Friday, August 1, 2008

August already?!

Happy first day of August. This year is flying by. It's been a great year so far though and hope the trend continues!

Not too much going on today. There is a loaf of bread in the oven right now and it smells so good that it is making my tummy rumble. It should be done in five minutes and then I think I'm having tomato sandwich with one of these:

I just pulled them and there are probably five more waiting to be picked. I'm thinking some pasta and sauce this weekend.

I'm happy because it's just before noon and I actually have things done this morning. I have my third load of laundry going through. I have a loaf of bread done. I have cut grass at three houses and my kitchen is clean. Not bad for a procrastinator like myself.

Look who lost his first tooth yesterday.

Aidan lost tooth number one. The other tooth next to his gap there is hanging by a thread also. He actually let Connor pull his tooth yesterday. Connor noticed that it was hanging there and said "I'll give you all my money if you let me pull it." So Aidan opened up and Connor yanked. Of course, Connor doesn't have any money, but the tooth fairy paid Aidan nicely for his cute little tooth. Please excuse the mess behind Aidan. He got his school books yesterday and I'm in the middle of setting up the office into a classroom again. I have books and supplies all over the place and need to get some semblance of order here. I think that will be my last major project today. If I can get that done then I can enjoy my weekend. I'm hoping there will be some weed pulling this weekend.

Uh oh. The kids are getting feisty for lunch. The bread just came out and they are buzzing all over it screaming how hungry they are. I should go feed them and start my pizza dough for pizza night tonight. I hope everyone has a great day and an awesome August!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm such a slacker.

I have not really been out in the gardens for a couple of days now. I have had this dull headache that I can't shake and just a general feeling of blah. There are things happening out there though.

First, I want to just say "NOOOOOOOOO". We have them. The dreaded Japanese Beetles. The little buggers are basically eating the rhubarb and the roses. I finally got a bucked of soapy water yesterday and started flicking them in with just a tiny bit of remorse for their lost lives.

unwanted Japanese Beetle

the destruction these little bastards do

their certain death if I see them out there.

Granted, I don't think we have as many as we had last year, or maybe they are just starting to turn up. They are not as bad as my poor mother in law has them at her house. It was just creepy how many were over there munching away on her foliage. I hope they don't get that bad here. Every time I take Patchy out for a bathroom break, I'm checking to see if any more have shown up.

In other gardening news, happier gardening news, our plants all look really good. The mystery compost plant is slowing taking over the brick patio. At least it's not choking out all the pretty flowers we planted back there. I have my doubts as to if this is a cantaloupe. I think it looks more like pumpkin. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


Speaking of mystery. Remember the free squash plants we got from the nursery. They were by a sign that said Acorn squash, but when I planted them they were labeled Butternut squash. Well, they have taken over the one bed they were planted in. The have choked out all the Hungarian Wax peppers and the onions. It's crazy. There are numerous flowers on them but still nothing growing to give us an indication of what they are.

squash of some sort

We are picking three to four tomatoes off the bushes a day now. One day our family gets a bunch and the next day Nancy picks a bunch. If you look at the picture you can see a bunch of them are red and ready to be picked again. There will be no deficiency of Lycopene in our diets. I had four sitting on my counter and I used three of them in tonights dinner of Channa Masala. They taste amazing!

tomato patch number one

Around tomato patch number two our pretty pest control is looking great. I speak of the marigolds. When we planted them they were these tiny little twigs that I didn't really thing would amount to much. I was wrong. They have bushed out so much and are very pretty. And they appear to be working because we haven't seen any kind of pests over there at all. Yay for marigolds!

perfect pest control

Last, but not least, look what I picked out of my pot of dahlias:

sign of fall?

This lone little red maple leaf. It has blown in from somewhere and is giving me a glimmer of hope for my favorite season of all. FALL. I noticed the other day that the ornamental cherry tree in the front yard has started to drop a couple of leaves too. It gets me all excited for cooler weather and all the fun fall activities associated. Wahoo.

That is all I think I have for you today. I should be outside taking advantage of the 74 degree weather at the end of July and cut the grass or weed the gardens, but I'm going to go take an alieve in hopes to kill this annoying headache. I'm also going to go cut up one of my freshly harvested cukes and eat it with some fresh, home made hummus. Yummus!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Holy harvest Batman.

I took advantage of our cool morning and wandered out into the garden to do some work. I'm glad I did. I was able to get a pretty big harvest out there this morning.

today's score

The kids were so excited about the carrots being ready to pull. They probably could have gone longer in the ground, but we being the impatient sort, decided to pull half of them this morning. I couldn't clean them fast enough and they were pounding them down. I had to cut them off because I was hoping to use them in a stir fry.

Connor and Aidan tearing through some carrots.

The patch where I had the beets and carrots is almost completely harvested and cleared out and we are going to put some more beet and carrot seeds down and see if we can get one more big harvest before frost hits. I figure that we planted those seeds at the end of May and it's now the end of July, so if we planted this weekend we might be able to get them the first of October.

I am starting to try and figure out what we are going to do with our tomatoes. I have four sitting here ready to eat now and the plants are FULL of them. They are starting to get pink and Tim and I are having a disagreement about what to do with them. He wants to make sauces and can them and I think I would prefer to just can them with no flavors and then we can make different sauces when we open them up. Maybe we'll compromise and do half and half.

getting pink

almost ready!

The zucchinis are doing great. What a cool plant. You plant a little seedling and it turns into this monster plant that keeps giving us tons of zucchinis. There are three on the one plant getting ready to be pulled and I pulled a large one off the other plant this morning. So far, we have made two loaves of zucchini bread, had a chicken/zuke stir fry and we made something we saw on Jamie at Home (one of my fave cooking shows!), Zucchini Carbonara. We made it with whole wheat pasta because that is all we have, but it was delish!! I still have a half a zuke in the fridge that I will probably just cut and eat with some hummus.

zuke getting ready for picking

bee pollinating a zucchini blossom

Tim's chili peppers are getting ready to pick also. We have four containers growing on the side of the house and we started these peppers from seed. I had them all labeled so we knew what was what and then Tim replanted them around a little bit and didn't keep track of what went where. So we now have four pepper boxes full of peppers and we have no idea what pepper is what.

Mystery peppers

The savoy cabbage is finally starting to get heads on them. Poor Tim checks on them every time he's out there and was worried because they didn't seem to be forming. He is waiting for some cabbage rolls.

savoy cabbage

The flower garden is in dire need of weeding. I'm hoping that I can enlist some help from Tim and get some done tonight. I think next year I'm going to do what my MIL did and put straw down on top of the dirt to inhibit some weed growth. I was happy to see this pretty little Foxglove still growing full force back there. We have two of these plants. One with white flowers and one with purple flowers. The white ones are doing great and while the foliage on the purple one looks great, the flowers are gone. Although, I did notice a tiny little stalk coming up that might be some more coming out.


Well, I've got to load up the wee ones and head to the dairy for milk and eggs and then hit the grocery store. I've put it off long enough and we are down to nothing in the house. It's funny because when there's no food in the house, we don't eat. Novel idea.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another experiment.

First off, I would like to introduce our newest family member. He's not been named yet, but I'm leaning towards Bonzer. Tim has always been fascinated with bonsais and is trying to make one out of a maple seed he planted. Well, yesterday we had to take Patchy to go get groomed and we were going to hang out in the book store while we were waiting. Tim found a couple of bonsai books that he was interested in but then got an emergency call from work and I had to take him home to deal with it. Connor and I went back to get Patchy and I ran into the book store to get him one of the books and when we were driving home we noticed a stand set up selling bonsais. It was weird. So I picked him one up. The guy had mostly juniper trees and a couple of maple trees and then this one. It was tagged with the kind of tree it was, but I was so excited that I didn't really notice it. I think it started with an "E". I guess I'll have some research ahead of me. I'm considering it his early birthday present. Now I hope we can keep it alive!

yet to be named bonsai

Did you really care about that? Probably not. Sorry. On to the experiment. Last Monday we made a tomato pie. It was basically phyllo dough with mozzerella and feta cheeses and then just topped with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. It was yummy. Anyway, I bought some heirloom tomatoes and Tim and I got to thinking that we should figure out how to save some seeds to grow some next year. This is what we have done:

Find a tomato that you really like the taste of.

Cut the tomato in half at it's equator.

carefully squeeze out the goo with the seeds. This was easier than I thought it was going to be.

seeds and goo ready for water, ready for plastic wrap

Then you take the bowl of seeds and add two tablespoons of water and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and use a knife to put a tiny cut into it for air to come in and out. The article we read said that it's a fermentation process to get the seeds ready for growing. I thought I had taken a picture of the bowl wrapped with plastic wrap, but didn't see one. I'll have to look again. Every day you are supposed to open it up and stir the water and tomato goo around. I just kind of shook the bowl when I remembered it.

When you see it get kind of gross and scummy on top, it's ready.

film of grossness on top. mine had mold growing on it and a fruit fly. I'm not sure if I should be really grossed out by that or not.

Put the seed goo into a fine sieve and rinse the heck out of it. And then you are going to try and get as much water off of them as possible.

Then you lay the seeds out on wax paper to dry. It says that it will probably take a few days to dry completely. I'll know they are dry when they move easily across the wax paper. I will then store them in a paper envelope until January when I plant them and hopefully start some seedlings for the garden next year. I hope it works. I will report on them later and let you know.

I haven't really been out in the gardens much over the last couple of days. I have to get out there and do some tomato tying up and some weeding. I have been procrastinating something terrible with this. It's hot out and the mosquitoes are vicious. But, I am getting a lot done inside the house so that's better than nothing.