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A Comforting Winter Soup Recipe

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Jan 22, 2017

It’s a well-known fact that most Bostonians pack on a few pounds once the temperature starts to drop.  Reasoning says that we are just putting on a few layers to help protect from the cold, which is a natural biological response to our habitats.  Humans are not alone either since millions of New England wildlife participate in the same ritual including cats, dogs, birds and bears.  So if everyone is doing it, why feel guilty?  For one reason, many of the foods that we are ingesting contain a higher amount of fat and processed sugars.  These unhealthy additives are what make it a bit tricky when we finally decide to shed those pounds in the spring.  If you think about it, you seldom see squirrels stressing about their winter waddle once the warm weather arrives because their calories needed to be burned are mainly nuts not ice cream and cream puffs.  Does that mean forgo the comfort foods altogether in order to spare ourselves the trouble?  Absolutely not!  We can still indulge in this New England tradition of finding solace and warmth in our food; we just have to do it in a slightly different way.  Try this recipe on for size!

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photo credit via countryliving.com

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is made by a variety of companies and there a few like Progresso and Campbell’s that are in all honesty, pretty good.  The soup is for the most part, healthy so why should you make your own?  In many canned brands, the salt and processed ingredients rank high and may even contain “iffy” ingredients that you can’t even pronounce when reading the labels.  Using real poultry and veggies is always a better way to go where you can control the amounts of seasonings and be sure that your meats are fresh for cooking.  You may not be able to can and shelf your finished product but freezing is a definitely possibility allowing you to re-cook and save for a later date!  Wait to make this recipe after you’ve made a chicken roast so that you can use your own stalk, too.


How To:

Add 4 cups of your own chicken stalk to a crock-pot and set to low heat.  If you couldn’t save this much stalk after cooking your roast, just add water slowly as the soup continues to cook-it will make it’s own broth over the course of the preparation.  Add chicken that has been pulled from the leftovers being careful not to add in any bones or cartilage (it won’t taste good to those you serve and be disruptive to their palette.  Chop roughly 2 celery stalks and 1 small onion and add that to the brew.  Wash 4 large carrots and then peel and cut into circular shapes and then throw them in as well.  Add 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the soup for 4 hours until the chicken naturally pulls apart and vegetables soften.  In a separate pot, boil water to cook 4 cups of “No-Yolk” noodles.  When done, rinse in a colander over cold water, afterwards adding the pasta to the soup.  If you put the noodles in when they are still hot, they’ll dissolve in the soup creating a funky consistency, so make sure you rinse them first in cold water.  Serve in crock bowls with a fresh piece of Italian bread and bon appétit!  

Tags: Chef, cooking, winter, Health

Floral Light Reflectors

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 20, 2017

As the days get darker, many of us suffer from light deficiency and yearn for the days when the sun stayed out until late evening.  Depression sets in and the coldness of winter blankets New Englanders, turning us into grievers for the warmer weather before.  It’s a real problem if you live in this region.  I know it certainly is for me so I try finding ways of supplementing the depletion of brightness by incorporating substitutions of light and illumination.  Sometimes I buy a new lamp or a set of aromatic candles that I know will promote a sense of joy and delight.  These seem like arbitrary notions but in all honestly, they work okay.  Besides, we all yearn for some sort of comfort until the spring arrives again, don’t we?  

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Recently, I came across an interesting article that introduced a contemporary opinion about the development of serotonin in our blood levels (the stuff that makes us happy), which can actually be heightened by particular varieties of flowers!  They may be your everyday garden blooms but research shows a unique trait that can be quite useful to those who suffer from winter woes.  Is it their color or texture that wards off the grimmer months of the calendar?  Not at all…

It’s the perception that they all reflect light.

How is this possible you might be wondering?  It is a scientific fact that the petals of some blossoms are translucent enough to reflect beams of light.  By acquiring floral pieces integrated with specific varieties, there is a greater likelihood that those who endure seasonal light deprivation will find ease to their symptoms!  Sounds strange I know but truthfully, the theory makes sense when you combine this idea with other floral characteristics.  For instance, pleasant aromas are proven to increase happy cells (serotonin) in a person as well as an eye-appealing visual stimulation.  Flowers already possess these assets so why not elongate beneficial properties to include light?  

If you’re not convinced by this phenomenon quite yet, take a peek at these stunners that are now being utilized in health facilities around the Boston area.  

tulips_in_boston.jpe

You might think that any species that grows in a shade of white will work but tulips happen to be the best!  Part of the reason is behind their color of course, but the texture of the petals is what really seals the deal.  Try putting a few stems in a glass vase by the window and watch the spectrum of light lift your mood to sweeter places.

Garden Lace has been utilized in Japanese culture for centuries as a strong producer of positive energy.  Tinted in soft pink with a yellow center, the petals remind one of tissue paper because of their delicate weight and surface.  If you can’t find this variety, opt for a peony with similar hues since they are similar to one another’s physical characteristics.  

Tags: Snow, Tulips, January, winter

Where to go Skating in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 20, 2017

It’s one of Boston’s time honored traditions during the winter to slip on a pair of skates and glide across the city’s most romantic rinks.  While ice skating is a great source of exercise during the months when it’s a bit tricky to go swimming or running outdoors, many of us have engaged in this activity as a way to bond with our children, friends and even our love interests.  There are several reasons to adore this activity such as the sounds of the blade pushing evenly across the icy stage, the soothing rhythmic movement that relaxes our bodies and the excitement of completing each circular lap upon lap.  Yes, New Englanders have found great pleasure in this winter sport over the generations where the cost to participate is minimal and the need to be in perfect physical fitness is arbitrary.  This year, the popularity of ice skating is enormous due to the heighten accumulation of snow and the elongated seasonal attributes that have kept us wondering, “when will spring arrive?”  If you are curious to try this fantastic mood enhancer but have no idea where to begin, check out these top ice rinks located in and around the city.  You’ll be surprised of the extra boost of energy you will receive and be relieved once you have found your winter sport calling. While everyone is heading to city hall plaza, let the crowds die down and check out these historic hot spots. 

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Larz Anderson

25 Newton Street,

Brookline, MA 02445

This a wonderful place to visit because of all of the amenities this rink offers to the public.  Located in Brookline, patrons may purchase skates, have them sharpened, enjoy a treat from the snack bar and take a ride throughout the heated pavilion.  They also offer a special Sunday open skate for people in the community with disabilities where professional staff is on site for extra help.  

Skate Rental  $5.00

Entrance Fee Adults $8.00

Entrance Fee Children $5.00


Frog Pond Rink

The Boston Commons

Boston, MA

This is a lot of fun if you are looking to be smack dab in the middle of the city.  Located close to Beacon Hill and the red line, skaters can rent skates and grab a snack all while enjoying the beautiful setting of downtown Boston.  The Frog Pond Rink offers many “Bobby the Seal” skating aid for kids learning how to skate and flexible hours for the busy Bostonian.

Skate Rental Adult $10.00

Skate Rental Kids $5.00

Locker Rental $2.00

Bobby the Skating Seal for Kids $10.00/hour

Entrance Fee 58 inches and over $5.00

Entrance Fee Under 58 inches FREE

Tags: January, winter, Larz Anderson, Frog Pond, Skating

Stocking Up on Safety in Your Home For A Blizzard

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 18, 2017

So we’ve now gone through a couple of typical, winter New England storms and have been reminded of the importance of preparing our homes with the tools necessary to survive them.  Some Bostonians think that the worst is over, and honestly, I hope they’re right but it is highly likely that we might have a few more rounds before we see spring roll around.  If this is true then we can’t put the shovels and snow blowers away just yet.  For the vast percentage of locals who have weathered a blizzard or two in their years living in Massachusetts, they already have a strict list of items that they supply themselves with before the treacherous climate arrives.  I know I have my own essentials that I stock up on and have found to be imperative towards enduring even the worst of weather circumstances.  Sometimes we forget that thousands of people in the area have suffered frostbite, dehydration and in some conditions even worse because of ill preparations made beforehand.  Safety should be the first thing we take in account once we see that dreaded map on the news station warning us of accumulating snow.  Although the natural elements can devastate homes with little or nothing that could be done by the residents, here are some items that might just save your life during the next snowstorm.

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Electric

Electricity may come and go during a brutal storm.  Although there might be annoyances when the MP3 players, TV’s, DVD’s, laptops and stereos wont work, the bigger issue is whether or not you will be able to stay in contact with the rest of the world to see what the local weather reports forecast.  Make sure that you have a battery-operated radio that has a fresh set of batteries before things start to get hairy.  


Warmth

Pull out every blanket you have in case power goes out and you loose the utility of heat.  Layers of comforters and afghans will provide warmth and help ward off the chills and subsidiary sickness.  Also, stock up on wood for your fireplaces and if you have a gas converted hearth, change in back.  If you live in the Boston area, chances are you’ll be happy to have access to this natural form of heat that saved the first pioneers of New England.  

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Water

There should be no excuse not to stock up on a few flats of bottled water before a storm breaks loose.  Water is one of the basic elements of survival and should never be taken for granted.  Many have learned first hand of the horrific damage that a burst pipe can do so make sure that you have plenty on hand for cooking, bathing and drinking.  


Food

This might seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised of the ridiculous foods that some stock up on instead of healthy, storm ready nutrients.  Potato chips and ice cream might seem like the most important grocery items to buy but better selections would include canned soup, fresh produce and bread.   Milk is another intelligent choice that you can always refrigerate outside if you lose electricity. If you want a few treats after you’ve opted for these must-haves, go for it but don’t forget some nice hot chocolate for the kids!

Tags: Snow, winter, Blizzard, Snowmageddon

Ways to Stay Sane During a New England Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 16, 2017


If you’re shaking your head at all that white stuff that’s started to fall from the sky, you may be susceptible to what I refer to as “Winter Depressive Disorder”.  What is this you ask?  The term applies to those who struggle, suffer and strive bitterly through the colder months of the calendar making them irritable and sometimes downright nasty.  The ailment is considered quite common for many of those who live on the east coast and can fluctuate in intensity from mild to extreme measures based on the individual. Depression is nothing to mess with, especially when it comes to finding the right antidote to defuse the situation so if this sounds familiar, you need to get help fast.  “Winter Depressive Disorder” can be treated with a variety of different means and usually can be alleviated by enjoying a special activity, added exposure to light or simply making a few tweaks to your everyday diet.  


In the past, I’ve experienced similar effects of the malady and have since come up with a plan that helps to assuage some of the symptoms.  Irritation, exhaustion and plain old crabbiness can really put a damper on your personal health as well as your personal relationships.  Believing you can wait it out until the spring thaw arrives is just silly and even a little dangerous so if you’re open to learning a few tips they may just save you from another tough year in the cold.  Here’s my go-to list of special soothers that help sustain my sanity until the warmer months roll around once again-maybe they can assist you.

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Light

Light deprivation is the number one factor, which makes people petulant, depressed and moody.  Scientifically known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder, doctors believe that the inner circadian rhythm is disrupted during winter and the body is actually yearning for a longer connection to direct sunlight.  I fit perfectly within this category and try to make extra time for long walks in the morning- the time of day recommended by many experts.  Phototherapy is another option which means skin exposure to ultraviolet light on a regular bases.  You can either do this at home or receive treatment in a medical office.  


Diet

I know it’s the time of year where comfort foods are the main source of fuel but dishes saturated in butter, fat and oil can literally pull your immune system down to lower functioning levels.  Cookies and pies give an immediate satisfaction but hours later, you’re paying for it with a plummeting sugar levels that turns a “high” into a “low”.  Opt for fresh foods such as fish, veggies and ripe fruits that will make you feel healthier as well as trick your system into thinking that the season is warmer than it really is.  


Color

I know it sounds funny but many of us don’t realize that we wear darker colors in the winter than in the spring or summer.  If we can pair more pops of bright reds, blues, greens, yellows and purples into our attire, we’ll begin to feel happier just from the reinforcement of happier hues around us.  

Tags: January, winter, Health

Great Desserts For Winter Weather in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 13, 2017

Who says a blizzard makes you want to just eat hot foods?  What about all of the yummy desserts inspired by the New England winter season?  Okay, crock-pots filled with simmering chicken noodle soup might seem nice but we can’t forget to sugar up on all of the delicious sweet treats made perfect for this chill infested weather!  No, I’m not just talking about stopping by the ice cream aisle before the next storm arrives.   I’m talking decadent, sensational blizzard ready concoctions that will be adored by the whole family.  Not only are they tasty, but they can be a fun project to make together when the house bound boredom sets in.  Easy to create and simple instructions, you won’t be disappointed by these festive New England indulgences.

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photo credit via allrecipes.com

Vanilla Snow Ice cream

This one is so fabulous because the main additive is the stuff piling up outside your door-SNOW!  Have the kids go outside and grab a bucket of snow that is clean and un-dirtied by salt or soot.  In a mixing bowl, combine the fresh snow with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 1 cup of sugar, a half-cup of milk (or added until desired consistency) and a teaspoon of salt.  Stir thoroughly until your batch resonates an ice cream body.  Put in the freezer for 2 hours and serve into white or light blue bowls for an extra creative flair.  You will flip over the reactions to this easy peasy ice cream recipe!


Snow-Capped Winter Cookies

This is a great one to make with your children on a snow day because the very name is thematic after the season and contains a very simple list of ingredients.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and take out confectioners sugar, flour, salt, butter and vanilla extract.  Mix together 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 1½ cups of melted butter.  Add a ½ teaspoon of vanilla and 2 ¼ cups of white flour.  Add a pinch of salt for seasoning.  Stir together until a soft consistency gels and put in the refrigerator to chill for about a half hour.  Then roll the dough into small balls placing them on a cookie sheet setting them evenly apart.  Bake for 12 minutes and then sprinkle with more confectioners sugar to get a snowy effect.  Let the cookies cool and store in an airtight container until serving time.


Blizzard S’more Frappes

I love this one because again, its fuss free and tastes of so delicious!  All you need is 2 scoops of really good vanilla ice cream, 1 crumbled graham cracker, 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1 cup of whole milk and ½ cup of mini marshmallows.  Throw everything into a blender and lightly mix until the desert resembles a white mound of blizzard delight!  Serve in high ice cream flasks and sprinkle with white sugar or confectioner’s sugar.  Everyone will love the presentation and you’ll love how little effort this desert was to make!

Tags: Dessert, Snow, cooking, winter

Tips For Snow Shoveling

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jan 11, 2017

It’s only the beginning of the year but New Englanders are starting to feel the bitterness of the blizzards arriving one after another.  Sure, it’s pretty at first but who are we kidding?  Snow removal is a tough and strenuous business when you’re talking about 24 inches + surrounding the inner and outer areas of Boston.  Plows and snow blowers are a bonus but the reality of it is, we are all out there in the chilly outdoors shoveling our walkways and driveways in order to make sure that our lives go on as usual.  Although there might be an occasional delay or school cancellation, in general New Englanders are preprogrammed to understand that life must go on.  Even the brutality of Juno didn’t slow us down for long and that’s a great thing because undoubtedly, there is more coming!   

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If you’re like me, you might still be achy from hoisting mounds of snow from the last one but recently I’ve learned a few tips on how to shovel after even the wettest and heaviest storms.  By following a few recommendations, we can get the job done without breaking our backs, necks and arms and actually receive a safe and healthy workout in the process.  We don’t have to feel as if we need to be hospitalized after an hour’s work of winter clean up when statistically speaking, 87% of us are doing it incorrectly and more importantly, dangerously.  There is a better way to engage in these movements of lifting if we take a minute to review these ideas to assist in our safety.  


When we first see the piles growing outside of our windows, we get a little anxious and overwhelmed, causing a rushed reaction of bounding outside to attack the situation.  Seldom do we calmly pre-think a plan, which would allow us to strategically move the unwanted precipitation without using unnecessary energy.  Take a couple of minutes to thoroughly analyze the layout and then decide how to go about it.  This will save you time and the frustration of re-shoveling sections over and over again.  You’ll get the job done quicker and have more time to relax in front of the roaring fire.


Another tip is to always bend at the knees when kneeling or lowering to the ground to plunge the snow.  Sudden jerks can cause fractions within the legs and hips and cause permanent damage.  Slow and steady wins this race and you’ll also be pleasantly surprised in the amazing toning your quads will receive!


If your shoulders are the problem, try to cross the shovel across your body instead of throwing the snow over your head.  Many times you’re just putting the snow back into the path behind you so this way, your arms will firm up the right way and you will be able to accomplish the blizzard’s aftermath in a cleaner and more efficient manner.   Be sure to dress warmly with layers and hang in there-spring is on its way!

Tags: Snow, winter, Snowmageddon, Health

What Grows in the United States During Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Dec 28, 2016

Have you ever wondered while we’re stuck here freezing, what other warmer parts of the country are growing?  I have!  Although I realize that our ground in Boston remains frozen for about five months out of the year (and that’s being generous) other areas are still flourishing with an abundance of plant life.  While it’s true that we all experience the change of the four seasons, certain places have less drastic temperature changes.  Because of this, growers can rely on a more temperate weather patterns to harvest thousands and thousands of delicious produce and flowers that are eventually shipped all over the country.  Have you ever read the labels in the check out aisle while grocery shopping?  You may have noticed that we are getting food from all over the place such as tomatoes, bananas and oranges.  Now isn’t that amazing?  Check out what some of our warmer states are cultivating during the coldest months of the year!

 

Northern California:  Although this area produces very different fruits and vegetables compared to its southern counterpart, Northern California still generates a considerable harvest during the colder season with an emphasis on nuts.

Avocados, Oranges, Almonds, Figs, Walnuts, Persimmons, Asian Pears, Limes, Lemons. 

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photo credit via shockinglydelicious.com

Southern California: This warmer side to California allows an even larger scale to be cultivated in January, February and March. 

Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Celery, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cilantro, Fennel, Grapefruit, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lemons, Lettuce, Mandarins, Oranges, Parsley, Radishes, Spinach and Strawberries. 

 

Florida:  This state has the ideal growing conditions to produce all sorts of yummy foods throughout the year, particularly citrus fruits, which are difficult during the wintertime.  

Avocado, Bell Pepper, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Carambola, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Guava, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Orange, Papaya, Passion fruit, Peanuts, Potato, Radish, Squash, Strawberry, Sweet Corn, Tangerine and Tomatoes. 

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Photo credit via http://immigrantsandiego.org/

Washington: This state has a hardy harvest all the way through December and into the New Year although they too experience snow and storms

Carrots, Kale, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Sunchokes, Pumpkins, Yellow Squash, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Onions, Parsnips, Turnips and Pea Vines.

 

Minnesota:  This frosty state might not come to mind when thinking about warmer climates but they still know how to grow healthy fruit and vegetables throughout the calendar year!

Tags: winter, Vegetable Garden, Growing, Farms

Closing Your Garden for Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Nov 04, 2016

We are well into the fall season and leaves are drifting to the ground right on cue.  Plants are a bit frozen, fruits and veggies are long gone and flowers are shriveled up tightly, which are all hints to us that the season for growing in New England is over.  In some parts of our state, you may have already seen snow (I shudder to thing).   For me, it’s a very disappointing next few months but accomplishing outdoor tasks are far from over.  There’s a lot to be done before next years cultivation of newly flourishing gardens and right now is the time to do it.  Last Sunday, I spent hours preparing raised beds and the surrounding grounds for a chilly winter freezing so that next spring, I’ll be raring to go out there! 

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The truth be told, many avid gardeners forgo the whole process of shutting down their green thumb efforts and decide to deal with the aftermath the following April.  I’ve been tempted to take the easier path and just skip the whole thing as well, but considering the time and extra cost I’ll have to succumb to, it’s really not the smart way to go about things.  The ordeal isn’t that bad once you’ve got a system going so in order to help you, I’ll pass along mine!  Before the weather turns to sub zero temps, consider these facts and easy care tips to maintain your gardens throughout the entire year.

 

Setbacks of Ignoring Winterization

 

  1. Leaving tools and ceramic pots outdoors during storms and frigid temperatures can damage and break these necessities we use throughout growing season.  Extra money will need to be spent on replacing what is lost and can incur considerable budget blunders. 

  2. The time wasted cleaning leftover plants that will not return for another year can take up valuable space in your garden planning.  Instead of starting off fresh with new additions, you’ll be stuck yanking roots systems that you’ll find trickier since they’ve been in the ground for over a year.

  3. Instead of emotions of happiness and elation we typically feel when celebrating a new gardening year, we can actually regress into anger and disappointment when we have to start spring with unrewarding work such as raking and weed removal.  We want to keep things positive, so make time in your schedule to things done!

  4. Let’s face it-when we haven’t done our job at the end of fall, things turn out to be much, much messier when the calendar flips to May.  Who wants to stare out the window and see dirty remnants of last years harvest when we could be gazing at sprigs of early pretty perennials?

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Fast Tips to Close Your Garden for the Season

 

  1. Anything that is fragile or breakable (including ornaments and containers) should be safely put away on “low” shelves within garages, storage sheds or greenhouses.  If we have a windy winter, you’ll be glad they’re not up high where they can fall down. 

  2. Remove all veggie, fruit and annual plants from beds because they will not re-grow next spring.  Keeping them planted past their prime can solidify their roots making it difficult to pull after a freeze. 

  3. Store any chemical products such as weed killer, turpentine or other gardening food in an airtight area to avoid possibility of fire.

  4. Place reusable items such as garden stakes, tomato cages and netting in dry areas of your home so that they can be utilized again.  Saving these materials not only will save you cash next year but also support “going green” which helps keep our environment healthy

 

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, winter, Gardens

Best Containers to Start Your Seedlings

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Feb 19, 2016

I know it seems a little early but even in New England we can get a jump-start on the growing season.  Pay no attention to the ice and snow on the ground and get your green thumbs ready to begin planning your gardens now!  You don’t need a greenhouse or any other expensive contraption, either.  All you need is some things found right around your home, a few packets of seeds and the right warm and sunny window to get things blooming.  With a few tips on which material is the best to use, you’ll have a fabulous and bountiful collection of fruits, veggies and flowers to transplant as soon as the earth thaws later this spring.  So don’t get discouraged if you see yet another blizzard coming our way on the news, by following these guidelines you’ll be able to salvage your love of gardening all year round.

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Seeds

The truth is, you can plant whatever you want and at least one seed should spring up through the soil eventually.  While this is true, for those who are determined to grow hearty species for their summer gardens, there are a few species that will do better than others when potted indoors.  The later you begin potting during the winter season, the more options you have but in case you want to get cracking now, here are the seeds that I suggest.

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photo credit: hgtv.com

Potting Material

You’re going to hear a lot about what certain specialists deem are the best materials to plant seedlings but in general, you have a ton of options available.  Most of these containers you can find around your house or garage so don’t go nuts buying expensive seed sets which are the same if not inferior to what you already own.  Using everything from recyclables to empty fruit rinds, you’ll be amazed what works as a beneficial nutrient supplier to your seedlings.

 



Tags: Gardening, winter, Seeds, Garden

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