Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22, 2018- Finally it is warm.


As I write this it is Saturday night. The Cubs are playing baseball in Colorado. It is 41 degrees at game time in Denver. That really is not baseball weather.
But here in Iowa City, on Saturday evening, it is still 55 degrees. It must have reached 60 at some point during the day. It was an ideal garden day. The 9 day forecast has no nights below 36.
So I have started taking plants outside. It was even overcast in the afternoon which also made that ideal. It is also ideal in that the temperature is not expected to spoke to 80 degrees.

In the bonus section  down below, I will  review the week. It was certainly an up and down week.


This week for this blog I have maybe the last team competition for you. This time the teams are made up of similar plants, all from the contest this past winter. This probably is the last you will see of some of your favorites from this last season.


But we did have voting this last week.
In that voting you picked the Blue team.
Here was that team, one more time.
As I look at these pictures I need to put on the calendar in a few weeks, to start the morning glory seeds.




The full voting was:
Blue  12
Red   10
Pink    6
White   6
Yellow  4
total  38

This week's competition
you may vote for two

Team Poppy
and plants that look like poppies. (The first picture is the Anemone de caen.)





Team Spring Bulbs




Team Orchid cactus






Team Lily, of all kinds





The one of a kind team






There you have it. Since this should be a mellow week, and to reduce stress, you may vote for two this week.

Bonus Section


Here is how the week went.

Sunday, April 15
There are winter weather advisories for much of NE Iowa. Not for Johnson County. There is a light dusting of snow at the moment.
At church my little garden is coming alive. I planted a few plants from home last spring. All my pots seemed to come with squill. That squill is doing well, amidst the snow and cold.



The most exciting thing about that little bed at church, was the fact that  many California poppy seedlings, just having sprouted. I worried about them since the temperatures were getting down to 25.
At home I found that the double bloodroot, planted last spring, are emerging.
With a high of 34 some work in the garden was possible. Mostly I potted another 25 caladium.
I really need the temperatures to warm so I can through the Iceland poppy new plants outside. Maybe Thursday.
There was also this.




Monday
It was one of the coldest days since the last time it was very cold. It could have been 35 degrees but there was a 25 mile an hour wind going much of the day.
It was not the day to wander around the garden.
Coming into the house at lunch I did notice the little red shoots coming up by the front sidewalk. That would be the enormous clumps of variegated Solomon's seal. They must be at least 12 square feet on each side of the sidewalk. Each year I dig them up all around the perimeter of the clump. I then pot them up to see if anyone wants some. This helps contain the clumps.

Tuesday.
This was the nice day sandwiched between the not so nice day. It was sunny, and by the time we came home after work, it must have been 50 degrees. The sun was so bright, and by 6 o'clock it was already doing that late in the day thing where the colors were enhanced somehow. There must be a scientific explanation for that.

The newly discovered plant of the day was the little roadrunner trillium I got last year.
Ron, my garden helper, finished putting out the wood chips on the paths. That big pile is now all around the yard. It just came out even.

I potted up another 25 caladium, which will need to try to grow in the basement for a month.
At this point there are only about 50 to go.

Wednesday- About 20 counties in northeast Iowa have another winter weather warning. Our County, Johnson, is only in an "advisory". No snow yet as of 6am. By the definition of spring from last week, we are not there yet.


Thursday- Yo Yo weather continues. It was 55 and a wonderful sunny day. I just got my yearly order of hosta. I got 10 new plants. Now the trick will be finding any place to put them.
Absolutely no hosta has appeared in the garden at this point. That is remarkable.
Here is April 21, 2017




The blue waves of the scilla/squill are peaking. This picture was taken right by the walnut tree. This is a little area where each year I plant 10-12 pots of caladium. That means I have to dig up 10-12 gallons of dirt each year. The squill manages to fill in all those holes.





Still no daffodils in our garden, even though they have appeared around the neighborhood.


Friday
There is no winter advisory for anywhere in the state. Moreover the low temperature for the next 9 days is predicted to be 38 degrees.
Today will be the day to put outside all the seedlings I have grown since February. There are about 60 Iceland poppies, including about 3 that already have buds. I actually have a number of seedlings that have buds already.





It is still to early to actually plant potted things in the garden. One reason is that so many plants have not emerged. The hosta remain quiet. The lilium are also quiet. They are about the last to appear each year.

Saturday
A tiring day. There is so much to do in the garden. A lot involves stooping and bending over. And going up and down stairs.

These corydalis are really stealing the show.



Finally here is the first daffodil, on April 21.


Here is another panoramas.



There are actually two kinds of blue flowers now. There is the squill which is flowing all over the place. But then there is the blue chionodoxa. It is the blue flower that faces up and has a white center.




This is the pink chionodoxa.













Julia's Recipe
White Bean Chili


By the way here is  the link to the other blog with all for Julia's recipes.


Katie brought the recipe for white bean chili home from college. Actually it was more of a parts list than a recipe; Katie is an improvisational cook. I think it's helpful to have a recipe from which you can deviate, sort of a baseline. This recipe is easily vegetarian, actually vegan, depending on what kind of broth is used. This is my version of Katie's recipe, which I invite you to alter to suit your taste.

Here are the players. I started by heating 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a big enamelware pot. I added 1 cup of chopped red pepper, 1-1/2 cup chopped onion and about 1 tablespoon smushed garlic. I cooked the vegetables over medium heat until they began to soften, and then I added 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt (I used kosher), 2 teaspoons of no-salt chili powder (reduce the salt a bit if your chili powder includes salt), 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. I stirred the spices in and let the mixture cook until everything was thoroughly mixed and smelled good.


Next I added 2 cups of cooked navy beans with about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. I cooked them myself, because that's how I am. You could use two cans of store-bought navy beans or cannellini  beans (a/k/a white kidney beans). Or black beans or pinto beans but then it wouldn't be white bean chili.

If you use canned beans, drain off most of the liquid, leaving about 1/2 cup to add to the pot.

Here is the pot, looking bright and colorful after the addition of the beans.

Next I added 4 cups of chicken stock because I had chicken stock. You can use vegetable stock and then you have a tasty vegan entree.

I cooked the chili for about 20 minutes, just to let the flavors blend. I stirred in 1/4 cup of cornmeal at the 10 minute mark, as a thickener. If you were a person with some corn chips, you could crush said corn chips into crumbs and stir them in.

Just before serving, I added 2 tablespoons of lime juice, about 1 cup of roughly chopped avocado and 3 chopped scallions, both white and green parts.



Here it is in the bowl. As with so many soup-like dishes, we served the chili ladled over a spoonful of white rice. You could use orzo if you are not a rice person. Someday I will make some quinoa as I imagine it would work as a background starch thing too.

Leftovers are good, as usual, for lunch the next day.





Odds and Ends

I think I am the only person in the neighborhood that had Amaryllis outside, and about to bloom.



I wonder how late different spring milestones will be.
We finally had the first daffodil.
Now we wait for the first bloom on the star magnolia.
I wonder when the first tree peony will bloom. I do begin to see buds forming. The picture in the contest from last year was May 4.
This week we should see lots of things blooming as the accelerator should really get going.

Come by if you have a chance.
Philip