Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day! We Are Together!

Bill surrounded by his boys:  Dustin, Joshua, Reese and his favorite son, Scooter.

We are all together today for the first time in almost a year!  It's awesome and is the best Father's (and Mother's) day gift we have ever received.

I hope everyone else has a great day also.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Irritating Expectant Mother Returns to Bother Me Again!


She caused so much trouble when she was here before and now she is back to torment me again!  Why can't she take a hint and realize she is not welcome?  

This basket holds fresh herbs for snipping and saves me a trip to the garden when I need a little seasoning while cooking.  It sits on our front porch beside our bedroom window.  The Irritating Expectant Mother trespassed onto my property, appropriated my herb basket and claimed it as her own.   


She is unconcerned that the herbs are now contaminated with her droppings.  Her housekeeping skills have not improved.


Look at that face - glaring at me while nestled comfortably inside my dinner!  Enough of this nonsense.  I am evicting her from my property immediately.  Squatter's rights will not be respected!  SHOO!


Uh oh.  Not again...five tiny eggs!  Sigh. Outsmarted once more.  

I suppose I can walk to the garden for fresh herbs, sit on the other side of the porch to avoid disturbing the babies, and then wash the porch when they are gone.  It won't hurt if we wait awhile. 


A few weeks later, we were awakened at sunrise by loud hungry chirps right outside our bedroom window.  The babies had hatched and they were ravenous.  After they woke us up and ate breakfast, they fell back asleep.  



They gobbled every bug their Mom brought and grew larger.  The nest walls expanded to hold them snuggly.


Then one morning all was quiet.  As soon as the babies flew the coop (herb basket), we grabbed her house and moved it to another neighborhood where she can be as trashy as she wants.  Hopefully, the Irritating Mother will realize she isn't welcome on my porch and return to enjoy her lofty flowerbed perch.  Probably not.  She's too irritating to change her bad habits.

Home Sweet Home
Additional links:
The story of her previous mischievous escapades

Friday, May 31, 2019

May's Garden (2019)


Whew!  May's garden is almost planted.  We have worked hard and it is already worth the effort.  Every day our meals are centered around what is ready to harvest.


The two wide rows on the right will be this year's winter hoop houses. They are growing extremely fast because of the long hours of sunlight.  Since we eat at least one, sometimes two meals a day from the garden, a variety is necessary to avoid boredom.  Also, we enjoy the fresh flavor and seek an array of nutrients.  Food is my medicine and this garden is my drugstore.


The next row on the left with a short section of fence was the fava bean area during the winter.  Part of the fence will support cucumbers and the remainder will hold tomatoes after the lettuce is eaten.



The back half of the row is the weird stuff.  After experimenting with recipes, I will share my opinions.


This was last year's strawberry bed / Monster Melon patch and then a winter hoop house.  What is left is going to seed.  


The ground is especially fertile because of the years of mulch placed under the strawberries.  Melons will be in this row again.  On this end is Hales Best cantaloupe (left side), OrangeGlo watermelon (center), and Banana melon (right).  There is a tiny zinnia sprouting in the middle.  


The center-left side of the garden will hold beans and two yellow squash plants under covers.  Never have I been able to grow yellow squash because of squash vine borers.  This will require me to hand pollinate.  I have tried everything else unsuccessfully, but hopefully this will work.


We needed more support for the tomato plants.  A long piece of stored fence saved for fence-mending was chosen.  It won't be cut smaller so we took the extra length and rolled it in a spiral on both ends.  It resembles an opened scroll.  Cucumbers are sprouting on one side and Tahitian Butternut squash will run up the other.  This may be a big success or a catastrophe.   


The two last fence rows close to the field have tomatoes.  Okra and sweet potatoes will be beside them to the left.


The far back corner by the field will be vining beans and the area beside it in front of the shed will be bush beans.  We hunted around in the junk pile for rusted poles, broken fence pieces, and twisted wire to create support frames.  We even discovered two doors removed from the old chicken yard.  Last year's bean arch was so tall I had to climb up on a step stool when harvesting.  It was disassembled then turned into two shorter arches.  Everything is strategically placed so Bill can get a good shot from the back deck if the armadillos return. 


The very back area in front of the woods under the trees holds the surprises from the saved seeds tossed out of the bag of assorted unknowns.  It's still a surprise because I don't remember their names.


Right now, the cool weather plants are doing great.  

                  Tuscan Kale            Tronchuda Kale         Blue Curled Kale

                      Thousand Head Kale                 Dwarf Siberian Kale

Georgia Southern Collards

                                Kale Yod Fah                        Scarlet Kale

                             All Season Cabbage         Brunswick Cabbage

Katsuona Mustard

       Savoy Chieftain Cabbage           Endive                      Broccoli

                  Vitaminna                   China Choy                 Morris Collards

 Tatsoi

This past week the weather reached the mid 90s (Fahrenheit) and most of the fragile napa cabbages are beginning to suffer. They are being quickly harvested.  

Aichi Chinese Cabbage

Tokyo Bekana Chinese Cabbage 

This is confusing.  I bought Michilli Chinese Cabbage seeds, planted two but different plants are growing.  Neither one looks like the picture on the internet, both are delicious so no complaints here.



As I have mentioned before, my preference has always been for heirloom seeds because they can be saved.  Occasionally, I purchase hybrids such as Tyfon.  It's a cross between Chinese Cabbage (Brassica rapa Pekeninesis Group) and stubble turnip (Brassica rapa Rapifera Group).  Because it contains almost no mustard oil, the flavor is mild.  It grows rapidly, gets huge (if I can stop myself from eating it) and is winter hardy which makes it perfect for my garden.  My last three seeds have been planted; however, now it doesn't seem to be for sale anywhere.    


These are some of the plants from the newly purchased winter hardy seeds.  Purple Lady Bok Choy is the one hybrid I bought this year.  It was advertised to grow best during fall and winter so maybe it will have a deeper purple color then. 

 
Purple Lady Bok Choy

One Yellow Heart Winter Bok Choy seed was planted as soon as it arrived in the mail.  It doesn't look like the dramatic pictures in the seed catalogs - nothing ever does.  Perhaps it will be a brighter yellow when grown in cold weather.

 
Yellow Heart Winter Bok Choy

Russian Frills Kale has tempted me for years.  I hesitated to purchase these seeds for fear bugs would hide under the fancy frills. The leaves will add interest when tossed into salads...unless bugs begin crawling out from between the folds.  It may not be served to company.  

Russian Frills Kale

Cabbage worms and I fight for my collards.  Cascade glaze was advertised as being resistant to them because they don't like the smooth, shiny surface.  What the sales pitch didn't share was how flea beetles find them irresistible.  

Cascade Glaze Collard Greens

Tsa Tsai Round Stem Mustard was so unusual it had to be chosen.  It is grown for the leaves and also for the swelling bulb at the base of the stem.  The stem is peeled and either pickled, steamed or eaten fresh.  Information written in English about this plant is difficult to find but what little I learned is that the bulbs form differently according to when they are planted.  

Tsa Tsai Round Stem Mustard

The garden was supposed to be smaller this year, more manageable but instead, it has expanded to be even larger.  It isn't as large as it was when all three teenage boys lived here (and I was younger), but we are eating more vegetables now.  When the seed catalogs arrived in the mail, I went wild...again.  Will I ever learn?

"When it comes to ordering seeds, for you resistance is futile," said Scooter.


Additional Links:

To see other wonderful gardens from around the world, travel to Dorset and step "Through the Garden Gate" with me.