Friday, October 25, 2013

Picking the Last Peppers

We're getting frost in my area, so I'll be closing my garden soon.  I headed out to see what was left, I have peppers and quite a few green tomatoes that need to be picked.  I decided to pick what peppers I could.  They got a late start for some reason, so my jalapenos and belles are half the size they should be.  I'm going to pickle these, I should be able to get several pints for the winter.   The chilies, Hungarian Wax and Banana peppers did well. 

I'll head out tomorrow and pick the green tomatoes that are a good size and remaining peppers.  I plan to can the tomatoes for fried green tomatoes this winter.  How do you use your green tomatoes?

I'll probably pull the tomato plants and start cleaning up the garden for fall mulching.  I closed the garden last year in early October.  I do plan to plant garlic this week-end since it didn't do well this spring.  Wish me luck.  Have you closed your garden for the season? 


Monday, October 21, 2013

My Woodpeckers Have Returned

My red bellied woodpeckers have returned, and more brilliant in color.  They're enjoying the black oil sunflower seeds from the feeder outside my bedroom window.  Excuse my neighbor's truck in the background.  For some reason, he's made the backyard his driveway. 

The woodpecker at the top appears to be a Red-cockaded Woodpecker, which is becoming an endangered species in the U.S, or a Downy woodpecker.  They love pine trees, and fortunately I have a roll of pines along my back property.  I need to add some peanuts to my feeder since they love these little nuggets. 

Do you help nature feed our feathered friends?  Check out my birdseed cookies.   Make a batch with your children or grandchildren this fall or winter, the birds will be grateful and the children will have fun making them. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Organic Yellow Cayenne Pepper Seed Give Away

I saved seed from my garden this year and A Diva's Garden will be giving away a variety of seeds to fellow gardeners for the next 6 months.  Each give away will have 5 - 10 seeds depending on the variety.  To date, I have yellow chilies, large green chilies, a pepper mix, a tomato mix, Brandywine, White Belle, Tiffen Mennonite, mix of Hungarian and Banana peppers and more.  

The first give away is 10 organic yellow cayenne pepper seeds certified by Clemson University.  I purchased a mix of peppers from Park Seed and they contained these beautiful yellow chili peppers.  I called them my mystery seeds, because I didn't know what I would end up with.  It actually turned out to be fun, so I will be having several mystery giveaways for you too.    

I started this variety inside this year and they performed well in the garden.  It was nice to have a variety other than your typical red cayennes.  Please note, I'm in Zone 6B so I can not guarantee how they will perform in yours.   

The give away is open to U.S. and Canada residents only, and will end October 31, 2013.  The winner will be randomly selected and announced November 1.  Please ensure your email address is correct.  If not, a new winner will be selected.  I will mail the seeds within 5 days of receiving your mailing address. 

Here's how you can win:

  • Follow A Diva's Garden and leave a comment on how you will use these peppers next season. (Mandatory) 1 Entry
  • Comment on another post on this blog, give yourself 3 additional entire.  (Optional) 
  • Post this give away on your blog and refer your followers to the giveaway.  Give yourself 5 additional entries.    (Optional)  

Check your emails November 1, I will be announcing the winner!  Good luck. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Homemade Salsa

The garden is coming to a close, but I'm still producing a few tomatoes and peppers.  I decided to make a batch of salsa for the winter.  I have to say it was delicious. 
  • 5  - 6 lbs. tomatoes skinned and chopped  (I used whatever variety I had that was ripe.  I suggest allowing them to drain in a colander after chopping to get rid of some of the water)
  • 3 cups chopped onion (I used yellow, red and white)
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped pepper (I like my salsa spicy so I used a combination of chili, jalapeno, and bell) 
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 1 cup white vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt 
It is important to add the amount of ingredients listed if you plant to water batch your salsa.  Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  I like mine chunky, but if you like yours cooked down more, cook longer.  Water batch for 15 minutes.   Makes about 8 pints.  This salsa is delicious served fresh too.  I only managed 7 pints, I couldn't resist eating it while I was trying to get it into the jars. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

How to Determine When Watermelons Are Ripe

Oh so sweet!  I harvested my Sugar Baby watermelons, and they are delicious.  Sorry I only put in one plant this year. Next year, 2 - 3 plants will find their way into the garden.  They're the perfect size to place in the fridge and just enough to share.   Last year I picked them too soon.  I learned to check the bottom to determine if they're ripe. If the bottom has a cream/yellowish spot, they're ready to harvest.   

My garden is coming to a close.  I pulled the green beans, cucumbers and squash plants.  I still have lots of tomatoes that need to ripen.  My peppers didn't do well this year.  I'll manage to harvest enough to place in the freezer for chili and salsa, but no pickled peppers this season. 

My lessons learned: 

1)  Read the labels.  I planted bush beans instead of pole beans around my tee pee trellis.  In spite of that mistake, they produced well and I was able to harvest several gallons for the freezer.   

2)  Build a bigger trellis for my squash and zucchini plants. 

3)  Plant garlic in the fall.  My attempt at growing during the spring was a total failure.  I didn't harvest 1 garlic bulb.  

4)  Don't start my seeds indoors too early.   I lost quite a few plants because I started my seeds to soon and was unable to transplant. 

How did your garden do this season and what lessons did you learn for next season? 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garden Harvest

My cukes have given me a pretty good crop so far this season.  Last year was a bust. I made 4 quarts of spicy dill refrigerator pickles over the week-end, and they are delicious.  I marinade them for several hours and than refrigerate them for 10 days.  Not sure if all 4 jars will make it that long.  I see one being opened and devoured over the week-end.   

I was able to harvest a few tomatoes.  These are Black Krim and chocolate cherry.  The cherry went into a salad and the others sliced with mayo.  One of my Straight Eight cukes got away from me and started to turn yellow.  I was able to savage the other end to add to my salad.  The squash was fried for dinner. 

I planted a mix of chili peppers this year.  These chilies are huge.  Not sure what type they are.  Does anyone know what they could possibly be?  I chopped them for the freezer.  I'll use them in my chili over the winter.     

My green beans are producing like crazy.  I've put 4 gallons in the freezer so far.  I should get  another picking or two before I pull them.  This is a mix of Blue Lake and Jade. 

I found this little fellow on one of my bushes last week.  First time that I've ever seen a snake on my property in the 20 years that I've lived here.  Needless to say, I didn't hang around long after I spotted him.  I think I set a new record for the 50 yard dash!  Thankfully my significant other was there and removed him for me.   What's happening in your garden? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Come and Get It

Jenny Wrens have invaded the feeders.  When I initially looked out the window there was one.  Suddenly two.  A few minutes another member joined making it three.  At last count there were five.  There's a mixture of peanuts, black oil sunflower seeds and birdfeed in the feeder.  I like to mix it up so I can attract a variety of feathered friends.     

A female Downy Woodpecker takes her turn at the buffet.  I forgot to add more feed, so it was empty for a few days.  I haven't seen her lately.  I wonder if she showed up, it was empty and moved on.  Glad I got a few good shots of her just in case she doesn't return.  I'll have to set up a schedule so I can remember to fill the feeders.