Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Winter Gardening

I have officially moved my Chinese Kale and Oriental Spinach sprouts to the big garden. Cross your fingers that they survive to food status.

Here is the Kale:
And the Oriental Spinach:
I have to give a big thanks to my girls for helping me plant my starts. Cross your fingers that I'll be posting a yummy recipe for Chinese Kale and Oriental Spinach in a few months.
Happy Gardening!
OH Wait!
On my way to the garden I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of our plum tree. Here is is for your enjoyment:
Spring is so close.....hovering like hope.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

National Animal Identification System

Being the owner of a small herd of goats, one sheep, soon to be two and a small flock of chickens, I'm just not too sure I like this whole National Animal ID System thing our government is planning on laying on us. Talk about Big Brother!
I learned of this on the Happy Homesteader Blog on the online Mother Earth News. You can read the article here. If you agree with me that this isn't the way to go, be sure to speak out against NAIS. This is all about protecting large agri business and smothering out the small time farmers and ranchers. Let's not let this happen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seed Catalogs

So, is anyone else being inundated with seed catalogs? I use to get one or two a year. Then I ordered seed potatoes from Territorial Seed Company last year, and this year, I received 10 catalogs within a 2 month period. Usually I would be irritated by receiving so many catalogs, but seed catalogs today are like the Sears Toy catalog was for me at Christmas time when I was 5 years old. I can spend hours looking at them and dreaming. So, how does one go about controlling themselves and only ordering what they really can grow, and how much do I really need to order. How much can I buy locally?

My plan is, to circle everything I want, then note what I know I can get locally, either from our local nurseries or from our farmers' markets. I've already discovered I can get asparagus crowns, seed potatoes, onions, and rhubarb locally. Even though I can buy purslane and veronica at the farmers market, I can't seem to find the seed or starts for them locally, so those I'll order, along with the other things I can't find locally. But from which catalog?

I've received catalogs from Connecticut to Wisconsin (even though they're called Vermont seed Co.), to Maine to Pennsylvania to Oregon. So, I've decided I'd focus on the one's from Cottage Grove Oregon, specifically Territorial Seed and Abundant Life. They're as local as I can get when it comes to seed catalogs. If there is anything else I can afford to order and really want that I can't get locally or from Cottage Grove, I'll break down and order from the others.

The one other thing I'll have to order from out of state is Sweet Potatoe's. No one will sell to California because they're too restrictive on what can be shipped to the state. It frustrates me that sweet pototoes are grown in California on corporate monster agribusiness farms, but none of these companies will sell slips to small farmers to grow on their own, and no one is allowed to ship slips into California. Well Ha! I've found one place willing and able to ship to California, and I plan to grow sweet potatoes this year. I'd say who this source is, but I'm afraid if I print it here, they'll be stopped from shipping, and I dont' want to do that. Just spend some time googleling and you'll find them.

So now I need to figure out who much I can squeeze into my already tilled garden and how much more of my yard I have time to till or build raised beds onto, then I can start shopping away for all the delightful treats and yummies I hope I can grow this year.

So back to circling all the "toys" I want from those seed catalogs and to all the mapping out and planning!
May we all have and abundant year!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Winter Gardening

About a month ago I was reading an on line article from Mother Earth News, Use Cold Frames To Grow More Food, and on page 3 a section called Milk Jug Seed Starters got my attention. For one, it was an unusually sunny and warm January here on the North Coast of California, which got me motivated to get out in the garden, and second I have a ton of milk jugs waiting to be taken to the recycling center. I figured why not use a few of them to take care of my itch to get outside and garden.

Back when we took our trip to Oakland's China Town we had picked up several packets of seeds from the markets. Oriental Spinach, Chinese Kale, and Edible Amaranth. They are all suppose to be winter hardy plants, so I decided to experiment and try these seeds out along with some Romaine lettuce seeds in the milk jug seed starters and see if I could achieve some success.

So far I have been pleasantly surprised by the Chinese Kale and the Oriental Spinach. Nothing has sprouted from the Amaranth yet. Being the ignorant gardener I am, I'm not sure what I did wrong. My Romaine sprouted and was doing beautifully, but has since been demolished by some critter, most likely slugs and/or snails. I have one start left from the 20 or so that first popped up. I'll have to give that one another shot and find a safer location. Apparently the slugs and snails don't care too much for the kale or spinach. I hope I didn't just jinx myself by typing that.

Here is my one lonely lettuce sprout, that probably won't make it through the day:

And here are my successes. The Chinese Kale:

And the Oriental Spinach:

And true to the poorly translated from Chinese to English instructions, they are cold tolerant plants and have survived the cold front that has brought freezing temperatures
to our area, beautifully. I should be able to transplant them to the garden without hardening them off, since they've already been acclimated to the weather. At least that's what I'm hoping.

Hopefully I'll be writing of further successes with the Chinese Kale and Oriental Spinach, and that I finally figured out how to get the amaranth to sprout. Oh yeah, and whether I've succeeded in saving any new lettuce sprouts from the slugs and snails. Those evil little slime makers!

Well, off to look up some recipes for Chinese Kale and Oriental Spinach, and some psychological tricks to get my kids to eat them.
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Humboldt Crud

Well, so much for the big start on my garden blog huh? Soon after I got it rolling again I had a sick kid home, then I got sick, now I have another sick child at home and I just haven't had time to post a thing. I have sprouts started that I'm itching to show you! So hopefully I'll get to that in a day or two. So off to finish up my chicken, garlic, ginger dinner that is suppose to cure us of all evil and illness, (using sage and rosemary from my garden - woo hoo!)
Keep yourselves healthy out there,