Summer Veggies…

June 21, 2008

Plucked a few things from the veggie garden this morning. Unfortunately, the squirrels are totally devastating my tomato crop this year, so I'm forced to pick them before they are ripe. They are left alone to ripen on the window sill. So sad. A little cracking on some of the tomatoes this year due to our vacation absence. But some nice summer squash coming along, both patty pan and crookneck types. First few okra and eggplant. I'm on the cusp of being over run by peppers, as I am every year (not that I'm complaining!). Hoping to see some bush beans soon and blackberries. Today I'll see if I have any potatoes ready...
Summer_veggiesWindow_tomatoes


Vacation…

June 6, 2008

Ok garden blogging universe and all my fans..all 2 of you...I'm headed out on vacation. Whoohoo! Headed back up to Arkansas for a week of mental decompression in the woods. So there will be no posts for a little bit. I'm sure you'll find some way to survive...I hope only to come back to a garden not devistated by "them"...the creatures that is. Maybe the'll leave me some tomatoes...

Happy Gardening.



American Gardenators…

June 2, 2008

Corn_eaten So the other evening my husband and I, along with our friend Jenny (who also gardens), were entertaining ourselves by parodying American Gladiators gardener style...I dubbed it "American Gardenators". We like to call these little plays of ours "vignettes". Yes, we need lives.

Anyway, just imagine two aggressive looking ladies..."Love-lies-bleeding Leslie" and "Johnny Jump-up Jenny"...in their pumped up gardening garb, favorite hand tools at their hip, going head to head in garden combat. Events such as "turn that compost' or "show those weeds who's boss"...it made me giggle incessantly. I'm easily entertained. Obviously.

 

 

 

Corn_eaten2 What even started this downward spiral into sillyness you ask? Oh, let me show you a few photos of the latest carnage in my garden. You already know of my murderous thoughts towards the peach stealing squirrels...now "they" are

picking off my corn...one precious stalk at a time. I had some good sweet corn coming on too. Lot's of ears developing nicely. "They" are decapitating my precious corn stalks, and then digging into the ears. They don't even have the courtesy to eat the whole thing. They eat half of the ear and leave the rest just to taunt me. Just to get a rise out of me. I don't know if it's the squirrels...or perhaps racoons. Racoons would make more sense.


Not only are the rodents devouring my garden goodies, but now that the heat of summer is set upon us, lots of other nasty garden pests are making their debut as well. Potato beetles, stink bugs (still...), second round of slugs, caterpillars. I'm in my second round of Bt sprays and am now resorting to spinosad to try and take out the beetles and stinkbugs. I do have some awesome assasin bugs around the garden right now and masses of lizards. Not to mention a few butterfly larvae etc. Now if I could figure out how to get the lizards to take out the racoons, we'd be in business.  Let the garden battles begin!

Tent_caterpillars

Caterpillar_fennel

Anole


My Lady Friends…

May 26, 2008

Black_widow Yes...this is one of my dear lady friends that hangs out in my garden. She is the first of 3 very large black widow females I've discovered in my yard this spring by almost putting my hand down on them...I originally found this beauty about 3 months ago...and found her again in the same spot this past Saturday. Since my first encounter with...oh let's call her Vivienne...I've relocated two others to the back alley and told them we had a deal as long as they didn't come back in my yard.

And see, there was this sprinkler timer I needed riiiiight underneath her...I had to scoot Vivienne out of the way.

Sigh, I know I should probalby be killing these chicas, but I just can't bring myself to do it. (I know...I'm threatening the squirrels with my BB gun for stealing peaches but I won't squish the black widows....psycho analyze away...) I've already gotten a brown recluse bite in this yard (still have a tiny spot of death on the back of my calf). But I'm young and healthy so it didn't do much damage. I'm sure a black widow bite would be less than pleasant. But they sure are cool looking huh....


Horseradish Hot Head…

May 26, 2008

Horseradish I looooooove me some horseradish. Yes, I'm a hot head. The hotter the better. I know, I'm well aware I also have a short fuse, but that's not what we're talking about here! I harvested some horseradish from the garden yesterday - it's not the right time of the year to do this, but with the bizarre stink bug outbreak I've had on the horseradish this spring, they're not really putting out lots of new growth. So, I chopped off all the leaves, along with the stink bugs, and relocated them to the compost pile...I'm hoping they will stay there. I've put a couple of praying mantis egg sacs out in the garden in hopes they will hatch and eat all the heads off my stink bugs, buutttt the timing probably isn't right at this point. I'm sure they'll be lots of other things for them to eat when they emerge.

In any case, one usually harvests horseradish when plants are more dormant - early spring and late fall is best. You lift the plants with a sturdy garden fork (plants are strongly rooted in) and chop off the long healthy roots. Then immediately replant the main crown in the same spot. Horseradish plants are pretty tough and can actually be invasive in some climates. If you want to keep them from spreading you can grow them in containers. They prefer a sunny spot but will take some afternoon shade. I provide mine no special treatment and minimal waterings and they are usually pest free.

Off season harvest aside, the flavor on these roots is great. I ended up with about a 16 oz. jar of processed horseradish from a handful of roots. It's so hot I can't even put my face anywhere near the jar. Whoohooo! That's the good stuff.

So you want to process some horseradish? It's easy. Lift a plant and chop off some long healthy roots - replant your crown (cut off the leaves when you replant if it has any). Scrub the roots clean and then peel with a potato peeler. Make a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 cup 5% vinegar. Chop the roots into small pieces and place in a food processor. You can decide how hot you want your horseradish to be by grinding it a little or a lot before you add some of the vinegar mixture. Grind it a little, then add some liquid, and it will be more mild. Grind it longer and it will be hotter. I grind mine pretty fine, till there is a lot of grind built up on the sides of the processor, then add a little of the vinegar mixture. This blends the grind back together and "stops the hot". Keep processing till your horseradish has the texture you want. The finer you process it after you've added the liquid, the easier it will be to mix with other foods. Then pack the processed horseradish into a small glass jar. Keep processing until you have what you need. You don't want too much of the liquid in your storage jar, so if it seems too watery, simply strain some of the liquid out. The jar will keep in the fridge for about 4-6 weeks.

Hmmm, what will I make...horseradish mayo? relish? horseradish risotto? Definitely some Jezebel sauce. MMMMMMMMMM. Yum.


It’s almost summer…

May 18, 2008

We hit 92 today...a bona fide warm day...pretty much our first. Which is bizarre. It's been unseasonable cool and moist this spring. Not the sort of thing one usually complains about in Texas, but it has put a damper on the normal progress of my vegetable garden. The cool temps have thwarted three attempts to get my eggplant and pepper seeds germinated directly in the garden so I've started a backup crop indoors. It's awfully late for that, but better than never. Now that the heat is coming on things are finally starting to pop.

I'm scrambling to harvest and eat as much of the salad greens as I can. This day of 92 degrees heralds the soon to come demise of my salad days...Try as I might, I cannot keep the cilantro, dill and parsley from going to bloom. I always let them flower because they are so pretty and the bees love them. It just means I have to let them go...sniff sniff.
Salad_harvestDill_flower




















Not to worry though...don't think that I will be so sad for the arrival of summer. Because you know what summer means...TOMATOES AND PEPPERS!!! Yay is all I can say. I will be eating homegrown tomatoes and peppers from now till about February, when the last of the pre-harvest fruit I bring indoors runs out.
Tomato_laromaPepper_anaheim























The bush bean seedlings are coming along nicely, as well as the potatoes and the corn...

Bush_bean_seedlingsPotatoes






















The summer squash has begun to twine and flowers abound. The ants and a few bees are doing my pollination duties for me (ok, I admit I'm still spreading a bit o' pollen around my self, but don't tell the ants and the bees...)

CornSquash_vine



















Earthed up the potatoes again after this photo and harvested some leeks...these leeks will pretty much be the last of the season as they are going dormant. I've been quite negligent in harvesting them at all this past season...bad, bad gardener.

Tonight I made a big mixed green salad from the garden with a few fresh herbs as well. It accompanied an angel hair pasta with a homemade tomato sauce with fresh basil and oregano from the garden. Lovely.

As the British say...Grow your own Veg!

It'll make ya feel good...promise


How dare they

May 11, 2008

Peach Let the backyard battle begin...so I planted another young peach tree this spring. When I brought it home it had one tiny baby peach on it. I've watched this peach grow and ripen to the point where I was JUST about to pick it. Yesterday morning as I looked across the back yard something was missing. The little speck of orange I'd been patiently watching was gone. You've got to be kidding me. Not only did "they" take the peach...they also took the branch with it. Chewed it right off. Now...I already engage in this yearly battle with the squirrels... they like to steal my biggest tomatoes the day before I plan to pick them. They watch me...they mark it on their calendars. So this is not something new to me. But I only had one...one little peach. Not one peach to spare. Needless to say this kind of event evokes feelings of pulling out the red rider bb gun, that I do own, and sitting watch. Yes, peach thievery evokes these murderous feelings even in bleeding heart vegetarians like myself. Sigh. But, on the bright side, I happened to discover one more little peach on the tree. So now, I'm guarding it...bb gun in hand. Go ahead Mr. Squirrel...make my day....


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