Archive for the ‘Home and Garden’ Category

* vintage sheet coasters

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden, Sewing/Fabric Crafts.

I found a pretty great vintage sheet at the Goodwill the other day, and I had conveniently also recently bought some plain white tiles with the intention of making coasters for the patio area.  The outdoor furniture is not exactly in need of protection from water rings, but the space could definitely use some color to it.


They are decoupaged with outdoor Mod Podge.


* summer squash

Posted on August 26th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

Yesterday’s daily haul of summer squash: one Burpee’s Fordhook zucchini, one Early Prolific Straightneck yellow squash, and one round zucchini.  My pattypans aren’t cooperating just yet.


They were shredded and made in zucchini pancakes, yum.  Today’s assortment was made into pasta with roasted summer vegetables and basil.  Last week, I made a batch of zucchini muffins and a zucchini bread.  The great thing about the squashes is that when we get tired of so many, we pick some flowers and eat those instead.  It slows them down a little anyway.


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* adventures in canning

Posted on August 21st, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review, Home and Garden.

I’ve been kind of wanting to try canning, but have never gotten around to it.  This is in part because my imagined garden largess has never quite materialized as I expected, but also because it seemed a little intimidating.  My friend Rose gave me the perfect opportunity to just go for it by giving me some supplies and fruit, and telling me to just follow the directions on the pectin package.  Can’t get easier than that, right?


I started with 2 jars of strawberry-raspberry jam, and then was emboldened to try pickles.  Since my poor cucumber seedlings were decimated by slugs this year, the cukes are from the farmers’ market.  The stand guy said the variety is Jackson Supreme.  The garlic and dill seed are from my garden, though.  There’s also a Walla Walla onion in the bread and butter pickles.  I accidentally made too little of the dill pickle brine and too much of the bread and butter pickles brine, so there’s one jar of “hybrid” pickles.

Now I am hooked.  Next on the agenda is zucchini pickles.  Doesn’t hurt that it gives me a chance to use my collection of pretty labels.


My new favorite blog is Food in Jars.  Any others I should be following?

In addition to the pectin package instructions, I also consulted Canning & Preserving with Ashley English, which I bought as a pair with her chicken book, and Put ’em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, which I got from the library.  Both of them had really good introductions to the methods, including lots of nice pictures and drawings.  And basic was what I needed: I got a can lifter on sale after nearly scalding myself using normal tongs with the jam, and I wasn’t entirely sure which end was handles, nor how to use them to pour out the water from the bath.  Put ’em Up has more varied recipes, I’d say, so I will probably end up buying it.


* blossom end rot

Posted on August 14th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

I made a salad the other night entirely from the garden in honor of my first tomato (a Siletz, for anyone keeping score).


But then I flipped it over and found this:


Boo, blossom end rot!  I recognized it having just read a post about blossom end rot at gardenhelp.  They recommend eggshells, since one cause is calcium deficiency, so I sprinkled some from the chicken supply around each plant.  I bet I’m not watering them exactly right, though.  The plant has a ton more fruit coming up, though, so fingers crossed this was a fluke.

At this point it became a beet salad.  Mark grilled the beets (yum!) and we had them with arugula and feta cheese.  I also sauteed up the greens with some of my garlic harvest.  Beet greens are right after kale as my favorite green I’m growing.  The chard wins for prettiest, but it can be a little too bitter.



* round zucchini

Posted on August 11th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

I finally got to harvest my first summer squash, here in mid-August.  The clear winners in the race are the round zucchini from Ed Hume.  They are oddly paler than the photo on the packet, but hopefully they’ll taste good.


I hope this is the beginning of a two month summer squash onslaught.  I planted two each of round zucchini, normal zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypans.  That’s going to be a lot of squash!


* winter vegetable garden bed

Posted on July 27th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

Like I mentioned in my last post, Mark built me a fourth raised bed.  The other three are on the south side of the house in the parking strip (that bit of ground between the sidewalk and the road).  This one is on a kind of awkward little piece of dirt that is next to our driveway.  It’s been divided about half lawn and half a bed of ornamental grasses, with some bulbs thrown in for lack of anything better to do with it.  We realized the other day that it gets great light, though.  The house blocks a little of the morning light, but it gets all sorts of afternoon exposure.  And bonus, no permit needed.

We designed this one to be a little bigger than the others since the spot was larger.  It’s 8 feet by 4 feet, versus 6 feet by 3 feet on two of my others, plus the baby 3×3 herb bed.  It’s made out of the same materials, though: cedar fence slats and wood stakes.  We use these fence slats for everything; they are cheap ($1.37 each) and nice to work with.  The old beds are holding up fabulously, too.  The slats are 6 feet long, so by chopping 2 feet off half of them, you can piece the 8 foot side and use the rest for the short ends.


The dirt was the most expensive part of the project.  If we had planned better, we probably could have come up with a better solution than bagged, but we really underestimated the volume required.  It’s a mixture of composted steer and chicken manure, topsoil, peat, and a compost-based growing mix.  We also supplemented with my not-quite-finished compost.  I had three full wheelbarrows of mostly chicken bedding+manure, garden waste (not weeds), grass clippings, and the compost+straw from the failed potato bin experiment.  It was actually breaking down quite nicely, so it will only need do a little finishing at the bottom of the bed.  It’s been a cold Seattle summer here anyway, so the plants might not mind some extra heat as they germinate anyway.

I am holding out hope that the winter garden will do a little better than this year’s spring and summer garden.  Between the new bed and space that opened up in my other beds, I’ve got broccoli rabe, baby bok choy, kailaan (another Asian green), Chinese cabbage, collards, turnips, brussels sprouts, beets (three types), chard, carrots (three types), scallions, peas (two types), kale (two types), and broccoli.  And I reflexively sow more mesclun mix, arugula, radishes, and herbs any time I’m out planting.  I also left some space for a row of Walla Walla onions to be planted in August.  Garlic and scallions will replace the tomatoes later in the fall.  I’m a little late on a few of these, and a little early on others (according to my usual array of Pacific Northwest guides plus some winter garden specific resources [last 2 links PDF]), but it’s such a weird summer that who knows.  I’ll probably reseed in two weeks just to be sure.  I haven’t totally given up on summer yet: today I also planted a purple basil start I found on sale at the Whole Foods.

In my other beds, I’ve been planting in blocks, using a sort of square foot gardening approach.  But last week I was walking home from lab and stopped in my tracks at these amazing raised beds down the street.


They are giant, and there are three of them, planted up with rows of tiered veggies and flowers spilling over (check out the nasturtiums in the furthest one).  I love the look of the rows, so now I have rows too :)


* ladybugs vs. aphids

Posted on July 25th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

My poor broccoli is being swarmed by aphids.  I’ve been washing them off with the hose every day, but they are back the next day as gross as ever.  I fed the chickens my one lone stalk of broccoli that I’ve gotten so far this year.  I just could not wash away all the aphids and it was too off-putting.  I ate one of the clean side shoots and it was delicious, lucky chickens.  Lester gobbled it up.

We were at the Fred Meyer this weekend buying winter seeds to plant in my new! fourth! raised! bed! and they had bags of ladybugs as an impulse buy at the cash registers.  We actually had already checked out, but Mark goaded me into going back for them.  There were zillions in the bag!  We waited until nightfall and let them free in the garden.

I was pretty convinced they would all just fly away, but this evening, I found them feasting on aphids!


Eat, my ladies, eat!


* chard

Posted on July 24th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

My chard is doing much better this year than last year, when I lost it all to leaf miners (the nibbles you can see on the ends of a few leaves are from me).  Aren’t the colors pretty?



* shallots

Posted on July 23rd, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

I dug up my shallots last week and they’re now hanging out on the back patio to cure.  They look great! I was a little worried because they sent up scapes in the spring, and the internet claimed that wasn’t a good sign.

This is the yield off one bulb planted last fall (well, plus one more that went into a marinade last night).  I’m harvesting the other bulb cluster today.


I have to say, the garlic and shallots were the easiest and most trouble-free thing I’ve grown so far.  They were also a welcome bit of green in the garden over the winter, not to mention tasty!  I’m totally going to plant a few more varieties this fall.


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* pathetic potato harvest

Posted on July 11th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

I somehow screwed up my trashcan potatoes and they all died last week.  I was optimistic that meant they were ready, even though they never flowered or anything.  So we dumped them all out on a tarp and got this totally underwhelming result.


The photo is approximately real life sized.  These are teeny!  I think I wasn’t watering them enough.  Oh well, better luck next year.

I roasted them with some olive oil, fancy salt, and pepper, and they were delicious.  Extremely creamy in a way you don’t get from the grocery store.



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