February 13th, January check-list done

I hope doing January in February does not describe my season! Usually I am so anxious to get out and get dirty, but I’ve been hanging back a bit this year. FINALLY got things checked off of my list.

2february-14-2017-5 I did manage to get my onions started, even put up a video! They are doing what they do. Joy! What I am late on is moving them out to the green house. It isn’t horrible when onions stretch for the light of a window, I’m going to clip them off anyway. And it has been freezing the first couple of weeks of February. It will not be long before they stand up straight in the light of the green house.

2february-13-2017-1 Next on the list is Winter Sow. Pretty sure I missed that window. Instead I just started small trays of both curly and Italian leaf parsley. I also started a small tray of artichokes. My big, beautiful, three year old artichokes froze to the ground last season. Just in case it was more then just the tops, I started a new tray.

2february-13-2017-3 By this time of year I am usually looking for that first tiny radish or micro green for my bento. This year I am just introducing baby seed to soil.

There are scallions, spinach, mixed Asian greens, radishes and cilantro. C’mon spring!

I am ending with an older video on what to do with those onion plants once they are a little bigger then threads. By the way, I googled the nameless dandelion tool mentioned in the video. It is called a Fishtail Weeder. I find it useless for weeding. (I have a hand shovel with a “fishtail.” The curved blade provides leverage to lift up tap-roots) The video features leeks but leeks and onions are planted the same way. Hope you have some raisinettes on hand. This is too short for popping corn.

1january-30-217-journal-2 Next: It is already February 15 as I post this and I have started checking chores off of this list… but that is another post.

Now, get out and get muddy! …unless you have a greenhouse. February 15, 2017 in Everett: the few days of sun and warm weather disappear again. We are back to rain with occasional showers. 52/47 F, 100% chance of rain. If you need to go out, you WILL get wet. 10 hours, 17 minutes from sun up (7:14 AM) to sun down (5:32 PM) The Snow Moon is waning. Remember to pray for the farmers and families in the Sacramento Valley who may be loosing everything! Maybe we should all plant a bigger garden this year.

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Why is it called the Snow Moon?


Grandpa’s old wind mill needed paint last year. Ray had a little fun.

After a two year absence, urban snow has a measure of charm. Since there is nothing else to do, Ray took pictures for me. I’m ready for it to go away, but it is pretty.


Front View, The Toy Box SubUrban Farm

It came late at night with blue lightening. We’ve heard of it but this was the first time we’ve seen snow lightening. OK, truth? I slept through it. Ray saw it.


Akani, Honeycrisp and Winesap… I think?

Ray turned our front yard into a garden. Doesn’t garden sound prettier then yard. Prisons have yards, homes have gardens. We put this multi-espalier apple tree in last season. The neighbors came by to tell us we shouldn’t put the wood chips right up against the tree trunk. They all gave us their different credentials. It seems to be happy the way it is.


Flower Pots and Watering Cans

I thought I got everything put away. A couple of inches of snow and suddenly it is too late for “should have”.


Wild Woman Gardening

So, good books? Now is the time to nest in your quilt, find a pretty mug and brew up some tea. As I am about to post on Tuesday night, Ray leaned over and said, there is another storm warning. More snow and freezing rain tomorrow. And THAT my gardening friends, is what we mean by, “Under the Snow Moon.


February 7, 2017 in Everett, WA

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Filed under Back to Eden Garden, Urban Farm

Potato Chitting Time

I just love saying that. Are you chitting potatoes? (another jr high garden joke)  Chitting potatoes is putting them on end (thus the egg carton) Rose-end up (the end of the potato with the most eyes) and letting them sprout. Why? Potatoes are a cool weather crop, but not cold weather. In Everett, WA I put my first potato patch in on March 17th (or there about). Once in the ground, they take their sweet time sprouting unless they have been chitted (or Chit). If you plant a 2nd crop in May you will not need to chit those. They will come up a little faster.

january-24-2016-1-potato-journal Plant your favorite. I like to put in a Russet and a early yellow. Sentinel is my favorite early yellow. I’m told that a Russet, is a Russet, is a Russet. It is true that there is not a lot of difference in taste, texture or storage of popular Russets. There is no better french fry (in our lovely air-fryer… yum!) then a Russet fry. There is however, one important difference between varieties.


The Potato Tower

Every spring, without fail, someone posts a wonderful new, space saving idea for growing potatoes in a tower. I hope you did not spend any money on this great idea! Potato towers forced me to learn that there are two kinds of potato vines. Like tomatoes they are determinant and indeterminant. Most potato varietys these days are determinant, meaning the vine stops growing at some point and concentrates on finishing potatoes. This is great for machine harvesting. Determinant potatoes will grow in a tower but will not make layers of potatoes. To date, every yellow, peanut (a.k.a banana or fingerling), red and Russet that I have grown in a tower will make a single layer of potatoes even though I carefully cover the leaves at just the right time… except for one type of potato.

potatoes-5-26-3 The first requirement of a potato tower is an indeterminent potato. It is only in the last three or so years that I have been able to find potatoes that are described as determinant or indeterminant. An indeterminant needs to be “hilled” meaning to have soil hoed over them (thus making a hill) The old fashioned Red LaSoda is an indeterminant potato but it made only a single layer of potatoes at the bottom of the tower. Ray and I had to buy potting soil to fill the towers, an added expense that was wasted on LaSoda. Of the different potatoes we have tried, only one (so far) has made more then a single layer of potatoes, the Russet Burbank. But even the Russet Burbank does not make multiple layers of potatoes every year. It seems like a hot summer might be a factor but I am not absolutely sure about that.


Viking Potatoes, Purple (skin) and Gold (flesh) Ray went to Lake Stevens High School.

Potatoes love water. If you  happen to have a wetter place in the garden, plant your potatoes there. They are not a good choice for aquaponics as far as I know; they do not want to sit in water, they just want to be able to access to as much water as they can get. Young back to Eden gardens with their thick layer of wood chips holding in water are great. Barrels cut in half with just a few drain holes work well, just don’t forget to water them.

april-12-2015-13-potato I hope that is enough to get you started. Today (February 5, 2017, the rest of the world is watching the Super Bowl just to see what crazy thing Lady Gaga will do) there is time to look at catalogs, make your plans, build any structures you may want. My plan is to get out and get dirty with potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day, but for now, I’ll be happy Chitting.

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Every season starts with onions

1january-21-2017-2 Tiny onion sprouts. I need to look closely at the container of dirt on the window sill. The morning that they suddenly show themselves my new garden has begun. I am a long way from onion rings or soup, but hope spring up with the onion sprouts.

It is almost obscene how many stony black seeds will be sprinkled on the plastic container of soil. In January I do not need to worry about where I will plant, or what I will do when I discover that I have far too many babies to find homes for. My eagerness to get dirty overcomes any good sense that may have been passed on to me. I will worry about that later. Today I just want to plant something.

1january-21-2017-7-onion-seed Just in case you wonder (and the video titles roll by too fast)

  • Cipollini: a small speciality onion that Ray loves in a roast. The right balance of sweet and pungent. Even these tiny bulbs need a full season.
  • Italian Tropea: or Red Torpedos as most Americans call them. These are somewhat sweet, purple to pink summer onions. They can be used at nearly any stage… and should be since they do not store well. We start using the biggest torpedo in the onion patch about mid June (really they will still be scallion like) and continue to use them until late September when they can get to the size of a small nerf football. Beautiful!
  • Ailsa Craig: A huge sweet onion that we put in everything from Late September to mid November. They are good enough to give as gifts. I no longer bother much with Walla Walla’s AC’s are so good (and do not need to be started in September for best size!) No real store-ability, eat them fast, eat them often.
  • New York Early: The very first storage onion I have had success with (in wet Western Washington) I’ll stick with what works. In a good year we have had New Yorks into March.
  • Ed’s Red Shallots: I do plant cloves of shallots in the fall, but these shallots grown from seed are just as amazing!
  • Leeks: This year they are the Italian Gigantia. Just when your storage onions get scarce, it is time for the garlic of the onion family… make sure you cover them in fall with straw and leaves so that you can still pick them with out a pick-ax from the frozen ground.

That’s it… here’s the 2017 Movie.

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Filed under Back to Eden Garden, Morning Devotions, Square Foot Garden, Urban Farm

Black Bean Instant Pot Chalupas

black-bean-chalupas Original recipe from Martha Rose Shulman’s Vegetarian Feast.

  • 1 cup rinsed and sorted Black Beans
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • veggie oil to coat bottom of inner pan
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (1 and 1/2 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder

Set the instant pot to saute. When it has preheated add a little oil to coat the bottom. Add the onions and sweat them (fry until translucent). Then add the garlic and cilantro just to heat them.

Add the drained beans and 2 and 1/4 cups water. Set the pot to “beans” If the beans have been pre-soaked, set the the timer to 15 minutes (they should be very soft). If they were not pre-soaked they can still be used, set the timer to 20 to 25 minutes. Release the steam when the time is up to let the pressure come down.

Even in the Instant Pot I like to presoak my beans before I cook them.

  • ripe avocado
  • tomato
  • lemon juice
  • sour cream
  • thinly sliced lettuce
  • sliced ripe olives
  • Chalupa crisps (taco shells broken in half will work
  • grated cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces)

While the pressure is coming down, loosely mash your avocado with lemon juice, a pinch of salt and lemon juice. Chop your tomatoes and toss your lettuce with your favorite creamy dressing (I make a ranch style with some of the cumin and chili powder used for the beans instead of dill)

Put the Chalupa crisps into the oven to crisp up (about 275. Put them into a cold oven. When the oven comes up to temperature they are ready)

When the pressure has come down on the Instant Pot, remove the lid. carefully lift the inner pot out. Pour the beans into a sieve set over a bowl to drain and save the liquid. Return the beans to the inner pot. Sprinkle on a little salt, the cumin and chili powder. Mash and stir the beans. You may use either a potato masher or a hand blender (we like the texture of the potato masher). Taste to adjust seasoning.


  1. Spread a layer of beans on a Chalupa crisp
  2. cover that with a spoonful of mashed avocado
  3. sprinkle with cheese followed by lettuce, tomatoes and olives.

Yum! This is half of the original recipe, it easily doubles.

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Instant Pot Pasta

So Ray ordered an Instant Pot. So many travelers I follow on YouTube use them, many with only solar power. I’ve been very interested. Now I’m collecting Recipes to try when it gets here. The recipe featured in this video is a no meat pasta but you could easily add ground meat to it without changing the cook time. This lady (a trucker) does not add meat to carbs to prevent acid reflux… a new idea to me.

  • 3/4 lb lean burger
  • Olive Oil
  • Small onion
  • Red Pepper
  • 1 lb Penna
  • 16 oz jar pasta sauce
  • Garlic, salt, pepper, and optional herbs

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Filed under Home Cooked, Instant Pot

A New Garden Toy and Video

img_3037 England seems to have all the best stuff.

Thanks to Amazon for getting it here after Sean shows it to me on his video.

A Very Rainy Day in Everett. I love that sound when I have a safe place to be out of the rain. All kinds of new micro-greens planted in the new boxes. Meanwhile we are eating the first wave of mixed micro-greens from Botanical Interests. Yum

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