Friday, July 30, 2010

300 Radishes? Are you CRAZY!

My newest "follower" (Hi! Thyme2gardennow) very nicely questioned my decision to plant over 300 radishes! And I was about to respond that I have a great recipe posted about last year's radishes...but after a quick search I realized that I never posted the recipe! So, to explain why I would plant so many radishes...I planted about 60 last year. They all were ready at the same time. Unable to eat more than just a handful I went in search of a recipe. I found a great one called Rosy Radish Relish posted by gardenlad at gardenweb

I was just learning how to can and loved the ease of this recipe.

Rosy Radish Relish

3 cups stemmed radishes
2 large ribs of celery
1 large red onion
2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tbls mustard seed
2 tsp dill seed
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 cup vinegar
2 tbls prepared horseradish

Put radishes, celery, and onion through course blade of grinder (or chop
finely). Mix with remaining ingredients and let stand for 3 hours.
In large pot, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars
(pints or 1/2 pints) leaving 1/2 inch head space. Apply lids and
process jars in hot water bath for 20 minutes.

It's a very simple recipe and even a newbie at canning will be able to complete this recipe. My 60~ish radishes made just one batch last year. The relish was such a hit that within just a couple months it was completely gone. This time, Hubby wants enough to last the whole year.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cookie Heaven!

A picture is worth a thousand words...

And our cookies are worth a thousand "Yums".

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How does your Garden Grow?

Thanks for asking! LOL. My garden is doing very well. Finally! It seems like all the local veggie gardens are way ahead of mine. But I keep reminding myself that they all planted early because we had an unseasonably warm, sunny, and beautiful spring. I was unable to plant until May 27th. So I'm not really behind...everyone else's gardens are early! Hey, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Still, I am pleased with most of my garden. The peppers went into a bit of transfer shock but they are starting to come around. Cailey's Science Fair Beans have produced their first green beans.
Doesn't she look proud?

In our "high rise" (the really deep raised beds) the corn is growing very quickly now. The Potatoes, Onions and Carrots also seem to be very happy. I'm very curious to see what the harvest will look like. We've never tried potatoes and onions so it's all very new. Meanwhile, we've never had a successful corn crop and last year our carrots were very short because they needed a deeper bed. So, this year we're keeping our fingers crossed!

The lettuce was planted in small batches to ensure a longer more even harvest but as you can see the first batch looks really nice. And it taste really wonderful in our homemade buffalo chicken wraps and it made an excellent green bean salad with dijon vinegar dressing. Yum!

The cucumbers are starting to flower which is a good thing. But they began to cling to each other. Twisting around each other. So I decided that the cucumbers needed a trellis to climb. I kind of like how it looks. Hopefully, they're "cling" to the new supports the way they were clinging to each other.

After picking Cailey's Beans I realized that the "bush" beans I planted were climbing up the "beans" sign. So I decided to give them new trellis supports too.

I've already harvested our first round of radishes. To which my greedy hubby started rubbing his hands greedily, "Rosy Radish Relish." So having just enough for one batch I guess I know what I'm supposed to do! Then he asked how many radish seeds we still had. I showed him the nearly full envelope and his evil brain formulated a new plan. One that ended with me and Shan planting all of the seeds in every available unused bit of dirt. I figure that we planted over 300!

Not to be outdone my flower beds are being very showy as well. The Daylilies are simply beautiful and making arrangements with them is quite fun.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Back in the Garden...Finally

You would think with the wave of beautiful weather we've been having that I would be in all of my garden glory. Truth is, sadly that is not the case. I spent a week in my basement making two more screen doors (one featuring a beaver, another a moose) and a second week in the hospital with my son. He had a 5 day EEG to determine if he was having seizures. Happily, he is seizure free. However, they have diagnosed him with a pediatric sleep disorder. So we are awaiting a visit with another neurologist that specializes in sleep disorders. Oh joy! After our release from the hospital we celebrated with a weekend of camping! What fun we had. If you ask was just what the doctor ordered. LOL.

But now, I have returned to the garden to find...WEEDS, WEEDS, WEEDS! My beautiful iris' are starting to bloom and all I can notice is the overrun, unkempt, disheveled look of my once beautiful gardens! Since weeding can take soooo looooonnnngggg... I decided to start my gardening work by planting the veggie garden yesterday. Can you say Pro-Crast-In-Ation?

Hubby and I spent all day putting the finishing touches on the garden (square foot guidelines, weed pulling, etc) and when the kids came home we planted all the seeds. For a grand total of 532 seeds/plants! Not including berries and garlic which were already in the garden. Our detail garden plan looks like this:

I'm so glad we finally planted. It feels like I've missed some beautiful growing days happens! I guess the only thing left to do is: Pull Weeds. Today. Tomorrow. Until Snow Flies.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Craftin' for the Garden

Have you ever started a project but didn't want to tell anyone? You have that overwhelming feeling that it could be good or a COMPLETE DISASTER! And if you say anything to anyone you'll jinx your own chances?

That's what happened with me with my most recent Garden Project. Once we put mulch on the veggie garden walkways it looked so pretty. I'm still not loving the mulch color but it is by far the nicest looking garden I've ever had so I decided that it was time to actually try to label my plants. For those who label their plants, I am jealous of your organization. I, however, lack all the necessary skills for such an endeavor...usually. But, I was determined to change my slacking ways. So, being still very cold here in 5B and with the seedlings needing very little of my attention I decided to get CRAFTY! You know, I just love me some Crafts!
Anyhoo, I started scouring the internet for clipart of taters, peppers, lettuce, etc. for inspriation. Then I hit the dollar store where I found some blank wooden plaques (I had to remove the gaudy ribbons~which my hubby found in the garbage later! He shouted, "HA! I knew it you've been having brothel parties here, Haven't You?" Oh, yeah, he thinks he's funny.) I drilled holes, sand the edges, painted, sanded again, then painted the veggies, then scoured the internet for a fun font, then used transfer paper, and finally painted the veggie names. I was sure that I would ruin them at every single step in the process but except for a few minor blunders I think I did okay.

So. I think I'll put exact variety info on the back. I'm still trying to figure out a way of making it easily changeable.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Whether it's the season, the last of the school year, or the stress of an extended hospital stay...whatever the reason it seems that I've been running around like a chicken with...well, you know.
But I refuse to let go of this blog again. So here's the update.

The garden is so beautiful, green, frustrating, and sad. The veggie garden is in waiting mode. I wish that we lived in a warmer climate but I live in fear of "The Killing Frost!" so I will not plant until Memorial day (except for cold weather crops). But as it waits, with fresh mulch, and new boxes, and lovely weed free pathways, it is beautiful.

My flower gardens however are under attack. The enemy (aka: dandelions) snuck across the border and have launched several forms of low tech warfare. I plan to battle the enemy soon but for now they stand in my garden in a mocking salute when I hurry by.

While I am saddened by the dandelions in my garden bed I am happy to see how large and happy by iris and day lilies seem to be. It should make for beautiful summer blooms. After I decimate the enemy. LOL.

I wish, however, that all my favorite plants were healthy but tragically, that is not the case. My prized Lilac bushes are in bloom. One is large, lovely, and perfect (as always). The second lilac is spindly, sad, and only offers a few leaves or blooms. It didn't bloom well last year but this year is heartbreaking. I've been told that a hard pruning of all the old wood will give the bush new life but...I don't hold out much hope.

Meanwhile, life continues. The children are under near constant NYS testing (4th & 7th grade) and are doing their best. William will be heading to the hospital for his V-EEG monitoring the week of May 17th. He will stay anywhere from 48 hours to 5 days. Hopefully, we'll finally find whether or not he has nocturnal seizures or a sleep disorder. Whatever the verdict, we are prepared. The waiting is the hardest part. Except, maybe, for the preparation. I'm in search of pajamas, games, books, DVDs, etc. And I need to bring his favorite cookies, and make cookies for kindergarten snack day.

With all this going on I was really very stressed so I decided to try OAMC. Have you heard of this? Well, I hadn't until I went in search of a few recipes that could be frozen ahead of time. Google offered OAMC in answer to my search. With a bit more research I was hooked on the concept of Once a Month Cooking. I spent a day searching for recipes and planning my meal calender for the month. I spent a day shopping. And on Saturday, May 2 I spent the day cooking. My mother came to help me. Together we put 24 meals into the freezer and two into the fridge. Unfortunately, with only my small freezer I did not have enough room to complete all 30 meals but I got darned close. It's already been a lifesaver. I get up in the morning and check my menu calendar. I then retrieve the frozen package from the freezer. I can either cook in the slow cooker all day or unthaw and reheat later. It has made dinner so much easier. No asking, "Whaddya want for dinner?" No last minute trips to the grocery store. No "I give up" trips to Burger King. And there's an unseen bonus. Because dinner is already taken care of I use my normal cooking time to make homemade desserts! Yes, it all boils down to chocolate for me.

Everything from homemade chicken pot pies, stuffed peppers, casseroles, soups, meatloaf, pulled pork, boneless buffalo chicken bites, pizza makings, to hamburgers and tater tots.

Update Complete. Another thing checked off my to do list.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Guess Who Won The Mulch War...

Not me. Hubby had his heart set on red mulch. So we went to Backyard Farmer and he got 3 yards (approx.) from Brian~who keeps promising that the ice cream is on it's way! LOL. I find the red mulch to be very modern and if you haven't guessed by now I'm an old fashioned country gal myself. But Hubby has done a bunch of manual labor so I let him win the Mulch War. YES, I let him win! It may take me a while to get used to but I have to admit it looks tons better than the weedy walkway.

Before and After
The weed fabric continues over my new flower beds. I have a lot of Siberian Iris and Daylilies to go into the new beds. I think I'll build a bench in one of the new beds. It would be nice to have a place to sit to enjoy both the flowers and the veggies.

Plans, Plans, Plans...So many Plans, So little Time!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Everyone needs a Plan, Man!

And I've got mine. Thank goodness for computers if I had done this plan with paper and pencil I would've had a hole from where I erased right through the paper! LOL. Even with the computer it took a while...but I got my plan.

Or has it got me?

The vining plants (green beans, pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini) are along the fence to make trellising easier. I saw a Squash plant in a whiskey barrel and it was so beautiful. So I decided to give it a try with both by Squash and Zucchs! I'll let you know how they do.
Have you ever seen a Strawberry Tree? I never had until I was browsing the Users Personal Albums at the SFG Gallery. That's where Therese's beautiful garden and Strawberry tree caught my eye. She was kind enough to share the how to build link. I love the kindness of gardeners. So willing to share, whether it's a cutting from their garden, seeds, extra plants, or links to the real cool garden stuff! Ill share photos after hubby builds it for me. LOL.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Building the Garden...Again

Last spring, I finally managed to convince my hubby to try raised bed or Square Foot Gardening. At the time we built three boxes and moved our arbor in front of them.

It looked incomplete so Hubby added a cedar fence that enclosed a very large area. And he added a box that ran the legnth of the fence. So last year, we had a total of 4 boxes and a fence and arbor.

This year, I asked for more 2 boxes. I should really know better...

We now have:
  • 3 ~ 4'x4' boxes
  • 2 ~ 4'x8' boxes
  • 2 ~ 2'x12' boxes
  • 1 ~ 2'x20' box

Last year we left the walkways natural. We figured that we could just weedwhack when needed but there was a terrible side effect of weedeating...All the weeds flew into our beautiful beds. So this year all the walkways have been convered in weed barrier fabric and await mulch. Which brings us back to The Great Mulch Debate.

Although, we may be debating what color to choose we have chosen where to buy the Mulch. Our favorite garden shop has re-opened for the season. We stopped in to the Backyard Farmer and had a great conversation with Brian about our plans for our gardens and about his plans for the shop this year. Apparently, I can now get an ice cream when picking out my herbs! We will get our mulch on Saturday (weather permitting). Brian recommended Preen for one of my flower beds that was taken over by crabgrass last year. So I'm anxious to give the Preen a try.

What a Great Gardening Weekend!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Harris Seeds to the Rescue

Have you ever realized that your best intentions of being early for something was quickly slipping away? Well, that's what happened to me on Monday, April 12th. Suddenly I realized that I hadn't ordered my seeds yet. Even though I received my Harris Seeds catalog months ago. I had even highlighted every seed I intended to buy. AND I made a matching list...All done months ago! But I had never actually ordered. So I hopped online Monday and ordered my entire list. ~Sigh~ I felt better.

3 nights later, I woke suddenly from a sound sleep. My heart was racing and panic filled me. I had forgotten to look at shipping! What if it was 6-8 weeks before delivery!?! What would I do? I needed those seeds to get started in the next week or two. Falling back to sleep was not easy.

Yesterday morning, as I wrote my blog about the seeds I ordered I nervously worried, and fretted. The "What if's..." playing havoc with my brain. So finally with catalog in hand I dialed the Harris Seeds number.

I hurriedly explained to the operator my worry. She immediately put me at ease by assuring me that most orders are shipped within 24-48 hours. YEAH! Then she offered to check the order for me. During the time that she looked up the information she talked to me about gardening, the warm weather, how she feared that some gardens hadn't given enough thought to the "killing frost" that sometimes hits late in the season. I told her about how I was starting my seeds much later than everyone else but how I refuse to trust my seedlings outside until Memorial Day (I'm in 5A after all!). It was a wonderful chat. Almost like talking with an old friend. She even asked for me to send some photos of this year's harvest!

Needless to say when the conversation ended I was very impressed Harris Seeds. I was so relieved and so pleased that I smiled for nearly an hour. Just as my smile started to fade I checked my mail and what did I find? MY SEEDS!!! It was like Christmas morning for me! I stood like a kid in the middle of the road, clapping my hands in excitement!

I was so pleased with Harris Seeds that I immediately sent off an e-mail. They quickly responded and asked for permission to use my "testimonial". I easily agreed. Why wouldn't I? With great service like that why wouldn't I?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Seeds...Better late than never?

I usually start my seeds in March but I've been disappointed by "leggy" and poor producing plants. Part of me blames the seeds. In the past I've bought any variety I could find at a local store but this year I received a seed catalog from Harris Seeds. I studied that catalog like a college kid cramming for finals. I liked the fact that they are located in Rochester, NY. I figured that if a variety did well in their test garden shouldn't be too different.

I also heard that you shouldn't start your seeds until 4 weeks before planting to avoid legginess. Or so Martha Stewart's gardening expert said. Knowing that I won't be planting fragile plants until Memorial Day I've decided that I'll be starting my seeds indoors in mid to late April.

Knowing I bought really great varieties this year. From an actual seed company! I just wanna get dirty!!! LOL. I bought:
  • Harris Lettuce Blend (a blend of Cimmaron, Red Salad Bowl, Tango, Slobolt, Green Salad Bowl and Royal Oakleaf)
  • Bush Blue Lake Beans
  • Colored Sweet Pepper Seed Blend (Lady Bell ~green to red, Early Sensation ~green to yellow, Valencia ~green to orange, Purple Beauty ~green to purple, and Flamingo ~light yellow to blush red to red. The kids will love all those colors!)
  • Regal Cucumber
  • Nantindo Carrots (pelleted~last year I had a horrible time with overcrowding)
  • Revelation Corn (early variety) & Renaissance Corn (late variety)
  • Waltham Butternut (why mess with a classic?)
  • Zuchini Elite
  • Howden Pumpkins
  • Charlotte Radishes (Can't wait to make more radish relish! Mmmm...)

As you can see there is no tomaotes. I understand almost every good gardener loves growing tomato. But hubby and I are not tomato fans. We've discussed growing them to make our own salsa, and spaghetti sauce but... not this year.

Until I can get my seeds started I've got plenty to do. Garden Clean-Up and Additions. Oooh what fun.

Monday, April 12, 2010

In Search of Mulch

Yesterday, I crammed the kiddies and hubby into the truck and went in search of Mulch. Bulk Mulch. I have way too much area to cover to get bagged mulch. It should've been an easy task...or so I thought! See what thinking gets me.

Store 1: My favorite garden store uncharacteristically closed for the winter ~ I blame the economy! So obviously there was no mulch there. They will reopen in a few weeks. So there is that to look forward to.

Store 2: Had Bulk Mulch but we walked through the entire garden center for nearly 15 minutes and never saw an employee! So we shrugged our shoulders and piled back into the truck.

Store 3: An out of the way Greenhouse that I've been wanting to visit FOREVER! Oh, it was a beautiful sight. Alas, they don't get their bulk mulch in until the end of April. ~Sigh~

Stores 4, 5, and 6: Bagged Mulch only! But the chickees and the duckies were in! I love Spring!

I don't know what I would've done if I found mulch anyways. Hubby and I couldn't agree on a mulch color. He loves Red but I know it doesn't "go" our log cabin stain. I like the black because I think it makes the soil look "rich". He thinks it's too dark. In the past, we've gotten natural but that doesn't stay fresh looking very long. Choices, Choices, Choices!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Trying to get back on Track

It's been forever since I've posted anything at all...and I'm very sorry. I had the best intentions last spring but the Gods of Reliable Computers weren't with me. However, that has changed. For my birthday I was gifted a brand new computer that doesn't object to internet browsing that lasts more than 5 minutes, or booting up on a regular basis.

Luckily, it hasn't been that long since I've gardened. Having finally become somewhat satisfied with my flower gardens I spent last year attempting veggie gardening. Now, in the past I've tried traditional methods of veggie gardening with horrifyingly terrible results. So I convinced hubby to try Square Foot Gardening. He thought I was a quack but I pointed out how well my flowers do in raised flower beds...why can't it work the same for veggies. We went out and bought the book by Mel Bartholomew. We followed his advice (to the best of our abilities) and we enjoyed the best veggie gardening of our lives!

I'll see if I can "dig" up some of last year's pics. That's kind of difficult considering they're scattered across 3 semi-working computers. LOL. This year hubby plans on adding 4 more SFG boxes (I think I've created a monster~LOL). And I solomnly keep up with this blog. And as long as I'm making promises...I think it's time I got back to my garden club. I just have to make sure not to overextend myself this time. I feel awful about letting the club down but my schedule just won't allow for me to be involved with anything more than attending meetings at least not for now.

For those who may or may not remember I had a blog regarding my daughter's diagnosis with Epilepsy. I have removed it. Thank you to all who stopped by the blog and offered your support but I've realized that the reason there are so few Epilepsy blogs are...when you spend all your time dealing with Dr.'s, Neuro's, School, CSE, Pharmacies, etc...who has time or energy to blog about it too!