Posts Tagged ‘windowsill garden’

 After several weeks on a rainchecked backorder, my growhouse finally arrived! 

I purchased it from the local DoItBest hardware store.  It’s a “Grow It 4 Tier Growhouse” from Gardman USA, Inc. of Kennesaw, GA.

We’ve had some cold nights and breezy days lately.  It’s nice to finally get the plants out in the sunlight and not have to worry about the windchill shocking the starts. 

This growhouse is larger than some of the others we’ve seen in the big boxes.  It measures approximately 2’3” x 1’7” x 5’3”.   The steel tubes and plastic frames are nice and sturdy.  The wire racks fit a little loose, though.  To remedy this I attached them to the cross bars with quick ties.  The whole unit, with the zipper front pvc cover, seems like it should hold up very well.   The sturdy pvc cover will get stored during the summer months so we’re hoping to get years of service from it.

I love shopping at the locally owned hardware store instead of the big box stores.  It’s close, owned by someone in my community, and is staffed by people who really care about their customers.  I’ve also noticed that, while they carry a smaller selection of products, those that they do carry are often higher quality.

If I’m looking for something obscure that they don’t carry I can talk with the owner (who’s always there and usually offers to help me find what I’m looking for) and he’ll search his system for me and order it in, if I’m interested.  No deposit required, just a gentleman’s agreement that I’ll come and get it when they call to tell me it arrived.  When I pick it up, I can write a personal check that they gladly accept without asking for a driver’s license and phone number.  If it’s Saturday, I can do all this after enjoying a bag of fresh popped popcorn. 

It’s personal service and respect like this that helps keep merchants like him in business and customers like me happy.


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Cat Grass

Gunner's wheat patch


With all of the garden and landscape preparation that’s been going on around here lately I figured it was only fair that we plant something for kitty to enjoy. 

While at the local hardware store a few weeks ago I picked up some Livingston Seed Co. “Cat Grass”.  Come to find out, it’s just Triticum aestivum, also known as common wheat or bread wheat. 

Years ago, I grew oats for another long-haired cat I had. It seemed to help her pass fur balls.  With Gunner’s heavy spring brushing just around the corner I figured I would give this a try to see if it helps with the digestion of loose fur he swallows during grooming. 

After planting it, I kept it in the fridge germinator for about a week to let it grow about four inches tall before setting it out for him to enjoy. 

It took him a few days to realize that it was meant for him.  Once he figured that out he hasn’t looked back.

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Birch Bed

Nearly Blank Landscape- Birch Bed

It’s amazing how wonderful a sunny evening and 42-degrees F feels after a long, cold, snowy winter.  As simple a task as cutting down some ornamental grasses was, it felt so incredibly relaxing and refreshing.

With my ever-expanding awareness of Permaculture and landscape design, I now view our landscape in a totally new light.  I’ve become more aware of the beautiful, living, breathing, evolving ecological canvas that it is.

I look around with wide eyes and an open mind, looking to see what exists; it’s characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and possibilities.  I ask myself how we can help it help us fulfill our needs and wants.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve scrapped nearly all of my original plans- put this tree here, and that shrub there, etc. 

I am now viewing the nearly blank slate as the zones that will evolve in the months and years to come, how we wish to use each area, what we will do to make it the way we want and what it will return to us, what companion plants will complement the existing, established landscape elements, etc. 

As the sun sets, I move my focus to the seeds and sprouts that I am planting and closely monitoring- realizing that they are literally the seeds of this landscape’s future.

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Good use for a spare fridgeIt’s been close to a week since I planted the container garden starter pots.  So far, I’ve relied on the windowsill and clam-shell greenhouses to support germination.  As of this morning, the only things that have sprouted was one tomato, two of the herb planters, and some of the lettuce mix.

To help kick-start the seedlings, I placed the mini-greenhouses on a heating pad in front of a larger South-East windows.  Within two hours three more tomato seeds sprouted.

Happy with this success, I’ve since moved the heating pad setup into a spare (unused) refridgerator we keep in the garage.  This unused fridge will provide an environment where it will be easy to regulate and maintain temperature, light and humidity.

I used a couple of old flurescent lite fixtures to provide the light.  They aren’t grow lights, but they put out a lot of light.  These simply rest on the adjustable metal shelf.  I placed the heating pad, wrapped in a towel, on the bottom.

The digital thermometer I keep in the garage was reading 48degrees F.  I put this in the fridge and will monitor the temp throughout the day.

This setup looks like it is going to work great!

Update:20100301- The heating pad did not generate enough heat to raise the temp in the fridge.  I have since added a hanging shoplight (with a 100w light bulb) inside the fridge.  This provides more light and generates the required heat.  The temp is now nearing 60 degrees F and rising.

Since last night, a second variety of tomato has sprouted.

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I’ve got the first round of seeds started for the 2010 container garden.

The first set of seed starts includes several variety of tomatos, sweet and hot peppers, salad green blends, green beans, and zucchini. 

I’ll be planting some ever-bearing strawberries in hanging strawberry planters very soon.

I made the starter pots out of toilet paper rolls.  To make the pots I flattened the rolls, cut them in half, then slit the bottom into quarters.  This allows the pots to be assembled like little open ended boxes.  They are a perfect size for starters.

These little pots are free, easy to store, fun to make, and biodegradable.  When they get wet, they wick up water like a sponge.  Plus, you can write on them with a permanent marker to make them easy to identify.

I like to start them in old clamshell containers from the grocery store.  These little greenhouses make it easy to care for, transport, and water.

When the time comes to transplant, I’ll tear the flaps off the bottom of the pots and plant them in their new home or containers just as they are.

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For Valentine’s day, my lovely wife bought me a three pack of mini pots for our kitchen windowsill garden. I didn’t waste any time getting these filled and into the sunlight. These three pots will be the first herbs in the windowsill garden. We’ve decided to start with Oregano, Sage, and Dill. I’ll be adding more herbs to the outdoor container garden I’ll be starting this week.

Material list-
Instead of using rocks, pebbles, or broken pot shards in the bottom of the containers, I prefer to use coffee filters. For these small pots, I fold them in quarters and trim them down to about a six inch diameter. This fits these small containers very well. I find that this works much better at keeping the integrated saucer free from debris.

For the potting mix, I’m using Schultz’s Garden Safe- Natural/ organic potting mix. So far I’m very impressed with the water retention and quality of the mix. Menard’s has this mix on sale this week, with a $1 per bag mail in rebate. I purchased the six bag limit (for the rebate). This will be the primary mix for our veggie and herb containers this season.

The seeds were all old packets I had in my seed bank. The oldest packet being from the 2005 season. They have been stored well, so I don’t expect any problems.

I’ve covered the pots with plastic wrap to create a mini-greenhouse.  This works very well to help raise soil temperature and retain moisture,  I poke holes in the plastic to allow for some airflow and remove the wrap as soon as the seeds spout.

Growing location-
As Springtime draws nearer, our kitchen window is getting better and longer sun exposure. This window faces East-Southeast.

Update on the green onions-
Since the last green onion post, we’ve added some more green onions to the mix. We’ve harvested the onions two or three times. After the second cutting four of the plants have failed. While the five others are still growing back they are much weaker.

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Window sill green onions

A few weeks ago I planted a green onion kitchen scrap root trimming.

Looking at the roots on the green onion and the plantless pot sitting on the window sill, where a spider plant start failed to take,  I figured ‘why not give it a try?’.

Within a few days the center of the green onion started growing like crazy, followed by a new shoot, about a week and a half later.

I’ve since added four more green onion roots to the same pot.  Three of the four have already started growing.

Last night was the first opportunity to use the home-grown green onion.  The flavor and texture of the fresh onion was fantastic!  It was unlike anything I’ve experienced from grocery-bought onions.

The time from plant to plate was a whopping 20 seconds.   The home-made BBQ Chicken flatbread pizzas were awesome!  BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizzas

I’ve since started a few garlic plants from some nearly dried out garlic clove slivers.  These sprouted after only three days in the pot.  I plan on transplanting these outside come springtime.

This experiment has proven a great success.  Time to check the fridge and see what else we can grow or start on our window sill.

I wonder if a regular onion eye will sprout.  Or maybe a baby carrot…

What do you think?  Is there anything you would recommend trying?

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