Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seeds and more - 2008

Seed from Baker Creek
As my love of gardening has grown, so has my inventory of seed. Most of these will be new varieties for me
Amaranth - Love-Lies-Bleeding
Broccoli - Waltham 29
Cauliflower - Purple of Sicily

Chives - Common
Corn - Painted Mountain
Cucumber - Snow's Fancy Pickling
Cucumber - Suyo Long
Fennel - Di Firenze
Garden Berry - Red Wonder Wild Strawberry
Gourd - Dipper
Leek - Giant Musselburgh
Melon (American) - Kansas
Okra - Burgundy
Okra - Perkins Long Pod
Onion - Flat of Italy

Onion - Crimson Forest Bunching
Onion - Tropeana Round
Pepper – Mildly hot - Tam Jalapeno

Pepper - Sweet - Golden Treasure
Pepper - Sweet - Orange Bell
Pepper - Sweet - Large Sweet of Antigua

Radish - White Hailstone
Rhubarb - Victoria
Runner beans - Painted Lady
Soya beans (Edamame) - Envy
Squash - summer - Lemon Squash
Squash - summer - White Scallop
Squash - summer - Crookneck - Early Golden Summer
Swiss Chard - Five Color Silverbeet
Tomatillo - Tomatillo-Verde
Tomato - green - Green Zebra

Tomato - pink - Pink Oxheart
Tomato - red - Bloody Butcher
Tomato - red - Ingegnoli Gigante Liscio
Tomato - red - cherry - Chadwick Cherry
Tomato - white - cherry - White Currant
Tomato - Yellow - Plum Lemon
Watermelon - Wilson Sweet
Hyssop (herb) - Hyssop Blue

Seed given to me that I want to try this year:

Brown-eyed Susan
Larkspur - Bunny Ear
Ruffled Coleus

Yellow Marigold
Variegated Marigold

Spaghetti Squash
Neck Pumpkin

Saved seed or leftover seed from previous year - worth growing again this year:

Sweet William
Tomato - Mr. Stripey
Tomato - Cherry (unknown)
Pepper - Sweet - Mini - Golden (unknown)
Pepper - Sweet - Chocolate Bell
Pepper - Sweet - Purple Beauty
Pepper - Sweet - Giant Marconi
Squash - Winter - Assorted (mixed, unknown)
Lemon Basil
Cinnamon Basil
Scarlet Runner Beans
Buttercrunch Lettuce
Edamame (unknown)
Hummingbird vine
Morning Glories

Hmmmm....good thing I'm doubling my garden space again this year. Just wonder still how I'll fit it all in!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Latest bargain worth the $

I have been watching ebay for 3 months - more specifically watching for a good quality anodized non-stick frying pan that I would consider a bargain. I finally got one and I'm in love! I had set out to buy a new stove-top griddle last October - we use ours daily and they tend to wear out at the rate of about 1 per 12-16 months. So, daughter, Fallan, being the mini-Paula Deen that she is, insisted I check out some better brands than those I have always bought at Wally-World. OK, so to humor her I do some searching - and whaddyaknow? - found a Calphalon griddle on Amazon for less than I normally pay for the lower-end brands. Bought it and we all were amazed at the obvious differences in quality - it's heavier, better balanced with the handle, and the nonstick surface is just beautiful. Question is, will it last any better? Not that it really matters since I got it for such a great price, but one would hope anyway. So, we are all so impressed that we start thinking it would be good to get a similar frying pan/skillet. Not so simple to find! Seems that the frying pans are not to be had for such a low price anywhere - including ebay! And of course, I'm not considering a nice little 8" or even 10" pan - I've got my heart set on a 12". So I search - I watch - I wait. I wait. I wait. Good grief! Finally one sells within the $ range I had set for myself - but I failed to get a bid in on it. So back to waiting - but then I finally made my move and won the skillet of my dreams - a mere 3 months after we decided we "needed" it. No complaints though - this baby was worth the wait! It is just as fabulous as the griddle and will hold enough to cook when all the kids come to visit. Paid $20 for the griddle and $27 for the skillet - best I can tell the griddle should retail for around $40 and the skillet for about $90.

I've been "testing" the new pan - starting with a wonderful lunchtime stir-fry of peppers, squash, garlic, mushrooms and raw baby spinach yesterday, and today, a breakfast that was
tasty, healthy and filling. While I was cooking 2 servings of old-fashioned oats in a regular old 2 qt pan (that will be next to be replaced I think!), in the new skillet I melted butter and added chopped pecans and unpeeled granny-smith apple slices. I cooked those for a bit then added some cinnamon and apple-pie spice and frozen cranberries (bought in December in the fresh produce section - just washed, dried, put in a ziplock and froze for later), cooked a bit more, then added the cooked oatmeal and a handful of extra-fiber All-Bran cereal. Finished with a 1/2 cup of honey from my brother's bee operation and a little Splenda sweetener. Mmmmm - I like to pour just a little 2% milk on mine and eat while it's good and warm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Past Project

I wanted to refinish the old ice chest for years - it had belonged to my husband's parents and had ended up shoved into the mud room, used to pull muddy boots off with! Years of neglect and abuse were evident - potential for restored beauty was NOT evident! But I took on the challenge and voila! My first (to date it is really the ONLY) big refinishing job and without a doubt it returned results far better than I had dared to imagine. Not that those results weren't deserved - after hours of scraping, scrubbing and sanding and more - then staining - all in all I would estimate it took me 6-8 weeks to do. But the pleasure I get from seeing it proudly stand in the dining room, where it stores linens and blankets - are worth all the hours put into it. I'm sure a little less TLC could have turned this piece into a "shabby-chic" or "chippy" piece that many would have loved. And while I admit some of those pieces are really wonderful, I'm glad I took it on down to the bare wood and gave her the rich, walnut stain that makes her shine so now. It suits her.

This is one of those DIY projects I turn back to from time to time to help motivate me to do something else that seems enormous. I love it when a plan comes together!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Seed Love

I won't let the frigid temps keep ME from digging in the dirt! I stumbled across the fabulous wintersown web site on Thursday - on Friday I purchased some seed-starting medium - on Saturday I assembled my containers and planted Poppies, Lupine, Black-eyed Susans, Hollyhocks, Broccoli and Cauliflower. I want to do some Chard, Leeks, Onions, Chives, Larkspur and more, but need to gather more containers first. I think I must be in the same boat with all the other first-time wintersowers out there - proceeding with a mix of excited anticipation and fear of failure.

Look at my beautiful seed packets! I've added all 40-some varieties that I've purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds to my 2008 garden list today, along with listing a nice-sized stash of seeds I either bought from one place or another last year, or saved from my own garden. I'm a list-maker by nature, so this helps me feel like I've got my ducks lined up and ready to go!

I'll still be starting some seed under lights indoors. Mid-February I will start my peppers, followed by tomatoes in early March, and I'll probably experiment with wintersowing for a few tomato seeds just to see what happens. The more I can start outdoors, the better! If you have experience wintersowing - or are trying it for the first time like me, leave me a comment so we can compare notes! FYI, I'm in zone 6.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I happened across these pictures as I was searching back through some files and remembered a wonderful week in June 2006...I took a few vacation days, and though we stayed close to home, it was one of the best vacations I've had. These shots were taken during a fishing outing at Pomme de Terre lake that week. I vowed after the fishing trip a few weeks earlier, when we watched a mink hunt for fish and take them back up to the nest - it probably made 6 trips while we were in the area - that I must bring my camera every time. Well, that hasn't happened, but at least when I did remember it, it was worthwhile.

This shot was taken at the edge of our yard just before sunset one evening that same week...I had promised myself that I would take as many photos as possible during that vacation....and now have some wonderful memories because of it.

Oh, and here is a little tree frog that caught my eye. He was clinging to a hanging candle "thing" I had on a shepherd's hook next to the porch...I probably took 12 shots of him and only these 3 were clear enough to keep - so I combined them into one for an interesting photo.

Sometimes it's good therapy to revisit a happy time in our past...I've had a lot of stress at work this week, so this was a nice way to spend this evening!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ice in '07 and Tornadoes in '08

Just a year ago, our world ground to a brief halt thanks to an ice storm that severely damaged our trees, kept most homes in SW Missouri without power for days on end (some up to 2 weeks!), and in general cost us weeks of cleanup time. Yet, we were one of the few that kept power (except for a few hours on a couple of days) and, generally count ourselves lucky that it wasn't any worse. And with camera in hand I wandered out, to find unusual beauty in the aftermath....nature is so humbling...brutal and beautiful all at once.

And just a few days ago, our area was ravaged by severe thunderstorms with tornadoes ripping across the Ozarks, killing at least 2 people, and stra
ightline winds that caused nearly as much damage. I have no photos, because we were extremely fortunate and suffered nothing worse than having some patio chairs blown around a bit. No beauty to be found, sifting through the remains of one's home blown to bits I fear.

Here's hoping the rest of our January is "normal" - I'll take the cold and the wind and a few inches of snow any day over the storms!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Spring in January

Well it seems I skipped over a month before returning to blog-world, but now that Christmas holidays and the New Year have been duly celebrated, I'm ready to continue. And no, those easter lily buds aren't here yet - those were snapped last spring....but, we have had an incredibly warm weekend for January here in the Ozarks - in the 60's yesterday and topping out at 70 today! So in spite of the gusting winds that brought us this warm air, I spent a glorious amount of time in the garden. I pulled up the gnarled, dead, dry tomato plants and heaped them in a pile to be burned on a less windy day. I gathered a few more seeds from the last lemon basil plant and then pulled it and other remainders, like the last of the marigolds, and piled in another heap that will likely be chopped and used for mulch. I started piling on some mulched leaves, only to find that the wind devils were having far too much fun with them, so I stopped after 3 bags full, covered those with the grass mulch we had accumulated at the edge of the garden, and called it good for now. Now that everything has been cleaned out, it won't be a big job, even on a cooler day, to finish the leaf & grass mulch to rebuild the beds.

I LOVE this Lasagna-garden method, as described in the book by Patricia Lanza. My daughter brought this book to my attention a couple of years ago, then bought me a copy as a gift. I've been using it as my guide ever since - and enjoying gardening immensely for the first time in my life. I went from a couple of tubs of dirt with a couple of leggy, and often-thirsty cherry tomatoes stuck in them, to a small but productive garden in 2006 - then to a garden 2x bigger with some 30+ tomato plants, plus peppers, basil, mint, onions, cucumbers, dill, catnip, spinach, mustard, lettuce, rosemary, eggplant, edamame, broccoli, squash and more in 2007. Next year I expect to double the size AGAIN - and add at least 10 new veggies/herbs to the mix. I have found satisfaction and therapy in gardening - and if you knew me, you would know that seemed very unlikely. Not that I didn't WANT to be able to grow things - every spring, along with the rest of the world, I would be bit by the gardening bug. I'd buy a few flowers and tomatoes from the nursery, they were lucky if they survived to the end of June...I just didn't have the desire to dig and weed and water for more than a few weeks. (Too much of it as a kid I suppose, when I spent many summer mornings hoeing, weeding, picking, and even canning from my parent's bountiful garden. I hated it then, and hadn't really ever considered it likely to be "fun" as an adult.) But here I am, digging, watering and fertilizing - watching for fungus, aphids, and other enemies - and loving it. For one thing though, I really don't have much weeding or digging to do - thanks to the mulching methods of lasagna-gardening - I spend more time chopping and gathering grass and leaves to mulch with . After the first year, I figured out that investing in some soaker hoses and multi-outlet hose connections saves a lot of time when it comes to watering. Now I spend more time enjoying watching everything grow, the wonderful aromas, and naturally the feast of delicious, healthy foods that I grow.

I faxed my seed order ($80 thanks to a thoughtful anniversary gift from hu
bby!) to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company on Friday and am like a kid waiting for Christmas now! I know I won't even be able to start the peppers indoors for a few weeks, but that won't stop me from planning. There will be decisions to make on where to plant the rhubarb and the fennel, the tomatillos and amaranth - all new to me! But I can hardly wait for the chance to open a fresh bag of potting mix and start my 2008 adventure.

Now, where am I going to fit in all my other projects? Like the mosaic birdhouse, stepping stones and flower pots I want to do...or the re-purposing of an old bed into a porch bench, or an old window into a shelf to hang in our bedroom? I really must figure out how to retire early....:)

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