Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trying to Grow Tomatoes through Winter

As I read more on Permaculture and play with its ideas, I explain them to my wife.  Last year she used one against me in the garden. My garden is no where close to a Permaculture food forest.  I am playing with some ideas of Permaculture such as hugelkultur, mulch, and companion planting, but have not created a sustainable eco-system.  A major principal of Permaculture is allowing nature to do what it does naturally, with the role of the human as providing guidance.  This means some plants will succeed and some will fail.  My job is to take notes and plant things where they do best while bringing in other plants and animals to increase productivity.

Last year a solider tomato started in one of my winter beds.  The tomato did not produce for winter, it is too cold here survive.  I was going to cut it and use it for mulch when the wife came out and said not to.  She likes tomatoes and used turned my teachings, "that nature wanted it to grow where it had started, so let it grow" against me.

Fast forward one year and I have this situation happening again. This got me thinking about how to ensure the tomato survives.  If I can make it survive it will have a head start in spring.  This could mean that early summer tomatoes.  This year I have cold frames I built for the garden bed, scraping the plastic draped over the beds.  My thought is to cut the tomato vine back so it stays within the cold frame, same with my peas.  When spring comes I will remove the cold frame and hopefully the plant will take off.

For the record, I am in the Pacific Northwest and our winters get down to about 20 degrees F on the coldest days.  The cold frame will keep the frost off the plants, but  I'm not sure it will add enough warmth for the plant to survive.  One thing is for sure, this is an interesting experiment.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Make Popcorn on the Stove Instead of in Microwave

We like to eat popcorn, especially our toddler.  For popcorn, we used to buy microwave popcorn when there were good deals.  Then one day we were at Costco and ended up buying a big 8 lb container or 128 ounces of kernels for less than $8.  Compare this to buying about 3 boxes for about 50 ounces of microwavable popcorn for about the same amount.  This is about 3 times as much.  Even better deals can be found on Amazon, such as a 12 lb bag for about $15.

Of course, microwavable popcorn comes with flavors.  To be exact, Whole Grain Popcorn, Partially hydrogenated, Soybean oil, Butter, cream, milk, Natural & Artifical flavor, Color added, Perserved with Propyl Gallate according Pop Secret Snack Size Homestyle, Microwavable Popcorn on Amazon.  We add butter and a little bit of salt to our kernels.

Making popcorn on the stove is actually very simple.  Just put a bit of oil, we use coconut oil, in the bottom of a large pot.  Then put in an 1/8 cup of popcorn kernels.  Put the lid on. Turn the stove a little higher than medium and slide the pot back and forth a bit for a few seconds at the beginning and while it is popping.  About 5 minutes later we have nice fluffy popcorn that tastes amazing.  For more taste all that is left is melting a tablespoon of butter and a few pinches of salt.