When Time Runs Out on Dinner

Cumin seeds

Happens to me all the time.  Mostly because I plan about 3 times as many chores and activities in one day than are humanly possible.  Not a good strategy as it leaves me cranky just about dinner time when I’m already hungry.  A few nights ago, part of my ridiculously long list of plans for the day included making a quinoa casserole that I found on-line.  It was an interesting recipe and we are trying to be meatless a little more often, so the choice seemed more virtuous than ambitious at the time.  The recipe had 18 ingredients. It was indeed a bit ambitious at the end of a long list of chores.

Time to cook dinner arrived.  I mentally noted all of the unfinished tasks that would head up my list for the next day and read the recipe more closely.  I know.  Not the best time to read a recipe beyond the ingredient list.

Rats.  There was no way I could make it and then bake it, have us eat it, and still get to TaeKwonDo on time.  So, I just pared the recipe down a little and went with a few flavors that have always worked for me and my family.

When I start with sauteed onion, garlic and cumin seed, the kitchen begins to smell fabulous and family members ask in anticipation, “What are you making?”  From there, in a much lighter mood myself, I need only add whatever is in the vegetable drawer and a grain or some meat – if necessary ; )

To the cumin seed, onion and garlic I added cinnamon because that was one of the ingredients that drew me to the complicated recipe in the first place. While I was chopping zucchini, carrots, and a little swiss chard, I boiled water with bouillon for quinoa.  After the zucchini and carrots were softening I added the swiss chard and some raw cashews for protein (and crunchy flavor), and salt.

Mix it all together and sprinkle a few raisins on top if desired.

It was delicious and took about 25 minutes.  Here is a better breakdown on the ingredients if you’d like to try it – but feel free to substitute and delete and re-do when time runs out on dinner.  Spice amounts are approximate because I was dumping, not measuring… buyer beware.   Maybe I’ll dump a few chores from tomorrow’s list!

Olive oil for pan
1 med-lge onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 med. zucchini
3-4 med. carrots
3-4 swiss chard leaves
1 cup raw cashews
2 cup dry quinoa
bouillon or stock (if desired for boiling quinoa)

Heat 4 cups water or stock
Heat oil in large skillet and add onions, crushed garlic, cumin seeds and cinnamon
When onion is transparent and cumin seeds are popping, add chopped carrots and zucchini
When water is boiling, add quinoa, stir, cover and turn heat down to low
Stir veggies occasionally and add swiss chard and cashews when carrots are softening.
Salt as desired.
Quinoa is done when water is absorbed and halos around individual grains are separating.
Mix together or serve side by side with raisins on top if desired.

The Habit-Driven Holiday

So I attended the twins’ pre-K Easter party today.  Mercy.  I actually really enjoy rooms full of pre-schoolers because I’m weird like that.  I do have to admit, however, that my enjoyment becomes somewhat strained when we give them all a plate full of “treats” to eat and then set them loose on the world.  The volume increase alone can be staggering.  In my attempts to reinforce my kids’ good eating habits I usually feel like a Scrooge at all holiday affairs.  Don’t get me wrong, I let them partake, but do a fair amount of talking beforehand and whatever meal they have before an event like this is exceptionally nutritious and my expectations for their participation in consuming that meal are very high.  While the table of offerings at their parties have, thankfully, decreased a bit since the parties at the beginning of the year, it is still chock full of nibbles that my kids don’t usually get (including candy) and each of these parties includes some kind of take-away that also includes candy. …  See, you’re even thinking I sound a little mean.  And maybe I am, but I just don’t think a 5 year old needs to consume the sugary equivalent of a King Sized Snickers bar (and even I can appreciate the wonder of a King Sized Snickers bar) as an afternoon snack to celebrate Easter.

So in my concern about these dietary issues, I’ve assumed that I am alone, that the other parents think this is fine and dandy, and that I am the only one who thinks this whole equation doesn’t add up.  But today I listened.  Each of the parents that came to help was coaching children to take some of the healthy choices, pushing grapes and carrots and popcorn, eagerly offering water over juice boxes, placing limits on the time and amount of take away candy consumption that would occur.  Sighing and shaking their heads as they watched the escalation begin.  So I left wondering why, if we all think this is a bit much (as we seem to), we continue to do it this way?  These kids are 4 and 5 year olds; wouldn’t now be the easiest time to train them NOT to expect all of the junk?  Wouldn’t now be the time to develop family and community traditions that don’t require us to walk around harping after our children and thinking we didn’t pull it off anyway at the end of the day?  Let me be clear; I am not suggesting that we stop having parties.  And you should know from my earlier posts that I am also not suggesting that we ban chocolate.  I just want to explore the scale.  So many of our daily dietary choices are based on habits, and often on habits that are not particularly healthful.  Do we continue to binge and to teach our children to do the same out of habit?  And do we then grimace at the amount of noise and the tears that follow 40 minutes later when they crash?

Lest you all think that you should send my children Easter treats in the mail, I should tell you that next weekend, they will get Easter baskets and that those baskets will have some candy.  A chocolate bunny, some mini chocolate bars, and some lovely white Jordan almonds.  No high fructose corn syrup (which wasn’t THAT hard to do) and none of the food colorings that are on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Food Additives to Avoid” list (this was harder).  Their baskets will also have a small toy (thank you Legos).  As for eggs we will, at some point, be dying eggs…  I have yet to decide HOW we will be dying them as all of the “kits” also include “Avoid” colors.  I am sure, however, that I will be able to convince my children that any method we choose for coloring eggs is fun.  What 5 year old doesn’t want to do a messy art project as a family?

Should you do what I do?  That’s not what I’m saying.  Is all candy bad?  I have NO idea (except about chocolate, which is good, plain and simple).  I do know that for ME responsible parenting means trying to bring as many days as possible into some kind of alignment with my fundamental beliefs.  I fundamentally believe that the additives in much of our food are cumulatively harmful; I actively stress the importance of teaching our children to eat better than we do.  Celebrating a holiday does not mean giving up who I am, and who I want us to be.  Separating our harmful habits from our cherished traditions may well help us to enjoy our holidays and celebrations even more, as ourselves, and as who we want to be.

So that’s my plan for the upcoming holiday. What’s yours? Is it what you want it to be? Are you celebrating by habit or by design? And, more selfishly, if you do something cool and food safe with eggs, do tell. Yes, there are millions of things out there on the web… Which are your favorites?

You Say Potato…

So I’ve never grown potatoes before. Why? I don’t know. Truth is I’ve not grown much in the way of root vegetables until the last few years. Sort of a basic mistrust of what may or may not be going on underground. I like to be able to watch the progress of the food as it grows and potatoes, carrots, beets simply don’t allow you to do that. Yeah, yeah I know. I can watch the part above ground. I’m sorry, but it’s just not the same. I’ve tried carrots with limited success and beets, which we like but don’t need a lot of at any given moment (the pink pee is interesting to my daughter about once every few weeks, then loses its power to increase vegetable consumption). But I’ve never tried to grow the mighty spud. Which is silly, really, because I love potatoes. I mean I really love potatoes. Early in our relationship my husband and I figured out that he had grown up in a rice household and I had, as you might have guessed, grew up in a potato household. Over the years, despite our initial misgivings, we have both come to appreciate the other’s position, but I think I have really won the day. Homemade french fries will do that for you. Yeah, it’s a dirty trick, but somebody has to do it.

Where was I? Right, growing potatoes, so I’m happily clicking away on Pinterest and I come across this:

What’s that you say?  THAT is a potato tower.  You heard me right, a potato tower.  Grow potatoes without using up all of your precious garden space.  Okay, so that idea and the fact that I had 2×2 chicken wire that proved too big to keep rabbits out waiting in the shed convinced me to give it a go.  So I asked my sweetie to pound some stakes in (our street has the word slate in the name, so guess what’s just an couple of inches below the surface) and then we made a round with the discarded chicken wire, securing the back bit by stapling it to the fence.  I was determined NOT to buy new materials for this project because while I am optimistic, I am CHEAP and if it doesn’t work I’d hate to have spent a lot of dough.  I then filled it around the edges with leaves, rather than the recommended straw and supplemented with a little spanghum moss that I had from another project since I thought it might help retain a little moisture.  In the center, compost baby.  Inserted my cut up seed potatoes in layers and filled with compost and leaves until we got about to the top.  Here it is:

Will it work?  I have NO idea.  I’m sure I didn’t follow the directions exactly as that’s how I roll.  While it is my belief that all gardening is an act of supreme optimism, the slapdash version that I usually do is strictly for the glass half-full crowd.  If it does, that’s about 25 lbs of delicious potato magic coming our way.  And if my children have their way, a great many of them will be prepared this way:

Awesome Oven Fries Adapted from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

  • 1.25 lbs potatoes, peeled (if you must) and cut to 1/2″ fry shapes
  • 3/4 to 1t salt
  • 1/2t sugar
  • 4t oil
  • 1t paprika
  • 1/4t pepper (I use white to avoid kid detection)

Preheat oven to 450.  Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper (works better).  Combine potatoes, 1/4t salt, sugar and cold water to cover.  Soak 15 minutes, drain &blot dry.  In dry bowl, combine potatoes with oil, paprika and pepper.  Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake, turning as they brown. 35-45 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt.  Voila.  Fan-flipping tastic.  Yes, you should probably make a double batch.

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Sneaking in the Greens

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Most people don’t consider me very sneaky, but when it comes to getting vegetables into my kid… I’ll do just about anything.  I have found that the good ol’ American grilled cheese sandwich is rife with opportunity for treachery (mwoo hoo hahaha)!  Read on, if you dare….

One can spread a layer of a number of both pureed or simply sauteed vegetables into a grilled cheese sandwich.  My first foray into the covert vegetable operation was to spread a layer of pureed broccoli on the bread before placing the layer of cheese.  I began pureeing broccoli (along with lots of other things) to make baby food.
1) Puree in the blender or VitaMix with enough water to let the blades turn
2) Scoop out and place in ice cube trays
3) Cover trays with wax paper to aid stacking and avoid frost
4) Pop out and store in container in freezer when solid
Then you can defrost as much as you need per the size of your bread and the breadth of your child’s tolerance or gullibility.  So broccoli, cauliflower or spinach seemed to work best in our house for the kids.  As my now 11 year old aged and realized that it was indeed possible to have a grilled cheese sandwich WITHOUT anything green in it, we had to negotiate a bit…. “Do you want your broccoli in the sandwich or on the side?” worked very well for a while.  And of course my husband and I ate and enjoyed the broccoli/cheese sandwiches as well.

However, there is something better than broccoli for the grown-ups and thus the lovely picture above… mustard greens sauteed in a little oil and garlic make a stupendous extra layer in a grilled cheese sandwich.  Stir some up for dinner and make a little extra.  Doesn’t take long – just a clove of garlic and a little olive oil in a pan, tear the leaves smaller and cook until they are quite wilted.  Stick the leftovers in the frig.  You don’t have to heat the greens up – they’ll heat as the cheese melts around and into the nooks and crannies.  Delicious!  You can also use swiss chard or collards or kale.  And of course, for the grown-ups you can vary the cheese as well.

You do get some funny looks when your child asks their friend who is staying for lunch, “Do you want your grilled cheese with or without broccoli?” but no funny look equals the pleasure of sneaking vegetables onto the plate and into the mouth!
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In this case the words are ‘sandwiched’ between the greens.  Yuk yuk yuk…. just what a lot of kids say when it comes to vegetables.

Chocoholics Rejoice!!


I’ve long suspected that those of us who love chocolate are simply better off than those who do not – are experiencing the fullness of what the world has to offer rather than merely a bland and narrow subset of the world of culinary delights, but I heard this morning (thank you radio for allowing me to HEAR the news without having to WATCH the news) that chocolate lovers are also, for the most part, leaner than those who do not eat chocolate….  WAHOOTIE!  I have a dream meal planned for just such a revelation.  I’ll have a…. and a…. and then we’ll have a….  Okay, it’s not that simple.  It is still good news, however, and after re-reading a few times, it seems to me that there are two very important takeaways from Beatrice Golomb’s (UCSD) chocolate study.

The first lesson: moderate and regular consumption of chocolate may actually prove healthful rather than harmful for the body.  Chocolate contains polyphenols and as Joshua Lambert (of Penn State – alumni high five here) explained on NPR, polyphenols may actually help to prevent the body from digesting fat.  I’m going to say that again.  Chocolate may actually help prevent fat.  That may well be one of the most awesome sentences I have ever written.  It is important to note that this research does not distinguish which KIND of chocolate is most highly correlated with leanness.  I would imagine that dark chocolate (which is MORE CHOCOLATE!!) and that has fewer other ingredients would be a healthier choice overall, particularly as it allows you take advantage of the other benefits that dark chocolate has to offer (lower blood pressure, antioxidants). So, go ahead break off a couple of squares of that gorgeous chocolate bar. Eat them and breathe deep. So good.

The second lesson – and while I love chocolate, this is the one that is really exciting to see more people talking about: all calories are NOT created equal. While a piece of chocolate may have the same calorie count as say a couple of chips, the chocolate seems to contain compounds that are HELPFUL to your body. They don’t just fill the space in your stomach or provide emotional euphoria (although chocolate may well do that); they help your body to function well. Did everyone hear that? I know you know this on a deep, semi-conscious level, but there are enormous and well-funded groups of calorie counting individuals who would have you believe otherwise. It really does matter which food item you choose. You can count calories until the cows come home, stay within your magic “number” and be completely and utterly malnourished. Or be just malnourished enough to feel like bleh. I acknowledge that I am stretching this conclusion out as far as it can go, but it helps to illustrate the point, right?  There are calories that help you and calories that do not.  Could it be that the calorie is not a useful measure for health?

There is SO much we don’t know about what our bodies do with food; we do seem to be getting the message, repeatedly, that all calories (even when analyzed for all the bits that you see on the nutrition label) are NOT created equal. Today’s news says we do seem to know that a little chocolate does the body good. I know what I’m having for desert.

My Green Smoothie Heaven

There is nothing like a smoothie…. nothing in the world.
There is nothing you can loothie…groovy… movie….  never mind.
I love smoothies, but my boys (young and old), at some point politely requested that smoothies not be green but be pretty colors from things like strawberries, blueberries and pineapple.

Well have I got a recipe for you!  A kale smoothie!  Go ahead and groan, but you’re gonna love it.  Here is the original recipe that I got from Snack Girl’s website:
Green Smoothie Recipe
(1 serving)
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup kale
1/2 banana
1 cup water
Tear kale leaves off of stems and tear into small shapes. Put berries, kale, 1/2 banana, and water into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
132 calories, 1.1 g fat, 31.2 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g protein, 5.8 g fiber, 31 mg sodium, 0 PointsPlus

The first time I doubled the recipe – and I probably packed the kale down a little harder than was the intention – as I am at times an overachiever.  I used only blueberries as that is what I had.  The boys stated, “Pretty good.  You can still taste the kale, but it’s okay.”  They drank it.

Next attempt I did not pack the kale so tightly, I used frozen strawberries and I threw in 6 oz. of homemade vanilla yogurt (I told you I was an overachiever!) which has 1 teaspoon (or 4.5 grams) of sugar in it.  The boys loved it, even though strawberry does not mask the green color of the kale as well as does blueberry.  (By the way, most commercial vanilla yogurt has 4 to 6 times that amount of sugar in it.  Yikes!)

Third attempt – out of berries, what to do?  Gotta have my raw kale fix!  Canned pineapple, kale, frozen banana and again the vanilla yogurt… Another hit.  And I gotta tell you, you CAN taste the kale but it’s like a fresh edge around the fruit flavor that tastes clean and right… It tastes like it’s good for you.  And soon my forearms will start popping out like Popeye’s right?  No wait that’s spinach….  Maybe I can start slipping some of that in as well ; )

Long Distance Relationship with Seedlings

What to do when you have been coddling little seedlings and suddenly you have to be out of town?  Last year I was faced with this scenario, and although it meant I got to visit Little Sis, I was quite sure that after being unable to find any help from neighbors I would come home to frozen seedlings on the deck or dessicated seedlings in the house.  How to choose between prematurely freezing or drying my future produce?….

Here is a re-enactment of what my husband and I came up with I did last year… Remember this is just a re-enactment ; )

I left my seedlings in the bathtub with wet towels, a slow drip of water, a floor lamp with plant lights in all 3 sockets leaning over the edge of the tub, a timer and a few prayers and shakes of incense.  (You must have your seedlings in peat pots or some other medium that will absorb water from the bottom for this to work.)

First I layered beach towels in the bottom of the tub…

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Yes, I put the sunshiney towel on top on purpose…. hoping it would distract you from the dirty bathtub!

Then I wet the towels so they were sopping wet but not floating.

Next I took a plastic gallon jug of water and made 2 small holes in the bottom.  Make sure and take the top off to enable the water to leak out.  I then placed it in a corner of the bathtub against the wall.  If a gallon jug is too fat for your rim, use a couple of tall thin water bottles.  I confess I made the holes too big the first time and the water was coming out very fast, so I tried again until there was a bit of a trickle.

Here’s the re-enactment part.  I don’t have any gallon jugs of water… less afraid of an apocalypse this year I suppose… so I just set a water jug on the corner to give you the idea.

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Then I removed the seedlings from their tray, still in their little peat pots and set them directly on the wet towels.

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Last year I started 3 times as many seedlings and they all fit nicely – if a little more crammed together.

Then I leaned the floor lamp with plant bulbs over the tub, keeping it from rolling by placing books next to the base, and aimed the lights at the seedlings.

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Although it looks like a larger space, the lights are actually 18″ – 24″ from the tops of the seedlings.

Place a timer on your lamp so the little babies get some sleep time and voila!  I came home to healthy, larger seedlings after a 6 day trip.  The towels were still wet.

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The Pollen Count is WHAT?! Why Don’t I Feel It?

I have always had atrocious seasonal allergies.  I was that kid – you know the one with the constantly drippy nose, who carried tissues while other kids carried personal treasures, and who more often than not in the Spring was likely to be a little spacey because at that time Benadryl was the best answer to swollen eyes and gooey noses.  “Most people grow out of it…” they said.  And so I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I’m 42 now.  While I’ve not outgrown all of my childhood foibles, many have indeed gone by the wayside.  Not my allergies.  Last year was one of my worst.  I loaded up on prescriptions and struggled through the Spring, feeling a bit punished for my love of gardening and super fresh, super local (backyard grown) food.  I used my Neti pot, I used steroid nasal spray, I did everything I could to remain coherent AND breathe.

Over the last year my family and I have made a series of dietary changes.  We’ve been paying a lot of attention and have made every effort to eliminate as many processed foods as we can, and recently we’ve DRAMATICALLY decreased the amount of meat and dairy that we consume.  We still eat it, but mostly on the weekends, and try to keep the portion MUCH smaller.  More of a flavoring than an entree.  So here we are, feeling better than we have in a LONG time and tree pollen season is upon us.  I’ve noticed and had a few days that made me think about medicating… but I haven’t.  Mostly I feel pretty good.  I’ve been out in the garden; I’ve been doing yard work.  Yes, I feel that pollen, but this is a whole different world.  Everyone around me is complaining about their symptoms and trading tips on symptomatic relief.  I am breathing through not one, but TWO clear nostrils and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So what’s going on here?  Is it the strange weather?  Is it still too early and in a few days I will regret ever commenting on my relative comfort?  Possibly.  But the fact is that I feel better than I have ever felt.  In my life.  Ever.  There are doctors out there who will tell you that dietary change can influence your allergies…  No, really.  It’s true; the food you eat MAY actually have something to do with how your body functions.  I’ll be darned.  I’ll give you one link, but all you need to do is Google “diet and seasonal allergies” and you’ll get a quick roundup of the suggestions as to how and why these two may go hand in hand.  My personal experience is suggesting that there is something in either processed food or animal products that taxed my system in such a way that the additional load brought on by Spring pollen was just too much to bear.  I suppose I could do an elimination diet, testing one of these items at a time to see exactly which one, or which ones, are causing the trouble….  but I feel great.  So why would I do that?  I’ll just keep on keeping on and we’ll see what the rest of Spring looks like.  Maybe I’ll avoid being groggy at all.  Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

So here’s the part where I’m supposed to tell you to eat what I eat so your problems will go away.  I’m not going to do that.  Our diet has been an evolution.  A long process of incremental change that has landed us here.  You may not find the idea of really cutting meat and dairy interesting, and I can understand that.  But maybe, just maybe, you’ll wonder what would happen if you made some changes.  What would happen if the next meal you made didn’t include food that could sit on a shelf for a year without changing?  I’m serious, what would that look like?  If you have made changes, and you’ve noticed a difference, I want to hear about it.   And for the first time with pollen counts this high, I’ll probably remember what you say when you respond.

Seed Starting – Tips and Tricks

Or Learn From My Mistakes…

One of the glories of spring – watching those little green bits poke out of the soil, transforming from a hard little pebble into something that may well be able to feed you.  Miraculous.  Especially when it works.  In the past I have not had good luck with starting from seed and it took lots of reading for me to realize that I am not alone.  Most gardening guides tell you right off the bat that starting from seed, while potentially rewarding and money-saving, can be very frustrating.  In the past I have started seeds, used the few plants that worked out, and bought seedlings for the rest.  I have, however, made minor adjustments over the years and for the first time – and I am reluctant to say anything and jinx the outcome – I seem to be growing several plants that might actually survive this process.  So I thought I’d share  what I’ve learned with you while there’s still time – especially for those of you to the north.  Frankly with the way the weather has been, I’m inclined to dispense with my normal planting calendar altogether and just start whatever I want whenever it occurs to me.

For me, seedling success seems to depend most on 4 variables.

1) Temperature. For the last two years I have used heat with my seedlings and it has made an enormous difference in the number of seeds that germinate and the amount of time that it takes for them to start.  I personally use a heating pad (which I imagine is NOT recommended by heating pad manufacturers and is certainly NOT recommended by seed heater manufacturers ;) ) and if it is especially chilly I also put a space heater next to the seedling rack.  My understanding is that most seeds need at least 70 degrees to germinate.  I feel the trays and if they are mildly warm NOT HOT I go with that.

2) Moisture. Seeds need water to germinate.  Seed starting trays often include a plastic dome for cover and this helps retain moisture and heat, makes a nice little hothouse to help your seeds along.  I use these domes, but have found that the trick is to make sure not to keep the dome over seedlings that have emerged.  The infant seedlings still want moisture, but not as much as seeds, and they don’t especially like a lot of water from the top.  I’ve been careful this year to remove seedlings that have emerged from the germination tray once they are truly out of the soil and placed them in a tray that is not covered to keep them from constantly being rained on from the plastic dome.  Because I like to be able to move them easily I prefer cardboard cells or toilet paper rolls cut in half to plant in rather than the rows of plastic cells.

I’ve tried something new this year that has proven quite effective in helping me regulate moisture levels for my seedlings.  Pea gravel.  Pardon the blurry image – what I’m trying to show is the gravel in the middle of the seed tray here.  I scooped some pea gravel into the bottom of the tray and then placed the seed starting cups on top of the gravel.  This allows me to pour water UNDER the seed starting cups.  They drink it up from the bottom while sitting on the gravel;  they are not as likely to develop problems associated with over-watering or water overwhelming the seedlings.  The pea gravel also holds onto a bit of moisture and slowly delivers some moisture to the plants through contact.  If I am remiss in watering, the effect does not seem to be as devastating.  If I overwater (something I tend to do), the damage seems mitigated.  I will be using pea gravel again.  It is important to note that I DO have a plastic tray under all of this mess that I tested for holes.  A drippy seed starting tray is not fun, and can be crazy dangerous if you follow my next suggestion…

3) Light. In years past I simply set up some shelves in front of a sliding glass door that was as south-easterly as I could provide and had very sad looking little seedlings.  Pale, leggy to the point of collapse.  NO GOOD.  I did some research online and found that there were plenty of gadgets available to help me provide light to me little veggie children and all I had to do was plunk down a load of cash and I too could experience seed starting victory.  Well, I pretty much vow not to start from seed every year, so the investment that they were asking for was pretty much out of the question.  More research from the DIY pages revealed that florescent shoplites can deliver adequate seedling sun.  That sealed it.  I had a wire shelf unit already (scored from a big box store on super sale, so I think it was like $15).  I went to the hardware store.  An employee offered to help and I explained my dismay that I couldn’t seem to get enough light in a VERY SUNNY glass door.  He expressed a theory that newer windows and glass doors may block out some of the magic that seedlings require because of their coatings and insulation.  He said something along the lines of “I’m no scientist, but folks with old windows seem to have better luck no matter which direction they’re facing.”  He then helped me choose 4 foot shoplites and T-12 bulbs.  I rigged the lights, added a heating pad, threw on a full spectrum light I had from when I lived somewhere it rained ALL THE TIME and voila, instant sunny spot for seedlings.


Lights Off.


Let the sunshine on.

4) Transplanting.  Great, so you’ve got some healthy green little buggers in those cells and it is so exciting so you just wait until the right date, right?  No.  You will need to take them out of those little jobbies and put them in slightly larger containers to allow their roots room to grow.  Yes, you really need to do this.  I usually do it when the seedling has begun to develop it’s second set of leaves.  This is another time I am glad to use cardboard.  It is MUCH easier to get them out of the cardboard then plastic, in my experience.  So, gently move them into larger containers, and a week before the proper date for outside I start putting them outside for a few hours a day, slowly building up the amount of time to get them accustomed to the harsher conditions that may be out there waiting for them.


Leeks getting ready for the garden. Go, leeks, go – you expensive, delicious little freaks!

I’ll keep you posted as to how many of my little beauties actually make it into the soil.  Here’s hoping my experiments will pay off for you!

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