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Friday, March 31, 2017

It's Asparagus time

The rain, wind and cold have left, at least for today and tomorrow, so I was able to get out to the garden and prep a small, new asparagus bed. Last years asparagus planting it bearing fruit. A few have come up and I'm hoping the rest of them made it through the winter.

I only planted four of the seven new asparagus plants I bought a couple of weeks ago because they were the only ones so far, showing any sign of life. That was a heavy job working in a bag of manure and compost and then digging a ditch to give them a proper planting.

There are a lot more veggies and herbs starters to plant; but today was for focusing on prepping that bed and getting those few planted and doing some weeding.

The only other things I planted today were a half a dozen parsley starts and one dill plant.  I also pulled up my bean tower and tomorrow I'll relocate it to the opposite end of the garden where I think it may fare better. Last season the beans on it did fine but one side that was dedicated to cucumbers had hardly any pollination, so I'm hoping this new location will work better.

There's a lot of garden work ahead because of the gawd awful weather the past two months, I haven't been able to get in hardly any garden time during the winter months, so I'll take advantage of the next day or so because the cold is coming back again, and I want to get all these starts planted and still want to plant beets and carrots  and more spinach.

I was so happy to see that my young fig tree that I planted in a large planter survived the very cold spell we had with temperatures in the teens. Looking like that mulch I put around it worked. I can't wait for all those figs. Last year I didn't get any till very late because critters were eating them just as they ripened; but I finally sent away for some fine bird netting and it kept away all the marauders and I finally got a few figs to eat. .Better late than never!

Well, it's time to check my baby back ribs. I made some coleslaw and potato salad this morning and put the ribs in a very slow oven before I went out to the garden. Now I just have to uncover them, coat them in BBQ sauce and give them another half house to cook. I'm ready for a big dinner after all the digging!

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Dawn roses need help

The forecast for mid afternoon rain didn't come so I actually got in the garden to do a not too heavy, spring pruning of my two New Dawn climbing roses.

Spring is here - finally! Flowering cherry and plum trees, daffodils, quince, camellias, and forsythia etc. are in bloom all over town. I do love spring!

George the handyman was here early for me to go over how I wanted him to put up lattice on the sides of the rose arbor. He drove to Home Depot for all  the pieces and some shelving hardware for a couple of shelves in the garage. Then he drove back here with the sheets of lattice, got them cut and stained and in the garage dry overnight so he can install them on the sides of the rose arbor tomorrow! Then  I can stop getting attacked by those rose canes which had nothing to block them from falling in the path under the arbor.

I hope tomorrow brings a mid afternoon rain free spell so I can plant some root veggies. It was lovely to finally get out there to prune those climbers and pull a bunch of weeds. There isn't a sunny day in the forecast for at least the next week; and it's been like this, just about, all winter.

This first day of spring was a good one even without any sun peeking through!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Too wet to plant but not too wet to cook.

Yesterday was mild enough by mid afternoon for me to get out to my secret veggie garden and do some weeding and some planting. I planted a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, and transplanted some arugula and collards and pulled a lot of weeds.

In two days slugs destroyed my few newly planted lettuce, broccoli and cauliflowers starts, so I will have to replace them. I'm glad I only planted a few of them because I wanted to stagger the planting so I don't have so many broccolis, etc. maturing at the same time. Fortunately I had some of the slug/slain bait Escar Go on hand, so I wet down a couple of the beds and put it down. I sent a bunch of those slugs to heaven on my own. There are sure a lot of them this year after all this rain. At least these are tiny, unlike the monster slugs we had when we lived in Washington state!

If the temperature warma up a bit more by mid afternoon I may be able to get into the garden and prune my two newer grape vines and the climbing roses in the veggie garden. The forecast is calling for rain about that time, but maybe this will be one of the times they're off in their forecast.

Since I'm really not holding great hope for that mid afternoon pruning opportunity, I've planned a decent dinner for myself. I'm going to make a pork cutlet dinner using panko crumbs for the coating. The first time I had one of these was during a trip to Japan in the 80's. It's much tastier than a veal cutlet. In any case, none of my local grocery stores even sell veal, which isn't a problem since I try to avoid it. I have a hard enough time giving in to my carnivore appetite without eating baby animals.

I've spent decades going back and forth between being a vegetarian, and back again to eating meat. In recent years I've stopped swinging back and forth but now mix up my weekly menu with meat and non meat dishes. My body feels good with this pattern of eating. In summer, I naturally gravitate to lighter fare particularly since there are so many lovely, fresh vegetables in the garden.

Well, the rain did come, so I think I'll start dinner early.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Here Comes The Sun but not today!

OK, who stole the sun! This was supposed to be another sixty degree sunny gardening day and the promised sun is a "no show"; and it's colder than they said it would be. Time to stay in my warm house, and recharge after a heavy gardening cleanup and pruning session yesterday.  Hopefully the sun will honor me with its presence tomorrow! I have a whole tray of cold weather veggies and a bag of potato seeds and more asparagus to plant in the next couple of days as well as continuing weeding and garden cleanup. There are a few more roses to prune and perennials to clean up; but as long as the warm weather they're promising holds for a few days I can make a lot of headway with it all.

I took the remay off everything yesterday but am still keeping it close by for any late freezes. I was thrilled to see that my three artichokes survived those temperatures in the teens we had this winter. Thank God for heavy duty remay to protect them. Mulching them well, also helped.

Yesterday I pruned all the roses in my flower garden, pulled up a lot of spent annuals and trimmed a lot of the spent foliage on many of the perennials, did a bunch of weeding, took apart the rest of the tomato cages and moved them to the back of the veggie garden shed area, and hooked up a couple of my hoses. There's still a lot more cleanup to do but I'll wait for the sun and warmer temperatures tomorrow. I was exhausted this morning, so it's just as well I took the day off from the garden.

I overfilled the equivalent of two big wheel barrels with all the prunings, weeds and other debris I cleaned up and that was just from one flower bed in the back yard. Those late winter weeds are taking over the world this year from all this rain. Fortunately my veggie beds in the secret garden are in pretty good shape weed wise, but the pathways are infested with them; but those will wait a couple of days until I get my cold weather veggies starts, potatoes and asparagus planted.

The other garden chore I need to do in the next day or two is to start some tomato, pepper and eggplants. I will buy most of my starters but I have one hybrid tomato Big Zac and two heirlooms Opalka, a large, wonderful paste tomato, and a new giant, Italian beefsteak that I just got this year and want to try, that no one around here carries, and buy the rest. The Big Zac tomato is earlier and more productive than Brandywine and similar beefsteaks and has a superior flavor to any other other beefsteak type hybrids I've tried over the years. I also like to grow Corno del Toro Italian frying peppers. Two plants will give me enough to enjoy fried pepper, sausage and onion heroes this summer.

Gone are the years when I would start most of my veggies and flowers from seed. I just don't have the room that I always had to set up several grow lights fluorescent fixtures to start most of my own seedlings. Fortunately we have some great growers here in the Rogue Valley who sell as lot of organic and heirloom varieties at our local farmers markets.

These days I'm only growing veggies for myself and to share with a neighbor or two. In fact, I've had to put off buying fresh kale starts because I don't need 6 kale plants which I only use in my green smoothies. So I will have to get to the farmers market where there's a grower who sells single veggie starts for 50 cents a piece. I get to try a lot of different varieties of veggies that way without having to commit to all those six packs.

What are you all planting or planning to plant this month in your area? 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Last night I made this sourdough pizza but even though my starter is well developed, I didn't get much of the flavor in the dough, I had made the dough the night before, so it had over 19 hours in the fridge to help develop even more flavor. I used my 25 whole wheat and 75 bread flour starter. I suspect it was too recently fed. I guess I could have used an older batch since the recipe also called for the addition of yeast. I just need to play with the recipe a bit longer.

I halved the recipe and still wound up with a 15" pizza, so I'll be eating pizza for lunch for a couple of days. Tonight I want to make a BLT for dinner since I have lettuce and a tomato I need to use now.

The instructions said to remove it from fridge and let it rest 15 minutes but that wasn't long enough to relax the dough. I let it rest for a bit over an hour and 2 hrs would have been better. It was nice and round when I put it on the pizza stone (I use a one inch silicon carbide kiln shelf, preheated for 1 hr). But it pulled baked while baking. Next time I will let it rest longer right out of the fridge!

I think in the future I might use my own good pizza recipe but experiment with adding some of my older starter just for the flavor it should impart,  as well as much usual IDY yeast.

The perfect New York style pizza search continues!