It's been a pretty good 46 years. And Mr. H says I can buy the boards for those new garden beds. Actually, he said "Go buy the %#*&^# boards. You always do whatever you want to anyway".
September 1, 2008: Mr. Husband & Annie's Granny; 46 Wonderful Years
It's been a pretty good 46 years. And Mr. H says I can buy the boards for those new garden beds. Actually, he said "Go buy the %#*&^# boards. You always do whatever you want to anyway".
August 31, 2008 - My Gardening Friends
Isn't that sweet? He actually made pear preserves, and was thoughtful enough to cybershare them with me. I can almost taste them, EG!
If you haven't visited Our Engineered Garden , hurry on over there. He has a wealth of information on square foot gardening, with lots of wonderful photos. He's a perfectionist extraordinaire, I can't begin to compare to him when it comes to building and planting raised garden beds.
Another very worthwhile garden blog belongs to my dear friend Sinfonian . What is with these men? They garden, they cook, they preserve their crops.......I told Mr. Husband I think I got shortchanged just a little with him. I said it with a smile on my face, though (he's a keeper).
Anyway, I think you'll enjoy meeting my new friends. I've never actually met them, but I like them. A lot.
August 28, 2008 - In the Garden
Where has the summer gone? I can't believe September is almost here, it seems like just yesterday I was out planting seeds in my garden.
Oh, I guess I was out planting seeds in my garden yesterday!
In past years at this time, I was always out in my garden pulling out spent plants and doing some general garden maintenance and cleanup, winding down my gardening season for the year. However, with the late start I was given this year due to the falling maple tree, I have discovered I can extend my garden season by quite a bit. At this moment, there is not one area in any of my gardens that is empty (except, of course the newly built and yet to be filled with soil beds). I have plants that are bearing, plants that are blooming and getting ready to bear, and seedlings in all stages peeking out of the soil. Some may not produce before our first freeze, but I'm taking the chance that they just might. What is there to lose, besides a few seeds?
Just look at those baby yellow crookneck squash! How can there be so many on one stem, and can they possibly mature?
Does everyone's kitchen windowsill look like mine all summer?
The kitchen scraps I trench composted gave me quite a surprise. The two shrivelled sweet potatoes provided my neighbor, Pat, and each with a freebie potted plant!
I have a feeling those beans are going to be hard to pick. I'll never find them all in that lush growth. They are just beginning to blossom, and I should have another six weeks before it freezes, so they just might make it! The "ski pole beans" have reached the top now, so I must find a longer pole for them to climb.
I'm still getting a lot of food from the garden. I pick every other day now, and usually have around 6-7 pounds at a time. I found a zucchini yesterday, after I had photoed the day's take. They have slowed to the point that I now miss them. I never thought I'd ever say that, after the multitudes produced earlier!
I really need to get to the nursery for compost to put in the new beds. I decided to double up the raspberry bed and go with just one for now. That way I can build another next year (when Mr. Husband isn't looking) and put the suckering raspberry canes in it. Or, I may find that one 8-foot bed is enough for just the two of us. I got the bed built and put in 4x4 posts at each end to attach the crossbars for supporting the canes.
Having only one strawberry bed and one raspberry bed means I'll have enough room to put in two raised beds (no wood sides!) to fill out the north garden. Those will probably be planted in corn and melons.
I have this fantasy...well, not actually a fantasy, I'm stealing the idea from someone else...of three brightly painted ladders, of different heights, with melon vines climbing all over them. Possibly a pretty blue morning glory vine mingling with the large melon leaves. Paint the ladders bright blue, orange and yellow. Giant yellow sunflowers in the corner, hollyhocks and blue delphiniums against the fence, a cheery birdhouse atop the post in the raspberry bed. Lavender clematis and trailing blue lobelia in a bright blue pot....
Uh...on second thought, maybe NO.
August 25, 2008 - Mr. Husband 1, Annie's Granny 0
Since it makes no sense to me to plant lovely new raspberry canes in six inches of soil, over the top of huge old maple tree roots, I have no recourse but to go out today, screwdriver in hand, and dismantle the two raspberry beds and make them into one. I feel it's better to have one good bed than two half a$$ed ones.
Mr. Husband says I've already spent too much money on this new garden, but I kept a running total, and with the welded wire fencing and posts, all the wood, screws, seeds, plants, compost and bark it has only been $265.88, which I don't think is bad at all for what I've done out there. That's for BOTH garden areas, the small boxes and the big ones, and both fences. I know he's upset that the insurance company hasn't come through on any of the fencing yet. So am I. But I've worked my butt off to build up that area, and it hasn't cost us a penny for my labor.
The old grumpus doesn't complain when I walk into the kitchen with a bucket filled with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and bunny greens. So next year, when I only have half the raspberries I wanted to grow, I'm eating all I want before he even sees them. HA!!
August 22, 2008 - I Heart Frugal Girl
I love reading her blog, she inspires me to be even more frugal (OK, cheaper)than I already am. Being an old coot, I often gripe about how young people these days do not know the value of a dollar. Having raised five children, I learned to make do with what we had. My own children visit and I walk behind them, turning off lights as they leave the room, turning off the TV when they aren't watching. I taught them better, why didn't they learn? Why didn't I give birth to Frugal Children?
In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned what I do with my store-bought green onions. You know, the ones where you have to buy an entire bunch but you only need one or two. I guess Frugal Girl missed that one, because on her latest blog she was lamenting the fact that her onions had turned to slime. She's striving for a week with absolutely no food waste, and has not quite reached her goal....but darn, she sure does come close. So I'm going to repeat it here....or rather, I'm going to copy what I wrote to her and then show pictures!
I wrote: Oh, Kristen, I can help on this one! When you get those green onions from the store, do you notice they have these little things on the bottom called roots? That means you can plant them! Just get yourself a pot, a bit of soil, poke your finger way down in the dirt to make a hole and plop that little onion right in. You can fill the pot with them, planting them about an inch apart. Snip the green tops back to about 4-5 inches, give them a bit of water and set them outside, weather permitting. The tops will die back just a bit, but in a few days the new green growth will begin. Just pull them fresh as you need them! I forgo the pot and put them right out in the garden, with my flowers or veggies, from spring until frost. Fresh green onions, year-round, and no slime!!
Then I ran out to my garden and took a photo.
I poked these into the ground maybe three weeks or so ago. You can see a few more in the background, and I just pulled two today to give to my neighbor, Pat, for her dinner. All the green part is new growth, and you wouldn't believe the roots on them! This works so well, I'm going to buy a couple of bunches the next time I'm at the store, just to plant and have on hand.
We've had a few cooler days, and the nights are getting downright chilly. The garden has slowed a bit, but the crooknecks and zucchini are loaded with new blossoms and some baby squash. I guess they are just getting their second wind. I threaten to pull out the old bush beans, but they continue to show a few blossoms and give me an occasional handful, so I haven't the heart to compost them just yet. When the new bed of bush beans begins to produce, maybe I can let them go. I'm giving away tomatoes to anyone who will take them! I really will find all my old canning jars and make use of them next year.
I took the first cuttings of baby greens from the mesclun bed today. That, along with a few lettuce leaves, two beet greens and three small heads of endive, should keep Cookie Buns fed for a few days. I ended up with over 8 ounces of greens. Five ounces of those baby greens cost over $3 at the grocery store, so that seed packet has already paid for itself.
The beets I planted last month already have half-dollar sized roots and beautiful greens. I've never eaten beet greens, this might be the time to try them.
The cucumbers are still looking good. Here's Mr. Husband, just ready to pick the one he had for dinner last night:
This plant is in a medium sized pot, and has given us quite a few large slicers. They have all been solid clear through, with very few seeds. Makes me wish I liked cucumbers!
I put together a panorama image of four photos of the July built/planted garden. It has grown quite well in just over a month, I'd say:
That's about it for today. Remember to visit Frugal Girl.
August 21, 2008 - Don't Cramp My Style!
I went to that Chicago concert the other night, and it was sold out so there was standing room only. No big deal. I stood throughout the 2+ hours, didn't bother me a bit. Until about 3:00 a.m. the next morning when I got a cramp in my big toe, and it went right up my shin to my knee. I've had charlie horses in the backs of my legs before, but never in the front. Let me tell you, it hurt so bad I thought I was going to throw up! I swear, childbirth was less painful. I finally got myself upright at the edge of the bed, and tried to reach down to rub the cramped muscle....and I got another cramp in the thigh of the other leg! Now I couldn't move at all, and Annie woke up (sensing I was in pain?) and proceeded to start licking me in the face just as hard and fast as she could. So now I can't move my legs and I can't breathe through the dog spit! I honestly thought I was going to have to start yelling for help, but the shin cramp subsided a bit and I managed to stand up and slowly walk it out. I guess it was from standing in one place for so long, but I sure hope I never have to go through that again!
The concert was pretty good. The instrumentals were great, but the vocals were "a bit pitchy, dawg". I like Jason Sheff, but he really shouldn't try to sound like Peter Cetera....he just doesn't quite pull it off. I think there are performers and there are entertainers. Chicago is/are performers, and I prefer being entertained. I still love to listen to them though, and not many bands have stayed as popular for thirty-plus years as they have.
I worked on the new garden this week, between rainstorms. Three of the boxes are built and ready to paint, level and fill with compost, and the old fenceposts will form another bed against the chain link, perfect for peas or pole beans. I spread a yard of bark mulch around on the pathways today, but I ran short and will have to go get another load. I still have plenty of room on one end for another box, or maybe I'll just make it into a small melon patch next spring. My little fence posts are kind of catty-wampus, I might have to plant vines there next spring to cover them!
I have definitely decided to plant one box of strawberries and the other two with raspberries. I promise I'm not going to change my mind again, but I sure hope I can talk Mr. H. into buying more lumber to double the depth of those beds!
The other gardens are growing well. Today I planted four 1-foot squares of spinach, 9 seeds per square. I still have the rest of that 4x4 box to fill up with fall veggies, then I'll be out of planting room. There isn't much left for me to plant this year, as I'll be leaving for Arizona in about 45 days (or after the newest grandbaby is born) so green onions, spinach and radishes are about all I have time for.
August 19, 2008 - New Garden Shaping Up
At first I set the beds straight with the fence. But while I was standing at the sink, looking out the kitchen window, I though to myself; "Self, wouldn't those look nice if they were set at an angle?" So I ran out and skewed them all off to one side, and sure enough it looked so much better. I'm so anxious to finish up that garden area now. I want to get a load of bark mulch from the nursery this week to cover the pathways and make the ground more level, then I can begin filling the beds with compost and peat to get them ready for the raspberry canes next spring. We'll see how that goes before I inform Mr. H. that I'm going to buy some more lumber and make the three beds deeper. I've scrapped my plan to grow asparagus back there. It takes asparagus a good two years before one can get a decent harvest, and let's face it people, I'm pushing the big seven-oh! I don't know how much time I have left for asparagus growing. So now I'm thinking three beds of raspberries and a strawberry pyramid, which still leaves me a spot for a hill of cantaloupe.
We finally got some relief from the hot weather we've been having. Yesterday it clouded up, and we had a wonderful, noisy thunderstorm with lots of rain, so I pulled the lattice off the mesclun bed to let the little plants enjoy every cooling drop. It looks as though it will be in the 80s for the next few days, then the hot weather is supposed to return. I'll have to try to get as much work done as I can in the next 3-4 days.
But, in the meantime, it's time for fun not work! I'm off to the Benton-Franklin County Fair to watch one of my favorites, Chicago, perform and to eat too much of that yummy fair food. I sure hope it doesn't rain tonight.
August 16, 2008 - Too Darned Hot!
Thursday I talked Mr. Husband into going to Lowe's to look at options for the four new garden beds I want to put in now for the 2009 season. I had to keep it relatively cheap, as I'm still hearing how I made him give away most of the pile of nice redwood 2"x6"x10' boards he'd stashed in our garage after removing the deck from our house several years ago. Of course, this year I decided to build the raised beds, and I have used up the remaining lumber....and need MORE! But Mr. H. said if I bought more 2x6s, it would be over his dead body. Well, I've had Mr. H. around for 46 years now, and I'm not quite ready to kill him off, so I decided I'd go with those cherry wood landscape timbers. The ones at Lowe's were mostly crooked and twisted, so we had to sort through the entire pile just to find 12 good ones, and I needed 20 for the four beds I wanted to build. Actually, I wanted 40 so I could make them twice as high, but I certainly knew that was out of the question.
The dozen timbers were stacked on the cart, then we headed to the other side of the store (these places are about a mile from one end to the other, aren't they?) to buy some rebar. Our idea was to drill holes through the timbers and pound rebar through them to hold them in place. Well, they didn't have any short lengths available, and no way was I going to pound a six-foot rod through those timbers, and anyway they were much more expensive than we'd remembered.
So we went to look, over Mr. H's dead body, at 2x6s. They happened to have some treated ones on sale (pine, not the lovely redwood), and if I used them, I had enough scraps of the old boards to make the ends. And if I construct the strawberry beds from the good sections of the 4x4s that were the posts from the fence that got smashed, then I only need 6 boards. I'll use the deck screws I already have, so the beds won't cost as much as I'd originally thought.
I wonder if Mr. H's body would get any deader if I doubled up on those boards to make the beds deeper?
And, Mr. Lowe's employee, I'm sorry I left that cart of 12 cherry landscape timbers there in the lumber section, but that store is about a mile from one end to the other, isn't it?
August 13, 2008 - Tools of the Trade
I own a shovel, for loading and then unloading the composts and mulches that I must sometimes purchase. I have a garden rake for breaking up clods and creating a smooth planting bed. And I have a spading fork for trenching and covering my kitchen scraps. But once my beds are all prepared and planted, I basically only use two tools.
The fork for removing and transplanting the little thinnings, and a spaghetti fork for loosening the soil and scratching out the few little weeds that dare to appear. Really, that's all the tools that are needed for a Square Foot Victory Intensive Garden!
August 11, 2008 - Crockett's Victory Garden
May your garden, like mine, give you "Victory" over the high cost of fresh vegetables as well as the joy and good health that come from living close to nature....Jim Crockett
Way back in 1977, I purchased a book called Crockett's Victory Garden. It is the oldest, most read book in my garden library, the "go to" book for any gardening information I might need. Its pages are dog eared, its margins are full of scribbled notations. I search the internet for gardening articles. I read the message boards for ideas. I haunt the library for the newest garden manuals, the latest popular gardening methods. But I always come back to Crockett's Victory Garden.
Amazon.com still offers this book for sale. I was reading through the reviews to see if others loved it as much as I do, and I came across this entry:
"CROCKETT'S VICTORY GARDEN is the only gardening book you'll ever need. End of statement. PERIOD!
Month by month, James Underwood Crockett provides a precise overview of your gardening activities for the entire year. Monthly chapters provide details for all your gardening activities that month. Detailed sections within each month's chapter give details for what you need to do.
This book covers everything and includes an indespensable gardening tool: a planting calendar that allows you to customize your gardening schedule depending on where you live."
My sentiments exactly....CROCKETT'S VICTORY GARDEN is the only gardening book you'll ever need. End of statement. PERIOD!
August 10, 2008 - The Fence is Up!
I think my July-planted garden is coming along quite nicely!
Tomatoes, peppers and squash that didn't get squashed by the falling maple tree.
Lettuce, carrots and beets are springing up next to the bush beans in this bed.
August 7, 2008 - Six Pounds of Bounty
Six pounds! Three zucchini, three crookneck, two large cucumbers and a dozen or more cherry tomatoes! You're probably getting sick of all these similar photos, but I find it rather exciting to get this much food out of a three-foot wide by twenty-five foot long garden and two small pots. I gave my neighbor Pat three big zucchinis this morning. I know I have some more hiding in the bottom of the refrigerator...now three more to deal with. I'm going to have to start shredding and freezing, I guess. We had the beans and crookneck from yesterday for dinner tonight, with a nice roasted chicken and mashed potatoes, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. The puppies shared the chicken, beans and squash so that's all gone. I don't think I'll ever get my fill of those lovely crookneck squash.
The fence builders will be here in the morning to set the posts. We're going with metal posts this time, as even the pressure treated ones we put in less than ten years ago were so rotted they snapped right off. The top six feet of each wood post is still good, so I'll recycle them by cutting off the bad end and using them to form some of my new (future) garden beds. They expect to finish up the fence on Saturday.
August 6, 2008 - Yippee!!! I've Got Beans!!!
I also picked seven lovely tomatoes, one very large and two funny stubby cucumbers, one yellow crookneck squash (but they look to be coming on strong, very soon), three more zucchini (I ignored a couple more that should have been picked, I'm running out of room in the refrigerator), and my usual half-dozen cherry tomatoes. I'm about to give up on those cherry tomatoes. The vines are huge and there are a lot of green tomatoes on them, but they just ripen so very slowly. I sent three of the tomatoes and the large cuke home with my son. He worked pretty hard today, taking down the last of the cedar fence. But I had all of this left for us.
Yes, the fence is gone! Everything has been cleaned up and hauled to the dump, and I can call the fence builders tomorrow.
It has been terribly hot again. We are expecting temperatures back in triple digits this week, so I found a large panel of lattice and set it up on some buckets over the bunny greens garden. A lot of the lettuces are emerging, and I'm afraid the heat will just kill them. Hopefully the white lattice will deflect some of the sunlight and the plants will appreciate a bit of shade.
I noticed one of the beets I planted last month looks as though it has been chewed by a cutworm. I hope the others don't suffer the same fate. Cutworms were a problem in the bean patch earlier, a common problem in a new garden where there was formerly sod. Other than that, everything in the garden is growing well and looking healthy. Those green onions I bought at the grocery store and planted last week are beginning to show new green tops, the latest planting of beets are emerging, and the little carrots are beginning to show their feathery true leaves. We still have 70-80 days of growing weather, so hopefully I'll get a harvest from this late planted garden.
August 5, 2008 - A Garden is Born
First we had to install a small wire fence to keep the puppies from leaving the yard (and to protect the future garden). We made it to match the earlier fence we put in around the other vegetable garden, green steel posts and green welded wire. At only two feet high, I can step over it (there is no gate into this area) but the puppies can't.
I was really surprised we got so much done in one day, as it's hot as can be outside. Son, Scott, and grandson, Kevin, came early in the morning to help, but by noon we were all crashed out, taking a siesta! They will come back tomorrow to help clean up the area, then I can call the fence builders to come in and install a brand new 6-foot high cedar fence. Hopefully, it will get done this weekend.
I'm not going to have quite as much garden space as I wanted. Mr. Husband does not see the beauty in vegetable gardens so he fought me all the way on just how wide I could make it. I wanted it at least 12 feet wide to accomodate two 4' beds and 4' of pathways (see garden plan from yesterdays blog). I think I'll end up with around 11 feet, so the walk-around bed will have to be cut down to 3 feet. It's about 38-feet long, so with the existing garden I'll still end up with plenty of veggie growing space.
The Fence Comes Down
Today in the garden I picked 3 tomatoes, two zucchini (one very large one I missed yesterday) and one crookneck squash that is a perfect size. I noticed several shriveled up, underdeveloped crooknecks and disposed of them. That is a sign of poor pollination, but there were a lot of nicely formed little ones showing, and I've been seeing a lot of bees in the garden for the past two days. I hadn't seen a single bee out there before this, so I'm not surprised things weren't being pollinated! The bees were so bad today that we couldn't sit out on the patio, and my son got stung on the chin while working on the fence.
August 4, 2008 - Were You Talking To Me?
Here's a plan for one of the 4'x4' gardens, each square equaling 6-inches. It has cabbage, dill, garlic onions, nasturtiums and marigolds.
August 2, 2008 - From the Garden
The pole beans are growing so fast, it's fun to watch them. It shouldn't be long before they begin climbing the twine, so I really need to find a longer pole for the center of that bed. Next spring I think I'll plant them next to the dog kennel that we no longer use for the dogs, so they can climb the six-foot chain link and give me a shady spot behind them to sit and look at the garden.
The Chocolate Zucchini Cake that I baked last night was a real hit, Mr. Husband wouldn't have known there was zucchini in it if i hadn't told him. I think he liked it, as he had two huge helpings!
August 1, 2008 - Evening
Oh well, I'll just keep trying to convince myself that every serving of zucchini bread and zucchini cake is a serving of vegetables. I wish. Here's tonight's "vegetable dish".
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour milk
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cup flour
2 cups zucchini , grated
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cream together margarine, oil, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, and sour milk. Stir in cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and flour and mix until blended. Add zucchini and stir well.
Pour into greased and floured 9"x13" pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Cocoa Fudge Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup HERSHEY®'S Cocoa Powder
1/3 cup milk
3 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat; stir in cocoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat; stir in milk. Pour mixture into a small mixer bowl. Slowly add powdered sugar, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Spread frosting while warm. Makes about 2-1/2 cups frosting.
*Note: I dump the sugar and vanilla right into the pan of hot cocoa mixture and beat it with an electric mixer. Then I just pour it over the warm cake, as it's still hot and quite thin. It's not as pretty, but it sure does taste good!
August 1, 2008 - "P" is for Purple
cushions for chair
cole slaw mix
A one time coincidence? Well, I just happened to notice what I'd written so far on this week's list:
pole for beans
poles (small) for peppers/tomatoes
Is that crazy or what?
That "purple cleaner" on my list, Fabuloso, is my new discovery. I was reading on another blog that the person's housekeeper always uses the cheap purple stuff, and it was an excellent cleaner. I'd seen it at Wal*Mart for about two dollars for a big bottle, but always passed on it figuring for that price it couldn't be very good. Well, I bought some. And it is. Good, that is. I cleaned my kitchen and bathrooms with it, and they absolutely sparkled. It removed hard water spots and soap scum, it made my countertops and stovetop and chrome fixtures shine. And the vinyl floors, too. Everything smells so clean and fresh! Sure, it's not in the least PC. And I'm quite sure it's not "green", although I can't find any list of ingredients on the bottle. One has to make sure it's put away, out of sight, or someone could unknowingly believe it was a grape drink. It looks like a big jug of purple Kool-aid! Also, it has a very strong lavender scent, so if strong perfumes bother you, you probably wouldn't want to use it.
Today in the garden: I had to staple netting over the new lettuce bed this morning. It seems as though I was feeding every finch and wren in the neighborhood those lovely mesclun seeds. I don't know if that netting will give it much protection, but it might save some of it from being eaten.
The pole beans I planted on July 28 are already coming up. One plant actually has real leaves, and many more are just poking through the ground.
The beets that were planted on July 18 needed some more thinning last night, but this morning I saw I'd killed a couple of them by pulling out seedlings that must have been too close. Today I'll stick in a couple of seeds there, and also in the few places where the earlier seeds didn't germinate. The lettuce in that bed is showing true leaves, and where I filled in with new seeds last week is showing some new green today. I'll let no ground go unplanted!
I picked just enough green beans, from the bush bean patch, to cook for dinner tonight. I wish I had replanted that area after the tree fell on it and broke down some of the plants. The yield has been rather disappointing.
My yellow crookneck squash, which started off with a bang, came to a complete stop for a couple of weeks. Now I see three that might be picked in the next day or two, and several smaller ones forming. I had hoped they would produce at the same time as the bush beans, as I love to combine the two vegetables. At this rate, the squash might produce about the same time as the later planting of beans.