Friday, April 30, 2010


I usually don't stray off the urban homesteading/gardening topic too much here, but I'm making an exception today!

Tonight my little sister Sammie and her sister Chelsea are coming to stay with us for a while. Their family is moving to about 30 minutes E. of here (Liviona), but the girls are at Ypsi High and wanted to at least finish out the year there, which I don't blame them for! Mike and I offered that the girls could stay at our house until the school year finishes up, because Liviona can be pretty far away when you don't have transportation!

I'm very excited, but also a little nervous! I want to give them a supportive, positive environment, but I want to do that without being overbearing and overwhelming. How does one do that? haha! It's also tough because I'm their sister, and not their mother or aunt.. I'm not their age, but I'm only 9 years old, and I often come across that tough spot to balance between being a friend/sister and being a positive role model and mentor. I'm also not their biological sister, I'm their 'Big Brothers Big Sisters' sister. But I think after 6 years matched together, we've gotten to the point where we're able to drop that distinction, and just be sisters who live in different houses (until now!) :)

They're both working on improving some poor grades, but at our house they will have a quiet place to study, a computer they can use to do homework and papers, and a few less siblings to contend with! I'm crossing my fingers that they can boost up their grades for the end of this year and that they won't have to take any summer school classes. That would suck for everyone involved! I know they have the capacity to succeed, I just hope I can be supportive and motivating enough to help them do so!

Here we are! I am a pale vampire, by the way. Chelsea is on the left on Sam is on the right :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring love

Our edible plants are just shooting up left and right! We have little onion shoots coming up in bed #1, and the lettuce seedlings are doing well! The Ozark Beauty strawberries are getting leaves, the All Stars are continuing to look good. Haven't seen any action from the potatoes or garlic yet, but they're under there, doing their stuff!

I posted the other day on the possibility of seed-starting indoors next year.
I am constantly amazed at how sharing and talking with people is so beneficial. I feel like if you put that energy out there, things work out your way sometimes.
I was talking with my friend Anna about seed-starting and she told me she had 4 or more shop lights that she had bought for seed-starting a few years back, but couldn't bear to "weed out" the weaker seeds once they all started to grow, so she ended up with like 200 tomato plants :) So she said she would be willing to give some supplies to me!

I really love Spring. It's time to come out of hibernation :) I've had a lot of opportunities to get together with new friends lately, and I have really enjoyed that. People at work that I enjoy but haven't made a point to extend that friendship. Friends of friends that I feel are pretty much friends already, although we've not spent that much time together! I've really enoyed the chance to do this, and I'm thankful for it.

Family time this weekend has been well-earned. There's a strong chance that we will be having a 16 year old living with us for the next two years starting next week, so a lot of relaxing this weeekend is in order...

more on that to come! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seed-starting project

An idea has been rolling around in my brain for the last several days... and idea for a project.

Because can you ever have too many house-related projects? Evidently, I am on the road to find out :)

In our basement, we have a "furnace room" which is basically a 9x14 room that has our furnace in it, our hot water heater, but also- some awesome shelves.
Here's a wonderfully accurate drawing of what that room looks like: -------->

Those shelves on the right hand side are built right along the wall. They're probably 8ft across and a total of 6 feet high, and I believe (describing from memory here) that there are either 4 of 5 shelves total.

 Here's what they look like(ish):
What I am hoping to do next year is........

make a seed-starting area on these shelves!

I've been researching indoor seed-starting to see what I would need, and I think these shelves might be perfect! Individually, they seem to be about a foot apart, and that might be far enough apart for certain types of plants if I rigged some florescent light bulbs under the shelves.

Then I could just buy (or save) seeds next year and start things in my basement! When the seeds have developed into little plants, I could transfer them out into my beds, under a cold frame, and I could have lettuce and other cold weather crops a lot earlier!

Here's a useful tutorial on re: Seed Starting 

Friday, April 16, 2010

First raised-bed planting!

Today I picked up my seeds/plants, and planted:
  • Red and yellow onions,
  • Red and green leaf lettuce as well as a bit of arugula, etc.
  • Allstar strawberries
  • Ozark beauty strawberries
  • Russett potatoes
  • Red pontiac potatoes
  • Garlic
  • a Glacier tomato plant

as well as some sweet basil plants (in a separate planter)

here's a before picture:




I still have to plant:
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini
  • cucumbers
and I have no idea where those things are fitting lol :)

I think I might be adding another little bed somewhere!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Look what I came home to today:



We burned the 8pm oil a little bit, but we got it done by the light of the motion-sensor! It will probably rain tonight and then we'll have to put a bit more in. But we did end up with a bit extra- hopefully enough to fill the cinder blocks with so I can plant my Marigolds soon :) Mike was really helpful and patient, even through my uncontrollable impatience and perfectionism. So thank you, love.

I have some onion sets to plant and I need to go pick up the rest of my cold weather transplants this weekend! Woohoo!!

I little bit of progress can go a long way for your self-esteem :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Epic fail, hopefully turned into a epic.. success?

I forgot to tell all 11 of ya'll about the epic soil/compost fail that I had 2 weeks ago. Remember how I built my raised-beds and they were gorgeous?

 I remember if no one else does :)

What happened to City of Ann Arbor compost you were going to so easily obtain the next day, you might ask? Well I hired a nice guy with a pickup truck (first mistake) to meet me there to have the compost loaded into his truck. Except no one at A2 Compost took the time to tell me that would be ridiculous. And they also forgot to mention that they load the compost in with a fucking bulldozer. Maybe this is common knowledge to others, but unfortunately I do not have common sense.

Bascially a nice guy with a truck met me at the compost place, followed me around for 10 minutes trying to figure out where to go, and then stood there for another 10 minutes trying to figure out how the hell we were going to load compost into his pick-up truck (that had an attached cab. Not a box, ugly cab. A flat cover cab.) Needless to say, this nice guy left with $20 dollars and I sped away with embarrassment. I was a crazy 24 year old hippie driving my honda civic into the Compost Center.

Oh well. SO compost from Lodi Farms in A2 delivered by dump truck tomorrow? Wonderful. :)


Our Weeping Cherry (something) tree is starting to bloom!:

Tonight is my last Master Gardener class!! That tone you detect isn't excitement that its over- just excitement that I get to learn about Composting, the topic for tonight!

After Composting, the last half of this class is devoted to having local organizations who might be looking for Master Gardener volunteers to come in and present about the volunteer opportunities they have- cannot express how psyched I am for that!

 I've been looking lately (for a while) for a way to meld my personal interest in gardening and the environment with my professional experience in social work and community work. You think it'd be an easy connection to make, but I seem to have some difficulty finding opportunities to break my way into the "Environmental Nonprofit" sector without a degree in agriculture or botany or something akin to that.
SO maybe tonight some volunteer opportunities will present themselves!!

I stopped by Growing Hope, our local awesome nonprofit that runs the community gardens in Ypsi and does some educational program, runs one of the Farmer's Markets... as I said, all-around awesomness. I went to one of their volunteer orientations, and I plan to go volunteer on Saturday... maybe I'll be building some raised-bed gardens, or maybe I'll be weeding. Who knows! All I know is that I'm excited to get out there and do something active and productive!

I need to do something with these window boxes on my house. It looks like my home has baggy, tired eyes. Other than that, it's looking quite nice!:

In honor of our last class tonight, I decided to make those delicious Chocolate Chip cookies that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago! Everyone is supposed to bring a dish to pass- I guess this is my dish?