Monthly Archives: November 2010

a taste of winter

chickens perched over snowThe chickens weren’t quite sure what to make of all the snow a few days ago. Here you see them perched on their step, hesitating to jump off.

I stood and watched them for a bit, wondering if I would need to give them a gentle nudge. They really did stay up there for a good amount of time. I watched, and then I poured some feed into their feeder. Even then, they stayed. Usually the sound of food makes them come running – they are teenage boys after all – but this time they were still not sure what they would be getting themselves into if they left the safety of their perch.

Eventually, one jumped. When he turned out ok, the others followed.chickens eating

And here you can see them fighting over the food as usual. No problem! They’re all doing really well. I’m surprised, actually, because my laying hens from last winter had colds by now. Well, I think it was one that usually was more sneezy than the others, but still. I haven’t heard a single sneeze from these ones yet!

And they’re maturing so nicely. The black in their tails and around their necks is really starting to come out. I even heard a few honks from a couple of them, which is the noise they make before they are actually old enough to crow. They definitely don’t make the little baby cheepy noises anymore. Sniff sniff.

winter pepperAnd here’s one more winter photo for you on this rainy day: a bell pepper plant, very much dead. You can see I haven’t done any tilling yet. I might pull out a few of the larger plants, so they don’t interfere too much with snowman building, but everything else will stay unless we get some crazy mild weather and the time to do something about it.

It doesn’t hurt to leave things. If you haven’t yet ‘cleaned up the garden’, don’t worry about it. By the time winter is through with your garden, the cleanup is much easier. I like to leave things for spring when they’re easier to pull out or hoe or rake. Plus, at that point I have way more energy because I’m excited about the new season AND the days are getting longer and longer! Many more daylight hours to get things done, and new life is all around. I can hardly wait.

A few more weeks of decreasing light, though. We can do it!

watercress grow test

watercressI finally made it out to the grocery store this morning, and couldn’t wait to get home and try out this watercress experiment. You may recall a post last week about watercress (someone had asked me about it at the La Leche League Garage Sale) where I mentioned that I’d like to try growing it from a grocery store bundle.

Well, looking at it in the store, I wasn’t so sure about the stems – they looked like new growth, and I figured it might be tricky to root. However, as I continued to look closer, I discovered that there were already little roots growing from the nodes on the stems!! Yay!! This means it will probably do just as well as the mint does when I snip it and throw it in some soil.

When I tasted it, the peppery taste really reminded me of something that I couldn’t put my finger on, until I found a website that told me the scientific name – Nasturtium officinale – and that jogged my memory, so I knew where I had tasted that flavour before… the taste totally reminds me of Nasturtium flowers and leaves. They have a stronger kick than the watercress does, though, so I can’t eat too many before my taste buds are exhausted. I look forward to putting the leftovers of the watercress experiment in my salad, though – it’s like a taste of summer.

I took photos of my progress, in case anyone wants to try their own or is curious about the process. I just did this today, so I can’t verify that this works, but given the state of the watercress, with roots already starting, I’m sure it will turn out just fine. I should also say that normally I would start them in the early spring, so they could then be planted outside once they were big enough.

Ready? Here we go…

snipping petioles

First I snipped off the petioles – these are the stems that branch off the main stem. See the roots already starting??? Also notice, I’m leaving the stipules, which are the little stems growing out between the main stem and the branching stems.

snipping between nodes

Then I snipped between the nodes.

cuttings

I made 16 cuttings since that’s how many grow holes I have in the tray I’m using to start them.

cuttings planted

Aren’t they cute?

planted cuttings under lights

I put them under my grow lights, since these days are turning grey and I’d like to give them as much light as I can. Now I wait and water and see how it goes!

watercress leftovers

AND eat the leftovers.

Updates to follow!

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something pretty

beehive artWell, I promised yesterday that I would show you something pretty today, so here it is. An artist beekeeper friend of mine makes these gorgeous, one-of-a-kind stained glass window ornaments. The beehive is in the shape of a traditional skep, and the bee is just way too cute. The photo doesn’t fully capture the bee but it’s the best I could do at this point in time, with a broken camera away for repairs and my poor phone doing the best it can.

If you would like to buy one, please come to the “A Little Bird Told Me” Craft Sale at Little City Farm on December 11. I will have them there, selling them at my table.

I was thinking I should probably explain some of the other things I will have available, too, so this post will be full of pictures today.earring display

Earrings in the shape of veggies! And strawberries. And my pins – ‘go organic’ with a sprouty, and ‘I heart Local Honey’.

sprout kit contents

Sprout kits!! Come with 3 different kinds of seeds to try, plus the container and soil and a bit of composted manure.

gardening apron

Garden aprons, useful for holding tools and seeds and other garden items while you work.

apron fabrics

Aprons are available in a number of different types of fabric, as demonstrated by my lovely assistant.

Here’s something special – the next item on the list is my personal favourite. Basically, it’s a pretty gift bag filled with manure. For that person who has everything. Or your favourite gardener who can take a joke. There’s a poem attached, to help explain to them why they are getting  nothing but poo for xmas.

gift bags

Here’s the poem:

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Checking his Christmas lists once and then twice –

Santa sees all who are naughty and nice.

So sad but so true I’m sorry to say,

Those on the naughty list don’t get to play.

Instead of nice presents, only some coal;

But sometimes it’s hard to find at The Pole.

This year has been even harder than most;

Elves were creative, and finally boast:

“The reindeer helped too, so don’t step in it –

Your gift this year is a bag full of $h!t.”

Merry Christmas!

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I know not everyone has my sense of humour, but I’m hoping enough people like the bags and want to give them to certain wonderful people in their lives this season.

Here’s the bag inside the bag:

bag of composted manure

This organic composted manure is great in the garden, but it can also be added in small amounts to houseplant pots to give them a little boost. Tomato lovers, add a cup or so to every hole you dig to plant a tomato in – your plants will thank you by making the most delicious tomatoes ever.

Of course you can also buy gift certificates for that gardener on your list, and there will also be opportunity to sign up for my newsletter.

AND a free draw for $20 gift certificate for next spring.

So please come to the sale! And tell everyone you know who might be interested in locally hand-crafted gift items. There will be 8 vendors at the sale, selling everything from sock monkeys to baby quilts.

Please also share this webpage on facebook or twitter, to help spread the word – thanks so much!

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sprout salad

sprout saladIt’s day 11 of my sprouting adventure, and I’ve made myself a salad with all 3 kinds. The radishes, I could’ve eaten a few days ago, but the peas are just starting to come into their own today.

This ‘salad’ is pretty simple – 3 kinds of sprouts, red peppers, and ground beef. It’s my lazy lunch, adding veggies to meat after the meat’s been warmed. Cooking the sprouts would destroy many of the health benefits, so I wouldn’t do that. So yummy – the radish sprouts taste like radishes, and the broccoli sprouts taste like broccoli. The pea sprouts are starchy sweet.

sprouts day 11Here’s a photo of what the sprouts looked like just before I had my salad. The peas sure have stretched! Broccoli too. It’s prime eating time! Guess what I’m having for meals for the next few days? Yep. Yummy sprouts.

I don’t think I’ll blog much more about it though. Is it getting tiring? I’m kinda feeling like I’m ready for the next topic. No major ideas yet though. But surely something will come to me.

Oh! I know. I’ll show you something really pretty tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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winner

name draw list

First I wrote out everyone’s names…..

draw papers

Then I prepared them for the draw…..

winner

Then my lovely assistant drew a name….

and JOSH is the winner of a Pesto Pot!

Josh, I’ll email you in the next few minutes with your coupon. I don’t trust my memory to last until next spring. đŸ™‚

Thanks everyone else for entering – stay tuned for more giveaways in the weeks and months to come.

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P.S. Here are the sprouts, day 10:

sprouts day 10

genetic and incurable

seed savingIt’s pretty hopeless. In my house there will always be various random plates of seeds drying out after being saved and washed. In the photo at left, there are spinach seeds, garlic bulbils and date seeds, squash seeds, apple seeds, and bean seeds.

Most of them are saved by me – all, in fact, except for the apple seeds. My daughter wants her own apple trees, despite the fact that we have two in the front yard that are doing their best to hurry up and produce fruit. Two more years, and hopefully we will have the best Gala apples ever from our own yard!

She’s also saved pepper seeds and grown her own peppers, and for a few years we faithfully saved seeds from the pumpkins we grew and planted them the next year. It can be risky, because there’s no guarantee that the seeds didn’t cross with something else, but it’s an adventure. We also like to save seeds from oranges and other random veggies and fruits – it’s fun!

I actually started some grapefruit seedlings one year, and had them growing in my house until they died from either a major accident or forgetfulness, I forget which. Sprouting grapefruit seeds was something I picked up from my grandma, who regularly finds seeds in her grapefruit that have already sprouted a bit. When she does, she puts them in soil. Her plants got much bigger than mine, and inspired me to do it myself.

The next time you’re preparing food and come across some seeds, save a few for spring or sprout them right now just to see what happens. It’s a free and fun adventure worth having. Especially if you have kids in your household.

If you don’t have soil, stuff a jar with paper towel and slide the seed between the paper towel and the glass. This way you can see the root develop too! Cover the outside of the jar with black or dark construction paper so the roots don’t get confused. You can take it off to check on the progress of the roots as your seedling develops. Keep it moist but not soaking – if it sits in water with no access to air, it can rot.

Have fun! If you try this let me know, I’d love to hear about it.

And if you take pics, post them on the SKG Facebook Page!

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on the 9th day of sprouting

sprouts day 9Look how the broccoli is coming along!

I was hoping to have a salad photo to show you, but my lettuce was wilty this morning. Somehow I managed to ignore it for long enough that it was not very edible anymore. I’d say shame on me, but I’m trying to avoid shaming in my life…. myself or others. It is what it is. This is what happened. Moving on….

Another exciting thing that’s happened is a meeting with a good friend who has a really good handle on marketing and communication. She pointed out a few difficulties with the way I was presenting myself, and encouraged me to make changes to become more consistent and clear. She also pointed me in the direction of spreadsheets and product pricing, with the instruction to keep things simple. 7 products max. Yipes. Well, here we go!!

I’ll share with you what I’ve got cooking so far:

1. Seedlings for transplanting – many different kinds, but I count this as one ‘thing’.

2. Large Patio/Balcony planter – Basic Veggie – tomato, pepper, beans

3. Large Patio/Balcony planter – Climbing Veggie – peas, cukes, plus some tiny tomatoes

4. Hummingbird Haven – scarlet runner beans with a tall trellis. Bright red flowers turn into edible beans!

5. Salad Bowl – big pot of greens

6. Herbs – ‘Pesto Pot’ – yep, full of BASIL!!!! Different kinds too. mmmmm…..

7. Herbs – mixed planter

8. Patio Pots with individual veggies – all ready to put on your patio or balcony and stay there all summer.

9. Tomato and Basil planters. Because everybody loves them.

OOps. Well, 9 isn’t too much more than 7….

Can I ask you a question? Can you tell me which you’d like to see on your patio? You could win your choice by commenting here and letting me know. I’d also love to hear any other thoughts you may have related to these products. I’ll draw a name tomorrow. You’ll have to come pick it up in the spring though – I’ll send you a coupon.

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on google maps

google maps listingI keep checking periodically to see if Google added my location to their maps yet. Tonight I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had! If you google ‘Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens’, there’s a google map link that will show you where my greenhouse is. I love it!

This will be handy for all those who want to come and buy seedlings in the spring. I’m already thinking about this – how much do I plant? Where do I advertise? Do I try to get into a farmer’s market or two? Will people actually come to my greenhouse if I have open hours there, or should I just stick with markets and such?

So much to think about!

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days 6 and 7

sprouts day 7

sprouts day 7

Quite a lot can happen in a day! Check out how much the broccoli grew (middle container). The radishes also got greener and taller. I think I’ll be starting to eat them in my salad tonight. I’ll just snip them with scissors to harvest, and rinse them off in case there’s any soil caught in the leaves or on the stems. Then I’ll add them to my salad for a great nutrition and flavour boost.

The peas also started sending up green shoots – yay! I think I’ll leave the cover off now.

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At the La Leche League garage sale on Thursday, someone asked me if there were other ways to do sprouts – and there certainly are! I chose this method because I have a hard time with the jar method, but I thought I’d gather some links about sprouting using the jar method because I’m sure there are other people out there who would be much better at it than I am.

Growing Sprouts – this one does a great job of explaining how to use a jar to grow sprouts.

Sprout. Sprout. Let it all out! – video showing how to sprout using the jar method.

Anyone who uses the jar method, I’d love to hear some tricks. Mine usually start smelling, and they get really tough. Not sure if I didn’t rinse enough, or if I tried to grow too much in one container…. maybe the angle was wrong? I might try again some day, but for now I like my little trays on the window shelf.

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watercress

watercressI had a great time at the garage sale today! I didn’t sell anything, but I was able to visit with friends and chat with people about Sarah’s Kitchen Gardens, which made it all worthwhile. This post is inspired by the woman who asked me about watercress.

I’ve heard of watercress, of course. When I was a kid my dad used to take me out foraging for wild mint and nettle and occasionally we would see watercress too. Mint and watercress both like to grow near streams, so on our trips to gather mint for mint jelly we would sometimes see the watercress. I had never considered its cultivation, though, so the question took me by surprise. Like all good questions, though, it got me thinking. Now I want to know how to grow it! First I looked in all my seed catalogues, and didn’t find watercress seeds listed. Next plan? Google it, of course! The photo above came from this site. According to them, it’s easy to grow from a stem, so you could buy it from the grocery store and start your own plant! If it’s anything like mint it will not need any encouragement to root from a stem buried in soil.

I’m going to try it. Watercress is on my shopping list, so if I can find it I will be posting about my little experiment as it happens.

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