30 April 2012

more seed

I started a few trays of seed several days ago; more Beets, Chard and Carrots to replace those that got eaten (or never germinated) in the garden; also a small tray of Echinacea.

29 April 2012

infants

For making a small donation, the Arbor Foundation will send you trees. I now have a dozen baby trees on my patio. I will probably only plant two or three in my yard, the rest will get swapped- I just don't have the space for so many trees! nor do I want all the shade... I know I'm keeping the Lilac, and then can't make up my mind about Dogwood, Hawthorn, Crabapple...
They really should go straight in the ground but until I've decided what to do with them all I'm hoping they'll survive in the biggest pots I have.

26 April 2012

pinks

A few more of my Cosmos have flowered: dark pink
and one small light pink
The plants are all small- a single stalk with a single flower. I think next year I need to remember to move the cosmos plants up into bigger pots like I do the tomatoes and peppers, so they don't sit in the cardboard tubes and get their growth stunted. Or maybe I should have pinched the tops off to encourage branching. I do hope they grow a bit larger...

pea pods!

25 April 2012

more dandy coffee

Dug more Dandelions from the patch that's destined to grow pumpkins, so I decided I might as well try roasting them again. A full bucket of plants
gets you remarkably few roots, although it was after heavier rain and I pulled slower so I got better, complete roots this time.
I roasted them longer, 2 1/2 hours this time, to get a darker flavor. Added a small Stevia leaf for sweetener
when I ground up a tablespoon with pinch of cinnamon and a bit of clove
It steeps in the french press for ten minutes
and comes out looking more like a tea than anything
tastes pretty good with a bit of sugar (half of what I used before; maybe a few more stevia leaves and I wouldn't need any sugar) and some milk.

24 April 2012

the new ones

I should be more careful of making spontaneous plant purchase. The Curry Plant I was so delighted with? It is not edible. I looked it up online to see how large it would grow (no plant tag) and dismayed to find that the wonderful scent is its only redeeming characteristic. The leaves taste bitter, you can't cook with it, nor does it have any medicinal value. I guess the only thing it might do is keep a cat out of your garden, apparently they don't like the smell. And it likes to be dry, so I've planted this one by itself on the edge of the front flower bed, where I usually forget to water anyway.
Well, on a good note, I got all the new herbs into the ground today. Found space throughout the herb bed to tuck them in here and there. I didn't take pictures of them all, but here are the Tarragon
Lemon Thyme
Chives
Thai Basil
and the only one that drooped, Pineapple Sage
I've already used more of them; tonight made burgers with Chives, Basil, Thyme (I used a bit of each flavor) and Rosemary. Very tasty. The rosemary was a bit strong, but my kid loved it and begged me to make the recipe again.

spring cooking

I've been happily surprised at how much I can cook out of my garden already, even so early in the season. The other day I made deviled eggs, just using herbs, a dab of mayonnaise and mustard. Usually I put in pickle juice or relish, but that wasn't needed because I have fresh Dill now! I used Green Onions, Parsley, a few leaves of Cilantro, and the Dill. Mmmm!
Last night I made my second Rhubarb pie of the year, and it was even better than the first! Some nice red stems this time, too.
And today I made my first little garden salad for lunch; the only homegrown ingredient here is the Lettuce (three kinds) and then I just added a shredded carrot, some raisins and sesame seed. No dressing needed, it was quite tasty as-is.

23 April 2012

seedlings

I've promptly moved the new seedlings into pots-

Four Cantaloupe in SIPs
Three Zucchini
One Green Bean also in an SIP
and seven more in plastic pots
ready to grow!

for the cat

My pot of Wheatgrass is nice and lush now, but the cat totally ignores it. I always see him crouched with his head tipped sideways to chew on some grass growing in the yard, but he hasn't once tried the grass I grew specifically for him.
These little seedlings in the other pot look like basil to me, but I'm hoping they're the Catmint I planted in there. Even if he doesn't chew on the plant I could always dry some and sew it into a toy for him.

22 April 2012

dandelion coffee

I've known for a while that it's possible to make a drink out of roasted Dandelion roots that tastes like coffee. It doesn't have caffeine, and is chock full of nutrients (vitamins A, C, D, five kinds of vitamin B, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc!) I've been very curious to try making some, but a bit dubious too, from the last time I tried eating something in my yard that I didn't plant there (I don't like purslane). But we have so much dandelion in the yard, and in one spot it has been growing where I used to garden, mulched heavily with leaves. My daughter has convinced me to clear that spot again for pumpkins, so I figured it was a good place to dig dandelions to try this. They come up easy, and they've had lots of rich stuff to grow in.

It's a bit of work. I spent probably twenty minutes digging up dandelions, slicing off the leaves to compost, the flowers and buds to throw out. Then it took lots of rinses to get the soil off them. Here they are washed and trimmed.
Next I chopped them up, rinsed a few more times
and then roasted in the oven at 250 for two hours.
I was pleasantly surprised at the rich aroma. At first it just smelled like carrots, if a bit more nutty. It wasn't until the final twenty minutes of roasting that the coffee-like scent came out. The next step is to grind the roasted bits further, and I steeped it in my french press, just like coffee. Treated it like coffee too, with sugar and milk (I don't like the bitterness). It doesn't quite taste like coffee and has a sharp aftertaste, but I found I rather liked it.
The first time I made it I used a cup of boiled water and a tablespoon of ground dandelion root. The second time I made it I added a pinch of cinnamon and a tiny piece of clove. It tasted better, but still not quite right. I think if I go to the trouble of digging dandelion roots again, I need to roast them longer to get the good flavor.

new herbs!

Today I went to a garden show and after walking the few blocks of booths, revisited all the ones with plants to pick out some herbs. Found quite a few that had been on my wish-list. I came home with:

Lemon Thyme
Thai Basil- we already used some of this on pizza and it was scrumptious!
French Tarragon
Chives- I've been cutting my green onions to use for chives, but really want to let them get full-grown so glad I have this plant now too.
Curry Plant- this one smells absolutely delicious! but I'm not quite sure what I would cook with it
Pineapple Sage- it really does smell just like pineapple
and Stevia- very sweet. My family was skeptical until I gave them all a leaf in the car, and they all exclaimed with surprise: it tastes like sugar!
They're all sitting in the windowsill waiting for the weather to clear so I can plant them in the garden- because we finally have rain! cold, wind and rain. Nice to have a break from the heat and some normal-feeling spring weather.
I also got some plant tubers and flower bulbs on a whim- the picture of them blooming was so beautiful. Another post on that later.

c. myrtle leaves!

The Crepe Myrtle I feared would not grow is finally sprouting green leaves on the upper stems.  I'm relieved!

21 April 2012

more seedlings

My Cantaloupe seedlings have come up
and some Borage
and one Zucchini.
I'm still waiting on the green beans...

pumpkin starts

About two weeks ago I took my daughter to a kid's gardening program at the library. They gave her pumpkin seeds to germinate in a damp paper towel rolled up. We forgot to check the seeds for too long; when she unrolled the towel today every single seed was sprouting roots and leaves!
She planted them all in SIPs
and now they are happy outside in the coldframe until I can clear another garden spot for pumpkins to grow.

chomped

I have spent the day outside weeding all the beds. Sad to find that the faint greenery I saw from a distance was never all Carrot and Beet seedlings- it was mostly weeds in those plots. When I took all the unwanted plants out, I only have a dozen carrots and even fewer beets left. Either they didn't germinate well or something ate them. I know the carrots got munched on- I found a bunch of naked stems. Put out beer traps but I didn't catch a single slug (good, now I know the coffee grounds are working to keep them at bay) but instead a lot of tiny earwigs. I didn't know earwigs ate veggies!
It was dismaying. But the rest of the garden looks well, and the baby is delighted to spend time outside, pulling grass, tearing apart dandelion heads, squinting at the blue sky.
I think I might start some more beets and carrots, to fill in the gaps. Only a third of my Chard ever grew, too, so that needs more seed sown as well.