Chill Out in the Garden!

April 11, 2022, Willamette Valley, Oregon (my yard)

In the northern hemisphere, it’s springtime! Or, depending on where you are, summer! Here in Oregon, USA, we’ve had a very long winter. We had snow on April 11 and only last week, there was frost on the windshield in the morning. It looks like I won’t be getting any cherries, plums, or peaches this year. The apples and pears bloomed late, so we may be okay there.

Gardening is great exercise!

What does the warm weather mean to you? To me, it’s gardening season. That also means I need to get in shape. Here’s a chart that should make you happy about spending time weeding and trimming. Need a butt lift? Move loads of soil or compost around!
Before you commit to your garden project, be sure to have your gear. Plenty of water to drink, a hat, sunscreen, gloves, and of course, a camera to take before and after pictures. Stretch all those muscles first, too. I have a five-gallon bucket with a swivel seat on it that holds my tools. Very nice to have portable accommodations. I never have been a fan of the kneeling pads but my chair/toolbox combo with a handle is great.


MOST IMPORTANT: Audio gear! For me, it’s my Echo frames. Not only do they hold the lenses that help me see, these also have little speakers above the ears and a mic somewhere in front. Since they’re linked with my smartphone, phone calls come through, too. Gloved hands are dexterous enough to tap the right temple, and it’s answered. Need tunes? I tell Alexa, “Shuffle music by Led Zeppelin” or Leonard Bernstein, depending on my mood. I wear scrubs so the phone’s nearby in a big pocket.

Tunes are good, but my go-to request while working and always while driving is, “Alexa, read my book.” Whatever book I’ve been reading on my Kindle device, continues. It DOES NOT have to be an AUDIBLE book, either. Alexa’s voice is pretty cool and way better than the first generation of book readers.

Any story that is ‘Text-to-Speech: Enabled’ on Amazon will work on your Echo. You can do so much more work when you’re listening, waiting for an exciting scene to finish. Even when I’m spent and finally go inside, the story follows me. No Echo frames? Any Kindle or Echo device will keep up with your place in the story. Just ask, “Alexa, read my book.” Smart stuff is awesome!

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Vegetables and Salad Dressing #Recipe by @_NancyRadke

Growing your own vegetables is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding. I wrote before about growing sprouts inside during the winter, to get fresh produce. Mungo bean sprouts make a great addition to omelets, and alfalfa sprouts add vitamins to a salad.

This month I was given a small cold frame along with potting soil. I just planted a tiny patch of onions, lettuce, radishes, and arugula. It’s cold outside, and if it continues to be cool, I should have some radishes to eat in a month. I look forward to the salads I’ll make from these.

Vegetables

A great salad dressing can be made with a few simple ingredients. I use fresh orange juice for this and the lightest olive oil I can find. You can fudge on the kind of mustard. I use raw honey for the health benefits and Bragg’s Vinegar. I feel that a good olive oil is the most important ingredient, as it makes a huge taste difference.

ORANGE SALAD DRESSING

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt + pepper

Put all in a small bottle, shake well. Use on both fresh fruit or vegetable salads.

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Growing Sprouts by @_NancyRadke

Dear Gardener who can hardly wait for spring. Take this quiz:

  • What am I?
  • I am a fresh vegetable that needs no garden soil.
  • I can be eaten within four to seven days.
  • Minimal care is needed to grow me.
  • I must be grown in a closet or dark area.
  • My seeds keep for years.
  • I am not a mushroom.

If you guessed sprouts, give yourself an A. Growing spouts is fun and easy. I used to grow sprouts all the time, then stopped about eleven years ago. Hungry for them (especially mung bean sprouts in my egg omelets – Egg Foo Yung), I tried to buy some fresh sprouts at the grocery stores. No luck. Ditto at the smaller markets.

Opening my refrigerator, I found three different bags of seeds left over from my last sprouting years ago. I figured some seeds might still be viable, so I put about a tablespoon of each into separate glass jars, soaked them for six hours, then dumped off the water through a strainer, and put the jars into my cupboard. It was just that easy to start growing sprouts again.

Growing Sprouts

Here’s The Secret to Growing Sprouts

The trick is to keep the seeds from completely drying out but not sitting in water and rotting. Do this by rinsing them in cold water in the morning, at night, and two to three times a day and pouring off the water. Always return them to the cupboard and close the door. Sprouts like to grow in the dark. 

By day two little sprouts began to show, tiny ones on my alfalfa seeds and large ones on the mung beans. To prove the viability of seeds kept in closed bags in the refrigerator, I didn’t find any of them that didn’t sprout, even after all those years.

You can let them grow small leaves if you want to. I usually cap my jar and put it in the refrigerator to stop the sprouting process just as the leaves begin to develop. I had my first egg omelet with bean sprouts five days after starting to grow them. My salad mix of small seeds went into pocket bread. I mixed some of the alfalfa sprouts into my green salad.

Growing Sprouts

Growing sprouts really adds to your fresh food supply. All it takes is some seeds, a mesh strainer, and a glass jar. I use distilled water to avoid fluoride and the rest of the chemicals added to city water, so rinsed my sprouts in that.

WARNING: Only buy sprouting seeds that are meant for sprouting. You can get mung beans and alfalfa seeds at Amazon. Seed companies often treat garden planting seeds with a poison to prevent bugs from eating the seeds. So buy your seeds from a company that sells food-grade (safe) seeds for sprouting.

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