Gardening – How’s It Going? Pictures Say A Thousand Words

Lettuce seedlings are beautiful to watch grow. We transplanted a dozen seedlings last Sunday into the leafy green bed under a hoop house. Weather permitting, we will transplant more this weekend including spinach and direct sow some herbs.
Cabbage seedlings are coming along nicely. We will wait until late April to send them outside. The hardening off process, however, can begin on days above 50 degrees F.
Spinach is ready for transplant. Saturday should be that day!
Beaver Dam Pepper seedlings just emerging from the seed starting soil. 6 cells from the family who brought this spicy pepper to Beaver Dam over 100 years ago and 6 cells that Beth & R Dub saved from last season’s harvest. Seed started on Saturday March 18, 2023 began to germinate on Wednesday March 28. 10 days to germinate is good for hot peppers. Harvest is roughly 80 days after transplant.
Cilantro started from seed last week. We will sow more from seed in the herb bed this weekend. Beth LOVES cilantro!
The mystery bonus plants from our attempt to start some basil. The basil didn’t make it, but these four plants did. The tall one? Currant tomato. It began to bloom a week or so ago, we hand pollinated the blooms and now there are 4 tiny fruit started! The other 3 plants? We think they are Kale.
Four tiny currant tomatoes! Time for a new and bigger container!
Oh! Almost forgot the Walla Walla onions! Looking good, and looking for advice pruning them back.

Gardening – Weather Delay! : Herb Direct Seed & Lettuce Transplant

Our good intentions of direct seeding herbs and transplanting lettuce were hijacked by Mother Nature and 10″ of snow Saturday morning. Snow removal took center stage…
Come Sunday Beth cleared us a path to the Leafy Green hoop house. Four varieties of leafy greens were transplanted into the hoop house. The day after a 10″ snow storm The hoop house was emanating warmth the moment we opened it up. The soil is warm and moist. Looking forward to taking the plastic cover off. Notice the spinach in back of the bed needs to be harvested…BONUS!
Lettuce from top to bottom: Loose Leaf Blend, Black Seeded Simpson, Gourmet Blend, Tri-Color Romaine
This overwintered spinach was cut after we transplanted the lettuce. Next weekend new spinach seedlings will be transplanted in this bed to replace spinach that didn’t survive the hoop house winter.

Enter the first full week of spring 2023. Our garden plans? Transplant lettuce to the hoop house and direct seed a few herbs in the new herb beds we prepared last fall.

Mother Nature says; “Not so fast Skippy.”…we wake up Saturday morning to see 6″ of snow on the ground and another 4” yet to fall before the storm ends at noon. Transplanting will need to wait until we can move enough snow to get to the hoop houses and…Direct seeding will need to wait for another weekend. The next best thing?

Herbs in seed starting trays…and clear a path the leafy green hoop house.

R Dub was able to find the driveway and front patio. 10″ of heavy March snow takes a toll on a 60 something body. That’s enough snow removal for one day. Our usual snow removal guy Chris from across the street spent the morning digging out his grandparents and we didn’t want to wait until the afternoon warmup made the job near impossible for our Snow Thrower.

Instead of Saturday gardening, we took in two local theatrical productions. A matinee in Slinger, WI. Dinner at locally famous Wendt’s On The Lake in Van Dyne, WI. Then the evening theatrical production in Fond du Lac, WI. Gardening would need to wait for another day.

That day was Sunday. Beth cleared a path to the hoop house raised garden beds while R Dub cleared a path to the BBQ grill. We each have our own priorities…

Earlier we chronicled an expanded seed starting tray of lettuce. Tri-colored Romaine, Gourmet Blend, Black Seeded Simpson and Loose Leaf Blend. We seeded 16 cells each of these four varieties of lettuce.

Lettuce seedling tray before we pulled out a dozen cells to transplant.

When we opened up the hoop house, warm air cascaded out of the cover. That was a great sign. Better sign; the soil was loose and warm. Best sign; the spinach that was overwintered needed to be harvested.

Seed trays of herbs. Beth labeled each with the variety and when each should germinate. We will still direct sow other herbs like cilantro, basil, dill, parsley, sage and thyme.

To be safe, we only transplanted 3 plants each per variety. However, 12 lettuce seedlings that should bear its first cut and come again harvest in 2 to 4 weeks is WAY ahead of any other season we’ve had since beginning this adventure during the pandemic lock-downs in 2020. Something to look forward to!

Last fall was by far the best lettuce and spinach production we’ve had. Getting them started earlier in spring should result in better early harvest. News at 11.

Until next time. R Dub and Beth…out.

Gardening – Come On Spring!

Lettuce started from seed on February 19, looking great on the Ides of March. From left to right: Tri Colored Romaine, Gourmet Blend Salad, Black Seeded Simpson and Loose Leaf Blend.
Walla Walla onions started from seed on January 15. Two months of growth and looking good. They go into the outdoor beds 12 weeks after seed germination. Roughly the first or second week of April.
Spinach started from seed January 29. Not as pretty as the lettuce, and will not be as prolific as the lettuce, but what a powerful nutritional punch they will add to our salads and soups!
Cabbage started from seed on March 5. Only 10 days of growth, one set of real leaves. Not too shabby.
Our mystery plant. Came from a cell that was supposed to have basil in started from seed on January 12th. Our best guess? Currant tomato, note that it has blossomed. We should have fruit in a couple of weeks. Keeping this one under a grow light 16 yours per day.

Indoor gardening. We have a few seed starts. Onions were first in mid January for transplanting outside in early April. Spinach next which will go into a hoop house in early to mid April. Four types of lettuce that will be scattered into several beds when they all thaw out. (Or unthaw as the locals in Wisconsin like to say.) Cabbage that will go out in late April or early May.

Oh yes, the bonus mystery plant. Our guess of tomato seems to be true. It has blossomed a few flowers. Tomatoes are not cold resistant, so it will stay inside under a grow light until June. Hopefully it will fruit by then. We are looking forward to that!

What’s next? Good question. Weekend after St. Patty’s Day we will begin Beaver Dam Peppers from seed and start to think about chitting some potatoes.

No we didn’t misspell a profanity, the word is chit. But that’s a post for another day!

Gardening – Beaver Dam Peppers: Who Needs Seeds? We’ve Got ‘Em

One of our several Beaver Dam pepper plants from 2022. This photo was taken on October 9, 2022. Three ripe, sweet and slightly hot fruit!

The Beaver Dam Pepper. What is it? Why would one want to grow this variety? We were introduced to the pepper by Tim Csiacsek (pronounced Chee Check) who is a decedent of the family who brought these peppers from Hungary to Beaver Dam, WI in the early 1900s.

We met Tim while buying products for our several home improvement projects. He works for Chase Lumber. We do not really remember how the subject came up, but Tim was instrumental in telling us the story of this tasty pepper and his family’s involvement in the popularity and continued success including the annual festival every September.

The 2023 Beaver Dam Pepper Festival is scheduled for September 9th…but that is a post for another day.

This Hungarian heirloom was brought to Beaver Dam in 1912 by the Joe Hussli family. The Husslis were Hungarian immigrants who brought this special vegetable with them in order to grow it in the new country.

Chris and Tim Csiacsek say the Husslis were not the only ones to recognize the value of bringing the seed from this outstanding pepper with them when they came to this country. Seeds were actually brought here by a couple of families. Chris is organizing pepper genology for a booth at the festival that features the history of this heirloom vegetable.

The pepper’s first fruits mature 80 days after transplanting, at which point they ripen from lime-green to red. The crunchy fruits are mildly hot and when seeded, they hold an excellent flavor. Heat rated as a three on a scale of one to five, the Beaver Dam pepper is perfect for making fresh batches of cool tangy salsas.

“Tim’s grandma Anna, at age 14, came to this country in around 1920 and she also brought the seed along,” said Chris. “Anna taught her children, grand children and great grandchildren how to grow it and harvest the seed head, dry it and save it for planting in years to come.”

Here in Zone 5A Tim tells us that St. Patty’s Day is the best time to start plants from seed indoors.

The pepper seed is available from just a handful of mail order seed companies in the United States and Canada, and its future is largely in the hands of these seed-saving companies.

We gleaned seeds from most of the peppers we consumed in 2022. If anyone is having trouble finding seeds and wishes to start their own plants from seed, let us know. We will work something out.

Gardening – Cabbage from Seed to Germination in 3 Days

Four days after sown. Soil mixture: 75% Coconut Coir, 25% Worm Castings, plus 10% each Perlite and Vermiculite
Cabbage Seedlings. 9 cells of All Season & 9 cells of Golden Acre

Zone 5A March Seedling Starts – last Sunday we started one tray of cabbage. 18 total cells 3.5″ deep. We chose the deeper cells because we want to transfer them only once, from seed tray to container. 9 each All Season Cabbage and 9 each Golden Acre Cabbage.

We were pleased to see seedlings germinated in all 18 cells. Sown on Sunday, germination on Wednesday evening. Pretty darned good.

The seed starting soil was homemade. 75% coconut coir and 25% worm castings. (We have our own vermiculture farm in the basement.) The mixture is amended by an equal addition of 10% perlite and 10% vermiculite for better drainage.

This seed starting soil combination was recommended by Jeff at “The Ripe Tomato Farm” YouTube channel. We are experimenting with several seed starting soil combinations. So for, this one worked the best. Thanks Jeff!

The tray sat upon a warming pad set at 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity dome on top until we saw the seedlings last night. At that point the warming pad was shut off and dome removed.

After St. Patty’s Day…Beaver Dam peppers…but that is for another post.

Gardening – Leafy Greens: A Great Start

Four varieties of leafy greens from left to right: Tri-color Romaine, Gourmet Blend Salad, Black Seeded Simpson, Loose Leaf Blend.
Spinach Seedlings

We began our 2023 outdoor garden in late January…indoors. 18 cells of spinach started on January 29. Only 15 cells germinated, but there are multiple spinach plants in several cells. We Started them in 3.5″ deep seed starter trays. Spinach does not like to be transplanted too often, so they will go directly from seedling tray to the leafy green bed in April.

The good news. We peeked inside of the leafy green bed this last weekend. Last August’s spinach plants are still growing!? We will have spinach to harvest before these seedlings get transplanted. Bonus!

Lettuce was started from seed on February 19. Four different varieties, 18 cells per variety. The variety we had the most success with in 2022 was Loose Leaf Blend. We added three more; Tri Colored Romaine, Gourmet Blend, and Black Seeded Simpson. The cover photo above really shows off the Gourmet Blend and our tried and true Loose Leaf Blend.

Come April, several beds will have some leafy greens in them, and one or two beds will have bulb onions…but that is a post for a different day.

Entertainment – Generations: Next Up

R Dub left as William Coxshall (local butcher and gallows master of President Lincoln’s executioner and conspirators) with Jackson Uttech right as Boy Harlowe in 2016’s “Town Hall Tonight!” Jackson’s character is the featured character in much of the show. I remember his energy and commitment to the character. It was fun to watch him, you could see it and it sprung a love for entertaining.
Jackson Uttech’s nomination for a Jerrys Award for his portrayal as Lefou in “Beauty And The Beast”.
R Dub left and Mylana Lunde right in 2013 posing for a photo at the afterglow of “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Coat”
Mylana Lunde’s nomination for a Jerrys Award for her portrayal of Belle in “Beauty And The Beast”
Jackson Uttech and Mylana Lunde after performing at the BDACT annual meeting on February 5, 2023.

We had the pleasure of listening to some our talented youth a few weekends ago at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre’s Fine Arts Center during the annual meeting. We also had the pleasure of working with two of the young entertainers in past performances when each was much younger. They are Mylana Lunde and Jackson Uttech.

Mylana Lunde was part of the children ensemble in the 2013 production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” while Beth was a producer and R Dub played Potiphar in the show. One of the photo’s above is R Dub and Mylana at the afterglow following final strike. Mylana has gone on to write her own music and perform in several musicals at both the Beaver Dam High School and the BDACT stage.

Mylana does come by the entertaining bug naturally, her mom Kristie has been an instrumental part of BDACT as board member, house manager and many other vital duties. Mylana’s sister Mariah Lord and uncle Joe Lord have been in many musicals, dramas and comedies as well.

We first met Jackson Uttech during the production of “Town Hall Tonight” in 2016. “Town Hall Tonight” was written by theater critic and Beaver Dam native Harlowe Hoyt in 1955 to honor the bygone days of traveling minstrels and noted performers like Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass and the von Trapp family singers who traveled from town to town in the late 1800s and early 1900s to entertain locals at their town halls.

Jackson played young Harlowe Hoyt as Harlowe the writer chronicled significant entertainers and events of the day where R Dub acted and Beth assisted with the multitude of period piece props. I remember Jackson’s sheer joy during the rehearsal process and the energy and enthusiasm that he brought to the character.

R Dub had one small scene with the young Harlowe Hoyt. I played Wm Coxshall, town butcher who served as the gallows master after the trial of John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators for their parts in the execution of President Lincoln. My character described the trail and his part in the hanging at the gallows where they all met their maker on July 7, 1865. Wilkes died in a shoot out with law enforcement on April 26, 1865. Jackson’s part in this scene was his most simple. He sat by my side as I delivered the somber monologue.

We hoped that he would keep that enthusiasm and joy for the craft all of his life. It was a joy to watch and we are glad he has continued in the arts. When attending a local show with youth, I always look for his name and other names of youth that we’ve met along the way at BDACT.

BDACT continues to support and encourage youth outreach and education in the arts. They have ongoing programs like One Voice which performs this Sunday March 5th at 2:00 pm. Tickets on sale now at

Other youth opportunities include Class Act a series of acting classes for the youth led by Judy Pearce and Christina Frake. Summer Tell-A-Tale productions for both grade school and middle school children, plus the summer high school musical. BDACT emphasizes the Area in their name. Children from all over the area are invited, welcome and participate in these classes and shows.

What are we missing? Young adults. BDACT recently hosted WACTfest. The Wisconsin Association of Community Theatre’s One Act Play competition. We needed many volunteers, and we got them. As Beth and I looked around the room at the volunteers we realized that most were over 60 years old. We need young adults to carry on.

BDACT recently held a meeting for Directors and Producers to review how proposals for future shows would be handled. Looking around the room, all were over 30, many over 60. We need young adults to carry on.

We are casting 30 and 40 year olds in roles that should go to 20s and late teens. We need young people to carry on.

The youth programs are popular and successful, but we are developing our youth for other theatre groups, not many are staying or coming home. We need young people to carry on.

Sensing a theme? Good, let’s spread the words and the theme.

Traditions – Lent: There’s Meat and Then There’s Meat

Blackened catfish fillets. Meat that is lent approved.
Meat that is technically OK for lent, but does not meet the definition of a food representing sacrifice. (Most would strike beer from their Friday lent diet too.)

The season of lent is upon us. It began with Ash Wednesday on February 22 and will conclude on Easter Sunday April 9. For many Christians it begins the seasonal tradition of sacrifice. Emulating the sacrifice of Jesus’ life for our sins.

There are many ways that Christians choose to make their Lenten sacrifice, but the most common one that we know is to give up meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday leading up to Easter Sunday. Different Christians will define the practice and sacrifice differently, but it all amounts to a period of fasting and abstinence.

Lenten fasting and abstinence. Millions of people will abstain from meat during this the Holiest of seasons for the Christian faith.

My Catholic friends understand the rituals and their meanings better than most Protestants. I mean, really, why isn’t fish defined as meat? This is the question that I asked Beth. Well…maybe not in those exact words.

The answer goes back to 1966 when Pope Paul VI defined meat as “carnis” in regard to abstinence, a word that refers specifically to mammals and birds. So, technically and biologically fish is meat, but not in the way that Pope Paul the 6th defined it.

Beth didn’t use those exact words either. I used Google to search the subject where I found the previous paragraph. However, she described it accurately to the Pope’s definition.

The meat of mammals and fowl were once considered the food of grand celebrations while the eating of fish was associated with the diet of the poor. In the spirit of sacrifice and fasting, not all fish ‘should’ be consumed during lent.

While there is no prohibition to eating lobster or shrimp or any other higher end fish, it misses the point of recognizing Jesus’ suffering and sharing our blessings with the poor.

On a lighter note. The explanation of Lenten meat explains the propensity of some wait staff to recommend fish when a vegetarian or vegan makes their meatless or no animal requests. They are confusing true meatless with Lenten meatless.

Funny for carnivorous folks. For vegans and vegetarians…not as much.

Travel – The Big Apple Day 5: The Met, Central Park and Mike Birbiglia

Flaming June by Frederic, Lord Leighton, 1895: On display at The Met until February of 2024. Leighton’s tired and sleeping model was resting nude when he was inspired to paint her flushed by the sun skin and add sheer orange draperies to cover her up.
R Dub pauses for a moment prior to entering The Met to take a selfie with travel companion Scott on the steps. We were in the Met all of Friday morning and enjoyed a food truck lunch street side with the pigeons.

Day 5, our final day in NYC. The day begins with a bus ride uptown to The Met. Lunch from a food truck on the steps of The Met with the pigeons, a stroll through Central Park, an evening of stand up comedy with Mike Birbiglia at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center and finally a horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park before turning in for the evening.

Greek section. Artifacts dating back to 2300 BC…that’s more that 4300 years ago.
Egyptian temple reconstructed.
van Gogh, Irises
van Gogh, Peasant Woman Cooking by a Fireplace
Monet, Water Lilies
Tudors Exhibit Entrance
Upper Manhattan skyline from the Frog Pond at Central Park.
Romeo and Juliet statue in front of The Delacorte Theater is an open-air theater that serves as the venue for the Public’s free, summertime productions of Shakespeare in the Park.
The set for Mike Birbiglia’s “The Old Man and the Pool” . No, Mike is NOT the old man in the pool, but this man triggers a hilarious set of stand up comedy.
Mr. Animated. Mike Birbiglia demonstrating how a visit to the Dr. can result in call back after call back. Story telling yes, autobiographical yes, exposing his own fears, experiences and weaving them into hilarity. Brilliant and fun. He’s come a long way in honing his craft since the his days as a regular guest on the Bob and Tom syndicated radio show out of Indy.
Photo taken by our ‘taxi’ driver in this Central Park carriage from left to right: R Dub, Beth, Kari and Scott. A fitting end to a fabulous week in The Big Apple. We are so glad the Eberle’s suggested it and invited us to join them. NYC! A great town and we will be back.

Gardening – 95% Discount: Alfalfa Sprouts

These organic alfalfa sprouts cost $4 at a store. We grow them with 2 tablespoons or $0.20 (20 cents!) worth of seed and a daily rinse for 7 days.

Dr’s recommendation: more plants (forks) and less meat (knives). Our cholesterol is out of hand…

Finding fresh produce is difficult this time of year, so we try to grow as much of it as we can…indoors.

We are growing round after round of micro greens (beans and pea shoots) plus sprouts (alfalfa and cabbage) to supplement the spinach we eat on a regular basis…plus fermented sour kraut…but that’s a post for another day.

Today’s post is how to grow alfalfa sprouts in one week using nothing but 20 cents of seeds, filtered water and a mason jar.

Pea Shoots at our favorite organic farm in Wisconsin. We grew pea shoot micro greens with $.050 (50 cents) of seed in 5 days.
Pea shoots. We saved ourselves $4.50 by growing these micro greens ourselves. But I digress. This post is about growing alfalfa sprouts.
Step one: soak two (2) tablespoons of seeds for 8 to 12 hours. BUT…no longer than 12 hours or the seeds may ferment and not germinate. We use filtered water for the soak.
Step 2. Drain and rinse the seeds 3 to 4 times daily for the first 3 to4 days. We rinse 3 to 4 times daily the entire 7 days it takes to grow the first picture of this post. Store in a Mason type jar in a cool dark spot.
Step 3: On day four, turn the jar on its side while storing in a cool dark spot. The seedlings now need more surface area to grow. Pretty cool, huh?!
Our sprouts in the strainer while rinsing on day 5.
Step four. On day 7 place the jar on its side in direct sunlight for 6 hours to finish the sprouting process. We have this jar under grow lights.
Step 5: Final rinse and store in an old produce container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Beth and R Dub sampled these prior to placing them in the fridge. Very tasty! These will be a delicious and nutritious addition to our salad greens.
Sprout Nutritional Information
Micro green mung beans, Chinese cabbage sprouts and alfalfa sprouts.