Starting Seeds

02/28:  The last day of February and the forecast is terrific – at least for a couple of days then the rain starts again.  I’ve been a bit under the weather with a fever so I finally got a chance to get out and take a look around this morning.  The rhubarb is starting to peak out of the straw mulch and seems much happier now that it’s protected from the wondering chickens.

The garden of mini greenhouses
The garden of mini greenhouses

No sprouting from the seeds yet, but the chard and spinach seem to have survived the freezing mornings just fine.  The chard under the 2-litre bottle “greenhouses” does seem bigger than those that were not.  I didn’t see as much of a difference in the spinach.  I was able to get some more bottles from the recycling program at school (reuse – then recycle) so I made more for the rest of the chard and one more spinach this morning.  I had enough for everybody, but about half of the labels didn’t come off and had to go off for recycling.

left - no greenhouse    right- greenhouse
left – no greenhouse right- greenhouse

Okay, I’m trying peat pellets again.  I’ve never had good luck with them, but I found a site were the man cut the top of the netting off when he inserted the seeds and then remove the netting completely when they were ready to transplant.  Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all these years.  Anyway, I started 21 Clarinette Lebanese Hybrid Summer Squash (Ed Hume seeds) and 15 Waltham Butternut Squash (Ed Hume seeds).  The summer squash are marked with green toothpick and the butternut squash with plain toothpicks.  For the last 14 pellets, I put in some Pak Choi (Chinese mustard) seeds) (Hume Organic Seeds).  This could be a mistake – the seed package only gives instructions for direct sowing, and the packet is dated 2008 – but what have I got to loose. These pellets have no toothpicks.  I also planted 2 squares of Early Wonder Beet (Ed Hume) seeds in the raised bed behind the kitchen after soaking them all day in a wet towel.

Peat Pots: Maybe they

03/05:  The Pak Choi is sprouting along with one squash seed.  Time to put them under the fluorescent  fixtures in the kitchen.

I started to trim the kiwi vine today.  It’s probably too late as the sap is running, but it’s huge and messy and I have to do something to clean it up.  It’s huge so I’m guessing I won’t actually manage to kill it.  The weather is supposed to be nice again tomorrow and I think we may head out to get our chicks from the feed store.

03/06:  A PEA HAS SPROUTED IN THE MAIN GARDEN!!  I was up there transplanting some spearmint and peppermint into the upper-side bed when I noticed a tiny shoot just breaking the soil.

Joe and I went over to Portland Nursery and got the seed potatoes today:  red thumb (late), Austrian fingerling (early), La ratte (late), Yukon gold (mid), and Calwhite (mid-late).  I’n not ready to plant yet, but last year I waited too long and everyone had sold out.  I also picked up a couple of Martha Washington asparagus crowns to fill out the bed, an Italian parsley and a few lettuce starts to tide us over until it is warm enough here to start it from seed.

The potatoes are waiting to be set out

I’ve heard a rumor that they’re calling for snow in the valley soon.  I hope not, I’m enjoying this early spring.  TIme to check the Weather Channel.  Snow levels down to as low as 1000′ early in the week.  We should be fine but I’ll put my little greenhouses back on the chard.

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More Spring Gardening

2/21:  Wow it was chilly this morning.  I woke up to frost and 25 degrees.  This might not seem unusual to most people, but this has been one of the warmest winters on record and it was 60 degrees on Saturday.

  • I made some mini greenhouses this afternoon out of some 1 and 2 litre plastic bottles.  It will be fun to see how the spinach and chard grow under them compared to the ones that are just out in the cold.
  • Joe and I had to come up with a barrier to keep the chickens out of the rhubarb bed.  For some reason they love to scratch in there and they are scratching all of the tiny little sprouts off of the roots.  Darn those hens.
  • Other than that I just cleared some blackberries out of the rabbit yard – it seemed too cold to be out today
  • The Rhubarb Cage

Tomorrow I need to re-engineer a couple a giant paper-mache ostriches for the library.  I had to remove the legs to get the into the car and now I need to figure out how to reattach them and make them stable.  I am so thankful to the wonderful folks over at our local Anthropologie store.  They have been giving me their window and store displays as they finish with them.  I’ll post some photos soon.

2/22:  What a busy week.  I had no time to get out into the garden and the weather was pretty dreary.  More soon , I promise……..

Valentine’s Day

2/14 – Happy Valentine’s Day.  I’m still feeling a little under the weather and so is the weather, so not much news from the garden.  We did find some great salami at New Seasons Market.  The also had a fantastic sesame bread to go with our chicken noodle soup for dinner (lots of garlic and ginger).

2/15 – I made some lovely crepes with Marionberry compote this morning with a new recipe.  They were so easy to make – none of them needed to be the infamous “first one for the dogs”.  Noah had his with a little Nutella for a special treat.

Crepes in the Blender:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Use 1/4 cup of batter per crepe in an eight inch skillet over medium heat.

– The skies have cleared a little and Joe planted my new blueberry plants in place of the rose bushes that have never done well.  The variety is Top Hat – a little dwarf that sounded perfect for a spot along the retaining wall.   I also put a really nice orange thyme into a pot on the back patio, it looks terrific with the pots of rosemary, chives and bay tree.

Stuffed Boneless Breast of Turkey:

Stuffing (measurements are estimated)

  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Saute vegetables in butter until tender. Combine with bread, eggs, stock and seasonings.  Cool.

Remove bones from a half turkey breast and pound to about 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick.  Top with stuffing and roll.  Use string to tie roll and place seam down into a roasting pan.  Roast at 350 degrees  for about. 90 minutes. Extra stuffing can be baked separately

2/20 – What a beautiful end to February. It’s sunny and 50 degrees. Today, Noah and I planted swiss chard and spinach starts from Wilco in the second side bed and about eight asparagus crowns from Larsen’s Farm that I picked up on Thursday.  We also put in two more squares of carrots and spinach seeds into the bed behind the kitchen.  Caleb put in a second row of pea seeds up in the front of the big garden and helped me finished mulching the blueberries with another bag of sawdust (I think we need one more). I cut down the hops in the main garden (what a mistake that was) and pruned the grapes in the main garden pretty hard. Joe mowed and cleaned up some leftover messes from winter. Copernicus even came out of his basket to have a good game of “chase the grape vine”.

Copernicus in his basket

Stuffed Boneless Breast of Turkey

Stuffing (measurements are estimated)

  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Saute vegetables in butter until tender. Combine with bread, eggs, stock and seasonings.  Cool.

Remove bones from a half turkey breast and pound to about 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick.  Top with stuffing and roll.  Use string to tie roll and place seam down into a roasting pan.  Roast at 350 degrees  for about. 90 minutes. Extra stuffing can be baked separately

Early Spring Gardening

2/7 – I put in two squares of spinach and two squares of carrots in the bed outside the kitchen.  First I used string to divide the bed into 28 1’x1′ squares.  I put a few spinach (Olympic Hybrid) in the center of each of two squares.  I subdivided the carrot (Danvers half-long) squares into four sections and put four shallow holes into each for the seeds.

Noah and I mulched the strawberries and the rhubarb with straw and planted a row of peas (Oregon Sugar Pod II) in the bed to the left of the big garden gate.

I transplanted a chive into a larger pot and moved the bay tree out onto the edge of the porch.

2/8 – Wouldn’t you know it.  I planted a little over the weekend and this morning it was 29 degrees.  Oh well, there wasn’t much to lose.  This was my first day back to work after sinus surgery, man am I pooped.  The air in the school is very dry and does not make for a happy nose.  No news from the garden……although I did stop and buy two blueberry plants to put in where the roses have never done well.

2/9 – Still no gardening – still pretty pooped.

2/10 – Rain again…….drip……drip……drip

Rainy Days

2/1:  No gardening today, it was too wet and dreary.  By the time I got home from school it was getting pretty dark and I just didn’t feel like going back out.

2/2  Another beautiful day – tomorrow calling for rain.   Darwin is sitting in the windows having a lovely bath and watching the birds.

Darwin
Darwin – Most Favored Cat

I was able to get out and move the rhubarb from the main garden where it has done nothing for several years to one of the raised beds in the backyard.  I moved six pieces so hopefully it will be happier and next year I’ll be able to make a nice cobbler.  I also move some of the asparagus to one of the new raised beds in the backyard.  I’m going to use the entire bed for asparagus, but will need to wait for the nursery to get some crowns in a couple of weeks to finish the bed.  I moved four of them today.  I may try to get out and trim the raspberries while the weather is nice – but then again, I might just curl up and read a good book……

2/3  Another rainy day with no gardening….Maybe tomorrow I’ll tend to the worm farm in the garage.  I’m not sure I’m doing this correctly.  Look for a link or tow in the side bar for more information.

2/4 The weather was a little better today so I was able to transplant some onions.  We also stopped at the nursery and picked up a couple of Legend Blueberries to add to the blueberry patch.  They are a late season evergreen variety.  The goats were out bouncing around this afternoon enjoying the cloudy skies.

2/6  Joe was able to go out and get a steer-manure blend to top off the raised bed near the kitchen and fertilize the blueberries.  He top dressed the blueberries with pine shavings and planted the two new bushes.