Pictures of Early Spring Crops – Keep Planting

Veiw of the Garden 2012

Here are pictures of the crops I planted in early spring that are ready to enjoy. Salad greens, brocolli, and peas. Still waiting on Cabbage, which are looking good! First time really planting these from starts. Still waiting on Cauliflower – first time too – not sure what they are doing. Also, Attached are pictures of the rest of the garden so far; look at the pictures for labeling of veggies. Plant the rest of your seeds now – it’s warm enough!
Onions - some "left over" from last year I'm letting goto seed-the big ones
Bush "Wax" Beans in the front and French Pole Beans in the Back
All of the brocolli - From Starts planted in early March
>Mesclun "lettuce greens"

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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in 2012 Garden



Teacher Appreciation Day

Homemade Chai Tea Mix in a JarSpiced Chai Tea Mix in a Jar

Rapidly approaching us next week. I try to give teachers a gift that that is a little unique and useful. This year I have decided to gift some Instant Chai Tea mix in a jar to each of my children’s teachers. I need to make approx. 10 gifts total. Here is a recipe that I have tweaked from the internet. I am a foodie so I wanted it to be something I would drink, but had some flexibility to water down the sweetness level without watering down the tea and spices too much. Also, don’t skimp over the cardamom; it is a necessity.

Spiced Chai Tea Recipe:
3C dry milk powder
1 1/2 – 2C sugar (i put in 2 C because usually people like sweet and I used regular, unsweetened creamer and added in vanilla powder I had)
2-2 1/4 C unsweetened instant tea (nestea or lipton)
1C Vanilla powdered non dairy creamer (if this is sweetened lessen sugar)
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground white pepper (YES! for real)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix; then in small batches pulse through your blender to make a fine, consistent powder. You must do this otherwise the ingredients do not look appealing at all and it will not disintegrate nicely into the water.

Serving Size: approx. 3 T into 8 oz hot water; stir well (adding more or less water to taste).

NOTES: I purchased 2 jars of the nestea, 1 larger box of the powdered milk and a large (not a tub) of the creamer. I used all the tea to make 3 batches with a very small amount of powdered milk left over and about half of the creamer left over (these are items I do not usually purchase). 3 batches filled ten (10) 1/2pt jars and approx 3 pint jars. fyi. Also, purchase store brand (generic) items on this as the ingredients are the same.
COST: Milk $8, large size Creamer $3 (not small, not regular, and not the tub), Tea $2.50/ea, spices (purchased in bulk – buy what you need)approx $5-7, jars (2nd hand) $0.50/ea, fabric 1/2 yard $1. Approx Total: $26-30 depending on what you already have on hand to make 10 half pint jars and approx 3 pint jars. If you made all half pint jars that would total about 15 jars for approx $2 per gift on the high end of the estimate, plus it’s homemade which makes it special. I think I could have purchased the “regular” (not small size) of the creamer for the 3 batches (3c) – just wanted to make sure I used as much of the items I purchased. And if you don’t have as many teachers as I do you could just put them in pint jars and essentially double that cost from $2/half pint jar to $4/pint jar and still have a couple left over for random housewarming/hostess gifts as they store for 6 mos.

I repurposed paper grocery bags to label jars; cutting out a square, writing in black marker (like an old market type look and taping to front of jar using wording such as “Spiced Chai Tea —– To make: Add +/- 3 Tablespoons to boiling water, stir and enjoy”. I also chose to add fabric underneath jar bands for decor. But, you could also use this as an opportunity to use other saved jars with lids (old peanut butter jars, dip jars, etc….) and you could modge podge fabric over these lids, wrapping/glueing the fabric over the lip to overlap the lip of those lids (I think there is something about doing this too on the martha stewart website). I happened to use 2 old frito lay dip jars and their lids; I can modge podge the fabric over/around lids and labels peel off and just need to clean up jar with oil to get residue off.


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Planting Time is Here and Near!

It has been a slow go on this years plantings, even for the early veggies. I had direct seeded snap peas and shelling peas around mid-march that have grown about a foot. I had also direct seeded mesclun which is just about ready to harvest (and last week made a succession planting of lettuces). My broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower starts didn’t make it – because I’ve no patience to “harden them off”. I had to repurchase starts of these. And by that time I had cut off the bottom of all the quart milk bottles I’d saved to proved each start a mini-greenhouse which has worked marvelously. I also see that some of my onion and leek seeds have sprouted and some of the tiny starts I planted are still alive. I also started some garlic and have yet to plant them in the garden; suspect they won’t be ready until the fall comes. Potatoes should have been planted in March, I didn’t because I wasn’t sure about my space and I live in Idaho where potatoes are plentiful (but you really can’t beat the taste of a homegrown potato – no kidding)

Early Spring, provides little windows to start your garden and you have to make the most of the sunny opportunities. I had started tomatoes in the house in february and transplanted them this past weekend, during a sunny spell, outdoors and placed Walls of Water around each of the 10 plants. IF you don’t have walls of water for your tomatoes or peppers, keep them indoors until around June; then plant them outdoors as it is still too cold at night for them.

Speaking of peppers, I will have to purchase starts of these too as my seeds just did not germinate! Must have been too old or I also didn’t store them right (but my other seeds have germinated fine so far that were stored the same way).

I may start indoors my some summer plants, squash, melons if I have time and energy. Otherwise I will wait until June to direct seed them, which will be fine.

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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in 2012 Garden


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Winter Projects…..Winemaking and Beermaking

I have been meaning to mention this for the past month or so; but my husband and I were just getting anxious during the cold winter and being indoors more than usual. So we picked up some new hobbies:
Home Brewing and Home Winemaking

Surprisingly, winemaking is easier to make than beer, but takes longer to get to the final product. Beer making is not that hard; just more equipment – but you get to drink it a lot sooner.

I am the winedrinker in the house and for me, the best bet was to start with a wine kit. This kit has everything, ingredient wise, to make a wine of your choice. Right up my alley with raising 3 boys too. You need a fermenting bucket with airlock and some basic tools which can often be ordered in a wine making start kit. I also joined a wine making forum: — this forum is a great forum!

They are currently having a contest too that you are able to enter at the following link:

This could give you a leg up on any future winemaking endeavors. I will keep you posted…but I’ve got a merlot bulk aging, a red zin fermenting and a cab. sav. kit sitting in the wet bar ready to be made.

This has definitely taken away some of the winter blahs….

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in 2011 Vegetable Garden


Reusable Canning Lids?! YES and NO BPA

I was at the library an going through one of their Mother Earth publications and saw an advertisement in the back for reusable canning lids that are also BPA FREE!!!

In that same magazine was an interesting article about the harmful effects of BPA on humans (like cancer, early puberty). They use it to line most cans; another reason to can/jar your own food! However, even the lids purchased at the store are lined with BPA – although it’s a lot less than an entire can.

These reusable lids apparently were on the market back in the day and now with the resurgence of the do-it-yourselfer, they are back in production and can be purchased at

There are also youtube videos you can watch too. I will order these this year and make sure they go onto lids that will remain in the household with me as they are a bit pricier than the other lids.

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Canning/Preserving


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Start your seeds now…

So, the local DB store sells the jiffy seed starter greenhouse kit for $3 (tray, 72 cell pack insert, plus dome lid). I bought one; I have 2 of just the trays only from last year. I found a website that sells the jiffy 72 refill cell packs to insert in my 11×22″ plastice jiffy trays that I purchased last year. Note: the peat pellets just dried out too fast. Found reasonably priced too at for $1.23 for a 72-cell refill pack PLUS shipping of course – but still cheaper than local store (IF you can find one that stocks just the refill cells).

Where I live we are about 8 weeks now before our average last day of frost (May 9). Although I have been told that our zone here in the treasure valley has been changed…I have not checked up on that. I prefer to go by local folklore and look at the snow on the mountains I can see from my kitchen window for most of my plantings.

Today I started the following seeds: Broccoli, Cauliflower (new), Walla Walla Onions, Leeks (new), Green onions (new), turnips (new), Cabbage (new). These are either cool season crops or long growing crops (onions) that will be okay to transplant into the garden in Mid March. In late February or by Mid-march (depending on weather) I will direct seed lettuces/arugula/peas. See Reference Tab for Specfic dates on when to plant what vegetable.

when I receive my additional refill packs next week (as I have 2 remaining trays from last year), I will start my peppers and tomatoes too and grow them indoors for several months; planting early with walls of water around them in May or June.


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Seed Starting Supplies at the Ready!

It is that time. Time to get your seed starting supplies out and get going. Don’t worry too much. I still have a mental inventory going in my mind of what I’ve got and what I need. I will have everything going no later than mid february. I am still waiting for seeds I ordered from seed-savers – and will deal with those when they arrive. ALSO MAKE YOUR GARDEN PLAN!!! (I need to get on this one too! will publish soon, last year’s is under resource tab)

I decided to switch out my starting strategy and NOT use the expandable peat pellets. Why? They dried out too quickly and the roots tended to stick out too much for the length of time I keep my starts indoors.

Instead I will purchase a couple of the plastic “cell” type starters. Like what you’d buy a 6pack of flowers in at the store – instead this size is about a cookie sheet and has (i don’t know) 60-72 cells? I will purchase soil to put into cells. This system should retain moisture much better and it’s reusable. The peat pots to me are just too expensive for the amount of starts I will do.

Remember, heat is what counts for germination (not light. Seeds are underground; they don’t get light; they respond to heat). The right temps are usually mid 60’s – 80 degrees. Cover with saran wrap to create a green house effect. I don’t have a warming mat. I cover with plastic wrap and put in a sunny window and this works for me.

Refer to my Resource Tab that has date table for seeds/starts. Start cool season crops brocolli, root veggies, onions from seed, lettuce (if you want-these usually germinate in colder temps fine), and other crops you want to get a jump on like peppers (for walls of water), tomatoes (for walls of water), zuchinni. Direct seed peas, lettuce. Plant potatoes in soil in mid-march. Just getting you thinking.

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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in 2012 Garden