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Kicking off the 2015 Garden: Indoor Planting

Garden planting time might be my favorite time of year. The weather is finally turning warm, it’s pleasant to be outside again, and the whole world feels full of potential. This March has been warm and sunny so far, and in a fit of vitamin-d influenced optimism, last weekend, I started our 2015 garden.

spinach_seedling
Our first seedling of the year was this little spinach sprout. I planted three pots worth of spinach, which are living in our dining room window. I have three more pots to plant next week, to hopefully keep greens in rotation most of the spring. We didn’t have much luck planting greens in the ground last year. A combination of too much clay and ants made the leafy parts slow to grow, but the plants quick to bolt, so I’m sticking with pots this year.

tomato_seedlings
I am attempting grow all of our summer vegetables from seed this year. We spent a ton on seedlings last year, and this year I’m hoping to grow more plants. We currently have about two dozen little tomato seedlings, and I’m hoping to put them all in the ground.

basil_seedlings
Last year was a disaster four our herbs. We got a late start on them and the soil in our yard was so poor, the only thing that took was the mint. I missed fresh basil so much, that this year I’m hedging my bets and have a whole pallet of basil seeds sprouting.

Basil seedlings are so cute and determined looking, I find myself peering into the tray multiple times a day, just admiring their fortitude.

root_vegetable_seeds
If our Earth boxes are thawed enough, because last week they were still big blocks of frozen dirt, I’m going to bring them inside and start our first rounds of root vegetables. We also had trouble with these in the ground last year, they grew, but they were slow to take off and by the time they were sizable, they were also bitter. The ones we ate small, however, were delicious.

I’m hoping that planting the spring vegetables inside this year will give us more opportunity to get the yard ready for summer veggies and herbs and flowers. Our soil is so full of clay, I could take up ceramics and never need to buy it. We’re planning on working the compost we’ve been making since we moved in a year and a half ago into the soil and building up a few inches above the ground–we did this last year, but we decided we needed to go a few inches higher than that.

What are you planting this year?

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2014 Garden

You know what I haven’t talked about yet this year? My Garden! Which is awful, because this is the first year ever I’ve had a yard and planted stuff in the ground!

We didn’t get around to planting our spring crops until the last weekend in March, which is a little late for Kansas weather, because you never know, it could start being 90 degrees everyday the first weekend in April. I was gigantically pregnant, and the ground was barely soft enough to dig. Our soil was far more clay-ee than I expected, so that was fun to work with on hands and knees at full term.

peas
We planted peas–and for the first year in four years of planting peas, I have actual peas on the vines. I am so excited!

carrots
For the first time, we planted carrots. I have no idea how these will grow, but the greens keep getting bigger, so I am assuming they are growing down there, despite the clay.

beets
Beets! I think we’ll only get a handful of beets, and even if they are bit size, I will eat them.

turnips
The turnips germinated like crazy, and because I was ridiculously pregnant and busy nesting, I didn’t get back outside to weed or thin the seedlings, so I have a blanket of turnip greens in the turnip bed. We’ll see if any turnips develop. The weeds in that bed have also been nearly impossible to keep up with.

first harvest
And the radishes are my first successful crop from an in-the-ground-garden. These were extra spicy radishes.

Next time, we’ll talk about the summer plants!

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In Which I Make You Hungry

I have a conundrum. It turns out that two of my favorite past-times are vying for the same space. You all know about the dyeing thing. It’s all over this blog. The interesting thing is, that for dyeing one needs some counter space, a couple of pots, probably some aluminum foil and some plastic wrap, and a stove top. This is where the problem comes in. I am really starting to fall in love with cooking, which uses similar equipment. (Not the same equipment mind you. Never mix your dyeing and your cooking materials. Dyes are not meant to be eaten.) Since it could be hazardous, I never dye and cook at the same time, which means when it comes to a choice between having enough time to dye some more products or cook a delicious, from scratch meal, the cooking usually wins out.

Joining the CSA this year was completely worth the money. I love that I can go pick up fresh produce once a week, and that there is usually a vegetable I haven’t tried before. So far it had mostly been a new type of green. It was a banner year for greens, let me tell you. This week it was turnips. I don’t know how I made it to 26 without ever (knowingly) eating a turnip, but I did. I made a turnip and potato potage from this book

that turned out delicious. In fact, I plan on having the leftovers for lunch. I the Local Flavors book a lot. It is good for generating ideas for using what you have instead of going out and buying food to cook a specific recipe. Also, the recipes I have made so far kind of follow my general method of cooking, which is to throw vegetables in a pan with some other stuff and see what happens. I especially liked making my own broth (for “Elixir of Fresh Peas”) out of pea pods.

And because I apparently have a deep desire to watch things grow and grow quickly, I bought a sprouting jar and some sprouts. I have a bag full of broccoli sprouts I have been putting on everything. They are delicious, crunchy, and have more flavor than alfalfa sprouts. I have a mix of bean sprouts growing right now that are mostly lentils. Who knows what I am going to do with those, but they are pretty.

Another recipe I have been making a lot is the Master Bread Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Of course, I use whole wheat flour, which is not what the recipe calls for, but it turns out just as good. In fact, I find using whole grain flours actually adds to the flavor. (You should probably add an extra 1/4 cup of water, however.) This dough recipe is super versatile. It not only makes the usual little peasant loaf, but it also makes a delicious pizza crust (which Athrun will eat). I even used it to make pita bread one night. Amazing.

Tonight I am using the last of our spinach pesto (made when we had CSA spinach coming out our ears) and goat cheese pizza with caramelized onions. It’s my new favorite thing, and it makes me kind of sad that spinach season is ending. However, I am sure it will be just as good with basil pesto come August.

In Shop News
I mentioned on my Facebook Group that I have been thinking of adding some hand-knit goods to my shop inventory. Of course, this means I have to make some hand-knit goods to put in my shop. I have a few ideas, but I am slightly hesitant about taking this step. I am not sure I want to become a production knitter. (Plus, I have some things I want to make for myself, and still owe Brock sweaters…) So, I have a couple of patterns I will be knitting up over the next few weeks, and I will post them as an experiment.

But first I need finish up all my super-secret birthday knitting, so I better get to work.