Saturday, April 29, 2006

Planting Onions in the Rain

Yesterday I got a package in the mail from Jung Seeds. It was my onion plants, potato eyes, garlic bulbs and flower bulbs. Normally I would be really excited, but a rainy weekend was forecasted. This afternoon I was wishing out loud that the rain would stop for just a bit so I could plant at least the onions. Onion plants arrive looking kind of wilted, but with lots of water after planting, they bounce back really quick and start growing - if I could have planted before the rain started, it would have been perfect. I checked the weather forecast and it looked like it would be raining for days. My six year old son convinced me that we could go out and plant in the rain - it really wasn't raining all that hard - if we put our rain coats on and he took an umbrella and stood over me, it would be fun. So out we ventured to plant onions in the rain. Five minutes later Andy announced that he was done and going in. I should have known he wouldn't last. Oh well, it only took me about 15 minutes to plant them - I only had a bundle of 100 - and they wouldn't have gotten planted today at all if he hadn't convinced me to do so. And they are loving the rain!

I also put my cauliflower and remaining lettuce plants outside to start "hardening them off" so I can plant them soon. I also pulled my 3 earth boxes out and set them where I want them. Two of them are going to be filled with cauliflower. I haven't decided what I am putting in the 3rd one this year. I did Sweet Corn in two last year, but they didn't really do that well. I had Bell Peppers in the 3rd last year and while they did good, the ones in the garden also did good. I don't always have a plan before I start planting....maybe I should, but I always seem to find a place for everything that I want.


Well, my rhubarb looks like it will be ready for the first cutting soon and it occurs to me that I still have frozen rhubarb in the freezer. So I decided to thaw the rhubarb and make this recipe - it is one of my favorites:

Rhubarb Crunch
1 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled oats – substitute quiona flakes for gluten free
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups sliced rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water - if using thawed rhubarb, substitute the juice that you drain off the rhubarb as it thaws for the water
1 tsp. vanilla
In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter; mix until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into an ungreased 9 inch square baking pan. Cover with rhubarb. For topping, combine sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan and add water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour over the rhubarb. Top with the remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until bubbly.

That will still leave me one package of rhubarb in the freezer.....what to make - a crisp?, a pie? perhaps bread? I have never tried rhubarb bread, but have several recipes, maybe I will try that and let you know how it comes out.
Freezing rhubarb is very simple - just chop it up and place it in freezer bags. You do not have to blanch it and you do not have to add sugar. If you do add sugar and use the frozen rhubarb in a recipe, make sure you decrease the amount of sugar the recipe calls for.
Another tip that I learned when cooking with rhubarb - especially when making a crisp or pie - mix some Minute Tapioca (made by the Kraft) in with the rhubarb before putting in the pan. The tapioca absorbs the liquid and makes it not so runny.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The other tray of plants in the basement. Tomatoes on the left, then 3 rows of peppers - 2 rows of bells (mixed colors) and 1 row of anaheim hot peppers. Lettuce and basil on the left. Posted by Picasa

One tray of plants in the basement. Cauliflower is on the left. Pumpkin and Zucchinni are the large plants on the right. There are some flowers getting dwarfed out on the far right. Posted by Picasa

Lettuce. The lettuce that I transplanted two weeks ago is on the left and the lettuce I set out this past weekend is on the right. The new lettuce looks a little wilted, but that is normal - it is adjusting to the garden. The older is lettuce is now adjusted and should start growing again now. The older lettuce is Buttercrunch and the newer is Romaine. Posted by Picasa

A Minnesota Peach. Yes, you read that right. We planted this peach tree 3 years ago. It was bred for nothern climates. This is the first year that it has blossoms. We are really excited. Now I just have to figure out how to keep Andy and the neighborhood boys from pulling the immature fruits off (assuming some of the blossoms turn into fruits). Last year, they pulled a lot of green apples off the apple tree. Since we have so few (and they are all in the boy's reach), I really want to have some peaches! Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 24, 2006

Too sick to garden

A great weekend passed me by. I have been having some on going health problems and have not been able to get out and garden very much. I am going to try and force myself to get out this week for short periods of time - I find gardening makes me feel so much better. I left work on Friday after just an hour with a migraine - usually I can work through migraines and then collapse later at home - when I have to leave work, they are pretty bad. Saturday it subsided into the back of my head and I did get out a little.

Andy and I managed a short bike ride on our bicycle built for two (a tag along bike connected to mine) and I did transplant some more lettuce outside. I also attacked the gas grill and got it cleaned. OMG, I can't remember the last time I cleaned it and it was bad! But then on Sunday, my migraine returned with a vengance. I did manage to suffer through a birthday party at a bowling alley that Andy was invited to, but I went straight to bed when we got back.

I have been fighting a pain in my neck and right shoulder blade for about a year now - with chiropractic care, it has been manageable, but I have not had a pain free day since it started. I have been recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and have started taking medication for that - I am not supposed to take any other meds or supplements within 4 hours of taking my throid medicine which I take first thing when I get up in the morning (have to take on an empty stomach). I wake up in pain from the neck and then wait to take any pain medicine for it and by the time 4 hours has gone by, it has progressed into a migraine! Add stress of work and mothering and it just feels like a no win situation lately. I am going to call my doctor today and see how important the spacing of the meds really are - I think it is just for maximum absorbtion, but if I keep losing whole days to migraines, it just isn't worth it. This is spring and I need to get outside and garden!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Buttercrunch Lettuce. I planted one third of my lettuce, the Buttercrunch in the main garden. It is a little wilted from transplanting, but it should bounce right back. I planted 6 plants. I will plant the next variety out in 2 weeks and the 3rd variety 2 weeks after that unless they start getting too "leggy" inside - if that happens, I will plant them out earlier. I like to spread out the plantings so there is a longer harvest time. Posted by Picasa

Landscape fabric ready to stake down. To prevent the raspberries from coming through again (the area that they are in is on the other side of the fence on the side of the house), I have laid down landscape fabric but I can't find enough stakes for them so I will have to run to Target to get them. Posted by Picasa

Lots of Raspberry roots. It is not a very good picture, but this is actually a very large pile of roots that took a lot of work to dig out. They had really invaded this area. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I had some help this weekend

I spent some time this past weekend digging up one of my garden spots - the raspberries keep creeping into this area and while I love raspberries, I want this area to be mainly flowers - so I have been digging out the raspberry roots with a pitch fork - my six year old son, Andy and his friend, five year old Vinny wanted to help.

Andy has a complete set of garden tools - real metal and wood, just child sized, so we got them out and the boys started digging to help me. When you garden with children, you just have to accept that it might take longer and you will not get everything accomplished that you set out to do - but it is so worth it.

First of all, Andy only has one shovel and they both wanted to use the shovel so I had to go in the house and get the timer and set it for 5 minutes at a time for them to take turns. That worked for awhile until the one who did not have the shovel started to discover worms in the dirt that we were digging up.

The boys immediately forgot all about helping and started torturing the poor worms. They put them in water to see if they could swim. They put them in the grass to see if they liked grass and were surprized to discover that they could go back into the ground and disappear even in the grass. Then they started dissecting them and found that even when cut in half, both halves still moved and they appeared to still be alive. Then they started wondering what it would take to actually kill a this point I am glad that I have brothers and know that this kind of curiosity is normal at this age and it doesn't mean they will grow up to be serial killers!

Vinny finally announced that the only way probably to kill a worm was for a fish to eat it, but Andy wondered if the worms might live in the fishes stomach......I can see after fishing this summer both boys will probably want to cut open the fishes stomach to look and see if there are any worms living in there.....I think I will let them explore the fish guts with their fathers!

I never did finish digging up the whole area, let alone get around to putting down some landscape fabric to keep the raspberries from coming up again this year. I hope to get out in the garden this evening to finish since we will be busy with other things this weekend. And if the boys decide to help me again tonight and I don't get it done - oh well, it is still early in the season. I just love to see Andy outside and interacting with the neighborhood children.

Monday, April 03, 2006

What's growing

So, just what did I plant?
Cauliflower - Snow Crown Hybrid
Brussels Sprouts - Bubbles Hybrid
Tomato - Celebrity Hybrid & Wisconsin 55
Zucchini - Spineless Beauty Hybrd (Kimberly, you don't want to plant very many of these - Zucchini is very prolific - I will give you 4 or so plants if you want)
Pumpkin - Spirit Hybrid
Hot Peppers - Garden Salsa Hybrid
Bell Peppers (you can't plant too many of these in my opinion) - Rainbow Bell Hybrid Mix which includes Bianca, Hershey, Inia, Queen & Tequila (the more colors the better - Andy loves the bright colored peppers)
Sweet Basil - Italian Large Leaf
Lettuce (this could be planted directly outside now, but I always like to start the plants first and then plant out in a month - spaces them better and I think you get stronger plants) - Buttercrunch, Jung's Caesar Salad Blend (mix of green and red leaved Romaine lettuces) and Leaf Lettuce, Lettuce Blend (Red Sails, Black Seeded Simpson and Salad Bowl). We are salad eaters, can you tell?
Flowers - (these were an after thought, I am really into veggies more than flowers): Linum or Annual Flax, Blue Dress

Later, I will be planting outside:
Pole Beans - both green and yellow wax
Carrots (lots of types - I am trying some of the yellow ones this year as well as the traditional orange)
Garlic (really should be planted in the fall, but I didn't - spring planting is still OK, you just won't get as large of cloves)
Onions (Alisa Craig)
Potatoes: Red Norland and Kennebec

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Meanwhile down in the basement, most of the plants have sprouted. The brussel sprouts are the only thing that haven't sprouted yet - I'm wondering if the seeds were too old. I will give them a few more days before I re-plant them. Posted by Picasa

Not a good picture, but Andy and I are pretty happy that spring is here. Posted by Picasa

The lilac buds are starting to swell. I just love the smell of lilacs in the spring. During the years that I lived in Arizona, lilacs and rhubarb were two things that I missed a lot. Posted by Picasa

The apple tree is still asleep. We did not prune it for years and it was not producing very well. We did not want to over prune so we pruned as much as we thought we could without killing it last year and this year. You prune an apple tree in the winter when it is totally dormant. Next year it should be fully pruned and then we just need to keep it up. Posted by Picasa

The currant bushes are a mess. I did not prune them in the fall and it is too late now - pruning them now will cut off all of the buds and I will have no currants for jelly. I will have to do a better job of pruining them next fall. Posted by Picasa

An hour later and the garden looks so much better. I pulled up the old plants, spread compost over the top and then using a pitch fork, I dug the compost in and loosened all the soil. The garden is now ready to plant as soon as it is warm enough. Posted by Picasa

The snow is finally gone, but what a mess the garden is. We had such a mild fall and the brussell sprouts kept producing so I hated to pull them up - and then winter came quickly and it was too late. Posted by Picasa