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Think positive spring is coming!!!!


Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter

    Vegetable Garden School




 Vegetable School - Micro greens, sprouts and shoots


Vegetable School, Growing Indoor Micro greens, Sprouts, and Shoots.

This week Johnny's Selected Seeds told us about growing fresh Micro greens, sprouts, and shoots indoors as we wait for spring to arrive. These are seeds of different types of plants that we can sprout indoors to add to our salads, sandwiches, and what we cook to give us fresh pick flavor to our meals. Most of these seeds will sprout in just 10 to 20 days and are ready for adding a special flavor to our meals. Growing them yourself will cut the cost in half or more compared to buying them at a food store where you may not even find them at all, health food store is a better place to find these unique greens so it is worth growing them yourself.  

Micro-Greens: are grown in soil, so use a good quality soil like Dr. Earth Seed Starter or Black Gold Starter Soil as they are sterilized and contains some nutrients to help stimulate better germination, and quicker growth. Use a clean seed tray like the plastic 11 inch by 22 inch trays available at your local garden Center and are reusable when washed with a bit of bleach and water. Fill the seed tray with about 3 inches of soil and you're ready to go. Scatter the seeds evenly on the soil and firm in place. Cover the seeds with inch of soil and water. Keep seed tray in a warm place until they begin to sprout but until they sprout the location does not need any sunlight, once they begin to sprout place in a south facing window. Water as needed but do not fertilize as they will be picked when only 2 to 3 inches tall.

When the Micro Greens reach 2 to 3 inches tall cut the plant right to the sol line, wash the foliage and if you have a salad spinner. Spin the excess water from the foliage and store in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator, these greens will keep for 5 days or more. You can also pick as needed from the seed flat without refrigeration. These greens are great to mix in salads for their unique taste and flavors. What you are eating is the stems and foliage of the seedlings. When finished dump the used soil in a container and use later in your window boxes or containers outside and clean the container with 1 gallon of water to a couple drops of Bleach, to reuse.

Here are the greens you can use for micro greens: Arugula, mustard, cress, Pac chow, radishes, scallions, kohlrabi, cabbage, beets, and Swiss chard. Johnny's has these seed available separately or in several mixtures depending on what you would like or flavor.

Sprouts: are grown in containers or sprouting kits available at Johnny's Selected Seeds catalog and are reusable after a good washing. All you have to do is place the seeds in this container for a couple of hours and drain. Water the seeds every day and drain all the water from the container. These sprouts will be ready in just 5 to 7 days and they are ready to eat. What is nice about Sprouts is that you eat everything foliage, stems seed coat and the roots. When the sprouts are ready place in a plastic bag and store in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator, and they will keep for a week. This is a fun project for the kids to do and it will build interest with the vegetable garden when the snow melts and the weather allows us to get into the garden. He kids will be able to see the roots; stem and foliage grow in the sprouting jar expanding their knowledge on how plants grow.

Here are the seeds you can use to grow sprouts: Beans, broccoli, kale, buckwheat, radishes, Mung beans, alfalfa, and hard red winter wheat. Like the Micro Greens you can purchase them separately or in various blends. Use these sprouts in salads, sandwiches, and in cooking for fresh tasting greens and unique flavor.

Shoots: are also grown in containers or kits that keep the seeds moist as soil is not used. Soak the seeds for 2 hours and drain container. Add water daily to wet all seeds and plant parts before dumping out water. Shoots will be ready in 1 to 2 weeks for eating and like Sprouts you will be able to eat all of the plant from the roots, the stems, and the foliage that develops. The shoots can be kept in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper for up to a week, just add a bit of water to coat shoots daily. These shoots will be larger and some will have very unique flavors. Use in salads, sandwich, and cooking to improve the flavor of the dish you making.

Shoots seeds are Nasturtiums, Sunflowers, dwarf Gray Snap peas, Corn, and regular peas. Look at Johnny's Selected Seed catalog for more information on all these neat winter and year round specialty greens. Go to for more information on these great winter and early spring greens. See you on Sunday 8:00 am as we talk about vegetable trends and cold weather crops.



                       Pansies - Happy faces 


When the winter season comes to its end and the spring season arrives, the pansy family of flowers is more than ready to show us their happy faces in our gardens. Pansies hold a special place in my heart--and for most gardeners-- because of the cheerful flower faces that welcome the new season. Some years, the weather does not cooperate and we are surprised with a blanket of snow after planting them, but the pansy family does not care; it just keeps smiling until the snow melts. No other flower can tolerate the type of weather that they can; cold and wet growing conditions are not a problem. For your own peace of mind plant pansies, violas and Johnnie jump ups this spring.

The pansy family comes from the mountains of New Zealand and got its start in America from a Dutch grower who brought seed to Massachusetts, where the gardeners could not get enough of them. Before long new pansy hybrids developed to bring cheer to a cold spring gardens. The pansy is the floral emblem of Rhode Island and the state flower of New Jersey and Wisconsin.

The Violas were named for a lover of the God Zeus, and even Shakespeare mentioned them often in his works. Napoleon, banished to Elba, said he said he would "return with the violets." When he did return, Josephine was dead. He picked violets for her grave before going into exile again to St. Helena. When he died, a locket found on him contained a lock of her hair and violet flowers.

The pansy family has many names and I thought you would like to know just a few of them: Tickle-my-Fancy, Kiss-her-in-the-Pantry, Three-Faces-in-a-Hood, Love-in-Idleness and Heartsease. This flower has five petals that are arranged on a short stem, with two petals on top, one on each side and one larger one on the bottom. The center is most always yellow, even in solid darker colored flower types. The foliage is medium green, the leaves are I to 3 inches long, and the shape is oval to heart shape. The plant grows in a clump 4 to 8 inches wide and 4 to 8 inches tall. The plants are easy to grow and are very hardy in all types of weather. Plant pansies in partial shade where summers are hot. Pansies will also grow in a sunny or shady spot in your garden or even in containers or hanging baskets. Select a location with a humus-rich soil for the best results, though they will also grow well in a moist well-drained soil.

If you want to grow pansies from seed, you must plant them 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost, usually during mid January. Once the seed germinates, keep the new seedlings in a cool room or they will grow fast, stretch and grow tall, often falling over in the garden. All greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers have plants available now, ready to face the changing weather where you live. The flowers will last until the heat arrives when planted in the sun, so transplant them into a shaded garden in late June for summer flowers. If you like pansies, look for the new fall-blooming pansies available in September. These plants will bloom until the snow covers them in November or later. Many of them survive the winter and reappear the following spring.

When planting add a bit of "Soil-Moist" to the planting hole: it will help them save water during hot days. Feed them every other week with "Miracle-Gro" fertilizer once planted. The "BIG" secret is to pick off the faded flowers so the plant does not make seeds. The more you clean them, the more they will flower. When you pick off the faded flowers, crush the seed pods and throw them into the garden, where some of the seeds will germinate and spread. Smile with the Happy faces of Spring.





Onions are among the easiest vegetables to grow in your garden. Onions are one of the most useful vegetables you have in your kitchen and if you grow them yourself, you will not believe the flavor difference compared to supermarket onions. Your kitchen would not be complete without onions to flavor most everything you cook. This vegetable can be used in your salads, soups, stews, stuffing, sandwiches, and side dishes, and even eaten raw or cooked on your hamburger. The onion originated in Asia and was grown in all parts of the world by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and today you in your kitchen.

The onion comes in yellow, white and red. The shape will vary from round, oval, long, thin and will grow as a single bulb or come in clusters; some even grow out of the ground.

Select a spot in your garden that has sun all day long. Your soil should be rich in organic matter, so add plenty of compost or animal manure before planting every year. A soil that is loose and well drained without clay will grow the best plants. Never plant onions in the same place every year. Rotating crops in your garden will keep them healthier, especially if you keep onions away from same area for 3 years or more. Soil pH should be between 6 and 7.5. If soil is acidic, add lime. If you have a wood stove, sprinkle the wood ash on the ground before you till the soil to plant your onions.

Onions have a terrible root system and have a tough time finding food far away from the plant. The same goes for moisture in the soil; it must be there, but not in large quantities. Water onions weekly, and keep the soil moist to a depth of 6 inches. If you use a fertilizer with Mycorrhizal fungi added to it, your plants will be able to grow a root system double the normal size and that means "BIGGER" and "BETTER" onions. Use Bio-Tone, Dr. Earth Vegetable food with Pro-Biotic, or the new Plant Thrive Microbial Fertilizer. Use at the time of planting in early May and repeat 2 times more 4 weeks apart. A couple application of Miracle-Gro will also help to push the onion plant to grow faster and larger.

I will catch "Hell" for this statement, but the best onion plants come from seedlings, not "BULBS". Onion Sets are small onion bulbs grown in Holland and shipped to the Garden Center in a dormant state. These small onion bulbs are grown in a different climate and usually produce smaller onions in your garden because of climate change. I will guarantee you bigger onions, leeks, bunching onions, etc., when you plant seedlings. Some garden centers sell seedlings in flats or trays, or you can buy them in bunches of 100 plants out of the soil. If you choose bunches, prune roots by 1/4 inch and let them set in water for a hour or two before planting.

Plant onions 6 inches apart, and they will do best in wide rows of 6 to 10 plants in a row, rather than a single plant to a row. Weeds have always been a problem during the summer and if you are not careful, you will pull up the young seedlings with the weeds. This year look for a new product called "Weed Guard Plus" planting paper. Just roll it out on the soil and water it down. Now take a screwdriver and punch a hole in the paper to insert the seedling. Set the seedlings in the soil shallow and pinch the paper to move the soil around the plant. Once all your seedlings are planted, throw a little soil on the edges of the paper to help hold it down and water the paper down again. Once the paper gets wet it will stick to the soil and keep out ALL WEEDS. When your crop is ready to harvest, the paper will have already begun to decay into the soil. When the top of the onions begin to fall over, they are ready to harvest. Just pull them out of the ground and let them sit in the sun for a few days, or until the tops turn brown and dry up. Or you can also leave the onions in the garden until the top is brown and dried up. Store onions in your basement for the winter where it is cool but where they will not freeze. Enjoy.




Paris at night
Join The Paul Parent Garden Club for The Grand Tour Of France July 31 through August 12, 2014. With special 70th Anniversary tours of the Beaches of Normandy and Monet's Garden.




   Creamy Mac and Cheese from Scratch






8 tablespoons unsalted butter/one stick

1 clove of minced garlic

1 cubs of unseasoned large bread crumb cubes

1 pound of elbow macaroni

cub of all-purpose flower

3 cups of milk, warmed

2 cups of Sharp Cheddar cheese shredded

2 cups of Fontina cheese shredded

teaspoon of dry mustard

Salt and pepper

2- 4 ounce cans of mushrooms well drained

8 slices of cooked bacon and crumbled or

1 pound of browned sirloin hamburger with grease drained.

One large onion chopped finely

cub of crumbled blue cheese

In a large fry pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over a medium heat. Now add the garlic and cook, stir frequently, until tender but not brown. Add the bread crumbs and stir until all coated with butter and garlic. Set aside in a bowl. If you going to use ground sirloin hamburger, brown it in this same fry pan until deep brown with the onions and fully cook. Now add the 2 cans of mushrooms to mixture the last couple of minutes to warm them up and put aside.

Pre heat the oven at 350 degrees; now butter a 4 quart baking dish.

In a large pot add water and add a bit of salt to cook the macaroni. Cook the macaroni until al dente as it will continue to cook when in the casserole dish. Drain and set aside.

Use the pot you cooked the pasta in and add 4 tablespoons of butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Wisk in the flour and reduce the heat to medium-low heat and let bubble for a minute or more without browning. Now add the milk and Wisk the mixture as you raise the heat back to medium and eventually to a slow boil, Wisk frequently. Remove from the stove and add the 2 types of cheese and the dry mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Now add the cooked pasta and blend with the melted cheeses and milk. Once well blended add the bacon crumbs or browned sirloin hamburger and mushrooms. Mix well and pour mixture into the baking dish, sprinkle a cup of crumbled blue cheese over the mixture and add the bread crumbs evenly over the baking dish.

Bake in the oven until the sauce begins to bubble and the bread crumbs start to brown up, about 20 minutes. It will be hot so let it cool a few minutes and then serve when still hot. If you just want Mac and Cheese omit the Ground sirloin, bacon, and mushrooms. My Kids love it either way but when its cold outside I use the ground sirloin and mushrooms to give it a more filling flavor.





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