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The Pea Trick Opportunity


Happy spring! Planting time again! (As though I ever stop.) And it looks like I’ve never shared my pea planting trick on the blog. (Though this one is in my book, Indoor Salad.)

First, the opportunity. If you’ve never eaten peas fresh off the vine, you haven’t tasted the real thing. Pea sugars start to turn to starch just minutes after picking. The just-picked flavor is intensely sweet. You can’t buy this flavor, even from a farm stand. The best tasting peas you can buy come in a freezer bag. To get the real deal, you have to grow them yourself.

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Project Reunion Release!

Project Reunion is the sequel to my novel End Game, and released on March 23, 2016!

Le Blurb:

A Daring Plan to Save a Dying City

New York City is hopeless. When Ebola broke out, the ruthless Calm Act walled off the city behind armed borders. Otherwise contagious refugees would flood out and devastate the whole Northeast. The survivors outside, struggling to make ends meet in a chaotic climate and collapsed economy, are grateful. But they feel guilty as sin. The agony of New York weighs heavy on the regional conscience.

Dee Baker and her lover Emmett MacLaren propose their own daring plan to resolve the crisis. Dee leads the Amenac Internet empire, bypassing the Calm Act’s censorship to empower survivors to help themselves. Emmett is a martial law governor anointed within the Calm Act to lead and rebuild. The rule-breaker and the rule-maker could prove a dynamic partnership – or be torn apart.

Now that the crops are in, can the Northeast afford to rescue a tormented New York? Or is it too perilous to try, with another state beyond their borders threatening war?

Project Reunion is the sequel to End Game, book 2 in the Calm Act series.

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Fiction Debut - End Game

End Game book coverMy fiction debut novel, End Game, released September 30, 2015. The protagonist faces the end of the world with gardening. Blurb:
 


Have a date yet for the end of the world as we know it?

 

Dee Baker, star programmer for a Fortune 100 media powerhouse, has options. She also has access to the secret plans of the U.S. government to make the end of the world survivable, for some.

 

The ultimate job benefit is a berth in an ark, safe from the storms as climate change accelerates, and the processes that normalize Earth’s climate sputter and fail.

 

Will Dee be one of the fortunate few to get an ark berth? Or is that even the goal?

 

Set in Connecticut, this near-term SF adventure is pre-apocalyptic, where ordinary people choose extraordinary ways to face a climate and world gone haywire.


 

A scrapbook and other bonus content is available on books.gingerbooth.com.

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LED Aerogarden Update

LED Aerogarden tomatoI now have 2 LED Aerogardens - and no more CFL Aerogardens.

That first fantastico tomato grow lasted 33 weeks and harvested 1024 cherry tomatoes. The plant was perfectly healthy and setting more fruit to the end. I just terminated it when my outdoor tomatoes started producing. The tomatoes needed extra light to taste good. But I expect that in a tomato.

Because that grow went well, I bought another LED system (the cheap version) when my original Pro100 system failed. At that point, I had four aging CFL Aerogardens, each broken in a different way. I was awfully tired of paying for and recycling the expensive weird-shaped CFLs. The CFL systems grew lettuce better. But I don't need an Aerogarden to grow lettuce.

The cheaper LED system has a hissing air pump, and less light. I wish I'd bought a second Ultra instead.

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Seed Starting Tricks

seed starting pictureTwo more weeks and it's officially Spring! I started my impatiens today, and thought a quick blog post on seed-starting tricks might be fun.

1. Use a plastic bag to wet the soil.

My friend Beth taught me this trick. Dry potting mix, especially the fine seed-starting mixes, are hard to wet. Just place the needed amount of soil mix in a zip-lock storage bag, add warm water, and zip it up, squeezing out the air. Then squish the water through. Then put the wet potting mix in your planting containers. Works much better!

For what it's worth, I rarely use the fine seed-starting mixes. I just start seeds in the same potting mix I use for everything.

2. Plant in plastic containers.

Plastic is washable, and can be re-used for years. All sorts of plastic containers can be turned into seed-starting containers by adding drainage holes to the bottom. I use a soldering iron to melt holes. Those plastic trays from frozen dinner entrees make great seedling flats. For bigger seedlings, like peppers and tomatoes, I have a stack of plastic pots that came with plants bought at garden centers – endlessly reusable and dishwasher-safe.

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Spring Planting for Stir-Fry

Cabbage seedlings
Chinese cabbage and other seedlings

It’s snowing again. Time to plan the spring garden!

Every year about this time, I rev up a spreadsheet, and count backward to when to plant indoors, to get hefty healthy plants to stick outdoors as soon as possible. As a condo dweller, my outdoor growing space is at a premium. I don’t waste months and limited garden space planting seeds out there, if I can start them indoors. This allows more than one crop per year out of my limited outdoor crop space.

This week I started Chinese cabbage, last year’s surprise hit. Delicious with fresh ginger in stir-fries and home-made pot-stickers, we looked forward to harvesting each one. Cabbage packs more flavor and great texture than your average leaf crop. Pretty, too!

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New B&W Edition Out!

book cover

There’s a new black&white softcover edition of Indoor Salad available. The black and white interior allows me to sell it to wider distribution, at a lower list price. I also took the opportunity to fix some formatting problems on the interior of both b&w and color editions.

 

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Finally – LEDs That Work!


Aerogarden Ultra LED

My book Indoor Salad was pretty down on LEDs. I really wanted LEDs to work – but my experiments with low-cost LEDs were dismal. They couldn't even support low-light lettuce, and the electronics failed within weeks.

But I took the plunge and bought an Aerogarden Ultra LED, planted a month ago. So far, so good! My little test plants are thriving, growing a bit faster than they normally do under CFL light. My test plants:

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Summer Veggies – Indoors

Aerogarden lettuceIf you're like me, in summer you've got the outdoor vegetable garden going full tilt in summer. Why would you grow indoors with all that wonderful free sunlight available? Here are some useful summer indoor growing projects, if you have energy left over from your weeding and watering chores.

  1. Lettuce. Lettuce doesn't take much light, and it doesn't do well in the heat of summer. And you want great lettuce to go with all your summer cukes and tomatoes.

  2. Herbs. Sure, you can grow them outside – but then you need to wash them. And like everything else, outdoor herbs are subject to fungal diseases and bugs. My local farm market had no basil at all last week. Everyone's basil turned black and died in the field recently. Clean healthy basil and parsley, oregano and dill, or whatever your favorite leafy herbs are, go great with summer harvests. Cilantro and rosemary are better off left outside, though.

  3. Indoor tomatoes – for winter. It takes a good four months for peppers and tomatoes to reach harvest size. By the way, I never bring outdoor veggies in at the end of the season. Too many bugs and diseases come in with them.

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Spring Planting - Indoors

broccoli and onions among the pansies in my seedling shelf – project in the book
broccoli and onions with pansies in my seedling shelf –
project in the book

The calendar says it's Spring! The weather says, not just yet... This winter has been brutal in most of North America. And for those of us near big bodies of water, like Long Island Sound and the Great Lakes, all that cold is stored in a great big bathtub next door.

It's gonna be a cold Spring.

By starting vegetables indoors, you can hedge your bets. I've discussed the indoor/outdoor pepper opportunity before – just grow pepper plants indoors, up to harvest size, and move the pots outdoors for the rest of the season once it's warm enough. (That's over 50ºF or 10ºC at night for peppers, or they drop their baby fruits.)

But peppers are a hot-weather summer fruit. I'm guessing it's going to be a late, short summer. So I'm weighting my plans toward extra spring crops this year.

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