Archive for March, 2012

Seed Giveaway

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Our friends at Botanical Interests have given us two of their seed collections to give away.  The Basic Bounty Veggie Garden Seed Collection includes Bean-Bush Blue Lake 274, Corn-Bodacious, Leaf Lettuce-Salad Bowl Blend Organic, Sweet Pepper-Sweet California Wonder Organic, Radish-Cherry Belle, Summer Squash-Black Beauty Zucchini, Tomato-Better Bush.

Basic Bounty Veggie Garden Seed Collection

Basic Bounty Veggie Garden Seed Collection

The Heirloom Tomato Seed Collection includes Cherry Red & Yellow Pear Organic, Aunt Ruby’s German Green Organic, Beefsteak Organic, Black Krim Organic, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple Organic, San Marzano Organic.

Heirloom Tomato Seed Collection

Heirloom Tomato Seed Collection

The contest rules are simple.  Leave a comment below and tell us the name of your favorite vegetable to grow (or would like to grow if you’re a gardening newbie).  The deadline for entering is Saturday, March 31, at midnight CDT. We will pick two winners at random on April 1st, one for each seed collection. Winners will be notified via email, and then announced in a followup post.

Happy gardening.


Hi all. The deadline for entry has passed, and we have selected two winners. The winners will be announced in a followup post once we hear back from them. Thanks so much to everyone for participating!

Sunny Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Sweet Potato Hummus

1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked

1 cup roasted mashed sweet potato

2 T. Sesame Seeds, raw, or toasted for different flavor

4 T. Sunflower Seeds, raw, or toasted for different flavor

2-3 cloves chopped garlic

½ – 1 tsp. salt to taste

2-4 T. or juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. finely chopped lemon zest (organic is best for this)

3 T. finely chopped shallots or red onions

4 T. olive oil

Liquid from the garbanzo beans as needed for consistency

Grind sesame and sunflower seeds in food processor until mealy.  Add salt and garlic.  Blend until well mixed.  Toss in the garbanzo beans & sweet potato and puree until smooth.  Add lemon juice and olive oil and blend some more.  If needed, add enough bean liquid to make to the consistency you like.  Stir in the shallots or onions.

This recipe is subjective, depending upon your taste.  The sweet potato adds a sweetness to the hummus so I like it served with kalamata olives to cut the sweetness.  Or you could chop the olives and stir them right into the mix.  If you like hummus with a lot of lemon flavor add the juice of a second lemon.  A dash of cumin may do it for you. Serve with your favorite crackers or celery sticks.

Don’t hesitate to experiment.  If you already have a favorite hummus recipe just substitute part of the beans with the sweet potato, or maybe you have something else in the fridge that might work – preferably nothing furry.  Let me know what creations you come up with.  I’m always looking for new ideas!

It’s Wisconsin. It’s March. It’s Summer!

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The average March high temperature where I live is 42 degrees.  The average minimum is 24, with an average mean temperature of 32 degrees.  Today, a high of 82 is predicted.  We’ve had highs of upper 70’s to over 80 for the past week.  The lows have been just below 60.

I don’t know if this portends oncoming climatic disaster, but the warm weather is sure making it easy to get a jump start on a lot of this year’s preparation tasks in the garden.  I’ve been taking advantage of the warm weather to clean out my beds of last year’s growth.  It is something I’d have to do anyway, but it’s more pleasant working in a T-shirt.

In the past week I’ve pruned and cleaned out the raspberries, cut back all last year’s asparagus fronds and weeded the asparagus bed, pulled out all the corn stalks from last year’s two beds of corn, and cut down all the stalks in the Jerusalem artichoke bed.  Yesterday, I hauled most of the debris to this year’s new compost pile and worked in the contents of one of the 55 gallon drums of household compost that will fire up and help break down the new pile.

Cold Frame and Compost Piles

But before I went to work on the compost, I moved my cold frame and seeded it with a mix of salad greens.  I first had to harvest the greens that had already sprouted in the frame, left over from last fall.  There was more than enough for Judy and I to enjoy a very nice spring salad of spinach, arugula, mache and lettuce.

After moving the frame to the new area I that had cleaned and raked up, I seeded it with several mesclun salad mixes, various lettuces, spinach, arugula, endives and mache.  I watered it down, and with luck, we’ll be harvesting greens in a few weeks.

Old Compost - New Compost Pile

My new compost pile will reside where I had a three year old pile that was almost used up.  I had previously sifted 6 five gallon buckets of compost to empty the old pile and cleaned out and raked flat the area.  I laid down several inches of stalks and dry material and alternated layers of stalks with a couple 5 gallon buckets of the sludge from my compost barrel.

I’m getting much lazier about diligently following any rules for my compost piles.  I rarely even turn the piles any more.  I now have three piles:  the new one, last year’s, and a pile two years old that is pretty close to being mostly broken down without ever being turned.  I’ll sift that one into buckets and anything that won’t go through my one inch screen gets will get tossed back into the new pile.

As the year progresses, I’ll keep dumping green  material, mostly weed harvest, onto the new pile.  I always have a supply of compost if needed for adding to a bed or for making some soil mixes.  I know my method is not perfect for killing weed seeds because I don’t get it to temperatures hot enough, but I live with my weeds.  I believe that weeds are actually a very good thing to have in the garden and you have to control them just enough so they don’t get the upper hand.

My First Bloom!

Thursday, March 15th, 2012


After two years in my house, I finally decided it was time to add to the garden collection. So last fall after road crews finished tearing up my street, I took advantage of the bare soil the road crews left by the curb and planted over 400 crocus bulbs. Pictured above is my first official bloom from something I planted myself. This particular variety is Crocus chrysanthus ‘Ard Schenk’ from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. And yes, I’m proud of myself for actually keeping track of what varieties I planted.

Not long afterwards, I had another variety pop up: Crocus ancyrensis ‘Golden Bunch’.


I planted five varieties in total, but the other three haven’t shown their little faces, yet. I expect to see them all soon, though.

Sorry for the picture quality — I took these with my phone! Actually, this entire post was composed and published via phone, so all things considered, I think it turned out okay.