Sunday, March 29, 2009

A New Beginning - Gardening 101

Overview: So I have decided to start gardening. It is still a little too cold outside just yet so I am starting my crops inside. I also live in an apartment so we don't have any land to plant our crops in. Once they start to grow, I will transplant them into bigger containers.

I really wanted to start gardening because it is very interesting to me that you can get so much our such a small seed. Sure it takes some time but after a couple months I can eat FRESH produce for cents a piece.

This is going to be a really fun post because I will only post parts at a time since it take between 2 - 3 month for the vegetable to grow all the way. Since it will take time to see everything grow, please come back weekly to see what has happened and to get the latest updates!

Lime Light: I would like to thank my good friend Jenny B. for her advice and great tips about starting a garden. She helped me a ton! I would also like to thank my friend Travis S. for his tips on growing the vegetables better.

My wife suggested that I start the seeds in egg cartons because we had some and two they work just as good as anything else. Talk about recycling!

I cut off the lip and the top and placed the top underneath the bottom to help the water not to go everywhere when I water the plants.

I bought six packets of seeds for fairly cheap at the local farming store and even the grocery store! I bought Carrots, Peas, Tomatoes, Peppers, Radishes and Cucumbers.

I marked the egg cartons separating each packet to get 4 slots each.

I then put some potting soil in each slot and buried each seed to the depth that the packets told me to. The depths varied from 1/4", 1/2" and 1" deep. I then watered them and put them inside an aluminum foil boat I made to help even more for holding excess water.

I placed them on the window sill and we shall wait 7-14 days to see them all sprout.

I will post more pictures when the vegetables start to sprout! Happy growing!

7 Days Later!!

So I am trying something new that my friend taught me. He puts normal office fluorescent lights above his seedlings and the seeds actually grow. I tried it out with this little one that I haven't been using and they actually started growing! I just put the egg cartons on my floor with aluminum foil underneath of them and water them twice daily. The trick is to put them very close to the soil so that it warms up the soil. Check out the results so far below.

So not to be mean to the radishes but they are the easiest to grow it looks like. They are the 4 in the top right corner that have sprouted really well. They actually started sprouting after 6 days. The peas are the next ones that have sprouted and they are the ones on the very bottom that you can see if you look closely.

14 Days Later!!

I usually have kept all the plants inside due to the cold temperatures outside but today being Easter Sunday, the Sun has decided to show its face and so I put the plants outside to catch some rays instead of only fluorescent light.

So as you can see, the peas are doing amazing! In front of the peas are the tomatoes and to the right are the cucumbers which my wife is very anxiously awaiting. I put the piece of paper behind the plants so that you could see them better.

Pictured above, the radishes on the right are doing well. The carrots have sprouted and are in the front. The bell peppers are in the back and should start sprouting this week.

Lesson Learned: I learned this week that as I kept watering the plants daily, the egg cartons started to really smell bad because they were not drying out. For this I would suggest using Styrofoam egg cartons because they won't smell.

21 Days Later!!

So my seedlings were outgrowing their container so it was time to transplant them. Click here to see how I made a very easy planter box.

I decided to perform a test on my seedlings. The top half of the planter box as pictured below, I used a mixture of potters soil and peat moss and transplanted my seedlings. On the bottom half as pictured below, I made layers of hay and peat moss. I first mulched the hay by running over it with a lawn mower to chop it up. I then made layers with the first being peat moss then a layer of hay and then peat moss and then hay. I continued this until I got to the right height. Then wherever I was going to put a seed or a seedling, I scooped out a handful of the layers and put potting soil for the seed to germinate. I tried this out because my friend at school said his Father did this and he got a lot more produce from it. We shall see. After all the seedlings were transplanted I then watered them and stuck them in some sun!

This is one day after I transplanted them.

On the left are two peas and then the other four are radishes.

On the left are two peas and then three radishes. One died. :( Can you tell which ones are more full and producing more leaves? Yup the plants with the hay/peat moss mixture are producing more so far.

Bird Feeder

Overview: If you have kids or just enjoy bird watching, have I got a deal for you! This is a very easy, inexpensive, and fun item to build. It does not take very much time either and you and/or your children will love it.

Interesting Fact: Recently I was out talking with my neighbors, filling up the bird feeder and I asked them where the wasp traps were that used to be hanging up on the trees where their children play. They told me that they didn't even need the wasp traps anymore because the all the birds kept them away by feeding nearby. So if you have a flying insect problem, maybe this bird feeder will keep them away.

Please note that I actually made three of these bird feeders at the same time so that is why everything is actually three times as much as you really need. I bought the wood at Home Depot for a good price.

Please also note that I took all of these pictures with my cell phone since I forgot to bring my wife's camera with me so they aren't as clear as my usual posts.

Lime Light: I need to give a special thanks to my wife's family in Texas for taking some wonderful pictures for me of some birds eating at the feeder. Those pictures are posted at the end.

I started out by cutting the back of the bird feeder. I did not follow any blueprints, I simply envisioned the size that I wanted and went from there.

I then cut what will be the sides of the bird feeder measuring the same height as the back. You only need two of these for one bird feeder.

Here are all of the sides for all 3 bird feeders.

I then cut what would be the base of the bird feeder making sure that it was the same width as the back piece.

Before I attached any pieces of wood together I used my router to make a thin slit the length of the side pieces so as to make an area of my Plexiglas to slide in.

I then drew an area for the bird seed to go underneath the Plexiglas making it big enough for the birds to reach the seed and used my router to carve this box out. Don't worry! It does not have to be a perfect rectangle. This is just a bird feeder. The birds won't care if it isn't perfect.

I then used a table saw or a router to cut notches into the sides and back piece so as to make a better fit. I would suggest using a router because it is easier to make the cuts more exact. I used a table saw since I didn't have the right bit.

I then used glue and a nail fun to attach all of the pieces together and let it dry for maybe 30 minutes.

I wanted to get a little fancy so I used another bit with my router to make a decorative edge the height of the bird feeder.

I then took it to my compound miter saw and made a bevel cut that would slope down from the back to the front so as to have a place to attach the roof.

I cut another piece of wood that I used for the roof and attached it to the bird feeder by drilling two holes in the top of the bird feeder and two holes in the lid and gluing two pieces of a dowel rod into the holes of the bird feeder making sure that they stick out for the lid holes to lay over.

I then sanded everything to make all of the edges smoother and to make it better able to take a stain.

I then used a pre-stain conditioner and a golden oak stain.

While the stain was drying, I cut some Plexiglas using a utility knife scoring it a lot, over and over and over again until it would snap in the right place.

I then attached two hooks to the back of the bird feeder and ran some wire from one to the other tying the ends to each hook. I put a nail in a tree and then hung it up.

And here it is in all its glory! Come and get em' birdies!

You can get bird seed at WalMart, any pet store, or any farming store. I bought 5 pounds of bird seed at a farming store for $3.49. You will not break the bank with this project.

There is a male and a female in this picture. The red is the male and the gray is the female.

Two males maybe fighting over who will stay with the female?

Ordering: Would you like to have a bird feeder for your own home? These feeders are lightweight and make excellent gifts for any occasion. I will even throw in a bag of bird seed for FREE with each purchase!

Cost: $10.00 + Shipping and Handling

Email to Place an Order:

Upon emailing me, I will send you an email with further instructions on how to submit payment and when you can expect to receive your item.

Danish Rolls

Overview: Come one, Come all ! These Danish Rolls are the best thing to come around since sliced bread and ding dongs. These are not very difficult to make but to require a some time. It is a lot better to have one or two extra people around to help form the rolls once the dough has risen.

Lime Light: I would like to thank my Mom Amy for helping me with this recipe. I had to wait three months for her to come visit me in order to teach me how to make these. I also need to thank my Grandma Georgianna for the recipe. I am not sure how long this recipe has been in the family but in my eyes she helped get the tradition going.

Start out by getting the yeast to mix by putting 1/4 cup water in a container.

Add 2 tablespoons of yeast and put the container to the side.

Next place 2 cups of milk in a pot and bring to a boil. You want to scald the milk which means boil it until there are bigger bubbles along the edges of the pot. Be careful not to boil the milk for too long though.

Place 4 tablespoons of margarine in the mixer.

Pour the milk into the mixer.

Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Mix all together and let sit until the milk has become warm instead of scalding.

Add in 2 beaten eggs and 1 cup of sifted flour.

Blend this very thoroughly and add the yeast mixture.

Once it has been mixed pour dough onto your lightly floured board or counter and knead it with more flour until it is smooth and elastic.

Grease a bowl with vegetable oil to place the dough into. Place dough in bowl to get it coated with vegetable oil, lift the dough and flip it so the other side gets coated with vegetable oil.

Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm area that is free from any drafts.

Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Turn on your oven to 450 degrees.

Roll the dough out onto a board because you will be cutting it out into strips and you don't want to make scratches on your counter top.

Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into thin slices and cover half of the rolled out dough.

Fold the dough over, lift it and turn it 90 degrees. Roll the dough out again to the same size as before. Repeat the process of cutting 4 tablespoons of butter into thin slices and folding the dough over 2 more times. After these two times, lift the dough up and rotate it 90 degrees and roll it out again to the same size as the first time.

Cut the dough into thin strips.

Time Saving Tip: You can cut the dough using a knife or I have found that a pizza cutter works best. The dough won't stick as much to the pizza cutter nor will the pizza cutter pull the dough. Plus, since the pizza cutter rolls, you can cut it a lot faster.

Cut the dough lengthwise.

Take a strip and pull it a little bit. Twist in opposite directions with both hands making the dough look like a piece of twisted licorice.

Then pinch one side and coil the dough into a circle while continuing to twist the one end continuously. At the very end of coiling, tuck the end underneath so that it won't uncoil. Place on a cooking sheet spreading them out since they will rise more. Place sheet in the oven at 450 degrees for 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Tip: Look at the end of this entry for a video description of coiling up a Danish Roll courtesy of my Mother.

While the rolls are baking, start mixing up the glaze.

Place 1 pound of confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons boiling water in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. I would suggest using a wire whisk instead of our dinky plastic whisk.

Take the rolls out of the oven and immediately place on a cooling rack and use a big spoon to drizzle the glaze on top of them. You have to drizzle while the rolls are still warm.

If you run out of glazing in your bowl, do not be afraid to scrape up and reuse the leftover glaze that has fallen from the rolls.
You might want to make sure your counter is clean before you do this though.

Ahhhhh! Deliciousness! Eat as many as you can before everyone sees/smells them!