Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mad Gardener awakens!

This was upsetting!
She has been in hibernation for the last several months, but the gardener in me has stirred.  It might be the warmer weather, the arrival of my seed packets or the thunder that woke me up this morning.  Whatever it is, the itch to get dirty (stop it)  is upon me!  Rumor has it that spring starts today, you couldn't have proved it this morning by looking outside, that was a nasty surprise to wake up to.  One would have thought with the window rattling thunder that it would not look like this when I peered outside.  Funny, I didn't remember there being that much snow on the ground!

So I celebrated spring's imminent arrival with planting tomato and pepper seeds.  Oh, how I love it, love it, love it!!

This is what I start off with, plain plastic containers with potting soil.  The soil has been absorbing water for a while, since it is hard to wet potting soil when it is dusty dry.  It needs to sit and adjust to it's new, soggier surroundings.

I love choosing my tomatoes for the year.  I adore all the nifty names and beautiful colors.... I have grown the Wapsiconin Peach tomato before.  It is fuzzy like a peach- cute- and a pale yellow color- pretty small, almost a cherry sized 'mato.  The other one- Hillbilly Potato Leaf is new to me.  It is a big yellow slicing tomato. 

I have grown both the Brown Berry and the Wisconsin 55.  Wisconsin 55 is a short day medium sized tomato that grows really well up here, and usually is the first one to produce fruit.  The Brown Berry is beautiful dark red cherry tomato and is gorgeous when you grow it  (and eat it!)  with bright red and yellow cherry tomatoes.  I also planted my favorite Brandywine tomato and a beautiful yellow, Moonglow. mmmmm MMMMM!

One seed at a time
Here are the little potential BLT ingredients nestled down in the dirt, all I have to do from here is press them down and cover them with a little soil.

Add little water...

warming mat
Add a little water if needed - here I had to fill in a few of the cells with a little potting mix- cover and place on the warmer mats

A very  important thing I have found is to write down the information you need to remember instead of relying on your (my imperfect) memory.  Even if it seems obvious that the right-hand cell tray in the front has the Pink Brandywine tomatoes and the back 2 trays has all the cherry tomatoes, that information won't be so obvious when you are ready to transplant your babies into bigger containers.  Does it sound like experience talking???  Mmmmm- hmm.

Here is some of the rest of my stash.  I have a packet of giant Nicotiana, the best smelling flower, ever!, that I will plant next weekend.  I will be putting the flowers into largish peat pots, so they don't have to be transplanted.  The peat pots dry out really fast, so I will plant them next weekend, because a week from Monday I will have a lot more time in my schedule!!  I have never tried the castor bean plant before, so it's planting date is yet to be determined.  Also shown are a whole slew of yummy things that need to be planted outdoors in a few weeks, like sweet Chiogga beets and spicy Thai basil.  Oh, I am getting hungry now!

To celebrate the possibilities that spring holds, I would like to include my recipe for fresh tomato soup.  In late summer when there is a gazillion tomatoes, I take a bunch of extras, wash them up well, core them and pop them into plastic bags.  I use the kind that you can suck the air out of with a special tool- that really keeps the tomatoes from getting freezer burned.  Then you can use them for all sorts of things. When you open them up, especially if they have thawed somewhat, you will be flown right back to summer with the fresh smell of home grown tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Soup

2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small chopped onion
1/2 c. green (or red sweet) pepper
1/4 cup butter (I use 2 - 3 Tablespoons olive oil)
Stir frequently, until veggies are soft- about 15 minutes.

4 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced tomatoes
2 tsp. sugar (add more or less depending on your taste and the flavor of the tomatoes)
1/2 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

Heat for 10 minutes, on medium low.

Mix 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup of flour.  Add to soup, heat until thickened.  Freezes well.

From this recipe you can add what you would like- any veggies that you have on hand (not sure about strong flavors like broccoli), or a grain such as rice or barley.

So keep thinking spring, to keep from going completely mad!

Until next time, be a joy giver.  Share your smiles.

If you are interested in gardening, I belong to a garden forum called Sprout-off.  It is comprised of a wonderful, funny, generous group of gardeners who are thrilled to share their knowledge and antics with all of us.  Most of the gardeners have been at it for many, many years, but they are always up for finding out new things and sharing experiences.  Take a look!  You can enter as a guest or register.  I have been a member for 4 or 5 years.

Sprout-off Garden forum


  1. I might just join your gardening group! I did some container gardening when I was in SoCal - mostly herbs, and I want to try a veggie garden this year. I have a great space for it in my backyard. Looks like you're off to a good start!

  2. Allyce, that would be great if you were able to join in the conversation. There is a wonderful collection of characters. and they know way more about gardening than I think I ever will, but I like to try to keep up. A few of them have greenhouses, and/or live in warmer climes, so have some exotic things that I can't grow. But it is fun to read about it, regardless.

  3. Ooo love this post! My mind is totally on gardening, despite this nasty snow! Seeing your pics made me think of sunshine and smile!

    I can't wait to check out the gardening forum. Thanks for the link!