Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'll be seed-saving this year....

Right now my raised beds are pretty much covered with snow and ice.  Under those 9 raised beds is fertile soil somewhere.
This year I plan to start saving seeds and tomatoes are one of them.  I've learned that I need to keep the plants of any one variety at least 5' away from another variety so they don't cross-pollinate and they have to be open-pollinated varietes and not hybrids.  To that end I've had to re-plan my garden.  Those tall green poles at the corners of six of the front beds are sturdy fence posts from which I will wire and twine.  I'm ordering 15 plants this year from Territorial Seed which ships PLANTS, 3 of each of only 5 varieties so I can save seed.  I will put a trio at each of the outside poled beds and the beds with poles in between will be peas.  I can put the short determinate Oregon Spring in the back of one of the back beds since they won't need the tall poles and wire and twine.
Besides the Oregon Spring, which can be planted outdoors FOUR week BEFORE last frost date (Hooray!), I plan to plant 3 main season Rutger's CS Space Select, 3 San Marzano Gigante 3 which are sauce tomatoes, 3 Brandywine heirlooms (which I hear are the tastiest) and 3 Delicious heirlooms this year.  That should give us lots of tomatoes and lots of extras for saving seeds for the next year or two.  I'll keep you posted on my progress thru my planting efforts once again this year, complete with pictures.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nothing in the garden, but fresh bread on the table...

I made a loaf of French bread in my bread machine. There's nothing like fresh bread to cut in thick slices.

One of my favorites ways to have it is to toast it on a cast iron grill pan then slather butter over it. It was....mmmmmm good!
On the gardening front.....I got word from two nurseries that they received my orders. One is shipping out today and the other, for my dwarf Fuji apple tree, will ship around May 2nd. I'm getting more excited.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm going to use soil block makers this year...

I plan to do some seed-starting this year. I finally got a grow light since my only windows in my daylight basement in-law apt are west facing and no help to start seedlings. I also got a heat mat. I have the small 3/4" and the 2" block makers but not the large one which is too expensive for my purse. Eliot Coleman, who created these devices, states that one can use 4" plastic pots that have slits cut in their sides to prevent roots from balling. The roots stop growing at the air vents. That's what I'll use. The pots, once the seedlings are sown in the garden, can be sterilized and used year after year. This is another thing I'll be reporting on in this blog. Everything is new to me being a new veggie gardener only last year. I've got lots to learn and will share my learning experiences as I go.

My garden is still under ice and snow...

I checked my raised beds today. I got an email from a local nursery that instructed that I could start radishes, mesclun, carrots, scallions and spinach by Feb 15th if I use a double hoop system, one inside the other. Well, I checked my beds. Under the top layer of snow is solid ice even in the ground. I think I need a few more days of over 40s temps to do any good for me here in Maine. I'll be picking up my 1 x 2s tomorrow to try my experiment with making a plastic tent, as opposed to hoops, which I don't have and can't make. I can make a tent. I plan to put a shorter tent inside the coldframe tent covered with heavy row cover and start my cool-weather crops under that. Its an experiment to see if I can get earlier crops. I hope it works. I'll be posting pictures and results as it happens.
Since I couldn't get my beds ready, I stopped at the library and picked up a book on growing herbs in pots. I'm especially interested in growing perennial herbs so I can bring them inside for the winter and keep having herbs year round. Another experiment for me. I picked up some potting soil while I was out today. I have pots that are at least 10" across so I'll be starting some garlic chives tomorrow and a pot of mesclun as well.
And to appease my disappointment at not being able to start my garden endeavors, I'm making a batch of buckeyes/peanut butter balls. Here they are ready for the fridge to chill them before dipping in chocolate. I think I have enuf to share with the family as well unless I get ultra greedy, which I hope never happens.
Stay tuned weekly to see what's happening in my organic garden of raised beds, my rose garden, and the new organic community garden we are starting in our town this spring. That's got me very excited and I'll be taking pictures of that as well. Til we meet again, enjoy those seed catalogs and dream, dream, dream.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I can't garden, so I made homemade pizza for Super Bowl Sunday for the guys...

I made pizza dough in my bread machine. When it was done at 'dough only' I tossed it onto my bread board, let it rest in a heap about 10 mins, then rolled it out in a rectangle large enuf to fit my large cookie sheet.

I browned Jimmy Dean precooked sausage patties, and a pan of ground beef. I removed the excess fat from the beef with a turkey baster.

I added my favorite tomato sauce to the ground beef only, which comes out of a bottle these days, just enuf to flavor the meat.

I sprinkled corn meal over my large cookie sheet. Placed my pizza dough over the sheet and shaped it to fit, rolling the excess edges inside around the sides of the pan.
Added my favorite pizza sauce over the dough, again from a bottle. Added my grated cheeses and then finished with half of it ground beef and the other half pork sausage. If I had some pepperoni, I would have added that as well.

I cooked it at 400* in a preheated oven, for 28 mins until the bottom was browned lightly. I usually cook pizza dough at 450* for less time, but I had preheated it to 400 by mistake so went with it.
I have another serving of pizza dough in the bread machine for later. I didn't realize the football game wasn't until later, so my son and I ate much of this for our lunch.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


When you build your own raised beds, I cannot stress enough that you must use UNTREATED lumber. You risk your health and anyone else's who shares your crops if the lumber is treated. There are chemicals in treatments that are detrimental to your health. The foods grown there will ingest the chemicals and you will ingest them from the food.
DO NOT buy treated wood.
Lumber for decking is treated with chemicals so do NOT buy that either.

Untreated cedar is the longest lasting wood, but I could not find any untreated in my area so I went to a lumber company that had spruce and fir and chose the stronger and more longer lasting spruce for my raised 4 by 4-foot beds.

Be safe and enjoy growing your own veggies this year. I'll be posting my pictures and changes for this year so watch for them.