Thursday, May 01, 2008

Wierd Science

Ruby Bear basking while I photographed socks

Spring is making slow but steady progress. Sunshine; hours of it pushing away the gray. Sunshine so bright I have to adjust the blinds to protect my retinas in the morning is a beautiful thing. The doggies are loving it. We are all loving it. But, for every three steps forward there are two back. It is in fact snowing as I write this. Springtime "showers" are an anomaly here. Colorado only has two seasons, Winter and Summer. Here's proof:

This little House Finch is trying to make the best of a bad situation. They are once again setting up housekeeping in the neighbors evergreen, just on the other side of the fence from the barn feeder. It is hard to believe that yesterday's temperatures were in the 70's. In a mad moment of heat stroke and spring fever I pulled out all the flower pots and hung up the wind chimes. The wind began to blow, the temperature to drop, and in came the cold finger of old man winter taking yet another pot shot at us dreamers of sunshine. After-all, it is only the first day of May!

Warm weather makes me once again believe I can garden, which I can't. I drool over seed catalogs and six packs of flowers and long for an English country garden. With four dogs and a yard the size of a postage stamp longing is about as far as it gets. I have a few packets of flower seeds waiting to be sown, but every time I plan to start we get more bad weather.

In an effort to cheer my doldrums, all my African violets are in full bloom and the Christmas cactus has decided to flower again as well, giving me hope that Spring really is on the way.

Beth and I will simply have to be content with pots of flowers in the courtyard and patio and what flowers we can grow in the single bed out back. Since we had a bit of success with a Roma tomato plant last summer, we decided to grow more this year. I started six heirloom tomato plants in a tiny peat pot terrarium. Transplanted into bigger pots they are now getting quite large. The unstable weather means they are still waiting, basking in the grow light from my new hydroponic garden or the limited sunshine of the kitchen windowsill.

Mike brought home the Aero garden in hopes I would save money on all those fresh herbs I buy at the grocery store. On sale, plus a rebate brought the price down considerably. Everything sprouted within 14 days, and the rate of growth is phenomenal. I am so intrigued by this space age phenomenon, that I am tempted to buy the super large model that can accommodate tomatoes. The Aero garden maks lovely dripping noises as the vitamin packed water flows through the seed cups, and the grow light has the entire kitchen glowing for 16 hours a day (those are compact fluorescent bulbs BTW) It has reminder lights for adding nutrients and water approximately every two weeks.

Obviously, this is not a practical or economic method for growing say, enough lettuce for a family.
You'd wipe out the entire crop for one dinner salad. And it is silly to grow things that are cheap and readily available, like parsley. However, it is a great way to grow herbs, as they are extremely expensive to buy fresh, and don't last long. I should be able to harvest several times from this batch before having to replant. I've been researching what people are doing with their hydroponic gardens, and have found lots of folks like me, curious about experimenting with planting their own seeds. In response, the company now provided cups and planting medium (a kind of spongy stuff) so that you can plant the seeds of your choice. I was already figuring I would clean the roots out of the cups and continue to reuse them. Seed kits for the garden run $20, rather pricey, and I'd rather buy organic seed.

I really want to grow my own lamb's lettuce (aka cornsalad or mache) and watercress. We've become completely addicted to the stuff, and it is very hard to find and very expensive. I've also been reading lots on growing sprouts. Not only are sprouts incredibly good for you, there is a huge variety of things you can grow this way. You don't even need anything as fancy as the Aero garden to do it. Sunlight is not required until a sprout turns into a seedling and develops leaves, requiring photosynthesis. I have even located varieties of mache and water cress that are ideal for growing indoors, in trays, no dirt required. Visit the
Sprout People to learn more about the world of sprouts. They have information and reviews on all kinds of sprouting equipment, from a tiny mini sprout garden, to large trays and blanket type planting medium for soil-less gardening at home.

Bird Nest Socks

Meanwhile, I'm still knitting. The Nest socks are finished. And the pair made with Kaffee Fassett sock yarn. I'm calling these the Nim's Island socks. They are all about warm south pacific waters and islands filled with coconut palms. I highly recommend the children's book by Wendy Orr and the new film too. Very cute. I'd love to live like Nim, but I would like more than a hut with a dirt floor.

The Nim's Island Socks, Kaffee Fassett by Regia, #4261 Caribbean, size 1 dpn

Lavender Blue Dilly Dilly Socks, Regia Cotton, #4177, size 1 DPN.

The latest socks off the needles are a pair of lavender and blue stripes. This is my first try using a cotton blend instead of wool. It is deliciously soft and I can already tell my toes are going to be very happy inside these Lavender Blue Dilly Dilly socks. I've just purchaced two more sock pattern books, so my mind has now been completely and utterly eaten up by this addictive disease. I have managed to only buy one skein of new sock yarn though, so the stash has decreased considerably, so that's got to be a good thing. I can do a pair in a week now, so this should keep the balance tipped to the liquidation side.

I have managed to put the needles down long enough to do some sewing--pictures to follow shortly. I'm also stocking up on books for summer reading. Soon enough the days will be hot, the courtyard will be filled with flowers and there will be time to be lazy and enjoy the sun. For now I must be content with my hydroponic herbs and the promise of things to come.



Anonymous said...

You like the product, but how about the stock? A very nice article was just published today on seeking alpha titled "AeroGrow International: A Bargain at Under $5" I don't think the case could have been made any better for this little gem right now. At 2.50, this is a steal.

Nancy said...

LOVE all the socks!!! I'm so jealous. I MUST get on the sock wagon. Those Kaffe Nim ones are fantastic. I know I seem like a nutjob fan, but he does have a way with color!

Your herb garden looks so cute! Enjoy your salads.

I like the bird with the the house photo too, but I am sorry about the late snow. Maybe you shouldn't go look at my latest post until you have a few days of sunshine (I you were here I'd be ducking a swat right now).