Saturday, February 14, 2009


This is a seed starting blog.  The information begins the 6th paragraph down. 
I have been ask more times this past week, than I want to count; "What are you going to do for Valentines day? Or what Do you want for Valentines?" Romance has always happened around nature for Hunny and I. Bird watching, Hiking, camping, gardening, and of course cooking. Our most romantic times have been the unexpected ones when we have been physically exhausted from a day of endeavors.
If you bring me chocolate covered strawberries, I am not impressed but to see a package of strawberry plants thrills me no end. (We prefer our chocolate dark and unadulterated) In this economy the thought of going out and spending money for a dinner with an exorbitant price tag floors me. Technically the idea of getting overdressed for the occasion and then the long drive to and from the place leaves me cold...and knocks the romance out of the occasion. (It seems the meal served is not what it is purported to be.)
Friday night I retrieved a leg of Lamb out of the freezer. It was left to thaw (wrapped) in the kitchen sink. Saturday morning I deboned it. This is an arduous task. Not one that I enjoy. If it had been purchased, the butcher could have done the dirty work. It wasn't, it is one of our farm raised lambs.
The reason I debone the leg is to make a butterflied leg of lamb. It's preparation is one learned from a Julia Child cook book. After all the hard preparation work the finishing is a breeze. You run to the green house for enough rosemary to make about 3 TBS when the leaves are stripped from the stems. Chop them on the fine side. Put 3 large cloves of garlic through a garlic press and mix with the Rosemary. I tweak her recipe a little, I add more of some of the ingredients. Place the herbs in a gallon plastic bag and add 2 TBS lemon juice, 3 TBS olive oil, 2 TBS soy sauce, and mix well. Place your lamb in the bag and squeeze the marinade around it. Store in the refrigerator and turn every hour. (this step can be done the day before.)
The Lamb will be served with garlic mashed potatoes. We are not fond of dirty mashed potatoes so these will be peeled. Lamb says spring. Spring isn't quite here so it is into the freezer I head for asparagus harvested last spring. One hour before you are to cook your lamb, remove it from the fridge. This allows the meat to come to room temp. Forty minutes before the lamb is to be served preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the broiler pan (spray with a cooking spray). Put marinated lamb, skin side up on the pan. Arrange the lumpy meat as much as you can the same thickness. (I use a meat pounder on the huge muscles before I put it in the plastic bag. It helps a little.) Put lamb in the oven, immediately turning the temp down to 375F. Cook for 20-25 minutes. I do 25 for medium rare. When the timer rings remove the lamb from the oven. Set the rack for broiler use. Set the temp on Broil (leave the door ajar). While the broiler is preheating, Baste the top of the lamb with 1 TBS Olive oil. Place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes to brown. When finished set on the side for 15 minutes before carving. While the meat is resting you can use the pan juices to make a wonderful gravy .
This was a Blog on Seed Starting which I haven't even addressed yet. That is what we spent Valentine's afternoon doing. Seed starting is a fairly rudimentary proposition at our house. We use recycled take out containers for propagation chambers. Ones with domed lids are the best. We also use the plastic trays from cookies and cover them with plastic wrap (don't use the multi-pack trays it is hard to extract seedlings from them). Another hint; Plant varieties that are the same in each tray I.E. lettuces with lettuces. Make sure all varieties have the same maturation times, you disturb the roots of the adjoining rows when one type sprouts before another one and you try to remove them.
For starting seeds you can purchase a seed starting mix but we usually mix our own if we can't be sure of the contents of the mix. We use a mix of 3/4 peat and 1/4 vermiculite. When you open your mix bag or mix your own you need to moisten it. DON'T dump cold water in it. The peat in the mixture will just float around on top of the water, not absorbing it. We heat the water very hot in the microwave. (Hot water from the tap can have copper leached from the pipes in it).  When the water is heated the peat absorbs it immediately.  Stir until it is absorbed.  I usually prepare my potting medium the day before  I need it so it can cool down. 
We put at least 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in the container depending on how deep the container is.  After planting we place them in our fancy propagation chamber.
Fancy propagation chamber directions:
We use Styrofoam cooler. Inside you will find a yogurt maker. Remember the ones that were the rage in the 70's (I find them for a dollar or less at the resale store). They are put in the bottom of the cooler and a piece of heavy cardboard with slots cut in it(for heat circulation) is placed over the "maker" for a shelf. We place the small take out containers on this. A word of caution. Test your homemade propagation chamber to make sure the temps stay under 80 degrees. If the heat is higher than this you need to open the lid a scosh.  Different seeds have a different preference for sprouting temps.
When seed starting beware that some seeds need light and moisture to germinate. There are books, but the net is perfect to look up the requirements for the seed you are planting. Remember different varieties of the same plant may have different needs. I.E. some lettuces require light and some require being covered with 1/4 in. of medium.
Lettuces we planted:
Prizehead lettuce, a wonderful loose leaf lettuce. It is lime green inside, blooming to a beautiful burgundy on the tips. It stays sweet far longer than most varieties we've tried. It seems to have a longer storage in the refrigerator. Flavor, If you are looking for a lettuce with taste, this is one you will want to try. It is a large leaved lettuce with a mildly frilly edge. We purchased our seed from Shumway.
Revolution, This is an extremely dark red lettuce with a heavy fleshed frilly edged leaf. We thought it would be great when the heat came on but not! It turned bitter with the first hot day. We are trying it again planting it earlier to try to miss the hot days. It's flavor is not sweet but not bland either. Nice addition to a salad, definitely a treat for the eye. I recommend planting this one for accent in the flower garden even if you don't eat it. When it bolts it is a gorgeous 1 1/2 ft tower of deep red burgundy, verging on black red. We purchased our seed from Thompson and Morgan seed company.
Tropicana, a new variety for us purchased from Johnny's Seeds.

Green Ice, This is an old time lettuce which doesn't have a good shelf life so it is not usually grown for commercial production. It has a fragile leaf, but a taste that makes up for it's fragility. The leaf is frillier than most but not as frilly as a Lolla rossa type. It is a large leafed type which makes it great for sandwiches and lining trays for a party. Purchased from Shumway. I will be starting more lettuces today.
The photo is Cimmeron lettuce, a reddish cos type lettuce that could be considered a miniature vegetable. It's maximum growth is about 8 inches at most. These are just ready to transplant to the garden. They are about 4 weeks old.
On Valentines day Hunny and I did what we love most, gardening.

For more blogs by me, visit at:
 A blog mostly about quilting,
but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
New blog, tutorial on how to make 5 panel Boxer Shorts.
New Blog about dolls.
Not a garden blog.
There are articles which have nothing to do
with creating or gardening.
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens
we found and mothered.
It is a blog where I voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own.
Credit has been given to contributions not my own.
Please do not use without permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment