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I wrote a book about preserving food. The same step-by-step instruction and full-color photos you find in my blog. Buy it at Yes, You Can 

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Sprouts is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.


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Muskrat Love

early spring flowers

These delicate flowers grew near a stream and were the earliest blossoms I saw this spring (after crocuses).

Finally we have spring-like weather in central Pennsylvania but I’m not home to enjoy it. When I consider how plants looked a week ago, I imagine two bright yellow patches of forsythia in full-bloom, daffodils popping along the front of the house and the right border of our front yard, and hyacinths peeking out from among tulip leaves that haven’t quite gotten their own buds above ground.

Maybe, just maybe, my fruit trees have started to blossom. That needs to have happened soon (if it hasn’t) for this to be a “normal” spring.

bee in spring

Apparently, there weren’t a lot of flowers in bloom two weeks ago. The one bee that got an early start from its hive must have searched for hours to find the small patch of flowers I was photographing. I enjoyed the company.


Finding Flowers

Just before I left home to spend what will have been two weeks in Ithaca, I’d spent part of a gorgeous spring day walking along a stream where I spotted delicate blossoms hugging the ground. I dallied with my camera and then noticed something far less likely on the stream bank: there stood a muskrat chewing on vegetation.

Usually when I spot a muskrat, it’s scurrying away, diving into water, or darting into a hole. This one ignored me and continued to munch… and then I spotted a second one.

Muskrat Love in the Afternoon

Drifting with the current, the second muskrat came into view from upstream, floated past the first muskrat, and swam to shore about ten feet later. It had obviously spotted the first muskrat and it waddled quickly back along the bank.

This was a classic boy-meets-girl moment where girl (muskrat #1) ran into the stream and boy followed her. They drifted together with the current, all the time muskrat #2 pursuing muskrat #1. Eventually they drifted out of sight but by then I had no doubt: I’d witnessed muskrat love. I can say with authority it’s nothing like the song.

muskrat on a stream bank

I looked toward the stream, and there she was: a gorgeous muskrat chomping on the foliage!

muskrat rendezvous

As I clicked shot-after-shot of the fearless muskrat, a second one floated past with the current, swam to shore, and ambled onto the bank. The first muskrat reacted by setting itself adrift. In this photo, the second muskrat approaches overland as the first one takes to the water.

snuggling muskrats

Seems these muskrats are courting. Actually, by the time they drifted out of sight, the courtship was over. Various websites suggest there will be baby muskrats about two weeks from now (gestation is one month).


Your Small Kitchen Garden Visits the Philadelphia Flower Show

Not surprisingly, there were a whole bunch of flowers at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Lighting at the show made it hard to shoot properly-exposed photos without resorting to flash–which, of course, usually resulted in mediocre contrast.

While things were quiet in my small kitchen garden in early February, I visited the Philadelphia Flower Show. Shot a lot of photos, trying to capture the beauty of the show while working around at least 300 million people who were enjoying the exhibits. OK, I didn’t count the people, but there were enough to make navigating the show floor slow going.

The Photo Saga

Immediately after the show, I selected a set of photos to share with readers of my blog. I edited a few for size and uploaded them to my account at Then I spent well over an hour adding tags, titles, and descriptions to the photos.

As I annotated one of the last photos, I pressed the backspace key, and this somehow closed the photo management page in Flickr, discarding all my work. I spread the task of recreating that work across many days, and finally I’ve finished! The slideshow below shows a lot of what I liked at the show, though there were many more exhibits I’d also recommend.

The slide show includes comments about the photos. To view them, first click the full screen icon and in the resulting display, click the Show info option that appears near the top-right in the slide show window. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think. Did you get to a flower or garden show this past winter?

Honest Scrap from Your Small Kitchen Garden

I was surprised recently by my garden blogging friend, punkrockgardens, when she awarded Your Small Kitchen Garden an “Honest Scrap” award. More correctly, I guess, the award was for me.

Recipients of the Honest Scrap award are supposed to reveal ten truths about themselves, and then extend the award to seven other bloggers. As a blogger, I tend to focus on “how-to” topics that reveal little about me personally… and almost nothing beyond my garden and my kitchen. So, this Honest Scrap award is license for me to share stuff that has no natural place in Your Small Kitchen Garden blog.

In other words, if you want gardening, please read the other posts in my blog. If you’re here for random, useless factoids about a kitchen gardener, here they come!

My grandmother’s suitcase holds enough gear to put on a magic show; it has performed with me since I was a teenager.

From Beyond my Kitchen Garden

  1. I used to be a member of IBM… the International Brotherhood of Magicians. I did a few “professional” magic shows during my teen years, and I still enjoy doing magic from time-to-time.
  2. My nickname is Doc. It has many origins not the least of which is my geekiness.
  3. I very much don’t like being called Dan or Danny. My mom instilled this in me. She insisted she named me Daniel. She also didn’t grock with “Doc.”
  4. My parents’ depression-era mentality has a big influence on me; I try to do things at low cost and I tend to save stuff that may be useful some day… then I end up buying new stuff because I can’t find the stuff I saved until after I buy new stuff.
  5. I find it very hard to ask people for help, so I try to do a lot of things myself that I really shouldn’t.
  6. The billiards table shortly after it arrived. Sadly, that wet bar to the right is still dry; it’s hard to finish building a billiards room once the billiards table is in place… whenever you have time to work on the room, there’s that table ready for a game.

  7. From about age 11 I’ve felt strongly as though I’m on the wrong planet.
  8. I really enjoy speaking in front of groups—especially about topics on which I’m well informed.
  9. In my 20s I decided I would one day have my own pool table. In my late 40s I built a billiards room with a hardwood floor in what used to be a two-car garage. Now that I have a pool table, I never have free time (or does playing pool count as free time?)
  10. Being a writer has been my most consistent aspiration, starting when I was in 3rd grade.
  11. I hate how the Internet has devalued writers and promoted hideously poor-quality prose.

My chosen recipients for Honest Scrap awards are people whose blogs I especially enjoy, and I imagine I’d very much enjoy these people in person. Some write blogs that are so personal, they may be challenged to offer 10 new and different truths. No matter. For each I extend the award with no strings. I read your blogs and tweets cuz I love the honest scrap about which you already write.

Jenn at Jenns Garden

Trina at Garden Mom

Daisy at Compost Happens

Arkie at The Well-Read Gardener

Robin at Bumblebee Blog

Sandy at Momisodes

Cecily at Uppercase Woman



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Your Small Kitchen Garden Promotional Giveaway

You could win a carton containing twelve packs of each of these fruit snacks – 24 packs in total. The text of this article explains how you can submit as many as twelve entries in our drawing.

Your Small Kitchen Garden is having its first ever promotional giveaway. The prize is a carton of individually-packaged servings of freeze-dried fruits. I was able to score several cartons of these treats packaged by Sensible Foods under a label other than their own. Each carton contains 24 snack packages.

There are two varieties of treats: The Fruit Snack at 84 calories per package and the Tropical Snack at 80 calories per package. The Fruit Snack variety contains freeze-dried apples, strawberries, cherries, and blueberries. The Tropical Snack variety contains freeze-dried apples, pineapples, mangos, and bananas. These freeze-dried fruit snacks are delicious and convenient: lightweight and easy to pack. I snack on them often.

While the cartons come packed with only one type of fruit snack, I’ve re-packed three of them for this giveaway so that each has twelve of the Fruit Snack packets and twelve of the Tropical Snack packets.

I’ve seen the Sensible Foods snack packages for $1.50 each on sale at my local grocery store. At that price, this giveaway is worth $36 to each winner. Each winner? Yes! I’m giving away three cartons, so there will be three winners chosen by random number generator from all qualified entries.

You can win only one carton; multiple qualified entries increase your chances of winning, but not of winning more than one carton. Here’s how you might win your own carton of these delicious and healthy dehydrated fruit snacks:

1. Leaving a comment in response to this post equals one entry; multiple comments from the same visitor/email address qualify as a single entry. If you decide to enter according to item 2 (below), the comment you leave for that can qualify as your entry for item 1.

2. Linking to this post from your own blog or web site qualifies as two entries. While welcome, multiple links from the same domain qualify as only two entries. (Please leave a comment here linking to the web page containing your link; I’ll add two entries in your name once I verify the link. If you’re going to link from your web site, the comment leading to your link can qualify for the entry you get under item 1. If that’s confusing, don’t worry about it.)

3. Tweet a link to this post that includes my twitter name @cityslipper (so I can keep track). I’d appreciate multiple tweets, but only one will count as an entry.

4. Visit my other two participating blogs, Your Home Kitchen Garden and Food Dryer Home, where you’ll find similar posts… each of which can earn up to four more entries: One entry for a comment, two entries for a link, and one entry for a tweet.

That’s it! Three cartons of fruit up for grabs, and up to twelve entries available per visitor.

This promotional giveaway ends on Friday, November 6, 2009. My random number generator will select winners on Saturday, November 7 and I’ll post announcements on all three participating web sites.


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