Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lessons - learning...

Times TWO!

First of all is a sad and BAD lesson.

Squirrels like immature persimmons. Yup. That's right. Freaking, Fracking, Stinking, I'm gonna run 'em over and then back up over 'em and then get my shot gun out.... OK I'm in a residential neighborhood so I'm not gonna get my gun out - but I might just sic my kid on them with his paint ball gun... with pellets in it. GRRRR..... Squirrel stew is sounding good about now. With new potatoes and carrots because I still have about 10 left from my potato haul and I still have carrots. LOL.

Onto better things. The second thing that I learned. First let me begin this by saying that while i've been gardening a long time- I've only grown certain things for most my life. Namely my grandmothers garden and she grew watermelon, bush beans, some tomatoes and left most of the other stuff to other local farmers where we would trade and barter.

 I have had a broccoli plant that I've been letting bloom and keeping trimmed for nigh on 8 months now. Over the winter I needed something to keep the pollinating bugs in the yard and happy. I chose this plant because it was consistently in bloom and required little to no extra care other than for me to go out weekly and collect the seed pods so that I didn't have 5,000 broccoli plants growing in this one tiny planter. Being the thinking ahead kind of person that I am I chose to put this particular plant under my peach tree. Smart, right? Bring the pollinators right where I'll want them in the spring. Teehee. I thought that was sheer genius. And, it was.  Somewhere around November we had the tail end of a tropical storm that knocked this (then) young broccoli plant down. It actually knocked it in between the slats of my planter and I could not right the plant without damaging it further. So, I determined that I would simply leave the plant there and see what happened. This is where my lesson comes in.

Like tomatoes and squash broccoli is capable of laying down additional sets of roots. Did you know this already? I most certainly did not! But, I do have some proof to show you. This picture shows you not the main roots, not the secondary, but these are the Tertiary and quaternary roots. OOOOoooo big words. Third and forth sets of roots. This particular plant continued to set off side shoots for the entire 8 months (if you ever wondered how long your broccoli plant will keep producing now you know) and as long as I didn't clip it in the first few days it would send it to flower. Now, IF as I did when it started to warm up and I no longer needed the flowers you then keep the flowering section trimmed off the plant it will not try to blot as fast. So by keeping it trimmed or letting it bolt you can control if you want to harvest from the beast or not. That is not to say that while the plant is in flower you cannot harvest from it - you just have to be vigilant. If you don't cut the floret in just a day or two it will be bolting already.

I'll stop talking- here is the picture -

Keep in mind that I yanked that sucker up. I had no intentions at the time of trying to save those roots or show anyone what it had done. You can see that the lower part of the stem had gone completely woody at that point and made a true root. The plant was easily 3' across and 5' tall - well it was 3' tall but only because it had fallen. The woody portion that you can see in the picture from one rooted section to the other is the length of my forearm... and I have very long arms. I'm 5'9" tall if that is any indication to you.
The actual root section was so large and so infiltrated with the peach tree that I had to leave it in the ground. That was the not so stellar thinking on my part. But, this learning curve really got me thinking  about how these plants survive in the wild and I can just see not only the pods burst open over and over spilling MILLIONS of seeds per plant, but the longevity of this plant due to it's ability to grow up, fall over re-root and gain strength each time. Amazing plant, and we as gardeners tend to think of it as a short term plant. Huh...
Gives ya more to think about.

'Till next time!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Harvest Day 5.29.12

It's not Monday. So, I'm late - again. Hey,  it was Memorial Day so I had plans. Plans that got blown away by Sir Beryl. Good thing we decided not to go anywhere. Turns out that there were a much greater number of downed trees and my parents had no power up in (North of) Jacksonville for 24 hours at last count.  No fridge or freezers and that also means that their 7 (yes, SEVEN) dogs that have the invisible fence to keep them on their five acres would have been roaming free out in the storm without someone there to start up the generators. Not to mention that the picnic and all the other outdoors activities like camping we had planned wouldn't have been so fun in 45 mile an hour winds. We were only planning on going to Ocala after all. Not all the way to Jacksonville. Silver Springs State Park is what we had our eye on.
Oh, Well. Next weekend we'll have a condensed version of the same thing.

Instead I welcomed a gardening friend over to see my mess and our kids enjoyed some watermelon while we enjoyed some conversation. It was a good distraction from thwarted plans and picnics gone awry. I sure hope their plans held out and Illuminations was still wonderful for them! Thanks, Tina for stopping by. Next time hopefully the lawn mower will be up and running and my grass won't be trying to attack your ankles! Troy found a treat for Nick and is waiting to see him again, too. :-D  The pool is back and ready for action. ;-)

I spent yesterday evening cruising the garden not really expecting to find much to bring in but to my surprise I did. And, I found quite a lot!
I had a roma and a bush tomato damaged from the storms, so those came out. There are a few of the tomatoes in this picture, but most of them didn't make the cut. I don't think they'll ripen so they aren't here to be represented. If they do I'll show them later. But these four all were starting to blush so they are here. A few more carrots - that large one weighed 6 ounces! The first eggplant of the season (THANKS RICK- that is from your baby long purple plant from the swap) 2 cukes some broccoli, strawberries, purple podded beans and dragons tongue.

This is the haul from earlier in the week. A key lime, a few carrots, cucumber, zucchini, green garlic, broccoli, and below 4 pounds of onions out of the main bed of alliums, I pulled them because they were starting to multiply by division more and more. It's getting hotter out and that means less likely to bulb at this point and I don't need this many green onions for my cooking. I do after all still have this many onions in the garden still. Bummer year for the onions. But, again Florida is a huge give and take State.

There is no guarantee when you garden here. The sun is extremely low, extremely hot and it makes for quick crops, and that is good and bad. The downpours and humid conditions are hard on the plants and certainly perfect for making mold and mildew. It's an evolving process and an ongoing experiment. I'm always faced with the next question. These onions are one of the prime examples of how gardening here changes every year. Some years I get great big onions and some years it fizzles. But this year I got great lettuce and some years I get none. Go figure. Same with the carrots. I'm still getting them and it's already 90 degrees out regularly. Normally the carrots are done and gone by late March. Here it is going to be June and I'm still pulling and picking them. :-D 

I roll with the punches as every gardener does. My garden looks bear right now to me. I'm waiting for some cowpeas to come up and the old spring tomatoes will be going out - while the new fall tomatoes will be growing and waiting their turn to get into the garden. I still haven't found a good determinate/semi-determinate variety for me/this area. I feel like this is a struggle I will always deal with in some form or another. Maybe I'll just go by a crate of the suckers! Maybe, like the carrots I'm just missing something that i haven't found yet.

Oh, I did learn something kinda new this weekend while I was cleaning up around the place. Will share tomorrow. ;-)
Gotta get ya back here some how!

'Till next time!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Super Nanny

Where is she when I need her?

My girls are twins. Surely you knew that, right?

They're 5 and OK closer to 6. They are opposites in almost every way. Except one.

Night time.

Yes the dreaded nighttime routine.

Oh the joys of motherhood. This has been my nightmare since they stopped sleeping in the same space (crib/isolette) at 19 months of age.

When we brought them home at 3 pounds and change they fit sideways in a crib together. They stayed swaddled, together when they slept for their first year of life. This is a side effect of that bonding. One that could have never been told. One that I ALMOST wish we could have seen coming. But, one that I wouldn't have gotten a single stretch of uninterrupted sleep at night without when they were those teeny tiny infants.

For a reminder here they are at nearly six months of age. Still not even the size of  most newborns. *sigh*
I have now been trying to break this cycle of falling asleep for 4 years. FOUR YEARS Y'ALL!!!

Have we had this conversation before? Well. Sit back relax and grab yourself a glass of ice tea because it's time for a refresher course.

This is my recurring nightmare. Only for me it's real. Our bedtime routine involves the typical things. We brush teeth, sometimes we floss (OK well, once or twice a week I remember that part but their teeth don't even touch LOL!) then we head to the potty and strip on the way out of the bathroom. Once the girls are in their bedroom (usually after a side trip here or there and a little cajoling by me to GET IN THERE... RIGHT NOW!!!) they get into their night clothes and we read a bible story. This part normally goes well, I'll say normally. There is an occasional child running in the opposite direction as one institutes the wonderful art of distraction - running nude to my bed or grabbing me and hanging on koala bear style pretending to be all lovey dovey. It's all for not though. This Momma bear is on to them. The girls hop into bed, get a kiss and hug, an "I love you" and of course a reminder to sleep nicely and to be quiet. The lights go out... and promptly 2 minutes later the talking and bouncing and giggling and throwing of things (pillows, blankets, clothes) begins. If I do not intercede it gets louder and they end up either standing/kneeling/jumping or out of bed entirely.


If I separate them completely? Oh that is fun. WAILING. And I don't mean the cry it out method will work type of stuff. I mean these are twins with some serious separation issues at night. During the day they can and will be separated, but at night it's like their souls are back in the womb and being in a different room is torterous. Even so, it's not against my rules to use this against them, and I do. When they are entirely too out of hand I will take one of them out of the room and place them on a cot in the hall way. It is however at a great expense. I have to quite literally punish myself to do this. If I leave them this way it means that for hours (no exaggeration on my part) I will hear screaming and crying from them both as if their hearts are torn out. And the one that is in the hallway will be in some serious trouble because it is almost impossible that they will stay in the cot and not leave. At times it is worse this way and causes behavior issues. Really. ? I wouldn't believe it either it's completely ridiculous. Incredulous even.

There is no reward system great enough and no punishment punishing enough to get these two sweet little girls to go to bed nicely. We've tried bunk beds, side by side, different rooms, stickers, me in the room, out of the room, ignoring, spanking even ... and there has never been ANYTHING that works. Each and every system that we try we STICK TO IT for weeks. So none of the systems are run into and out of tossed aside and the children figure we'll go back to our old ways. Not the case.

Tired of the subject yet? After four years how do you think I feel? I've managed to rock myself to sleep crying more than once from the stress of it. That's simply not healthy.  It's the one thing about parenting twins I just don't get.

Let me rephrase that. It's the one thing about parenting THESE twins I just don't get.

Super Nanny - Where are you!? I need you. My sanity needs you!

'Till next time!


Monday, May 21, 2012


I don't have much to share. But, linking into Daphne's Dandelion's to share it! Thanks Daphne for always being a great hostess. Don't forget to stop by her place and say hi!

 The last week has been about the summer change.  Here is the one basket I remembered to take a picture of.

These carrots have changed my mind about how I'm growing carrots from now on. I loved growing them in with the onions all willy nilly. It worked out well - and this giant type also worked out well. They took no longer really than the smaller types and I got so much more! Look at the normal sized on in there next to the larger ones. Wow! What a difference. Considering how MANY carrots this family eats....I'm thinking go BIG or go HOME! er... OK I am home- but you know what I mean.

The biggest honking carrots, and nice sized green garlic (I'm begining to think I'll only get green this year) a good cuke, some okra, berries, zucchini, broccoli, a few beans, a young red onion. A decent haul. I got a couple chilis and 2 small romas this week as well as a few more okra and broccoli- but that is about it. I really was concentrating on getting things changed over.

More sweet potato slips went in. 6 more - so 12 total. I won't be breaking a record with that number, but I have so many other things i want to grow that I don't have space for much else. They are all bush type of course. The peanuts are all up, the soybeans didn't germinate very well. I'm quite disappointed. I think I'll risk moving the plants and distributing them so that they can at least benefit from the area given to them rather than leaving them crowded to one side, as it seems the ones that did germinate all were together. (figures) There wont be any more slips going in now. I used the butt of the potato to generate the last of these. They had some great roots though! Awesome for not having transplant shock. LOL

The last stand of sweet corn for summer is up. I'll try again in fall. I don't know what my failure is with it all the time. Like carrots I just keep trying. I'll figure it out at some point! ;-) The last batch from a few weeks ago was delicious, just miniature. I'll plant popcorn in the heat of the summer. Funny- the corn always grows up in the plots in Alabama. Humph. Guess the clay holds the nutrients better and longer. Even with all the amendments and how wonderful things are doing (compared to how they USED to do) I still can't get corn to grow. Oh, well!

I also cleaned out the rest of the non vining green beans, so any green beans you see now until fall will be non green, flat Italian, or for the first time ever, POLE! Speaking of - it seems to me that I may have stumbled upon something. My dragons tongue beans are not very, uh - 'poley' they are much more bushy. They are also not holding up well in our humidity. :-( They have loads of beans that isn't the problem at all. Its that the poor little plants have already gotten mildew. *sigh* Can't win for losing 'round here I suppose. You should see those beans here next week.
Hopefully the growth of the seedlings will be good this week and I can do some update shots soon. Right now it would just look like a blank garden and then a lot of the same old stuff you always see. (the allium patch, the blueberries, etc)
Summer is here officially - we have our first Tropical storm off the coast of Florida and it's 'officially' hitting 90 each day this week. Yikes!
Stay cool my friends!

'Till next time!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bloom day.

Because I wanted to. Because I can. And because... these are too good not to share. I forgot to update the size, lighting and shapes, so some of these are straight out of camera – Oh, well.  That’s ok. These blooms are good enough on their own. Too bad I didn’t get back out. I’ve got some sunflowers that are begging to be shown off. But, I’m willing to bet they’ll still be around for next month, too!


I love the BACK of this hibiscus... *sigh* It's actually a doubls hibiscus so that is saying somehting that I'd prefer to look at the back of it!

The wall garden is filling in nicely now, too. :-D

Poor HOA doesn't know what hit 'em.  *snicker*

The small Roselle are peeking up here and there. It will be nice to see them filling in through the summer. It will be nicer still when I'm making 'Cranberry tea' with them. :-) What a lovely bloom they have. I can't wait to share it with you!

'Till next time!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Harvest Monday 5.14.12

I skipped a week. We had a family emergency going on. We lost one of our Matriarchs. She will be keenly missed and fondly remembered. I missing the weights on the majority of the harvest because of this, but I do have some pictures. I should have more than these, but... Ah - lets say I missed a day or two.

I pulled the majority of the remaining cabbages. The cabbage moths are getting pretty bad now, so I gave in. Besides it's getting hot and they won't have much chance of getting any larger now. There is one purple one left out there. It's just beautiful and so petite I got all sentimental and left it for a few more weeks to try to pull a decent head size from it.


The purple beans are producing, and the last of the green beans were pulled out of the garden. Of course, the next batch are already flowering so there will be hardly a lull in the harvest of them. The June bearing strawberries are producing well now. Love that. The spring berries disappeared a month ago and now the summer berries have arrived. :-)

These are (about half of) the carrots that I had sown in with the alium bed. This is the easiest way to grow them that I know of.

They take no extra space or care and the grow just fine. I just sprinkle extra seeds in when I sow my onion and garlic sets in the fall, and Voila! I have carrots  waiting for me here and there throughout the spring. In this case 1 pound 8.9 ounces. Impressive for not even truly sowing them.
Below is a miss mash of stuff I yanked out last night after going out to adjust the sprinklers. The first okra of the season. Exciting, but soooo depressing at the same time. That little baby corn is the only one that made it in the house. The kids and I sat in the garden and ate them off the corn stalks. We didn't get much - like always but they are such a treat. It's not quite as small as it looks. The cuke, okra, berries and zucchini are all much larger than they look. That barrel is about as big as my arms are if I form a circle with my hands. So nearly washtub size!

So the soybeans and peanuts are sown, and the zucchini and okra are producing well now. I'm still bringing in broccoli, cucumbers, berries, green beans and carrots for now. But, the season is creeping in fairly fast so I'm savoring what I can.  I only have about another pound or so of carrots in the garden, and the zucchini and berries can only last so long. I find myself torn between wanting to go to the beach and enjoy the heat, and wishing to be able to have the things in the garden that can grow in the cooler weather.  Then again, freshly roasted peanuts? Oh Man - that's fantastic!

I hope that you had a wonderful Mother's Day.
In Memory of Mildred Walkinshaw
A WONDERFUL Grandma and Great-Grandma.
We love you.
'Till next time!


Friday, May 4, 2012


Oh My!

Lookout! It's the attack of the Fifty foot... Marigolds?
Pardon the horrid picture- It was raining and my phone is new. So I whipped my phone out, snapped the picture and didn't even gaze down at the phone to see if it came out. Apparently I was in too muc of a rush. But I couldn't NOT share this picture. These are the TOPS of the marigolds that I pulled out of the Tendergreen "bush" beans. Mine were not nearly bush beans. But, after their production I'm not complaining. I know to give them a few more stakes to climb next time.  They certainly gave me enough to harvest. In the 2 weeks I spent harvesting them I got over 3 pounds out of a 3'x2' plot. That is nothing to complain about! Especially seeing as how right at production time I went for a trip and came back to mildew on my plants. Bad gardener that I am I didn't treat it right away, either.

Mildew in Florida is one of the recurring nightmares here. It's one of the main reasons plants get pulled long before harvest or frost kills them. Mildew, massive bug infestation, rot, and molds are the major kickers. SO, in my garden there is very little tolerance for the white bloom. Once it got to where it had the chance to spread to other potential crops  (namely the newly planted sweet potatoes) the beans had to go. I have other beans waiting to replace these.

I have to say though. Normally I grow bush beans. I grow 2 types of them. Petite fillet and regular dwarf. I have always avoided these in between varieties. This particular variety grew about 4' tall. WAY to tall for me normally. But between flavor, productivity, ease of harvest, look of the plant, (yes it was a very handsome plant!) and viability this plant has earned the right to come back to my garden. Not many do that. I'm always trialing green beans to find my favorites. This one however will be one you will see time and again!

Next time though, I think I'll leave the marigolds to the tomato bed, and maybe the cabbages - I've just never seen a marigold go quite this crazy. Was is all the nutrients received from the beans? What was it exactly? Daphne - this is a single plant of your ground control seed you sent. Any of yours get like this? It was easily entwined with the entire bed of beans and had gotten into the eggplant next door and the blueberry bush next to it as well. Three foot tall and easily 4 foot wide. Amazing.

FWIW the section of the beans that was touching the marigolds at first seemed to exhibit a natural tendency to ward off the mildew for a while. Of course once the plant was covered in it - well that was too much.  Also to note that even though the bean plant was covered in mildew it was still both flowering AND putting on baby beans after the main harvest was completed. :-) Definitely a repeat for fall and future, even though it seems it may be susceptible to our Florida white creeping grudge. Then again - what isn't? Mushrooms... yup that's about it! Too bad I don't like them. :-P Oh, and this beauty - she likes the wetness. Canna's seem to do well. Too bad you can't eat them.
So, out with the Tendergreen, and the Petite Fillet as well. In went the Romano 14 - and hopefully this weekend the Soybeans will go in. The Okra is getting ready to bloom. I'm ready okra fritters will be on the menu again! I've kinda missed them. The first true spring tomatoes are well, late. Theya re small yet but on the vine and the onions just need pulled to go into those lovely golden fritters.

I broke down and ORDERED peanuts. I did. I couldn't help it. I have last years 'seed' But I wanted to try to get a heftier crop as my goal is to try to make some peanut butter this year. So I got a variety known for it's prolific harvests. We'll see. Anytime you can get 4-5 nuts in a shell rather than 2-3 you should automatically double harvest, right? I hope! It will be the first time I've paid for peanut seed. I do hope that doesn't make me a fool. Since I was ordering I also got some Soyu long cucumbers. I know they are supposed to do a lot better in our heat and be sweeter -so I'll keep you posted - Harvest Monday style. :-)
Speaking of sweet, hopefully I'll have a zucchini to share with you Monday - the first of many, many more to come. 3 plants this year 1 gray and 2 dark so hopefully I'll at least get enough to get sick of them before they start keeling over.

Tomorrow I'm off to go get the next generation of Benz that will hopefully grace my driveway for the next 15 years the way this one has. Wish me luck!

'Till next time!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So this is Goodbye.

Goodbye to an Oldie, but a Goodie.

Oh we've had good times, and you've been there for me through thick and thin.
It never seems to amaze me the way you seem to light up when I'm feeling dark.


I can't help it. 170,000 miles is a long time to build a trusting relationship with a car. Seriously. This chicks gotten me there and back and never left me on the side of the road. Not even with a flat tire! 

Well... until now that is. Now it sits in my driveway. It still didn't leave me stranded though.

Only bad news is that it still needs to sit there for another few weeks because we are refinancing our home and the bank said NO WAY! No new car right now! *POUT* So I'm car less for the moment. But, I wanted to say goodbye to her the way she deserved. After all 15 years is a good amount of service.

I hope the next car can say the same.
Hopefully I'll be back sooner rather than later to introduce the next generation.

'Till next time!