Tag Archives: Broccoli

Day 11: Brussels Sprouts

Seeds are starting to sprout!! Onions and Broccoli are showing.

November 11, 2014 (2) Brussels Sprouts
I love Thanksgiving! You would think it would be the people or the pre-Christmas sales that puts Thanksgiving on my list of favorite holidays, but no. What I adore is being able to go out to the garden for the last of the salad greens, pulling a jar of home-grown green beans, apple pie filling and jams from the pantry shelf, finding home grown squash, pumpkins and potatoes from the chill of the garage, knowing that my herbs were grown here on the Toy Box in summers heat. But best of all, frost kissed Brussels sprouts. Mmmm, so much better then the sprouts from California!

Brussels 2 February 21, 2018 To have home grown Brussels sprouts in November, you have to start planning in spring. It is still winter (February 21st), and there is snow on the ground, but I started a small tray anyway.

Three soil blocks of green sprouts and three of purple. 98.8% of my seeds are heirloom or open pollinated. I always have it in the back of my mind that a day may come when it is difficult to order seed because of the country falling apart or because of the dollar crashing. Neither of those disasters has happened, and I hope they never do, but I consider this to be insurance for something I hope doesn’t happen.

Brussels 1 February 21, 2018 Here’s the skinny on Planting Brussels sprouts.

  1. Make soil blocks for a starting tray, or fill 2-inch pots with moist starting soil.
  2. Deposit 1 to 2 seeds (depending on the age of the seed) one-fourth inch deep. cover seed with vermiculite or soil.
  3. Cover the tray or flat with a clear cover.
  4. Wait 5 to 17 days for the sprouts to emerge.
  5. Up pot when your baby Brussels sprouts have 2 to 4 true leaves. Plant out when the sprouts are about 4 inches tall.

Onions February 21, 2018 That’s it! Seeds do what seeds were created to do. Be fruitful and multiply.

After 11 days my onions (link to blog post here) are showing (11 days without electric heat or light), so are my broccoli (link to broccoli blog post here) (5 days). I like planting seeds, but it is watching the plants grow that is really fun for me.

It isn’t too late for you to start onions or broccoli (I’m really early, but I married a man who knows what I want for my birthdays… he bought me a small green house, love it… and him). If not for the green house and all the kewl tools he buys for me, I would be waiting for much warmer weather in a couple of months to scratch my gardening itch.

Sunrise February 21, 2018

Sunrise and Irises

How cold is it in Everett, Washington today? It was 26 degrees F when I woke up at 4AM, and got all the way up to 31 degrees F this afternoon. But it was 65 degrees F in my green house when I went out to plant my Brussels sprouts. Even though it was overcast today, the green house still heated up. We are being threatened with more snow this afternoon, but have been promised blue sky tomorrow. Blue sky is rich with radiant heat. That often pushes the green house temperature up into the 90’s which is perfect for sprouting seeds.

Mark 10 February 21, 2018 Are you doing #NTin2018 with me on Instagram? Today was Mark chapter 10, a chapter chock-full of cases of Y’shua-Jesus seeing people in a different light then those of us in the church see them. I think you may enjoy it.

Debs… trying to keep the tips of my toes warm in this cold city. Burrr!



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Day 7; Broccoli!

Celebrating Ten Hours of Daylight 2018

Thompsons, 2011
Thompson’s Broccoli 

Home grown broccoli! If you can avoid all the garden critters who LOVE broccoli, and your soil is sweet and healthy, then you are in for a treat. I’ve grown a lot of broccoli, they are not always as big as this Thompson’s in the picture, but they are always good.

February 16 broccoli2 Started broccoli seed in the greenhouse today. I nearly let myself run out of Solstice, so I will need to isolate these to save seed for the next seasons. I also have Umpqua, Thompsons and Purple Peacock, which isn’t really a broccoli, it is broccoli crossed with kale to make pretty purple and green salad greens. It does produce purple broccoli like heads, but they are tiny, perfect for salads and stir-fry.

February 16 broccoli3 And done…. I made soil blocks to plant my seed. They make planting simple. I’ve tried paper pots, toilet paper cores, peat pots and those weird disks that grow after you soak them in water. Of all the different seed starting things I’ve tried, the only starting system I really like are the soil blocks. They take an investment of a tool and a mix that will hold together, but otherwise they are simple and sustainable. Drop seeds into the divots, sprinkle them with vermiculite and wait. In this case 6 to 14 days.

February 16 broccoli1 My Uprising order came! Whoo-hoo!

  • Cascadia Snap Pea (I forgot to grow some for seed saving last year. these are the BEST!)
  • Purple Snap Bean; Blooming Prairie
  • Soup Bean, Cocaigne, I was drawn to the idea of a bean grown on the Brittany coast of France.
  • Bridge to Paris, Sweet Pepper, a thick flesh frying pepper
  • Yellow Watermelon, the Polish Janosik

It isn’t much, but it all sounds fun to me.

February 16 Mark7 Have you been doing the New Testament in 2018? Today, February 16, is Mark 7.

Debs in Everett, Washington, where is is raining again. I am so thankful for my greenhouse!

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The Raw ingredients

July 29, 2016 (2)Spring planting season was simply a blur. Maybe I am starting to feel my age, or maybe it really was that busy at school. I hardly got anything planted. My potted plants all died of neglect. Ray kept the puppies, the nuggets and fish healthy, but my pots! me oh my oh! Deer took out nearly all the leaves and fruit from the trees in the front garden, and some kind of bug ate the salad out front. Those are what I see everyday. Yesterday, I ventured out a little farther.

In the midst of all the schoolwork I had to bring home to score, I vaguely remember popping a few seeds into the soil on the occasional Sunday night. I am overwhelmed with Joy!

July 29, 2016 (6)Green rows of lush Swiss, Peppermint and Rhubarb ChardThis is Peppermint Chard

July 29, 2016 (9)Volunteer Broccoli. No Idea what kind it is. We grow open-pollinated Thompson’s, Solstice and Umpqua.

July 29, 2016 (11)Joy! I had forgotten that I put in a few rows of snap beans! This is the blossom of a pink podded snap bean, simply called, “Pink” I also see evidence of yellow French beans, Jade, Purple and I think there might be a few Dragon Beans. We like a pretty plate of tender raw beans with a ranch dip.

July 29, 2016 (15)I love seeds! This is a thick row of lush summer lettuce. Most of it is different kinds of Roman (Green, Red and one of our favorites, Flashy Trout’s Back) I’m also seeing Grandpa Admire’s and a butterhead called Divina. They are growing in a bed with some randy snap beans and the peppers that I didn’t think would get so crowded… but I always think that in spring.

July 7, 2016 (24)I also found potatoes ready to harvest, loads of apples, herbs, sweet peas, tomatoes (wow do they need some attention!) garlic and shallots, even a very few summer onions. I just had to get myself past the disaster that is my back porch. Maybe it is time to clean off the porch so that I feel more like a farmer and less like a failure.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV

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The First Half of April in the Garden

April 2, 2016 (2)
April at The Toy Box. I cannot say that I have been working hard to get where we are this month, I like to putter about for a couple of hours after school every day. Maybe it would be better to proclaim, I have been diligent. Yep, that’s it, I am going with diligent. We have been checking off the jobs that need to be done in the days working up to where we are. Getting trees planted or trimmed, adding wood chips, running flats of seedlings in and out of the weather, protecting them from frost and floods of rain. April is when the “diligence” comes together. We are already eating some of this years salad with the last of last years herbs, leeks and kale.

April 1, 2016 (7)

Morning Prayer

Just when it seems like Ray can sit back and enjoy the beauty of our Suburban Farm, I come up with another major, pain in his back, plan. This season it involves moving two established SFG’s (square foot gardens) to make room for more BTE (back to Eden) growing areas. As subsistence farmers we want to get as much food from our little bit of land as we are able. I (Debs) started out as a foodie/hobby farmer. Best use of space was not part of my plan.

April 1, 2016 (2)

Winter Sown Artichokes (up-potted)

Seedlings: We have soil blocks of tomatoes waiting to be potted up. I have been saving that job for a rainy day. As of today (April 2, 2016) I am on the last weekend of Spring Break from school. The weather has been beautiful so I keep putting that job off. I am reading that rain is coming. The job will get done. The salad greens (romain and mixed reds) have been planted in the front yard SFG, one of the pots of sweet-pea starts were planted in the front garden. Our broccoli and cauliflower are huge and ready for planting out. (suddenly I am feeling just a little bit overwhelmed).

April 2, 2016 (8)

Swiss Chard makes a comeback

Everett, Washington had a very mild winter. We are not quite safe from a “last frost date” yet so I am still holding my breath. We garden just north of “don’t worry about killing frosts in spring” land. I stand amazed watching winter food become beautiful plants. The Swiss Chard in this picture is one example. Light frosts and heavy rain reduced is to an unappetizing mess that I was sure I would be digging out; but look at it. Instead of digging it out I need to dig out my recipes! We have grown the white stem type of chard ever since we have grown it. I have not learned to enjoy it raw yet so the beautiful colors available have not found a place in my chard patch… until this year. I am looking forward to a new variety labeled “Peppermint Chard”. It looks like it has a red-pink base and white upper stem and veins. Am I the only goofy ol’ woman who gets excited about a different color of chard?

April 2, 2016 (5)

Spring Artichoke

One Artichoke survived winter 2015-16 in our Everett, WA garden. In truth we have had roots survive to send up fresh growth but we have never had a whole plant survive the winter. One hard frost could bring it down so I am trying to not get too attached. But I cannot help thinking how totally kewl to have 2nd season artichokes this summer! I also have a beautiful, thick stand of delicious red celery growing in the same garden. It smells awesome! I have not read any good reviews about red celery yet…. here is mine. YUM.

April 2, 2016 (10)

Leeks and (umm) chicken food

The last of our leeks and celeriac have been lovely! This year the guys did not get out to gather fallen leaves so I never did get leaf mulch piled around my root crops, they were fine. There was only one day that I went out to harvest for a winter dinner that turned into a fail because of frozen ground. The last few leeks I have harvested have had woody centers, a sigh that they are getting ready to bolt so I need to use them as quickly as possible. The garlic I planted last October is beautiful. I made such a dumb mistake.

April 2, 2016 (9)

Green Roman and Valentine Mix Lettuce

I remember Paul Gautschi of the BTE film saying that I should put my very best potatoes right back into the ground for the next harvest; which I did. What I missed is that they will come up the following March, which they have. Mean while I thought the replant of potatoes was a total fail and planted my garlic over the former potato bed. While the potato sprouts are still fairly small, both are doing fine. Last year all of my garlic was volunteer. The garlic I planted was from the best of those cloves. This season I found dozens of new garlic volunteers while cleaning up a bed for early pea plants. I should have plenty of garlic this season (assuming everything goes well in my garden world). We have made so many soups and put up so much stock that we are plum outta garlic already! Lately we have been clipping green garlic with our parsley (another winter survivor) when we make a dish that needs a spicy boost.

April 2, 2016 (11)

Climbing pea and bean frame

For the first time since moving to Everett, I will not be planting my main crop of peas in a SFG. We have a whole system of support to attach to the SFG beds. Back when I planted tall peas in Robe Valley (east of Granite Falls, WA) I quit planting tall peas because they were too difficult to keep upright when the vines were heavy with our famous rain combined with the occasional wind storm. Ray has built a frame for the BTE garden that we have high hopes for. The legs of the frame go a little more then a foot into the ground. I have planted peas on the port side of the frame and plan to plant green beans on the starboard side in late May. There will be a short season when both are growing on the frame, but the peas should be done by mid July when the beans are just taking off. We are hoping for a fantastic harvest (knees bent, fingers laced!)

April 2, 2016 (12)

Fava Bean sprouts

Strawberries are coming up through the wood chips, raspberries are making buds, the logan and marian berry vines are already looking lush. Still no sigh of Asparagus, but I guess it is a little early. I have spotted early leaves of Rhubarb and it is beautiful. The comfrey is fixen to take over the berry beds. I’ve also seen early signs of deer damage. Gurrrr! The fava beans (also known as broad beans) we planted in February are looking great, except for one little problem. The garden looks so empty in February that I tend to plant far too many of , well, everything that gets planted early. Good thing we love Fava beans! (they are not really a reason to drink Italian wine… or so the  theory goes).

April 2, 2016 (13)

A living grid in the SFG

A living grid of carrots, radishes, spinach, mixed greens, fennel, scallions, bok choi, and I forget what else; was the plan for one of the tomato beds. Somewhere in the planting, I forgot that I was making a grid and started squeezing in as much as I could. Looking at the bed now, if everything grows, it will be a tight fit but I am sure I can still get those tomato plants growing and keep them happy. Some mistakes are happy accidents. That is what I am hoping for this one.

April 1, 2016 (5)

First, a cuppa jo, then we work

We have entered a time of year when there is a new check list every two weeks instead of every month. We are still looking for a multi-espaliered sweet cherry tree. Does anyone even make those? Beds need to be moved, seedlings planted out, framework put up for the tomatoes, maybe a new tomato tent if we have a sudden cold snap. The pepper bed needs more soil mix and the kitty kover should go over that bed. I really need to get busy on the new herb garden since Ray has terraced the hill side with the stones his mother chose for her porch so many years ago. It just needs a good weeding and the plants I’ve been growing for it. Beet seeds need to go in…. somewhere. So many happy puzzles to figure out.

April 1, 2016 (1) For as long as this post is, this is the short version of how my garden grows. How about you? Be sure to include where you garden and let me know how you are feeding your self (or making the world a beautiful place with your flowers!) where you live. I hear that the strawberry harvest is already over in Texas.

Debs… who only has time to sit because it is Sabbath. Tomorrow we will be getting out and getting dirty, with joy!

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Late March at the Toy Box

March 6 2016 (1)
March is stressful. I am anxious to get my garden growing but at school, children are starting to realize that if they want to avoid summer school, they better get cracking! Somehow I have managed to get most of my chores done.

The early peas are in, so are the carrots and greens. Fava beans are showing but there is still so much to do.

March 2, 2016 (3) I love my greenhouse. It lets me go out no matter what the weather is. By doing just a little each day I feel OK about being ready to plant. Those onions are a little disappointing this year. I usually have water from an aquaponics tank to water the greenhouse. Fish tank water is powerful and makes onions fatten up fast! Not so much this year.

March 20, 2016 (5)

Broccoli and Cauliflower hardening off before going into the ground.

March 20, 2016 (2)

Winter-sown artichokes up-potted. I have no idea where I will put them all, but I am confident that I will find a place.

March 20, 2016 (4)

If only I could find a day to plant the sweet peas out.

March 8, 2016 (3)

This little bed is doing well. Early in March I put in mixed greens, peas and lots of volunteer garlic. Every thing is growing well. We have actually been harvesting small salads from the greens.

March 18, 2016 (1)

Sunrise at The Toy Box Suburban Farm. We are still here and trying to share what is going on in Everett, Washington. Sometimes we just keep up with the work and do not have time to write. Never mind, only nine weeks of school left. We will be back soon enough!

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Make soil blocks and plant some seeds

I meant to start my February seeds on Valentines Day, but as much as I like to get my hands dirty, I do not like squishing around in soil block mud without gloves. Went shopping, came home, made dinner, kissed my Valentine and BAM it was too dark to work outside. Lucky me, we had Presidents Day off from school too, so out in the rain I went to plant seeds into soil blocks.

Not long enough for popcorn, so grab a licorice or a chocolate and enjoy.

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Root Division of Tarragon

Spring at The Toy Box Suburban Farm means dividing Tarragon.

So many tarragon lovers take cuttings of mature stems. Honestly I’ve never tried that because early in February, when there isn’t much to do on a NorthWestern urban farm, dividing up a pot of Tarragon is a pleasant way to count down the days until Spring. It is a simple, no fuss way to spend a chilly day in an (almost) warm greenhouse.

The video starts with the onions getting their first hair cut… hang in there for the Tarragon.

February 6, 2016 Weather February Garden To-Do’s

  • Make a tray of “soil-blocks”
  • Start blocks of broccoli, cauliflower and peas
  • Plant Fava Beans
  • Start a mini tray of lettuces
  • Finish (or start) garden plan

In Everett, Washington we are less then 15 minutes shy of the “ten hours of daylight” time. Assuming the weather co-operates, things start growing in ten hours of daylight! Whoot!

Debs…. off to make a Leek Tart with a few of those fat leeks standing proud in the garden and the eggs the chickens are still laying (Thanks Foodie Laura).

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