Sunday, May 31, 2009

I love my husband!

My wonderful hubby fixed the boat, and I just picked up my fishing license and King Salmon stamp. We are off to the Deshka (our favorite spot) to spend a relaxing evening fishing for that famous Salmon that I have a few "not to be uttered around small children" names for. Ever notice that Chinook like to surface right next to your boat, stick out their tongues and wiggle their asses at you, without ever touching your hook?

Spring has sprung!

The weather hasn't been all that nice for the last several days, but the plants are sure loving it! Here's one of my Lilies... finally blooming! This plant has several buds, one other Lily has already bloomed, and the other 6 or 7 show no signs of blooming yet, but are looking very healthy. The radishes have officially broken ground this morning, so the only thing I haven't seen sprout yet are the pole beans and the carrots... all in good time I suppose! I'm pretty sure I'm going to be inheriting 3 more tomato plants from Mom, she just sold her house and doesn't want to plant the garden or greenhouse now. I'm not sure what type of tomato they are, but they are blossoming, so we should get some produce from them!

Rob just got the new coils in the boat motor, so were off to the lake to see if that fixed the problem... here's hoping!

Friday, May 29, 2009

More happenings in the garden

The snap peas and the green onions are poking up all over the place. They seem to have appreciated the last 2 days of rain. It isn't raining at the moment, and I can see a little bit of blue sky in patches here and there, so we might be back to our warm weather within a few days. It also appears that 2 of the 3 Blue Shrimp Flower seeds that I planted are finally sprouting! They have been at my Mom's house, where she has kept them inside. She forgot and left them outside last night, and sure enough, they seem to like the colder weather! Hopefully I will be able to do all of the seeds at my own house next year, and have a little more control of what happens to them. I need to go back to the Alaska Botanical Garden (where I got the seeds, while volunteering) and ask them a few more specifics about the shrimp flower. They are such a beautiful plant, and I want to make sure I take proper care of them!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I want a wood stove...

My home is comfortable. We have a diesel heater, and a fireplace run on propane just for the bedroom. I love the fireplace, its warm and cozy. But I miss wood heat. On days like today, (50F and raining) there is nothing like the smell and heat from a wood fireplace burning brightly. I want to be able to use my dutch oven without turning on the cookstove, or heat my hot water for tea. When we add on to the house, we are adding a wood fireplace, but in the mean time, propane will have to do.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pizza Time!!!

On the menu for dinner tonight... homemade pizza on from-scratch homemade sourdough pizza crust!! I have a sourdough starter in my refrigerator that I use and feed once a week, usually making bread or pancakes. Here's the pizza recipe!

1 cup sourdough starter (let me know if you need a recipe to make your own starter!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup flour

Mix ingredients, working in the flour until soft dough forms.
Let dough rest for 15 minutes.
Roll out and place on oiled pizza pan (or use a cast iron skillet - preheated - like I do!)
Bake in 475F oven for 3-5 minutes, watching closely.
Remove from oven; add sauce and favorite toppings.
Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Tonight my toppings are garlic butter sauce (melted butter mixed with chopped roasted garlic), marinated artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, sliced black olives, basil (fresh from the herb garden), and shredded cheese - whatever kind happens to be in my refrigerator.


Is it summer? No... its still May

I can't believe it, it got up to 84F here yesterday! I was not enjoying myself! I guess I'm a real Alaskan... 65 to 70F is perfect for me! At least the temps in the 80's only lasted for a few hours, then came the thunder storm! I love thunder, and you never used to get it around here, so it was a special treat. The dogs had other opinions, however. It didn't actually rain until early this morning, but has been raining on and off since then. I don't think the temperature has gotten above 50F all day today. I think this rain is what the beets needed, though, because the little seedlings have decided to make their first above ground appearance today! I expect to see the radishes within a day or two as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A few photos... and dang is it hot outside!

It is 4pm right now, and my thermometer (on the coldest corner of the house) is reading 78F! Last year I don't think it got above 70F all summer long. Alaska weather is nothing if not unpredictable! {{UPDATE... 4:30 pm.... 80F and still rising!!}}

Here's a couple of random photos taken a few minutes ago....

My Great Dane, "Sleeping Lady", named after my favorite mountain and looking particularly majestic herself today

The first "Sitka Roses" (wild in Alaska) blooming... mmmmmm, wild rosehip jelly this fall!

High-bush cranberries (also wild in Alaska) in full bloom as well. There are about a million things you can make with these!

I just checked on my greenhouse, and boy am I glad I did! It was over 100F in there, even with the vents open and the fans on! I have the door propped open now, so hopefully it will cool down a bit. I try to keep the temperature at around 85F during the day, the plants seem to like that temperature the best. At least I know to only water the gardens first thing in the morning, or late in the evening... I would hate to sunburn them this early in the game!

The garden is in!!!

As of this last weekend, my garden is officially planted! I am quite proud of myself!

Here is the official list of produce...

Snap Peas
Pole Beans
Green Cabbage
Red Cabbage
Chili Peppers
Bell Peppers
Green Onions

I'm amazed that I got so much done... now here's hoping for a plentiful harvest! I'm off to water the plants!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

One more and I'll be done!

Everything except the radishes got planted today! I planted 4 red cabbage, zucchini, pole beans and carrots... and the snap peas are already starting to poke above the ground!!! The spinach and kale are making an appearance in the greenhouse as well. All in all, a very productive Saturday! Tomorrow I'll plant the radishes, and the garden will officially be in!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Plants in the garden!!!

I planted the cabbage and the broccoli today! I'm so proud of myself! It is definitely time to plant the remainder of the vegetables, so that is my goal for the weekend... to get everything in the ground. (With the exception of the spinach and the kale which will stay in their little flats until they are the right size to be transplanted.) It feels good to be accomplishing so much, being as uncomfortably pregnant as I am at the moment. I just went out to check on my little garden, and I have to say I feel a certain tenderness towards those little plants. I raised them from the tiniest seeds and they are going to give back so much more than I put into them. Its truly a humbling thing, when you think about it!

Here's a few pictures of today's progress...

Happy little herb garden

Cabbages... think I'll supplement with a few Red Cabbage as well

Lots of Broccoli

Zucchini going into the ground tomorrow!!!

The cabbage and broccoli, obviously, have weed fabric covering their beds. This is primarily for 2 reasons... 1) These two beds were positively overrun with weeds last year, so hopefully this will kill the problem, and 2) I am hoping that the weed fabric will hold in some moisture and heat, enabling the plants to do their very best. I will be covering the fabric with mulch, once I am sure that the plants are thriving, and once I am sure there will be no more plants going into those beds. I think I will be adding 4 Red Cabbage plants to the cabbage bed, but I don't know that for sure at this time. The bed the zucchini is going into has weed fabric as well, but this is just for the warming factor, as weeds weren't really a problem in that one last year. Its sure going to be a busy weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A little more each day...

I just finished planting the Snap Peas and the Green Onions. The Snap Peas went directly into one of the raised beds, and the Onions are in containers in the greenhouse for now. I'm really starting to feel like I'm getting something accomplished! The Broccoli and Cabbage will be spending their first night truly outdoors tonight, in preparation for planting them in the raised beds... hopefully tomorrow! I'm a little nervous, not wanting to loose any plants, but it hasn't frosted here in several weeks and I'm sure they will be ok. If all goes well, the majority of the rest of the vegetables should be in this weekend, weather permitting of course!

I am contemplating whether or not I want to weigh and record the amount of produce I get from the garden this year. It would help me realize how much cost savings I get from growing my own, but as this is my first year of serious gardening, I don't want to get carried away either. I have time to decide, obviously, but the more I plan things ahead, the more likely I am to follow through. This year I have definitely put more thought into planning the garden than ever before, researching, organizing, and researching again... and I hope it really pays off. Everyone has to start somewhere, right!?

Ugh, Slugs

So, I confirmed that I have slugs in the raised bed I plan on using for the spinach and kale. Last year there were a few times when something squished under my fingernails in that bed and I thought that slugs might be the offenders, but I never confirmed it until now. I'm gonna try the beer in a shallow pan idea, hopefully that will solve the problem, and hopefully, this is the only bed that has them... I'm not gonna hold my breath on that one though!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Got some beets planted!

I just finished planting the beet seeds I have been soaking for the last 7 hours or so. My garden layout continues to get tweaked a bit as I go... no big deal. I decided to plant the beets in the barrel I had delphiniums in last year, and they will be accompanied by the sunflowers that my son has started in the kitchen window. I decided to plant them here because the foliage is so pretty, I figured it deserved a bit more of a prominent place in the landscaping. I also purchased some radish seed and some green onion seed today. The radishes will replace the beets in the raised bed with the snap peas (which I am soaking tonight to be planted tomorrow,) and the onions will be planted in containers (I don't know where I will have these yet.) I think that it will be safe to officially plant the raised beds this weekend, but I will be watching the temperatures overnight for a few more days, just to be sure. If I have to wait one more week to be safe, so be it!

Seeing as how I am trying to save my family some money by growing our own vegetables, and some of the motivation is due to the current financial crisis, I think I can classify my garden as a Victory Garden, or maybe a Freedom Garden would be more appropriate. Here's to freedom from pesticides, high food prices, and letting others dictate what chemicals go into my family's bodies!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Popovers... and why I love having an herb garden!

To go with the spaghetti I am making for dinner tonight, I am making herbed popovers with fresh lemon basil from my herb garden. The lemon basil doesn't smell very strongly until you start to chop it, then, holy cow... this stuff is awesome! Here is the recipe I am using tonight...

Non-stick cooking spray
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or whatever your favorite herb may be)

Preheat oven to 400F

Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick spray

In a medium bowl use a wire whisk to beat eggs, milk, and oil until combined

Add flour and salt, beat until smooth

Stir in herbs

Fill the prepared cups just under half way with batter

Bake about 35 minutes, or until firm

Immediately after removing from oven, prick each popover to let steam escape

Remove popovers from cups and serve immediately

This stuff is sooooo good, I could eat them every day!!

What a great weekend... mostly

Sunday was a great day, for the most part. We always put the boat in the lake to make sure it is working properly before we put it in the river and this year was no exception. Its a good thing we did, as there is definitely something wrong with the motor. It worked just fine when we took it out of the water last season, so its hard to say what has happened. It runs fine until it hits 3500 rpm, then it boggs down really bad. Rob is extremely bummed as he was planning a King Salmon fishing trip for next weekend. But despite this issue, we had fun puttering around the lake and had a great little picnic in the sun. There were huge trout everywhere, and they were lots of fun to watch! Rob also found time to install my no tresspassing sign at the driveway, and to get some of the trim on the guest cabin, which is really starting to look nice... I can't wait until its painted!

I got the soaker hoses installed in the raised beds, and got the rows marked where I will be planting the spinach, kale and carrots. I also got the spinach and kale started in little flats in the greenhouse. I decided to do this rather than direct seeding so that I can control how many plants are in each of the raised beds without having to thin the seedlings. I'll probably start the pole beans in the greenhouse as well, but I have to be careful as it is a small greenhouse and I have only so much room to work with. The lilies are now permanently outside of the greenhouse, as they appear to have gotten sufficiently used to the night time temperatures, so its nice not to have to move them back and forth every morning and evening.

Its going to be another beautiful day here in the garden... who knows what else I will find that needs to be done!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Honestly, I got nothing done today...

I did absolutely no work in the yard or garden today... gotta take a break once in a while! Tomorrow I have to post my "No Tresspassing" signs apparently, as we had someone come right up to the house at 11pm last night and after stopping to check out my boat, they proceeded on to the back trails. I don't own 10 acres so that I can accomodate random 4x4's, and it really upsets me that people have no respect for what is obviously private property. Makes me wanna build a big fence. But I digress... here's some random pictures of the yard...

Springtime in the Greenhouse!

Lady wandering among the raised garden beds... I need some grass!

My newest addition... a water fountain, with the almost-blooming Lilies... I love the sound of running water in the garden!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Finally some rain!

I was starting to get worried. We have had a very dry spring this year, reminiscent of the spring of '96... The Miller's Reach Fire. I actually lost my home to this fire, so you can understand why I am a bit paranoid! Thankfully, it has been raining most of the night and is still raining as I type this. Everything is going to stay in the greenhouse for the day because its only about 44F outside right now, but the soil is getting a good dose of mother nature, which will be much appreciated when I plant the garden this weekend! The only bummer is that it is raining for the first day of the farmer's market we are attending today, not that it is going to stop us!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The garden is officially ready for summer!

My wonderful little brother came over today and finished preparing the rest of the raised beds. I got the weed fabric on the last bed that needed it, and I got the greenhouse organized, and the watering system all set up! I am officially ready to finish planting the garden this weekend! I have the cabbage, zucchini and broccoli in the greenhouse at night, getting them used to the outside temperatures, and I plan to have the whole garden (except the pole beans) planted by this weekend. I think I will be making some minor adjustments to the layout, as far as what is planted exactly where, but other than that, its all planned and prepared! I'm so grateful to my brother, as I realize now that finishing the preparation just wouldn't have happened if left entirely to my own devices. I'm just to darned pregnant to do any serious bending or lifting, but it shouldn't stop me from planting! I'm so excited!

What's for breakfast?

Dutch Babies!!!

No, this isn't some form of regional cannibalism, just a really great meal, easy to make with wholesome ingredients (except for the powdered sugar, which is totally optional.) I absolutely love these!!!

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1 tbsp butter
lemon juice to taste
powdered sugar to taste

*Note: Use a cast iron skillet - it really does make a difference*

Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside oven and preheat to 475F (245C)

In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until light. Add milk and stir. Gradually whisk in flour, nutmeg and salt.

Remove skillet from oven and reduce oven heat to 425F (220C). Melt butter in hot skillet so that inside of skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour all the batter in the skillet and return skillet to oven.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove promptly and sprinkle with lemon juice and powdered sugar.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So much done, yet so much left to do!

Today was a very productive day for the garden!!! Here is a list of all I did:

* Bring all the starts (except the Blue Shrimp Flower) home from Mom's house
* Transplant the Eggplant
* Transplant the Assorted Chili Peppers
* Transplant the Bell Peppers

Purchase and pot the following:
* "Lemon Boy" Tomato (2)
* Cilantro
* Lemon Basil
* Rosemary
* Sage

It was very difficult to restrain myself at the greenhouse, but I managed to walk away spending only $17, which is amazing! I have a feeling I will be supplementing the garden with a few veggie starts from the greenhouse (which, by the way, look about a million times better than my home-grown starts,) such as purple cabbage and cauliflower, but we will wait until I have everything in the ground to see how much room I have left in the raised beds.

Tomorrow my brother is going to come over and help me get the remaining 4 raised beds prepared, as it is proving to be just too much for me in this late stage of the pregnancy. I anticipate, weather permitting, that I will be planting the outdoor veggies this weekend. We will see. Until then, they are living in the greenhouse at night and will be coming outside during the day to start acclimating to the beautiful spring weather. I also plan to get the auto-watering system set back up in the greenhouse and at the raised beds. Once that is done, we will be all ready to grow!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They're in the ground!!!

I just finished planting 48 strawberry plants... the first outdoor planting of the season! I've also gotten the greenhouse completely emptied out, which means I can bring my seedlings home from my mom's house. I'll also be looking for some seedlings at the farmer's market this Friday. I'm excited because I've never actually been to a farmer's market before. Should be lots of fun!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'll be planting Strawberries tomorrow!

I got the last of the 3 tiered raised bed prepared this evening. The roses have been moved to their new home and I am ready to plant some strawberries! I got about 40 starts from my mom's strawberry patch, and tomorrow they are going into the dirt. This will be my first outdoor planting of the season! Woo Hoo! Now I need to chill out though, as the garden work has gotten my braxton hicks contractions going... I guess the baby didn't like all the bending and pulling!

The plan...

I think that this weekend I can finally start to plant some seeds in my raised beds. That gives me until the weekend to get the remainder of the beds prepared. I have decided that I will only be using the weed cloth on the 2 beds that had the worst weed problems last year. These beds will contain the Broccoli and the Beets/Cabbage, so it will work well planting into the paper, whereas planting rows of Carrots, Spinach and Kale would be a little more difficult. I think the only thing that I cannot plant yet (from seed) is the pole beans. Those will have to wait a few more weeks, just to be sure. I am also picking up the Strawberry plants from Mom's house today, so I anticipate that tomorrow I will finish cultivating the last tier of that planter and planting the Strawberries tomorrow. I don't expect to get much in the way of a Strawberry crop this year, but next year should be looking good!

In other news, we will be going to our first local farmer's market of the year this Friday! I'm excited, although I know that this early in the season I shouldn't expect there to be much of a variety in the produce. It will still be fun to check it all out!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poor kid.. :(

Poor Stephen is so sick today. I had it yesterday, and apparently I gave it to him. The little guy has been running to the bathroom or bucket all afternoon. He very rarely gets sick, so its not something he is used to, and it kind of scares him. Right now he is lying on the couch with a towel for a pillow and another for a blanket. But despite it all, he insisted on planting his sunflowers today! He chose Mammoth Grey Stripe because they can get up to 12 feet tall. We planted 4 of them in recycled yogurt cups and they are now sitting happily in the sunshine in the kitchen window sill. On the topic of starts, all of my zucchini have made an appearance, which is very exciting! 2 of the Lily plants are in full bloom as well, so its time to start hardening them off during the day. Soon they will live outside exclusively, and they are coming to my house from my mother's this weekend. Still not time to plant the garden yet, but it is 64F outside as I type, so that's encouraging!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where has all the sunshine gone?

So much for 70 degree temperatures... it hasn't made it to 50 today! I really wanted to do some more garden prep this week, but not if it doesn't warm up a bit! Just goes to show you that it would have been jumping the gun to plant flowers, as I suspected. Patience is a virtue!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A late update on the weekend happenings...

What a great weekend! We had temperatures in the mid 70's and a slight breeze to ward off some (not all) of the mosquitoes. Robert and his best friend got 3 out of the 4 sides of the guest cabin sided, which is nice because the guest cabin is the only building you can see from the road, and we were a drive-by advertisement for Lowes! I got 2 of my raised beds prepared, with the soaker hoses laid down and the whole thing covered with landscaping fabric. I've got this great stuff that lets in the moisture, but not the sunlight, so hopefully the weeds will be conquered for the year. I think I over-exerted myself just a little, but it needs to be done sooner than later! I think it is safe to plant flowers now, although I will probably still wait another week or two to do so... I don't want to take any chances! Today, hopefully, I will get at least one more raised bed prepared. One a day should be a reasonable goal, but I have to get the house cleaned first, so we'll see!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


74 F today... amazing. Last year it didn't make it to 70 all summer long. I spent about 3 hours on the raised bed today, and I am burnt crispy. I'm going to really feel it tomorrow, but the sun is just so nice, its hard to stay inside, even now! I got the old tomato pots out of the greenhouse today... one step closer to having that ready to go. So much to do! I wanna plant soooo bad, but I'll wait at least another week or two, as it is still getting close to freezing at night.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Being 5 is great!!

Stephen was excited to help me in the garden today. I was feeling particularly low on energy, so we decided that we would empty last years flower pots into the wheelbarrow and get the soil ready to re-use. He had so much fun making dirt "cupcakes" and helping me remove roots that he hardly realized he was learning something also! We talked about the cycle from dirt to plant to compost back to dirt, and he said "Hey, its kinda like recycling!" I was tickled that he maybe listens to me after all! We talk about recycling and reusing everything we can, saving energy, using reusable bags at the grocery store, growing our own food, healthy foods that we can eat every day versus foods to only eat once in a while or hardly ever, etc. I may have a little homesteader on my hands! Not to mention his kid sized garden gloves are soooo cute!!! It will be great when we get our chickens going, he is really excited about that, although I don't think we will have any before next spring. If we can just get the coop built this year, I will be happy!