Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lycopene, Soluble and Insoluble Fiber and all that other Good Stuff

Five days ago, when SIL came to  put in a new furnace, hot water heater and AC. I picked off the slicing cucumbers.  We like English Cucumbers and also regular slicing cucumbers.  I picked 8 nice ones and a bucket of red tomatoes.

Two days later, I picked 31 cucumbers.

Today, three days later, a pailful again (see photo).  Forgot to count.
Along with a huge zucchini (now where did THAT come from), a pail of lovely potatoes for supper , a pail of corn and another pail of ripe tomatoes.

For lunch we had Bruschetta and a huge Greek salad ( had 3 guests for lunch), for supper we had the potatoes, corn, and sliced cucumbers.  And I gave some to the company to take home.
Life is good.

I find myself saying:  "Now where did that come from?" a lot.  Remember when I so proudly posted that my garden was all weeded (was that already almost a month ago?), well, tomorrow I have to weed it again or I won't be able to find things in the garden.  I took one look at those weeds and said:  "Now where did those come from, when I wasn't looking",  I guess the same powers-that-be that are helping the veggies grow so profusely, also created the weeds.  What's good for one is good for the other.
Life is good.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Bountiful Harvest (Every Day)

We are so blessed to have such bounty.  We harvest every day, and are managing to eat or give away so it doesn't go to waste.  The Lord has sent us enough rain and enough sun and given us these fruits of our labor.  I will bake chocolate Zucchini cakes, Kubota Man will enjoy the hot and sweet banana peppers as snacks.  The tomatoes won't last long since our SIL the plumber is coming to install a new furnace, hot water heater and AC.
Right to left:  turnips, kohlrabi, fresh onions (I use up the small ones first and keep the large ones for storage), sweet snack-y carrots, and a pot of beets for supper.
A nice pot of potatoes for supper too, enough to fry some for tomorrow with fresh parsley.
And Thirty-one Cucumbers--I kid you not.  Day before yesterday I picked 8 and was sure I had got all the larger ones.  These English cucumbers (big stack on left) make good bread and butter pickles, but I'm not making any this year since we have enough left from last year and are watching our sodium intake--so pickles are a rare treat.

If you'd call and come for coffee, I'd share.  The Zucchini cake will be ready in about 2 hours.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Invasion Begins

The invasion begins.  It has been a great year so far with lots of rain and heat, so the garden is monstrous.  I finally finished weeding the entire garden two days ago--lots of feed for the sheep.  It took me 3 days, and each day I hauled away 3 or 4 tractor buckets of weeds.
Cucumbers from the patch.  Notice the dill in between and the Lemon Gem tagetes marigolds, which keep aphids away from the dill.  Also note the snapdragons--flowers help with pollination:

 Bright Lights Swiss chard--almost 2 feet tall.
 Squashes--mini orange and green hubbards,
 Spaghetti squash
 View of garden over the potatoes, tomatoes in center corn in the back.
 Sparky next to evening scented stocks, next to celery, in front of zucchini, lavatera and corn.

 Tomatoes--we picked all the red ones yesterday:

Tomatilloes--green on left, purple on right.

Zucchini--gave a big one to the neighbor yesterday--hers didn't grow.

 Stocks to waft the evening air with heavenly scent, and to help pollinate in the daytime.
 Beans front left, flower bed right:  I love cosmos, and calendula and zinnias (which the sheep nipped off but are re-growing.  I am trying Vinca this year--the short row in front of the calendula.
 Lettuces and beans

 Purple and green kale
 Sweet and hot banana peppers

 The fig tree--started out as a little 15" stick this spring.  We will bring him in for the winter.  He/she has lots of fruit, I hope they will develop.  A fig is a uterus.  This variety is self-pollenating--the flower is inside the shell.  Commercial figs are pollinated by one certain wasp which crawls inside a small hole in the end to pollenate.

And now for some Eye Candy:  Pretty flowers on the deck:

Mandevillas-- these didn't sell in the Greenhouse because they didn't bloom in time.  I plan on trying to winter them over and start them early in the greenhouse season so they can sell next year.
 Calliope Geraniums:  from Proven Winners--an interspecific geranium--cross between zonal and ivy .  This flower is the most beautiful shade of red I have ever seen--it's captivating.  My poor photography likely won't do it justice.
 Seed Geranium--Bullseye salmon.  The special thing about this one is the color of the leaves.  Chocolate brown with green rims.
 Martha Washington Geraniums (aka Regals, aka Pansy Geraniums)
 Mixed pot of zonal geraniums, scaevola, verbena lotus and Beaconsfield pansies
I hope you enjoyed the tour.
I just realized it's only 5-6 weeks since I finished planting the garden.  What a miracle.  The garden is 55 feet by 85 feet, and will soon be covered with all sorts of plants and vines.  I hope not too many weeds. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Garden Peeking

I finally got the whole garden (except some flowers) planted.  Those would be finished, too except we've had daily rain.  So I decided to share some before/after shots with you.
The only seeds I plant directly into the garden are carrots, radishes, beets, turnips, peas and beans.  And potatoes, of course--seed potatoes.  Everything else gets a big head start in the greenhouse since I am so late getting into the garden:

This is what the whole garden looked like.  Notice the weeds are growing where veggies ought to be.

 First the onions.  They got a haircut to about 3-4" long.  In front of them are Lemon Gem tagetes marigolds and blue violas.
Next, the cucumber bed:  at the top, are 2 rows of beets and 2 rows of carrots--the carrots interplanted with radishes--no maggots in radishes when planted with carrots, and the radishes will be harvested within a month, leaving lots of room for the carrots.  The center row has snapdragons (see the color?) and dill interplanted with Lemon Gem marigolds which do a great job of keeping the aphids away from the dill.

 Bone meal in the holes which have already been watered 3 times and the soil allowed to drain away (roots follow moisture).
 And a smidge of Epsom salts for magnesium.
Then cover the plants with dry soil so the sun can't wick the moisture out of the ground.
And voilĂ !  an instant cucumber garden.  More snapdragons at the foot of the bed.
Check back in a couple of days, so I can go out and photograph the rest of the garden.
 I even managed to weed some flower beds in the rain, since kneeling on the grass only got my knees wet, not muddy.

See ya later!

Monday, April 1, 2013


We were finally able to get Mandevillas.  The problem with being a small greenhouse operation, is that we normally have to buy minimum quantities of started plants, and these minimum quantities are not mixed colors--so 50 or 100 of one color of some plants is way more than I can sell.  And some plants like Mandevillas are expensive for us to buy, so you can see why I can't allow myself to have a  lot left over.  But this year I came across a sampler with 4 varieties, and I didn't have to buy 50.  So we'll see how they do. 
In our climate we have to bring them in for the winter if we want to keep them for next year.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

God and Grass

We must really perplex God: he made us a perfect world and we have to change it. Imagine the conversation The Creator might have had with St. Francis on the subject of lawns.
GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistles, and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought, and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.
ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds, and bees, only grubs and sodworms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it – sometimes twice a week.
GOD: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?
ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
ST. FRANCIS: No, Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.
GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.
ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?
ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
GOD: And where do they get this mulch?
ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
GOD: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
ST. CATHERINE: Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about ...
GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Little Spikes and Mayan Gold

I hope that title got your attention.  So here I am, sharing some new things I'm trying from seed this year.  The first one is called Spanish Flag, a vine that can grow up to 15 feet.

 And the lovely Tecoma, known as Mayan Gold.
 And the vigorous Hyacinth Bean
The unusual Ptilotus Joey

And a new, almost-black Sophistica  Blackberry petunia from seed.

My work in the greenhouse isn't too demanding this week.  I have brought home some spikes (dracenae) in little packs:
and promptly moved them into their bigger homes.  They had incredible root systems.
I also seeded the pansies, and the herbs, and a lot of odds and ends, including the trailing petunias for the hanging baskets.
On Friday I will be picking up started plants, the majority of which will be about 1,000,000 Million Bells , real names:  calibrachoa.