French Breakfast and Other Sprouts

I tried to start radishes inside about six weeks ago and failed. About a month ago I dropped some French Breakfast Radish seeds into the ground and then planted seeds again two weeks ago. The month old ones are almost ready! I pulled up a couple of them (they were delicious), but I  decided they should have more time to grow.

I thought they were ready, because they are popping up out of the ground. I think I need to wait to see tops that are a bit thicker, perhaps another 7 – 10 days.

I also see my bread poppies and quinoa sprouting, both of these are new plants for me. I direct seeded them on a border in the garden 10 days ago.


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Salad Harvest

Harvesting during the month of May makes me very happy. My salad greens are ready! I am trying to use them consistently, so I get my fill before the weather gets too warm and the greens get bitter. I’m thinking I have at least a couple weeks. I can’t remember when I put these seeds in the ground…I think it was about mid-April.

I harvest my salad directly into a big bowl with a few ice cubes in the bottom to keep it crisp. I snip the outer leaves of the plants, because new growth comes up from the middles. I also threw in some dill and mint, because we have copious (read: invasive plants) amounts of both and I love them.

Jon and I ate giant salads for dinner last night.

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Growing list

Well, well, well. As usual, the gardening has gotten WAY ahead of the documenting. Every year this is what happens, the thing just starts rolling and I think I will just remember the details of what happened. Yeah, right.

In summary here is what has happened over the last couple months. I planted a batch of seedlings in mid-March using tiny starter pots that I made out of toilet paper rolls. Very quickly those seedlings developed a white layer of mold, so I scraped that whole endeavor and started over a couple weeks later with jiffy pellets.

Jiffy pellets are like those little tablets you used to get when you were a kid: they soak in water and wah-lah you have a little hand towel or stuffed animal or something. When you pour water into the pellets, they become little germinating pots. After several weeks they did develop a little bit of mold, which I think was caused by a lack of circulation…very minor compared to the toilet paper roll debacle. I mixed a little hydrogen peroxide in with the water I used to water them and got that under control pretty quickly. I did like using the jiffy pellets. Eventually some of the plants outgrew the pellets and I moved about 40 of  them to small peat pots.

A bunch of my tomato seedlings have bounced back after a sunburn incident  (I put them outside to “harden them” on a particularly warm and windy day) and they are happily in the ground as of yesterday.

I lost all my brussels sprouts  seedlings after putting them in the ground the day before an awful wind storm (seriously people, pay attention to the weather when you are planting). They were replaced by a four pack from the nursery where I work.

I inherited 6 asparagus crowns from the farm (where I intern), because we found them in the bottom of a bucket after we were too utterly exhausted to plant anything else.

And I bought strawberries from the nursery! I know, what a space hog. I couldn’t help myself though.

All in all this is what I have in the ground as of today:

swiss chard (gurney seed)
garlic (planted last fall and another round in march)
french breakfast radishes (gorgeous! seed savers seed)
broccoli (seed savers seed)
clemson spineless okra (seed savers seed)
ancho peppers (seed savers seed)
marconi peppers (seed savers seed)
thai hot peppers (seed savers seed)
french filet beans (seed)
lazy housewife beans (seed savers seed)
cucumbers (gurney seed)
cherokee purple tomato (2) (seed savers seed)
nebraska wedding tomato (1) (plant from the nursery)
hillbilly potato leaf tomato (3) (seed savers seed)
beam’s yellow pear tomato (3) (seed savers seed)
mortgage lifer tomato (2) (seed savers seed)
jade cross brussel sprouts (plants from the nursery)
collard greens (passed along to me by Jara)
siberian kale (seed savers seed)
baby bok choy (seed)
butternut squash (seed savers seed)
zucchini (seed savers seed)
genovese basil (seed savers seed)
purple basil (gift from Anna)
mint (perennial–from mom)
dill (perennial)
thyme (perennial)
oregano (perennial)
lavender (perennial)
cliantro (seed savers seed)
chives (perennial)
ground cherries (seed savers seed)
strawberries (plants from the nursery)
asparagus (crowns and plants from farmer’s market)
lettuce mix (seed savers seed)
mesclun mix (seed)
sweet peas (seed savers seed)
fairytale eggplant (2) (bought at farmer’s market)
japanese long eggplant (1) (bought at farmer’s market)
diamond eggplant (2) (seed savers from seed)
purple viking potatoes (seed potatoes from the nursery)

waiting for these seeds to germinate outside:
bread poppy flowers

I know it seems like a lot, but I have just a little of a lot of things, because I am so curious about growing various items. I have one small space left. Maybe I will try sweet potatoes? Any suggestions?

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Zone Map

Omaha is borderline between Zone 4 and 5. A lot of Nebraska is a solid 5, but in really detailed maps there is that tiny dot right over Omaha that is shaded for Zone 4.  (Reminiscent of how Nebraska is a solid red state, but Omaha totally went blue in 2008). Zones are determined by the lowest expected temperature in your area, so even if you live outside the U.S.  you can place yourself in a zone. Knowing your zone helps you plan you calendar, and be realistic about what plants you can grow (I can’t grow dahlias, bummer). Check out the map below. You can also check out the USDA website for a more detailed interactive map.

zone map

In Omaha, its time to start planting seedlings indoors. The  last frost date in my zone is May 10 and lots of seeds can grow inside for 6 – 8 weeks. Starting plants from seeds can seem really complicated, and anyone who has known me well through a growing season knows that I  can get a tiny bit obsessive over my seedlings in March and April. A couple years ago I started hosting my parents for Easter weekend, because I absolutely refused to abandon my defenseless plants so early in their lives. But really, it shouldn’t be that complicated.

I’ll write more about how I am planting my seeds this year soon.


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Seed to Table

2010 Seedling. Photo by Brittany Hanson.

In the next few days, I will sit down with piles of seed catalogues that have made their way to my door and make some tough decisions about what I will grow in the garden this summer. Last year I discovered the joy (and agony) of growing my plants from seed. It was such a roller-coaster. First, the excitement of seeing the seedlings make their appearance followed by the agonizing wait while they slowly, slowly take the shape of the plants they will become. I worried if they would survive, if they were bolting, getting too much water or not enough, and on and on. Eventually they were set in the ground and left to their own devices. Although it was questionable in that cold, inhospitable spring,  by mid-summer almost every single one of my grown-from-seed plants were flourishing.

This year I’m going to create an illustrated documentation of the development of the garden from seed to table experimenting both with photography and organic growing methods.

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On being told my poetry was found in a broken photo-copier

Malcolm read this poem on the first night of a conference I am attending.  His delivery of the poetry captured my imagination.

by Malcolm Guite

My poetry is jamming your machine

It broke the photo-copier, I’m to blame,

With pictures copied from a world unseen.


My poem is in the works–I’m on the scene

We free my verse, and I confess my shame,

My poetry is jamming your machine.


Though you berate me with what might have been,

You stop to read the poem, just the same,

And pictures, copied from a world unseen,


Subvert the icons on your mental screen

And open windows with a whispered name;

My poetry is jamming your machine.


For chosen words can change the things they mean

And set the once-familiar world aflame

With pictures copied from a world unseen


The mental props give way, on which you lean

They world you see will never be the same,

My poetry is jamming your machine

With pictures copied from a world unseen

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Daphne’s Hair

I have been in Omaha for 2 years working at Word Made Flesh. Our community (as Chris likes to put it) has got some quirks. One is that we take LOADS of group photos. Sometimes it gets a little confusing.

Daphne is my hip, beloved supervisor. She’s been working it at WMF for 10 years! Due to the enormous volume of photos floating around, when I look through WMF photo albums sometimes I get confused whether or not I was around for the event. I flip through to find a photo of Daph, because I can keep time according to her hair color, cut and style. She threw some auburn lowlights into the mix the summer I moved here. So blonde Daphne is definitely pre-Marcia. Since I’ve been here the hair in question has been alternatively  stick straight, wavy, with bangs straight across the forehead, and with bangs swept across the forehead in varying shades of red. Some examples:

Pretty much she’s edgy and could pull of just about anything.

So today at lunch we had some suggestions for her hair appointment this afternoon: asymmetrical hair cut, just a trim, super short

or a mohawk.

We sort of got stuck on that one. And offered to pay her to do it. It escalated quickly.

Like I said before Daph has been serving with Word Made Flesh for 10 years! She is receving a much needed sabbatical starting the end of this month and is in need of a little extra financial support before she goes.

So, see Daphne get a mohawk by supporting her sabbatical.

Check out the video:

Go to and hit the “donate now” button and in the designation line write Daphne’s mohawk.


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