Does anyone else have their kiwifruit vines in a container? I impulse-bought two fuzzy kiwi plants last year- a male ('Matua') and a self-pollinating female ('Jenny')- and then realized when I got home that I seriously had no place to put them. I usually get away with impulse plants ("There's always room somewhere," is my motto) but not with these guys...no spot was right at all for them. So into a 15-gallon bucket they went, and I built a trellis so they could climb up to the second-floor deck.
They didn't bloom this year, but from what I understand that's normal for young vines. I'm in zone 8b but we do get a lot of snow up here, so I keep burlap and bubble wrap to protect them in the winter; they did fine last year, no dieback at all. They get about four hours' sun each day at their feet and an extra couple of hours further up the trellis.
But am I just wasting my time? Will they manage to produce in a pot? I wish I'd stuck them in a half-barrel, but I didn't have one; I feel sure I'll have to figure out how to repot them into something larger one of these days.
This was my first experiment in fermentation, and it's still my sentimental favorite. I always have at least two jars ongoing: one with added spices (peppercorns, coriander, mustard seed, and cinnamon) and one without. I keep the open jar in the fridge and sometimes just add to it: a cut-up lemon every now and then, sometimes some salt.
I've found so many ways to eat them! Of course they're great in tagines and similar dishes, but they're also really good anywhere you might use capers. Adding them potato salad has been the hands-down family favorite so far, though; my husband refuses to eat potato salad without them now.
That sounds like a good system. My approach wavers somewhere between the organizational extremes of "spreadsheet for everything" and "booby trapped pantry: good luck with that." Sometimes it varies by area, sometimes by non-kitchen-related life context. I do try to pull things from the back, though I'm not 100% on it.
The one thing I do keep track of is my spices and herb supplies. I almost always buy bulk (when I don't grow and dehydrate) and then break the big bags down into vacuum-sealed smaller containers. They tend to get tucked here and there, so I started noting down what I've stashed where in a little steno pad. It helps. Somewhat.
Once a year or so I go through the home-canned stuff and make sure it's rotated. Ditto emergency supplies like powdered milk.
Stuffing muffins and savory bread puddings! I've done both, and though I haven't tried freezing any ahead, I'm sure it would work. Maybe make them a little moister than you might normally want them, to make up for freezing and reheating.
Since my hubby started baking bread, savory bread puddings have become a staple around here. I'm partial to using mushroom and whatever fresh herbs and leftover cheese we have.
After all the excitement died down I put in a mosaic on the back wall instead.
That's a gorgeous mosaic!
Question though - what is on the bottom of the cabinet? Installing a metal sheet, preferably with heat resistant insulation in the small gap caused by the edges of the cabinet sticking a little lower than the bottom shelf, would be something I'd seriously consider. There are codes for how close "wood" can be to a hot surface for good reasons. Under normal operations, the gap seems plenty, but if a pot caught on fire, metal could make a difference.
Thanks for the suggestion; I hadn't thought of that.
I wonder if adding a layer of regular subway tile would help with fireproofing? I got a ton of it at a garage sale a couple of years ago, and part of the mosaic is made of it. I'd probably cut a sheet of decent ply to fit that space, and then tile it first and install it after it's grouted and sealed. The undercabinet is actually in really good shape, so minimizing damage to it would be a prioroty.
Pearl Sutton wrote:A random kitchen design flaw I just tripped over in this rental. The height of the stove hood off the top of the stove is 22 inches. I'm doing canning, and the height of my canner + a quart jar + the jar lifter + my knuckles is 24 inches at absolute minimum, 26 inches would be a MUCH better height for a hood if you are canning. Worth considering.
Trying to not drop a hot canning jar when you bark your knuckles is difficult... I haven't dropped any yet, knock on tile!
We just bought our new house this past year, and I actually had to rip the microwave/ventahood combo out completely because none of my large pots fit. I found out that my pressure canner wouldn't fit at all the day the "new" fridge went out; I dug the canner out and started frantically prepping to preserve all I could, but discovered that the lid with the pressure rocker was at least three inches too tall. Aargh!
We actually ripped that monster microwave down that day. There was already a downdraft exhaust on the stove, so that didn't matter, and the microwave was one of those overengineered jobs that was supposed to microwave, brown, toast, and who knows what but actually didn't do anything at all very well.
After all the excitement died down I put in a mosaic on the back wall instead.
I made one too; I couldn't resist. I used blueberries (frozen from earlier in the year) and blackberries (fresh) and the zest from half an orange I had left over from breakfast. No crust for mine, either. Making it required all of five minutes and one bowl. :-)
It's really good. Mine's a little stiffer than custard pie, but that's a good comparison.
I took this picture before it fell completely, but half an hour later, it's half-devoured and not anything like as pretty. My hubby says it would be great with whipped cream...but he'll eat whipped cream on almost anything, so your mileage may vary.
I'm totally putting this recipe in the rotation. Thanks!
And don't be afraid to fail! For every lush, productive plant you see in a longtime gardener's garden, there were ten (maybe a hundred!) that went belly-up. You have to try things, see what works where, learn what you're good at growing in the space you're in. After gleaning some of the basics from books and guides and whatnot, experience is the very best teacher.
To paraphrase one of our NW garden gurus: "The best gardener is the one who's killed the most plants." :-)
We're in black bear country in the foothills of the Cascades, backed onto two state parks, and even though our 3 acres is basically suburban, we still have plenty of bears. So far our solution of having three separate composting setups is working.
The first is the main outdoor compost heap. Only yard waste, garden waste, and non-tasty kitchen waste (like old leafy greens or stalks) go on here. We don't want to attract raccoons either!
The second is an enclosed double-tumbler composter, which is then further enclosed in our ten-foot-tall wooden trash-can corral. We put regular kitchen waste in this one, though I prefer to keep meat scraps out.
The third is the vermicomposting setup, which I have in our completely enclosed garage. I have one of those tower systems, plus a modified plastic tote setup. I put questionable stuff into these, though I still try to avoid meat scraps. I've never had much of a problem with smell, though we do get fruit flies! I feed them to my mantises so at least there's one small upside. :-) In fact, I've considered setting up a vivarium down there with frogs and a wide-mesh top, though I'm sure that the fruit flies would learn to avoid the frogs and then I'd have one more set of "pets" to feed. In fact, the pet mantises were originally hatched as biological insect control, but I kept some in an old aquarium and now we're attached to them and have to feed them.
Sometimes it's like the old lady who swallowed the fly around here....
Bologna. Or more appropriately, baloney; you can't spell the cheap stuff we ate with a "g", at least not with a straight face. After turning 20 or so and getting all picky I didn't eat it for years, but recently I had a wave of nostalgia and bought a pack.
My grandfather used to make us baloney cups: he'd put four slices of baloney in a big pan with some bacon grease, start frying it, and then when it started to cup up, add a small handful of shredded cheese inside. Once everything was sufficiently melty and browned, onto a piece of mustard-smeared Wonder Bread it went. Heaven!
So I made myself and the hubs some baloney cups, and we both really liked them. Maybe they're not for every day- maybe not even for every year- but definitely worth the occasional trip down memory lane.
Borage! The flower is completely edible and is a really pretty blue, and you can also eat the young leaves in salads. Borage likes at least partial sun, but isn't particularly picky about soil; I've grown it in both corners of the country, and it's done fine.
Be warned: once you have it, you have it. It self-sows like mad.
I love bacon jam, and this looks like a really good recipe! I've bought it but not made it, but I really need to change that; I use it constantly when it's on hand. I'll add a spoon or two to sofritos or sauce/soup bases as I'm building them, and it adds so much flavor. It's great on burgers and hot sandwiches too, especially grilled cheese.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say there are very few things that aren't improved by tossing in some bacon jam, up to and including brown sugar cookies. Mmmm!
I'm interested in this too. So far, everyone I've asked has told me I shouldn't, that it kills the beneficial bacteria. But I definitely still want to do it because, for instance, even killed-bacteria fermented hot sauce is tastier than non-fermented any day (like Tabasco...it's slow-fermented and then pasteurized before being shelf-stable bottled...and the twang of the ferment still shines through.) And also, like you, I can only store so much in my fridge!
That sounds like an awesome guild, Mike! Please update as you develop it; I'll be following.
Depending on the microclimate, clary sage (Salvia sclarea) might be a good addition. Its traditional uses definitely include dreamwork. It'll probably want at least half-sun and well-drained soil, but otherwise shouldn't be fussy.
Chris Sturgeon wrote:L Allen... that rodey is simply stunning. I'm a big fan of coastal ethnobotany. I'm starting again since I moved North, but I still have a place in my heart for the temperate rainforest. Do you sell prints? Send me a PM if interested!
Thanks, Chris! I haven't set up to sell any prints or originals of my botanical work just yet; I just discovered how much I love drawing and painting plants in the past year. I'm currently working through a certificate program through Cornell's extension service, though I'm on hiatus with all the virus upheaval.
If you knew me, you'd know how silly it was for me to wait this long. I've been working in abstraction and mixed-media sculpture for a long time, and all the while horticulture/gardening/ethnobotany is my main hobby. I majored in botany waaay back in college but switched to the arts in my senior year after deciding that a career as a botanical scientist didn't have enough hands-on creativity for me (working a year as an undergrad research assistant will do that for you...no regrets, though.) Hopefully I can get a body of work out there in the next year or so, and sell a few things.
And thanks! Rhododendrons are one of my favorites too.
I've been both a working artist and a dedicated gardener/horticulturalist for years (decades, but who's counting?) and for some reason I only recently decided to start combining the two. I'm focusing mainly on native plants, medicinal plants, and "lore" plants, or plants that have significant ethnobotanical history. :-)
Also, knowing what function an ingredient serves allows substitutions for what you have, like beer is often added to a recipe to provide some bitterness, coffee is a good substitution, or vice versa, depending what you are likely to have.
I agree. As an adjunct to your statement, I think that expanding your range of cooking skills is an excellent way to save money; once you master more cooking techniques, you can squeeze more variety and taste out of even the simplest ingredients. Starting with traditional French cooking is honestly a good way to go. People tend to think "fancy-schmancy" when they hear the words "French cooking," but traditional French cooking a la Julia Child is basically the result of centuries of peasant cooking experience, perfected. How many things can you do to a cheap yellow onion? Ask a French country cook! It's basically all about process; French onion soup is the prime example. It's just onions and beef stock and butter, but if you don't know how to follow the right process, it won't be French onion soup.
This is not to mention expanding into canning, fermenting, etc.. I'm just getting into fermenting now, and knowing I can make some sort of awesome sauce or pickle causes me to jump on more of those good bulk deals on veggies.
Jennifer Lowery wrote:L Allen, thank you for your reply! I definitely want to get into microgreens. I've been looking into it since last night. Would you recommend I start with the peas and mustard seed? I heard pea shoots are pretty easy and tasty.
Where do you buy your peas and mustard seed for these microgreens? Always looking for a good deal
For pea shoots, I just use regular dried peas, the kind you eat. They may or may not do well to plant for garden peas, depending on their hybridization status, but every batch I've bought (this year, from the bulk bin at PCC!) has germinated well and made excellent shoots.
My micro-mustard discovery came about by accident and is now a family joke. One year I ordered what I thought was three ounces of mustard seed for pickling purposes; what I got was three pounds of mustard seed. If you've never seen three pounds of mustard seed, it's a lot. A LOT a lot. At some point I had the idea to try sprouting it, and that worked. Then I tried growing it as microgreens and that worked too. Again, it was culinary-use brown mustard seed, organic, and I got that batch from Frontier Co-Op, I think.
I use my lights primarily for growing things as microgreens. I've done lettuces before, and they're great; just cut them and eat them when the leaves get to about three-four inches.
The trick is to succession plant. I use old plastic garden flats, and plant one third of each at a time. Then, two or three weeks later, I plant the next third, and so on. That way, there's always a supply of microgreens ready for a salad.
I do use mine more in the winter, though. Right now I only have four flats going, since there's so much yummy stuff coming in from the regular garden. I'm not sure if you'll get the kind of yields you'll want from microgreens, but they're great for growing things out of season (like lettuce in hot weather!) and for having a constant, reasonably secure supply of salad greens in a relatively controlled situation like your garage. Supposedly they're more nutritious than fully-grown greens, but I can't swear to that; I do know they're usually very tasty. Also, you can get greens from leftover seed that you wouldn't want as a large green, and make use of cheap bulk seed like mustard and pea. Even mustard greens are tasty when they're micro.
Depending on what sort of terrain you're dealing with, here are two lists. I grew up on a 500-acre working farm in central Texas (cows, goats, horses, chickens, row gardening and haymaking) but now live in the forest in Washington state (raised bed gardening, food foresting, wildcrafting and trailmaking, just getting into fruit trees and bushes) and the lists are quite different. :-)
List One, large, flat, non-wooded property, Texas-style:
a good come-along (for just about everything: fencing, butchering, moving stuff, etc.)
a really good knife
a good manual post-hole digger (for more than just fence posts)
the best tractor/shredder/loader/multi-use work vehicle you can afford
a great wheelbarrow
an awesome sun hat!
possibly a good guard animal like a Great Pyranese, depending on what livestock you're keeping (please avoid 'quick fix' or cheap-out herd guard solutions, because you'll pay for them in lost livestock and trauma, I promise)
List Two, wooded property, PNW-style:
a great machete
a really good knife and hori hori
this amazing hand hoe (my favorite garden tool ever, I think):Nejiri Gama Hand Hoe (someone already mentioned buckets, lots of buckets)
a good chainsaw and a couple of assorted manual bough saws
rain gear that fits and you actually like wearing
a solid deer-fencing solution if you plan to grow vegetables (this parallels the above-mentioned guard-animal 'don't cut corners' advice, because you'll pay for every half-hearted attempt in lost crops, time, and enthusiasm)
I'm sure I could come up with so much more, but that'll do.
I'm using a regular T5 fluorescent setup, much like this one. It use it for both seedling starts and for growing microgreens/shoots, and it works brilliantly. The fixture was recycled from an old reef tank setup. I've been keeping my eyes open for another fixture, since we love growing the shoots so much. Pea shoots in the middle of winter are a real treat.
In my case, I actually want the heat from the fluorescents since my setup is in my barely heated garage. I keep a thermometer on the rack with my plants, and it gets between 72 and 76 degrees placed six to eight inches from the plants. I turn mine on in the mornings when I get up and off at night before I go to bed; it's part of my garden and household routine.
Love the arch! I'm also an artist and sculptor, and I appreciate art in the garden.
Good luck with your deer. We have black tailed deer here and they'll eat anything and everything. I don't suppose I blame them, since all those yummy veggies are, well, yummy, but I'm with you: I'd like some too. We went for a fence too, and so far, so good.
A strong chamomile tea is a mild anti-fungal agent.
Thanks, Daniel. I'll try that if I have any other problems. I've also used milk as a foliar spray for powdery mildew; it works like a charm for rhododendrons, but I'd be leery of trying it on seedlings, I think.
Does anyone know we (myself and the OP) should replant in the same spot? Would it be better to move the second planting of cucurbits, if possible?
My cucumbers did the same thing! I was told that I put them out a bit too early- our night temps are still dropping into the lower 40s about half the time- and that cool temps encourage fungal infections, as James said.
I started another batch under lights, and maybe if I wait another couple of weeks I'll have better luck. Fingers crossed....
Leslie Russell wrote:I always thought bitters were an alcoholic drink, maybe because the bottle was kept in the liquor cabinet when I was growing up. So my question is, is this an alcoholic beverage?
All the bitters recipes I've seen do indeed use some sort of alcohol as the base. So far I've experimented with brandy and gin, and both worked, though the gin base gives a juniper berry taste (which I love.) Basically you're making a tincture. Many other herbal remedies use alcohol as the solvent.
Bitters are definitely used as a flavoring agent for cocktails, among all these other uses, just like bitter herbs are used in brewing to flavor beers, ales, liquers, etc.. When used as a health supplement, a few drops of brandy in the morning doesn't really have any inebriating effects; if you're staying away from alcohol entirely, though, for whatever reason, traditional bitters won't be for you.
I finally learned about the health benefits of bitters only last year, and now I've added a new project to my long-term rotation: making homemade bitters using PNW natives. I've only had two successful batches so far and neither were solely natives as of yet, but my favorite was Oregon grape root, cardomom pods, and black peppercorns.
I haven't had coffee yet this morning so I cannot for the life of me remember which of my myriad books has the DIY bitters instructions, but I'll find it and come back.
I don't always remember to take them, but when I do, I take two drops first thing in the morning and maybe a drop or two if I know we're having a heavy meal. If I remember for several weeks in a row, I do actually feel better; the bitters seem to work as a general alterative as well as a digestive aid.
I only recently learned to cook with miso- aside from making soup, that is- and I LOVE it. It's the perfect umami blast for all sorts of foods, especially roasted veggies.
To be honest, I've tried adding it to all sorts of things. Canned tomato soup? Whisk a big spoonful of miso with some boiling water and add it in; instant protein, instant depth of flavor. Or try using it instead of anchovy paste to boost flavor in Italian sauces. It really works with so many cuisines and foods, not just Asian.
Edited to add: The trick to using it is to whisk it with enough boiling water to make a looser, easily dissolvable paste. I usually just spoon a big spoonful into a big Pyrex mixing cup and add a few tablespoons of hot water, just enough to make it mixable by whisk. Then I either add it to my dish, or add things to the miso paste to make a glaze. Roasted root veggies are incredible with this mixing-cup miso paste, into which you whisk a fair amount of maple syrup, thyme, garlic, or whatever you have on hand that sounds good. :-) Red miso is my favorite because it's so bold, but it's all delicious.
Today, I'm transplanting leeks, basil, and a couple of varieties of peppers into their summer homes. I'm trying the leeks in a big pot this year, in hopes that it makes blanching easier.
As soon as the Moon inches over into Taurus I'll be sowing my next round of seedlings to start up indoors under lights: cukes, acorn squash, more chard (so much chard!) along with chamomile, a couple varieties of thyme, a few bee plants (agastache, calamintha, nepeta, calendula) as well as a few purely ornamentals like phlox and begonias.
Instead of candy, could you bring me a few more days of actual spring? Here in the PNW we had a week of beautiful sunshine and temperatures above 50 degrees; my chard and peas and carrots and everything else were absolutely loving it. Even the chervil seeds came up! Now we seem to have reverted to Seattle Standard: chilly, overcast, misty, and depressing for spring veggies.
A few more days of sunshine would be super...along with a wave of sensibility that keeps folks from rushing out to the usual nice-weather gathering spots.