Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Thursday, March 26, 2009

End of March Garden Update

Dear Friends,

It was a beautiful afternoon & evening in the garden with sun and clouds and warm weather (mid 50's). The birds were singing and I was in pure bliss. Here's my cat Jack really enjoying the lavender I harvested from the garden! Today was a great day to prune and clean up all of my perennials and herbs. They were looking pretty messy from the winter. So I got rid of all the dead stuff to make room for new spring growth. And there were signs of spring rebirth everywhere with new growth on favorites like agastache, centranthus, crocosmia, lavatera, penstemon, bronze fennel, lavender, mauve chives, lemon thyme, purple sage...very exciting.

My blueberries have just developed buds and they range in color from white to pink to red. They are just beautiful. The first photo is 'Briggata' the second is 'Top Hat' and the third is 'Sunshine Blue.' I gave them a boost with some liquid seaweed and homemade blend organic granular fertilizer. Their next door neighbors are last year's strawberries. (Which I didn't get any photos of) The strawberries are beginning to leaf out so I gave them a haircut and clean-up of all the dead leaves left from the winter. Better to throw the dead leaves in the compost bin where they will break down quicker than around the strawberries where slugs can hide out. The strawberries also got a does of liquid seaweed. Yum-yum!
I planted seeds directly in this raised bed today. The soil was hardly wet at all despite this week's rain. It was the perfect consistency for planting seeds today. Since I had prepped this bed in the Fall with a good dose of compost, earthworm castings, coir, and organic granular fertilizer it was ready to go. And no weeds either because it had a layer of wood based compost on the top as winter mulch. I hoed the mulch in just a little to make it easier for the seeds to germinate. I did not till this bed because I don't like to disturb the soil microorganisms. I work very hard to nurture healthy soil life by adding all kinds of organic matter, growing legumes & cover crops, mulching, and only using organic methods. I feel that tilling in raised beds is an unnecessary and harmful practice. Excessive tilling destroys soil life which leads to unhealthy plants, disease and pests. Ok, so once I hoed a little I was ready to plant seeds. I only seeded half the bed because I'll do the other half in about 2 weeks. It's great to succession plant your greens and root crops over the course of the spring to reap the longest harvest during the summer. Today I planted from seed: 'cherry belle' radish, arugula, 'white lisbon' scallions, 'tendersweet' carrots, 'salad bowl' lettuce, 'purple top white globe' turnips, mache, feverfew and salad burnet. I also planted 'walla walla' onions from bunches. You can maybe see them in the photo tucked in behind the kale. And, of course, I watered in my seed with seaweed extract. There were a couple of existing plants in this bed that I seeded around: bottom right corner is a 2 year old oregano, 3 dinosaur kale plants along the back that overwintered, and to the left one cilantro plant that overwintered.
It was a great afternoon in the garden today. While working I felt serene, productive and hopeful. I felt super in touch with my soil and with nature. The warm air, the sunbreaks, plus the new growth on plants made me feel like it was really finally spring!
In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Saturday, March 21, 2009

3 Bean Chipotle Chili for the Crockpot

3 Bean Chipotle Chili
for the Crockpot
Original Recipe by
Miss Jolie

Happy Spring Dear Friends!

I'm writing you on this lovely beginning of's a dreamy evening...7pm still light outside with plenty of blue sky and still above 50 degrees. This recipe is "hot off the presses" for you. It's a very inexpensive, simple, satisfying and nutritious recipe for your crockpot. It took me 20 minutes to assemble & throw in the crockpot this morning before leaving for school. And when I returned home this afternoon my house smelled delicious and my dinner for several nights was ready! Here's a photo of the dried beans soaking overnight. Such beautiful colors! I love the smokey, sweet and spicy flavor of roasted chipotle peppers. I like to eat my chili served with a dollop of sour cream. It has to be organic and whole fat, no light sour cream here. And the organic makes all the difference in both the thickness and taste. Other times I serve this chili over a bowl of brown rice or with corn tortillas or with a slice of hot fresh baked cornbread. It's up to you. Anyway you serve it-love it!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

3 Bean Chipotle Chili for the Crockpot
5-6 servings
3 cups dry beans-any combo of kidney, black & pinto beans
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup textured vegetable protein "TVP"
3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp mild chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sea salt
optional: sour cream

1. The night before cooking chili-rinse and drain the beans. Then place in a large bowl or pot, and cover with water. Let sit uncovered overnight. In the morning drain and rinse the beans.
2. Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onions and let saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly brown. Add the garlic, chipotle, chili powder, oregano and cumin to the onions and let cook another 2-3 minutes.
3. While the onions are sauteing combine the beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and TVP in the crockpot. Add about 3 cups of water.
4. When the onion mixture is done, add it to the crockpot.
5. Turn crockpot to high and let cook for 6-8 hours. At this time check the flavor and add sea salt to your taste. You may also add more chipotle and/or mild chili powder to your liking.
6. Optional: serve each portion with a spoonful of sour cream.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Equinox Eve Garden Update

Hi friends!

Tomorrow is the "official" first day of Spring, the Spring Equinox. Spring is always wacky in Portland. Last night I drove home from my speaking gig at 9pm and it was still 60 degrees and I had the sunroof down. Last week we had night temps in the upper 20s and I was wearing long johns. Remember, our average last frost date in Portland is April 15th. Last year we still had frosts up until the end of May!!!
My indoor seed starting has progressed nicely. Here's a photo one week after I planted the seeds. Everything has germinated except the herbs: parsley, chives & savory. I especially love the 'Magenta Sunset' Chard. It is a magenta ribbed plant and you can already see the tint in this tiny one week old seedling. I love it! You can also see all the seedlings are titleto the left which is the direction of the sunny kitchen window!

My peas have finally germinated. I sowed snow and sugar snap peas directly into the garden almost exactly one month ago and they have been total slow pokes! But, here's the proof they have finally germinated. YAY! The strawberry crowns I planted the same day along with arugula and radish seeds are all lookin lovely.

Here are 2 winter veggies I'm very proud of. This is 'green wave' mustard greens and some Italian kale I planted back in late September. Both of these plants weathered the big snow storm and when the 2 feet melted off them they were alive and kicking. They are both starting to leaf out again.

This is a photo of 2 cover crops I planted in late September--fava bean and crimson clover. They had both germinated and were pretty young when the Christmas snow storm hit. Once it melted they both looked slimy and dead. Within another month they had bounced back and look how luscious they are now!

That's is all the gardening news for this week. I didn't do any new planting this week because I'm recovering from the flu. I was happy today to get into the garden for a while to take these photos, assess progress, turn the compost pile, and pull a few weeds. There's a major project in the works for this weekend clearing away the plum tree wreckage that is covering nearly half my backyard.

Well, happy Spring Equinox eve and many blessings on you and your gardens!
In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann
P.S. If the format of my postings has been looking very bad, I am having a very difficult time editing lately. The more photos I've been adding change the layout and I haven't found any easy way to adjust the way the postings look. I know the print is coming out weird on the actual blog and that's never they way it looks in my posting previews. It's not accepting my line spacing and slamming everything together and then in the next post adding it's own double spacing making the posting REALLY long with stupid spacing. So, I do apologize if it's been hard to read my blog. I'm doing the best I can. I will see what I can figure out. Sorry! Miss Jolie Ann

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Come to My Workshops

I am giving a workshop on Urban Edible Gardening as a part of an event put on by Public Social University. It's tonight (Thursday March 19) at 6-9pm, I think I'm speaking at 7:30pm at PIP Gallery 625 NW Everett in Portland. Free event!

The next class I am teaching is "Your Summer Harvest and Preservation" Your garden is growing, so now what? Timing, Tips, Techiques for your backyard harvest plus lots of recipes will be shared. On Sunday July 26 at Portland Nursery 5050 SE Stark Street Portland. Later in the Spring please call the nursery to register 503-231-5050. Free class!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Indoor Seed Starting

Happy Sunshine Friends!

I did some indoor seed starting today. Growing veggies, herbs and flowers from seed is sometimes a more economical way to go than purchasing nursery grown transplants. Depending on what you are growing you can get more bang for your buck. If you are direct seeding into the garden you save the indoor seed starting expenses, but you will have longer to wait until your harvest. If you start seeds indoor you need to have the space, and be deligent about watching the temperature and humidity needs of your seedling babies. Plus you have the expenses of seed starting mix, trays, domes, inserts, peat pots or pellets, and possibly heat mats and lights.

I keep it pretty simple. I direct see into the garden as much as I can like peas, beans, a lot of herbs, all my root crops-carrots, radish, beets, turnips, parsnips, green onions, potatoes, garlic, shallots and most of my leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, mustards, etc. Then I buy transplants of the finicky heat-lovin summer veggies like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I usually start my squash and pumpkins indoors or just purchase the transplants from the nursery. I would also start from seed any varieties I know I won't get at the nursery. I don't use heat mats or supplemental lighting.

To get a jump start on this spring I decided to start indoors spinach, chard, arugula, several varieties of lettuce, chives, parsley, summer savory, and several varieties of companion flowers-calendula, nasturtium and cosmos. These are common annuals you can buy transplants pretty inexpensively. But I scored several packages of free seeds that are unique varieties. The plan is in early April when I direct seed these veggies into the garden I can also transplant my seedlings at the same time giving me a jump start on my harvest.

I am no expert at indoor seed starting, but I know a few basics. Always use a sterile seed starting mix. Not a potting soil and not soil from your garden. A seed starting mix is light and fluffy to promote seed germination, it is also sterile. You can buy a commercial brand like Black Gold (which is OMRI listed organic) or you can mix your own with a combo of peat moss, earthworm castings and perlite. Once you have your seed starting medium you need some trays and decide if you want to use re-usable plastic cell packs, peat pots, expandable pellets or coir fiber pots. So many choices. Next you need to read about what your seeds need to germinate. Some need darkness, some need light. Some like to be covered in the planting medium, some want to be exposed. Temperature needs also vary. Do your research first before planting.

When starting seeds indoors I use liquid seaweed. If you read my blog you'll know I use liquid seaweed for pretty much everything. I swear by it. I wet my peat pots with it prior to filling with seed starting medium. Once the seeds are planting I spray them with liquid seaweed. Good stuff.

I think the biggest problem with starting seeds indoors is "damping off" and hopefully you won't encounter this. Indoor seedlings also don't like fluctuation in heat and cold and hate drafts. They are quite sensitive.

I'll let you know how it goes.

In Health & Happiness,
Miss Jolie Ann

Planting Potatoes

Dear Friends,

It's a beautiful sunny day in Portland and appears to be the "Spring" weather we are all dreaming of. But, I have to say I was just out in the garden and that wind is dang cold. I never got around to planting my Walla Walla Onion bunches because my ears were so cold. But, I did get most of my potatoes planted. I grew potatoes last year for the first time. They were so easy and tasted so good I decided to grow lots more this year. 6 varieties: All Blue, Red Gold, Austrian Fingerling, Yukon Gold, German Butterball and Dark Red Norland. If you live in Portland and haven't yet checked out the potato selection at Portland Nursery-it's awesome. A great selection of varieties and good prices.

Growing your own potatoes is a very thrifty thing to do. They are easy to grow, don't need a lot of care and aren't picky about the soil they are in. They are also super cheap to buy. My seed potatoes cost between .10 and .39 cents (before my employee discount) each for one seed potato. That one seed potato will then yield about 10 more potatoes. The Territorial Seed Catalog says standard potatoes will yield about 10 times the amount originally planted and fingerlings will yield from 15 to 20 times the amount originally planted. So I just spent $1.22 total for my seed potatoes which at harvest will yield about 60 delicious homegrown organic potatoes. Yes, that is correct. Quite a bargain, eh? Grow potatoes! They store well, they are nutritious & filling, and very versatile in lots of recipes.

Here are some tips for potato growing. Potatoes like loose, well-drained soil. But, really, why do I even say that because that is what MOST plants want. Here in Portland plant potatoes in the late winter and early spring, up until 3 weeks prior to the average last frost date. Which for Portland is April 15th. Right now is a perfect time for planting potatoes. Last year and this year I've planted my potatoes in containers. They do well starting out in just a few inches of straight compost, just enough to cover them. At planting I water them in with liquid seaweed. As your potatoes begin to grow and sprout more leaves on taller stalks you can add another layer of compost covering a few inches of the stalk base. This layering of compost as the plant grows encourages more new root "arms" with more layers of potatoes growing underground.

To plant potatoes used certified seed potato from a reputable nursery or seed catalog. If your seed potato is small you can plant it whole. If it's large you can cut it into smaller pieces, but make sure each piece has three "eyes" sprouting. After cutting your seed potatoes dust them with powdered sulfur which will prevent fungal disease and let them air dry for a few days prior to planting. I eliminate this entire process by purchasing very small seed potatoes.

Potatoes want full sun and a weed-free growing area. Potatoes like a fertilizer high in Phosphorus (that's the "P" in your N-P-K ratio) and low in Nitrogen. I use Rock Phosphate which is a great natural source of Phosphorus. You could also use bone meal which is considered "organic" if you are cool with using the by-product of slaughter houses. Which as you know, I'm not. Naomi Montacre of Concentrates Inc in Portland describes Rock Phosphate as "soft colloidal phosphates mineralized from ancient sea fossils and shells, this is a good slow release source of phosphorous, calcium and trace minerals." You can also be thrifty and save money by purchasing your Rock Phosphate in bulk (again, at Portland Nursery).

All right readers, the one other thing I know about potatoes is it's super fun to dig them up and harvest! Email me with any questions.

I have dirty fingernails & I love it,
Miss Jolie Ann