Tiny Green House, Tiny Farm

Baby it’s cold outside! If I want to get dirty then I have to do it in the green house.

Greenhouse February 23
It is my sanctuary on snow days. It is where I can work in shirtsleeves when shovels full of soil are still dripping wet on sunny days. This is where I go until I can get outside and play… errr, I mean, work.

Greenhouse February 26, 2018 Last week (February 18-24, 2018) I started all kinds of cold weather seeds in the green house. You can read about them here, Sunday Snow.

This week (February 25 — March 2) I planned to just watch seedlings grow and start planting next week. But there has been so much joy in daily planting that I think this week will be all about starting early spring salads to plant out in mid March. Just for fun, here is my preliminary list.

Greens for Spring Salads

  1. Mesclun “Uprising Spicy Mix”
  2. Red Spinach “Beaujolais” (home saved seed)
  3. “Australian Yellowleaf” Lettuce
  4. “Flashy Trout’s Back” Lettuce
  5. “Grandpa Admire’s” Lettuce
  6. “Winter Bloomsdale” Spinach

June 10, 2015 (4) Lettuce One day in June: you will be out in the garden, wondering if you can find enough lettuce to make a salad for a ladies luncheon and end up bringing bags of the best salad the girls have ever tasted to give away after the luncheon. Until then there are snips and snippets and micro-greens and some of the best, freshest tastes of spring that you will ever have! You cannot get it at the grocery or even the farmers market. Like the best corn on the cob, the best salad is picked minutes before serving…. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Mark 13 February 26, 2018 Let me know what sort of salad you will grow this spring (You do not need a green house). You can start salad in your window and grow it in a window box. Give it a try.

Debs in Everett, Washington… where we are seven minutes shy of having a full eleven hours from sunrise to sunset. Maybe I can wear just one shirt and a sweater this week. 

Did you read Mark 13 today? Amazing!


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Day 13; Fava Beans

The last of the Celebrating 10 Hours of Day Light…. Maybe we should uncork a nice Chianti! 

Fava Beans
It doesn’t matter if they are golden-brown or black when they sink into the soil, they all harvest green for fresh eating. I’ve heard of fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans) but it wasn’t until we moved to Everett that I tried them. I was actually looking for different sources of vegetarian protein that moved me to even consider the beans made famous by Silence of the Lambs. It turns out that an Italian TV Chef named Lydia that got me excited about Favas. Success!

Fava 1 February 23 Spoiler alert… this is the first time I’ve planted Fava beans by starting them in the greenhouse. Usually we celebrate Halloween by planting garlic and Fava beans for the next season. My Halloween Favas are doing great, but I have fava beans from a local farm that I want to get into the ground. There were only 15 break-away cells left, so there are only 15 seeds planted. They will most likely be planted by the front fence near the wild rose vine. Sadly the dear love to browse our front garden. They will be at risk, but any beans that come to harvest will not be crossed with the broad Windsor growing in the back 40.

Fava 2 February 23 All of my really kewl greenhouse tools were discovered on Sean’s Allotment. He used them to start Fava beans one season. That year we still had a good income, and soon they found their way from England to Everett. They are probably more fun then practical.

In the background of this picture are the “No More Radiation Sweet peas” which are happy for now. I’m hoping the same for these Frog Island Fava beans. I’ll let you know how it went when they are ready.

Fava Journel February 23 How to spring plant Fava Beans

  1. Watch for Crocus’ to bloom. That is when you should plant Fava Beans.
  2. If the ground is frozen or muddy, plant them in tall break-away pots or toilet paper cores.
  3. Plant seam side down.
  4. Plant two times as deep as the width of the seed.

You can eat favas at any stage, green skinny beans or full size beans. Mark 12 February 23

That’s it! Don’t be afraid. I’ll add a garden to table video I made the first year I grew favas. Hope you try them.

Debs in Everett, Washington were it is a another dull, gray, western Washington day.

Warming things up on the weekdays with #NTin2018 on Instagram. I am on my last week of the Gospel of Mark, see ya there!


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Day 12; Peas

Sunshine and 35 degrees outside, 85 degrees in the greenhouse!

June 20, 2014 (14) Peas
Peas in the greenhouse! If not for the snow and hungry squirrels, they could be planted outside. I’ve always planted my peas outside on Lincoln’s birthday. I’ve pressed those first seeds into frozen soil and into soft soil on sunny days. This year (2018) there was snow on the ground on pea planting day. Thankful for my greenhouse!

Peas February 22, 2018 I have three pea seed varieties that I started for potted peas this year. Dakota which I’ve been saving seed for. I’ve tried Dakota in the garden and was not happy with it. But it shines when planted in a large pot. Green Arrow was also a stinker in the garden. Before I toss the seed to my chickens I decided to give Green Arrow a try in a large pot. I have friends who do not have gardens but love fresh, raw peas so I plan to bring a pot of peas to each of them. Cascadia Snap Pea is great in the garden, but I still grow a pot of them on the back deck to munch on when we have BBQ. They are lovely!

Peas 2 February 23, 2018 Peas can handle cold nights but with temperatures dropping into the 20’s at night, I’ve been bringing all my starts in to my kitchen at night. I’m starting to get quite a collection of starts. It is part of the joy of spring for us at the Toy Box Urban Farm.  It will be nice when the nights start staying above freezing when candle lanterns are all I need to keep my seedlings cozy all night. Until then I’ll keep transporting trays of seedlings into the house at night.

Mark 11 February 22, 2018 More snow predicted for Everett, Washington. 36/33 degrees F. The candle lanterns will be burning all day in the greenhouse. Soup and bread sound good on a snowy day.

While watching the snow fall it would be lovely if you joined me on Instagram or Facebook for #NTin2018. Mark chapter 12 is on for today, February 23 (Happy Birthday to my Nephew Ted!) Hope to see you on the On-line fellowship later today!

Also scheduled for today, planting fava beans. If you have never tried fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans) can I just say, there is so much more to fava beans then Chianti and liver.

I have posted a video from a February when rain was the weather of the month instead of snow and freezing nights. The job of planting peas in soil blocks stays the same. Pop some corn if you have it (the video is only 10 minutes long) and get ready to get dirty!

Debs… fighting a nasty sinus infection but still getting outside

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Day 11: Brussels Sprouts

Seeds are starting to sprout!! Onions and Broccoli are showing.

November 11, 2014 (2) Brussels Sprouts
I love Thanksgiving! You would think it would be the people or the pre-Christmas sales that puts Thanksgiving on my list of favorite holidays, but no. What I adore is being able to go out to the garden for the last of the salad greens, pulling a jar of home-grown green beans, apple pie filling and jams from the pantry shelf, finding home grown squash, pumpkins and potatoes from the chill of the garage, knowing that my herbs were grown here on the Toy Box in summers heat. But best of all, frost kissed Brussels sprouts. Mmmm, so much better then the sprouts from California!

Brussels 2 February 21, 2018 To have home grown Brussels sprouts in November, you have to start planning in spring. It is still winter (February 21st), and there is snow on the ground, but I started a small tray anyway.

Three soil blocks of green sprouts and three of purple. 98.8% of my seeds are heirloom or open pollinated. I always have it in the back of my mind that a day may come when it is difficult to order seed because of the country falling apart or because of the dollar crashing. Neither of those disasters has happened, and I hope they never do, but I consider this to be insurance for something I hope doesn’t happen.

Brussels 1 February 21, 2018 Here’s the skinny on Planting Brussels sprouts.

  1. Make soil blocks for a starting tray, or fill 2-inch pots with moist starting soil.
  2. Deposit 1 to 2 seeds (depending on the age of the seed) one-fourth inch deep. cover seed with vermiculite or soil.
  3. Cover the tray or flat with a clear cover.
  4. Wait 5 to 17 days for the sprouts to emerge.
  5. Up pot when your baby Brussels sprouts have 2 to 4 true leaves. Plant out when the sprouts are about 4 inches tall.

Onions February 21, 2018 That’s it! Seeds do what seeds were created to do. Be fruitful and multiply.

After 11 days my onions (link to blog post here) are showing (11 days without electric heat or light), so are my broccoli (link to broccoli blog post here) (5 days). I like planting seeds, but it is watching the plants grow that is really fun for me.

It isn’t too late for you to start onions or broccoli (I’m really early, but I married a man who knows what I want for my birthdays… he bought me a small green house, love it… and him). If not for the green house and all the kewl tools he buys for me, I would be waiting for much warmer weather in a couple of months to scratch my gardening itch.

Sunrise February 21, 2018

Sunrise and Irises

How cold is it in Everett, Washington today? It was 26 degrees F when I woke up at 4AM, and got all the way up to 31 degrees F this afternoon. But it was 65 degrees F in my green house when I went out to plant my Brussels sprouts. Even though it was overcast today, the green house still heated up. We are being threatened with more snow this afternoon, but have been promised blue sky tomorrow. Blue sky is rich with radiant heat. That often pushes the green house temperature up into the 90’s which is perfect for sprouting seeds.

Mark 10 February 21, 2018 Are you doing #NTin2018 with me on Instagram? Today was Mark chapter 10, a chapter chock-full of cases of Y’shua-Jesus seeing people in a different light then those of us in the church see them. I think you may enjoy it.

Debs… trying to keep the tips of my toes warm in this cold city. Burrr!



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Day 10: Kale

Loving the longer days of February!

April12 Kale
Kale: I do not remember ever having or growing kale as a child or young bride. Somehow kale has become a must have vegetable in my garden. We love it in early spring when the overwintered kale puts out the sweetest, nuttiest broccoli like sprouts to ever grace a salad or bento. It is one of about 3 vegetables that keep my chickens happy year-round, and when I am in the mood for a green smoothie, home grown is the best!

Kale 2 February 20, 2018 Kale is so simple to direct seed into the spring garden, it almost seems silly to start her in the greenhouse. But I get a little bit silly in February before the real garden work begins.

Easy to transplant, I do not bother with soil blocks to start kale. Just drop seed into starting mix (or even just a scoop of good, moist, garden soil in a pot), scatter in seeds, cover a quarter inch deep and wait 5 to 17 days for sprouts. When the babies get their first set of true leaves they can be up-potted to their own 2 to 4 inch pots. Harden them off and plant your kale outside when they have 4 to 6 true leaves.

Kale 1 February 20, 2018 Here is the bottom line for starting spring Kale in the greenhouse.

  1. Fill a small container with moist starting mix or garden soil.
  2. Add Kale seed, about one-fourth inch apart, and one-fourth inch deep. Cover the seeds with vermiculite or soil.
  3. Label the container, mark your calendar or journal with dates to check for seedlings. You should see sprouts in 5 to 17 days.

Mark 9 February 18, 2018 The #NTin2018 (New Testament in 2018) reading today was Mark chapter 9. If you follow me on Instagram, I did a word study on “cloud” from Mark 9:7. I hope you are as jazzed as I was to discover the history of the glory cloud!

If yesterday in Everett, Washington had not been so blue-sky-beautiful, then I would think that today was nice. But it is overcast. I am still lighting candle lanterns in the greenhouse to keep it warm enough for sprouting seedlings, which seems pathetic after all the free radiant heat from yesterday. Such is the life of a cheap (or is that frugal?) subsistence farmer.

Debs… bringing in the humming bird feeders every night, they don’t seem to like sugar water pop-cycles.

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Day 9: Planting Spring Cabbage

Celebrating Ten Hours of Day Time — 2018

Cabbage 3 February 19, 2018 We like the occasional bowl of coleslaw, we like wraps and fish tacos with cabbage; but honestly, we do not eat a lot of cabbage at the The Toy Box Urban Farm. However, when we do eat cabbage, it is because we grew it ourselves.

Cabbage 2 February 19, 2018This spring, I’m only starting 7 soil-blocks of cabbage. Three of red and four of green (or golden) “Acres” cabbage. These are small cabbage heads that do well in the spring.

Plant 2 seeds per cell. Check for sprouts in six to ten days. If both of your seeds in a soil block sprout, you will need to force yourself to clip or pinch one of them off. (I feel your pain).

Soil Blocks February 19, 2018 A few words about soil blocks. We have a recipe for making soil blocks (it came with the soil block tool). It is a healthy mixture of garden soil, sifted compost, peat moss, sand, bone meal (there is a vegan option), worm castings, rock phosphate, garden lime and I forget what else. We mix it up in fall, put it into a large tub with a lid, where it is ready to scoop into a wash tub, add water and make soil blocks. The tool makes neat rows of blocks that fit into a flat. If using a smaller container, like I am, they hold together well enough gently pick up and set into the container you choose.

Cabbage 1 February 19, 2018 In a nut shell (or maybe a soil block) Plant Cabbage:

  1. Make soil blocks, place in chosen container.
  2. Plant 2 seeds in each soil-block (thin to one)
  3. Cover with vermiculite.
  4. Label and cover container or pot.
  5. Expect germination in 6 to 10 days.

That’s it for now. Will you be planting spring cabbage from seed?


Mark 8 February 19, 2018Still freezing cold in the PNW. In my Toy Box green house it was 86 degrees inside. Outside it was 36 degrees. That is 50 degrees warmer from radiant heat. At night the candle lantern keeps the temperature at about the 40 degree mark while it is below freezing outside. The hard part is determining how long the candle will burn and replacing it on time.

Today (2/19/18) in Everett, Washington  37/22 and blue-sky sunny! Sunrise was at 7:09 AM. Ten hours and 29 minutes later it will set at 5:38. Get out and look at the moon tonight, it is breath taking!

Debs… still wearing wool socks and a bunch of sweaters (one of those is wool)


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Day 8; Fennel

Celebrating… because there is nothing better to do on a snowy February Day.

Fennel soil block 2 February 18, 2018
Fennel might be happier if you direct seed it when you plant peas. But the Almighty has said, …let them (man) have dominion over… all the earth… Genesis 1:26  so, in a spirit of dominion over the earth that I am a steward of, I am forcing some fennel in soil blocks, late in February.

Fennel soil block February 18, 2018 Starting fennel in the green house. Fennel will not be happy if you disturb her roots. Remember that when you choose a starting pot.  I use soil blocks. What ever you choose, it should be 1.5 to 2 inches deep.

  1. Plant 3 seeds per block, one-fourth inch deep. Cover seeds with vermiculite. (thin to one per block or pot)
  2. Fennel likes a minimum temperature of 60 degrees F to sprout (90 maximum)
  3. Keep them in the dark, they have better germination without light
  4. Seedlings will sprout in 7 to 14 days under ideal conditions.
  5. When the seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall they should be planted in the garden. This early in Everett, Washington, they will be put under a cold-frame. They can also be transferred to a large pot and allowed to grow in the greenhouse.

candle February 18, 2018 This little light of mine. I like my old candle lantern for keeping the chill out of the greenhouse. We were snowed on today (February 18, 2018) and have been warned that night temperatures will get down to 23 degrees F or even lower. These old candle lanterns will burn for 10 hours and put out significant heat. I really need to buy another clay pot to put over it, but this will do for now.

Iris February 18, 2018 Today in Everett The barometer took a dive. All those rain clouds parted and baby it’s cold outside! 40/21 (21!) with light winds from the Fraser Valley up north. No rain, just snow. Sunrise at 7:11 AM, 10 hours and 25 minutes later the sun sets at 5:37 PM.

Debs… who will be bringing trays of seedlings into the kitchen for the night.

Tomorrow, #NTin2018 is Mark chapter 8

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