Friday, March 31, 2017

My Kitchen Hothouse

Temperatures have soared into the 70's in Denver for the last few weeks, and all sorts of blossoms have been unfurling before our eyes.

As usual I was chomping at the bit to start my seedlings.  With about 9 weeks until the average last frost, I started tomato, basil and pepper seeds on March 11th.   The peppers did not sprout but the tomatoes and basil seedlings did very well.  It was warm enough to put them outside daily for the last 2 weeks, so they are already hardened off. This week temperatures gave gone back to much cooler and more normal temperatures.

In the back yard, broccoli and mustard greens are doing great. These were purchased as small plants from City Floral.  

Snow peas, English peas, spinach and Arugula starting to sprout despite the crazy fluctuating temperatures.  Hopefully no deep freezes coming!

My early mother's day gift? My sweet husband is putting a drip irrigation system into my raised vegetable beds!  Goodbye hand watering, Goodbye cracked and crappy soaker hoses.  Hello drip!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August is for harvesting and drying an enjoying

Fancy Tiger fancy skirt

I recently took a sewing class from the Fancy Tiger (a Christmas gift from my sweet husband), the A line skirt.  It was so much fun, I finally love something as much as knitting and gardening!

It's a little too high in the waist, so I made another

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Garden again

I have been busy in the garden and with new summer projects, and unfortunately work, and have not found the time to blog, but I so want to keep track of some of things we've been doing.  The rhubarb is  monstrous, and although Fin wouldn't dare eat any rhubarb crumble, he was certainly will to wield a knife to help prep for it.  I used Martha's recipe for crumble.  Delicious!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Husband the bee hero....

Last week I got a call from a friend that they had cut down an old tree in her neighbors yard.  I had seen this tree many times before, brought to my attention because of the active bee hive thriving in this majestic, gnarled old tree. It stood steadfast on the edge of the neighbor's property, it's heavy old limbs draped over my friends driveway.  The fear was that the tree would give way and crush my friend's car or worse, the house. 
My friend said the tree had been cut down and I had to come to see all the bees and the ions of honey comb.  That it was amazing,  I am sure she has no idea the maelstrom of emotions this set off. Coming on the heels of bad new about my father's health and too little sleep after a late night shift I could not hold back the tears.  I hung up the phone and sobbed.  I cried for those beautiful bees, whose lives had been turned on end with a simple cut of the saw.  How honeybees  have been assaulted from every angle, from pesticides, to genetically modified plants, to habitat loss.  And while I was at it, I cried for that beautiful old tree, and for the squirrels and birds who had made it their home.   
This was something I could never appreciate.
Since it was almost December, it seemed their fate was sealed. The neighbors had tried to get a professional to come and see if they could save the hive, but it seemed that was not going to pan out. Although the temperatures had been unseasonably warm, there was no nectar flow or pollen to be had.  If the comb was damaged, as it sounded like it certainly was, there was not much to be done.  I tried in vain not to think about the bees and I steered clear of that block when driving or walking my dogs.  
Two days later, my friend called again to say the bees were flying and she was wondering of there was anything we could do to help them. I stopped my pity party and went into action. I called several people who are known in the Denver area to rescue bees. As much as I hated to do it, I had to go take a look to see what we were dealing with before we could help.

This piece of log was by the street, the bees were very active and agitated and many passerbys were agitated too.  Since the all the pieces of the hive were not together the hive was split and one section must have been without a queen. The comb was damaged but still intact in many areas.

Here is the section on the neighbors yard. Also many bees were flying about in disarray.
The people whose tree this was were none too happy about the amount of bee activity in their yard, but after some finagling on my part, (a few promises to help clear the bees away in Spring if they are lucky enough to make it through the winter) they agreed to some simple measures to try and save the hive.
I again consulted some bee experts, it seemed the only solution was to put the pieces of trunk back together, insulate and cover and hope for a mild winter.  The question how to get the logs back together.  The logs were way too heavy and the bees way to irritated for me to try and move alone.
It was Friday afternoon when I called my husband at work. Instead of inviting him out for a romantic dinner, or cozy date night, I asked him for help moving a 300 lb log full of angry bees in the total dark.  Did he hang up on me or tell me I was crazy?  
No he did not!  He left work early, purchased a large peice of R 30 insulation and a large tarp, and headed home He picked up his dolly and we headed over to the house under the cover of darkness.  Since the temperatures had dropped, very few bees were flying. He fastened the single log to his dolly and deftly moved it up and fitted it snugly with the other large piece of log.  
We cover up most of the logs with insulation and the tarp, leaving a nice opening for them to come and go     
Now we leave those industrious girls to their Sisyphean task and hope mother nature is on their side.


Friday, November 30, 2012

In honor of national spinach week....

warm farro and spinach salad with apple and blue cheese    

OK, it's not really spinach awareness week, I made that up.  I am not sure about you but in the summer it is really easy to get in my green leafy veggies, but come winter my tastes turn to sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  I feel hard pressed to make a big salad on a cold winter's night and I would like to think that's because it's not in season, but the truth is spincah likes really cool weather and in a climate like ours, spinach can pretty much grow year round.  I just picked the last of my spring spinach that has survived unscathed until now, December 1st.  
Here is a recipe for a spinach salad that can stand up to the coldest of temperatures.  I didn't add tomatoes because I was trying to eat in season,
Warm Farro spinach salad with warmed apple blue cheese and hard boiled egg.

1/2 cup of cooked Farro
1/4 cup stock (optional)
1 shallot sauteed until softened
1 bunch of spinach
1/2 an apple thinly sliced and briefly heated on stove top to soften
sprinkle of blue cheese
hard boiled egg thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp honey   
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

I warm the dressing in the microwave for a few seconds
Have you discovered Farro yet.  A wonderful ancient grain believed to have sustained the Roman legions.  Not wheat but a grain of it's own, it is easy to cook and tastes great plain.  For this recipe I add a  bit of stock and sauteed shallots when I am done cooking to give some depth.
Cover with spinach, softened apples, blue cheese egg and then warm dressing.  It is hearty and healthy. 
And since I have finished the last of our spinach, I decided to try some indoor,
I have had luck starting lettuce inside and then moving outside on warmer days in my version of a hot house, a piece of glass set against the south side of the house, perfect for days like today with temps in the 50's.