Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Indoor Lettuce

I wanted to point out one thing I've noticed about my indoor lettuce plants.
Even though they are in full sun with the southern exposure, the intensity of the sun is at its lowest.The result of that is that the dark varieties I had chosen are putting out light green leaves instead.

And of course, with indoor conditions and crowding, the leaves are narrow and more in the realm of microgreens.

 Which isn't a problem because I still had fresh salad for lunch yesterday.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Christmas Decorating for Isolationism

Exactly how much Christmas decorating is necessary when you can pretty much guarantee you are the only one who will enjoy it?  I did get down three small boxes of decorations, but even I just couldn't muster the energy to put together a tree.  Much less two like last year. But everyone needs at least a little holiday cheer to mark the time.  The winter solstice is tomorrow morning at 5:02 AM and we can start counting the days to seed starting time.

This year I just did the things that make me the happiest changing the overall feel of the house to a cozy wintery theme  That included walnuts and my favorite Mason Jar snow globes which will stay out all winter.  

If anyone stops by these holidays it will only be to drop off some goodies and stick their head in to say hello.  So I spent my creative energy for new decor on the side porch with a little Christmas laundry display and some window candles.

My personal all time favorite Christmas/winter decoration is this grater luminary with all of the fixins for Swedish Korv sausage.  Korv is a sausage made up of equal parts beef, pork, onions and potatoes seasoned with Allspice.  Two years ago we purchased a big sausage stuffer which is really fun to use but you inevitably wind up with at least a half pound of meat in the pipeline which needs to be hand stuffed.  That's when the ole cow horn comes in handy.  I can't even imagine stuffing the whole 15 pound batch by hand with a cow horn!  But I do like the idea that I'm the sort of person who has a cow horn sitting in a drawer for just such an emergency.  I like to put out star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg.  The scent is subtle but it does add to the overall atmosphere.  This year I even took the trouble to go out and collect rosehips.  Those darn multiflora bushes were finally good for something.  This arrangement is in the kitchen where I spend the most time.

Another favorite, simple bit of decor is on the bathroom shelf.

I recreated the table centerpiece from a couple of years ago.

Of course I had to rearrange my collectibles in the Hoosier.  I brought as much red out as I could and added the vintage Christmas snow and little Shiney Brite ornaments.

I just noticed that this entry is my 500th blog entry.

Merry Christmas to all.  
Enjoy your seed catalogs.
Spring is on its way!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Propagating Herbs - Experiment winter 2020 - UPDATE

 Update on my indoor window winter gardening

Rosemary new growth

Almost all of my Rosemary cuttings survived and are putting out new upward growth.
The Sage - well lets just say half of them are not dead yet.

Sage Survivors

Bristly as a bottle brush

One of the two parent Rosemary plants is putting out a lot of side shoots, and the other stockier plant has instead put out 2 inches of upward growth per stem, much like the cuttings.

New upward growth

The lettuce transplants are a success.  This week they have taken root and begun to grow.  The other two plants are curly parsley which was down to about 6 fresh stems per pot when I brought it in.  These parsley plants are what gave me the idea to transplant the lettuce.
When I got to work yesterday morning they were standing up straight and looking energetic.

As a footnote to the December lettuce.  I had a two quart container chock full of lettuce that I cut on the 5th and brought in to the office.  My office fridge is a little schizo and will sometimes freeze things like milk or fruit.  The next morning all of that nice lettuce was crispy and covered with ice crystals.  I was so put out I almost threw the whole batch.  Instead I set it out on the counter and in about an hour it was unfrozen and looking as fresh as when it was cut.  The rest of the week I kept it in the trunk of my car where it would be cool but not frozen, and you would never guess it had been on the brink of destruction.  Lettuce is more cold hardy than I thought.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Goodbye to the Lettuce

I have to keep reminding myself that this is December and the fact that my lettuce has survived this long is not typical.  I often lose it to frost in November.  It is hard to mark time in 2020 when nothing is as it should be.  I've been keeping an eye on the forecast because the GardenQuilt  that I have used to cover the lettuce with is only effective down to 24 degrees.  Wednesday morning the house thermometer read 23 degrees in the morning, but there was also a thick, insulating layer of snow to seal the frost cover.

And the lettuce survived.  But my good luck isn't going to last and I didn't want to chance losing it entirely.  This morning was 40 degrees and sunny but I knew that snow and cloud cover was on its way.  The potted parsley I brought into my office is thriving and putting out a lot of new growth and that gave me the idea to try to save the little lettuce plants that were direct seeded in mid-September.  They've been sluggish but are nice little plants and worth saving if possible.

I prepared some shallow planters and transplanted the best of them.  I concentrated on the darker varieties because I can add those to iceberg lettuce and make a nice salad.  I also went ahead and cut all of the mature lettuce to bring in the house, and then uprooted and composted whatever was left.  I hung the frost cover out to dry in the sun, and with that the garden is done for the year.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Black Friday Shopping

 While most people would be saying "I'm done with my Christmas Shopping!", I am pleased to announce that I am done with my seed shopping.  Right down to the seed potatoes and sweet potato slips.

As I was wading through my junk emails this morning, with all of their Black Friday promotions, I noticed that the Maine Potato Lady is ready for 2021.  Those were the last on my list and I went right over and made out my order for next year.  I also have Johnny's Seeds and Gurney's in transit from earlier this week.

 I'm sure I will order a few last minute pot stuffers, like these Lavender Cauliflower that are not yet in stock at Johnny's.  Other than last minute impulse buys, all of my purchases for next season are done.  

NoGA Pants

I also bought a couple of clothing items I'd been eyeballing at Duluth Trading - thanks to a convenient Facebook link yesterday when I was letting my Thanksgiving dinner settle.  30% off over there.  I don't buy a lot of Duluth items because they are pricey, but as they agree with my idea of doing outdoor work in stretchy athletic clothing, I may be shopping with them more from now on.  We'll see how these tights hold up.  

Now - I must decide - do I or do I not want to put up the Christmas tree this weekend?

Friday, November 13, 2020

Propagating Herbs - Experiment winter 2020


This year I am going to try establishing new herb plant from cuttings.  I kept my tri-colored sage and rosemary plants in clay pots buried in the herb bed.  These two plants are the most difficult herbs for me to grow.  I can grow basil or parsley easily, and have vigorous swaths of thyme under the fruit trees.  Finding and buying new tri-colored sage each year is a hassle so it was a natural choice. Often the available plants are small and scraggley anyway.  I only use the tr-colored sage as an ornamental.  When frost was imminent I just pulled the pots out of the ground.  I kept them outdoors against the garden shed for several weeks and finally brought them in when snow was expected.  

Some years in the past my sage has survived the winter outdoors.  
Here the tri-colored sage is in the center of the rock cluster and thriving.

My office front wall is all south facing windows and I've often over wintered plants there. In fact, starting November 12th of each year and lasting to January 29th, the sun is low enough in the horizon that it hits me right in the eyes from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.  Thirty-nine days before the Solstice to thirty-nine days after.  My own little Stonehenge reckoning.  The rest of the year, the arc of the sun as viewed from my chair stays above the window lintel.  

I am using perlite in bottom watering cells that can be kept full of water and have plastic dome covers.  They say cuttings started in perlite grow a more sturdy root system than those started in water alone.  I remember my father starting thousands of geranium cuttings in trays of perlite.

I took some cuttings yesterday dipped them in rooting hormone and arranged them in the cells.  I did not snip all of the available growing ends from my parent plants in case my first attempt fails and I have to try again in spring. I may be starting too early and not hitting the plants during a growth phase, but this at least fulfills my urge to grow something.  The warm sunny window ought to see them through the winter.  If not, they can move to grow lights.  And with any luck, I can pot them up after a month or so and will have half a dozen substantial plants to set out next year.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Bonus Days

The leaves are down and autumn is over (or should be) and winter is knocking at the door.  

But not yet...

The garden is a blank slate, ready for winter or actually, ready for spring.  Because it seems like I should go out and start planting something now, since we've had a week of gorgeous 70 degree weather.

All that is left in the garden is a decent stand of lettuce and a few herbs to get us through to the bitter cold.

Since the weather has been so awesome, it has triggered a sort of spring cleaning spree.  Or maybe a "just before winter" cleaning spree?  It was a weekend to wash cars and the lawn mower.  Pull all of the area rugs (6 rugs!) out and shampoo them.  Open the windows, air out the house, and mop the floors.  Projects like sanding the scratch out of the butcher block top on the kitchen cart got done out in the driveway.  Everything came off our wooden kitchen counter tops and I washed the cabinets and counter tops down with Murphy's Oil soap, oiled them and buffed them to a nice gloss. I realized that in a few weeks I will want to start decorating for Christmas, which always causes me to deep clean the corners.

One garden project that got started is replacing the lid on the water tank with something lighter.  The current shake shingled lid weighs nearly a hundred pounds and no one ever looks forward to removing it for maintenance.  I dug out 10 year old decomposed mulch from around the frame and used it to fill in low spots in the raised beds.

We recently had a whole house generator installed next to the basement bulkhead.  Power outages are more frequent and longer lasting here in town so now we are ready for winter come what may.  I love the clean look of our reconstructed deck and walkway and the generator blends in just fine.  And I've already had the opportunity to practice shoveling the snow!  Much easier with this set up than before.

I don't mind some winter rest, and now we are all spiffed up and ready for more cold, wet weather.