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Catching Up

basketmatos I’m not going to make any excuses for ‘being away’, but let’s just say that it’s been a miserable spring. Miserable weather-wise and miserable in many other ways which made me frankly not in the mood to share much of anything. But, I did keep things going in the greenhouse and once things finally warmed up here (which basically has only been in the last two weeks), we were able to get out into the garden and start putting things in. We had two massive frosts during this same period (I was starting to feel as if we were having weather whip-lash here) — literally going from the high 80s to the mid 20s — having to run out and cover up the berry bushes and spray the apple tree because the heat had pushed the tree to blossom all at once (spraying a fruit tree when it’s in blossom in the evening before a big frost will help protect the blossoms from being killed). And then, the next day, having to run out and uncover everything again the next morning. It’s been a crazy spring. (more…)

Tomatoes UP!! Oh yeah, Baybee!

TumblingTom1There is nothing like planting seeds and seeing them come up. Oh yeah!!

This tomato is a variety called Tumbling Tom and was developed specifically for hanging basket growing. Yes, even though here at Chez Siberia, we have certainly a big enough garden (though, ahem, I’m thinking we could use another couple of beds…a discussion for another time), I thought we’d try some hanging basket vegetable growing. We have a great, sunny deck which I usually use for hanging baskets of flowers, but who says that hanging basket veggies can’t be decorative too? We just have to make sure they get plenty of water (though I also have a plan to try out recycling baby disposable nappies – just the ones that got wet — as a way to keep moisture in the baskets). (more…)

Not too early to get ready for the garden

seeds1For folks in warmer places such as the US South and Southwest, this is rather late for you folks – I’m sure you have already gotten your seeds into the ground. But, in general, you can hold this information aside for this fall.

Where I live, our ‘frost-free growing season’ is pretty short: from Mid-May (and that is risky) through the end of September (and again, the last week in September will find a lot of us, 8 years out of 10, covering the tomatoes and peppers at night against frost). That’s less than 150 days and to get actual ripe veggies such as tomatoes and peppers, we can’t just throw seeds in the ground. That will not work. We need actual plants which will start flowering when the nights are warm (putting plants in the ground in May or early June which already have flowers open on them is really a waste – the plants will not ‘set’ fruit. For that, we need night-time temperatures that are at least 55 degrees F. So, we need to time the whole thing (as the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” put it) ‘very carefully’. We want the plants big enough to put into the ground (and the ground warm enough that they don’t get set back) but not so big that they already have flower buds on them. Dicey stuff. (more…)

Next Up: Bathroom Storage

bath1 This, my friends, is a bathroom.
Not MY bathroom, actually. But a bathroom.

This is the downstairs half-bath in my son’s house. This house, built in the late 19th century, has extremely tall ceilings and the person who did all the original rehab work on the house basically threw up his hands in the bathroom, put in a toilet and a sink and walked away. (more…)

Seeds! Seeds! They’re Here! They’re Here!!

seeds2015 OK, that’s a lie. SOME of them are here.

But not all of them.

And certainly the garlic and onion plants are not here; the garlic won’t arrive until this fall and the onion plants won’t arrive for at least a month.

But first, a message from our sponsor:
If you have not ordered your seeds, bulbs, sets, tubers, or whatever for your garden yet, then get to it, NOW. I ordered these several weeks ago and had to hunt and peck my way through the catalogs along with the web sites because some of the particular varieties were all sold out.

Don’t say you were not warned.

So, what is out there on the table that your Aunty is so excited about?

Afina Cutting Celery.
What makes this sort of celery different from the usual sort that you buy in the grocery store? Well it sprouts more like a little bush and doesn’t form big chewy stalks. You can do this as ‘cut and come again.” It is much faster than celery, at 63 days.

Cucumber Ministro. One of my goals this time around was finding varieties which are super short season since the long-range weather boys have said that this summer will be cooler and drying here. This cucumber is 50 days.

Kohlrabi Winner We love eating kohlrabi fresh right out of the garden, sliced up. It makes wonderful coleslaw (or perhaps better spelled ‘kohl-slaw’). This one, like the cucumber above, is 50 days.

Spinach Mix One of the things, as I have noted before, about Pinetree Garden Seeds is that generally, you can find mixes of seeds, which is very nice if you are trying to grow a bed of something which will not all arrive at the same time. This one has spinach varieties which can be picked as early as 35 days. Woohoo!

Peppers One new project for this year is for us to create (or, ahem, try to create) our own paprika this year. Now, theoretically speaking, this should be simplicity itself: Get a lot of peppers which are red ripe, wash thoroughly, take out the seeds, dry, and run through the food processor or crush by hand with a motor and pestle. I picked two varieties which noted, right in the catalog, that they are to be used for paprika:
Alma Pepper (70 days)
Paprika (80 days)

For anyone wondering how ‘smoked paprika’ is made, you add the additional step of putting them in a smoker (many people have those as an attachment on their outdoor grill) once you’ve washed them and taken out the seeds, and smoke them until they are dry. To make sure they are really dry, I’d then run them through a dryer or in the oven on the pilot until they are breakable,

The other seeds are various varieties of ornamental corn, squashes, gourds and pumpkins, including the every-popular “Dill’s Atlantic Giant’. I must remind the DH to put in his reservation for the crane to come and pick up that one for the fair.!

So, what will you be growing this year?

Winter Gardening

wintergardenHey, folks – welcome to February!! Up here at Chez Siberia, it’s doing its usual February thing, which means that from day to day, the morning temperature can range from minus 11 F. (which is -24C for folks across the pond) to 16 degrees F this morning (-9C). To say this sort of weather whiplash can be tough on plants is to put it mildly. As you can see from the photo, the garden at Chez Siberia is firmly under snow (though the depth is only 4-6 inches, really), and we’ve got (groundhogs notwithstanding) at least 6 weeks of snow and cold in front of us. If we get a break in March (which the long-range weather folk say we will), I’ll be able to shovel off a couple of beds in the garden, cover them with glass or clear plastic and warm them up enough (soil temps to 50 degrees F are plenty) to sow seeds from lettuce, beets, chard, and anything from the cabbage family. (more…)

We have a winner – actually several!!

ooo, the raw, unadulterated excitement!!

First – the lovely company that sent me samples, “O’Keefe’s” has offered to do a separate gift to someone, so I got to select TWO people out of the batch. So, please email me, at htwollin at yahoo dot com, your real name and mailing address!!

Linda C in AZ
and
Sandra

And, for the foot cream:
Jessica e - come on down!! and send me your full name and mailing address and I’ll send you the foot cream.

So exciting and thanks so much for participating!!
Aunt Toby.

The hands have it – AND, a giveaway

wintercreekIt’s winter where we live (which is, strangely enough, why we refer to the place as ‘Chez Siberia’). We got up as high as 24 this week. Woohoo!! Break out the suntan lotion and halter tops (or something like that).

Winter is tough on everyone, especially on exposed skin (I will not try to get statistics on the sales of lip balm at this time of the year, but I have the feeling that something like 75% of the pockets in North America have at least one tube of lip balm in them at this very moment). But exposure to cold and wind is not the only thing and exposed skin is not the only area of the body that suffers in the winter. (more…)

When choosing garden seeds, what information is most useful?

seedcatGood day, folks. I know you are veritably bristling with excitement over the upcoming gardening season, champing at the bit, so to speak. And, for the ‘old-timers’ out there, what I’m going to discuss today might seem old stuff, so you might as well go pour yourself a cup of tea, coffee or perhaps something stronger (hey, it’s been a really cold week here in the US – in Tampa, Florida, it was 36 degrees F at one point. The rest of us here in the northeast have had to sing praises when it hit positive numbers).

For the rest of you out there who are beginners or who have not been involved in vegetable gardening for very long, this, my little dear ones, is for YOU. (more…)

2014 – a year in review

Yoohoo, everybody!! Since today appears to be ‘International Gotta Review 2014 Day” for bloggers, I guess I have to woman up and work my way through the good, the bad and the did..not…work for 2014. Organization, I realize, is everything here, so we will go by topic sub-group so that for those readers who are only interested in one topic, just scroll down until you hit that. (more…)

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