Monday, March 29, 2010

Kombucha

Today I am officially brewing my very first batch of Kombucha!  I grew a new SCOBY successfully from a bottle of GT's Kombucha.  Now I just have to wait the 10 days until I can bottle it and then let it sit and develop some fizz!  How exciting!

Today's Garden Notes

Sprouted yesterday, EGGPLANT!!!

I transplanted all the seedlings except the tomato and eggplant yesterday.  The newspaper pots are working wonderfully, and I'm getting them from a family member that normally just sends all her papers to the dump.  That makes me feel even better about using them.  When they are done I will just put them in the compost pile!  Below is a picture of my zucchini, happy in their newspaper pots...



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today's Garden Notes

The cucumbers have sprouted!  No sign yet of the tomato or eggplant, but I remember the eggplant took forever last year also, so no worries yet.  I have never done cucumber or tomato from seed before, so this is exciting!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today's Garden Notes

Yesterday I transplanted the sunflowers and zucchini into bigger pots.  I made the pots out of recycled newspaper, and they are perfect!  I will post some pictures as soon as I have new batteries for the camera!  The eggplant, tomato, and cucumber haven't sprouted yet, but other than that the seedlings officially have a 100% germination rate!  Amazing!

Husband and I had a talk about chickens last night.  We decided that we really need to wait one more year, because we need to have the coop set up BEFORE I bring them home.  I am moving/changing my whole garden this year, and that will be the main spring project.  I am a little disappointed, but it only makes sense.  He promised to help me get the new raised beds all set up, so that will be nice to have the help. 

I am absolutely itching to get into the dirt now.  The temperature has gotten into the 40s for the last 10 days here.  Dare I say, spring has arrived?!?!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today's Garden Notes

Planted tomato seeds today.

All of the seedlings are doing very well, and I have close to 100% germination, even though these are last years seeds!  I broke down and bought the tomato seeds today though.  They are currant tomatoes, which I figure will have more of a chance of ripening on the vine in the greenhouse rather than in the cupboard.  I'm going to grow some in the greenhouse and some in hanging baskets outside, since this is supposed to be a good summer for growing them outside in Alaska.  I've never started tomatoes from seed before, so we'll see how well I do.  I think I may get some cucumber seeds as well, just to see how well I do with them.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today's Garden Notes

Sprouted!

Brussels Sprouts

The only thing that hasn't sprouted now is the eggplant, which usually takes a while.  The cabbage (last years seed) had a 100% success rate!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today's Garden Notes

Sprouted!!!

Cabbage
Sunflower
Zucchini
Broccoli


I can't believe these seeds only took 2 days to start sprouting, and they are ALL last years leftovers!  I must have stored them properly!  I'm glad I set up the lights at the same time that I set up the shelving, as I was thinking it would be about a week before I needed them.  My garden is officially started!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dreaming of soil while looking at snow...

All the gardening blogs I read are talking about starting their seeds.  This, I think, is the one thing I don't like about Alaska... our short growing season.  Our average last frost date is June 1, so most things don't get started until the end of April.  I suppose I could let things grow a little longer inside, if I can get my seed shelf set up properly.  I am just itching to grow something. 

I'm a little nervous about trying to start everything from seed this year.  I haven't had the greatest success so far.  But I do learn a little more each year, and this year will be another learning experience, if nothing else.  This will be the first year that I will be in control of the seedlings... in years past I have always started them at my mother's house.  It will be nice to be able to check on them daily and to make sure that the lights and other growing conditions are really to my specifications, rather than depending on someone else to remember/care enough to do it properly.  I'm not saying Mom has done anything wrong with the seeds in the past, just that it will be nice to have that daily control.

I was watching a video earlier today of an interview with a woman who sells seedlings at the local farmer's markets.  She was talking about how everyone wanted heirloom tomatoes.  She said she tells everyone that yes, the heirlooms taste better and look prettier, but "you don't want to spend $5 per seed".  She repeated that about 5 times.  First of all, the seeds DO NOT cost $5 a piece.  And second of all, initial cost is not the only factor!  Yes, you will spend SLIGHTLY more the first year, but then you will be able to save the seed each year!  It just amazes me how people can find one tiny little obstacle and refuse to look beyond it.  YES, I want heirloom tomatoes, and if you don't have them, I will simply buy them somewhere else! 

Speaking of seeds, if anyone locally has some seed they want to swap, I have some Blue Shrimp Flower seeds I saved from last year, and I would be willing to trade half of them.  I originally got the seed from the Alaska Botanical Garden when I did some volunteer work there a few years ago.  They did beautifully last year, and I'm sure they will do well again this year.  Leave a comment or email me if you are interested!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homemade Zwieback Toast

I found the following recipe quite a while ago, and just now decided to try it as Lily has recently cut her first tooth...



Zwieback Toast

1 package active dried yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 butter
pinch salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs (unbeaten)
2 cups flour

Gently warm the milk until tepid and add the yeast. Set aside for 5 mins, to allow the yeast to activate.
Melt the butter and add to the mixture, along with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Add enough of the flour to form a dough, then knead well until the dough is smooth - you may need to add extra flour as you knead.
Set the dough aside and leave it to rise.
Once it has doubled in size (around 1hr later), divide it into 2 equal pieces and form into "rolls".
Place on an ungreased baking/cookie sheet and allow to rise again (around 30 mins).
Bake for 20 mins at 400 deg F, then cool.
Lower the oven temperature to 200 deg F, and slice the rolls into 1/2" slices.
Return to the oven and bake for a further 15-60 mins, until the zwieback toast is dry and hard.

Lily absolutely loves these, and they are just a hint sweet, without being a desert type bread.  I will definitely make them again!  (Boss loves them too, and hovers very close to Lily, hoping to get the dropped crumbs!)  They melt just enough that she doesn't choke on them, but they don't fall apart while she is trying to eat them.

One more thing I don't have to buy pre-packaged from the grocery store!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Herbs in the window

The herbs I planted a few weeks ago are really taking off now.  The Thyme sent up sprouts almost immediately and I have already had to thin them a bit.  The Rosemary and Lemon Basil took a bit longer, but they are slowly yet surely poking out of the soil.  We get a little more sun here every day, so they should do ok as long as they remain in my south-facing kitchen window.  I've never grown herbs from seed before, or grown them indoors for that matter, so this will be a learning experience for me.

I thought that the cats might get themselves into the seedlings, but so far so good.  My other seeds will be started in a mini-greenhouse, so they should be fairly safe.  Once they are to big for that, however, we may have to improvise a bit to keep them safe... maybe the greenhouse will be warm enough to utilize by then.  I'll figure it out!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Look what I made!

 

I had a content baby and a clean table... I had to make something!  These took me about 1 hour and were made from leftover material from the last 2 purses that i made.  My husband came home and said "I was just thinking that we needed some placemats for the table!"  I think he is finally starting to realize what a great gift that sewing machine was!  And as a bonus, I have found that with these on the table, people choose to NOT use the area as a general dumping ground for STUFF.  It actually stays cleaned off now!  Can you believe that I didn't have to clean anything before I took this picture?!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mmmmmmm.... Coffee

I recently acquired a French Coffee Press, which I have never used before.  I like my coffee in the morning, but hate making a full pot as that is just too much caffeine for just one person.  I tried the French Press for the first time this week, and I am in LOVE!!!  The coffee comes out creamy and perfect every time, and I can heat a kettle of water first thing in the morning (excuse to make a tea kettle cozy!), and have coffee as I want/need it all morning long!  Why didn't I get one of these sooner?!  Not to mention, this makes one more non-electric appliance to replace my plug-in everything in the kitchen!  Hubby still will want his pot of coffee on the weekends, but I can live with that.  I wonder if I could get away with putting the coffee pot in the cabinet during the week, as it takes up so much room on the counter.  I'm still looking for a hand crank coffee grinder, but these are very hard to find in the thrift shops.   Now if only I had my woodstove, even the hot water would be passive.  One step at a time!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kombucha

Does anyone have a good recipe for Kombucha Tea?  I took the advice of another blogger and asked on Freecycle for Kombucha Starter, and low and behold... I am getting one in a few days!  Now I just need to know what to do with it!  Any advice, knowledge, recipes would be VERY greatly appreciated!