Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Garden Update

So today is my last full day at my job. I am so excited to start my new one this upcoming Monday! I stayed up last night trying to make from scratch cupcakes for my very first time....not just that but red, white and blue cupcakes from scratch. This did not work out, and I will be posting the results later...

One small downside is my new job will begin thirty minutes earlier than my current one, so in order to play with my garden in the morning, I will have to get up LOTS earlier....which may or may not happen every single day. So, here's some shots I was able to get over the past couple of days:
look a there, a mater buried in the bush! 

The tomatoes seems to be coming along now and there is very little blossom end rot since we returned. 

These heirloom tomatoes are just gorgeous. We haven't had rain in quite sometime around here, and combined with a high bird population it forces us to bring the maters in to finish ripening. Caprice salad here we come, yum! 
We have harvested a fair amount of Tomatillos so far too. Salsa Verde, we're on our way! 

The eggplants have turned into booty kickers too. One plant (pictured) literally has a dozen eggplants on it. 
Just this morning my White Eggplant finally became visible-pics to come...

I had said I would post pics of the serranos and jalepenos, but I didn't say it would be pretty. I took this picture during the heat of the day when the plants look all puny and wore out. Not to worry, these serranos are all nice and healthy and have just the right amount of heat.

The watermelons (sugar babies) are really starting to come along. Its almost panty hose time! woot woot!

The pickles are still sticking to one per plant (even though others have been pollinated), and some of them are looking gnarly as crap. They should be ready to harvest soon.

Finally, the herb bed is doing not that bad for how little sun it gets. I hope to have a real herb bed at the next place we live. Along with an entire raised bed just for strawberries
-clears throat-you know who, I'm talking to you ;)

Thanks to the long weekend we just had, I was finally able to put away the last of the carrots harvested from the winter garden. Since canning is SO involved, and freezing is far less, I opted for freezing them. I boiled them for three minutes and then immediately "shocked" them (threw them into a bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking process). I divided them up into "ready to eat" for our size family servings. The bigger carrots were sliced, and the baby carrots were put together for use in a stew or pot roast.

Finally, I'd like to give a shout out to my little garden guardian. He keeps the garden safe while I'm at work-although he is busted for sleeping on the job more often than not. But I love the little fella.

Hope you enjoyed my little garden update, and as a very wise man once said:
"Life's a garden, dig it!" -Joe Dirt

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day! 

In honor of Memorial Day (and the upcoming 4th of July holiday) I decided it was time to make a patriotic wreath.  But it had to be done on a very small amount of cash. 
 Has your spouse ever opened the credit card bill and the proceed to give the whole "we gotta cut back, blah blah blah" speech?    Yeah? Mine too! As he was saying it I was thinking...."but it's time to decorate for the summer"   
So. here's what I did: I cut out my own wreath base from an old cardboard box and purchased some very inexpensive patriotic garland from Hobby Lobby (around $3). I also bought some red, white, and blue stars from Hobby Lobby that were originally $4.99, but I used a 40% off coupon. 
I already had a bunch of straight pins which I used in lieu of any sort of glue in case I didn't like the outcome. Also, it is already hot hot hot here in Florida.-put it this way, for my Spring wreath I used hot glue to hold plastic eggs onto the wreath and they fell off constantly because of the heat that something between a glass door and a medal door has to endure.  Therefore, straight pins. And I must say, so far so good. 

First step: find a starting point for the garland and stick a straight pin through it. I tried to actually make it so the pin came back through on the same side of the cardboard so that there wasn't a pin ready to poke an innocent bystander who was unlucky enough to put their hand on the back of the wreath. 
I wrapped the garland around the cardboard until it came around full circle. 
Then I pinned the final end in the same fashion. 

It might have come out a little caddywompus, but I made some adjustments and in the end I was able to position it on the door to look "circular" enough. haha
Then I took straight pins and pinned the stars to the bottom of the wreath. I bent the back of the pins flat against the wreath as best as was possible. 
Ta-da! Looks good to me and only cost around $6 to make! 

I had some left over stars: so I let my daughter put them in this decorative thing. 
My sister gave it to me, and every season we find some cute and different way to decorate it. 
(for Spring we put in Easter grass and some tiny, malt, eggs; for Christmas we put Red and Green decorative sand; Fall we put in leaves and pecans, etc) 
This weekend we bought a new coffee table. We also bought a few things from the Target dollar section which I plan on decorating with-updates to follow ;) 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Just can't get enough

I love my garden sooooo much. I think about it all day long while I'm at work. I think the main reason I take lots of so I can garden gander whilst working ;)  I know the best time to take care of your garden is supposed to be early in the morning, and you are "supposed" to let it rest at night. But what's a busy mom to do when that turns out to be her best time to work in the garden. SO around nine-thirty last night I went out to see the happenings and do a little maintenance. I'm glad I did, because I found a nasty little caterpillar trying to destroy my eggplants. It was too little too late for one fallen comrade:
That caterpillar must have been one tough SOB because these plants have some serious thorns all over it
Luckily these plants are loaded with future plants. I plan on putting crushed egg shells around the bases tonight to discourage this from happening...I'll let ya know if it works 
(I went to touch the eggplant above to get a better shot and got pricked by the this is as good as it gets for now) 
as you can see, the herbs needed some serious attention. I had thinned the basil a few times, but never got around to thinning out the parsley (or dill or cilantro for that matter). 
Much better!
As you can see I really didn't bother to do much with the cilantro. That is because I am officially over it-cilantro wise. First of all, I'm part of a very elite group of people who cilantro tastes like soap to. Unless it is used very sparingly it is yuck to me. Second of all, it bolts so quickly here in Florida you'd think its other name was Jesse Owens.The only reason I even tried to grow it again this year was because one of our garden goals was to make lots of our own salsa (thereby justifying an entire bed-each-of peppers and tomatoes). 

That stuff that between the cilantro and basil that makes me look like a neglectful weeder is actually marjoram. It has definitely been the slowest grower among the herbs, but it is finally coming along. 

...since we were already talking about peppers.......

Here's some beautiful bell peppers. They are loaded down!

The poblanos are looking quite sexy too 

The carmens are all starting to recover from the previous disaster (when we went out of town and the little neighbor girl didn't properly water the garden and lots of blossom end rot was the result)

Not sure yet what to do with all these banana peppers, so if anyone has suggestions, please pass them along

Here's some more bell peppers. My DH started the garden from seeds this year and at one point in time there was a "spill" and some of the plants identities became a mystery. We marked these in the garden with a popsicle stick with a big ? 

Turns out they were bell peppers! Yesssss! I was so praying they would be BPs and not banana peppers. I really wanna have enough bell peppers to freeze for the rest of the year.

These are either Carmens or Orangecicles. Either way, Yum! 
They taste FANTASTIC! Last night we used some of the peppers that weren't totally destroyed (but still kinda ruint) by the end rot. Husband made sausage and peppers using a mix of bell peppers, carmens, orangecicles and godfather peppers. They were all so delicious and blended together perfectly! 
(don't worry, he cut around the rot) 

I need to take some pictures of the Serranos and jalapenos because they are coming along nicely too. 

Now for the other part of salsa: 
The tomato bed is as jungle-y as ever

But look! This is after we lost about 25% of our tomatoes to blossom end rot, and I picked a few for fried green tomatoes the other night.  Its like looking at one of those out of focus pictures, once you get your eyes adjusted you see that there are tomatoes everywhere. 

The cherry tomatoes we planted are kinda disappointing this year, but I guess you can't expect too much from a $.20 bag of seeds bought in the winter time (the summer garden fever strikes early in these parts) 

Now, onto the "party" bed. This bed is full of all those wild and crazy plants that don't play well with others. Its like they all got put in after school detention together, but somehow they all seem to be hitting it off
As you can see, the tomatillos are the most "strung" out in the whole bed. No matter how much you try and tie them up, they find a way to sneak out and get wasted overnight. Tomatillos are dragging the dirt, but they don't seem to be affected. A small brown bag (hmmm, how fitting) is now holding some we already harvested until they are completely ready to make salsa Verde. 

The melon trellis is slowly but surely getting taken over by the watermelons and cantaloupes. The cantaloupe on the far right side decided it wanted to head to the left instead of straight up so it is crawling all over the other plants sideways. They don't seem affected for now, and it is pretty determined to stay that way too. 

 But there is FINALLY a female cantaloupe! Who knew they were so fuzzy....

Here's one of the watermelons too. I think it just wanted to get away from everyone. My solution will be to wrap a knee high (pantyhose) around it once it starts to get a little weight to it. 

The beans are climbing....anything they want. They are training nicely up the strings, but are also climbing up the center pole AND reaching backwards for the fence....which is NOT a good idea with this fence.

^cow peas 5/22/2012

^Blue lake green beans 5/22/2012

^okra time! 5/22/2012. Can't wait for these plants to get out of control 

^summer squash plant 5/22/2012. I thought for sure this plant would be done by now.

^my DH pollinated this one this morning, so there should be new zuke in my life very soon. 

After we were away, I gave the 8 ball zukes one week max, and yet here they are. They have actually been the biggest producers. 

^8 ball zucchini 5/22/2012

^cucumber bed 5/22/2012

This year we planted lots of flowers in the garden beds in hopes of bringing around bees, and look: 

I don't think I saw one bee last year, and this year there is almost a daily sighting. Squeeee  bee

and what do we have here...

Thanks bee, I owe ya one! 
These cukes are gonna be awesome! 

^the accompanying dill is doing fantastic. Its not the scraggly variety that I've been unfortunate enough to have before. I will be buying this exact seed every time now. 

The Bay Laurel tree is kickin it and taking names

I'm just not sure about the lettuce. In the winter time it literally grew like a weed-we had a couple of seeds drop in some sand and they became huge heads. I think the Florida heat (May = already summer) is just too much for lettuce.