Seed starting 2019

Bok choi seedlings

Off to the races!

On Sunday, I started my first round of seeds for my Olympia garden: tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, ground cherries, bok choi, basil and some flowers. I started a little earlier this year based on last year’s experience. (Actually, I planned to start two weeks ago but broke a finger–ouch–and that set me back.) Last year I started most of my seeds in March and I was wildly successful. So many plants. But I found that a few plants needed a little more time so I am starting earlier this year. It’s day 6 and the bok choi is up, a couple of flowers and one tomato seedling. It seems like a miracle every single time.

Tomato seedling on day 6!

Last year, I started most of my seeds in small paper cups. This year I made mini flats out of white plastic tofu containers, drilling drainage holes planting 6-12 seeds per container. Eight tofu trays fit in one black flat. We eat a lot of tofu. (I use the heavy duty flats from Bootstrap Farmer–they are great. I bought mine last year and they still look new. And now they have fun colors!)

I was MUCH better at labeling this year after confusing the tomato varieties and mixing up the bok choi and brussels sprouts seedlings repeatedly. I decided to use my Brother Ptouch labeler and reinforce it with tape.

I decided to try Black Gold Seedling Mix. This is my first time with it, I’ve always used a vermiculite-peat moss blend in the past. I dampened the mix thoroughly before filling my tofu trays. Stay tuned for updates on that! I have one flat on the heat mat but the one off the heat mat is coming up all over so stuff grows, no matter what.

I am growing PNW varieties of tomatoes exclusively this year after some uneven results last year. I had tomatoes but it wasn’t a bonanza. I really was hoping to be inundated. (I know, I know. Careful what you wish for!) To be fair, June was really cold and not tomato friendly. This year I am going to move the plants to a warmer, sunnier location and start them out in a portable greenhouse when I first move them outside.

The gardening experiment continues!

Funny enough, we are in the midst of a winter storm warning in Western Washington, low thirties with unusual single digits and 3-5 inches in our immediate future. Everyone and their mother was at the grocery store when we went out at lunch time. I am hoping this passes us by quickly and return to the 40s ASAP. In the meantime, I will reassure my tiny seeds and whisper the words loved by gardeners everywhere: spring is coming.

How does your garden grow?

Seedlings

I planted most of my seeds in early March and today I am overrun with seedlings, some of which have been potted up more than once. I guess that’s the good news. The somewhat bad news is that when you plant 28 tomato seeds because you are worried that you might not be successful, you have to deal with the reality of 28 tomato plants. I have thought about planting all 28 but I am fairly certain that I cannot keep up with that many. I seem to have a whole tray of China Aster, too. The seedlings have been hardening off on the porch and I hope to plant them in the newly updated raised beds next week.

Now for an update in the bareroot saga. Planting bareroot has never really worked out for me before so when I bought about 100 bareroot plants and plugs from the Thurston Conservation District, I had low expectations.

Bare Root PlantsAnd then almost everything grew.

I had a couple of ferns that looked iffy from the get-go and one black hawthorn looks like it was the daily special at the critter salad bar (it might be fine). Something dug up a salal plug and I fear the worst but I haven’t given up on it yet. But the other 96 plants are doing great. Anyone need some Douglas Fir saplings?

Adding to the insanity, I bought some bareroot hostas, bleeding hearts and columbines. The columbines and hostas are coming up. Not sure what the bleeding hearts are going to do. So this additional “success” has added to the planting frenzy in my Olympia garden.

Notes to self:

  1. 20 plants sound nice.
  2. Plant seeds expecting most to germinate.
  3. Start earlier with pepper plants. That’s the one area where results were less than I hoped.

Spring is here!

Nature’s Cure

Burfoot Park, Olympia

I just finished The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams.

As the title suggests, this book explores the way that nature–from houseplants to city parks to hiking trails to wilderness restores us, energizes us, makes us more resilient and creative–even cures us of maladies that are hard to cure. I’ve always been a person drawn to plants and animals and the outdoors. I love the mountains and the ocean in equal measure. My ideal vacation is always time in nature. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my present home is so different from other places I have lived. Very often these days, I feel like I live in the forest but with flush toilets. It will be hard to accept a more suburban or urban environment after this. Maybe I won’t if I can help it.

I’ve also been thinking about the times that I went without my nature fix and how I was the worse for it. I am planning more immersive trips to nature sans technology this year. I will embrace the Finnish government recommendation of a minimum of five hours in nature a month — but I’ll try to go deep, and technology free, for my five hours.

I recommend this book if you are interested in the ways that our brains react to nature. Williams will take you on a whirlwind tour of the latest and greatest in nature research.

Check out the review of The Nature Fix in National Geographic.

Thrifty Bargains

We checked out the Seattle Children’s Bargain Boutique in Olympia. Honestly, the exterior is a bit nondescript. We’ve been to the shopping center many times and looked right past it so we were pleasantly surprised when we walked in and found a boutique packed with housewares, clothing, jewelry and books. It’s one of six boutiques that support Seattle Children’s Hospital.

We were greeted by a friendly volunteer who explained the current sales. Buy one get one half off was the main sale and I took advantage of it. I mostly looked at the housewares because I am looking for something in particular (multilevel tray stands to create landing strips in key places where stuff piles up or gets misplaced in my house). And of course, I could not leave without looking at the books. I would say that their book section was much better than the average thrift store with a good selection of gardening and cookbooks.

I found a copy of  A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants in great condition for $6.50. Awesome! I also picked up a pet first aid book for 75 cents with the BOGO half off sale.

Location: 2020 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia, WA 98502-5097, 360-236-8245 (near the Dollar Tree, Wally’s and Vic’s Pizza)

Hours
Weekdays: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.

Love,
Oly

Today’s weather: It was another beautiful day in Olympia. A little colder today but not by much.

 

We brake for cupcakes

If anyone says the words “vegan cupcakes” they will have my immediate attention. I love cake but being a vegetarian who doesn’t eat eggs leaves few options when ordering desserts out. So I get excited when anyone offers a vegan dessert option. (I do need to give a shout out to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. If you are making your own at home, this is the place to start.)

On a recent trip to the Capital Mall, we noticed the vegan cupcakes sign at Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes. To be honest, I always look, but I am usually disappointed. So it only took about 2 seconds to decide that lunch was going to start with dessert. We ordered a chocolate cupcake with white frosting and raspberry topping to split. It’s hard to describe how I feel about chocolate cake so let’s just say that I really, really like chocolate cake. It was delicious.

Founded in 2012 by Olympia’s own Rachel Young, Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes now has multiple locations. After appearing on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in fall 2013, she opened her first storefront in downtown Olympia near the Farmer’s Market.

In addition to a wide variety of cupcake choices, Mystical Cupcakes makes cakes including vegan, guilt-free and paleo. You can even order a paleo wedding cake! Something for everyone. 🙂

You had me at vegan cupcakes. <3

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: It was another beautiful day in Olympia, sunny and warm with highs in the 60s. Totally spoiled!

Vic’s Pizza

Vic's Nina PizzaWe tried Vic’s Pizza at their Westside location and all we can say is yum! Always good when you can add another pizza to the dining out options. We bought the Nina Pizza vegan style with pesto, spinach, tomatoes and Texmex sauce, which is their vegan cheese alternative. I am a vegetarian so I do eat cheese occasionally, but I go vegan whenever possible. (A bonus for me is that it’s cashew free.) The pizza was delicious. Most vegan pizzas leave something to be desired IMO but this one was delicious and I didn’t miss the cheese.

Locally owned and operated since 1999, Vic’s has something for everyone. Need gluten-free and vegan? Vic’s has you covered. Most gluten-free pizza crusts are made with egg but Vic’s gluten-free crust is vegan, too.

The staff were helpful and friendly and made a couple of first-timers into future regulars. The restaurant was hopping and had a good vibe.

Visit Vic’s at either of their two locations:
Westside: 233 Division St NW Olympia WA 98502, 360-943-8044
Wildwood:  2822 Capitol Blvd S Olympia, WA 98501, 360-688-1234

Hours: Mon. – Sat.: 11 am – 9 pm and Sun.: Noon – 7 pm

How about a nice pizza pie?

Love,
Oly



Today’s weather was darn near perfect. It warmed up to about 60°F. It was warm and sunny and I feel like all of Olympia was out soaking it up.

Book lovers, rejoice!

Have you been to the Goodwill in West Olympia? Their book section looks like a mini bookstore! The books are organized by type and there’s a bestsellers section. There are many well-known and new titles to choose from. There are even chairs for leisurely browsing. The staff member working in the section was making book recommendations and offered assistance. It really had such a great vibe. Prices vary but good deals abound.

They also carry DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes and vinyl.

Overall the store is well organized and clean and they sell a lot of new items in addition to the second-hand finds. I saw lots of colorful vases and fun decorative items. I almost left the store with a pair of carved palm tree lamps. (I was good!) If you have stayed away from thrift stores in the past, this one might change your mind.

Location: 400 Cooper Point Rd SW, Olympia, WA 98502, (360) 956-0669
Hours: 9 am-9 am, Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm on Sun.

Donating and buying used is a great way to reuse, reduce, recycle. Stay green and happy reading!

Love,
Oly


It rained today and it made me happy. My 100 or so plants needed the rain. I want them to have their best chance. A little blustery–boo–but it’s no nor’easter! We have low 50s. A reason to be grateful.

Free books for everyone!

I have almost always loved books. I have to admit that there was a time after graduate school that I wanted nothing to do with books. And lately, I find that fiction does not hold my attention but I continue to be grateful for the wide variety of books available.

When I was a kid, a bookmobile came to our neighborhood and I went there with my dog Clifford. Clifford the Big Red Dog was one of the first books that I learned to read and it followed that my first dog would be named after my literary hero. The librarian, also having an appreciation for my dog and his literary namesake, let him curl up at her feet while I checked out as many books as I could carry. Every kid — and every adult — should have access to a library, but sadly, not all do.

After moving to Olympia, I decided to become a regular at the library and now I almost always have books checked out. I used to buy all my books but the library lets me try before I buy and keeps me from being overrun by books.

Which brings me to my own library. My better half bought me a Little Free Library and this weekend the post went in the ground and the Library went up. I filled it with books and a guest book and it’s officially up and running.

If you are new to these little libraries, the Little Free Library movement brings tiny libraries to neighborhoods and public spaces around the globe. I am a proponent of contributing to the commons and Little Free Libraries serve as quaint and quirky guideposts on the streets of life. LFLs encourage sharing and community. Take a book or leave a book is the most common format although some LFL stewards have their own take. Some are in urban spaces and some are even far more remote than mine. I would not be surprised if some of my neighbors think I have lost it putting a little library up on our gravel road. I feel like I put up a new bird feeder and I am waiting for the birds to find it! But the cool thing about caring for the commons is that it doesn’t matter how big or well-traveled your part of the commons is. It still counts.

So my Little Free Library is up and waiting for its first visitor. Will it be a Lady and the Tramp fan? Someone looking for a copy of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People? Someone just discovering the magical world of Harry Potter? Or someone drawn to the vampires and witches of L.J. Smith’s Night World series? Louisa May Alcott’s beloved Little Women? Or Anne Lamott’s standard for aspiring and/or struggling writers, Bird by Bird.

It will be fun to see what happens.

Keep reading!

Love,
Oly



Today’s weather was a mix of sun and clouds and rain. It didn’t keep me from working in the yard–I had all of those plant sale plants to get in the ground!

Share your garden

Gardener’s Supply, an online gardening supply company based in Vermont, has launched a Garden to Give initiative to encourage gardeners to grow food for local food banks by planting Giving Gardens.They teamed up with High Mowing Organic Seeds to provide seeds to 500 gardeners to plant a Giving Garden. If you are anything like me, you probably have seeds and produce to share. 

Intrigued, I wanted to see if our local Thurston County Food Bank accepts garden-grown produce and was excited to see that they do! Check out the Grower’s Guide for instructions on how to participate and what crops are needed. As of the date of this post, these were the top needed items:

  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Hardy greens (kale, collards, etc)
  • Onions (all kinds)
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Tomatoes

The food bank also has a gleaning volunteer program that organizes work parties to harvest surplus produce from local farms. Gleaning refers to harvesting leftover or sometimes unused food crops.

Keep growing and share your gardening love.

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: It was a beautiful sunny day today in the South Sound with highs in the low 50s. I did a lot of yard work today, doing cleanup, digging holes and planting my native plants from the TCD Native Plant Sale.


Special shoutout to my mom today: Happy Birthday!

The Evergreen State

The winter rainy gloom that the Seattle area seems to be known for is a thing, I am sorry to say. The upside is that unlike other places I have lived that look dead during the winter, Washington truly is the evergreen state. Even in the winter, there is green everywhere that you look.

This got me thinking about the state tree. I thought for sure it would be the Douglas Fir. Nope, that’s Oregon’s state tree. Washington’s state tree is the Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). The Western Hemlock is an evergreen conifer that grows in the Western U.S. close to the Pacific coast. It can be a long-lived tree reaching heights well over 200 feet. It’s a shade tolerant tree that can grow in the canopy of other trees, like the Douglas Fir, but it eventually overtakes them.

Hug a tree!

Love,
Oly