Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Well, Heck!

I came home to a garden that did suffer some loss. I expected that. I did. I mean I was gone for over a week. How could it have taken complete care of itself and fended of predators of all shapes sizes and sliminess?

Every year I have some sort of major problem. Garden, illness, home, car....

But, what I was not quite expecting? Was my freezer. Once again my freezer has struck another massive blow to my heart. And so I spent hours upon hours gagging and cleaning, and throwing away pounds and pounds... and pounds of food. MY food. ARGH! Not only the monetary value of this food. But what hurts (emotionally) the most is the amount of harvested and prepared garden produce. The squash, peas, beans, corn, spinach, seeds, okra, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, not to mention all the stuff that was ready for the holidays.... :-( Oh my heart sunk when I smelled the devastation.
This isn't the first time the freezer has done this. Two years ago I threatened to get a new one. I tried to, but my frugality kept me tending my old box. Defrosting it when needed and dealing with it's quirks. It had some sentimental value. It was nearly as old as my marriage.

But last night I welcomed into my life a new friend. He's sexy, and sweet. He whispers to me. He's handsome and broad chested. He's got good bones and a decent work ethic, too. Best of all I can lock him up and he doesn't mind. ;-)

Meet Renaldo.

He's a little bit smaller than my old guy - but I'm not complaining, he at least has the decency not to get cold feet. No more defrosting for me! We bought some containers for categorizing the food stuffs inside and that makes keeping the vacuum sealed packages neat and tidy. That has been a long time coming. They used to either freeze together in the ice or fall out all over me. LOL. 
So here is to hoping that this years harvest is safe to be tucked away in the freezer and won't rot when I'm off gallivanting around for a week.

For what it's worth - that cat peed on my husband's (NEW! WHITE!) shirts while we were gone, and as for the garden - that will be another post! I was just glad I still had some lettuce and most of my seedlings when I got back!!!

'Till next time!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Harvest Monday 11.28.11

Blogging from the road as we travel home from the property in Alabama.
What a trip. Our week went fast. Lots of chores were done and a bit of harvesting, too.
12 gallons of pecans will grace our table and freezer this year, not including the ones that were gathered and brought to the processor. Never know- the ones you use for your Christmas pies might be ours! Check the bag to see if they came from Alabama. ;-)
We also harvested a doe. Her picture will be posted later. It was my sons first deer. As a proud parent I shall gloat a little for him. He did well and handled. Himself like a champ. He is accordingly still on cloud 9, so be sure to give him a pat on the back. He's going for a hog in 3 weeks. Hopefully he'll do just as well.
Hopefully the garden held up OK without me, I will find out in a few more hours.
'Till next time!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Harvest Monday 11.21.11

Harvest Monday is here again and I'm back with yet another first for my garden.
Daikon radish, greens and broccoli. OK only the Daikon is a first of the year but it still counts!

These two beauties featured in my garden update came to lunch one day as well. :-)

The citrus is doing well. Since we had a cold snap it's really sweetened up and the trees will be bare shortly with all 5 of us enjoying the fruit now! Typically I enjoy the slightly bitter fruit before it's fully ripe but the kids don't touch it. That just means more for me, but as soon as that first cold snap hits it's like a light bulb clicks and the fruit just knows it's time. Tangelos, Grapefruit, lemon and key limes were on the menu this week...
The last harvest of the week was a bountiful one. Green beans, hot peppers, tomatillos, more citrus, Sweet peas, chilies, greens, and a few small bell peppers to boot. I'll be away for a week and anything that could be taken needed to be. When I return I know that a lot of clean up will be necessary and I'm sure that plenty of food will have gone to waste. Unfortunately no one that lives near me can be left in trust of my plants.

So I leave my poor garden to fend for itself. It's only a week and this is after all not the high season so things shouldn't be too terrible when I get back - but I do expect some devastation. There always is. The weather should be nice and that will help keep things from going too badly - but I have so many young seedlings it's hard to walk away right now. The growth should be pretty amazing when I get back though!
Don't forget to stop by Daphne's Dandelions to see what everyone has up their sleeves this weeks - harvest reports from all over the world are there and reports on the usage of stored harvests, too!

'Till next time!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

State of the garden address...

Since i now have itty bitty babies starting to sprout I thought I would share with you what is going on in the garden these days. Through pictures, of course. :-) There will be many more of these updates I will assure you of that because there are varieties I have never grown before and well... in my haste to get things planted before dark and having to wait a full 2 weeks I planted out things without marking them. That means I'll be second guessing not only what they are and when to harvest them but just which veggie it is that I had planted in what spot and so forth.
Now I realize this is a rookie mistake but on that same token I also know that given time I'll recognize 95% of these veggies. Patience may not be my virtue but I'm certainly not new to this game and it won't be the first time I've planted an entire garden without any markers. *snort* I mean I know what I planted, I just don't know in which order or in some instances which variety. (4 types of spinach to chose from after all!)
But for now I give to you in all their glory - my infants!

These were all planted a week ago,

and are doing well.
The onions are already sprouting - that is pretty amazing. The last sets I planted took 10 days for most of them to peek out! Seems I'll have the peas up within a day - the earth looks disturbed but the first leaves have not broken the surface yet. Best guesses besides the onion is radish, some sort of green - tatsoi probably, carrot, leek and spinach.
The berry planter is looking good. The Festival strawberries have been planted out for 2 weeks and are going strong. Another 2 weeks and there will be tremendous growth.
The other young and tender seedlings that have emerged in the last few weeks include mostly salad accompaniments:
Different radishes, several lettuce and carrot varieties....

The older plants that are still going strong include the hot peppers, citrus, tomatoes, marigolds that have flushed with fall colors, and limas (but they are ugly these days so no picture!)

The peas are filing out nicely now and will be ready for harvest this week!!!!

This little beauty is giving me some scrumdiliumptious chocolate cherry tomatoes. Well - at least that is the word the kids used. I am yet to taste them. But there are plenty of green ones left. Hopefully they will ripen and I will get some sooner or later.

The last of my warm weather veggies to still be going strong are my remaining peanut crop, a few green beans, and the tomatillos. They seem ever present in my garden from spring until frost and I like it that way. If they didn't attract the darn lined beetle I'd have them all over!

I hope you enjoyed a look at what's growing in the garden. Next month things will surely change as the cooler weather has already come for a short visit and the nights are staying rather chilly (for us) now.  The peanuts will be harvested to make space for more cool weather friends. Shortly after will come our first frost and the rest of the warm weather things will be laid to rest until spring.
I hope that the seedlings hold their own for a week while we travel for Thanksgiving. We set the new irrigation system for a short watering pattern and are testing it out this week to make sure all is well. So far it all looks great! The neighbors must think I'm entirely insane out with a flashlight at night - but they also have asked me to help them build a bed this spring so I guess they don't think I'm too crazy! :-D (That or the crazies are catching....)

'Till next time!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Harvest Monday 11.14.11

Guess what time it is!? Time to join in to Daphne's Dandelions for this weeks edition of HARVEST MONDAY! So don't forget to stop by her place and see what everyone is harvesting - or how they are using their harvests!

This weeks harvest brought three first for our garden.
Our first (and only apple) Dorset. Please do not ask the size. It's embarrassingly small and not even enough for a snack. :-(

Our first pomegranate - There is still one more on the tree. Ah - well not bad for it's first year considering it was one of my 50% off bin recoveries. So far I've had a 75% success rate with those I have chosen. :-) I understand that next year I should have a bucketful. That would be nice!

Another first - a pound and a half of peanuts! YUMYUMYUYMYUMYUM.
There were loads of baby peanuts that didn't quite make it back to the ground. The space was restricted a little more than I wanted it to be but better a crop than no crop at all! I still have another small set of peanuts to harvest in the upcoming weeks, but I like to sow and harvest them in small sections so no nuts are wasted. Next year, though I may plant enough for some butter! The kids really enjoy fresh nut butters and I can't say as I mind making it or eating it myself. :-) But I may still be a little too restricted space wise to dedicate enough for that many plants. Time will tell!

We also had just over a pound of tomatillos, 6 ounces of green beans, 5oz of hot peppers and chilies, some key limes, basil, and a chocolate cherry tomato.

Soon to come pictures of my babies in the new garden patch. The radishes are at the party and some of the other seedlings are beginning to emerge as well. So come on back later this week to check out the progress. Now that i have my camera again I can actually show you the pretty little things!

'Till next time!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Catching up...

Well I think it's time to catch up!

The expansion is done!
The wood is obviously not matching but other than that it fits right in. :-)

Permanent beds (10' each) on either end are my berry beds and have 5 blueberry plants and aprox. 30 strawberry plants in each section. One section has Festival strawberries and the other Sweet Charlie. I'm REALLY looking forward to harvesting the berries this spring. We have always grown them, but never this many. Usually only 10-15 plants a year. Most of those strawberries never see the table barring the initially extreme output when I tend to make strawberry syrup for the kids each year.
Between the 2 permanent sections is 24' that will be my secondary garden. Construction was finalized this past weekend, only 1 week past the 'absolute latest date' I wanted it completed. Not bad really. All things considered.

The new planter is just over 2' wide - making access to the entire surface area fairly easy for weeding and harvesting. This gave me 24' (48'sq) of new garden and planting area. Do I really need to tell you that it's been finished now for 3 days and I've already got it all sown? What? I can't help myself! I had plans to let it sit and amend it once more before spring, but... but.... OK lets face it. I need more space. I WANT more space. I LOVE more space!
So, I planted one 8' section of alliums. 3' of yellow onion, 3' of purple hamburger & 2' of garlic. That makes a total of 16'sq of dedicated space until May. Seems like a lot. I hope I didn't go overboard.
I also planted a few things I have never tried to eat much less grow. These things include turnips, beets, and tatsoi.
But knowing my own tastes I was not entirely foolish and I did plant the remaining portion (aprox 20'sq) with lettuce, carrots, sugar snap peas, broccoli, and spinach.
I still find myself doing a jig every once and a while. But it hurts. A lot. The jigging that it. It was hard work. My husband - he wasn't a lot of help. He did at least pound the nails into the wood.And he was a good cheerleader. But beyond that, it was ALL me, baby! And I'm paying for it. But I'm happy now. Because in a few days those little green shoots will be peeking up at me, and that? That rocks my world!

One of the reasons I was a little late getting the expansion finished was my little girls 5th birthday party. We also had a trip to Seaworld and that was fun. Our camera went a missing so my cell phone is all I have had since that time. *pout*
The pink party? Was over the top pin it's pinkidness. Yes I made up a new word. I made little butter mints by hand. These are my new favorite things! The cupcakes looked like flowers though not intentionally it was a nice touch. I made them chocolate chocolate chip and that is Kate's favorite. But she didn't like that I chose a whipped topping so back to butter cream with flavorings added next time!

The inside of the perfectly poodle pink cake? Was a rainbow of pink. I think I enjoyed this surprise the most. The girls didn't expect it at all and while I was completely disappointed in the flavor of the cake (a constant reminder to check the recipes you use prior to serving them to friends and family!) the servings were truly eye candy. Just wish I'd had a real camera so I could show you how beautiful it really was.
 I also served dog bone shaped cookies, and mini corn dogs, pink applesauce, pink lemonade. A wonderland in pink. We STILL have some of the decorations around the house. :-D Oh, and for the adults I made ham an cheese crossandwiches. This is a standby for the kids that I started making about a year ago form the Pillsbury website when I was looking for ideas for their lunches. It's SO easy and they are good at room temp - but really pretty great when they are warm from the oven. They were completely devoured with no leftovers so I think that every liked them. LOL. The hit of the party? Glad you asked. We bought balloons to blow up to make pink poodles out of. I know how to make them...

uh... but I have a slight problem...with balloons...specifically with latex balloons...that might squeak, or pop...or Get around my face, or touch me..... ARGH!!!!!

HA! OK so some may call this a 'phobia'. So my husband stayed and tried to make balloon dogs but he wasn't so talented. Did you know that kids this age don't really care what it looks like? They absolutely LOVED this part and it was the B~E~S~T thing ever! He entertained them for over an hour making 'snakes' or bracelets or hats, or whatever their imaginations turned the balloons into. It was fantastic. Um, I was in another room for this hour. That may have made it even better. :-D *snicker*

So that is what I've been up to and why I've not blogged much in the last few weeks. Well those things PLUS the whole odd illness thing. But believe it or not, I missed you!

This time of year is super busy for us as everyone in the immediate family has a birthday in October, November, December or January. 8 of us. Eight IS enough. Heh, whatdayaknow?! There is also a few other celebrations thrown in you know those things on all of our calendars plus a few extras for our family.

I hope that your family is enjoying November as much as our family is!

'Till next time!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Harvest Monday 11.7.11

Ahhhh... November, my Love. How I have missed you. How I have longed to be held in your cool embrace. :-)
Now - don't let that go to your head my lover. One of my favorite things about you is the warm days that come along with your cool nights. Decembers chilly winds are too cool for my Floridian body to enjoy so don't go off getting too cold on me just yet!

Linking in for Harvest Monday with Daphne's Dandelions. Thanks Daphne for allowing us to crash your pad and hang out each week!

My garden gave to me this fine November week -
Tomatillos and  a bell pepper. There are many more of both of these waiting for me in the garden!
Hot peppers, green (and yellow & purple) beans. This variety of purple bean doesn't do as well as some of the others I have trialed and once my seed stock of these are gone they won't be replaced. They are good but the plants are not nearly as sturdy as this springs planting of purple beans.
Another pound of lima beans for side dishes and mostly these are mine because I adore them!

Some greens and more green beans and a pepper that needed saved.
In honor of the berry patches (2) being completed I celebrated by baking up a bag of my spring berries:
Muffins, mini loaves and pancakes will make breakfasts easy for the beginning of the week.

I'm looking forward to sharing the final expansion of the garden during the week - but now that daylight savings has "fallen behind" I don't know that I will be home during daylight hours to take any good photos. The project is complete and 24' x2' of space has been added (and already planted out!) to my garden. I love knowing the space is there and this spring I won't have to juggle which veggies I want. I should have enough room for just a little of everything. :-D WOOHOO!!!!
If all else fails I'll share the cell phone pics that were taken at the end of the project so I can at least show off my hard work. My back is still yelling at me for trying to do so much so fast but my brain is happy and in the end that makes it all better.

'Till next time!