Monthly Archives: March 2015

Peppers are Popping

2 weeks after planting my patience pays off:
DSC_0012eggplants are up,
DSC_0017peppers are popping,
DSC_0019and the plastic is removed from the growing tomato plants.

I will continue to monitor plant trays daily to rotate as they reach for the light, water with a gentle mist when the soil begins to dry and remove the plastic once the plants reach and begin to bend against it.

Friday Night Toss Up

A nourishing, tasty and simple one bowl meal after a long week.
DSC_00101/2 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes; chopped into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup Spanish olives; sliced
1/4 onion; minced
1 sweet Italian (yellow) pepper; finely chopped
1 can black beans (normally I soak and cook dry beans but I did not plan ahead so took a shortcut)
1 1/2-2 cups romaine lettuce; sliced
2 Tablespoons fresh pressed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch-1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a small bowl soak rice in enough water to go 1 inch above the rice.

Meanwhile, chop sun dried tomatoes (make your own from summer tomatoes) into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and place in a small bowl. Boil 1 cup water, pour over tomatoes and cover with a lid/plate.

While the tomatoes rehydrate and the rice soaks prepare the remaining ingredients and place into a large bowl; slice the spanish olives into disks, mince the onion, finely chop the pepper, drain and rinse the black beans, thinly slice the romaine lettuce, add the dressing ingredients (lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper) and toss together.

Drain and rinse the rice and place into a small pot. Drain the sun dried tomatoes directly into the pot with the rice. Add the sundries tomatoes to the large bowl with the other vegetables and toss together. Bring the rice with sun dried tomato water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till all the water is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Add the cooked rice to the bowl with marinated vegetables, toss together and enjoy.

Day 9 After Planting Vegetable Seeds Indoors

DSC_0003The tomatoes and basil are popping up and reaching for the windows, their only source of light. In an effort to encourage them grow straight the trays need to be rotated daily. Each day when I check for new sprouts and the moisture of the soil I also rotate the trays 180 degrees. At this point (9 days after planting the seeds) most of the tomatoes are up and going, as are the basil, there is one eggplant that is just barely pushing at the earth and no sign of life in the pepper pots. The fact that the eggplant have begun is a good sign, they take longer to germinate than the tomatoes but not as long as the peppers. I anticipate the peppers to begin sprouting this weekend (2 weeks after planting). Until then- monitor daily, spray with water as needed and rotate the trays with sprouts.

Tomato and Basil Babies

The first of the tomato and basil sprouts have sprung with the first day of spring (along with 4 inches of snow and it’s still flurrying). With a mist of water and plastic to recover the rest will start to pop during week 2. There is no sign of life in the pepper pots but that is to be expected. In another week I should have the first pepper sprout. So for now, I will keep monitoring the trays daily and misting with water as needed.
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Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Just when it seems spring will never get here, on a cold and rainy Saturday in March, I started my indoor plantings for this summer’s vegetable garden. Many vegetables benefit from going into the ground as plants rather than directly sowing seeds into the earth. I annually plant peppers, tomatoes, tomatillo, eggplant and basil indoors giving them the longer growing season they need. To do this yourself you will need a solid chunk of time. It took me 4 hours from set up to clean up (it may not take you as long, I plant many trays).
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I lay down a tarp (an old sheet or towels will work just as well) in a generous area to be able to spread everything out. Setting up a space to work and establishing a system makes the process very efficient. I recommend getting the seed packets out and considering how many of each type of plant you will want in May to put into the ground. I always increase my amounts to be sure to have back ups for a variety of things that can go wrong along the way.
DSC_0080Write the name of the vegetable variety on the end of a popsicle stick with a fine tip permanent marker. Be specific, don’t simply write tomato if you are planting several varieties. For example, I will be planting Italian Roma, Sweetie Cherry, Brandywine Red and Yellow.
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You can purchase small plastic pots (inexpensive and reusable), use peat pots (cheap and must be purchased every year) or make your own from small yogurt cups (free and reusable). If using yogurt cups drainage holes will need to be pierced into the bottom of each cup. I put the cup on a piece of scrap wood, hold a nail and hammer it to pierce the plastic in 3-4 different places.

Fill each planting cup with potting soil (I recommend organic) to just below the rim. Most potting soil is moist in freshly opened bags. If it isn’t, or you are using a bag previously opened water the soil to moisten. If a lot of water drains out into the catch tray, pour it out.
DSC_0085Place the filled cups in a planting tray to catch draining water, make it easier to cover with plastic for the germination period and allow for easy transport of plants outdoors on warm sunny days and back in for the cooler nights. The planting trays I purchased years ago have started to develop holes (defeating their original purpose) but I use them to make carrying easier, I simply line them with large plastic salad bins. Another alternative is to put cups with holes inside a cup without a hole for individual catch trays.

DSC_0083Slide a labeled popsicle stick into the side of each cup.
DSC_0082Put 2-4 like kind seeds in each cup spreading them out evenly. Sprinkle a layer of soil on top of the seeds and gently press the layer of soil down. I usually just push the seeds down 1/8-1/4 inches below the surface with a finger and then gently compress the soil surface down.
DSC_0086Mist with water to soak.
DSC_0087Cover with plastic wrap and monitor daily. If the soil begins to dry out mist with water and recover otherwise leave the plastic intact. I recommend leaving the plastic on until the sprouts touch the plastic then remove the plastic and watch the soil carefully and mist to water as needed.

BE PATIENT, you won’t see the first sprouts for about a week. Peppers can take up to 2 weeks (especially in a space where the temperature is cool) so don’t give up.

STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT STEPS  in an upcoming post.