Seedlings are up!

Three of the four lettuce varieties that I planted early last week are up.  The fourth one was an old seed package that I thought I’d see if they were still viable.  Unless they’re really slow germinators, they’re probably not going to come up.

The broccoli seedlings are looking great. This is the first time I try to grow broccoli from seed. I hope it works!

The cucumbers are starting to poke out.  The cherry tomatoes are up while the other variety is still waiting.

I’m still waiting to see the pepper plants come out, but I’m pretty sure they are slow to germinate so I’m not worried yet.

The seedling flats are in our basement laundry room where I can control the temperature better. I also have some grow lights and have been keeping these on for twelve hours a day.

It’s an exciting time of the year!

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2011 Garden

I love vegetable gardens.  In 2004 I attended the Linnea Farm Ecological Gardening Programme on Cortes Island, British Columbia.  It was there that I had my first vegetable garden plot which I filled with a variety of veggies, and edible and non-edible flowers.  During those eight months I learnt about, among other things, organic gardening methods, composting, rotation planting, and companion plants.

Production garden at Linnaea Farm

Since then I have grown vegetable gardens in different communities where I have lived. Some have been at community gardens, in communal gardens, and one was at a botanical centre where I worked.  But – since I moved around so much – I was never able to have a garden in one spot for more than one year.

That is why I was so excited to buy a house with property in 2009.  We had room for a permanent garden!  That first fall, we tilled a 30 feet X 30 feet area in our side yard.  The next summer we built a fence to keep the neighborhood deer out of the garden.

This summer – finally – the garden was ready to be planted! Having had a few not-so-great gardens in bad soil a few times, I decided that I would make sure this garden would grow from the get-go. The soil here was very sandy and nutritionally-depleted so I trucked in 6 loads of compost from the garden centre down the road.  It was not cheap, but wow…the garden sure grew!  I kept telling people that it was on steroids.

2011 vegetable gardenWe ate out of the garden all summer and kept eating kale and carrots from the garden until mid-December.  We still have a few cabbages in the fridge and a few buttercup squash in the basement.

Mark me down as a happy gardener 🙂

In my next post, I’ll explain my garden design and rotation system.

Did you have a vegetable garden this year? What was your favorite vegetable?

Simple Meals – Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Vegetable Pasta Sauce (adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)

The Moosewood Cookbook started me on my cooking journey when I was 19.  I was living in my first apartment and barely knew how to boil an egg.  I attribute this lack of cooking skills to my teenage years when I did not want to have anything to do with anything my parents liked or did.  My mom was a home economics teacher at the time. She tried, but I didn’t listen.

After a few weeks of living off cereal and toast, and finally out of those teenage years,  I borrowed my mom’s Moosewood Cookbook.  I was attracted to its simple hand written style and illustrations.

This recipe makes enough for nine meals for my husband and I.  It is extremely easy to make and freeze and is wonderful for last-minute meals. I heat the empty and clean regular-sized mason jars in the oven for 15 minutes at 250 degrees and soak the lids in boiled water.  Fill up the jars (make sure to leave an inch at the top for expansion) and then freeze them once everything has cooled down.  No need for special canning equipment!

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 2 medium-sized bell pepper, diced
  • 4 medium stalks celery, minced
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 to 4 medium (6-inch) zucchini, diced
  • 2 to 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 8 tsp. basil
  • 4 tsp. oregano
  • 4 tsp. thyme
  • 4 tsp. dill (optional – I love dill and put it in as many dishes as I can)
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 2 lb (26 oz) canned diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • lots of black pepper
  • 8 to 12 large cloves garlic

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large cooking pot.  Add first set of ingredients (onion to salt) and sauté over medium heat until the onion is very soft (about 20 minutes).
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, honey and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, the lower heat and simmer, partially covered for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 10 minutes more.
  4. Put in mason jars.

Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite pasta sauce recipe?