Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's Growing on at the end of February

The sun is shining and spring is just around the corner! Well, almost.....we are supposed to get a wintery mix tomorrow. 

There are some seedlings growing in the basement. 

These are the first soil blocks that I planted.
I am finding that there is a learning curve to growing in the soil blocks. I am sure I will master it sooner or later.

I did a little experiment and sowed the same seeds in these soil blocks as I did in the containers below.

As you can see, the containers are doing much better then the blocks right now.

The carrots that I planted in the big container in the basement.
They are coming along nicely. I had to re-sow some of them because I ripped the seedlings out when I removed the burlap. This time I put little pieces of cardboard over the seed mats instead of the burlap.

This is the Left Cold Frame. 
The Kale and Collards are really taking off. There is a celery plant in the back and it made it through the winter. This should give us some early celery.

This is the Right Cold Frame. 
The Kale in the back is doing well and the rest of this Tatsoi will be harvested on Friday after the weather calms down. There are also a couple of celery plants in here too. I think that I am going to remove the cold frame tops this Saturday. There are aphids in the left cold frame and I need to get them under control.

The over-wintered spinach is doing well. 
I have been harvesting a little here and there. I will probably throw some more seeds in this bed soon. That is the only way I can get spinach to grow. Just throw a bunch of seeds on the ground and forget about them!

The Music garlic is peaking through the straw at the other end of the bed where the spinach is planted. It's not easy to see in this picture though.

The balance of the garlic is Silverskin and is planted in another bed which is heavily protected from the squirrels. This variety is growing much faster.

That's what's growing on around here! What's growing on around your place???

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Community Garden Update

I had not heard from the woman at Farmland Preservation who was in charge of the gardens for some time. I sent her an e-mail and did not hear back, which in itself was strange.

So, I decided to call Dora, who is also on the Garden Move Committee. Dora is a very experienced gardener. She does a lot of work for Penn State and also took care of Mrs. Rodale's gardens until her passing. 

For some reason our county has had some budget cutbacks. This in itself is strange to me since our county in very much in the green for several years now. They eliminated the woman's position. But, they hired Dora on a very part time basis to take care of both of the Community Gardens. This is good news since Dora has a great understanding of gardening!

The game plan is that the soil will be disked  by the woman who runs our county seed farm within the next two weeks. Then Dora and her crew will mark off all the plots. Our plots are in the first section. So, hopefully I will be over there working on the hardscaping within a few weeks. 

My plan is to install the fencing and gate first. This will probably take two days....maybe one, if I'm lucky. Then I will work on each bed and the soil as needed for the crops that need to go in first. I am not planning on being able to plant Spring Broccoli & Cauliflower at this time. But, you never know! I guess that it won't hurt to start some extra plants for over there.

I also changed the garden layout for the plots after talking to Dora. The road is at the end of the one plot and the path at the front. The paths will be tilled soil in the beginning. So, I figured it would be much better to have the gate at the end. This will also make it easier for me to load and unload.
This is the new layout for the plots. The shaded areas along the end are for pole beans and popcorn. I also have detailed layouts for each individual bed and the home gardens. I will try to get them posted soon. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Harvest Monday............02/20/2012

I had a couple of harvests this week. One tiny one and one big one. Wednesday I harvested a handful of spinach from the spinach bed that I needed for a recipe. On Friday, I finally got around to harvesting a lot of the Tatsoi. 

The spinach only weighed about 2 oz. It was just enough for the recipe.

This is one big bunch of Tatsoi! It weighed 3.3 lbs.

Boy, it was a lot! I gave about half of it to a friend of ours since there is still more in the cold frame!

There is also some news on the Community Garden move and some seedlings growing in the basement! I will post about the garden tomorrow.

Now, Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday and see what's going on in gardens around the globe!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard..........2/16/2012

I have been a bit absent from the blogging scene the past few weeks. This has been due to my Uncle's serious illness and passing on Valentine's Day. I'm sure I will get back into the swing of things in a week or so. 

I will be out of town next week for a few days. So, Jody & Belle at Spring Garden Acre will host Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard next week.   

Now on to some good eating from our stored goods! Last week Kristen at Rusty Moon Homestead posted a great recipe for Black Bean Soup. In her post she linked to where she found the recipe, here.   

Black Bean Soup           

  • 2 Cups Black Beans  - I used Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans from the garden
  • 1 Small Onion, Sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Quarts Cold Water
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Flour - I didn't need to use any flour
  • 3/4 tsp. Salt - I didn't use any salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Mustard - I used some homemade mustard and put in about 1/2 tsp.
  • Dash of Cayenne - I used about a 1/4 tsp.
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice - I didn't use this much
  • Hard Boiled Eggs or Egg
  • 1 Lemon, thinly sliced - We didn't use any sliced lemon
  1. Wash beans and soak overnight.
  2. Saute Onion in 1 1/2 Tbsp. Butter
  3. Drain Beans, add cold water, onion & celery. Simmer until beans are tender, adding water if needed
  4. Then I pureed the soup with an Immersion Blender. 
  5. Add remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp of Butter, flour (if needed) and seasonings and bring back to a boil
  6. I let the soup simmer for about another 30-45 minutes
  7. The soup can be served with a garnish of Sliced Hard Boiled Egg and Lemon
It may not be the prettiest soup......But, boy was it good!

What have you been putting in or taking out of your Cupboard lately....anything good????

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard..........2/09/2012

I can't believe that has been a whole week since my last post! We've been very busy around here. Hopefully I will get some things posted this week.

This week I decided to make some pumpkin muffins/cupcakes to freeze for snacks for "The Italian".. I found a good recipe and had to make some minor adjustments after the first batch.

Pumpkin Muffins/Cupcakes
  • 1 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 4 Tbs. Butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Raisins (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin or cupcake pan or use cupcake papers
  2. Sift together Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg & Salt. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or two knives until fully incorporated.

    3.  In a separate bowl, mix together Pumpkin Puree, Evaporated Milk, Vanilla & Egg.

    4.   Pour Pumpkin Mixture into the flour mixture, add raisins and fold gently
    5.   Fill Muffin or Cupcake pan and bake for about 18 minutes.

These are a great snack and can be topped with a nice Cream Cheese Frosting or served plain!

What goodies have you been making with your stored goods...or putting away for another day???

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard..........2/02/2012

We had a nice harvest of Baby Choi from the cold frames this past week which I posted here. We haven't used any of it yet, as it will store well in the refrigerator.

This week I did make one of my favorite dishes, Shrimp & Sausage served with Spaghetti Squash. I have to say that this is a great dish! This recipe is enough for "The Italian" and I. You will have to increase the amounts if you have a larger crowd.

Shrimp & Sausage w/Spaghetti Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Hot Italian Sausage Links or loose sausage (we make our own sausage)
  • 12 Medium Shrimp, whole or butterflied
  • 1 Pint Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic, minced
  • Oregano & Basil 
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese, if desired
  1. Remove Sausage from casing
  2. Add a little Olive Oil to a medium or large skillet or deep frying pan on medium-high heat
  3. Saute Onion & Sausage pieces until cooked
  4. Add minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds
  5. Add Tomatoes, Oregano & Basil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes
  6. While the sauce is cooking prepare Spaghetti Squash or pasta
  7. Add Shrimp and cook just a couple of minutes until shrimp is cooked
  8. Serve over Spaghetti Squash or Pasta with a little grated cheese
Note: This is not a thick type of sauce

This isn't the best picture....but it is a great dish!

What goodies have you been putting away in your cupboard or serving from your stored goods??