Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Berry's Eagle Cam

Berry College is has always been impressive to me.  Not only is it the world's largest college campus, it is definitely the most beautiful. Not just a place for the  students, it plays a large part in the life of the local community. Families visit to ride the bike trail, have picnics, view wildlife and learn about local history.

And now, Berry has added something that has got everyone talking- the Eagle Cam. The camera focuses on the nest of a pair of bald eagles. The female laid two eggs back in January. The first one hatched last Saturday. The entire Northwest Georgia area went wild! The other egg should hatch any day now. Everyone is watching and waiting... and talking. Students are watching and discussing it in class, families are watching at home. People are talking about it on Facebook and tweeting about it on Twitter.

My first graders sat in rapt attention and they watched the mother proudly feed her young tiny pieces of fish. Later, the father returned to the nest and fed the baby as well. It is fascinating to watch these beautiful creatures going about their daily lives.

To view the Eagle Cam, click here.  

Thank you, Berry, for sharing this wonderful part of your world!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Starting Tomato and Flower Seeds (Using Cupcake packages!)

Oh, how I love starting seeds!! It gets me all psyched up and ready for spring!! I finally started my tomatoes today. I had the coolest idea! I am a first grade teacher and we party a lot- birthdays, holidays...any excuse for a cupcake! I decided to put those cupcake boxes to a new use. I used a large thumb tack to put drainage holes in the bottom of each well. I then placed the container into an aluminum pan I bought at my local dollar discount store (2 for $1). I LOVE how that top just snaps right down over the container!

On my last post I was using organic seed starter mix, but this time I FINALLY found some pellets at a local hardware store for 19 cents each. After using HOT water to fluff the pellets I placed my tomato and pepper seeds inside. (Yes, I m starting more pepper and eggplant seeds. I just don't like the looks of the ones I started in the last post. Maybe they will surprise me, but better safe than sorry.)

*Before planting in your garden, remove that netting from those pellets. It's just too hard for those roots to spread out if you don't.

In the large cupcake container I started Aunt Ruby's Green German, Amish Paste, Pink Brandywine, and Bonnie's Best- all heirloom from Baker Creek.

The above pic is a mini cupcake box containing pellets and two plastic fruit cups (the kind mandarin oranges come in.) My daughter takes the oranges to school and I beg her to save the cups for me. I have her save her yogurt cups, too. (Bless her heart...) I covered the fruit cups with produce bags from the grocery store. (They are thin enough to let in some light, but still keeps in that humidity.)

In this one I started tomatillos, Jujube Cherry, more Brandywine, and Bonnie's Best.

In the last mini cupcake container I started more peppers (Orange Bell, Emerald Giant, Golden California Wonder, and Tam Jalapeno- also from Baker Creek). The round container (formerly a feta cheese container) contains eggplant.

I decided to start some cat grass for Phoebe, our cat. Supposedly it will keep her out of my other plants. Knowing Phoebe, there is no telling...

These (above) are tiny snapdragon seeds I saved a couple years ago. I'm not sure what the germination rate will be, since they are older. We'll just have to wait and see.

I also started more marigolds to guard my garden and basil to plant with my tomatoes. Basil is supposed to enhance the flavor of tomatoes. Marigolds are distasteful to many garden pests. (They add a nice splash of color, too.) Along with those, I started some large zinnias, bachelor buttons, and cosmos. Starting seeds is so much cheaper than buying flowers at the garden center. These were from saved seeds- either my own of those shared from friends.

Here are a few seedlings that have sprouted from that last planting.

The cosmos above are too leggy. My fault- I didn't catch them in time. I am trying to correct the issue with more mix, but I don't know that it will help. (They are in a sour cream container with drainage holes poked in the bottom, I used the lid as a tray.)

Above are tiny celery seedlings started in a styrofoam egg carton. I took off the lid and used it as a tray, covering it with a produce bag. It's a little late for these, but I'm going to try placing them in a cooler spot and see how they fare. You never know until you try. That's part of the fun.

These are dwarf marigolds, also in an egg carton. I agree with another blogger who said the cardboard egg containers are no good for this. They turn too mush way too soon for planting. They just can't hold up. I am NOT a fan of styrofoam, but if is making it's way through your door, you might as well make it work double duty.

I finally drug out my seed rack last night and my husband hooked up the lights. My rack is a metal shelf I purchased a few years ago from a local store. (To see how we made the rack, click here.) During the rest of the year, my seed rack doubles as a storage rack. (I am big on multi-tasking. Can ya tell?)

If you haven't started your own seeds, it isn't too late to start. It's easy and fun! Always buy from a reputable dealer and avoid those GMO's!! (Google that if you are unfamiliar.) You can find dealers who have signed the non-GMO pledge online.

Happy Planting!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Seed Starting and Hoping for Spring (Snowmageddon, Day 2)

I feel like my guineas, Hugh and Sadie up there in the tree- cold and none to impressed with mother nature.  Was it really just this past Sunday that I was starting some seeds and getting all excited about spring? Sure, the snow was beautiful, and I DO love snow. However, today it is starting to melt and that second wave of snow they called for has yet to prove itself to be more than a nasty rumor. What we have now is a combination of unmelted snow, yucky refreezing slush...and cold. Just plain cold. Southern folks don't do winter, y'all.

My seeds from Baker Creek arrived last week. I got all excited! (Forgive the glare on the photos- had to use my iPhone and the track lights in my kitchen are rather unforgiving at times.)

I've been ordering from Baker Creek since 2007 and have never been disappointed. I get high quality seeds with excellent germination rates- and, best of all, NO GMO's!!!! (If you are buying your seeds at a local store, you might wanna google GMO's and rethink that...)

My little seed stash is a big ol' hot mess, but I love it! It holds spring!!! I had to do a quick inventory to see what I needed. I made my veggie order, but I need to re-order some flowers as well. I can't order it all at once, unfortunately.

I went over my notes in my garden planner. I used to use a blank journal, but I bought this one on Amazon a couple years ago and I love it! It is full of helpful hints and advice, as well as a timetable for garden chores. You just fill in your own last frost date and go from there.

Another helpful item is this handy little sliding table I bought from Baker Creek. It has spring dates on one side, fall on the other. It cost me lass than $3.00 a couple years ago.

I decided to save money on seed starting this year by recycling household items. I used quite a few egg cartons. I'm also using Styrofoam meat trays (which I have used in the past), plastic produce bags from the grocery (as covers) and various other odds and ends. (Seeds don't much care what you start them in- as long as it is warm and humid.)

There are so many benefits to starting your own seeds. (See my previous posts here,  here and here.) For one thing, when you purchase from a reputable company, you know what you are getting. GMO's are dangerous and, unless you enjoy being a guinea pig, you are better off buying heirloom seeds from a reliable source. Also, when you save your own seeds, you save tons of money and develop plants more suited to your own area. 

So, here I sit in my hoodie and sweats while the rest of the family is out sledding. Atlanta News is calling for about 6 more inches of snow before morning. (Of course, they called for an inch today and I have yet to see that happen.) Thankfully, we are safe and have power. I think I will get out my pen and paper and draw off some garden plans. 

Think spring.....

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Seed Ordering Time

I've said it before, and I will say it again. The only thing that gets me through the winter sometimes is making plans for spring. The snow has melted, but it is rainy and cold. I've spent part of the afternoon going through my seeds- taking inventory, making a wish list. The catalogs are rolling in, and I pore through each one like an addict. OK, I AM an addict. Ha!
Just making my list and adding to my order at rareseeds.com has made me feel better. I feel hopeful. I feel happy. I can do this...Only 6 more weeks, right?