Archive for January, 2010

Snickerdoodles Recipe

Enjoy warm snickerdoodles with milk, tea or coffee!

This recipe is credited to James Beard, whose recipe book I’ve had since the 70’s. A foodie friend told me that he was not a model of restraint with respect to butter, but that’s just fine with me as we consume probably a pound of butter a week, sometimes more.

These cookies are best enjoyed when fresh out of the oven!


Sift together and set aside flour mixture:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix

  • 5 tablespoons raw cane sugar (or granulated white, but raw cane is better)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Butter the cookie/baking sheet.


  • 1 cup softened butter till fluffy, then
  • Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat till fluffy. Then add (mix between ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk

Combine well till mixture is smooth and creamy.

Gradually add the flour mixture till well-combined.

Using two teaspoons, put small dollops of snickerdoodle dough about 2″ apart on the baking sheet. It will look like a gooey mess – don’t worry. Then generously sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture on the top. Don’t worry if the sprinkles miss the dough because upon baking, the dough will rise and expand and pick up the sprinkles.

Bake approximately 10-12 min. till the sides of the snickerdoodles are light brown. Depending on the size of the snickerdoodles, this recipe can make up to 6 dozen/72 snickerdoodles! Best served warm.


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Many thanks to all who participated in our “Survey for First Attempt Garden Edibles for 2010“. As we learn from your submissions, we are happy to publish them for others to benefit as well! Here is a summary of results.

The most popular plant families were

  • Legume (Fabaceae)
  • Cabbage/Mustard (Brassicaceae)
  • Nightshade (Solanaceae)
  • Squash (Curcurbitaceae)

And the most unusual plant was the Gallus gallus, otherwise known as the “chicken” 🙂

The “eye openers” for us were these:

Strawberry SpinachWarrigal Greens (native to New Zealand), Poona Kheera cucumbers, ‘Petit Posy” which is a cross between kale and brussel sprout, and the Wonderberry, a nightshade relative of the tomato.

Strawberry Spinach and Petit Posy

Strawberry Spinach and Petit Posy (brussel sprout/kale hybrid)

Wonderberry and Poona Kheera Cucumber

Wonderberry and Poona Kheera Cucumber

Vegetables and fruit mentioned were:

Arrugula – Rocket (Burpee seed tape)
Beans – black soup, Borlotti, Dragon’s Tongue, Heirloom Dry, Pole, Wax, Runner
Broccoli – Chinese, Romanesco
Carrots – Purple
Corn – Strawberry & Dakota Black for making popcorn, Bodacious
Cucumber – Lemon, Poona Kheera
Edamame (soybeans)
Eggplant – Black Opal, others
Green Onions (Burpee seed tape)
Kiwi – ‘Jenny’
Lettuce – Rouge d’Hiver Romaine, Gourment blend in seed tape
Peas – Garden, Mange-tout (snow, snap)
Peppers – Ghost. Hottest in the world!
‘Petit Posy’ – cross between Kale & Brussel Sprout
Pumpkin – Giant, of course
Silver beet / chard
Sorrel – French
Spinach – Strawberry
Squash – Butternut, Spaghetti, Summer varieties
Strawberries – white, and other more common varieties
Sweet potato
Tatsoi – Asian greens
Tomato – Opalka (great paste tomato)
Warrigal Greens – aka “New Zealand Spinach” or Tetragonia
Wonderberry – relative to tomato in Nightshade family
Yam beans

And comments:

  • If it’s unusual or crazily coloured I want to grow it!
  • Lots of new veggies for this year, and a couple fruits!
  • Never trying corn again! 2 years of failure.
  • It’s our second season gardening and we’re really looking forward to it since we will know the difference between the weeds and what we planted.
  • Ok, so chickens aren’t plantings, but they will be the focus of our ‘new’ stuff this year.
  • Planted some top fruit & soft fruit last year – looking forward to 1st harvest this year.
  • I am really hoping that these seed tapes will help imporve my yield. My wife is very new to gardening and hates thinning (she feels all the baby plants should have a chance to grow!) the seed tapes promise to reduce the need to thin so I hope to get a better yield from less crowded plants.
  • Probably standard choices for many but new to me
  • Careful with swiss chard – grows like a weed and takes up a lot of space
  • Not much, just starting this year!
  • Very alkaline soil; only thing it will grow is legumes.
  • My first horseradish (in a pot) just died. Want to try again. No quinoa or chia this year – quinoa didn’t form seed. Chooks won’t eat the leaves. Chia low yield

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2009 was a banner year for seed sales as individuals and families started looking at vegetable gardening as a way to manage tight budgets while improving eating habits. Now a month past winter solstice, daylight hours are getting a bit longer, and 2010 seed and garden supply catalogs are piling up on our night tables.

So for newbies and old hands at gardening edibles, what veggies or fruits look especially intriguing in those seed catalogs? Which less common plants or rare varieties (select your top 3 choices, if you can) are whetting your appetite for 2010? Take our quick survey below and we’ll publish the results in our next blog:

Plangarden 2010 Edible Garden Survey is now CLOSED … Survey Results Here

Plangarden founder, Roy Stahl, perusing Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog

Pink bananas in your edible garden?

Before you go “hog wild”, take a reality check with respect to the suitability of those new edibles to your climate, soil type, space requirements, etc.  Our “Seven Strategies To Plan Your Vegetable Garden” post might help you out.

Here’s what we’re ruminating on:

  1. Garden sorrelRumex acetosa” – apparently more popular in Europe than in the U.S.  Found this recipe for sorrel soup – it is delish!
  2. Asian cucumbersCucumis sativus“- these tasty little cukes are excellent snacks that a Persian friend introduced to us on a hike
  3. Tomatillo “Physalis ixocarpa” – we’ll be making lots of salsa out of this and will try it in stews.

But one can’t stop at three, right?  So here are other less common garden edibles we’ve attempted or thought about cultivating:  quinoa (superduper healthy grain), amaranth (beautiful red plants but they needed staking; it was like harvesting sand so a bit tricky), soybeans (don’t you just love snacking on edamame?), scorzonera/salsify (we hear it’s great in soups), and celeriac (though long days to harvest, it’s so yummy in soups and as a low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes).

Now in its own rightful kingdom and no longer classified as plants, edible fungi like oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus species) have been grown in this household. Seed companies like Territorial are getting into the recent popularity of home-cultivated mushrooms and offering cultivation kits for oyster, shiitake, and even more exotic mushrooms like lion’s mane, believed to promote healthy neurological functions!

So how about you? Will it be that rare heirloom tomato or something for “shock effect”? Let us know 🙂

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First of all, we deeply apologize for having been AWOL these past few months. We are working on a “special project”, one that will significantly expand our garden, our gardening knowledge, and allow us to live more sustainably. More on this subject in later months.

Second, many thanks to all of you who participated in our gardening polls at the end of 2009. We work tirelessly at something that’s near and dear to our hearts, and it’s good to sit back and reflect. Edible plants are a delight to grow – they nurture us in every respect: their beauty, nutritional benefits, as well as their demands on our bodies and minds! We won’t claim that the results of the poll is representative of the “entire veg gardener universe”, but it’s interesting to see how a segment of our ‘colleagues’ have fared.

Now the good news. Nearly two-thirds of our respondents gave a “pretty good” rating on the overall results of their veg gardening efforts, and plan to continue in 2010. Less than 1 in 10 gardeners either hit the jackpot 🙂  or failed rather miserably 😦

General results of 2009 Veggie Garden for Plangarden poll

2009 was a pretty good year after all!

As for gardening successes, the top three were bountiful harvests, having a greater variety of veggies, and successfully managing pests/varmit – the perennial gardener pet peeve.  For kicks, here are some “Other” comments that were added on 2009 successes.  Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • Managed to avoid the dreaded tomato blight for MOST of the season
  • Pesticide-free sweet corn attracted an all-time record of pests!
  • Loved preserving everything!
  • Well, I learned an awful lot about what not to do.
  • Figured out which varieties thrive even when neglected. 😉
  • First “lasagna” garden, yielded lots of tomatoes
  • Great crop with no work!!
  • Excited about square (foot?) garden and mini greenhouse successes
  • Yard converted into a garden!
Plangarden Blog readers evaluate vegetable gardening successes in 2009

2009 Veg Garden Successes

On the topic of veg gardening challenges, weather, fungus/rot, and time for gardening were on the top 3.  Other challenges included:

  • Containing rogue pumpkins and other squash.
  • Too much shade in expanded area.
  • Have sun / amount of sunlight challenges.
  • Wish we had more sunny space. Would plant lots more fruit.
  • Trying to weed with a baby bump is hard! (Congratulations! We hope you had a healthy baby since you took the poll!)
  • Tomatoes didn’t take off until the end of August — worried abt harvest!
  • Tried to grow plants better suited for hotter climates.
Responses to Plangarden's 2009 Veg Garden Challenges poll

Weather issues threw a monkey wrench in 2009 veggie gardens

Looking forward to the 2010 season, nearly a fifth of respondents planned to expand their veg garden areas, add a greater variety of veggies, and work on soil conditioning and prep. Veg gardening cost was a very minor issue, and that veg gardeners are looking to donate excess harvests to food banks.  Other responses included:

  • Plant pumkins and squash next to a trellis and train them to climb up.
  • Plant fewer items that will thrive better.
  • Learn to control the weather. (Our favorite 😉 )
  • Change planting positions.
  • Plant less at a time but plant more often to spread out harvest.
  • Not pinch off early buds and fruit; try for earlier harvest.
  • Work on irrigation.
  • Stay ahead of weeds sooner.
  • Weed. I didn’t know I had too, I thought it was an option. (Ha ha ha!)
  • Plant less veggie variety.
  • Focus on planting more of the crops that do well, and less experimenting.
  • Use more successional planting to manage excess.
  • Do a better job of fall/winter planting; care for starts better.
Most Plangarden respondents are enthusiastic about their 2010 gardens

Veggie gardeners will keep their "thumbs to the grindstone" for 2010!

We will issue this poll again at the end of the 2010 season and hopefully have some interesting and fun comparisons at the year end. Thanks again to those who participated in our poll. All the best to your vegetable gardening avocation in 2010 !

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