October 1, 2008: Dog Days in the Garden

Today I began removing the tired plants from the garden. The tomatoes were almost gone, so the few remaining were picked to ripen in the house and the vines were composted. My bell peppers had all been picked for yesterday's pepper jelly, so those plants were also pulled and put in the compost pile. This left quite a bit of unplanted space, a perfect place for two curious puppies to explore.

Neither Annie nor Otto can be tempted with a nice piece of grilled chicken breast or a lean ground beef patty, but just look how they go for the rotten kitchen scraps that used to be buried, before they dug them up! I had fixed them poached eggs for breakfast, and they turned up their noses at them...but in the fourth picture Annie's consuming a dirt filled egg shell, and Otter is licking the last bit of zucchini slime from his muzzle! And don't ask me what that is that Annie is consuming in the last picture, I don't think we want to know.

I ended up raking the garbage into a bucket and putting it into the compost bin, which is what I should have done with it to begin with. Sorry Annie and Otter, you get grilled chicken breast for dinner tonight.

September 30, 2008: Hot (Not) Pepper Jelly

I made the Hot Pepper Jelly from the recipe I posted earlier this month, and it's not hot. Not hot enough for me, anyway. It was a very easy recipe, and it does look pretty, but it could have had at least twice the jalapenos that it called for, or I should have left a few of the jalapeno seeds in it. It's also a chunky jelly, with bits and pieces of pepper floating throughout, rather than a clear jelly. I don't mind that at all, but I do think I'll try another recipe the next time.

When spread onto a butter cracker with cream cheese, it needs to have a good "bite".

Muy disappointed.

September 29, 2008: OMGoodness, I'm Speechless!

Can you believe that? I got the "I Heart Your Blog" award from Cynthia of Brambleberries in the Rain! Not only did she send me the award, it brought a few tears to my eyes to read what she said in her LOVELY POST.

Thank you, Cynthia, for your kind words and for the award. I will cherish it forever! And, like you, I'm not passing it on to seven, but to one very special blogger...my dear new friend EG from Our Engineered Garden. EG is such a dedicated new gardener/blogger and I really admire all he has accomplished this year.

Gosh, did I say "thank you"?

September 28, 2008: Chili Sauce

An entire afternoon of simmering, and last weeks tomatoes are now ten half-pints of Chili Sauce. That will be enough to make the Swiss Steak that we like, an old recipe from Farm Journal's Country Cookbook (1959/1972), throughout the winter.

Swiss Steak
Serves 6 (or more)

6 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 pounds round steak, cut 1-inch thick
4 medium onions
6 Tbsp. shortening (I substitute Canola oil and use a bit less)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup chili sauce (I will use 1/2 pint)
3/4 cup water
1 green pepper (optional)

Combine flour, salt and pepper; rub into both sides of steak, or pound in with meat mallet or edge of heavy plate. Cut into 6 portions.

Peel and slice onions. Preheat skillet and add half of the shortening (oil), then onions. Brown lightly. Remove from skillet.

Add remaining shortening (oil). Brown steak on both sides. Reduce heat. Add celery, garlic, chili sauce and water. Cover and simmer one hour. (I check, turn meat and stir sauce occasionally).

Cut green pepper into slices. Add pepper and onions to meat. Continue cooking 30 minutes, or until meat is tender.

September 27, 2008: Save Your Tomatoes!

The first thing that caught my attention in this morning's newspaper, The Tri-City Herald, was an article by Marianne C. Ophardt on "Save Your Tomatoes While You Can" Following is an excerpt from the very informative piece:

Pay attention! Frost has arrived in some parts of our region and we've been experiencing some abnormally cool early fall weather. This rapid change from hot to cold and back to warm may be confusing, but it does give us no doubt that fall and frost are on their way. We should all be on the alert for a "killing" frost in the weeks to come.

Out in the vegetable garden, tomatoes warrant our attention. They're extremely sensitive to frost and are damaged by cool fall weather. Temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees are the best for development of the red and orange pigments that we look for in a juicy ripe tomato. Below 50 degrees, the fruit will experience chilling injury, especially if they haven't started to develop any red color yet. Those that have developed some red color can be helped along by covering them with clear plastic or row cover fabric. Some gardeners construct temporary "greenhouses" for the plants by placing clear plastic over some sort of structure for support. Below 40 degrees, tomato fruit will undergo serious chilling injury. (That's why tomatoes never should be stored in the refrigerator.)

You may be able to hasten the ripening process for fruit that are already beginning to color up on the vine by removing both mature green fruit and immature green fruit that have no chance of ripening. Mature green fruit can be ripened indoors. A mature green fruit has turned from solid green to a light green or whitish color. If cut open, it will have gel around the seeds and no empty cavities. To ripen mature green fruit successfully indoors, clip them from the vines leaving a short piece of stem attached. Place the fruit in single layers in cardboard box lids or open boxes. Situate them so the stems don't puncture other fruit. Some gardeners who cherish these last gems of the garden will wrap each tomato individually with newspaper. Wrapped or unwrapped, store the fruit in an area where the temperature will be 55 to 70 degrees. Light is not needed. It will take about two weeks at warmer temperatures and could take as long as three to four weeks at cooler temperatures for the fruit to ripen. Check your tomatoes regularly for ripeness and to cull any that may have started to rot. Once ripe, store them in a cool spot (45 to 50 degrees), but definitely not in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator!

We've had several nights now where the temperature has fallen into the low 40s. I noticed the tomatoes I recently picked to ripen on the windowsill had a mealy texture, with very little flavor, so it looks as though the cold nights did take their toll. It's too bad, because they are beautifully formed large tomatoes. They taste like those from the grocery store. That batch is simmering on the stove right now, soon to be ladled into jars.

But look what came out of the garden this morning!

That's 6-3/4 pounds of tomatoes, 2 pounds of green beans, a pound of baby mesclun greens for the rabbit, 1/2 pound of baby spinach and 1/4 pound of green onions for tonight's salad, a large bunch of purple basil, a small bunch of carrots for the rabbit, and the first little crookneck from the newest plant (lots more baby ones forming, too).

September 26, 2008: The Garden That Keeps on Ticking

We had a frost warning last week, so I picked all the tomatoes that were showing any color. I gave a big bag of them to a son, and put the rest of them on the windowsill, in baskets and bowls, wherever I could find room. Today I am faced with having to do something with them, as they have all ripened at once. It looks as though I have just the perfect amount to make a batch of chili sauce, so I picked a few peppers to go with them. I haven't tried this recipe, but I have all the ingredients it calls for, so it's the one I'm going to use.  *Note:  I did make this, and it was excellent.  I use it over meatloaf, meatballs (especially in the crockpot),  heated with hamburger patties and as part of the sauce for Swiss steak.


Makes about 6 pints

* 2 cups sweet green peppers, chopped
* 2 cups chopped onions
* 24 large tomatoes (4 quarts peeled, cored, chopped)
* 1 tsp. ground allspice
* 1 tbls. salt
* 1 1/4 cup vinegar
* 1 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 tbls. celery seed
* 1 tsp. ground ginger
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp. ground cloves

Combine and add all ingredients to a heavy sauce pan or cast iron skillet. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 2 hours or till desired thickness has been reached. Stir often to prevent sticking. Pack hot jars with hot prepared tomato mixture leaving 1/2-inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim and screw threads and adjust lids and screw bands.

Boiling Water Bath Canner

* 1/2 Pints 15 minutes
* Pints 15 minutes

After processing, remove jars immediately, place on a rack to cool.
Test for Seal.

Of course we didn't get a frost after all, so the garden just keeps on growing and producing.

There are a LOT of tomatoes ripening now.

As well as peppers, orange, red and green.

The bunny greens are thriving.

As is the herb garden.

The newly planted spinach, lettuce and carrots are growing, and we've already had a salad of baby spinach with hot bacon dressing. Delicious!

The bush beans have to be picked daily.

I don't think there's time for the pole beans, but they are showing a few blossoms. If we can go another 2-3 weeks without a freeze, maybe.

The Red Sails lettuce hasn't done well for me. It stays small and only provides us with a few outer leaves for the rabbit. The carrots were planted very late, but I've actually pulled a few of edible size this week.

The old yellow crookneck went to the compost pile just in time, as the new plant is beginning to bear now. It is showing some powdery mildew, so I guess that is unavoidable this time of the year.

My poor clematis was annihilated by the puppies this spring. I dug the few roots that I could find and moved one to the blue pot and the others along the small garden fence. I really didn't think any would survive, but the one in the pot is showing some life!

I also planted pansies in the blue planter, and they are SO pretty, and smell so sweet!

My little garden may have taken an awful licking this spring, but it just keeps on ticking!

September 22, 2008: Birdhouses Continued

The birdhouses are painted. I'm not quite finished with them as the bases haven't yet been attached, and they need a couple of coats of clear acrylic spray, but Frugal Girl wants pictures. I adore Frugal Girl, so here is a picture of the unfinished project just for her.

I'm not quite sure when the planned sunflower motif turned into forget-me-nots and daisies!

Today in the garden I finally pulled up the mildewy summer squash plants. How on earth can they call these a bush variety? One of them had a stem that was over ten feet long! I took a big butcher knife and hacked it into smaller pieces, then threw it in the composter while my neighbor, Pat, beat it into submission with a hoe. We got most of it into the bin. Hopefully it will wilt down enough to make room for the remainder tomorrow.

We had a frost warning for tonight! We never get frost before the middle/end of October! Not wanting to take a chance on frozen tomatoes, I picked all that were showing color. I brought nearly nine pounds of tomatoes in to ripen all over the kitchen. I got another nice picking of bush beans, and pulled the rest of the beets. I cut more than a pound of mesclun for the rabbit, and also discovered a half dozen decent sized carrots that he'll certainly enjoy....I wanted to eat them myself, but I resisted temptation, as Cookie needs them more than I.

The garden is beginning to look a bit bare, but I'm happy to be getting the veggies off the fence between me and the neighbors. As soon as it's all cleared out, the new 4-foot chain link fence will be put in. That will be such a nice backdrop for tomatoes and cucumbers next year.

September 19, 2008: It's For the Birds!

I've been so busy the past few days, I haven't even found time to blog! It's my new hobby. At least it has a chance of becoming a hobby, something to keep me occupied for the winter. I decided to build a birdhouse for my garden.

I found a simple pattern on line at Bird's Birdhouse Free Plans, then set off for Lowe's to buy lumber for my project. I had decided I wanted a larger birdhouse than what was shown, so I ended up buying white pine boards in four-foot lengths and 6", 8" and 10" widths, along with a dowel for the little perch. Back home, and using the pattern as a general guide, I found I had enough wood for two birdhouses. I decided I'd make one a "normal" height, and another a bit taller. The shorter one could be mounted to the front pole in the soon-to-be new raspberry bed, and the taller could sit atop one of the colorful ladders I plan to use as trellises in next year's melon bed.

Out to the garage, with all the boards marked for cutting, it was a simple job on my electric miter saw. Yes, some old ladies actually own a good electric tool *g*. Then, on the kitchen counter, all pieces were glued with exterior wood glue, then nailed with my Arrow ET200 Nailmaster 2. Yes, some old ladies actually own more than one good electric tool *g*.

Well, let me tell you it was fun building those birdhouses! I think I got a bit carried away with the sizes, but the neighborhood crows will have some pretty nice digs!

One side of the roof was left unattached, as it will be hinged for easy cleanout if birds actually decide to reside in there. I taped one on for the picture, so you could see what it will look like.

Now it was time to paint them. I decided in advance to do bright colors to match the blue pot that's already in the garden, and the three brightly colored ladders that will join it next spring. Sunflowers were my first choice, as there will be a few of those in next year's garden, also.

Paint. Exterior color, no problem. Off to Wal*Mart for some large bottles of liquid acrylics for the houses, and a can of blue spray paint for the roofs. Brushes and decorative paints....that's a bit of a problem, as I left all my painting supplies in Arizona last spring. Oh well, they're just birdhouses, so some cheap brushes and a box of those little tubes of acrylics (cheap) should be good enough. Back home, I'm ready to tackle the project again. Uh-oh, forgot the Kilz, and the bare wood needs a primer-sealer. Back to Wal*Mart (do you see a pattern developing here?) Back home, birdhouses are all primed and sanded, and the roofs are spray painted a pretty blue. My grass is painted a pretty blue, too. HA! I always wanted a "bluegrass" lawn! But I digress.

The small birdhouse goes well, it's primed and sanded and painted a nice off-white and ready for the decorative painting. I have decided by now that this one will not take well to the sunflowers I'd planned, but would look nice with blue morning glories and a hummingbird on the front. Out come the cheap paints and the cheap brushes, and a couple of hours of beating myself over the head trying to paint that ^&%$*#% birdhouse. FORGET CHEAP PAINT AND BRUSHES! Off I go to Michael's to purchase some decent brushes and paints. In fact, it was $97.87 worth. I think I'm now into those two birdhouses for about $150.

Maybe it's not such a great winter hobby after all.

Today in the garden: The bush beans are really beginning to produce, so I picked a colander half full today. The tomatoes, which had been ripening very slowly and giving me some small, deformed fruit, have now perked up and are producing decent sized tomatoes again. The sickly summer squash vines both have sections of lush new growth, with lots of blossoms and new squash forming. I'm getting so many cherry tomatoes now that I'm using them for cooking, in sauces. A heaping bowlful a day is too many for eating fresh. The cucumbers are much smaller now, and Mr. H has asked me to pick them that size as he said the last large one was a bit bitter. I'm getting baby spinach from the seeds I planted less than a month ago, and the mesclun bed is still growing enough to feed a family of rabbits. It's too bad we don't care for those greens. Anyway, I got over 6-1/2 pounds from the garden this morning!

September 15, 2008: Delightful Aroma

The beets I planted July 18th are finally large enough to harvest. I had pulled a few for dinner the other night, but I need to begin picking the bush beans in this garden so I decided to get the remainder of the beets out of the way. I left three or four very small ones, for greens for my rabbit. I had only planted two very short rows, so there weren't enough to bother canning or freezing. I decided they were perfect for pickled beets, and a half recipe was just the right amount for one quart jar full. For many of my garden veggie recipes, I count on those found in my old (1972) Farm Journal's Country Cookbook. This one, for pickled beets, is one of my favorites:

Pickled Beets
makes 4 pints

24 small beets
1 cup cooking liquid
1 pint cider vinegar
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. salt (I used much less, about 1 tsp.)
6 whole cloves
1 (3") stick cinnamon
3 medium onions, sliced

Remove beet tops, leaving root and 1" of the stem. Cover with boiling water; cook until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup liquid. Remove skins and slice beets (I quartered the small beets, rather than slicing them).

Combine reserved cooking liquid, vinegar, sugar and salt. Add spices, tied in cheesecloth bag (I just dump 'em in, bagless). Heat to boiling.

Add beets and onions; simmer 5 minutes. Remove spice bag.

I then poured it all into a clean quart jar, and it's sitting on my counter until cool enough to refrigerate. The aroma is delightful!

If you want to can them, ladle the hot beets, onions and liquid into hot pint-sized jars, leaving 1/2" air space . Adjust the lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Today in the garden the July planted bush beans are beginning to bear. I got a small picking, enough to mix with some crookneck squash, for dinner. They are blooming profusely, and have lots of small beans that will be ready for picking real soon. The crooknecks have done a complete turnaround, after slowing down for the past two or three weeks. I gave my neighbor several little ones yesterday, and picked another half dozen for myself today. The zucchini are still slow to mature now, I have picked only two this week. It looks as though a few of the carrots in that bed might reach eating size by the end of the month. I wish now that I had planted more, but I didn't think there was any chance they would have reached edible size. No regular tomatoes today, probably a half dozen for the week, but a lot of green-turning-to-yellow, nice sized ones on the vines. One red bell is half red, half dark green. I've had to put bird netting over the spinach bed, as the birds are eating it as fast as it grows. It looks as though I'll be able to pick a few leaves for salad by next week. I've also discovered several heads of romaine in the rabbit's greens bed! I'll be taking those for myself, thank you.

I have just about finished the new gardens. They are all built, painted and filled, and part of the raspberry support system has been attached, just two low cross arms left to screw onto the posts. The bark mulch has been spread over all of the garden paths, and the one open section of fence filled in with chicken wire. I ran out of the green fencing about 5' short, and really don't want to buy 50' for that one section! Next year there will be a bed of sunflowers in that corner, so it shouldn't even show. It had to be secure though, as the puppies delight in taking cow pies out of the compost and bringing them in through their pet door! It's not good finding chewed up cow pies in your bed. YUK!

There will be plenty of room for a few containers in the new garden area, both up against the cedar fence, and also by the little wire fence along the front. My next project, though, will be a pretty little birdhouse for the top of one of the raspberry bed posts.

September 13, 2008: Muy Caliente!

Today I attended the 24th. Annual Fiery Foods Festival in Pasco, WA. Our town has a very large Hispanic population, and they bring out their colorful produce and wares each September and put them on display over several downtown blocks.

Of course, it put me in the mood for a little fiery food, even though I prefer the Americanized versions. Here is my favorite fajita recipe, and I do make my own seasoning which is lower in sodium than the packaged brands.

Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4

1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless,skinless chicken breast, cut in 1/2" slices
1 large onion (8 oz), sliced
1 large green bell pepper (4 oz), sliced
1 large red bell pepper (4 oz), sliced
1 recipe Fajita Seasoning (recipe below)
1/2 cup water
4 large tortillas, such as Mission 88% Fat Free or South Beach Diet Whole Grain Wraps
4 T. fat free sour cream

Spray a large skillet with vegetable oil spray. Heat the 1/2 T oil. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until chicken pieces are no longer pink in the middle. Remove chicken, set aside. (NOTE: Chicken may be grilled then sliced. Use oil for sauteing onions). Add the onion to the pan and cook and stir until onion is golden. Add the peppers, cook and stir until peppers are tender-crisp. Stir in the fajita seasoning and water. Add the cooked chicken. Bring to a boil and simmer until liquid has reduced and thickened. Serve with warm tortillas and sour cream.

Fajita Seasoning

1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 crushed chicken bouillon cube
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Pour into small glass or plastic container, seal tightly and store in a cool, dry place. Makes the equivalent of 1 packet of commercial or purchased Fajita Seasoning Mix.


What's a fajita without a Margarita? I like mine low-cal and fruity, and Hungry Girl has just the one I like!

Rockin' Razzy Rita
Serves 1

*1.5 oz. tequila
1/2 tsp. Crystal Light powdered drink mix, Raspberry Ice
5 oz. water
1 oz. lime juice
Optional: lime slice for garnish and salt or no-calorie sweetener for rim of glass

If desired, run some lime juice along the rim of the glass and dip into a dish of salt. Combine all ingredients, mix well, and serve over ice. Or, for a frozen one, place all ingredients (dissolve Crystal Light in water first) in a blender with 1 cup crushed ice, and blend on high until well mixed. Optional: Garnish with a slice of lime.

Entire recipe: 105 calories, 0g fat, 5mg sodium, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 0.5g sugars, 0g protein = 2 Points

*You can also make your margarita alcohol-free. Without tequila, it contains around 10 calories!


Another spicy favorite is jalapeno pepper jelly. This is so delicious, especially on a butter or Ritz cracker, with a bit of reduced fat cream cheese.

Hot Pepper Jelly
Makes 6 (8 ounce) jars

3 cups finely chopped red bell peppers or green bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers *see note
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered pectin
5 cups white sugar

Sterilize 6 (8 ounce) canning jars and lids according to manufacturer's instructions. Heat water in a hot water canner.

Purée half of peppers and 1/2 cup vinegar in blender or food processor. Purée remaining peppers and vinegar. Combine purées in a large saucepan over high heat. Mix in fruit pectin.

Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Quickly stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil, and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim off any foam.

Quickly ladle jelly into sterile jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the tops. Cover with flat lids, and screw on bands tightly.

Place jars in rack, and slowly lower jars into canner. The water should cover the jars completely, and should be hot but not boiling. Bring water to a boil, and process for 5 minutes.

*Note: After making this jelly, I found it to be too mild. I would increase the amount of jalapeno peppers to 3/4-1 cup chopped.

Adiós amigos!

September 11, 2008: Alicia's Everlasting Sunflower

It was May of 2001. My granddaughter, Alicia, dropped in after school with something to show me. The children in her first grade class had all been given two pots, some potting soil and two "mystery" seeds. As soon as their seeds germinated, they were to take them home and nurture them, and hopefully watch them mature into....into what?

So Alicia brought her plants to Grandma, because Grandma had a garden to put them in.

She watched the little seedlings grow stronger and stronger.

And when they were big enough, they went into Grandma's garden. The big "mystery plant" directly into the soil and the small one into a larger pot.

Soon the large "mystery plant" grew taller than Alicia, and put forth a beautiful sunflower.

Alicia and her Grandma loved the sunflower, but they knew it couldn't live forever. Or...maybe it could! Grandma dragged out her old easel and paints and brushes, and sketched a picture of the sunflower onto a canvas. Alicia donned a big T-shirt to keep the paint off of her clothing, and (with a little bit of help from Grandma), She proceeded to paint a picture of the beautiful flower. First she painted the leaves.

Then she began painting the petals.

She painted carefully......

And lovingly......

And the Everlasting Sunflower was created.

So what happened to the small mystery plant, you ask?

It was a tomato. We ate it.

September 11, 2008: Blogspot Hates EG

My dearest friend, Engineered Garden keeps leaving comments on my blog, but I seldom get them. Every time someone comments, I am supposed to be notified via email so I can read them and publish (or not). Today I published all the comments that I thought had been submitted. I then logged on to my Blogger to create today's post, and it showed I had one comment, from EG, to be moderated. EG was questioning a previous comment he had made that wasn't showing on my blog. I clicked the option to publish his comment, so that I could answer that I hadn't received his previous one, and.....that comment disappeared!

EG, I don't know what to do. I love you, but I think blogger.com hates you.

Ah, well, there's always email!

Really, if any of you comment and it doesn't show up here, please contact me. My email address is in my profile.

ADDENDUM: I no sooner blogged this and I received, via email, the following notification (Note; the dates I've marked in red are Thursday, September 11, 2008 3:50 PM, which is when I received the email notice and September 7, 2008 12:08 PM, which is when EG posted it)

Hmmmm. And no, EG, I still didn't get your previous comment.

September 9, 2008: Hit Me Baby, One More Time

When I began my blog, just 54 days ago, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I knew wanted to record the day-by-day problems of rebuilding my small garden, after it was crushed by our big maple tree during a particularly bad wind storm, mainly for my own benefit and for a few of my dear friends to read and see what I was up to. So I muddled through the ins and outs of blogging, reading what others had done, what they had added to their pages, playing with layouts until I came up with something that was pleasing to me. It had to be pleasing to me, because I was probably the only person who would ever set eyes upon it. Unless I forced my children to read it, that is....how boring! Right?


In those 54 days, I have had over 1000 hits to my blog. Actually, as of 8:45 this evening, I've had 1,485 views of these pages (the first stat counter I installed died, so the new one is actually nearly 500 behind in visitor count).

I find this absolutely mind boggling! I'm getting a swelled head over it! Call me Sally Field..."You love me. You really love me!"

OK, so I got a little bit carried away there. But I do want to thank all of you for dropping in for a visit. I'm loving all my new found cyber friends.


September 9, 2008: In the Garden

The veggie garden has slowed a bit, I seem to be down from 6 to 6-1/2 pounds of produce every other day, to around 4 pounds about twice a week. But oh, what lovely produce it is! The tomatoes went a couple of weeks looking rather sickly, with cracks in the tops, but the ones that are ripening now are beautiful. The two I picked today are quite small, but bigger ones are coming soon.

The beets were planted 7/18 and are pretty small, but I just couldn't wait any longer. This is the first time I've ever grown beets that the greens weren't ruined by leaf miners (always with my spring planting), so for the first time ever I'm going to cook the greens and see if we like them.

I have a red bell pepper! The first one to turn color for me this year (besides that one lonely yellow one). It should have stayed on the plant a bit longer, but there are some signs of slug damage and I don't want to lose it!

Mr. H is sick of green beans, so since the late planting of bush beans will probably be producing by next week, I took one last picking off of the spring planted ones and pulled the plants out to add to the compost. They have been producing over such a long period of time, almost as well as pole beans! He's also sick of the yellow squash, but I'm not...so I guess you know what I'll be eating for a while!

The green onions are some I got from the produce department at the grocery store and planted in the garden so they wouldn't turn to slime in the refrigerator. Their story is here.

I just couldn't bear looking at those powdery mildewed squash leaves any longer, so look what I did to my poor zucchini!

Of course, this was my small plant, I'd never be able to get that drastic with the large one!

My neighbor, Pat, has rewarded me for giving her so much from my garden this year. One thing she has kept me well stocked in is her zucchini relish, which is absolutely delicious! I had some on a hot dog the other day, and it beats sweet pickle relish all to heck.

Pat's Zucchini Relish

2 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 Tbsp. salt
1-3/4 cup sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. mustard seed

Combine zucchini, onion and the peppers. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 2 hours. Drain vegetables and press out liquid. Combine vinegar, sugar and spices, and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and simmer 10 minutes. Ladle hot mixture into hot jars (1/2 pint size works well), leaving 1/8-inch of head space. Adjust caps and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Recipe may be doubled.

September 8, 2008: It's The Frugal Girl's Fault!

The Frugal Girl has given me a guilt complex. All week she has been blogging about cold water washing and line drying. I'm pretty good about the washing part, although I do use warm for whites, but I've been using my dryer almost daily this summer. Hey, I have an excuse! We bought our Arizona property in April of 2004. One of the first things I did was buy a clothesline, because about 99% of the time the weather down there is perfect for drying outside. Only once since then have I had to make a trip to the laundromat to dry my clothes, so I think I've done quite well. Unfortunately, the clothesline I bought, the only one I could find at Home Depot, was a piece of junk.

And that's exactly where it ended up the following winter, in the junk yard.

I was telling my dear little sister about it, and she said she happened to have the kind I was looking for, brand new, in the box, and that I could have it. So the winter of 2005-06 I used her clothesline, which was the kind I wanted, but....it just happened to be missing some of its parts, so I had to substitute 2x2s for poles. Needless to say, I was NOT satisfied. Recycled that one to a neighbor who just wanted the lines.

All this time, I had a lovely, sturdy umbrella type clothesline in my backyard here in WA. And I actually used it! However, I also had a very nice dryer here, and none in Arizona (we live a very simple life through the winter months). So the following winter my clothesline made the trip south, and that is where it remained.

I was perfectly happy using my dryer every wash day in the summer, and my clothesline in the winter.

Until this week.

So Saturday I went out to the garage and found a fifty-foot rope. I took it out to that big, never used dog kennel, the one that sits in the corner of my garden and may someday be a giant, expensive trellis for pole beans. I looped it and tied it and stretched it back and forth and...I made myself a clothesline!

Frugal Girl, I hung my laundry to dry today. Aren't you proud of me?

Well....it's a start!