Thursday, November 25, 2010

Joournal-Blog (Family, Cooking from Scratch, Gardening)


Hi All, I sure have missed writing, but I'm back. I will be tweaking the layout here so it is more reader friendly, and more importantly... focusing on JUST THREE TOPICS which are important to me and I believe go together nicely. These topics encompass many aspects of our lives.
  1. Cooking From Scratch  (inclusive of all foods we prepare) with RECIPES
  2. Old- Fashioned Family Life... in the Ever Evolving 21st Century
  3. Kitchen Gardening
I'd like this web-blog to be for everyone and anyone who wishes to read it. It's mostly my compilation of thoughts on today's family life; recipes already tested and tweaked for you  with photos and perhaps quotes (I'm a big fan)
 Though I also I hope it will someday be a written and visual journey of family life and authentic cook-book for my children to pass onto their own.
However,  I am writing it to 'all readers'. It is my hope you may find it enticing enough to follow along. Together we will journey thru this incredible life... always giving thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us, looking for the good in the world, the good in people, and our everyday living.
I was a journalism , then communications major in college; so you wouldn't think I would have stopped reading newspapers years ago! I follow along via internet on important stories but I try to block out the negative and sensationalized stories. The stories 'so-called' newspeople write 'to sell papers'... no matter how negative and disturbing the story might be.  I plan for this web journal t be a complete contradiction to the newspapers of today. If you considered life to be what you see on the news; it would be a depressing sight indeed. However, the truth is this world we live in is the complete opposite, if you take each day and look at it in a positive light. You must look around and find the good; it is there... every day, everywhere. You just have to slow down a bit, open your eyes and heart; and then, only then, will you clearly see the world the way we are supposed to. A world that is filled with goodness, kindness & love. The world the way it is supposed be viewed. 
My children may never be interested in ready this, I know but I write with pleasure hoping to inspire someone, some where. Whether it be stories of kindness; helping others in small ways (it does make a difference); or cooking from scratch; baking breads, gardening (then sharing). This not only gives you joy but you are passing on this goodness to so many others as well. Anything to make the world a friendlier place.
                                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All  that being said, you might as well ignore posts prior to today Many, though not all, pertain to my Vintage Collectibles shop. I closed Footbridge Cove last March, after six wonderful years, but now is the time in my life to focus on other priorities. I won't delete those posts though, in case someone is interested in something that was written before the renewing of this journal-blog.
Wishing you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving filled with love.
Warmly
~ garden chef   (Cathy)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Testimonial to my beloved mom, my inspiration

Originally printed in March 2009 in our recently closed 'SHOP BLOG', Since this was a personal note, update, at the time I thought I would post it here on our now one and only blog.

Hello friends. It has been a long while since I have written...seems longer than the actual days that have passed.
Happy New Year to you all! I hope you were fortunate enough to spend the holidays with loved ones. We had a pleasant holiday season, always have to keep it festive for the kids sake, but it was a difficult one as well.
The day after I last wrote my beloved mother took ill. She had a stroke...her 2nd in 9 years... and this one involved too many issues for any one person to recover from. I thought I'd take today to share my personal thoughts about my mom, her life, and death. Some of the simple, but plain truths she taught me, by example. I'm so fortunate, to carry within me, these beliefs as I journey through this world and share with my own children as they grow into adulthood. Simple, but plain truths I learned because of her.
She and my dad married in 1961. What a typical traditional couple they were. My mom took her role as housewife very seriously and my dad worked every day to pay the mortgage. My best friend always thought of my mom as Mrs Cleaver from 'Leave it to Beaver'! I don't remember her vacuuming with her choker length pearls on but she was always dressed smartly in a skirt and blouse.... and our house was spotless. That's right it would easily pass the white glove test any day of the week.  My dad came home each night to a nutritionally balanced, home cooked meal and we all ate together. Every night, everyone ate together. Take out food was a treat, maybe once a month if that. After dinner, my dad would ask my mom is she wanted help with the dishes, she'd always say no and he'd loosen his tie and go read the paper in the living room. My mom would do the dishes - no dishwasher, no garbage disposal, life was so different than it is now.
CONTINUED

I started this entry in January and got swept away, but here I am again. There is too much to write about about my parents & their wonderful lives together in this sitting. I will save that for my FOOTBRIDGE COVE TIDBITS blog on blogger.footbridgecovetidbits
At Footbridge Cove our shop is surviving the recession...are we still calling it that? However, each day I find myself looking toward the future with a renewed enthusiasm, even as things are in flux with the economic times. Each day there is something positive to find. Look inside yourself, always have faith, funny that is probably the most important legacy my mom left behind... and she, nor I, until now never even realized it. ALWAYS HAVE FAITH.
I love you mom, not an evening goes by that I don't talk to you before I close my eyes for the day
The King and I Jan 08 220                                                        
                                                             ~~~~~~~~~~~~
So folks stop by FOOTBRIDGE COVE when you get a chance. We have plenty of inventory to list so we we won't be going anywhere... and yes we'd like to sell what is currently listed, so feel free to make us an offer. We are pleased to consider it.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Basil in Bins, Green Beans in Garden

After having major BASIL issues this Spring with an unknown bug... I dug up all basil plants up today and discarded them : (.

I then re-tilled the soil (picked out several Japanese beetle types insects) and planted BLUE LAKE Green Beans.

I won't forgo the basil though, I will plant in a large recycle bin with new potting soil and healthy nursery purchased plants to ensure a better crop for my 'year round homemade pesto'.

Having never tried succession planting of beans before, I copied this info to help me remember. My goal....Green Beans from the garden at Thanksgiving dinner!

Info re: this particular bean:
"An old time favorite with exceptional Blue Lake flavor, it is noted for retaining its excellent flavor and texture when frozen. This snap bean (or green bean) grown on short bushy plants is eaten pod and all and is one of those vegetables like tomatoes that tastes significantly better when grown at home rather than bought at the grocery store. Blue Lake 274 produces a very large crop of round 6” pods all at once. An excellent variety for containers. This packet plants: One 10-foot row. For all areas, bush beans can be planted in succession to produce beans all season.

***Seed a new crop every 7 to 14 days up to 60 days before first fall frost. (For Boston that would be until approx. August 15th) Beans need good air circulation, thus the recommended distance between rows of 3’-4’. Seeds that do not come up can be immediately replaced."

Will keep you posted.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Cucumbers | DoItYourself.com

I was wondering why my cukes weren't getting as big near trellis as ones planted separately. Answer here...overcrowding. Hope I can salvage them before diseases have struck.

Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Cucumbers DoItYourself.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Freeze Herbs - Fine Gardening Video

Tried and true tips for freezing fresh basil from your garden for months of culinary enjoyment to come!

How to Freeze Herbs - Fine Gardening Video

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rooting Lavender Sprigs

Today my thoughts and sense of smell is all about lavender! I stopped by the nursery this morning as they were unloading tray after tray of hardened off lavender plants!!! I was drawn to them and their exquisite fragrance. Needless to say I spent far too long selecting my six large plants to fill my wheelbarrow.  I got two kinds, munstead which I need to research it seems to have smaller leaves and lower growth (12"-18")... and another that is larger when mature 18"-36". I'll put that in the center of the barrow.  Then I decided to try and root some lavender from cuttings of the plants I selected. I followed directions found on several sites (I've included the most common below and this is what I followed.) We shall see what happens... I filled small peat pots with soiless mix and planted 50 sprigs after dipping in water and rooting powder .

IMPORTANT...rooting powder is poisonous, do not use near children. I wore gloves and be very careful about inhaling any. I did this planting outside.

I'm a little confused as to what I should do next, for now they are under plastic cover in my living room with a heat lamp warming them and not adding a lot of light. I'm always open for your suggestions or comments. I will look into that more tomorrow. I'll post the photos I took as well and post again in a month.  It may work, may not...regardless I enjoyed the process. It proved to be very meditative. Oh and if they do grow, I have no idea what I'll do with them because one wheelbarrow wouldn't be enough room, pot and give as gifts I guess. : )

Planting Lavender
You can plant lavender in spring or fall in well-drained, slightly alkaline, sandy soil. Planting on mounds or in raised beds can help to promote good drainage if your soil isn't ideal. Select a sunny location, allow enough space for growth and good air circulation and plant with other plants that have similar water requirements. Add about one-half cup each of bone meal and chicken manure into the soil, mix well; place the plants in the holes; give them some water and watch your lavender plant grow. Water plants regularly the first year to ensure that they root well in their new surroundings and then they will be hardy and drought tolerant and need little or no water. Generally, Mother Nature can take care of the watering. Be careful not to over water since they don't like "wet feet." Depending on the variety and mature size of the lavender plants you choose, the plants should be planted 2-4 feet apart. In general, the use of fertilizers in not necessary and may cause excessive leaf growth and minimal blooms. I do, however, dig-in a small amount of bone meal (1/2 cup each) around my plants each spring. Flower stalks should be cut off the first year to encourage plant development rather than flower production.

Harvesting Your Flowers

Depending on the variety, lavender blooms are usually at their peak from late June through August. Harvest the flower stems on a dry day, in the late morning hours after any dew has evaporated. Fresh bouquets should be cut when about one-third to one-half of the flowers have opened. If you will be drying your lavender for bundles or buds for sachets, pick them when the flowers are about one-half open.

If you will be drying your cut lavender in bundles, each bunch should contain about one hundred stems. Wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bunches and hang upside down to dry, in a well-ventilated, dry area, out of direct sunlight. When they are completely dry, about two to three weeks, you can either strip the buds from the stems for easier storage, or store them on the stems.

Pruning Your Lavender

Plants should be pruned in early spring or early fall to one-half to two-thirds of their size, leaving about 2-3 inches of green stems. Never cut into the woody part of the plant. The plants respond well to this pruning and it will help them maintain their attractive mounded shape. As summer progresses to fall, it's a good idea to remove all remaining bloom stalks and shape any straggly areas.


Propagation


It's wise to purchase lavender plants rather than starting them from seed. Plants started from seed usually have a poor survival rate and the process is very slow. Lavender does root well from cuttings taken from mature plants in early spring. Take two to four inch cuttings, remove the bottom leaves, dip the end into water, shake off excess and dip into rooting hormone. Place carefully into pre-moistened potting soil. Water regularly, keep warm (heated from the bottom if possible) and wait about six weeks for the cutting to root.

Another method of propagation is called layering. Bend the lower stems of a mature plant and mound soil over them, leaving only the tip visible. It takes about six months for rooting to take place. You may then cut the rooted plant from the mother plant and transplant in a sunny, well-draining location.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Antique & Vintage Jewelry: FOOTBRIDGE COVE on fb

Many additional Antique & Vintage Jewelry photos added to our FAN PAGE on facebook today. Please check them out. If you're interested in a piece not yet listed in our shop, just contact us directly. 
Please fan us: FOOTBRIDGE COVE on facebook

Photos thru link below or directly on our fan page
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=148280&id=327932694887&l=347d9e8915

Please friend us while there as well, CATHY COLLINS

PHOTOS of our Vintage Vanity Compacts

Please FAN our FAN PAGE on FACEBOOK: FOOTBRIDGE COVE
and friend us as well while there; Cathy Collins

Updated photos of our collection of unique vanity pieces

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=156538&id=327932694887&l=2b059f0efb

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sown seeds to tiny transplants...

To see additional photos, plus read text on photos, please see out facebook album Gardening 2010
(Cathy Collins on facebook)
 Friend us while there.


After a wonderful day of transplanting...


Now let's go back to the beginning... from sowed seed (3/8/10) to leggy seedlings (3/28/10). These sweet lil' tranplants need TLC due to our flood, cold basement & too long before transplant. We'll shower them with love & watch most of them grow. Sowing more seeds today. (Lost most all of the lettuce!)


First sowing Mar 8, 2010 with great enthusiasm and care. Then came the Northeast flood (see our facebook photos album 'Milton Underwater') and now... believe it or not we are expecting another heavy rain storm to flood for the next two days! These seedlings should have been cared for more closely: with watering, grow lights, and basement temperature. I finally moved them upstairs and transplanted yesterday (Mar 28, 2010) about a week later than I should have. This resulted in leggier seedlings than I wanted. I buried stems deeply. Lost a full tray of lettuce but surprisingly saved approx 150 plants. Now if even half of them make it I'll be thrilled! I have a small plot at home ~ approx 100 sq ft!  Though I hope to take part in our community VICTORY GARDEN assuming a spot opens for me (lottery). I should know within two weeks. So...I may be giving lots and lots of plants away if I don't get a Victory Garden slot, but no complaints. The joy from grardening, far outweighs the frustrations. And giving plants as gifts pleases me so.







Sowing more seeds today. Have moved my indoor greenhouse from basement (too cold) to living room (haha). Follow along on our blog as we journey thru this wonderful gardening season!

Sneak peek of my plan (hope)...
my apprentice, as shown in photo, suggested we paint our dilapitated metal wheelbarrow hot pink and use as a planter!  I thought why not!!!! Will do so, it will be whimsical and hopefully the entire barrow will be filled with overflowing basil plants. Pkus I can follow the sun around when needed!  I will harvest thruout the entire summer, making pesto as I go. An entire years worth of pesto to be frozen for when needed ... delectable! Follow along on our journey, this is just the beginning.

Trying to post an album of seedlings to date may have to post individually if I can't figure it out. Album is currently posted on my facebook profile CATHY COLLINS. Please friend me on fb as well.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grow Potatoes in a Trash Barrel

I've copied this long post from vegetable gardener on fb I didn't want to forgot info posted by the fine gardeners.

GROWING POTATOES IN A TRASH BARREL

Jennifer needs some assistance, "I live in the Pac NW and I am attempting to grow potatoes in a trash can. Has anyone tried this already? What worked best for you? I'm worried that with all the rain it might be too wet for this. Any advice would be great!"Thu at 1:57pm · Comment ·UnlikeLike · View Feedback (15)Hide Feedback (15)You and 2 others like this.


Karen Littrell Long as you have plenty of drainage in the bottom of the can, you should be ok. Put about 6" of organic soil in the bottom and set your seed potato on it. Add just enough soil to cover and water well. When you see it sprouting, keep adding soil, layer by layer as it grows till maybe a few inches below the top. All along that stem you will have some... See More big, healthy tubers growing. To harvest, what I do is just lay a tarp down next to the trash can and dump it all on it then sort thru for the spuds. :-)

Thu at 2:03pm · ReportThomas P Carnes what are you doing to ensure good drainage? Seed potatoes simply rot if they stay wet for any period of time.

Thu at 2:03pm · ReportCathy Collins Please keep us posted, I"d like to do the same..in Boston, supposed to be unusually cold tonite 20 degrees...otherwise looking like spring. ♥ Crocuses are up. ♥



Please friend me on fb, thanks

Thu at 2:05pm · Melaney Dolack Roth Roll it into your garage for a while...haha

Thu at 2:06pm · ReportJada Nicks Edwards And don't try to grow them on the curb...Trashman might just harvest early! :)

Thu at 2:13pm · ReportMary Simpson Dailey Have done this for years, lots of trial and error. Do make sure you have plenty of drainage holes in bottom and a row or so on sides of can (down low). I do the add dirt/peat moss mix, as soon as I see some growth. But when you see green, stop adding more layers. Watch over fertilizing or you will wind up with lots of great foliage and few ... See Morepotatos. Also while it needs sun, full sun heats up a dark can quickly. I finally have a spot where it gets morning till a little afternoon sun and shade then on. It has been the most successful spot so far. Good luck, its fun. Makes harvest easy.

Thu at 3:26pm · ReportVegetable Gardening @Jada: So that's what happened to my missing potatoes :-)

Thu at 3:58pm · ReportTheresa Tyree LOTS of drainage holes so they wont get wet. I've done it in stacked tires also but the water in the tires can get stagnant.

Thu at 4:43pm · ReportJohnson Utility I grew potatoes in old stacked tires. It worked great!

Thu at 8:18pm · ReportVonetta Hubbard If you go to the Do It Yourself website it tells/shows you how to do it step by step in a trash bag

Thu at 8:28pm · ReportMichael Williams I've read that only late season potatoes work this way, early varieties only grow about 6" deep, assuming you are trying to mound up your potatoes. Another way to do this is 4 2x2 posts and attach 1x6 boards on the sides, as the plant grows taller you attach more boards and fill in with dirt. At the end of the season you simple unscrew one side and watch the potatoes fall. This way works a bit better in that your plant will get better sunlight.

Thu at 8:40pm · ReportJennifer Davila Beckwith Thanks, everyone! Great suggestions!

Thu at 11:44pm · Report

Video: Victory Garden (1942 edition) - Vegetable Gardener

Video: Victory Garden (1942 edition) - Vegetable Gardener

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, March 12, 2010

Germination Success, Time for Grow Lights

Planted a tray of mixed lettuce seeds...in lines (for the first time) we'll see if they transplant well. All began to sprout (germinate) yesterday and I removed plastic cover...it had only been 4 days.




Here is a photo of lettuce tray 8 hours after being under grow-lights (my light set up is not yet complete and these haven't been edited):





My other tray of mixed veggies....tomatoes, peppers, basil, etc has begun to sprout today and I just uncovered. The final tray (by tray I mean 72 seed pods or cells) is still working...one sprout but not enough to remove plastic. That has the green beans, melons, corn). Yes I'm being ambitious for my tiny garden but I applied for a plot in our Victory Garden in town...a community garden and I'm hoping to be granted one. If not, well then, I'll be giving LOTS of plants away : ) All is good either way.

I believe my next tray will germinate by Sunday (today is fri)...I will hook up all grow lights tomorrow morning, for now the trays are just sitting uncovered with minimal grow lights.
I'll sow more seeds in another week for succession platning

Oh and did I tell you about the red LOLLO ROSSA lettuce I found when I tilled the soil last week? It was so exciting! The soil is fluffy now and there are small red lettuce leaves just under the surface; they must have germinated on a warm day?

Happy gardening until next time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sowing Seeds, Seed Germination

I am copying another's blog (http://www.seedlibrary.org/) b/c I can't find a share button. This is some awesome info I want to remember, and thought you might like it too.

"March 3, 2010
Seed-Starting 101 : Part 3 of 6 : Sowing Practices
seed starting 101 — doug 


Ah, Wednesday again. Time for another lesson, folks. (I used to teach high-school English, so I am getting a kick out of the chance to be all pedagogical again.)

SOWING PRACTICES
Once your schedule and protected space are set up, it’s time to actually do the deed: stick seeds in dirt, get ‘em wet, and watch ‘em grow. It’s surprisingly easy to succumb to anxiety when the moment arrives: am I burying the seed deeply enough? Too deeply? Is the soil wet enough? Too wet? Did I plant too many tomatoes? Too few?


Step One: RELAX. Take some deep breaths. Until about 100 years ago, nearly every person on the planet came to this moment many times each year. Things often went wrong: for them as they surely will for you. And yet, your presence on the earth today is proof that even when things were done imperfectly they still often worked out. So, approach the task of seed sowing with openness and a sense of adventure: no matter what happens, you’re about to learn a lot about plants, about the natural world, and about your own attitude (I know: not exactly how you wanted to spend your free time, this last.)


Making soil blocks
Step Two: CHOOSE A METHOD AND STICK WITH IT FOR A WHILE. There are countless media and containers–and labels and watering cans and gardening gloves–to consider for sowing time. You can start with a sterile soilless mix made almost entirely of peat moss and vermiculite, or one full of compost and rich microbial activity (I prefer the latter). You can start with plastic trays and cells; with tiny cow-manure compost pots; with leftover mini yogurt containers (with drainage holes punched in the bottom–don’t forget!); or with no containers at all when using soil blocks (each has its pros and cons, but we use soil blocks ourselves for most seed-starting). You can place seeds into soil with a tiny little plastic seed dispenser thingy (it looks like a giant comma with a clear lid), an electric vibrating seed dropper (yikes!), a moistened end of a toothpick, or your pinched fingers (I prefer toothpicks and fingers). The options are seemingly endless.

I suggest, however, that you pick one method and stick with it for a season or two until you’ve mastered it, figured out what you like and dislike about it, and are able to make a conscious decision to try out a different approach. In nearly all cases, problems at the seedling stage are less related to containers, soil media, or sowing method than they are to the conditions in which you are growing the plants (see last week’s post for details on this).


If it’s your first year with a garden, the easiest route is to head to a garden center and pick up one of their seed-starting kits and a bag of organic potting soil specifically labeled for seed starting. The kits are fairly inexpensive and include all you need for successful growing of a small quantity of plants; the organic mix will get your seed off and running with plenty of nutritious compost available to feed the young plants. You’ll probably find that these kits don’t make sense as you transition to a larger garden or more encompassing suite of crops, and at that time I would encourage a bit of googling to research seed-starting methods used by small farms and avid gardeners. (For those looking for this information right now, here are some links to get you started: pottingblocks.com, newspaper seed-starting containers, seed-starting rays and peat pellets, and lots more. Don’t drown in the information! No single method is perfect!)


No matter which system you choose, do be sure to consider that seedlings require fertile soil: if you start with a soilless mix, transplant the young’uns into good, well-composted soil quickly or provide a liquid organic fertilizer until transplant time. (This added consideration is why I prefer a potting soil with compost; McEnroe Farms makes a great one that is available at garden centers throughout the Hudson Valley.)


Step Three: SOW. Once you’ve picked your set-up and gathered materials, begin. Nearly all common vegetable and flower seeds are best sown at a depth that is approximately two to three times their diameter. It’s pretty easy to eyeball this, and once you get the hang of it you’ll do it intuitively. What it means is that tiny seeds, such as those for carrot, lettuce, basil, and most herbs, need only be covered by one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch of soil–or even just a dusting. Brassicas need one-quarter inch to three-eighths inch depending on the seed size. Beans need a good one-half to three-quarters of an inch. And so on. The drier the conditions, the deeper you should plant, as seeds germinate best when they occupy the magical spot where the soil remains fairly moist but oxygen from above ground is able to reach them. When the ground is dry, the moist layer is lower and the oxygen travels easily through the dry layer on top; wet conditions call for the opposite treatment. Once the seeds are in place, water them in: give them a nice good drink to allow the seed coats to soften and the process of germination to begin. (Note that if the mix you begin with is totally dry it will need to be watered before sowing, as a perfectly dry soilless mix will often not moisten easily once in trays–seeds sown into these conditions will often float off once watered.)


Step Four: OVERSOW. It is all too easy for something to go wrong during the seedling stage. An emergency that takes you unexpectedly away from the house and your seedlings to wither; a power outage that zaps your grow light for several days; a curious cat that mistakes your trays for a litter box: all can spell trouble. The best insurance against things going wrong is to sow many more seeds than you actually need. I learned this lesson the hard way early on, and it’s saved me many times over the past few years.


Ready for seeds.
One important method of oversowing is to re-sow everything (or nearly everything) sown on one date a second time two or three weeks later. This may not work for those with tight space restrictions–it’s even hard for us sometimes–but I can report that on many occasions the later plantings have been a happy blessing. One summer a late-sown round of tomatoes staved off an early blight beautifully (young plants are often able to repel disease more easily than fully mature plants), while another spring our second-round of young celeriac seedlings replaced some that perished when we failed to vent a cold frame on a lazy sunny day. Troubles come, and it’s wise to anticipate them. (I told you gardening is a learning adventure.)


The hard part is at transplant time, when, if all actually goes well, you’ll have plenty of extra seedlings that can’t make it into the limited space of your garden. Give ‘em to friends or family, or sell ‘em on craigslist. There’s always demand at transplant time for veggies that folks didn’t start from seed themselves.


Step Five: PROVIDE WARMTH AND MOISTURE. I’ve taken a slightly laissez-faire attitude here in the past: I never cover sown seeds with plastic wrap or anything like that. I do keep them watered if it looks like they are drying out. And I do provide warmth. The warmth is very important: cool pepper seeds can take weeks to germinate, while those kept above 80 degrees will germinated within about five days, usually. See this link for a great summary of the ideal germination temps for different vegetable types.


Achieving these temps can be tricky in a wintery home, but I’ll soon be posting a couple of DIY-themed addenda to this series with more details on this step: one on building the cold frame pictured in last week’s post, and one on tricking out an old fridge as a germination chamber (an idea I’ve swiped from many wise farmers, including Jay and Polly and Erin and Sam at Four Winds Farm / Second Wind CSA and Linda-Brook at Back to Basics).


Step Six: GET RID OF WARMTH AND MOISTURE. Ack! So crazy, isn’t it? Once you see your first flush of germination in any batch of sown seeds, quickly get them out of the warm and moist environment you’ve provided for germination and get them somewhere a bit cooler and a lot drier. Too much moisture brings on the dreaded damping off and is one of the most common mistakes made by new gardeners. If growing seedlings indoors, take them off the heat mat; if growing in a cold frame, move your seedlings in and let them cope–happily! really!–with the slightly cooler temps and the drier air. (The only real exceptions to this rule are peppers and eggplants, which thrive in continued warmth for much of their young lives–not the mid-80s that make them germinate quickly, but definitely the mid-70s, which keeps ‘em happy but does not allow them to remain too pampered and weak. If you can’t provide just the right conditions, don’t sweat it, and err on the side of room temperatures, or use a carefully watched cold frame from mid-April on.)


Oh, and make sure that the young seedlings get plenty of light. See the last post in this series for details. Don’t hate me, but I must say it again: a sunny windowsill is almost never enough light.


Step Seven. RELAX. AGAIN. Once you go through this process a few times you’ll get the swing of it. Behold the young life unfurling by your own efforts. Be grateful for it. Don’t worry to death over it. Taking part in gardening is all about stepping into sync with natural rhythms, which are in constant motion. Seed sowing is just one part of the process, and it is not a zero sum game. Sow some stuff in the coming week or two; so more the weeks after that; more after that. In fact, once you understand when to sow which varieties, you’ll be sowing eight months of the year, along with transplanting, weeding, and–with any luck–harvesting. You give and you wait to receive. You receive and you feel grateful. You always glance ahead and consider what you can sow now for harvest later. Don’t lose sight of the dance and get trapped in the feeling that it’s all or nothing: there is nearly always something to be sown right now to improve your garden prospects, feed you and your loved ones fresh food, and save on your grocery bill several months down the road."
Thank you Doug from Hudson Valley Seed.

Cold Frames for Seedlings, Zone 6, Boston

I am going to be using a DIY  cold frame that I purchased from Ocean State for only $20...it's pretty cool. Stands about 5' tall and 3' wide with clear durable plastic, zippered, tent-like cover. I want to utilize it properly as I have never used one before. I'll post snip-its of info I am finding online re: usage. BTW I went back last nite, a month after buying my first one to buy another....got the last one! So excited, I'll post photos of it later.

COLD FRAME INFO:
Pay attention to temperature
While heat and humidity are important for germinating seeds, excessive heat (above 90°F) can damage fragile seedlings. A min/ max thermometer hung on an inside wall of the cold frame is a great way to monitor temperature fluctuations.Give seedlings an early start. Whether you are starting seeds in flats or sowing them directly into the soil, a portable cold frame provides the opportunity to get your plants going a few weeks early, and it eliminates the transplanting shock that many plants face because they will be better acclimated from the outset. If you are seeding in the early spring or fall, focus on cool-season plants, as they tend to have lower temperature thresholds for germination. Keep in mind that seedlings are more susceptible to extreme weather conditions than established plants. If you are sowing directly into a portable cold frame, have it in place two weeks prior to seeding to warm the soil for germination. Whatever method you are using to start your seeds, make sure to keep the seedbed evenly moist. Once seedlings have germinated, the cold frame should be vented more frequently to discourage damping off by increasing air circulation. If you start your seeds in a greenhouse or indoors under lights, you can start them a good six weeks earlier than usual and transplant them to a cold frame you’ve placed in your garden. It helps to have the cold frame in place at least two weeks prior to transplanting to warm the soil. Again, you will need to pay attention to the degree of sunlight, moisture, temperature, and wind. The frame also provides a windbreak while the plants are still small. Because you’re encouraging active growth, you will want to use a transparent cover of plastic or glass. The soil will dry out more quickly inside the cold frame than outside, so be sure to keep the soil moist, especially while the plants are acclimating to their new site. Keep in mind that more plants die of excessive heat and drought in cold frames than from cold damage. Proper ventilation is particularly important for cool-season plants. If you have established transplants, vent the frame when the outside temperature is 40°F or higher. If your plants are closer to the seedling stage, you may want to wait until the outside temperatures are 45°F to 50°F before venting.


Hardening off is simplified
When plants are moved from a warm, sheltered location—such as a greenhouse or indoors—into the garden, they must be gradually acclimated to fluctuations in temperature, sunlight, moisture, and exposure. Generally this is done by carrying the plants outside and back in again for gradually longer periods of time over the course of a week or two. The same effect can be achieved by opening and closing a cold frame over a five- to seven-day period.
The key to a trouble-free hardening-off period is to keep track of the extended weather forecast and plan accordingly. If I am moving out cool-season or young perennial plants from my greenhouse, I will wait for a stretch of weather where the lows don’t fall below 35°F. Even if the temperature drops after this period, plants hardened off and growing in a cold frame will be fine. For warm-season plants, I wait until the temperatures have stabilized and we are within two to three weeks of our last frost date. In general, wait until seedlings have formed multiple sets of true leaves and are well rooted before moving them into cold frames.Once the plants are packed closely into a frame, start venting the frame during the warmest part of the day, gradually increasing the length of time the frame is left open. If you are not able to tend to the frame during the day, try to time the onset of your hardening-off period with cloudy weather, and start by venting the frame just a crack, gradually increasing the open gap each day. As plants acclimate to cooler temperatures, more direct sunlight, and wind exposure, their foliage will often thicken and darken in color. New growth is also a good sign that the transition is going well and your plants are ready for their final move into your garden.  (This info was gathered from finegardening.com- 4 ways to use a cold frame) 
____________________________________________________________
This is the key: Pay attention to the temperature. Keep it cool, not hot. Temperatures inside the cold frame should be below 75 degrees for summer plants, and below 60 degrees for plants that grow in spring and fall. Adjust temperatures by opening and closing the lid. A general guide is this: when outdoor temperatures are above 40 degrees, prop open the lid 6 inches; when the outdoor temperatures clear 50 degrees, open it all the way. Close the lid in late afternoon to trap the heat inside for the cool night. You can also buy automatic venting devices in some gardening catalogs. Be watchful for heavy rains and winds that could damage young plants or seedlings.
(Richard E, Palazzo, “The Gardenator,")

Offers Accepted

Spring cleaning at FOOTBRIDGE COVE. We are in the process of logging in terrific new inventory to be listed and would like to clean house, if you will, with pieces currently in our shop.

Feel free to stop by and make us an offer...no offer is off the table. We want to clean house; and we will do our best for you. Stop by today. Everything in our shop was reduced before the holidays so there are incredible buys to be had.

We'll call it our 'barn sale'. No we don't have a barn; but always wanted one so what the heck...our 'barn sale' is in progress, all offers welcome!

We'll post some photos of items currently listed you may want to make an offer on...













Monday, March 8, 2010

Gardening in Boston

Aaaaahhhhhhhh! The sun is shining, it's 51 DEGREES in Boston at 10:30am! I am starting my seed pods now, music blasting...going to till the soil later today. I CAN'T STOP SMILING

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Facebook | Cathy Collins

We've listed a new photo album of vintage hankies, stop by and see...so beautiful.

Facebook Cathy Collins: "Vintage Hankerchiefs, Handkerchiefs, Hankies
A wonderful selection of authentic vintage hankies that have been gently laundered & pressed. These make beautiful display pieces: vanity tables, doilies under lamps, awesome under plants, framed and hung on wall. Try tieing to a purse! Many unique uses for these splendid pieces of the past. (This is a very small smapling of our collection).

Please inquire directly if interested in any of these as they have not yet been listed.

OUR SHOP http://www.footbridgedove.com

Facebook | Cathy Collins

Facebook Cathy Collins: "~SPECIAL OF THE DAY~ Splendid staple for your spring and summer wardrobe. Vintage Art Glass Beads our SPECIAL TODAY at just $19. We'll invoice you at special of day rate.

Vintage Pink Art Glass, Beaded Double Strand Necklace, Made in Japan, c1955
The unique shapes and graduated sizes of these glass beads make this double strand art glass necklace so spectacular!From silver, clear, white with a pink hue, light pink, to dark and mottled as well... these gorgeous stones are accentuated with silver"

PLEASE FAN us on facebook....FOOTBRIDGE COVE
Discounts for our fans year round, and previews of listings before they go no sale!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Facebook | Cathy Collins

Facebook Cathy Collins:
"Perfect for Saint Patrick's day! Vintage figural Lucky Leprechaun pin.
~SPECIAL OF THE DAY~ Just $12. We'll invoice you at this phenom price.Brooch, Elf Pin, Lucky Leprechaun, Figural Pin, Holiday - Item#866

This little guy is a real whippersnapper. He is obviously well versed in the art form of dance... as noted from his perfectly arched feet & finely pointed toes!Bright gold tone set off with light blue rhinestone eyes and holding a faux pearl...

http://www.footbridgecove.com item #866
for additiional discounts become a FAN on our facebook fanpage FOOTBRIDGE COVE.

Friday, March 5, 2010

FAN PAGE on Facebook : FOOTBRIDGE COVE Albums

Facebook Cathy Collins: "New photo album posted on our FAN PAGE. A very small sampling of our vintage clothing collection! Updated photos will be added. Please feel fee to inquire of you see a piece you like. Become a fan at FOOTBRIDGE COVE on facebook. 1st 100 fans will receive discounts!

Vintage Cothing and Accessories
Antique and Vintage Clothing. Bridal, formal, everyday...some business, some whimsical. Something for everyone who wants to preserve the past thru vintage wear. For the person who wants to buy authentic vintage not just the 'look alike vintage' the stores sell! We're proud to bring you authenticity & style.
By:Footbridge Cove
Photos:108

Nelson McCoy Vintage Pottery ~SPECIAL OF THE DAY~

Facebook Cathy Collins: "Are you a McCoy Pottery Collector? If so, you know this is a steal at $14. We are going to reduce further as our SPECIAL OF THE DAY....just $10 today!

PLEASE FAN US ON our new facebook FAN PAGE: FOOTBRIDGE COVEPitcher, McCoy Pottery Brown Drip Kitchenware Line, 1970s, 6 1/2' Water Jug, Marked U.S.A. - 835
This handsome McCoy pottery pitcher is from the late 70s, Brown Drip Kitchenware Line.Brown Drip Glaze pitcherMeasures 6 1/4 h x 3 1/2 w and 7 1/4 from outside handle to edge of spout.Very Nice PieceMarked : U.S.A.Excellent Condition

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

FAN PAGE on facebook FOOTBRIDGE COVE

We have created a new FAN  PAGE on facebook FOOTBRIDGE COVE. Our first 100 FANS will recieve a bonus discount on a future order of their choice.

Also watch for our SPECIALS OF THE DAY. We'll significantly reduce the price of an item in our shop for 24 hours and post it on twitter and our FAN PAGE on facebook: FOOTBRIDGE COVE.

Today's SPECIAL OF TE DAY Joan & David Ankle Shoe Boots, authentically vintage...all the style rage again! Only $30. Today only!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Starting Veggies from Seed

I sit here perusing the seed catalogs awaiting the date when I can start my seeds inhouse. I will set up a good grow light system and tracking for successive plantings. Last year I was fortunate enough to have my seeds all grow into strong plants...what a treat..all I needed was two flourecscent light bulbs, who knew! But alas, I didn't have a sense of organization to the planning dates and what I really wanted. I went by the silly idea I have all these seeds I must plant them all. Of course then I couldn't keep up, etc.

So as the snow falls today I will take a few hours to myself and map out my plans. The spacing, the seed input dates and be ready to move forward in a few weeks. Living in Zone 6 (Boston) it is hard to start indoors any earlier though I may; just because I'm like a kid at Christmas ~ I can't wait to plant!

I truly want to grow organically but I must say I have always used miracle grow so this is a big step for me. If I stop the miracle grow I may not get the results I am used to. Though I will be moving more toward my goal of 'living green' resulting in healthier foods. So I shall make it a point to learn about natural feeding, fertilization. I'd say there is more than enough for my to learn for three weeks until the official zone 6 seed date... we'll see if I can hold off.

Happy Day

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Footbridge Cove Tidbits: Response to Thomas A GROWING TRADITION on blogger. Great blog!

Response to Thomas A GROWING TRADITION on blogspot. Recommend

Hi Thomas Wonderful blog, it was great to 'google' (zone 6 and seed starting) and find you. I'm on blogger too: my focus...living simpler lives...seed starting, baking from scratch, gardening, family life and my vintage collectibles shop bringing you inexpensive (new to you) treasures from the past. I would appreciate a follow by you and your followers.


I started my seedlings successfully for the first time in 18 years last February. Meaning I used to do it in Feb (as a project) with my young children and get to the spindly seedling stage before they all wilted and died. At that time it was just a fun project and in May I went and bought my seedlings from a nursery. Well not anymore. Last year I grew my veggies from seed in my basement. A similar (but not as nice set up as yours). I used grow lights for the first time and sure enough it was a seedling jungle down there, so incredibly exciting. Of course my youngest is a teen now and the project wasn't on her priority 'to do' list so I did it much of it myself but I cannot tell you the joy it brought...meditative actually. I had just lost my mom and that was my spiritual time.

We had a VERY RAINY June last year. My tomatoes weren't as prolific as I had expectd but my herbs and lettuces were incredible. I have a small plot and I too will be blogging about my accomplishments and failures. Hopefully we can all learn from each other.

God Bless Tom, I'll be checking your blog regularly. I'm going to post this on my blog as well so new folks can follow you too.

Follow me at www.footbridgecove.blogspot.com

Friday, January 29, 2010

Simple Everyday Solutions: Removing Chewing Gum From Clothing

SIMPLE STAIN SOLUTIONS


I'm going to begin a section of this blog devoted to SIMPLE EVERYDAY SOLUTIONS, today we will talk about stain removal, more specifically chewing gum removal!

Think about it, we spend so much of our hard earned money on fine linens, clothing, furniture, rugs, wallpaper, home accessories, paint, etc and inevitably you will acquire stains. Some stains are easier to remove than others; but I know a lot of folks are fearful of ruining their stained item so they hire someone to get the stain out. I'm here to tell you DON'T DO IT!

You can DO IT YOURSELF and you'll be so pleased you did so.

You don't need to hire anyone, or even go to the dry cleaner. You can remove just about anything... be it white rings on wood furniture, chewing gum on clothing, oil stains, ink, blood, crayons. Yes, you can at little cost... and with much satisfaction. There are so many inexpensive, natural remedies for removing stains (or remains of something, in this case, chewing gum).

I'll try to post a SIMPLE SOLUTION to everyday issues we encounter on a regular basis.

Today's problem: a wad of chewing gum inside the pocket of a NEW NorthFace fleece coat that had been put through the washer and dryer (no not by me, my teenage son...at least he does laundry, I guess)!

Of course the wash and dry cycles melted the gum, spread it out, embedded it deeply into the fleece, and it also seeped through to the front with a big round gum stain. We had two issues here. The hardened gum itself that was so fleece embedded it couldn't be frozen off (first quick fix solution), and even worse the gum stain on the outside, non-fleece part of jacket.

Simple Solution VINEGAR followed by MAYONAISSE! That's it, can you believe it?

And not to worry, you don't have to run to the store. Most of us have some type of vinegar on hand, you can use any kind. White, red wine, balsamic, as long as it is vinegar, it will work!

Directions: Warm the vinegar in the microwave and pour onto stain or dip stained fabric into bowl. The gum will start to dissolve pretty quickly, 1-2 minutes. Then take an old toothbrush, fork, or butter knife; and start to scrape gum off the fleece.

NOTE: The largest outside stain disappeared immediately!!! That was the only part you could see, so I could have stopped there. However, I decided to do it right the first time and remove all the gum from inside the pocket. It comes off in little clumps. Pull as much as you can off and then add your mayonnaise. Rub it into fleece, again use toothbrush and voila your messy, potentially ruined jacket is good as new. All in, it took less than 8 minutes!

~ until next time, wishing you a stain free day

Friday, January 15, 2010

Growing Hundreds of Potatoes in a small plot

First off, I must give credit where credit is due...I found this  information on a great website. I will definitely be ordering my seeds from them this year: organic potatoes, garlic and onions. I just ordered a catalog but you can find them online at http://www.irisheyesgardenseeds.com/

They have a fabulous idea that I plan to utlilize in my small plot South of Boston.

Check out their potato, growing guidelines: a 2x2 plot that is a couple of feet high and will yield hundreds of potatoes!

Can't wait for Spring

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Garden Article: Quick and Easy Compost, COMPOSTING IN BOSTON

I plan to compile information fom several sources on HOME COMPOSTING and put together the best recipe for my needs. I have a quick 2 week compost that takes a bit of work thatI'll share. But I'd lik to focus on my large compost bin. I am going to be starting from scratch
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BOSTON info re composting:
What is composting?

Composting is a controlled process of decomposition of organic material. Naturally occurring soil organisms recycle nitrogen, potash, phosphorus, and other plant nutrients as they convert the material into humus.
Actually, the word compost derives from the word composite. It is the deliberate mixture of various materials that distinguishes composting from ordinary decomposition of organic materials. The finished product of composting is humus (the organic part of soil). Any given soil sample consist of many things, including humus, sand, alluvium, clay, stone dust, and much more. In North Cambridge, soils tend to be rich in clay. In other parts of Cambridge, higher than desirable levels of lead can be found in the soil - the remnants of insecticides, leaded paint, and leaded gasoline.

Generally, the humus derived from a well-balanced compost pile is more beneficial than ordinary humus. The leafy materials tend to provide excellent absorbency for water and air, and the food wastes and other high nitrogen materials make for an excellent fertilizer. Humus derived exclusively from leaves tends to provide absorbency and aeration but must be supplemented with additional fertilizers if used in the garden. Humus derived exclusively from food wastes is very rich in nutrients but usually lacks sufficient body.

Benefits of Composting




Composting is a convenient, beneficial, and inexpensive way to handle your organic waste and help the environment. Composting: reduces the volume of garbage requiring disposal; saves money for you and your community in reduced soil purchases and reduced local disposal costs; and
enriches the soil. Using compost adds essential nutrients, improves soil structure, which allows better root growth, and increases moisture and nutrient retention in the soil. Plants love compost!

It is both educational and fun. Children and adults alike develop a fascination (sometimes an obsession!) with their compost piles. The Compleat Recycler composts his or her food wastes and yard wastes..

What should you compost?
Yard wastes such as leaves, grass clippings, and weeds make excellent compost. Fruit and vegetable scraps, plus food wastes such as coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells can be composted. To keep animals and odors out of your pile, do not add meat, bones, fatty food wastes (such as cheese, grease, and oils), dog and cat litter, and diseased plants. Do not add invasive weeds and weeds that have gone to seed to the pile.

A System for Backyard Composting
A good system consists of a kitchen container (for storage of materials bound for the compost pile), an animal-proof and rodent-resistant composter located conveniently outside the house, a pitchfork or other tools for aerating the most active parts of the compost pile and burying in new materials, and a screening device for harvesting the humus from your pile (a milk crate with openings of an inch or less works quite well and even has handles). A leaf shredder is handy in the fall, and is best shared among neighbors.
Elements of a Good Compost Pile
With these principals in mind, you can convert your organic wastes into resources by turning your spoils to soil.

The Biodegraders
Nature has provides an army of workers who specialize in decomposing organic material. These "critters" - bacteria, fungi, molds, earthworms, insects, and other soil organisms - eat all types of organic material and in the process convert nutrients into a form plants can utilize. Without those compost critters, we would be surrounded by mountains of leaves and the soil would be barren. The process of composting is simply a matter of providing the soil organisms with food, water, and oxygen. They do the rest.

Organic Material
Organic material contains varying amounts of carbon and nitrogen which nourish the organisms naturally present in your compost pile. (Billions of bacteria inhabit the surface of every leaf and blade of grass in your yard.) The critters need both carbon and nitrogen. An easy way to provide both of these is to remember that brown, woody materials, such as autumn leaves, are high in carbon while green, moist materials, such as grass clippings, are high in nitrogen (refer to the table below).

Alternating layers of brown and green materials will yield finished compost in three to eight months. Leaves alone break down in six to fifteen months. Grass clippings or food scraps composted alone result in unpleasant odors because they contain more nitrogen than the compost organisms can use. Layer leaves or straw with green material, or let it dry until it turns brown before composting it alone.

Air
The compost critters need oxygen, just as we do. Lack of oxygen will slow down the composting process and cause odors. Turn your pile, fluff it with a hoe or compost turning tool, or build air passages into the pile with cornstalks to provide oxygen to the organisms.
Moisture
Compost organisms need a moist environment. The pile should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge, but not dripping wet. Make sure leaves are damp when you add them to the compost pile because they will not break down if they are dry. Since moisture evaporates as the pile heats up (a sign of active composting), let rain and snow replace it, or add water during dry spells. A cover helps retain moisture in hot weather.

The short rap:
Composition - Too much brown will slow it down, too much green will cause a scene.
Balance leaves and other carbon-rich materials with food waste, grass clippings, and other nitrogen-rich materials. A pile with too much nitrogen-rich materials can become anaerobic and smell like ammonia or worse. Pile temperatures can rise so high that beneficial microbes are killed. Ideal composting temperatures range from about 95 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Moisture - Too dry and the microbes die, too wet and they suffocate.
Air can't penetrate a soggy pile and stinky sludge may result - a sewer-like odor.
Air - Let your nose be your guide.
A warm or hot pile is ideal, but it will consume oxygen faster. Aeration will assist the microbes, but don't overdo it or you'll reduce the temperature too much. Ammonia-like odors (too much nitrogen) or sewer-like odors (too much moisture) mean that it's time to aerate. A good compost pile will have a sweet smell reminiscent of alfalfa or rich, musty soil. Bad odors mean something is not right.

How to Use Compost
When the composted materials look like rich, brown soil, it is ready to use. Apply one-half to three inches of finished compost and mix it in with the top four inches of soil about one month before planting. Compost can be applied as a top dressing in the garden throughout the summer. Compost is excellent for reseeding lawns, and it can be spread one-quarter inch deep over the entire lawn to rejuvenate the turf. To make potting soil, mix equal parts compost, sand, and loam. You may put the compost through a sieve to remove large particles - these can go back in the pile.

Milk crates are handy for harvesting compost, if you can find one with a grid between one-half and one inch on a side. A screening device with too small a grid requires much more effort and provides little additional benefit. Consider spreading your unscreened compost out in the sun to dry a bit and allow any worms to retreat into the ground.

If you would like additional leaf compost, it is available free at the Recycling Center in the DPW Yard during the warm weather months. The quality varies depending on its source, but it's all pretty good. Additional screening is sometimes necessary to remove rocks, large pieces of wood, and debris.

Mulching
Grass clippings, leaves, and woody yard wastes can be used as mulch in gardens and around shrubs to keep the soil moist, control weed growth, and add nutrients. Woody materials should be chipped or shredded. Use a mulch of pine needles around acid-loving plants. Leaves will work first as mulch, then as a soil enricher as they decompose. Grass clippings should be dried before using as a mulch. Do not mulch with grass clippings which have been treated with herbicides; composting them first, however, will break down the herbicides.

Wood chip also makes for excellent weed-free, all-natural garden paths. Replenish as needed. Wood chip from the pruning of Cambridge street trees is available for free during the warm weather months in the DPW Yard during the hours that the Recycling Center is open.

Mulching with almost finished compost can help to prevent disease in plants.

Composting Without a Yard
Composting can be done indoors using an earthworm farm Not only can you recycle your food scraps, you can also have a steady supply of fishing bait! For more information, call DEP's Solid Waste Management Program.

Composting Bins
Animal-Proof, Rodent-Resistant Compost bins
Circular design (tapered). Door at base for removing finished compost. 18 inch opening at top. Comes with bottom screen. Approx $20 from your town or city hall.

EARTHWORM BIN:
This is an excellent alternative for apartment-dwellers and office buildings. It is also a good idea for the cold winter months. For more information or to purchase redworms (red wigglers), contact David Lovler at (413)-549-4456.


How To Make a Compost Pile
There are as many different ways to make compost as there are people who do it. The following guidelines will get you started, but soon your own experience will help you tailor a method that best fits your needs.

Build or purchase a compost bin. Check to see if your community has a composting bin distribution program, or order from a garden catalogue, nursery, or hardware store. Enclosed compost piles keep out pests, hold heat and moisture in, and have a neat appearance. Or, bins can be made of wire, wood, pallets, concrete blocks, even garbage cans with drainage holes drilled in them. In urban areas, rodent-resistant compost bins - having a secure cover and floor and openings no wider than one-half inch - must be used.

Set up the bin in a convenient, shady area with good drainage. A pile that is about three feet square and three feet high will help maintain the heat generated by the composting organisms throughout the winter. Although a smaller pile may not retain heat, it will compost.

Start the pile with a layer of course material such as corn stalks to build in air passages. Add alternating layers of "brown" and "green" materials with a shovelful of soil on top of each layer. Then mix the layers. Shredding leaves or running over them with a lawn mower will shorten the composting time. Be sure to bury food scraps in the center of the pile.

Add water as you build the pile if the materials are dry.

As time goes on, keep oxygen available to the compost critters by fluffing the pile with a pitchfork or compost turning tool each time you add material. A complete turning of the pile - so the top becomes the bottom - in spring and fall should result in finished compost within a year. More frequent turning will shorten the composting time.

High Nitrogen "Green" Ingredients
High Carbon "Brown" Ingredients
alfalfa hay/meal autumn leaves
grass clippings cornstalks
blood meal straw
manure (cow, horse, chicken, rabbit) pine needles
food wastes (fruit and vegetables,
coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells) paper/cardboard
Seaweed wood chips
sawdust
compiled from : http://www.rwinters.com/compost/brochure.htm


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Garden Article: Quick and Easy Compost

Beware of “compost no-no’s!” When making compost, never use meat and bones, dairy products or greasy foods, dog and cat feces, diseased or invasive plants, weeds with lots of seed, unchopped wood and fruit/vegetable trimmings from the kitchen!


The most common mistake gardeners make with a compost pile is throwing in too much waste from the kitchen. Although such organic material is beneficial under ideal conditions, too much creates a pile that’s too wet. Additionally, such waste, especially if it’s not chopped well, draws flies and even small animals.

Facts


The first time you turn your pile, you might see steam rising from it. This is a good thing. With each turning, the steam will become less and less.



Tips

If you plan to chop your material with a lawn mower, lay the material out in a flat row along a wall or solid fence, a couple of feet away from the structure. Then just run your mower – without the bagging device on it – over the material.



Definitions

Anaerobic: Conditions without oxygen. Bacteria and fungi that grow in such conditions produce methane and sulfur byproducts (neither of which is pleasantly defined by our sense of smell).Inoculant: The “starter”, composed of beneficial bacteria and fungi that do the actual decomposing in a compost pile.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

UPDATE Emer's Irish Brown Bread

Good Morning Folks...
It's 23 degrees, quite chilly here in Boston...no worries though my oven is pre-heating for more bread baking. Nothing like a fresh piece of homemade bread and a hot cup of strong black tea!

Yesterday I made EMER'S BROWN BREAD.

Final product ~tada ~ exactly what I was looking for! Getting there though was another story entirely. I ended up tripling the time required, by halving the recipe and adjusting amounts once ingredients were partially mixed. Not to worrt though, I've made the mistake & fixed it, so this won't happen to you.

What happened you may be wondering? I began following the recipe I had been given (I will be amending the previous post). There was nothing that a little patience & tweaking wouldn't fix, though it is definitely too large of a recipe for my stand mixer (Viking 5.5qt). When Emer gave the recipe to me she reduced the size because she makes it commercially, so to speak. It was also in kg/g/liters, etc. When I made it a few years back I used whole wheat flour and did it all by hand so there was no issue.

Yesterday I used KAF (King Arthur's Flour) WHOLE MEAL FLOUR, it turns out whole meal is much puffier, light like a feather, and easily airborne compared to whole wheat!

However, once all was said and done yesterday, I couldn't pinpoint a difference in taste or crumb (interior texture) between the two. Though price is comparable, so I'll probably continue with whole meal (drawback, it's not in my supermarkets). I ordered from http://www.kingarthurflour.com/ in VT.

Since it's the flour I used most recently for this bread, and my senses were immediately carried back to the Oh-So-Cozy Inn in Killarney... I knew this was the recipe I was looking for.

So PLEASE check below for changed recipe. I will post it later today, I need to check conversions to make it accurate.

You must remember this is not gourmet dining! It is an authentic (hardy) daily meal in Ireland.

The two ways I have seen this served and they both work for me...

1. With a cup of tea, smothered in Irish butter (I use kerrygold) and topped with strawberry preserves. Also try orange preserves. This makes a great afternoon snack. Or a satisfying evening snack if you are trying to avoid junk food, just go lightly on butter.

2. As lunch, or to begin dinner, served with a cup/bowl of Irish Vegetable Soup (recipe posted below). Dunking the dry bread slice is heavenly.

I have 3 loaves in my oven now, the house smells wonderful. Will post photos later.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's not wheat, but it's MADE FROM SCRATCH pizza dough

Good morning all
Personally I have come to only eat whole wheat pizza dough that I make from scratch. I was buying the dough for awhile and adding garlic oil, etc to make it edible; but still feeling good about eating wheat. Then voila I after a few different recipes I settled on one that I LOVE, didn't have to acquire  a taste for it and there is no need for garlic (though I use it anyway). The dough I am speaking of posted in a previous entry.

Today, however, is about white dough, partially white anyway. It was given to me by a baker friend who swears by it and whe doesn't east white bread. Sonce I am trying to convert my family I am going to be making this for them tomorrow instead of buying the wite dough.  I'll keep you posted.

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PIZZA DOUGH
from cookbook...Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurant - by Anne Somerville
This basic dough is perfectly delicious made with all white flour, but we like the earthy flavor the cornmeal and rye flour add. Be sure to soak the cornmeal in the milk; it needs the moisture to soften it. The milk enriches the dough, but if you prefer to make the dough without it, use the variation at the end of the recipe.

Makes One 15-Inch Pizza Or Two 9-Inch Pizzas

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons warm (110°F) water
6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rye flour
About 1 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 to 3 tablespoons additional flour for rolling the dough

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside in a warm place for 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the milk, oil, and cornmeal in a 1-quart bowl. Add the yeast mixture, then the salt and rye flour; mix well. Gradually add the white flour, making a soft, workable dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling in a little flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it once so the surface is coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Prepare the topping.

Preheat the oven to 500°F and heat the pizza stone, if you're using one, for 20 minutes.

To shape the pizza, first form the dough into 1 round ball or 2 equal-size smaller balls. Roll out on a floured surface, turning it regularly to keep a round shape. It should be about 1/8 inch thick, slightly thicker at the edges. Lay the dough on an oiled pizza pan or a well-floured wooden peel. Cover with the topping you have chosen.

Bake the pizza on its pan or slide it onto the heated pizza stone.

VARIATION MADE WITHOUT MILK: We've replaced the milk by increasing the water and doubling the olive oil, which the flour easily absorbs. The additional oil makes a very soft, easy-to-work dough.

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
10 tablespoons warm (110°F) water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rye flour
About 1 3/4 cups unbleached white flow
1 to 3 tablespoons additional flour for rolling dough

Prepare and roll out the dough as directed.

TO FREEZE: Immediately after mixing the dough, form it into 1 or 2 balls and wrap tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap. When you're ready to use the dough, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, or set it in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours. Roll out as directed.

GARLIC OIL
We brush our rolled pizza dough with this garlic-infused oil before spreading on the topping—the garlic oil adds extra garlic flavor and forms a seal that helps protect the crust from moist toppings. To make it, finely chop a clove or two of garlic and cover generously with olive oil. Store garlic oil in a sealed container in the refrigerator and we it to saute or season other dishes.

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Sounds great.! I'll make it once as directed, and if it is a hit at home, I'll make 4 times as much and freeze for quicker meal prep.


Come on all, let's make the healthy effort to COOK FROM SCRATCH

I use this site for conversions: http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.htm

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Favorite Flours, Distributers and Flour Sharing

What types of flours do you all use in your breads? So far I've been using King Arthur's Flour (KAF) and Bob's Red Mill, also Hodgson Mill. Prices vary depending on where you go. And I'm trying to determine most cost efficient way to keep up my flour supply. I'd like to buy locally, KAF is in VT, their shipping prices are reasonable.


I'm aiming to bake daily (LOVE LOVE LOVE my new Viking Stand Mixer). My LAST NEW purchase- it was a Chrismtas gift from my hubby and children!
 
I plan to focus this entire year... and thes rest of my life on better health, buying locally, recycling, composting, I'll continue my gardening and hope for a better tomato crop this year. Last year in rained the entire month of June! On the bright side I had a never ending supply of lettuces and herbs...really bugged me to have to buy tomatoes though.
 
You see, I've done bits and pieces of GREEN LIVING for years but never wholeheartedly.
 
It's a funny psychologically seaonal feeling with me. The holidays end and I put the ornaments and decorations away, then at the same time...take my gardenig books out. My mind drifts to seedlings. Last year was my first year successfully starting from seed! :) All it took was a couple of flourescent lights from home depot!
 
ok going off on tangents, bursting with excitement about the days, months years to come.
 
Focus on appreciating every moment and your daily life wll be filled to the bring with love. My dad taught me that without even realizing it.
 
Finally, does anyone know if there are any food co-ops in (or around) the Boston, South Shore area? My freind in NH buys everthing from her local food co-op, she's so fortunate. You don't pay for fancy packaging, marketing, etc.

And BREAD BAKERS check out this incredible forum on all types of bread baking http://www.thefreshloaf.com/ . My username on there is garden chef.
have a green day

Monday, January 4, 2010

IRISH VEGETABLE SOUP

I'm pleased to say I made a nice version of Old Fashioned Irish Vegetable Soup tonite. SURPRISINGLY (big caps)...my non-veggie eater ~apprentice~ enjoyed a cup without complaint! (She added crsuhed red peppers for some spice)

I've been looking at different versions of what seem to be similar recipes for this type of soup.. and simplified this. It's not overwhelmingly flavored of vegetables which was imperitive in my house, however, the diner may add their own seasonings... cracked pepper, crushed red peppers, course sea salt, parsley, etc.

Now from what I understand, and it makes sense, everyone in Ireland has a similar yet slightly different version. Why?  I believe this is the DAILY SOUP in Ireland (maybe it is interchanged with Potato Leek Soup, not sure). And I suspect each home-cook, chef or soup maker uses whatever vegetables they have on hand, to make their soup that day. Makes sense... certainly resourceful, and living green, plus sustainable.

Would I change anything in the next batch? Yes, add more carrots just for color and vitamins, use leeks instead of onions (because I just learned they pack a healthier punch than onions) and probably try parsnip since one Irish woman recommended it for the soup... and it also has added health benefits

LEEK HEALTH BENEFITS
Leeks are a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. And best news, they are easier to digest then regular onions! Plus leeks have the added benefits of having laxative, antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.

PARSNIP HEALTH BENEFITS
Their fiber content is great for digestion and their sweet taste is satisfying without being high in calories.They're high in soluble fiber, the type that helps lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar on an even keel. They're a surprising source of folic acid & B vitamins. Folic acid also plays a role in reducing heart disease, may help prevent dementia, as well, as osteoporosis bone fractures. And potassium, an aid to blood pressure, is present in good amounts. Unlike their carrot relatives, however, parsnips lack beta-carotene. Worth a try I'm sure you'll agree!
I will be making an additional pot tomorrow since I didn't make a large batch this first time. So I'll keep you posted on the addition of parsnips, more carrots and substitution of leeks for onions.
 
One source I found was Bob's Red Mill VEGI Soup Mix. This incorporates all of the individual ingredients that I personally would have liked to add to the soup though not all were in the recipes I received. If you can find it by all means pick up a bag...$3.89 for 28oz was worth it. This mix includes "green and yellow split peas, barley, lentils, whole wheat pasta bits, spinach and tomato" NO SPICES. I probably used 6-8oz of the 28 oz bag. This amount increasess the nutritional value of this pot of soup by 40g Protein and 35g fiber. (check out http://www.bobsredmill.com/ they have many wonderful products). I have found prices vary from specialty stores to supermarkets so check around.
 
RECIPE as I made it..this was enough for 4 bowls and we have enough left for lunch tomorrow.
 
In a large pasta pot
 
Add 5C Water
8oz Bob's Red Mill VEGI Soup Mix 
Add a good size pinch of salt and crushed black pepper
Bring to boil and simmer for 30 mins. Stir occasionally, add water if needed while simmering, to cover .
 
In the meantime, finely chop the following:
1 medium/large sweet onion
3 very large carrots
6 stalks of celery
 
After the first 30 mins of simmering, add the vegetables and return to simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until soft. Stirring frequently.
 
*SPECIAL INGREDIENT Add 1 Large Tbls of kerrgygold butter. Mmmmmm!
 
If you have an immersion blender remove from heat and blend until thick and creamy. (Otherwise let cool first and use a blender) Then add 2-3C milk for desired consistency. Season as desired and serve in a large mug or bowl. I like it just thick enough to lightly coat the spoon when stirred.
 
Tomorrow I'm making Irish Brown Bread.
This soup, served with the brown bread makes a Delicious, Hardy, Healthy Meal! A small teacupful is also a great snack in the evening to keep you from eating junk food. Just enough to satisfy my urge to eat anyway. :  )
 
When all is said and done, it seems, the inclusion of this particular soup mix follows closely to the other recipes I have been receiving from Irish home-cooks, they just used barley, peas and a can of tomatoes instead. I prefer the mix, it's a bit hardier & overall more nutritious. Looking forward to the alternate recipe (leeks, parsnips) too,  it's always fun to try new flavor profiles.
 
We'd love to hear what you have to say, please comment with any questions or recipes of your own.