Sanctuary Gardener Update ~ 2/16/15

Unlike much of the northeastern United States, we here in the South have had sunny weather this week. No snow for us. However, it has been a bit nippy. We’ve had several nights below freezing – with a couple more to come – so I’ve had the plastic on my hoop tunnels the past few days. I’ll get a break for a day or two this week when I can take them off, just in time for a bit of rain. Then the plastic will go back on for a few more frost-filled nights. I still can’t complain though. While my family back home is digging out of yet another snow storm, my garden is now showing a few signs of impending spring!

IN THE GROW ROOM:

All of my melons, watermelons, and squash have secondary leaves now. However, only one Black futsu squash and no pumpkins have germinated yet. Odd for cucurbits, so I replanted yesterday.

Melon seedlings

Melon seedlings

My paste tomatoes are up, and I have a few cherry tomatoes up. However, only one slicing tomato has germinated…out of 24 planted…and it’s been two weeks now. I replanted the Tiny Tim tomatoes yesterday, and I may replant the rest today. In case. If two seedlings come up, all the better.

Paste tomato seedlings

Paste tomato seedlings

I finally have a handful of chili pepper seedlings, but, as you can see, not near enough. It seems peppers can take a month to germinate. (I’m so impatient, I know.)

Chili pepper seedlings

Chili pepper seedlings

Meanwhile, I have only one green bell pepper seedling out of a tray of sweet peppers. <sigh>

Green bell pepper seedling

Green bell pepper seedling

IN THE GARDEN:

Remember the Dwarf Gray peas I planted two months earlier than recommended? Well, there’s a reason the seed packet has the instructions it does. It was only an experiment, so I’m not upset. But the peas in this pot obviously didn’t make it through the frost filled nights.

Dwarf gray peas killed by frost

Dwarf gray peas killed by frost

However, in my other pot, it looks like one pea plant is hanging on.

Dwarf gray peas trying to survive the cold

Dwarf gray peas trying to survive the cold

Meanwhile, despite the frosty nights, there are some signs of spring in my garden! Three of my tulip bulbs have sent small shoots up in the past couple of days.

First tulip leaf

First tulip leaf

My elderberries are sprouting new growth everywhere. The canes are full of new leaf growth.

Elderberry leaf

Elderberry leaves

Elderberry leaves

Elderberry leaves

There’s even new growth coming up from the base of the trees.

New growth at base of my elderberry tree

New growth at base of my elderberry tree

Both trees also have new shoots/canes growing up a foot or so away from the base of the trees. Wow.

New elderberry shoots/canes

New elderberry shoots/canes

So excited to see signs of spring!

IN THE KITCHEN:

I didn’t harvest anything this past week. Too cold to think about getting out there around sunset (after work) to pull anything. However, I did run out of store bought popcorn this week, so it was finally time to try my own homegrown Glass Gem popcorn! Here it is in the air popper.

Glass Gem popcorn in air popper

Glass Gem popcorn in air popper

However, I was a little disappointed in the outcome.

First attempt at popping Glass Gem popcorn

First attempt at popping Glass Gem popcorn

I believe my popcorn is too dry. Popcorn must have 13-14% moisture to pop correctly. I’ll have to do some more research on this and keep experimenting until I get it right – then I’ll share it with all of you.

It’ll be worth the trouble though. See those few kernels that did pop? When I put them in my mouth and compared them to store bought popcorn, I was ruined. The store bought popcorn tasted like styrofoam in comparison. No wonder we need butter and salt to make it taste good! My popcorn needed nothing. It was al dente in texture and had a nice nutty taste to it. I’m going to keep trying to get the popping right because I have just found my favorite popcorn!

What’s happening on your homestead this week?

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