Archive for February, 2013

A Surprise in the Seed Starting Tray

Fairy Helmets (Mycena), a surprise in my eggplants

Fairy Helmets (Mycena), a surprise in my eggplants

My eggplant seeds have been planted in pots which I filled with organic potting soil from Miracle Gro and I am faithfully checking them each morning to be sure they don’t need water.  They are under grow lights on a heating mat set to 77º, conditions I have had success with in past years.  This morning I checked and found tiny mushrooms in one of the trays.  These are very fragile, elegant mushrooms, I can almost see through their translucent caps which are pleated most delicately.  I looked them up and they have the perfect name of Fairy Helmets .   I’m not sure which of the several species of Fairy Helmets these are but the link shows photos that look like mine.  They are evidently common in Northeastern woodlands and occur on rotting conifers.  I pulled them up as I don’t want the spores to spread onto the adjacent trays and I’ll be sure not to over water.

On the subject of restoring all the photos, I discover that WordPress has an archive of the most frequently searched topics, so I’ll begin with those.  To my surprise the Ponderosa Lemon Marmalade post seems to have had the most searches.  I guess I’m not the only one who wondered what to do with that one huge lemon.

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Starting Seeds: Onions, Peppers, Eggplants and Parsley

Onion seedlings on the heating mat, ready to move  to a cooler spot.

Onion seedlings on the heating mat, ready to move to a cooler spot.

The date I aim for to set my frost tender plants out into the open garden is about May 1st in my coastal Connecticut planting zone, now 7a according to the new USDA Planting Zone maps (revised last year to reflect global climate change).   Enter your zip code here to see the zone in your area   http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ (US only, sorry!)

I started my onion seeds two weeks ago and they are now up and apparently doing well.  I’ve moved them from my heating mat to a spot that is cooler, under the lights.  Onions are more cold tolerant and can be set out a little sooner then the real frost tender ones, but the bigger the better or onion seedlings.  Other plants to start early are bell peppers and eggplants.  Yesterday I started seeds of these varieties and put the trays of pots on the heating mat.  I also set parsley seeds in a bit of water to soak overnight.  This morning I planted the parsley seeds and moved them to the heating mat.  The days are getting longer and spring is coming.  These species take quite a while to get large enough to set out and they need to be started ahead of time if they are to bear fruit in our location.  Tomatoes grow more quickly and I start them about six weeks ahead of time.   We can save a lot of money starting our own plants instead of buying seedlings at the garden center, plus we can choose the varieties from a vast selection, getting just what we want.

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I Tried to Free Up Memory, and YIKES!

Well, all the pictures have been erased from older postings!  I even lost my lettuce picture for the heading which I really liked.  I’ve managed to find another lettuce picture and have put it up but somehow the background is an enlargement of the same picture.  All I tried to do was free up some memory as the space in the picture archive was getting full and my computer seems to be running a little slower.  WordPress didn’t say the photos would also be removed from published blog entries.  I checked when I began to see if that happened and the pictures remained on the newer entries, so I thought it was alright.

Have patience.  It will take me awhile to find all the old pictures in Picasa and remount them, but it will be done.

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Winter Wonderland Outside, but Inside We’re Eating From the Garden

Corn Chowder and Yellow Squash Bread with flash frozen Cilantro and Green Onion Garnish

Corn Chowder and Yellow Squash Bread with flash frozen Cilantro and Green Onion Garnish

The garden is shrouded in snow (see previous post) and it’s hard even to take the vegetable scraps to the compost pile, but lunchtime is a snap because of all the soups I made and froze last summer when the garden was at its peak of production.  A typical lunch is soup, (such as tomato, minnestrone or corn chowder) together with toasted summer squash bread and a piece of green tomato mince pie for dessert.  My garlic is still firm and plump although I need to remove the sprout forming inside each clove to avoid the bitterness that imparts to a dish.  We’ve finished the potatoes and onions so I now have to buy those.  The freezer is still contains lots of Bolognese sauce, Fra Diavolo sauce and vegetables.  I rest on my hard work of last summer and look forward to the spring.

Minnestrone with Zucchini Bread

Minnestrone with Zucchini Bread

Green Tomato Mince Pie.  Looks a Little Messy, but so Delicious.

Green Tomato Mince Pie. Looks a Little Messy, but so Delicious.

 

 

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Connecticut’s Winter Storm

This is the garden bench where I like to sit and enjoy a cup of tea in the morning (Not happening today!)

This is the garden bench where I like to sit and enjoy a cup of tea in the morning (Not happening today!)

We have just experienced the first real winter weather in nearly two years here in Connecticut.  The roads are closed to all but first responders, in order to allow the highway crews to clear the up to three feet of snow that has fallen in our state.  The snowdrifts caused by the winds have made beautiful shapes around the yard.  We have power still, a near miracle as we usually lose power here with any serious weather event.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.

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The drift in front of the window where I’m taking the picture looks like whipped cream and the Spruce has a thick frosting of snow.

Here are the barn doors.

Here are the barn doors.

White-throated and Song Sparrows roost at night in the Boxwoods under this drift.  I hope they survived somehow.

White-throated and Song Sparrows roost at night in the Boxwoods under this drift. I hope they survived somehow.

 

 

 

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I’m Back

After eight weeks in the vegetable crisper, the hyacinth bulbs are showing signs of life.

After eight weeks in the vegetable crisper, the hyacinth bulbs are showing signs of life.

My son died on January 18th and now I must get on without him in my life.  I am finding some comfort in the flowers I have forced that are starting to bloom on the windowsill.  The Amaryllis “Lady Jane” is in full bloom, the Hyacinths are sending up their flower stalks and my Phalaenopsis orchids are sending up their flower spikes.  I have posts on how to encourage these little early miracles of spring in previous posts.  It takes some advance preparation, rest periods being important in my experience.  I rest the Amaryllis bulbs for eight weeks after I take them in from their summer in the vegetable garden, then bring them into the light when flower stalks start to poke their noses out of the bulb.

Lady Jane is in full bloom and other Amaryllis are on the way.

Lady Jane is in full bloom and other Amaryllis are on the way.

Hyacinths also need an eight week rest but for them it’s a cooling one, which I do in the refrigerator crisper drawer.  After that eight weeks of “crisping,” I place them in their vases and put them in a cool dark location (even the regular top shelf of the refrigerator, if you don’t have another spot) until they develop a root system.  I’m lucky enough to have a sun porch which is unheated in winter.  I put a cover over them to keep out the light until the roots are formed, then into the sun and let fun begin.

This mini Phalaenoosis is the best effort yet.  I've had it about three years.

This mini Phalaenopsis is putting out its best effort yet. I’ve had it about three years.

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