Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The planting begins!


Thanks to the generosity of a very kind friend, we now have a lovely set of grow lights in our basement. This is a serious step up from my DIY seed starting center of previous years! I'll still be using that. But, now I can start twice as many seedlings indoor.

So, after sorting seed packets by variety and then planting/starting dates, ordering additional items and plotting it all out on the calendar, Michael and I managed to get the first seeds going over the weekend. (Pretty momentous since we had the stomach bug around these parts—ugh!) We started 3 kinds of basil, some herbs and some beneficial flowers. Next week will be tomatoes and peppers and the beat will go on and on from there. I love when we get to this time of year, when something (planting, preparing, harvesting) is on the calendar every week until late into next Fall. We'll be trying to push the envelop even more this year, with more food grown at home, and extended seasons on both ends. Pretty exciting stuff!

So, for this week's Independence Days Challenge update

Plant something Planted basil, chamomile, verbena, vining petunias, violas and yarrow. Cut back the herb garden and fertilized the asparagus and strawberry beds.

Harvest something Nibbled a few chard sprigs and some new kale leaves.

Preserve something Soaked and dried another batch of crispy pecans.

Waste Not Made seedling starting pots out of egg cartons and half-t.p. rolls with newspaper strip bottoms.

Want Not Picked up three more small Corning ware dishes with lids at the thrift store. Perfect to replace plastic-ware for leftovers in the fridge.

Build Community Food Systems – Attended the first meeting of the organic garden team at work.

Eat the Food – Used the last rutebaga in our Irish Stew. Made fudge babies with dried dates, pecans and cocoa (a good food storage treat!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Rising River and an Update

Well, the Shawsheen River has been swelling into the surrounding wetlands for days now. And as of Monday morning had topped the rise down our street and begun to spread out and up the road. This photo, though not the clearest, shows water well up to the third house on either side of the road. I took that at about 5pm Monday evening, well before the river was scheduled to crest. Normally, you cannot see water at all from this spot, and certainly not on the road and in the yards.

We are the seventh house from the river, but it does curve through our neighborhood and swings a bit closer behind. Right after taking this, we stepped around the corner to find the intersection full of water and the neighbor wading in his driveway, wrestling with pump hoses and generators in an effort to stop the flow into his house.

Many homes in our neighborhood were flooded, people evacuated and roads closed. We were truly lucky to avoid any flooding, literally by a few yards! As of this morning the river has begun to subside, the roads are reopening and folks are beginning to dry out and assess the damage.

Today the sun is out, the temperature is warming up to the 60s and things seem a little more cheerful in the neighborhood. A little quieter, fewer pumps running, fewer generators. We started our St. Patrick's Day with a bowl of steel cut Irish oatmeal and a few jigs in the kitchen, before donning our green and heading out for the day. Michael in forest green scrubs and me in shades of sage and pea green paisley.

And an Independence Days Challenge update for the week:

Plant something Wrote the seeding schedule and organized seeds by planting dates. Got in one of my seed shipments

Harvest something Nothing yet.

Preserve something Made a big batch of crispy walnuts.

Waste Not Just the usual.

Want Not Cleaned up old seeding trays and recycled pots for this years seed starting.

Build Community Food Systems – Became a member of the Organic Garden Planning Team at our office.

Eat the Food – Made Kale and Sausage soup (adapted from Joan Gussow's book This Organic Life with some of our delicious hot italian sausage from Pete & Jen's sausage sampler from the winter. Made my first few batches of fudge babies...oh my! What a great way to use dried fruit and nuts from food storage!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gearing up for Spring

Well, three gorgeous days in a row, with temperatures in the 50's have me itching to get going in the garden. But, I've been in New England long enough to know not to uncover the beds or set anything out, no matter what the temp. There will be more winter before it's all over.

The image above was taken last year in late April. Imagine this same scene right now with no green anywhere and you'll have the present view from the upstairs window. But, Michael and I went searching on Sunday and did discover garlic and onion shoots beginning to poke up under their blanket of mulched leaves, harbingers of the growing season to come! And a good 2 weeks earlier than last year!

So, I'll have to keep myself busy with creating the seed-starting schedule for the grow lights dreaming of those growing days to come.

And here is our update for the IDC for this week...

Plant something Sprouting some mustard and radish sprouts.

Harvest something Nothing yet.

Preserve something Made a big batch of sour dough pizza dough and froze in pizza-sized packages.

Waste Not Began collecting TP rolls for cutting in half and using as seedling cups for under the grow lights. Still enjoying last summer's pickles!

Want Not Found an old mouli (hand food mill) at the local thrift store.

Build Community Food Systems – Helping a friend plan her first raised bed.

Eat the Food – Roasted butternut squash, maple-teriyaki glazed beets, apple calvados, yum!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting back into the swing of things with the Independence Day Challenge

By late last season I'd seriously fallen short of my weekly updates on ways I'm meeting the Independence Challenge. In a nutshell, it is a way to record and motivate ourselves to do sometimes small or seemingly insignificant things, over time, to make a big difference in our own lives, our local communities and our planet. If you're still curious, swing on over to Sharon's website to get the full details. I'll be posting my updates here every week, most likely on Tuesday, but hey...let's be flexible.

So, here's the first update of the growing season:

Plant something Nothing yet.

Harvest something Nothing yet.

Preserve something Made a batch of yogurt from some dated milk.

Waste Not Used some leftover Fall apples from the freezer for a tea-cake for the Lenten luncheon at church. Sent the tea-cakes off to church on some cookie trays reused from a Christmas holiday party. Took a batch of dryer lint, TP rolls and newspaper from packages out to the compost.

Want Not Assembled the new grow lights (gifted from a co-worker) for seed-starting. Placed our order for summer chicken and fall pork from our local meat CSA. Made up another batch of "shampoo" and "conditioner."

Build Community Food Systems – Started planning a workshop for our local church on local food, food storage and security.t

Eat the Food – Roasted some of the last beets for a maple teryaki broil tonight. Made two oatmeal-tea cakes from a slightly altered family favorite recipe -- using up food storage oatmeal and fruit and nuts. Baked up another roasting pan full of the butternut squash from food storage--delicious packed with lunch or whipped up into butternut pancakes or muffins.

Hang onto your hats, here comes Spring!!!