Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seeds are Sprouting!

Another day off, another post! Starting the day with coffee and homemade corn muffins with Sarabeth apricadabra jam, then pulling all the random empty glass jars and bottles out of my pantry so I can go to Rainbow Grocery and fill them up, courtesy of today's 20% off coupon.

Yes, any Wed & Thursday, you can use that 20% off coupon from the back of the Yellow Pages. Go, look in your phone book. There's one coupon for every month, so you can save up the pricey stuff you buy, like cheese or vitamins, and get it snappily discounted. Pretty cool, and thanks to my Facebook pal Sara S. for alerting me to this. Maple syrup, honey, dry beans, weird flours--I'm stocking up!

And soon it will be strawberry jam-making time, too. The jam cupboard is pretty much empty by now, except for a few jars of leftover winter marmalade. Time to start filling it back up with summer fruit! Lagier might have sour cherries for pie and preserves this weekend at the Ferry Plaza farmers market--maybe this will be the year I finally make my own brandied cherries. This jam season will be a good one, if only because I finally found the one tiny piece of jam-making equipment that had been missing: a lid-lifter! Essentially, just a chopstick with a magnet on the end, but completely necessary for fishing hot flat lids out of their sterilizing water. Thank you, Cole Hardware and your well-stocked preserving shelf!

What else to do today? Get my glasses fixed at the always accomodating Urban Eyes, brave the fashionistas to see if I can get lunch money for some castoffs at Buffalo Exchange, research & write a bunch of columns for Cosmic Cooking (hello, Gemini!) and Bay Area Bites (hello, rose wines!), and pick up some more pots for the patio. Yes, the Summer Salad Project continues apace.

The lettuce has popped up, as have the radishes. Even the carrots are finally sending up feathery little emissaries to the wider world. Very exciting! Picked up some yarrow (a temptation for the pollinators, and a good drought-tolerant flower) and another salpiglossis (yes, we're representing the solanums pretty heavily this year, what with the potatoes and tomatoes too) at Flora Grubb last week--now I just have to hit a more common-man nursery for ordinary stuff like marigolds to keep the aphids away.

Happily, there's one just down the hill, Flowercraft Garden Center on Bayshore at Cortland. They have loads of good stuff geared more towards people with yards (rather than people with lofts, like FG) and they're not too proud to carry pansies and petunias and yes, marigolds. Plus, numerous lavenders, and even six-packs of honey-scented sweet alyssum, a cute little bedding plant that's also a great habitat/food source for various beneficial bees and wasps. It's such a good home for aphid-munching wasps that even the big organic farms, like Lakeside, interplant it among their brassicas (broccoli, kale, collards, etc) to keep the crawly population down. They also had tons of big, healthy-looking early girl tomatoes, and I'm wondering if I can fit one more big bucket out there for one more tomato plant, even though it never really gets warm enough for tomatoes here. By the time the temps warm up, in Sept/Oct, the days are too short. (I had dozens of tiny still-green tomatoes on my plants come last November.)

And because I'm such a sucker for seeds, I also came home with seeds for borage and chives. The chives because the flowers make such a pretty pink vinegar, and because if you're growing potatoes, you ought to grow chives. (Where's my sour-cream bush?) The borage for its pretty starry blue edible flowers, but also because it's such a great bee-feeder. Bees love blue, and they particularly love borage, as do butterflies. The young leaves supposedly taste of cucumber, but they get big and hairy fast. Susceptible to powdery mildew in our damp climate, but we'll see if Gayla's milk-and-water spray helps with this.

So, on the patio now: lettuce, red and green; easter-egg radishes; cherry tomatoes, 2 kinds; morning glories, blue; marigolds (planted among the tomatoes); sweet alyssum; salpiglossis, red and chocolate-brown; sunflowers; borage; chives; scarlet runner beans. Seeds still to plant: cucumbers, sugar snap peas, more lettuce.


esther said...

Oooh that's a lovely spring post you got there!

I can confirm that borage makes an excellent cucumber taste - especially in chilled drinks or salads.

I'm thinking I gotta get my some alyssum now - the brassicas are growing up and aphids may be there next foe after they survive the caterpillars.

I'm surprised though to hear your summer is too short for tomatoes. Or is that just the aspect on your balcony?

Ok, enough procrastinating for me now!

Stephanie J. Rosenbaum said...

Hello Esther! So nice to hear from you. Re: our summer, I'm living on the West Coast now, in San Francisco, which has a cool and foggy marine climate. Summertime (june/july/august) tends to be cool, damp, and foggy most days. It's not until Sept/Oct that we start to get consistently clear, warm-to-hot days, and by then, the daylight hours are getting shorter and there never seems to be enough time to really get the tomatoes ripened. So I've planted 2 cherry-tomato plants, since they don't take as long.

Colloquial Cook said...

Hi there! No, I really am in SF until Monday morning (ok, ok, Al wasn't really the reason)! If you want to meet up at some point, let me know!

calidri said...

Hello.You know the wonders of Brazilian cuisine? Feijoada, acarajé, vatapá cuisine ... a typical heterogeneous country

SAL said...

Can't wait for the jam! (hint, hint) And since I had quite an illustrious career at Cole Hardware during my 80's college years, I'd like to take partial credit for the well-stocked shelves. Of course, my stocking days were cut short due to my surly demeanor with the customers.

Debbie Sanchez said...

Ok now I am hungry, wanna send me a pie?