September 29, 2010: Meal Plans Go Awry & Other Stuff

On Monday, we got hungry for home made pizza. I had a lot of fresh cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic, so a "from-scratch" pizza sauce sounded really good.

The tomatoes were cut in half and placed in a 9'x13' baking dish. They were topped with lots of sliced garlic, and some freshly picked basil leaves, which were just cut with scissors and scattered over the top. I drizzled on some olive oil, then sprinkled it with salt and freshly cracked pepper and a bit of sugar....oh, maybe a couple of teaspoons. It went into a 325F oven for an hour, then I gave it a good stir and returned it to the oven for another 30 minutes, until the juices had cooked down and the tomatoes were beginning to caramelize.

In the meantime, I decided I might as well take care of several large Brandywines that were getting a bit on the ripe side, so I cored them, cut them in half, squeezed out the seeds and tossed them into a big casserole dish. I added salt, pepper, oil and a sprinkling of sugar to them too, and popped them into the oven with the cherry tomatoes. I left them in the oven for two hours, after which they were still a bit juicy.

The first batch, the cherry tomatoes, went right into the food processor. The larger, juicier tomatoes were poured into a strainer and allowed to drain for a bit. Then they were added to the food processor, and all the tomatoes were pureed together. The puree was then put through the chinois to remove seeds and bits of skin. The texture was perfect for pizza sauce, and oh, my, it tasted sooooo good!

I tossed the ingredients for the pizza crust into the bread machine, and pushed the "dough" button. Then I got some Canadian bacon and pepperoni out of the freezer, cans of pineapple and olives from the pantry, bell peppers and mozarella cheese from the refrigerator.......uh, mozarella cheese. Where is the mozarella cheese? Oh, no! I was out of mozarella cheese, and everything else was ready for making pizza!

Plans often go awry, and this was no exception. I grabbed a couple of frozen Italian sausages, a jar of my home canned tomato sauce, a cube of frozen basil, and a box of whole wheat spaghetti.

The pizza crust dough was plopped onto a cookie sheet in a big round mass, and put into the oven as an impromptu Italian bread. Everything else went back into the pantry or freezer for another day.

We did finally get our pizza, for dinner last night. It was made with a purchased pizza crust, but the sauce was delightful. I may have spoiled myself against eating any store-bought or delivery pizzas ever again.

Oh, dare I mention I got my hand a bit close to the oven burner when I was removing the pizza? And I couldn't figure out why it kept feeling hotter and hotter as I moved toward the counter? Duh....the pot holder was on fire!


The Heavenly Blue morning glory is beginning to blossom more freely now.

The blossoms are nearly 4" across.

Hundreds and hundreds of flower buds give me the hope that the vines will soon be nearly obscured by the lovely blue blossoms.


Awwww. I broke my garden fork this morning.

A bench full of veggies, including the last two cabbages. I had to check the fall carrots for size. They have just two more weeks to bulk up, then I'll have to decide whether to pull and eat baby ones or leave them and hope they overwinter.


A while back, Mr. Granny and I had to go to Walla Walla to the VA hospital to find out what had happened to one of his prescriptions. While we were waiting, I happened to notice this....

Would this make a cool indoor winter garden or what? I can just see pole beans growing up the side trellises, lettuce, radishes and carrots growing in the tub! It has a couple of grow lights up on top, and it could be wheeled outside on nice days, back inside when it gets too cold!

No, I'm not going to build one. But we did just give away a car top fiberglass pod that would have made two of these very easily! I could kick myself for getting rid of it. I could have used half of it on a pair of saw horses, for a really nice salad garden. Outside, of course.

September 27, 2010; Harvest Monday

The Week of September 20-26

28 oz. pole beans
92 oz. sweet peppers
417 oz. tomatoes
11 oz. chard
18 oz. zucchini (final)
65 oz. cucumbers

Total for week: 631 ounces = 39 pounds
Year to date: 833 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!


September 26, 2010: The Garden in September

My, the season has gone by too quickly! The garden has slowed considerably, and there is now more clean up work being done than there is harvesting.

After a disappointing season for the strawberries, I'm now in the process of removing all but the center row of plants, so they can put out new runners next spring. I expected the plants to do well in their second year, but most of my berries came from this year's runners. I've not made up my mind about it yet, but I might eliminate the 4'x8' strawberry bed and just plant a few in the three whiskey barrels by the fence. If I do that, I'll most likely use this bed for more raspberries. We didn't have nearly enough raspberries this year, and I'm wishing I'd bought Heritage rather than the one crop Canby (although they were very good).

The radishes in this bed are showing big, healthy tops. Unfortunately, the roots are almost non existent. The carrots in the center are doing much better, and may actually give us some baby carrots by the time we're ready to head south. If not, I'll leave them and hope they over winter. There are a few spinach plants scattered through this bed, but they came up very spotty, and aren't growing very quickly. The next bed has the summer sowed lettuce, most of which has now begun bolting. Would it have bolted sooner without the lattice covering I erected? I don't know. Last summer was hotter, and the lettuce never did bolt under the lattice. However, the seeds were scattered thickly over the entire surface, and it was treated as a cut-and-come-again bed. This year I did individual seedlings, spaced for larger growth. I'm going to leave it to do its thing, and hope it will give me some early spring volunteers. There are just a few plants of which the leaves can still be harvested for the rabbit.

The sweet peppers are coloring up very slowly this year. It looks as though I'll end up harvesting most of them green. The plants are heavy with fruits, to the point of beginning to break down the stems. My staking system just wasn't strong enough for them this year.

Leaf miners are ruining the chard. I'm getting a few usable leaves for the rabbit, but most days the crop looks like this, so the leaves have to be picked and thrown in the garbage. I think I'd better harvest my beautiful red cabbage this week. I don't want to press my luck and have it split.

This is the only pretty section of garden left now, filled with carrots, marigolds, basil and parsley. The carrots look like they are almost ready to harvest. The pots of hot peppers along the fence aren't looking terribly healthy, but I've withheld the fertilizer, hoping they would develop more heat. They'll all have to be picked in the next two weeks, as we could have a frost soon after that.

There aren't nearly as many peppers on the plants this year. Last year they were absolutely loaded and the plants were twice as large, but they had no heat at all.

The Fortex beans have been removed from the dog kennel fence, and are drying on the patio. I've had very few dry pods from them, and we had rain this week, so I decided to try drying them on a screen. I do hope I get some viable seed that way, but I'm not holding my breath. I may end up with the dozen or so that came from naturally dried pods. There are some pole beans on the right side of the enclosure, but they are so entangled in morning glory, it's rather difficult to find them! The morning glory is giving us 10-12 flowers each day, from the two plantings. The ones along the back of the kennel were the last ones planted, and the first to blossom. The ones growing from a pot at the right front have lush foliage, but not quite as many blossoms, although the flowers themselves are larger. I must get a morning shot of them, when the blossoms are open. They certainly aren't giving the brilliant show of color that they did last year, and they are a full two months behind last years blooms. The cucumber at the right of the opening is still pumping out a half dozen or more per week, and doesn't seem to mind having its head buried in morning glory vines.

I wonder what Otto is thinking. And why is he wearing his collar upside down?

He's probably looking for worms to play with.

The Brandywines aren't ready to give up yet. They are now our main source for slicing tomatoes, and we're getting more than we can eat from just this one plant. It had grown over the fence, so I pulled it back onto my side and discovered it was absolutely loaded with large green tomatoes that nearly went to the neighbors! I wouldn't have cared if these weren't the same neighbors who managed to soak me with their sprinkler about once a week through the summer. The same neighbors who took all the wood from our downed maple tree for their wood stove, and never even said thank you. The same neighbors who have a huge garden on the other side of that fence, and let it all go to weeds. Pffft....let 'em grow their own Brandywines!

Kellogg's Breakfast is also giving us quite a few tomatoes, but I'm disappointed in their flavor and texture this year. This plant was grown from self saved seeds, and I'm wondering if it may have crossed with another variety. The skins are really tough, where last year they were so thin skinned they had to be eaten right away, or they would get soft and mushy. The flavor isn't as good as last year either, but I didn't think any of the tomatoes were as flavorful this year. Only two tomato plants remain in this bed, the other two were removed to give these more room. Last year I had seven plants there, this year I had four. Next year there will be three at the most! The carrots that were planted on both sides of the tomato buckets are growing well. Those on the right just might get large enough to eat in the next three weeks, but I think the ones on the left were planted too late.

The morning glories on the fence were the first ones planted, and have yet to give me a single blossom. There's a ladder and a bird house under there somewhere! I've noticed a lot of bees in this area of the garden this week. The zinnias have grown too tall, and are falling over. I'll grow them again next year, but provide them with some wire fencing for support. I was sure I planted the dwarf marigolds here, but it turned out to be those humongous things I swore I'd never plant again. I did cut them back a month or so ago, so they are kind of under control now.

The Cherokee Trail of Tears beans are slowly but surely drying on the patio trellis. I've probably shelled about a cup so far, but these are still a week or two from being dry enough. I need to get them out soon, as I have a honeysuckle vine rooting and ready to plant in their place.

One of the last roses of summer. It smells like fresh raspberries.

September 24, 2010: Adios, Zucchini

Powdery mildew and Mr. Granny finally did it in. We could no longer walk around the side of the house, and Mr. G hit it with the riding lawnmower the other day, so I decided its time had come. That one plant dwarfs the garden cart!

Two overgrown zukes were found in the process, as well as one of edible size that will be sliced and fried tonight. There were several tiny squash left on the vine, and many more blossoms, so it would have continued to bear until it froze. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, and I certainly can't complain about the 70 pounds of zucchini it gave us, which is a record crop for me by nearly fifty pounds! By the way, those two large zucchinis will not be added to the edible totals for the year, they will be composted. The large one weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces, and the other biggie was 5 pounds 6 ounces.

September 23, 2010: Goodby, Red Egg, I Hardly Knew Ye.

I'd never planted, nor had I ever tasted, eggplant. This year I received some seeds in the mail, and decided to give them a try. The two plants that I kept in pots grew large, lush and loaded with beautiful tennis ball sized red eggs. Unfortunately, I found the taste not to my liking.

Thompson & Morgan UK describes Red Egg as From South America, this Aubergine is a striking red colour and the size of a tennis-ball. An unusual and interesting colour to add to vegetable dishes. A good cropper, producing a generous helping of fruit throughout summer.

The first plant to bear had oval fruits that looked like the photos I'd seen.

The second one to bear was quite different, with perfectly round fruits. A lot of them. A "good cropper" may be an understatement! I wonder, if I had actually liked the taste, would they have given me so many?

I didn't count how many were on the first plant I pulled out and composted, but I cut 54 of them off the second plant before I quite counting.

There were many, many more uncounted globes.
They were lovely plants, I wish we had liked their fruits.

September 20, 2010: Harvest Monday

The Week of September 13-19

Monday I picked a 21 oz. butternut, the smallest one of the year. I forgot to photograph it before we ate it!

Tuesday was a good harvest day, giving me red bell peppers, a few strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, butternut squash and the last of the bush beans. The bush bean vines have all been pulled and added to the compost.

Friday I harvested tomatoes, Gonzales cabbage, pole beans, lots of cucumbers, sweet peppers, jalapeno peppers, lettuce and parsley.

Saturday it was all about the butternut squash, plus a few cucumbers and two zucchini. There were also a few tomatoes that didn't make it into the picture.

734 ounces (46 pounds) butternut squash
487 oz. (30 pounds) tomatoes
24 oz. bush beans
14 oz. pole beans
100 oz. cucumbers
16 oz. lettuce
91 oz. sweet peppers
62 oz. zucchini
5 oz. strawberries
12 oz. cabbage
2 oz. hot peppers
5 oz. parsley

Total for week: 1552 ounces = 97 pounds
Year to date: 794 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!


Heavenly Blue morning glory finally gave me its first blossom of the year, a full two months later than last year's first blooms. The vines are loaded with tiny buds, so I'm hoping to have a glorious show of flowers before it freezes.

It's getting closer and closer to time to leave for Arizona, so I'm trying to kick my harvests into high gear, and do some fall garden cleanup in the process. I've pulled many of the tomatoes. I'm down to just five of the full sized indeterminates; 2 Brandywine, 1 Kellogg's Breakfast, 1 Market Miracle and 1 Amish Paste. I've also left 1 Black Cherry and 1 Cherry Roma. There are still a few of the dwarf plants that are refusing to give up. Mini Gold, the first one to bear, looks as though it will be the last to quit bearing! What a work horse that little plant has been, and the foliage is extremely lush and green. The flavor of the tomatoes isn't particularly special, but they sure taste better than store bought, and they are pretty in salads. I will probably plant this one again next year.

Mini Gold is a tiny work horse. It's only about 2 feet tall, and has been bearing small yellow fruits nearly non-stop since June 24. At first, the tomatoes weren't very flavorful, but became much better later in the season. The plant slowed down for a couple of weeks, while it put forth a new flush of blossoms. It's now giving some ripe fruits, and loaded with green tomatoes and hundreds of flowers. If the roots haven't gone through the bottom of the pot, and if it will survive being moved, I may cut it back before it freezes and try to move it south with us.

I've harvested most of the butternut squash, and cleaned out the vines. There are still four large ones left in the garden, three of which were accidentally pulled with their vines. I've left them there, but I don't know if they will continue to ripen.

A basket full of butternut squash was harvested from the garden Saturday.

This week's butternut harvest joins all of the others. They have all been scrubbed with a soft brush and water, then given a dip into a sink filled with water and a small amount of bleach. Once they had air dried, they were all placed on the patio table, where they will remain for the next week or two, maybe longer, depending on the weather. They'll be brought inside and stored for the winter. While we are gone for the winter, our thermostat is set at 45F, which should be an excellent storage temperature for them. We have already eaten four, and given away two, so 24 squash have been harvested from two plants, a total of 79-1/4 pounds. If the remaining four ripen, I should get a total yield of about 95 pounds.

Today (Sunday) it rained hard all day, so I decided to do something with all the tomatoes I'd picked this week. When they were all washed and cut up, they completely filled my 8-quart soup kettle. I added an onion and some spices, simmered them until everything was soft enough to puree with the stick blender, put it all through the chinois and returned it to the stove to simmer for three hours. When it had reduced to a fraction of its original amount, I added sugar, vinegar and more spices, cooked it down a bit more, then ladled it into pint jars and put it in the boiling water bath. That was practically an entire day's work for......

Three pints of ketchup.

September 18, 2010: Nevermind

I'm so glad Mr. Granny decided to tip up the larger sofa to see how many legs it was supposed to have. Who knew they had zippered pockets in the dust covers, which contained the missing legs? At least it was early this morning when we made the discovery, before I had a chance to drive to the store and make an a$$ of myself!

In the meantime, both of us were awake half the night, worrying that we had somehow thrown them away with the packing materials. My son had taken all of the cardboard and Styrofoam with him and disposed of it in their dumpster. I called him right away when we discovered we had no legs, but the dumpster had been emptied in the morning! Well, now we can rest easy that our sofa and love seat are not made for midgets.

September 17, 2010: I Have No Legs!

My daughter and granddaughters came over to see the new furniture tonight, and Alicia said it was nice, but awfully short. "Mom", she said, "why does it look so short?" Amy looked at the sofa and said "Where are the legs?"

She's right! I remember telling her the set had dark wood legs, and I hoped they would look alright with my oak furniture! We looked it up on line, and sure enough....take a look at the picture of my love seat in yesterday's post, then take a look at this.

I'll have to call the furniture store tomorrow, and hope they can find my legs.

September 16, 2010: Out With the Old, In With the New

It was time. We've lived with the blue sofa and love seat for over twenty years, and it refuses to die. It just got to the point where we were sick and tired of it, so we went furniture shopping.

Do you know that everything in the furniture stores is brown? I did see one bright paprika colored sofa, but that was just too much of a system shock. Besides, I don't have paprika colored dogs, and the two I do have do shed. So I had no choice, I went brown. I did find a small, comfortable, sage green recliner (ahhhhh.....finally, a chair that fits my weary bones!). We had a perfectly good and practically new sage green recliner in the family room, so we brought it into the living room last night and I tested it out. It was so big, I had to practically lie flat on my back for my feet to touch the floor! It took all my strength to recline it, and then I couldn't get it back upright. I'm really not that weak! My daughter, Amy, dropped in, and I had her try it. She got stuck in the horizontal position, too. Mr. Granny was not a happy camper when I informed him the giant recliner was just not acceptable. He was especially grouchy about having to move it back to its original location.

Mr. Granny and I searched through two furniture stores yesterday, and I think I sat on about a hundred couches and reclined in a dozen or more chairs. I'm not a short person, around 5' 5", but most of the sofas were so deep I felt like Edith Ann, sitting in her giant chair. Besides, most of them had loose pillow backs. Did I ever tell you that my boy dog, Otto, has an insatiable appetite for loose pillows? We can't leave him alone in the house, or he consumes them. He doesn't just rip into them, he eats them. We've learned to shut all loose sofa pillows in the closet when we leave the house. Of course, he hasn't eaten a pillow since he was about a year old, but I hate to take chances.

By the time I drove into the parking lot at the third furniture store, Mr. Granny was refusing to leave the car. I really don't know why I even took the man, he's not the best shopper. To him, a chair is a chair, a sofa is a sofa, and he'd just buy the first one he saw. He actually wanted to buy a gray one, and I have beige carpeting!

I wasn't even going to stop at the fourth furniture store. They were having a sale, but the previous tenants of that building sold cheap furniture, and I hadn't bothered to even go through their doors in years, expecting the new owners to be selling the same shoddy wares. But I was in the neighborhood, and I had yet to see "IT". "IT" being something I could live with the rest of my life, because hopefully it will be the last living room set I'll ever have to buy. So, leaving Mr. Granny behind again, I entered the fourth, and thankfully final, furniture store.

I was greeted by a pleasant young salesman, the first one of the day who actually acted as though he wanted to be of help. I told him I would know if I saw "IT", and he respectfully backed off and let me browse. About the third row in, I saw "IT". The salesman sensed immediately that it was time to come in for the kill sale. He deftly showed me the quality workmanship, explained that the cushions were puffy because they were hand stuffed down filled, and pointed out the fact that the set was marked down over $300 from its regular price. When I mentioned I might be interested in a small recliner, he didn't stupidly ask "what size would that be?" like the salesman at a previously visited store (did he really expect me to have chair measurements in my head?), he picked up one of the loose pillows from the sofa and went directly to a small, sage green recliner. One that fit my butt like a glove. One that let my feet touch the floor so I could gently rock. One that reclined so comfortably it almost made me want to shut my eyes and go to sleep. One that went back into the upright position without throwing out my back. Thank you Charlie, from Thomas Furniture. It's not often one finds a competent, caring salesperson these days.

I just wish I'd looked at their website before I spent $1500 at their store. There's a coupon for 10% off the purchase! Too late now :-(

So, anyway, out with the old......

And in with the new......

I still have a few accessories to change. So far I've purchased a few candles and reclaimed the large, brown, pottery ashtray from the boys' smoking area on the patio. I clustered three candles in the ashtray and surrounded them with small colored stones. I bought a small vase of dried grasses for the old sewing machine, and next to it, I set the green leaf shaped dish I'd bought when the dollar store sold out last summer.

The blue floral entry rug was replaced with this more colorful one, which really picks up the colors of the brown sofa and love seat, the lighter shade of the oak furniture, the sage green recliner, and the brick on the fireplace. Eventually, I'll recover the sofa pillows in a fabric with these darker and brighter colors.

Now, please excuse me while I fall asleep in my new recliner.

September 15, 2010: Granny Picks a Peck of Pretty Peppers

To all who commented on the size of the Quadrato Rosso D'Asti peppers in yesterday's post, I do nothing special for the huge peppers. They are planted in my regular garden soil, which has a couple of inches of compost (dairy compost from the nursery) dug into it each spring, and a sprinkling of 10-10-10 (any brand I can find, this year it's Lily Miller Ultra Green All Purpose 10-10-10) worked in just before I plant the husky, healthy, home grown plants. These were from two year old seed, purchased from Ohio Heirloom Seeds. I highly recommend them. I mulched the plants with a couple of inches of dried grass clippings, staked each of them, and kept them well watered. That's all.

The variety is exceptionally large, but my Golden Calwonders, also from two year old seeds from Ohio Heirloom Seeds, size up quite nicely, too.

This year has actually been a disappointment when it comes to the peppers. Last year I planted fewer plants, and the yield was much greater than what I'll get this year. In 2009, I had a dozen plants, eight Quadrato Rosso D'Asti and four Golden Calwonder, and I harvested an amazing 87 pounds from them! That's an average of 7-1/4 pounds per plant! This year I set out 16 plants, and have only harvested 23 pounds so far. Of course, there are a lot that haven't yet been picked as they are a bit late (by more than a full month) to color up. Also, many were removed from the plants earlier in the season when they were very small, due to the disease problem they were having.

By September 7, 2009, I had already frozen several gallon sized bags full of fully red-ripe peppers, and I was still harvesting the huge beasts in their green stage. That's a full sized laundry basket holding just eight peppers!

The pepper plants grow very tall, these measuring about 47" when they are standing straight up. Even though I have these staked, they have grown so tall and heavy with fruit that they are leaning badly. The small bamboo stakes are just no match for the weight of the plants. A few branches have broken off already, overloaded with immature fruits. Next year I might try cone shaped tomato cages.

Look closely, and you'll see how the plants are loaded with young peppers. In a normal year, these would have ripened to a bright red by now, and the plant would be full of younger green peppers.

Here is one I missed yesterday.

It turned out to be "only" nine ounces, a mere baby compared to the 13 ounce giant from yesterday.