Seasonal Produce – March

March and April is the hardest time for me to stick to seasonal produce. At this time of year, before the spring greens and first asparagus become available, ‘seasonal’ mostly means fruits and vegetables that have kept well over the winter. For fruit, this means apples; I’m getting tired of eating them plain, but we’re still eating them cooked in oatmeal, or sliced to top off a toasted bagel with peanut butter. (That last is a great afternoon snack).

Root vegetables such as parsnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are still holding their own. I haven’t yet mastered the art of the slow cooker, but parsnips don’t need much cooking anyway. They, along with sweet potatoes, are our favourites when they’re roasted in the oven with a little bit of butter, lemon juice, and honey. Potatoes are always welcomed plainly boiled and mashed. Beets are a new addition to our repertoire.

Cabbage and squash are other good winter vegetables. The Smitten Kitchen’s Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad is the best use for butternut squash I’ve come across yet. Cabbage shines in cabbage rolls, bubble and squeak (with the potatoes mentioned above, usually augmented with bacon or served alongside pork chops), or sometimes in coleslaw.

We’re still a month away from pulling the first radishes from the ground, and tearing off the outside leaves of our first spinach… although I’m already looking forward to those first tastes of spring!

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Seeds!

My son and I bought seeds today, at Bill’s Garden Centre, which is so far my favourite garden centre in the city (to be fair, I haven’t visited many). We’ve just started cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, and tomato in individual yogurt containers in the kitchen – just one of each, since we’re going to try the Square Foot Gardening method.

We also have zucchini, broccoli, pumpkin, corn, swiss chard, turnip, beans (yellow, green, and bush), beets, spinach, radish, onion, carrot, cucumber, melon, and pea seeds. I figured that lots of people must come in and buy an optimistic number of seed packets at this time of year, but the woman behind the counter joked that we must have a farm. We’re only planning 2.7 m² (30 square feet) of garden, including the 60cm paths in between the two raised beds. We’ll see!

The intelligent use of technology

The other day a student asked me “why can’t I just punch the whole quadratic formula, with the numbers into it, into my calculator?”.  Of course you can, but there’s some subtle ways that we write mathematical formulas that you have to be very detailed about when you put them in the calculator.

What I’ve seen students do is say out loud “negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four a c all over two a”, and that’s the way they type it into the calculator. So if a is 1, b is -2, and c is 3, they proceed thusly;

-2 + √ -2^2 – 4*1*3 / 2*1 Enter
Then they do it again with a negative in place of the first positive, since they do understand the ± notation.
(Note that ideally they would use (-(-2) + √ ( (-2)^2 – 4*1*3 ) ) / (2*1) Enter.)

I’m trying to come up with a good learning opportunity to address this.

New project – Fair Isle jacket

I’ve just cast on a new knitting project; the first of the baby items from my Etsy store, picked by a friend for her new baby.

I don’t know where I read about .5″ of yarn for a long-tailed cast on, but it worked perfectly – I needed 175 stitches, so I measured roughly 90″, and I cast them all on the first time with only a shortish tail left.

I’m pretty sure I did my second swatch on 3.5mm needles, but I only have 3mm and 3.25mm in circulars.  That’s what’s called for in the pattern, so I’ll start with them.

Frost date and grass alternatives

A little check round on the web seems to say that everyone agrees the last frost date in Toronto is May 9. We’ve got 54 days still, then after the last frost there will be 84 days before we leave (hopefully!) on our summer trip.

While looking at the SFG site I noticed an Eco-Lawn product. I wonder if that would do well in our backyard, and between our square foot boxes?