Sorrel or clover – another goodie in my garden?

It’s mid-March and I’m itching to start in my garden but the weather conditions are just not practical – not even for cool-weather crops like peas, ruccola, and spinach. Even with a high-bed and containers which normally warm up faster than regular beds, were I to plant now, the seed may rot either before springing or just after (dampen-off) due to its current wet and cold condition – neither of which I can bear!

Today is reportedly the last 0°C night and the forecast indicates consistent steadily increasing temperatures, so this Saturday I anticipate getting some crops started.  As I impatiently wait, I’ve been doing some research and reading. I find it beneficial to go through previously read info, to refresh or remind myself of a method/concept that might have been forgotten. Often times, I come across something new, which was the case today.

Clumps of clover grow all over my garden and for the large part, I leave them alone.  I recognised them from seeing them in my home town of Nassau as a child, and that was that – they were neither decidely dangerous or beneficial (although, I have read they can be signs of high nitrogen levels in the ground), so I let them be. However, I just discovered (via various sources) that the plant I identified as clover, might in fact be wood sorrel.  That changes the ballgame!

Wood sorrel is a pretty useful plant and if I’m right, I’m pretty psyched to have free access to this gem.  Turns out, wood sorrel is edible, is high in Vitamin C, and is regarded as a ‘thirst-quencher’. Not sure if I might consume what I have, but extending my knowledge of my garden and plants in general is pretty cool!

Here’s the original post complete with pictures showing the difference between the two plants: Sorrel or clover | Abraham’s Blog Should curiousity take over, a quick search will provide more sources than you’ll know what to do with!

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40 and in Full Swing!

I’ve been really bad at posting for awhile now. Honestly, there was so much going on, that I was actually enjoying my life and failed to write about it. But now, I’ve settled into my new phase and while still enjoying it immensely, it’s no longer so chaotic and I’m inspired about my direction in life.

My last post was about getting a new job, going on vacation for the first time in awhile, and feeling empowered. Since then, I’ve been with my company for about 1.5 years, created a successful professional impression with my colleagues, and made friends.

My personal life is also bringing me joy. Hubs and I flew my mom in for a visit last summer – that’s going to have to be a post in it’s self! I had so much fun as my mom was here and I loved showing her my new city.  As the weather warms up, I’m starting to think, ‘How possible is it get her back here again this summer?’

Hubs & I also went on vacation to The Canary Islands with friends & it was to die for! Black sand, amazing seafood, ridiculously beautiful environment, and the feeling of freedom. That’ll also be another post.  We spent quite a bit of time with them this year and it’s been nice to develop friendships. Actually, instead of packing for a ski vacation I’m about to go on with them tomorrow, I got the drive to finally post again. So sweet & short, here’s a quick montage of life up to now.

Talk to you soon…

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Golden Oyster Mushrooms Pasta (Gelber Seitling) – Yum!!!

Hubs recently started experiementing in the garden, ‘planting’ a wooden stump impregnated with mushroom spores.  As it won’t produce until about August, a friend presented him with a few easy-to-cultivate, pre-impregnated mediums (straw, hay??) in plastic bags.

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I’ve never heard of these before but apparently, they’re well-known enough for there to be established businesses around this subject.  If you’d like to try it out yourself, I’d definitely suggest PilzZucht (in Austria) and for the USA or Bahamas, a Google search should be very rewarding.

Initially, I experienced a mixture of curiousity and dismay – the latter because they were to be raised indoors.  As in, in my living quarters!!  If you’re confused by my reaction – please note that my only experience with living mushrooms were those that tried to cultivate in poorly-maintained bathrooms and quickly met their demise with bleach.  Maybe it’s a Bahamian thing because to my limited knowledge, we don’t cultivate mushrooms for any purpose.

Still, wanting to support my husband, I acquiesced and  helped create the perfect spot for it – under the kitchen window with indirect sunlight.  Receiving a misting of water, twice a day, their growth was definitely noticeable upon waking and returning home – incredible.

To further prepare this novice, on an evening out to dinner, Hubs ordered the mushrooms as appetizers.  OMG, they were delicious!!  I was definitely onboard!

Within 7 days, there were ready for harvest and that task was left to me alone as he was out-of-town.  My wonderful neighbor came over and harvested a few for her family – these things are prodigious!  And noticing that she hadn’t exploded, collapsed, or reacted in any weird ways upon touching the creepy things – I, too, collected a few for a simple, ridiculously easy, not to mention a gastronomically delightful pasta dinner.

Golden Oyster Mushroom (Gelber Seitling) Pasta (click pictures for recipe)

Review:  Unlike other mushrooms I’ve eaten, these have a light flavor, none of the heaviness or earthiness sometimes associated with mushrooms.  The texture has bite – that is, there’s something to chew but it’s not as ‘meaty’ as a Portobello.  The serving was for one and weirdly, I didn’t feel overly-full or bloated after dining and remained sate – I have no desire to eat anymore for tonight.

Golden Oyster Mushrooms are definitely a keeper and will remain (gasp!!) in my kitchen. I dislike how upon reaching a certain size they’re start to spray a fine misting of spores into the air – I can live without that in my kitchen.  However, I do love how quickly they grow, harvest, clean (really, a quick rinse is all that’s needed), and cook.  They’re so mindblowingly, crazily delicious and so satisfying!  Nothing’s missing – texture, flavor, full satiation, color, and vitamins/minerals – I’m a convert and fan!

I’d really love to hear from other’s who’ve grown &/or created culinary masterpieces with these jewels.  Until next time….

Malhzeit!

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The Taste and Scent of Summer

This weekend was AWESOME!  I got to enjoy one of my favorite late spring/early summer activities with one of my favorite persons – Hub’s Oma.

Nothing holds the taste and scent of summer more intensely as strawberries and no berry tastes and smells quite as good as those harvested in the right season.  But what about the rest of the year?  The choice is to buy frozen berries, imported greenhouse berries, or as I do, collect as many of the seasonal berry as needed and preserve them to carry us through the year.  Here’s how I save mine:

In garden news, the weather’s been practically perfect – cloudless, blue skies filled with blazing yellow sun; hot, humid temperatures; followed by cooling, drenching rains.  Everything responded accordingly – lush, thick, fast growth; innumerous blossoms, and the beginning of the fruiting.  Have a look-see:

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Letting Nature Take It’s Course

Tomorrow is the first of June and the beginning of summer!  The moments of preparation and care will now bring forth fruit and hopefully lots of it on a consistent basis.

Still, everything’s not as easy as it seems.  Last weekend, we experienced 3 days of rain, for which I was happy to receive.  Rainwater’s the best of for plants; but, 3 days of wet might have been too much for the poor things.  Rapid growth was followed by pests and mildew.  A year ago, I’d have been out spraying and what not, this year I’m letting nature take it’s course.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens but so far, my garden has turned into a hunting ground for insects and birds.

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Pfingstrosen

Prior to receiving a large garbage bag full of roots with the instructions to plant them in sun at the same depth at which they were previously planted; I’d never payed any attention to peonies.  Oh yeah, in Austria they’re called Pfingstrosen and they bloom just about the time of Pentacost (Pfingsten) which we’re currently celebrating.

Honestly, I don’t know much about them but I’m really happy to have them.  They’re huge, elegant, and they smell AMAZING – a little bit like Jasmine and Rose combined.  Mine are, according my experience, medium in scent – my entire bedroom is perfumed; however, I’ve had flowers upstairs that I could smell from the frontdoor (which I would base as strong-scented).

Here’s what I’ve learned in the year that I’ve had these plants:

  • Peonies originate in Asia.  The peony is named after the Greek medical student Paeon who was saved from the wrath of his teacher Asclepius (Greek god of medicine & healing) by Zeus by turning him into the flower.
  • there seems to be four growing types: woodland, intersectional, herbacious, and tree.  Mine are intersectional & a hybrid – meaning they’ve been bred to resist one thing or the other and to form their flowers in a certain way, the blooms tend to hang, & the leaves will stay green throughout the summer, die back in fall, & require trimming for the winter.  During the winter, the plant spreads it’s roots further and in the spring, as occurred this spring, they take over another 6 inches of my garden – more for me!
  • They come in a variety of colors – from the palest white to the deepest purplish-black – and shapes – from single to a bomb (mine can either be defined as a ‘Hundred Proliferate’ or ‘Crown’ shape; still working on classifying which hybrid it is).
  • like Rhubarb, they will return each spring (one of the first out of the ground), require very little care if they’ve been properly set, should be planted in fall, need to be divided every 5 yrs or so for optimum health, and will provide pleasure for generations.
  • they like full sun – mine are receiving about 8 hrs per day in the spring, perhaps 10hrs in summer but they are planted next to a western hedge (no afternoon sun).  This means that they tend to reach for the remaining afteroon sun and grow out eatward instead of up.  This happens to a lot of my plants as the ideal spot has been given to the highbed.
  • in general, propagation occurs by root division. The flowers do produce seeds but the resulting flower will often not be identical to the original flower/plant due to hybridation.
  • peony flowers tend to be visited by ants – no worries, they’re just collecting sap, let them be.  It’s normal.  They do fall victum to a few viruses and diseases but mine have been lucky so far.
  • the flowers make amazing cut flowers that last a long time – the hanging version like mine are usually trimmed short on their stems and floated in a bowl of water. I’ve noticed that upon trimming the just opened blooms (they should be trimmed when still closed) and arranging them in their vase, the blooms spread all the way open and were just divine.  Some are defined as dinner-plate blossoms given the breadth of the spread; perhaps I’ll try floating a new blossom in a bowl of water in a few weeks.

For more Information on Peonies: http://peonysenvy.com/peonycare.html

I’m fascinated with this wonderful plant/flower & observing it as it continues to settle into it’s new home and develop.  And I’m really enjoying the amazingly fresh perfume they grace my home with.

 

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Spring Always Seems To Fly By

The last month and a half just sped by and although I haven’t posted, I did document.  Most things have been a success so far but a few casualties did occur.  I’m still in awe of how quickly everything’s grown and that the seeds I started actually became plants.  It’s just so cool!

April

The seedlings just needed to go outside; there was no place to really support their healthy growth, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Early May

Between the quickly warming days and the generally warmer micro-climate of my garden, we got some early harvests.  Honestly, the best we’ve ever had!  I’m definitely going to overwinter our spinach and rucola again next year.  I’ll attempt it again with the chard and artichoke (if they survive this summer) but with a nice bedding of mulch.  Last year’s artichoke rotted due to excess moisture & freezing; while the chard went to seed.

Mid May

There’s something about spring that makes me go a little crazy.  As soon as things warm up and a little green shows, I’m off – tucking new plants in every cranny I can.  Once again, I overcrowded (despite my SFG planning).  Succumbing to desire & despair that my own wouldn’t sprout (old seeds), I bought lettuce seedlings.  A pallet of what I assumed were 6, turned out to be 12 and without thought, I popped them all in one square foot – bad!!  Oh well, we’ll have to eat them as they grow.

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Another Week, A Million Lessons!

If it was possible to do everything wrong….I did! First, let it be known…I fell into raising plants from seedlings…seriously, I had no idea what I was doing, was resistant (see last post), and the results speak for themselves. The poor plants suffered and died.  I, on the other hand learned the meaning behind the term ‘Damping Off‘.  Remember I mentioned a mold on my plants; well that’s a fungus that’s killing my babies.  There’s no cure for it & once one has it, it spreads like wildfire through the air… they all ended in the trash.

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That white stuff on the pods is one the fungi that kills plants – jointly known as ‘Damping Off’.

A bleach bath for the containers, watering systems, everything that I would be using again, and again we try.  Knowing I was behind schedule and that the spring plants could stand an early planting, I started with the summer squashes & melons.  Within a couple days, the zucchinis and melon sprouted. IMG_3991 Granted the previous weekend was wonderful, so great that I brought all the plants outside to enjoy the sun and the unusually warm temperatures…in the hopes that the bright light would wake a few of them up from their winter sleep and just do everyone a world of good.

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The over-wintered Hibiscus,

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and Bouganvillea…pray for them. Technically, they were supposed to go dormant over the winter, they look dead to me.

Here’s a few other shots of the garden waking up and enjoying the wonderful spring day. Last Fall, I decided I wanted to do something with this area of the garden.  It’s cool, stays damp, won’t grow a proper covering of grass in the corners, and is difficult to mow – we decided on Winter – early Summer bulbs.

Here’s how the rest are getting on…

And a full-view.

Now back to adventures in raising plants from seed.

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If you’re starting from seed; here’s a bit of info I found that helped (after the fact) that may save you from the trauma of losing your babies and having to start again like I did.

And finally, one of the biggest sacrifices ever!  This lily was purchased on Thursday for a friend’s birthday party (it was on Saturday evening).  I housed it in my office/closet and everyday, upon waking up and also upon returning home, its scent would permeate the entire apartment – it’s sooooo lovely.  I was really tempted to keep it but decided if I’m meant to have one, when I go back to the store, one’ll be there waiting on me.  Trust when I say, this is better than any airfreshner! IMG_4025

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This Week in A Bahamian in Austria’s Garden…

Just a quick update on how things are progressing thus far:

  • I’ve been emotionally distancing myself from the seedlings in an attempt to dampen the affect of the inevitable. There’s a reason folks have all that prep stuff!
  • The neighborhood cats seem to be winning the battle but I’m getting closer and closer to ignoring Hubs and putting straw on the highbed.  He hates the look of it but I hate having to dig up cat poo!
  • The temps have dipped again, which is why only the true spring plants have been started.  I’ve still to cut back the tree and the sage but it’s really cold outside and I’d only rush (and mess up) the job; better to wait until a warmer day.

Until next time!

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Getting Started

A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger asked if I’d started on the spring garden as yet, which given our cold, gray skies, hadn’t even been given a thought.  The organic gardening stores hadn’t started hawking their wares yet – normally my cue to get started.  Then my neighbor awesomely presented me with a massive amount of seeds for my birthday, which I am now obligated to successfully bring to fruition.

I know a few folks that start their seeds indoors in the late winter but all the information ever shared with me on the subject indicates a rather tedious, involved, and expensive process requiring lots of space.  There are discussions about grow lights, essential-nutrients, grow cells, and basements have been remodelled into growing facilities.  It’s enough trying to find space to over-winter my non-hardy plants so I just figured, “forget that – leave that to the professionals and just buy the seedlings!  There’s no space to house all that and I’m not investing in grow lights!”

So how am I going to successfully bring those gifted seeds to fruition?   By applying small scale processes.  First, I layed out a plan of what our spring garden and summer garden should provide, re-read my books on Square Foot Gardening (SFG) and adapted my plan to available space based on the plants we’d like to have and how much growing time we’re likely to be blessed with (i.e. the amount of weeks between the last and first frost dates).  Some of the plants will be direct sown into their spots (i.e. carrots, radishes, peas) while others will be started indoors and then transplanted based on the last frost date (i.e. leafy greens, tomatoes, zucchini); some will be succession planted and others will be fixed.

SFG principles eradicate the need to start dozens of one plant and requiring a huge amount of space to house them until their ready for transfer.  I simply look up how much can be planted in a square foot (i.e. 16 carrots, 8 pea plants, 1 tomato plant), determine the amount of plants required based on production level and then I double the amount of seeds I start to allow for choosing the strongest for transplanting.  So we’d only need one each of a massive producers like cucumber or zucchini; thus, I’ll plant two seeds of each and only transplant the healthiest later.  Also, since I’m staggering the planting dates, all of the seeds aren’t being planted the same time requiring a basement laboratory.

All that having been said – I’m late!  Last frost date for my area is March 11 – 20 and my Sweet Chocolate Paprika (sweet pepper) should’ve been started 7 weeks prior as it needs 19 weeks til harvest.  Oh well, we’ll do the best we can.

If you’ve been playing around with the idea of starting a garden or getting an allotment, I would love to encourage you to do so – it’s SOOOO much fun and is one of the best parts of my day!  Pam (another fellow blogger) posted a great 5 step checklist on the subject; maybe it’ll help in your decision-making process!

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