Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer is winding down

And when summer winds down do you know what that means?
It means impromptu calls to work that I"m playing hooky for the day. OK, maybe it was planned earlier in the week. But, I still played hooky the last day before school started back up for the kids. I couldn't help it. I wanted to make memories with them. I wanted to take them to a theme park or a water park. Our budget couldn't afford that so I did the next best thing.
We beached it. I took them to one of the best beaches around here. This beach has a little of everything. It's got hiking. It's got rocks, and shells, and sharks teeth. It's got a lagoon, tidal pools, waves and clean clear, cool(ish) water. I love this beach. Best thing? We don't do middle of the day beach. We do first thing in the morning beach. Like it's still kinda cool out and no one is around yet so we get the place to ourselves.
LOVE IT! We got out there around 8am and stayed until a little after lunch. That was the time when everyone started showing up, and that was our cue to leave. But we really had a good time.
Besides having the place to ourselves until the last hour, you wanna know the bestest thing about it?

Well, The really bestest thing was that the little kids were able to play in these deep tidal eddies while the big kids were able to play in those nice big waves behind them, and I could be in either place or relaxing on the sand and see it all.
I think I might have to call in sick tomorrow.
Shhh.. don't tell.
After we got home we found Mr. tortoise here - he's actually a she, but don't tell the girls. He's also a gopher turtle. Anyway he was walking along our sidewalk. He's usually across the street at the park, but this day he came over to the house. He's been hanging out by the blueberries, blackberries and persimmon tree. He tried to dig under the fence a few weeks ago. Luckily he didn't make it. I'm afraid if he had he would have made himself, er...herself right at home. While I really, really love gopher turtles there would be no way to keep this one from destroying my gardens so I'm happy to continue to watch it from across the street.

After the weekend the littles were off to school again. They were willing to let me take a back to school picture. Unlike their big brother.

They say big brothers are a big bother. Sometimes I have to agree with them. Only good news is that he's already had his school picture taken so I'll have that to share sooner or later. :-) hehehe.

Now, would you look at that height difference? It really caught me by surprise just how much they've changed this summer. I know we can't keep them little forever, but can't we just for a while longer?

These two never cease to amaze me, and now that they've been back to school for a week and one has already managed to bring home the first cold of the year (Oh, Joy!) it's just a reminder of how far they've come from the 3 pound infants I brought home almost 7 years ago. It's hard to believe that they lived as such fragile things in a bubble for the first year of their lives. Now look at them. They go out and play and run and make me all sappy just like every other kid in America does to their mother when school starts.

Only difference is this Mom knows it. I know just how amazing these kids are. Even when I want to jump up and down and be the child and throw a fit and turn in my Mom card. When they put me at my wits end just like any other mother of multiples.... I still love their little scrumptious hearts.

Did I mention my big kid is in Driver's Ed this year? ACK!  {8-O  I'm having a heart attack over that. Yes, I know I mentioned it. I will again a hundred times I assure you. I'm more than nervous. I'm an absolute wreck over it. I have just 3 months until I hand my keys over to him....

Having a heart attack....

See you soon!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I skipped it!

I skipped Harvest Monday this week.

You didn't notice, did you? Busy with your own life and all that jazz? I understand. No, really. I do. I've been super busy myself. So I don't blame you one bit. But one thing that hasn't kept me too busy is harvesting out of my garden. This summer has been a really harsh one for growing fruits and veggies. The normal summer rains have been way out of hand. Even my crops that are usually reliable for Florida summers are not producing well. Bummer.

But, I'm taking solice in the farmers market and making due with what I'm finding there. Besides, I'm still gathering a few goodies here and there from my garden. This week the influx of apples into the market was astonishing. There were new varieties. (Envy was my kids favorite) and with the sudden influx came... the BARGAIN BIN!!!!

So, I set to work on making some homemade applesauce. :-) This is my favorite time of year. I love the applesauce without sugar and my honey loves apple PIE. LOL. I promised a pie next week, but this week was my turn.
Just look at it. The kids love a bunch of cinnamon added to theirs. I don't mind it but I like to add it later otherwise I don't get to have the choice. Weird as it sounds I really like having that choice. I'm thinking I might have control issues. *shrugs*

So needless to say we've been devouring fresh eating apples and applesauce at every meal. Morning noon and night. Good thing we all like apples. :-D

Too bad my apple trees don't give us apples yet. Every year I cross my fingers and so far the biggest apple I've gotten was the size of a silver dollar. *sigh*.  Well, that will change some day. This year I have a new tree, and it really took off. It's well over 8 foot now. This excites me to no end. It makes me wonder though if something is wrong with the other trees!? HA!  The tree that is doing so well is currently residing in a pot on my porch in Florida. It's supposed to be better suited for Alabama, and it was bought with the intention of moving it there this winter when it went dormant. But, now that it's doing so much better than the rest of the trees it's going to be SO hard to give it up! I want some of my own fresh apples - here! Decisions, decisions.

Well, I'll have to figure out the apple thing soon because it's nearly fall. But for now- I'm going to go grab a bowl of this lovely sauce.

See you soon!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Harvest Monday 8.19.13

It's Harvest time, again!

I only have one (not so) little thing to show for harvest Monday this week. One humongous Pomegranate. I still haven't figured out when the best time to harvest these is. The fruit was still good, but I'm quite sure I waited past it's prime. It was still delicious. I'd like to get another softer seeded variety as spitting the seeds gets a little annoying after awhile and I love eating them rather than just using them as juice.
It gave me an entire bowl full of arils. They are not dark red but clear and pink on one end. Quite beautiful in their own right, really. Tasty, too!

Not much else is developing right now. The heavy rains destroyed the first batch of tomatoes that I had chitted and potted up. I'm crossing my fingers this second batch holds on because time is running out for them. I won't be able to start another round by seed and I'll be stuck purchasing them if I want production while it's still hot out.

See you soon!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New insects in the garden.

I was out yesterday evening and I was visiting the mint patch to see what was buzzing about. This patch is driving me crazy and the only way I can keep myself from whacking the blooms off and mowing the whole thing down is by visiting it in the evenings when all the insects are visiting. It's gotten rather weedy but the flower heads are attracting flyers by the dozens. Well apparently it's attracting other things, too.

I found this little bugger in the patch last night. It dawned on me afterwards that I probably should have at least collected him if not squished first and asked later. I mean, it is the shape of a sub-adult stink bug and so very few of those are beneficial after all. But, this particular one? I've never seen anything like it before. Beautiful. It is what saved the thing.
UGH... I just know I'm going to wake up next week and find a million of the little nymphs on my plants. :-( I hope I didn't make a bad decision. The only good news is that it was attracted to the mint, and as such it was right on the edge of that patch. It's gotten all weedy so that means it won't be there for long. If it is sub-adult I may luck out at the timing and be mowing when it lays eggs.

This particular night it was time for the thread waisted wasps to visit. I'm going to have to get my good camera out this weekend and see what I can get some photos of. Because these things are fascinating. If you don't know what these wasps are they are a predatory wasp. (WAHOO!!!) I've only seen them once or twice in the 5 years I've been gardening here. But right now they are coming in droves. Why, Oh WHY do I not have tomatoes on my plants right now? I know they'd be safe from worms for a change! This wasp happens to prey on caterpillars in particular it likes great big juicy HORN WORMS and other large cats like army worms and things of that nature. Check it...

See those great big mandibles? Those jaws are meant for grabbing onto and snatching up the cat while she holds onto it with her legs. She actually carries it off to her den where she lays her egg(s) into the creature where it gestates for her. *shudder*

OK enough of the visuals on that part. It's enough to say that the worm that was eating in my garden gets what it deserves and the wasp population carries on.

They are pollen and nectar eaters and are attracted to flowers. Apparently mint is one that they love. *ahem* So while I really want to mow and let the mint regenerate I'll wait a while longer. Perhaps the weeds aren't too bad. Maybe I'll even fight the mosquitoes to go out at night and pull some of the weeds up by hand so I don't disturb the flyers.


They bumped me a few times when I was taking pictures, but at no time were they being aggressive. The kids play out here all the time and unless a ball were to land in the patch I wouldn't worry about them getting stung. In all the time I've had the garden and wasps nests nearby, I've always encouraged the bees and wasps around and the kids have known about them. Only one sting in 5 years to me when I actually grabbed the poor bug and one to Kate when she put her shoe on and there was one inside her shoe. That said I'm in no hurry to mow while they are there both because I love that they are around and I am providing them a place to be and because I have no intention on making them mad and being a target. When I do finally mow it (after I provide them with another source of pollen) I will do so after dusk so that to them it simply disappears.

Oh, the smell. I can't wait to smell it! I think I'll go make some mint tea now. I can't get the thought of the mint out of my head. Maybe I'm part Thread waisted wasp myself. Although the thought of biting a hornworm makes me gag....nope definitely not related.

See you soon!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Harvest Monday 8.12.13

It's Harvest Monday again.

I've decided to take the tally down. I don't keep track of how much I'm bringing in currently so it's pointless really. Maybe I'll put it back up. But, I realized that I never accounted for any of the blueberries, or the potatoes I harvested... much less the sweet potatoes I've harvested. I'm just not good at it. I know I've gathered over a hundred pounds this year. And the most productive time is yet to come. Heck, I had my garden completely out of order for a few months while I created the new beds. (I seriously love my new beds BTW)

SO, news for this week? I had a harvest to show you. I had a lovely bunch of green beans... well I should clarify. Green yard long beans in a bowl waiting to go inside. In the bottom of this bowl I had my cow peas. Pink Eye Purple Hulled and a couple holstein beans. I set the bowl down to go out and trim up the orchid tree where it was rubbing the fence... guess what I had when I came back?

Only the dried or drying cowpeas. All the green type beans for fresh eating were gone! THIEVES! DAB BLASTED... FREAKING FRACKING.... bushy tailed RATS!!!! Now, granted that I went from just trimming that single branch back to all out cutting a third of the tree down as it was encumbering my guava bush and it ended up taking me an hour - but sheesh! I'm guessing this may be part of the reason my harvests have gone down so drastically this summer. Not that I have a lot to harvest, but this was the frist time ever that I've actually been out working and had the critters steal stuff from under my nose. >:-( Grrr...

OK- Onto another interesting development. One of my little lovely fluffy butts has given me a little gift of wonderment. She normally lays eggs that are a plain pale pink but yesterday she gave me one that apparently went in for a second coat in the paint department. What a beautiful egg! I'm not sure I'll be able to bring myself to eat it.... wait a minute. I'm sure I'll get hungry enough at some point, but it will be hard to crack that pretty thing.

Normal above - Yesterdays speckaled job below

 Pretty eggs. Make for a yummy breakfast. Thanks Dusty! She's a great bird. Now that it's getting so close to Fall I'll have to start thinking about ways to preserve some of their eggs. They are all over a year old and likely to stop laying over the winter. (BOOO, HISS!)
 What would I do if I had to pay for eggs?

The main garden was turned under as promised and I sowed out this weekend: corn, roma bush beans, Kentucky wonder beans, pole Violetta, popcorn (different silking by 30 days) and watermelon. Also in the main garden is: Tomatoes - Betterboy, big huskey cherry, bog boy and solstice.
I also have a good 30 tomatoes chitting currently that are mostly determinate type for the high raised bed. These are due to be planted into the first cups today if it doesn't rain and I can get the mix on the way home. I should have a good 10 extra tomatillos if anyone needs some. LOL.

That's all the big news at the moment form this end. Things have been quite in blog land because summer is coming to a close and we have been busy making preparations and finding courses to enroll in. I'll delve more into that in another post since we have a complicated mix here. I hope the Back-to-school preparations are going well in your land, too!

See you soon!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Harvest Monday 8.5.13

It's AUGUST Y'all! I can't believe it. Schools about to start again. That means it's time for the garden to start over again, too. The chickens have been having an absolute hayday out in the garden the last week. It's been open almost entirely to them as I'm ready to rototill it. Well. Not quite, but nearly.
This weeks harvests? Well - More sweet potatoes...
I only harvest what I need each week and leave the roots and tops to continue to produce throughout the year. I don't take out the plants until deep into winter when I need the warmth of the raised planter they are in for the fast growth of my winter crops. This prevents me from having to buy slips or wait for harvest except in early spring. Usually I only have to wait until April for my first sweets, and harvest until late November or December.
 And as promised the picture of the one that was as big as my head...

Stop laughing now. I wasn't kidding. I told you that sucker was huge. Wait until you see the pomegranate that is still hanging on the tree. It's almost as big!
What? Oh? You aren't laughing at how big that sweet tater is? You are laughing at me? Well- laugh on my friends. Laugh on. I can take it.
Though my harvests are strangely lacking this summer I have something else to share - FINALLY. After babying these plants the last few years. I have baby guavas to share!
Can you see them there? They look somewhat like little limes. There are a few on a couple of my bushes. Of course they don't seem to be doing much and my luck the dang squirrels will get them before I do as there aren't many of them. But, I'm just THRILLED that my bushes finally produced the fruit itself. From what I understand this is half the battle. Once the bushes have produced they will produce more and more. Good news for me because at some point I'd like to get some guava jelly in my fridge! There are guava pastries, and guava crepes, guava syrup, guava'd fish and guava well... I don't know what else because I've only ever had it as a jelly or syrup. But I'm excited to try it and while it looks like next year before I'll get enough for any jelly and such at least there is the chance to eat one fresh now! WooHoo!!!! :-D
In other good gardening news, the peanut leaves have opened up. Turns out they just were too wet for too long and needed to dry up a little. I'm going to treat them for fungus to try to head off any nastiness that may ensue from the lengthy wet feet they've had.
I have carrot seed tapes ready to go into 2 squares as soon as I pull those sections so the Fall gardening will be underway shortly!
Linking in to Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Monday. Be sure to stop by her place to check out what other gardeners are harvesting all over the world!
See you soon!