Monday, June 25, 2012

Garden 2012 progress.

The broccoli bolted again on the earlier crop and is trying to bolt for the later crop. I kept them in the containers too long. They should have been in the sq fts the first of May. Peas should have been in then too.

Starting broccoli, romanesco and raab in the furnace room to plant out in August. Ordering the fabric cover from Amazon. These will go where the peas and bush lake green beans are now.

The fava beans are coming up. I will put in the yellow wax beans in the back of 8 x 3 A today. 

The brandywines are getting staked and tied to keep them supported. The manitobas have flowered again. There is probably too much phosphate in the soil right now. The leaves are really red on the marigolds and the tomatoes. It could be from not enough water too. 

The grandtoddlers are pouring gallons of water onto the bull's blood and early start beets. I hope they make it! 

The cuke and sunflowers are going in 4 x 4 A today also. 

Everything had a late start, but we have had a wet cool June which has helped some things to get going. 

The rain has kept me from fertilizing like it needs. That happens today too.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yard and Garden Day!

The sun decided to shine warmly (almost 70) today so it was definitely yardwork time! I had mowed the back yard last Tuesday, the first day of sun after 4 days of rain. That didn't go so well, the grass was still mighty wet!

I mowed the front and side yards this morning, still a little wet, after 3 days of cold and rain. The sun felt so good! The sweat was great! I hadn't broken a sweat working outside since last fall! The yard looks a bit better, still needs another mow tomorrow at a shorter height. This way the long stuff doesn't get all hard and stickery.

JD and I got the boxes together for the two 8' x 3' raised beds and filled one. It took three bags of garden soil, 3 bags of steer compost and several scoops from my huge bag of perlite to fill one 8' x 3' box. This will be pricey to start! I know it will be worth it though.

on 5/29 I planted 4 sq. ft of peas across half the back of the 8 x 3 along with a sq. ft of carrots, one of endive and two of beets and transplanted the broccoli starts from the beginning of April. I strung the string trellis up on lath and pounded lath across the front to ward off critters. I also laid chicken wire over the boxes that are planted.

The broccoli are definitely the healthiest of all the seedlings I planted. The basils are a good second though! I am looking forward to dulci tea! The holy basil is doing nicely, but real sunshine is needed for the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cukes. They are pitiful looking, even with the blooms starting on the cukes. I grew pickling and slicing cukes, but my mixing everything up has made me not know which are which right now. I decided I would put one at an end of each box with a little wire fence box around to help them climb. I know that once the pitiful ones get in the ground and have a nice cover for nights they will do great.

Today I planted a sq. ft of sweet mixed greens and one of bitter. It will probably work to plant those in 2 week intervals. Tomorrow I will get the 4 x 4 filled with as much dirt as I can muster from here and there. I know I have enough potting soil for the Suncast planter which is going to grow the Big Italian heirloom that I ordered from Tomatofest and an eggplant, basil and a couple pepper plants. The tomato will hang and the rest will be in the top. It's sitting next to the landing in the front, so lots of sun all morning long, protection from the wind and right where I will tend it daily, since planters often need that. Easy to cover if need be too.

Speaking of covering, here is the deal for this area, it's necessary. We are 35 miles as the crow flies from Glacier National Park. The wind blows most of the time. We evidently are coming out of a drought since the precipitation is an anomaly here. This country is part of the great North American desert from which the Great Plains spring. Nearly 4,000 ft above sea level, I have to adjust my ingredients to bake and give warm season vegetables cover, especially at night. I won't grow corn this year, but other years it has done fabulously! This year my big crop is going to be broccoli and greens, peas and other cool weather crops. I am planting climbing and bush beans, tomatoes, cukes, eggplant and peppers but they will have nighttime warmth retaining cover. There is probably a week or two that the night time temps stay above 65 all summer long. In order to grow fruit big enough on those guys you need warmth while they are setting and ripening.

JD and I were discussing the Gardenweb post in the Square Foot Garden forum that linked to photos of this person's gardens and there was plastic tubing that was stuck into a bit of pvc pipe a bit larger in diameter that was hammered into the ground. He suggested making a wall of sorts or using the garage wall as the prop and have them extend from five feet above in the back of the 8 x 3 planters down to the front in a quarter circle rather than the half. We could use plastic sheeting and roll it up for the day. Easy beans? Maybe, we sure can give it a try! It will definitely work better than our bad design last year. The plastic pipe is cheap and we can buy a roll just to have on hand! A couple 8 ft lengths of pvc pipe and we'll make it work!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The seedlings get a transplant and new tomatoes start!

The little growing environment downstairs is working really well! I have at least 5 of everything I planted! I planted Holy Basil, Thai Basil, Large-leaf Italian Basil, Roma Tomatoes, different colors of Eggplant, Pickle Cukes, Carnival Sweet Peppers, and Green Globe Broccoli. This whole group is ready for peat pots and the seedling trays need to be refilled.

I am going to need a couple more (at least!) light fixtures. Now the debate begins between LED or more T5's. Hmmmm... The LED are a great long term investment, but so are the T5 fixtures. More light area can be achieved with the T5 I believe, but I have to explore further to know for sure.

Tonight I am head downstairs to mix up the potting blend and get the peat pots filled and watered. Tomorrow the seedlings get transferred and the new seeds get a start. I am planting some slicing cukes (3), the Tomato Fest order (Stupice, Azoychka, Black Cherry, Dr. Carolyn, Lime Green Salad, Glacier, Mrs. Maxwell's Big Italian) and some more peppers.

I cannot find cauliflower seeds anywhere, so Janet gets my business for that plant. I know now when to pick it and not expect huge heads like the over fertilized, over chemically treated ones at the local grab your money grocery. I will be so pleased not to have to put any more money there for produce this summer!

We looked at some Suncast Tomato Tower Garden Stations today. If I had one it would be a salsa garden. If I had two, the other would be an Italian garden and if I had three, ahhhh a Thai garden. That would be wonderful! Maybe get a couple this year and a couple more next year!

The raised garden beds haven't been built yet. We ended up owing taxes! Yikes! Had to put that on hold this pay period! We will get the beds started next weekend. Should have priced the boards! Absolutely have to have two ready the upcoming end of April rooting moon! I want to try the mixed greens and spinach in the tomato bed. The broccoli can get a good start in its bed, and will set in some rosemary, sage and mint along with the purple carrots and some radishes.

I need to dig out my Square Foot Gardening books. That will give me ideas of when to plant and what to plant with it. It guides you through the whole process. The sun warmed water worked great for ground plantings too and my garden thrived!

Now there is life growing in my basement!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Light Stand and Greenhouse Trays and Mats are Here!

I ordered a 4 ft light stand and some little greenhouse trays that are going in the furnace room for the tomato, pepper, broccoli, cauliflower and eggplant seedlings. I have an order ready to go to Tomatofest. Monday that will be sent with payment in advance. I wish some places didn't charge so much for shipping, but that's life for me here. End of the line.

There are local places to get seeds too, so I am not too worried. I know the appliance/hardware store JD (the husband) works at has a LOT of seeds and some spring planted flower bulbs. They like Burpee seeds, and they aren't bad, just have to get the organic and/or heirloom varieties.

The plan is to get 3 beds ready in mid April (Yay! only a month away!) which includes tilling up the existing beds, raising them with 4x8 ft 2x8's, developing the soil and amending like crazy and adding two more 4x8 raised beds with the same process. The two new beds are going to be for the tomatoes and peppers. It will need lattice as a wind break and some shade since they are going in on the lilac side of the clotheslines.

The sprouts have been going wild! Love them and the tibi and the kefir!! They must know it too, since they are all doing well. Broccoli sprouts are going to be available year round. They are amazingly good for a person.

The snow this year may have helped but these high winds are killer again this spring. Everything is going to need protection. Lattice, need to find some that someone has junked and give it a good sanding to get down to the wood and then coat in beeswax. That would be a good cure since it would protect a bit, but still get the sun and there would be air movement to prevent disease.

I am going to put up one of these and see how it works for the longer season tomatoes. They could come into the garage at night. That propane heater would be perfect for them to stay warm on the cooler nights. There will be a couple of container tomatoes, I want romas and they need to come in and be warm at night to get the rich flavor as they ripen. This will serve them well. Now back to looking up roma seeds that could work in a container.

The sun is warming the northern part of the planet. The earth is receiving that warmth and little green things are coming up here and there. The wind has dried up a lot of the water, sad really, it could have been useful on the ground on a slow melt, but more snow will come. It's the wet heavy snow season that could just as well be rain (and it is at a lower altitude :-)) and it does soak into the earth, but our ground is bottomless, glaciated nearly all rock. Amending is so important and so is composting. Reviving the earth is my next project and getting good compost going is most important for that project. I can add the Pot o' Gold compost mix to everything, but without good fresh stuff to add in the soil is going to return to powdered granite.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I have been drinking a bit of milk kefir since Sunday. On Monday I didn't have milk, so JD got me a half gallon of not organic 2%. The separation stopped. It had little ferment bubbles on the sides of the jar, but no separation so added a little sucanat to the milk on Tuesday night so liven things up. When I strained and rinsed the grains Wednesday night they had gotten huge! Well, at least 3 times as big as when I started. They are getting plumper and fluffier. I used organic whole milk on them last night. Hopefully they will continue to plump. Still no separation (had massive separation of curd and whey from Sat through Monday. )

I may be trying to rush things, so may just feed grains and use a little for sipping. The dogs love it on their food. They know the power of the probiotics and yeast I am sure. The taste has gone from sour milk with yeast to more of a sour taste, so I may be getting somewhere with it.

When I watched the videos that Michael Patterson puts up, the batch that got started last night is still in the "too slow-not enough" category. I had the "just right" on Sat and Sun. I think the change of milk was the culprit. It was separating because of being too warm on top of the fridge. I think I prefer the not enough form!

My yogurt this week was a total fail. I didn't have enough milk. There have been times in the past when I added instant milk and water that the yogurt yoged nicely. This was not one of those times. I didn't heat the milk to 140 like I usually do and the culture may have gotten old. Not to worry, have more milk and a fresh cup of Mountain High. Tonight yogurt success is on the agenda.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Winter Way of growing things that you eat.

It's been a long winter, and I am wanting to grow things, nurture and eat what I grow. I do grow yogurt a couple times a week, but I think my gut flora is still out of balance. I am not eating fresh foods like I should be and have been succumbing to the carb craves I get this time of year. I had an epiphany, or maybe something I read inspired me, regardless, sprouts are an excellent way to get the nutrients of fresh mixed greens of June in the middle of winter. My family will benefit from the vitamin punch of alfalfa, mung bean, lentil, aduzi, ...about 4 lbs of seeds and beans, some netting and away I go. Wide mouth Mason jars abound here. May as well put them to good use in the sprout world since I am not so daring when it comes to fermenting vegetables without a good crock with the cap that seals with the tube for the escaping gas.

I ordered kefir grains from Timeless Health last week, and they came on Wednesday. J.D., the other half of this crazy partnership, brought me an envelope with odd hand writing. He thought it might be a young adult who I had placed when I worked for the State, that does happen. It was my kefir grains in a button zip loc. Thursday morning I rinsed them in milk in a strainer and thought "Ooh, how weird and wimpy they look." I put them in a pint jar with about 1/2 cup milk, put a paper towel on top and screwed on the ring. It sat for 24 hrs, while I read up on kefir making and getting those wimpy little things at the bottom of the strainer into those plump clouds one sees in the photos on those SOLE Food blog sites.

I discovered I should have given the jar a little shake every few hours. It may not matter since I am just feeding the grains right now. My reading, which one should really do while the grains are in transit by the way, also illuminated the fact that the grains need to replenish after their trip.

At the 24 hr mark the milk was strained through the old reliable Tupperware strainer I have used since "bc" (before children) and there they were! Three gorgeous little curds of kefir about 1/2 inch across. They were blooming! Keeping the Life in food, and helping it grow is going to continue to be fun. It is satisfying to open the yogurt maker and see that white creamy yogurt, knowing that there is life in that milk and bacteria mix. It is a winter way of growing things that you eat.

I am going to work with the grains. I do think that with sucanat and water or tea, some lemon or lime juice it would make a great little refresher in the summer. Experimenting with different times and temps, different liquids, etc, since it appears there is a LOT of life in those little weird things I received in the mail. I am about to strain and refresh the milk again. This means I strain the milky kefir and the grains remain in the strainer. Rinse them with more milk put them back in the pint jar with 1/2 cup of the strained milky kefir goes back into the jar, then add another 1/2 cup of milk that is warmed to 70. Cover and return to the shelf it cultures on. I think that Saturday night or Sunday there should be true cultured kefir. The process is quite simple really. We'll see when I get too many grains. I suppose I could share them on the internet.

I am excited about the sprouts! I hope to get a good variety going and having them in sandwiches, salads and soups. I hope I have a good source in Mumm's. They make the transactions personal and the emailing and calling was awesome of them when the card didn't work. Organic, and rinsed and soaked in filtered water, what could be better? A source I believe I can trust and a neighborly way of working with you. I appreciate that and can feel that positivity when I think about this part of the return to living foods.

I would like to get four feet of lights to start plants under and buy the LED type one at a time and add to the sides for year round growing and maybe some hydroponic experiments to see what veggies can grow inside under lights and still have a nutritional punch.

New life is growing in my kitchen!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life and eating for it!

When it hasn't been bitter cold, the wind has been blowing so hard that it's basically been really unpleasant to be outside. It's given me lots of time to research health through nutrition and how to get the most out of food in respect to meeting nutritional needs.

Today my copy of "Nourishing Traditions" arrived via UPS. This is going to be great! Raw, fermented, cultured, dehydrated, maintaining as many nutrients as possible.

Lately the major dairy I consume is my homemade yogurt. I add frozen berries and that's all. Oatmeal, honey or brown sugar and yogurt were my mainstay breakfast. I still like oatmeal, but have turned it into a mid morning snack with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a sprinkle of sucanat. There's no need for dairy when you use coconut oil. It adds a bit of tropic to a homey comfort food for these cold blustery days. The probiotics, anti oxidants, fiber and medium chain fat make for a nice combo of health in nutrition. There is still some commercial and processed to my foods, but my fats come from coconut, almond, avocado, olive oil and olives, butter, eggs, fresh meats and fish. I try to get them as fresh and locally as possible (kinda tough for some things, so those are the organic choices that various sources mentioned in Food Renegade and Nourished Kitchen, Natural News.

I have learned how to stay away from sugars, particularly fructose. Sucanat in small amounts goes a long way. Its "dark" flavor gives it a rich taste so less is better. I miss honey, I will admit. For now I am staying away from it. High in fructose.

When it gets warmer I want to make kefir and kombucha. Right now I need to start on sprouts. They will give us our fresh greens in a healthier form. Organic broccoli is still available, shipped, but available. Root vegetables and squash are still a good bet too. Dried fruits for now in small portions (fructose is a little high) since the fiber and mineral content is great!

Off to see what is available in sprouting supplies!