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Filtering by Category: Know How

garden update

Emily Oster


I am long overdue in providing a garden update. To recap, on March 30 we planted the following (see our spring garden post for more information):
- 5 red leaf lettuces
- 6 bibb lettuces
- 2 spinach 
- 3 kale
We also transplanted 1 kale and 3 strawberry plants. Unfortunately, the 1 kale didn't take but otherwise everything else is thriving.

Right around Easter, we were able to start enjoying fresh salads of spinach and the lettuces. Shortly there after the kale was ready. I have been taking the outer leaves of the plants which has kept them all producing (you can also cut off the whole head). We eat salads at least 5 times a week and while not quite there yet, the garden is almost at the point of producing more than we can consume. 

The PC framed bird net is a new addition and a big improvement over our makeshift solution last summer (see this post). We went back and forth on how tall to make it and ended up deciding on 3 feet from the top of the planter to have room for tomato plants. The cage has worked in terms of keeping birds and rabbits out although it hasn't prevented the bugs from entering. About two weeks ago, I started noticing holes in the spinach and then the kale plants too. I thought maybe they were caused by flea beetles but after taking some leaves to the farmers market last night and asking around I think they are caterpillars.  Any readers have problems with caterpillars in their gardens? Its not causing too much of an issue so I am not sure if I will try to do anything about them but I would love to hear tips from more experienced gardeners.


We are thinking we have about a month left of harvesting our spring garden before it gets too hot and the lettuces turn bitter. Once this happens our plan is to do a summer planting of tomatoes, herbs and potentially some other yummies. Lessons learned so far are that doing a spring planting is definitely worth it, all plants need to be spaced further apart, we need an organic anti-bug solution such as row covers from the get go and to plant a few less lettuces. Stay tuned for more updates!

our spring garden

Emily Oster

This past weekend, I was successful in getting our spring planting done. I decided to skip on starting from seed as I am not sure we have enough light in the house. Also, I have no idea how I would keep an indoor garden safe from very mischievous Booker.

I started with clearing out the dead leaves that had settled into our 2' x 5' elevated cedar planter. Then I moved onto inspecting my strawberry and kale plants. Both are annuals so I decided to keep them in the soil through winter and see if they would make it to another grow season. I didn't take any of the helpful steps such as cutting them back or adding straw to help them survive over the long, cold months but still 50% of them made it - 3 strawberries and 1 kale. I dug out the survivors and placed them to the side so that I could turn the soil. Last year, I filled our container with a combination of local topsoil from Route 66 Organics and Back to Nature Cotton Burr (read more about our choice of soils here). This year, I just added some compost from Bluebird (another local company) to give the soil a little nutritional pick me up. 

After turning the soil, I got to planting. In addition to the 3 strawberries and 1 kale, I added 4 red leaf lettuces, 4 bibb leaf lettuces, 2 spinach and 4 kale plants. My spacing is a little tight (it is recommended that lettuces and spinach be 6" apart while kale has 12" of spacing) but I figure I can transplant if necessary. The kale plants are placed in the back row as they grow the tallest while the trailing and low growing spinach goes in front. My plan is to take from the inside, center lettuces first and work my way out. As it gets hot the lettuces will most likely die and I will replace them with tomato plants. I also did two 12" diameter pots with 2 lettuce plants each. All the plants are certified organic and were bought at our local garden shop. 

The next step is to rig netting or sheeting over the garden to keep animals out and some extra heat in. Jeff was talking to a neighbor and he recommended a set up something like the images below which we might try. Stay tuned!

resource review: design sponge series

Emily Oster

series by  Design Sponge  illustrations by  Libby VanderPloeg

series by Design Sponge illustrations by Libby VanderPloeg

The very popular design blog, Design Sponge, has been running two related series that I have really been enjoying. Called Design Icon and Pattern Book, the series detail the history behind iconic designs. Design Icon features furniture and objects while Pattern Book highlights what else - patterns. Matched with great illustrations from Libby VanderPloeg and Maxwell Tielman, the posts are a quick and informative read that will instantly up your design knowledge and vocabulary. Here are a few interesting things I have learned thus far.

- The slinky was named by the inventor's wife after she came across the definition of slinky - sleek and graceful - in the dictionary.

- The Honeywell thermostat was designed so that it always hung "squarely" on the wall no matter how or where it was installed.

- The Coca-Cola bottle design was the result of a competition in which the winner was inspired by an image of cocoa pad he saw in the Encyclopedia Britannica. 

- Houndstooth is associated with peace as it was originally worn by Scottish shepherds and had no association with any particular clan or group.

- The Greek Key pattern is thought to be inspired by a labyrinth, symbolizing infinity and unity.

Continue on to the series to learn more!