I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Late start

The early seeds didn't fare too well; most of them have not gone into the ground. Some are in pots, some may go into the ground if I clear out a bed, but it may be curtains for most of them.

So what do we do? Start more seeds in the middle of July, when they're sure to be fried. Did some herbs, some annuals, some veggies, and next will start on the perennials. Which should be started now anyway, so they can get some roots going before winter. And of course if I decide I'm really going to sell the house and move somewhere with enough sun for a greenhouse, everything is probably going to get sacrificed in the move.

But it's still fun to watch the little monkeys sprout. The Pot of Gold chard in particular will be a nice color accent this fall, even if I'm not here to admire it.

Update 9/21/08: Still here, and probably will not move until next year, but the Pot of Gold chard just started making true leaves.

Moral: do not start chard in the blistering heat of summer, it will rebel.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Little criminals

Viola labradorica is one of my favorite violets. I think the color is better in the shade, new growth is a deep dusky purplish. The leaves here only get a twinge of purple, since they get blasting sun in the afternoon. So I have been trying to save the seeds, and they're hard to snag, due to the species being one of those bursting capsule types that flings open as soon as you've turned your back.

Well I managed to capture a few, and had them on the counter in a dish to let them dry out before storage, but they kept disappearing. Blamed it on the cats, figured they were playing swat the bug with the seed capsules. Got a few again, put them on the stove top (which is full of cuttings trying to root, so pretty crowded for cats), and this morning I caught the thieves!

Antz stealed my seedz! Actually they were trying to steal, but kept dropping them all over the stove, so I rescued most (of the seeds, that is).

The ant invasion was pretty late this year; they usually show up in the kitchen by April, but it wasn't til June before I saw the first of them. They are slowly petering out now- guess the water table has dropped to tolerable, ant-wise.

I also guess it never occurred to me that they might fancy tiny little seeds (good thing I'm not an ant.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer salads rule

Cucumbers beat potatoes, coleslaw, and all the rest hands down when it comes to the essence of summer in a bowl.

Matter of fact, maybe it's not too late to start some seeds now for the end of summer crop...

Cucumber Salad

4 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced very thinly
1/4 cup diced red onion
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
4 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. fresh minced or 1 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or white, if you don't like the specks)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate long enough to chill. Adjust seasonings to taste.

I tend to go light on the vinegar and sugar, but if you need more zing, by all means, splash it on.

If you have really good tomatoes, cucumber-tomato salad may not be far behind. Dice a large tomato, drain if too juicy (or keep the wonderful juiciness in), and mix in with the other ingredients.

Starting the starter. Again.

Atticus ate the first starter on day two, and it was really kickin' A (so I almost started kickin' A as a result.) Today I mixed up the second batch, this time from Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" (page 61.) He uses pineapple juice, whole wheat flour, and malt powder to give it an extra nudge.

The pineapple juice is supposed to thwart leuconostoc bacteria, which can make all kinds of nastiness in your sourdough.
So we'll see what's up with this little half cup of breeding ground tomorrow.

Update 9/21/08: the first starter was great, and developing fast, with no pineapple juice (but Atticus ate it); the second try turned into a microbial mess. What the muck? I will re-read Peter's chapter about starting the starter, as I must have introduced some nastiness myself (it was freakin' hot in July, probably made lots of bacterial critters real happy.) Maybe the cooler temps of late will be more conducive to slow, steady sourdough development.