29 May 2009

marmalade, slugs, and dumplings

peachonce a show opens and i have enough time to do some things that are fun, i go for it!

last night i made peach dumplings! it sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn't. first, the recipe was small (yields 4 dumplings) and second, the low fat crust ingredients are easier to work with than regular crust.

granted, there is nothing like an all-butter crust made with traditional flour, but i can handle whole wheat and a few alterations.

the filling was made of brown sugar, butter, raspberry jam, vanilla, and lemon zest placed in the hollow of a pitted peach. yum!

in other "yum" news, i am trying my hand at marmalade. lemon-orange marmalade. this is the first cooked fruit spread i have ever made. i was having a conversation with my mum earlier in the week about cooking spreads and she wished me luck but reminded me that the preparation takes a long time.

she wasn't kidding!
i spent an hour and twenty minutes, peeling oranges, chopping oranges, slicing orange peel, slicing lemons, and banishing seeds! now i am on hold for 12 hours while the simmered mixture sits. (i think this is how the pectin in the fruit pith joins the party.) while i hurry up and wait, i am going to get some different jars. i have pint jars, and i think no one wants to open a whole pint of marmalade. need something smaller!

speaking if things no one wants...
i have stupid garden slugs! gah. i planted marigolds at the ends of my containers because some animals think they are not yummy. well, slugs love marigolds, it seems! they also love all the other leaves on my plants. i have been reading anti-slug pages online, and now i just have to decide which technique i want to employ in conjunction with my deer repelling tricks.

28 May 2009

48 hours in the life of a sprout

Day Six

yesterday evening when the arugula sprouted, i had no idea it would continue to grow so quickly! here is a picture of it from this morning around 8am...

early sprouts
lots of sprouts!
and that elevated center portion? that is the spot where the seedlings are forcing the soil up so they can get out. cool, huh?

evening sprouts
this was what i came home to this evening around 8:30pm. way beyond what i imagined would be welcoming me!!

can't wait to eat these! must be patient!

27 May 2009

late breaking news!

sproutthe astute blog reader may remember that on monday i planted arugula seeds in a dish with the intention of attempting to grow some of this delightful green inside my apartment.

the package told me that i would have to wait 7-14 days for the seeds to germinate.

well, my seeds were busy bees while i was out today. look a that!!

this is very exciting. i was prepared to stare at a barren dish of soil for two more weeks. here's hoping they continue to kick some youknowwhat!


i know that tonight i will have dreams about headless tomato plants.

deer, oh, deer!

 no deerDay Five
in which in rains. and rains. and i boo-hoo.

remember that haircut?

apparently i should have saved the abundant clippings because when they are spread about a garden, they repel deer. i never knew that, and boy do i wish i did now.

the deer chomped the top off of one of my tomato plants. Early Girl will be rather delayed if she comes back at all.

my garden is located adjacent a wooded area where rW and i like to watch the deer. well, they came out of hiding, and the empire had to strike back. thank goodness for the internet because there are many recipes for organic deer repellent from which to pick your poison. or rather your stink....

that is the goal. make something stinky the deer won't like. since i threw away all those inches of beautiful red deer hating hair clippings, i improvised a recipe based on what i have on hand based on a few available on the site above.

Deer Repellent
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 egg
3 cups cold water

process in a blender or food processor. pour into a spray bottle and apply to plant leaves and all over garden containers.

now i need to buy rW a new indoor plant mister because i stole his spray bottle for this adventure. he deserves better mister anyway.

herbsspeaking of rw.... he planted his herbs!

cilantro, rosemary, basil, spearmint, and oregano.

in other garden news, the peppers are very happy. all 5 pepper plants have what appears to be the start of little buds. yay! also, my honey dew has finally taken his prozac and lifted himself off the couch to play with the other melons. all of my melon vines seem to be recovering from the pounding the thunderstorm rain gave them. i have some leaf damage here and there but they are shrugging it off fairly well. pumpkin is extremely happy!

and outside the garden...
today i was called to jury duty. actually i was called on may 11th and rescheduled. i am very glad i did because i was #92 and on may 11th they called 240 people. today they called just 70. now they can't bug me for two whole years!

i also knitted for the first time in about three weeks. just a few rounds on a sleeve while i waited for trader joe's to open this morning. i hope i can get back into the swing of the needles!

26 May 2009

stormy weather

 snip sniprW cut my hair for me on saturday.

a real honest to goodness haircut. we're talking between 6 and 8 inches depending on the layer your measure.

i tricked him into it.

see, i got him mentally prepared to trim the ends off my hair. i then read up on a layered 'do and walked him through it. about a third of the way through the layering, he had the revelation that he was giving me a real haircut.

turns out he isn't at all bad at cutting hair! and he didn't seem too worried doing the layers. i just kept telling him i could always cut it off short if it turned out poorly. which it did not. i wore the new cut out saturday night to my opening and lots of people commented on it including two of my friends who work with hair and they were pleasantly surprised.

this whole post makes it sound like rW is not good at new things, which is totally untrue. his previous haircutting experience can mostly be summed up in the buzzing of one's hair to less than an inch. round of applause!

the garden.

Day Two
sunday. research day.
in the spirit of leaping before looking, i planted and then did my research. i didn't do too badly in my plant selection, containers, or the actual planting. the only thing i did not realize is how much space tomato plants actually need. i didn't really give them enough--time to replant.

rW and i needed a few things from ikea and they usually have good garden shop items so i looked for pots when we went there and settled on an improvised solution. rW bought for me three FNISS wastepaper baskets and punched drainage holes in the bottom. perfect!

also moved my the gardening spirit, he got for himself several small glazed pots and the seeds to grow herbs on our kitchen window. he has not planted yet, but i will report the progress when he does.

finally, after getting new containers and soil to fill them, i decided to pick up a few more inexpensive experiment plants to fill the spots the missing tomatoes would leave in my planter boxes. i came away with a jalapeño pepper, a honeydew melon, and a cantaloupe.

i know that these vine plants sound crazy, but i hope that because they are restricted to a certain amount f space in the boxes, they won't go crazy and give me 18 watermelons and 22 pumpkins. you know... like these things do when left to their own devices.

Day Three
monday. memorial day.
planting: part 2

rW and i had a day trip planned so i scurried out early to transplant the tomatoes and get the other new friends into the planters. all went well and rW gave everyone an initial watering before we left.

while out all day, it rained. yay! i checked everyone when we got back and the soil was nicely damp. i was thinking i would have to water the tomatoes a second time, but the rain took care of it for me.

the tomatoes seem to have accepted the transplant without complaint and the jalapeño and cantaloupe perked up right away. honeydew was still looking cranky about 12 ours after planting.

of the plants i put to soil on saturday, the poblano pepper and the watermelon are showing the most change. both are perky and the watermelon leaf stems are noticeably longer.

i also sowed some arugula seeds in a dish inside. i read that salad plants are good for indoor gardening and arugula tastes better when grown in cool conditions. we shall see if window light and A/C are the right conditions. another experiment!

Day Four
today. tuesday. rainy day.

after checking on everyone last night, we had a thunderstorm!
it was loud enough that it woke both rW and myself. i was worried about my plants big time. it was really coming down and i was afraid all of my soil would wash away or my planters would be upset by the winds.

none of this came to pass, but i had bad dreams all night about huge weeds attacking my plants and other surreal garden destroying nonsense.

i ran out first thing and check on the planters even though it was still raining. everyone is intact, and the watering bucket i left out yesterday has collected several new inches of water. only two other changes... leaves everywhere!

i had to scoop fallen tree leaves out of the planters and watering bucket, but at least it is not giant psycho weeds. also, my vine plants looked bruised. i am afraid the force of the downpour bruised my melon plants. the pumpkin seems happier (and bigger!) after the rain. i hope the melons don't die. honeydew does not look happy at all.

23 May 2009

a new chapter

i have been hard at work teaching the next generation and opening one hell of a show. Crazyface opens tonight, so i started a new project today.

i have a container garden.

right out back under our bedroom window.
it is an experiment.

i come from a family of gardeners. my parents grow tomatos, peppers and asparagus. my dad's mum had an amazing tomato patch for years. my mom's mum grew everything imaginable. from rhubarb to carrots and broccoli to melons, grandma grew it. when i was little my parents humoured me and let me plant a little hill of corn. that was some of the best corn i ever tasted.

i plan to track my progress here and see what comes of this new adventure.

today i spent $65 and this is what i got....

  • 3 plastic 23 quart containers (long window box style).
  • 2 bags (32 qt each) of Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix
  • 1 bottle Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Plant Food Concentrate
  • 2 yellow marigolds
  • 2 orange marigolds
  • 2 red/orange combination marigolds
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 green bell pepper (for rW!)
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 "early girl" tomato
  • 1 "husky cherry" tomato
  • 1 "mr. stripey" tomato
  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 jack'o'lantern

not bad for $65, right?

on the optimistic side, here is my maximum goal (hoped for yield) for my little container garden....
  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 pumpkin
  • 4 red peppers
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 5-7 big tomatos

i anticipate there will be losses, however. i expect to lose at minimum one pepper plant and one tomato plant. everyone keep their fingers crossed for Mr. Stripey! he is my heirloom tomato plant and i really want him to make it.

we must have a moment of true confession.
i have done very little research before starting this project. i know. i am terrible. but plan to research as i go along and treat this as an experiment. so here's the report....

Day One
i came home from the store and set up the pots, filled them, and planted my new friends according to the directions on the tags. it was early evening, so i went ahead and mixed up the plant food and watered everyone. and away we go!

02 May 2009


today i found this post i forgot i started on... um... monday... 4/27

i have not been blogging lately because i simply have had no time for it. i am creating neither content or posts to contain it because the new job has been pretty intense. i was hired very shortly before the new quarter began, so i have been developing my classes week to week.

summer quarter will be better because i will have a quarter under my belt, and i have 3 extra weeks to refine the 2nd go round.

i plan to be very non-specific about my new job because i had to sign my name to 8,000 sheets of paper and i am pretty sure one of them frowned upon blogging.

our apartment looks like a war zone. piles and piles of stuff. first, we have piles of grading.

then we have the other major culprit for the lack of knitting.... piles of sewing. for shows. i have a big one coming up, and the only way to tackle it is to buy, borrow, and build.... a lot. the sewing has been simple and enjoyable. i am just not looking forward to all the finishing and hemming.

in addition to the pile of cut out garments on the left, this photo also features the model tote bag i stitched along with my students. it is my new favourite purse.

yesterday was hot and beautiful.

...and that is where it ended
. i am relatively certain i was going to tell everyone about the day i had sunday when it was very hot.

rW and i went to Lake Artemesia and walked around the lake for awhile. i think we would have stayed much longer if we had brought some water along. never the less, it was fun and beautiful. we saw a turtle sunning himself on a log. he looked great--what a life! stretched out, eyes closed, leaning into the sun.


one more picture for you....

i call this a "pattern piece tumbleweed". this final pile is what happens when you leave you pattern pieces poorly weighted on a surface overnight and neglect to close the window.

i am so s--m--r--t.