Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Garden Update: Peas Gone Wild!

The aquaponics garden is finally doing great!  We seem to have the ants fairly well under control, and the fish are fertilizing the plants. We are on a regular schedule for adding chelated iron to the system, and we have the lights adjusted (mostly) to accommodate the various heights of the plants.  
This photo is standing in the NW corner of the room in front of the window.  We call this Bed 1.  It has broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onions, chard and zucchini planted in it.  This was the bed with the worst ant infestation.  We still see a few in there, but they are not building a super highway like they were. The weight on the board in the middle of the bed is to hold the media guard in place.  The growstones are VERY lightweight, and when the water fills the beds the stones float, causing the guard to lift from the bottom.  Several stones had migrated into the sump tank before we figured out a workable solution.  The weights were supposed to be a temporary fix while we came up with something a little prettier, but it appears they are permanent fixtures!

We planted more seeds (direct sow) of the same things in this bed on Sunday, and yesterday we already had some sprouts!

This is bed 3 containing lettuce, two tomato plants, three basil, marjoram, stevia, celery and more carrots. The minibell tomato plant has several blooms on it already. The other (gypsy) is pretty flimsy.  I am thinking we may need to put a fan on it to strengthen the stem.  Ornery put a stake in there for the basil and this tomato plant.  These photos were taken on Sunday, and already things are bigger and healthier looking.

These are my blue lake green beans on Sunday.  They are loaded with blooms and already several little beans are popping out!  How fun!!  In the foreground you can see the snow peas we planted first back in March.  We have trimmed them several times to get rid of the bleached out leaves which appear when the iron level drops too low.  They still don't have any blooms, but...

they have grown above the lights and are bumping the ceiling!  Crazy things!

These are garden peas, and there are some very cute little pea pods showing.  If you click on the photo you should be able to see some. :)

These next photos are of some of the outdoor beds.  We have lots of containers on the patio, including this cedar box filled with herbs.  Cilantro, Sage, Oregano, Thyme, Marjoram, Corsican and regular Basil.

In another of those cedar boxes which Ornery built legs for to keep the rabbits out of we planted all the strawberry plants I had in one pot last summer.  They didn't produce last year because of the aforementioned rabbits, but they are loaded with blooms and berries right now, so hopefully we have hit upon a solution!

This next one is a photo of part of the patio. We have hanging baskets and numerous pots, plus the two new raised flower beds along the edge.  It's mixed as to how well things are doing, some are great, some not so hot, but overall, I think once it warms up, we should have a pretty display of a wide variety of colors and textures.  I have mostly planted perennial plants, but there are some annuals mixed in because I just can't seem to pass them up!

This is our columbine from last year.  It did great all year last year, and is almost giddy this year producing even better than last.  It is very happy in this spot on the patio.

Against my better judgment, we piled straw all over the beds to help protect against weeds and keep the moisture in.  Unfortunately, the straw (wheat) has sprouted prodigiously (which happened last time and was the reason I didn't really want to use it for mulch) and has sort of hidden the various plants so I don't really know how they are doing.  It has also provided a haven for the blasted rabbits to hide in, and they have burrowed in two of my vegetable beds. :(  Not a happy gardener.  I have a renewed appreciation for Mr. McGregor of Peter Rabbit fame.  You can be assured we will be waging war on the little furry fiends. They aren't as destructive as some other critters, but it is hard enough to garden while battling the weather without added complications!

End of April, Still Buried!

The end of April is finally here.  National Letter Writing Month has consumed a LOT of my time, but then I knew it would.  I did find a few new pen pals in the group, and also added a few new ones from Instagram, so much of my time has been replying to letters--which is a wonderful thing!

I have done a little bit of art, some gardening, some housework, but no blogging.  My health is dramatically improved, my stamina and interest in life in general is up, and my desire to just sit at the computer or read has almost evaporated!

Here are a few photos of my projects.  I will do a second post in a bit with photos from the aquaponics garden, which is flourishing now that the fish are feeding it! :)

 First up are the two pages I did for a friend in her new traveling art journal.  I used modeling paste, glass bead gel, and a gelli-print.  The flowers are embossed stamped images, words are rubon letters, the mushrooms are freehand cutouts from some scrap papers, the insects are all K&Co embellishments.

The second page is all gelli prints with rubons and sticker.

This is a little heart I did for a friend on Instagram who has made a canvas with 144 squares on it and she asked for people to send hearts, one for each square.   So, I made this one for her.  It is a gelli print with some glass bead gel and silk flowers.  I named it "love letter" :)

This next piece is a new size for me--I have done one other piece in the 4X4" size.  This is for a Swap-bot swap in the Mixed Media group.  It was a challenge, and you were required to use at least three elements from a list of media.

Next, I worked on another journal.  Gelli-print backgrounds, glass bead gel through stencil, book page image (rabbit) stamped tissue paper, and punched images.  The flower was the last remaining one I had in my stash and it just really asked to be included. :)

I recently did a new set of gelli-prints, and this was one of the envelopes I created.  I was pretty pleased with the results of this session.  Each time I think I am getting a bit more creative and I like the results better.

This last piece is the first of two art journal pages I am sending to an IG friend in Scotland.  Just a bunch of scraps from my stash, and a little bit of imagination.  I am going to have a hard time sending this one off...which could be why I have been so slow about making the second page!  Hopefully I will get that done (along with a bunch of other projects) in the next day or two.

That's all for now.  Coming soon: Aquaponics update, garden update, and reorganization post for my studio. I still have a few letters to reply to, and I know other art journals are on their way, so it will be a busy spring!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A new Art Journal Project

I have been pretty busy this month so far.  I've sent out 46 pieces of mail, planted the garden in the back yard, cleaned up the patio to get ready for the summer months, and created this new art journal for another round-robin swap.
Front cover. Art from the 'hood

Letter to the participants 

Contents page where they sign and date the pages they did.

Inside the back cover, a give and take pocket filled with misc goodies.

I'll take some pictures of the garden this weekend, but it's not all that great looking at the moment, being all covered with straw as it is.