WINNING SUBMISSION AND NEW DIRECTIONS

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The winning submission for the 2015 West Seattle Garden Tour!

The winning submission for the 2015 West Seattle Garden Tour!

I SUBMITTED THIS 18″ x 24″ COLLAGE WORK for the 2015 West Seattle Garden Tour poster in March and it was the winning selection! (And I received compensation!)

Some of the seed packet text shows through.

Some of the seed packet text shows through with this whimsical clematis blossom.

I have been saving empty seed packets for a few years thinking I would find a way to work them into a collage. I opened out, flattened and painted the seed packets with acrylic paint in flower and foliage colors then cut out the petal, leaf, root, bulb, and branch shapes to compose the picture above. It was a fun piece to create.

AnythingGrows_leaves

The framed art will be auctioned/raffled during the garden tour as part of the tour’s fundraising effort for local (West Seattle) charities.

It has been a good long while since my last post. Painting workshop, trip to Pinnacles National Park to see California Condors (which we saw quite close in flight) and painting for the past six weeks to get ready for 2 shows.

THE WORKSHOP: The first four days of April were spent at a pastel workshop lead by Diana Sanford. The focus was intuitive painting and abstract expression and was a blast! We spent seven to eight hours painting each day and I came away with stacks of paper that are/were foundations for new work. We painted with Sumi ink, gesso, and layered pastel over the top; we used unconventional ‘tools’ to paint with; we painted quick studies, long studies and ‘duets’ in which we painted with a partner. We even painted a group collaboration that was outstanding! I painted without expectation or intent and it was energizing and freeing.

Sumi ink, walnut ink, charcoal, gesso

Sumi ink, walnut ink, charcoal, gesso

Sumi ink, gesso, pastel

Sumi ink, gesso, pastel (finished post workshop)

Sumi ink, gesso, pastel

Sumi ink, gesso, pastel (finished post workshop)

 

The finished group collaboration

The finished group collaboration

So, now my work is heading off in new directions and will be featured in a group show next month. Exciting! More announcements next week…

 

 

WHISPERS OF SPRING

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FauxRoy

THERE ARE WHISPERS OF SPRING HERE EVERYWHERE I LOOK. While the eastern portion of the country is buried in snow, it definitely feels like spring here with 60 degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine. After unusually heavy rains a week or so ago, the ground is starting to dry out a bit.

Leaves, buds and flowers are bursting forth. Camelia, hellebores, crocus, cyclamen, witch hazel, pulmonaria, early tulips. Here is a little pictorial sampling of what’s happening in my little corner of the world.CorcicanHellbore_2

DoubleNarcissusWitch hazel_1WitchHazel_2CoriscanHellbore DarkHellbore DkPinkhellbore_1
MottlePinkHellbore PaleYelHellbore PinkCyclamen Pulmonaria_1 Pulmonaria_2 WhiteCamelia WhiteCyclamen_1 WhiteCyclamen_2 WhiteCyclamen_3 WhiteHellbore WhitePinkHellbore

NOT EXACTLY CANNING…

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My heirloom preserving crock

My heirloom preserving crock

IN MY PREVIOUS POST I SAID no more canning for awhile. While strictly true, I seem to have to much of a good thing in my vegetable garden. And that would be several Romanesco type cauliflower plants in various stages of growth and at least two needed immediate harvesting. I have pickled and canned cauliflower in the past and since I am decidedly not in the mood to pickle and can in the usual sense, I am having a go at fermented cauliflower pickle. This will certainly be something different and I hope, tasty.

Romanesco cauliflower 'Veronica'

Romanesco cauliflower ‘Veronica’

I don’t know how much this large head weighed but it was about seven inches across. A second, smaller one was more conical and not as flat as the one pictured above. I really like this type of cauliflower for its unique color, flavor, texture, and of course the showy form. The plants are quite robust, with stalks that top out around 2-3 feet high and here at least, need staking against winter wind.

The Western Stoneware with Weir Seal

The Western Stoneware with Weir Seal (any relationship to the meaning of a weir dam?)

I have a lovely and cherished, old heirloom crock that belonged to my wonderful, late mother-in-law who taught me to can and helped me plant my first vegetable garden many, many, years ago. The crock is Western Stoneware and proudly proclaims its maker, provenance and Weir Seal on its lid. I have a feeling that the crock originally belonged to her mother; her brother’s initials, JFM, are scrawled on the bottom of the crock with a grease pencil. The Mahoney family had a farm along the Willamette River in Gervais, Oregon, where my mother-in-law, Helen, grew up. I came into possession of it after she passed away in 1999. I think the capacity is not quite a gallon. I have used it for fermenting as well as making fruit infused vinegars. Just one more thing that reminds me of her generosity and love when I use it.

Not ready to pick, but soon!

Not ready to pick, but soon!

I layered the cauliflower florets and peeled, sliced stems with a few small carrots (from the garden too), garlic (homegrown), onion and a couple of dried ancho chiles, some typical pickling spices and a 5% brine solution.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Fermenting is kind of exciting because the results are always a surprise. It is also an exercise in patience and diligence.

The homemade plastic 'seal'

The homemade plastic ‘seal’

This is my version of a ‘seal’ to keep the contents of the jar submerged. I saw something like this on someone’s website several years ago and it works great. If your ingredients still want to bob-up, a brine filled plastic bag will sit neatly on top. Cut up any plastic lid that is slightly larger than the mouth of the vessel; cut a slit from one edge to the center, fold to a cone shape and place over the contents and push down until the liquid covers the plastic and it is seated. The ‘seal’ is reusable or cut a new one next time.

Now I wait; will it be five days, seven days, or as long as two weeks for results? Darn! I’ll report back.

 

 

 

A GIFT OF WINTER APPLES

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Winter Banana apples

Winter Banana apples

MY MOTHER’S NEIGHBORS HAVE AN ORCHARD in Sequim, Washington. Apples, plums, pears. 2013 yielded a bounty of Shiro plums and lots of plum jelly and plum butter. In 2014 they picked a bumper crop of apples and I was a lucky recipient of Golden Delicious and Winter Banana apples, a variety new to me. I brought home my first five or so, pounds at the end of October and I still had few pounds of our homegrown Spartan apples (after making Kevin West’s Apple Jam with Honey and dates—my addition, from Saving the Season—and Apple Chutney). I combined the remaining bounty of apples with some beautiful Oregon cranberries, for Cranberry-Apple Jelly.

Apple-cranberry pulp draining for juice

Straining Apple-cranberry pulp for juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I washed and quartered (no peeling or coring needed) five pounds of apples and placed them in a large pot with 12 ounces of cranberries, three clementines, 2 cups white wine (rosé will work nicely here), four cups of water, three, three inch cinnamon stick, three bay leaves and one tablespoon of black peppercorns (in a spice bag). Bring to a boil, partially cover and simmer 45 minutes or so until the apples are very soft and falling apart. Remove the spices and bay leaves and transfer to a fine sieve/strainer lined with cheesecloth or a chinois (pictured above) and allow to drain up to 8 hours; do not push on the solids or you will have cloudy juice. This yielded seven cups of juice and three half-pints of jelly—the big drawback to making jelly—a small yield for the effort expended, but it tastes great!

I liked the jelly so much that I asked my mom if her neighbors had more apples. Yes, they did!  How about twenty pounds of Winter Bananas? Please take them! Half of them went into a small fridge and the rest sat in their box in the garage. In early December I made a second batch of apple-cranberry jelly. Ten pounds of winter Banana apples, three pounds of Oregon cranberries, two large pots and two cups of water; this time I ended up with four and a half quarts of juice so I made two batches of jelly. One batch was straight forward and the second included the addition of port and star anise. Yield: 8 half-pints of jelly.

Ten pounds of apples and three pounds of cranberries yielded a fair amount of apple-cranberry pulp that tasted too good to toss out. I put the pulp through the trusty old Foley food mill and I had instant apple-cranberry sauce. These apples were so sweet that even with tart cranberries, no sugar was needed (to suit our taste). For each four cups of pulp, I added back three cups of juice and two tablespoons of lemon juice. I canned 10 pints of it. It is delicious stirred into thick yogurt. Mom’s neighbors received jelly and applesauce and family received apple-cranberry jelly at Christmas.

Apple-Cranberry jelly

Apple-Cranberry jelly

Apple-Cranberry jelly and cran-applesauce

Apple-Cranberry jelly and cran-applesauce

10+ pounds of apples

10+ pounds of apples

January rolled around and we getting ready to take off for the desert. There were still lots of apples in the box and mini-fridge that kept staring at me every time I walked into the garage. I couldn’t bear to toss them so I broke down and made applesauce–16 pints of it to be exact. The apples were still pretty firm, only a few soft or unusable. And by sitting around for a few months, the sugar had concentrated and they were very sweet. This batch of applesauce did not need the addition of sugar either.

Vanilla bean flecked applesauce

Vanilla bean flecked applesauce

Applesaucejars_2

Hmmm…only two of us in the household and a lot of applesauce. Naturally, mom’s neighbors got more applesauce. Mom took a few pints. My neighbors with a baby/toddler received their share too. And two neighboring households. And my two sisters. And there is still plenty to get us through until next fall. I won’t even think about canning until asparagus season begins sometime in April and May here.

 

SAVING SEEDS FOR THE NEXT SEASON

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Dried Lazy Housewife pole bean seed

Dried Lazy Housewife pole bean seed

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

AS ANOTHER YEAR ROLLS IN there is no better time to begin dreaming about and planning this year’s vegetable garden. Seed saving for me started about twenty-two years ago. Even though the seeds were some type of F1 hybrid (called La Roma) and unlikely to come true, I saved them anyway. The plants from the saved seed were just fine and the tomatoes were successively better each year, farther away from the parent. I still grow these tomatoes, although I no longer am using the original saved seeds.

As mentioned in previous posts, I often let some lettuces, herbs, leeks, and other greens go to seed, then shake the seed around the vegetable garden; the seeds come up on their own schedule; when the new plants are large enough I thin and transplant them into vegetable beds (except for cilantro and dill, which do not like to be disturbed).

Rattlesnake pole bean, green stage

Rattlesnake pole bean, green stage

I have been saving some bean seed the last few years, mostly pole beans. I really like Lazy Housewife, a great pole bean that was from Seed Savers (found at flower and garden show several years back). I also have become fond of Rattlesnake, a good green snap bean and shell-bean. This year I let a lot of beans go to dry seed stage rather than pull them out when the vines started to die back.

 

Rattlesnake beans drying on the vine

Rattlesnake beans drying on the vine

The last stage of harvesting

The last stage of harvesting

Rattlesnakebeans_2

 

Leek seedhead

Leek seedhead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollination in action!

Pollination in action! Walla Walla onion seed to follow!

I have always let some leeks go to seed as the seed stalks are tall and the seed heads large and showy, an easy ornamental as well as a tasty vegetable! I also like growing my own Walla Walla sweet onions, but had never saved the seed. In the fall of 2013 I reset some small, unharvested onions so they would set seed the following summer.

Dried seedheads

Dried seedheads

When the onions had ‘bloomed’ and set seed I left the seed heads to mature then cut the tops and set them in a cool, dry and shady spot until the seeds separated easily from their husks. Not very scientific but it worked just fine.

Walla Walla onion seed

Walla Walla onion seed

I was rewarded with more seed than I could possibly plant in my small, limited space garden and I shared some seed with my neighbors. Walla Walla’s are long-day onions, perfectly suited to our long, Northwest summer days and suggested planting is late August. The seedlings were up within two weeks of sowing and are perfectly hardy through our normally temperate weather and sporadic freezing we often have around here; I usually transplant the seedlings in mid-to late February and harvest onions in June and July.

Lots of onion seed and plenty to share!

Lots of onion seed and plenty to share!

BACK TO THE TOMATO SEEDS. In the 1990’s Taunton Press published Kitchen Garden magazine, to which I subscribed until they unfortunately ceased publication. However, in one issue there was an article about saving tomato seed and I have followed the procedure ever since and with good success; the method goes like this:
Remove the seeds from the ‘jelly’ that holds them in place. Place in a shallow container and cover with water. Let the seeds stand until they start to ferment and the water acquires a moldy top layer.

The fermenting, moldy seed

The fermenting, moldy seed

At that point, gently pour off the water and layer of mold; most of the ‘jelly’ has now loosened and separated from the seed; all of the good seeds will stay at the bottom of the container and everything else slips out. Add clean water, gently drain once more and add more water to cover the seed; let stand another day or two then rinse and drain off the water leaving the seeds to dry in the container.

After fermentation

After fermentation

The fermented and dried tomato seeds

The fermented and dried tomato seeds

I may be leaving out something here, and I don’t recall the reason for the fermentation or know the science behind it, but I do know that I have successfully saved tomato seed this way for a very long time. I wish I had saved the article; it is one of the few things not to be found in the vast depths of the internet. But I have thought that tomato seeds that end up in the compost heap go through a similar kind of fermentation and there is never a lack of volunteer tomatoes in my garden beds.

Finished seed for next year

Finished seed for next year

Tomatoseeds_2

At least a few new varieties to save every year

As the seed catalogs begin to arrive, my thoughts are turning to spring planting and the promise of juicy tomatoes, sweet onions and the first pickings of snap beans.

 

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