Jan 21, 2017

A Few Winter Musings

A Few Winter Musings

Still in the teens or single digits at night but the house is a warm and very welcome refuge - much like caves and hollow logs must have seemed to those who came a few years before us. But, just because there are a few feet of snow on the ground, and the air rings like a cathedral bell when you talk [aloud to yourself of course] doesn’t mean we cannot get a ‘head-start’ on the planting season. Several seed exchanges are in progress, but already a variety of pentstemon seeds have arrived. Nine species of those received will germinate much better if they are stratified for 8-12 weeks prior to actual planting, and that is what I am preparing them for in the photos. The seedling plants are Morina longifolia, a Himalayan plant, and they are growing much faster than I would prefer. I grew several from seed four or five years ago but as their mature leaves look much like those of a thistle someone else (related by marriage) weeded them out before they had a chance to bloom. The one surviving plant blooms yearly, and this year I managed to collect ten seeds, of which nine germinated (kudos for fresh seed). Had I been more attentive I might have harvested many dozens, but with several hundred plants to keep track of I excuse myself for my negligence) - those in the (out of focus) picture. Hoping some of the hybridized rhododendrons seedlings I have been growing for the last four+ years have survived this cold spell and will blossom this spring so I can make selections, and then compost the rest. Damn, these things take so long to produce results I sometimes wish I was fifty years younger, or even just fifty? And, wondering what was making that 'tap-tap-tap' outside my window I opened the curtain.

Seeds, damp sand/vermiculate, and a few months in the refrigerator


Morina longifolia

Tap-tap-tap (screen ripped by falling ice)

The Snow Continues

A metal roof on a house has some advantages, especially in places that experience reasonable - even unreasonable - snowfall every year, but, when the temperature remains in the single digits day after day after day, the snow continues to accumulate, and, when the thermometer finally creeps above freezing for a few hours the entire mass is released. Today the avalanche ripped off our rain gutters and flattened one of the bedroom deck railings. At least I now have a few springtime projects to look forward to. We now have to step up a foot or so when we leave the house. I shake my fist at the sky and say: bring it on, I love you.

Staying healthy

Today, January 21,2017

So, what does one do when the weather outside is not conducive to outside activity (unless you include chipping ice off the approach to our front porch). You keep planting seeds (rhododendron and primula today) and, bake bread!
While not as straight forward as making most breads I love the texture and flavor of ciabatta. Made the biga yesterday afternoon and continued with the process this morning. Although not as brown as I would like (I blame that on using ‘pure convection bake’) they turned out looking presentable, and as soon as I post this I’m going to grab a pound of butter and put the bread to the ultimate test.
Oh, and the Morina are coming along nicely.

Making the biga


Morina, transplanted

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