Archive for March, 2010

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taking stock of march

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Ah, March has come to a close. And it was a great month for coming out of winter hibernation.

March started with Craig and me in Mexico on the Riviera Maya, getting away on a much-needed holiday. The month started as a lion, and then decided to become a lamb with temperatures that reached 70°F here in Southern New Hampshire. And then, fickle March, decided to go out like a lion once again.

It’s been cold and rainy here for much of the past week. Lots of flooding in our area. I went to pick up our raw milk from our local cow, and I had to maneuver the car with trepidation through high water and flooded roads to get to my destination. Hopefully we will get a chance to dry out over the next few days—it’s supposed to reach 70°F again by Saturday!

March was a great month for cleaning out our little house. We did a thorough Spring cleaning, complete with scrubbing down the insides and outsides of our refrigerator.

semi-annual cleaning of the refrigerator

This fridge is clean!

I was able to get rid of the condiment clutter that tends to take over our fridge, eliminating multiples of ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, and horseradish that have a tendency to linger far too long.

condiment clutter

Seriously? Who holds on to that many empty containers? Oh, us... right.

condiment clutter again

Bye, bye excess jars of salsa, ketchup, salad dressing, blah blah blah...

Now we have plenty of room for more cooked meals, fresh salsa, vegetables, herbs, pickles, and all the other delights that will come with Spring and Summer!

March was also about getting our yard back into shape. I cleared out the front gardens to make way for Spring flowers. And we spent a ton of time on Sunday picking up sticks, tree limbs, and all the dead stuff that finds its way onto the lawn throughout the winter. Now our wood pile is turning into quite an eye sore.

March wood pile

Break out the fire pit—we've got wood to burn!

March was also filled with family time. We hung out with Craig’s sister a few weeks ago and had a chance to catch up and show her photos from our Mexican adventure.

And we spent last weekend with my cousins staying at our house, here in town for my sister’s babies shower (twins!) It was so much fun to hang out with my extended family, and I truly mean that. My cousin and his wife live in New Jersey and made the trip up. They are new homeowners and also love experimenting with gardening, so it was exciting to swap stories and ideas and get psyched to start our vegetable gardens! I hosted an impromptu dinner on Friday night for us all and invited my sister and her husband to come over. My first homemade lasagna was a big hit.

My sister’s shower the next day was fantantastic, even though I was nursing ridiculous allergies/sinus messiness. I cooked up a storm of food for the shower—crockpot meatballs, crockpot kielbasa, hot artichoke dip, an italian dip with fresh basil and roma tomatoes, etc. My spirits were lifted thinking about the impending arrival of my younger sister’s little ones. She looks amazing for almost 32 weeks. And her babies are still kicking up a storm! I took every opportunity I could to put my hands on her stomach and feel them squirming around. They’ll be here so soon!

Most of all, though, for me March was about renewal. It was a time of reflection on the heaviness of Winter. It was a time for reassessing priorities as Spring approaches. It was about checking off the must-dos (taxes…) and leftovers on the to-do list (clean fridge…) in order to make room for the new projects and prospects that come with the start of the growing season. March was the month to start making new plans as the seasons shifted and the hours began to get longer.

Now the hope of sunlight and flowers and planting returns.

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, Household Management 101, Reduce Reuse Recycle, The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

growing garlic bulbs

Monday, March 29th, 2010

My garlic is the first thing to come up in my garden this spring. And this is because it is a bulb—just like a flower bulb. I planted my garlic last fall. This is my first year growing garlic, and I’m very excited to see what happens.

I got an organic bulb from my Mom who is part of a CSA. She gave me one of her bulbs, and I broke it apart to plant the cloves. Funny though, because this organic garlic bulb was comprised of just 4 gigantic cloves. So I broke apart the bulb and planted each clove about 2″ deep with the tip pointed upwards in the front of my garden bed. Then I covered the cloves gently with soil and then covered the soil with the leftover stalks and leaves from my summer lillies.

garlic cloves covered in hay

Garlic cloves incubating in long raised bed.

The dried out stalks and leaves became a sort of “hay” to provide extra insulation for the garlic and help them survive through winter and thrive in the early spring weather with its warm days and cold nights. (Thus far we’ve had way too many cold nights!)

But now they are poking through!

garlic sprouts

garlic sprouts!

Soon I will take the hay off as the garlic continues to grow stronger and the days warm up. The plan is that these individual cloves that I planted will grow to become their own bulbs with multiple cloves (or maybe just 4 large cloves per bulb?) It will be interesting to see what happens.

What I’m reallllly hoping for is garlic scapes. Scapes are the long green shoot that grows out of the forming garlic bulb. The garlic scape gets hard and twisty and turny as it grows, and it becomes the flowering part of the garlic plant. A garlic scape has the most amazing garlic/chive buttery yet delicate flavor that is unbelievably good. You can snip off the stalk of the garlic scape and then dice it to use in a stir fry, quiche, salad, casserole. They are so good. Eating a scape is the closest thing I can think of to a vegetable delicacy. And garlic scapes are to quite hard to find around here, even at farmer’s markets. I keep hoping they’ll catch on and start showing up in more places.

garlic sprouts

Bring on the garlic scapes!

I still have a lot to research and learn, such as when to cut the scape, when to harvest, if I need to figure out any type of fertilization, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing my bulbs progress. Here’s to the first of many new gardening experiments this year!

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Posted in The Growing Season | 3 Comments »

why, croci, why?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

So my croci (yes, I’ve decided on using that as the plural of crocus) seem to have a hard time flowering in my front flower garden beds. I don’t know if it’s because of the soil? Or lack of sunlight? Or what.

Croci or crocuses poking through the soil with a couple of irises, too.

Croci or crocuses poking through the soil with a couple of irises, too.

This is the third year that I’ve watched them make their appearance and then dud out on me. And the reason I know they are duds is because I also have some that seem to have made their way into my yard.

Hmmmm…. I’m thinking Mr. Squirrel had his way with my bulbs and “deposited” them in other random yard places. And here they seem to flourish.

Croci or crocuses beginning to bloom

Croci/crocuses beginning to bloom in my yard.

Now, granted, you can see from the photo that by “yard” I mean barren, muddy, moss-filled patch underneath my maple tree. But that’s really a whole other post. Nonetheless, I kind of like having croci scattered about in the yard. It’s sort of like having an Easter egg hunt for flowers.

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Posted in The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

it’s open season on the growing season

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Okay, okay, so we’ve had a temporary setback this week with some wet, chilly weather. But after all, it is still March. And it would appear that March is going out like a lion. A cranky lion, at that.

But I had an amazing weekend hanging out in the yard surveying the beginnings of this year’s gardening. I spent lots of time walking around and just observing my raised beds and front gardens and back gardens. And, of course, I spent a lot of time clearing them out to get them ready for the longer days of sunlight, spring rain, and new growth. It was really restorative to be back outside and playing in the dirt! Especially on the first weekend of Spring! In years past we’ve still had several feet of snow on the ground right now.

But not this year! Here’s what my front garden looked like before I started poking at it on Sunday.

March garden before clearing

March garden before clearing

March front garden before clearing away the winter debris

And here is what it looked like 3 hours later after I hacked down dead chrysanthemum stalks, astilbe stalks, leaves from the dogwood tree, geranium overgrowth from last fall, etc.

March front garden after clearing

March front garden after clearing

It is such a surprising workout to be on your hands and knees clipping and pulling and squatting and twisting and attacking strange weeds that have sprung up in all the wrong places. My legs start to twitch and quiver and soon I’m full-on sitting on my butt or propped up on my elbow, covered in dirt from head to toe. It’s intense and tons of fun.

The clever and insistent violets are already sprouting and threatening to talk over my lillies (along the back of the garden). And there’s some sort of pesky, wiry shrub that keeps popping back up year after year even though I swear I’ve dug deep enough to get it all up by the roots. So I had to attack that as well. And the spiderwort. I am not a fan. It grows so top-heavy and ends up falling over and crushing any of my other bulbs and perennials around it. So I dug up as many of the tubers as I could find.

My Fire of Love tulips (Tulipa greigii) are coming up nicely on the lefthand side. Here’s a closeup.

Fire of Love tulips variegated leaves

Fire of Love tulips variegated leaves

And here’s my first official early spring bloom: Star of Holland (Scilla siberica) with hyacinths bursting up out of the soil in the foreground and background.

Star of Holland (Scilla siberica)

Star of Holland (Scilla siberica)

There’s something so exciting about seeing the ground wake up and everything coming alive after months and months of slumber and frozen soil. It reminds me that cycles and growing are happening even when I don’t feel like anything is progressing. It’s invigorating and reassuring to be back at work in the garden again. My flowers are coming up at a slow and steady pace, and soon it will be time to plant new vegetables seeds in my raised beds.

I really like that spring is both a noun and a verb. It’s an affirmation of existence, and it inspires action.

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Posted in Let's Get Physical, The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

happy spring!

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Today is the first day of Spring! Finally! Waaaaahhhhhoooooo!

It has been such a wonderful, beautiful day. The temp reached 70°F and it was sunny and breezy out. A perfect first day of spring.

The thermometer reads 70 degrees on March 20th!

70°F on the First Day of Spring!

I am so thankful that the worst of the winter weather is now over. I am so happy to be back outside working in my garden. I am just delighted.

And a bit tired and sore. Today we launched a massive spring cleaning effort. We’re almost done, and the house looks good. And maybe, just maybe, if I wish reallllly hard, our house will magically keep itself clean from now on.

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Posted in Household Management 101, The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

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