Archive | May, 2012

Good seeds

22 May

The past week or so it has felt as if summer was at our doorstep.  We had several clear skies in a row (which is almost unheard of in Oregon until June rolls around).  However, the skies are grey again and the rain has returned.

I took some photos last week when the sun was out but am just now getting around to constructing a post.  It’s really hard to blog about gardening this time of year because the plants are growing so quickly.  If I don’t post photos the same day they’re taken, they’re out of date!

Until I get the chance to snap some new pictures, I thought I would post about some of the things I am most excited about growing this year.  We’re growing a mix of old standbys and new favorites.

Six seed packets

From left to right: Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce, Baby Blue hubbard winter squash, Chocolate Cherry cherry tomato, Little Prince container eggplant, Green Zebra tomato, Dragon carrot.

Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce – this has been a favorite lettuce of ours for about three years now.  The heads are small, compact, and super cute.  The leaves are delicious and the small size makes it great for edible landscaping or gardening in containers.  We’ve always purchased our Tom Thumb seeds from Botanical Interests but so far this year we’ve had a low germination rate.  We’ll be planting more as the season progresses and hoping for better luck!

Baby Blue hubbard winter squash – we had one regular hubbard squash plant last year.  The plant didn’t produce very much (in large part due to some user error on our part) but the squash was delicious!  We added it to soups and stews and I made a hubbard squash pie.  This year, we’re trying out this variety that grows “mini” hubbard squash, which should weigh in at 7-10 lbs.  Hubbard squash are supposed to store really well so I’m hoping we can use it throughout the winter months.

Chocolate Cherry cherry tomato – this is my first time trying to grow this variety of tomato from seed.  Last year, I picked up a Chocolate Cherry plant from my friendly neighborhood BiMart on a whim.  It turned out to be my favorite variety out of the 10 or so we grew last year.  This year, it’s replacing Sungold as our cherry tomato of choice due to its sweet but complex flavor.

Little Prince eggplant – these mini eggplants are an oldy-but-goody around here.  The bushy plants are great for containers, close quarters, or for adding a little interest to a landscaped area.  The plants produce beautiful purple flowers followed by small fruit, about the size of a fist.  We love to grill these and make them into homemade baba ghanouj.

Green Zebra tomato – last year, I acquired one of these tomato plants through a trade with our friend, the master urban farmer Emily.  This year, the variety was Nate’s number request for the garden.  They taste great and look pretty cool, too.

Dragon carrot – I’ve grown carrots several times before, but with mixed success due to our muddy, clay-heavy soil.  That said, when I saw these purple and orange carrots at the gardening shop, I couldn’t say no!  How fun are these?  I think these Dragon carrots would be the perfect way to get a kiddo to eat more veg.  I know at my house growing up, any food with a bad ass name was consumed straight away.

These aren’t the only plants we’re growing this year, but they are definitely the ones that I’m most excited about.  While I think there’s no shame in buying veggie starts from the store, there’s something really special about planting tiny brown seeds and watching them turn into big green plants.

There are a few plants that I’m excited about that I didn’t actually plant myself.  We do some DIY composting and last autumn all of our leftover tomatillo plant matter went into the bins.  As you might imagine, this spring we now have tons of little volunteer tomatillo plants popping up everywhere.  I’m not one to look a gift horse (or seed) in the mouth so I’ve been replanting these little volunteers and I’m hoping that they grow big and strong, and produce some good eats.

Now I want to know:

  • How are things looking in your garden?
  • Are there any plants or varieties that you’re especially excited about this year?
  • What are the super awesome plants that I should absolutely not miss out on?

Local little free library

16 May

There’s a beautiful house two blocks away from ours that I always envy for it’s great yard and amazing mosaics.  A week or so ago, while walking to the local co-op grocery store with my mom, we noticed a new post in their front yard.  “I wonder what that’s going to be,” she wondered.

I’d like to introduce our new neighbor, Little Free Library!  I’ve heard of these from my classmates before but this is the first one I’ve seen up close and personal.  It’s a beauty!

This is Little Free Library number 1603!  The slogan is “reading is the KEY to imagination” and it’s decorated with mismatched keys.  So stinking cute!

We had a chance to talk owners Ella and Bruce who said that the library had already gotten quite a bit of attention.  They said that someone had even dropped off a zucchini plant for them in the little nook.  Ella said she planted it in their backyard garden.

The people at Little Free Library maintain a Google map with all of the libraries across the country.  This is the first of its kind in Corvallis.  Is there a Little Free Library in your area?  Will you make the first one?

Grillin’ it

14 May

The past few weeks have been just short of chaos at our house.  I attended the OLA annual conference in Bend in the end of April and did a poster session on some work I’ve been doing on using popular culture to teach information literacy.  The whole conference was a blur of engaging sessions, library-related swag, and watching late night TV with my friend and hotel roomie Amy.  Overall, it was a great experience and I would absolutely recommend participating in the poster session to any interested students.

That said, I would recommend that you do not wait until the last minute to create your poster board.  I believe that poster boards are actually portals to alternate dimensions where time moves at a much quicker rate.  You would be amazed at the amount of time it takes to make a mediocre poster board.  Hours and hours and hours.

Also don’t wait until the last minute because as you’re finishing up your poster board at 11pm in the hotel room, you might realize that you forgot to print off half of your reference list.  Not that I know this from experience…

OLA was also cool because Amy and I got to eat here:

Why, yes, that is an old double-decker bus that has been converted into a food cart called “The Codfather.”

The only problem with the OLA conference is that it was scheduled for the second half of my dead week in school, taking up very valuable studying time.  This term I was far less organized than usual; finals week this term definitely tested my studying abilities.  Miraculously, I survived!

Thankfully, that means that this past week has been my summer break.  My school program goes through the summer so as of today I’ve started new classes and my summer vacation is through.  I definitely milked the blessed seven days off of school for all they were worth with plenty of gardening and relaxing.

Summer vacation culminated with the annual Librarian Prom on Saturday night.  I made a giant batch of sangria based off a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.  The sangria was well received at the party but not so well received the next morning, from what I hear.

I wore too much eyeliner and my favorite dress: a red caftan with Egyptian motif and many, many sequins.

Thankfully, Nate and I weren’t too hung over after the prom so we were able to spend some time with our mothers the next day for mother’s day.  The weather was beautiful, so we cooked up a great dinner on the grill for my momma.

burgundy plate with grilled broccoli, veggie couscous, and grilled chicken

Grilled chicken with a curry yogurt sauce, grilled vegetable couscous, grilled broccoli with feta, and flat bread made on the (you guessed it) grill!  Nate was responsible for the broccoli and it was truly out of this world.  I’ll see if I can convince him to share the recipe.

burgundy plate with grilled broccoli, veggie couscous and grilled chicken

What is it about eating outside that makes food taste so dang good?  My summer vacation may be over but I’m looking forward to more of this weather!