Sunday’s Starts

I have gotten behind in my planting schedule but I think I got caught up today.

I planted  Martha Washington Asparagus which I purchased from Seed Renaissance.

I also planted two types of onions – Dakota Winter from Prairie Road Organic Seed.   And Cipolla from Franchi Seeds.

I still had some room left in the trays so I filled up the rest with Grand Rapids Lettuce gotten from Seed Renaissance.

All told there are over 500 seeds that I hope will germinate within the next couple of weeks.

Onions need to be started pretty early in February. Like I said, I’m late planting them as I had a planting calender made out and it said to plant the onions in March.  But I must have neglected to record the actual seed starting time and just the other day realized that I plant the onions outside in March.  Duh.

Anyway, the reason that onions need started rather early is that onion growth corresponds with night darkness lengths. If that makes any sense.  Once the nights are not as long by June your onions are done adding layers of leaves.  The more layers of leaves you have the more rounds you will have in your onions and your onions will be larger.  So the earlier you get them planted the more chance they have of being larger onions.

I think I will be OK though as the particular onions I’m planting I’m not looking for size.  Some of these will be used for scallions or green onions so I’m not concerned about bulb size.

All my onions that I grow large (sometimes as much as 3 pounds each) I let the onion experts start for me.  Since I plant over 1500 onions I would have to build a special add on just for the onion starts.  Some things it’s just better to let someone who specializes do their thing.

Most things are good to start yourself but onions, garlic, shallots, and potatoes I leave to the experts.  Oh, and this year I started some of my own short season leeks but I am trying purchasing my fall leek starts.  We will see what happens.


Beet the Celery. Uh, You Can’t Beet Celery…

Today’s topic is beets and celery.  If you hadn’t guessed.  I’m not planting beets today.  Just the celery but I recently sent out a newsletter with a picture of beets in the header.  Well, I knew it was a picture of beets but it wasn’t as obvious to others! Which made me realize that just because I know something it is wrong to assume others will know.  It’s just not cool to send people interested in good, delicious looking and tasting food pictures of primeval worms.

Lest you wonder how someone could mistake beets for worms it might be helpful to share the picture.  Which I will do in a minute.  In my defense, these are chioggia beets so they are not a solid red color. They have beautiful swirls of white throughout the root.  These beautiful swirls of white do not translate well in a header picture.

Now when I look at my picture of beets I see worms. I hope it doesn’t transfer to when I go to eat them. I used to love roasted beets.

To be fair this dear person gave other options of what first came to her mind when she saw this picture but really,  I could see her point with the curled up worms idea.  And to her credit she knew it wasn’t worms but still, it made me realize that there are some crazy vegetables out there that a lot of us don’t recognize or know about.  This is primarily because what you find at the store are those varieties that travel well or have the best pest defenses or some other good reason that mass produced food needs to  make it to the table.

The wonderful advantage of growing your own, or knowing someone who does is you get to try all kinds of different varieties and experience the “same old” in a new way or color or flavor.  Even if it is reminiscent of something not so pleasant.

The celery was started today. I’m planting  “Redventure” this year.  Celery is very picky and needs lots of water so I’m just growing it for our family and my very-special-indeed-CSA members.  At least that’s the plan.

Time to Think Spring Even If It Isn’t

It’s 4 degrees here today. The low this morning was -16.  But nonetheless, spring is in the air (albeit the air somewhere farther South) and the beginnings of the garden start now.

My leeks, hot peppers, and parsley were started on the 11th of February.

And yesterday, the 19th I saw the first little signs of life popping through.

The reason those things need started so early are that they are sporadic in their germination and they also need a long time to germinate.

The leeks popped through first although there are many more that haven’t shown their faces yet.


I made these pictures extra large so you could see the starts. As you can tell, the germination is sporadic at this time. There is a leek seed planted every inch in this soil.

Then that same day later in the day, I saw some hot peppers.  The Chichimecca variety were the first to show through.  Hot peppers are notorious for taking a long time to germinate and need bottom heat to coax them along.


It looks like these pepper starts just now poked their stems through as they are still bowed down to their Creator and have yet to lift their faces toward His. Peppers are like that. Thankful. There is one, bottom right that is upright. He probably poked his way through earlier in the day. Yes, peppers have different sexes. But I’m only guessing he’s a he.

Parsley also takes a couple of weeks to germinate.  So I was surprised to see any hot peppers so soon.  There has been no sign of life from the parsley as yet.  Parley likes to keep you hanging.  Just when you are ready to give up and plant something else they finally come through but it’s kinda scary until then.

Preparation for Preparation

We had a bit of a reprieve in the cold weather today.  It is, alas, temporary but it did bring me out of hibernation mode long enough to get the garage straightened up enough that I could find a batch of seeds that were missing.  It took me 2 hours to arrange the garage and another 2 hours to list all the seed varieties into my seed list.  I confess that I am a seedaholic.  If there is such a thing.  I have  a problem even if there isn’t.  I am fascinated by the characteristics of certain plant varieties and feel it is my duty to try as many as possible before I die.  Or at least it would so seem.

Next week begins the start of seed sowing so I still have some work to do in the now neat garage to find space to start them but at least I can get around in there to get that done the next break we get.  It won’t be long now til everything is in full swing and I will complain about being so busy but am secretly  longing to be outside again.  The little ones and I are already talking about what it’s going to be like to go out and start eating the strawberries.  Of course, we each claim that we are going to sneak out early each morning to eat them all before the other gets any but we all know that we will share in the delightful juiciness together because together is just more fun.  Even if you do have to share.

Catching up on the Canning

This past summer I put froze up some whole paste tomatoes that I didn’t have time to deal with.  So now that things have slowed  down a bit I got them all out and canned them to make room in the freezer for a side of grass grown beef.

Frozen tomatoes

I got 2 big pots of tomatoes filled.  Much to my surprise this is what I ended up with:


That’s not a lot of tomato sauce but I did use some to make dinner too which I didn’t get a picture of but it tasted awesome.

Hamburger, spices, cabbage and the tomato sauce. Simple, easy, and just hits the spot on a 14 degree day!

Still Winterizing

Have taken a few gardening days off due to what I consider inclement weather which means it was below 70 degrees.

Way below.

And it was cloudy.

Not my favorite combo.

Anyway, I cleaned up the mess in the greenhouse that’s not really a greenhouse since the plastic all blew down.  But it is clean and ready to be repaired.  One of the many things that needs done before ground freeze.


Picked some radishes, japanese cabbage and leeks to make the japanese cabbage salad again.  The radishes were an addition and the leeks replaced the green onions from my last japanese cabbage salad (see my post with the recipe:  Also planted American Spinach and Osaka Mustard out under the plastic tunnel.



Continued Cleaning up of the Garden

Had some more help today preparing the garden for winter.

My dad and daughter pulled up what was left of the tomato stakes and dad mowed down all the plants and weeds.  Right now he’s spreading manure in hopes that it might dry out enough someday to till everything.


Since I still have a lot of vegetables hanging in there I took about 2 hours to cover everything and to put up plastic hoop row covers so that in the next couple of days I can plant out some spinach, fettles and maybe a little lettuce.  The plastic will warm up the soil and keep the starts nice and toasty.

There were still dwarf french beans out there and some had ripened up some so I picked the last of them along with some other goodies.


Took the last of the jalapeños and put them through the food processor and transferred them to freezer bags to enjoy in chili and on pizza this winter.

I spent about another 2 hours picking lettuce and a CSA share and cleaning it all up for this weeks extra offering.

The winterizing is not all done but we did make some headway.  I don’t like the cold so running crazy trying to get as much done in the warm sunshine as I can!

Ode to Summer

The weather forecast is calling for frigid temperatures in the evenings and cold during the day so I suppose I must give up my hopes of an elongated and warm fall.  We picked some lettuce out of the garden, added some tomatoes and onion, beans and corn chips to make our favorite summer meal – taco salad.  Mix up some salsa and mayonnaise to top it and don’t expect any leftovers.  Good-Bye,  my beloved Summer 2014.


Let’s Have Some Japanese If You Plea ese

It was too cold and rainy to work much in the garden today.  I did pick 3 zucchini and some scalloped squash along with about 3 heads of lettuce and some japanese cabbage and japanese bunching onion.

The CSA has received japanese cabbage in the last 2 shares and I’ve received good reports about how tasty it was so I was anxious to try it for myself.

So today I cooked up some japanese yam and made the japanese cabbage recipe suggested by Susie (one of my CSA customers who happens to also be an essential oil expert) on her website.  You can find her version here:

My version was a bit different as I didn’t have all the ingredients that she used but I have to say it was pretty good and I wasn’t the only one who thought so as our 2,3 and 4 year olds all scarfed it down before they even ate the sweet potatoes.

I cut up my head of cabbage (which resembles pak choi and lettuce all in one)  into ribbons.  I then finely chopped some japanese bunching onions and added that to the mix.  I didn’t have sesame seeds (mainly because I am allergic to them) so I used pine flakes which I toasted up as well as some almonds, slivered.  Added equal amounts of olive oil and white wine vinegar, salt and some garlic and ginger, grated.  Put in about a tablespoon of some local honey fresh extracted this week and tossed it all together. The honey in the dressing tames the slight strong flavor of the cabbage and overall created a delicious salad that rivaled any lettuce salad I’ve ever eaten.

Thanks to Susie for the written recipe and also to a couple of other members of the CSA that had tried the cabbage and shared that it was tasty.

Japanese Red Sweet Potato and Japanese Cabbage Salad.

Japanese Red Sweet Potato and Japanese Cabbage Salad.

CSA Prep Day

Started getting ready for CSA delivery this morning at 6:30.

Picked lettuce, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, kale, green beans, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, and Japanese cabbage.  Watered the bucket garden and the newly planted trees and bushes.

Got all the individual orders together and went down to my dad’s to get the apples that are stored down there to fulfill various orders.

Washed off the greens and packed them.

All of that took me til 7 pm no lunch break.  I did sneak a few bites of kohlrabi while I was washing things off.  Yum!

Purple Cauliflower - it's huge!

Purple Cauliflower – it’s huge!


A sampling of what was picked today. Just a small sampling.