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Archive for February, 2011

Hey, pumpkins!

And speaking of, isn’t that just the most DEE-lightful little sky blue pumpkin up there?  It’s so dee-lightful I think it’s more “bloo” then “blue,” wouldn’t you agree?  What’s that?  You don’t know what Bad Mama Genny’s talking about?  You’d like her to just type in common English?  Okay.

Well back to the pumpkin.  I’m growing that this year!  Mind you, it’s not my pumpkin, or even my photo.  It belongs to somebody I don’t even know named Megan.  Megan and I “met” on a seed exchange web site.  She had the heirloom tomato seeds I wanted, Orange Russian 117, a beautiful oxheart variety that Amy Goldman, author of The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table: Recipes, Portraits, and History of the World’s Most Beautiful Fruit, can’t say enough good things about.  Megan wanted my Peach Blow Sutton Tomato seeds (you’ve gotta see this to believe it) and my Chef’s Blend of Purple, White, and Green Heirloom Cauliflowers.  So I set about perusing her list for another seed I might like.  Well, I looked no further than “Mystery Blue Pumpkin”.  Um, it mysteriously volunteered itself in a farmer’s compost pile?  And it looks like the sky on a cloudy day?!  So it’s probably hardy and definitely gorgeous?  Um, YES.  Pumpkins, you just know I had to have it.  So Megan sent over some pics and I was even more in love.  Check this out:

In case you’re wondering but too embarrassed to ask (really?  By now you should know that we have no shame around here), it is orange on the inside, and should work beautifully for pies.

In case any of you want in on the seed exchange action, I’ve been using gardenweb.com‘s exchange forum for this.  But keep in mind, you really need to take a c’est la vie approach.  Out of my first 5 trades, 3 people overdelivered magnificently–and 2 others didn’t deliver at all.  You’re not paying for your seeds–you’re trading for them.  There are no options for mediation or compensation if you send your seeds and the people you’re trading with don’t.  I say all this not to scare you off, but rather, to give you realistic expectations.  So only offer seeds you can spare for trade, and try to let it go when something doesn’t quite pan out.  If there’s a seed you really need fast–pay for it, from a reputable site (I get just about all my seeds from Pinetree Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds).

And if you can be positive and just focus on the people who threw in extra seeds for free, or packaged them up all pretty, or sent them the day you requested them, go for it.  If it’s going to wig you out to give your address to a stranger who may never send you seeds…don’t.  ‘Kay?  But that being said, I’d love to know what seed exchanges or exchanging tips you’ve picked up along the way.  Help your Bad Mama Pumpkin out.

Now contrary to the impression I may have given you up to this point, pumpkins aren’t the ONLY thing I’m growing this year.  I think I’ve finally arrived at the FINAL effing tally (haha, HO HO, hee hee) for this year’s garden.  I know.  I know.  I’m bad.  I’ll have adopted another ten crops by Monday.  But let’s pretend I’m not insane for a moment, shall we?

In the cabbage patch (OHMYGOD I finally have a cabbage patch I think I just wet myself with glee), we’ll have:

Golden Acre Cabbage

Bok Choy

and Snow Crown Cauliflower.

When the weather turns warm and I’m able to pull those up, they’ll be replaced with:

Pretty Bloo Pumpkins

Cinderella Pumpkins

Straightneck Yellow Squash

and Sugar Baby Watermelons, all trained up a nylon trellis.

In the tomato patch, we’ll have:

Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifters (I wish I’d known Radiator Charlie.  He seemed like a cool guy.  His wife said that four of these tomatoes would make 3 quarts, canned.  Whoah.)

Orange Russian 117’s

and Goldman’s Italian American Tomatoes (for the love of all things tomato-ey, you must click that link).

In the slightly risky front-yard, we’ll have:

Peach Blow Sutton Tomatoes (thin-skinned, soft and peachy, full of juice, great for eating out of hand)

Kellogg’s Breakfast Tomatoes (The color on this tomato is fucking whimsical.)

Basil

Sage

Thyme

Oregano

Dill

Fennel

and Rosemary

In containers on the back concrete, we’ll have:

Raven Zucchini (Small and early, just as productive as the big boys)

Bush Delicata Squash (Bred especially for containers)

Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomatoes (Deliciously wild-looking, ruby-studded bushes)

Blondkopfchen Tomatoes (They look like little pots of gold.)

Green Tomatillos (We ate enough salsa verde last year to kill a…salsa verde eating horse.)

Any extra tomato starts

Early Thickset Peppers (Reliable producers, even in tight spaces)

Sweet California Wonder Peppers (New to me)

Fairy Tale Eggplants (These were wonderful and problem-free in last year’s garden)

Little Prince Eggplants (Never tried this before)

Miss Pickler Cucumbers (So reliable and productive, all female flowers)

Lemon Cucumbers (Maaaahvelous)

Sikkim Cucumbers (Ugly in a good way!)

Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumbers (they look like little watermelons!)

Green Ice Lettuce (not bitter, bolt-resistant, but extremely bird-friendly, so be ready with the nets)

Red Sails Lettuce (ditto)

Adirondack Blue Potatoes (I heart blue potatoes.  Put them into a mayo-free potato salad with olive oil, lemon juice, olive tapenade, and tons of freshly shredded parsley.  <Choir of angels singing>.  OR boil ’em with a little vinegar so they don’t lose their color.  There aren’t enough blue foods in the world.  Do your part by growing these)

Yukon Gold Potatoes (Ah, the potato that tastes already-buttered and mashed.  I can never go back.)

Red Wethersfield Onions

Cascade Hops

Willamette Hops

My Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree

My Dwarf Cara Cara Orange Tree

In a 3 inch strip of dirt along the back fence (yes, we are using everything around here):

Sugar Sprint Snap Peas

Mr. Big Shelling Peas

Knight Shelling Peas

And when those get pulled up, these will be put in their place:

Blue Lake Bush Beans

French Maxibel Bush Beans

Oy, now that it’s all written out like that it looks…daunting, right?  But thankfully, the planting goes in shifts.  And I work from home.  Because if last year is any indication, I am going to need every. ounce. of energy.  to handle this.

So what are all y’alls growing this year, misfits?  Anyone have any new garden toys they’re excited about?  For the first time ever, I got myself a real deal grow light set–two 24 inch bulbs in a reflector hood–for starting stronger babies.

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We’re collecting mushrooms.  Check out that impressive oyster mushroom.

And this gorgeous, huge shiitake.  Looks sorta like a rock, doesn’t it?  But cuter.  So more like a pet rock.  Which would mean…yes.  I’ve now officially eaten a pet.  Honestly, though, you saw that coming.

Trying to make pizza pot pies a la Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders, a fab little cash-only pizza place right here in Chi-town.

Don’t worry, we baked them!  (If you’re considering trying this yourselves, I highly recommend greasing the rims of the bowls.  Then it’ll be all the more dramatic when you flip it upside down onto a plate and tuck in with a fork and steak knife.  (Dramatic as opposed to pathetic, i.e. scratching and chipping and scraping off little shards of crust, not that that happened.)

Receiving fabuloso CSA shipments, as always.  And desperately hoping that tomorrow’s delivery will still go through, despite the avalanche that buried Chicago this week.  What you see in the picture, clockwise from bottom left, is a humongo  purple turnip (got cubed up and roasted under a chicken), cremini mushrooms (got thrown into the pizza pot pies), carrots (chopped into chicken soup made from the leftover chicken carcass and meat), apples (eaten as is), yellow onions (soup, etc.), potatoes (chicken soup), chard (Italian sausage, chard, and white bean soup–we’re eating a lotta soup, kay JUST GET OFF MY BACK), bananas (Gen’s breakfasts), mandarin oranges (eaten fresh and juiced, with some leftover to make a citrus poppyseed loaf), frozen peas (tuna salad and, drumroll, soup).

Eating more wonderful The Boy breakfasts.  That’s a buttered English muffin, a sliced up blood orange, and a fried egg over some potato and onion hash.  Life.  Is.  Good.

And a bunch of other things not documented in photo form (thankfully, as our current abode lacks the luscious natural light our last place had).  Like frenzied seed swapping via online exchanges, shoveling (not as frenzied…that sounds dangerous), ordering next week’s CSA/groceries whilst in a frenzy, listening to The Boy’s Homebrewed Altibier bubbling away (in a frenzied manner), pondering our collapsed closet (ruh roh), and trying to get The Boy to stay home like all the other snowbound peeps in this city.  Frenziedly.  As you know if you follow me on Twitter, that attempt was met with limited success.

Tonight we’ll be eating hot corned beef sandwiches with the mustard-y green tomato chow chow I put up at summer’s end.  Except mine will be more like a chow chow sandwich with hot corned beef.  Mmm…chow chow.

What’s goin’ on ’round your homestead?  What are you eating that you put up last summer?  What do you wish you’d canned/frozen more of, and what are you forcing down your throat with the aid of a canning funnel while swearing to never make again?

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