re-potting, and space under our grow lights for little return. We’ve got plenty of plans for that space under lights this year!


KinderGARDEN Update 06-24-11 June 27, 2011

Filed under: Garden — motherofpearls @ 4:39 pm

I cannot believe another week has passed by so quickly! Of course this is going up late. It was a slow week in the garden work-wise, but we captured alot of growth on camera. We harvested lot of strawberries and the first of our peas. Mister Emerald wasn’t too excited about them that first day, but look out after that! He was calling them “corny” his word for canned corn niblets that he LOVES. Yes, I guess fresh garden peas do taste a bit like corn. He wanted to both harvest and open them up HIMSELF.

On Friday, we visited one of our favorite spots, Cantigny Park. It’s a 500 acre property with a historical museum, tank park and amazing gardens. The kids love to climb on the tanks foremost
but they also really love the:

Idea Garden

Sparkling with color, designed for the amateur gardener in all of us, the Idea Garden inspires creativity and seeks to educate. This one-acre garden includes four sections: an herb garden, a children’s garden, a sensory garden, and a Walk Through the Seasons garden.

Each section includes a multitude of new and tried-and-true varieties, products, techniques, and structures to stimulate ideas and encourage experimentation. With more than 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, shrubs, and flowers, the Idea Garden is sure to spark an interest in young and old alike.

We got alot of inspiration for our own KinderGARDEN from the Idea Garden last year. Here is a slideshow of the Idea Garden 2011:

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In an earlier KinderGARDEN post entitled Grow to Give, Kim talked about the epidemic of hunger facing children and families in the U.S. on a daily basis (1 in 8 households)… She has asked that we join her and “purposely plant extra this year for the hungry.” Last week as I was checking our local newspaper online, I noticed a link presenting all the local food banks by county that will accept fresh produce to be donated here. We don’t have room for extra rows, but we did tuck in three more squash plants in near the lilac bushes in hopes we can produce a fair amount to donate.

Grow to Give

We are linking up with Kim at The Inadvertent Farmer and her KinderGARDEN 2011 series. This week holds an assignment my kids will be thrilled about;) We are to turn the camera over to the kids to capture the garden through their eyes. Mister Pearl, without a doubt, is my budding photographer. He wants to be behind my camera alot more than I’m comfortable with him using it (our good DSLR). I truly think he has an eye already for photography and as much as I cringe watching him not always carefully heft my camera around, I LOVE to look at the images he’s captured. Stay tuned for that post!


Growing Update 4-8-11 April 8, 2011

Filed under: Garden,Square Foot Gardening — motherofpearls @ 2:06 pm

So far, over half of our 52 winter sown containers have some kind of germination. The ones that haven’t yet are some tender annuals, so that makes sense. Go Mother Nature! Here is the list:
1 Lettuce-Green Ice
3 & 4 & 51Alyssum-Royal Carpet
5 Dianthus-Ipswich Pinks
6 & 7 Shasta Daisy-Silver Princess
8 Wildflower Blend for Full Sun
9 Rose Mallow
10 & 11 Black Eyed Susan
15 Lettuce Black Seeded Simpson
16 Baby Leaf Spinach
21 & 22 Bachelor Buttons-Cyanus Double Mixed
23 Sweet William Mix-Dianthus Barbatus
24 Lamb’s Ear
30 Grand Rapids Leaf Lettuce
31 Strawberry Pink Foxglove
32 Liatris Purple
33 Dianthus-Hot Pink
34 Salvia-Purple
38 Dianthus-White & Purple
39 & 40 Mammoth Sunflower
42 Jade Hybrid Sunflower
43 Autumn Beauty Mix Sunflower
52 Broccoli Waltham

Most everything is very TINY! I was at the garden center today and saw some cute Alyssum flats. Hard to imagine my tiny seedlings will grow to be that big and WHEN? Hopefully a warm up soon will get these babies growing. I’m getting a bit impatient!

We’ve accomplished one more item on our to-do list. This week, we made our own square foot grid out of the blind slats.

Square Foot Garden Grid

I think it looks pretty good for the purpose it needs to serve. We ended up with 7×4=28 squares in all! I still want to get some 12″ wood dowels to glue together to represent the 4-9-16 per square planting guide. I think the visual will be perfect for the kids (and me) for our first planting. I’m hoping to start to see some true leaves on the lettuces and then we’ll plant those out. I think we’re going to like the square foot gardening premise here.

The indoor started seeds are looking good. Within the two weeks, I’d say we had about 98% germination. I’m too lazy to do the actual count/math! I’ll get some pictures up soon. We added another shop light, so we can have more room to move out potted up plants. We already potted up the Jack Be Little Pumpkins because the roots were almost 6″ long and trailing though the bottom of the flat.


First Winter Sowing! February 17, 2011

Filed under: Garden,Winter Sowing — motherofpearls @ 7:22 pm

We finally got started on our winter sowing project!  The kids were HUGE helpers and worked together to get a system down quickly.

The Pearls each picked out seeds they wanted to try. They did beautifully scattering the teeny, tiny seeds on the dirt and in following directions perfectly on how much to cover up or not to cover each seed. Except when Mr. Pearl got overly (impatient) exhuberant:) with his “Sweet Alyssum” seeds and sowed some in Miss Pearl’s container of Impatiens.  Hopefully those aren’t wild germinators!

Our winter sowing record for 2-16-11:

#1  Lettuce-Green Ice-for our proposed container salad garden on the deck.
#2 Impatiens-Butterfly Hybrid Mix-annuals for pots & edging
#3 Alyssum-Royal Carpet-front yard incircling the pink flowering shrubs (who’s name escapes me) around the river birch!
#4 ”
#5 Dianthus-Ipswich Pinks-some area we turn into a cottage garden style perennial bed-see dream garden below
#6 Shasta Daisy-Silver Princess-ditto!
#7 ”

We got so many great tips at like using plastic silverware for labeling containers. You can also write to and receive free seeds to try out. We received so many exciting varieties of flowers and tomato seeds, we may need a bigger vegetable garden this year!

Speaking of free seeds, Amy, at Get Busy Gardening is hosting a great contest to highlight winter sowing with seed giveaways. I’m learning very quickly that you can never have too many seeds to sow! I think we’ll be able to winter sow thru our small stash quickly and be wanting more!  We’ve still got 20 some empty milk jugs and countless other containers we’ve been saving. We’re also hopefully to have plants to give as Mother’s Day gifts. So now we leave it in Mother Nature’s hands to work her magic!


Garden Dreams and Winter Sowing January 27, 2011

Filed under: Garden,Uncategorized — motherofpearls @ 6:49 pm

What else is a gardener to do in snowy January, but pour over gardening books and seed catalogs collecting ideas to expand this spring’s garden? How about planting seeds? Outdoors? In the winter? Yessssssss! With “Winter Sowing” we can let Mother Nature work her magic with a few simple steps. This looks to be a delightful alternative to starting seed indoors for us. Becauase let us not forget this post and the sad demise of our very first seed starting attempt!

I happened upon the topic of Winter Sowing while googling to find out more about all the “volunteer” annuals that grew from seed in our yard last year. Below is the front bed where we have planted petunias in past years. Due to “budget constraints”, we didn’t buy anything but vegetable garden plants last year. But we were pleasantly surprised by this wild crop of petunias that came back from seed. We also had salvia and snap dragons reseed. I love free plants!!

So we’ve been saving all the containers we can find in anticipation of winter sowing our first seeds soon.  Hopefully more pictures to come from that!


Ha…Accountability! June 20, 2009

Filed under: Garden — motherofpearls @ 12:43 pm

…Maybe that’s the purpose this blog will serve, for me to be accountable for various tasks! I said in my last gardening post that we would get the rest of the garden planted on Sunday and we did! Now for the hardest part, the waiting, waiting, waiting. We are very encouraged by the sight of some shoots already peeking out of the soil, especially the cucumbers! I see fresh cucumber salads in our future. We’re supposed to have some hot weather this week, so grow garden, grow.

Now if we could just figure out how to keep the birds out of our stawberry patch… Or at least they could be neater about it and take the entire berry. They nibble on part of the best, reddest berries and leave the rest languishing on the vines. And even more aggravating is that we have a pretty bird-friendly yard. We have several bird feeders and some serviceberry trees with lovely, ripe red berries just for them. Maddening!

And to close with a funny… Mister Pearl and Miss Pearl were of course helping us plant.  I had just run a length of twine between two nails across one of the beds along which we would plant seeds.  I turned around to get my shovel just in time to see Mister Pearl ceremoniously snip my line with the kid scissors I had brought outside with me. I couldn’t get mad at his sudden fine motor prowess with the scissors.  He is now affectionately dubbed  “The Mayor”!  We’re booking him out for opening ceremonies and engagements!


What to do with those club size Zucchini & other garden news August 26, 2008

Filed under: Garden,Recipes — motherofpearls @ 9:10 am
Tags: , , , ,

We were checking Father of Pearls’ Mom’s garden when in only a week’s time, we discovered one of those huge, overgrown zucchinis. We plucked it out of there and my food processor made super short work of grating it up. We tried a Chocolate Zucchini bread recipe that was just OK, but then we tried thisChocolate Zucchini Cake recipe and found a winner! It was very moist and was a cross between a brownie & regular cake texture. The kids even ate some after breakfast and it wasn’t frosted. I know, I know. But it brings to mind that hilarious Bill Cosby skit, “Dad is great. He gives us some Chocolate Cake”.

And in big garden news, the three cauliflower plants that have been taking up WAY too much garden real estate without producing a thing have finally started to develop a head of cauliflower. The Pearls’ were so excited to make this discovery. Yum, I can taste that roasted cauliflower recipe already.