Tomato Fest

I celebrated my tomato crop today. First, I had TWO tomato sandwiches for lunch. That’s freshly sliced garden-grown tomatoes on toast with salt and mayo. Oh boy! Then tonight’s salad was sprinkled with the first of my cherry and grape dears. What a splendid day. I only hope the heat breaks eventually so blossom drop will end and new tomato production begin.

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Visit my sister site for a WIP

I’ve just posted the first draft of my first chapter in my latest novel: Murder at Troublesome Creek. Read it here.

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Shifting blog interests

Hi, welcome to my “old blog.” I still garden, but my main interest has shifted to writing, hence my new blog: The Novel Corner. So if your interest is writing, I hope you’ll follow me over there. Thank you.

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Hostas on a dark, wet morning

Elegans hostas coming into bloom

Elegans hostas coming tinto bloom

My old dependables: that’s what I would call them if I gave them names. They all came from just one plant, which I bought when I moved into this house some fifteen years ago. I did nothing to earn them. They seeded and planted themselves. Perhaps I would better call them my determined hostas. In addition to this spot, they also line a fence in another part of the yard and grace my front doorway. They’re not my only hostas, but they are the only ones to have self-seeded themselves. They simply amaze me.

 

 

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What a difference a day makes

What a cold snap we’re having. It’s to get down into the low 40s for the next three nights. Our high today only reached into the low 50s. If the Grinch stole Christmas, who the heck has made off with our spring?

I’ve had a wonderful spring so far and am sure that I will enjoy it again once it returns. Most of the winter sown flowers are in their beds, and the veggies have been coming into my table. I love having fresh lettuce and radishes and spinach and green onions again. The Swiss chard is growing. Plus, I have four tomato plants out so far with plans to add three more to their list. That’s not a bad total when you consider that I garden in containers. Translation: that’s a lot of potting mix!

The snap peas are doing their thing, although they’ve not yet blossomed. I have a fellow blogger to thank for a gardening tip. She said she was going to plant seeds for summer squash and cucumbers in pots to transplant out after the peas peter out. I may try that, too, since the cucumber and some dill is to go into the current pea “patch.”

Gardening is hope springing eternal.

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Spring, and the livin’ is tasty

I love the fresh tastes of spring from my garden. I scrambled some eggs this morning, tossing in garlic chives, a green onion, and a few spinach leaves to round the dish out. Easy, pretty, and tasty.

Last night, I sliced up a radish and its green with chives and garlic chives and mixed them into a teryaki stir fry. Their addition gave the punch that the dish lacks in winter. Now, I’m eyeing my peas awaiting their bloom.

Spring, the world’s antidote to dull winter.

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Winter Sowing: good for the garden and the gardener

After growing veggies in pots last summer, I simply could not sit idle all winter. And the moment I learned about Winter Sowing, I knew I had to do it. The goal of winter sowing is to start seeds in covered plastic containers — outside — in winter. The idea is the brain child of Trudi Davidoff. Details on  how to do it are available at her website, Wintersown.org.

But it’s the power of winter sowing that got me. For the price of some seeds, and some potting mix, the use of plastic milk jugs or pop bottles (begged, stolen, or borrowed), it’s possible to grow hundreds of beautiful bedding plants in one season.

In all zones some plants self-seed themselves just fine from last year’s plants. With winter sowing you take those plants, mostly perennials and stuff tubs full with their seeds.

Some Winter Sowers plant 100s of jugs. I’m already up to 33 containers, and I only intended to put out one dozen, at most. Plus,. I’m going to add more. So a warning is in order: Winter Sowing can be addictive. And at the Garden Web forum on Winter Sowing, the posters call themselves enablers, so beware.

But it struck me the other day. If only twenty of my pots give me five plants each, I’ll have at least 100 plants to set out into the garden this spring. That’s what I see as the power of winter sowing. I don’t care how large a garden you have; it can fill quickly and inexpensively with beautiful plants by using this germination method.

Of course my gardens are small. So I’ll have lots of plants to give away after they sprout. I’ve already warned relatives. They’ve kindly said that they’d take a few. I haven’t mentioned this to the neighbors yet, but they’re next on my list. But they must be wondering. Those jugs pictured above are sitting on my front porch.

I also suffered sever angst the other day when the thought struck: next year I won’t have any gardening space to fill. But there will still be a need for new pots of herbs and vegetables. Thank heavens that need will go on year after year. And I suppose some of my flowers may not work out as planned or will be eaten by critters or something. So I may need to do new pots of those.

That’s important. You see, besides being a wonderful way to start plants, Winter Sowing does a good job of chasing away winter blues. In the meantime, think SPRING!

P.S. Not pictured in the above photo are Styrofoam cups planted with herbs. They’re also WS, using potting mix, Styrofoam cups, and sandwich baggies with a small slit in the top. The baggies are secured to the cups with a rubber band. Next month I plan to use the same method to WS tomatoes.

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2010: How Did my Veggies Do?

This year's winner: the lemon cucumber.

Here it is, nearly the end of 2010, my first year as a container vegetable gardener. Looking back, I’d say I had far more success than I deserved. I knew nothing about veggie gardening at the outset of this effort beyond what I’d read in The Bountiful Container. Although the two authors, Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey packed a lot of knowledge into that lovely book, I still found myself sometimes scrambling to keep up with reality vs book learning — if I may say so. My fault, not theirs. There’s a lot to learn, I think, when undertaking any meaningful gardening, and although my patch of pots was small, I grew a lot of crops.

I think my greatest producer was the lemon cucumber. Once those vines took off, they refused to acknowledge the word quit.  I liked their flavor so well that I can’t bring myself to buy a boring, normal, super-market cucumber now that my garden’s “six-feet under” for the winter. Lemon cucumbers will be back next year, no question.

My tomatoes, as determinate plants, were all here today and gone tomorrow. They began giving me ripe tomatoes in early July and finished by the end of that same month, except for a second flush from the celebrity plant, but those tomatoes weren’t as good as was the early fruit. Next year, I’d like to have staggered plantings of tomatoes so that they last me later into the summer, and better yet, right up through fall. The other problem I think I had is that I picked all the tomatoes too soon. I should have let them turn a bit riper before I brought them in. However, I WAS worried about my local groundhog, who apparently loves eating tomatoes as much as I do.  And I was determined to beat him to them. (I have since read that you can put moth balls in the garden to ward off pests. Just put the balls in a container, not upon the ground. I’ve not tried this yet. It is perhaps an old wives tale, but seems worth testing out next year.)

The biggest surprise of the year came from the green beans. I hadn’t planted any early, and I drooled when I saw photos of other people’s green bean harvests. After a kind gentleman told me it wasn’t too late to grow some, I threw seeds into a bucket and got three wonderful bean plants which kept me in green beans for several weeks. I was in heaven.

My biggest failure was zucchini, which I’d always thought anyone still capable of standing upright could grow. But I hadn’t heard back then of the borers who settle in and make mush of vines. I had counted on the plant to produce a “super abundant” crop from my tiny garden. I was seriously bummed.

But overall, I had many more successes than failures: chard, with which I fell in love; beets, even if they only gave me greens; radishes, which I adore cooked, greens and all; onions; green garlic; and a very few, fragile looking, and delicious peas. In total, I was ecstatic with what I dragged forth from those few tubs.  And I  miss those crops now that their buckets are at buried under a blanket of snow.

But the sun is heading north again. It’s winter-sowing season, and I’ll soon be caught up in  that activity. And before I know it, the empty tubs and their waiting dirt will warm, and I’ll be out there every day, planting, watering, nurturing the most satisfying plants I’ve ever grown — vegetables. And all these years I thought I liked growing flowers. Not that I don’t still do that. Only now, I mix flower plants in with my veggies. Thank you McGree and Stuckey for the idea!

And 2011? Bring it on!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Mushroom Quiche Heaven

I’m sorry you’re not eating the mushroom quiche I am tonight. So sorry! Recipe here.

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Confused but . . . ?

Here it is, the first Monday of Central Standard Time, and I’m feeling — addle pated?

 Truthfully, I like Central Standard Time, or at least I thought I did. Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe, it’s the result of too many time changes in my overly long (for some) lifetime.

So I, classically trained, blame all my present angst on Benjamin Franklin. He was among the first of we Americans to argue for the strategized life that harnessed not only the power of our acquaintances but of time itself and turned it to our favor. He thought we’d save candle power if we rose earlier and worked harder and — lived the Daylight Savings Time Life

But I ask you, what did he know?

Oh, I can picture it: a thousand followers of Benjamin Franklin will descend on me and call me names and ask what the heck do I think I know that HE didn’t?

Well, I grew up on a farm where I was taught among other things to tell the time by glancing at the sun. When it was directly overhead, Dad said, it was noon.

But his comment came before Daylight Savings Time. How could he have anticipated America’s preoccupation with saving daylight. Dad was only a farmer, what the heck did he know about time and how it was best used?

Well, he knew a lot, I’d argue and I still belive he did.

So did he know enough to go up against the great Benjamin Franklin? Well, maybe. (I’m Dad’s daughter, don’t forget.)

And every fall, while Daylight Savings Time stretches longer and longer, I resent our arbitrarily darkened dawn.  Each day, I rise, muttering to myself, “It’s awfully dark for 6 a.m. Surely, the day should be lighter by now, right?”

I’m in the minority. I know it. Most people would rather take their daylight on the tag end of the day. But I like a lighter morn, myself.

But regardless of all that, here I sit today trying to adjust myself to another head-jerking readjustment of the day’s timepiece. Is it four or five o’clock? My computer says one time and my kitchen clock another while my biological clock bounces back and forth. I am so confused. Come on guys. Make up your minds and give us, the poor grunts of the world, some peace. Please!

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