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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but the warmer days have me thinking about the Spring/Summer garden planting.

We have already hit 90F here in South Texas. That is just too hot, WAY too soon for me. Last week we had another cooler down that was right up my alley and it had me opening the bedroom windows at night to cool the me down!

Tabouli

Tabouli

I try hard to purchase veggies in season, but I had an itch (and an event to bring a dish to) to make Tabouli (click on the word “Tabouli” to link to the recipe that I posted back in July of 2013). I picked and used as much as I could from the gardens; parsley, mint, cilantro, onion. But I did have to purchase things like cucumber and tomato (oh I can’t wait to pick that first fresh tomato!)

I am behind in my seed starting, but my tomato seedlings are up and a few of the pepper seeds are starting to sprout. I did pick up some heirloom and non-GMO seedlings at The Natural Gardener a few weeks ago. They are already potted up into gallon containers. The Natural Gardener didn’t have their pepper plants in yet, so I will check back in with them, as well as check a few other local nurseries to find some organic ones.

Reality check: last wee our temps are back in the “Texas Winter” range. We have been 25F at night with a few days that didn’t get about 45F (I know that is a heat wave for some of you out there.) so my seedlings are living in the garage and in the house for while.

What type of seeds will you be starting to prepare for the upcoming gardening season?

Sincerely, Emily

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Hi All,

When I found out that this week was where we would get to explore the concept of “plains” I had a lot of trouble finding images to support my post. Serendipity Farm, and indeed Tasmania, isn’t flat. It’s hilly at the least and downright mountainous at the worst but flat plains are significant by the absence in our neck of the woods. I managed to find 2 photos that Steve and I took on our daily walks with our dogs Bezial and Earl. The first is of a dirt road that we decided to explore one day as a most welcome variation to our usual well pounded walkways and the second is of Auld Kirk Road, the road that runs along the front of our property…

The dogs love walking on country roads

The dogs love walking on country roads

The road that runs past Serendipity Farm

The road that runs past Serendipity Farm

I then had to renegotiate “plain” in my head…from this point in the post on, plain isn’t quite to do with level areas of the earths surface…this first image is of one of the lawned areas around the house. This is a gorgeous little native Tasmanian “Superb Fairy Wren” male who was dancing about looking for insects…he is just “plain showing off”…

Pretty little wren on the lawn

Pretty little wren on the lawn

Next I wanted to share this little rainwater tank that a good friend loaned us because he insisted that we needed to be drinking rain water for our health…lots of level surfaces here and just “plain generous”…

Lots of straight lines but not a lot of plains...

Lots of straight lines but not a lot of plains…

As a vegan I eat some strange and unusual foods in order to make sure that I get enough variation in my diet and I found this packet of shrivelled green things in one of my cupboards…all I can say is thank goodness for “plain English!”…

Seaweed!

Seaweed!

A vegan meal that goes to show that just because I only eat plant based food doesn’t mean I have to go without…just “plain stubborn” when it comes to ensuring that I get fed well I guess…

Burger anyone?

Burger anyone?

When Steve moved to Australia from the U.K. his Greek friend Chris gave him this Greek eye because he was “plain superstitious”…

A Greek superstition called Mati where this eye is placed at your door to prevent the envy of others from cursing you

A Greek superstition called Mati where this eye is placed at your door to prevent the envy of others from cursing you

My daughters bought me a lovely friand pan along with lots of other lovely foodie goodies this year for mothers day, they are just “plain wonderful”. Here are some of the first batch of friand’s that I made with it and I made my own almond flour to make them…

Delicious dense little almond meal friand

Delicious dense little almond meal friand

Here is proof that Steve is just “plain clever” when it comes to sorting out the problems that I hurl at him. I don’t use this little gas stovetop in winter as Brunhilda, our 4 oven wood burning stove is constantly on and we have no need for it so to give me a bit more bench top space Steve designed this stovetop cover

Steve's clever fix for my desire to have more bench space

Steve’s clever fix for my desire to have more bench space

Steve picked this bunch of daffodils from the garden here on Serendipity Farm. They are just “plain beautiful”…

I love daffodils, they are the first sign of spring on Serendipity Farm and are out all over the place at the moment

I love daffodils, they are the first sign of spring on Serendipity Farm and are out all over the place at the moment

I hate having to throw away perfectly good sourdough starter that is excess to our needs and so I started drying it out in my dehydrator and powdering it to give it a longer shelf life and to share with anyone who would like some…”plain frugality”…

I am very proud to be living a frugal lifestyle

I am very proud to be living a frugal lifestyle

Here are some of the mushrooms that we let grow in our bags of mushroom compost that we bought to use as mulch in our vegetable garden last year. If you are clever (and we are) you can get lots more mushrooms out of these bags. We collected an incredible amount of free mushrooms before it was tipped out and used as mulch…”plain permaculture in action”…

Little button mushrooms. If you leave them a week they end up to be the size of saucers

Little button mushrooms. If you leave them a week they end up to be the size of saucers

Lastly here is one of Steve and my cakey creations made with homemade sponge cakes with our free range eggs this one is just “plain delicious”…

Anyone for cake?

Anyone for cake?

See you all next Monday. No idea what I will be posting about but you can be sure it won’t be “normal” ;)

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I love this time of year. The herbs and other flowering plants start to come alive and bloom. Sage grows really well in our hot South Texas  dry summers and it requires very little water to survive and thrive.

Sage 3

I have several types of sage planted throughout the gardens and when they start to bloom they are always completely covered with bees. Alive and buzzing!

Sage in bloom 2

The buzzing sound almost drowns out the sounds of the birds that are chirping away.

Sage in bloom 1Four more sage plant were added to one garden this spring. In fact, Sage, one of the writers that I met here at Not Dabbling in Normal, came over to help me plant somethings shortly after I got out of the hospital. She planted three sage plants amongst several other herbs and plants around the back yard.

Thank you Sage – they are all flourishing! I am very grateful for your help and I think of you every time I see the plants that you planted for me!

I have two sage plants in one garden on the east side of the house that aren’t getting enough sun to really do well (never thought I would say that about a plant here with such hot scorching summers) so I will move them this fall to a better spot.

I continue to see planting more sage in the future.

Do you grow sage in your gardens?

Sincerely, Emily

 

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This year Spring has actually come on quite slowly for once down herein South Texas. Although our temperatures are all over the board, it has been nice. A few days ago we were 90F, while today we struggled to hit 70F. (Sorry, I know many of you in the Midwest are digging out from the latest snow fall or trying to stay upright on icy sidewalks!)

With days that have already been in the high 80′s and up to 90F, I notice “Cat Tummy Season” is already here.  What the heck is “Cat Tummy Season?”

Kivuli tummy

I think that explains it.

Kivuli tummy 2

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Cold, snow, and frozen ground. It’s spring in the northern tier states!

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This is my (Alexandra) robin friend from many years ago. I used to call him the “god of the garden” because he was so clearly in charge. His cousin was kicking around last week, extremely confused that it was so cold.

3375834619_5db81c3790_z

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I  (Sincerely, Emily) grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin and even though we heat up in March down here in South Texas, I still think about March and Spring Break as a time of snow storms. There were many a Spring Break when we would be flying down to Florida to visit Gramps and we would be driving to the airport in a snow storm or unable to make connecting flights because of a snow storm and be stuck in the airport (usually Chicago) for a day or two.

Robins are still a sign of Spring for me, but now instead of waiting for them to arrive up north, I watch them come through my yard in large flocks as they migrate north for the summer. I missed the robins this year, but I stepped out onto the front porch the other day and the oak tree what waking up to Spring. The sage in the backyard is also waking up for Spring and is sending up buds that will flower very soon. The bluebonnets are blooming everywhere That is Spring in South Texas.

Spring - oak tree, front yard

What signs of spring are you seeing?

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It feels like spring in South Texas. My apple tree has some buds appearing, one of the peach trees has it leaves almost opening up, and the wrens are sneaking into the back screen porch to build nests. I am up and moving around, so I need to take a walk around the back yard (with my camera) and check out the other trees to see what they are doing. The day time temperatures have been warm, and at time downright hot. The night time temps have hardly dipped at all (although a few nights ago it was 45F – yes I know that is a heatwave for many of you. I grew up in Minnesota so I understand that when you have been in a deep-freeze and the thermometer rises to 30, your jackets start coming off and you roll down the windows in your car.

Perfect wren nesting area

Perfect wren nesting area

The past 3 days I have walked out into the screen porch and found wrens out their building nests (yes, in the screen porch.) I can’t get too upset, after all, I leave the back screen doors wide open, well, not actually wide open but blocked open for the cats to come and go during the day. So the wrens should know that there is a difference. Wide open would mean they were invited to come in and build. Just blocked open means, no not you, just the cats. However, I guess blocked open wide enough for a cat to get through (9″) is really wide open for a wren, isn’t it?! Dang it, I just lost my own argument.

Peach tree 2-2013With all this Spring-like weather the birds are active and singing their songs. The trees are right out there with them, showing their buds. That reads spring to me.  For me, I am way behind in where I should be for this time of year. I have no seeds started, and even though I would like to, it will not be happening this  year. That just makes me down right frustrated, but I need to calm down and go with the flow. And the flow this year, at this time, means I need to take care of myself, and it means no seeds started or yard-doings of any kind. I am finding that I am very good at walking around the backyard with my husband (when I can catch him at home during daylight hours – gosh that is challenging!) and point at things that need to be watered, moved, done, etc. In fact, I even found a bamboo stick back there to use as a pointer, then there is no way he can’t  see what I am pointing at (no bending over for the girl.)  The “water that”, “what?”, “that”, “which one” thing has been solved. I know can point with the bamboo stick, right down to the plant.

The wrens are certainly entertaining to watch (as long as I am not chasing them out of the screen porch.) They are happy singing and busy working. Me, I am just standing still watching and listening. Maybe this surgery is a big huge message for me to slow down and watch and observe. I have a hard time sitting still. Normally, while I work outside, I do sit and watch what is happening around me.  I enjoy listening to the birds and watching them, I just never expected to have to sit and watch them while the world went by.

By the end of March I can start to re-join my real world, with limitations. Limitations! UGH! I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be able to watch the birds. I am grateful to be able to watch the trees and the bud and leaf out.

I am glad that I have the wrens around. They keep moving ahead, building next, planning for the spring.

Are you on track for your spring chores?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Spring has sprung. For many of us it sprung really really early this year and many areas are several weeks ahead of what is “normal” for this time of year.

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We had some wonderful rains this winter in South Texas and things have been very green. this spring (up until now – we are dry and in need of rain!) We didn’t get enough rain to pull us out of the drought and many areas are still suffering. We warmed up really quickly this spring and things really started growing. I  (Sincerely, Emily) have lots of shades of green in our backyard and everywhere I look.

We plants this apple tree in January 2010. It had four grafts on it and we lost one of the grafts the first year. Three grafts are still growing well.

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Spring in Chicago has been very topsy-turvey. We had May (July?) in March and are now getting March towards the end of April, with a cold 40 degree wind (that’s 4 centigrade, if that’s how you roll) blowing off the lake. But the early warmth means that the garden is bursting, despite the current frosty temps!

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April in Philomath has been mixed. Some days pouring (my days off), and others gorgeous and sunny (my days at work). On the rainy days, i try to spend my time honing my crafts and on the sunny days i venture outside. Sometimes i get flumoxed and end up hiking in the downpour or spinning in the warm sunshine. The magical Trillium blooms in the coastal range make that soggy hike worth every squishy step.

What are the greens that you are seeing right now?

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The endlessly fascinating garden

No matter how long I garden, I seem to find something new to love every day. Okra has flowers. Squash come in so many different shapes and colors. As do peppers. Corn will mature even if it’s lying flat on the ground (one of those, ahem, accidental discoveries). Healthy, happy water hyacinths (as opposed to the sad ones I’ve had in past years) develop upright leaves with fan-like blades.

There’s more life than plants in a garden, as well. Aphids are a different color, depending which plant they are on. Flies can eat a tomato hollow. There are at least a dozen different types of bees and wasps in my garden, and two or three species of flies. There’s a species of small fly (bee?) that loves the wild onions; there are so many of them you can hear the buzz from 20 feet away, and walking through them sounds like the Amityville Horror.

I’m fascinated by the plants that I know well. No matter how many years it happens, the morning that you get up and the sweet autumn clematis has exploded into blossom astonishes me every year. So does the vigor of a sweet potato vine, or the height of corn, or how a thunderstorm acts like fertilizer, making everything painfully green.

Even pests are fascinating-the tunnel dug by a cicada killer wasp, the jeweled ring of cucumber beetle damage on a leaf, the speed with which blight moves through the tomato patch.

Spring brings its own fascination, especially with our change of zone. Plants that were never perennial before are now coming back. Perennials whose seeds never survived the winter are reseeding now– I now have blue fescue babies. My new strawberries have pink flowers, instead of white. An onion seedhead that I forgot I had planted sprouted with dozens of tiny shoots, as did a tomatillo.

What fascinated you in the garden last year?

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We had a really hard summer here in South Texas last year and I know we were not alone. As we headed into winter we started getting a little rain. The winter went on and the rains continued little by little. Every little bit has helped, but it still hasn’t been enough.

The winter in my area was much milder than it has been over the past 3 years. My winter vegetable garden has done extremely well and I only remember watering it in the fall to get things started. After that, the rains took over and the cooler temps really kicked those winter veggies into grow-mode. I need to make some notes in my garden notebook… mainly, plant more next year!

In the past few weeks our weather has become quite warm and spring fever is just pushing me to get the vegetable seedlings in the ground. The wildflowers and other “weeds” are growing like crazy. Those seeds all lying in wait for the spring rains and the warmth of the sun to be able to germinate and emerge. They have started to grow and bloom, and produce seed to be able to continue the cycle of life. I don’t mind the wild flowers, but the weeds are out of control this spring.

Thinking of all those seeds lying dormant, waiting for rain and sun, full of hope. I feel the same way. I have hope for a better spring gardening season; better than last year. I am hopeful that we will continue to get some regular rains. I am hopeful that the temperatures don’t rise so quickly. I am hopeful that my vegetable seedlings and other plants have a chance to put down deep roots and grow healthy leaves and have enough energy to produce food.

As I look around, I see beautiful wildflowers, many of which are growing right in my yard. Everything is so lush and green, and the trees seemed to have budded out overnight, and many are full of new green leaves.

I have decided to plant a few tomatoes out in the garden already, not all of them, just a few. I will plant a few more at a time, testing the weather, hoping Mr. Frost doesn’t pay a visit. I am hopeful.

Are you hopeful this Spring?

Sincerely, Emily

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As the lower and central Midwest non-winter continues, we’re seeing daffodils and robins; people are jumping the gun and planting peas, 2 weeks early. It’s hard to remember that it’s still “dark days”–you have to put on your pioneer cap and remember that even during a warm winter you would have been relying on what you were able to preserve at home or trade locally. The larder is thinning as the sun climbs the sky. Just a month left before the new harvest starts with the early mushrooms and asparagus. Are we ready for the home stretch?

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For me, (Xan), it’s been a strange month. Work schedules for Bill and me have been at odds, so that we’ve rarely been home for dinner together. It’s been a month of cooking once a week and then eating that meal as leftovers for days, of big meals at noon and a few handfuls of peanuts for dinner (no, not local–I’ve yet to find a local source for any nuts except chestnuts). The Mahlzeit blog has languished.  My daughter challenged herself to eat vegetarian for the month of March; it’s been eggs and pizza all the way for her as she struggles with the difficulties of altering a diet. And yes, we ate probably 60% to 70% vegetarian meals her whole life, which she didn’t eat–that one’s a carnivore through and through. So, ironically, I made meatloaf. It’s bona fide Dark Days– all local. Quick recipe: 1 pound ground beef, 1 Italian sausage, 2 cups roasted eggplant, 2 roasted and peeled bell peppers, 1/2 cup steel-cut oats (soaked in 2 cups water for 1 hour). Bake for 50 minutes at 350.

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It’s been gorgeous the last few days up here in Philomath, Oregon as well. Daffies and croci are coming up in droves and the trees are showing buds already! That didn’t stop a random snow squall from presenting itself, or one of those lovely Oregon days of snow-sun-hail-sun-cloudy-pouring-sunny-hailing weather. I’ve been enjoying the weather from inside or out, and i’m most happy that the local organic farm, Gathering Together, has reopened their farm stand. I finally have access to plenty of fresh veggies! And there’s news on my eating: I went on a diet starting last weekend.

As far as i know, i’ve never actually ‘been on a diet.’ When i was younger, i disallowed most breads after lunch, any sugars ever, and had more self control than i have had since marriage. That honeymoon complete with dinner rolls seems to have messed with my eating habits. For the past 3 years. In Austin, i was an avid gym-aholic, going 6 plus days a week, sometimes several times a day to the point that i considered becoming a BodyStep instructor. Here in Oregon, i get some great 5 mile walks, but that’s about it. So, i’ve gone on a diet. Nothing fad. Nothing extreme: just a re-thinking of portion sizes and carb intake/time of day. That and significantly reducing our wine intake. So far so good! I’m feeling better and think i already lost a bit of weight. I’m not doing this for vanity, but rather health. I’m sure my body index is a bit high, and i have a bit more belly fat than i’d like: as most of us now is the ‘bad’ fat… anyway. A diet for health, and this week we’ve been eating tons of fresh salad and homemade soups. I didn’t snap a picture of last night’s dinner, but it was delicious and definitely SOLE. My version of The Splendid Table’s “Green Soup” it was light, fresh, and chock full of vitamins and minerals:

Green Soup from Pocket Pause

  • 1 leek (Gathering Together Farm – GTF)
  • 1 bunch kale (GTF)
  • 3 cloves garlic (Denison Farms – local/organic)
  • 1 pint condensed homemade chicken stock
  • salt/pepper/basil/rosemary (basil and rosemary grown in my garden)
  • 1 rutabega or turnip (GTF)
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower (not local, but in season)
  • 3 hot peppers of your choice (not local or in season)

Coursely chop the veg and cover with the stock plus about 1 1/2 quarts water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer until cauli and turnip are soft. Blend well with immersion blender and serve with some homemade or live cultured yogurt. Warm and light: perfect for a chilly early Spring evening!

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