Friday, February 20, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Last fall I planted garlic. I've never grown garlic before, so I just followed the directions and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it works. I planted three types in one bed, and then covered the bed with about 6 inches of pine needle mulch (since that's what I had in abundance at the time). The garlic bed is marked with stakes and is residing in a corner of our row garden where the sprinkler system doesn't really reach. This was intentional because at a certain point (and I have to do some reminder reading!), you have to stop watering the garlic. Hopefully that point is after June 1st, or mother nature is going to keep watering despite my need for her to stop! I was surveying the row garden area (still full of worms!) over the weekend when I noticed that the garlic is sprouting. I've heard that's normal...but it seems awfully early to me. Of course, we have all kinds of things sprouting around the property. The plum tree is budding, the roses are throwing off new shoots, and all the bulbs are just peeping up. I need to make note of where things come up so that I know where things are when I go to plant my own bulbs next fall. My guess is that these early ones are likely daffodils or crocuses (is that a word?).
Either way, I plan to get tulips in the ground for next year - so I need to map out things this spring. :-)
Monday, February 16, 2009
My husband unpacking the box that the greenhouse kit shipped in...
This is the frame we built from 2x4's so that we could carry the greenhouse out to the site without dropping it (or torquing it). We set the greenhouse on top of this frame and successfully carried it to the other side of our property.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I think I've mentioned this recipe before, but I don't believe that I've shared it. When my H and I first thought about setting up our own homestead, we signed up for an organic gardening class at a local farm in NC (Frog Pond Farm in my side bar - I would highly recommend them for relevant classes and we'd be attending if we still lived in the area!). When we were there, Libby served us these sweet potato squares. They were delicious, so we all asked for the recipe. When she emailed it to us a few days later, I saved it to my hard drive and then forgot about it.
Fast foward to Oregon. We had quite a few sweet potatoes in storage, so I thought about this recipe. I pulled it out and lo and behold - discovered that it came from the Victory Garden Cookbook. I LOVE this cookbook! I've been using it as a gardening reference as we plan what we want to grow this year and if I'd just flipped through the sweet potato section, I would have seen this same recipe.
This is a spicy, moist and delicious snack cake. I've made a few slight modifications and Libby added the ginger which I think it just perfect for this snack cake. Give it a try!!
Sweet Potato Squares
Modified from the original included in 'The Victory Garden Cookbook'
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup oil
1/8 cup applesauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup splenda (or just use 2/3 cup of brown sugar - I was trying to save calories)
1 large apple - peeled and shredded
1/2 lb sweet potato - peeled and shredded
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Stir together flour, soda, salt and spices in a small bowl. Mix oil, applesauce & sugar. Beat in egg. Add vanilla, apple & sweet potato to oil/sugar mixture and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Mix in nuts. Spread in a greased 8x8 square baking pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool before cutting into squares.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
The first tomato transplant.
We did some transplanting last weekend nonetheless. I had saved a few small pots from last years tomatoes and pepper starts, so we filled those first. Our greenhouse isn't ready yet, so the new transplants are lining the window sill in our dinning room. It's not a south facing window (we don't have any of those), so the sooner we get the greenhouse assembled, the better. I only transplanted the largest plants, but now the ones I left behind are larger and need to be planted as well. Instead of buying more pots, I dug through all the containers I've been collecting and managed to find 12 that were suitable. I cleaned them out, punched holes in the bottom, and they are sitting on the bench downstairs awaiting transplants. We'll probably try and get those done tomorrow.
While we've started a few veggies and have plans to add additional fruits including blueberries and strawberries, I've never done very well with herbs. I've planted them in pots before, but I think I either underwater or overwater them and kill them. This year, I have a different set of plans. I'm still going to do invasive things like mint in a big pot, but I'm going to fence off a small section of our backyard and do a herb garden. This area is just off the deck, so it's extremely convenient. The fencing is necessary because without it, the dogs will wreck havoc on the garden.
The future location of our herb garden.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
So today is my birthday. I'm getting older. For the most part, it doesn't bother me. I mean, my mom used to say that getting older was better than the alternative, right? But occasionally something will remind me that I'm not the 26 year old I think I am...that I don't have infinite time left to accomplish the things I want to accomplish, and that no matter how much biking I do, I should never, ever wear a mini-skirt again. Ha.
Anyway, this morning I'm sitting here enjoying what turns out to be a 100-mile breakfast with very little effort (good, this is becoming common place!). My eggs are from the back yard, the sausage is from a ranch down the street where they raise grass-fed beef and pork. My toast is from homemade bread using Bob's Red Mill flour which is produced just on the other side of Portland. Even my blackberry jam is from our own blackberries. There are still a few holes in this meal, though. The jam has sugar in it...and that's not locally produced. I do need to find out if you can make jam with honey. We do still plan on getting bees...so eventually we can produce our own sweeteners. I also am drinking coffee and it's Colombian. My coffee from far away places will be the last thing I give up when 'local' becomes the only option. We do the best we can, but some things are just too good to give up! ;-)
So today I am off from work. All employees at my company are being forced to use 10 days of PTO (paid time off) in the first quarter. I figured that my birthday was a good day to take off, since I was looking for reasons to choose one day over another. My plans for today are simple...some 'self-improvement' work (I can be a hippie-farmer, but I don't need to look like one!), some cleaning around the house, transplant some seedlings, bake some bread, and go for a bike ride. The bike ride is going to have to be scrapped. I awoke to snow on the ground and heavy rain predicted for this afternoon. The weather is NEVER nice on my birthday. So instead I'll make the inside of our house all cozy and clean...and wait for a nicer day to ride my bike.
I also plan to upload about a billion photos from my camera (the one above being the first one so far!) and organize my thoughts for future blog posts. I feel like I have so much to say/write about that it gets overwhelming and I just opt out. Once spring rolls around, I'm going to be overwhelmed with work again...so I need to get things in order before then. Spring...I can't wait!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Anyway, we actually got quite a bit accomplished. In a nutshell, we cleaned out the chicken coop and moved it, cleaned up a lot of the branches from last weekends pruning, laid out and leveled the base for our greenhouse, filled in the floor with gravel, tried to finish building the greenhouse and broke the repaired connector again, baked bread, pruned two more apple trees and one plum tree, transplanted a few seedlings into larger pots and grafted a few apple branches to our red delicious tree.
We have a new greenhouse piece on it's way to us to arrive tomorrow, so we hope to get that thing built (finally!) before next weekend. I have been taking photos all along the way, so once it's done, I'll have a full pictorial version of our efforts to share.
My plan is to return to regular blogging very shortly. Stay tuned...