Archive for February, 2014


In contrast to last weekend’s cold, wintry weather,  this weekend was balmy and spring-like.  I took advantage of the sunny conditions and let my seedlings sit outside for the day.  They loved the sun!

Everything seems to be growing nicely.   The peppers, pictured above, are getting big enough to transplant to larger containers.


Last weekend, I moved the first flat of tomatoes to larger pots and gave them a dose of fish emulsion.  It looks like the seedlings have already doubled in size.  The second flat of tomatoes, started last weekend, are already sprouting.

I also started a flat of squash last week, and the zucchini, below, is beginning to appear.


My snow peas and sugar snaps had grown so big, I just had to transplant them.  They are now living in pots, pictured below.


Next weekend, I’ll start some green beans and eggplant.  And if I’m really brave, I’ll start the purple hull peas.

Until then, I’m hoping the rain lets up some so I can get in the garden beds to weed and dig in the cover crop so I’ll have somewhere to plant all these lovely seedlings!



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Meghan’s First Snow


Meghan experienced her first “real” snow earlier this week.

Snow started falling rather quickly at my house on Wednesday afternoon.  After about an inch was on the ground, I figured we could run around and play before it got too deep.   But, when I opened the door and Meghan saw this strange white stuff coating the deck and ground, she balked.   No way she was going outside…

Eventually, I decided to just start walking away. That did it!  Determined not to be left alone, Meghan stepped outside and began exploring.

Finding her rawhide bone outside made everything better!


The next morning, however, was not so fun.  Hours of sleet and rain left an icy coating on top of the snow, making it very hard for Meghan (and me) to walk.  Eventually she figured out that by walking in my footsteps, she could keep her balance.


Since it was impossible for her to run around outside, I had to come up with indoor activities to use up her physical and mental energy.   I threw her squeaky toys down the hall for her to retrieve and we worked on some new commands.  Luckily, I had planned ahead and bought a few hula hoops and began teaching her to jump through them.   And we played a lot of her favorite game: “find me.”   I make her sit and stay on her mat, then go hide behind some doors, in the tub, or behind chairs.    As the week went on, I tried progressively harder hiding spots, but my house is small and I eventually ran out of options.

Luckily for her (and me), the sun came out yesterday and melted a lot of the snow.   Meghan was able to sit outside while I did some work transplanting seeds.


Soon we’ll be dealing with lots of mud!  Red clay paw prints everywhere…


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I don’t shop at Whole Foods that often, mainly because I find getting into and out of my local store such a pain.  I hate their parking lot!  Turns out I’m not alone —  apparently other people have the same problem.

But Whole Foods does carry some items that my local co-op doesn’t, and it has, hands down, the absolute best salad bar.  So when a friend wanted to meet for lunch last week, we braved the parking lot to eat  at Whole Foods.  It was right after I paid for my ginormous salad that I noticed a sign with the following words:  “Collards are the New Kale.”


Yep — according to this Whole Foods blog.

I’ve personally been a fan of collard greens for awhile now — I did have a Southern mama, after all.  And thanks to my gardening hobby, I’ve  spent decades  growing and eating all kinds of greens, including turnips, kale, mustard, and arugula.  I even have a Japanese green whose name I’ve long forgotten that kindly reseeds itself each year.  Gotta love free food!   This particular green tastes a little like spicy spinach.

When cooking my greens, I usually just throw them in the steamer for a few minutes, then eat them plain or with a little vinegar.  I will add them to soups, stews, salads and smoothies.  And of course I’ve made kale chips.

Chips must have been on my mind when I saw that sign promoting collards, because I immediately wondered if I could make collard chips.

Yes.  Yes, I can.

Thanks to Whole Foods and inspiredRD.com, I have discovered a tasty treat!


Okay, so my collard chips aren’t the prettiest looking things.  But they do satisfy my chip urge.

Now I’m wondering if mustard greens would make good chips?  Hmm….


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A pepper seedling!

So now I know the trick:  when seedlings aren’t germinating, just write a blog post and that will generate the extra energy necessary to get the seeds going.

This seedling is most likely a chocolate bell.  Here’s hoping at least one of the other varieties also sprouts.


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About two weeks ago, I put my new seed starting station to work and planted some tomato and pepper seeds, along with some spinach and lettuce.  This week, I started some snow peas and sugar snap peas.

I always start tomato seeds early, with the hopes of getting them good and tall before transplant time.  I’ve never gotten them more than a couple of inches tall before planting outside, but I keep hoping with a bit of tweaking (and a lot more fish emulsion), I’ll have them as tall as the nursery transplants.

When deciding which varieties of seeds to plant first, I use a very scientific method:  my intuition.  I just sort of ask the Universe which ones to start, and then I plant what seems to come up in my mind.  In addition, I also use some actual science, in that I know certain seeds have to be planted at certain times in order to grow well in this area.  I also rotate where I plant things.

In the flat of tomatoes, I planted the following varieties: German Johnson, Granadero and Black Krim.   About a week later, I saw my first seedling popping through the soil.  Now, most of the seeds have germinated and the baby plants are reaching toward the grow light.


Unfortunately, the flat of pepper seeds looks quite different.

006Not hide nor hair of a seedling!  Like a child at Christmas checking presents under the tree, I kept going back to this flat, picking it up and investigating each little soil cell.   Finally, I decided that the first batch of seeds (which consisted of Sweet Chocolate and Golden Cal), wasn’t going to germinate.

So, thanking my lucky stars I had lots more seeds from which to choose, I tried again and used a bit different tactic.  I usually barely cover the pepper seeds with seed-starting soil. But the directions on the back of the seed packets said I could lay them on top of the soil.  So I decided to experiment and lightly covered some while laying others on top of the soil.

I know peppers like warm soil, so the thought crossed my mind that perhaps the soil wasn’t warm enough.  But that grow light keeps the soil warm to touch, and it even dries the soil out quickly, so I’ll wait a bit longer before pulling out one of my heat mats.  I don’t currently have the time to water the seedlings all during the day, so I can’t have them drying out too quickly.

Hopefully this batch will grow.  I planted the last of the Sweet Chocolates, some more Golden Cal, and a few rows each of Sweet Red Stuffing, Melrose, and Jimmy Nardello.   I haven’t grown any of these particular kinds of peppers before, and I’m looking forward to trying them.

I’m happy I bought a lot of seeds just because sometimes I don’t get good results.  I’d rather end up having too many plants to deal with than not enough.  Yes, I could go buy some transplants at the store — and I’ve had to do that with basil, of all things!  But buying vegetable plants feels a bit like cheating to me.  Plus stores don’t carry as wide of a variety.

At any rate, the spinach and lettuce are growing nicely.


It’s about time to transplant some of those little buggers so they can grow bigger.  Good thing I have lots of pots that I can use indoors, since it’s so cold and wet outside.    I’m excited to see how the spinach does, since I don’t have luck with outdoor spinach.  I’d love to be able to grow it indoors continuously in the winter.

And lastly,  the snow peas and sugar snaps are beginning to sprout.  I may have jumped the gun on these guys since, as already noted, it is so cold and so very, very wet.  I figure the cold will end soon, but it’s the wet I worry about, especially since my soil is still 90 percent clay.   Worst case, I can bring in lots more soil and compost and build up the winter/spring garden areas, rather than digging too far down into the clay.

Next up, I’ll probably plant some squash and beans.   Oh … and there’s eggplant this year.  I haven’t had luck with that in the past, but maybe this year will be different!

What’s growing in your garden?




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