Thursday, July 10, 2008

Busy Bee Buzzing Off.

I just sat down to the computer to sign in and update and Connor wanted the computer at the same time. I told him that I was doing my last post before vacation and I was trying to figure out what to say. He came up with the title of my post. "Mom, just tell them Busy Bee is buzzing off to Florida". So there you have it.

I haven't even been out in my gardens today. Yesterday morning the boys and I headed over to NY to drop off our Patchy. Grandma is going to take care of him while we are away. We got home today and I've been busy packing and getting ready for an early morning tomorrow morning and a long day in airports. I've been promised margaritas poolside when we get to our destination though.

We had a nice time over in NY. It was fun seeing all the plants and gardens that my MIL has going. She has a ton of space to garden, but unfortunately has terrible soil (rock) to plant in. She has had to build beds and move rocks around and truck in all kinds of dirt, but it looks great. Last year they had an amazing garden that kind of got me thinking that I might want to try my hand at it.

MIL's garden

raised beds

Notice the enclosure? They have herds of deer that roam their property and they had to do that to keep them from eating everything. I guess everyone has their problems to deal with no matter where you are. Us, we don't have a lot of space, but we don't have too many critters trying to steal our goods. They have a ton of space but have all kinds of wild life and bad soils to deal with. Goes to show that gardening can be done anywhere with a little work and persistence.

One of the major things that I fell in love with there was a bee balm plant that she had in her front garden. It was huge and it was buzzing with activity. This is going to go on my wish list for next year. I'm going to have to find a place to put it.

Bee Balm

A busy bee.

We had a nice night there. Ed grilled some killer ribs on the grill and we ate way too much food. Oh, and we also got to taste test some home brewed beer from Ed. It was really good. I was impressed. A little more bubbly that I'm used to, but good flavor. I might have to try that some day too. I have so many things that I want to do and try and I don't know when I'm going to get it all done. I know school will be starting up again in another month and a half and instead of teaching one, I'll have two now. I think I'm going to have to brush up on my time management skills some more.

Aidan vs Rib...Rib won.

mmmmmm...beeeeeer (yeah, that was in the Homer Simpson voice)

So, here I'm sitting trying to make sure I have everything packed and ready to go. I think I do. I will wander out into our gardens tonight and try to get kiddies in bed at a decent time so we can start our vacation tomorrow. I might try and pop a post in here and there, but I'm not making any promises. I'm hoping we'll come home to lots of tomatoes ready to pick and a pressure cooker(hint hint Tim).

Hope everyone has a great day!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Makes a mama proud

Martin, brought back from the brink of death.

Yes, another Martin post. As I was watering all of my indoor plants, I noticed that Martin has a couple of little white flowers on him. This little guy has done an amazing turn around. Kind of makes me feel guilty that Barbara gave him to me. I might try and divide him up a bit and give her a little piece of Martin. I might.

shamrock flower

The heat is on

It is going to be a hot one today. They are saying our high is 90. HOT! I don't think we are going to get any rain today either. I got up and out there early this morning to check out the gardens and do some watering. The dirt was looking parched. None of the plants looked wilty yet but I wanted to give everything a quick drink. I think it's supposed to rain tomorrow. I hope. The gardens are looking good. Nancy called this morning and told us to go check out the zucchini. I think we have a couple that are going to be ready to pick. Nancy can pick them because I'm still trying to get through two huge ones that I got at the farmer's market last week. I just made two loaves of zucchini bread with one of them. I think the other one is going to get stir fried.

zucchinis ready for picking

While I was back there watering I noticed our savoy cabbage. We have four of them planted and they are huge. I have said before that we will probably plant more next year, but I think they will need a bed all to themselves. It appears they need more room. They are kind of choking out the kohlrabi.

future cabbage rolls

I got some weeding done. I need to spend probably an entire day out there weeding. I do a little bit here and there but a lot more needs to be done. I haven't seen any life yet from my beets or green beans that I planted, but I'm still hopeful they come up. We are going to leave our other beets in the ground until we get back from vacation.

In crafty news, I have started another project to take the monotony away from Tim's Slytherin scarf. I am going to make a blanket/throw. I'm making a bunch of blocks in a basket weave stitch and then I'll stitch them all together. I have this great green colored wool that I had gotten to practice crocheting with (I sucked) and I'm trying to decide if I want one or two other colors to mix it up with. I'm thinking a chocolate brown. I'll have to look around next time I go yarn shopping. I'm doing it in blocks for a couple of different reasons. It's easier to knit smaller things than getting a whole blanket on a couple of needles. It would get heavy really fast. It's easier to work with in smaller blocks. Yeah, it will suck stitching all of them together, but I can use the practice on it. I'm going to take Tim's scarf to Florida with me and I can knit that while I'm on the plane and in airports. I feel better about taking that project because it's on a small plastic circular needle and looks less intimidating than these huge metal needles that I'm working on the blanket with. I want to get through airport security in a breeze. I'm already worrying about Connor's insulin and pump supplies.

Almost finished block.

So, my house smells like cinnamon from my zucchini bread and I'm trying to chug through a bunch of laundry today. I will be on the road all day tomorrow going to NY. I am going to try to take some pictures of my mother-in-laws garden while I'm there because her gardens kick butt! I think that is all I have for today. I have lots of things mulling around in my head right now. I joined a new challenge as you can see on the side over there. I want to write about that some in the near future and think more about what we should be doing to get ready for the near crisis this country is about to be in...although I would argue that we are in a crisis already.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mystery in the garden.

Again I have a mystery in the garden. While we wait to find out if our squash is butternut or acorn, I am now looking at something wondering what it is. You see, we used our compost when we planted our peppers and some of our flowers a couple of weeks ago. Everywhere we use the compost we have these plants that have sprouted. At first I thought they were sunflowers. The first two leaves out of them looked like that, but the second set doesn't. I asked Nancy what she thought they might be and she thinks either cantaloupe or cucumbers. We don't eat cucumbers all that often but will have a cantaloupe from time to time. They are Connor's favorite melon. So, does anybody out there recognize what these little guys are? I'm going to leave them in the ground because they look really healthy and aren't going to crowd anything out (for now). I know Connor will be beyond thrilled if they end up being cantaloupe.


growing under peppers

have no idea

The garden is looking dry today. We just had the smallest rain shower go through and it basically was enough to spike the humidity up and not do anything for the plants. We'll have to get out and water later. We can empty our rain barrels and finish emptying the kid's pool. I don't think we'll have to resort to the hose tonight.

I did get a little more weeding done out there. I cut it short because 1. the humidity and heat was killing me and 2. the mosquitoes have eaten me alive. Later tonight I'll go out there in jeans and spend some time. Tim has said he'll help me with the watering.

That's all I have right now. This is going to be a weird week because we are preparing for our departure on Friday. Wednesday my day will be spent driving 3 hours over and 3 hours back to NY to drop Patchy off at his grandma's house. She's been kind enough to offer to take care of him while we are away.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunflower Sunday

The kids planted a couple of sunflower seeds back in May. Today they have flowers open. They are miniature sunflowers. They are only about 8 inches off the ground and we are laughing about how we've made it easier for the squirrels to get the seeds out. I love sunflowers. I can remember on my grandmother's farm...she had a whole patch of sunflowers that towered over me and I think my dad (who is 6'4"). We planted a bunch a couple of years ago at another house that we lived in. They are great for kids to plant because they grow easily. The boys were very happy to see their little ones this year. I think next year, we'll plant a whole bunch of tall ones again!

I'm happy to report that the cucumber trellis is still standing. I had my doubts as to whether or not it would stay up, but it has and the cucumber vines are really starting to take hold. I'm proud of that.

happy cukes

Is it too early to start planning for next year? I am already mulling over in my head what I'm going to attempt to grow from seed next year. I'm figuring where we are going to put things. We are going to have to move the tomatoes around in the back garden I think because they have been grown there for a couple of seasons now. I also think Tim and I are going to have to build some more grow lights. We built one just for fun to see if we could. We did and it works great. But, I'm thinking we are going to need at least two more of them set up. Also, I need to look into getting some warming mats to put under the trays of seedling cups to help warm them. I would love to build a small greenhouse in the back yard, but I don't think we can pull that off in the city. I have joked with the kids that I'm going to take the bottom half of their fort and have that as my potting bench area. I still might do that.

our DIY grow light
Not too much else going on today. The house is clean. I weeded out a couple of the beds. I think we are going to drain the kid's pool again and water the gardens with the water. It's sunny out today and getting hot so I'm going to want to do that sooner than later.

I hope everyone has a great day!

Independence Days-Week One

I am coming into this challenge a little later than everyone else. And it will have to be put on hold when we are on vacation, but I will post about my week one.

1. Plant something: I planted some more beet seeds and some Kentucky Wonder Bush bean seeds.

2. Harvest something: We pulled a cucumber. Yes, just one. Nothing else is really ready to pick yet. I did pick some peppermint, lemon balm and oregano to dry out.

3. Preserve something: Herbs listed above. I also made some Kohlrabi pickles. It was my first time ever pickling something and I snuck one yesterday. They are supposed to sit in the refrigerator for four to five days. I waited two. I've mentioned my lack of patience haven't I? They tasted like dill freaking pickles. I was so excited. I made Tim taste one and he was impressed. So success.

4. Prep something: Tim and I started making our lists of things that we want to start having in storage. We aren't really going to get serious about this until we get back from Florida. The lists are growing and I'm starting to be more aware of sales of things that are on the list.

5. Cook something: I can't even remember if I cooked anything last week. I was feeling kind of crappy all week. I know I did make a kick butt couscous salad a couple of days ago. Of course, I made bread again...but I think the point of this part of the challenge is to cook something new.

6. Manage reserves: Uh yeah. Don't have any reserves yet. That will be something down the road once we start our stockpiles.

7. Work on local food systems: Not really sure what this is going to mean to me. I know that we have searched out for a local dairy supply and we are going to the farmer's market weekly now. I'll have to do some more research to find out what this part really means.

All in all, it was a good week and I think our family is slowly on the way to living simpler lives and being able to take care of ourselves a little bit better. I'm still trying to deal with the frugal aspects of it. I'm not a very frugal person so this is a new concept to me. Working with it and will focus more AFTER vacation.