Tag Archives: grow

What’s up, Doc?

Greg planted a bunch of carrot seeds just when the summer started to cool down (beginning of September). We thought it would probably be too cold to grow them, but figured we would try since we’d never attempted it before. As the month went on we sprouted a ton of green carrot tops.
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We still thought there was no way carrots could be growing under there. Since I need to know everything about how everything thing works, I did some carrot googling.
A few interesting facts I found:
  • Don’t peel young carrots because much of the flavor is in the skin; the skin becomes bitter as carrots mature.
  • Raw carrot tops have a sharp, herbal, carrot flavor that mellows when cooked.
  • Over matured carrots are woody and less flavorful.
  • Harvested as very young plants, green carrot tops add a bright carrot flavor to salads and sandwiches.
  • Carrots are sweetened by the frost. AHA! We didn’t pull this batch until November 16 and it was plenty frosty by then; probably why they were so delicious.
I also learned that there are a bunch of different parts to a carrot. At the risk of bringing this back to 7th grade science, I bring you…..the carrot diagram.
Rootdiagram
I find this stuff so interesting. Once you start to grow your own food you become engrossed in every detail of it.
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The second and last pull produced 63 beautiful, crunchy carrots. I didn’t can any of them because you should only can carrots if you have a pressure canner. It takes the  higher temperatures of the pressure canner to kill the botulism bacteria. So, I went to back to good ole Google and tried to find some recipes I could crank out in bulk. Soups are the best, because you can double or triple the recipe and just freeze everything until you need it. This is the one I made.
Paleo Carrot Pottage (Pottage is a thick soup or stew made by boiling vegetables, grains and, if available, meat or fish. Pottage commonly consisted of various ingredients easily available to serfs and peasants and could be kept over the fire for a period of days, during which time some of it was eaten and more ingredients added.  Pottage consistently remained a staple of the poor man’s diet throughout most of the 9th-17th-century Europe. When people of higher economic rank, such as nobles, ate pottage, they would add more expensive ingredients such as meats. –thank you wiki)
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. fresh chives, minced
  • 2 tbsp. or coconut oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a big saucepan placed over a medium heat, cook the onion and garlic 5 minutes (or until softened) with the coconut oil.
  2. Add the carrots, sweet potato, turnip, thyme, bay leaves, chicken stock, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring everything to a boil; then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and let it simmer for 45 minutes (or until all the vegetables are soft).
  3. Discard the bay leaves (they have sharp edges that can cut the inside of your mouth).
  4. Puree the soup in a food processor until smooth. (If you have one, use an immersion blender instead-so much less mess)
  5. When you’re ready to enjoy the soup, return the puree to the saucepan and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  6. Garnish with fresh chives and serve.
Soooo good!! This was the first time I cooked with turnips and they brought such a deep, earthy flavor to this winter soup. It instantly made me want a big cast iron pot and a fire in the living room to cook it over. Enjoy!
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Indoor Seed Starting

It’s finally time to start our indoor seeds!! This winter is dragging on much longer than usual so we had to hold off a little longer than we normally would. This year we used a combination of seed packets from http://www.seedsnow.com, Lowe’s and our local Organic Farm. It is SO MUCH CHEAPER to start your plants from seed if you can find a little space indoors. For example, a package of organic green pepper seeds are $3.49. Each pack includes 25 seeds. Each seed will produce a plant that will grow multiple peppers. One organic pepper in the supermarket is $2.50. Even if each of your plants only yield two peppers…that is a $125.00 value!! It’s a no brainer.

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First, we set up a folding table in our spare room to hold the seed trays. Normally we use the Jiffy brand, plastic seed starting containers that we purchase from Lowe’s (you can re-use them every year).  This year, Greg rigged up a light holder made from scrap wood pieces. It was a very simple structure with two braces on the sides and a bar in the middle to mount the light chains.  We place all of our trays on this table directly underneath our grow light. You can rotate them daily if you feel certain trays aren’t getting enough direct light. (Seedlings will grow towards the light so try to center them as best as you can).

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We’ve had the best results with the Organic Burpee brand starting mix in the past, so we chose it again this year. One small bag is plenty for a few trays. Once you fill the trays,  use a pencil eraser to push a little indention into each seed container, then drop a seed or two in each one. Make sure and keep a list or diagram handy to write down what seeds you have placed where. Cover the seed holes back with soil and water well.

Normally we switch on the light when we get home from work and leave it on overnight, trying to mimic the sun they would receive outside on a typical day. Since these plants are normally very small and fragile when they sprout, you can use a spray bottle to water them (at least once a day). You’ll have to give it a few days to germinate before you see growth, so be patient. Most varieties will sprout within a week. Now we wait….