Friday, May 26, 2017

Seed Starting Success!

Although I've been gardening since 1991 when we bought our first home, gardening in the state of Maine has been quite a challenge for me.  The environment:  short growing season, rocks & boulders, trees & stumps, no soil, cooler temperatures.  I have had more disappointing seasons than successful ones.  Some of the disappointments have been the result of my trying to garden here like I did in New Jersey (the garden state), my lack of consistent enough watering in raised beds, and my lack of commitment to building soil myself.  This year I decided that I was going to try harder and I was going to give it my all to have a successful season.  However I know that some things can and will be out of my hands (weather)

One of my goals for this year was to start seeds indoors so that I could spend less and get more.  That being said, starting seeds and growing seedlings that have a fighting chance of making it does require some initial and ongoing investment.

First up was deciding what kind of set up I wanted to have.  My seed starting nursery had to be in my dining room, and I have a cat.  Those two facts were considered in my design decision.  I know a lot of people buy shelving units for this purpose but it just didn't seem to fit with what I had in mind.
So I asked my husband to build an open sided box with a perforated plywood top that could sit on top of a spare table we already have.  The size was determined by what and how much I planned to start from seed.

This is  a picture of my husband (the builder) and his assistant (angel kitty) with the finished basic structure

The materials that he used were: 1/4 sheet plywood, 1 (8ft) 2x3 for the legs, 4 (8ft) 1x3, and screws

He drilled holes all over the plywood top for air flow and the bottom board is up a little from the bottom so air can flow under.  We purchased clear plastic shower liners and cut them and attached them with velcro circles to the sides.  The reason for this was two -fold:  the kitty and it is still cold here in Maine in March/April.  The liner was easily raised for watering and for additional ventilation.
We hung two 48 inch fluorescent shop lights and we were ready to go!

After a trip to Walmart for organic seed starting mix and those trays with the cell packs, plus a couple of packages of jiffy pots and I was ready to start planting.  My seeds I purchased from Pinetree Garden Seeds here in Maine.

I had learned from watching a ton of youtube channels that you should dump the potting mix in a tote and wet it until it held together, then spread it into your cell packs and pack it down.  Once that was done I got down to the tedious business of planting the seeds.

I used a pencil to make the planting hole and pop sticks to mark them.  I also wrote down lots of info in  my gardening journal.  I planted 24 cells of Roma Tomatoes and I ended up with 22 seedlings!!!

Just in case you are curious this is a list of what I planted:

brocolli, collards, kale, roma tomato, lettuce, arugula, chard, basil, calendula, marigold, zinnia, statice, feverfew, squash, pumpkin, sunflower, zucchini, & cucumber

Everything germinated except for one type of lettuce ( I tried twice so I'm going to e-mail the company).  Everything grew and everything is now outside!!!!  so exciting!!!

I kept the clear dome lids on until they germinated and then lowered the lights and turned them on.  I actually put the lights on a timer to go on at 6 a.m. and off at 10 p.m.  The plants thrived!

The cool weather things (greens)  were able to go outside in 4 weeks, so that is when I repotted the tomatoes and the basil.

I transplanted all of the greens to a bed with a cover for a few weeks.  I planted them close together and now I am in the process of transplanting them around the garden.

I really feel that my first experience with seed starting was a success.  I will be able to use the set up we came up with for years.  I even have plans to build up onto it and plant more next year!

Here are a few basic things I did (that I learned from others on the internet) that I believe made my endeavor a success:

1.  prewater the potting mix--it holds the water better
2.  I didn't have heat pads (expensive!)  so for the first week I ran my space heater nearby.  I think it worked because all of the seeds germinated in under 5 days.
3.  once the seeds germinate take the plastic dome off.
4.  water seeds with a water bottle on mist and keep moist
5.  once sprouted water from the bottom--add water to the tray
6.  some algae growth on the soil is normal--increase ventilation and keep the surface of the soil "scratched"  I used a plastic fork, so that it doesn't repel water.

**It was easy for me to keep a constant eye on my plants because they were right in my dining room.  I recommend that you put your set up where you can pay attention to the seedlings and catch any issues immediately.

**I think my expenses to start these seeds was about $250 including the seeds (I have leftovers to plant directly outside also).  Obviously the seeds and the cell packs and potting soil are consumable so will be an expense each year.

**I hope some of this information is helpful to other newbies like me!

"bleep" or get off the pot!

Okay, okay, okay!
That title is a little harsh,
but it's how i'm thinking this morning!

This blog just keeps on going.................
I think about it every day.

Thirteen years now.
What direction do I want it to go in?

Do I want to put ads on and grow my followers and make a little money?

I'm not sure.  Sometimes I can be a bit opinionated!!!

Do I want to be honest?  informative?   inspirational?  helpful?   creative?  

All of the above?

...................I think I just found my answer.

It's time to get serious.

Or as the title of this blog insinuates..........


Not that blogging is a race.....I would love to get better about it.  I'm just so all over the place most of the time.  It's time to sit and think and write.

Let's get going!

Saturday, May 6, 2017


"In this wasteland, where I'm living, there's a crack in the door filled with light.
And it's all that I need to get by."    (Needtobreathe)

Look up this song on youtube.  it's good.

Those two lines above are so filled with hope.

This world is temporary.
Heaven is eternal.

And it's right there.
God is right here.
With us.

There is a reason for all of this.
And the older I get, the clearer it becomes.

"All of these people I meet seem like they're fine........."

Knowing what I know,
Knowing what is truth,
We are all on the same team.
We need to look past the masks.
The way I feel.
The fears I have.
I need to see it in others.
Then I can have compassion.
Then I can feel free to share what I know to be true.

God is for us....not against us.

Our hope shines through that crack in the door and it is our job to point that out.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Unlocking treasures

God's Word

It has the power to save.
The power to convict.
The power to guide.
The power to teach.
The power to comfort.

The power to make sense out of life.

No one can just pick up the Bible and totally understand it.  We believe, then we trust in God's word.
The understanding takes time.  It takes immersion in the word every day.

Salvation is individual. personal.

But unlocking the treasures of God's word and understanding the seemingly un-understandable takes time.
It takes fellowshipping
It takes being willing to learn, a willing heart.
It takes patience and trust.

I promise it will all make sense one day.
A bit here, a bit there.
Those questions that non-believers ask about some Old Testament stuff.
One day you will see more clearly and have an answer.

The basics of the nature of God.
What a holy God requires from His people.
How to walk in the light.
These are the things to learn first.

So many questions.
Sometimes it doesn't make sense.  It doesn't "fit" with the world.

At some point in the future you will step back and see a glimpse of the whole picture....
and you will still trust.

Until one day it all becomes crystal clear and we see Jesus face to face.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hold Us Together

What holds us together? does

A married couple?   love
a friendship?     love
a family?     love
a neighborhood?    love
a community?   love
a church?     love
a country?    love
THE WORLD?   love

get the picture?

The opposite of love is hate.
There is an area in between.
It's called indifference.
who cares?........
Am I right?


If you hate or if you are indifferent
then you can't hold anything together.

Love isn't the glue all slopped on everything making stuff stick.
Love is the center and we all spiral around it.
If you don't love then you are lost and you go flying off into to speak.

What is the love at the center?
What is this force that holds us together?

It's God.

Because we believe
Because we choose
We are irrisistably drawn to His love.
It flows through us and into the world.

This is what holds us together.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


These are a few of my favorite granola recipes!

Chocolate Granola

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
*mix these all together in a large bowl

2/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
*melt the oil and whisk in syrup and vanilla
*pour over the dry and mix well to coat
*line a large baking sheet with parchment
*spread mixture evenly over it
*oven at about 250  for 40 minutes, give a little stir halfway through
*leave it to cool on counter without mixing-it should harden as it cools
*you may sprinkle chocolate chips over the top when it comes out of the oven!

(this is very sweet and good for a dessert sprinkle over plain yogurt)

Maple Walnut Granola

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
*mix together in a large bowl

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla
*melt the oil and stir in the rest
*pour over the dry ingredients and mix well
*spread over parchment lined sheet pan
*oven at 300 for 25 minutes.  give a little stir halfway through
*will crisp when cool.

Peanut Butter Granola

5 cups old fashioned oats
*place in a large bowl

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
*melt and mix together
*pour over the oats and mix well
*spread on parchment lined sheet pan
*oven at 275 for 40 minutes stir halfway through
*crisps as it cools

****these recipes have been gathered from different places.  some have been adjusted to my liking or experience.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dear Little Sister

dear little sister,

you are gone.
there is no time left to fix what was broken.

even when you were still here
pride kept ears shut and hearts hardened.

i'm sorry.
i'm sorry i didn't try harder.

once i was strong enough, secure enough, confident enough....
it was too late.

it became a God thing.
i love God more than anything or anyone.....
including family.

this is the power that drove me away.
i was being called to something different.
something great.
something that is the opposite of the world.
something the world hates.

i thought i spoke the truth in love.
i made mistakes.
i always do and i always will.
but forgiveness was not to be.

forgiveness is impossible
in a pride filled world.

i wish our lives could have been different.

i wish that i could have been an influence for good in your life.

but i went a way that you didn't want to go.
i'm so sorry for that.

i prayed for you every single day.

it feels weird to not pray for you anymore.

it's been hard to write this in so many ways.
one way is me having to speak guardedly

because my words will be turned into weapons.

which is not my intention.

you were my little sister for so long.
we shared a history
that you chose to re-write.

a history that i set out to make a distant memory
to change the results of
to change the direction of
to move on from.

this is hard.....

because this letter is not for the dead.......

................................but for the living.

with love,

your sister,


 karen, liz, judy
karen, bob, judy 
 judy, karen
bill, judy, karen