Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Garden Update #26

The weather here in Mid-Missouri is starting to feel more fall-like, which I suppose shouldn't surprise any of us since it is already almost October. Man the time flies.

The garden updates are likely going to start getting shorter as in not too long, we will only reporting on the indoor winter garden. The pepper plants are trying their hardest to produce another round of peppers before seasons end, and I hope they succeed. Any peppers on the plants at this point will stay on there until they've ripened so we can save their seeds - and we also enjoy ripe, hot peppers. We have finally decided who "made the cut" and will be coming in over the winter - we will be bringing in the poblano, cayenne, jalapeno, and second year serrano. All the other plants will be "disposed of" and their pots will be put to use for the indoor container garden and, of course, next year's garden. But, I would expect that we will still have about a month of container gardening left. We're going to have to start keeping an eye on the weather to keep up on any freeze advisories that way we can bring all the plants inside if need be.

Onto the pictures. Some of them might not be so great. It is hard to get good lighting sometimes.

Banana pepper.

A bloom on the cayenne plant. There are so many! This plant has really been prolific, we love it!

The chocolate bell pepper. This plant has really not been prolific. This is only the second pepper it produced, it only got big enough, or so it seems, to produce one pepper at a time. We will not be growing them again next year.

The New Mexican Chile. It doesn't seem to be getting any bigger, so hopefully it will start to ripen soon.

The petite bell pepper. As much as the plant has produced, it hasn't really been much in the grand scheme of things. Sure it has produced tons of peppers, tons, but they are all so small it takes a lot to really be able to cook with them. I think we'll try another variety next year.

A poblano pepper! We now have two peppers on the plant.

The regular bell peppers. The lower one is almost completely ripe, wahoo!

Serexican Chiles.

A couple pictures of the serranos. This plant has about 6 or so chiles on it right now.

We've had a bit of progress and a little back pedaling with the indoor winter garden - nothing that can't be dealt with though. Let's start with the bad news. The mini-bells met their maker. For some reason, they never stood up, but we held out hope that with various tactics, we could coax them in to standing up. That didn't work. Then, a kitty decided to knock over the plant stand it was one, and that was the end of it. I still have some mini-bell seeds, so when space opens up in the hothouses, I will be starting those.

Our second basil and catnip plants died as well. We didn't have enough hothouse space for all four plants, so we had one of each out "in the elements" and one of each in the hothouses. Well, we know how that experiment turned out. I think we are going to get a few more containers to use as hothouses. We have quite a few things in backlog waiting to start, but don't want to rush the plants out of the hothouses.

We are still waiting to start: more mini-bells, a second round of catnip and basil, cilantro, kale, chard, and spinach (if the seeds ever arrive). We'll be starting some baby greens at the end of October, but won't need a hothouse for them. I think the basil and catnip should be ready to come out of the hothouses in a couple of weeks. We are really itching to get the chard and kale started though and we need the ability to have more than two things starting at a time. It wasn't so bad with the peppers as they weren't already in their "final" containers, they were in small containers waiting to be transplanted. When you are growing herbs and greens, you generally sow the seeds directly into the container they will be growing in. I think we just need to get a couple more containers.

In terms of progress, the wheat/barley/oat grass blend for the cats is doing quite well, so well in fact that the cats are now free to nibble on it.

The cherry bomb peppers are getting larger, and the tomatillo starts seem to be making a comeback. We put them back in the window and leaned them up against the frame and they are really looking nice, with more color and lots of new growth.

The transplanted peppers seem to be taking to their home quite well. Even the ailing jalapeno plant is showing signs of improvement. We want to wait until the plants are quite a bit larger before we introduce them to their permanent environment. We want them to be big enough to take a little bit of love from the kitties.

We transplanted the One Ball squash this weekend (which, besides going to the farmer's market, is the only thing of note I did, me and the chair hung out quite a bit) and they seem to be doing well too. They are already reaching for the top of the container to find sunlight. I had feared they would just shrivel up and die, but so far, so good. We'll see how they do.

I didn't get any pictures of the tea garden at work, I've been sick (luckily finally starting to feel a bit better), and wasn't at work on Friday. I actually hope that it is still alive, I missed work again today, so it will have been four days since the starts received water. They are quite vulnerable to dryness. I'll just have to hope they are alright, not much I can do right now.

Enough of my yammering, on to the pictures.

The beginnings of a microclimate. There will be peppers and greens flanking the squash as well, once they are big enough.

The newly transplanted One Ball Squash.

Kitty fodder.



The two cayenne plants.

Cherry bomb peppers and tomatillos.

Cherry bombs.


The two jalapeno plants.

I will get my first installment of my monthly Unplug Yourself update tomorrow, though it may not be until the evening.

'Til next time.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 9/21-9/27/08 and An Award!!

It has been a beautiful week here in Mid-Missouri. I would likely enjoy it more without a cold, but I am doing what I can to reduce the duration and intensity of the dang thing. Thanks for the well wishes and the advice - I eschewed citrus instead choosing local orange veggies which are packed with Vitamin C, and red bell peppers (thanks Courtney!) which are too. Sweet potatoes here we come! After going to the market and doing a few chores around here though, I am feeling pretty crummy, so aside from a little cooking, I'm taking it easy. I'm going to play in a Pot Limit poker tournament online, read, and snuggle with the kitties (and Brett too if he's lucky). Oh, and I think Brett might be coming down with my cold too (probably from continuing to snuggle with me). Hopefully I'll be good to go for work on Monday. Blech.

Enough of my whining. The weather has been consistently warmer and sunny for the past week or so, and the peppers really seem to like it. We got some peppers from the container garden this week - with more on the way!

Here is what we got from our container and community gardens this week:

A Roma and our first Better Boy! I can't wait to eat it!

Starting from the left: jalapenos (!!), petite bell peppers (they are really small), and 2 "serexican" chile peppers.

Here is this week's CSA. It is hard to believe that there are only a few weeks of the CSA left. We're going to miss Dan, and his fine, fine produce. Dan is an awesome guy, he grows incredibly high quality fruits and veggies, and I would dare to say he is one of the more enlightened people I interact with. This was our first year subscribing to a CSA, and we just wish we could have done it sooner. It has been a wonderful experience and we recommend it to anyone who has the means to do so.

Starting from the left: Gala apples (I finally remembered to ask! I've had "grocery store" Gala apples before and they don't hold a candle to these, they taste [oddly] a little like banana), some Roma tomatoes (!!!), a zucchini, a cucumber, and a sweet potato (!!!!!!!!!!).

Here is this week's farmer's market booty. This load ran us $45, we picked up 7 squash to put up for winter and found some great variety. Oh, and we stocked up on some more organic potatoes too.

Starting from the bottom left: a white eggplant (!!), a Poona Kheera cucumber (!!), local hot salsa (with habaneros - !!!!!!!!!!), local pickles (wahoo!), rainbow chard, a 5 lb. bag of organic red potatoes, sweet potatoes (!!!!!!!!!!), a mini Hubbard squash (!!), 2 acorn squash, 4 delicata squash (!!), some organic grass fed beef for Brett, and a "regular" eggplant.

I got close-up pictures of the things I was really excited about. I love how produce can be both beautiful and so darn yummy!

A couple of acorn squash. We will probably get a few more of these as we really like acorn squash. I've never had this variety before. The only kind we've had are the dark green ones (we would like to pick up some of those next weekend, our bags were really full). The farmer said they didn't really taste any different, they just looked different. I think they look really cool.

A mini Hubbard squash!! This was a really exciting find. I didn't think we would ever get to try Hubbard squash - which is one of the older varieties of squash, acclaimed for its flavor. Why did I think we would never get to try one? Because the "non-mini" variety are usually 15-30 lb squash. They are flippin' huge. People use saws to get them open! The mini variety is about the size of a small pumpkin. Hubbards keep really well, if stored in a cool, dry place, they can last for 6 months or more.

A Poona Kheera cucumber. This is an heirloom Indian cucumber. The purveyor said it was very crisp, like an apple. They contain more mature seeds, so they need to be seeded before slicing. I wish I was more inspired, since this is such a rare treat, but all I can think to do with it is put in on a bagel sandwich and that just doesn't seem right. I am going to hold on to it until tomorrow in case someone can give me some ideas as to what I could use this beauty in. I've never seen anything like this! The purveyor also had some rare varieties of radishes too, they were gorgeous. Just white and plain looking on the outside, but with a burst of vibrant purple when you cut in to them. We don't like radishes, so obviously we didn't pick them up, but we will definitely be on the look out for his stand from now on. We love the opportunity to try some of the prized veggies!

A white eggplant. Brett thinks that the white ones are where they get their name from - 'cause, well they do look a little like really large eggs.

This week's "installment" of Leng's Fried Rice (I told you we ate this all the time) will include the white eggplant, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and edamame (and lots of sriracha on mine). We're going to have B's Eggplant Steaks and Lentil and Potato Tacos again too. Those tacos are one of our favorite meals. I've got some ideas for those potatoes and sweet potatoes though.

I am moving a little slow because of the cold, so please don't be upset if the updates and monthly introduction for the Unplug Yourself initiative are just a little late. I should be able to get the permaculture post done soon, and can work on the alternative news one early next week. Brett has finals next week, so he will be pretty busy, but I think he'll have the introduction out before Friday - his update might be more like a week or two. Basically, by Friday, my updates and the introduction will be up. Sorry about the delay.

I was also planning on making tortillas this weekend! Excuses, excuses...

Update: The lovely and green-thumbed Daphe, from over at Daphne's Dandelions passed on the "I Love Your Blog" award to me. This is a high honor coming from her - her blog is excellent and her garden makes me dream of bigger and better things. So thank you so much Daphne, you've made my day - and with this cold it really helps!

Now, per the award, I get to pass this on to seven of my very favorite blogs. Wahoo! I like the opportunity to thank folks who brighten my life and inform me as much as these people have. You all rock. And if you desire, you can pass the award along as well.

Here it goes:

Jessy from Happy Vegan Face - Hers is one of my very favorite blogs. Not only is her food drool worthy, I know I'm always certain to get a smile on my superhappyawesomeexcitedface. ;-) But she is about more than just food - she and her husband try, in their daily lives, to live how they think they should, always striving to live better, to live more sustainable and just lives.

Selina from Vegans Rock!! - Her blog rocks!! She shares her food adventures, her cute pup Piper (and her kitties too), and her trials and tribulations in her garden. I also appreciate her tackling challenges head-on, when she decides she wants to do something, she does it with a passion. We have a lot to learn from people like her.

T from Vegan Soul Power! - I still love the name of this blog! That is, in no way, the only reason I like it. This girl has spunk, class, brains, and knows her way around the kitchen. She's had a rough year but has managed to transition to what sounds like a wonderful new neighborhood and she ditched her car - all while trying to make her way through law school. T you rock!

Ilex from Homesteading in a Condo - She tries to live sustainably in Detroit and documents it with eloquence. I almost don't even need to say anymore about why I love her blog!

M from My Face Is on Fire - M is never afraid to tackle uncomfortable topics, expose hypocrisy, teach us a thing or two, or inform us about things that we might not otherwise know. She speaks with authority and acts as our media really should - with a critical eye and quick wit.

Theresa from Pondering the Myriad of Things - Her blog provides intellectual and even spiritual stimulation. I've gotten angry with her as she tried to do what she could to make sure a wetland was not illegally sucked dry; I've sympathized with similar repressive and draconian governments though we live in different places; I've felt despair with her as if no matter what "they" always win; and she has reminded me of the small things in life, those little things that help us go on. Thank you Theresa!

And last, but definitely not least is DP from Square Foot Gardening in Nashville - I love this blog! I have really enjoyed reading about her adventures in the garden. But my favorite part about her blog is that she names her fruits and veggies. It's like watching a child grow when the cantaloupe isn't just a cantaloupe, it's Betty. ;-)

'Til next time.

Friday, September 26, 2008

J&B's Huevos Rancheros (vegetarian)

I don't eat eggs very often, but will on occasion as I don't really consume all that many enriched products, nor do I take supplements, and this is a great way to have them. It could easily be made vegan by simply omitting the eggs and spicing up the beans, or using tofu and doing whatever it is that you do to make tofu taste good. I also made a vegan version awhile back.

I will not vouch for the authenticity of this meal, I actually don't think it was very authentic at all, but it was really, really good. Brett recently had Huevos Rancheros at a local restaurant called Cafe Berlin. He really liked the dish and we had what we needed on hand to make it at home. Now I didn't taste the dish as it was loaded down with cheese and I don't do cheese, so I only have what Brett told me about it and my own interpretations to go on. Oh, and I added roasted potatoes to the dish because roasted potatoes make everything better.

Just a reminder of the local booty legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

J&B's Huevos Rancheros
Makes enough for 3 large servings (I took some to work for lunch the next day).

The 'Taters:
2 red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed *
1 tbsp safflower oil
chili powder (ancho would seriously rock)
ground cumin
ground coriander
cayenne pepper
black pepper

Preheat oven to 450.

Toss potatoes with oil and spices. Cover with foil* and roast for 35-45 minutes stirring a few times throughout cook time.

*If the foil doesn't get any food on it, it can be reused a few times.

The Eggs:
4 eggs *
1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced *
2 ripe serrano peppers, seeded and minced *
1 small yellow onion, minced *
4 cloves of garlic, minced *
black pepper
pinch of salt

Heat 1 tbsp of water in a medium skillet. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Drain any excess liquid. Add the eggs and scramble. Make sure they fully cooked. Season with pepper and salt.

The Rest of the Stuff:
1 cup cranberry beans (or pinto), cooked ****
1 cup black beans, cooked ****
1/2 cup long grain brown rice, cooked ****

Season the beans with a little bit of salt.

really spicy salsa
tortillas (flour or corn would work)

Eating Huevos Rancheros can really be approached in two ways. You can layer all these components in a large tortilla and make a mondo burrito, or you can serve it family style with smaller tortillas.


I am quickly getting a cold, I hope it goes away soon. I'll make sure to get lots of orange produce at the farmer's market tomorrow, and may even get some citrus from the regular grocery store if there is USA grown organic available.

'Til next time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We Need Each Other - A Brief Rant by J

As I'm sure many of you know, there are tons of "challenges" and "initiatives" out there in the blogosphere and beyond. Many of them are in some fashion related to living a more sustainably and socially just life, or surviving something like peak oil or an economic/social collapse. A lot of them focus on personal responsibility and individual action in response to these situations. Many of these challenges/initiatives (though of course not all), with the notable exception of Melinda over at One Green Generation (an excellent blog you all should check out), tend to leave something very important out: creating solid communities and developing relationships.

While ensuring our families well being and survival are of the utmost importance, we seem to forget that we cannot, and never really have been, completely self-sufficient. In this day and age, it really is damn near impossible. We need others to provide the services we cannot provide ourselves. But more importantly than that, we are social creatures, who need the company of others to be truly human. What bothers me is this almost "every man for himself" mentality as a reasonable approach to complex situations. I might remind us all, including myself, that this mentality has a lot to do with the current state of things - how we got in this "boat" to begin with.

What are we going to do? Prepare ourselves and leave our neighbors in the dark? Take turns guarding our possessions with a gun while our neighbors starve? Where is the humanity in that? And what do we do when our provisions run out and we do not have the appropriate relationships developed to provide for our own needs? We must remember that others were necessary for us to prepare for these potential calamities to begin with. I am in no way saying that this is what the hosts of these challenges are implying, but by ignoring community and others, this might well be the end result.

I do not know how to form strong communities. I do not know how to get self interested people to work together for a common good. But what I do know is that none of us can go it alone. We need each other, we need to share what we have, whether it is a skill, or food for a neighbor in need should times get really tough. It takes all of us, and we all succeed or none of us do. I hope none of these doomsday scenarios ever come to pass, but want to throw my "two cents" out there about a vital aspect of preparation that we have largely overlooked.

As always, thanks for listening to (well, reading) my rant.

'Til next time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Queso-menos Quesadillas con las habas de Anasazi y la calabaza de Delicata (Cheese-less Quesadillas with Anasazi Beans and Delicata Squash)

Update: Veggie Girl flippin' rocks and she helped me get the translation right. Thanks Veggie Girl!

Anyways, this recipe is dedicated to Katrina from Kale for Sale for giving me the idea of expanding my horizons and mashing up roasted squash for use in Mexican food. It was an awesome suggestion and we'll be doing it often now. So thanks Katrina, this one is for you!

This was also the first time we had tried delicata squash. There is only one purveyor at the farmer's market who sells these too. I had noticed them when I bought a huge bag of organic red potatoes from the vendor the previous week. We asked him about the delicata and his awesome array of acorn squash, but didn't purchase any - until last Saturday of course. After enjoying the delicata squash as much as we did, we're hoping to clean out the remaining ones he has (along with a few of his gorgeous acorn squash) Saturday at the market. Wahoo for storing local booty for winter.

Between the 11 butternut squash we got from our community garden, the delicata, acorn, and spaghetti squash we hope to obtain, we are going to turn in to squash! During the summer, we are loaded down with zucchini, yellow summer squash, and eggplant (not squash, but similar in taste in my opinion), and over the winter - well, it's all winter squash. I guess it is a good thing that squash are versatile and we like them, otherwise eating locally might be pretty crummy!

An FYI if you've never had delicata squash: apparently it is considered as a quasi-heirloom variety. It is also referred to as "Sweet Potato Squash" and "Bohemian Squash", not sure about the Bohemian one, but the Sweet Potato name fits. The squash has an orange flesh similar to butternuts. They are moist and very sweet, much guessed it, a sweet potato. The skins on delicatas are also edible, though we scooped the flesh out and discarded the skin for this recipe. I tried a piece with the skin after I had roasted the squash and it was quite edible.

This is a really simple recipe, the only time consuming part is roasting the squash. If you have your beans made ahead of time (which I always do because Brett flippin' rocks hardcore), then you can use the squash roasting time to prepare everything else and have a meal from oven to table in about 45 minutes.

Anywho, I've rambled long enough, let's get on to the food!

Just a reminder of the produce legend:
no asterisk = grocery store
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden

Queso-menos Quesadillas con las habas de Anasazi y la calabaza de Delicata
1 delicata squash, stem removed and halved *
1 tbsp safflower oil
2 cups Anasazi beans, cooked
1 cup of white button mushrooms, minced
2 serrano peppers, seeded and minced *
1 hot banana pepper, seeded and minced ***
1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced **
1 small yellow onion, minced **
4 cloves of garlic, minced *
chili powder
ground coriander

spicy salsa

Preheat oven to 450.

On a baking sheet, rub safflower oil into the flesh of the squash (the squash should be roasted with the skin side down). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until squash is soft.

Let cool for a few minutes. Then scoop flesh out of the skin and mash in a bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of water in a medium skillet.

Add the mushrooms, peppers, garlic, and onions. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until veggies are to your desired "doneness". Drain any excess water.

Add the beans and seasonings and heat through.

Layer squash and bean mixture in warmed tortillas. Fry if desired.

Serve with some really spicy salsa.

I can't remember what brand it is, but Brett and I recently came across a really yummy hot salsa that comes from Texas. It has pureed hot New Mexican Chile peppers, jalapenos, and chipotle peppers in it. It is very good for salsa out of a jar.

That reminds me, I need to see what kind of salsa the locals sell at the market this weekend!

I should be back sometime this week with a post about our (vegetarian) Huevos Rancheros - they are seriously awesome, and then the first of my two installments of Monthly Unplug Yourself wrap ups. There are going to be two for the sake of my not writing a novel for you guys to read all at once. The first post will be a round-up of other participants' posts on the initiative as well as on my beginners understanding of Permaculture - having read the book Permaculture and now working on David Holmgren's Collected Writings. I hope that my knowledge of the topic will continue to improve. The second post will be about the alternative (non-mainstream) news sources I read, with links and brief descriptions of each. Now, most of them are liberal, some so liberal they are almost back around to the right again, but I do have a few conservative news sources I read for good measure. Oh, and also if I need a little increase in blood pressure. ;-)

Brett should be posting sometime soon as well as to his progress with the Unplug Yourself initiative, and he will also be posting the monthly "call to arms" for the initiative as well. I think we've worked a lot of the "kinks" out, so hopefully the aim, purpose, and commitment will be much clearer. A big thanks to everyone who has joined - we hope you have enjoyed the experience (or at least learned something) and will consider continuing on. Others, please think about signing up to participate - this is a group effort and the more heads that come together and figure out how to live better with less, expand our horizons, and live by our morals and priciples - the better this planet will be.

'Til next time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Garden Update #25 - Summer's Almost Gone (also a great Doors song)

25 weeks of gardening already?! It's hard to believe it has been that long, what a ride!

Well, today is officially the first day of fall, which means the outdoor gardening season is almost over. It's not all bad though, we've got gorgeous weather; here in the Midwest (and many other places) the landscape goes aflame with various shades of color as the leaves turn in preparation for winter; there is an abundance of potatoes and other winter veggies at the market; hot tea is fun again; cool weather = sweaters and cozy evenings with books; and there is football (I have a fantasy football team this year - I'm the only female in my league, I'm hoping I "whoop up" so I can show 'em that the ladies know their football).

As I mentioned in last week's garden update, we had to bring our container plants inside due to the apartment complex's plans of power washing and staining our decks. Much to my surprise, they actually came out last Monday and washed the decks. Then....nothing..... The weekend came around, and we decided to bring the plants outside to enjoy the sun and weather for a few days. Brett was able to catch a maintenance man this morning who said he would give us time to bring the plants in whenever they are getting ready to start staining the decks on our building, whenever that may be.

I had been worried about the outdoor container plants "contaminating" our indoor plants with aphids, and I think that has been avoided to a large extent. We've had a couple thorough going-overs of the indoor plants and picked off the few that we found. There was a lot of unnoticed pepper activity while they were inside though - we had them all bunched together in our computer room. It was almost impossible to get to a particular plant and look it over, so we had lots of new discoveries when we brought them outside. They seemed to enjoy their stay in our apartment.

So, let's start with the container garden.

It rained over the weekend (big surprise), so the peppers are all covered in water in the pictures. A couple are even dirty since soil splashed up on them when it was raining. I can't even believe how rainy it was in Missouri this year - we're wondering if we are going to start having a "Midwestern Monsoon Season".

Anyways, work wise, we didn't have anything to do in the container garden this week aside from moving the plants around and battling the aphids.

A banana pepper.

The gnarly, but still growing strong, chocolate bell pepper.

A giant hot Hungarian Wax pepper and another smaller one. That big pepper is seriously huge, and it isn't even close to ripening yet. We've never had ripe Hungarian peppers, so we're looking forward to the big'n to start ripening.

A dirty and wet, but still gettin' bigger New Mexican Chile.

A cluster of petite bells. One is ripening. There are actually 5 or more ripening on the plant, I usually wait until there is a good 5-8 before picking them, as they are so small you need that many to get enough for a recipe. One of them is about the size of an acorn!

A bunch of poblano blooms. There are so many more where these came from. The poblano must have heard Brett and I complaining about its lack of production and perhaps its eviction from our garden plans next year and wanted to try to get back on our good side. Brett has said if the poblano can produce enough peppers for another batch of poblano sauce, the plant can stay. You hear that poblano? You produce some peppers and you'll get a nice, warm home for the winter (and probably a little unwanted love from the kitties), you slack off, and your outta here. ;-)

A couple pictures of the regular bell pepper. The pepper pictured at the top is growing quite quickly, I guess it likes the weather. The other is finally starting to ripen, wahoo!

The Serexican Chile lookin' nice with the water droplets beading off of it.

Some serranos! Our second year serrano must be nervous that it will meet the same fate as the poblano if it doesn't produce more! It is loaded down with blooms, and there are about 4-5 more small peppers started on the plant. Don't tell the serrano, but it stays whether it produces or not, we don't want it to think it can just loaf around though.

(An FYI, I don't actually think my plants can understand me - I know I'm weird, but I'm not that weird. I'm just being silly.)

As I mentioned in a post last week, we transplanted all the peppers that were of transplantable size (the cayennes and the jalapenos), some already grown wheatgrass for the kitties, and started some seeds for a "kitty grass mix" of oat, barley, and wheat grass. Over the weekend, we will be transplanting our One Ball Squash and starting more cilantro seeds, I guess the ones we started the first time were duds, they never went!

Oh, and I started the seeds for my "tea garden" at work: lemon grass, peppermint, spearmint, and lavender (Munstead variety). The lemon grass seed starting instructions were quite odd. You put the seeds on top of the soil as they need light to germinate. I've never started seeds that don't require a light layer of soil on top! Anyways, I did that last Wednesday and today when I got to work I noticed that the lemon grass and lavender seeds were starting to sprout! Not big enough for pictures yet, but if they are, and I remember, I will bring in my camera and snap some pictures of their progress on Friday for next week's garden update.

Things are going alright with the indoor winter garden. One of the jalapenos that was transplanted doesn't look so hot, I'm not sure it is going to make it. However, we do have another started that is (so far) doing quite well, and we are planning on bringing in the jalapeno plant from the porch too, so hopefully between all of those things, we will have a living jalapeno plant inside this winter.

The tomatillos and the mini-bells are struggling. They are growing, but for whatever reason won't stand up. The tomatillos problem seems simple enough - it is trying to grow all its leave on one side and falling over under its own weight. Brett has a couple of ideas on how to gently stake it up in hopes that it will get strength and continue to grow. The tomatillos are definitely an experiment. I don't expect them to survive to transplantable size let alone produce indoors over the winter, but I didn't have to buy any seeds, I just got 'em out of some tomatillos we had gotten, and I can reuse the soil for some other seed starts.

The mini-bells don't have a logical explanation that I can see for not standing up. They are fairly symmetrical in their growth and aren't all that big. I've tried adding a little more soil to try to create a little "hill" around each pepper plant to give them more support, but it still hasn't worked. Hopefully Brett's magic will or these two things will (sadly) not be part of the winter garden.

We are still waiting on our backordered organic spinach seeds. We hope they will come sometime soon as we were hoping to get our first round of "slower growing greens" (chard, kale, spinach) started in the next two to three weeks. We'll be waiting until mid-October to start the salad greens since they grow so quickly.

A couple of containers of sweet basil in their infancy.

Some "critter nip" as I like to call it (catnip). There are actually two pots of this going as well. I forgot to take a picture of the other one, but it looks much like this except there is only one start.

Our nice looking cherry bomb pepper starts. The one that is leaning over in the picture was my doing. I was trying to get a ripening tomato out of the window sill and somehow got caught on that unlucky little guy.

Our two containers of cayenne peppers. So far, they seem to be taking to their containers. I hope they do well!

This is the jalapeno plant I am tentative about. As you can see it is a little droopy, and when I checked on it this morning, the tip of one of the leaves appears to be trying to dry up. Hang on little fellow!

Here is the other jalapeno, looking quite nice. Now if I could only figure out how to get a plant start in the center of the pot! All of our plants are a little off-kilter, kind of like the girl who tends to them!

So grass doesn't mess around. This is the barley, oat, and wheatgrass combination we started last Wednesday. Oh, and Gabby in the background. The cats have been awesome with our indoor gardening experiment. (Knock on wood.) They haven't messed with any of the plants besides the wheatgrass.

Speaking of wheatgrass, here is a container of some "pre-grown" organic wheatgrass we picked up at the pet store and transplanted into a small terra cotta pot. As I said above, the cats have been great about the indoor plants, but they did know that this was theirs somehow. When Brett started to introduce them to the plants, they made a beeline for the cat grass. Once they got the idea that they weren't going to get in trouble by messing with it. Nermal dug in. And surprisingly, they haven't made a mess with it. I hope their catnip does as well as the grass has.

Here is Nermal discovering the wheatgrass (and check out that pot with apparently nothing in it, that is the other kitty grass whose growth is displayed above). I apologize for the clutter in the picture. Brett took this one during the week when all the plants were inside this room, so they were everywhere!

The lovely One Ball Squash starts.

The sad looking tomatillo and mini-bell starts. I have more mini-bell seeds, which I might give a shot if Brett's staking idea doesn't work, but I don't have any more tomatillo seeds and I am honestly not very confident that they will do all that well inside, so if these don't make it, well, they don't make it.

We are, however, going to be growing tomatillos in the community garden next year. We're going to be brave and have two plots, as well as expand our container garden on the porch. We don't need much porch space, just enough to be able to stand out there and tend to the plants, so we aren't so much limited by space as we are by the weight of all the plants. We both think we could safely double the number of plants we have and still have plenty of room to move and not be putting the deck in danger of bearing too much weight.

Anywho, now I'm just rambling...

'Til next time!