Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Berry Blooms

I had my doubts that I could actually start strawberries from seed. I had more doubts that they would survive the seedling stage. And here they are - with blooms even! I ordered 'Red Wonder Wild Strawberry' seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company's 2008 catalog. There isn't much information in the catalog about them other than to start them indoors like you would tomato seedlings. I know they won't produce much this year - if anything. I should probably pinch the blooms off, but, I don't want to. There aren't enough to do more than enjoy a berry or two anyway, and I still have more seed to try again next year, so, think I'll do as I please!

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Cast Members

I'm always trying to grow something new. Thanks to a generous valentine gift from hubby, I got to order tons of new-to-me seeds from Baker Creek this year. Meet some of the new characters growing here this year...

Painted Mountain Corn - my family struggles with blood sugar issues, so high-carb goodies like sweet corn are off the table. But growing pretty colored corn for fall decorating is do-able so I selected this variety, even though it is advertised as a "flour" corn.

Lemon squash seems to me to be nearly identical to any other yellow summer squash in flavor, it just has this fun lemon-like form. I have 2 of these
in the garden, one full and healthy, but the other wilted. I couldn't ever find signs of vine borers, so I can't say for sure what happened. I feared it just wasn't getting enough water so I watered it well, mulched it heavily, and watered then watered some more. It continued to die a bit more each day for about a week - until the last few days - now it seems the few unaffected vines are growing new leaves! Keeping my fingers crossed it pulls out of it.

Hollyhocks and wild strawberries...odd combination but I'm proud that I started both from seed!
The bed these are in have a mixed and unplanned variety of plants, including marigolds, petunias, sweet william, coleus and calendula. The hollyhocks won't flower for another year, and I doubt the strawberries set fruit until then.

I want to make salsa, with the majority of ingredients coming fresh from my garden. So, this year I added 2 varieties of tomatillos to my plant list.
I love the paper-lantern look! The verde variety has these husks growing in large numbers. The giant variety has only one husk on each of the 2 plants and the leaves are curled up....too much water? Anyway, the trick is to be sure I have enough peppers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and tomatillos all at once. We'll see....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So this is Okra

I've never grown okra before, though I do remember when I was a kid and Dad sent me out to weed the garden, and I pulled out the okra seedlings thinking they were weeds! I thought the whole row was supposed to be green beans....oops! Daddy wasn't mad - pretty frustrated - but not mad.

I love both pickled and fried okra, so I got seed for both Burgundy Okra and Perkins Long Pod Okra. It's obvious which is the burgundy...and the Perkins is HUGE. I had hoped to have at least 3 of each - having no idea how much is needed to feed the three of us. As it turned out 2 of the Perkins and 1 Burgundy survived, so we'll see how that works this year and I can adjust next year.

Sunset this evening from the southeast corner of my garden. I love the peaceful time just before the sun goes down out in the gardens.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Homegrown Goodness

The payoff for all my effort! A nice, big pot full of fresh veggies from my kitchen garden.

In February I sowed the pepper seeds and in March the tomatoes. The cukes and squash didn't get in the ground until late May.

Here we have a purple bell pepper, Tam Jalapenos - supposedly a mild jalapeno - but they are hot to me! Also a green banana-type sweet pepper that was knocked off the plant in a recent storm.
I much prefer waiting for the sweet peppers to turn color - it adds so much flavor - but won't let a green one go to waste.

Lemons? No - but they are fun to look at. The darker yellow trio are plum tomatoes - very meaty with hardly any juice - very mild flavor. And the lighter yellow threesome are summer squash.
Perfect to use in any summer squash recipe - I like mine stir-fried with onions, garlic, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes with a bit of hickory salt, fresh-ground black pepper and a couple teaspoons of the sour cream and chive seasoning we get at the Mennonite store.

And the cukes are going crazy! I had hoped to make some pickles, but there just isn't enough time, nor enough small pickles at once. That's ok - I eat them raw, as refrigerator pickles and share with family and friends. The long one is an asian type called Suyo Long.
Very prickly, very long, with lots of ridges. The other type is Snow's fancy pickling - also prickly, though not quite as much. Both are delicious!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kitchen Flooring Success

It is done. At last. I'm happy.
We knew it was going to be a huge project, but it went way beyond our expectations. It exceeded everything - number of foreseen issues, extent of known issues, time anticipated to do the work, costs, and - one good thing - final results. The beginning was overwhelming to say the least (see post "From Sagging to Bragging")

But now we have a beautiful, sturdy, nearly level floor. (What can I say - it is an OLD house!) I am grateful for our kids and kids-in-law that helped make this happen. And Josh, son #3, has earned the right to be our "Favorite" for a very long time with all the hours, blood, sweat and tears he put into this!

The floorcovering is a wood laminate in a beautiful walnut that suits my style, my cabinets, my walls - me! If we still love it this much in a year, we may do a couple of adjoining rooms in the same flooring. I need a year to be sure it stands the test of daily life around here - and to get the energy and funds to do more!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sweet Cherry tomatoes and more

I loooooove tomatoes! And I love trying new plants. So this year I tried some more new-to-me varieties of tomatoes. And I think I've found a cherry tom that will become a staple in my garden. Small as a marble, ripening to a creamy, lemony yellow - called Matt's White Cherry - these heirlooms are sweet and delicious as they are pretty. The only thing wrong in my opinion is that there aren't more ripe already.

And while my tomatoes ripen on the vine and the cucumbers flower and set fruit, the marigolds are putting on a show with their gorgeous orange (or yellow or gold) blooms. And I believe they really do help repel the bad guy bugs. I NEED to believe that!

Edamame Blooms

My edamame (soybeans) are doing really well so far. After growing 6 or so plants last year as an experiment, I vowed to grow a good supply this year.

The beans in the background here were planted about 3 weeks ago. Those in the foreground were sowed about 6 weeks ago. There are 4 different varieties shown here, plus another 2 varieties in another bed, planted about a week ago. I'm anxious to see the differences between them all.

The only obvious difference so far is in bloom color. Here we have a creamy white and tan bloom.

And this variety has a light purple/pink

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tomatoes and other garden goodness

I've picked a handful of tomatoes already - not because they were ripe - though they were getting close. I picked them because they were SO close and the worms and bugs were attacking! I decided to pluck them a few days early and take them inside where they might finish ripening without being totally destroyed. It won't be long and there will be baskets-full of them, but I can hardly wait til then. The raised beds of my kitchen garden are getting full and pretty, though it rains so often I can't keep up with all the trimming, mowing and weeding that needs to be done. Among the beds you can see broccoli, edamame, squash, peppers, tomatoes, onions, chives, and maybe the okra and cucumbers. There's also tomatillos, dill, cilantro, radishes, lettuce, swiss chard, komatsuna, corn, amaranth, hyssop, marigolds, nasturtiums, watermelon and cantaloupe.

These Lemon plum tomatoes are heavy-laden with fruit! I haven't grown these before, and am amazed out how well they've done.
The nasturtiums are there by design - to help repel bugs. And the bottle is painted yellow inside to attract aphids and other munchers. Then I coated it in petroleum jelly so that at least the tiny insects will get stuck! I have a few different sizes and shapes of jars and bottles in varying shades of orange and yellow throughout the tomatoes - hoping to alleviate some of the bug damage.

My catnip bloomed this year, and our outside kitty loves it! Not very exciting blooms, but I like it anyway.
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