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R.I.P Stevia….and it was doing so well

I mourn the loss of my Stevia plants with a frustration and irritation. I have read all over the place that Stevia is hard to grow from seed, however, after searching for almost a month to find some seeds locally, I purchased a pack of ten measly seeds for almost four dollars! Are you kidding me, these things must be like gold. At that same time I also purchased a pack of Spearmint seeds, which for some reason, are also incredibly difficult to come by in this region. To my dismay, the Spearmint also contained very few seeds. I planted my little seeds and diligently cared for them as they sprouted and grew. As I read more I learned how lucky I was to have four strong little seedlings from those ten seeds I planted, and nearly all of the Spearmint seeds had germinated and I think I had eight or ten baby Spearmint plants as well. Tonight, the dumb-arse cat that I am cat-sitting, knocked down and killed all of those healthy little seedlings. They are smashed behind a greenhouse table and a window and any attempt I make to rescue them is going to result in their complete demise….so I must say so long, and hopefully I will find these seeds again. (clearance season on seeds, so I will rush out tomorrow and hope they are not all gone). I am irritated by a general lack of respect for my plants and garden by my visiting pets parents. Every single time someone brings a dog to my house, a plant gets destroyed. Now the visiting cat is joining the torture. I love animals so much, but I am tempted to just ask people to leave their animals home at this rate. Today alone, two different visiting pets managed to destroy over twenty five seedlings….Grr….Argh! How do I get my friends to understand how frustrating that is, how much time, energy, and money I put into raising those little things? I cannot get that time back. There is nothing I can do about the lost Brussels Sprouts and Stevia plants. I really put a lot of heart into them and as they are destroyed, I don’t think it’s cute the way your dog is standing in my raised bed! Please manage your pets or leave them home! Well, there is always next year I guess. I do still have a patient part of my that thinks maybe I can try purchasing greenhouse plants of theses varieties yet for this year, but they are so much more expensive, and so much less gratifying!

On a happier note, I had a fantastic day building gardening planners for one of my girlfriends and I. They started out identical, and we are gonna sit down and compare them in a year to see how we have modified them. I think that will be quite interesting really. I put in a few pertinent charts, and made is realistic for outside use by placing everything in sheet protectors. She was pretty excited to get hers, and I started prettying mine up as soon as I had a chance.

I am anxious for the holiday weekend to come and go. I am hoping that with the onset of the last frost date, we will also receive some good, hot, sunny weather. We have a gutter leak that drowned some of my little Cherry tomato babies the last two days. I hope they dry out. So far they are hanging in there, but if we don’t get some sun soon, they are gonna wither and dye. I am anxious to get out to the beds and finish up my planting in the next couple of weeks, and I look forward to experimenting with the greenhouse and succesion planting. Well, I guess that’s it for now, it’s late and I should be sleeping. ‘night.

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Gardening on my mind

I can’t get myself motivated for these menial indoor tasks. It has been raining for two months, it seems…..
Floods are everywhere and I have no ambition to do indoor chores. My greenhouse is finally erected and I cannot really do much outdoors. The last couple of weeks have been quite busy in the garden, when I get a break in the clouds. I cannot wait for it to warm up some so I can spend full days in the sun; so that my plants can get a break from some of this rain, and enjoy some of the hot Montana sun that they so love.
I spend countless rainy hours searching for solutions to my ant problem. They are not fire ants, but they are everywhere! I cannot figure out how to get rid of them, and I have yet to see an anthill. I have tried countless things, so far Grants Kills Ants have been the most successful thing, but they are hard to find around here. Cinnamon seemed to do the trick when I spread it over my garden, but when I pulled up my radishes, I was quite dismayed to see that the ants had just gone under the soil. Alas, they eat my radishes every year without fail! I have moved the radishes, I have sprayed pesticides (much to my dismay), I have tried soap and water. Nothing seems to work. As far as I can tell I don’t have any sign of Aphids (I read that Aphids attract ants and that to get rid of the aphids would solve the ant problem). I have a new organic trick I read about as a general pesticide. It is a concoction of onion and garlic that I chopped up and put in a milk jug with water. I let it sit for a week and strained it, but it has not stopped raining long enough for me to apply it. Also, it seems I would have to make quite a lot of this to soak my whole garden (as there do not seem to be any areas free of ants). I guess I have to stick with good ole grants stakes for now and hope I can find something natural to replace it with, or at least something that I have easier access to. I have just established a large garden, nearly free, thanks to my very resourceful husband, who was able to score me some really good used potting soil that I could improve some of my very clayey soil with. He was also able to get me some shipping crates that we were able to fill with some of this same free soil and square off for raised square foot beds. I have spent endless hours scouring books and the internet looking for frugal gardening ideas. I was also lucky enough to get a small greenhouse for mothers day from my wonderful son and husband. I am in garden heaven…with one exception, everything is flooded and we are looking at seven days of forecasted rain. In the course of this blog, I hope to share my adventures and learning experiences as a relatively “baby” gardener. As each season progresses, I become more and more interested in the details involved with gardening. I learn more about pests and disease, companion planting and crop seasons. This year I add a greenhouse to the mix. The adventure ahead of me is so exciting! For as long as I can remember, I have daydreamed about my little place in the country. I have wondered and waited and hoped and dreamed, but never imagined it would come true before me. Today, I sit here, on the edge of the country, looking at the flood in the cow pasture, and think how far I have come form those young city girl aspirations. I revel in the many blessings which I am surrounded by, and thank God for the many blessings and opportunities that have come my way! Today I realize that I have started my journey to self sustainability, or at least have learned to walk and taken a baby step or two. I hope to build this blog into a wealth of frugal information and curious journey. Won’t you meander with me, as I learn how to turn my semi-rural yard into a productive garden? I intend to learn to garden and harvest proficiently. I intend to process and preserve my harvest. I intend to live off of this bounty for most of the winter, and God willing, my husband has a good hunting season, we shall eat fairly inexpensively for the next several seasons. I love the idea of making homemade gifts out of garden goodies (like veggie baskets and herb vinegars and oils). I intend to gift seedlings to friends not blessed with greenhouses, and maybe one day when I can expand my little greenhouse I can consider farmers market as a way to share the wealth as well. I find myself daydreaming of the endless possibilities that this little greenhouse has opened up for me. I intend to square foot garden and container garden on this tiny little piece of land that I have available to me for now. I am greatly interested in growing a large perennial bed of herbs and I am also completely enthralled at the idea of companion planting and organic procedures. Frugal by nature, I love finding great ideas and sharing them with others. I can’t wait to share them with you! When the weather is less than pleasant, I love to work on my numerous craft projects and writing is always a favorite pastime. I find much more time for these activities in the winter, which can be quite long in Montana. For now, the clouds have dissipated and I find myself called to the garden, until next time…