Harvest Monday, April 14, 2014 – Windowbox Planting + Seeds starting

I cheated. Due to the problems I had and still having, did not start any seeds indoor until this past weekend. Needed to see something growing so went to the nursery and bought 3 packs of seedlings. At $1.49/pack, check out (below) what I ended up with. Sure got my money’s worth.

Will need to cheat some more and purchase leeks and some other seedlings. One place I will be visiting is the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Dutchess County Master Gardeners plant sale, May 16 & 17. Click here for information and plant lists.

Lettuce, broccoli & swiss chard seedlings (06319)

Seedlings from the nursery
Left to right: Red & Green Leaf Lettuce, Broccoli & Bright Light Swiss Chard

lettuce in wndowbox (06330)

Transplanted the lettuces into window boxes

The seedlings in the cell pack were not thinned, and I was able to get a total of 16 seedlings (had to be very careful separating the seedlings as the roots were quite tangled). Not the varieties I grow, but that’s OK for now. All are doing well and I should be harvesting soon.

Swiss chard (06331)

Transplanted the Swiss chard into window box and 3-inch pots

Again the seedlings in the cell pack were not thinned so I was able to get 12 plants. The ones in the window box will be pulled (whole plant) when they reach a good size or as needed. The ones in the 3-inch pot will be transplanted into the garden and (only) outer leaves harvested as needed so the plants will continue to produce throughout the growing season.

broccoli seedlings (06332)

Transplanted the Broccoli into 3-inch pots
These will be transplanted into the garden when the beds are ready (hope I’m up to the task soon)

Two of the cells had one seedling each. Two of the cells had 2 seedlings each that I was able to separate and got a total of 6 plants.

These 6 plants will mature at different rate and this will work out perfect for me.

All the seedlings are enjoying the outdoor during the day but indoor (the garage) at night until the weather settles down (not trusting the weather this year).

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For the past few years, my spring pea planting had been problematic. The birds, slugs and other critters get to the seedlings as soon as they emerge. Last fall I experimented with starting in cell packs then transplanting the seedlings into the garden, it was a success.

Building on last fall success, decided over the weekend to start my peas in both 4-inch pots and cell packs to see which performs better and which I prefer.

snow peas (06322)

Peas in 4-inch pots, 8 seeds to a pot (may be too many)

peas in cell packs (06325)

Peas in cell packs, 2 seeds to a cell

Experimenting with soaking seeds. The seeds in the cell packs were soaked for 12 hours while the ones in the 4-inch pots were not soaked. Should be interesting to see what the differences are in germination.

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Spring is here to stay! Finally! I hope!

daffodils (06334)

Daffodils in Bloom
These are the daffodils showcased in last Monday’s post.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Gardening, Harvest Monday, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 64 Comments

Harvest Monday, April 7, 2014 – I’m Back + Leeks & Parsnips Harvest

I’m back, well temporary. Will be offline again when the kitchen and roof repair jobs start, hopefully soon.

By the middle of March all the snow and ice from the roof finally melted. Towards the end of March, the insurance adjuster came to inspect the external and internal damages. A week later his report arrived. The contractor is now looking over the report and need to contact the adjuster to clarify certain details. The contractor also needs to apply for the required permits from the town and to fit me in with his schedule. Waiting and more waiting. It is going to be a while before work starts.

If I knew the project was going to drag out for so long, I would not have emptied my kitchen cabinets. Meals making has been a challenge for the past few weeks and will be for many more.

As if I needed more stress, I have been down with a horrible case of bronchitis for the past 3 weeks. Still coughing, but at least I am now spending more time in a vertical position than a horizontal one.

There are, however, silver linings.
I lost 10 pounds. Will these pounds stay away once I regain my appetite? Going to be a challenge.
Being inactive for 3 weeks, my left shoulder (got hurt while I was emptying my kitchen cabinets) got some rest and is pretty much back to normal. I can now move my left arm freely but must be careful when lifting.

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Was having a “feeling better” day on Saturday and took a walk in my veggie garden. Not a good idea as it was very windy. My cough is now worse even though I stayed out only long enough to harvest a few leeks and parsnip. Hopefully I will improve in a few days.

Leeks (06317)


The above leeks were from my 5/21/14 transplant. Left in the garden to over winter and harvest as need (mulched heavily with leaves before the ground froze). Given the severe winter, I did not think they would survive, but as you can see from the above photo they not only survived they look good (a bit on the skinny side though).

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Parsnips (06318)


Parsnips were direct sown on 5/10/13. Like the leeks, I left some to overwinter in the garden (also mulched heavily with leaves). Aren’t they the best looking parsnips!

Making soup with both the leeks and parsnips together with carrots and celeriac in storage.

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Check out the photo below, it says S-P-R-I-N-G!

Daffodils (06314)

Look at all the buds, will be putting on a gorgeous display soon.

The clump is getting overcrowded, need to divide this year.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays





Posted in Gardening, Harvest Monday, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , | 69 Comments

Harvest Monday, February 2014 – Update of Plants Under Grow Lights + A Forced Break

Pulled up the matured lettuce and scallions I had under the grow lights and transplanted the new seedlings. These new plants I started from seeds indoor were growing surprising well under the grow lights.

Well not all. Tried 2 different varieties of arugula and neither did well. Nor did the mache.

Shanghai bok choy (06268)

Shanghai bok choy was the happiest even though overcrowded.

Leaf lettuce (06270)

Leaf lettuce looked healthy too.

Spinach (06267)

Not sure about the spinach and will never find out as I have to terminate my experiment. Also I will not be posting for a few weeks.

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The roof above my kitchen developed leaks which damaged my kitchen ceiling and walls. There will be major disruptions in the days ahead. I will not have the time nor the energy nor the frame of mind to tend to those plants so decided best to end the experiment.

Kitchen cannot be repaired until the roof is fixed and the roof cannot be repaired until the over a foot of accumulated snow and ice on it melt away. When will this be? All depends on the weather. Was warm over the weekend which melted away some of the snow but we are back in the ice box this week and more snow may be on the way as well. The good news is my roof did not cave in from the weight of the snow and ice like some buildings in the news (wonder how many did not make it into the news).

In the meantime, I am busy stocking my stand alone freezer with prepared meals, then it is removing everything from the cabinets and finding storage space for them. A good opportunity to get rid of some of the “junk” I have accumulated over the years.

All upper cabinets have to come down and some of the lower cabinets also. Not knowing the extent of the damage is stressing me out and on top of all that my fridge is sounding like it is ready to go any minute. I thought shopping for appliance would cheer me up a bit (so off to the store I went) instead the activity stressed me out more. So many choices and processing all the information about each appliance was just too overwhelming top that with worrying about making the wrong choice.

Insurance adjuster came to assess the damage but said he has to return when the roof is free of snow. I am hoping that as soon as the adjuster returns to inspect the roof and the contractor gets to work everything will go smoothly and as planned. Also hoping for dry weather when the roof job starts.

Of course after the job is completed the kitchen will need to be put back to order. Not to mention the dusting and cleaning of the entire house. This is a chore I am so not looking forward to (a chore that will need to be repeated a few times as the dust will take its own sweet time to settle over a period of time).

Wish me luck. See you in a few weeks.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Gardening, Harvest Monday, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , | 30 Comments

Harvest Monday, February 17, 2014 – Kitchen Garden: Mung Beans Sprouts

Mung beans (02298)

Mung Beans
Left, dried; right, after soaking overnight

We had snow and more snow and more to come tomorrow. The snow bank is getting higher and higher. It will be a long, long time before any outdoor planting can take place. To help the winter days pass quicker, I am spending more time with my kitchen garden.

Few weeks ago I grew chickpeas sprouts, this past week was growing mung beans sprouts.

Soaked my mung beans on Tuesday night and drained the following morning. Placed in a colander, covered with damp paper towel and set on the warmest area of my kitchen counter. The following days all I did was rinse and drain twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening). Click here to learn more.

On that same day I also soaked blackeye peas to make comparison with the mung beans sprouts but they did not sprout. Not sure why, will have to try again.

Mung beans sprouts (06266)

Mung beans sprouts after 2½ days
Getting rid of the bean husks at this stage was a challenge. Did manage to get rid of most.

As you can see from the photo above, my sprouts are much shorter than the ones you see in the food market. Reason is I needed them for an experiment and could not wait.

The experiment involves Brussels sprouts.

I bought some Brussels sprouts from the food market. After trimming I ended up with a pile of outer leaves. Thinking: surely I could do something with those leaves.

Brussels sprouts (06260)

Brussels sprouts, untrimmed, trimmed & trimmings

So instead of tossing them out I sorted and discarded the undesirable leaves, stacked the remaining nice looking ones and cut into thin strips (had to do a few stacks but it was easy).

Mung beans sprouts (06239)

This is what I did:
Made a stir-fry by combining the shredded Brussels sprouts with the mung beans sprouts, shredded carrots and red onion.
For flavor I used garlic, ginger,  sesame oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Had some ham in the freezer and cooked sweet potato noodles (see NOTE) in the fridge, tossed those in as well. Enjoyed the results, the shredded Brussels sprouts were delicious. Will definitely make again with other meats, poultry or seafood.
(This is just a basic dish. No recipe required, just add whatever is on hand and season to your liking). Click here to learn about sweet potato noodles.

Sweet potato noodles stir-fry (06249)

Sweet potato noodles stir-fry (see NOTE)
The dish could use more noodles but that was all I had

NOTE: I reheated the sweet potato noodles in chicken broth to give them some flavor. If you would like your sweet potato noodles to have some color toss them with soy sauce, tamari or oyster sauce, 1 – 3 teaspoons or as needed.

Next time I will add toasted black/white sesame seeds, Chinese parsley (cilantro) and sliced scallions to the dish (did not have any at the time I made the dish)
Curry and/or chili sauce would be good in this dish also
Substitute egg noodles, rice noodles, pasta or rice for the sweet potato noodles
Other ideas: wrap the stir-fried vegetables (sans sweet potato noodles) in tortilla, fill a taco shell or pita pocket half …..

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Have this nifty gadget in my kitchen. It was given to me by a friend many years ago.

Shredder (06243)

This shredder makes nice long carrot shreds that look almost like they were shredded with a knife. It is inexpensive (about US$5.00), durable and takes up very little storage space. Much used and much loved.

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Winter wonderland

Balsam fir (06282)
Balsam Firs

Snow covered shed (06279)

Not sure when I will be able to open the shed door
Hope soon as I need to get my seed starting supplies

Walkway (06297)

My Walkway
(the small black square to the left in the background is my mailbox)

Front door (06302)

Steps leading to the front door (the dark area to the right is the stonewall)

Snow bank (06298)

Behind the snow bank is my neighbor’s house

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Posted in Growing sprouts, Harvest Monday, Recipes, Sprouts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Harvard University’s Glass Flowers Collection – Orchid, Iris, Lilies & More

Finally got around to going through my 4th group of Harvard University’s Glass flowers photos. It was challenging as there were so many beautiful specimens. Below are the ones I selected to publish. When viewing photos, keep in mind all the models are made from glass.

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In case you missed the other 3 posts
Click here for Cacti, Woody Plants & Water Lily
Click here for Fruits
Click here for History, Making & Preserving

All the photos above were taken by my daughter, Kathy, using her iPhone.
Thank you Kathy, without your photos, there would be no posts.

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Hope this post add some cheers to my readers who are enduring a long dreary winter.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Posted in Boston, Massachusetts, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 42 Comments