Sunday, May 31, 2009


Along the eastern side of our house, our land lady planted Beared Iris (Iris Germanica) a few years ago. This year they are finally blooming well and I'm surprised by some blossom patterns I've never seen before. I really like how they are all in the purple family.
This one below is very striking and is what inspired to me to get out the camera and start photographing.
And here is a one yet that has yet to open. I wonder if it will be like the others above or another variation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Sun Returns

The garden is doing well after over an inch of rain since last Tuesday. The sun finally returned today and I did a lot of re-potting, mainly of herbs and annuals.

The seedlings made it outside for the morning, enjoying the dappled sunlight on the steps and porch. In the photo you can see my peppers, tomatoes, basil, & cucumbers. Zucchini seedlings are just out of the picture frame.
In the garden my arugula is going to seed, but I have new oak leaf lettuce and a second round of tatsoi sprouting. I also started to harden off the bed by removing the row cover for the morning. In the mid-day sun, a few things were starting to wilt so I replaced the cover. I forgot to get any photos of the garden today.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Garden Update 5/25

It has been quite a while since I did a full garden update, so this will be a long post. Here is the south bed. It is pretty much filled. The garlic is doing well on the right side of the bed.
In the front of the bed are my two types of carrots: Purple Haze (left) Chantenay Red Core (right). Also in the front are two squares of golden beets (not pictured). In the middle I have one square of tatsoi,
and two squares of Broccoli Rabe. According to my seed starting chart, it should be ready to harvest as of 6/11. I think it is interesting how the seedlings are different sizes, though they were planted at the same time.One broccoli rabe is already show signs of flower buds.
There is also sorrel at a small seedling stage (not shown) and my Pot o' Gold Chard. In the back are my very sad peas. Only six plants after 3 times seeding! I've transplanted them so that they are in the same square. The good news is that then I will have room to move my basil to this bed and plant an additional tomato in the other bed. I also have 2 squares of rainbow chard (though I'm not seeing the colors yet). Two of these plants over-wintered and the red one looks like it will soon go to seed.
Finally, along the garlic is a row of spinach that is doing fairly well too.
Here is the north bed. The empty spots are for warm weather crops: tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers & peppers.
Here's the kale at the back of the bed. The very well developed radishes at the far left. These will make way for tomatoes soon. And the arugula and freckles romaine on the right side of the bed. Inside my tomatoes and peppers (2 on the left) have made wonderful progress from a week ago. I've been helping them along with 18 hours of light. They are on to their second and third sets of true leaves and their stems are becoming more stocky. Last year I had my tomato seedlings out in walls of water at this point, but this year I'm going to be patient and wait until June. In the meantime, the tomatoes can make up for lost time.
My cucumbers and zucchini have sprouted and are beginning to show signs of their first true leaves.
I'm very pleased with all the garden progress!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yarn Finds & an Aran Sweater

At the end of last month, I was in a local yarn store and they had decided to clear out their stock of Bartlett wool yarn. She was selling it for $3 a skein instead of $7. So I picked up 6 skeins and decided to make a sweater with it. I couldn't find a pattern I liked so I designed my own aran cabled sweater pattern. I've finished knitting the body up to the arm holes and since I will be using the raglan decreases to add the arms in, I'm in the process of knitting the arms. One arm is done and has been added onto the body and I've just started the second one. Below are photos of the body and the first arm before I joined them together.

Memorial Day Weekend is a big weekend for yard sales in our area. I'd also seen that Green Mountain Spinnery was having a tent sale. So we meandered around this morning to yard sales on our way to Putney. At one yard sale, I bought a bag of yarn in a basket for $5. Here's some of the treasures inside.

The pile of blue above should be enough for a sweater.
This skein below has a tag copyright 1961!

We finally made it to Green Mountain Spinnery. I bought some of their mill tests in neutral colors. These off-white ones I'm going to use for experimenting with dying wool this summer.

The skeins below are a sock weight and will probably end up as either a pair of socks or Christmas ornaments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pea Dumplings/ Ravioli

Last winter we made sweet potato dumplings which were very good. This spring I saw a few recipes around for pea ravioli and so we've improvised two recipes based on others in the past month.

The first time we made them in ravioli shape, using egg roll wrappers.
To my best recollection, the filling was about two cups frozen peas, lightly cooked and drained, then pureed with 1 chopped shallot. Then we stirred in about 1/2 cup of fresh soft cheese.

We put four small spoonfuls onto one egg roll wrapper. Then we brushed it with egg wash and put another wrapper on top.
After smoothing the places where the dough met, we cut them into four ravioli.
We boiled them until they were done and then tossed them into a pan with melted butter to crisp up a bit. We found that the size was a bit large and made it difficult to handle. We served them with a drizzle of fresh yogurt. For our second version this weekend, we had some ramps from the farmers market to experiment with. We decided to make a ramp and pea filling for the wrappers, but this time fold them like dumplings and pan fry them. We sauteed the ramps in bacon fat. Then we made a puree in the food processor with about 1 1/2 cups of peas, the zest of one lemon, salt, & pepper. We stirred in about 4 oz of goat cheese. This time we cut each egg roll wrapper into fourths. We put a spoonful of filling on and folded it into a triangle.
We found that this shape is more manageable, especially for pan frying. We fried them in olive oil and dipped them in yogurt. They were very good. In both cases, there were extras which we froze on a cookie sheet and then later put into a freezer bag. So we'll be enjoying these again soon.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tomato Transplants Update

The very good news is that my tomato seedling have finally started to show true leaves. You can read about my problems here. Transplanting, less water, and better light seem to be the solution. Our new lights seem to be really making a difference as the seedlings inside have done better than the ones outside. I've also be giving the ones inside as much light as I can, just shutting them off when I go to bed, and then the timer comes back on at 4 in the morning.

So here is the progress. Last week's photo is on the left, this weeks on the right.
The set that has been inside under the grow lights:

The set that has been outside in the cold frame:

I guess since the seedlings are doing better under the lights, I should bring in the set from the cold frame. Since almost all my seeds sprouted both seeds I planted and I only wanted one of most varieties, I may have enough healthy seedlings to be able to give some away!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

In participation of May' Dreams Garden Blogger Bloom Day, here's what is currently blooming.

Blooming in the yard today:
Apple and Crab Apple Trees

Flowering Quince Bush
The ubiquitous Dandelion
An unknown yellow/green ground cover
Wild Strawberries and Chives

And my favorite, the Lily of the Valley.
Blooming in the forest this week:
Red Trillium
Jack in the Pulpit
Sprouting Fiddlehead ferns
Yellow and Purple Violets