4/16/12

Greenhouse Growing

Last week I told you I had cleaned out my greenhouse to get ready for this year's growing season.  It's looking ship shape now, and so George and I did some planting yesterday.  Last year, George was too suspicious of the greenhouse to go inside, although he dearly wanted to.  A cat has to be careful you know.  Someone might hitch that thing up to a pick-up truck and tow it down the road or something.  Hey!  It's happened before!  To George!


Anyway, apparently satisfied that it is permanently attached to the ground, he checked everything out and reported finding no pythons or other vermin inside.  It was completely safe to forge ahead.


I picked up some tomato starts at our local nursery last week.  If you only knew my trials with tomatoes, you'd understand why I'm taking no chances.  I am serious about my pasta sauce this year.  It would not be an overstatement to describe my seriousness about pasta sauce as "deadly serious".


I did plant some lettuce from seed, however.  It's still too cold to plant lettuce in the outdoor garden, but it actually does pretty well inside the greenhouse.  We can get going on our garden lettuce a little earlier in the season when I plant it in the greenhouse.  "Get going" = "eating".  (I'm very good at math.)  

This is my favorite butterhead lettuce, which is more like a green leaf lettuce with nice crispy leaves.  I purchase my seeds from Territorial Seed Company.  They are located in Corvallis, Oregon, and I think they are connected with the Oregon State University agriculture program somehow, but don't quote me on that.  I use their seeds because they are developed locally, and so I figure I'll have more success with them than seeds that are developed in, say, Minnesota.  

I'm so sad because this seed is apparently no longer available.  It's not in their catalog and I just checked the website . . . not there either.  I wonder why.  It sure performed well for me.  I've been growing it for years.  Now I'll have to choose another variety.  Still, I have some seeds left for growing just a little more this year.


If you've ever grown lettuce, then you know how impossibly tiny lettuce seeds are.  When I grow it outside, I sort of sprinkle it into the groove I make for planting as if I were sprinkling kosher salt.  It works.  The problem arises when the wind is blowing (which it usually is . . . we have a wind turbine, remember?).  When the wind is blowing, it will just blow all over the place.  Then I have lettuce growing everywhere.


I've learned to deal with this problem in the greenhouse by using the tip of a bamboo skewer to pick up the individual seeds.  It makes it possible for me to plant in containers without overcrowding the plants.

Then the smart folks at Territorial came up with this pelleted lettuce.  This is my favorite red leaf lettuce:  Red Sails.  I used this in the garden last year.


This is what it looks like.  It makes it possible to plant individual seeds.  It was much nicer in the garden last year, although it took a little longer to germinate than conventional seeds.


For greenhouse growing, I use these window box planters I found at a nursery.  Hm.  Nothing growing yet.  Why, yes, as a matter of fact.  Patience is one of my most noticeable virtues.


Also yesterday I planted . . . 



Once these two get a good head of steam, I'll plant them in the culinary herb garden.  I haven't had a lot of success growing them in the garden from seeds, and so I'll start them first and then transplant them.  We'll just see if that works any better.  I absolutely LOVE fresh dill, while I'm not nearly so enamored of dried dill.  I have quite a few recipes that call for fresh dill, and they are so yummy.  (Have you ever noticed how my favorite things in life can be described with that one word, "yummy"?)  When the little baby dill fronds are pretty much used up, I use the seed heads in my pickling pursuits.

Then, this morning I was so excited to greet the day (not!) that I was up at 4:00 a.m.!  As long as I was up I figured I'd get going on this sourdough bread starter.  I got interested in this from something I saw on my Facebook news feed from King Arthur Flour.  They had a recipe for sourdough bread.  Mike loves sourdough bread, and so I decided to give it a try.  It requires a "fed" starter, and I took the instructions off their website for how to accomplish this.  

Do you find it as worrisome as I that a food ingredient requires feeding?  Also, there was a warning about not making it according to their directions.  It actually stated that if one didn't divide off a portion each day, one would end up with "the starter that ate Milwaukee".  We have a Milwaukie in Oregon too (yes, and we in Oregon know how to spell it).  Since I was worried about my neighbors on the other side of town, I decided to follow the directions to the letter.

Start with four ounces of whole wheat flour.


So far, so good.

Then, mix in four fluid ounces of non-chlorinated water.  Mix it up until no dry flour remains.


Okay.  So that's where I am with this so far.  I know.  It's pretty edge-of-the-seat stuff, isn't it?

Each day, I'm supposed to remove half of it, give it another four ounces of regular flour and another four ounces of water, and voila!  At the end of a week, I should have sourdough starter.  Then, and only then, can I proceed with baking a loaf of sourdough bread.  

I'm going to keep you apprised of my process during the week.  If you don't hear from me, you'll know that the starter went wild and ate the Three Cats Ranch in its entirety.  It's only slightly reassuring that I have my cat with me for protection at all times.

With that excitement under my pajama waistband, it was time to relax and do some embroidery.  I'm so painfully close to finishing this stitchery, but guess what?  I ran out of black floss.  The kit came with various colors of a brand I haven't heard of before.  I always use DMC.  It's a cotton floss, however, and it doesn't seem to have the sheen that the DMC floss has.  Although I have some black DMC, I was a little worried about switching brands in the middle of the stream, er, stitchery.  So I ordered some more online, but I can't continue until I receive it.  Rats.


That's okay.  I'll put it aside until the new floss comes.  I can start working on the April block for the Promises and Borders quilt.

Today I need to do some housework . . . right after I take a nap.  I'm almost to the point of being able to start making the blocks for my newest project, the BQ2 quilt.  I've decided to call my version "Daisies and Dots".  See if you can guess how I came up with that name.


I know.  I'm really clever when it comes to choosing names for things.


9 comments from clever and witty friends:

make.share.give said...

You've been a busy bee! My parents had a sourdough starter many years ago. I love bread so I thought it was wonderful, but babying the starter and baking three times a week kind of wore on Mom.

Snoodles said...

You had me laughing out loud today! Great post! I'll be watching to see if you post later in the week....if you don't, what should I send your way to eat all that dough and release you and the kitties? LOL

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara, A little history about Territorial Seed Co. In 1979, my husband and I bought a place about four miles north of Lorane off Territorial Hwy. That same year, Steve Solomon started Territorial Seed Co. just south of Lorane to develop seeds that would grow well in our area. He sold in 1985, and in 1990, the owners moved the company to Cottage Grove, where they still are. You can read a little about them on their web site. Like you, we are at a little higher elevation.
Sharon - ssauser@dishmail.net

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

You are very motivated! I like the thought of lettuce all over. I wonder if I can get it growing in the flower bed? I have some starts. I think my seeds didn't work due to weather. It got upwards of 90 for awhile and then we ended up with a frost. ?????? I ended up picking up some starts at the store. I'd love a greenhouse like you have so I can get an earlier start.

cq4fun said...

How wonderful that you have such a greenhouse growing! Rosemary grows really well. Mine is two years old in a long box similar to yours. I just feed it miracle gro once in a while. It wintered outside just fine, too.

Melissa said...

I am in awe of your gardening. Planting a garden is a dream and having a greenhouse is a pipe dream! Can't wait to see the progress of your veggies and I love the fabrics for your April blocks!

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
quiltzyx said...

OK, now what do you do with the half of the starter that you remove? Throw it into the compost pile? Or do you end up with a bunch of bowls of starter? Hmmm?
P.s. I love sourdough bread too. Just sayin'.

Little miss Radikal said...

mmm i don't know, but can't you let the plants shoot instead of eat it? that way you maybe get some seeds to grow your own plants next year.... if that is possible at all... just an idea that came to mind reading about your favorite seeds being nolonger available