Friday, July 16, 2010


As I have been quite busy lately, with trying to figure out how to homeschool the 5 younger kids, preparing our home to put up for sale, continuing to gather items for Liahona's conversion, and figuring out how to help my awesome hubby start up his own business from home while he is working 3 jobs....this poor blog has developed quite a few weeds. So sorry, to my few faithful followers...I love you all and want you to know that I am truly sorry for being a flake. :(

I came to the conclusion this past week that I need to combine my efforts somehow...but how? Our family's blog, Sun Dragon Adventures, is all about our family's adventures and the conversion of our '92 Blue Bird school bus into an RV...not exactly related to my desire to help others to find success in their gardens, eat healthy seasonal foods, support local farmers and businesses....or is it?

Honestly, I know that I can't keep up with 2 blogs right now. I would like to continue on with The Purple Sprout once we are on the road with Liahona...maybe blogging about all of the food and beautiful local farms we visit while on our adventure (is that an oxymoron...visiting locals all over the US and Central America?) or maybe discussing our family's shift from fast food and the lifestyle that we have come to known out of a "necessity" to keep up with the Jones' to the slow food, letting-go lifestyle I am preparing for.

Do you think that it would be worth checking in for now and then? Let me know with your comments...yay or nay...tell me what you think I could do with The Purple Sprout or if you can think of a great way to combine the two blogs....I would LOVE some feedback. Did I say LOVE? I meant LOVE. :)

Happy to be alive...and well...and full of love,

~.~the purple sprout

Friday, June 11, 2010

Precious Peas

Patience is finally paying off with these precious peas. I am so happy to have planted them when I did....before my life became pure chaos. I just got through snacking on some of these and I have to say that I am very pleased with the beginning of my if I can just find the time and the decent weather (simultaneously) to get the rest of my garden properly planted.

Right now I have my resilient tomatoes in pots in one bed...

Quite a few rogue sunflowers in another....

And my precious peas in their beds...rising up to say "Hello, we are ready to reward you for your patience."

Happy to oblige...

~.~ the purple sprout

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First Loves and Separating

Do you remember your first love? When I go back to when I was a little girl, I remember being in love with my best friend's older brother. He was a family friend and we spent a lot of time together. I was heartbroken when he declined my marriage proposal. At 3 years of age, I remember bawling over his heartless response. But, by 4, I had just about forgotten who he was. There were many other loves, as I was always a bit of a lovey-dovey. When I was 14, I fell in love for the first "real" time. I remember believing that my "first kiss" would be the man that I would someday marry and grow old with. Ha! To be young again, right?

These first loves are quite similar to a plant's first leaves. Each sprout emerges from the soil with its first set of leaves. After a while, the plant's "true" leaves emerge and the first leaves shrivel up and fall off. Their purpose has been fulfilled and they go the way of all living things, back to the earth. I could probably get into the scientific end of why the first leaves do what they do, but I will leave that to another blogger (no need to muddle my mind or yours with too much information).

So, when my hubby examined my tomato plants a couple of months ago and announced that they "weren't looking too good", I laughed at his apparent ignorance and told him that those were the first leaves and that they were supposed to be shriveling up. As I was watering them later that evening, I realized that they really didn't look that hot. Because of the fact that they had received barely any sunshine over the period of their window life, they were not as green as I remember my store bought tomatoes being. Also, they were not filling out as well. But that was another problem completely...

You see, when I planted my seeds into their little trays, I naturally planted 2 seeds in each container. This was to ensure that at least one seed would germinate and take root, just in case not all of my seeds were viable. As it turned out, nearly all of my seeds did well this year and I had several containers with 2-3 tomato plants in them. I had read that I needed to cut one of them near the dirt, as soon as they got their first leaves. Otherwise both plants would die because of the competition for nutrients, water, and light. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Every time I would get close to the plants, scissors in hand, ready to take action...I would remember the fictional book, The Giver. In The Giver, the father, who works in a clinic, has to decide which babies deserve to live and which ones will be "set free". In this fictional society, they base this decision upon the baby's weight and how healthy they appear. There is a scene where a set of healthy twin boys are born, one weighing only a few ounces less than the other (don't quote me on the specifics, it could have been only 1 oz.). The father euthanizes the "smaller" newborn. If you have read the book, you totally get my anxt. Every time I would look at my crowding tomatoes, all I could think about was that scene....I clearly was not cut out for making this sort of decision....I know, I am such a wimp., and a crazy one, at that. You can say it, I am sure you are thinking it.

Anyways, a couple more weeks went by. The first leaves were nearly all shriveled and beginning to fall off, the plants weren't doing very well, and I was really torn on what to do. The situation grew more problematic everyday that my tomatoes grew. How could I end the life of one of them now and which one would it be? I called my local nursery and asked an expert on the possibility of separating my tomatoes and having them succeed. She told me that I could do this, but that I needed to wait until they each had at least 4 leaves on them to perform the delicate procedure.

I waited for several weeks to take on the separating procedure, mostly due to my back feeling like someone was sticking pins in my lower spine (from being rear ended in March) and Mother Nature's fickleness. On Wednesday, April 14th, it was sunny. Yay! And so I took my yellow-green tomato plants outside to soak up the sun for a few days, to help prepare them for their surgery.

On Friday, on the 16th, I very carefully transplanted all of my tomatoes...
and there were a lot of them.

I labeled them all.

They were over 6" tall when I began.

Very carefully, I tipped the plant out of its pot...

...letting it fall into my hand without bending either of those delicate tomato plants...

I gently dug my fingers in, between the twins...

being sure not to harm too many of the roots that had been growing together for the past few months.

Slowly, I pulled them apart.

Until they were completely separated.

I put them in their own pots, as deep as I could put them, covering up quite a bit of their stems. I added a little dirt and fertilizer, labeled them...

Then, like an idiot...thinking that it was only a few weeks away from the last frost...and I could get away with putting them long as they were protected with a tarp...I did the unthinkable....I left my temperamental babies outside. Big mistake.

These photos were taken on April 18th, when around 100 of my plants were still alive (nearly all of them survived the transplant).

They did okay at first, until it snowed...and those that survived the cold were over-watered...add in that they were all but completely ignored by yours truly...most of them died. Yes, after being so concerned about purposefully killing one of each of those twins, I went ahead and wiped out nearly 2/3 of my babies in less than a week. There were 38 tomato plants still alive when I checked today. The interesting thing that I have learned from this experiment gone awry is that certain types of tomatoes thrived, despite my abuse, and others died. If nothing else, I have now deducted which ones will do better if I do demonstrate a complete lack of judgement again, right? Just trying to find that silver lining.

Do you like the dome?

I may not have enough to sell for our charity, but I have enough to grow for myself, both my parents, and a few friends.

I have been really busy for the past few weeks working on a new path for our family, and so I have had to put some things on the back burner....including this blog. For that I am sorry. And the fact that not all of the tomatoes survived my strange shock therapy, I am sad about that, as well. But I am not going to dwell on my failure, my ignorant mistakes, or the fact that I am not perfect. Instead, I am going to focus on what is important and promise not to bite off more than I can chew. I am also going to be more consistent on here. I know that there are only a few of my dearest friends who are reading this and for that I am thankful. Thanks for taking an interest in this crazy lady's strange and sometimes ridiculous thoughts. I know that I am annoying, random, and completely insane most of the time. But I do have something to offer to the world, even if it is just a brief glimpse into the mind of a gardening fool...and you just read my entire post, so what does that say about you? :P

~.~ the purple sprout

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Patience for Peas

Remember the peas that I planted clear back in February? Patiently, I have waited for them to germinate and pop out of the ground. After nearly a month and a half of wondering what I had done wrong, of wishing the soil would warm up so that they would come out, of repeatedly checking to make sure my peas weren't rotting away in their beds, I was just about to give up and start over again. Today I checked and......THEY FINALLY STARTED POPPING UP THROUGH THE SOIL!!

So, what have I learned from this experience? That I really need to learn to trust more and to have more patience. Wait, I already knew that. No, what I REALLY learned was that, when some avid gardener, who has far more expertise than I will ever have, says that "you can plant peas as soon as the soil is pliable," what they really mean is that it needs to be WARM enough outside to make regular earth soil pliable. Because it isn't the soil's pliability, as much as it is the temperature of the soil surrounding the seed, that helps it to grow (and to pop out of the soil when it feels warm and safe enough). I know, this realization is probably nothing new for most of you, but I am still learning and I am just happy to see that all of the work I put forth (about 6 weeks ago) is finally starting to pay off. I feel pretty dang good right now. In fact, I feel rejuvenated just by the sight of all of those little guys poking up through my soil out there....

~.~ the purple sprout

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Baskets & Pots

I have always loved baskets and pots....always. I like the way that greenery in baskets looks, but I haven't done a whole lot with houseplants for a number of years. This year, I found myself bringing several new plants home one afternoon (some people bring home stray dogs and cats, for me it's picture frames, unique pots, and plants). One of the reasons I hadn't owned any houseplants in so many years was the fact that it is SUCH a pain to take them over to the sink and soak them, and then wait for them to drain, and move on to the next plant, and the next, and the get the picture. So, this year, when I got the buying-houseplants bug, I decided that I would experiment and see how well these guys would do in baskets and non- draining pots. Keep your fingers crossed.

Supplies, supplies, supplies!

I purchased some organic potting soil, pea gravel (for drainage in the bottoms of pots-didn't have any shards this time), and some 4 ml. plastic sheeting.

Then I decided which plants would go where.

I began with my baskets. With this one, it was wide enough that I could plant an arrangement of five plants.

I pulled the plastic sheeting (painter's drop cloth) through the basket and pushed it down snugly into the basket.

Making sure I had about a foot of clearance on each side, I cut the plastic sheeting.

Then I stretched it out and molded it inside of the basket, so that it was even around the edges and ready for planting.

I filled the basket up about halfway with potting soil.

I positioned my plants where I felt they would look best and made sure that the soil was at the right level for my plants to be just even with the top of the basket base.

I removed the plants from their pots.

I filled in around the plants with more potting soil.

I trimmed the plastic sheeting up to about 2 inches over the edge of the basket base.

Easy enough, right?

I watered the soil and made sure that it was pretty moist, but not too wet because I knew that there was no way for it to drain out, and plants hate having soggy roots.

For this basket, in particular, I chose to use Spanish moss to cover the soil around my plants. I tucked the moss in between the plastic sheeting and the basket and pulled it up over the soil, tucked neatly around my little plants.

I continued tucking in my new little houseplants.

Ta Da! I had now completed my very first basket full of houseplants! By the end of the year, they should be big enough that you won't even be able to see the Spanish moss anymore...if they survive. Are your fingers still crossed?

I love red...and this pot was perfect for my miniature roses.

I began by filling the bottom of the pot with my pea gravel, to ensure the proper drainage so that my plant's roots will hopefully not get waterlogged.

I covered the pea gravel with potting soil and made sure that the top of the rose's root ball would be even with the top of the pot.

I took it out of it's pot and filled in around the plant with soil. Super easy stuff....I know.

I took my washed gravel and filled in around the base of the roses so that it would look purdy.

I thoroughly soaked the plant, drained off the excess water, and put it in a sunny location (on my awesome shelves).

I now have a bunch of houseplants....which will need to be babysat while I am away on vacations
to exotic locations during the months that I used to have nothing to worry about...
and I love them all.
~.~ the purple sprout