Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Seedchat sed swap- my list

Do you Twitter? There are some great gardening groups which have "tweet chats". One of them, #seedchat, is having a seed swap, and this is my list of what I have available.

Seeds I have to swap (mostly have some left that I bought from 2012 AND collected seed at end of summer):

Lakota winter squash- heirloom, bright orange w/green, golden colored flesh, sweet, cooks up soft.

Tigger melons- lovely small melons, striped like Tigger, smell heavenly when ripe, have a bad rap for not being very tasty but they just need heat. The ones that ripened in hot weather tasted great and were sweet,

Jericho romaine lettuce- bright green, holds up to heat pretty well.

Moon and Stars (the smaller, dark green strain) and Sugar Baby watermelon

Charentais melons- small, fragrant when ripe, taste great

Aunt Ruby's German Green tomato- heirloom, green when ripe

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

So many seeds, so little space

I've been going over the seed catalogs, and trying to decide what to buy. Actually, sometimes it seems more like what NOT to buy. I always want to grow everything.

I've tried to think about what we EAT the most of. Tomatoes win, hands down. So they get most of a raised bed. And they grow like mad once it warms up.
-Besides tomatoes, we eat a lot of broccoli, and salad things. Those are a problem to grow, however, in our area. I can't seem to get broccoli to produce anything more than tiny heads which are trying to bolt. I think it must be that there is so much temperature difference between night and day. 30 degrees difference is the norm, 40 is not too unusual, and 50 degrees difference is not unheard of. Broccoli just sits there if I put it in late Spring while the nighttime temps are still rather cold. It doesn't die, it just doesn't grow much. Then when it warms up in May-June it tries to bolt and I have to pick it small. The salad things grow pretty well in Spring, but once it gets full Summer (usually June) they tend to bolt, also.
-We use a lot of cilantro, but it's about impossible to grow here past May. Once it gets to be warm days it bolts.
Seeing a trend here?

-We all like green beans. So I am planning on trying a new french filet bean (pole), a runner bean, and possibly fitting in some bush beans here and there.

Last year I bought, from the Farmers Market, quite a few melons, several batches of okra, and several eggplants.  So I want to grow those (I had a few melons but no eggplant or okra). The melons will get a fair space, the eggplant and okra not as much.

-We use hot peppers, I cook with them, I make salsa, and I can always dry or can them. So jalapenos get space and so do some little hotter peppers. I don't bother with bells, they just won't get very big in our climate.

-The there's cucumbers. And squash. And I'd like a few tomatillos. And I'd like to try ground cherries.

And I'm totally bogged down here, even trying to LIST what I want to do. I'd better get this organized, or my husband may do an intervention. Oh, yeah. He wants corn.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Celery and Strawberries and edamame, oh my.

I want to try growing strawberries and celery this year.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't WANT to grow them, I've avoided growing them for years. But I keep seeing celery and strawberries on lists of foods that are bad for pesticide/herbicide residues. What I WANT is organically grown celery and strawberries, that I can buy for non-organic prices. Since that's not likely to happen, nobody at our Farmers Market seems to grow these two items  (probably for the same reasons I don't), I'm thinking I may attempt them this year.

Why don't I grow them? Well, for one thing, I live in a mountain climate. Not all of Arizona is desert. I live in Payson, which is around 5,000 ft elevation. That means cold winters (teens and 20s at night are common, single digits not unheard of) and hot summers (90s for sure, and often low 100s). May and June are dry, windy, and may be warm or cold- you never know. Some years I plant tomatoes on May 1st. Some years it SNOWS on May 1st. July and August are often hot, fairly humid, and rainy (monsoon storms, possibly with hail). Frosts can come as late as early June (usually May, though) and as early as September (usually October).
With the climate being dry most of the time, there is usually a large temperature swing between day and night temps. You know the garden catalogs that say "plant after nightime temps are above 55 degrees"- I just laugh. By the time nights get there it will be mid summer, days will be hot, and it will be too late to get a harvest for many plants. So I plant early, hope for the best, and have row covers and tarps handy in case of cold nights.

Strawberries, from what I have read, can probably survive our temps. After all, there is a town 20 miles north of us named Strawberry- for the wild ones. But they aren't going to like the heat. My other problem with strawberries is that one has to dedicate a fair amount of space to them, year round. I garden in a couple of raised beds, had to bring in dirt, and space is at a premium. Pots, maybe?

Celery also doesn't like the heat, and has a long growing season so it will have to get dedicated space all summer. Maybe I'll sneak in a couple of plants somewhere.

Edamame? I think these will probably grow fine, after all, beans do. The reason I want to grow my own is to avoid the genetically modified ones that are usually what is grown commercially. If you're not familiar with the whole GMO (genetically modified organisms) and Monsanto and Roundup controversy, try googling it. You may not want to eat some of your favorite foods anymore. Come to think of it, I should make room for some corn, too. Same reasons.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My #Gardenchat cookie recipe-Chocolate Peppermint New Year's cookies

IF I can find time to make these, I will post a picture of them. But that doesn't look likely. I'm still decorating the tree tonight. Our large, pre-lit, artificial tree had lights out this year, and we couldn't get them to work, so we bought a real one last night. It smells great, but I DO miss those hundreds of lights on the big artificial one. I bought it because it had WAY more lights than I will EVER put on a tree, and I can burn them all day w/o worrying about a real tree drying out. Oh well.
-Leslie Prest, @LeslieinPayson

I made up this cookie recipe one year, long ago, for a New Year's party. I basically just took the chocolate chips out of my favorite ch ch cookie recipe (the one on the Nestle package) and added cocoa. I use all brown sugar in the ch ch ones, so I did here too. I also use butter flavored crisco sticks instead of butter- easier to mix up and makes a nice cookie.

Chocolate Peppermint New Year's Cookies

2 cps all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened  powdered cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cp butter flavored shortening (or butter)
1 1/2 cp dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

powdered sugar
1/4 cp butter
1 tsp vanilla
candy cane or other peppermint candy

Heat oven to 375. Cream shortening, vanilla,  and sugar till sugar is well mixed. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Mix together flour, salt, soda, and cocoa and add to shortening/sugar mixture. Mix well, add a little more flour if needed- you want a dough that will make a rounded, puffed cookie- not a flat, thin one. Drop by rounded spoonful on cookie sheet, bake until set (about 8-10 minutes- watch them, it's easy to over bake chocolate).

Remove from cookie sheet when baked, and allow to cool completely on racks or paper towels.

To make icing I just shake some powdered sugar ( a cup and a half or so) into a small bowl, add the butter, and microwave until its melted. I add the vanilla, and more sugar if needed to make a creamy frosting. It doesn't have to be stiff, but it should hold its shape instead of being thin like a glaze.  OR, just use your favorite vanilla buttercream recipe. Crush the candy cane or peppermint candy. Ice the cookies generously, and sprinkle with crushed peppermint.

These cookies get softer and moister from the icing, and I think they are better the next day (if there are any left).

Simple at Heart is my "craft" and Farmers Market name. I used to make all kinds of crafts including candles and soaps, and sell them at shows when our kids were little. Now that we own a real estate office I can't really find the time, but I raise seedlings and sell at the local Market sometimes, along with herbs and any extra produce.