Monday, December 24, 2012

'Tis The Season!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


A little update on my summer and fall.

I got lots of elderberries this summer.  I picked about a third of them which amounted to about 2 pounds.

 I made elderberry syrup out of them.  I boiled them, added sugar and then strained them with my coffee press since i didn't have a jelly bag or muslin.

This picture is of the squashed i picked. Four Delicata and nine Butternut.  I processed all of them into dehydrated powder for easier storage.  More on that later.

The Red Russian kale did awesome again this year.  I should always grow it.  Even the dog likes it,  and our toddler does too.

My tomatoes blighted out early this year,  it was pretty sad.  I hardly got to use any of them because they rotted so quickly.  Worse thing was that it was really a bumper crop coming on.


I managed to find three Monarch caterpillars at the end of summer.  They were quite large at the time and only about four days from pupating,  so we didn't have to wait long for butterflies.

My 3 year old helping me release one back into the "wild".
 Another shot.

The release spot.  It wasn't quite ready to fly,  but i didn't want to leave it in the jar too long so it would rip its wings.

A small harvest of Jerusalem Artichokes.  This all came from a spot about three feet square.  I have 10 feet of them....
 Here's a particularly large one:

Processing squash into powder:

These are the ones i used, plus one more Butternut and a pie pumpkin.

Topped and tailed for safer handling.

 Baked, then scooped out and mashed a bit.

My largest stainless steel bowl....   mostly full of almost all the squash and pumpkin.

I ran the mush through my Foley food mill to get a uniform consistency.

I spread the puree thinly on the dehydrator trays lined with plastic clingfilm.

Started up the dehydrator and went outside to look around.

I found more ripe Goji berries.

This is their first year and between the two plants i must have gotten almost 50 berries.  I'm liking that!

Playing outside for a bit.  Its getting very cold.  We've had a number of frosts by now and its been as cold as 22 degrees.

A day and a half later...   once the top was dry enough,  i peeled off the plastic and flipped the sheets of puree to continue drying.

I broke the sheets into chips which i ran through the blender until ground into powder.

End product:

Quart jar mostly full of squash/pumpkin powder.  Convenient for rehydrating to be eaten with a little butter and sugar or to be made into pies.  Such a reduction in volume is worth the time and effort!

Much easier to store this way,  especially with an oxygen absorber packet inside.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mushroom articles

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frost advisory for tonight.

Looks like gardening season may come to a close earlier than normal this year. Its September 19,  normally we're frost free  until  within a week of  October first.  Its just an advisory, however, but it is a definite sign of the end of summer.

In a way, i'll be glad to get everything taken apart and put away. Since the tomatoes got blighted i have not weeded and things are looking pretty bad out there!

Other than the ground cherries, nothing has really been providing any longer.  Well...besides the kale.

Last night's heavy wind and rain blew the Jerusalem artichokes around quite a bit.  They are still pretty much upright, but they are leaning in all directions.  I think after a hard frost hits, i'll have hubby take the heavy duty weed whacking blade to the stalks, clear them away and start digging as needed.

We'll be weed whacking the rest of the garden too.  Hubby wants to rake all the plant trash into a pile and burn it this fall so the garden will be cleaner in the spring.  i guess its worth a try. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer is almost gone.

Its been cool out these last few days. Which has been welcome. There was even a frost warning last night for northwestern Maine.

The garden did ok this year. Not great but acceptable.  My tomatoes got blighted out, but they were productive enough we ended up with plenty of good ones we were even ablevto share a few.

The kale was , as usual, spectacular.

The butternut winter squash has done well too. I managed to get 8 very niced size squashes. The delicata plant that survived gave me 4.

The cucumbers did ok. I was getting about three every other day, but then the vines just dried up.

I was not able to keep up with the green beans, but i planned on saving the seeds anyway.

The elberberries have done nicely too. I managed to pick a pound and a half and de-stem them over the course of a day.  I plan to make syrup ou
t of them if i can find the time.

The grapes were beset by Japanese
etles so they look pretty sad.  Last year i sprayed them along with the apple tree, but i abandoned my schedule for spraying... no apples this year though we are nibbling grapes off the uneven bunches.

The Carmine Jewel cherry plants are doing well,  leafing out nicely. So are the beach plums and the seaberries.
The goji surprised me and flowered.  I have even picked 6 or 7 berries and there are more yet to ripen.

I would have had lingonberries if my youngest daughter hadn't plucked the green berries off.

The prune plum is growing well despite even more Japanese beetles, the autumn olive is growing like the weed that it is. The Jerusalem artichokes are going like gangbusters despite the powdery mildew they have.

The summer squash were delicious while they lasted, which didn't seem very long.

The big thing this summer has been the Aunt Molly's ground cherries!  They are very sweet and good, tasting like non-acidic pineapple.  My youngest daughter loves them. Every day she picks a bunch and eats them on the spot.

The weeds did get away from me again this year but not as bad as last year!

Well this is my first attempt at posting a full entry from my phone, so we'll see if it posts.

Friday, September 7, 2012

test two

from my phone

Friday, July 20, 2012

A lot going on actually

I just don't know where to start.

The blueberries are almost done,  we've gotten a number of overflowing handfuls of beautiful, flavorful berries this year. That's even with my youngest daughter grabbing the unripe ones before they all started to ripen.

My tomatoes are going strong.  We have many green tomatoes growing and sizing up.  We ran out of tomato cages this Spring so only about a third are caged up,  the others are kinda growing naturally-- which i know is going to turn into a big mess, lol.  I know they can be staked,  but that takes pruning and its way too late for that.   Besides,  after all my reading i still don't get how to stake and prune tomatoes.

Out weeding and my daughter pulled up my Kai Lan Queen kales.  I guess its ok.  We haven't more than snacked from them.  If i grow them again i'll do a whole row,  they don't seem to produce enough tips for a meal all at once if you only plant 3.

Three days ago she picked our first Golden Zebra summer squash.  It was a little small (5 inches or less) but it was crisp and flavorful.  I'll plant it again.  More are on the way.

Funny thing happened to one of my beach plums and one of my cherry plants.  The main stem seems to have died,  all the leaves crumbled and dried,  but both are resprouting at the roots.  They are on opposite ends of the yard and looked like they got hit with Round-up or something.  Butthey are coming back strong anyway.

The green beans are flowering right now, looks like a good potential crop.

The weather has finally cooled down,  we'd been dry and hot for the last 2 weeks the lawn is going brown in places which has my hubby all annoyed. 

Well thats it for now.  I'm still working on getting my phone working for posting,  hopefully i'll get some pics up with it soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Phone thing

Well the phone thing isn't going well. For it to work,  i had to switch from my Yahoo account sign-in to my Google account.  Fair enough.
But on my phone,  Google does not recognise my password which i have reset about 5 times now.  I don't know what is going on,  but it stinks!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

After a few weeks

I've been busy,  not so  much in the garden but with fun family stuff.  The garden is doing well,  things are getting huge.  I'd like to post some pictures soon.

I got a new Droid Razor phone the other week.  I've been playing with  it.  I used to have just a basic flip phone which didn't even have a camera,  but this is a really cool phone.  The camera on it is better than my actual camera.  I think there is a way i can take pictures on the phone and upload them to and post on Blogger.  I haven't figured this out yet,  though i did figure out how to get things on Facebook.  So i'll be posting pics that way if i find that it can be done and i figure out how to do it.  If not i'll go back to actual camera and cable.

Well so far summer has gone nicely.

There are a ton of grape clusters,  we've gotten some nice handfulls of blueberries and they taste wonderful.  The York and Nova elderberries are in full bloom.

The temps have been  wonderful, mid and upper 70's.  We got a lot of rain about 3 weeks ago, but its been pleasantly dry since.

Well,  i'll go play with my phone and do some weeding this evening.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Photo post

Grape patch

Autumn Olive,  growing like the weed that it is.

The healthier of the two Carmine Jewel cherry plants

Blueberries and Lingonberries

Lingonberry flowers

Blueberries in fruit

Side bed all filled up

The less impressive Carmine Jewel cherry,  i hope it survives winter

The Yard

Wild kitty in my garden,  digging in the bean row

Other end of the Yard

Autumn Olive a few weeks later-- even bigger than before

Goldbeere Elderberry

York (left) and Nova (right) Elderberries

Caerulea Blue elderberry

Grape row

Full garden shot

Photo shortly after getting most everything planted in.
I've enjoyed things so far this year.  I have managed to keep up with the weeds at this point- using my scuffle hoe.  Keeping my 3-year-old and feral kitties out of the garden has been the main challenge.  I lost a cucumber plant the other day to one of the two. At this point, its too late to do anything about it.

Next year i definitely have to get an earlier start with seeds,  i held myself too tight this time and then ran out of time.  The older my little one gets,  the easier it should be,  i'll be able to direct her away from things more easily. 

Its been a cool couple of weeks,  its been in the 60's during the day,  40-50's overnight.  We are expecting 90 degree weather in the next few days,  the cool air does not seem to have damaged anything,  but things like the beans are growing slowly.  The tomatoes are about to bloom though and the grapes are in full flush right now.  The cukes and squashes have just kind of sat there.

We'll see what a few days in the 90's can do to get things going.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Finished planting

I weeded everything with my old garden weasel, then dug the last two rows.  Then i planted the squashes and cucumbers and the three Job's tears seedlings.  I also planted a third row of green beans.  The ones i planted a week ago still haven't come up,  its been a bit cool out so hopefully its just that.

I've had not-so-good germination this year.

  None of the 3 Beit Alpha seeds sprouted,  only one of the 3 Delicata squash sprouted,  out of 4 Spacemaster cukes, only 2 came up.  The Banana Legs tomatoes sprouted 2 out of four.  Happiness came from the Golden Zebra summer squash.  Every seed came up,  i actually had to thin them.

I managed to get everything done just before some thunderstorms blew up,  so everything is being watered in naturally.

Its  supposed to be sunny and warm through next week once the storms clear out tonight.

Cats in the garden.

Not my cat,  hes a 100% indoor gentleman.  Its the neighborhood cats that get me.  They like my garden as a litter box and they scamper across the rows.  They also use it as their own fighting arena.  One night a tomato plant got broken due to a squabble.  I mounded the soil up around the broken part of the stem,  it has recovered  nicely,  but it still was annoying.

Its still better than woodchucks (which i haven't seen yet).  There's a rumor of a fisher in the area. So i think its likely that it may have been hunting them.  They also go after cats, so though the cats bother me, i hope they won't be killed like that.

Monday, June 4, 2012


We got some good rain this weekend,  its been a steady downpour since Saturday evening.

My hubby wanted me to try those Jobe's fertilizer spikes for tomatoes since our soil is so sandy we suspect much of the fertilizers get washed away rather quickly.  I poked them in the other day,  i expect them to make a difference.

My squash and cuke seeds and seedlings are still in the flat,  they are going slow and some are not germinating at all.  I'll be lucky if i get one Delicata plant.  The butternut are large though and almost ready to go in.

I really started them too late,  but the germination  percent is quite disappointing. I planted two seeds in each pot.

The rain has overflowed the flats so i'll need to drain them...again.  So much rain,  its been steady for almost 3 days now.  I expect my green bean seeds have been well watered by now, lol

Stanley will have to be staked again,  the water on his leaves has him bending down  alarmingly once more.  I'm still not understanding this pruning thing,  i simply don't know what needs to be cut.  I let my grapes go this year,  it warmed up way too fast for me to get in and winter prune,  so i'm letting them go just to see what it "looks like" when they grow on their own.  I think i have enough of a handle on how to prune grapes that i can make repairs next spring.

I need also to make name plates for my plants.  I'm not sure how i'll do this.  They are outgrowing their nursery tags and they'll have to be removed .....  and i'm forgetful. I want to know who is who.  I am very disorganised at the same time i like to be precise.  I'll spend hours charting and graphing,  but in the end i just wing it.   Like this year.   I mapped and plotted with my Grow Veg subscription,  but when it got  down to it,  i didn't print it off,  i just dug in and planted.  This year i didn't even label varieties,  some of the tomatoes i recognise by sight this year (pruden's purple, san marzanos and aunt molly's ground cherries) and the kales (red russian and kai lan queen),  i know where the beans are.  The squashes i'll know by the time they grow and the cukes will sort themselves out.  Once the rain stops and i can start digging again,  i'll plant them out.

I did find my camera cable (yay!)   but no pics because of the rain.  I plan to do a picture post soon. Maybe i'll do one of those "Wordless Wednesday" posts i see other bloggers doing.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I planted two rows of Provider bush beans today. Time will tell if i have set myself up for inundation or not.  But then i usually plant double the seeds in the same area of row, so this may actually be the right    way to go.

Oh,  i found the first firefly on my hubby's shoulder  this evening,  i was pretty cool.  We were out having a cigar  and there it was. Brilliant!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thunder and rain

It would have been nice to know we were going to get heavy rain overnight and today.  I would have planted bean seeds.  Last night the forecast called for 0.08 inches of rain.  My guess is about 3.0 inches of rain.  It was nice, however,  to be woken up a few times last night by flashes of lightening and rumbles of thunder.  I find it relaxing.

If i had known,  i would have finished mounding and digging the rows and planted those green bean seeds,  i don't like to manually water if i can help it.  It would have been perfect.

But the tomatoes are enjoying it and the kales and ground cherries. It has been on the dry side since i planted and the rain was really needed.

Still,  it would have been nice to know! lol

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ginger Beer

I haven't tried making it yet,  but soon...oh, soon!

From "Not Dabbling in Normal"  is a great tute on homemade ginger beer:


Got all the kales planted Sunday. At least the ones that came up...   i  know,  in reverse.  Kale should have gone in before the tomatoes.  But that's how i roll. lol

One of the Job's Tears finally sprouted.  That will be popped in when its finally recognisable so it won"t be mistaken for regular grass.

The Delicata squash are no-shows so far.  The only cukes up right now are the Specialty White and Boston Pickling.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tomatoes Planted

Got all the tomatoes planted today.  What a relief to get that  done on time. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seasonal notes

Found the first Junebug of the year last  night. I'll have to watch the Seabuckthorn because i  guess the only things that bother them  are Junebugs.

Grapes are getting flower clusters already,  i counted quite a few.

My Hoya Shepherdi is blooming again.   Yummy scent!

The cucumbers are finally starting to  sprout.  Specialty White and Boston Pickling are the firsts....  oy vey, was i late starting them!

We've been getting that  humid,  rain\sun weather that can be so annoying.

I'm hoping to plant this Sunday and i wish i chanced it a few weeks ago,  it would have been a winning bet this year.  We haven' t had a frost in weeks.  The days have been about 70, so the soil has been warm. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Squash and cukes, finally...!

Saturday,  i actually found time to plant the cuke and squash seeds.  I seeded three of each:

Delicata- bush,  winter squash
Butternut- bush, winter squash
Yellow Zebra, summer squash


Beit Alpha
Boston pickling
Specialty White

I'm still not sure if i'm going to try starting my broccoli late as it is or buy seedlings this year.  I think i'll have to buy at this point.

It stinks because my goal all along has been to  grow my own stuff all from seed,  and eventually start saving my seeds so i don't even have to buy any.
I'm taking  some steps back this year because i just have been too busy or mentally 'off'.  I mentioned in the comments section of a favorite blog this morning, that last year's weed war was such a disaster that i'm almost afraid to garden again this year. It was so depressing. I've lost a lot of enthusiasm for gardening over the weeds.  When i was gardening in tiny plots and longing for a big garden like i grew up with,  the weeds were well within control,  but with my little daughter,  mental/physical issues and other stuff,  the big garden is more than a challenge.
But i won't give up.  I just have to figure it out.

The grapes are leafing out well,  the bloom on the apple tree has blown,  the lilacs are in full flower all the way to the tips of the clusters.   Usually they aren't like that until Memorial Day.  We're  about 2 weeks ahead this year.  Yesterday it was 80 and night temps were in the 50's.
My tomato seedlings are in full sun now and stay out at night.  My kales are growing well,  though they are small because i planted so darn late.

Well,  i guess that is it for now.  i have other not as fun stuff to do! ;o)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Last plant

My male Seabuckthorn came in this morning (Friday),  so that is the last of my plants.

Did i mention that my dad delivered me 3/4 of a yard of black mulch on Monday?  I expect it to be almost more than enough to mulch all the beds fairly deep.  I'll be working on that over the next few days or weeks if the rain stays away  ...after i get Mr Seabuckthorn planted.  He's acclimating right now.

Marechal Foch (grape) is the first to open leaves this year,  such a vigorous plant.

Some of the blossoms are dropping off of the blueberry plants.  I really hope something pollinated them.

It looks like i can gauge the timing of my grapes leafing out  when the apple tree is in full bloom.

My tomato seedlings look good,  i just put them out in the shade today (Saturday),  the night time temps look steady in the high 40's to mid 50's,  so i think its ok.   They have reached the maximum height of my lights,  so its time to get them some real light.  It will be time to sow more things in the next couple days.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

All in.

Thanks to my hot, husky hubby all my plants (except for the male Seabuckthorn) are in the ground.  This includes the cherries which required the removal of 3 non-fruiting ornamentals which are waiting for my parents to pick up tomorrow. A few bulbs came up with them, daffodils and a pink hyacinth.

He helped me dig a couple holes before he wandered off to mow the lawn after the plants were dug.  I did the rest which wasn't too hard.

I am so relieved that its all done,  there's nothing worse for me than worrying over plants that are waiting to be planted.  I'm always afraid i'll never get to it and by the time i do,  it may be too late-- bare roots moldering in plastic or getting pot-bound or dried out in nursery pots.

But its all done and i survived the anxiety!

On another note,  the apple has opened a few blossoms,  the blueberries are almost in full bloom.  The Jerusalem Arties are annoyingly migrating to the more fertile edge of the garden....  hopefully, by making a walking path in the area and stepping on them will quell their enthusiasm. I plan to do a thorough (as much as possible) harvest of them this fall.
The kale are coming up now,  so i'm happy all in all.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Incoming Orders

Gawsh, i wish i had my camera cable!

My Raintree order came in and things are looking good.  The only thing that didn't come in was my male Seabuckthorn,  but its on backorder and will be shipped around the end of next week.

My order from Pinetree came in as well.

So looks like i am all ready but for the seed starting and digging.

I dug up the seemingly dead elderberry today,  it came up easily enough to do it totally by hand (no shovels or trowels etc.) which was interesting.

My Goldbeere elderberry is a beautiful creature.  It came as a 1 gallon potted,  it already has a flower cluster on it.  The other came as a bare root, so its not as impressive but it has some shoots on it.  Even the cheap Beach Plums (less than $5 each) are larger than expected.  The Goji are nice as well. The Titan Seabuckthorn looks healthy and sturdy too.  I am happy.

I'm also glad that i got the Golden Zebra summer squash this year too.

I am all enthused :o)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


My kale seeds are beginning to come up (outdoors i figure they can handle the chilly weather we are having now).  My tomato seedlings are getting their second set of leaves...  the Aunt Molly's are up too..  Two of the Banana Legs have done nothing,  one more day on those and i'll reseed.  Its almost time to start the cukes and squashes.  I never do those very early,  even under 4 lights they get leggy on me.

My Raintree order is expected to arrive tomorrow with my Sea Buckthorns, Gojis, Beach Plums and 2 Elderberries.

The Carmine Jewel cherry plants are looking good in their little pots.

So far the apple tree has not bloomed,  its blossoms are pink in bud right now, but i'm glad there are no blossoms,  there is nothing  out to really fertilize them right now anyway- too chilly.  Its been in the high 40's and mid 50's,  the bees are not out.

My dad came over last Friday and tilled,  he'll come over and till again when its time to plant.  We may get more manure if there is time.

There isn't much else going on right now,  i haven't gotten the non-fruiting plants or the dead, unnamed elderberry out yet.  Maybe this weekend?

Oh and i made a small order at Pinetree,  i had forgotten to order Delicata squash seeds.  I want to try them.  I also got more Provider bush beans as i was running out.  I also tried again to get Golden Zebra summer squash,  last year they had to substitute 49'r because they didn't have any more Golden Zebra.  I also  ordered some nylon trellis netting for the cucumbers to grow on.

That's it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Didn't i say i was going to plug in the list of what i seeded the other day?

So i'll do it now:

4 Pruden's Purple
2 Sweet Chelsea
4 San Marzano Lampadina
4 Banana Legs
4 San Marzano from Providence Acres
3 Aunt Molly'sGround Cherries (also from Providence Acres)

Everything is up except 2 Banana Legs and the 4 Aunt Molly's

3 Red Russian
3 Kai Lan Queen
1 Starbor   (only had one seed left!)
3 Peacock Red- Flowering
3 Fringed Formula- Flowering
3 Teasel
2 Saltwort

None up yet.  They are outside anyway.  In the weirdly warm weather  we've been getting.

I may rethink the teasel. I often wanted it for a couple interesting seedheads, but further research calls it a potentially noxious weed,  and i had assumed this biennial plant was an annual and not hardy to my area.

I am going to try and make room for some Job's Tears and Leonotis,  Job's Tears have such pretty seeds for beading and i love the Leonotis flowers.

So...  i'll probably stuff  some Job's Tear seeds in the Teasel pots and call it good.  Same with the Saltwort.  Further  research on that shows seed viability of about 4 months. {facepalm} My seeds are 2 years old.  Bleh.

My Carmine Jewel cherry trees came today.  They look pretty good actually. Small,  but fully leafed, sturdy little things.  I am not disappointed.  Wish i could post a pic,  but like i mentioned before,  i can't find my camera-to-laptop cable or my minidisk adapter.

The grapes are now waking up and getting full sun much of the day.  The apple is getting pink buds.  The blueberries are getting ready to blossom. The prune plum has leafed out, lilac buds are the length of my index finger, grape buds are swelling, the Autumn olive is looking good, the asparagus is almost 2 feet tall (can be harvested next spring).  Well,  i think that is it for today...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seeds Started

Got my tomatoes and kales seeded in pots tonight. I had some extra space so i went ahead and planted some teasel for fun. Not much else going on except for the incredible weather.  I'll record the seed list tomorrow.  Too tired from chasing somebody small and cute around outside.


Just a little.  But this is the earliest time i have ever gotten a sunburn. I kept loading the sunscreen onto my little one,  but forgot to apply it to myself.

The lilacs are making little flower buds now.  I must get seeds started soon. Hopefully tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Early Spring Continues

The weather was gorgeous today. We were easily in the 70's.  Budding and leafing is well underway for most things. The apple tree is almost ready to open its leaf buds,  the lilacs have leaves that are thumb sized.  The horseradish has been awake for weeks now,  the asparagus are popping up,  the blueberries are sending out red buds,  elderberries are sending out shoots. Daffodils are blooming, Stanley (prune plum) is waking up. I've got the rhubarb covered by a black rubber tub to blanch it. Also, my from-seed Autumn olive is leafing.

First mow of the lawn was done today.

Its been so dry though.  Fire warnings have been issued almost daily and we have not had more than a token rain shower or two for what seems like a very long time.

We are still getting the occasional frost.  Of course i'm worried about flowering and killing frosts.  But there's nothing i can do really.

i ...think... my unnamed elderberry might be dead.  its showing no signs of waking up,  while York and Nova are stretching out.  Its ok though,  i'd rather have named plants anyhow.  I have Goldbeere and Caerulea coming. I'll just dig it up and throw it out.  New plants should be here by the end of the month.

I was hoping to start digging up the unwanted plants this weekend,  but our oldest daughter spent the weekend at my parents' house so i had nobody to watch the youngest daughter while i dug.  So maybe sometime this week since it is April vacation.

I'm hoping to get my seeds started this week as well.  Its Sunday now and 7 weeks to last frost.  After years of starting way too early i have finally learned to cool my jets and wait.  I'll start tomatoes first and squashes later.  Cukes too.
I'm also not using 9packs this year.  The wells are just too small for good root growth.  i never have time or the room to pot-up,  so i'm using the paper flats i saved from last years' marigolds and 3" single pots saved from herbs i bought from Garden Spot.

Well i guess that is it for today.  I started writing this Saturday and its now Sunday morning and the little one wants desperately to go outside,  so out we go!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some more rearranging

I decided that the Rose of Sharon (double, pink) that is by the elderberries, will go.  I'm giving it to  my mom. It gets too big and bushy, i don't like the shredded looking flowers and it does not produce fruit.  It just sits there, annoying me.  So it will be moved to a new home.   I also decided the same for the small hydrangea (not the big old PeeGee) and the purple smoke bush.  Both need more room than i have in their spots.  I tried keeping them dwarfed by pruning,  but they just look stunted, not dwarfed  There is a difference in my eyes.  My mom is very willing to take them.

So, to fill the gaps,  i decided i want fruit.  Small fruit.  Not apples or pears.   Cherries sounded nice.  Also considering my oldest daughter's recent fascination with the Washington D.C. and Japan Cherry Blossom Festivals,  it seemed like a good idea.  So i did some researching for very small, treelike cherry types.  Carmine Jewel seems to fit the bill.  Not cheap and based on reviews,  not very big for almost $30 each,  but excellent in all other respects (i got to use the $25 off coupon). But,  i have gotten used to mail-order companies and have had no trouble with DOAs and replacements,  so i'm taking the chance.  I also have made no  major purchases since last summer (My Raintree order, due to be shipped the end of this month),  no more than $5 in seeds.  All i need is seed starting mix and time.  After these cherry trees come,  i will be officially out of room.

Carmine Jewel is expected to be very hardy,  compact- almost bushlike tree form,  high yeilding, 6.5 foot plant.  The fruit are sweet and a bit tart,  but get sweeter the longer they are left to ripen.  The flowers are supposed to be pretty and fragrant which is nice because other than the apple,  i no longer have flowering plants that smell pretty.

So,  maybe this weekend,  i'll be digging up the old plants and the cherries should be arriving shortly after.

I need to  find my camera's cable so i can post pictures again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nomal weather again

Woke up to snow this  morning,  just a dusting that was soon gone.  The ground is warm enough so it didn't stick really.  The temps were above freezing anyhow.  I doubt it hurt much in the way of plants.

The maples are flowering as of Sunday,  my elderberries were also showing buds. I have one unnamed one that i got a year before the Nova and York that seems to die to the ground each year...  not  sure if i will keep it  if that is the way things are going to be. It takes longer to start than the others; barely berried last year and had tiny fruit.  I don't want to kill it,  but if its not going to produce it won't be part of my landscape.  I don't have enough room to waste.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Its been cold since Sunday.  It rained that day and has been dry  and very windy from then on.We are under fire danger warnings due to the dryness and wind.  We are pretty dry op here from getting very little snow all winter. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

String of gorgeous weather

We have been in the 60's the last few days. Its lovely and distracting.  I have had the windows open for the last 5 days.  I am more than 10 weeks from the last frost date and at least 2-3 weeks from being able to start seeds.  I was going to Wintersow this year, but in a way, i'm glad i did not.  We didn't get much snow at all and we were quite warm some days.  I bet i would have had sprouts that were soon frozen again.

I'm a bit worried about my fruiting trees and bushes.  Though there are no obvious signs of early budding, if this weather keeps up and we get a frost, i'm sure to lose blossoms.  I spent a good bit of time outside with my youngest daughter, so i was able to get a close look at things.  The lilacs do look like they are waking up.  It feels like May, not March.

 I was surprised to see a honey bee today. She buzzed right up to my face so there was no mistaking what it was....  it worries me that the ladies are coming out already-- there are absolutely no flowers out yet.  At least as far as i have seen...  dandelions sometimes appear early- and if i still had crocuses i might expect to see them just breaking the surface but not blooming.  I hope she was a domestic and her beekeeper is feeding sugar water.

The snow is gone from the yard, all but the shady part of he fence where the grapes are.  A few strips of ice are left.  The rhubarb is waking up. No word from the chives and welsh onions yet.

I have decided not to use the hoops this year, Unfortunately they allow the weeds to get a big jump on me, they are tedious to install and tedious to take down.  Difficult to unhitch when it was time to weed. I think i'll just use the Remay as floating covers instead.  We are also considering using black mulch to keep down the weeds this time.  The weeds always get away from me and go to seed,  so even with a 3-year old garden i still have weeds like a first year.

We are supposed to get into the 80's on Thursday.  We'll see how much stranger this Spring can get!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who dosen't like Chinese food?

Or any "Asian" food in general?  Even if most of what we get here in the USA is made to appeal more to American tastes...  its still my favorite genre of foods.
However,  i don't get to have it often.  My hubby prefers Italian and Tex-Mex style foods much more... and that is much more than i do. 
I have noticed over time that i am getting really tired of tomato/pasta/cheese meals. I have been searching for new recipes in the last few weeks, but so many of these 'quick and easy meals' start right out with tomatoes.  Now, don't get me wrong...  i adore a fresh tomato and a good sauce is hard to beat, but tomato based meals 5 nights a week is getting hard to swallow.  Another point of discontent is the vegetables.  Most of my non-tomato meals are slow-roasted, soups, stews, or boiled dinners.  This means soft vegetables.  I'm hurting for some fresh crunch, bright flavors and unique taste.
So i decided to turn to the alternative.
The only sticking point is that much of the special flavors in Asian foods comes from unique ingredients.  Not having much of an Asian population here can make this difficult.  I can find things like panko bread crumbs, soy sauce, pre-made teriyaki sauce and dried shiitake mushrooms,  but not much else.
Last year i found an online company called Asian Food Grocer.  I was looking for unique candies for my oldest daughter.  She loves Kit-Kats and AFG sells sweet potato flavored Kit-Kats among other unusual flavors of them. So i made a small order and was pleased with the service.
My oldest has lately been intrigued by Japanese foods and culture, feuled by anime and those Kit-Kats, so this Christmas i ordered her some Japanese soda pop, more unique candies and their biggest package of nori (both of my kids eat nori by the sheet). It was an absolute hit. Considering that both orders went so well, i decided to go all out and really fill my pantry with more authentic ingredients.
I researched recipes and noted all the non-American seasoning- oils, pastes, sauces/condiments.  It was a lot of fun to learn about them and how they are used.
I found a few helpful recipe sites:

Soon, armed with special ingredients i should be able to change up our daily meals with new flavors from subtle Japanese to more indulgent Chinese.
 I wonder if we might even lose some weight?

Now on to gardening....

Asian vegetables.

Some are not too uncommon around here (though slightly different they are usable).  Green onions, various cabbages, eggplant, cucumbers, carrots, kale, snow peas, gourds, radishes, turnips, squashes, pumpkins and more.
All of this i can grow at least part of the year.
This means i may be changing my garden plans...again.  What a surprise!
I shouldn't have to change much,  just reconsider some varieties.  Maybe instead of globe onions, bunching onions might be good- and easier.  Instead of regular cabbage, maybe napa cabbages. Not sure how easy it is to grow daikon... but maybe worth a try- or research at least. .
I'm looking into trying winter melon too...  but it looks like they are huge plants.  Remember my birdhouse gourd experience?
  Maybe i can try something in my parents' garden. 
I read that winter melons taste similar to summer squash and zucchini, so it may not be worth bothering with.
But the bunching onions sound easy enough.
Green beans are used a lot and i have good luck with those.
Broccoli is fairly common and i planned that anyway.
There are some interesting sweet peppers i'd like to try... i think i'll pass on the hot ones.
I'm not sure about eggplant.  I had terrible luck the last two summers with Slim Jim and didn't have much better luck with Raveena which is a 70 day-  both Asian long types.  If i can find a cooler-cropping, earlier type and start them early i might try it.  Big round eggplant isn't cheap up here so a good crop would be worth the effort.

 Anyway, that's what i'm thinking.  I'll have some time to experiment with grocery store veggies over the winter and see how it goes.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What a bizarre winter- weather, marine tank, and orders for Spring.

Here it is January 1, 2012 and its 42 degrees out at noon.   We got a little snow for Christmas and snow showers all day, so it was pretty.  A few days later we got a lot of rain which washed the snow away.  Friday night into Saturday brought us some freezing rain and sleet making the roads a bit slippery.

One of my hubby's fraternity brothers was planning on coming over to pick up the salt water aquarium stuff i'm giving him.  After my heater malfunctioned last fall and i had to evacuate the tank i just haven't had the desire to rebuild.  So, i'm giving it all away. Tanks, stands, overflow box, return pump, refractometor, skimmers, metal halide light, about 50# of base rock....  Anyway, it will likely be next week before he can pick it up.  Maybe i'll get back into it some day,  but i sort of doubt it.   Though i loved having one, it takes a lot of time and commitment, and unless you are lucky enough to be given lots of good equipment, it can be a real money pit.
I just want to complete this chapter of my hobby life and move on.

Zoanthids, my favorite variety of coral

I don't remember if i recorded it yet,  but late summer i made an order with Raintree Nursery. My order consisted of :

Phoenix Tears Goji berry- 2
Male Seabucktthorn- 1
Female Titan Seabuckthorn- 1
Goldbeere Elderberry- 1
Caerulea Blue Elderberry- 1
Native Beach Plum- 4

My order is slated to be shipped the week of 4-29-2012

I have seeds for most of these plants, but the majority of them need to be stratified for as much as 6 months.  I have tried some of them without success and really kind of wasted those 6 months  of time.  Then it would be as long as 3 years before harvest begins.  Also, most of these seeds don't come with a cultivar name- likely are the wild sort with unpredictable production and quality.  So i decided to bite the bullet and order these named  plants from a seller with a decent reputation.
Not sure what i will do with my seeds... maybe trade them or just give them away.

 I'm building up quite an elderberry collection.  When my order arrives i will have 5 types. Elderberries can be used to make Elderberry Syrup, which is a well loved cold remedy known for a very long time in Europe.
I could also make jelly and wine if the harvests begin to get large.

Gojiberry (also called Wolfberry) As well as being darn tasty, this is another fruit with health benefits. It has quite a history in Chinese medicine.

Seabuckthorn has a long list of beneficial properties.  From immune system support, anti-inflammitory effects to anti cancer possibilities.  There are a lot of sites out there that will proclaim this superberry as a cure-all. Using multi colored 10 point font all caps and will charge you indecent sums for their product...  while not exactly a magic bullet, it does have valuable benefits.
They are said to be a bit of a challenge to harvest since they have large thorns.  Commercially, whole branches are removed to be stripped by machine.  According to what i have read, the berries will hold well on the plant so picking a modest amount at a time over days will be possible.  The berries can be frozen to hold until enough are gathered.  The juice is a vibrant orange and separates into three layers, cream, oil and juice.  The leaves also make a nice tea.  Apparently Junebugs like them so i'll have to be vigilant.

The native beach plums were purchased to replace the ones i got from Oikos.  Those plants did well in pots for almost 3 years, but got dried out late last summer and didn't make it through the winter.   As i am planning to plant these in the side of the front yard box, i need a fruiting plant that can handle road salt. Hopefully they will be a good size when they arrive and put on some good growth before next winter so they can withstand piled snow from the plow.  This winter would have been perfect because there is no snow and no snowbanks to worry about.  The price was decent so i bought 4 in case i have winter casualties due to snowbanks.  The  2 spares will be planted out back for safekeeping.  The native beach plum has no touted health benefits, but has a reputation for making a fine jelly and should be edible right off the tree.

If i have success with these plants, i plan to share cuttings with anyone who asks- as long as i have enough to work with.  Assuming anyone is interested, lol

So, basically i've been spending some time perusing my newly arrived seed catalogs.  I don't plan to do much experimenting this summer.  I'm sticking to the standard veggies.  Tomatoes, beans, squashes etc.  I did get some seeds from Sheryl at Providence Acres.  I bought:
Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries
San Marzano Paste Tomatoes  - i do already have seeds for some from Pinetree, but i thought i'd like to try and compare two varieties and, of course the photos of her tomatoes make them look absolutely delicious.
I also got a bonus packet of Morning Glory seeds,  thanks Cheryl!

I doubt i'll bother starting peppers from seed this year. I have yet to get a usable fruit.  They simply don't seem to have enough time to grow.  I think i will buy seedlings from Garden Spot this year.  If it does not work this year, i'll give up on it.  Peppers are not very cheap around here, so it is worth another shot.

Well, that's all for now.  My toddler is having a tantrum. :)

Happy New Year all!