I'm always looking for things to do to get me through the winter months... even if those things are projects that won't happen until springs warmer days arrive! I am planning on getting into the green house this week and starting some seeds... I can't even wait. Lavender, peppers, eggplant, leeks, onions along with a bunch of herbs to name a few. The feel of the dirt in between my nails will be a welcome sensation... the smell of the greenhouse is like no other... that fresh, earthy aroma, blending with the scents of the herbs as they grow... the sun's warmth brings a healing to my outdoor loving spirit that the drab, cold winter weighs down. Only 48 more days till spring... and so my countdown continues.
The last couple days have brought heavy rains and even thunder and lightening. All of the snow has melted away and now we are mucking through gobs of mud... not so pleasant to stroll out to the greenhouse in, but better than a freezing wind smacking me in the face any day! So I thought since I am ready to head out to my cozy greenhouse I would give all my Dragonfly readers an activity to do that can be started right now... even if you don't have a play house... oh I mean greenhouse! Have any of you considered having an orchard or would like to plant some trees? Well you don't have to 'buy' them, you can start your own with a 'right in your own house' tip- Willow Water! Read on friends...
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This was given to me by a market friend. I don't know the origin of it but I thought this is too good not to share. I have adapted it and added information. It will give you something to look forward to once the warmer days that are sure to arrive come. Although this can be started right now.
Willow Water is terrific for starting new trees and bushes from cuttings. Willow contains a substance a lot like Salicylate (aspirin) that helps plants root quickly. If you don't have access to willow, you can use an adult aspirin dissolved in a couple cups of warm water.
For a 5 gallon bucket though, that would be a lot of aspirin. It's a lot less expensive to use willow, and I am sure most of us have a neighbor, friend or family member who has one or knows someone who does. Another option is to take a drive out to the country and find a river or stream bank and find one growing in the wild. Be sure if you are on private property you check with the owners. Any type of Willow will work.
If you live in part of the country where they don't grow, sorry but you can use general rooting hormones which can be purchased through most good seed catalogs or found on the internet.
Take 3 to 4- 3'-4' willow branches, break into 6"- 8" pieces and drip into 5 gallon bucket of water about 3/4 way full.
Wait 3-4 days and the water will be saturated with the Salicylate-type compound.
When taking the cuttings of elderberries, blackberries, raspberries or even soft wood fruit trees like apples, cherries, pear and peach, cut them straight across the bottom of the branch just below one of the nodules that look like eyes.
Soak in the willow water until they begin to show roots and keep in a warm location- typically takes several weeks for this to happen, so be patient.
Once you have at least 24 or so 6" to 12" roots formed, you can plant your 'root' stock!
When you plant your root stock, dig a hole about 1' deep, fill 1/2 way will the willow water, place rooted end of branch into the hole and fill back in with the dirt. Be sure to pack dirt in well to ensure no air pockets- The air pockets will kill new rooting systems and the plant will die. Add a 6" to 8" deep mulch around your tree about 2' in diameter to help hold the moisture in.
I recommend starting this in the spring so the newly planted tree can have ample time to get well rooted and established. Be sure to keep the new tree watered- about 2 gallons, once a week if you're received no or very little rain. During the hot and drier summer months, twice a week will keep your young tree spry and happily growing.
If you are attending our winter farmers market, The Old Winery, then you have the opportunity to be getting fresh from the hoop house lettuces and some other leafy greens. Here are some yummy homemade Salad Dressing Recipes for you to enjoy while you anxiously await your own this spring. Enjoy friends!
Mayonnaise is the base for many creamy dressings... have you ever wondered how to make it? It is so easy... here is a tried and true recipe!
Mayonnaise Yields approx. 2 cups
Blend together is an blender
3 egg yolks
keep blender running and slowly add:
1/2 cup Canola or Safflower Oil (you'll use 2 cups in all)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (you'll need 4 Tbsp. in all)
Repeat process of oil and juice until you have a total of 2 cups of the oil and 4 Tbsp. of the juice used.
Then blend in:
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 cups real mayonnaise
1 cup butter milk
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
Blend all ingredients until well mixed. Let set in refrigerator at least one hour for flavors to blend through. Use on a garden salad, as a veggie dip, dip for oven baked potato wedges, or chicken wings.
Italian Dressing Herb Blend- use to make Regular or Creamy Italian dressings
1/4 cup white sugar (raw organic is best)
2 Tbsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. Pink Himalayan salt
3 Tbsp.EACH: granulated garlic, onion powder, oregano, parsley, basil
2 Tbsp. EACH: marjoram and thyme
1 Tbsp. rosemary
In a food processor, blend all ingredients until completely mixed. Store in an airtight container.
Italian Creamy Dressing
2/3 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Italian Dressing Herb Blend
Blend until thoroughly mixed; add 1 Tbsp. milk or water until desired consistency is reached. This will thicken when refrigerated. Add more liquid if too thick. Let set in refrigerator for at least an hour for seasons to blend and intensify. Stir before serving.
Creamy Parmesan Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese- fresh is best!
1 tsp. course ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
Blend until thoroughly mixed. Let set in refrigerator for at least an hour for seasons and cheese to blend together. Shake or stir before serving.
Put all ingredients in blender on medium until smooth:
1 cup Canola or Safflower Oil
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Refrigerate for at least an hour for flavors to blend. Stir before serving.
Put all ingredients in blender until smooth:
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Once well blended add:
1 cup mayonnaise.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to intensify.
'Pasta Salad' Dressing
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. tarragon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Blend together all ingredients and add to your boiled and cooled pasta noodles. Let refrigerate at least an hour to allow flavors to blend into noodles.
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4-5 ripe, firm Roma tomatoes
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, slivered
Mix together oil, vinegar, basil, pepper and salt.
Arrange tomatoes and cheese, alternately, on a large serving plate.
Pour oil and vinegar dressing over tomatoes and cheese. Garnish with onions.
Serve extra dressing with salad.
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 08:52 AM EST