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

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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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30 DAY ART CHALLENGE–I DID IT!

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FROM OCTOBER 17TH TO NOVEMBER 19TH I created 30 works of art, roughly one (or more) a day. It was a challenge and a blast! Tomorrow night as part of the Pioneer First Thursday ArtWalk, is the unveiling of the works of 110 artists and 3300 pieces of art! Check out some of the work here on their Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/30dayartchallenge. All of the work will be for sale tomorrow night through Saturday afternoon.

Here is a gallery of the work that I submitted. All work is on 8″ x 10″ canvas board. The work includes acrylic, watercolor (using watercolor ground for the first time), color pencil, mixed media, and oil pastel.

 

CHARRED & JARRED—CHILE PEPPERS

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Ripening Anaheim chiles

Ripening Anaheim chiles

OUR LONG, WARM SUMMER TRAIPSED RIGHT INTO OCTOBER. That meant that the Anaheim peppers that rarely ripen around here did so–more than half of them turned red. I ended up with about seven pounds of them to put away for later use. Several years ago when I had a bumper crop, the thought of placing lots of peppers on the gas burners in my kitchen seemed daunting until I had a bit of a brainstorm!

One batch roasting on the BBQ.

All four pounds roasting on the BBQ.

How about utilizing the gas grill/bbq? I can roast/blister/char all of them at one time, outside instead of in the house, with no smoky odors lingering for hours. To roast all of the peppers this way takes about seven-twelve minutes! On Monday I dispatched 4 1⁄2 pounds of peppers, from roasting to in-the-jar-and-finished in just about two hours.

Make a small slit in the shoulder of the  pepper so the peppers don't steam from the inside.

Make a small slit in the shoulder of the pepper (so the peppers don’t steam from the inside) before roasting.

Charred and ready to rest

Once charred, place in a large bowl, cover and rest about 15 minutes.

Easy peeling.

Easy peeling.

Once the peppers have rested and steamed a bit they are ready to peel. The more mature the pepper, the thicker the flesh and skin; steam is created between the skin and flesh and the skin separates easily. Thinner walled peppers have thinner skins and need scraping in my experience.

Four pounds of peppers ready for canning.

Four pounds of peppers ready for canning.

Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone

Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone.

In her book Well Preserved, Eugenia Bone has a recipe that she attributes to Michigan State Extension, for Marinated Peppers. She call for red bell peppers but I have found it works just as well for Anaheim and other home grown sweet/hot peppers. (Since I do not have permission to reprint the recipe here I will leave it to you to find it online; like here for example.)

The finished product.

The finished product.

I choose to put up my peppers in half-pint jars as there are only two of us in this household, so more convenient for me. I also add just a bit more garlic than called for, leave the peppers whole (to use for chiles rellenos should the urge strike); using four pounds as called for in the recipe, I usually end up with about half of the brine left over. These are really delicious in the middle of winter, when like tomatoes, the taste of good summer produce is hard to come by. The total yield for seven pounds of peppers was twelve half-pints.

Happy canning!

THE MUSE WENT ON VACATION

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A late summer afternoon walk on the beach.

A late summer afternoon walk on the beach.

IT HAS BEEN A GOOD LONG WHILE SINCE MY LAST POST.  At some point I felt like I had run out of topics to write about. The muse went on vacation. How many times can I write about the same plants in the same place in my garden with continued enthusiasm? If it it tiresome for me what about you, the reader? Best to take some time off and gather some new experiences, tackle some small projects, do some canning (a bumper crop of snap beans and apples), do a little local traveling and connect with the people and things I love. So here, is a short review in words and pictures.

Big Four Mountain and waterfalls

Big Four Mountain; waterfalls, and snowfield

In July I had a birthday and it was my wish to do the short hike to the Ice Caves at Big Four, about 90 minutes northeast of Seattle, with our grandchildren. The snow slides off of the shear, vertical face of Big Four mountain and piles up at the base over the winter. As summer comes along, the snow at the top of the mountain melts, water cascades down the faces creating numerous waterfalls that undermine the piles of snow. The snow mounds melt from the inside-out creating caves. They are cool to stand in front of on a hot summer day, but notoriously unstable and known to collapse, so going into them is a bad idea. IceCaves_v   IceCaves_1

One of many Winthrop area fires seen from the fesival grounds.

One of many Winthrop area fires seen from the fesival grounds.

A week later we were off to the Winthrop Blues Festival where we heard great muscic (Charlie Musslewhite; Shemekia Copeland, Homemade Jamz, Too Slim & the Taildraggers) and watched fires burning in the Methow Valley; that part was strange. For a couple of days the only route to and from the area was Hwy 20 through the North Cascades. Scores of people lost their homes and the fire burned up 300,000+ acres.

Fire and smoke influenced the sunsets.

Fire and smoke influenced the sunsets.

A member of Homemade Jamz playing his Muffler Guitar! (They were great.)

A member of Homemade Jamz playing his Muffler Guitar! (They were great.)

BACK ON THE HOME FRONT…

A quiet spot in the garden to sit and reflect

A quiet spot in the garden to sit and reflect

Back in April I shared a post about the redwood tree rounds that were saved from the cutting of our neighbor’s 60 year old redwood. In August I made a visit to my sister (RedClothespin) in Long Beach, WA and she sewed up the covers for the seat top cushions; she is a whiz with a sewing machine.

Weather resistant Sunbrella fabric. Only one drawback–they are under the canopy of a large pine and susceptible to pitch drips.

Weather resistant Sunbrella fabric. Only one drawback–they are under the canopy of a large pine and susceptible to pitch drips.

The view into the vegetable garden from the redwood seating.

The view into the vegetable garden from the redwood seating.

I finished the second of the Steelcase chairs. I haven’t quite decided where in the garden they will take up residence. For now they are mobile.

Steelcase chair #2

Steelcase chair #2

ChilipepperChair

Hibiscus hybrid "Cranberry Crush"

Hibiscus hybrid “Cranberry Crush”

Two years ago I purchased a new perennial, this Hibiscus/Rose Mallow. It bloomed in August for the first time. It was spectacular. I was SO excited, I ran into the house to get the groundskeeper!

Hibiscus_Cranberry

Too bad the flower lasts only one day. However, there were a total of five blooms. I am hoping for more next year. The plant should reach 3-4 feet in height at maturity; currently is it at about 24 inches.

The fall planting of snow and snap peas.

The fall planting of snow and snap peas.

A late blooming poppy.

A late blooming poppy.

Lady's Eardrops, hardy fucshia.

Lady’s Eardrops, hardy fucshia.

Dahlia "Awe Shucks"

Dahlia “Awe Shucks”

Akane apples.

Akane apples.

The muse is slowly returning. More later.

GLAMMING-UP AN OLD STEELCASE CHAIR

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The finished chair

The finished chair

MY LATE FATHER-IN-LAW probably bought this (and at least one other) chair surplus some 40-50 years ago for his office. A no frills chair, perfect for a cement mason or laborer to sit on when waiting for a paycheck. Somehow, the groundskeeper managed to hang on to two of them after he took over the business and now one has a new life.

One of these chairs made its way to our house years ago and has been hanging out with the potting bench. As a testament to the quality of its overall construction, the chair has rusted only slightly and the seat and seat back material has held up well too, in the elements. Three months ago we found a second chair in a storage room where the office used to be and I decided to bring it home and dress it up for the garden rather than scrap it to the metal guy who parks just outside the transfer station.

1950's (?) era Steelcase chair

1950’s (?) era Steelcase chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I sanded the frame to get rid of the rust, removed the seat and seat back and then gave the chair 1 1⁄2 cans worth of Rustoleum’s 2X Ultra Cover spray paint; they have some great, vibrant, colors for outdoor use.

In the “spray booth”

In the “spray booth”

Refinshedchair_2I found some great oil cloth prints at Pacific Fabrics, wrapped the new fabric around the old and I have a great chair in the garden. This so much fun that I am going to do the second chair; I found a ladybug print vinyl that called out to me!