Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Carving


The garden is closed for the season, lots of salsa made, apples canned for cobbler, tomatoes put away for chili and soup, oh what to do.  Cold weather will be approaching soon.  I have a list which includes cleaning out my computer room, redecorating my bedroom, painting my hallway and guest room, making a headboard for the guest room, complete at least 3 scrapbooks, make Christmas gifts, and plan my garden for next season. 

This week-end my grandson and I made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch.  We picked out pumkins and enjoyed great carnival food.  We consumed pizza, popcorn, fried fish, and funnel cake.  This is our 5th year, I'm hoping to keep the tradition going for a few more years.  We always have a great time. 

Mawmaw doesn't have the greatest carving skills, but we had a great time I need to head to Michaels to pick out a few scarecrows to go with my  pumpkins and mums and carve a few more pumpkins to go with my grandson's ghosts, cobwebs, and spiders.     

Do you decorate for fall or halloween?  Please share your decorating ideas.  How do you spend your time during the winter?  Are you planning your garden for next season?  If so, what do you plan to plant next year that you didn't plant this season?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Last of the Garden

I'm trying to clean up the garden and close it for the season.  I have plenty of green tomatoes, dill which came back from the dead, peppers and maybe a handful of green beans left after this harvest.  I love having fresh dill in the freezer and dried.  I use the dried dill in a potato chip dip recipe, which I'm addicted to and eat by the gallon.  Why do all the bad foods taste so good?  Here's my Creamy Dill potato chip recipe:

  • 2 cups of Mayo
  • 2 cups of Sour Cream
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • 3 tbsp Dill Weed
  • 3 tbsp onion  (I use yellow)
  • Seasoning salt to taste
Mix well, chill before serving. 

I was able to do 8 pints of pickled peppers from this bunch and blanch and freeze a quart of green beans from this batch.  Next season, I need to double the amount of green bean plants to ensure I have enough to share and for soups and casseroles.  I'm already planning my garden for next season.

I'm freezing this batch of dill.  I'll dry what's left in the garden for my dip. 

I snapped these pictures of a groundhog and cat out my bedroom window this morning.  The cat is curious and wants to be friends, but the groundhog is only interested in eating. 

From the looks of him, he hasn't missed any meals.  I trapped 7 this season and my neighbor trapped 7.  This one is in neighbor's yard, I hope he stays there.  Looks like he's been eating well.  He is huge.  I had a few that managed to dig under the garden fence, but not much damage was done.  They love the green bean leaves and tomatoes.  Havahart live traps are great! 

Well I need to have another cup of coffee, take a nap and than go down to the garden and harvest the remaining tomatoes.  I have a 3 day week-end, so I'll be scrap booking, clearing out the garden and just enjoying this beautiful fall weather that we're having.  What's happening in your garden?  What's your plans for the Columbus Day week-end?  Leave me a comment, I love them!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fresh Salsa

I made 5 pints of fresh salsa this week-end and it was delicious.  I couldn't stop eating it while I was trying to get it into the jars.  I didn't water bath this batch.  I keep a jar for myself and gave the others to family.  I modified a recipe that I found on the net.  If you have tomatoes and fresh peppers and onions that you want to use, I urge you to try it.  It's great if you're having company or if your children are salsa lovers.  For this batch I used:  
  • 15 - 20 tomatoes, chopped (I used a mix of yellow, purple and red tomatoes) 
  • 2 large red onions finely diced 
  • 15-20 chiles, remove the veins & seeds, finely chopped
  • 5 chiles with the seeds if you like spicy
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
*I didn't include the salt or lime juice
  1. In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Fencing and Canning the Garden Harvest


My fence is finally up!  I took this picture from the deck this morning.  We ended up building the fence board by board rather than panels because the ground is uneven, which made for more work, but I'm loving it.  It makes a great backdrop for the garden and for future flower beds.

My garden thrived this season for the most part.  Didn't produce as many cukes as I wanted, but all and all it was a good year. 

This is my second batch of pickled peppers.  My daughter called yesterday, and asked for a quart size jar.  She said she knocked out the jelly jar in one setting.  I was able to make 2 quarts, 2 pints and 3 jelly jars from the batch I picked yesterday.  I gave away 2 gallon baggies full to the guys who helped build my garden fence. 

I'm drying chili peppers in this bowl.  Initially, I put them in the oven at 170 degrees for the day to get them started.  The oven drying technique calls for a temperature of 150 degrees or less, but my oven doesn't go that low.  I'll let them sit for a few more days and than I'll throw them in the chopper to make dry pepper flakes.  I put them on everything!

I plucked this batch of tomatoes from the garden for fresh salsa.  I love that I have a variety of colors.  There's nothing better than colorful and flavorful foods.  I'll be canning the salsa for Christmas gifts again this year.  I made baskets last year with salsa, chips and homemade cookies for family and friends.  It was a big hit, homemade and cheap.  Can't get any better than that.   

This was my attempt at making Spicy Dill refrigerator pickles from my cukes.  I have a few yellow cukes in there, but they were yummy!  Unfortunately, my vines didn't produce many.  I called numerous farmer's markets in the area, and they didn't have much luck with the cuke crop either.  Walmart has a pretty good deal on their pickling cukes, so I may resort to store brought cucumbers to make more. 

Well I'm off to blanch tomatoes for the salsa.  Need to go to the garden and pick a few jalapenos for the salsa.  We like it hot in my household.  I wonder if this heat is a contributor to my hot flashes!  How did your garden do this season?  Have you brought out the canner yet?  Leave me a comment and I'll stop and visit your garden endeavors. 

Ladybugs, Clowns and Bounce Houses, I'm Exhausted!

Good morning, it's been awhile since I've posted.  I've spent the last month or two planning my grandchildren's birthday party, my granddaughter's Christening, building a 250 foot privacy fence, and canning.  More on my garden, fence & canning endeavors in later posts.  I decided to take a break from blogging to accomplish all of the above.  It is good to be back on the scene, and hope that everyone had a great gardening season.  I wanted to share the last few months of what's been happening at my home. 

I'll start with the grandchildren's party and Christening.  We decided to do a carnival theme and combine both the kids party since their birthdays are only 30 days apart.  Pictured is my granddaughter's birthday cakes.  My daughter just had to have ladybugs incorporated into the carnival theme, which took some thought.  We decorated one of the ride on cars with ladybugs, had the ladybug cakes made, and I put together ladybug crackers.  I thought the cakes turned out adorable.   

Pictured is my grandson enjoying one of the carnival cupcakes pictured below.  We did 24 cupcakes in various colors.  I think the adults eat them, lol.  I actually had people fighting over the purple cupcakes. 

We had Bubbles B the clown do facepainting and balloon hats.  We rented popcorn and sno-cone machines, a Bounce House and put together all kinds of games.  I think the adults had more fun than the kids.  Afterall, we are young at heart.  My granddaughter is studying Bubbles B the clown.  We were wondering if she was going to cry, but she actually like her. 

Here's a picture of the ladybug crackers.  The base is a creamy chicken salad.  I sliced cherry tomatoes from a co-worker's garden and used a tooth pick to hold a black olive, which is suppose to be the ladybug head. 

Here's a picture of my daughter and granddaughter on Christening day.  It's a blessing to know that both of my grandchildren have been lifted to the Lord.  We had about 20 people return to my home for the Christening celebration.  Had a wonderful time, but it took a lot of time and energy to put everything together.  Oh, did I mention that we made a trip to the ER before the party.  Yep, Zarriah took a fall off the bed.  I have to remind my daughter again and again, you can't take your eyes off her for a second at that age.  Thankfully, she was okay.  More scared than anything else. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Tomatoes Are Delicious

Things are finally coming to fruition in the garden and I'm loving it.  My tomatoes are delicious, and they are much bigger than last years.  It must be that calcium boost that I've been giving them.  I've learned by lesson with the pickling cukes.  I must check the vines daily to avoid another mutiny.  The Roma vines are loaded.  I'll be making sauce as soon as I can harvest enough for a few batches.  In the mean time, I see a batch of salsa in my future. 

I don't know what's up with the cucumber up front.  They've grown all shapes, sizes and colors this year.  This is a slicer, so I'll be using it in a salad this week-end. 

My beefsteaks are monsters!  I've been enjoying them on BLTs, but the Paul Robeson is the bomb!  They will be on my all-time favorite list for sure and will have a place in the garden every year.  The tomato on the right up front, is a Hillbilly, which started in my native West Virginia.  Haven't tasted it yet, so I'll keep you posted on what I think about them.  Still waiting for my pink Brandywines to ripen and the Better Boy.  Until than, I'll continue to enjoy the Paul Robeson and Beefsteaks.  Yum, Yum!

I'm off to make a batch of dill pickles.  Stay tuned for that post! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cucumber Mutiny!

What a year I'm having in the garden!  First the most pathetic tomato that I've ever seen, and now I believe my pickling cucumbers are conspiring against me.  They're huge and turning orange.  I'm new at this gardening thing, but I do know that cukes are suppose to be green.  Why are mine orange?   I was planning to make a small batch of pickles this week-end, but I don't know what to do with this monster.  These are suppose to be Boston Pickling cukes, so I wasn't expecting this.  I did some research on this issue, and there are gardeners all over the blogosphere who have encountered this problem with this particular variety.  When I first saw it, I couldn't figure out what it was.  When I realized it was a cuke, I thought it could have been a problem as a result of where I planted them.  I have Roma tomatoes, dill and onions close by.  Not!  Most of the gardeners who encountered this same problem have said they have a sweet taste and should still be good for pickling.  I plan to make spicy pickles, so I may try it in a salad.  I'll keep you posted on the taste and quality of the cukes.  

I was able to harvest a beautiful orange Beefsteak, which makes up for the pathetic one below that I picked several days ago.  I planted a rainbow Beefsteak, so I'm looking forward to seeing the various colors on the vine. 

What a difference in these tomatoes!  I'm going to make myself a nice BLT this week-end and this baby is going to on the bed of lettuce topped with crispy bacon.  Let the week-end begin!  The zucchini will be used in zucchini bread and placed in the freezer.  The chilies will used in my pickles and a pot of chili.  It's a hundred degrees I know, but I'll taste it and place the batch in the freezer.   

Do you make pickles?  If so, please share your recipe.  I'm also curious to know what type of pickling cukes you plant.  I don't think I want to deal with Boston Pickling cukes again. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My First Tomato Harvest

I spent the week-end pulling weeds in the garden, and was able to harvest a few peppers and the most pathetic tomato that I've ever seen.  The tomato shown is a Beefsteak or suppose to be one.  I was so happy that I hadn't seen many cracks and blemishes on my tomatoes weeks ago, and this is what I found waiting for me.  I was so elated to see my first red tomato I literally ran to it.  This is my first tomato of the year, WTH!  What a disappointment.  Into the compost bin it goes, but I just had to share the picture.  I turned it over and over trying to figure out how I could get a nice slice for a BLT.  It would take a rocket scientist to come up with a solution for this poor excuse of a tomato.  I pray that this is not an indication of what is to come in my garden.  I'm going to think positive.  Afterall, I don't have anywhere to go but up, lol.   

On the flip side, my peppers are doing great.  I was able to harvest chili and a few Hungarian Wax at various stages of maturity.  I'm going to freeze these for chili. 

 It looks like I better grow tougher skin if I'm going to remain a kitchen gardener.  My grandson looked at the tomato and said, "Mawmaw, put that back.  Only get the good ones".  Gotta love them!     


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bugs Be Gone Please

My zucchini and cucumber recovered from the cucumber bug attack, and now the leaves on my green beans are being eaten by these unwelcome visitors.  Does anyone know what they are?  I sprayed them with Sevin, and they are now history.  Last year I didn't have a bug problem, but I guess I'm being welcomed to the world of gardening this year. 

On a good note, my tomatoes are doing well.  This is a Brandy Wine.  So far they show no signs of cracking!   I'm working hard to water regularly and fertilize at least by-weekly.  I want big Brandy Wine slices for my BLTs.  How often do you fertilize your tomatoes and what do use?

My peppers are gdoing great.  These are Hugarian Wax peppers, which I have never tried.  I'll be harvesting a few within the next week or so.  I have one that is turning orange, which is suppose to be at its hottest stage.  I'm going to try it in salsa. 

My cukes have recovered from the cucumber bug attack.  It has lots of blooms, so I'm hoping for lots of cukes for pickles.

My Wando peas are growing, and I have a few flowers.  Not sure how they are going to turn out in the summer heat, but this particular brand is suppose to be heat tolerant.  Have any of you grown Wando peas?

This Beefsteak is producing very well too.    I'll be planting another batch of bush beans this week.  The pole beans are doing great, but I want to make sure I have enough to can. 

That's what's happening in my garden.  What's happening in yours?

Keeping Weeds Down In The Garden

I mulched around the majority of my plants this year, but didn't complete the paths.  I decided to do that this week-end since weeding was taking up lots of time.  I ran short on straw, and decided to make do with what I had.  Hopefully, layering the paths with thick layers of newspaper before laying the straw will help. 

I didn't cover the remaining bale of straw, and it was damp in some areas.  Take note, do not wear flip-flops while laying wet, rotted straw.  You could take a topple.  It's amazing how slippery it is when wet.  Funny, I walked past two pair of garden boots while heading to the garden to lay the straw.  I won't make that mistake again. 

Hopefully, the newspaper will help with the weeds in the pathways since I wasn't able to thickly apply it.  I'll be sure to buy at least 2  - 3 bales for the paths and plants this fall.  I left my straw out to rot and ensure that all seeds sprouted or died before placing it in the garden.  I've heard horror stories of gardeners using fresh straw/hay and it sprouting throughout the garden.  Since I row garden, I'll toss the newspaper in the compost and till the straw under in the spring.  All those weeds have made me want to add a cultivator to my list of gardening wants for next season, but at this point it's cheaper for me to use straw and newspaper.  How do you keep your weeds down? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harvesting Blue Lake Beans

I left my garden for a few days to visit the grandchildren and when I returned things were jumping.  The tomato plants have jumped 2 - 3 feet and lots of tomatoes are on the vines.  Oh boy! 

I'll be making a few loaves of zucchini bread this week-end out of today's harvest. 

I picked my first Sugar Baby today.  Since I'm a novice gardener, I guessed as to when it should be picked.  I used the thumping method and checked the color of the melon to determine it was time to take this baby into the house and give it its place in the fridge.   Supposedly, a sign of ripeness is when the melon turns a dark green and become somewhat dull looking.  It was there.  Another method was a hollow sound when you thump it.  It sounded hollow to me or maybe the sound that I heard was my empty stomach growling and me thinking about consuming this Sugar Baby.  Oh well, it's off the vine and I will be eating it real soon.  I only have two melons so far.  I hope I get a few more. 

My Blue Lake bush beans produced a nice little harvest.   The wax beans didn't do as well.  I'm hoping the pole beans produce a good crop.  I want to add a few gallons to the freezer.  I do believe that I will do another planting of the bush beans just to be sure that I will have enough.   I have an old wash tube that would be perfect for a new crop of beans.  I'll put it to use this week-end.  Need to get my beans into the fridge so they can stay fresh until I can get them blanched and into the freezer in the morning.  How's your garden growing and what are you harvesting?  Leave me a comment, I'll pay you a visit to see what's happening in your garden.