September 15, 2008

So sorry for the overdue update...but such is life! Just a few updates from the veggie garden. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower transplants are in the garden now, as well as an additional bed of seeds just started of all the same crops. Also seeded chard, turnips, pak choi, kale and others this weekeend. I'm harvesting black-eyed peas right now - yum! You can seed black-eyed or cow peas here in August, in the hotest part of the summer, and they do just fine. They are a really quick crop and easy to grow. They do seem to have attracted the first of the fall aphids, but that is easily remedied (SQUISH). Still have a second round of egglplant coming on and the peppers will keep on keepin' on until first frost. The fall tomatoes I planted in the front yard are going gangbusters and have already set fruit. The plants in the back seem to have decided they don't want to play this game. Not happy...and I'm not sure why. As you can see on my eggplant photos, flea beetle damage was pretty bad this year. They got to the tomatoes and potatoes pretty bad as well, so that's mostly likely what's holding the Tom's back. Also a photo of a new potato growing fiber back I'm trying out.  

Peas Bean_fava 




Kay did the rain dance…yay!

August 22, 2008

Finally...a reprieve. Here in Dallas we've been the beneficiary of some unusual and unexpected, but most welcome, August rainfall. The last week has been cloudy and rainy...it's a little unsettling for this time of year when 105 is the norm...it leaves you wondering what kind of follow up punishment you're in for as a result. Surely...the 100's will return just to spite us. Well, my fingers are crossed at this point that they won't! I usually turn my eyes away from the garden in August...it's just too hard to keep things looking their best. That being the case, plants that take up residence in my garden must have a certain...how you say...fortitude. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game. When we are lucky enough to get a bit of rain and cooler temps, it's amazing how these plants will spring back to life in no time. A few days of clouds and rain allowed my front garden to start looking like it had some life back in it. Here are a few shots of the tough guys...and gals... You'll see tomatoes and herbs in my front beds now, as I plan to work more edibles into the ornamental landscape. The lovely blue tomato cages coordinate perfectly with my bottle tree. Me? Picky? No.... Btw....Kay is one of my staffers...she has magical powers and so does the rain dance. Must have worked.



Above: Beautiful butterfly on Mexican Petunia. 'Celebrity' Tomato, garlic chives, basil, Angelonia...more.


Above: Autumn Sage, Mexican Petunia. Rain lily 'Autumn Sunset'



Above: Mexican Feather Grass, Pennisetum 'Prince', Salvia 'Victoria Blue'. Rose 'Perle d' Or' popping back into bloom for fall.

Fry an egg on my head will ya?

August 5, 2008

It was 107 degrees here yesterday...and it doesn't really cool off much at night. I walked at 5:30 am this morning at it was still hot. We might be lucky today. It might be 105 instead. Whoohooo! Lucky us. So this is my garden right now. Ha! Well, not quite, but almost. Every year about this time I just throw my hands up in the air. Like any other professional horticulturist, I pretty much take the approach of survival of the fittest. I have no patience for watering or grooming...things must persevere on their own. I let it all go to h-e double hockey sticks and then start over in September! Of course it could still be 100 degrees in September around here. You never know. Ok, October maybe...  smile


Ginkgos for your ears…nothing to do with gardening…

July 31, 2008

Ok, I'm going to shamelessly self promote here. I make silver jewelry and have a small business on the side called growLively designs. I have a new earring design that you plant lovers might like. Ginkgo leaf hoop earrings. They are quite fab and look great on. Lightweight. So there you go. Shameless plug accomplished.


Yay! Hummingbird sighting!

July 31, 2008

Unfortunately I don't have a photo, but when I walked out of the door this morning to go to work, a female ruby-throated hummingbird was going to town on all the different salvias in my front garden. She took no notice of me and went about her business as I watched her. It was great! I've posted before about my lack of hummingbird sightings this year...so I was very happy to have the encounter...

Ya love it or ya hate it…

July 25, 2008

Okra. You either love it...or hate it. I love it. Especially stewed with tomatoes and peppers. MMMMMMM. I have a dwarf okra variety called 'Clemson Spineless' this summer. The plants are quite tiny, but the small blooms are still beautiful. Just thought I'd post a photo.


I crack myself up…

July 24, 2008

"If a man is standing alone in a garden, and he speaks, but there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?"

Ha!! I crack myself up.

Pickling Habaneros…Wear Gloves

July 19, 2008

So I grow hot peppers. Lots of em'. My father in law told me about a dish he'd had that required pickled habaneros, and had gotten the recipe. I told him I'd do him a solid and pickle him some. He lives in Minnesota...not sure how the hot pepper growing goes up there. Pickling is super easy, so if you've never canned anything it's a good place to start. You need glass jars, mason type. Any kind that has a secure lid. For this project I used some recycled tomato sauce jars with the old labels removed. You'll need to sterilized your jars and lids. You can either do this in the dishwasher or boil them for 10 min. My dishwasher is my husband and that dishwasher is often broken so I boil my jars. You'll also need to boil some vinegar.  I was filling two 20 oz. jars. I brought 32 oz. of vinegar to a boil. It took about 29 oz to fill the two 20 oz. jars after packed with peppers. So, you'll want to time it so your jars come out of the boiling water and your vinegar is boiling about the same time. You don't want your freshly sterilized jars to sit too long before you fill them. I used whole peppers instead of slicing them well, because a pile of habaneros, plus boiling vinegar makes for an potentially eye searing experience. So no chopping. Plus, they were so pretty whole I decided to use them that way.


You'll want to trim stems off completely and make sure to wash your peppers thoroughly. You'll notice my lovely bowl of peppers is flanked by a wine glass, as these activities are always best accompanied by libations...and broccoli seeds. Yes, it's time. I started broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts seeds today. I also planted black eyed peas and a second crop of potatoes, but I'll leave that for another post (I'm experimenting with some special potato containers, so I'll keep you posted.)


Notice my heavy duty rubber work gloves. It's a good idea to wear gloves when handling this many hot peppers Especially if you're going to be slicing them. The juices from the peppers will soak into your skin and it can be a less than pleasant experience. Also, when you're pickling, you're also dealing with boiling vinegar, which is an acid. If you've got hot pepper juice on your hands and then expose them to some vinegar, about an hour later you'll feel like you dipped your hands in a hot acid bath...and it can last a couple of days. How do I know this? Because I'm an idiot. I've done it before. It was one of the most painful and miserable experiences...don't be an idiot like me...wear some gloves!


So you've sterilized your jars and you've set them on a dishtowel on the counter, your peppers are washed and your vinegar is boiling. DO NOT take the lid off the vinegar and stick your face over it to see how it's boiling. You'll sear your eyeballs, and nostrils out..you'll regret it. Keep your face at a respectful distance. Pack your jars with the whole or sliced peppers, almost to the top of the jar leaving some space at the neck. Turn the heat off the vinegar. Using a ladle, and funnel if you have one, ladle the vinegar over the peppers until it covers all the fruit. You may need to press the top few peppers down into the vinegar (hence the handiness of gloves) and make sure they are completely covered. then screw the lid on securely. Let the jars cool for a while. Whala. You're done. Pickled peppers will keep for quite some time. They don't have to be refrigerated, but they will last longer that way.


Now, you're entire house will reek of vinegar, so I suggest you open a window during this process. Here in Texas this time of year it's about 100 degrees, so it does make it a toasty project, but if you don't ventilate, you might be sorry. Ok, even if you open a window your house is still going to reek. I don't mind it, my husband thinks it's the end of the world. I used apple cider vinegar because I thought it might create a more interesting flavor. Well, that and it happened to be the only kind of vinegar I had in the house. So there you go. It is a bit dark in color, so if you want to see the color on the peppers more clearly use a white vinegar, a rice vinegar or such. Lovely. Burn your mouth to a crisp lovely.

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