Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Evolution of a Sunflower

For grins this year, I planted a handful of mammoth sunflowers in my garden.  I have about 5 in one bed which are at least 5 feet tall now.  A couple of them are over 6 feet.  Then I have a circle of sunflowers actually planted in the ground.  As a tribute to the poor, hard soil, they are really, really struggling.  But, I have the two which are growing like…well, mammoth sunflowers.  (Trivia note:  sunflowers are a symbol of the Tour de France!)

DSCN2033  Here they are the end of April, about 8-12 inches tall.

 

IMG_0131 The first part of May they were getting leafier and about 12-18 inches tall.

 

4x4 bed Then mid May they are about a yard tall.  Number 1 and 3 (from the left) are my ‘biggies’.

 

R0014272 They started doing something more than getting tall and leafy.

R0014313Beautifully tight buds about the size of a half dollar, which seemed to grow no bigger for several days. 

Then one day I pull into the driveway to see this!

 

R0014328 

About 4 inches across, this sunny face was there to greet me.

R0014331  And the other one is slowly opening up to the sun (of which we have had more than enough of!)

 R0014330 The bees seem to like them.

R0014333  Now just have to wait for the seeds to mature and hope the squirrels don’t figure them out.

 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weird Fixations

Ok, I will share a couple of those weird ideas you and never really outgrew.  I have several actually, but I’ll share these two.  Number one – Faces in wood.

R0014295  See it?  Those are eyes in a frowny face in my table I use for my desk.

Growing up, my grandparent’s cabin had pine paneling.  I could lay there for hours, making up stories about the faces in the wood.  I never felt scared of them, more intrigued about these ‘wood spirits’.

 

R0014297  Most of the faces always seemed a little sad.

But right now they are in my table, watching me create and write.  Whenever I go some place that has wood paneling I spend time looking for the faces in the wood.

Now, it takes a lot for me to be scared or squeamish.  Even a snake falling from the top of the door as I opened it only makes me squeal because it startled me, not because I am afraid of snakes.  However, these make me shiver and run….

 

smile fries 

Don’t let them fool you.  They’re not all sweet and innocent.  They are evil and insidious.  I will actually leave a table if they are served.  A plateful of them at a restaurant had me in tears one time…..devil fries!

 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cutie Tomatoes

R0014337  How can you not love these cute little things.  They are my Costoluto Genovese tomatoes.  But they look like little green pumpkins. 

 

R0014315  This is one of the dwarf tomato plants I am growing this year.  It is about 24 inches tall and I have to stake in order to keep it from tipping over with all the tomatoes on it.  I am really liking these dwarf tomatoes so far.  Of course, this year has been one of the best years I have had in years for my garden.  Out of 55 tomato plants, I have lost 1 to something and a possible second one.  Usually I am hit with wilt and loose a bunch of plants.  But this year they are all growing like gangbusters.

With the fact that I planted tomatoes in succession over about a month, I am hoping I will have tomatoes into the fall. 

 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Foody Stuff in June

I love this time of the year.  First off, not only do I have things coming in from my own garden, but we have access to great Farmer’s Markets in this area.  In fact, one is right on my way home – which makes it so convenient.  We are into the ‘peach’ season right now.  I have made some great peach jam.  Another fruit in season right now is blueberries…..which turn into this…..

R0014323  Yep, they just leapt into some great sweet rolls.  Actually, Savvy and Texter eat them like candy.  I have to hide them if I want to do something before they get to them…or rather Texter now.  Savvy I just torment over the phone we are eating them while she is out there in Arizona.

Another favorite, and I can be a regular pig and eat 2-3 ears for dinner at a time, are these…..

R0014320  Sweet, sweet white corn.  I think out of 2 dozen ears so far, I have eaten all but 6.  Oink, oink.  And they are great this year.  No worms in them so far. 

R0014319  And this is one of the first ‘Black Prince’ tomatoes off my vine.  They are a little larger than a golf ball and the color here does not show how brownish the fruit really it.  They have a nice, mild flavor.

 

R0014242  I have picked enough beans out of my garden so far to have a couple of nice servings for 2-3 meals.  I also bought some pole beans at the market and devoured those also this past week, along with a watermelon.  Soon some of my favorites will be available – field peas and butterbeans.

I have also brought home some plums, blackberries, a couple of onions and we won’t talk about my purchases from the La Farm Bakery booth at the market….white chocolate baguette and Italian bread.  

 

Oh, and Savvy….you may have eaten my Jack-in-the-Box taco, but ha, ha, I have fresh veggies!

 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Reading

Well, it was here and then gone….all in one night!  But that is what I have come to expect with a Laurell K. Hamilton book.

 

hitlist

 

Probably not my most favorite of the Anita Blake books, but good nonetheless.  I guess you could say it was an acceptable read since I finished it in one night.  Now, I will go back and reread some of my more favorite Hamilton books and hoping that the latest in the Merry Gentry story will be out sometime soon.

My next read is the fourth book in the A Song of Fire and Ice saga by George R. R. Martin. 

200px-AFeastForCrows  I am 3000 plus pages into the saga and this is the next 1000.  Book five of a planned seven is due out in September.  Until then, I will get to savor book four.

Of course, in between some reading, starting in two weeks is…….

lacarte

 

  Yes, it’s that time of the year again……my men in spandex!  My choice this year…..Levi Leipheimer of Team Radioshack.  Gearing up for the race by watching the Tour de Suisse this week. 

So let the temperatures take their wraith out on my tomato plants….I have plenty to do inside!

 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Now You See Them…..

R0014292

 

This was a cluster of tomatoes on my Juliette Grape on the 05 June – a week ago.  In the meantime, they ripened, a total of 7 of them.  I planned to take pictures of them.  I ate them instead.  As a snack at work with a little salt.

 

But as the plant is huge and loaded and we have gotten a nice little rain the past two nights and the temperatures during the day are in the high 80’s, 90’s, I should have some more ripening shortly.  And Black Prince should be ripening shortly.

 

Now if I can just curb my appetite long enough to take some pictures!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My 15 Minutes of Fame

I was over at Gimme Some Oven the other day, and she was promoting a new cookbook, The Good Neighbor Cookbook by Suzanne Schlosberg and Sara Quessenberry .  I entered the giveaway she was having.  Just a warning, if you go to Ali’s site, don’t go hungry.  Otherwise you will be drooling all over your keyboard.

 

good neighbor cookbook

 

Anyway, much to my surprise I was contacted by Suzanne Schlosberg and did an email interview about my jams and jellies!  So if you go to The Good Neighbor Cookbook website and read the June 7 entry - it’s all about me!

 

R0014254

 

So as I write and post this I am munching on some buttered toast with peach jam on it.  Success should always taste this sweet!

 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I Think I’m Maxed Out Now

I planted another 36 tomatoes and peppers on Sunday.  This brings my total of tomatoes to 50 and peppers to 17.  The fun thing is that most of the tomatoes I am growing as part of a study on the dwarf varieties for the tomatoes and some ‘new’ pepper possibilities.  So not only am I growing them to eat, but my opinion on them will count!  My ego is so stroked. 

R0014266

Only 5 of the dwarves are in optimal growing conditions.  The others are all in the ground – which varies from ok to really clay/sandy combo with rock underneath.  I figure if I can get a halfway decent showing out of them, they will be real keepers based on how they are being grown.  Of course, genius me planted my first group of dwarves in the ground with a ground cloth around them and covered in pine straw (only mulch I have on hand).  Then the genius fled and the rest of them got dumped in the ground without a ground cloth being placed down first.  However, I really don’t have to worry much about grass or weeds, nothing much was growing in the yard….except little shrub stumps.  Those I generally find as I am walking around and stub my toe on them – usually the toe I broke a few months ago.

R0014288
R0014290

But Juliette is turning red!  I have two which are light orange on the bottom, so picking time can’t be far behind.  My own tomatoes!

R0014292

 I have also picked a handful of beans – purple and filet – enough for a serving or two at dinner.  I did pull up the little purple onions I planted.  They weren’t doing well, so I have a few for some seasoning or salads.  I have never had much luck planting onions.  Will figure it out one of these days

R0014242


So now the front yard looks a little funny with all the string running around the beds.  The dog will stay out of the beds with the string when she goes outside.  But as the girls say, “Mom, that’s so ghetto.”  Savvy usually starts plucking an air banjo to the tune of ‘Deliverance’ at times like this.  I don’t care.  I have the only yard with something besides weeds or grass. 

R0014282






Sunday, June 05, 2011

Last Time I Looked Good in a Bathing Suit

I have transferred some old negatives and slides onto my computer.  In the course of my work, I created duplicates of a lot of these pictures and spent Memorial Day afternoon going through the pictures, labeling the ones I knew and deleting the numerous dupes before I backed up my pictures on disc.

Bathing Beauty 
And I came across this picture.  The last time I looked really good in a bathing suit and wasn’t afraid to flaunt it. I am sitting on the front of my grandfather’s boat we used for both water skiing and fishing.  And no, I never waterskied, but that’s another story.  This is the Kentucky Lake (which was in Tennessee – go figure) near their cabin where we would spend at least a couple of weeks during the summer until I was in my late teens.

Now what you don’t see is that there is probably a bar of soap somewhere.  The bathroom at the cabin was on a well and septic system and didn’t really work all that well.  No one really minded since at this time my grandparents were only there for a week to ten days every four to six weeks.  So, when we were there in the summer, after dinner we would go to the lake with our bar of soap and go ‘swimming’.  Somewhere in my pictures is one of my mother shaving her legs in the lake.  (Oops-was I suppose to say that!)

I am looking at my feet and thighs and admiring the various tan lines on them.  Those were the days of bliss and ignorance when you could play outside all day and nobody said anything about putting on your sunscreen.  Oh, and you had to play outside unless you were dead or dying.  Staying inside all day was not an option, especially in front of the TV.  Boy, wish that was a habit that had stuck.

Oh, by the way, normally we wore tennis shoes when we swam around.  For one thing the lake was rock bottomed and the rocks were large and sharp.  Secondly, you had to protect your toes against the snapping turtles.  Everyone knows if a turtle bit your toe they  do not  let go until the sun went down.  Or it thundered.  Or both.  I didn’t want to walk around with a big turtle attached to my foot.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Time Lapse in the Garden

I was sorting through my pictures on my computer – getting rid of dupes and bad pictures and I realized I had almost a time lapse of my garden.  It was pretty interesting.

DSCN1976 
 April 10 – Temperatures are still going up and down and hovering on the chilly side.  But the bed is in and the beans are planted.

DSCN2024

April 23 and the beans are up and setting their true leaves.

garden 0430

April 30 – beans are up and starting to fill out.

IMG_0119 
 This is May 8.  Beans are up and full and getting ready to set blooms.

French Filet green bean babies 

May 30 – covered in blooms and beans are starting to form.

I’ll have to pay more attention next year and get some real ‘time lapse’ pictures.  It’s pretty interesting how things progress.











Friday, June 03, 2011

A Gardener’s Job Is Never Done

It’s really sad actually.  I haven’t harvested anything except lettuce and some herbs and a handful of beans and I am already planning my fall, over-winter and spring gardens.  I am making lists of things I want to do, need to do to accomplish the goals I want to do.  Basically, I need 1x6 or 2x6 planks, some wood screws and several pickup truck loads of mulch/compost.  Luckily, the latter is near my house as is a U-Haul where I can rent a truck for the day.

I already have permission to expand my garden into a plot right next to my house.  So in the fall I will trim back the crepe myrtle and ornamental cherry (I think that’s what it is).  There are a lot of sucker plants growing up and would like to tidy them up.  Then between them I will put 4x6 beds.  I know I can get 3 in there, maybe four, with the fourth one, which will be more in the shade in the summer, being a lettuce/cooler weather plant bed.

After things are harvested this fall, I will attempt to dig up the trash trees/shrubs in the front.  I need to bury the electrical wires better (they were essentially on the ground).  Then I will put in a terrace of 4x8 (probably) beds.

Into all these beds I want to dump several loads of compost I can get from the local yard debris place.  Really cheap for local residents.  Hopefully, doing this in the fall and over the winter, I will get the jump on all those spring landscapers.  This is also allow me to plant early for potatoes and lettuce and spring peas.  I would like to get some courser mulch to lay between the beds to walk on.

Another project I want to accomplish is to make a ‘lid’ for one of the existing 4x4 beds for overwintering lettuce and such.

Then along the front of the trailer on either side of the stairs I want to put in a 2x6 bed along the length of the trailer and then down the side in front of the drive.  Besides the veggies I would like to get some flowers incorporated also.  Something that ‘smells’.  I would like a trellis over the front door and have a couple of different flowering vines growing over it.   Maybe a Lady Banks on either side as the trellis would have to be about 15 feet tall and would need something that grows that tall.  A Lady Banks on one side and a fragrant old rose on the other possibly.

I want to grow my own transplants so I can have some really different stuff rather than what the local nursery markets.  I like ‘odd’ stuff.  I do have a table I put in my storage shed I can bring back inside for growing the seedlings.  I have the back porch to set them out on – morning sun and shelter from the wind.  I will just need to get some lighting – maybe.  My tomato man does it without benefit of a lot of special equipment.

I also have some seed catalogs earmarked for seeds to order.  If I went through and ordered everything at one time I would need to win the lottery!  It’s interesting how we gardeners can go crazier over a seed catalog than a trip to the jewelry store.

Some of the things I would like to get for next year:

Zinnia Queen Lime and Red Lime

Corkscrew Vine – a friend in Texas actually told me he had started one and was transplanted recently in his yard.

Sweet Pea High Scent

Sweet Pea Old Spice Mix

Sweet William

Flowering Tobacco Baby Bella and Perfume

Carnation Clove Drops and Lemon Fizz

Angel’s Trumpet Ballerina Purple

Nemesia Masquerade

Heliotrope Mini Marine

Nasturtium Park’s Fragrant Giants

Hollyhock Spring Celebrities

Evening Scented Primrose Tina James’ Magic

Dwarf French Bean Velour – bush bean

Bush bean Festina

Bush bean Capitano

Bush bean Romano 14

Bush bean Tanya’s Pink Pod

Asparagus Beans Stickless Wonder

Lima Bean King of the Garden

Lima Bean White Christmas

Lima Bean Willow-Leaf White

Cucumber Ellen’s Family White

Cucumber Lemon

Cucumber Richmond Green Apple

Cucumber White Wonder

Arugula Even Star Winter Arugula

Mustard Tatsoi

Mustard Tokyo Bekana

Leek King Sieg

Romaine Lettuce Forellenschluss

Romaine Sweet Valentine

Lettuce Drunken Woman

Lettuce Salad Bowl

Lettuce Slo-bolt

Lettuce Thai Oakleaf

Bibb Buttercrunch

Bibb Capitan

Bibb Tom Thumb

Lettuce Anuenue

Lettuce Sierra

Muskmelon Ice Cream Melon

Muskmelon Sleeping Beauty

Pea Sugar Ann

Sweet Peppers Melrose

Sweet Pepper Carolina Wonder

Sweet Pepper Charleston Belle

Pepper Corino Di Toro

Pepper Perfection

Pepper Tequila Sunrise

Radish Misato Rose

Winter Squash North Georgia Candy Roaster

Pumpkin Big Max

Pumpkin Rouge vif D’etampes

Pumpkin Small Sugar

Watermelon White Wonder

Basil – Mrs. Burn’s Lemon and Red Rubin

Cucino Hybrid cucumber – mini-cucumbers

Perilla Red Leaved

Garlic Silver Rose

Garlic French Silverskin

 

Yes, quite a list.  Will I get all of them?  Probably not.  And if I did I could only plant one or two of most of the stuff.  But still, a girl’s gotta dream.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Nature’s Mandalas

I love mandalas.  I draw some of my own.  I admire those of others.  But Mother Nature makes her own mandalas.

Zinnia bud mandala 

Every time you look down on a plant growing, it’s a natural mandala. 

Fennel bud

Some are really spacey in appearance.  A mandala within a mandala.  Each ray makes it’s own mandalas.

sunflower bud

Some are tight and just emerging.

red rubin mandala

You can even find them multicolored.

IMG_0110


Zinnia bud

Mother Nature does such a good job of it. 





Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Everything Could Use a Little Seasoning

What is fresh tomatoes without a little basil?  And everyone can use a little thyme.  Remember rosemary?  Take this sage advise and you will be in mint condition.

Ok, the terrible puns are over.

R0014203-1

 Can you smell it now?  Are you salivating just looking at the picture?  This is just a couple of the basil plants I have growing.  I started with a couple of transplants and seeded some more in the ground.

Red Rubin and Green Basil 
 Here’s the Red Rubin along with the green basil.  I forgot to take a picture of the Mrs. Burns Lemon basil which smells out of this world!  In fact, I came across a pint of tomatoes I had canned and will make up some spaghetti sauce today with fresh herbs and the tomatoes. 

But woman does not live by basil  alone.

  Lemon Thyme 
 I have some variegated lemon thyme along with regular thyme.
Garden sage (which is the normal sage) is joined by

Honey Melon Sage 

honey dew melon sage.  These is also some pineapple sage in another container. 

4x4 bed 
 Covered by the pineapple sage, the rosemary is peeking out.  And near the center of the bed is some little dill seedlings.  Parsley and thyme are in the other three corners.  And beside the rosemary is some cilantro seedlings.  I’m not much of a fan for cilantro.  It tastes like soap to me if too much is used.  But I can’t make homemade salsa without cilantro.  I have a little patch of purple onions (which are actually growing – a miracle for me) and some leeks.  I need to mulch around the leeks to keep the stalks white.

Elsewhere I have spearmint (growing in the ground to be a ground cover hopefully), peppermint (also in the ground), and lemon balm.  They all make a great accompaniment to good, old sweet iced tea on hot summer days.  And they look pretty stuck in a glass of strawberry margaritas.

So I have matured from crisco, salt and pepper to using herbs and fresh ones at that.  What is the world coming to!