Thursday, April 29, 2010

Think About It Thursdays

In regards to your fitness and eating habits...

"You should never do anything today that you can't do for the rest of your life" - Anonymous

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who was that?

Okay, so my post on Saturday was a little negative. Who was that person? I have to say I had a bad morning with a few different things that went wrong and I just kept getting hit after hit. I ended up going on not one, but two walks on Saturday to try to clear my head and start over.

As for my garden, I walked to the farmer's market and talked to a guy selling plants there and told him my problems. One thing he told me is that the last frost used to be April 15th, but he thinks it is closer to May 1st. Colder weather could be stunting my plants growth and the lemon cucumber I was given might have been a bad seed all along. Sad. And yes, the slugs are attacking and copper or adding nitrogen to the soil would do the trick. Also, I read this fun fact of the day: "Fill a small bowl with stale beer. Put it in the areas where the slugs are active. Stale beer attracts the slugs and they drown. You may also use grape juice or a tea made from yeast, honey and water." Beer kills slugs! I love it.

Anyway, I went and got a few more supplies for my garden and am currently thinking of other ideas to keep the soil warm until the weather heats up. Funny as today it is going to be 71 degrees and then rain Tuesday and Wednesday. Why can't the weather make up its' mind and let my plants be? Ha! I just hope the seedlings I started for my mom make it.

Ok, that is all for now as I desperately need to get back to studying. So I will leave you with some random pictures take from the farmer's market. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garden Update

Well this weekend update is met with mixed reviews. Good and bad things appear to be happening in the garden this week. Here goes.

Currently in my SFG, sprouted: two cauliflower, three spinach, one bunch of basil, two golden beets, one yellow cucumber, one winter squash, two broccoli rabe, one regular cucumber, one beefsteak tomato, and one sugar daddy peas.

Now for the bit of bad news. One of the beets that was planted and one in a sprouting container appear to be dying. They are no longer growing and the stocks are wilting down and the leaves fell off. I am at a total loss for what I did wrong. Also, when I was taking pictures this morning I noticed one of my broccoli rabe was gone. It just disappeared; couldn't even find the roots! And the soil appeared to be undisturbed so I am really confused as to what happened to it. The other broccoli rabe is still there but one of its' leaves appeared to have been nibbled on. I am going to put pennies around that one in case it is a slug. Anyone have any clue as to what happened to the first broccoli though???

Also, my squash appears to be dying as well. It also had its' leaves munched on and I set out pennies, but it does not seem to be coming back. Waaa! I am going to give it more time.

Planted in pots, sprouted: four mesclun, one (dying) golden beet, one heirloom beefsteak tomato, one sugar daddy peas, three cucumber, tons of watercress, lupin, four cauliflower, two broccoli rabe, and one quinoa. Also, all of my herbs I planted have sprouted so yea to that good news.

I am just in limbo right now with my garden. Seeing what works, what doesn't, how to improve, and when to through in the towel. I just felt/feel like a failure on a handful of my crops and just don't know what I am doing wrong. Was I too ambitious to think I could start these all from seeds? Did I plant too late or too early? It the SFG soil combo really as great as it claims to be? Do I have perpetual brown thumbs and should just be thankful for farmer's markets? My one true pride right now are the two thriving cauliflower which were started from seed. I am anxious to see if they actually turn out and how they taste. Just trying to hold on to the positive for now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Think About It Thursdays

"For half an hour, Greg fidgeted while Sakina brewed tea and Haji Ali looked through his Koran, the most precious thing he owned. When the cups of tea steamed in their hands, Haji Ali spoke. "If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die," he went on, laying a hand on Greg's own. "Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time."

That day Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I've ever learned in my life. We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We're the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills. Our leaders thought their 'shock and awe' campaign could end the war in Iraq before it even started. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them. " - Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's poppin'?

Sprouts in my garden!

First I have to mention that out of nowhere one of my old beets that I thought was dead sprouted in my garden! Remember the annihilation? Well it wasn't total devastation.

I might also add that the "litter box" instances has seem to stop, thank goodness, but I did have some other critter try to sift through my garden. As you can see from the pictures I had laid out old tomato cages to block the animals. Luckily in this attack, from the width and depth of the scooping it appears to be a raccoon or something larger, no plants of seeds were uprooted, just the soil turn around near some of the plants. So I fixed it and relaid the pennies around the cauliflower, killed a slug inching near the lemon cucumber.

Then I noticed a white, cylindrical thing in the soil. Armed with my gloves, I went to investigate, prepared to squash the creature if need be, when to my complete and utter surprise it turned out to be a squash plant starting to grow! I am not sure I can relay how excited I was. In fact, I was on the phone with my sister at the time and might have started yelling. See, when I first attempted the garden I had planted two winter squash. Only one had started growing, but was later killed. I just thought the second one was a bum seed and it was too late to try to start another. Well miracles of miracles, it finally sprouted! I relocated the uprooted squash, thank you Mr. Raccoon from bringing it to my attention, and planted it where it could have the space needed to grow. I reorganized my grid as to where things would be planted to make room, and am excited to see where it goes!

Currently in my SFG, sprouted: two cauliflower, three spinach, one bunch of basil, one golden beet, one yellow cucumber, and one winter squash.

Planted in pots, sprouted: three mesclun, two golden beets, two heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, two sugar daddy peas, and three cucumber.

And here is the hydrangea that came back to life and I planted. Look at the new growth!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's alive!

So a while ago someone gave me a hydrangea plant from Trader Joe's and I had every intention of planting it. Well before I had a chance the plant just died on me. So sad. I set out in my backyard as I didn't just want to through it away. A month (or two) has passed since then and this week when I was working in the garden and cleaning out things I noticed the hydrangea had new growth. It came back from the dead! I decided to clear a spot in the yard and plant it. The soil is not quite porous enough, but I am taking a chance. Oh I do hope it grows into a nice big, lovely bush and that I can enjoy the flowers whether outside or cut on the table or in my bedroom. Oh please, please grow big and strong for me!

On another note...cats. I love animals, with the exception of birds, but those darn neighbor cats are messing up my square foot garden and using it as a giant litter box! Gross. And they messed up the ring of pennies I placed around m cauliflower to prevent slugs from getting to it for. I started doing a lot of research for organic, and non-cruel methods of keeping those vermin out. I didn't want a chemical spray anywhere near my veggie garden, and I didn't want to put cayenne or red pepper flakes in the soil as the animals have a very bad reaction and in extreme cases have been know to harm themselves due to it. I refuse to go into detail about that, but know that I was scarred reading the horrific stories. I found some more suitable ways researching and conversing with my local nursery such as: keeping the soil moist as they don't like wet soil, putting twigs or pokey things in or around the soil as it is too bothersome to get to the soil, spray citrus spray as for some reason they don't like the smell, or put coffee grounds in or around the soil as they don't like the smell and the coffee grounds are good for your soil. These helped me out tons and hopefully they will help you too if the need be.

I started trimming roses from the rose bushes and placing them around my house. They smell so good unlike the new genetically modified ones people buy that just look pretty but have no smell. What's the point of that? Roses are one of best smells on Earth besides coconut, vanilla, coffee, and rain.

Lastly, no growth yet for my avocado trees, but they do take a while so I am practicing patience.

I am so excited to see how they plants do and am watching them everyday with baited breath. They is just something so peaceful and rewarding about gardening. As much as I enjoy being clean, something about being in the dirt outside gives me a real sense of joy and calm and clears my mind. off to check on my garden once more! Hope you are having a great day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Think About It Thursdays

"It is what we do in the worst of times that tells the world who we really are." - ??

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My gardening projects are growing

(yes, pun intended)

1. Mow and clear the back yard.
60% finished and waiting for the rain to stop so I can do the rest.

2. Grow seedlings and plant my SFG.
Seeds I have start include: heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, golden beets, pea sugar daddies, cucumber, Serrano chilies, cauliflower, rainbow carrots, orange bell peppers, broccoli rabe, cilantro, chives, oregano, parsley, and basil. Need to get my mesclun planted and I am currently searching for watercress seeds.

3. Grow seedlings for my mother’s garden.
So last week I started my seeds for my Spring/Summer veggies. I was driving home from the library thinking about my garden when I passed a sign for Mother’s Day gifts. Somehow my thoughts got commingled and I thought what a great idea it would be to also start seeds for my mother and her backyard. I talked with my sisters and made it a plan. We are going out to weed and garden early in the morning and then do brunch. The weeding part will be quite an undertaking as her backyard is big and weeds love it there. Cool present idea huh? I have a month to get the plants growing and I sure hope that is enough time.

4. Create growing pots from newspaper.
Instead of buying those cardboard biodegradable ones I am going to make biodegradable ones out of old newspaper. I am also looking into the Burpee Seed Starting Kit but want to try the newspaper trick first.

5. Grow avocado plants.
I have been adding avocados to my salads lately and I finally decided to just do the old kid trick and start a seed in water. Avocado trees take anywhere from 7-15 years to start producing fruit. How crazy is that? I figured, well I will start two (for cross pollination) and eventually plant them somewhere (to be determined) that way one day there will be trees that people can get the fruit/vegetable from. Sure that person might not be me, but how cool would it be to discover an avocado tree somewhere and be able to get some heavenly green goodness for oneself? I figure I would put it out there in the world somewhere and maybe one day the avocado gods will return the favor. Yes, my roommate laughed at me, but I just thought it was a cool idea and took relatively little effort on my part.

6. Need to start the flowers that I am going to put around the house in the backyard.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Plants, gardening, and weeds

I have come to realize that ones' view of when to mow the lawn greatly varies with which region they grew up in. I, for example, grew up in Southern California where if it has rained you do not mow the lawn because the grass is wet and you will have to stop and start constantly and continuously be emptying the lawn mower bag. This is not the case if you live in other regions, for example Northern California, where it rains a great deal more than in Southern California and you must mow through the rainy season. Needless to say, the backyard around my square foot garden had not been mowed in a while and it was out of control. The weather is warming up so I wanted to do an overhaul and clean it up to have dinner outside. Well, let me just say that I filled an entire huge trash can from the city and still have not finished the backyard.

Yes, that is quite ridiculous and no, I did not take a before picture because in my mind it wasn't that bad. It was, however, quite a workout and when I came in a guzzled a whole Nalgene (32 oz.) of water.

As for the rest of the gardening, I cleaned up weeds from the SFG and am hoping that cauliflower #2 will pull through after the stupid slugs eating it. Did I mention how many slugs I killed and how many spiders I let live? So many bugs in the backyard that I am second guessing why I ever started gardening.

Also being added to my garden soon are herbs. Mmm, there is nothing better than eating and cooking with fresh herbs. I bought a basil plant from Trader Joe's and am first going to sterilize a space in my SFG before transplanting. Also, I finally planted the seeds for my window herb garden and can't wait to utilize them. Have I mentioned to the extent I love cilantro? I haven't? Well I have to say cilantro is my favorite herb ever and I feel so sorry for the part of the population that has an enzyme in their mouth that adversely reacts to the herb because it is truly heavenly. Gringo Killer Sauce, Pico de Gallo, or just sprinkled over a nice dish of rice and beans. So many things to do with it. But, I digress.

Any way, I am going to continue to clean up the backyard, plant more Spring and Summer veggies, and keep on keeping on. Hope you have fun outside this weekend and are enjoying the weather.

Friday, April 9, 2010

VegTimes Recipe: White Pizza with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Can I tell you what I had for lunch yesterday? I made, for the second time, Vegetarian Times White Pizza with Broccoli and Mushrooms. So good!

It actually was featured on the cover of this month's magazine with a whole section on recipes with broccoli. Now broccoli used to be my mortal enemy, but I have been making myself eat it and have come to..long awkward it. Gasp! (Dad, please forgive me.) I made this pizza as my contribution to Easter brunch and liked it so much I had to make it for myself for lunch and dinner during the week. I made a few slight modifications to the recipe for my liking.

1. I used half of the allotted pizza dough (homemade) as I like a thin, crispy crust. I just rolled out out thinned and bigger to make it the size of a normal pizza.

2. I only put half of the sauce I made on the actual pizza and saved the rest to drizzle over steamed broccoli later in the week. There just seemed to be too much sauce for the pizza and I like it thin and not soggy. Plus, less fat and calories and the flavor was still there.

3. I put in less salt and added pinch of pepper to the sauce as I felt it was just lacking something when I made it the first time.

4. I par-baked the crust beforehand to ensure it is crispy and not soggy when it is done. And you sensing a theme of crispy and not soggy? Yea, me too.

Mmmm.... so good. Now go out and try a new recipe and something that you used to hate as a kid. Who knows, you might find out you like it now.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Think About It Thursday

"Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart." - Mencius

And on that note...

Happy Thursday! I am not really sure why, but I like Thursdays. It is the lower end of the week slope and Fridays everyone loves, but somehow Thursdays are causal and fun to me. How was your Wednesday? Mine was great!

My roommate, her mother, and sister are all teachers and this week was their Spring Break. She had posed the question to me about taking a day off of studying and going to San Francisco to Golden Gate Park with her family. I of course do not say no to going to San Francisco and I love it there! So we packed up fruity snacks and headed to the California Academy of Sciences. Of course you would expect a “learning” type trip from teachers and as I am a math and science nerd and was super excited, especially about the Planetarium. (Orion is my favorite constellation. And yes when I was little I studied the stars for fun. I even named my bedroom Aurora Borealis. See, total nerd.) Moving on, it was so much fun and educational. Be sure to go to each ‘station’ and get a ticket to the show/exhibit when you first arrive as they only allow a certain amount of people in at a time. Thank goodness the people I went with knew that as I am terrible at reading signs. Sites of note: besides of course the Planetarium, I loved the Global Warming Station. Parents and kids were reading about carbon footprints and learning which types of food had the highest emissions. The people I was with even learned quite a bit from the exhibit. The way the information was presented was so created and made learning fun. Hmm, I sounded like a teacher there. They even had a tribute to what I like to refer to as Meatless Mondays. We had so much fun at the museum that we ended up running out of time and never made it to the Japanese Gardens. Next time!

We then headed off to The Container Store (OCD Heaven!), Crate & Barrel, and Pier 1 Imports. Just browsing of course, but man it made we want to redesign my home. Then we skipped off to dinner at The Melting Pot as we heard they had amazing happy hour prices. To say amazing would be quite accurate as the cheese and chocolate dipping prices were 50% off and so were selected drinks! So delicious, great service, and the Strawberry Basil Lemonade cocktail was seriously good and refreshing. Alas, we headed home and called it a day, a wonderful day that is.

Oh course I am now at my coffee shop and studying again. But those memories are still fresh and gave me an extra boost of energy to keep going. Take care and go have fun!

Pictures from my adventure...

These are not vines, they are all snakes. !!!

A worker feeding the fish fresh cut apples in the Rainforest Exhibit.

I will let these pictures explain themselves. haha

I had the best beet salad at the café for lunch.

Toured the living roof exhibit. How cool is this?!

We walked under and across part of the bridge. It was super windy and shaky, but so fun.