April 30, 2013 - Squashed!

I tackled about half of the butternut squash from the 2012 garden this afternoon.  It's still good, but beginning to deteriorate in quality.  The centers are getting a bit spongy.

I cut them into chunks and removed the seeds and spongy flesh, then poured about an inch of water in the bottom of the roaster, covered it tightly with foil and baked them at 350F for just over an hour.  Some of the top pieces weren't quite done, so I finished them off in the microwave.  Can you spot my Halloween "squash o' lanterns"?

 I scooped the flesh away from the rind and whipped it up fairly smooth with the electric mixer.

Today's batch gave me 6 pounds 12 ounces of delicious squash puree for the freezer.

April 29, 2013 - Harvest Monday

Spinach and assorted lettuces were harvested today.

My largest plastic container was filled with enough salad fixings to last about 3-4 days.  Mr. Granny and I have each been consuming 3-4 ounces of salad greens at dinner every day, plus lettuce on sandwiches.  I'm glad to see the fresh garden greens beginning to grow so well!  We'll also be eating another of last year's butternut squash.  They've lasted well all winter, and I still have 10 more left.  The quality is beginning to deteriorate, so we'll have to eat them up quickly or cook them and find room in the freezer.

Lettuce: 11.9 ounces
Spinach: 4.4 ounces

Total this week: 16.3 ounces
Total to date: 1.37 pounds (just half of what I harvested by this date last year)

YIKES!  The weather forecast for tonight has gone from 38 down to 32, and now to 29.  Mother Nature hates me.  Or the weatherman lies....that has certainly happened a lot this year.

April 29, 2013 - The Wind is Blowing

The wind is blowing,
Hold on Granny!
The trees are bending,
There goes Annie!
The birds are thinking
What was that?
The wind is swirling
Hold on to your hat!
What's the concern?  
I beg your pardon,
I'm getting worried.....
Ooops, there goes my garden!

Mon, Apr 29, 2013, 5:05 AM PDT




 Patio tomatoes and peppers are protected.  Bamboo sticks are holding the pots down so they don't blow off.

 Larger tomato plants around the patio are shielded from the strong winds (and expected low temperature tonight).

Seedlings pushed up against the house for extra protection.

 I just planted these four tomatoes yesterday.  So far the shed is protecting them from the wind.

 I really should have waited another week to plant this row of peppers.  The plants are going to have a rough time of it today.

 I think (hope) these tomatoes and peppers will be OK, sheltered by the fence.

A broccoli plant is struggling, flattened by the wind.  I've already lost one to cutworm and two more to damping off.  I only have two left, including this one, so it may be a broccoli-less year for me.  I planted a few seeds directly in the garden as replacements, so let's hope something grows.

April 23, 2013 - Lilac Time

The blooming of the lilac tree kind of crept up on me this year.  I almost didn't get a bouquet for the house before they passed their prime!  Usually I fill the house with lilac blossoms, as they are probably my favorite flower (or a close tie with daffodils).

I was too busy elsewhere this week.  Son John came over on his day off, and he and I got the new rain gutters installed on the front of the house.  He installed, I helped by holding up the long sections of gutter while he attached them, and then I painted them.  I still have to put another coat on the garage side, but I got sidetracked today.....by sunshine!  I was itching to get out to the garden.

First thing I did was move the seedlings off of their new place on the patio (the same shelves, moved and equipped with plastic for wind protection) and put them in the yard for some sun.

I think they liked it!

I headed for the garden with my little electric tiller and dug, amended and leveled out the entire east garden.  I'll have room to plant 36 sweet peppers along the fence to the left, and for four 4'x6' beds of corn on the right.

Sweet pepper plan.  Plants are on 15" centers.

Some small onion plants are in a bed to the right of those boards.  They didn't quite make it into the picture.  The black container holds some potatoes planted in chopped leaves.  Under the boards are the carrot seed mats, and also in that bed are teeny tiny carrot seedlings where the boards have been removed.  To the left is a wide row of bush beans, then a large expanse where butternut squash vines will someday run rampant.  Sugar snap peas are growing well on the kennel fence.  Beets, spinach, lettuce, carrots, celery and strawberries are inside the kennel.  To the left of the kennel the parsnips are just beginning to emerge behind the row of radishes.  

The next bed, in the back, will hold the remaining sweet pepper plants.  There was room for nine there, and I'll interplant some basil and probably a few marigolds.  To the left of that bed are the raspberries.  They are quite late this year.  To the left of the raspberries are the strawberries.  They are absolutely loaded with blossoms, more than I've ever seen on them before! In the foreground will be the butternut squash bed.

The last of the planned sweet peppers, all the others have been given away or promised to my kids.

The trenches hold the leeks, started from seed and not growing at all since they were planted a couple of weeks ago.  To the left of the leeks are Golden Acre cabbages.  Next is the bed of Yukon Gold potatoes, which are just emerging and seem to have escaped the freeze that hit the other potato bed.

The next bed holds 5 broccoli plants and 6 Gonzales cabbages.  I lost a few to cutworms last week, so they were replaced and cutworm collars were put around all of them.  It looks like I've lost another broccoli, and it was protected with a collar of cardboard.  To the left of this bed are the red Norland potatoes that suffered frost damage the other night.  It does look like they will be alright, they are showing some new green growth.  The Walla Walla sweet onions are not growing as well as in previous years.  Usually we're eating some in salads by now, but these are not nearly large enough.  The lettuce and garlic are growing behind the shed, but it was too shady to get a good photo of them.

It won't be long before we'll be eating the first rhubarb pie of the season!  

I set up and filled all the pots with potting mix.  The black pots on the right will hold three Patio tomatoes, the two white pots are for Happy Yummy Hot peppers.  The white pot on the left is for a fourth Patio tomato, and the other two pots will hold jalapeno peppers.  It's warm and sheltered here, so I think I might get the pots planted by the end of the week.

Annie was MIA, but Otto was enjoying some time in the sun.

And I DID get a bouquet of lilacs to enjoy in my kitchen.

It's a good thing I got so much done today.  Tomorrow morning I have to report for jury selection  :-(

April 22, 2013 - Harvest Monday

My first harvest of the year!  Well, not counting a bit of overwintered broccoli and a lot of chives that I didn't weigh.  We'll have a lovely, fresh salad for dinner tonight.

Red Sails, Anuenue and Buttercrunch lettuce.

Olympia Hybrid spinach and a stalk of celery from an overwintered plant.  I didn't get any celery at all from those plants last fall, and they are all (3) growing beautifully this spring!

Lettuce: 1.8 ounces
Spinach: 3.1 ounces
Celery: .7 ounce

Total today: 5.6 oz.

April 20 - The Monsters I Have Created

When I began baking cookies for Big Dog (see April 7, 2012 - Finishing Up), I should have known his whole family would soon show up for dinner!

April 18, 2013 - Time to Harden Off the Seedlings

After the hard freeze we were hit with yesterday morning, it's beginning to look really promising for an April 25th. planting date for the warm season plants.  That means I need to start hardening them off right away!

 I'll soon be planting all the seedlings that are on the right (glass) table, and giving away all of those on the left and under the card table.  You can see I'm not planting so many tomatoes this year, but I am going to buy a 4-pack from the nursery as soon as they get the variety in that I want.  There are 37 pepper plants that I am for sure going to find room for.  If I have enough space, I may plant a few from the "give away" table.  I have 8 cherry tomatoes on my table, and that might be cut back to planting just 4 of them.  So far I have 8 regular tomatoes, but plan on ending up with 12......a lot fewer than previous years!  There are 7 basil plants, 1 Arp rosemary and a bunch of cosmos.  

As soon as Mr. Granny wakes up from his nap (he gets really tired from watching The Price is Right, LOL), I'll get the frame built for the garden cart.  I can't get the battery off of the power screw driver so I can put on a fresh one.  I'll put as many of the seedlings as I can get into the cart, and have clear plastic on hand to cover them if the weather turns too stormy.  At night I can just wheel the cart into the garden shed.  A week of pushing them in and out should harden them sufficiently to plant them out.

While waiting for Mr. Granny, I dug a few new garden beds.  There is a small 2'x6' at the back (in front of the gate) for future carrots, and two 4'x6' beds on the right, the first of several for future corn.  Between the corn beds and the red string is a path, and there is another path along the right side fence.  To the left of the red string, all along that fence line, will  be where the peppers are planted.  The neighbor cleaned up her side of the fence last fall, and planted a couple of rhodies.  Now it is just solid with milkweed again, even worse than last year  :-(

April 17, 2013 - Jack Frost Pays a Visit

We had a record breaking freeze last night, 23F.  Everything in my garden looks fine, except the potatoes.  Every single potato plant froze.  Surprisingly enough, it didn't bother the little marigolds at all.  I don't know how my neighbor's garden fared, I noticed he had most of his plants covered with buckets.

Today it was sunny and beautiful outside.  Not terribly warm, but comfortable working in the sunshine with just a sweater.  I did get out to do a bit of gardening.  We're not supposed to get any more freezing nights (I'm not holding my breath), so I planted a couple of 6' rows of Provider bush beans, just in case I get lucky.  I also planted 47 Western Giant onion plants, another 6' row of Ingot carrot seed mats (144 seeds) and a packet of Thomas Laxton shelling peas (only 3 of a huge packet of earlier planted shelling peas have broken ground so far).

Three new garden beds for bush beans, carrots and onions.  The sugar snap peas are beginning to climb their strings.

 The strawberries are growing well and loaded with blossoms.

 Spinach and lettuce  are getting some leaves almost large enough to harvest.  I noticed the square of carrots in this bed were beginning to emerge, but none so far in the main garden.  There are also seeds of spinach and beets that are just now coming up in some of the squares.  The three green plants to the right of this bed are celery that has over wintered.  I noticed one stalk that is almost big enough to cut!  I think it's bigger than any I cut last year.

 After I finished with my gardening, I began painting the new rain gutters to match the house trim.  It was warm in the afternoon sun, and the paint dried quickly.

My kitchen was turned into a painting room for the small pieces of rain gutter.

While I waited for paint to dry, I whipped out a batch of cookies for Big Dog.  Now it's time to whip up some dinner for Mr. Granny  :-)

April 16, 2013 - No Time for Gardening

Son John came by today to begin another job for me.  We'd had some problems with leaking rain gutters in the past, so the facia boards were showing some rot.  John and Mr. Granny pulled down the old boards, then John and I headed for Lowe's to buy lumber and new rain gutters.

My job was to prime all the boards.  All 66 feet of boards.  Both sides.  It was cold and windy out there, but at least the primer dried quickly in the sun and wind.

Then I gave them a coat of paint.  Both sides.

Nice new facia boards on the front of the house.....

And on the front of the garage.

My next chore will be to pre-paint all of the new metal gutters.  Son John's next chore will be to install them.  I'll try to work in a bit of gardening in my spare time!

April 13, 2013 - Seedling Saturday

The seedlings have grown a lot since last week (top photo), and are now taking up two full shelves.  Most of them have been potted up into larger containers.  The top light had to be slanted to compensate for the height of the tomatoes, and is now 15" up from the shelf the plants are sitting on.  I'm hoping they don't get too much larger in the next three weeks, when it will be time to plant them out in the garden.  

So far I've put 80 peppers and 17 cherry tomatoes into larger cups, way more than I can use in my garden!  My newish (since last spring) neighbor, across the street, was working in his garden yesterday.  It was a new garden last year, just a few squash plants in the corner, but he enlarged it by a lot this spring and was out planting when I went over to introduce myself and ask if he could use some tomato and pepper plants.  It turned out he had already purchased and planted all of his tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers!  He's an elderly gentleman, and he seems to know quite a bit about gardening, but I was shocked that he was planting those warm season crops already.  Our night temps are still in the 30s, with occasional frost warnings.  I have planted as early as the last week in April, but more than once I've had to cover the tender plants.  It's really much safer to wait until the second week of May.  

My neighbor's new garden.  The photo, taken from across the street, is a bit deceptive.  The garden is probably about 80 feet long next to that fence, and 6-8' wide.  I hope his tender plants don't freeze.  Now just wait for his garden to be way ahead of mine, just to prove me wrong!  

April 7, 2012 - Finishing Up (second post today)

I took a short break from the day's chores, but Son John kept working.  After we had our septic tank demolished and got hooked up to the city sewer, there was quite a bit of concrete that had to be replaced.  The tank was under our driveway, and by code a cleanout had to be installed 2 feet from the house.  That would have meant breaking out part of our front porch, but luckily the code enforcement officer let us fudge by a foot and put it in the sidewalk leading from our garage.  Not the best place, as it means we have to step on the cleanout and backflow covers every time we walk in and out or the garage.  Anyway, we hired a man to do the concrete work.  He's the same person who did the slab under our shed a couple of years ago, and we were very satisfied with his work.  He replaced the large area that had been cut from the driveway, and he did a really nice job on it.  I have no idea what happened when he replaced the sidewalk slab.  It was dark by the time he finished, and he had tossed a tarp over it so we didn't even look at it before paying him and telling him "Thank you, goodbye".  You can imagine how shocked I was the next day when I removed the tarp and saw a rough, uneven slab of exposed rocks.   He had poured the concrete and just left it unfinished!  It was also sloped in the wrong direction for proper drainage, and nearly an inch lower than the old slab.

John fixed it for me today, putting on a thick skim coat.  He says it will be OK, I hope so!

While John worked, I came inside and finished up-potting those 36 peppers and a half dozen tomato plants.  I had to bring in two more shop lights to accommodate the larger containers.  I think there are still something like 60 more peppers that need to be potted up, but I'm temporarily out of big cups.  And I have no idea where I'll put them all!

I have a new friend.  Look closely, he's right in the middle of the photo.

I don't even know his name.  I just call him "Big Dog", but he is completely deaf so it doesn't make any difference what I call him.  He's a rescue dog, very old, and my neighbor said he's not only deaf, but also blind.  I beg to differ.  He can definitely see, because he waits at that fence and watches for me every day.  When he sees me in the yard, the tail wags......

And he starts licking his chops.  Because I bake him cookies and give him daily treats.  He's been terribly abused, and he's so thin and crippled he can hardly walk.  He is a love, and he deserves to be loved.  

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits with Molasses
Yields 40-50 biscuits


1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk (I use fat free)
3/4 to 1 cup peanut butter (I use 3/4 cup natural peanut butter)
1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
Additional Flour for Rolling

Preheat oven to 350° F

Whisk the flour, oats and baking powder together in a medium bowl.  Gradually stir in the milk, peanut butter and molasses.
(I just dump evertything into the food processor and turn it on.  It's a very stiff dough, so I have to stop the processor and push the dough around a few times)

Turn out onto a floured surface.

Knead until a soft dough forms.

Roll out to 1/2" thickness and cut with a dog bone cookie cutter.
(I just cut the dough into strips, about 3/4" wide and 2" long)

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Let cool overnight in the oven.  (I open the oven door just a wee bit to let some of the heat escape, then shut it and leave the cookies in over night).