Seed Starting: Broccoli & Company

In my part of Virginia (the inland plains), the next couple of weeks are the perfect time to start seeds for refined brassicas. The brassica family is a large one. It includes plants like kale, collard greens, and mustard greens, as well as their more genteel cousins: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and that old favorite…

Last Year’s Vegetable Stars

Since in Virginia there are still a few weeks left for ordering mainstay vegetable seeds like tomatoes, peppers, etc., I thought I’d spotlight a few things that did particularly well in the garden last year, in case you’re looking for something new to try. Seeds for all of these plants are available from Southern Exposure…

A Watched Seed Never Sprouts?

If this were true, I’d be in real trouble. I’m an incurable seed watcher. From the very first morning after I bury them in their little flats and tin cans, I’m spying on them. I’m lifting up the saran wrap that’s supposed to keep in the soil moisture (but admittedly doesn’t work so well if…

Another edible weed!

Last weekend I wrote a post asking if anyone could identify a certain wild plant intermingling with the chickweed in my garden beds. No one seemed to have any ideas, so I took another stab at identifying it. And this time I found it easily–once I looked in my French guide to wild flowers. It…

Nature’s Potato Chip

Sarah usually writes the cooking posts on our blog, but I think she’ll agree that this topic is meant for me. After all, it’s not really about recipes. It’s about seeds. Sarah just posted her recipe for butternut squash with cranberries and spinach, and let me just say, that dish was superb. I ate half…

Roasted Butternut Squash with Spinach and Craisins

I got the idea for this recipe from the Wegmans Menu magazine and a Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. It’s one of the sides for their $6 meals right now and the picture looked pretty delicious so I thought I’d try making it. It’s a lot of trouble. Here’s the thing — first you have…

Red Velvet Cake

I don’t like cakes made from scratch, or even cakes from a bakery. I really only like cakes made from store-bought cake mixes. There’s just something in the flavor and the texture of real cakes that I don’t enjoy. So when I decided to make a red velvet cake from scratch, it was because I hoped…

Going out on a Whim

I’m a big fan of experiments. This probably has a lot to do with my being too impatient to spend more than five minutes researching anything, once I’ve got it in my head that this is something that needs to be done. I love getting things done. I love sowing seeds, putting bushes in the…

Identify this wild plant!

If you read my Jan. 15 post, you know I’ve recently become an enthusiast of chickweed, an edible wild green that’s been taking over my garden beds since last autumn and tastes superb! There’s another little plant that’s made a good showing in the garden, but I’m having a hard time finding its name or…

The First Seeds of Spring

While the intensive work of spring digging and planting is still at least six weeks away, there are a few things to be done in January. The most important is starting onion seeds. You can start onion seeds indoors anytime after mid-January in Virginia, but since I only just ordered my seeds the beginning of…

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

I am attempting to learn recipes for homemade versions of convenience foods and tried one today for homemade Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. I mixed a few spoonfuls into a glass of milk and it tasted just like the store-bought syrup that costs about $2 for a 24 oz. bottle – AND I made it in about five…

Dreamtime

For gardeners, January is the season of dreamin’. This is when we can be found sleeping with seed catalogs tucked under our pillows, laboring over garden diagrams whose size bears no resemblance to that of our backyards (many of our dreams include inheriting vast tracts of prime agricultural real estate), and reading aloud to our…