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Archive for March, 2012

REgrow your own

Over the years we have tried to grow, regrow, and propagate many kinds of things. Steven has tried to regrow some things that I thought were pretty far fetched, but it’s amazing what plants can do. Once, we even had a totally far out (far out as in nearly rotting) stalk of broccoli start to put out new growth in our compost pile, and this was discovered after turning it up from 2 feet deep!

I can’t remember if we ever tried celery, but when I saw this by the clever folks at 17apart, and decided to give it a try, the first thing Steven said when he saw it was, “that looks like something I would do!” Celery is steadily growing, and it’s happening remarkably fast.

The first photo up at the top was taken 4 or 5 days after I cut the stalks off and put the end in water. I have just potted it in soil and am excited to see how it does from here.

So before you scrap that veggie end, consider a little experiment with regrowing it!

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While cleaning up some piles of fabric a few nights ago, I came upon this striped jersey material I had found some time back at the thrift store. It suddenly seemed like a great idea to make a little skirt.

I used an old skirt of mine to get the basic shape from, and traced it onto paper as a pattern. The waistband is a wide, doubled over strip of a stretchy bamboo knit. In less than an hour I had a new little skirt!

If there is some interest, I may try to create a simple tutorial. This is a very easy project if you have a serger. And even if you don’t, some simple variations could be made to work with a sewing machine.

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live food

The idea was to soak these sunflower seeds overnight, to make some seed cheese for the following night’s meal, but our dinner plan changed and I didn’t use them right away. I kept them rinsed and drained, figuring I would get to it soon. A couple days went by and I realized we had ourselves some live food to enjoy instead. Just the “mistake” I needed to get us back into sprouting again. Fresh sprouts make a tasty, crisp and super nutritious addition to salads, sandwiches, tacos, and are even a great snack all on their own.

To sprout seeds in jars, it helps immensely to have a sprouting jar lid to enable easy draining of the water. There are lots of places to find these, including many local natural foods stores. Here is one I found up with a super brief online search.

Easy sprouting instructions: In this case I used 1 generous cup of sunflower seeds, which is probably the most you will want to soak in a jar of this size at one time. Cover your seeds with cold drinking water and soak them overnight, or about 10 – 12 hours. Drain the soak water. Fill the jar again and swirl it around to rinse, then drain – repeat this once or twice. Drain off much water as you can (you don’t want standing water or things can get funky in there).

Once drained, I like to set my jar upside down in a bowl, leaned against the side, so the seeds can continue to drain any excess water. If you tip the sprouts away from the lid before setting the jar down in the bowl, this will also allow some air flow throughout the jar.

Rinse and drain your seeds a few times daily and you should have sprouts in about 3 days or so (this time can vary depending on what you are sprouting, and the temperature of your home).  Once your seeds are sprouted to the point of your liking (I could have gone longer here and let them green up), give them a thorough final rinse, thoroughly drain them, and store in a clean, covered container in the fridge. Then add them to anything and everything!

Other possible things to sprout with this method include almonds, cashews, quinoa, mung beans, adzuki beans, lentils, and the list goes on. Each has it’s own unique flavor and texture and it’s really fun to experiment.

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This week Steven got our catchment system hooked up. The 325 gallon tank is already over half full, after just 1/3 of an inch of rainfall. We are pretty excited!

The roof over our garage is flat, which is not great for much, but it does lend itself well to the easy collection of water. The water runs down the slight slope of the roof into the gutter, where it then flows into the downspout and through the Clean Rain Ultra. Steven did a lot of research before deciding on this device, and was ultimately swayed by it’s smart and simple design, which includes 4 features all in one relatively small package. After a “first flush,” which prevents accumulated contaminants from entering your tank, the water is then diverted into the storage tank. This divereter valve can also be adjusted manually. A fine stainless steel screen is included in the system to keep things like grit, fir needles and even mosquitoes out, so your tank doesn’t become a mosquito breeder; and a rain head keeps leaves and other larger debris out. When the tank is full, it is made to divert to a little pond down the hill. We still need to work out the details of how to get the water to the point of use, but that shouldn’t be too hard at this point.

It’s exciting to think how much water we will be able to save, and it makes us feel a little more ready in case of emergency. Essentially, we live in a rainforest. We receive an average of 80 inches of rain per year here – which, if the math whizzes did the math right, means about 4 gallons per hour, every hour, just from our garage roof! Steven is starting to research small scale hydro power, with the idea of creating some electricity with all the rainfall we get. It seems totally possible.

For now though, I am just hoping to be able to water the garden almost entirely with collected rainwater this summer. I think the plants will be happier with that too.

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++ UPDATE (with an even more recent photo coming soon). This post gets so many hits, I thought it would be worth showing a slightly more updated version. The cedar surround is there partly to conceal the tank, but also to protect it from sun. Sunlight allows for unwanted bacterial and algal growth, and your water will turn green. The visible side here (south) was shortened to allow a roof to be put on. A wall was put up on the west side as well. A few adjustments were made to the piping to accommodate.

It’s so great that so many people are interested in harvesting rainwater!

 

5/19/14 UPDATE: A new post has been added on May 19, 2014 which includes more details on the system. It can be found here.

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snapshots

This turned out to be a week for finishing a lot of small unfinished projects. The next (bigger) unfinished project to get out of the way is my taxes. No matter how much I promise myself I will get them done early, I always wait until the last minute.

We had some sunshine early in the day today, and I managed to get some new bags photographed. I love taking product photos and then sitting down to edit them. It’s time consuming, but is something I really enjoy. I have had to delay the re-opening of the shop again due to a hardware shortage, which I hope will be resolved later this week.

On another note  –  i n f u s i o n  turned 4 years old yesterday! It probably deserves more celebration than it received, and it does feel a little odd that the shop’s not even open right now, but it has been an awesome four years for this little business. I feel full of happiness and satisfaction for what has been accomplished so far and I have to say, I am really curious and excited for this next year. I know it’s going to be different in the best kind of way.

 

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That torte I mentioned yesterday… it was delicious. And the best part is, there are leftovers. I was first introduced to the idea of a torte last summer, by Erin of bluebirdbaby (and yes, that is an infusion rucksack shown there!). A torte is super easy to make, and the possible variations of what to include are limitless. Mine are never traditional, if there is such a thing, but it is hard to go wrong with layers of roasted vegetables, herbs and cheese. This one included potatoes, carrots, beets, mushrooms, kale, arugula, red onion and cheese, with thyme and dill.

Do you have a favorite recipe that uses lots of kale? We have a lot of kale and sometimes I get stuck on how to creatively use it.

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We woke up to sunshine, warmth and blue skies today. All the seedlings got a spectacular sun bath outside. And so did we! The tomato seeds have all germinated aside from a few cherry tomatoes, which were older seed. Basil is up, and squashes, cucumbers and melons are starting to come up as well. It’s been quite cool and dark here lately, so I have been rotating the seed trays on a seed heat mat (which we actually purchased for brewing beer). It has made quite a difference.

 

3/22 Planted a second, larger batch of snap peas, and broccoli. After seeing this tray full of peas that Amy had, I decided to try starting some in trays this time. I think some of my first planting has been dug up by chipmunks. Planted wildflower seeds along the side of the drive, mammoth sunflowers alongside the garden, and dug our “test bed” a little bit wider. It was a pretty decent success last year (this is where we experiment with what the deer will eat or not, as well as where we plant certain things for birds and insects).

3/23 It felt great to get out into the garden again. Cleaned up the mess left from the snow storm, fertilized the artichokes, and came in with a beautiful harvest of  arugula, kale, collards, carrots, kale florets (taste like tender broccoli) and calendula flowers. I think we will have a roasted potato, carrot, kale and mushroom torte for dinner, with arugula salad.

 

I was honored to be a guest over at tend this week. Have a look, if you’d like.

Enjoy the weekend everyone! Happy spring!!

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