Sunday, March 12, 2017

Week 15- March 15, 2017-What happened to Spring?

Spring can be a tease. It has been warm for long enough that we are spoiled. There are lots of plants coming up all over the garden. The list of blooming spring bulbs is growing. There are snowdrops and aconite and crocuses. The little blue squill have started. There was a little reticulata iris that showed up in the cold on Friday. Around the neighborhood, in protected areas, there are daffodils blooming.
Are you sitting down? Yesterday on our neighborhood walk.... there was blooming forsythia.

How is this for a cheerful picture? (The yellow flower is the winter aconite.)

So now it goes and gets cold again. Now cold means 32, with a low of 16. Everyone would not mind those temperatures for much of the winter. But it is not winter. Where are those 60 degree temperatures from a week ago, or two weeks ago.

Spring will come back. We just have to wait a little. There are seedlings in the basement that need transplanting to bigger pots.

In the contest...

Last week the winner was...the Night Blooming Cereus.
I am so glad that people like the picture of this plant. It is sort of like the secret flower in the garden. Hardly anyone ever sees it live, if you know what I mean.
This picture advances to the  finals in one week.

The full voting was
Night Blooming Cereus  26
Toad Lily  14
Red Zinnia  11
Yellow Coneflower   7

This week's contest
This week you will select the last finalist. The finals will be in one week.

#1 Columbine (May 21, 2016) (Week 9)

I love the details on this picture.  The flower parts make a shadow on the petals. There is that sparkle that can appear on some flowers. Then of course there is the whole blue and white thing.

#2   Daylily chorus (July 24, 2016) (Week 12)

Daylily flowers bloom for only one day. But an established plant can have hundreds of flowers spread out over 2-3 weeks. The are many opportunities for group pictures. Yellow is good.

#3 Cactus (July 1, 2016) (Week 4)
This cactus is rather special. For one thing it lets you know weeks ahead of time that it is coming.
I preferred this single flower picture to the group shot. Then of course there is that back lighting.  I could not have intentionally planned that. Sometimes wonderful things just show up.
Unlike the Night Blooming Cereus this flower will last for most of the day. It does open up about 9-10pm, like the NBC.

#4 Red Coneflower (June 25, 2016) (week 1)

Red. Wonderful red. As I observed last week, how good would this red flower go with the yellow coneflower. Imagine lots of them in combination.
You selected this picture way back at the beginning of December. This was the winner in the first week of the contest. How long ago was that?
Can the color red advance to the final finals in one week? You make the choice.

Bonus Pictures
Let us go live to the spring garden this week.
I do write this as the pond is freezing over and there is snow in the forecast.

These are tommasinianus crocuses that come up first. They come in different shades of purple. They really do spread.
I am told they do not taste good. This is in contrast with the later and more colorful crocuses.

Bad taste seems to be a survival technique, at least when it comes to plants.

There can be a nice combination at the moment with the snowdrops, the aconite, and the crocuses.

More crocuses. I wish the sun had been out.

Here is a good picture of the two types of these tommasinianus

This might be one of my favorite pictures this spring. I have a few of these decorative blocks around the bed where there are many crocuses at the moment. And no, I do not know where the bulb is.

The aconite do make almost a carpet at times.

I blew up this next picture so you could see all the generations of aconite. I assume those little tiny guys are from last year's seeds.
I do like the occasional leaf, as a contrasting color.

Which is what you think about when these bulbs pop up. I should have the entire garden look like this.

This was the most recent arrival. It probably is a more tasty crocus.
Quietly I say that I have not yet seen much bunny damage.

In this picture you can see the little blue squill starting to appear. At the bloom, near the rock, is a clump of the Crown Imperial fritillaria.

This is the little reticulata iris that bloomed on Friday.

Lentil Soup
by Julia Mears

Lentil soup is a basic foodstuff and also a variable one - it can be adapted in a number of ways to fit food preferences and what is on hand. Earlier this week, we had a vegetarian version, with grilled cheese sandwiches and cole slaw. A very nice meatless meal.

I started with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the big red enamel pot. I added one cup of chopped onion, about 3/4 cups sliced carrots and about 3/4 cup of sliced celery plus 1-1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

If you don't like celery (and I know some people who don't), leave it out and/or use some chopped red or green pepper instead.

Chopping vegetables.

I cooked the vegetables for about 7 or 8 minutes on medium heat until the onions were translucent.

Then I added 1 cup of regular green lentils and one 15 oz can of diced tomatoes. I have use other kinds of lentils - yellow, orange, even French. They all work just fine. Then I added 2 cartons (32 oz each) of vegetable broth (using a bit of the broth to rinse out the diced tomato can). I brought the soup to a boil, reduced the heat so it would simmer and let it cook until the lentils were done - about 30 minutes.

Then I added about 2 cups of leftover rice and about 2 cups of leftover green beans from the refrigerator and heated them up. Just before serving, I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar to zip it up, and it was soup.

There are variations. You can use pasta instead of rice. I like little pasta like alphabets or orzo or big cous cous. Add about 3/4 cup when you add the broth (if the pasta is uncooked) or at the end if it is cooked.

You can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. You can add diced ham or sliced up sausage (like Kielbasa). I suppose you could add leftover diced up chicken if you had some on hand. You could start with 3 or 4 slices of bacon instead of olive oil, removing the bacon from the pot after it cooked and crumbling it up and adding it back to the soup at the end. And you can add other vegetables. We have added leftover corn when we have leftover corn (instead of beans). You could shred up a little cabbage or kale or slice up a zucchini.  Options!

Odds and Ends

We went to Chicago to visits Julia's family last weekend. We stopped at Hauserman's orchid nursery. They were having an event, which made it even more special (and crowded.)
There are over 3 acres of greenhouses filled with just orchids, of all kinds.
Here is a little cattleya I had to get when I saw that color.

I am busy moving seedlings up to bigger pots.
That is one advantage of the cold.
Maybe by next weekend some of those seedlings, still in pots, can spend some time outside.

Garden note- Some of my garden beds are wall to wall bulbs, with hosta coming later. Planting anything where there are bulbs can disturb them, even though it will not be as much as you would think. I would not want to plant lots of annuals where all these bulbs live.
One solution is to liberally plant things in pots, and put the pots on top of the bulb area. I put out some of my caladium for example in pots. Actually the cactuses live all year in pots and go outside. So do the jade plants, and the clivia.

Please note, that as I try to be positive, I have not commented on daylight savings time.

In the meantime, stay warm.

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