Plant Seeds Giveaway – just 2 days left!

Contest ends this Friday, 3.21.2014

Just two days left for you to follow the blog and get one entry to be in the drawing to win the 11 packets of seeds.’

If you comment in addition, you get a second entry.

Already follow? Just comment and let me know! 

Go for it!

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Seed Giveaway Contest #2

Ends Friday, March.21.2014

It is that time of the year again…spring is in the air for some, but visions of veggies and flowers dance in their heads for others. Are you ready to start your garden? Is it time to go out and get some seed packets? Wondering what to get? I have a start-up packet of seeds for you.

Here is how you can enter to win this giveaway:

1) Follow my blog to get one entry
2) Leave a comment in addition to following and you get a second entry.
3) Share on your blog or facebook and that will count as a third entry.

If you already follow the blog, let me know by leaving a comment and it will count as 2 entries (one for following and a second for commenting)!

NB: A comment without a follow won’t count as an entry.

I will announce a winner late the evening of Friday 21st March. Look back here then!

Seeds available are:

  • Radish (Champion)
  • Melting Sugar Snow Peas
  • Garden Beans (Contender Bush)The prize!
  • Evergreen Bunching Onions
  • Organic San Marzano Tomato
  • Organic Beefsteak Tomato
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Cilantro / Coriander
  • Sunflower (Red Sun)
  • Morning Glory (Giant, Mixed colors)
  • Nasturtium (Dwarf Cherry Rose)

Good Luck!

Open only to continental US addresses.

DIY Plant Marker Labels

It is that time of the year again. Time to start plant seeds indoors and be ready right after the last frost. This year, thanks to an agent with the city I live in, I have many new varieties of vegetables I would like to try. But, before I start, it is time to go out and get some planting trays. I am still debating whether to go out and buy the plastic greenhouse trays with the compressed soil pellets or to use old egg cartons (and, I have many of those saved for a small farmer from whom I get farm fresh eggs in the summer) with soil starter. While looking through my supplies, I realised that I was low on plant markers and was looking around to find something new. I now have a wonderful resource to make at least 20 different plant marker labels and wanted to share with you what The MicroGardener has on their site. Take a look if you want some neat ideas! Here are a few images from their site to tempt you into looking!

Plant Labels using Colored Rocks Plant Label using Pop Sticks Plant Label using tin lids

Farm fresh, organic, local home delivered produce (week 1)

So, earlier this week, my “tiny” box of produce was delivered to my front door. Fresh from local farms, organic or natural (aka awaiting organic certification but following pesticide and chemical free practices and sans the use of GMO seeds), it was left in a shady spot by my front door in a white cardboard box with an ice pack in it.When I opened it the ice pack was still cool and still a bit firm and despite having been in the sun for at least 2 hours, the collard greens were fresh and not wilted.

Here is what I was in the box this week : Veggies from delivered organic loacl produce

  • A gorgeous, healthy purple-red cabbage,
  • 2 Silver Queen corn
  • 3/4 lb of yellow wax beans
  • A couple of red beets
  • A bunch of collard greens
  • Almost 1 lbs red creamer potatoes
  • 3 patty pan squash (they are adorable looking!)
  • 2 Garnett yams
  • 3 white peaches
  • 2 oranges

We have already had the wax beans oven roasted (click for recipe), the potatoes oven roasted, the squash oven roasted and the collard greens sautéed with garlic and lemon juice. The peaches are much too firm for my liking (same thing I disliked about having produce delivered a couple of years ago) but the oranges will be had this week. I will oven roast the yam and beets, cook the cabbage Indian style and steam the corn for the kids for lunch tomorrow. One box of produce, finished in a few days. Will post in the coming weeks as the vegetables get delivered.

What I like: wax paper wrapping on the greens, fresh, local groceries delivered to my doorstep, the chance to try something I might not otherwise find or pick up at the grocers

What I don’t like – plastic bags wrapping some of the food, too firm fruits (jury is on hold until I see how quickly this ripens this week).

Home Delivered Produce

Last month I signed up for a service that home delivers natural, organic and often local produce. After a few technical glitches, I had my first box of vegetables and fruits delivered at my doorstep earlier in the week. When you sign up, you choose the size of the box (they have a sample of contents for each box size along with the cost online).

A few days before your produce is due, you get an e-mail with details of what the contents of your delivery that week will be. You can then check and remove or add items if you’d like to the box. Items deleted are substituted with another to keep the price the same and added items are charged at the rate detailed on their site. You also get to customise your likes and dislikes from the fruits and vegetables that are delivered so on days that an article you thoroughly dislike (rutabaga anyone??) is on the list, they automatically substitute for it. The produce is left on your doorstep in a large plastic sac (with a cold pack for warm days) and all of this is enclosed in a sealed carton.

This week, my “tiny” box contained 4 bananas, 2 large avocados, 3 slicing tomatoes, 2 potatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, 3/4 lb green beans (so fresh that my kids have been crunching on them raw as if they were pretzels), 3 pears, 3 apples, 3 oranges and 1 large red onion. A tiny box is meant for a family of one or two people and a good starter size for skeptics.

The nice part of this is that you are not obliged to stick with the service, can cancel or change the size of the box any day before delivery, take a vacation break, unlike a co-op you get home-delivery, and you know exactly what you are getting. If they are not in your neighborhood and you can band together 4 people who are willing to collect it from your doorstep, then the company will consider delivery to your location.

The quality of all the produce this week has been amazingly good. By quality, I mean the taste, though it hasn’t been unattractive to the eye either. As one of my friends who swung by to take a look at it said, “Wow! It looks really good and not spotty like most organic produce”. As for price, I think $29 for the lot I purchased was more than comparable with what I’d find at my neighborhood grocers and it was conveniently home-delivered to boot.

I’ve signed up for a few months and if things go well, will extend my signup. More in the coming months on this topic especially if things sour on the deal!

Sneaky Vegetable Soup

My children are fussy about eating cooked vegetables and unfamiliar grains, so I end up making them into soup. Yesterday, I introduced quinoa into my soup, and they ate it without realising it was there. For those who have similar issues, here is a (sort of) recipe.

Chop and boil in water any vegetables until cooked but not limp. I used coarsely chopped sweet potato, potato, carrots, orange beets, green beans, peas, spinach and pre-soaked red kidney beans. I do the bulk of my cooking in the pressure cooker, so I pressure cook these with no water in the holding container and water only in the base of my pressure cooker. I pressure cook for 7 minutes on low after the first whistle.

Separately stir fry in a bit of cooking oil (I use Olive or Canola) coarsely chopped onions, garlic, a bit of ginger, zucchini and squash until they just start to brown. If it starts to stick at the bottom, add a teaspoonful or so of water to prevent the sticking. Replenish with more water (or add some oil if you prefer).

Also cook a handful each of pearled barley and quinoa until softened. I pressure cooked both with some water in the holding container for about 2 minutes on low after the first whistle.

Put all of the ingredients (boiled vegetables, stir fried vegetables and the grains) into a blender and blend till almost smooth. Adjust salt, pepper and add any seasonings (like broth or bouillon) and water or broth to get to a consistency you like. Our soups tend to be thick and hearty. Bring to a boil and adjust seasonings and fluids.

I sometimes add tiny alphabet pasta that has been separately cooked during the final heating stage.

Serve with tortilla chips, homemade croutons (slices of bread with a light layer of butter on or both sides, cooked for 15-20 minutes at 200-250 degrees F until browned), baked tortillas, bread and butter, pretzels or even Indian namkeen (fried snacks from an Indian store).

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