Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring.. oh Sweet Spring...

I got the opportunity to get out in the garden for the first time today. It was FANTASTIC.  It was probably 65 degrees and sunny.  I walked around in the yard without a coat, and putted around for about 5-6 hours. My first task was to cut back a bunch of the dead foliage and make a pile in the fenced garden.  When I was cutting back (mostly 2-4 inches), I found so many things growing underneath.  There are still plenty of leaves around to protect the new growth, so I won't rake them out yet.

There were SO many things already growing in my herb bed.  Above, the lemon balm is off to a good start.  I have taken a new interest in herbs as medicines this winter, and I am excited for my herbs to grow so I can start using them to my advantage. 

For some reason blogger will not turn this picture the correct direction, no matter what way I rotated it, this is the way it shows up.  This is my catmint plant, with some fantastic growth under the leaves.

Unbelievably, there are things to eat already in the March garden.  These are my spring green onions, in two nice bunches.  I will probably go harvest some tomorrow to have with my cottage cheese for lunch.

This is even more unbelievable!  I found this entire spinach plant in my lettuce bed.  I have no idea why it is growing here...well, some idea, but don't know why it is germinated and grown, and in such lovely condition.  I will go inspect this further tomorrow to see if I can pull off the outer leaves for eating.

Of course you can't have spring without its star...rhubarb!  It is already poking up through the ground.  I use rhubarb in a ton of jams and desserts.  I can't wait to see it leafing out next month. 

I also had a lot of plants growing that I don't eat.  The lamb's ears baffle me. This thing doesn't even look like winter happened to it.  A tiny bit of the outer edges was browned, but that was it.  It felt lush, and thick, and healthy.  Is it some kind of soft-leaved evergreen?  I forgot that this is an I will have to do some research into how it is used. 

I do not remember what this plant is called. (Hold on.) Okay, I looked it up.  Veggies I and such I have to look up sometimes.  This is my silver mound artemisia.  The name is no lie...this thing gets huge and pillowey.  And it already has a great start. 

And here is my black diamonds hellebore peeking out from the woodchips.  Hellebores are another star of spring.  I just planted this last fall, so I haven't got to see it bloom yet...but the pictures are great.  Truly black plants are rare, I'm told, and this one is a knockout. 

I got a lot done in the garden today, and it looks like tomorrow will be a great day outside too.  It never ceases to amaze me what will grow so early, before you think you will find a thing.  I will have more posts to show the projects I'm working on this year, but this one was all about sharing the beauty you can find even this early in the spring. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy to Be Starting Seeds

I have kind of slacked on getting my seeds started this year. I've been busy trying to get back into shape, which as you know, can take a lot of time. However, I had some seeds that say, "start 10-12 weeks before the last frost". This weekend is 10 weeks until our last frost, the weekend of Mother's Day usually here in this portion of Iowa.  It's not that I don't want to start the seeds, it is just one of those things that I always say, that doesn't have to be done today, I'll get to that tomorrow.  But I realized, if I don't get to it, some of this stuff isn't going to be ready to go out.  Once I got down to it, I really enjoyed working on it, and I'm so happy to have seeds on my seed starting rack.

This year, instead of the seed starting mix I usually buy in bags, I decided to try coir.  A lot of my friends on twitter were talking about how much they liked it, and it is supposed to be somewhat more sustainable than peat.  Coir is a natural fiber made from coconut husks.  I have heard that a lot of energy is used to wash the coir before it gets to us, however.  Anyways, the type I bought came in a brick form, wrapped in plastic.  Coir expands when water is the company supplied a plastic bag to put the brick in before adding water.  I put it in the sink, so when the extra water flowed out, it wouldn't make a mess all over the place.

I really liked the texture of the was easy to work with.  However, I couldn't just get it out and use it.  I had to wait for the water to soak in and the for the coir to expand.  Since I was starting 3 bricks of coir, this meant I had 3 bags sitting around soaking since the bag was not big enough to accommodate more than one brick.  I think I would rather not waste all those plastic bags.  Maybe I can find a coir product that doesn't involve so much plastic next time.  It seemed like the coir was ready faster when I used really warm water and let the faucet pour right on the brick while I was filling up the bag.  I have a big bowl I use for wetting down my seed starting mix, and I dumped the coir into that when it was ready.

I forgot how tiny celery seeds are! Urgghhh...that is what took the longest. Getting those seeds into the seed trays was hard. 

This is my set up for seed starting in the new house.  Yes, that is a towel on my kitchen floor.  It is one of the only non-carpeted rooms in the house with good lighting.  So I crouched next to this and put 2-3 seeds into each square. 

At last, seeds starting on the rack.  These shelves will be overflowing with seeds by late spring.  This year I got smart and started labeling the seeds with the date planted, how many days til germination, and the variety name. As long as they stay dry, my little notes will help me remember what is what and how long it has been growing. 

For the 1st round, I started:  Early Dell Celery, Blue Mirror Delphiniums, Catmint, Primor French Baby Leeks, Early Green Broccoli, and Falltime Leeks.  Coming up next will be hibiscus for tea and peppers. 

I have a seed starting mat under some of the trays, and I put the greenhouse tops on after I took these photos.  To keep them moist, I spritz them with a water bottle I keep on the seed starting rack. I try not to water with actual liquid until the seeds have germinated, to keep the seeds from washing away.  My lights are lowered down to just above the trays, and now......I wait.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wanna Do a Shot?

I was really excited a few weeks ago when I read somewhere that Wendy's Junior Frosty was only 150 calories.  I kind of was craving some chocolate ice cream, so this seemed like the perfect solution.  I stopped by Wendy's on the way home one day, and examined all the calorie charts.  Sure enough, it said 150 calories.  I also got a chicken sandwich and I waited for them to make my food.

Imagine my surprise when they gave me this!  I mean, I knew it wouldn't be huge, but I almost laughed out loud at how tiny it was. It looks bigger here, but trust me, this entire thing could lay in the palm of my hand.  Still, chocolate is chocolate, so I took it home to consume in peace.  The deputy (my fiance), did laugh out loud.  "I know," I said.  "I feel like I am doing a chocolate shot!"

To make myself feel more content, I got out one of my son's baby spoons.  Then I took teeny tiny bites with the teeny tiny spoon.  And I ate reaaaaallllllyyyy sloooowwww.  In all, I was pleased with it.  But I still felt like I should put a little Bailey's in it and slam it.  Wanna do a shot with me?  I'll buy everybody a round. 
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