Friday, January 25, 2013

Peas Versus Rice

In my ongoing fictional TEOTWAWKI story, Wendy's Colony, I am about to run out of rice!  This will have dire consequences, as without imports, trades, or any form of supply depot, rice can not be replaced in our area, at least not in the sort of volume we are accustomed to consuming.

Rice has been a staple in our home made dog food, doggy stew, for several years.  The birds get a nice scoop of doggy stew every day through the winter too, and then there are all the ways we humans eat rice here as well.  What would we do without rice?

As I was making Husband a pot of pea soup this week, it occurred to me that I could easily grow and store the peas for the little bit of pea soup we eat each winter, rather than buying them.  In truth, I could probably make a pot of pea soup from the peas I saved for seed this year, and still have enough to plant come spring.  And that's without even really trying- just the peas that we miss while picking fresh peas to eat raw, that get too fat and mature to eat the way we like.  With just the slightest bit of effort and maybe another row or two in the garden, I could easily harvest enough dried peas to feed the beasts all winter.  Peas grow incredibly well here, and I don't even have to bend over to pick them!

So what about nutrition?  According to wikipedia- White Rice versus Green Peas, rice is a little higher in energy, while peas are higher in carbs, sugar, and protein.  Peas also seem to win on the vitamin and mineral content.  There's an interesting article on the history of pea soup as well.  Somewhere along the line a nutritious winter staple became a rare winter treat.

Ok, so I'm comfortable with the nutritional value, the question is, what will the dogs think?  Well, they certainly have no issue with gobbling up leftovers :)  They don't get gassy upset stomachs like they are prone to with beans, either.  A quick internet search reveals peas as a suitable veggie treat for dogs. 

I think I will start mixing some dried peas into the doggy stew pot overnight, and gradually increase the amount they eat over the next few weeks.  If they do well, we may have a solution.

Now what about us?  I don't think pea soup will ever be a suitable replacement for chicken fried rice, however having a pot of soup (pea or otherwise) on the stove at all times is an age old tradition.  Soup before or with a meal would probably be sufficient to replace the need for a side dish like rice. 

Cabbage rolls?  I think oats would be better suited than peas.  Oatmeal works well in meatballs, meatloaf and salisbury steak.  More growing to do!

Cream of mushroom rice?  Well, we won't have any mushrooms to worry about, unless I find someone in the woods someday who will teach me whats safe to eat. :(  Or unless I get off my butt and finally do something about growing my own.  Not in the plans for this year though.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter Jobs

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But inside it's so delightful!

After a beautiful warmish week, even hitting +6°C on Saturday, the temperatures have taken a nose dive and I am back to hiding out in the house.  Which is ok, 'cause there's still lots to do.

The house tends to get neglected from spring through fall, since summer is so short and there's so much to do!

The first part of winter we really push the school work- we always start late and of course feel like we're behind until about December.  We also catch up on some much needed reading, computer time, and board games.  Along comes January, and gosh, oh my!  It's nearly time to start planting tomatoes!

So the real work of winter has begun.  The fridge and the oven both got a proper scrubbing.  Closets are getting cleaned out, the basement has been tidied.

Husband and the Bigs did some repairs to the desks and then installed a new top (plywood) to make the two desks (back to back) functional for four.
By sliding the desks away from each other lengthwise and extending the top at the ends by a foot, it provides legroom all the way around.

They also built a new entertainment center.
Nothing fancy, built out of 1"X3"s, but sturdy, and everything fits.  Winter is a good time to paint them.

There's wine to rack, bread and treats to bake, and of course, the inevitable mountain of dishes that creates!

Bills to file, taxes to organize.

Sewing.  I need to shorten the curtains in the sunroom, a blanket to finish, and all sorts of things to repair. 

And besides, before I can start planting...

...  I need to reclaim my plant stands and the sunroom!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter Gardening

It was a beautiful, sun-shiney day, and much warmer than it has been lately.  I think it may have even gone above 0°C!  A perfect day to shovel my way to the greenhouses.

Leaving the sides open this fall hasn't led to any build up of snow inside, so after knocking the snow off the roof, I shovelled it in.  
Now, logically, the snow surrounding the greenhouse should melt into the greenhouse, so I'm not sure how much, if any difference this is going to make.  The snow has to come off the roofs a few times each year anyway though- it gets too heavy to leave it- so it's not that much more effort to shovel it inside.

I had an uh-oh moment while shovelling the east side though.  The tops of the parsnips are peaking through the snow, still covered with seed.  I definitely need to relocate the parsnips before they end up inside the greenhouse!

It was good to get out and enjoy some fresh air that didn't feel like it was freezing my lungs on contact too!  This warm spell is forecast to last all week, with maybe even some rain on Saturday.  I might get a few other outside chores done that I've been putting off.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shiloh in Training

Despite the cold weather, #2 has been out almost daily working with our little filly.  He's gotten her used to the blanket and saddle, although the belly strap remains loose.
He walks her up and down the road, so she's doing well leading.  She's also getting used to cars going by, and being away from her mother.  I'm quite impressed with his accomplishments so far!

Friday, January 4, 2013

More Seeds 2013

Thanks to Kimberly @ An At Home Daughter for the link to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I have decided to go ahead and order from Heritage Harvest Seed. 

Yeah, that might sound odd, but... Here's the thing.  I'm specifically looking for sugar beets.  When I type sugar beets into Baker Creek's search bar, it brings up Albino Beets- sweet beets that can be used for sugar beets.  And even though Heritage Harvest Seeds doesn't say that on their website- they sell the same Albino Beets!  I also found sugar beets at Salt Spring Seeds, and they are a little cheaper there.

So why does Heritage Harvest Seed win?  It's the climate.  Salt Spring Seeds is in B.C.- which really might as well be in California as far as matching my weather is concerned.  Baker Creek is in the U.S.  Heritage Harvest, in Manitoba, knows what a short growing season and a long, hard Canadian winter are all about.  Their seed should acclimate to my environment much easier.  So here's what I ordered:

Amaranth- Burgundy- prolific amounts of white seed that are high in protein and can be sprouted, ground into flour or cooked whole

Beans- Mennonite K Triple A- H- dry- 80 days
         - Vanderpol Six Weeks- H- snap or dry- 60 days

Beets- Albino (Sugar Beets)- H

Carrots- Paris Market- H

Citron- Red Seeded- H- melon used to make preserves.  Recipe

Corn- Gaspe Flint- H- sweet corn- 45-60 days
        -Mandan Bride- H- flour- 90 days
        -Orchard Baby- H- sweet corn- 60 days
        -Tom Thumb Popcorn- H- popcorn- 60 days

Cucumber- Boston Pickling- H- 50-55 days
                - Early Green Cluster- H- 60 days

Mangel- Golden- H

Muskmelon- Far North- 65-70 days
                 - Gnadenfeld- H- 60-65 days
(Because some things you just have to see to believe!)

Radish- Watermelon- H

Squash- Mandan Banquet- H-
            - Algonquin Pumpkin- H- 90 days

Watermelon- Cream of Saskatchewan- H- 80-85 days- white flesh- extremely sweet- good candidate for wine
                  - Small Shining Light- H- 85 days- Another one I have to see to believe! 

Tomatoes- Bison- H- 60 days- determinate ft
               - Kalinka- H- 50 days- determinate
               - Russian Saskatchewan- H- 60 days ft- determinate
               - Sasha's Altai- H- 65 days ft- determinate- tolerates cool night temperatures
               - Sioux- H- 70 days- indeterminate- bright red
 I couldn't help myself- I just went to take a peak to see if there were any earlier varieties listed, then I got carried away with what I found.  I deleted 6 varieties off my original list, choosing just these five...  And announcing to Husband and the Bigs that I'll need a greenhouse built in the squash field.  I want to try the new varieties without cross pollinating the seed I have started now.


Salad Burnet-

Sunflower- Arikara- H- multi-headed, 10' high

Purple Millet- H- bird feed

I think that's everything I could possibly need or want, with the possible exception of lettuce.  I think I still have seed from last year, but if not, I can pick some up pretty much anywhere.  I like the boring, tasteless iceberg lettuce.  I know I have lots of romaine seed, as it bolted early in the greenhouse.  No more shopping at least until I find and sort seed!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Seed List

I placed my first seed order before Christmas!  (Already had the credit card out, online shopping, and I must have seen something shiny and got distracted!)

I have yet to find a box of seeds- misplaced as things went out to the garden last year.  I'm sure I asked a child to take it down to the cold room, but no one remembers doing it- and thus I haven't even attempted to do any stock checking.  That's ok though, more seed is always better than less!

I placed my first order from Ontario Seed Company (OSC Seeds) again.  While they haven't taken the safe seed pledge (or at least I haven't seen it on their website), they do offer a wide range of heritage and open pollinated seed, at very reasonable prices.  They also sell larger packets of seed by weight, so I know exactly what to expect, rather than opening a packet to find only 5 or 6 tiny seeds inside.

Beets- Bulls Blood- Heirloom- 60 days

Broccoli- Green Sprouting Italian- Open Pollinated-  an old Italian variety that matures early. Produces heavy crops of large, solid, central heads with numerous medium size lateral heads produced later in the season- 70 days

Brussels Sprouts- Long Island Improved- OP- 90 days

Cabbage- Copenhagen Market- OP- 68 days- I grew the same variety last year and it did fairly well.

Cauliflower-  Early Snowball-  H- 65 days- I only intend to plant a few cauliflower as a treat for #2 and Husband.  However, if the green worms return, it'll be the last time for cauliflower in my garden.

Celeriac- Giant Prague- H- Perennial- 110 days- New for me.

Cucumber- Straight Eight- H- 52 days- This is the variety my Dad always grows, and he had a hard time finding them last year.  The Marketmores I grew last year never caught up to his Straight Eights, planted weeks later, and I found the texture a bit rubbery.

Kale- Red Russian- H- 50 days

Kohlrabi- Purple Vienna- H- 60 days

Mangel- Giant Red- H- 90 days- these did very well for me last year, and the turkeys loved them.  They'll be a part of the garden until I can clear a couple of acres to grow them as a crop for livestock feed.

Onion- Early Yellow Globe- OP- 98 days
         - Southport White Globe- H- 98 days

Peas- Alaska- H- 55 days- I added these to the mix last year as well.  I save pea seed, so I end up with a cross breed mix.

Peppers- Hungarian Yellow Sweet- H- 72 days- These are amusing.  My Dad grew sweet yellow banana peppers when I was a kid.  I've grown a variety of yellow banana peppers over the years and they always end up hot.  I've bought countless banana peppers in the grocery store- and they're always hot.  Husband has told me countless times to stop buying banana peppers, lol.  So when I stumbled upon these, I knew I had to try them.
              - Sweet Cubanelle Ramshorn Pepper- ?- 65 days
              - Sweet Pimento Heart Shaped- H- 78 days

Rutabaga (Swede)- Laurentian- H- 95 days

Spinach- Bloomsdale Long Standing- H- 47 days

Squash- Marina de Chioggia- H- 100 days- a bit long for our growing season, but they're said to keep 2 to 3 years, so I really wanted to try them.

Swiss Chard- Rhubarb Chard- OP- 60 days

Watermelon- Tendersweet Orange- 85 days
                  - Sugar Baby



Sage- OP


Lavender- OP

I ignored the bean section, lol, which was the first thing I looked at at my second seed website, Heritage Harvest Seeds.  It was an accident- I clicked the 'new for 2013' link and got suckered in.  I haven't ordered yet, but this company definitely has my attention, particularly their bean, corn and squash varieties.

My priority this year though, is procuring non GMO sugar beet seed.  So far the only seller I've found is Richter's, and I'm afraid to look through their catalogue.  I spent quite a lot there last year, and haven't got my perennial bed established.  There's so much more on my want list, and most of it isn't really food...  Best to find a more veggie oriented source...