Sunday, November 08, 2009

Who Ordered All This Damn Spinach?

I know it may be hard for a lot of people to believe, but when it comes to some things, I am not the best planner. Like my vegetable garden. I usually wait til the last minute and run out to the big box to buy plants and seeds, usually getting everything into the ground around, oh, mid-June. And as I'm planting I realize that I bought seeds that I already have 4 full packs of - like Bloomsdale spinach.

I am determined to change my ways! Who can eat all that spinach?

This weekend I spent some time inventorying my left over seeds. I have them listed by their plant types, variety names, amounts and age. Although many seeds remain viable for years, some have a shorter lifespan; I kept that in mind as I planned for which seeds I still need. I was surprised to see that I had most of the seed that I would need for next year.

Turns out, I have over 30 different kinds of vegetable seeds in hand right now:
Maxibel beans, edamame, jalepenos, sweet onion, AmericanFlag leek, Brandywine Pink tomato, Wayahead tomato, sweet basil, Romanesco broccoli, Listada de Gandia eggplant, Triple Treat pumpkin, Sweet Pie pumpkin, Black Beauty zucchini, buttercup squash, Table Queen squash, cantaloupe, SugarBaby watermelon, Blue Vates kale, Bloomsdale spinach, kohlrabi, turnip, mustard spinach, salad blend, Sweetness carrot, Baby Star lettuce, Buttercrunch lettuce, Ruby lettuce, Caesar Salad blend, Early Prolific straightneck summer squash, Waltham butternut squash, Packman broccoli, Swiss chard, and snow peas.
I just need:
beet, carrot, sweet pepper, parsnip, black eye peas, shallots, sweet peas, potatoes, rutabaga, brussels sprouts, pak choi, corn salad, arugula, and cucumbers.
I have been looking at the R.H. Shumway catalog (since they are now owned by Jung - a Wisconsin company). I have read some great things about them, and some not so great things. Generally the reviewers said that they have fantastic product, trouble is they may not ship it in time. I figure though with seed I should be safe, because if I do not get the seed when I need it, the stores should be stocked by then and I can just purchase from them. And seed will hold until the following season if necessary.

I'm trying to pace myself, but who knows... if I get the seeds early enough, I might even start some plants indoors!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

November Overhead

It was a beautiful day today and I got a lot done, but mostly I spent time in my garden (and a little time on my roof:). When I get enough money, I am going to get this power line underground. It is a nuisance for over head shots and when we want to sit outside and enjoy the stars.
This last week I even finished filling the new vegetable beds with compost. I also planted about 60 garlic cloves and the ten raspberry plants I got from a coworker. I still have rutabaga, Swiss chard, broccoli, kale, leeks, spinach and Brussel sprouts growing.

I know it seems a little weird to be thinking of this when we haven't even started winter yet, but I am feeling really good about next year.

Garlic Planting

I love garlic! And I was reading about garlic planting on so many blogs that I just had to find a way to get it done this fall in my garden. I hadn't purchased any specialty garlic for planting, instead, I just headed to the grocery store and bought 8 bulk garlic bulbs. I did this a couple of years ago with great success. The garlic doesn't taste the same after it grows in your garden - it's BETTER!

I tore the bulbs apart to get the cloves I would need for planting. I just plant the cloves, just as you see them in the picture above, in 2-3 inch deep holes about 2-3 inches apart. No fertilizer or protection necessary. They are very hardy and will sprout in spring giving me usable bulbs around mid-June. A lot of people take the biggest for planting, I take the smallest and save the biggest for kitchen use.

After planting all the small cloves, I chopped up the bigger cloves and put them in a sterilized jar with oil for storage in my refrigerator for later use. I find that the grocery store garlic does not store well in my kitchen, so I thought I would give this technique a try*.

What is really strange is that once this garlic has had a while to grow in my garden, it not only improves greatly in flavor, it also improves in storage quality. It easily keeps right on my kitchen counter for the entire winter!

*I have been reading that even if storing in the refrigerator this may not be safe to eat raw due to potential botulism - however, I will only be using this for cooking so this will be fine for me as high heat for ten minutes will destroy any toxins that may be present according to the FDA.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

What Makes A Good Blog (and what doesn't)

The Crafty Gardener was asking what his readers look for in a blog and what added gadgets they actually use and Nell Jean at Secrets of Seed Scatterer was telling her readers what she liked and disliked about blogs. And as opinionated as I am, I just felt a post a-brewin!

For choosing a blog to read I go through the following process:
(pause cursor on sentences for hover text)
  1. Intriguing blog title.
  2. A great blog header will keep me there for a look-see.
  3. Clutter is a big turn off.
  4. Newest post either visible upon entry or not too far a scroll away is a MUST!
  5. Author info at the top is definitely the way to go.
  6. A well thought out, well written post is also a MUST.
  7. I LOVE humor!
  8. Pictures aren't necessary for every post, but do add to the experience.
  9. I prefer blogs that allow comments.
  10. I HATE word verification!
  11. No pitch black backgrounds with bright white text - Headache City!!

  1. Fabulous photos
  2. Post labels
  3. Authors who read and respond to comments
  4. Blogrolls.
  5. Hyperlink references in posts
  6. Posts that teach me something.
  7. A passionate, funny writer that isn't afraid to go off on a good rant now and then ;)
Specifically for garden blogs:
  1. Wide shots of the garden
  2. Pictures that include the whole plant
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Names of plants in the pictures
  5. Your planting zone and soil type
Now I'm not saying that mine is a perfect example of a perfect blog. In fact I have seen so many blogs that I feel mine can only aspire to be like. But, I found it useful to see other blog readers' ideas of a great blog and thought you might too.

Tell me what you like (and dislike) about blogs!