Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Where have the pickles gone?

I am extremely distressed, after learning that the pickles I grew up with, the Nalley brand, are no longer being grown locally, but now being grown in India.

This article in the Seattle PI sparked my interest:

Northwest brands reject pickles from local northwest growers

all in the name of cheaper labor, our pickles are now even being outsourced. This year I bought extra cucumber seeds, so I will be making my own local pickles from now on, thank you! More good reason to move to the 100 mile diet!

Comments anyone?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Decisions, decisions...and I need more dirt!

Went out in the yard and measured today. I figure I can put in at least 7 – 4×4 ft raised beds back there comfortably without giving up too much kiddie play space. With 7 beds, I could produce food for 1 person for a year (in theory per the grow more food method). Each bed provides you 16 square feet of growing space, and it takes 100 square feet per person. So… 7 beds would give me more than enough for one.

Now if I really want to get serious, I could shoot for my family of 3 with 300 square feet, and surprisingly I did discover I could make it happen with a bit of ambition, but this year I think I will settle for shooting for 100. Otherwise my hubby will go nuts helping me put in all those beds.

In addition to the 7 beds, I have things growing in pots, including 3 potato bags which should produce up to 13 lbs per bag, 2 large half-wine barrels, herbs, lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes.

I am dying to put in berry bushes, but I’m not sure how well they would work in raised beds. Need to do some more research. The book I am reading on square foot gardening has you growing some things our family would never eat, like brussel sprouts, or things that wouldn’t do as well here in our climate.

Went to get the potatoes going this evening and discovered I need a run to Home Depot for dirt and raised bed materials!!!

The pearl onions are sprouting and the cucumbers are ready to move into bigger pots. I was soooo tempted to purchase a clump of Walla Walla sweet onion starts from the nursery across the street, but I kept myself under control. MUSTGETGROWINGSPACE…. FIRST!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Growing Challenge: Stuff to Grow and April Snow

Here in the Puget Sound Region, we don't generally get snow in April....heck...we generally don't get snow at all! The last two days, however, have been incredibly frustrating to nursery owners and gardeners alike. I took a jaunt over to the local nursery who was having a 20% off everything sale early yesterday morning. The snow was coming down, and much of the pretty pansies, veggie starts, and other spring flowering plants at the nursery were being crushed under the weight of the fallen snow. It was a pretty sad sight. I am thankful at the fact I have not yet attempted to plant anything outside yet, and with El Nino predicted to last through July, I am wondering if cool weather crops might be the rage this year.

Indoors, where it is nice and warm, I have started my first pickling cucumber seeds ever, purchased from http://www.seedsaverexchange.com. Grown in expanding jiffy pots on a kitchen table, they are just starting to peek out of the soil.

As part of The Growing Challenge, I am attempting to grow some new edible things this year not previously grown in the past. Last year, I tried my hand at some container gardening, and successfully grew 4 large and loaded healthy tomato plants, a bunch of lettuce, green beans, peas, strawberries, chives, basil and a pepper plant.

This year, I would like to try my hand at squarefoot or biointensive gardening, and have purchased my seeds this year from seedsaverexchange and www.parkseeds.com

Here is a list of what I will attempt to grow this year:

I purchased from Seed Saver Exchange the following:

German Butterball Potato
Red Gold Potato
Borettana Yellow Onion
Ireland Creek Annie’s Bean (Eating/Soup Bean)
Calypso Bean (Eating/Soup Bean)
Waltham Butternut Squash
Black Beauty Zucchini Squash
Empress Bean (Green Bean)
Autumn Beauty Sunflower

From Park Seed I purchased the following:

Lettuce Little Gem (to go with my miniature garden and the tom thumb peas I saved from last year)

Swiss Chard Bright Lights

Corn Early Sunglow Hybrid (for fast, early germination in cold weather)

Cucumber Bush Pickle Hybrid

Cucumber Eureka Hybrid

Lettuce Buttercrunch

Lettuce Red Sails

Pea Green Arrow (powdery mildew resistant! Last year’s seed saver variety failed because of powdery mildew)

Carrot Scarlet Nantes (problems last year with seed savers)



Kale Winter Hybrid

Then, I plan on planting 4 tomatoes again this year from my local nursery, and getting some peppers, basil, oregano, chives, and nasturtiums

Continuing from last year are all my strawberries.

Most of what I am doing is growing in containers, and I just found out a way to grow corn in containers…will attempt it this year! Still debating on ripping up part of the lawn for raised beds. We are determining whether or not to move. If we move, my garden will temporarily move to my grandma’s home where she has a large amount of garden property. I just can’t stand not having a garden!

Doing research into soil improvement, and high yield biointensive gardening.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Of Cheesemakers and Miniature Gardens

Cheesemaking for Fun

Lately I've been inspired by a few things I've come across. The first being a site I'd like to share, http://www.cheesemaking.com/ where you can find beginner cheesemaking kits! Learn to make your own feta, mozzarella, gouda, cottage cheese, and more!

This kit will likely be my first adventure. Maybe we'll make some pizza too!

Miniature Gardening for Kids

Additionally, for little ones, a fun project is to make a miniature garden. This site is a great place for inspiration and some supplies. http://www.weegarden.com/Blog.html

You can also create a miniature vegetable garden using Tom Thumb peas, baby miniature lettuce heads, small strawberries, and other small growing items good for containers and just right for a child to take care of in a small space.

Another idea might be to take a clear storage bin, fill it with dirt and rocks, and purchase some small starter houseplants to create a dinosaur habitat. Your child can supply the dinosaurs and imagination! Terrariums can be a lot of fun too!