By Mary Honrud
For the Courier 

Spring Is Here?

 


Finally, it is starting to feel like spring is here, and my loving husband sees the possibility of more snow in the forecast, and tells me about it! Talk about being a ray of sunshine. Sometimes he’s just not. I really hope that’s a forecast that changes rapidly. I wouldn’t mind more rain even though we don’t yet have a single kernel of wheat in the ground.

Speaking of getting things in the ground, I have managed to get two types of peas planted, both regular podded peas and snow peas. I hope to actually reap some of those this summer. The past few summers I’ve been fattening the Hungarian partridges and sharptails that claim my yard as their home. They have been claiming my peas, sneaking into the garden late in the evening or early in the mornings. I’ve seen them leaving, after the damage is done, and the pods are all pecked open and emptied. Last year one set of the huns paraded by the garden with their clutch of 18 babies, taunting me. While I’m happy to see them thriving, I also want to enjoy my peas myself.


This year I’m planning on putting netting over the peas. I erected the two fences next to each other and planted the seeds between them. I’ll put netting over the fences once pea pods are forming to try and foil those feathered raiders. I’ve not gone to this step before because I’d done that with my strawberries years ago. That netting frustrated me, needing to be moved and set back into place every time I picked the berries. Several greedy birds also needed rescuing from the netting. When you approach the trapped bird with scissors in hand, for some reason they get extra scared and flop around, further entangling themselves. Once they’re cut loose, you have a large opening in your netting, which only entices other berry thieves into getting snagged. Those birdbrains never put cause and effect together. (I’ll also attach some wind spinners to the fence posts in hopes the motion will keep the birds away from the peas).

I’ve put in some red and white onion sets, with lots more to go in. I’ll spread out the planting of those sets over the coming weeks in order to extend my harvest of green onions. I’m also planting onion seeds. Those should give me green onions late in the summer. We do like our onions. Dennis eats just the white base, and I save the green tops to chop into salads and hot dishes. I’ll sprinkle them raw on top of roasted veggies to add a little tang.

All my potatoes are planted as well. I have 18 hills of russetts, 16 hills of purple spuds, and 15 hills of blue fingerlings. Maybe I’ll have colorful potato salads at harvest time.

The seeds I’ve started in the house in my newspaper tubes have all sprouted. The squash are leaning towards the window so I’ll be turning around the pot they’re sitting on fairly often. The basil sprouts are fairly tiny, but they’re coming along nicely. I don’t see anything of the piece of ginger I stuck in some dirt yet, but I still have hopes of it growing.


The asparagus in the garden is popping up. The weeds are also sprouting like, well, weeds. I’ll be scratching up the dirt in each row before putting in more seeds. Radishes and lettuces are next on my to-do list.

I’ve trimmed back the dead canes in my raspberry rows. The dead leaves I’d deposited there as mulch last fall have been raked out. They just encourage weeds to grow, plus they stay wet and soggy and get moldy. But they didn’t blow all over my yard last fall, which is the main reason I put them there. My three hardy blackberries I put in last summer have survived the winter. Maybe I’ll get some to eat. Anyway, it looks really nice there now.

On to eating: last week I made another sheet pan meal. You can add and subtract ingredients to suit your family’s tastes, and to use whatever is on special at the grocer’s each week. Go ahead and add excitement with herbs and spices, too. Here’s the basic recipe I used:


Chicken and Potato Sheet Pan Meal

1/4 C olive oil, divided

1 tsp salt, divided

1/2 tsp pepper, divided

2 Tbl fresh rosemary, divided

1 lb baby red potatoes

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut up

1 bunch asparagus, cut in 2” pieces

Heat oven to 425°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Mix 2 Tbl oil with half the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Use to coat the potatoes. Bake 23-25 minutes. Mix the rest of the oil with the rest of the seasonings and coat the chicken pieces and asparagus. Add to the potatoes and roast another 16-20 minutes.

This week I’m adding mushrooms, the small colorful peppers, red onions, and some celery. I left out the asparagus. I added oregano leaves, some poultry seasoning, and minced garlic. I’m also putting a seasoned pork steak on the pan, just because it needs to be cooked now. I cut up one large chicken breast instead of using thighs. Really, the recipe is more of a guideline than a rule. Use it as a stepping off place for your cookery.

 

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