Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Lil Farmer

Meet my Lil Farmer.  This is my 3 year old grandson and Mama's heart.  He truly has my blood running through his veins, he loves to garden.  I believe in exposing children to many things.  I want him to grow up to be a diverse man who appreciates all that life has to offer.  As he grows up, I want him to remember visiting me in the hills of West Virginia and being able to run freely over our little acre of ground.  I want him to remember eating fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden and eating grass feed Black Angus burgers from his Uncle's farm.  I'll be taking him to visit the farm while he's visiting me this week.  A calf (bull) was born in February, so I'm curious to see how big he's gotten over the past few months.  Okay I'll be honest, I want to put my name on a side of beef, lol.  There's nothing better than grass feed beef.  Makes you not want to purchase another slab of meat from the grocery store again that's for sure.   Meet T-bone, fitting name isn't it.  We plan to get a lot of T-bones from this bull. 

I found these adorable rain boots on Amazon for my grandson.  He's a big fan of Cars, so I thought they were perfect.  They have gloves and a little shovel to match, lol.  He wants to plant seeds while he's here, so I thought we could plant a few sunflowers.  I like to go out to the garden early morning or in the evenings, so I thought I better get him a pair of boots to keep his feet dry.  He wakes promptly at 7:30 AM, and tells Mama he's ready, meaning he's ready to start the day.   He wants his pancakes by 8:00 AM and by 9:00 AM it's on! 

I'm going to try planting lettuce too.  I have an area on the deck that's pretty shady, but gets a little sun as well.  His mother and I are big salad eaters, so a fresh salad from the garden will be treasured.  Now if I could just get him to eat his vegetables.  That is another story, but I'm hoping the exposure to gardening will get the ball  rolling.  Do you garden with your children or grandchildren?  Leave me a comment and let me know about your experience. 

What's On Your Agenda Today?

What's On Your Agenda Today?  I've decided to make a list.  Organization is key for me; otherwise, I accomplishment nothing since I've turned into an addict.  Yes, my name is Rhonda and I'm a computer crack addict.  I must have my fix, either playing a computer game or blog hopping.  Computer games relieves stress, and I just love reading blogs.   If you follow my journey, I'll follow you.  Hell, I'll follow you even if you don't follow me.  If your blog is about children, gardens, scrapbooking or horses, I belong to you.  Sad but true, lol.   
Now that you know more about me, I'll get back to the reason for me doing this post.  My agenda for the day:

  • Fight groundhogs, i.e. put up chicken wire to keep groundhogs from burrowing under the rabbit fence.
  • Cut back shrubs
  • Lay mulch
  • Spend my gift card at Lowes.  Looking forward to this errand.
  • Pick up fresh flowers from Wal-Mart.
  • Order garden boots for my grandson.  (He will be visiting this week and helping Mama in the garden or wrecking it).
  • Work on shade garden. 
  • Browse e-Bay.  I forgot to mention, I'm an e-Bay addict too.

What's on your agenda today?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garden Warrior?

I'm looking for a solution to ward off the intruders in my veggie garden.  Do you think this guy will do the trick?  This is the greeter at one of my favorite farmer's markets.  You can see him a mile away beckoning you to come and partake of the beautiful flowers and veggies being offered.  I guess they will see me less often, as my goal is to grow my own, but I will always find him adorable. 

Intruders, Intruders!

Intruders have invaded the garden patch!  Yep, I stepped out on the deck this week to admire the fruits of my labor and saw a baby groundhog scurrying around the garden trying to find a way out when he saw me.  Needless to say, my blood pressure went up a few notches.   I ran back in to put on a pair of pants, couldn't be caught in my tee and robe in the garden, and of course the little monster was gone when I returned.  That's probably a good thing, that would have been time enough for him/her to devour a few more things.  I am declaring war!   As you can see, there's not a leaf left on my pole beans.  Gone, all gone.    

A family has burrowed under one of my storage buildings and I need to come up with a plan to rid these creatures from my property or least my garden.  I thought we could share space since they haven't done damage to the structure of my building, but they don't understand my garden is off limits.  Until I came up with another plan, I googled my problem and a temporary solution is to sprinkle crushed pepper flakes or cayenne pepper around the perimeter of the garden.  The groundhogs aka woodchucks will remember the experience once they encounter it and stay away.  So far it's working.  The cayenne pepper washes away, but the crushed flakes has remained even through rain.  Looks like I'll be heading to Costco or Sam's today for an industrial size container of each.  I found a site that gave a tip on sprinkling a little dirt or sand with the pepper to keep it from washing away.     

It appears the intruder nibbled on my cucumbers too.  Thankfully the cukes still have their blooms.  I sprinkled a little cayenne pepper on the leaves, hopefully the pepper will ward them off.  It seems the groundhogs have an acquired taste, they didn't seem to be interested in the squash, peppers, tomatoes or herbs. 

These cucumbers are suppose to be bush; however, they seem to be sprawling.  I'm wondering if they were mislabeled.  That seems to be the story of my life, lol.  I end up with the wrong color shrub and now it looks like I'll be dealing with mislabeled items in the veggie garden. 

Oh well, it looks like my adventures in gardening will not be boring.  Thankfully all was not lost with my pole beans,  a few of the plants have new growth.  I pulled up the few plants that seemed hopeless, and in the process planted a few more seeds.  I've learned to turn negatives into positives.   I'll keep you posted on the new war!  If you have a remedy, please leave me a comment on how you conquered the groundhog in your garden. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Plants Are Making Beautiful Music In The Garden

Yep, the male and female blooms on my squash plant have formed a beautiful relationship.  Mother has given birth to 4 or 5 lovely Crook Neck squash on each of my plants.  I'm tempted to remove some of the blooms and fry them, but my desire to see veggies produced is greater than my desire to eat those fat blooms.  So, I've decided to leave them.   I wasn't aware that you could eat the blooms until last year when I was doing research on a pumpkin plant that had sprouted in my front yard.  I have to definitely try the blooms. 

This is the minature pumpkin plant that I was referring to.  I just sprouted one day and brought my grandson joy later in the fall.  He was able to pick pumpkins in Mama's front yard.
A Roma has finally appeared.  As a matter of fact, all of the tomatoes seem to be doing great.  I'm hoping they will become bushier, but as it stands they're progressing.   Does anyone have any ideas how I can help them become bushier?  I'm wondering if I planted them deep enough.  Next year I'm going to dig a trench and lay them down.  I meant to do that his year, but when I finally started planting I became so excited the thought just left my headI guess this happens for us first timers, lol.  Seriously, I do become passionate with my hobbies.  I'm the same way when I scrapbook, crochet or make crafts.  

I have a few red onions sprouting.  I'm actually surprised they surfaced.  The bulbs didn't look that great when I took them out of the package.  I purchased them off the clearance rack at WalMart.  I hope they taste better than they looked.  I love red onions on my burgers in the summer.  One of my brother in laws raises Black Angus Beef, so I'm anticipating laying these babies on great burgers this summer.   

My Surprise Seedlings

Do you remember my surprise petunia seedlings?  Here they are, blooming profusely.  I planted the seedlings in 4 window box planters and added a few vinca, the deck railing looks great.  I love the deep purple and red together.  There's also a little pink peeping through.  What surprises have you found in your garden this year?  Leave me a comment,  I'll come over and check it out. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Veggies Are Taking Off

Does anyone grow Amish Paste tomatoes?  My plant is growing, but it is leggy and not producing very many blooms.  I have 5 other varieties planted, Celebrity, Big Beef, Sweet 100, Better Boy, and Roma.  All have blooms and/or tomatoes, and than there's the Amish Paste.  It's like I have nice voluptuous tomato plants on one side and than there's tall and skinny on the other side.  Update - I checked on my beloved plants this morning, and  the Amish Paste has a few blooms.  Applause, Applause!  I guess all I needed to do was start this post and not finish it for days to get this plant going.  I guess it didn't want to be the subject of my dismay in this blog post.     

All and all, the garden is looking good.   This is a shot of my Celebrity tomato plant (below).  It's blooming and has a few tomatoes.   I can't wait to slice this baby and smother a little mayo and pepper on it.  Yum Yum!  The thought of fresh veggies on a plate excites me. 

The Crook Neck Squash has really taken off.  I have 2 plants, I love fried squash and I have a great recipe for a Squash and Zucchini Casserole.  I'll be sure to post it just in case you're looking for a new, tasty recipe to try this summer. 

The bush cucumber plants (below) were a little slow in producing blooms, but they are progressing nicely now.  I companion planted them with dill, which I will use in potato chip dip this summer.  The kids love the dip.  I have 3 plants, so I'm hoping for a nice yield.  I love cucumbers with onions and vinegar on the side of a nice T-bone steak.  I'm a big pasta person and use them a lot in spaghetti and pasta salads.  I also discovered Cucumber Water in Las Vegas a few years ago.  The lobby of the resort I was staying in had gallons of it.  It was 100 degrees there at 8:00 in the morning, lol, so I decided to try it.  It's just thinly sliced cucumbers in ice water, but it is so refreshing.  I've been drinking it at home ever since.  It helps in getting those 8 glasses of water a day down too.   

My Chili and Jalapeno peppers are off to a slow start.  The Chili Pepper is being quite stubborn, it has grown very little.  The Banana Pepper is producing, I have 3 peppers on that plant now.   Maybe my expectations are too high.  They have bearly been in the ground a month.  I would love to hear from you seasoned gardeners on whether or not I need to exhibit a little more patience.  I've been working on this virtue over the course of the years, I may need more work.   

Check out the Zucchini plant above.  It exploded this week-end.  I'm going to grill and fry these babies all summer.  I love grilled squash and zucchini brushed with olive oil.  Nothing like a plate of fried squash, zucchini, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, eggplant, and cauliflower.  Do you deep fry any of your veggies?  Not the most healthy means of cooking, but it sure is good.  I was visiting a blog, that sauteed radishes.  I would have never thought of it.  The dish reminded me of fried potatoes.  

I decided to plant Blue Lake pole beans.  They weren't on my list, but I want to can a few jars for homemade vegetable soup this winter and my green beans and corn are a big hit at family gatherings.  If I can hit a home run with store brought green beans, I'll know their socks with fresh beans from the garden.  The beans germinated pretty quickly after a few good waterings.  I'm hoping my homemade trellis will hold them.  I should end up with 12 vines of beans.   

I'm enjoying my time in the garden.  I'm looking forward to seeing the fruits of my labor.  Since this is my first garden, I visited my favorite nurseries for starters in the garden.  I decided to expand my garden a few feet next year and try starting my plants from seed next spring.  I've been looking for a pop-up greenhouse or cold frame to use.  I don't have a basement, so I don't have room for a lot of containers sitting around my house for months.  Besides, I think I have OCD.  I wouldn't be able to stand having containers all over my house.  Organization is a must for me.  Do you have a green house?  How do you start your seeds?     

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Do You Store Your Seeds?

Many stores are clearancing their seeds.  I'm picking up a few packs here and there.  How do you store your seeds and where do you store them.   I'm also wondering if I should wait until next year to purchase.  Any suggestions for this newbie would be appreciated. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My First Pepper Has Arrived!

The veggie garden is coming to life.  I'm so excited since this is my first vegetable garden.  I took a stroll this morning, and I found blooms on the eggplants, tomatoes, and cilantro.  My hot banana pepper is producing.  Look it's so beautiful, lol.  The plant actually has two peppers. 

This garden is trial and error for me.  I'm continually studying and making adjustments that won't disturb the plants.  I mulched the tomato plants with dried grass from the lawn this morning.  As I was doing research last night, I learned that I needed to cage my eggplants and peppers.  I'm heading out shortly to purchase a few cheap cages for them.  Ching, ching, 5 more cages.  

                           Eggplant 2 weeks ago.

     Eggplant this morning.  See the bloom in the back. 

The tomatoes are doing great.   Below is a shot of the Sweet 100.  Can't wait to pop a few of these babies in my mouth.  I eat them like grapes.  I had to add a tie to the stake this morning.  This means it's heading up the pole as Mama wants it to. 

This is a shot of my Roma tomato plant.  I'm going to can these to use in my vegetable soup and chili during the winter.  I planted an Amish Paste as well.  I'm a big fan of Amish anything, so I'm looking forward to seeing which of the two I like best for sauce. 

I decided to add pole beans this morning and red onions.  The red onions really didn't look that great when I opened the package.  I found them on clearance at Walmart.  I decided to plant them anyway and see what happens.  I had a little space on the west side of the garden, so I decided to plant green "pole" beans.  I love fresh green beans.  I had a 6 foot stake, so I drove it into the ground.  I ran lines of cotton string down the sides of the pole and staked them into the ground with a few sticks that I had laying around.  It seems pretty tight and sturdy, lol.  I'm trying to garden on a budget and using what I have around the house.  If all the seeds germinate, I should have 12 vines going up my homemade trellis.  I should get a pretty good harvest from 12 vines.  I'm hoping to can a few jars for vegetable soup this winter.  I'm sure most of them will be eaten at family gatherings over the summer.  How's your gardening going?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you're working on.  I'll come over to check it out.