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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

From the title of this post it appears I am going backwards in time, back to the basics and … I am!  I have been researching grains to grow this season in my garden and I am surprised there isn’t more information out there, but then again our world has become so modernized that most folks don’t grow their own grains or need to make their own quilts to stay warm.  In reading up on quilting there was some history touched upon and Quilting Bees used to be the big social event!  Can you imagine??  Most everyone was busy working in some form, cutting logs, baking bread… survival – and the quilting bee was a time to gather and the women would sew and chat, and then there was dining and dancing – everyone dressed to the max for these events.  I would probably dig it, but I bet I am the only one in this family who would!  So although making a quilt looks like ALOT of work I am going to attempt to make one … I think it would be so neat and since I can’t be out gardening in this negative degree wintry weather, I might as well make something to keep us Warm!  I did post several facts about Growing Amaranth Grains on the forum under Grains and it appears to be an easy grain to grow.  I will be researching other grains and hope to grow them as well.  It seems our hard working ancestors have plenty to teach us about the basics in life and with the present state of our economy, I am betting many folks will benefit from this information.  I know I will be growing alot more food for my family this year, all my seeds are already ordered and my research continues! 

thyme-sprouts-2   Thyme seedlings I started a few days ago … along with the other herb seeds which are all sprouting up also!

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Since we have a couple inches of snow on the ground this weekend was a good time to start browsing the seed catalogs and make lists of what I plan for next season.  This past year I did notice alot more mention of the words heirloom and heritage and I wondered what the difference was between the two words and what they were all about.  This is how I interpret them = heirloom refers to seeds and plants, growing things, whereas heritage refers to breeds of animals.  Heirloom seeds and Heritage animals.  These are from our ancestors and some are on the verge of extinction.  Many growers have opted for fast producing, mass production varieties and have forgotten about the slower growing, more flavorful and disease resistant types….both with plants and animals.  I am no expert on this subject (yet) – that’s why I do enjoy researching so much, anyways…..I decided that our place down south will grow both Heirloom plants and raise Heritage animals.  The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a great site that lists heritage animals and where they rate as far as extinction status and I will be starting with chickens and quite possibly the guinea hogs.  I have my heirloom seeds all picked out (many I have grown in the past) and I really am excited about this!  I also created (just yesterday) a Garden Forum board that I hope others will join and share their experiences and this way we can all learn more.  I will be working on that and I am open for Topic suggestions, so please do suggest!  I mentioned in my craft blog that we have been shopping the local Goodwill stores for treasures and after this weekend I think I see a theme.

mug-and-gravy-boat

rooster-mug-and-gravy-boat  chicken-gravy-boat

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I did purchase a P.O. Box for those interested in the free seeds.  Just follow the easy instructions and they will be on the way!  The reason for the P.O. Box is because you are never suppose to give out your personal info. on here and I really didn’t want to wake up to lines of folks in the front yard all waiting for seeds each morning so I opted for the post office box.  I also have to share my newest dilemma and one that is going to drive me nuts if I don’t figure out a solution.  It involves recycling.  Every time we go down South I bring back a bag or two of recycling items and toss them in our containers up here to be taken away and run through the recycling process.  I have become very, very  accustomed to my recycling way of life and I try to dispose of most garbage either in the compost bin, to the worms or the recycle container.  I got to talking to a new friend down South and she told me the landfill is almost full there and there is NO recycling.  Here I was at a bbq with new neighbors asking where to toss the recycle and they are looking at me like I am a crazy person.  Sure, I am from the other end of the state….where recycling programs have been in full force for many, many years, and I just didn’t understand the concept of “No recycling”.  So recently I spent some time searching the internet looking for the Recycle Angel that will just land in my area down South and wave a wand to create this center for recycling.  No such luck!  I read about starting programs at work or at school – which is Great, but there has to be a place for all this stuff to go and I am betting it takes millions of dollars to establish this type of operation.  I found a few nice websites where I can continue my research and please, please if anyone can steer me in the right direction, I would appreciate it greatly!

adult-baby-swan-and-heron

Here’s an updated picture of the adult swan with the baby swan and the blue heron looking on.  This is the only fully white baby swan, the other 5 babies have finally started to lose the darker feathers and it looks like they will be white also.  I did notice this one has an orange beak and the 5 others black.  Interesting!

baby-swan-11-3-08

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I placed my order for garlic today.  In the past I purchased garlic from the store and there really wasn’t much selection … if I recall correctly Early Italian and Late Italian were/are the standard varieties sold around here.  I decided to buy this year from Seed Savers who has an excellent catalog full of unique seeds of all types.  You can request a free catalog at their website and even check out their garlic selection and print out a Garlic Planting Guide.  The garlic you order comes with a detailed planting guide and you can decide what date you want your garlic sent to you.  They offer a Garlic Sampler you can purchase with 10 different varieties – 6 hardneck and 3 softneck and 1 Elephant garlic.  It looks like a great deal but I decided to order less and get a handle on growing garlic before I purchase a whole shipload.  So I decided on 2 hardneck – Chrysalis Purple and Shvelisi (Chesnok Red) and 2 softneck – Chet’s Italian Red and Inchelium Red to ship September 22-24.  The May/June issue of GRIT magazine has an article “GARLIC – A Plant to Love” and they recommend their favorites.  Two I chose to plant are listed Chesnok Red and Chet’s Italian Red, so that’s reassuring.  In this article they offer a quick distinction between hardneck and softneck varieties.  It states that if you live in a more Southern area, where winter frosts are nonexistent or mild, consider softnecks.  If you live in a cold climate, where winters are severe, try a hardneck.  The book I have “Growing Great Garlic” goes into much more detail on different varieties.  For the coming season I figured I would keep the odds even and try 2 of each type.  I will be planting these down south where the winters are much more mild.

On another note … My Dad turns 70 and look at the basket of garden goodies I gathered to give him!  He will be so happy … healthy food to keep him healthy!   Happy 70th Birthday Dad!

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As much as I love gardening I do realize that I must make sure to use the produce I grow and once it starts growing, it can become overwhelming and so the challenge(s) begins….    and to think the tomatoes haven’t even started to ripen yet!

So today I sat back and looked at what I had from the garden – peas, green beans, zucchini, pearl cucumber, basil, chives, yellow scallop squash and flowers 🙂  The pearl cucumber is Wonderful … very crisp and right on for a cucumber.  I was thinking there would be a weird taste but Nope … cucumber all the way!

  Green beans/Pearl Cucumber

The yellow scallop squash we are saving for a stir fry tomorrow, but dang looking at the garden earlier there seems to be like a ton of them growing all the sudden so ONE ain’t no big deal ….

Now……… for the Garden Fresh Quiche I whipped up this morning!  I used Five garden ingredients … peas, green beans, zucchini, basil and chives

  The peas and green beans I simmered in a bit of water for just a few minutes and then sauteed the zucchini with the chives and basil.  I used a store bought pie crust because they are so simple, so next all the veggies went into the crust

  I added a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and a cup of fake eggs … egg beaters           It looks beautiful and healthy BUT it needs some ZIP!  More spices, some hot sauce, a bit of pepper  not sure, but will work on it.   I am open to all ideas, so please let me know what you think.   It is pretty darn healthy don’t ya think

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Today I pulled the last of the spinach stalks that I had left in the ground with the seeds drying.  I am saving spinach seeds for the first time and thought I would elaborate on what I learned about saving the seed.  I did notice an interest in the picture of the Drying Seeds on my Veggie Blog and since that’s a photo blog there is no explanation.  I know that when I first decided to save the seed I searched the internet and didn’t find too much detailed information.  What had me confused was the first stalks to go to seed were small, very small and I remembered when I planted the spinach the seeds were much larger and dark.  So I searched and watched and waited.  I know one explanation I had read mentioned a female seed stalk and a male seed – so even though this made no sense I thought I would see what happened and sure enough … I did notice two totally different seeds developing on separate stalks. 

Here is the explanation I offer from my observations (I could be way off but at least this makes sense to me!)  The first stalks to go to seed were male and contained the pollen and this I did notice … ALOT of yellow dust when the stalks were moved.  The male seed was doing it’s job of spreading the pollen and when it reached the female stalk, seeds developed which were much larger and this is the seed I knew to be the one to plant in the future.  The drying of the seed I concluded has to take place while the stalks are still in the ground so they can complete their process.  I did pull a stalk and let it air dry in the house and it never turned dark like the others that remained in the ground.  I pulled many stalks today that had not finished the final drying but the cucumber vines needed the space and I have PLENTY of spinach seeds to plant.  Here are some pictures to help clarify what the seeds look like and I regret not having one of the male seed stalks which were present earlier in the season (hm, where did they go?)  I will have to watch them closer next year now that I think I know how the process works!!  If anyone has further knowledge on this subject of saving spinach seed, please comment.  It would be much appreciated!  Now to see if the saved seeds actually Grow … stay tuned

Next is the spinach seed I air dryed in the house and it remained green

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