Starting the Seedlings

I vowed to start earlier this year–no dragging my little feet, making excuses, or just not doing it.  So this past weekend JGL graciously installed my grow lamp in the basement, and after procuring some fresh potting soil I began pulling out my trusty seed starting supplies:  pots, tray, soil, seeds and popsicle sticks.  There are several varieties of tomatoes, jalapenos, and the seeds I saved from the super hot peppers.  We’re about a month and a half ahead of schedule, compared to last year, and I’m really hoping that it will pay off in terms of helping the seedlings get bigger and stronger so we’ll get fruit out of them sooner.



To say this week has been a long one is an understatement!  There’s still a ways to go, but tonight I’m excited about having salad with fresh greens from the cold frame.  That’s right, folks, the cold frame has officially exploded with big, luscious, leafy greens.  How can a week be that bad when you have that on your table?

Tomato Tea

We’ve been battling a case of the ickies since New Years.  JGL came down with it first, and I succumbed shortly after, and while it hasn’t been as bad as we were last year, it’s been no fun feeling blah for the first few weeks of 2012.  The find of the week, however, came in the form of a Facebook post on JGL’s wall.  “Have you tried Tomato Tea?  Google it!”

What we found sounded pretty gross at first glance, at least for me.  Tomato juice and as much garlic and hot sauce as you can handle.  Meh.  But the combo does two things immediately opens you up (seriously, with as much hot sauce as you can handle what else can you expect?) and helps with congestion, but the volatile oils of the hot sauce and garlic act almost like a disinfectant for your throat.  Burns like hell, but oddly feels good.  JGL started drinking it well after the congestion fell to his chest and I started drinking before that happened.  I did not get hit half as hard as he did, and the congestion stuck (like glue) to my nose.  Not sure if I just had a milder case or if the tea worked, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt!

And as for the taste?  I have to admit, it wasn’t bad at all, and by the second batch it was almost tasty.  I added fresh herbs from the garden to help make it a bit more palatable.  This one will be put in the repertoire for future illness (and just another reason why I need to grow garlic in the garden!).

Tomato Tea
Adapted from Earth
2 cups Tomato Juice
2-3 cloves Garlic crushed (or more if you can–we were closer to 6 cloves)
2 T Lemon Juice
Hot Sauce (as much as you can tolerate)
2-3 large fresh basil leaves
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
Add all ingredients into a sauce pan and and heat until nice and warm.  Using an immersion blender, blend all of the ingredients together well, and let steep on the stove for about 5-10 minutes (longer it sets the better it gets!).  Once you’re ready to serve, sip slowly and breath deeply–the fumes and the tea both will aid with your congestion.  Careful, this stuff is addictive!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from our humble homestead to yours!  As 2012 made its grande entrance today , we took it easy–JGL is in the midst of a not so fun cold, and with only one more day before we both return to work we thought an easy Sunday would be a good thing.  I whipped up a batch of turkey soup, planted some more lettuce in the cold frame (more on that soon!), cleaned up the front flower bed up some more, and mowed the front lawn.

You know what Mom says, whatever you do New Year’s Day you do all year-long, so easy Sunday’s can still be productive Sunday’s, right?

As I pulled some leaves that had gathered in the front bed into the yard so I could chop them up with the lawn mower, I was shocked to find the above purple beauty just hanging out.  More surprisingly, there are more tight cluster of flower buds waiting to open up soon as well.  Poor little guy thinks it’s late March, not January 1st.  And frankly, as I started to break a decent sweat this afternoon mowing, if I closed my eyes and let my mind wander I almost could believe that spring was almost here myself.  But by next Tuesday we’re suppose to have highs in the mid-thirties, and winter will be visiting us once again–one of the many things I’ll never fully get used to living down here in Virginia.

Yet, it’s that glorious early spring that lets us get cracking on the new harvest, which I’m just itching to plot and plan.  Thoughts for 2012 include starting our tomato seedlings in the next week or so (EEP!), a concentrated effort on container gardening and creating variety in these raised containers, adding raspberries and blackberries to the homestead, preserving, preserving, preserving, and potentially Can Jamming with friends.  We’re also considering the benefits of joining our local CSA to help supplement what we grow (thoughts and your CSA experiences are MORE than welcomed!), and I have a vague idea/budget plan about patronizing our local butcher more often.  It’s going to be a great year, and I’m grateful for those of you who are along for this journey with us.

May your 2012 bring you and yours lots of happy times, beautiful memories, and a bountiful year!