Sunday, March 7, 2010

7 February 1956 “Spring has Sprung, well Peeked It’s Head Out At Least, And Planting Seeds the 1950’s Way.”

womanbikeposter2 This morning Hubby, Gussie and I hopped on our vintage bikes and rode to the ocean. We are lucky in that, though we do not live ON the water, we are biking distance away. Part of the trip involves our riding down this lovely mown path, large enough for us to ride two abreast if we choose. It is so fun to go bumping over the grass with our white-wall tires flashing in the warm sunshine. In the summer, the shrubbery grows over 15’ on either side and is filled with wild roses and honeysuckle. I always feel myself in a Merchant Ivory Film when we pass through there.
This path then crosses the raid road tracks and goes down to the Canal (which was once a brackish stream that was dug out in the 1930’s to allow ships to pass through thus connecting the Cape with two bridges and turning us into an island).
There is a lovely two lane paved path that follows the canal along and is only open to foot and bike/roller-skate traffic. As it was a sunny Sunday, the thoroughfare was rather busy. But, we didn’t mind. The sun was out, the air warm and sweet and you could just feel Spring waiting in the corners and crevices of everything. There a bit of crocus or daffodil peeking through. There, the bugs on the trees straining to be set free. This mingled with the salty air of the ocean and three happy bikers was an intoxicating mix.

So, we biked along. At one point to get to the beach, you ride around the little harbor here and see all the boats laid up in their winter coats, waiting for their release to the water. A graceful boat, like a swan, looks Ridiculous out of water. Its streamlined wonder and cutting dashing appearance becomes ludicrous when its great bottom is left, knotted with barnacles, on stands.

After the harbor we pass the little fish market where I buy our seafood (it is VERY fresh since it is literally on the water, and then the pretty three story Coast Guard station. The Fried Seafood Shack and the nicer Seafood Restaurant.Then, down another little dirt path (again very Merchant Ivory, especially when you are wearing a skirt and hose and jaunty scarf as I was). And then the beach and the immense stones of the break wall. We parked our bikes along the Beach signs and moved out onto the warm rocks to what the water ripple by.

Oh, so warm and lovely. Closing your eyes and feeling the ocean breeze, the heat from the rocks, the gulls. Hubby turned to me and said, “You know, this is what people pay to come here on holiday to do. Ride your bike to the beach and lounge, stay in a little old rustic cottage.And we get to enjoy it whenever we like.” I smiled and agreed. It is nice to appreciate what one has; to feel blessed and to be happy where you are and in the moment.

Once we returned, we sat on the little terrace and watched the dogs rolls and romp in the grass. Hubby hacked a bit at our mounds of Forsythia (they are going to be dug up and recieve a new home in the front garden). Of course, the warm air and exercise has me so excited for the gardening season. I love gardening. I think I inherited the love for it from my Paternal grandparents, they had amazing gardens, acres of them, and could get a anything to grow. My Grandfather loved exotic plants and was always trying something new. chineselatern1 I remember the rows of drying ‘Chinese paper lanterns’ in the big outbuilding they used for their garden equipment/potting shed. illustrationchineselantern My Grandmother is still alive and gardening every year, though she is 98 this year!

I bought my first seeds the other day. I am trying to buy only old or heritage seeds, nothing that is an insane hybrid or anything that was genetically made. I love the history of some of the heritage seeds and plants and to know you are growing and keeping on the earth such old tested plants. I am going to be putting some Heritage and fun seeds in the new SEED section of the store on the site, if you want to check those out as well. I love this bean, which I freely admit I am buying because of the name and because it is from the 1880s. It is called the “lazy Housewife” because it was the first string-less bean.

I want to try some new things, such as this amaranthreddseed I am going to let you read about it, here you go:

This heat-loving summer green is even more nutritious than spinach or beet greens! With its coleus appearance, it is showy enough for flowerbeds. With its heat tolerance, it will give you sweet and slightly tangy salad greens well into summer when your spring crops have been harvested or have bolted. Incredibly versatile, you can steam it like spinach, stir-fry it, or sautee it. Try mixing the leaves with spaghetti sauce, rice, meatloaf, or use it whenever your Chinese cookbook calls for spinach. Just like our Amaranth Burgundy. (in the flower section) you can also harvest the seeds to eat as a grain. The seeds have a huge 20% protein and rank 75 out of 100 as a complete protein, which is higher than milk, soybeans, or whole wheat. The foliage is very nutritious. High in vitamin A, C, iron, calcium and protein. Can be grown in full sun or partial shade.

How wonderful does that sound, plus it is pretty like coleus. I want to try to harvest the seed to grind to use like flour. Has anyone ever grown this one before?

Here are the seeds I started today.I really love the Botanical Interest seeds and was excited to see I can sell these in the Store on the website. They are great seeds and a great company too.(no I am not getting paid by them to say that, I just like their seeds, choice and company).tomatoace tomatoyellopear tomatoecherokeepurple tomatoegreen cucumberpickles cucumberslicing These are all Heritage and organic seeds. I really want to be able to plant all my veg next year from harvested seed from this year. It is going to be a sort of Garden Challenge.

I am using some leftover plastic domes seed starters I had before, but promised myself not to buy any new plastics. I began to wonder, how did they do this in the 1950’s? Yes, they had plastic, but not like they do now. I don’t think plastic seed starting trays came out until the late 70’s. So, how on earth did they start seeds indoors? And, before that, in the 1900’s how?

So, in my 50’s Gardening book (which will really help with the Gardening section on the site) it shows starting seeds in little wooden boxes. I think I shall try to make some myself. I have included the two sets of instructions they have. (Just click on the image to enlarge it) Neither address how to stop the water from leaking through, but I suppose you put it somewhere waterproof. Luckily for me, I found that wonderful metal kitchen cart when I went to the Estate sale of Ann’s that I wrote about last month.


It seems a very ‘green’ way to grow seedlings, I mean why more plastic, right? But, I have some leftover, so I will use those and the new wooden ones. I was also thinking, how adorable the wooden are and would look cute in the house, as opposed to the wretched plastic. It also really demonstrates how heat more than light are important to seedlings. Many people make the mistake of starting seedlings in direct light and they can dry out too soon or get burned. They don’t need that sun until they begin to photosynthesize (why plants are green). I like how they said to use old newspaper, if you haven’t any glass and the brown paper on the bottom to keep the soil in. This whole set up is all about using old wood leftover, brown paper and leftover newspaper. It also fits into the Use less Plastic discussion we have been having on the Forum.

I also noticed that you most likely didn’t just saunter into the garden store and ask for seed starting mix. You made it from your own soil. Interesting. Not sure if I will try that this year or not. If I do, I shall share the results with you here and on the Gardening page of the site.

You can also make grow pots out of old newspaper as well. Here is an easy tutorial from Youtube. ( I know they sell little wooden shapers to make your own newspaper pots, but why spend the money when you can just use a glass or tin can you have in the house, save the money for the seeds.)I also think, I will make some of these and put them in wooden boxes (no plastic) and then also plant up the wooden boxes as shown in my 50’s book (the above photo’s) and see which work best for next year.


Have any of you started your seeds indoors yet? I know there were some on the Forum that were surprised to know that you can plant a garden without any land, by using buckets. Check out the Victory Garden section of the WarTimeThrift page of the site. There is a video on how to use an old plastic bucket (use it up!) and grow tomatoes upside down hanging on hooks, even if you only have a deck or an outside wall you can do that! And I am going to be growing potatoes in buckets this year, as well!

I have just discovered I can put so many of the wonderful Heritage and organic seeds in the STORE on the site, so if you want to have a look around and the seeds I love and some of which I will be planting check it out HERE.

Until tomorrow, then, Happy Homemaking and Happy Gardening!


  1. It sounds like you had a great day! I would love to live so close to the water that I could ride my bike. Every year, I say I am going to plant a garden and I never do. Maybe 1956 will be my year. I love visiting your blog. You are doing such a great job! ~Dan~

  2. I could just picture you riding away on your vintage bike to go to the ocean, sigh I'm stuck here.......our weather is still chilly with mid forties here but it will warm up soon, glad you had a great day :)

    Mom in Canada

  3. I just started lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach indoors and planted my peas and kale outside this weekend and will start other veggies later. I have been learning to save seed from the previous year and try to use heirloom seeds as much as possible.

    Your bike ride sounds enchanting. How fun that you live by the sea!

    farm girl

  4. Sounds like the perfect day. Your hubby's right about how lucky you are to live where you do. It's always good to be able to recognize and count your blessings.

  5. can i ask what you wear when cycling?

  6. 50sgal,

    Great post—It’s hard to believe that it's planting time again!

    Last year, DH helped me by building three wooden container gardens for outside. I then cut boards to divide them each into sections for square-foot gardening.

    I also started my seeds indoors with a smaller wooden container garden. Indeed, the water did leak out, so I kept towels underneath. The plants grew beautifully. The downside was that there were fruit flies by the hundreds! They bread in the moisture on the towels and also in the organic starting soil I used. I’m not sure how I’ll remedy that this year, as I plan on using the same soil. Coconut husk is supposed to help, so I shall try that for starters.

    As I have mentioned before, I’m sure, I also started my compost last year. DS and friend built me a nicely sized compost bin out of a would-be-thrown-away crate and scrap wood. The gardening containers were also made from the same, so this was both a scavenger hunt and use-it-up project as well, which I love! The compost is wonderful, and I should be able to use some of it this year in my gardens.

    Since you have dogs, how are you able to keep them from getting into your gardens? My pup likes to run through them and dig up things, so I think that I shall have to put up little fences around them. I would love to hear your solution.

  7. P.S.

    I tried to order the Tomato Bush that you feature here but didn't see in the store site...?

  8. Elise-I usually wear a skirt. Yesterday I wore my grey tweed skirt (it isn't full but a gored skirt below the knee, so it doesn't blow up in the air!)my grey argyle sweater, my knit cap and scarf and my grey leather gloves.Oh, and cotton stockings. Hubby said I looked very cute. I also wore flats. I really would like to get a pair of these shoes I see often in my 50's magazines that have a sort of lace up on the side and have a type of low wedge heel. I often see ladies in skirts working and doing chores in articles in magazines with these on.
    Zebu-which tomato bush was it? I believe I put all those I bought and many more in the store. I may have been still putting them in as you were looking and it hadn't shown up yet. Which one was it?
    Oh, and my dogs are very small and would rather lie about like great lazy lumps in the sun than dig up anything. I think if I gave them a bone to bury they would look at me and think, "Oh, you do it darling, I can't be bothered". So in that aspect, they could care less. I think my little chi would most likely try to 'mark his spot' on the plants and that would be about it. I am also going to have a fence around my veg garden, to keep out any creatures. I will be doing a white picket to match the house and on the garden side will have chicken wire and there will also be a cute little archway and gate. I plan on planting grapes and blackberries along this fence. That is too bad about the bugs, I hope that won't happen with me. I am going to build a compost yard this year (had planned on it last summer but then half way through we decided to move back to the house we are now it, which is why my gardens have to be started over)I will share pictures as I progress. I wanted to build my coldframes last week, but we had bad weather up until the weekend and then we enjoyed the sun and biking more. So this week, I will get those up and plant up my kale, cabbage, lettuce, snowpeas etc.

  9. Hey, Zebu, we miss seeing you around the forum. I left a private message for you the other day, but I'm guessing you haven't seen it if you haven't been there lately.

    I'm loving all the garden talk. It gives me hope that warm weather is just around the corner.

  10. Your description of the bicycle ride was wonderful! What a beautiful day you three had.

    I'm going to try starting a garden this year, but this is my first time, so I don't expect too much.

    I love those heritage packets.


  11. Texas Accent In SydneyMarch 8, 2010 at 10:13 PM

    Smiled to see Gussie's name in your story ... haven't heard much about her lately ... think you said she's been working ... sounds like a fine day.

  12. Texas Accent In SydneyMarch 8, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    We talked about Pyrex yesterday ... and coincidentally I went and shattered a square Pyrex dish last night ... Pyrex is sturdy ... a person has to work pretty hard to break it ... took it out of the oven, removed food, left it on the stovetop but didn't realize a burner was still on ... it "cooked" empty on high while my little girl and I were eating and then "bang" into 100 pieces ... and surprisingly, today I was able to buy a second hand Pyrex dish for 50 cents ... the ladies sorting donations at the church op shop let me in, not usually a selling day ... not the same, not square, really just another clear glass pie pan ... but I can use it and I upped my inventory without going to a "big guys store" ... this one's not made in USA, but in Australia (where I am)... 50s Gal, before 1955, I'd have gone to KMart, Target or the big department store and paid big money for a brand new one ... and the ladies know what I'm looking for, will be on the lookout for the shape dish I want.

  13. It was the Tomato Bush Ace with a picture of a Mason jar and tomatoes. I shall try again.

    Are your cold frames those which you pump water through sort of like a wall o' water? Short of building a nursery outdoors, I am looking for successful ways to start my seedlings outside, as it is rather a mess indoors.

    Oh, P.L., I'll have to check it out. I'm not in the habit of checking messages on the forums so probably just missed it. Thank you for thinking of me! I hate getting behind on here. I may be away from time to time, but I'm never very far!

  14. I'm not a gardener by any means, but had some luck last year with my two (handmade!) wooden beds. over the fall/winter they become 'active compost' beds so (when i can remember) scraps go in to add to my soil. over the uncharacteristically warm weekend, hubby and i did yard work and i squealed with joy when, after raking my beds, i was greeted with the most beautiful 'black gold'! Though i don't plant much, and i'm not a great gardener, i am eagar to get going. perhaps i'll do my seed shopping this week, too!
    nice post!

  15. Rue-wonderful. I love 'infecting' people with the 'gardening' bug. I am telling you, the first time that little green head peeks out of the soil after you planting your seeds, you're done for. Even if you start at first with nursery starter plants, with watering, weeding and sun, you shall have a harvest, a hobby, and become a step closer to the food we eat.
    PL-I love this weather. I hope we can get you to at lest try one tomato in an unpside down bucket or planter!
    Texas Accent-Isn't is amazing how you can buy nicely made things with real style and use inexpensively? We have just been so conditioned to go to the 'big guys' we don't even think about it and that is the scary bit. Because we don't think about where the products come from, how they come into being, how it is hurting our own economy on a small scale and on and on. I love all my pyrex. Even my everyday dishes of the old 50's Temporama is so well made. It was just inexpensive glazed stoneware sold as promotions at grocery stores in the 50's but I have dropped, yes DROPPED, plats on my kitchen floor and nothing. Yet, the cheap drinking glasses (whcih I promised to use up, though they have all slowly been replaced by lovely vintage adn antique glasses a nice set was got at Christmas by hubby)break just by looking at them! Even older items that can be expensive, like my 'new' sewing machine. I could have gone to Walmart and bought a machine for 1/4 of what I paid for that machine, but it would have been made in China, been plastic, and broke in a year! I paid more for an older item because I know it will be around another 50 years!
    Zebu-No, cold frames are just that, a glassed in frame (usually an angled bed angled South to catch all the sun) dug a little into the soil. It is to help, say come early April when there may still be frost a place to start hardening off the seedlings I have started this week, rather than straight into the open air and ground and also a place to start your Brassica's (cabbage, lettuce, cold weather plants) early and also at the end of the season to continue to grow salad greens, etc in them into fall and sometimes winter, depending on your zone. It is really just an old idea, before there was electricity, you used the sun as best you could to get a jump on and to extend the growing season. I, too, want a place to start seeds (like tomatoes and such) not in the main house. For that you need a heated green house. I have plans for one attached to my house I want to make out of old windows and an old wood stove, we shall see how that turns out. That will be a fall project this year and I will cover all the insanity that goes into that so you can learn from my mistakes or celebrate my victories. There are some cold frames that are dug down deep enough into the ground that you actually have steps to walk into them, they still have the glass top and sometimes you can add a heat/grow light to help winter over tropical or other plants that have not been planted as yet. I think the wall of water sounds wonderful, but haven't an idea how that works. I would like to find out though. My cold frames will just be old windows for the tops (plastic works but not as well and again, why MORE plastic? and it looks ugly , yech! I am all for beauty with function)and old salvaged wood for the beds. They will be attached to the southside wall of my house that sits in the garden and will be permanent fictures. I plan, come high summer, to not let them sit idle and may plant my squash and cukes in there, hooking the windows up and lettting them vine up the side of the house to save space.
    Jen-Good job! So rewarding. This is a good 'seed' week. Have fun shopping.

  16. I grew cherokee purple tomatoes last year. The flavor was wonderful and I got a ton of huge fruit. However, they were a bit prone to blight/rot. I found that if I picked them just before they were totally ripe and let them ripen indoors for the last couple of days, they did not get the rot that the ones left on the vine longer would often fall to.


  17. Garbagedog-thanks for the tip! We did really have a problem with tomato blight around here last year as well!


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