Archive | April 2012

Lettuce Penitentiary

My lettuce looks like it’s being held in a penitentiary.  The woven wire that guards it is really not meant to keep the lettuce from escaping, but rather to keep the groundhogs and rabbits from destroying it. It’s a bit elaborate, I’ll admit, but it has kept the lettuce safe.

The brown plastic “pot” I’m using for the lettuce used to contain a sweet mineral lick for our cows.  These huge plastic containers are great for all kinds of uses, like catching rain water from the barn roofs.

Here is an aerial view of the lettuce.  In the center is a broccoli plant I started from seed.


Newspaper Seed Pots for the Origami-Challenged

In honor of Earth Week, I’m posting how origami-challenged people like me can make seed starting pots from newspapers without using tape or staples.

Only three items are needed:

  • Newspapers
  • 8 oz tomato sauce can (or any can of similar size with no tapered end)
  • 8 oz plastic yogurt containers


  1. Pull out a two-page section of the newspaper (regular newspaper, not glossy or slick paper)
  2. Fold the paper lengthwise.
  3. Fold the paper lengthwise again.
  4. Place tomato sauce can on the paper about 1 ½ inches from the bottom edge.
  5. Roll the newspaper tightly around the can.
  6. Fold the edges over the end of the can.
  7. Place the can over the yogurt container and slip the paper off the can and into the container.

Fill the container with soil and you’re ready to plant.

Of course, the yogurt container is not biodegradable, so it must be slipped off when transplanting seedlings into the soil. But the paper is biodegradable and works just like a peat pot.

As you can tell, I’m a fan of yogurt containers because they prevent a lot of water and soil mishaps and are easy means of transporting the seedlings.

It’s time for me to start my zucchini and watermelon seeds. Looks like I have some pots ready to go!

Happy Earth Week!

Frost Bitten Plants

You never know what  kind of weather Missouri springtime will bring.  This spring has been very warm and the grasses, weeds, and flowers have been growing and blossoming like crazy.  That’s wonderful until Jack Frost makes a surprise appearance like he did last week when the temps dropped to 27 degrees for a couple of consecutive nights.

My butterfly plants, that were growing so heartily, got nipped and don’t look quite so robust now.  Wounded is how I’d describe them.  So what do I do?

  • After the temperature has warmed above freezing, give them a drink of water.  It will assist with healing.
  • Although it breaks my heart to see their wilted and dying leaves and stems, I must refrain from pruning until there is no chance of frost again.  If it frosts again, these dead areas could actually protect the plant.
  • Do not fertilize for a few weeks.  Fertilizing will stimulate leafing which adds stress.  Let the plant rest and heal.

In addition to profusely apologizing to my butterfly plants for not covering them, I’m going to follow these rules to help them heal. Hopefully, they will make a full recovery and will once again look as beautiful as they did last summer.

Hardening Plants

Some of the tomato, broccoli, and basil plants that I had started from seed are now a couple of inches tall.  It’s time to start the hardening process, their acclimation to the outdoors.  This is my plan for hardening them:

  • Every day for at least a week, I set them outside.  The first day it’s only for about 4 hours. I leave them outdoors longer each day.
  • In the beginning, I try to keep them protected from the wind.

Some people will harden their plants for two weeks, but I’m afraid I’m too impatient to do that.  My plants will have a week to toughen up.

Hardening is not difficult, just time-consuming, and it’s very helpful (perhaps even essential?) in getting your plants off to a good start in your garden.