It's still winter, can you believe it? We were sitting on the front porch last evening watching the lightning and listening to the thunder claps & rain. I had been working in my flower beds & cleaning up the yard running around all day bare foot! I can handle this kind of winter any day of the week. I planted some Rhubarb Chard & Golden Chard today in the raised beds in the front garden. They will be able to handle a frost and even a bit of snow~ although I will cover them if we get some of the white stuff. About 4 years ago we had a snow storm on Easter, after all we live in Michigan and anything can happen. But today I was bare foot and that's all that I care about.
But on to the topic at hand~ planting. What can you get away with planting right now you ask. Well there are a few things that will tolerate light frosts and even a light snow. So if you want to live life with some adventure here are a few things you can go ahead and try if you have a garden site that the soil is 'fit' to plant in. By fit I mean that it is not too wet. To check your soil, take a hand full of soil and squeeze it into a ball. If it doesn't hold it's shape then it is dry enough, if it stays in a wad then it is too wet, wait a bit longer.
Here are some things you can plant right now:
*Spinach, Chard, Scallions, Peas, Radishes, Lettuces such as May Queen, Butter Crunch, Merriville de'Four Seasons, Green or Red Deer Tongue, Lolla Rosa to give you a few ideas.
As I mentioned above, if we do happen to get some serious snow, than you might want to cover your seedlings. Most of these things will tolerate and even taste better with a bit of snow & frost, the worst that will happen is the tips will get burned looking and a bit ugly. That is easy enough to snip off before you cook it though. Also, please remember I live in the Thumb of Michigan, so these are tips for folks who live in similar climates.
If you are serious about wanting to have early spring garden stuff or even would like to experiment with the cold winter months, than look into building a Cold Frame. The best book out there for this type of info is Eliot Coleman's "Four-Season Harvest". There are many styles to choose from starting with a simple straw bale structure to an elaborate glass pained wooden structure with hinges. The following information is adapted from Four Season Harvest.
*There are two parts to a cold frame- the sides & top. "The sides can be made of almost any material- boards, concrete blocks, bales of hay, logs...." according to Coleman. He recommends boards, but they all work.
*The tops need to be for the light! You can use old storm windows, wooden frames with plastic sheeting adhered to it or anything that will cover the top and be translucent enough to let the light shine in.
*"Traditional home garden cold frames measure 4 to 6 feet front to back and are 8 to 12 feet long. They are laid out with the long dimension running east to west. the frame should be just tall enough to clear the crops you plan to grow. In the standard design, the back walls 12 inches height and the front wall 8 inches high, so that there is a slight slope to the south," according to Coleman.
*The tops can be hinged or just set on. But either way I would personally recommend putting weights on each of the four corners to prevent them from flying off in high winds.
These are just a few basic steps in building your own cold frame. Again to get greater detail & design drawings refer to Coleman's book or Google it!
Who says onions are just for salad & burgers? Try this delicious savory onion & cheddar pie!
Cheddar & Onion Pie
2 Cups crackers crushed, Club crackers are very good
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 each red & yellow onions from Garden Gate, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. Creole Seasoning mix
2 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
1 cup Cheddar Cheese , shredded
1. Combine cracker crumbs with butter; set aside one cup. Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" deep dish pie plate.
2. Saute onions in oil until transparent and tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Spread drained onions over crust.
4. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and seasoning; without bringing to a boil, cook until heated through. Turn off heat; stir in eggs and cheese. Continue to stir until cheese melts. Spoon over onions; top with reserved crumb mixture.
5. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40-45 minutes- until eggs are set.
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 07:18 PM EDT