Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Free Food and Bad Ideas

When Josh and I went to pay our gardening fee last Friday, the lovely woman in charge pulled out two giant bags full of donated seeds and told us to take what we wanted.

I made off with basil seeds, a couple varieties of bell pepper, cantaloupe, and plenty of lettuce for our balcony.  I think it's technecholy too late to start seeds but I thought I'd give it a try just in case.

I made paper cups out of spare notebook paper, and then filled them with soil from the bottom of our stairs.

I'm sure you know this, but every gardening source ever will tell you not to use garden dirt when starting seeds, or in containers in general.

It has dormant seeds, germs,  and the soil settles differently in the container.  In addition to this the soil I used felt like it had altogether too much clay in it.

Here's the thing;  it was free dirt.

The seeds were free, and the paper was free, and the water will be free, and I just didn't feel like paying for planting medium this time around.

If this works then it'll be awesome, and if it doesn't, then I budgeted to get plants from the nursery anyways. 

I also put a couple seeds from each variety in plastic bags with damp toilet paper.  I usually prefer to do things this way, as I like seeing the seeds germinate.

Who knows, maybe by the time these babies wake up I'll feel like buying some planting medium for them after all.

The cantaloupe and the basil plants should be poking through with in a week.  The bell peppers should follow the week after.

Here's hoping for the best!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Prospective Gardens

In twenty years, I want to have a beautiful, sprawling garden.

There will be bounteous fruit trees, berry bushes and raised vegetable patches that help sustain my family and beautify our backyard.  We'll to  contribute to the health of the soil by gardening organically using the some of the concepts of permaculture.

As part of this system we would have a few chickens, and maybe bees if we're feeling adventurous enough.

So,  secretly I'm a little hippie.

Of course,  I don't know how to run a garden like that,  I don't know how to grow anything really, and I'm told raising chickens is way harder than the books make it seem like. 

Of course, I have twenty years to get to that point. So I think I can manage it.

As my first real baby step, I'm going to be a part of the local community garden this year.*  My goal is mainly just to try gardening for real this time.

The space I have is somewhat small, only about 3 1/2  feet by 10 feet, so I'm going to focus on a few key plants that I love eating and that I think will be interesting to grow.

<- north
We'll mainly have bell pepper plants, and then strawberries interlaced with basil.  Although I might throw a cantaloupe plant in there as well.  

I don't get these delicious fruits too often because they tend to be slightly more expensive, which is why I'm growing strawberries and bell peppers instead of a ton of potatoes and parsnips.

At the same time I think I'll try to grow some salad greens on my balcony, where it's going to be nice and shady.

What interesting things are you doing this summer?

*really this time, we paid the fee and everything.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Thought Experiment in Bread

Since Josh and I have been married, I have cooked all the bread in our house from scratch.

It's not actually as impressive as it sounds,  seeing as how my coverage as been spotty at best, and I think that we've only had bread twice in the last month or so.

On top of that, I'm using the whitest of the white bread recipes, so it's not even healthier than the store bought stuff.

The problem is that we eat about a loaf or two day once it's fresh out of the oven, but our desire to eat it slacks off exponentially once it's cooled down.

So, I've been making about three or four loafs occasionally and either running out too quickly or throwing some of it away. It was starting to feel like a wasteful chore.

So, on wednesday I made enough bread dough for six smallish loaves.  I cooked one to eat that day, and one to give my sister-in-law, then I put the rest in the freezer.

Every night since I've taken a loaf out and put it in the fridge. Then in the morning, I cook it as part of breakfast.  Or alternatively, to be breakfast as I run out the door.

So, far it's turned out to be a pretty good program for our bread needs.  It doesnt take too long to bake a loaf of bread,  my kitchen is ruined only once a week,  and we can experience some portion control.

The only real problem so far is that I planned my first real day of making bread on Easter Sunday.