Archive for the ‘erin’ Category

Apr18

Erin- Week 4

While I am still in the process of maintaining and protecting my plants, I can’t help but think of all the fun things I am going to be able to do with my radishes and herbs.  According to my garden chart I still have at least a couple weeks until my radishes may be ready.  More likely, it will be about a month until they are ready to harvest.  My herbs have even longer to grow.

I am not known for my patience, so gardening is good practice for me.  I don’t really have any choice but to wait and daydream of recipes with fresh, home-grown ingredients.

My friend suggested I use my radishes to make kimchi.  I found this recipe at goodbites.com which looks like a easy, tasty variation of kimchi using red radishes.

Radishes by Desi, via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Spring Kimchi With Red Radishes and Leeks
1 bunch red radishes, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 leek, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
4 green onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-inch piece peeled ginger, thinly sliced
1 Thai pepper or other hot pepper, finely diced
2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons sea salt

- Place all vegetables in large bowl.
- In small bowl, whisk water and salt together until dissolved. Pour over vegetables and mix with hands for 2 minutes.
- Place a plate on top of vegetables inside bowl. Place additional weight atop such as several plates or bowls.
- Cover with towel or plastic wrap and leave unrefrigerated for 4 hours.
- Transfer vegetables and brine to a clean mason jar and press down to release any air bubbles.
- Cover tightly and let sit at room temperature for one week, or until bubbles begin to form (this means it’s fermenting!), then place in refrigerator. Will keep for up to 3 weeks.

I was also considering sticking with clean and simple flavors, like a salad.  The key thing with any salad is the dressing.  I found a delicious sounding dressing on Epicurious.com

Basil Chive Dressing
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Pulse oil, basil, chives, vinegar, sugar, pepper, remaining tablespoon water, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender until herbs are finely chopped.

Makes me hungry just thinking about it!  Whatever you decide to do with your edibles, have fun and enjoy!

Apr11

Erin- Week 3

“I have made radishes!”  If you have ever seen the movie Castaway? You may recognize the reference to the scene were Tom Hanks makes his first fire on the island.  That is how I felt when I saw those first little green sprouts. I got so excited I think I actually squealed when I saw them.

Of course, like ants to a picnic, once the plants sprouted the garden pests followed shortly after.  I desperately hoped against hope that my plants and my apartment would somehow be different and be impervious to the normal infestation of plant eaters.  Alas, no such luck.  Shortly after my plants germinated, so did the bugs.  Teeny-tiny white bugs started attacking my plants, especially the basil.  They are so tiny my camera can’t even capture them, but that does not seem to stop them from walking all over my herbs.

I hadn’t purchased any pesticide when I spotted the first invader, so I looked up homemade pesticide recipes.  The internet is loaded with tips on how to make an effective pesticide.  I chose a standard soap pesticide because it was quick and easy and I wanted to fight back immediately.

See how the leaf is eaten away and there is a little brown edge? That is a sign that your pesticide is too strong or you are using too much of it

Recipe
Mix:

1 tsp soap
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 gallon of water- I used an old milk jug for this

Unfortunately, I think I may have been a little heavy-handed on my basil plants because within 24 hours one of my basil leaves was showing signs of pesticide burn.  It was a little brown around the edges and it even looked like the pesticide had eaten a bit of the leaf away.  The positive is that the bugs seemed to drop in numbers with the first round of pesticide, but I am being more cautious about how much to spray on my poor plants.

In addition to the issue of bugs is the issue of watering.  Plastic pots may not have been the way to go.  While clay pots are said to leech water out of the soil, my plastic pots are keeping the moisture firmly in the soil…longer than it should.  I have watered my plants once since I first planted the seeds.  Right now, there is not much I can do.  The plants are too fragile to transfer (which is a point for the starter pot/seedling camp) and the roots are not well established.  My plan is to wait a few more days and if the moisture has not decreased I will attempt to move my plants.  Worst case scenario, I may have to restart my plants.

Apr04

Erin- Week 2

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”

-  Henry David Thoreau

It has always amazed me that one seed is able to produce an entire plant, and I’m hoping (with some luck) that I will be able to generate similar results.

Since this is the fi rst time I have ever tried to grow anything, I decided to keep things simple.  I chose to start my gardening adventure with chives, basil, and parsley.  My logic was a) they supposedly grow well indoors and b) I think these would b e well used.  Thyme and rosemary were briefly considered, but quickly vetoed because how often does a recipe call for thyme or rosemary?

In terms of vegetables, I chose radishes because they have a short turnaround time, all my online sources say they grow well indoors, and I have a personal fondness for radishes. As a small child my grandmother would feed me radishes whenever I stayed at her house. It is only now that I realize that it probably was a bit unusual for a 5-year old to request radishes. As a side note, radishes are supposedly great for growing in a classroom environment-for any K-12 teachers out there- because they do show results so quickly.*

Next, I had to choose an appropriate medium for my seeds.  I decided to start my plants in the pot from the beginning, so as not to transfer them.  There are a lot of proponents of growing herbs in starter pots and transferring them once they have sprouted, but I decided to cut out the middleman because I was concerned about being able to transfer the herbs without damaging them. If I’m being perfectly honest, there was also a bit of laziness involved in that decision.  Time will tell if this was a wise decision.  I opted for a potting soil with sphagnum peat, compost, perlite, and plant food because it had some plant food, was lightweight and porous.**
Once I had all the necessary items, all that was left to do was plant the seeds.

I read somewhere that I should water and drain the soil before planting, so I gave that a try and then followed the directions on the seed packets for the spacing and depth at which each of my herbs/vegetables should be planted.***  My research kept leading me to information on the need for plants to have appropriate room to grow, so I was pretty cautious about spacing the seeds out.  Again, time will tell if this has a positive effect on my plants or if I was being paranoid.  I also put plastic wrap over my pots while they were seeds to help retain moisture.

Wrapped the pots up in plastic wrap to retain moisture until the seeds germinate

Planting the seeds after the water has drained through

Pre-watering the soil in the sink

And now we wait…

 

*If you want to grow something other than the plants I have chosen see-
for herbs: http://www.divinecaroline.com/22164/85422-nine-easiest-herbs-grow-indoors or http://www.savvygardener.com/Features/herbs.html
for vegetables: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-336/426-336.html

**Read the Potting Soil section of http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-336/426-336.html for more information on factors to consider.

****Tip- your parsley may germinate faster if you soak them in warm water for an hour or so before planting.

Mar28

Erin- Week 1

After years of consideration, declarations of intention, and general procrastination, I have decided it is finally time to test out my green thumb. I’ve spent years watching my mother and my grandfather grow vegetables, and I’m hoping some of their knowledge has rubbed off on me or there is an undiscovered gene that makes someone a successful gardener.The only catch to my master plan is that I live in a 750 Sq. ft. one bedroom apartment with no patio and no consistent access to a yard. But I figure, people grow flowers and herbs indoors all the time, so why can’t I?

My only option for a garden “plot” that offers both sufficient space and lighting is a small corner by the window that gets west-facing sunlight.  It’s not quite as well-lit as I would like, but I don’t think my apartment management company would appreciate me knocking holes in the wall to get a southern exposure.

Figuring out where to put my plants was easy because of my limited options, but I had to do some research online to figure out if there was an ideal vessel for my plants.  Given the space I am working in, a container garden is my only real option unless I want to be more high-tech and try hydroponics- which I don’t.  That leaves me with barrels, flower pots, cut-off milk and bleach jugs, recycled Styrofoam coolers, window boxes and baskets.  It turns out that it doesn’t really matter what container you use.  Any container will do as long as it follows these 3 rules:
*See http://www.ehow.com/how_7865079_choose-containers-garden.html or http://www.kiddiegardens.com/gardening_containers.html for more information.

  1. Be big enough to support plants when they are fully grown
  2. Have adequate drainage
  3. Never have held products that would be toxic to plants or people.*

I decided, for simplicities sake, to purchase a few plastic gardening pots from the hardware store to ensure that they had holes in the bottom for drainage and that I knew their capacity.  I would have preferred clay pots, but the plastic ones seemed to meet the criteria, and they were less expensive at $2- $6 each (depending on the size) versus .

Now that I have chosen my “plot”, I am ready to plant my herbs and vegetables next week!

 

adventures in urban gardening