Monday, January 31, 2011

Community Plots.....confirmed!!!

Yes, our plots at the Community Gardens have been confirmed!! Although I was told that we did have plots 7 & 8 on the 20th of January, I wanted a confirmation to ease my mind. Now I feel comfortable to start purchasing the materials we will need to get these babies in shape!

Across the front of the plots we are going to install  5 or 6 foot high fencing. This little baby gate will be replaced with a 5' x 5' gate and moved a few feet to the left. A structure will be built a few feet to the left of the new gate. This structure will be 6' x 6' with a gutter & downspout attached to a rain barrel system. I think that 6' x 6' will give us adequate space for a cabinet and a table & chairs.

This old cold frame and some other things are in the left back corner of the plots, next to the over grown raspberries (I think). Across the back of the plots there is a section of fence missing. I didn't measure it when I was there, so I'm not sure exactly how much fence is missing. We also need to put up bunny protection around the perimeter of the plots. Although spray works most of the time, I'm not taking any chances. I had one bad bunny a couple of years ago that ate all of my broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants in one night when they were little! I am planning to install 2' high chicken wire buried a bit in the ground. This will also help with groundhogs. The same year I had a bad bunny I also had a groundhog that ate all of my beans and the peas two times in one season!!

The basic garden layout and some bed details are finished. I will post a layout and more details some time this week. Hopefully we will have a mild March (which is predicted) and we will be able to get a lot of work done!

Getting Involved to save the Food and

our planet. It's pretty scary what is going on with the production of the majority of food. The masses are not only producing unhealthy food they are also killing the planet and creating disease! Although most people have no idea what they are really eating, more and more are becoming aware of the imminent threat to our food, health and planet.

I have decided to get involved....and all of you can too!! Please go to The Organic Consumers Association join and help in "Millions Against Monsanto Truth in Labeling Campaign". Maybe if more people are aware of what is going on .....Mother Earth and our Food will have a chance!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Storage Update

Last year I planted a variety of tomato called "Winter Storage" which I posted about here. I thought it would be interesting to see how they would do over the winter....and who wouldn't love to have a home grown tomato to eat in the winter?? Well, to date we have not eaten a single tomato. Most of them rotted and the few that are left have turned mostly yellow and are still quite hard.

These were the remaining four tomatoes which were put in to the compost today.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Started some Seeds....finally

I really think that I have my first case of "Cabin Fever", or as the Ohiofarmgirl calls it "Sloth". Although, last year was the first winter that I was not "working", I had my two year old grandson here every day all day. So, I guess that kept me a bit busy and I did not get it. It's not like I don't have anything to do around here...I really do! All of those projects that you're too busy to do in the summer and you say you are going to do in the winter. Well, truthfully, I haven't done many of them! I think that next January we are going to go on vacation for a few weeks....that's my plan anyway.

Back to the seed starting....I've had everything all ready to go for about a week now. Yesterday I finally drug myself down into the basement and got some things going.

I decided to start some herbs since they take a while to grow. I started some annual herbs; Summer Savory, Parsley, Cilantro, Rosemary & Basil. Since this is the first time that I have grown Rosemary from seed, I have no idea how long it will take to germinate and grow. The basil doesn't take as long to grow as some of the other herbs do....but, we don't have any growing right now and it sure would be nice to have some on hand!

I also started a couple of perennial herbs, Mint and Winter Savory. My Winter Savory plant died last year after many years in the herb I started a new one.  Although I have 5 or 6 pots of mint outside, we never seem to have enough for our needs. There's nothing better then nice cold "Mojoto" on a hot summer day.

Doesn't that look so so Good??

After seeing Villager's pictures of his beautiful lettuce greens he has growing inside, I decided to start some. They just looked so inviting. I know, with all of the greens slowly growing in the cold frames, I'm sure in about a month I will have way too many salad greens. Well, too many is better then none!

The lettuce varieties I started are; Romaine Little Gem Cos, Buttercrunch Butterhead & Schweitzer's Mescher Bib. These are the oldest lettuce seeds that I have and thought it would be good to use them first.

I also started a small tray of, they better get Growing!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Don't BEElieve it!

I moved here from the farm a little over six years ago. It's a very nice old-fashioned neighborhood with beautiful older homes and wonderful neighbors in the west end of a city.

You get the picture...I always enjoy taking walks around our neighborhood. One thing that I have noticed is that we have a lot of these...


Just two blocks from our home in the middle of our neighborhood is a restaurant.

I've always thought that it was an unusual place for a restaurant here in the middle of our neighborhood. It's a very cozy place that has very good seafood and of course oysters. This is where I buy our local honey.

The owner of the restaurant has hives and sells his honey. I can't tell you how many times I have walked down this street and never noticed this!!!

Do you BEElieve it???
He keeps his hives on the roof of the restaurant! I really have to wonder about myself sometimes...How in the world could I have missed these BEES??

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Cold Frames before the Storm

What a change in weather from the past couple of days. I just looked at the cold frame thermometer and it was reading 46 F. So, I decided to go out and open them up for some fresh air and remove the snow before our next snow storm tomorrow. The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. I only had a sweat shirt on and it felt warm. When I came in to down load the pictures I took, I was surprised to see that the outside temperature is only 29 F!! It feels like Spring to me!!

The veggies and the weeds in the cold frames look very happy.

Pak Choi

Dill, Pak Choi, Collards and some Kale in the back.
I'm going to cut some of the dill to make beans with dill sauce that vrtlarica posted here.

Rainbow Chard and some weeds.
I didn't realize how big some of the weeds are until I looked at these pictures.
I guess that I better go back out and pull them.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stored Harvest Recipes 01/24/2011

Since it has been so cold out and I have no harvests to post, I thought that I would share a couple of recipes that we have made recently from our stored harvests. Sorry, no pictures....I have been forgetting to take pictures of our meals lately.

The first recipe is my favorite lately.....and it's quick and easy!!

Leek & Potato Soup
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 3-4 Leeks, thinly sliced (about 8 oz)
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 6-8 medium size potatoes, thinly sliced with skins on
  • 3-4 Cups Stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 Cup Cream (I use light cream)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste if desired (I don't add any)
  1. Over medium heat, melt butter in large saucepan, add leeks and onions. Cook stirring occasionally until limp.
  2. Add potatoes and then add just enough stock to cover the potatoes. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until the desired consistency. The soup will thicken as you mash them. Cook on low until soup thickens a bit.
  4. Add cream and salt & pepper if desired and cook about 15-20 minutes on low heat. Make sure that you stir it occasionally to avoid burning!
The second recipe we made this week using frozen sliced eggplant, canned tomatoes, homemade breadcrumbs and our dried herbs. This recipe takes some time to prepare, so we made two pans and gave one to "The Italians" parents to cook for dinner. You could always freeze one and cook it later.

Eggplant Parmesan
  • Sliced Eggplant - skins on
  • Eggs, beaten
  • Bread crumbs with some seasonings and Parmasen Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Tomato sauce
  • Grated Mozzarella Cheese
  • Grated Parmesan, Romano Cheese or your favorite hard grating cheese
  1. Pour enough olive oil to fry eggplant in a large frying pan on medium high heat.
  2. Dip eggplant in eggs, then in bread crumbs covering both sides.
  3. Place the eggplant slices in to the hot oil, cook on one side, turn then cook on the other side until golden brown. Place on paper towel or towel to absorb oil.
  4. This process takes some time and is a little messy.
  5. Next, if you don't have your own "Italian" to make you a basic red tomato sauce, you will have to make your own! A tomato sauce of onions a little garlic, oregano, basil and tomatoes is perfect.
  6. Assemble in an appropriate size baking pan for the amount of eggplant you have and layer as follows; tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, eggplant......etc.
  7. When you are finished layering, end with tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, or until bubbling.
If we are making it to freeze for a later date, we don't bake it. It will take longer to bake when frozen and you may need to add a little extra sauce.

I hope that you don't mind my lack of measurements. That is how we normally cook, except for baking.

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions our host of Harvest Monday to see what others are harvesting or how they are using their harvests!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baby It's COLD Outside!

At 8 AM this morning it was a brisk 4 degrees outside! That means it was a little colder at 7 AM.!! The temperature in the cold frames was a nice warm 31! I looked at the cold frame thermometer at 6 AM and it was 30.

That's not a bad temperature. It seems like the cold frame temperatures stay more consistent when there is snow on them. I have noticed on days when the temperatures are more normal, the cold frames stay about 37 with the snow on them. When there is no snow, the temperatures can fluctuate from the high 20's at night and can go as high as the 60's during the day when the sun is shining on them. I really try to pay attention and open them on sunny days to keep the temperatures lower.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Building Germinating Table #2

After all of the confusion over the garden plots yesterday, I decided to do what any good gardening woman would do...Have an adult beverage and make that second germinating table!!

Although the first germinating table turned out well, the second one is much nicer. I was able to string the lights in six rows instead of five like the first one. This one took me a fraction of the time to build....maybe it was because I had done it before or maybe it was the adult beverage I had while making it! After completing it, I decided to make some adjustments to the first one. Table number 1 now has six rows of lights just like table number 2.

Due to the confining space in the basement area where I germinate and lack of two additional storm windows, I decided to buy some glass for the tops of both tables. Today, I went to a local glass place and got two pieces of glass cut to size. Now the glass does not hang over the edges of the tables. This will provide me with much more space to move around and will make my life much easier down there in the basement when tending to the plants.

Next, I had to dig out an additional shop light and re-hang all of the lights over the tables.

Ta Da....Everything is almost ready to go!!! Now all I have to do is go get some germinating soil and wash all of those pots!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Day....Not so good Day

Today started out very well. Since we have the materials list complete for the plots and other things we need for the garden, I decided to go out and see if I could find some bargains. I started out at The Big Orange, home improvement store. I really don't like this place and avoid going there if possible. However, it is close to home, so I started there. I found heavy piece of damaged plywood for 55 cents....great! It was the exact size I needed to build the second germinating table. I stopped at a couple of other stores, priced some materials and then decided to go to the plots.

We are expecting another snow storm tonight, so I thought I would take a couple of good pictures and haul away a little of the garbage over there. I took the pictures, picked up a few things and headed home. As soon as I got in the door, the lady from the community gardens called. It seems as though the county did not forward all of the paperwork to her for the gardens until today. I don't know if I mentioned in a previous post that the community gardens are under new management this year with a different department for the county. Guess what??? The plots that she assigned to us are spoken for by someone who has had them for years!! So, she gave me a list of seven other plots and I headed back over there.

I decided on plots 7 & 8. They measure 37' wide by 45' deep. There are some old overgrown raspberries in the back and no structure on them.

I called her when I got back home with our decision. She was going in to a meeting with the Director of Farmland Preservation and was going to discuss the issues with the gardens with him. Hopefully, these will be the plot that we get and the Community Gardens will be managed a bit better under this department.

So, I'm back to square one laying out the plot plan!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Garden Plots Update

Since we had our first warm day in a long time, "The Italian" and I decided to go out to the plots. It has been so cold here. We had a snow and ice storm yesterday and the temperature is supposed to drop significantly over the next two days. We really needed to field measure the plots and assess what we are going to need. Well, much to our surprise, the plots are not the size they are supposed to be. They are 13' 6" deeper!! I am so so happy about this! This makes the plots 40' wide and 43' 6" deep.

I think that I have spent about two days laying out the beds and deciding what I am going to plant where and when. Well, now I have to re-think and re-plan the four large interior beds at the plots. So far I have added 10 tomato plants to one of the exterior beds and extended the strawberry bed by 13'. This really made "The Italian" happy. He really thought that we needed more then 30 tomato plants. Now we have 40! That should definitely give us enough tomatoes for the year.

So far, we have the plot plan laid out, materials list and the crops for the exterior beds decided upon. Now I will have to spend some time planning the crops for the large interior beds and updating the Excel worksheet. I really have to get this done, since it will only be a couple of weeks before I have to start some seeds. I also have yet to make the additional germinating table. I did, however, clean up the basement area where I germinate my seeds.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Overly Optomistic Harvest Monday 1/17/2011

I have been patiently waiting for the very very late planted greens in the cold frame to be ready. They really looked like they were starting to grow....or so I thought. We have just been longing for a REAL FRESH salad from the garden! Yesterday I decided to cut some lettuce for a nice "little" salad to have with our dinner consisting of a fresh roasted organic chicken marinated w/rosemary wine & garlic jelly, some frozen peas from the garden and baked local organic potatoes (since the voles ate mine last year).

Here it is....the tiny weenie little salad!! Weighing in at 1 ounce!
It sure did taste good though!!
This year, I will definitely make sure the winter greens are planted on time!

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions our host of Harvest Monday to see more harvests from around the world!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tomato Planning & varieties for 2011

I have decided to sow 30 tomato plants consisting of 17 different varieties this year. I know that it sounds like a lot of tomatoes.  However, even with the 221 lbs harvested last year, we did not have nearly enough for our needs. Last year I had sown 19 plants here. However, 4 of them were really not productive.

I have received many seeds & new varieties from fellow bloggers and am very excited to try them! I really wanted to sow 1 plant each of the seeds I received from others here at the home garden in order to really test them. I know what my soil is like here and I thought it would be the best way to test them. Due to the fact that I recently sold the house next door, I will be loosing some beds. The new owner is actually the woman I purchased the house from (she is renting the house to family) said that I could continue to use the beds. However, I think that woman who will be living there (my former cleaning lady) really wants to have some vegetables growing.

The plan right now is to have our favorite eating tomatoes here and the bulk tomatoes for storage at the plots. I am presently planning to sow 10 tomato plants here and 20 at the plots. This will also make my seed germinating easier. I will only have to start 10 plants early for here and the balance of the plants for the plots and others will be started a month later. Last year I started all of the tomato plants at the same time and was over whelmed to say the least. They got too big too fast and it was a real job tending to them. I will use the Kozy Koats for the tomatoes that are sown here enabling me to plant them as early as I did last year.

As you can see in this picture from last year, the greenhouse will go over the one small bed where 4 tomatoes will be sown and I will sow 4 in the other smaller bed with Kozy Koats and 2 in either this front bed or the side bed with Kozy Koats. The greenhouse goes up in late winter and comes down once I have all of the plants planted.

Planting varieties and locations are as follows:

Variety                                                       # Home Garden          # Plots

Amish Paste (Seeds from Thomas)                                                     2
Matt's Wild Cherry                                                     1
Howard's German Red                                              1                         3
Lancaster County Italian Paste                                                             3
San Marzano #1                                                                                    1
San Marzano #2                                                                                    1
Paulina                                                                                                  2
Early Pack 7                                                                                          1
Kellogg's Breakfast                                                                               2

Glick's Brandywine                                                                                2
Tiffen's Mennonite                                                                                  2

Cherokee Purple (Seeds from Diana)                         1                         1
Cherokee Purple (Seeds from EG)                             1                         1
Cherokee Purple (Seeds from Daphne)                      1                         1
Cherokee Purple (Seeds from Thomas)                     1                         1
Eva's Purple Ball                                                          1                         4

Other Colors
Pineapple (Seeds from Diana)                                   1                          1
White Tomesol                                                                                       1
Black Cherry (Seeds from EG)                                  1
Paul Robeson (Seeds from EG)                                1                          1

As you can see from the list, I am planting 4 Cherokee Purples here from 4 different seed sources. They are our favorite eating, I wanted to get a clear picture of any differences from all of the seed sources. You can never have too many CP's!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

This is What it is!!!

I thought I would wait 24 hours before I posted What it is!

I definitely thought that someone would figure it out.
I have to say that I really enjoyed all of the creative was fun!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What do you think this is??

Since a lot of you are snowed in, I thought that I would publish this post.

"The Italian" got me some really nice gardening gifts and gadgets for Christmas this past year. This was one gift that I did not post. I thought his wrapping was very very interesting :)

So.....what do you think this is???
It is gardening related.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We've Got Plots!!!

This afternoon I received the call from the women in charge of the Community Gardens. We have two plots!! Yeah!! They weren't our first or second choice.....but, I am very pleased! These two plots are side by side making our gardening space 40' wide by 30' deep.

This is not a very good picture of the plots. There is a structure and a good rain barrel set-up in place. The plastic on the roof has holes in, it will have to be replaced. When we looked at these plots we weren't sure if they were in use last year since they aren't as overgrown as some of the others. Therefore, it won't be as hard to get them cleaned up. There is some good fencing in place and I think that there is an very nice iron gate to the right of the structure.

Of course, we are supposed to get a big snow storm tonight!!! So......who knows when I will be able to get over there and get some better pictures and start making some plans!

Planning the Gardens for 2011...phase 1

I have been spending a great deal of time this past week or so working on garden plans for this year. Most of the time has been spent on seed ordering, seed organization and researching some varieties of veggies and fruits. I am pleased to say, that I think that I have this part pretty much worked out. All of my seeds and most plants have been ordered. I still have to order the raspberries, strawberries and asparagus plants though. I even found a local source for artichoke plants! This was a big relief since I really don't think I will have the time to try to grow them from seed this year.

"The Italian" and I have been working on the excel worksheet where I try to keep track of everything for the garden. A lot of changes have been made to, hopefully I will keep it updated as the season progresses! I do think that I am going to create a separate sheet and print it out to keep track of the daily harvests. This sheet will be kept in the kitchen and "The Italian" can then update the worksheet in the computer once a week......unless HE comes up with a better idea!!

We have estimated the amounts of produce that we think we need for the year and added that to the sheet. Hopefully, Mother Nature and the critters will cooperate and we will have most of the staples we need this coming year!! Believe it or not, with the 221 lbs of tomatoes harvested last year.....we did not have nearly enough to keep us for a year!!

I have already received two of my seed orders. This is the first time that I have ordered from Pinetree and Baker Creek. I only ordered two packs of seeds from Baker Creek and they sent me two free packs! How Nice!

Phase 2 of the garden planning is the garden layouts. I have worked on them a bit on paper....but, most of the information is still in my head! are your gardening plans for 2011 coming along??

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Harvest Monday of 2011

After many weeks of no harvests.........I finally harvested some leeks from the garden! I had left several leeks in the garden until we had a craving for leek and potato soup. Well, "The Italian" came down with a slight cold the other day and I thought it was time to make some soup!

They weighed in at 8 oz. after they were completely trimmed.
The soup was absolutely delicious....and was gone before I could take a picture!!

Stop by Daphne's Dandelions our host of Harvest Monday to see more harvests from around the world!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seed & Source Recommendations Please!!

Now that the hustle and bustle of the Holidays is over, I finally went through all of my seeds. There are a few veggies and fruits that I would greatly appreciate some variety and source recommendations on.


Artichoke, Globe, plants - to buy on-line, I have completely failed growing them from seed and I did not like the variety I purchased last year (I had Imperial Star)

Asparagus Plants - to buy on-line, I have never grown asparagus

Brussels Sprouts - (I planted Long Island) mine grew nice and big, but they did not form heads early enough...I'm still waiting for them to get bigger

Cabbage, Red - I always grow Savoy and it does well. I would like to plant a red variety though

Cauliflower  - (I planted Early Snowball) mine grew well despite the hot weather. I would like to try another variety as well

Corn, Sweet - I have never grown corn in my home garden

Corn, Popcorn - My mother used to grow a great popcorn when I was growing up. I don't know what variety it was.

Lima Bean - I'm looking for small limas, pole if there is such a variety

Pumpkin - I'm looking for a good pumpkin for pies

Raspberry, canes - I have never grown raspberries
Strawberry, plants - I will be making another bed for strawberries. I have several varieties planted in the bed I have now....but, they are all mixed up and I lost the tags!! I want to plant both Alpine and June

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Community Garden Plots

I have been on the waiting list at one of the local Community Gardens since late last spring. New applicants were supposed to get their applications before the end of the year. I had talked to the woman who handles the paperwork for the plots a couple of times this past year.....I really wanted to make sure that we would be able to get a plot or two!! She had informed me that someone else would be handling it this year. However, I would still receive my application at the end of December. When I did not receive an application last week, I decided to call her office. To make a long story short, I was told the the gardens would now be handled by our county Farmland Preservation and given a phone number and a person to talk to.

Well, I am going to deliver my paperwork and check to her on Monday or Tuesday. "The Italian" and I have looked at the gardens and the abandoned plots a couple of times. Today, we decided that we better go look at them again before I submit the paperwork and preferred plot numbers to her this week.

Here are the plots that should be available for next year. Although it is one plot per household, we are going to get two for the family. You are allowed to get plots for other family members in the county. Since, these gardens will provide bulk produce for our family, my FIL is applying for one.

Each plot is about 20' x 30'

These are plots 62 & 61. Although these two plots do not have much fencing, they are not severely overgrown. We won't have to spend as much time clearing. We will, however, have to spend time and money on fencing and setting up a structure and rain barrel set-up. These two plots are side by side....making them about 40' wide by 30' deep. Our number 2 choice....we think.

These are plots 17 & 16. The picture on the left is plot 17 at the bottom and the picture on the right is the right side of 17 & 16. These plots are end to end, making them about 20' wide by 60' deep.

More pictures of plots 17 & 16.

The picture on the left is part of the left side and the picture on the right is the top of plot 16. We really looked at these two plots. The fencing is great and there is also very small fencing at the bottom to keep the bunnies out. There are many rain barrels, a structure, table, shovel and many other useful items left by the previous gardeners. I didn't see anything that would have contaminated the ground. These two plots will take some time to clean out....but, they are our first choice.

These are pictures of plots 9 - 13. The picture on the left is of 11, 12 & 13 and the end of 10. The picture on the right is plot 9. All of these plots are side by side. It's hard to tell if the one was used this year or not. These are our last choice. We will, however take what we can get.

What are your thoughts???? I would love some input.