Gardening in the Blind

Harvesting already!!
June 14, 2012, 7:48 am
Filed under: outdoor gardening

I can’t believe it.  I have over 75 garlic scapes and one jalapeno that I have harvested out of the garden.  I plan on using some arugula this weekend when Deron’s mother is visiting.  I love that it is already producing meals for Deron and I.  We are eating a more vegan lifestyle (except the eggs I get from my girls, I can’t justify not eating them!) currently and can’t wait for the veggies to be ready.  The farmer’s market near the YMCA is opening this weekend as well.  I plan to check it out.  I find that it gives me great ideas for what to grow next year!

I sautéed some garlic scapes in a little oil and added one jar of my canned tomatoes letting it boil down and boy was it DELICIOUS over some pasta.  Can not wait to add it to an egg!  I love the first of the produce.  It tastes so much sweeter as you have to wait for it.


New plant additions
May 26, 2012, 7:30 am
Filed under: Herbs

It is always exciting when I get new herbs to grow. I seem to be attracted to the wort family. They spread a lot though. So I have soapwort and had motherwort until Deron pulled it out because it “looked like a weed”. But now I have liverwort. Very pretty and will grow up with my horseradish in the wooded area. I wonder what wort I will get next year…
Planted in my lower tier by my deck is Eucalyptus. Wonder fragrance and the ability to clean the air around it. It is just wonderful to pick and hang in your shower.
The best ice tea and sorbet, I had to try my hand at lemon verbena this year. I have tried it in the past with little luck. Let’s hope this year is different.  Heck maybe I will even try my hand at making jelly with it if it grows.

Two Beds Down

Well I finally tilled two beds and fully planted it out last weekend.  I have been composting chicken poop on top of my beds for over three months.  I felt it was ready to be integrated in the soil.  Unlike rabbit poop, chicken poop is considered hot and needs to be fully composted before you plant in it as it will burn seedlings otherwise.

Onions, Shallots and Leeks oh my!

So after it was spread evenly on the bed, I tilled the first bed.  Last year this bed contained parsnips and arugula.  This year it is going to be the onion bed.  Leeks, shallots and onions are planted with a variety of carrots as the onions help to hide the smell and prevent the carrot fly.  I have 56 leeks, 13 shallots and 59 onions planted.  Hopefully this will be a start for us to use.  I am in hopes of a great crop of shallots this year – they were extra-large.

Moving to the next bed I tilled it in and decided it was going to be the lettuce bed.  Last year it was tomatoes so this will help keep the soil healthy by planting the greens.   It is housing brussels sprouts, 1/2 bed of arugula and many mixed greens.  I had so many mixed greens in packets that each row I planted was a different mix.  It should be interesting to see how it progresses.  The arugula was coming up after just three days.  If you have been a long-term reader you will already know that we are crazy for the arugula.  I usually plant out a complete bed, though this year I am trying to control myself a little more and plant only 1/2 a bed for right now.  I keep reminding myself that I need moderation.  I have to say, moderation is totally over rated so far.  I am going to be creative in my bucket planting for out front this year and don’t be surprised if arugula is included!

Stay tuned in for the first of the tomato beds.  I have a nice variety planted and will discuss them.  But until then enjoy the picture!

Surprise Plants
May 13, 2012, 5:23 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, Herbs, outdoor gardening

Winter was mild.  Well that is a understatment.  It was bitter-sweet to find some of my plants that were not supposed to survive the winter growing back.  The first I found was tarragon.  This is true tarragon for all the skeptics out there.  It has not only come back, but more than doubled in size.  The picture shows one of three clumps I have growing.  The funny part about this is that I have a 6 pack of tarragon that I planted thinking I would need more.  So, this year I will not be short tarragon at all.  Matter of fact, if you have any delicious recipes that use this herb, please be kind enough to share with me.  I see a lot in my future.  Deron is in charge of finding some recipes to use tarragon, chives and the next unexpected plant growing in my garden….

Lovage is growing wild in one of my beds.  What started out as a cute little plant is now about 30-36″ high.  Again, I have one Lovage plant that I started as this plant was not supposed to over winter.  But it did with a vengeance!  I can’t even give my plant away that I started.  No one is interested as they have never heard of it.  I share a leaf or two with them so that they can see it tastes like celery, but they are put off by the texture.  Not sure why, it has the same texture as parsley and plenty of people eat that!  Nonetheless, Deron and I will find many different ways to use it besides soups.

Lastly, I am just happy as pie to see that the lavender that I planted down at the street survived not only the winter, but the repaving of our roads and sidewalks.  Really nice surprise!  I can’t wait for it to flower and have lavender in the house!

Golden Goodness
March 27, 2012, 6:29 am
Filed under: chickens, Cooking/Canning/Drying

After sometime, my girls have decided to lay eggs again!  I can’t believe how much I missed the eggs this winter.  It has been so long that I forgot how many eggs I get from them.  My neighbors are happy, but more importantly I am!  Nothing says I love you like a fresh egg still warm from the chicken – that with maybe homemade bacon….mmmmm good!

Starting seedlings
March 25, 2012, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Indoor Gardening, Seedlings

After three weekends worth of cleaning in the basement, it was finally ready to start the seedlings.  I thought I would document just what I do as I have never done that before.  To start the seedlings I have heating mats that are designed for gardeners.  I leave these on the entire time.

Using a smaller plastic, fill it to the top with some good organic seed starting soil.  I try to not have a lot of peat in it as I find it dries out too quickly.  I then have to go upstairs to the kitchen sink to fill it with water as I don’t have access to running water downstairs.  After you pour a lot of water in it, mix it will with your hands.  Make sure the entire container of soil is wet.  You want it wet but not so wet that you can grab a handful and wring it out.  Too much water will hinder the germination of most seeds.

After you have mixed the soil you are ready to fill each cell of the tray with soil.  Notice I have a solid tray that it sits in.  This prevents water from leaking out every which way when I water it.  You want to make sure it is packed firmly in each cell.  I fill it to the top as I find it is easier, but it creates an additional step that you need to do before putting the seeds in each cell.  Some might find this a nuances, but I find I spend less time skimming the dirt off the top before planting then trying to get each cell filled just right.

After I use the soil that I have wet (it fills three trays for me most of the time) I start to pull out the seeds and figure out how many of each I want to start with.  I never do just one.  On a rare occasion I will plant just two.  I want to make sure that if I don’t have strong germination I still have one that I can use.  I grow more than I need so I can pick the stronger ones for my garden.  Every year I try something new for labeling.  This year I am on the cheap.  I have chopped up index cards and used a sharpie.  I might have to replace as we go, but it is the cheapest I have done!

After you have the labels, skim the soil off the top so that you have room to cover the seeds.  Be careful and read the seeds as some will need the light to germinate, thus no soil to cover it.  I then go through a tray is a very systematic way.  I place the labels in the cells for one item I am growing.  I then open the seeds and place two seeds per tray and repeat this process until the entire tray is finished.  Then I grab some of the soil I skimmed off the top and start from the back forward covering each cell so the seeds are not visible.  I lightly pat it down and place on my heating pad.  I keep the lights on it from 5 am until 8 pm.  The heating pad is left on throughout the night to keep them warm.  I will post what they look like in a few days.

Spring has sprung
March 17, 2012, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, outdoor gardening

ImageI have been pacing, digging and throwing a fit for sometime now.  I left some parsnips in the ground for the winter and have been dying to get at them.  But today it happened.  The ground thawed enough that I could get them out.  I ran inside with an arm full of parsnips yelling at Deron to come quickly to see the find.

While I ran a few over to my neighbor, Deron lovingly washed them as he decided what we were going to do with them.  I told him no matter what I was going to have my parsnip/nut/syrup breakfast tomorrow!  Now, that is what I call as celebration.  Fresh produce in March.  Tomorrow I am having a heavy planting so I will take a lot of pictures to show you how I do it.  But until then, enjoy the picture of the mouth watering parsnips fresh from the garden.  I can’t wait for breakfast to come!