Thursday, March 26, 2009

Winter Sown Project Part II

Checked today and the spinach container has a sprout!!!!    And get this... so does the cabbage!  I really didn't think this was going to work, how lucky am I?!  Too bad the photos didn't come out... next time I'll take out the good camera.  Maybe the onions and the leeks will come up too!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From Soup Peas to Pea Soup

Last year I chose a few new varieties of pea for my garden, one of those was a soup pea called 'purple podded' or 'capucijner' pea.  Mainly I was interested in having three different colors in the pea patch, I was only mildly interested in saving the dried peas to make soup.  Good thing I did, the soup was the best I have EVER had!  The first photo shows the beautiful color of these peas in the garden last summer, then the peas in the pot, with some ham from the Rockville Market Farm, a little onion, celery and carrot. Easy Peasy!!!


My biggest surprise was the texture of the finished soup, the peas stay whole, and retain their shape.  Unlike split peas they still had their little seed coats on so they didn't mush down too much.  I hadn't believed that I would be able to taste the difference, but the flavor was almost smokey, and super rich.  These peas were a real treat and something I will be growing this year.  I set aside the best looking seeds to plant, I also marked out pods last summer that produced more than eight peas and saved those, to try and perpetuate a productive line. Hopefully the peas will be planted in the next few weeks.   I love it when crops come full circle.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Springtime Poem

With temperatures in the hight 40s and even in the 50s, and my mind on the warming garden, I thought it was about time for a little Frost.

To the Thawing Wind
Robert Frost

Come with rain, o loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snow-bank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate'er you do to-night,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit's crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the pictures on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o'er;
Scatters poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.

From "A Boy's Will", 1913

Monday, March 9, 2009

'Winter Sown' Project Begins, Parsnip Eating Does Not.

  A Close up of some of the containers before they have their tops put back on.

Two weeks ago I began my 'winter sown' project.  I had read about it on several other blogs last fall and really wanted to give it a shot.  Wayne at Pathways Horticulture has just started a project with his students.  Winter sowing is a planting that is done in late winter, the seeds are placed in soil in containers, the containers are then left outside.  The containers (in my case huge mayo containers) moderate the temperature of the soil and the air around the seeds.  Night isn't as cold, and day is a touch warmer.  This enables the seeds to germinate earlier than if I had to wait to put them in the ground.  If all goes well I will have onion and leek starts  to transplant into the garden.  Mostly it is an excuse to begin playing with seeds and some potting mix.  
The process is fairly simple, the hardest part for me was picking the seeds I wanted to sow.  The seeds have to be hardy, if they are to delicate they won't survive the freezing and thawing that winter sowing puts them through.  I chose winter giant spinach, fordhook swiss chard, cippolini onions and blue solaize leeks.  These are all cold hardy plants but that doesn't ensure success.  I wouldn't be entirely surprised if nothing came up at all, but the guessing is so much fun. Once you have your seeds chosen the process goes like this:

1.  Choose your container and punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage, and in the top for some air, then cut it in half.
2.  Fill the bottom half with soil and plant your seeds LABLE the container.  Leeks look just like onions when they come up.
3.  Water thoroughly 
4.  Tape your tops back on, mine didn't all have lids so I used four layers of plastic wrap and rubber bands over their mouths.
5. Place in your garden and cross your fingers.

Containers with their tops back on.
While I was in the garden putting out the containers, it was clear that mud season (a New England season that comes before spring, and sometimes replaces spring) is almost hear, the ground is still frozen, but the top few inches are mud, puddles and old snow.  I tried to rescue some parsnips from the ground but they wouldn't come free.  It was such a tease, I got them half out but the bottoms were held fast.... Either I have to wait or be happy with half sized parsnips.  The other surprise was waiting under my remay.  The fall planted spinach is sending up leaves, although all the tops died back there are new greens emerging!!!!

New green!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

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