Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Today my DH started Mighty Joe lettuce, Raptor MI romaine lettuce, Red Derby MI bibb lettuce, Hybrid spinach, and corn salad seeds in a flat. He will transplant the seedlings to the garden in about 14 days. Are you familiar with corn salad? He has never grown this variety of, we think, some kind of lettuce. It is supposed to spice up a salad. Give us 44 days and we can tell you how it is....
The broccoli heads are forming and the cabbage heads look very good. Last summer, after having so many great heads of cabbage, I thought I would never eat another serving of cole slaw again. However, at this point, I can hardly wait to cut the first crisp head and chop it up in the blender to make slaw!
One week from Christmas. Christmas in Florida is very different from the Christmases I have experienced in the northern winters. Palm trees lighted, warm sunny days, and walking around the neighborhood in shorts to view the lights are just a few of the examples of a Florida Christmas. But no matter where you celebrate Christmas, I wish you the joy, love, and peace that comes with the birth of Baby Jesus.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Plan to use the resources of your local extension office to plan and grow your garden this year. To locate the office in your area, click here.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This is why we toil in the vegetable garden--to produce a great food product. Food that is tasty, nutritious, and yes, beautiful. Thanksgiving is the time to celebrate all your hard work and to give thanks for our blessings and for this harvest. You may still have some produce to harvest at this time, or you may have preserved the bounty from your summer garden. I am sure you will enjoy it this holiday with friends and/or family making the meal more special because you had a hand in actually producing the food that sits on the festive table.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
We received our first seed catalog in the mail yesterday from Stokes Seeds. My husband spent the evening perusing it. A garden seed catalog for a gardener is like a toy catalog to an eight year old. The excitement, the possibilities, the new seeds, the heirloom seeds, and all the gorgeous pictures of products.
If you want an overview and review of companies and their garden catalogs check out this link to Dave's Garden. The site offers "the Garden Watchdog, a free directory of 6,964 mail order gardening companies." Now this may take you more than an evening to figure out what catalogs NOT to order. Have fun. It is a great way to spend a cold winter evening.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
1 29 oz. can pure pumpkin (or use your fresh canned pumpkin from the garden)
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 box yellow cake mix
1 c. chopped pecans (or walnuts)
3/4 c. melted margarine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix first 6 ingredients until well blended. Pour batter into 9x13 greased pan.
Sprinkle cake mix on top, then cover with pecans. Pour melted margarine over top.
Bake 50 minutes.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
My DH worked it into the ground today.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I washed them up, Romaine lettuce called Victoria, and tasted them. I was afraid with all the heat the flavor would be bitter. Unfortunately I was right. They taste bitter. They are crisp and crunchy so I am going to mix them in with some Romaine lettuce I purchased from the store and throw in a bunch of veggies and dressing. I am hoping the flavor will not be so strong as to make the whole salad bitter.
Lettuce likes a cooler growing season. Now I know why....
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
He thought he was going to be able to pick up some horse manure for the garden, but sadly the lady on Kitten Trail never emailed us back to give us her address or phone number. He really wants to amend the soil.
He brought his lettuce plants, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage plants that he grew while at home in MI. Alas, we were on the road too long and the plants are not in great shape for planting, but he is setting them out this afternoon. It finally cooled down today and is pleasant.
He is also planting the onion sets and radishes today. Again we are going through that honeymoon phase of hope that all gardeners have when first beginning the garden. We always envision fabulous crops, perfect weather, and no pests. We'll see how it goes this winter. I hope you will click in once in awhile to find out the news.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Nessie the Loch Ness monster looks pretty friendly and not shy.
Grand Rapids Museum with Mobile installed in the river.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Delicious recipes including green peppers are a must if your garden is like ours this time of year. The green peppers are really producing. It's almost as if they know that the first frost will be here soon, so they are going to dazzle us before they die.
Friday, September 11, 2009
If you have infected plants, remove the plants, place in a plastic bag, seal and discard in the trash or bury the plants deep enough that they will not sprout. DO NOT put them in a compost pile because the spores can spread.
If your potato vines show signs of blight, cut off or mow off the tops before the stems get heavily infected. This helps to prevent the spores from washing down into the potato tubers. Wait to dig the tubers 2-3 weeks after the vines are completely dead to limit the number of spores on the soil surface when the tubers are dug. Be sure to get all potatoes out of the ground so that there will be no spores living in tubers and surviving the winter. Do not wash the potatoes after harvesting them until necessary as that could spread the disease.
One sigh of relief is that the blight or fungus does not live in the soil from year to year, so it should not be a problem for gardeners next spring.
The extension agent explains that the unaffected fruit of blighted plants is safe to eat. But, the National Center for Home Food Preservation suggests using only "disease-free, preferably vine-ripened, firm fruit for canning. Do not can tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines."
If there are signs of infection on the tomato or potato, cut away the bad part. It is safe to eat the healthy part, but it is likely the fruit will deteriorate quickly due to the disease.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
An individual's preference in taste and texture determines which method to use. The frozen beans remain a bit crispy even after cooking and they keep a brighter green color. The canned beans are cooked more thoroughly and lose their color. Try both methods and see what you think.
Dave's Garden Article on preserving beans.
Dave's Garden website is packed full of information for gardeners. Check it out and sign up for the newsletter.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Green Beans with Bacon from About.com Southern Food, Diana Rattray
2 cans (16 oz each) cut green beans, drained, or 16- 20 oz. frozen green beans, cooked and drained
5 slices bacon
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. cold water
1 T. vinegar
1 T. cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
In a large skillet, cook bacon til crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, leave 1 T. drippings in the skillet. In remaining drippings, cook onion till just tender. In a measuring cup, combine water and vinegar, stir in cornstarch. Add sugar, salt, and pepper, then pour liquid in skillet. Cook, stirring, till thick and bubbly. Add drained beans, stir to coat beans with sauce. Heat through. Transfer green beans to serving dish. Top beans with crumbled bacon. Serves 4 to 6.
Monday, August 17, 2009
According to the KGI newsletter "The United Nations has estimated that we will need to increase world production by 70% by the year 2050 if we are to keep up with population growth. Put in another, more sobering way, we will need to grow more food over the course of the next 40 years than we have produced over the course of the past 10,000 years combined." Having an edible garden will help to supply food to this growing world population.
For more information about the Kitchen Gardeners International go to http://www.kitchengardeners.org
I know most of you plant a garden as a hobby. Perhaps now you will realize that your hobby is an important contribution to your health, the greening of America, and to society in general.
If it is too late to make plans for a garden tour this year, put it on your calendar for next year.
Friday, August 14, 2009
The People's Garden is located on the grounds of the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. It is the nation's demonstration plot that puts into action the gardening concepts that the USDA emphasizes--providing healthy food, air, water quality. The plot offers the opportunity to teach environmentally responsible practices and offers exhibits for the public. Read more about it at The People's Garden site at http://www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden
Perhaps it would be a good time to look around your community to establish a community garden next year. We have several active, thriving farmers markets in our county, but I am not aware of a community garden.
Do you have any experience with community gardens? If so, perhaps you can share here and give us some info on how this works. Thanks.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
My husband is always trying something fun for the kids. One year, the boys built wooden boxes and laid a cucumber inside each box. As the cucumber grew, the box formed around it making it a square cucumber. It worked pretty well, but they discovered the strength of the growing cukes when they grew big enough to pop the box apart. It was an odd looking cucumber and provided a lot of laughs and conversations.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
My husband staggers the plantings so that they all don't mature at the same time. In this way we will just be finished picking the first planting when the next planting will be ready...ideally that is the way it should go...He usually plants another batch every three weeks. Just be aware of how many days till you can harvest the variet of bean you chose. Check the information on the back of the seed packet. Don't plant them too late in the gardening season or they won't be ready before the first frost. Bean plants do not like frost.
The first pickings should be worth your while, getting lots of crisp, tender beans from healthy bushes. Picking the beans encourages the plant to grow more beans. I don't like them when the pods have mature beans in them because the beans are tough. Everybody has a different take on their favorite flavor and texture, so if this is your first attempt at growing green beans ( also known as snap beans or string beans in different parts of the country), you can experiment with the maturity of the beans.
As the bean plants get bigger and thicker, you may have a problem with mold/fungus if there is too much moisture. Moist soil keeps the beans growing, but avoid over watering. I know Mother Nature may interfere with this plan by dumping rain on the garden, so work with her as your partner in gardening. Keep your eye on weather forecasts to judge how you care for your garden.
In the next few weeks I am going to experiment with a few green bean dishes and give you a report on the recipe. If you have a great bean dish you like to prepare for your family, please send it so I can try it too. Thank you.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The link to this helpful information is
Thanks Dev in OK..
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I usually just take for granted that the crops are ready to eat at the proper time during the season. Writing this blog makes me more aware of the timing that is necessary to hit the optimum growing times for the plants to get the best production. It is like preparing a meal. The meat, gravy, potatoes, biscuits, vegetables, and salad all have to be ready at the same time so they will be tasty. (It's also easier to put it all on the table at one time rather than hopping up to get an item when it is cooked, then the next, then the next, etc. I learned this in high school in Home Ec 101 !!!)
Gardening in the Southern states requires the same optimal timing so you don't bake your plants in the summer or frost them in the winter.
Perhaps I should have titled this post, Timing is Everything.....
Monday, July 13, 2009
The photo on the left shows the cabbage heads forming. (Everytime I look at cabbages I think of Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor's garden in the children's story. It must have been an image I saw when I was a kid.) The photo on the right is a freighter passing through the Muskegon Channel that connects Lake Michigan to Muskegon Lake.
We cut our first cabbage to take with us on our camping trip last week. Mmm...roasted hot dogs over the campfire and fresh cole slaw. I shredded the cabbage at home, not in the camper. We had a fantastic time at Muskegon State Park parked in the channel cammpground. Fun to watch sailboats, yachts, the Lake Express ferry, and a huge freighter go in and out of the channel connecting big Lake Michigan to Muskegon Lake. Weather was fantastic!
We have found the easiest way to shred cabbage to make slaw is to use the blender. Chop the cabbage into wedges, add water so the swirl will help to distribute the wedges for chopping. Drain in a colander. Try different settings on your blender till you find the right "shredding" you like. Throw in some carrots too to chop in for color. I like to cut up green pepper to make the slaw even more colorful.
For dressing, I toss some sugar on top of the chopped cabbage in the bowl. Let it sit a minute, then just spoon on Light, yes light, Miracle Whip and mix it in. Add celery seed for a flavor boost.
My friend fries cabbage and onions in butter. Then she adds cooked wide noodles. It is so delicious when she makes it. What are your favorite recipes that call for cabbage? We are going to have a lot of cabbage to consume in the next weeks to come. My DH plants them so that they all don't come on at the same time, but are spaced out over the harvest time.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The following is my husband's garden report in a nutshell:
Have bibb and romaine lettuce galore, but with the heat it is starting to bolt.
The first sweet corn I had planned on having by 4th of July tassled out at 2 feet, so it will not have ears worth a darn. It has been too cold this spring and early summer.
I planted tomato seed the end of April and those plants are just as big as the plants I bought in May. Go figure.
I have 36 pepper plants. They are doing real well in the heat-- yellow, red, purple, brown, green.
We have eaten all the broccoli up. Now waiting on side shoots to grow out. Cabbage is just heading up. Cauliflower is still a ways off.
Beans aren't growing worth a darn, but the onions are growing great.
Watermelon and cantaloupe are just limping along.
We have little zucchini forming on the plants.
Pumpkins are going great. We have a new one this year called Knucklehead. It has warts all over it. We haven't told the grandkids yet, so that will be a surprise. Maybe they can win the Ugliest Pumpkin award at the Harvest Festival this year.
That's the run down on the garden at this point. Summer is half over. Hope your gardens are growing well. Leave a comment and let me know how you are doing. Thanks.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I am beginning to pick up a distinctive nose twitching as I look in the mirror this week. I attribute it to all the lettuce we are eating now. We have had great success with lettuce crops. Not only do the salads taste good and fresh, they are so pretty too! Ted planted several kinds of lettuce with colors other than green.
He has the usual Bibb lettuce, a spotted one called Freckles, and a very deep red one called Deer Tongue. When I mix in the dark green leaves of spinach, radishes, and fresh onions, I feel like an artist designing a painting. (I never thought I would arrange lettuce to look as pretty as a bouquet of flowers.)
In the photo there are carrots and cheese, but neither came from our garden............
Swiss chard is ready now too, so today I will experiment with this in a salad. We have never grown it, so it will be a new experience. Do you grow it? If so, how do you prepare it? Fresh, boiled,???
Oh dear, there goes that twitching nose again...
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Woo Hoo! It's beginning to look like a garden now. In Michigan most folks wait till after Memorial Day to the first week of June to plant due to crazy frosts. Tonight, June 2, a frost is predicted in our area. Yep, DH just planted the tomatoes and peppers.......Wouldn't ya' know?
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Check to see if the variety you are growing is a bush (determinate) or a free growing, vining tomato (indeterminate). The bush plant is a compact plant, but the vining tomato plant needs to be confined as it can spread out into the garden and grows tall needing substantial support.
You can purchase cages at a nursery/greenhouse center, but hubby likes to make his own because they are very sturdy and can hold a large plant. He uses 4 x 6 concrete re-enforcement wire and encircles the plant with it. He stakes the wire to help hold it securely so that when the winds hit, it won't blow over. Be sure that the openings in the wire are large enough so that you can get your hand in to the plant to harvest tomatoes and big enough to withdraw your hand holding onto that huge, ripe, juicy tomato....mmmm, yummy.
I can just envision this treat in my salad. And, don't you know, there is no taste comparison to a ripened-on-the-vine tomato to a hot house tomato. The vine tomato wins every time. I guess that is what keeps gardeners going knowing what tasty rewards we get at harvest time.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
When you see our servicemen and women and veterans, take time to say thank you.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Trude's Strawberry Pie
Recipe for a 9" pie
Place about 1 pint of strawberries whole, not cut up, in a 9" pie shell.
Stir together in a pan--1 3 oz box jello, 1 cup sugar, and 3 T. cornstarch.
Add 1 1/2 cups water to the mixture and cook till thickened--It will start to boil and get clear. Stir constantly. This takes awhile, so be patient.
Pour mixture over strawberries. Refrigerate after one hour.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream or both!!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
He does save gallon milk jugs to put over plants too to protect them from frost. Just remember to remove them the next day if you have sunshine or you will cook the plant for sure. Never use plastic sheets to cover your garden. The plastic traps the cold and lays on the leaves of the plant. If you are an early riser, you may save frosty plants by sprinkling them with water early in the morning before the sun comes up.
The frosty nights certainly try the patience of Northern gardeners who are chomping at the bit to get the garden planted. But after several years of fighting it, it really is better to wait to plant. However frosts can occur after the frost date in MI. Grrrrrrr......
Friday, May 8, 2009
Unfortunately there always has to be the bad guy in a movie, and the ones spoiling our setting are the deer. They love to nibble on the tulips. We put a netting over them earlier this spring to save them but removed it recently to allow the tulips to rise and open. Needless to say other varmints are in the area too such as rabbits and squirrels. They are also apt to make our garden their number one dining room this summer, so what do you do?
My husband has learned to put up a fence around our garden early in the spring, even before he plants. It is only about three feet tall, but somehow it trains the deer not to step in or bother our plants by being up early. I know it sounds crazy, but we had real good luck with this little fence last year.
Some gardeners rely on liquid sprays to keep the animals away, but the rains will wash them off. I have never used them. I wonder how effective they are and how costly.
I have heard that some folks plant a special plot for the deer, but I don't know how they would stay in that one area after tasting the goodies in the plot. Unfortunately they can't read a sign that says "Deer Only." LOL
Blood meal, urine, dirty hair clippings, marigolds around the perimeter of the garden are suggested ways of keeping away the hungry critters. Have you found anything that works?
Birds love to hit our strawberries, but we have learned to place netting over those plants, and it helps. Simply hanging aluminum throw-away pie tins also helps to keep the birds away when the plates blow around and flash in the sunshine.
So what are your stories about critters in the garden? Good luck on keeping your plants and produce for you and your family and not for the wild animals.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
It is not real easy to grow your own asparagus, but if you want to try, read the information provided in the link below, How to Plant Asparagus. It is very tempting to want to get a crop off the first year, but wait so you can enjoy a bountiful crop the next spring and the next and the next.
How to Plant Asparagus http://www.ehow.com/how_9880_grow-asparagus.html
The fern-like foliage is so pretty that it makes a great addition to fresh cut flower bouquets. The plant also adds a soft, beautiful touch to your landscaping. But, for me, the best use of asparagus is as a food that is tasty and nutritious. Below is a link to ways of preparing asparagus and lots of fun information from the Utah State University.
Fun Ideas for preparing asparagus and even a word game. http://extension.usu.edu/fsne/files/uploads/tips/May%20-asparagus_FSNE.pdf
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
If you have always wanted to have a rhubarb patch the following link will lead you to an excellent easy-to-understand article on creating your own. http://www.ehow.com/how_2006_grow-rhubarb.html
Rhubarb is a perennial that practically takes care of itself. Once you establish the patch, you will enjoy this tasty springtime treat every year.
My husband cherishes his rhubarb...even raw! But it is better stewed....I cut it up into one inch pieces and place it in a pot and cook it. It will cook down without adding water. Then I stir in the sugar once it is stewed. What recipes do you have for using rhubarb?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Germinate Seeds in Great Soil
Again I am preaching on the importance of soil or growing medium to germinate your seeds. Plant them in a flat, a paper cup, a plastic box that held a salad, or whatever you choose, but do not, do not, fill those containers with dirt from your garden. The delicate roots don't need to compete with rocks and sand and clay to grow. Make it easy for them to snuggle into a nice comfy home of sterile soil. This will make a stronger plant that will be able to transplant nicely when it is grown from a baby to a teen ager.
Timing Seeds to be Ready to Transplant
Read the back of the seed packet to see how many days it will take until you can enjoy that delicious vegetable. Then you must calculate backwards when the weather will allow you to set the seedlings outdoors. Figure from that point the date to plant the seed inside to grow it to transplant size. Some folks get the urge to plant and start their seedlings so early that soon they have a huge plant that needs to be transplanted but the weather is not favorable for growing. So especially be careful when figuring tomato and pepper plant seedlings.
Choose a light area to begin your seeds whether a bright window, grow light, cold frame, or greenhouse. If you see that the plants are growing tall and stringy, then you definitely need more light. Yellowing leaves is usually a result of keeping the soil too dry or too wet. Always, always feel the soil before watering.
Cold Frames and Greenhouses
Cold frames can be constructed as simply as a box with an old window on top of it. Just be sure that you have a way of propping open the top so that the plants won't bake in the spring sunshine.
Greenhouse kits are available in every size, but I can assure you that once you get into raising plants in the greenhouse, you will soon outgrow that greenhouse. It's just a law of nature, I think. Check out the photos here of the greenhouse that my husband constructed this year. It is made of pvc pipe which is inserted into a larger sleeve in the ground. After the plants have been transferred to the garden, he will take down the greenhouse and put it away until next spring. He put two sheets of poly on the house with a small fan to inflate the layers. This helps to keep the cold out and the warm in, and the poly is tight and not blown about in a wind. If you have questions about the construction, please contact me.
Best of luck in seed starting, germination, and transplanting. I bet you can't wait to sink your teeth into those delicious tomatoes, peppers, or your favorite vegetables.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
If you haven't read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, please do. It is eye-opening information about our food supply and waste of energy. It is also a journal of her family's adventure in growing their own food or buying locally. Her narrative of the year's experiment in planting and harvesting, new recipes, and "laying by" their foodstuffs is written in a humorous and informative way.
As gardeners we recognize Earth Day everyday, not just one day out of the year.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Take Soil Samples
Autumn is the time to till up the soil, especially clay, so the winter freezes and thaws can help break it up allowing better seed germination in the spring. If you didn't take soil samples to your extension service in the fall, do it now. With a trowel, dig about six inches deep into the soil. You can either place each sample from the different areas of your garden in a separate bag or combine the soils for one test. The University Extension Service will send you a report that includes a list of nutrients to add next spring before you begin planting. The test will also determine the pH factor of the soil and recommend steps for making it more alkaline or acidic.
Amending the Soil
Adding manure or compost makes a richer medium for growing plants. Composting is a collection of decayed kitchen scraps and leaves. When added to the soil this organic matter puts nutrients into the soil. Spring is a great time to rototill this natural additive into the ground without having to maneuver around growing plants.
Another healthy addition to your garden is earthworms. They help aereate the ground and the castings are rich in nutrients for fertilizing the plants. (One morning a few weeks ago, my husband told me at breakfast he had just ordered 2000 worms for worm farming this year. I about fell off my chair at this news as he had not mentioned a word of it to me. Needless to say, we now have 2000 of the dear creatures living in a Rubbermaid tub feasting on shredded newspaper, kitchen scraps and coffee grounds. Currently they are residing in our guest bedroom---but don't tell the guests..LOL. When it warms up in Michigan, the worms will be relegated to the out of doors. Yes, you can be sure you will be hearing more about this new experiment.
Gardeners and Hope
Something new and different is always expected every year with my gardener husband. I have noticed that every gardener is filled with hope and anticipation with what the garden will bring each year. No matter how great or how terrible was last year's harvest, every spring he vows that this will be the best season ever. And this spring, like every other spring, I always think so too.
I am so glad that you are coming along with us on our gardening journey this year. Best wishes to you all for a productive and satisfying gardening season.