Likes and Dislikes When Starting Seeds

WP_20130430_002This year when I started to think about what I wanted to grow my list was fairly minimal. However, once I got to the store and saw all those beautiful seeds and the prospect of what they could produce my “fairly minimal” list went out the window. Why did I buy watermelon seeds when I live in Washington? Hhhmm…

For the four or so months before my big seed planting started I had saved all of my egg cartons to start the seeds. I also purchased some peat pots, peat pellets, plastic 72 celled trays that go in trays and the plastic 9 celled ones that you put multiple ones in trays. They all had their pros and cons, some more cons than others.

My favorite would be the plastic 9 celled for a few reasons, first, they are reusable, second, they only have 9 cells which for me is a good number of seeds to plant for most vegetables and also you don’t have to try and grow seeds that will germinate at the same time as you would when using the 72 celled ones. They are great for a mass planting of the same variety. The peat pots were ok, but they disintegrated quick which made moving the seedling to another location difficult. You would pick up the little pot and it would fall apart. However, if you had a quick germinating seed that you were not keeping in the peat pot for long they are great. The egg cartons were an economical way to start seeds. But much like the peat pots, they fell apart easily. I will still use the egg cartons, but just not for longer germinating seeds since the water needed to get the seeds to sprout breaks down the pot. The peat pellets were pretty good, easy to move and fit well into the trays.

Organizing seeds, especially a large quantity is another must. I have several duplicates for that exact reason, bad organizing. I tried alphabetical, did not like that much because sometimes I would use a different name for something (instead of using “b” for buttercrunch lettuce I would just use “l”), keeping them in order of when they would be planted, not my favorite either, direct sow and start indoors, was ok but still not right for me, and lastly, I grouped them in likeness. This meant all varieties went together, no formal names used so all lettuce together, carrots together, etc.. and that was a winner for me. I’m sure for others that would drive them nuts!!

This year I also changed up my planting medium. In years past I would just buy some Miracle Grow seed starter and go to town. After taking a soil class at the local nursery I decided to change it up a bit. I started some seeds in 100% coconut coir and some in a coconut coir/soil mixture. Both did great. With the coconut coir there are no added fertilizers or anything for that matter so you need to keep that in mind. I kept my fertilizing to all organic.

Lastly, this was my first year using grow lights….LOVE THEM!!!! I started so much earlier and had such a great success. The downside, they take up a lot of room. I converted my formal dining room into a nursery and should have it back to normal before the first real holiday… or at least I hope. Ha!

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Bamboo Tomato Cage

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WP_20130429_023There are days when getting a project done in a timely manner just doesn’t happen. That is the current issue with the bamboo tomato cage I’m building from bamboo I cut from my yard.

I picked one of the cedar planters that I normally put tomatoes and am building it to fit. So far I’ve cut four long posts for each side and 24 short ones for the rungs. Not sure if I’ll actually need all 24 though. After I set it up and on the ground with 6 rungs on a side they seemed too close. Hhhmm, maybe a little adjusting will be in order… Fingers crossed, this will be done tomorrow.

Asian Peking Duck Salad

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We bought some duck at the Asian market this weekend so I made a couple dishes, plus stock, to use it up.  The Asian Peking Duck Salad could just as easily be made with chicken.

For the recipe:

8 oz  Japanese style noodles (Top Ramen style, which I don’t use, but that’s what they look like)

1 carrot cut into matchsticks

1/4 head of red cabbage cut into matchsticks

1/4 head of nappa cabbage cut about 1/4″ thick

1/2 English cucumber cut into matchsticks

3 green onions sliced on the diagonal

duck breast meat from one duck

1/2 c toasted cashews

Cook the noodles according to package directions.  I like to do this first and pour the dressing over it so it soaks into them.  Add remaining ingredients, add the cucumber just before serving so they don’t get soggy.  The salad is better if allowed to sit for a few hours before serving.

For the dressing:

1/2 c rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp. black sesame seeds (white can be substituted)

5 tbsp. sugar

1/2 c oil (I have used peanut and olive, both are fine)

Mix first six ingredients then drizzle in the oil as you stir.  I like a strong vinegar taste, for less add more oil and a little more sugar.

Peking Duck Stock

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bones and skin from one Peking duck

2 carrots

1 onion

1 bunch of parsley

2 bay leaves

1 tsp peppercorns

water to cover

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water.  Cook over medium heat for two hours.  Adjust heat so the stock does not boil too much, just a slow boil/simmer.

Let cool, then strain the stock.  Throw away solids.

There will be a lot of fat so you will need to de-fat the stock.  If you do not have a de-fatter, let the stock cool so the fat turns into a solid, then take it off.

Breakfast in the Burbs

Mornings are pretty crazy at my house so whenever I get some quiet moments I savor them.  Uh oh, that three seconds of quiet has just ended…

I’m hoping for a descent day around here, but not sure what exactly it’s going to do.  I have a list of things I would like to get done, but the list that usually gets done is VERY different.  I really need to finish my bamboo tomato cage.  I’ve cut all the bamboo into pieces, they just need to be tied together.  More tomato plants are being adopted out.  I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out.  I will be even happier if they produce a nice crop of tomatoes.