Saturday, July 5, 2008


We fly to Florida on Friday. Let's hope the predictions are off.

Super Saturday.

Hello all. It's a gorgeous day here in NE PA. A little gray still, but the temps are perfect. Actually the temperatures have been beyond fantastic so far this summer. We only have had four days that have gone over 90. It's usually been in the high 70's and low 80's. That is nice for me who grew up in Florida with the temps always being above 90. We've been really lucky with the rain too. Makes for some great gardening!

Yesterday we picked one pickling cucumber. I don't know what I'm going to do with it. I was hoping to pull a whole bunch at once so I could pickle them. I don't know how long they will stay in the fridge before it goes bad. There are a couple more on the vine still, but not ready to pick.

My beets are looking like they will be ready to pick very soon. The tops of them are popping through the top of the soil and are a pretty good size. I don't know if leaving them in the ground until we get back from vacation will make them get too big and yucky. I'll survey it on Thursday before we leave. No sign yet from the seeds I planted the other day yet. I really hope they come up.

Nancy gave this to me yesterday:

I'm not sure what it is. She said it was for making jam. I'm guessing it's to put the fruit into and then you grind it up and it removes the seeds? I'll have to go ask her in a little bit. I am hoping that when we get home from vacation I will have a pressure cooker canner waiting for me. Then I can start hitting the farmer's market with a vengeance.

I continue to be amazed by the sheer amount of tomatoes that we have growing out there. This picture is from one of the 21 plants we planted and this is one cluster of two on the same bush.

This morning I caught another little busy bee collecting well over his weight of pollen. His little legs were so covered with pollen I wondered how he was going to fly away. It was so neat to sit and watch him for a couple of minutes gathering the pollen. It also made me wish for a better camera to get a closer, clearer shot of him.

Not sure how much will get done outside today. I'm hoping to get out and do some weeding, but I need to focus on the inside. Procrastination struck again! I hope everyone has a great day!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Farmer's Market Thursday

I forgot that today was Thursday and it's farmer's market day. Tim stopped in on the way home for lunch and asked if I needed anything. I asked him to get two kohlrabis for me. They were a dollar each. And they are HUGE. He got home and said that there was much more produce this week than last so I had to run over and check it out. This week I scored some blueberries, apples, dill, cherries, zucchinis, a peach preserve and a cherry preserve. It was awesome! I promised Tim that I wouldn't buy any plants, and I didn't. I came close to it, but I didn't.

When I got home I made the pizza dough for tonights pizza and made my first batch of pickles!!

kohlrabi pickles

It's the first time I've ever made a pickle of any sort. These are made out of kohlrabi and carrots with garlic and dill. They have to sit in the fridge for a few days for the taste to develop. I hope they turn out yummy.

Thank you Nancy for my new lavender plant and some more cilantro!! You rock!


There won't be much gardening today. I feel like poo. I found out I have an infection that I didn't know I had and was promptly put on an anti-biotic. The drug is making me feel yucky and I can't be in the sun too long with it.

I did get out first thing this morning and watered a good part of the garden. We are supposed to get storms come through this afternoon so I didn't water that much. While I was out watering the boys had a fierce checkers game on the patio.

checker battle

And I played some tug with Mylie.

I also re-potted my patchouli. I wasn't sure it was going to survive. It kind of withered up a little bit but it looks much better today with new yummy smelling leaves popping out.

peaceful patchouli

I'm wondering if I'm going to have to re-pot Martin too. He's come back with a vengeance and if he keeps growing I'm going to have to figure something out. I'm not complaining though. I love him.

Martin, in all his glory

I have a potential problem with my lavender. It had all kinds of new growth sprouting up and I thought it was growing beautifully and now it's all droopy and sad looking. It was in a smallish pot, so I've moved it to a bigger pot and am considering dropping it into the ground somewhere. Nancy said that it prefers dry soil and the soil was damp, so it's sitting out in the sun now trying to dry up and hopefully survive.

That is all I have for today. I'm going to try and lay low today and hope that I feel better. I hope everyone else has a fantabulous day!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Garden updates.

I couldn't have a day without pictures of our garden. And pictures I have! Here is a before picture of the back garden with the four beds in it. This was taken one month ago.

June 1, 2008

This is it today:

July 2, 2008

Pretty darn impressive I think.

Tomatoes, kohlrabi, zucchini, savoy cabbage and marigolds

broccoli, onions, hot peppers, cabbage, and hopefully some green bean sprouts soon

bell peppers, tomatoes, marjoram, peppermint, and basil

cucumbers, squash, onions, hot peppers, wax beans and a green bean

I also tied up all the tomatoes again today. I find that I am having to do it every week as they are growing so fast. And the bushes are COVERED with tomatoes. Even splitting half of them with Nancy we are going to be drowning in them. I should be reading up on how to make sauces to preserve.

daddy long legs guarding my tomato

The cucumbers seem to be enjoying the crawl up the trellis. We have several cukes now and man, I never realized they were as spiky as they are. OUCH. These will be fun picking.

future dill pickle

All in all, it looks good. The only problem we see is that the zucchini don't seem to be getting big. The plants are huge but the actual fruit aren't growing. Nancy picked one so that the plant could concentrate on making the other zucchinis grow.

One thing that I'm learning through this garden is patience. I am not a patient person. Watching things grow is teaching me to be patient. I think this is a good thing. Ok, I'm off to go do things I'm supposed to be doing. Like clean my kitchen.

Change of pace.

No gardening updates as of now. I had to go get blood work done bright and early and then came home to hungry wee ones looking for breakfast. I haven't even had a chance to look at the gardens yet. I will be out there later because I have grass to cut. Thankfully, it's really nice out today. Dare I say cool?

I have been reading some archives lately of the Frau. She is a smart cookie. She is talking about things that my husband has been trying to beat into my head for the last couple of years...but until now, I didn't get it. Our way of living is near crisis. Oil is going to be harder harder to come by. It's insane to think about everything that this will include. Not only the obvious, gas, but pretty much everything that we have as convenience now. Our ways of life are going to have to change. There are a lot of people out there that are smart and have figured this out and started preparing for the future. What can I say? I'm a little slow.

It's hard for me to think that bad things are going to happen. I'm an optimist. I always figure it can't happen to me because as of now nothing has happened to me. I will admit that I'm a pretty spoiled person who is a terrible consumer. I like things. I have always liked things. I love gadgets. I don't know what I would do without my Ipod or my camera or the kid's nintendos for that matter. But, you know what? These things aren't going to even work if we don't get something figured out here pretty soon. We need to start looking for renewable resources. And make them affordable for the every day Joe (or Bee). Tim and I have often talked about building our own house and having it be completely powered by solar or wind energy, but we both know that the expense in that makes it near impossible. Things like this should be made so that everyone can take advantage of this and wean us away from our need for oil.

So what does this mean for me? for my family? Things are going to change around our house. We are going to stop being such consumers. We are going to learn how to do more things on our own. We are going to start preparing for the near future. This means we are going to start stocking up on things that we feel we will need to survive if something major were to happen. I have learned so much in the last week or so from others who are already making their preparations and I'm going to follow in their footsteps. I'm going to have to realize that I can't have every new little gadget that comes out. Back to basics. That is what we are going to do.

Things that we want to be storing:
flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, cinnamon, marsala powder, garlic powder, powdered milk, tuna fish, peanut butter, beans, rice, oatmeal, honey, maple syrup, water, cooking oil, batteries, TP, tampons, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo...

This is what we have come up with so far. I am also going to learn how to can and preserve this year. I *think* that I will be getting this in the very near future from a certain husband as a certain gift...nudge nudge wink wink. We are already learning all we can from Nancy on the gardening front and it appears we might have a knack for growing things, although really how hard is it? The sun and plant pretty much do all the work. We just keep the weeds out and the bugs off.

Oh, and I guess I do have something gardening to talk about. Tim and I looked up last night to see if we could grow rice. Apparently you can grow it in 5 gallon buckets. I feel another experiment in the future. I need to figure out how to grow chick peas as well. I think you just sprout them and instead of eating the sprouts, you plant them. We love us some chickpeas.

This should be interesting. It's going to be a major lifestyle change for me. It's one that Tim has been hoping I would figure out for a while. I could become cranky. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I'll be back later to post some pictures from the garden. Have to go make some more bread (AGAIN) and cut some grass.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy July!

Aidan's answer to weeding.

I just weeded out the carrot/beet patch. Both appear to be doing really well. I wonder how long it takes for the carrots and beets to be ready to pull out. Tim pulled a beet the other day and it was small. I'm still going to cook it. I've heard that smaller beets taste better but I want them to grow a little bigger before I harvest all of them. I put down two more rows of beets with the "seed tape" that we made. I'll be watching them every day to see if they actually sprout. I think the beet package said it takes ten days to germinate.

beet seeds

I also planted the green bean strips in the back garden bed behind where I put four cabbage plants. It's not the sunniest spot, but I think they got over heated where I had them before. The only thing I'm going to have to watch is to see if the cabbage leaves get to big and choke out the green beans. But we'll wait and see if the green beans even sprout or if the cabbage get that big.

The only other thing to report is that I put the Asters under a rose bush. I trimmed the rose bush back a little bit and noticed that we had green caterpillars on one of the rose bushes again. They have been picked off. I still need to figure out where to put my Ganzanias. I also need to tie up the tomatoes again. I did get the dirt put around the bases of the second potato patch. So far, I think we are keeping on top of everything pretty well.

I think that is all I have to put today. It's the first day of July. We leave for vacation in ten days. I'm going to miss my gardening but will enjoy being in a pool for a week.

Have a great day!

Fun Project!

A couple of weeks ago I got this book. It has a lot of neat ideas and one of the ideas that caught my attention was making your own seed tape. I had never heard about seed tape and I was on my way to scouting some out. You see, I hate pulling perfectly healthy little seedlings to make room for a single seedling to grow. Most seed packets tell you how many inches are to be spaced between each plant so seed tape allows you to place them on the tape at the recommended spacing.

I have been meaning to put out some more beet seeds and try and plant some more green bean seeds so I figured it was as good a time as any to try and make my own seed tape. I found that it was a good teaching experience as well. Aidan learned what a yard stick was and how many inches are in a yard and he learned how to read a package to find out the spacing of a seed and how to read the yard stick and space accordingly. It will now be an experiment to see if the seeds actually grow. I'm not certain that the seeds will grow through the flour paste and the newspaper.

Here is what you need:

newspaper, yardstick, a pastry bag (or ziploc with corner cut off) and some flour paste.

First, you rip your strips of newspaper. I used the yardstick as a guide:

ripping paper is fun

Then you line up a strip of paper against the yardstick and put little spots of the flour glue on the paper spacing what it suggests on the seed packet. The beets said to plant every three inches.

seed in paste

seeds being measured out

Aidan put down his game long enough to help put the seeds in the paste

Beets and Beans ready to go into dirt.

The books says to let the flour dry with the seeds in it and then to fold/roll it up and place it in a sealed bag to store until you are ready to use. We are going to drop these into the garden today so I'm just going to let them dry a bit and then take them out there.

We'll see if these babies actually grow or not. I hope they do because we can never have enough beets and I'm still bummed that my green bean seedlings died. Plus, if it does work, the kids and I will have a fun project in the winter getting seeds strips ready to plant in the ground in the spring.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Trellis is DONE.

Cucumber trellis. Nothing special, but it will do the trick.

Better late than never. The trellis didn't get done this weekend as planned but it was a top priority this morning. I had to run to Lowe's and get another package of chicken wire for the trellis because the piece we had lying around wasn't big enough. I hope we have the stakes in deep enough and the braces in so that it can support the weight of our little cukes. I saw several cute little cucumbers on the vine already. They look like the mini dill pickles we eat. I can't wait to make my own pickles.

I gave myself 2 hours this morning to work out in the gardens and then the rest of the day will be spent inside making bread and cleaning the house. I still have to plant my Ganzanias and my Asters. I am going to try and get them done tonight. It's a bit cooler out today. Humid as all heck, but cooler. We also had a ton of rain last night. It was crazy. The sky turned black in the matter of five minutes and then down-poured for a half hour. Everything looks much better today. I was happy because I didn't have to use any water and the rain buckets filled up again.

While out in the garden I noticed that the free squash that I got a couple of weekends ago are all covered with buds and soon we'll be able to figure out if they are butternut (I hope) or acorn (blech). I

mystery squash

squash flower

Coneflower in the process of opening up.

Lily opening up.

I need to go get the laundry moving again and feed my starving (not) children. They are wanting to go back to the dairy farm today but I don't think that will happen. I still need to pile dirt up around the potatoes today too. I can't forget about that.

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hi. My name is Bee....

And I have no control over my plant purchases. I went out today in search of some Clematis. I've been wanting a couple of these plants since I was at Aunt Mary's earlier this month. I found a listing on Craigslist for a place 10 miles from here that had them for a decent price. Nancy and I headed out bright and early and ran an errand and then went looking for this place. We never found it. We accidentally found another great little farm. We made the mistake of stopping. We looked around and the gorgeous annuals they had left. They said that their spring/summer season is wearing down and they are starting something like 1,300 (or 13,000) Chrysanthemums. I know there is a big difference in those numbers but I wasn't really paying attention. He said that they open the first of May and are STOCKED with vegetables, annuals and perennials. Noted for next year. Exit 159, off I-81.

Anyway, we ran out of time as we had to be back into town by noon, so we never found the farm that had the clematis. I came home and loaded up the family and we headed out in search of it again. We found it this time and I bought two Clematis plants. They are kind of small right now, but I plan on making these into beauties. I'm not sure where we are going to put them just yet because they are climbers. Probably in the patio up against the fence.

white flower Clematis and a purple flower Clematis

The second farm wasn't that spectacular. They had more trees and ground covers. Apparently they've only been operating for a year. The place that Nancy and I had stopped at earlier rocked. I stopped there again on the way back and got these:

$11 worth of gorgeous Torenia, Asters and Ganzanias.

The bird bath is done. I put it out this morning and filled it with water close to one of the feeders, which is empty again!


I hope the kid's hands don't scare away the birdies.

We aren't going to get to the cucumber trellis today. I am just too tired. I had about two hours of sleep last night and I'm feeling like I'm about done for the day. I need to pick up the house a little bit and then I'm going to crash for the rest of the afternoon. I hope that we can get the trellis done in the next couple of days.

Tomorrow I will need to plant all my new babies and put dirt up around the second potato patch. I am hoping we get some rain tonight. I keep putting it off because they keep saying that we are going to have a cold front come through and we are supposed to have some pretty severe storms. Nothing yet, and the ground is looking dry. If it doesn't rain, I'm going to have water everything first thing in the morning.