Seed sprouting, Jojoba, Lyme

Easter was great.  Easter Monday was a beautiful day.  It’s been cold and rainy since then but the  indoor seedlings are thriving, sending out their true leaves.  Thanks to the good advice of my blogger friends, the Friariello di Napoli pepper seeds sprouted right up after placing the tray on the radiator for a few days.

The power company took down a big maple in my front yard.  It’s a sad sight.

This morning, I made some bug repellant.  Having had Lyme disease and living in a state where it has reached endemic proportions, I have to admit it scares me a bit.  I take precautions.  I don’t want to douse myself or my dogs with pesticides so I’ve been using something home made instead.  I add 25 drops of rose geranium essential oil to 4 ounces of Jojoba and keep it in a dark, glass jar.  I  apply the mixture all over myself before getting into my gardening clothes. Other essential oils can be added but  rose geranium is reputed to repel tics.  Jojoba is a good carrier.  It lasts longer than a water based carrier.  It’s light, easily absorbed by the skin and has the benefits of being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and  offers nutritive benefits as well.  It never goes rancid because technically it’s a wax, not an oil.   After gardening, all my clothes go right into the washing machine.  I immediately take a shower.  It’s an annoying routine but better than getting Lyme disease again.   So far so good!

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It Starts!!


Today was my first snow-free day out in the gardens. I spent 6 hours in the front yard and got 4 of the 7 beds cleared.  Out back is where the real work begins. I left leaves in the beds and the plants high last Fall so the birds could have the seeds. I have to laugh, I start the day running out the door to get at it and just a few hours later I’m wondering why I have so many gardens.
Poking around for signs of life, I was a little sad to see that even though the pond is dug down 3 feet, one of my fish didn’t make it through the winter. I put 12 little feeder goldfish into the pond when we dug it 8 years ago. No sign yet of any of the others. There’s lots of other things popping through though. It’s so exciting. I have a LOT of work ahead of me

Sprouting Seeds & Easter Daffodils

Seeds are sprouting all over the place. I may have been wrong, and cheerfully so! Looks like we might have daffodils for Easter after all. Does anyone out there know if Milkweed takes inordinately long to sprout indoors? (save the Monarchs!) Also, I think my seeds may have frozen in the mailbox. Not a single pepper seed has taken. If they froze, would that have ruined them? Everything else is fine.  Happy Spring!

Cabbage Patch, Calendula & Diamataceous Earth

I may have been a little over enthusiastic in sowing the seeds for my cabbage patch.  I have over 60 little plants.  Cabbage is great for saurkraut, of course,  and if you make your own you can add all sort of good things to it…carrots, kale, onions..even oranges.  Delicious!  I like to stir fry cabbage in coconut oil. It is  sweet, a little crunchy and doesn’t smell like sulfur when cooked this way.  Onions, fresh garlic and sea salt taste great with it.   Pea pods make a great addition too.

I have a lot of calendula started too.  Fresh calendula petals added to stir fries, salads..even fruit salads make things look pretty and add extra nutrition.  Dried petals retain their shape and color when added to glycerine soaps, vinegars and oils.  In the garden, they  are workhorses and make terrific companion plants.

I notice the fruit flies beginning to hover and multiply over my seedlings.  A little food grade Diamataceous earth sprinkled on the potting bench will take care of that problem in no time.  It’s non toxic and safe for pets.  Once it gets wet it is no longer effective. In the past, I’ve had issues with ants and japanese beetles in my old house.  Last year I sprinkled Diamataceous earth in all the windowsills, along the perimeters of the cellar and on top of the beams.  It really worked .

Speaking of Cabbage Patches and little sprouts…my daughter is having a baby!  The first grandchild!  I added the last stitch to this happy little quilt last night.

Spring Flowers, Winter Thaw

The first flower has  sprung!  Most of the snow in the front yard has melted.  The back yard is still  snowy but a heat wave of 60 degrees is coming so that should be gone soon.  I was working in the front gardens today, mostly pruning and cleaning.  After just a couple of hours, I realized that  I  am out of shape.  I cooked up a batch of vegetables in some of my chicken broth and ran it through the blender when the vegetable were tender.  Vitamin packed and good for the bones!   I am excited that have a lot of work ahead of me and I want to be up for it.

Winter Cheer

Crazy as it may seem with temperatures in the negative digits and 3 feet of snow on the ground, Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer  …it doesn’t get dark until 6 pm now and  seeds are starting to sprout.  My leeks are coming up!   I saw a notice posted in a coffee shop, offering coffee grounds to gardeners.  My husband checked in with a local coffee shop near to where he works and if we provide a bucket, they are willing to fill it with used grounds.  I finished painting another one of my masonite boards.  I got a little carried away with this one but at this point in my life it’s all about the process, not the product.  I had a bit of a laugh to myself when it was done because the cherub at the top came out looking like my Mom, totally unplanned.   Lol!  Art therapy, longer days and spring seeds work wonders to keep high spirits and hopeful thoughts for the coming days, even in the dead of winter.

Snow, Seeds & Leeks

 

It’s still snowing like crazy. We got about another 10 inches so far.  As I was clearing the driveway, I made some final decisions on what to plant in next year’s gardens. I rewarded myself for the shoveling by ordering some seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They have taken the “safe seed pledge”,  they don’t buy or sell genetically engineered seeds.  There’s a Safe Seed Resource list  online that lists sources from all over the world.

For the first time, I am going to try and grow leeks so I started some seeds indoors. In a few months, I’ll sow some more leek seeds directly in the garden to see which lot does better.

 

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Bees?

When I was a kid, we never had a garden. My Dad was a city boy. My Mom grew up on a farm and didn’t want that life for herself. I lived across the street from a Methodist church. I found some gardening books at a rummage sale there. The next day, I was digging a patch right in the middle of the lawn. My first garden. I’ve had one ever since. I’m still finding gardening books at rummage sales too.

Last January I joined the local Beekeepers Association. I had been reading everything I could find about bees. I felt ready to set up a hive and get going… until I went to bee school. I stumbled out of that first 6 hour beekeeping class totally overwhelmed and confused. What was I thinking? All those diseases, CCD, attracting bears and rodents…never mind the prospect of possibly being responsible for the deaths of thousands of little creatures … No way! I never went back. I still really wanted one of those suits though, lol.

Lately, I’ve been reconsidering the bee thing. I’m thinking gardening school could easily be a deterrent to someone who’s never gardened before… diseases, insect invasions, animal pilferings, poisonous plants, soil management, ph analysis, compost, dead plants. Maybe keeping bees is a lot easier than school made it out to be

Pie for Breakfast & Christmas Cactus


I officially start my Christmas season with pumpkin pie for breakfast. Thanksgiving was wonderful, all 3 of my girls were here. We had a great day, lots of good food, games, memories and so much to be thankful for! Yorkshire pudding was on the menu, as it has been for generations in my family. This year it raised up nice and puffy….made up for the gravy which was a little on the thin side, lol.
I saved some of the seeds from the spaghetti squash. Hopefully I can get these to grow in the spring and if I manage to confound the dreaded squash borer this year, I love the idea of having squash in the summer from the one we had at Thanksgiving.
The market had these pretty Christmas cactuses for $5.00. I couldn’t resist. They are easy house plants and live for generations. Once this little cactus settles down and gets used to its new home, I’ll transplant it and with permanent marker write the date and my name on the new pot. I’ll paint a rock with the same information and a little picture of a bee. If I use acrylic paint and varnish it, set it on top of the soil with the plant, that will last for years too. Maybe some day a grandchild who loves plants like I do will have this plant! My blogger friend Ginene, from Fox and Finch Antiques had violet plants that were her great Aunt’s from 1955! Thanks for the inspiration, Ginene, and have a wonderful day everyone!!

Kuri, Cabbages, Tomato Soup and Winter

The forecast of snow and freezing rain prompted me to pull in the last of the cabbage. Blustery winds and an icy chill, the kind that goes right to the fingertips, drove me into the kitchen. The tomatoes had all ripened in the windowsills and I found an interesting looking Kuri squash on sale at our organic market.  The squash was such a rich and pretty color, I decided to use it to make our Thanksgiving soup. Googling it, I read that Kuri squash has a delicate flavor reminiscent of chestnuts. I interpreted that as being bland so I seeded, quartered and roasted it on a cookie sheet with other vegetables that I had on hand; garlic, onions, carrots and tomatoes. After about 30 minutes, I scooped the flesh out of the squash and puréed it with the other roasted vegetables. It tasted delicious. Into the freezer it went. I will add broth to thin it out and finish it with a little cream on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, I stewed the last of my summer tomatoes and put them through the mill. Instead of freezing the lot, I made a quick batch of tomato soup. I sautéed an onion and a little garlic with lots of fresh oregano in butter until the onions were soft. I puréed that with the tomatoes and let it simmer for awhile.  A touch of cream  cut the acidity and brought some richness and warmth  to the mix.

I made up a batch of sauerkraut with my cabbages and added carrots and kale. I get such a thrill over my sauerkraut.  It’s so gratifying to think how I started with tiny seeds in April and end up with beautiful jars  of healthy, probiotic goodness that will last me all winter!  A lot of people give testimony about the healings that take place when they introduce fermented foods into their diets.  The only thing I noticed was  a weight loss , around 10-15 pounds.  I’m not complaining.

 So, Winter is here, unofficially.  I have embraced it.  There’s usually something good bubbling on the stove and roasting in the oven.  Extra quilts are pulled out of the chests and piled on the beds.   Sewing  baskets, hooks, yarns and my paintbox keep me happy and busy after dinner,  by the fireplace.  Life is good.