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Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

  
Last summer, a friend of mine brought me a baby pool for my dog that he found on Freecycle. 

Meghan loves to get in the baby pools at doggie daycamp, so I quickly pulled out the hose and began filling the pool.  

It didn’t take long to discover a large crack in the bottom of the pool.  Argh!!! The pool would not hold water.

What to do?  The pool was too large to fit in my car, so I couldn’t haul it to the dump.  My friend who brought it to me did not want to take it off my hands.  I was stuck…

…until I decided to try the pool as a planter.  Maybe it would work for carrots and beets, two things that don’t grow well in my mostly clay soil.

Fast forward a year, and I’ve finally gotten my act together to create my new planter.

 
I placed the pool on several layers of plastic, in an area of my back yard that gets afternoon shade.  According to the seed packets, this is necessary in a hot climate like mine.  

 
I then cut quite a few more holes for drainage.

  
I then mixed up some soil, sand, compost and manure. 

  
I pulled out the carrots, beets and parsley demi-long.  I think I ordered that last packet by mistake, as I have no idea what it is!

  
Carrots are on the left, parsley demi-long in the middle, and beets on the right.

We’ll see how my pool planter works.  Meanwhile, it’s time to pull out the new, leak-free baby pool so Meghan and I can cool off.

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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.

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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.

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

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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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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.”

Really?

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!

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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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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.

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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.

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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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In an effort to distract myself from the upcoming 10-degree weather, I pulled out my seed catalogs and started browsing.   Browsing, of course, led to purchasing.  Lots of purchasing!  Which now will lead to work.  Lots of work!

Yes, I

bought way more seeds than I  have space to plant in my garden.  But here’s my reasoning:

  • I bought only one small packet each of the fall seeds and many of the seedlings did not survive.  I’d rather have more seeds than less, since I can always plant the leftovers next year.
  • I like to plant several different varieties of things. Take beans, for example.  I’ve purchased four different varieties (Landreth Seedless, Mountaineer Half-Runner, Purple Podded Pole and Snow Cap from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), though unfortunately I forgot to buy my standby favorite (yard-long noodles).
  • I like to can.  So I bought pickling cucumbers as well as slicing cucumbers from Johnny’s Seeds.  And paste tomatoes as well as slicing tomatoes.
  • I like to try new things, such as spaghetti squash, striped tomatoes and melons.  Technically, melons aren’t new to me, I just haven’t had luck with them.  But the description of  Collective Farm Woman Melon in the Cook’s Garden catalog caught my interest:  “With a peach-pineapple flavor, Ukrainian heirloom..”    Yum!  And speaking of “yum”:
  • I was looking at the catalogs before lunch and I was hungry.

So tonight, as the temperatures drop and the winds howl, I’ll be dreaming of warm sunshine, delicious vegetables and cheery flowers.

 

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I recently turned 50 years old and one of my goals for the year was to cook 50 new recipes. Recipe number 3 was Bell Pepper Stir Fry from Lindsay Nixon’s Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook.

All the recipes in her cookbooks are copyrighted to the publisher, so you’ll have to buy the book in order to see the actual recipe. Here’s Lindsay’s website, where you can order her cookbooks. They are also available in book stores and on Amazon.

I’ve made quite a few of the recipes in this cookbook, as well as several recipes that appear on her website. I plan to order her other cookbooks sometime this year. Her recipes are all easy to make, using easy-to-find and inexpensive ingredients. Perfect for when you want to eat healthy but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

I chose to try the bell pepper stir fry since I had all the ingredients handy. I changed up the original recipe by cooking a handful of fresh mushrooms with the bell peppers, then mixing in an already cooked bag of edamame. If you choose to add as much edamame as I did, I would recommend doubling the sauce in which you cook the bell peppers.

This was tasty and filling. Can’t wait to enjoy leftovers tomorrow!

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Earlier today, I was cleaning up part of my summer garden. I’ve still got several rows to clean up and cover crop, but the area feels so empty now.

Good thing the winter garden is basically thriving!

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The chard in this bed is growing nicely. Bugs have attacked the chard in another bed.

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Unlike the past few years, the turnip greens are thriving this year.

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Turnip greens in front, kale in back.

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The savoy cabbage may produce, if I can keep the bugs away.

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Speaking of bugs, aphids have attacked the collard greens.

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The bugs must not like mustard greens.

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I always overplant lettuce, so I picked a lot for lunch today.

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One good thing about being a tad behind in garden chores: things reseed themselves! Witness the arugula above and the kale below.

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I love being able to grow food most of the year. And while I’ll miss my summer veggies, I’m looking forward to fresh steamed greens!

What’s growing in your garden?

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