April 18, 2010

Hairy Legs & Fireflies

Close-up of the Indiana Red. She's a hairy one! The others have fuzz, but not like this. Wonder if it means anything?

One tomato plant is not like the others. The Depp's Pink Firefly has a very different leaf formation. I'm guessing it's a potato-leaf variety.

April 17, 2010


Last weekend, I spent an hour transplanting the rest of my seedlings. I had already repotted my bell peppers, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme. They have been doing great! In fact, they spend several hours outside, taking advantage of these warm and sunny days. The tomatoes and hot peppers had started to look affected by their compact quarters. I think they've appreciated the upgrade.

I went the cheap route and used plastic 16oz party cups. I filled with an unmeasured mixture of potting soil and peat. And, I even remembered to poke holes in the bottom! After separating the roots, I used Craig's method of pushing them down into the soil. It was quick and easy. Then I watered and left them in filtered sunlight for the rest of the afternoon. They are all now looking healthy, have good growth with more leaves. I have lost one tomato, Costoluto Genovese. I have two cups that apparently skipped the marking process...so we'll see what becomes of those!

Speaking of the bell peppers, there are six Odessa Markets that are looking healthy and happy! I noticed three of them have started a flower bud. Thinking I should pinch it off, giving more energy to root growth and foliage. They aren't going in the ground for at least another two weeks, so it would be a waste of an unpollinated flower.

April 13, 2010

What's Happening

Things have been moving right along here in the victory garden. The onions have been moved into their permanent home, alongside sowings of Swiss chard, radish, and spinach. All tomatoes have been upgraded to roomier accommodations under the lights along with the hot peppers. I even threw down some grass seed and soil, hoping to reduce the blinding bareness of the backyard.

As a side note, I've been reviewing the self-made videos of Craig LeHoullier. The man lives and breathes tomatoes. He was responsible for bringing Cherokee Purple to Seed Savers Exchange, a tomato which is now extremely popular at Farmer's Markets around the country. He demonstrates a dense seed sowing method and how to transplant young seedlings. Although I will never (at least not now!) require as many tomatoes as Craig is planting, I did enjoy using his thumb method for my transplants this weekend. Please support his blog @ nctomatoman.

April 7, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

Making yogurt at home is incredibly easy and requires minimal supplies. Today, I tasted my first batch and it was delicious. Helping me along was Dr. Fankhauser. I varied the procedure a bit.

8 Half-Pint Jars
2 Stockpots
Measuring Cup
Kitchen Thermometer

1/2-gallon Milk
Plain Yogurt

Seriously, this is easy. I cut the original recipe in half and used smaller jars.

First, sterilize your canning jars. I do not have a dishwasher, so I use the old-fashioned method of boiling the crap out of them. I do this in a very LARGE (worried it will break the ceramic stovetop one day) pressure canner.

Next, pour milk into stockpot and slowly bring it to 190 degrees. Immediately place it into a sink of cold water. Cool to 130 degrees.

Place a half cup of the cooled milk in a measuring cup. Add enough yogurt to make one cup. Stir to completely blend.

Add this mixture slowly to the cooled milk and stir to blend well.

Pour evenly amongst sterilized half-pint jars. Add lid and ring. I left very little headspace in mine. Place jars back back into the pot you sterilized your jars in. I wrapped a towel around them to help insulate. Place the whole pot in the oven with the light on. The light provides enough warmth for the GOOD bacteria to grow, we cooked the milk to kill the BAD bacteria.

Allow this to sit for about 12 hours and you will have delicious yogurt!