Strawberries Showing Spring Signs

Although some people cover their strawberries up in the winter, we don’t.  We don’t feel like it affects the berries either way so we just let them be their natural selves and collect the snow on top of them.
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Here’s all the strawberry buckets now with their crisp leaves.  Each bucket has 3-4 strawberry plants, aged from 1 year to 3 years.  There’s about 40 strawberry plants here total. 
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We started to see signs of green spring in the younger plants…WP_20130331_039.jpgWP_20130331_038.jpg
And then finally some green in the older plants this past week.  photo 3.JPG
Hopefully I will have some plump berries in my hands in a few months.  They truly are the sweetest strawberries I have tasted!
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If are you thinking about growing strawberries, I would definitely recommend trying the bucket method.  We’ve had great results.  I talk more about growing strawberries in this video (starts around 0:35).

Easter Breakfast – Eggs in Nests

This morning we had a yummy Easter breakfast with our beloved Pink Bunny.
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I made a egg sandwich for myself with some dried fruit – this is  my everyday breakfast that I love dearly.  For Matthew I had a eggs/hash brown recipe I’ve been wanting to try so I thought it would be a perfect time.
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The recipe is simple.  It’s just potatoes, eggs and salt + pepper.  The entire “nest” is made out of grated potatoes and then you put eggs on top.
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Then we split some chocolate covered pretzels for breakfast “dessert”. I only had one. HAHAHAHAHAHA.  I’m lying.
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Pink Bunny got this card for Matthew.
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Pink Bunny made this card for me – which is now attached to the side of my monitor.
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If you want to know more about the egg recipe – click behind the cut.

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Carrot Weekend

This post is going to be about carrots.  Tomorrow is Easter which means 2 things:  bunnies and the 3rd season of Game of Thrones premieres.  So you get the bunny connection with carrots, but what about Game of Thrones?  There is no connection, I’m just really excited and wanted to tell you.

First, let’s talk about the old carrots.  We planted some carrots right at the end of Fall seeing if we could get another batch of carrots before winter hit.  We thought it was a failure, but look at what was under the soil.
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Most were pretty scrawny, but we got some some big ones too.  I am planning to use them in a stir fry soon.
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Carrot seeds are tiny so we use pelleted seeds.  This allows for more accurate sowing by hand.
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As usual we are doing 3 rows of carrots this year.  We love our carrots and they store so well.WP_20130329_029
Row by row we place the seeds…
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Hey, you missed a spot.  Just kidding.
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Then we cover them back up with soil, give them a good pat and water them.
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See you soon carrots!

Remember I like lettuce?

Do you remember when I used to hate lettuce? Then do you remember last year where I started to eat lettuce by itself? I’m a silly girl, what can I say?  So this year we will be growing lettuce again – both outside in the garden and inside in the window farm. I guess I can’t get enough! My 8 year old self rolls her eyes at my  kindness to lettuce.
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We are planting 4-5 heads of lettuce in the garden this year.  This is all Bibb lettuce.  The seedlings looked like they were strong enough to be planted in the ground so they each get planted directly in their cups.
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Then I give them all a good pat down and clean them off.  They don’t like looking dirty.
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Grow strong little lettuce guys.
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Let the sun shine down on you!

Spring Onion Planting

Today we did alot of work in the garden which I will break up into separate posts.  This one will be dedicated to the enemy I love, onions.  What does this mean? I don’t eat onions – I cry if they are in my food. I am that person who takes very long in line because I request everything be made without onions, and if they ignore my request, then I will send it back.  I will pick the onions out of salsa even if it means it will take 20 minutes and everyone will be done eating already.  I don’t like the smell of onions, I pout and moan when I have to make something with onions for Matthew.  But with that said, I am the garden mother of these onions so I cherish and worship them.  No, I won’t eat them, but I want them to grow big and strong.    Even though it’s the one thing in the garden that I will not eat, somehow I am always stuck sorting and planting them every year.  Matthew calls me the “onion whisperer” because he says I am good at the meticulous job of picking all the onion seedlings apart.  Man, I hate that job.  It’s the worst.  And let me tell you something, even if they are onion babies right now, they smell of onions.  I totally overreact too. I will sit on the ground with those onion seedlings, crying, pretending I can’t breathe, holding my nose (which really makes it worse because I have onions on my fingers). It’s tough work, but it’s all for the love of one of my children, the onions.
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First, let’s look at the box where all the new onions will be planted in.  These onions off to the left have been there for a few months over winter, and they look like they are bouncing back so we are going to leave them and see.
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Speaking of onions that made it over winter – will you check out this box of onions that are looking amazing? Matthew had fears they wouldn’t survive, but I told him to keep some hope in these onions, and look at them! Look at them!
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No bulbs were spotted (yet) but they are looking strong.  They’re all about 1 foot high.  When they get bulbs I am going to do the happy onion dance.  They deserve it. 
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Back to the onions we planted today.  Here are all our onion seedlings.  Each little soil cup has a bunch of onion seedlings in it – anywhere from 5 to 8. 
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Then comes the fun (not fun at all) part of sorting these onion seedlings out, one at a time.  While holding each one delicately you try to untangle all the roots. 
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This take some time, but I have worked out a system of shaking them so they come loose pretty quickly.  Onion whisperer I am.
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The seedlings already have pretty intense roots going on.  Each seedling grew into a big onion last year and produced a bulb larger than a baseball.  Matthew said they were delicious. We are hoping for similar results this year!
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So now they’re all planted. There’s 38 onions here, not counting the ones in another box.  We’ll check back on them in a few months…

Garden Thoughts

Preparations are beginning…
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Tonight is the first night the broccoli/cauliflower/kale/onions/lettuce/spinach/cabbage/brussels sprouts seedlings are spending overnight outside by themselves.  I tried to talk Matthew into giving them a blanket so they feel safe but he just frowned at me.  Maybe I will take his blanket away tonight in bed and sneak it up to my baby seedlings. 
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We just planted them and already we’re seeing the tomato and green pepper seedlings!
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We wrapped the sugar snap peas up to add some humidity to hopefully have them pop out of the soil sooner.  None have shown us their faces yet, but don’t worry, I’m checking every single day.WP_20130326_023
We grew these onions last Fall and somehow they survived Winter, without being covered up.  How did they survive? I like to think it’s because I provided them so much love they made it through the cold. We thought they were goners when winter hit, but suddenly they’re beautiful green and growing strong. Go onions, grow.  I won’t eat you but I will still cheer you on.WP_20130324_001
I bought all the Perlite Home Depot sold.  Perlite is light and easy to carry as it’s not soil like most people walking through Home Depot thought I was carrying.  People thought I was so strong I was just carrying 6 bags of this in one hand.  I felt like a warrior.
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Home Depot is also selling these garden containers.  So cute.  I tried to talk Matthew into planting all of our vegetables in ceramic frogs this year instead of wood boxes and plastic containers.  Again, he frowned.
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This means gardening season is very close when I see flowers in the store…
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I used my last bag of frozen whole roma tomatoes a few days ago to make diced tomatoes.WP_20130319_024
This summer when it’s raining tomatoes I will be sure to stock up on frozen diced and stewed tomatoes.  Freezing whole tomatoes is a great idea too.

Are you preparing anything for the Spring garden season?

Sugar Snap Peas Are Planted!

The sugar snap peas are this years first plants to be covered up by soil in the garden.  Yesterday, while shivering in the cold sunlight, we took our pre-sprouted peas and planted them.  It is still cold out, so even though growth might be slow in the beginning for them to emerge, hopefully we will see them big and strong soon.
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This year we are changing things up and are growing them not up the fence, but instead around our gazebo like trellis.
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Here are the peas that we pre-sprouted. 
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Nature, isn’t it amazing?  If you haven’t tried presprouting, give it a shot.
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Holes are made with our fingers, then peas are inserted in.
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This year we are trying this pea booster – hopefully it works well. 
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So that gets sprinkled in each hole…
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Then we do a little song and dance involving lots of cheering and the words “love” and “grow big” before covering them up with soil.
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Then we get some water that was collected from the rain.. Can I tell you how freezing I am in this picture? My hands felt as red as the water container.
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Then each pea spot gets watered.

Now we wait… hope to see you soon sugar snap peas!

Does It Feel Like Spring?

I’m still wearing my winter coat, the heater is still on, and cats have cold toes (I can feel them when they jump on me!).  Does it feel like Spring where you are? Not much here, but hopefully soon! 
We made this new film for V Magazine, hopefully we will seeing this soon in real life…….

Pork and Soy Bean Stir Fry

I wasn’t going to post this recipe but then after dinner Matthew proclaimed it was one of the best meals I ever made, so I feel obligated to share it.    This took use of 4 bags of edamame I had frozen… WP_20130318_009
I have been popping soy beans out of their pods like a crazy woman.  Nice to see it being used in this delicious dish!
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Beautiful colors… Feel free to add additional vegetables if you’d like.  Carrots would be good!WP_20130318_026
You can serve this over rice which would complete the meal…WP_20130318_028
Or pick the pork out and just load up on the soy beans for a meatless option.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound pork loin cutlets– cut into 1 inch strips
16 ounces soybeans
1 can bean sprouts
3 cloves garlic – cut up
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Additional:
2 cups cooked rice

Directions:
Mix pork, cornstarch, soy sauce and sesame oil in a bowl. 
Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large pan.
Add garlic, sauté until it’s slightly brown.
Add pork to pan, fry until it’s fully cooked.
Add soybeans and bean sprouts and sauté for 3 minutes.
Serve over rice.
Enjoy!

Deshelling Soy Beans

If you remember we got a whole lot of edamame this past summer.  Thankfully it freezes great so I have been able to snack on it throughout the winter.  Today though I wanted just the soy bean itself to put in a pasta dish I’m going to make, which meant I was going to have to roll up my red fleece cardigan sleeves and pop those beans out – one at a time.   This is a really great reason why a little kid would come in handy.  I would teach that child to be a bean deshelling master, then I would tell them mama needs to work on something and put them to work to deshell all these beans.  I would then go into a room, lock the door and take a nap.   But there is no child, so I had to do it.. :(
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This is 16 oz of frozen edamame. 
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I boil it for 5 minutes, then run cold water so I can touch them.WP_20130317_020
Then I grab a seat because this is going to take a while….WP_20130317_021
One at a time, I push the beans out of the pod.WP_20130317_022
Eventually this would collect almost 1 cup of soy beans.WP_20130317_023
And lots of pods to compost!
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Hard work, but worth it.  Feel free to snack as you go along.

Garden Tomato Planting

Last year we planted the tomatoes and green peppers seeds on March 1.  This year we planted them March 14 (yesterday).  Time is running by quickly here at the moment, and thankfully we realized this 2 weeks late and not 1 month, 2 weeks late.  So yesterday we got out the supplies and planted our tomatoes for the year.  You know the usual characters:
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There’s the roma, sweet aroma, beef, cherry tomatoes.  Then there’s the green bell peppers.
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See the container to the left? ?That’s Burpee’s eco friendly self watering cell seed starting system.  It’s magical. We thought it might have been a gimmick when we bought the bigger cell version for our other seedlings, but those seedlings in it have grown so much bigger than the other seeds not in a self watering system. If you can find this, get it.  It’s great.
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Beautiful soil, get your hands dirty.  I love the feeling.
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I know I say it ALL the time, but these 2 little sees will turn into full blown tomato plants. It amazes me every single time.
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We also are getting the sugar snap peas ready by presprouting them inside.  This always works better for us than planting them directly in the soil as we are never quite sure if they all are growing to sprout or not, and if they don’t you are left with a few that need to be replanted.  With presprouting, you are guaranteed to know they all will grow into plants.   I did a post on presprouting sugar snap peas last year if you want to read it.
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I would like to give a shot out to my gardening helper, Xanadu Pluto, who climbed into the seed starter box…
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But realized she couldn’t fit all the way and just stayed like this. No shame.  <3

Sweet Potato Chili

I was not a sweet potato fan prior to this.  I don’t think I ever bought a sweet potato.  I was so confused in the potato section that I googled “difference between a sweet potato and yam”. Google tells me it’s very different.  The supermarket employee told me there was hardly any difference.  So much confusion.

Anyways – I am now a fan.  I enjoy you sweet potatoes.  I enjoy you very much. 

Last night I wanted to make a meatless chili, so I used this recipe that had sweet potatoes tossed in.  If you want you can use a ground meat (beef? turkey? chicken?) but it’s good without it too.  I was able to use up my last bag of whole tomatoes frozen from garden season for our crushed tomatoes – man I love those tomatoes.  Serve with some buttered bread or cornbread. 

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Ingredients:
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
14 ounces diced tomatoes
2 large sweet potatoes – peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
15 ounces kidney beans
15 ounces navy beans
1 green pepper – chopped up
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic – minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (or a actual onion if you want)

Directions:
Put your slow cooker on low.
Combine all your ingredients, mix it all together.
Cook on low for 10 hours.
Enjoy the smells!