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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Seed Starting Indoors

So, after reading this post from You Grow Girl's Gayla Trail, I decided that I was ready to take the plunge this year and start seeds inside. We have a pretty big garage, but it only gets about 1% sunlight, so a real source of light was a necessity.

We went to the Home Despot, and I found a 5-shelf metal bookshelf for under $100. Then, I purchased 6 black trays for the seed starts (thinking I would fit 3/shelf, and use 2 shelves to start), 3 sets of peat trays (kind of like egg cartons, but deeper individual spaces), 1 bag of potting soil, and 4 sets of florescent light holders. The lights I got were T12 size, and general daylight ones. (She suggests doing one daylight and one cool, but I just did the regular full-spectrum ones.) I also got a ridiculously complicated and somewhat expensive timer, that despite programming it for 15 minutes, still does not actually turn itself on. :( I need to reset it and try again.

Here's what it looks like:

We put the lights hanging from the #2 and #3 shelves, with waterproof trays underneath them to protect the other lights. By the time I was ready to set up the second shelf, they had sold out of the trays though (and I wanted 2 more), but I found this magical sheet of plastic thing over in the "builder" section, and it fit just fine. It's probably meant to go under a car for some reason; just my guess!

I have now officially started 250 small plants (can you believe it?) plus another tray of lettuce, 6 more artichoke plants, and several tomatillos! (The "small" plants include around 60 lavender, 40 various squashes, many tomatoes, spinach, kale, watermelon, more artichokes, and I'm sure some other things I'm forgetting!)

This is where some of the plants will go when they're ready to go outside. I'm also planning to start some peas here soon:

The right side is already full of rhubarb and garlic, and the front of the left side has strawberries, and possibly another rhubarb plant. It's kind of ridiculous how much rhubarb I grow!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

So, I bought Chloe Coscarelli's new book, Chloe's Kitchen, and the first thing I make? The several-hours-to-kill-but-totally-worth-it Cinnamon Rolls! First step? (and not listed in the recipe, but my secret to share with you....) Toast the pecans:

If you have a toaster oven like I do, it makes it pretty quick, and also doesn't heat up your entire house. Toast them for about 15 minutes at 350*. Then taste one. THEY ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN NON-TOASTED ONES! It's really pretty unbelievable.

Now because I didn't alter this recipe at all, I'm not going to actually publish it here (sorry!), but I will lay out the steps, in case you buy/borrow/steal this book from someone.

Heat up soy milk on the stove. Add yeast, sugar, and flour. Mix.

Knead it out a bit.
Spray your bowl with nonstick spray, and let the dough rise for an hour and a half.

Put it in a warm place and cover it.

Then, roll it out, and put in the filling. (I actually did this part wrong. You are supposed to brush it with melted margarine/butter, and then sprinkle it with a cinnamon/sugar/nut mixture. I mixed them all together, with the melted butter. Then I needed a little more butter to brush around. It still turned out DELICIOUS.)

Roll it up, starting at the bottom...

Slice it into 4ths, then 12 rolls.

Arrange them into a pan, so that they touch each other (next time, I'm using a bigger pan and cramming them all in there!)

Let it rise again, then bake. Top with icing made from powdered sugar, soy milk, and vanilla extract. I may have put a tiny bit of maple syrup in there too (I blame Pioneer Woman's influence!)
Note: These were entirely gone in about 2.5 days. Between 2 people. You have been warned!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Springiness!

If that is a word, that is what we have around here...

It's like a mini crocus festival!

See how I cleverly buried some heavy wire mesh to keep the squirrels out? (it's green, in the upper right corner) Thwarted again, evil bulb eaters!!

Some carrots have overwintered, and might actually be an edible size!

Magnolia tree is getting ready to bloom!

And some early spring onions! (also just planted some wax beans in there yesterday)

I love having bulbs that actually come back! Tiny jonquils on the front porch.

And primroses that are completely thriving on neglect and shade. Who knew?

Up next? What am I planting this year?!