17 April 2010

Signs of Spring

So, the time has gotten away from me once again, dear readers. It has been one of those months where the weekends sneak up on you, and then proceed to behave like weekdays that are full of plans and commitments, and the next thing you know? It's May.

But not quite yet, so let's try to recap some of what has been going on...

We spent Easter here, which is the first time the kids and I have done that. With a short weekend and school and work the next day, we just knew that trying to head up North for our usual ham and egg luncheon and Easter Egg Hunt with the extended family would not work. So, we established that the Easter Bunny WOULD know where the niblets were (he uses the same address list that Santa does, you know) and then I needed to figure out time to colour eggs.

Of course, I didn't want to do the tablet (that never dissolves) in vinegar and boxes and glitter or stickers or yuck. I wanted to try something different. I had seen plenty of postings on how to dye eggs naturally here, here, and here. But, I ended up using what I found at Serious Eats, because it also covered how to do onion-skin dyed eggs. Those looked really neat, and I imagined using rice and sprigs from my rosemary plant to pattern them.

So, that Friday night (I am nothing if not a procrastinator) I set out to make the cabbage and beet dyes. Quite simple: chop the vegetables up, boil with water, vinegar and salt, and strain. I had just enough cumin in the house also, but thought that maybe doing orange-yellow onion skin dyed eggs would be close enough.

The next morning I started looking at the onions I had and realized that I wanted to test it out first. So, I decided to make one onion-skin bundle, boil it and the rest of the eggs off, then dye the rest in blues and reds and maybe double dye to try to mix.

So, I got the onion skin around the egg (NOT easy), placed some rosemary springs inside to pattern it, and then tied it up in some muslin I had and yarn. I was hoping that the pink yarn wouldn't bleed and make the other eggs tinged.

Little did I know that was NOT what I had to worry about.

So, all the eggs went into the pan to hard boil. I came back ten minutes later to find that the onion skin had bled into the water, thus making ALL my eggs an orange-yellow colour. Oops.

Well, I figured that the other dyes would be able to cover over, or at least blend with them to make different shades, so the niblets and I set to work adding the rest of the eggs to both the red cabbage dye and the beet dye. Then it was off on errands, and we left them there for about two hours. Just to be sure.

From Left: onion-skin accident, onion-skin bundle, red cabbage overdye and beet overdye

All in all, not bad. The onion-skin looked a lovely deep orange, and the red cabbage did overtake and make the eggs a nice blue. It is hard to believe that red cabbage does that. The beets, on the other hand, could not seem to take after the onion dye seeped in. Hopefully next year I can be a bit more careful, because the examples I have seen for beet dyes look quite red.

My seeds are WAITING!

Well, some are NOT waiting!

In other news, I have finally been at work on the garden beds in the backyard. There were no established areas around the house, and the landlord gave me ample freedom to make them. I knew that I wanted raised beds, both for control and for ease of soil amendment. I had picked up lumber and had it cut, and with the help of the family, one bed was framed, set and the sod cut and removed in one afternoon. We have been plagued with cold and rain this weekend, but I was able to do some work last weekend and got half of the other bed cut. Once I loosen the soil down about six or more inches, I will fill the rest of the bed with soil and compost for another six inches. This should give enough depth for all the plants I am putting in.

Last frost date comes up after next week. I am ready to plant!