Monday, November 30, 2009

And we're back! Family time means plant trade hoe-down!

I am so lucky to have married in to such an awesomely plant entranced family!

Every visit means we all talk gardenshop, sip alcohol and haul out from our cars a miniature nursery of "extras" we wish to integrate within each others' gardens.  Pity one of the family lives in a tiny apartment with little light, but does that stop us from schlepping plants off onto him? No!  He'll just have to graciously deal, take in the ornamental pepper baby I gave him and try to figure out how to keep it alive despite his protests of "No light! No light!"

Ha, the big baby :)

Really, I'm not that overbearing! I swear! (I just have too many plants and feel less guilty about giving them to others rather than sending them to the composter!)

My mum in law had some extra raspberry plants to replace my rotted and dead ones (damn drainage issues) and also gave me cuttings of this interesting succulent:

That she calls an elephant cactus, but all internet searches seem to disagree with this name.  It reminds me sort of of a cross between a Christmas cactus and a Queen of the Night plant (as it roots randomly at various nodes and has a similar texture leaf, just serrated here).   Spiffy nonetheless and though it breaks with my edible tradition, I can't say no to interesting plants and this will keep me through the winter until spring where I can place it outside for the wolves! Just kidding.  I meant, just until spring where I can neglect it a little until I'll need it again in the winter like a baby needs its bobby.

My sis in law gave me random cuttings of hardy fig from a neighbor of hers, so that was splendid as I managed to kill mine this past spring.  (Well, I would rather not say it was my fault, it was the fig's fault for not being tough enough.  I was told that it was hardy enough for this area!)  So as she lives in a bit chillier of a location than mine and she states this fig is quite happy where she is, we'll assume that this one will survive ("... as long as I know how to love/I know I will stay alive."  this song just keeps popping up in my head when plants are involved!)

One impulse buy did occur at a garden store we went to this holiday:

A Hindu rope (Hoya Carnosa)!  To me, this was very spectacular plant (not edible either, dangit! Help! I'm losing my resolve for only edibles!) This was so unusual and exciting to me and I thought the husband would be amused by it too that I just bought it.  For $8, I figured why not?

Upon further inspection in the car I noticed it had some hirsute growing tips:

 and I sort of exclaimed out loud to my Mother & aunt & sister in laws, "Weird! It has some hairy bits on it! Wait, that sounded wrong."  Big grins all around luckily... I've been known to make inappropriate comments (because I can't keep my big mouth shut) and am still learning that thing called tact.

Anyways, friend in law watered my plants well while I was gone and nothing has died, though one appears to be on its way, but it looked as though it might prior to this trip anyways.  Speaking of which, I am waiting for said friend to write me a birthday column on why he doesn't do plants typically unless I ask him to care for mine while I am gone.  Prepare to read his plant bile soon-ish!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

(Stupid post) Garden Lusts: Practical Version

(I am on holiday and as the family and I do Thanksgiving/Christmas wrapped all together, the subject matter is a little focused on gift-age here)

Pardon this bit of drivel, but I figured I can inspire some people's holiday gift lists.  I know I don't NEED any of these things, make do with what I got, but damn, some of these things are pieces of art and not just tools!

Darn, darn the odd blog that injects some sort of wonderful garden item into my mind that I think:

"Oooh. And it's useful too. So, it's not just an expensive garden item/tool. It's PRACTICAL."

And that is the magic word: practical

It seems LESS irrational to want to spend $130-145 on a watering can if it will last you all your life:
Haw's watering cans (look at that handle! and the removeable rose! ).  I feel like some men who adore cars about this watering can!

This is what mine looks like now: :(

or howabout this, $65 on pruners (because the blades can be resharpened! All of the other moving parts are SOLID)

And finally, I have recently encountered this site:

And did another, "OOH!"

and then "NO!!!!!!" Darn you British and your garden loving far away-ness!

and now all I can think is, "THANK GOODNESS."

and pretend I didn't see that and glad I'm too cheap to pay for shipping and not go broke on garden lusts, no matter how practical.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cut and Come Again! Hail the regrowing vegetable!

You gotta love a vegetable that will take your scissor-y vengeance and reward you by saying, "HA! Look at me!"  and burst into song with disco thumping in the background:

"... I will survive
as long as I know how to grow again
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my chlorophyll to give
and I'll survive
I will survive

Hey! Hey!"

Winter gardening is so exciting and adventurous feeling!  It makes me feel like some Swiss Alps Mountaineer Gardener!

Growing tomatoes in the fall/winter is adventurous if you don't have a greenhouse, but in all reality, there are some super hardy greens and plants that just happen to be rather frost tolerant (to an extent of course) and don't leave you in the cold in terms of growth or taste!

My husband is not a fan of bland lettuces, and we tend to like it spicy here when we're freezing are little toes off so we stick with variety of kales and mustards in our salads and cooking for a bit of kick to warm us up.

Some well known cool weather "cut and come again" greens/plants include:

-Arugula (too bitter for the man here.  Bah, he doesn't know what tough is! :)
-Various Mustards such as: mizuna, tatsoi, india, purple wave, etc. (it's a hardy family!)
-Greens considered weeds (dandelions, lamb's quarters/corn salad/mache, chicory)
-Pak choi (Chinese cabbage)
-Gourmet greens: escarole, endive, radicchio
-Swiss chards
-certain spinach varieties
-beet leaves
-radish leaves
-miner's lettuce
-Some varieties of cauliflower and broccoli (if you cut off the main flowerhead, smaller shoots can form heads off to the side)

Many of these plants are eaten young before they get too bitter or tough, though are still edible at a more mature state;  a little cooking is just needed to make them more palatable.

As a great amount are of these plants' consist of are leaves, it's highly suggested to foliar feed them every other week especially as you will be cutting them constantly and need to make up for the loss of energy producing chlorophyll filled cells you're taking from the plant.

It's best  not to go plucking mad when you harvest your greens because you don't want to end up pulling up the shallow roots.  So use some sharp cutting scissor rather than a machete because whacking your greens to pieces is not going to earn you any points when it comes to them growing back.  It's not brain surgery, but you'll want to cut your greens (if they are the loose leaf type) at lowest an end above the ground to ensure you don't cut the growing tip and then no more deliciousness!

Like anything, you can wear a good thing out and it's suggested for the lettuces (and we'll see about my kales and mustards) that you should re-seed every other week to ensure continual harvests.  If you are planning to grow a nice variety of plants and greens I suggest you grow them in their own separate areas so that when you do harvest you make it easier on yourself and able to insure that you cutting them at a good height for future harvests to grow.  Mixing spoon shaped leaves tatsoi with frilly kales for example would make this difficult.

Don't  be put off if you think it's too late to grow these plants outside.  Many of them are germinate quite well actually in cool weather and to further shoot down any excuses, there's always indoor windowbox gardening!

Helpful Links:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tall plants getting you down? You need to give them a stiff drink!

As we are getting close to the forced amaryllis and narcissus bulb season I wanted to put this cool trick out.  Lots of you probably already know it but if you don't--- I can't help it, I just love spreading this info around!
If you weren't aware, certain plants, best with bulbs such as tulips and narcissus, grow rather tall and floppy and need to be staked.  You can avoid the staking part by giving your plants some holiday libations and let them enjoy the season with you!

Alcohol such as hard liquors (whiskey, gin, vodka, etc) at a no higher than 6% solution in water keeps the plants short and stumpy without affecting foliage size or fragrance.  It also may increase your plants longevity!

Cheers, mon cheri narcissus!

If you don't want to spare the good stuff on your plants you can use rubbing alcohol rather than that 20 year aged scotch or something.  Just don't give the plants beer or wine because the sugars mess with their systems.  Save that stuff for the fruit flies or slugs!

I suppose there's a lot of love for me for this because I'm short, about 5'2" and the fact that some people want a little compact being rather than a leggy supermodel plant *jealousy* warms my heart (j/k).

Link of the science:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunshine and lolly-pops...

Going a bit nuts getting things prepared for impending closer to Thirty-ness n' family n' stuff as we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas all as one holiday (so difficult when you only get to be with them about once a year at major holidays!)

Anyways, allow me distract you with this:

It was a pretty day and I felt like taking some art shots with the squirrel sown sunflowers.

It always seems like there are a million pics of sunflowers in their namesake yellow petaled glory, so I felt like bucking the trend and taking some intimate pics of them in bud or just prior to them bursting open.

I know a bunch of these look really similar but if you click on the pics and blow them up there are subtle differences that I like.

The slight open buds make me think of slightly pinched faces and I love the curved tendril-iness of the sepals and small little hairs.

This one is a bit off kilter, but I figured it would make a nice desktop background if anyone was interested.

A little "cold" filter on a couple just for contrast made it look frosty indeed and I liked the effect a lot!

Hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Me vs. the flies/gnats, who will win this winter?

The influx of plants coming outdoors in has attracted other visitors that dampen the cheeriness of my indoor jungle world:

 fruit flies/fungus gnats!

I'd like to believe that I am Zen enough to handle these annoying little winged ones, but after finding 3 flies in your tea a person is bound to get somewhat annoyed, so it's time to go fly trapping.

Many of these flies I surmise are actually fungus gnats  rather than fruit flies because I always have this problem in the fall/winter when the plants come in and they are harder for me to control compared to the fruit flies that make their home in my compost pail.  As the links show, you can distinguish the two readily by their squished abdomens (unless you have pretty good eyesight when they're buzzing around or can catch them when one's actually settled down).  The gnats have a darker slightly pointed end abdomen and the fruit flies' are lighter and rounded.

The issue with the fungus gnat is that it is somewhat difficult to control because they lay their eggs in the soil that is damp and unless you keep only desert plants they seem to be quite happy in general houseplant conditions.  So I find elimination difficult and for me, the best I can do is simply control them.

Though the flying adult gnats are a pain, it's really the larvae that are the biggest issue as they feed on plant roots and can weaken them though generally won't kill a plant outright, who wants buggy weakened plants?

If you see the gnats hanging around and want to see if any of your plants have larvae, you can water the plant very well until you get a little pooling on top.  If you see tiny swimming whitish-clear things floating about, you've probably got gnat larvae and will need to treat and prevent.

Some general methods to keep the fungus gnats from taking over:

(1)  Allow soil to dry out between watering.  I hate having to water each individual plant at different times, but as they all have different needs in terms of watering and are of different sizes/pot boundedness (terrible I know, saving up for more pots!), it's important to water them only as needed.  This will also keep down the general issue of overwatering/root rot most people have.

(2)  Prevent the adult gnats from laying their eggs in general by covering the soil layer will small pebbles (my method), or sand (someone swears by their plants on this).  Others say that a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth   is a good preventative as the larvae will be injured and die from the sharp material, but as it is expensive and people and pets can potentially be harmed breathing it in I don't use it.  The pebbles and sand will make it very difficult for the adults to find openings to the soil to lay their eggs as well make it difficult for the larvae to eggs easily as adults.  I've heard that the sand can potentially injure and kill soil emerging adults too like diatomaceous earth.

(3)   Neem oil/water drenches seem to make a bit of a difference in killing the larvae/eggs.  The only issue is making sure you can cover the entire area well to get to all the crevices eggs or larvae might be hiding.

(4)  Avoid soil mixes with woody bits or wood mulches in your household plants (hard to do and even I am unable to do this entirely).  These mixes/mulches can harbor the gnat eggs from the start.  As many of my plants were outside much of the year, they probably picked it up there and despite my prior treatments before bringing the plants indoors, you can imagine gnats probably breed faster than bunnies even with only a few around.

(5)   You can trap the larvae like slugs with potato pieces and discard the pieces as they become infested with larvae.  It's not a complete cure but it makes a dent in the adult fly populations.

(6)  As with many bugs, the colors yellow and red are attractive and if you use vaseline/petroleum jelly, smear a good amount of the greasy stuff on something red or yellow you aren't a huge fan and wait for flies to get stuck on it.  Then wipe/rinse and repeat! I don't use vaseline and the like, so maybe honey might do?

(7)  You can also build a trap using a small mouth container (beer bottles or cans usually for me) filled with part way some sort of sweet liquid such as beer or red wine (the red color and sugar is helpful), juice, sugar/yeast or a combination of those and and make a paper funnel on top to attract and capture the flies/gnats.

(Tunnel of Death for the gnats/flies!)

(Kirkland beer, pretty good, gnat/flies approve too)

A shallow dish of the stuff works too but I don't know if these gnats are Houdinis and easily escape from those or fall in and drown easily, though I've been very successful capturing flies/gnats this way too:

Just a note to check up on these containers every so often because they are a great place for mold to grow (very beautiful looking blue-green mold I'd like to add) and to make sure that it's not in a location a pet can get to.  My dog found a can of it one day after it became a home to mold too and she had a puke-fest for a day thereafter.  Joy.

Helpful links:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lightness and Mirth

This wasn't intended to be all Mr. Subjunctive-y (with his obsession of taking his header photos from light filtered leaves) but the light passing through the plants' leaves near my windowsill was rather lovely and I thought I'd like to share:

This is my new black pearl ornamental pepper.  Gorgeous black-purple leaves on the top surface, but through the light, the underneath surface is beautifully green and purple-red spotted.

Maybe it's just me but I love the background effect.  Maybe you just need to be there to understand :)

Will need to cook some "faux"-ake Asian food like Kung pao chicken with these fiery little peppers!

This setcreasea pallida-like plant is gorgeous on its own, but with this extra light it's wonderful seeing all the details of color, purple-pink, browns and gold:

The light off the hairy leaves is pretty cool too.  Reminds me of some sort of alien bunny rabbit ears.

Well, I've shared the light part of this posting, here is some mirth:
My wife's a water sign.  I'm an earth sign.
Together we make mud.
-  Rodney Dangerfield 

Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.
-   Lou Erickson

*The real meaning of plant catalog terminology:
"Carefree" refers more to the plant's attitude than to your workload.
"Vigorous" is code for "has a Napoleonic compulsion to take over the world."
"Grandma's Favorite" -- until she discovered free-flowering, disease-resistant hybrids.
 "A favorite of birds" means to avoid planting near cars, sidewalks, or clotheslines.

Those were just a few I liked that I wanted to share from this site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Woohoo! Randomness: The Revolution will be Cultivated? Why yes I am!

I just received my prizes for participating in Gayla Trail's "Seven Things" challenge at her amazing website, You Grow Girl, from a little while back!

When I saw the word "cultivated" on "The Revolution will be Cultivated" big button, immediately springing to mind for me were Hugh Hefner-esque smoking jackets, cravats and a glasses of scotch. 

Obviously the "cultivated" here is related plant-wise, but I guess my mind runs in weird tangents. 

So, here I am modeling the buttons on a big ol'sun/gardening hat, a smoking jacket like thing, black scarf and a glass of... um, "apple juice" yeah... I think a cigar would have made it better, but I don't smoke, so no cigar :)  Instead of diamond studded stick-pin that might adorn a cravat I found a random sparkly flower pin I had laying around.  I think fezs are typically coupled with smoking jackets ( I know, I'm a nut!  I think it's a Shriner thing?) but the wide brim of a sun hat seemed more appropriate.
My husband was a little weirded out though because he thought that the phrase was based off of one of these two things.

So if I've made a terrible political statement faux-pas, many pardons, I just can't help myself!

Also, Thanks again Gayla! As usual, you're the best!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gathering seed pods

Gathering the seeds of okra and beans is so satisfying for a lazy gardener such as myself.

Just let the stuff dry on the stem/vine and pop them off store, label and save!

Here's some okra pods looking great and harlequin-esque:

It's really cool when they dry because when they're ready to be gathered they typically split open at each edge.

You may need to be careful when the weather is rainy though because water can seep in and cause the seed case/seeds to mold within and then the seeds you so lovingly wanted for next year might be diseased or nonviable.  Toss all moldy seeds you might find while gathering, or even whole pods if it looks pretty dire.

Okra seeds are great because there are so many seeds within one pod.  Each "line" or section of the pod has a long row of seeds in it and if you allow them to grow, ripen and dry completely on the stalk you are definitely assured more seed that you'll probably need.  I have at least 15 of these pods dry and happy on various stalks.               
Same goes with beans and peas:


(well, ok I haven't saved my pea seeds yet because I grow so many varieties near each other that I am all worried and Gregor Mendeled-out about them, being pretty sure I won't get something true if I were to save and plant them, but I'm probably just being paranoid). 

Gah, those square genetics tables!   They're coming back to haunt me!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Tummy full of Turmeric keeps the doctor away!

Sweet holiday season, where has the time gone?!

Pardon the slight delay in getting this post to you, I am busily crafting away in the name of holiday goodness, but apologies here mean excuses so on to plant-y goodness!


I'm a big fan of grocery store gardening, where you take produce from the grocery store and grow your own.  I've done this with tomatoes, peppers, papaya, ginger and avocados, but not the ubiquitous pineapple yet.  For some reason I have not found the need/I hear it takes a very long time and I'm not a huge fan of pineapple foliage much anyway.

International grocery stores are my particular brand of candy store.  There's a great variety of foods and everything is so gosh darn fresh that growing produce from the produce is relatively simple.

Being a fan of Indian food I was intrigued when I came upon this:


I've only encountered turmeric in its dried bright orange-yellow powder form and so to find it fresh was exciting to me as we all know fresh vs. dried spices are different experiences.

As I had read somewhere that turmeric is in the same family as ginger and I definitely know ginger is an easy plant to grow/propagate, I decided I wanted to give this a try and see what the spice was like fresh.

Same when I choose pieces of ginger to propagate, look for only the fattest non-blemished pieces you can find with lots of "buds" (those sort of tumor-growth projectile looking things) and if you can find some looking a little green excellent!  I only got enough for planting a small pot I realized later (I'll go back and get more another time for cooking) but I broke off a little piece to take a taste of.

The outside of turmeric is a little more papery skinned than ginger; maybe mine was a little older but it reminded me a bit of an onion with the obvious less layers.  The inside was bright orange like a carrot/sweet potato but crisp, and more fragile than a carrot's texture to me.  The flavor, well, it was sort of like a just slightly bitter carroty icy-hot.  I know, that sounds palatable.  Not amazing, but still intriguing and it's not as though we go around chewing on cinnamon sticks either.  Well, I don't at least.

I left the little turmeric roots alone for a couple of days to allow the bud I broke off to nosh on heal up.  I've planted ginger in haste after having just cut or broken bits off and if you don't let it heal/"scar up" and dry, little nasty organisms or nematodes and other such things will just invade and cause your root to rot and die and all you'll find later is this sad husk of ginger root and you'll be equally sad too.

As I do with ginger, I planted them bud side up, about an inch to half an inch below the soil level of the pot I planned out, watered the roots thoroughly and now it's just a waiting game.

I may up the humidity and heat of the pot by getting a clear plastic bag, inflating it a bit with my breath and rubber-banding it around the top, but I think it's warm enough around here that they'll thrive well.

I'll update you on how things go.  It would be pretty spiffy if I can get it to flower!  From the pics I've seen (and you'll see in the links below) the foliage looks kind of canna-like and the flowers a weird mixture of bromeliad and bells of Ireland!?!

Links about turmeric, its benefits, propagation and recipes:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Composting pet poo?

My not so brilliant dog, Cori, posing for this question: Would you compost my poo?

We try try try to compost/recycle whatever possible here and the knowledge that this is available/can be made:

is intriguing yet frightening at the same time.  (Also, a $100?! Seriously?!?!)

If you want to get real science fiction here's this version... for $400:

 I feel guilty using little plastic newspaper baggies (I know, I know I get a newspaper... tree killer!) but the paper is helpful and I recycle/reuse it!) to pick up the dog's poo, but the idea of it being somewhat hermetically sealed in a knotted off baggie in the middle of a landfill does not make me feel great, but the idea of have that stinkiness still around the yard is plenty enough to send me running.

I know that techically it should stop smelling when it composts down and you can seal it well enough so that no "aromas" leak out, but still there's that ick factor.

As my dog won't do it in our yard, we'd still have to use something to transport the stuff for a good distance if I even if I really wanted to consider composting my dog's poo.

Most of the sites tend to mention not to use this stuff on/in your vegetable gardens because of the uncertainty that the e. coli will break down, so that might be problematic as well since I have very few things I grow that I don't eat.

Hmmm... oak tree want some doggy compost?  Bet the squirrels would love that.

This ironic question pops up of course: "why are we composting our dog's poo and not ours?"

Sadly we don't have a composting toilet or gray water system as sweet as a setup like that would be, and we're really iffy on doing that as we don't plan to be here for a real long time, so that cost thing is rough.  UNLESS, we build an outhouse.  Ok, no.  I already whimper when I have to enter our cold bathroom in the winter, let's not have frozen tears going on when I just want to tinkle.

(eek, too much info...I have a  bad tendency for that..)

Anyhow, interesting questions and I leave you with a tutorial on how to build one of your own, using an "in the ground method:"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Blog as my Confessional: I'm technically part of a city beautification board >_<

This post is inspired randomly because I received an email telling me that I needed to sign up again to be part of the city beautification board.

Yes, techinically I am part of the beautification board of my city.

I originally signed up for the environmental board, because, I dunno I feel like it's a bigger deal to me to teach sustainability and help people grow, reduce, reuse and recycle and whatnot more than making things pretty around here, because it's darn pretty for the most part already.  When you sign up you have to choose another board to potentially be on if they don't have room for you in the one you wanted, so I chose beautification... blah, mistake.

So as you might have surmise, I was rejected by the enviros and placed on the beautification board which I thought about doing, but really really really didn't want to do because, man, if you looked at my yard you won't see real pretty and orderly (which is what they do a lot of here) but you will  see lots of environmentally friendly practices!

Anyways, I missed the first meeting (I was busy!) and then the next one... and the ones thereafter and continued to keep getting these infernal emails about the beautification board meetings and one great one that involved some sort of odd political war between some members which was at least some fantastic drama to read.

I attempted to explain a few times to them that I really needed to be taken off this list but none of the email addresses I tried would work.

So I gave up and now I am just RELIEVED that this stuff is nearly over.

I kind of want to try signing up again for the environmental board and get all involved in my community but I'm feeling a little disenchanted.  Maybe I'm just grumpy, the holiday season gets me that way :)

Whew! Good to get that off my chest!  Hopefully no one is on a beautification board and is insulted by my comments! *ducks, hides!*

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Most expensive spice in the world? Check! Got it.

I love a good surprise and it's beyond me how I forgot about these, but being so busy as of late I didn't notice the grassy green leaves of my bulbs until these popped out:

Oh yeah!  The gem of my flower/herb garden, saffron!  This is only  my second year growing it and I keep forgetting that these guys are autumn blooming crocuses, rather than the common spring type I am used to seeing.

This plant/herb/flower should have been part of my "You Grow Girl- 7 things Meme" entry but I guess my brain had taken a bit of a hiatus.  It's hard to remember the plants when they die so quickly!  Then again, it's sad to forget that you own a plant that produces such a costly spice...

Naturally I don't have saffron plantation here, but I do grow enough that fills this tiny jar that originally contained saffron in it, found at a TJ Maxx (gotta love that store).  I get enough saffron to make a couple to few dishes a year, and it's satisfying enough that way, though I really wish these guys would get around to making some babies! ;)

Minus a pinch, yep, that's my haul so far this year.

I experimented with planting by placing some in the south facing part of my house and another set in the herb garden more west(ish) facing.  They were planted straight in the ground with some rocks/pebbles surrounding them to deter moles and the like as well to improve drainage as this Mediterranean plant likes things relatively dry especially in the summer.

I had 2 pots which I planted a few bulbs in each only to have them rot on me.  I swear they had good drainage!  I blame... myself, I probably overwatered them somehow.  Either way, I just recall looking for them in the pot when the rest had bloomed only to find some sad papery husks.  Sort of spooky actually.

When the saffron blooms and these red stigmas used as the spice trail out, I have a slight giddy moment imagining all the delicious food in store with it, but also I'm a little peeved because there is very little time available for good harvesting.  You can't just wait around, you have to harvest right after they open or all your work is for naught because that highly aromatic scent will go away quickly or at least quicker than crocus flower begin to start looking very un-pretty, meaning very fast to a day.

Some great super easy and I personally think fantastic dishes to make with saffron (other than paella, which I still need to attempt)  are a Moroccan chicken with sweet potatoes and couscous; and some some reason I can't find the recipe but it's a combination of crush tomato sauce, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, olive oil, crusty dry stale bread, fresh garlic and saffron all mixed together until it's like a thick bolognese sauce, except vegetarian.  Serve that combo with pasta and you'll be in heaven especially if you are a fan of garlic!

Though saffron spice itself is relatively expensive, the bulbs are not too bad, about a dollar a bulb or little less. For the plant-i-tude, show of vibrant purple color, cute leaves and delicious food you can make from it, I think it's worth it!

Due to it being such a costly spice, buying it from un-qualified sources, (ok, like open air markets), is a complete caveat emptor.  Adulterated saffron is common, with people using colored threads to other flower petals/stigmas as fillers.  Also, if you see something called "poor man's saffron," stay away and just go get yourself some marigolds and use the flower petals, because that's what "poor man's saffron" is.

Note too, other than the saffron crocuses, it is highly suggested that you don't nosh on any other varieties because it is well known that many crocuses are poisonous.  Saffron has been cultivated and breed into this current state for civilizations to produce these specific stigmas.  There's no real good substitution for the real thing and why not be certain you are getting the purest, freshest thing straight from your yard?

Here are a few links as to where you can purchase saffron crocus bulbs and nifty information especially on the wikipedia page about mini-wars that occurred over saffron!
Did I mention I will totally name my first born girl Saffron?  (For those Firefly fans out there, don't laugh)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Winner(s) of my 100+ post Giveaway! *wink*

Hi all!

I wanted to thank you all once again for your comments and readership and have decided (as crazy as this is) I will give EVERYONE (except one person) 3 homemade tags with the caveat that it may take a bit of time for me to get them to you (*cross fingers before Christmas*) because I am hella busy, but still want to show you all my appreciation!

The one person who's NOT getting the 3 tags is:

BECAUSE she was the one who I ended up actually drawing from the hat and will get her set of 8 tags as soon as she sends me her address and then I can send them out immediately.  Wohoo!

So, if you commented on the tag giveaway, send me the address of where you want your tags to go at your convenience and I'll be getting my little fingers in gear!

Thanks again and I'll be working on some good stuff now that most of my busy-ness is coming to a close!