Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rain and Rumbles

We woke up this morning to the welcome sound of rain. It soon stopped, but this afternoon I spent an enjoyable time weeding to the rumbling of the storm off to the south.

In From the Garden

As I came in this afternoon with cold hands from weeding I decided to make some popovers.  Candace brought popovers for Thanksgiving this year, and believe it or not, they were my first experience with proper popovers.  My one and only try to make them many years ago was a failure.  We so loved Candace's popovers I asked to borrow her pan to make some of our own.  Jerry thought them a bit too big so I hunted around and bought a Nordic Ware Petite Popover Pan (best price  I have tried several recipes and techniques and today's batch has me set on a basic approach. 
Pre-heat oven to 425
2 room temperature eggs, beaten
1 cup milk added to eggs
1 cup regular unbleached flour and pinch of salt beaten into the liquid.  This makes the batter go together easily. 
Melt 2 tablespoons butter, add half to the batter and use the other half to grease the cups.
Pour the batter to fill cups 1/2- 2/3 full, place pan in oven near the bottom and reset the temperature to 400.  Bake for about 30 minutes. Larger popovers need more time of course. The popovers recrisp nicely when just set on the oven rack as the oven heats.  A variation we enjoyed was with the addition of a half teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of orange rind.

Jerry is all set to enjoy his popovers with apricot jam and a cup of hot tea.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Thyme

Yesterday I bought a new thyme plant, since my variegated lemon thyme had gone all woody.  After some deliberation I decided to go with the standard English thyme, choosing flavor over scent. This morning I went out in the drip, drip, drip of the fog and pulled out the old plant to replace with the new.  Then happily I noticed that the old plant had put down new roots and a small new variegated lemon thyme was growing in the most propitious place, where the two plants can live together amidst the rocks next to my birdbath. Now I have both thymes, what a happy thought!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hurrying spring

I stopped by Lowes yesterday to pick up a new bareroot rose, and guess what!? They have veggies and herbs out.  Tomatoes!  Goodness, I have pushed a bit and planted tomatoes mid February knowing that it is not often we get freezes after that, but really our last frost date is March 15 and any summer veggies or herbs planted before then are risky, and probably will just sit and mope.  It is tempting though to pick up a tomato and keep it in the house for a month.  I wonder if that would work? 

Otherwise, my trusty local Master Gardener  Vegetable Planting Guide shows now is the time for the bare root veggies, asparagus and rhubarb. I saw potato starts, but probably better to wait a bit for those.  Baby winter veg plants can go in now, peas, chard, and broccoli, although I have yet to see a decent broccoli plant this year.  Otherwise, hang on a couple of weeks and then we can seed out quite a few veggies.  Here are my peas, blooming away.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy thought

My gardening friend Sherry told me this weekend that Swiss chard will reseed in the garden, and that once you have it, you always have it.  What a happy thought!  Having tasted chard for the first time a couple of years ago, I just had to try growing some. I love the red stems and purplish leaves.  This year I will leave the plants to set seed and see if indeed I am rewarded with a new crop.  Hopefully self-seeding will result in plants growing at the right time, so they are ready to eat throughout the winter. For looks and taste, this is one of my favorite vegetables.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The garden as a mirror

I can look out into the sunless garden and see it bitter, cold, and dismal.  Or I can walk out into the barrenness of winter and looking deeply into the cyclamen leaves find rosy buds reaching upward.  The brilliant rusty colors of the oakleaf hydrangea rise above the mucky path of moldy leaves and hang on in spite of the damp. The violets bloom, seemingly unaware there is no sun.  The red eyes of the peony prepare to shoot up once the sun shines again.  Looking out, the garden is dead and uninviting; getting into it reveals life, hanging on, bursting forth and waiting in preparation.  For so many times in life, the garden is a mirror, showing us the hand of God. 
Romans 5.3-5 "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter chores

Today I cut down the browned asparagus.  I saw that a few spears of the new year's crop are already up.  I also began the chore of pruning the roses.  Once those are done, or maybe intermittently, I will prune the fruit trees.  Jerry's arm is in worse shape than my shoulder this year, so it's all on me.  I enjoy pruning.  For sure it is more fun than pulling the annual grass weeds.  Most of the perennials have already been cut back, but there are a few still to take care of.  Just think, in a month the daffodils will be blooming and spring will have arrived. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Weeds are cold!  : )  But I uncovered my peony that was new last year and it has at least three buds showing.  Poor thing was engulfed in nigella seedlings.  So happy to see the peony ready to grow for another year.  I wasn't sure when it died back so early last fall.  Brrr!  I also planted sweet cicely, thalictrum, linaria, poppies, Bells of Ireland, and valerian.  More to follow. 

Winter seeds

Many perennial seeds, as well as some spring blooming annuals, either need or tolerate a process sometimes called winter sowing.  If you google wintersowing you will find much information.  Basically, some seeds need a period of cold, followed by mild temps for good germination.  Although seed pack directions may say place in refridgerator for 3-6 weeks, our goopy cold fog is an ideal alternative.  In cold snowy climes, where obviously most seeds germinate at spring thaw, winter sowing is quite effective.  January is the right time to sow, so today I will bundle up to stay warm, and venture out to plant seeds.  I know for sure one variety will be breadseed poppies as the hundreds of seeds I strew about have not come up at all.  Perhaps the tiny birds had a great feast, or perhaps, all the rain molded them dead.  Whatever, I am trying again...

Monday, January 3, 2011