Friday, April 11, 2014

Paper Towel Germination

      With the long miserable winter having dampened my usual seeding frenzy, I am behind in starting my veggies.  So to get started as quickly as possible, and to be able to monitor the progress, I started seeds on Wednesday and Thursday using the damp paper towel method.

      The paper towels are the ones that are about 2/3 full size, then cut in half. Seeds are put on that half sheet, which is then folded over two times, and dampened.  The paper towel and some sort of identification then go into the little snack baggies.  That should provide enough moisture for germination.  In just two days, I have my first rooting activity in my own seed saved of Golden Treasure Peppers!  And treasures they are. I am so glad that variety chose to be the first out of the gate.
  Started 4/9/2014:
   Malabar Spinach from my own 2013 seed
   Peppers:  Cubanelle, Golden Treasure, Poblano, and Sweet Banana
   Tomatoes:  Black Krim, Bloody Butcher, Brandywine Pink, Cherokee Purple,
        Chocolate Cherry, Glacier, Dr. Wyche, Jubilee, Ox Heart, Rutgers, and
        Sungold Cherry

Started 4/10/2014:
   Flowers:   Cardinal Vine and Spanish Flag - both from my own seed and both to
          attract Hummingbirds
   Peppers:   Green Bell, California Wonder mixed, Cayenne, Chuska, Golden
         California Wonder, and Jalapeno
   Squash family:  Buttercup, Butternut, Cucumber Poinsett, Delicata, Luffa Gourd,
         Marina Di Chioggia, Mesa Acorn, and Swan Gourd
   Tomatoes:  Big Red, Early Girl, German Johnson, and Marglobe

      The seeds planted were about 10 to 12 per paper towel, yet I only want about two plants from each variety mentioned.  I expect to get what I need, and certainly hope to have extras of lots of things.  Let me know of any interest and stuff to trade.
      These towels were planted from seeds on hand, some dating back to as far as 2009.  The paper towel method allows to see what germinates without wasting time to try to set out dozens of six packs.  What I am missing from my current seed stock and need to correct is seed for cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash.
      Please use the side bar to this posting to see more on "Paper Towel Seed Germination".

Friday, March 21, 2014

Maybe Spring is Coming

      What a long, cold, often gray, and snowy winter.  Tomorrow is forecast to be 66 degrees, though there are rumors of more snow on Wednesday.  Still, I had to get my hands in the dirt today.

      I broke down last week and bought some bedding plants at Alexander's Garden Center in Newark.  The six packs were pricey at $3.49 each, but the plants looked very healthy and there was a good selection. Above are packs of mixed lettuce, arugula and pak choi.  Instant garden.

      This is the third year that I have had cold frames over the winter.  The first two winters I was able to pick salad greens all through the winter. The frames were jammed with veggies by March.  But this winter the temps at night got down to 3 degrees, and that led to a total wipe out.  Just that one clump of weeds survived, as did several spindly shoots of garlic.  Brutal.

      Ah, now doesn't that look better?  I think I will be able to pick some greens in a couple of weeks.  Not planted today but bought at Alexanders were a six pack of artichokes and a six pack of water cress.  Both fun plants that are not seen very often at garden centers.
      Let the new garden season begin.  Even the dirt under my fingernails feels good.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning Frost Art

      Merry Christmas morning to all.  It has gotten cold again, so when I went to check on the cold frames, I was greeted with a present left from the Elves last night.

Christmas morning Elf Art,  December 25th, 2013

      This is the uncropped version to see what the whole glass looks like.  The crystals are on the inside of the glass, and will melt off as soon as the sun warms the glass.  So enjoy for the moment.

Flipped exposure
Second glass in partial shadow
      And a Happy New Year to All.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Third Annual Stocking Night

      We have not hosted Christmas morning at our house since the grand children started to arrive for the fun.  Much easier to move Gramma and Pop Pop on Christmas morn rather than the little ones.  They have their morning at home, then extended family meet at Barb's house for the Christmas Feast.  And even though no one would come here for Christmas, Gramma would still decorate inside and out.  We still had stockings some years, though they might be empty.
      Two years ago I suggested to Cindy that we have the girls and families here for dinner shortly before Christmas so everyone could see the tree and decorations.  And the best part is that I would be able to go to the dollar store to buy gobs and gobs of stuff to pack the stockings.  To my utter surprise, the idea was warmly embraced, and a tradition born.  The first year we had Gramma's delicious beef stew.  The second year Gramma's delicious beef stew was even requested by the wee ones, and yes, Gramma's now Delicious Beef Stew is on the menu for tomorrow.  Even though the forecast is for a high of 73 degrees.  Don't mess with a good thing.

Stocking Night Eve, December 21,  2013

      Now we are ready for the crew to arrive late this afternoon.  Ah; kids, noise, waste paper thrown everywhere.  What more could one ask for?  Well, maybe the Redskins and the Eagles to both win today. Come on Santa, fill Pop Pop's stockings with those goodies.

Ready and waiting, well mostly ready

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Garlic, and Next Year More Garlic

Two heads of Garlic,  November 16th, 2012
      Last year a neighbor gave me two heads of named garlic, a first for me.  The head on the left was Red Russian, and the head on the right was Music.

      The Red Russian divided into eleven cloves, nearly 50% more than the seven cloves I got from the Music bulb.  The cloves were planted on November 16th of last year.  The bulbs were harvested in July of this year, with one bulb of Music lost to the wet early summer.  Many of the Red Russian bulbs felt a little spongy, also because of the wet soil.  The bulbs were dried for a couple of weeks on a rack in the porch, then bagged and forgotten in the garage.

      Hoping it is not too late to plant garlic, I rescued the bulbs from their stay in the garage.  The Music bulbs felt pretty firm, and split up nicely into 37 cloves that would be planted.

      These are the biggest, plumpest cloves of garlic I have ever seen!  Look at that one monster to the left of my thumb.  And from the taste test back in July, quite tasty too.

      The Music cloves were planted at the east end of bed number two in the back yard garden.  The more numerous but smaller cloves of Red Russian were planted in a group near the middle of bed number two.  Two of the Red Russian bulbs had dried to essentially dust, and many of the small cloves were just discarded.  Music certainly won the first year competition, though Red Russian may just have disliked the wet spring and early summer.  Next year could be completely different.

      The cloves were pushed down into the soil in three shallow trenches, then lightly covered.  From just one head each last year, I should have a monster haul next year.  And then..... the numbers get mind boggling.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Frost on the Cold Frame

      Three of the grand kids spent the night.  Had to bundle them up early to show them the frost art before the sun melts it off the glass.

Frost art, November 30th,  2013
Reverse direction

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Picking in the Freezing Rain

      Tis Thanksgiving Eve, and a fresh salad is on the menu for tomorrow.  So although it is spitting frozen rain outside, I need to pick greens now rather than face freezing the greens by picking them in the colder morning temperatures.  My fingers are still cold and stiff because gloves are too cumbersome for picking greens.

Cold Frame, November 27th, 2013
      This is the salad cold frame over at the park.  The two wooden beams are to help hold down the glass against the wind.  I have been pleasantly surprised that the wind across the park seems to flow right over the frames without pulling off the unattached glass panels.  A deep snow breaking single pane glass is a far different story.  With disappointing results.

      Here is the cold frame with the glass covers off.  One morning so far was down to 18 degrees, and another to 19 degrees.  Froze a lot of veggies, but not the covered lettuce.  Even the collards those mornings looked really stressed and limp.  After this noreaster and at least three inches of rain, the cold hardy crops have perked up quite a bit.  Including this patch of ice encrusted kale that is going to be partially harvested for dinner tonight.

      The greens after washing and then spinning in their high tech pillow case spinner.  Neighbors wonder we we are doing twirling pillow cases on the deck.  Filled the gallon bag beautifully to transport to the Turkey Day feast.

Beautiful curly kale crop, November 27th, 2013

Saute with oil, garlic and onion, simply scrumptious