March Seed Starting Update

We are definitely in the middle of seed starting season here, and I’m taking care of an ever growing number of little seedlings inside under the fluorescent lights. It’s still too cold out in the greenhouse to start moving most plants, but I did take a flat of lettuce seedlings out there last week. I also decided to take the parsley and kale seedlings out there too, since I need room under the lights down in the basement. The parsley is coming along nicely, and should be ready to plant in a week or two.

parsley seedlings

parsley seedlings

Indoors the peppers are all sprouted and I need to thin to one seedling per cell soon. I started these in a 200 cell plug flat but they will need to be transplanted into bigger quarters soon. To maximize space indoors I will likely put them in a 72 cell tray before potting them up the last time into 3.5 inch pots. I used a heating mat to get them sprouted, which took 7 to 10 days for most of the varieties.

peppers coming up in plug tray

peppers coming up in plug tray

The tomatoes are also mostly all up now. I will thin them to one per cell, then transplant to a 50 cell plug tray once the true leaves are showing. The plug trays let me make the most of limited space under my fluorescent lights and on my heating mats. I started a few extra early tomatoes (Red Racer, Jasper, Valentine) back on 2/23, and I have potted them on to3.5 inch pots already. My goal with these early ones is to get a big, healthy root system on short stocky plants. I will pot them up one more time into 6 inch pots. Replanting the tomatoes also lets me set them deep in the pot in case they do get leggy, where roots will form along the buried stem.

Red Racer plant

Red Racer plant

I also started a few early eggplants for growing in containers back on 2/10. I’ve had great luck with Patio Baby and Fairy Tale, two AAS Winners that thrive for me in large containers. These heat loving plants get off to a quick start for me once the weather starts to warm up here in early spring. Both are also favorites here in the kitchen.

fairy Tale eggplant seedlings

fairy Tale eggplant seedlings

The Wave petunias I started back on 2/22 are ready to be pricked out and potted up into individual pots. Even though they are still small, I generally take them straight to a 3.5 inch pot where they will quickly take off. I like the 3.5 inch square pots because you can fit 18 to a flat with no wasted space. One flat will be more than enough for our needs, but I will pot up a few more to share with others.

petunia seedlings

petunia seedlings

Also last week I sowed seeds for eggplant and basil, and they are just now sprouting. Next up in my seed starting will be more lettuce, plus the cucumbers I will grow in in the greenhouse. Then it will be time for the summer and winter squashes. For more information see my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule which works well for me here in my zone 6B garden. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harvest Monday March 18, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Last week I finally made a cutting from the purple sprouting broccoli plants I have growing in the greenhouse.  Last winter I bought some from a local grower, who told me he was growing the Santee variety in his high tunnel. I figured if it worked for him, it would work for me, and set out a couple of plants in a greenhouse bed last fall. It’s a small harvest, but I roasted it and it was a tasty harvest indeed. I’ve tried to grow this veggie several times without any luck, so hooray for persistence!

Santee purple sprouting broccoli

Santee purple sprouting broccoli

The main head isn’t very big, much like that of broccolini or brokali, but there were a few side shoots I cut too. The plants have even more side shoots forming, so we should get another taste in the days to come.

Santee side shoots

Santee side shoots

I cut more leaf lettuce from the greenhouse last week too. This batch is frilly green Ezrilla and the red Cavendish. I’m amazed at how well the winter lettuce has held up this year.

leaf lettuce

leaf lettuce

I also cut more curly kale from the cold frame bed. This is a mix of Starbor and Prizm, two very hardy kale varieties that do quite well for me in the winter months. I’ve got seedlings of both about ready to set out for a spring crop once I can work the waterlogged soil.

Starbor and Prizm

Starbor and Prizm

Speaking of kale, I added an heirloom called Lark’s Tongue Kale to my growlist for this year. This kale was popular in German gardens in the 1800s, and is supposed to be quite winter hardy. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (where I got my seed)  says that it can grow to five feet tall in areas with mild winters. I’m also looking forward to growing more heirloom collard greens this year, and I added Alabama Blue to my plans as well. SESE has a good selection of old time collard varieties, and that’s where I got my seed. In my garden the collard greens are fairly cold hardy, though not as hardy as kale. They are making a comeback here after I didn’t grow them for several years. Another green that’s coming back is Senposai, a hybrid cross between komatsuna and cabbage that I grew several years ago. Put all this in the future harvests department! We love our greens here and I’m always looking to add more to my harvests.

2015 harvest of senposai

2015 harvest of senposai

Sadly, I ate the last of the kimchi I made last fall using purple daikon radishes. It is so flavorful and crunchy, not to mention colorful. Imagine the tartness of sauerkraut coupled with the crunch of radish, along with a mild heat. I planted KN Bravo radish last fall, and it didn’t do as well as the Sweet Baby or Bora King purple daikons I have planted in the past so I only had enough to make a couple of pints. Those two varieties will be back this year, and hopefully I will be able to make more of this fermented veggie that I enjoy so much. I do still have several jars of the kimchi I made with other daikon radishes, including the colorful Green Luobo which made a pretty and tasty kimchi too. This jar of kimchi featured my homegrown Korean peppers, and their mildness let me use a lot of them without taking the heat level up too much. I plan on growing even more of those peppers this year since I have already run out of the ones I dried.

purple daikon kimchi

purple daikon kimchi

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Missing One March Birthday Boy

It’s been nine months now since we lost our cat Ace. The two of us shared a birthday in March, so several years ago my wife decided to get a photo of the two of us together. After that it became an annual tradition for the two of us to pose together in March. Here’s a pic of us in 2014, when he was two years old.

Me and Ace in 2014

Me and Ace in 2014

We didn’t know it then, but we got our last birthday pic together in 2018.

me and Ace 2018

me and Ace 2018

There is hardly a day that goes by when I don’t think of Ace. We always keep our bedroom door closed and cat free, and Ace used to wait for us outside the door every morning. The two of us started the day with a greeting, then it was off to the food bowls for Ace. The two of us also had a number of games we/he liked to play, including ‘food hockey’ where I slid a piece of cat food along the hall and Ace would chase after it. We played that almost every day, and he never got tired of it. Neither did I, for that matter. Skip the toys, all you need is a piece of cat food to play that game! He also liked getting in the pop-up cat cube and playing with a little bouncy ball I would throw to him. He was fun loving, quirky and afraid of his own shadow, and everyone at Happy Acres loved him including Puddin. She actually lost weight after he died when she lost her appetite for food for a couple of months.

Ace and Puddin

Ace and Puddin

In August we got a new kitty we called Ally. We saw her on a local TV station during their Pet of the Day segment, and after meeting her in person at the shelter we brought her home with us. She was small and malnourished when we got her, and only weighed a bit over five pounds. She had all kinds of intestinal parasites, but we nursed her to good health and she now weighs over eight pounds. The vet thinks she will always be a small and petite cat, and so far that appears to be true. They think she was at least a year old when we got her, maybe even older. Amazingly she had already had a litter of kittens. She was brought in to the shelter by someone who found her fending for herself outside. It’s safe to say she had a hard life before we got her.

Ally visits the vet

Ally visits the vet

We’re doing our best to make her life easy. It’s been eight months now, and she has settled in at Happy Acres quite nicely. She often sleeps in the same bowl Ace slept in. It actually fits her better than it did him!

Ally in the bowl

Ally in the bowl

She also love to play, and often romps around the house in mad spurts of energy. She too loves the pop-up cubes, and loves to play with a ball when I bounce it to her. Ally and Puddin get along quite well. They do sometimes sleep together, and one day they were positively all over each other. I was there with the camera that day, and I could not have posed them better if I had tried.

Ally and Puddin

Ally and Puddin

I really hadn’t planned on starting any birthday photo tradition with her. We don’t have a clue when she was born, or even exactly how old she is. But when she jumped up on my chest the other day to give me my birthday greeting, my wife just had to snap a pic of the occasion. Thankfully she is a small cat! She does seem to like to get up on my chest, and occasionally will rub against my beard or even lick my face. She enjoys her lap time, spreading her time between me and my wife. I tell her we should have named her Joy, because she has brought a lot of it into our lives.

Ally and the birthday boy

Ally and the birthday boy

So March so far has been somewhat bittersweet for me. I’m another year older, and life is truly good. But I do miss Ace, and that’s ok too. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

Posted in Cats | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Harvest Monday March 11, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s pretty much the same kind of harvests here for me, not that I am complaining. I cut lettuce from the greenhouse salad boxes to go on a salad and tacos we ate last week. This is Salanova Green Butter, Pele and the dark red Cavendish. It got down to 10°F in the greenhouse one morning last week, but you’d never know it to look at this lettuce!

lettuce trio

lettuce trio

I also made a cutting of kale from the greenhouse, this time from True Siberian. This is a great kale for overwintering, and it has survived every winter here for me since I began planting it back in 2014. It makes plenty of large tender leaves throughout the winter months, then makes tasty kale ‘rapini’ when it starts flowering in early spring.

True Siberian kale

True Siberian kale

Speaking of flowering, I am close to getting my first ever harvest of purple sprouting broccoli. I have two plants of Santee growing in a greenhouse bed, and they are almost ready to cut. I told my wife it will be more like an appetizer than a feast, since the total amount will be quite small. But I have struggled for years trying to get it to overwinter in our area without any luck at all, so this is some kind of achievement for me. Having said that, the space the plants are occupying could have been planted in kale or other winter greens which would have given us several times more edible food than the PSB will. I’m thinking this needs to be cut in a day or two, and anyone with experience in growing PSB can chime in with advice! The plants have quite a few side shoots developing already.

Santee broccoli

Santee broccoli

On a non-harvest note, I baked a batch of Dark Rye Potato Buns last week. I use my USA Pan Mini Round Cake Pan to bake them in, which makes for nice round buns every time.

Dark Rye Buns

Dark Rye Buns

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Harvest Monday March 4, 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s a new month but mostly the same green harvests here. I made a cutting of Winterbor kale from the greenhouse to go in a bean and kale soup I cooked for dinner last week. I love the combination of beans and greens, and they show up frequently on our menus. The kale in the main garden appears to be done for now, but I still have plants going in the cold frame and greenhouse. I have really enjoyed having kale pretty much all fall and winter now, and I have a spring planting ready to go in a couple of week. I don’t generally grow it in summer months when we have lots of other veggies, plus the leaves aren’t as tender and sweet when grown in our heat.

Winterbor kale

Winterbor kale

I also made another cutting of lettuce from the greenhouse grow boxes. This is a mix of Salanova Green Butter, Red Sails and Pele. Some of this lettuce went on fish tacos I made for us last week. As with the kale, it’s nice having fresh greens in the winter months.

lettuce trio

lettuce trio

Also for the tacos, I made a batch of corn tortillas for the occasion. I used Bob’s Red Mill masa harina, following package directions. I used a tortilla press to form the dough, then cooked in an electric griddle. I was quite happy with how they turned out, and I can see me making them again in the near future. They were so tasty, much better than store bought, and I would like to try them for enchiladas and other dishes too.

corn tortillas

corn tortillas

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

 


Posted in Harvest Monday | Tagged , , | 10 Comments