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The Kitchen Palette

flour, baking powder, turmeric, chipotle, salt

It’s been pouring rain around here. It’s a blessing to have a kitchen and a well stocked pantry to putter around in when going outside is not the best option. Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist in the kitchen, a fantasy that my family reinforces when they say that that is what I am. Other times they call me a witch, when I get out my herbs and make bitter brews…

But, sometimes, I feel like an artist, or maybe not the artist, but I feel like I understand the pleasure an artist probably gets from her pure palette before she ever paints a stroke.

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Special Ingredients

Chile powders from Chimayo, New Mexico.

My mother lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The last time we visited her she drove us to Chimayo. It is a sacred place that people come to from all over the world for the healing properties of the soil. We walked into the Potrero Trading Post while we were there and, probably like everyone else who steps inside, were overcome by the smell of the dried Chipotle.

I bought some of the powder for $4.95. Last week I ran out of it, and I couldn’t stand the thought. There is something just really special about the flavor of that chile powder. Heads up, I use half a teaspoon in my brownies…

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Planning for the Future

Step one was to clear the grass and weeds from the spot.

While people in the world are creating anxiety for more people everywhere that there will be more war, I am still planning for my future garden as if spring will still come and plants will grow and life will go on. If only everyone could just plan a spring garden instead of conflict and conflagration.

Step two was to lay down a thick layer of newspaper.
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Winter Tomato Fantasy

This tomato really doesn’t look very happy….

Maybe I’m stubborn. Or maybe I have to try a different variety of tomato to grow in winter. I’m going to go with the second thought for the time being. It seems obvious, though, that my Cherokee Purple heirloom variety is not exactly thriving in my kitchen this winter, not even with a grow light. At six in the morning it is bathed in light while it is still dark outside. From a distance it looks really discouraging, and maybe time to scrap the idea as not worth the electric bill for the twelve hours of artificial light that I am bestowing on my tomato, (a celery too.)

But! I haven’t given up yet, because if you look closely, the growth at the bottom looks new and healthy.

There is new growth at the bottom of the plant that looks healthy.

At this rate, though, I will be having spring tomatoes, not winter ones. This is what I call learning by doing, as opposed to fantasizing about fat, juicy tomatoes greeting my in my kitchen in the middle of February….

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December Daffodils

Daffodils in the bedroom jungle…

I had a happy surprise, seeing two bulbs blooming in my kitchen garden. They are both some variety of daffodil. Since they looked lonely out there, in two different beds, I brought them together in our bedroom. I’m on vacation until January 6, 2020. Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

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Adding a new Trick…

Recently, I started a local homesteading group on NextDoor. My goal is to connect with and learn from other people gardening in the same conditions that I am. I can tell you that in the couple of weeks that the group has existed, I have learned new things already. I asked the group what winter gardening they were doing. A member told me that she wanted to enlarge her Back to Eden garden. I didn’t know what she meant by that. She explained that she had to do very little weeding or watering, and she had learned how to do it by watching YouTube videos. So, intrigued, I did a little research of my own.

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From frugal fare…

a hoop row covered by agribon and sealed up with rocks and planks
sealed up for the freeze

One day I would like to have a nice box, maybe with a used window on hinges for a lid, nestled right up against the brick wall of the house. But this winter I am happy with my hoops, a sheet of agribon, and some old planks and bricks. I thought that three hoops might be enough for one row, but that turned out not to be stable enough in the wind. So if I want to do another row I’ll have to find some more hoops.

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Empty Pots as Cloches

empty garden pots

Before I went to a winter vegetable lecture at the library, I looked at my empty garden pots as though they were reproaching me. They seemed to say that I could have found some winter pansies or something, anything, to allow them to perform their function. They are empty because I put the plants that were growing in them this summer into the ground in the west garden. But now I see those same pots as potential protectors of vulnerable crops on a freezing night. They can serve a whole other purpose just by turning them upside down…