Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Epic Fail on old seed

Spring is coming, we've had daytime temperatures above freezing for almost a week now. The spring peepers are peeping in the marshy field next door, and the killdeer have returned and are practicing their decoy flights away from their nests.

 I turned on the lamps and heating pads in the seed starting rack of the unheated garage, and am getting a temp of over 60 degrees, so I am going to start some more seeds.

 Of the 72 cells planted with Liberty Garden cauliflower seed from 2006 and Ferry-Morse Barbados Hybrid broccoli from 2008, I had 2 seedlings germinate.  Not sure if it was because they were intermittently soaked/dried out in the dry forced-air environment of the living room, or if it was just old non-viable seed.

Replanted the same tray with new seed from this year, packed for 2014.
  •  Ferry Morse Early Snowball X Cauliflower
  •  Burpee Sun King Hybrid broccoli. 
Also planted 3 additional trays as follows:
  • Livingston Seeds Pak Choi (2014)
  • Burpee All Seasons cabbage (2014),
  • Livingston seed Dwarf Blue Scotch Curled Kale (2014)
  • New Dimension Seed Green Queen Kohlrabi (2009)
  • Burpee Brussels Sprouts (Brawny) 2014. 
  • Cook's Garden Romanesco Broccoli 2013
  • Lake Valley Seed Broccoli Waltham 29 (2012)
  • Burpree Cabbage Earliana ( 2014)
The package of Brussels Sprouts just planted 24 cells with about 4 seeds left over.  They should be higher quality since there were fewer seeds in the package! 180 mg vs. 6 g of seeds for the Kale. 

My farmgirl friend participating in the seed exchange sent me a nice selection of unusual seeds, purple-pod green beans,  watermelon radish (white on outside and red on inside), birdhouse gourds, Cherokee purple tomato.  I'll have to wait to start those till we can get out and till the garden.

I walked past the compost pile this weekend, since the snow has finally melted.  The two-year-old pile has some very black dirt.  I am anxious to spread it on the garden.  The garden itself has a lot of dried weed straw.  I am wondering if I will be able to burn the weeds/weed seeds with the propane torch before we try to till it.  The ground is very wet right now from the melting snow.  Too soon to till.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Got a shipment from Burpee today:

Canteloupe: Sweet N Early
Tomato: Bloody Butcher Heirloom
Pepper: Hot Mixture
Cucumber: Supremo Hybrid
Herb: Fennel (Florence)
Tomato: Ensalada Hybrid
Radish: Black Spanish Round Heirloom
Tomato: Stupice Heirloom

In the meantime, the snow is dripping and melting, the temp is finally above freezing.  Yesterday it was in the 40's and today it is 38.

Just a few mornings ago it looked this this:
but today there are a few patches of greenish brown showing on the  high places on the lawn.  The birds have been decimating the seeds in the bird feeder, yesterday I saw a red-headed finch playing in a puddle as if it were a bird feeder. 

I will be so glad to get outside and plant some seeds! March 17,  St. Patrick's day is just around the corner, my Irish-ancestry mother always tried to get potatoes and peas planted on or near St. Paddy's. I have to remember that she grew up in Florida - here in Michigan perhaps I can have a little leeway.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Seed starting - garden log

Two weeks ago I could no longer wait to see something green so I started a tray of Mesclun. 

It was Burpee "Gourmet Salad Blend" consisting of four varieties of lettuce and two other salad herbs, the seed was packed for 2014:
  •  Black Seeded Simpson
  • Red Salad Bowl
  • Lollo Rossa
  • Royal Oak Leaf
  • Rocket (Arugula)
  • Raddichio Red Verona
The seed germinated nicely, but is get a little leggy looking out my south living room window.  It is still too cold to put it under lights in the garage, with nighttime temperatures well below freezing here.

Today I started another tray of veggies with two varieties.  One was Ferry-Morse Barbados Hybrid Broccoli (packed for 2009) which filled up 30 spots in my 72-cell tray, and the other was Page's Liberty Garden Early Snowball Cauliflower.  This filled the other 40 cells, and I spilled some of the seed 3 or 4 per cell.  This seed was packed for 2006.  So the dollar store brand of seeds had more seeds in the package than the home improvement store package.  It will be interesting to see what kind of germination rate I get.

Friday, March 07, 2014

By request, posting the family pierogi recipe.

This recipe was originally published in the Farmgirl Connection cookbook by a group of Mary Jane's Farmgirls in 2006.  "My mother-in-law's family was Ukrainian and for that side of the family, it isn't Christmas until we've had our Pierogis.  My husband and his brother always tell the story of carefully choosing the pierogi when they ate at their grandmother's house - sauerkraut [filling] was the best, cheese or mashed potatoes were acceptable, but they absolutely hated the prune pierogis - if they took one they had to eat it!  Now we just make plain sauerkraut ones.  Goes well well with Polish sausage and cooked wheat with honey."

2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Mound dough on kneading board and make hole in center.  Drop eggs into hole and cut into flour with a knife.  Add salt and water, and knead until firm.  Let rest for 10 minutes, covered, in bowl in a warm place. 

Divide dough in halves and roll thin.  Cut circles with a large biscuit cutter for half-circles, or just cut in 3-inch squares for triangular pierogis.  Place a small mound of filling a little to one side on each piece of dough.  Moisten edge with a little water, fold over and press edges firmly together.  Be sure they are well-sealed to prevent the filling from running out.  Drop the pierogi into salted boiling water in a large kettle (чайник). Don't crowd.  Cook gently for 3-5 minutes.  They will float when ready.  Lift out of water carefully with perforated spoon.

Notes:  The dough has a tendency to dry out while you are working.  A dry dough will not seal completely.  Never crowd or pile pierogi.  The uncooked will stick, and the cooked will lose shape and lightness.  Pierogi can be frozen after boiling and they keep well. 

Serving:  After boiling, we serve hot, tossed with onions that have been sautéed in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper, with a dollop of sour cream on the top.  Some people fry in hot oil, but not us. 

Fillings:

Cheese:  1 cup dry cottage cheese, 1 dash salt, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk.  Mix ingredients thoroughly. Fill Pierogi

Cabbage and Mushroom:  1 small head cabbage, 2 cups mushrooms, 2 tbsp. sour cream, 1 small onion chopped fine, butter, salt and pepper.  Quarter cabbage and cook in salted water for 15 minutes.  Drain, cool and chop fine.  Saute onion in butter, add chopped mushrooms and fry 5 minutes.  Add chopped cabbage and continue to fry until flavors meld.  Add sour cream and cool.  Fill Pierogi.

Sauerkraut and Mushroom:  2 cups sauerkraut may be substituted for cabbage in above filling.  Rinse and chop sauerkraut.  Proceed as above. Onions, mushrooms and sour cream are optional.

Potato: use leftover mashed potatoes.  Can add cheddar cheese if desired.

Cheese: cheddar cheese

Prunes: 1 cup cooked prunes, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. sugar.  Soak prunes overnight.  Cook with sugar and lemon juice.  When cool, remove pits (stones) and fill pierogi.  Serve pierogis with bread crumbs browned in butter.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remembering my grandmother Esther May Klahn Ritter today, it is the 103rd anniversary of her birth.

Monday, September 30, 2013

breaking news (a little late)

"Michigan Tomatoes suffer with Wacky Weathy" - No kidding!  Gardening was so bad here this year it got an article in the newspaper.  

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130913/LIFESTYLE01/309130011

Glad to know I am not alone.  

I harvested so far, about a bushel of potatoes.  3 tomatoes (from 72 plants started!) 1 small zuchini, 1 yellow squash, 2 jalapeno peppers.  Lots of sunflowers and zinnias. 

We plowed under the green beans at the farm.  Concerning the sweet corn, we got about 3 dozen ears, and the deer got the rest. 

You know it's really bad when you can't get zucchini to grow.  On the other hand, the self-seeding seven-top turnips planted by Ed's uncle 20 years ago came up after we plowed under the beans.  Too bad we aren't that fond of turnip greens! 

There is always next year. 

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