Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Food-making is Serious Business

The fun thing about a bento is that you have to think not only of what goes into one, but where that food comes from. I don't know how long Colleen has been trying for, but I've been attempting a decent food garden since I was in grade school. It's only last year that I actually got a clue as to what I was actually doing!

So, as a reward for being so productive today (including getting groceries, partly for said bento-making), I went out to Home Despot to pick up the beginnings of the season's seed-starting. (I have no idea what it is with me and hyphenated nonwords tonight.)

Tonight's purchases:
Burpee ecofriendly seed starting 36-cell greenhouse kit
1 x "" Catnip
1 x "" Basil
1 x "" Pea, Super Sugar Snap
1 x "" Carrot, Royal Kuroda
1 x "" Cucumber, Early Pride Hybrid
1 x "" Tomato, Sweet Snack Hybrid
1 x "" Tomato, Super Sweet 100 Hybrid
1 x "" Spinach, Bloomsdale Long-Standing
1 x "" Spinach, Early Prolific Hybrid
1 x "" Sunflower, Super Snack Hybrid
1 x Burpee Booster, soil inoculant for beans and peas (I have no idea if this will work, but it was on a limited run so I figured I would grab one of the three there before they were gone.)

First off, you'll notice I have two different kinds of some plants. I'm going to be watching them pretty closely; the Sweet Snack Hybrid tomato is more a grape size and one of Burpee's "Prizewinner" line, and the Super Sweet 100 Hybrid is a cherry type billed as being very prolific. Prolific in my small space is good. As for the spinach, the Early Prolific is ready for harvest only about a week before the Long-Standing, but they both have different resiliencies (Bloomsdale is slow to bolt, giving more harvest time, but the Early Prolific is resistant to rust), and I don't know what's going to crop up this year (haha, "crop" up), so I want to be prepared.

At worst, I will have a LOT of spinach.

These may or may not be the only plants that end up in the garden -- it's a lot considering the 6' x 8' space I'm working in, which gets limited light and seems to have fairly poor soil. I'm going to see what I can do about rigging some sort of reflection cape to make the most of what we're getting. The space is right under the overhang of a tree that I couldn't possibly hurt just for the sunlight. I'm also going to see what all I can't do about setting up some tiers or raised beds, if that might make things a little easier/allow for more plants. I do know that I'd like, eventually, some strawberries and cantaloupe.

I just crunched one of the Super Sweet 100 seeds with my elbow. Might move these now.

And then, there's the seed-starter -- last year, I used cardboard egg cartons and potting soil sitting on a cooking pan too big for the stove. I wanted so badly to be eco. It didn't work well -- the cardboard didn't like being so wet so frequently, and our cats did. Potting soil and water consistently ALL OVER the windowsill. Bad move. So this year -- something different.

True to its eco name, you can see that it has very limited packaging, I would hardly call it "excess" -- that shiny lump of plastic wrap is the only part that isn't specifically useful or biodegradable. I was super-pleased to find too, on taking off the cardboard collar, a "Burpee Plant-O-Gram to help you keep track of your seedlings," even if I can pretty much guarantee I'm going to lose it immediately.

The kit also comes with a little packet of plant food, and each cell is equipped with a "super growing pellet." I figure when the seeds are germinated, I can move them to another container and start another set in the cells with new pellets. The pellet refills were refreshingly cheap -- only three dollars for the 36 -- and when you've used the greenhouse cells as long as you care too, they're made of PLA, a completely biodegradable plant-based plastic.

So, this is what I'm up to at this hour...that, and trying to figure out what's going into the bento for tomorrow.

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