Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring and New Introductions

With spring comes a lot of new introductions. The people first; Kathleen and Dan are both gifted writers and excellent bloggers, who both are doing some top of the line writing.
Kathleen is a fellow writer at Helium. She has an impressive array of articles on a wide range of topics and manages a very good Helium Zone on the southern Tier section of western New York State.
Now if that isn't enough work, I really also appreciate and enjoy her blog “On Your Way to the Top – one woman, over sixty and her perspective on life.” It's great, stop by and check it all out. It is worth the time. She will be planting peas this spring and we'll follow how that effort goes.
Dan is one of our neighbors from Ontario and an excellent blogger who is recording his “trial and tribulations” at Urban Veggie Garden. Dan has an ambitious garden project going on and is constructing a poly tunnel system. His insights and documentations are very good and insightful.
Dan was able to get some great shots of some eagles which were published in the Toronto Star on March 12th. The photo's are posted, along with a news video, on his blog. Be sure to stop by his Web site for a visit and say hello.
Vegetable gardens are always important. The effort provides fresh and healthy produce; it is a relaxing past time and can be a spiritual experience in many ways. This year, a vegetable garden is particularly important because of rising food prices (besides health scares) and there are apparently a number of people who will be first-timers. Both of these writers provide down to earth insights in an excellent format.
Rosy Reds, the Frogs and the Vegetable Garden, my dedicated get your hands dirty garden blog, has also undergone some renovations and fine tuning over the last week or two and more is in the works. Links to both Kathleen and Dan can be found at the site, plus my own artwork and adventure stories, just click on the title of this post.
Pictured above is another new comer – this years Jalapeno crop. The plants, started on top of the refrigerator several weeks ago, are doing great. I should be transplanting them by week's end. The heirloom chicken hearts are doing great too, but I am getting skunked on the hot cherry bell peppers. I'll likely re-plant them.
The tomatoes all germinated fine, also started on top of the fridge and now located on a sunny southern window. The Romans, are just great tasting and good for sauces, the Persimmons, good old fashion flavor and the best for a tomato sandwich, Manyel (or many moons) are a smaller yellow tomato which are good in salads or just munching (and they are really a spectacular, amazing yellow color) and the Bloody Butcher, an early very tasty tomato, which can ripen as early as July 4th for me.
There are more to come and I need to get some peas in the ground today before tomorrow's rain. Thanks for the visit and be sure to view both Kathleen's and Dan's work.
I have additional writing, a lot of gardening and history, articles which can be found on my Helium profile page.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Fiacre waits, but not Patrick: Signs of Spring

March 17th

Everyone is Irish today, Happy St. Patrick's Day. But do you know who the patron saint is for gardeners? Well, it is another Irishman, a monk to be more exact and the feast day is celebrated on August 30th, St. Fiacre. I am going to try and remember this one for sometime in August.
The weather warmed over the last week from the extreme cold we had, some early spring plants are showing and I actually was able to photograph, on March 16th, a frog in the Frog Bog, a small pond in the middle of the vegetable garden. I did see a few earlier on March 15th but wasn't able to get a photograph.
On the 16th, I was also able to get a few pictures of the Rosy Reds swimming around for the first time since the winter set in. Rosy Reds are minnows in the Frog Bog which were added last year. On this day I also saw a salamander swimming in the pond, but it was next to impossible to get a photograph but I'm going to keep trying. And I would bet money, I also spotted a bullfrog tadpole race to the surface, gulp a breathe of air and quickly dove back deeper into the water.
Another date to remember: March 12th-the first robins and red winged black birds sighted. Now, other have told me they saw them a day or two earlier but this is the first time here.
It was warm yesterday and started to fix the fence for the peas and overturn some of the ground for planting. The weather will not cooperate for the next several days with rain changing to snow and lows in the twenties. The peas can wait for a few days before they are planted.
But the weather is breaking; certainly we'll have more snow.
Started to plant some tomatoes over the weekend which might be a tad early but I have a project to try out. So far the varieties planted, all saved heirloom seeds are: Roman, Bloody Butcher, Persimmon, and Manyel. The Jalapeno peppers sprouted over the weekend but still waiting for the chicken hearts and the hot cherry bells to show.
The tomato project is about cloning, so I wanted some larger plants in mid-May to clone so they will be ready to plant in mid-June. I've never tried this before and it might be an interesting experiment. It is possible that a fresh crop of tomatoes will be ready for harvest in mid September. An August 30th celebration to St. Fiacre might be appropriate for this tomato attempt. The frost around here is generally mid October.
If you have some extra time to spend, I did some writing on John Brown and on the Underground Railroad you might enjoy. Let me know.
For more gardening information, click on title. Thanks for visiting.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring weather, Jack in the Pulpit, Grange news

There has been a tremendous amount of rain and snow melt over the last couple days. Rainfall amounts range from one to two inches and possibly more in some locations. My small pond, the Frog Bog, was overflowing and flooding some sections briefly.
So the weather did give me some time and I finally found the above photo of a Jack in the Pulpit I took last spring. The native plants are exotic looking and grow well in shady areas with the proper soil conditions. They should start to bloom, with any luck, in about six weeks.
And a quick update, there is new, updated gardening information and links at Rosy Reds, the Frogs and the Vegetable Garden. Just click the title to get there. Click on Jack in the Pulpit for further information.
The Crawford Pomona Grange held a meeting last week at the Hayfield Grange. From the minutes sent by Susan Tau, it must have been a busy yet interesting meeting. The historical presentation was about the Baldwin Reynolds House in Meadville, Pennsylvania. There is quite a fascinating history about the place. Click on Baldwin Reynolds for information on the historic site, it has a fascinating history.
The Pomona Grange normally has some very good history presentations during their meetings. Many times there are local insights that will not be discovered in books and scholarly works.
But the Grange is much more than history; it is an active organization throughout Crawford County will a whole range of activities for every member of the family.
Membership is open to anyone, you don't have to live on a farm or even in a rural area.
Some of the upcoming events are:
1.Pomona fund raiser at Hoss's Steak and Sea Food on April 26; 20 percent of the proceeds are donated to the Grange.
2.The week of April 27th the Mobile Ag Science Lab will be at Maplewood Elementary
3.Pomona sponsored Grange bake sale at H&H in Saegertown on April 11.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Garlic, writing and warm weather

This past week the weather warmed into the fifties and much of the snow is now melted. It was amazing how fast it went. There were a few gusty thunderstorms last nights. I'm not ready to shout just yet, cause I am sure we'll get more snow and cold before it's really over.
Doing a garden check yesterday, I noticed the first of the garlic beginning to show; that seems early. This patch of garlic is a Russian variety which I have never planted before, called Georgian.
The other garlics are still dormant; homesteader and old Italian. Homesteader is a wild hardneck garlic which I discovered and tamed down. It is large, tangy and very garlicky tasting. I wasn't too sure what to call it so just gave it a name. Who knows what it really is or where it came from?
Old Italian is an old heirloom from an Italian family. It is a hardneck and has a hot garlicky flavor. The skin has purple markings.
Maybe it is the warm weather but the calender also says it is time to get some pepper seeds planted. I'd like to get some chicken hearts and some jalapenos planted in flats today and later some hungarian wax (they grow faster for me). I'll have see what I have for sweet peppers, not sure what I saved last year.
I started two additional writing sites this week, if you care to check them out. My Hub is focused more on the history of northwestern Pennsylvania; to date I have entered two posts. One is about the oil region in this area, sort of an overview with a focus on Pithole and the second post is an overview of French Creek. Check them out. The second writing site is at Word Press and has a somewhat different slant. Rosy Reds and the Frogs and Veggies is always being updated so if you want more detailed garden information, just click on the title.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Save Money: Think the Veggie Garden

A frequent comment I've heard over the last few months is this is the year to have a vegetable garden. Food prices have risen, jobs are being lost, and there has been more than one serious health scare about food products during the last year.
The mailbox, to give added impetus to turning over the ground, is filled with glamorous seed catalogs filled with glossy pictures and glowing advertisements.
But a good rule of thumb remains, “Buyer Beware”. It is possible to save a lot of money by growing your own food; it is equally possible to spend more than the effort is worth.
Think about your needs and plan from there. Stay away from exotic claims and varieties which take 90 days or more to mature. Chances are in northwestern Pennsylvania, or anywhere in an agricultural zone 5 Jack Frost will strike that those exotic and tasty peppers or tomatoes dead in their tracks.
Think heirlooms, the seeds can be saved from year to year. And seeds are a much better value and easy to start. Plants are expensive. One exception will be the sale held in Meadville later this year by the Master Gardeners, more on that soon.
It is easy to save money by having a vegetable garden using a tad of common sense.
Just for some unrelated fun reading on local history.
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