Friday, April 15, 2011

Porch Seedlings

What's left of my cool season vegetables (plus the Oregon Spring seedlings) are currently living on my enclosed porch. It's south-facing and gets sun all day. I've been cracking the windows during the day to start exposing them to a little wind and started leaving them open during the night a couple of days ago. So far, all seems to be going well!

I sowed this window box very thickly with spring greens as the seeds were 10 years old, but they seem to still be quite viable!

This is the box post-thinning with lots more space for the largest seedlings to grow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Potting Up

Most of the seedlings have their first true leaves so I decided that new homes were in order. I wanted to hopefully separate them out early enough that their root systems weren't completely entangled and wrapping around the bottom of the plant cells.

Prior to transplanting:

I think I timed it pretty well. Most of the seedlings had good root systems that were just starting to show at the bottom of the soil mix when I took them out of the cells. Most got put into deep plastic cups with holes drilled in the bottom, but some simply got moved into single cells in the interest of space. Between everything, I've got two flats filled with seedlings that are being rotated between the lights and a south-facing window.

A few days after potting up everything seems to be doing quite well:

These are the early Oregon Spring tomatoes. I hardened them off a bit and then put them on the windowsill in my enclosed porch to test their hardiness. So far they're doing completely fine.

In other news, I went out to check on the rural garden on Friday and did some transplanting, although I unfortunately forgot my camera. I thinned out the cells of broccoli, lettuce, chard and cauliflower, taking the most established plant from the cell and moving it to the garden. I moved 3 cauliflower, 12 lettuce, 4 chard, 4 broccoli deccicio and 4 broccoli waltham into the garden and covered all of the cauliflower and half of the broccoli with plastic bottles. I decided to only cover half the broccoli as an experiment to see which do better. If I lose some of the plants it's no big deal because I still have 6 of each variety growing on my porch.

I planted some spinach seeds last Tuesday and a few were beginning to sprout. Yay! I also planted 4 sq ft of carrots this morning (1 ft each of the Lunar White, Cosmic Purple, Amarillo and Nantes). I sowed them very shallowly, watered and then covered with a layer of hay to hopefully keep the moisture in and encourage germination. I covered the left side of the garden with a tarp and the back half of the right side with a thick layer of hay to help keep the weeds at bay until I plant next month.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Seedling Update

I'm sure everyone's getting sick of seedling pictures, but I'm proud of my babies and I need to show them off! This is really the first time I'm doing any major seed starting. Last year I started a hybrid tomato and broccoli, but that's it. I direct seeded beans and squash successfully, but all of my other plants were freebies that were donated by the local YouthGrow program to all of the community gardens. It's a great organization that gets teens involved with growing their own food. They start plants for the community gardens and plants to go into the large YouthGrow gardens that they help to maintain all summer. While I love free plants, this year my goal was to start all of my plants from seed.

Kellogg's Breakfast shared by EG and Oregon Spring

Black Cherry also from EG

Brandywine and Cherokee Purple from EG

Oxheart Pink and Polish Linguisa

Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper that was a freebie with the Tam Jalapenos I got from eBay

Tam Jalapenos and Organic Black Beauty Eggplant (With some cauliflower mixed in... I accidentally seeded the cauliflower in the wrong 6-pack)

Early Snowball Cauliflower from EG

Broccoli Waltham 29 and Organic Broccoli Deccicio

As you can easily see, EG (from Our Engineered Garden) was extremely generous and gave me lots of seeds to help me out this year. I'm a broke college student and I just can't afford tons and tons of seed unfortunately. However, I'll be saving as much seed as I can this year to start building up my own little seed library. Hopefully I'll have a bunch of fun stuff to trade this winter!

Some of these guys are starting to get their first set of true leaves, which means I'll soon be potting up! The cauliflower and broccoli will be first, as well as trying to rescue the cauliflower from the eggplant. We'll see how the extraction goes...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cloud's Chunky Guacamole

I absolutely love my guac, which is funny, because growing up you couldn't get me to touch the stuff with a 10' pole. I liked most green vegetables - I even loved my broccoli and zucchini. I would make whole meals out of vegetables if my mother would let me! But avocados? Guacamole? No way!

However, thanks to "Moe's" (a Chipotle-esque chain that has slowly been expanding into New England), I was formally introduced to guacamole without even realizing it. A friend had a burrito, a "Homewreaker" if I remember correctly, and it had guac in it. From then on I ordered guacamole on every burrito. However, it took a trip to a locally-owned restaurant to fully convert me to a guacamole-loving fiend. Girlfriend and I ate at Mezcal (an upscale Mexican-Southwestern fusion restaurant) for our 2 year anniversary. We got one of their "complete meals" for 2 people and it came with freshly-made guacamole and chips. I was skeptical, but tried it. Maybe it was the pitcher of house margaritas, but I was officially hooked on guac!

Now, I get random cravings for guacamole and tortilla chips. As a result, I've now got a recipe tailored to specifically to my tastes. My winter version is more chunky than creamy due to how expensive avocados are during the winter. For a creamier version, I add a third avocado to the mix.

Assemble the ingredients

Dice some garlic

Dice some onion

Chop up the tomatoes

Cut up the avocados and scoop out the pulp

Mash the avocados (I like mine completely mashed, but girlfriend likes hers chunky)

Coat the avocado with lime juice

Throw in the seasonings

Fold in the rest of the ingredients

And Voila!

Cloud's Chunky Guacamole - Winter Version
2 Avocados; Halved, Seeded and Peeled
2 Tomatoes; Seeded and Diced
1/2 Medium Onion; Peeled and Diced
1-2 Cloves Garlic; Minced
1 Lime or Lemon; Juiced (I use whichever's in the fridge)
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder or Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Cilantro, Chopped

Prepare garlic, onions and tomatoes. Place the avocado in a large bowl and squeeze 1/2 of the lime over it. Mash the avocados using a fork, whisk or potato masher. Mash in the cumin, salt and cayenne. Using a spoon, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Squeeze the other half of the lime over the mixture and mix it in. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld and then serve.

*I also love to make this the night before and find that the flavors combine beautifully sitting in the fridge overnight.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mother Nature is Mean.

Yay it's April and that means our springtime weather will continue to get sunnier and warmer! But no. Instead, I woke up to a lovely winter wonderland. Which is a gorgeous sight to behold, in winter. This year March came both in and out like a lion and I for one am glad to be rid of it. I just can't take much more of the up and down temperatures and relentless snow! I could do without trying to clean off my SUV too, since, you know, I'm all of 5'3".

This is the view from my front porch around 3 pm, after most of the mess had melted. (And that's my truck at the bottom... When my mom wanted a new car 5 years back, I got her old one.)

I only wish I could have gotten a picture from my drive this morning... Trees cracked and branches everywhere. And everything with a 6 inch-thick "dusting" of snow. But alas, I had to get up, clean off my beast of a car and budget extra time to get to work since no one has any clue of how to drive in the snow.

My 5-day Forecast

Despite the April Fools Day snow, I'm trying to be positive and the 5 day forecast is looking promising at this point! Just waiting to be able to safely plant out my spring veggies at this point... I can't wait for garden-fresh greens!