Less Noise, More Green: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Urban Farming and Hybrid Seeds

Urban farming and Hybrid Seeds
This second crop of cabbage didn't mature before the first frost.

Hello, my name is Sue and I plant hybrid seeds.

I must confess, I'm a little nervous writing this post because seed selection has become such a hot button issue and people are very passionate (and vocal) about the subject. There is also a LOT of misinformation out there, especially on the internet, concerning seeds so I encourage you to do your own research on this topic and stick to educational sites, especially university extensions. Look for URLs that end with .edu. You will find quality information that will allow you to make your own judgements.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bulgur Wheat Patties

Bulgur Wheat Patties Recipe, vegetarian burger recipe
Spinach from under my grow lights, carrots from the garden, corn relish full of home grown ingredients - not bad for the end of February!

Bulgur wheat is such an easy, quick ingredient to incorporate into dishes and is often the whole grain I reach for when I'm in a hurry to get a meal on the table. Wonderful in salads (here is my recipe for Festive Bulgur Wheat Salad) it also makes great tasting patties.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Creating an Edible Landscape

The front of my house in the height of summer last year.

I have been interested in the idea of edible landscaping for a long time. I knew I wanted to eventually try it in the garden at the front of our house, which is south facing and gets the best sun. Last year we lost two trees to disease and our neighbor cut down a very large tree which had shaded our house. The front in now in full sun for much of the day. Since becoming an avid vegetable gardener, I have concentrated my efforts in the beds at the back of the house, pretty much ignoring the front which is very low maintenance, but I cannot ignore the potential for this space any longer!

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Zealand Spinach, will you save the day?

Spinach bolting under grow lights, urban farming
Big Ruffles is a big disappointment.

Hello, my friends! The sun is shining today and the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. Warm weather is melting the snow, at least for now, and thinking about spring plans doesn't seem quite so crazy. I will enjoy the moment.

Inside, however, the gardening news is not so good. My experiment to see if I can grow spinach completely indoors over the winter has, unfortunately, taken a predictable turn. I planted two varieties - Big Ruffles and a hybrid called Melody. This week I saw the beginnings of flower formation on the Big Ruffles Spinach. Today, there is no denying it, as you can see from the photo above.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Planning a Herb Container Garden

Planning a herb container garden, urban farming

Who wants to guess what kind of weather we are having today?  If you guessed more snow, you win a prize. I feel like we are living in perpetual winter, as if we have been transported to Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I keep expecting to see the faun, Mr. Tumnus, appear from behind my pine tree holding his umbrella. Actually, tea and toast in front of his living room fire sounds rather lovely.

You are going to have to use your imagination as you read my post today. The plan was to show you my empty deck then explain my ideas for a herb container garden. Instead you get these shots:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Spicy Sausage and Chickpea Pasta

Pasta recipe from pantry staples

It's a case of weather deja vu here in New England. I had planned on sharing with you my ideas for a new herb container garden on my back deck but after another eight or so inches of snow fell yesterday, I'm not sure I have a back deck any more! Hopefully I can get to that post later in the week. Instead, I have a really delicious pasta recipe to share.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Garden Love on Valentine's Day

As I write this post the snow, sleet and torrential rain have closed the schools for another day and the white stuff on the ground is just getting thicker and icier. My family is warm at home enjoying the day off while I am staring longingly at my garden trying to remember what it looked like when it was green and alive.

I miss my garden. I miss working in the soil and caring for my plants.I miss the wonder I feel each year as the seeds break through the earth, the flowers turn to fruit and the roots swell and turn into dinner. I love my garden and the contentment it gives me.

In recognition of my garden on this Valentine's Day, here are some of my favorite photos from last year. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Determinate or Indeterminate Tomatoes? That is the question!

Thinking about tomato plants in February is crazy, right?

I don't know, a just picked tomato still warm from the sun sounds like a little piece of heaven right now and based on my lackluster tomato results last year, a little forethought  is not a bad idea!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Seed Planting Guides

seed planting guides
My seed orders keep arriving in the mail. These seeds are from Botanical Interests.

This weekend was all about my kids' birthdays, who were born on the 7th and the 9th of February (my son was due on the 7th and yes, I crossed my legs and held my breath and he made it two more days - who wants to share their birthday with their sister?).

The art work on these packets is so colorful and cheerful - a needed reminder that the snow and cold will end.

I did manage to update my planting guide. I always feel a sense of relief when it is done. I put a lot of energy into designing my plots and all of that work could be ruined if I don't plant when I am supposed to. We have such a short growing window here in New England.  Once the guide is done, the mental work is over and I just follow the outline. No second guessing, no double plantings and no forgotten vegetables. Mother Nature, of course, will have her own plans and I may have to adapt, but on the whole, the guide allows for a more relaxed gardening experience.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A space of my own

If you had told me ten years ago that so much of my time and mental energy would be occupied with gardening and in particular growing food, I would have been very skeptical. Between my gardens, my writing and my Master Gardening, this interest has grown into a true passion. Along with the enthusiasm, however, came books, magazines, catalogs, seeds, notebooks full of ideas and plans and a folder for each of the projects I am involved with.

Next to the desk is a box full of files - one for each project and gardening topic.

My house was littered with piles of folders and books and with this year's growing season around the corner I knew it was going to get worse. Clutter makes me feel out of control and flustered. Working on my projects was becoming stressful as my messy paper trail followed me from room to room.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Working Out My Planting Plan

vegetable garden planting plan, urban farming

My seed orders are starting to arrive in the mail, which would be more exciting if we didn't have inches of snow on the ground and more falling as we speak. It is hard to envision the beds bursting with vegetables when I can't even see them under a thick blanket of white! This is my task right now, though. My planting plan is the basis of the work I will do over the next eight or nine months. From starting seeds indoors to extending the season in October, the crops I chose and their placement in the beds is the blueprint I will follow.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Planning for my 2014 Garden

transplanting spinach seedlings, using grow lights, planning vegetable garden, urban farming,

There is a lot of planning go on around here. I have some different ideas and projects for my gardens this year and I am having a great time coming up with seed, plant and supply lists.

This week I completed my seed lists, placing orders with four different companies. Some of the varieties are tried and true but I chose many new ones, too. I am going to grow more flowers this year, many of them edible, and plan to grow most of them from seed. Last year I grew Marigolds, Zinnias, Nasturtiums and Geraniums from seed under grow lights and the results were very good. This year  I plan to add Lavender, Calendula, Sunflowers, Bee Balm, Black-Eyed Susans and Morning Glories to the list.