Monday, February 1, 2010

Random Happenings Around These Parts

Yet another non-harvest Monday in January. I was planning on picking some spinach this past weekend but unfortunately the weather was too bitterly cold for me to do so. Oh well. I guess that just means I'll have another harvest to post about in February. I can't wait to be able to go out into the garden and do weekly garden updates again. Anyway, here are some things that have been occupying my time lately:

urban farmer magazine
I'm really loving the latest issue of Urban Farm magazine. There's a lot of information regarding square foot gardening, keeping chickens and composting. If I do decide one day to return to living in the city, this is definitely one magazine I'd want to have on hand. Also, I picked up this Starting From Seed guide from the publishers of Fine Gardening magazine, which is filled with information on saving seed, growing from seeds, and starting seeds indoors. Also, there is whole section devoted to flowers.

Tomato seeds from Wintersown
I received some heirloom tomato seeds from a couple of days ago through their "Your Choice Tomato SASE" offering. I'm very excited to try all of these varieties, which include Hillbilly, Black Cherry, Dr. Carolyn's Yellow Cherry, Isis Candy, Black from Tula, Clear Pink Early and Aunt Ruby's German Green. They also threw in some flat leaf Italian parsley and pole beans for fun. I guess I'll be growing a lot of tomatoes this year.

garden gadgets and trellis
I picked up some garden trellis, a seed sower and a soil PH tester a couple of weeks ago. One of my goals this year is to get a better sense of my soil's overall health and fertility.

soil block mix
I mixed up a big batch of soil block mix last night using Eliot Coleman's recipe, which can be found in The New Organic Grower. Tonight, I will start my first seeds of the year. Hopefully, the soil blocks will hold together nicely.

Finally, a couple of months ago, one of my readers suggested that I enter Brighter Planet's Mastering the Art of Sustainable Cooking Contest, which was to be judged by several notable food advocates, including Alice Waters. I ended up submitting two short essays. And well, I'm proud to say that both of my essays made it onto the list of top 25 entries received and one of them won a grand prize of a Kindle DX and a $100 gift certificate to (YES!) If you'd like, you can read my entries on Brighter Planet's latest publication.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan
I thought it was only fitting that my first digital book acquisition be Michael Pollan's Food Rules - An Eater's Manual. I must admit that a Kindle is not something I was ever interested in buying since I absolutely love the smell and tactile feel of a book. However, all of that changed once I turned it on. What I love so much about the Kindle is that it does not feel like you're reading from a computer monitor at all and the screen amazingly resembles the page of a book. Me likey.


  1. I used to buy so many garden magazines and read them cover to cover. Then, after a year and half I have concluded that, as season is repeating every year, they are repeating their articles. Just little different written and different pictures, but it was all the same story all over again...
    So I decided that I will never buy another gardening magazine until I find one that is actually bringing some new ideas, and not saying every spring "its time to start your tomato seeds".
    So, I’m still looking for that kind of gardening magazine...

  2. I saw the 'Starting from Seed' magazine the other day as I was standing in line at Borders for coffee - I was proud of myself for passing it up but I will admit I was itching to grab it and flip through it! Congrats on the writing submissions. Interesting to hear your take on the Kindle thing, I too am sort of unwilling to give up the feel of a real book in my hands or on my bookshelf, but hubby really wants one of these for his ship's deployment. I can definitely see the use for it there!

  3. Congratulations! That is a great accomplishment!

    I have been curious about the Kindle but had no real urgency to find out more as I can barely work reading an occassional magazine into my daily life - let alone a book. I tend to do most of my reading for pleasure during vacations.

  4. I just finished devouring Urban Farm this weekend. It was too cold to do anything outside.

    Congrats on the win! The kindle is something I am not sure I would like. If I could see it in person, it would be easier, but I don't know anyone IRL that has one.

  5. I got a kindle out of self defense. I never buy books. My husband buys them all and I read them (well a few gardening books or cookbooks maybe, but fiction I don't buy). He even knows what I like and buys them for me. So when he decided to switch to a kindle I had to get one too. I wasn't in love with the idea, but I'm a total convert too. I can't go back. When a friend handed me a paperback, I read the first couple of chapters then got it for my kindle instead. The one caveat. I got a gardening book on the kindle (that was not a picture book, but just reference) and hated it. You can't flip to the charts and graphs. Reference books and the kindle don't go together.

    I got seeds from wintersown too. I got more than I asked for and now I don't know where to put all the tomato plants. I love all the weird varieties they have. It is fun to try.

  6. Congratulations Thomas!! What a very cool prize.

    Like Erin, I too had that seed mag in my paws, but I also put it back. It was the soil blocker part that caught me eye.

    I love the pH meter, very helpful in the garden. I didn't know about the SASE tomatoes from WinterSown, I promptly did a double order w/donation- thanks for posting about it Thomas!!

  7. (Trudi) is awesome! I got some in the other day, too....

  8. Congratulations Thomas! That is amazing!! You must be so proud...that is really cool. I, too, love real books. But if I was gifted a Kindle, I wouldn't refuse it! Enjoy!

  9. Absolutely fantastic. Couldn't happen to a better person.

  10. Thomas, I just know you are going to be a famous gardener some day. You are the most dedicated person I know! Congratulations on the prizes! I'll bet you get all kinds of offers to try products now. LOL, I've received free seeds and a bottle of bug spray.

    Oh-oh, you got seeds from Wintersown. That's how I got started with my tomato might just as well go buy an extra acre of garden space right now, 'cause you're going to get hooked. It looks like my entire garden will be taken up with lettuce, tomatoes and beans this year ;-)

  11. Oh Thomas, congratulations! mazel tov, as my people say *g*. That is such a nice prize for such a nice and talented guy! I haven't wanted to get a Kindle for exactly the same the feel and smell of real books...but there would be two pluses: one, i've completely run out of shelf space, and you can put about a gazillion books on one Kindle, and the other, which i hadn't thought about before, is that it enables someone like my father with poor vision to possibly have more books available to can make the fonts larger and increase or decrease the brightness of the screen, without degrading the page image.

  12. Congratulations, nice prize.
    You have a lot of digging to do this year, how many tomato beds are you planting?

  13. Got to love garden goodies and way to go winning the Kindle! If they have it you should check out Heirloom Vegetable Gardening by William Woys Weaver. It is out of print but it is available on cd so it may be on the Kindle. It is a really good book, I borrowed it from the library last year, excellent read.

  14. Well, I never... the first gardening Kindle! You are an amazing writer and your blog rules. I don't even garden and I always check out your new posts! Pollan is great I hope you enjoy the story too.

    take care, S

  15. Love They sent me seeds last year.

    I ordered Food Rules the other day on Amazon along with 3 of Pollan's other books. I just loved the Food Inc. movie.

    I'm not totally there yet, but definitly think more about what I eat and hope to get there one day.


  16. Oh wow, what a cool prize ! Congrats on your win, Thomas. Very well deserved !

  17. Congratulations! That's so wonderful that you won something you can use. :)

    I have to thank you to alerting me to the seeds for a song over at WinterSown. Very cool!

  18. Sweet! Congratulations on the win. I haven't seen a Kindle in person.

  19. Congratulations! Go you! How'd you find out about it to enter the contest?