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Archive for May, 2012

My world doesn’t abide by standard 9 to 5 rules.  I run a small business, work as a freelance graphic artist, and have a large crazy dog who needs more supervision and attention than a 9 to 5 family could provide.  (Boy did he luck out finding suckers like us!)  In addition, the Hubby works four nights a week, so much of our quality time happens in the afternoon.  Rather than having a nice dinner out once a week, which seems to be the American norm, we tend to do lunch out instead.

For us, eating lunch out is actually quite nice.  Unlike 9to5ers, we are generally not in a hurry during lunch.  We aren’t running out between phone conferences, grabbing the fastest thing on the block.  We don’t have business meetings over lunch–there are no laptops and no sales pitches.  Instead, we have the luxury to take our time and read the paper, maybe do the crossword puzzle.  Our tabs tend to be pretty low, since we aren’t tempted by the wine list, and since lunch is served in smaller portions, it’s cheaper. Often we spend less on lunch out than we would have spent buying lunch fixings at the grocery store.  It’s also a great way to try that trendy new spot you have been curious about, or that crazy ethnic restaurant with the menu you can’t pronounce (the one you are a little afraid of, but still intrigued by) without blowing a lot of money or time on dinner.  I am a big fan of lunch.

On the days when we eat at home, however, our fallback plan is sandwiches. (more…)

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Peas

Pea Plants ~ about a month old

Are We There Yet?

I know.  I said planting day wouldn’t be until at least the weekend after Mother’s Day.  I said that.  I did.  However.  This unusually warm spring has got me thinking that it might be OK to bump planting day up a bit.  This weekend looks like it might be a little on the cool side, but next week looks exactly right for planting.  If you aren’t ready, no worries!  You will still be on schedule if you wait a couple of weeks.  However, if you are itching to get your hands dirty (like I am), I don’t want you waiting on me to do it.

There are still a few plants that should probably wait.  Summer squash hates to be cold, and besides, we planted all of those cool-season greens in our squash bed, so let’s hold off on those.  Cucumbers and corn are other plants that like really warm weather—let’s wait to put those guys into the ground until later in the month.  Check the back of your seed packets—if they indicate that you should wait until 1 to 2 weeks after the average last frost, wait a week or two before planting them.  I know, we haven’t had a frost for a couple of weeks, so technically it probably already is 1 to 2 weeks after the last frost.  However, May nights can (and are supposed to) still get down into the low 40s, and some plants just don’t like the cold, even if there isn’t a freeze. (more…)

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Tomato Seedlings

Next destination: the garden!

You have babied your indoor seedlings for almost two months.  You have watered, turned, and maybe even talked to them.  They are still tiny little guys—far too small and immature to face the harsh reality of The World.  Or are they?  Those little guys might look feeble and fragile, but they are ready to take the next step in life:  Hardening Off.

It might sound just a bit naughty, but the process of hardening off is simply gradually introducing seedlings to the outdoors.  If they are thrust at once into unpredictable and varied outdoor conditions after being grown in a controlled indoor climate, young seedlings can easily go into shock and die.  You’ve spent a lot of time growing your babies from seed—don’t blow it now!

Hardening off should be done over a one to two week period of time.  Below is a timeline for one week—if you start the process this Saturday, you will be ready to plant next Saturday.  If you have more time to harden your plants off, even better.  Just adjust the timeline accordingly, letting your seedlings spend more and more time outside each day.

Day 1:  Start hardening your seedlings off on a day where you will have temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, with little or no wind.  Put your seedlings in a shaded, well protected place for 4-6 hours, then bring them back in before it gets dark.

Day 2:  Same as day one, but leave them out 6-8 hours, or even a little longer.

Day 3:  Put them out in the shade in the morning, and bring them in when the sun goes down.

Day 4:  Start in the sun (preferably in the spot where you will plant them) during the cooler part of the morning, then move them into shade during the hottest part of the day.  Move them back out into the sun as it cools off in the evening.

Day 5:  Start them in the sun.  If the temperature gets up above 80, move them into the shade.  If not, let them get sun!  Bring them in when the sun goes down or if the temperature goes below 50.

Day 6:  Leave them out in the sun all day, and bring them inside right before you go to bed.

Day 7:  First thing in the morning, take them out to the spot where you will be planting them, and leave them for 24 hours.

Day 8:  Plant!

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