Thursday, March 31, 2011

Potato Grow Bags

Potato Grow Bags in periwinkle and orange
Photo: Gardener's Supply Co.

Well, Since I saw these "Potato Bags" I have wanted to give them a go. What's that? What About the potato condo? Well shucks- I am growing rhubarb in the old condo, and don't feel like starting another one. Any way I found these at Gardener's Supply Company, and thought I could try them for one season and decide if they are worth it or not. According to Gardener's Supply:
"We grew potatoes in a number of different fabric pots, and this one came out the winner, producing a big, 13-pound harvest. The porous fabric of the Potato Bin® aerates roots, prevents heat build-up and allows excess water to drain away. Its compact size lets you grow your own potatoes in just about any sunny spot."
Gardener's Supply also has a whole range of "Grow Bags" to use. If these are succesful, I may try some of the others. Some of the more interesting ones are Carrot Grow Bags and Bean Grow Bags.
So has anyone tried these or other bags to grow potatoes? I have heard of folks growing potatoes in garbage bags. But I am afraid one of my neighbors would try and put garbage in it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DIY Soil Block Tool for seed starting

I made a soil block tool. I really wanted one, for seed starting, but couldn't justify the 199.00 expense at Johnny's, and even though deeply rooted organics has one for under $25., and it is a great looking tool, I decided to make one for frugality reasons. That's a nice way of saying I like yours, but hey I am cheap! And I came up with one for under $2. Anyway I took and 1 1/2" fender washer, put it on the end of a 1/4-20 X 4" bolt, and a 1 1/2" PVC Slip Plug found at Lowes for .98!
The easy way to find the center of the cap is to insert the washer and the hole is the center... drill here

Simply figured out the center of the plug, drilled a hole,

inserted bolt attached the fender washer and voila- A soil block tool on the cheap! Now- does it work? Lets find out!
One improvement to make: add a spring and a knob to the bolt. I only party down with the best at:
Hump Day link

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weekly Challenge Update

Plant something-

In the green house:

Started agretti; Mache (deer’s tongue), Fennel; Tomato- Tumbler; Tomato- Window Box Roma; Tomato- Red Robin (yum); Tomato- Virginia Sweets (free seeds from Tomato Growers Supply Co.; a bonus to my order);a banana pepper in the green house, planted some mesclun mix

At the community garden plot:

Miner’s Lettuce, purple broccoli, french sorrel, Dragon's Toungue Beans, Snow peas, Chinese Cabbage

Harvest something- More sprouts; some chives I found that wintered over well, foraged some chickweed

Preserve something- Made and froze some soup. Dehydrated some chives and put into a spice cannister

Local Food systems- was invited by some community garden members to a plant sale at someones private green house. Very cool to see what is possible to do with a greenhouse in an urban setting as far as a potential income maker. Also a friend got a plot at the community garden so of course made her a welcome gift of seeds, gloves and implements.

Preparation: Bought some lamps from the Ikea As Is department and a one from the thrift stores and one from the house lying around doing nothing to use for seed starting, found a light timer from Christmas to turn grow lights on at dusk and turn them off a dew hours later. Prepped the community garden spot for spring planting. Made a DIY Soil Block maker for seed starting- More about that tomorrow

Eat the food/eat something new- Baked Cheese with herbs picked last summer; a salad made with chives I harvested and some chickweed I foraged. Elk Stew bought at Eat local.

Waste not- Light timer for the greenhouse was from my Christmas box and re-used an old desk lamp for a CFL bulb to increase the light time.

Want not - Made a DIY Soil Block maker for seed starting- More about that tomorrow;Bought some lamps from the Ikea As Is department and a one from the thrift stores and one from the house lying around doing nothing to use for seed starting
Ate a salad with cheese and sunflower seeds and some fresh harvested chives and freshly foraged chickweed and a cheese sandwich. No candy, and I had a strong craving for a Mocha, so I made a mocha at home.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baked Cheese with herbs

I call this post Baked Cheese. Actually it should be Baked Fontina, as that is what Ina Garten calls this recipe. The problem is I decided to make it at 2am, And had no Fontina. So I tried WSU Viking Cheese. So I followed Ina's recipe but used the Viking Cheese, which is a "Jack" type cheese. This is so good and so very easy. I like it better than fondue, and just great with a baguette.

Baked Cheese

Cube a pound and a half of semi soft cheese

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (Even though the recipes calls for fresh thyme and rosemary, I used some dried leaves I put up last summer and it turned out great)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 French baguette

Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat. Distribute the cubes of Cheese evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan or other oven safe pan. Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown. Serve the baked Cheese family-style-right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another Small Change

Well one small change I am making is re-using the water that has run through my sprouter to water my seedlings and plant starts… You can smell and taste the nutrients in the water (yes I tasted it), and if starting beet sprouts, see it. Not a significant change, re-ducing and re-using this small amount of water… but a change is a change. And if it helps fertilize, a bonus to boot!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Drifting Along with the Tumbling Tumbleweeds

I was perusing Green Roof Growers blog and they are writing about growing “Agretti”. Agretti is related to the simple tumbleweed in this country. When smallish it is a valued vegetable/herb . I guess the Italians love this stuff. Of its culinary value, Frances Mayes has written that "Spinach is the closest taste, but while agretti has the mineral sharpness of spinach, it tastes livelier, full of the energy of spring. So I ordered some seeds. “Russian Thistle” from Hirt’s seeds. I told my mom I was planning on planting growing and eating Russian Thistle and she just shook her head. This from the woman who when I was growing up went to desperate measures to get me to try new things. Ladybug letter has an interesting post on the uses of Agretti. Anyway I should have fun trying to grow it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to make Catalog Gift Bags

How to make Catalog Gift Bags
If you are like me, then you get a plethora of Seed Catalogs in the mail. Why not re-use those seed catalogs as Gift bags? I tried this out and it works pretty well
First take 3 sheets or paper out of the catalog For a stronger bag you could use the covers)

Then cut the ripped edge of the paper square (straight) I use a paper cutter to make sure it all comes out even.
Then measure and cut a piece of cardboard – make this as deep as you want the bag. I cut mine about3” X the length of width of the bag.

Then cut 1 piece of the catalog paper the same height/depth as the cardboard (3”) These will be the sides of your gift bag
Take the large sheets of your catalog paper and fold as follows- 1” on the bottom, 1” on each side. IT should look like this when done. Do this to both sheets.

Now fold the Side sheets you cut… again1 inch on the bottom, 1” on the sides.
Now glue the bottoms of the two larger sheets to the cardboard. I use a glue stick.
And glue the side sheets.
Now Glue the side sheets to the large sheets.

Punch a couple of holes in the top and thread some yarn or jute twine through the holes for handles (Note I use a piece of Duct tape on the insides of the bag for strength. I suppose one could use Gummed reinforcements as well. I had Duct tape on hand).

You’re done. You now have a gift bag perfect for Housewarming, birthday presents. There are a multitude of options… Christmas catalogs for Christmas time, or you could probably use various magazines for other times or themes.

I only party down with the best at:
Hump Day link

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Weekly Challenge Update

Independence Days Challenge Year 4, Week 12
Plant something- Started gooseberry plants, amish deer tongue, Russian Kale, Tomato- Black prince, Tomato- orange russian; tomato Radiator Charlie's Mortgage lifter; Tomato- Clint Eastwood Rowdy Red; Tomato- Julia Child; Tomato - spoon; Squash "aunt Shirley Squash" aka Zapallo; Cauliflower
Harvest something- Alfalfa sprouts, chick pea sprouts
preserve something :
Local Food systems :
Preparation: Extended my heating grow mats with a little foil
Eat the food/eat something new-Cheese and Alfalfa Burritos ( a recipe I found in the direction pamphlet for my sprouted); Salad with Chick pea sprouts

Cheese and Alfalfa Burritos
A little butter or margarine
Alfalfa Sprouts- about 1/2 cup
Cheddar Cheese -Shredded
2 table spoons of sour cream- or I substituted 2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt- I had no sour cream

Lightly butter one side of tortilla, put in hot fry pan, and spread the cheese. Heat until cheese is melted, remove top with sprouts, and sour cream/yogurt. Fold into a burrito. Eat and enjoy!

waste not- Using old clamshells, yogurt cups saved for starting seeds
want not - Ordered some tomato seeds (I know - I said no more tomato starting- but these are varieties I grow for planters - Window box Romas, Tumbler, Red Robin… and yielded into temptation and got some Clint Eastwood Rowdy Red, Julia Child, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter, Orange Russian and Spoon tomatoes. Along with Bolivian Rainbow and Chichen Itza peppers. Pretty much I went to the dark side of the force. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, I get an itch to start tomatoes… Always happens. Damn you Gary Ibsen! At least I have some success with peppers.

Well one small change I am making is re-using the water that has run through my sprouter to water my seedlings and plant starts… You can smell the nutrients in the water, and if starting something like beet sprouts, see it. Not a significant change, re-using this small amount of water… but a change is a change. And if it helps fertilize seedlings, a bonus to boot!

Friday I had a slice of cheese pizza and a baked potato. No bacon bits for the potato :( , but pretty good just the same. Bought no candy this week and no I wasn't chased by girl scouts selling cookies. ‘Course the candy cravings might have been cured by the fact I am experimenting with "mocktails" so I get a sweet charge out of that, and fresh juice to boot! Pretty good week all in all

Monday, March 21, 2011

Take Back Urban Homesteading Petition

Another Action Day in the Urban Homesteading Battle. Today we are asked to sign the following letter/petition. If you care to sign, you may do so here. More info at Take Back Urban Homesteading(s) My own view is you cannot copyright a lifestyle, especially one started by our forefathers and foremothers generations ago. Anf part of what cracks me up is the DerVaes claim that copyrighting Urban Homestead and Urban Homesteading protects their intellectual property. What toast- as you can see in the petition letter Mother Earth News had articles in print in 1976 and 1980, predating the Dervae's latent claim of the year 2002.
Petitions by|Start a Petition »

The Letter:
Greetings Jules and the Dervaes Institute Corporation,
I am writing to ask that you cancel the Trademarks on "Urban Homestead" and "Urban Homesteading" in good faith from the urban homestead community. The Urban Homesteading movement was addressed in two articles by Mother Earth News, a 1976 Article on the Integral Home (1) and a 1980 Article on Modern Homesteading (2) which both pre-date the 2002 date of first use as claimed on your trademark filing. As such, I believe that your group has laid false claims on the rights to the term.
Your actions go against the spirit that makes up the Urban Homesteading
community. Furthermore, I will be boycotting your digital properties and
physical goods until your corporation legally cancels the trademark



Friday, March 18, 2011

Children's Garden Giveaway Winners

Well I didn't need to rouse the Random Integer Counter. A good thing too. He gets crabby when I wake him. Anyway the reason I didn't need to wake him is because there are only two entrants and two prizes... EVERYONE WINS!!!
So congratulations to Simple Mama and April Alexander. Or rather their kids. I expect pictures of said kids and their gardens.

Speaking of winners, two winners from the Rob's Ballz giveaway still need to contact me...Queen of String and Tory of the Blog "Champagne Wishes and Coupon Dreams" need to contact me at to claim my balls, or another winner will be picked!

Cheese in a Can!

Cheese in a can. No- I am not talking about spray cheese (one of my guilty pleasures). But I digress:
Beth, aka Fake Plastic Fish over at my Plastic Free Life, was blogging about plastic free cheese, or rather Cheese storage. I thought about Cougar Cheese. What is cougar cheese? It is cheese made at the Washington State University Creamery. WSU, being an "Agricultural College" in our state operates a creamery. And they sell the cheese. I cannot say the cougar gold or the cheddar are favorites of mine, but almost everyone I know raves about them. I am going to try the "Natural Viking", a jack type cheese. I just hope it doesn't hurt my U of W sensibilities. Big talk- considering I attended Highline Community College, or as we call it "Midway U".
one other cool thing- since it is canned, makes it a great choice for those pesky emergency food supply kits... doesn't need refrigeration to store for a period of time.
Anyway, yes I know that cans are lined with a thin film of plastic. But considering I will keep the can and turn it into a bank for more cheese, I am not worried. Just don't tell Beth!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What a Pisser!

Ever wonder what to do with that old tuba? Or does the artist in you want to create? With all the St. Patricks day fluff, and green beer and all I thought we should have a talk about bodily waste. has a collection of the World's Craziest Toilets. Done for a laugh, but also to help focus attention on the 2.6 billion people who don't have indoor plumbing. Lack of proper sanitation leads to 1.8 million deaths each year from diarrheal disease. Most of the victims are children.
That's the bad news. The good news is you can do go to and do something about it. I for one would love to have a Tuba Urinal in my bathroom. Or is it a Sousaphone?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Frosted Window Panes

I decided, after much thought, to frost my bathroom window. Thought, because I wanted a frosted duo pane window, but did not want the expense and miserylabor of changing out the window with a new one. Since the bathroom has a door, And the thermostat is in the bedroom, I don’t get a lot of draft coming from there.
So I grabbed a can of spray glass frosting, and bordered the glass some two inch painters tape and divided the glass using 1” painter’s tape , turned the exhaust fan on in the bathroom and Sprayed away.

It took 4 light coats for an even finish, but well worth it… My bathroom window faces the neighbors kitchen window, so I won’t be flashing them anymore while they are eating their Cheerios, and I have a bit more privacy. The frosted window allows the light to come through and keeps my private parts well hid.
Before fall I plan on making a storm window for the outside of the window.

In retrospect, now I wished I had just frosted the whole window solid, but it is easy to correct. A razor scraper will remove the frosting and allow me to do that.
I only party down with the best at:
Hump Day link

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Return of the Weekly Challenge Update

Ok I cannot leave. I need this challenge to keep myself honest. LOL, this year I am dividing it in the following categories:
  • Plant something- includes starting seeds, planting plants, sprouting
  • Harvest something- harvest what I planted, or what I have foraged
  • preserve something- preserving food by canning, freezing, dehydrating or fermenting
  • Local Food systems- helping out others with food projects
  • Preparation- preparing something to A) help with food production B)earn a living C) storage
  • eat the food/eat something new-show different ways to eat the food, discover new things
  • waste not- what is being done beyond recycling
  • want not - what is coming into the house to improve any of the above

Plant something: Started some leeks and chard, Started some basil, thyme and dill, started some tomatoes (I know I said I was done starting tomatoes but then someone gives some seeds and I feel obligated to give it one more try)started some bok choy. Celebrated my inner urban homesteader and set up my sprouter to sprout some beet sporuts, alfalfa sprouts and chick pea sprouts

Harvest something- nothing as of yet. Am lookingat removing the last of the carrots in the community plot, and of course will eat them

Preserve the food: Nothing yet

Local Food Systems- Nothing yet, but am encouraging a friend of mine to get a plot at the community garden.

Preperation- Moved the green house to a better location on the porch, Including battening down the hatches so to speak (screwing the bottom flaps of the green house to the porch floor- Remember it is like a tent, and the wind will carry it away); Set up my sprouter to use. Also got a Cricut “die cutter” for my birthday, experimenting and learning about it – future work for retirement.

Eat the food/eat something new- Tried some zuchinni/chicken casserole that mom made- didn’t much like it

Waste not- just the usual recycling/composting- Just about done with my studio, so far no new furnishing etc. in it- everything is something from somewhere else.

Want Not-Bought a heating tray for my plant starts

Friday went okay- It was easy not to eat meat as I just got done with a colonoscopy and wasn't hungry- so I ate Onion Soup and some bread. No candy this week, but i do have to admit to buying a package of girl scout cookies. Why oh why do they find the cutest little cherub of a girl scout to stand outside of Safeway? Oh well- it was after all for the girl scout programs
Still freezing waiting for April- not so bad this year as I have not had a major cold. Of course this year I have snugglie blanket and an electric throw blanket that I use in the bedroom to keep toasty.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Children's Garden Giveaway

I can;t let Abby at Farmer's Daughter have all the fun with spring giveaways! I was at Furney's Nursery picking up some stuff and saw one of my favorite things from when I was a Kid. Ed Hume Seed Company and their Children's Garden Seed. I picked up two packs and thought I would have my own Spring Celebration Giveaway. The seeds in the packets may be Alyssum, Babysbreath, Bachelor Buttons, Balsam, Calendula, Candytuft, Clarkia, Cosmos, Dianthus, Godetia, Linaria, Marigold, Nemophila, Painted Daisy, Portulaca and Zinnia. So sign up today to win a pack for your little green thumb sucker or for yourself. As we all have a kid inside of us out in the garden.

The usual giveaway rules appy: To Enter, leave a comment to this post, along with some contact info (i.e. an email address... if you have a blogger account with an email in your blogger profile that should work) so I can get ahold of you if you won. Winners will be picked by random number, corresponding to their comment. Two winners on this one. Giveaway entrys close on Friday, March 18 at 11:00PM

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

My friend Abby over at Farmer's Daughter is having a Birthday/Spring Celebration, she has planned a plethora of recipes, fun stuff and giveaways! I must join in with one of my favorite Pie recipes. A use for raisins, and for the locovores, eggs and sour cream. A heritage recipe from my Grandma, This pie is very rich and surprisingly sweet. And very easy to boot. Happy Birthday to Abby, my fellow Piscearean.

2 egg yolks (save the whites to make the meringue)
½ cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp allspice
1 cup raisins

Combine the above ingredients. Pour into baked pie shell< Bake pie for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Top with meringue. Swirl meringue over pie filling and brown in 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until meringue has golden brown peaks.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

First Urban HomeSteaders?

Is the President breaking the law??? With all this hooey about Urban Farming trademarks and such, I give you these facts:
Not since Thomas Jefferson, has a president been interested in growing their own food. Sure others have, I'm sure, but none that come to mind. Seems to me, then I would call the Obama's the First Family of Urban Homesteading. So, I'm thinking maybe Mr. President maybe should get into the fray over the Trademark Issue. It is only fitting. As President, Mr. Obama, moreover Mrs. Obama has shown class in in returning the food gardens to the white house landscaping. As I said the Obama's are the First Family of Urban Homesteading, not The Dervaes, so, Mr. President, take back the UH Name. Do it for democracy and the American Way. Do it for Freedom. Hell, Do it cause I want you to!

Now I am not fooling myself. Chances are the next republican elected president will tear out the garden and bring in paving to make a Nascar Track. Hell, even Reagan couldn't wait to tear out Jimmy Carter's Solar Panels on the White House. I always wondered if Reagan went up to the roof and said"Mr. Carter, Tear down those solar panels"

Anyway Mr. President, You now have the opportunity to show those that would copyright and disallow folks to practice in the 2nd oldest profession in the world that they cannot copyright a life style. Especially a lifestyle seem to have embraced, even if Michelle started it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monogrammed Coasters

Hey! I got one of those Cri Cut Personal Cutters for my birthday (thanks Mommy) So I did my first project- Monogrammed coasters. I cut vinyl letters and placed them on ceramic tiles and then a coat of sealant. All thats left is to put some corkboard paper on the backside of the tiles... and one Christmas present is done!

I only party down with the best at:
Hump Day link

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Doing Without

Oh Ok. Rebecca Jean at midnight maniac is nagging encouraging everyone to give up things for lent. Give it up for 40 (actually 46 days).So let me put on my pious pope hat and see what I can do.
Not a bad idea this. It gives one the oppurtunity to do a self check on some things We I may be getting a little slack on doing. And gives one the oppurtunity to save some cash as well.
For my part, I won't eat meat on Fridays, won't eat candy, give up buying lattes and mochas (note: coffee itself aint included). I reserve the right to eat fish on Fridays (if it works for Duh Pope, then it works for me) Anyway, It is a good challenge.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Modern propaganda art

Remember how much I love old propaganda posters? Well it seems that an artist in Portland, Oregon, Joe Seppi loves them too! I was perusing the inter webs (as I do) and came upon The Victory Garden of Tomorrow A very good artist who creates remenistic victory garden posters with modern themes. From his website:

"The Victory Garden of Tomorrow is a self-commissioned poster campaign
designed to channel the bold energy of historical poster propaganda. It is
committed to civic innovation and social progress-- better food, better gardens,
better cities. It is artful advocacy for the modern homefront."

You can get yours at JoeSeppi's Etsy Shop