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Thursday, August 1, 2019

A Video Tour of my Garden

I made a video of my garden and posted it on my June's Tarot Journey You Tube channel. Here it is if you want to see my one year old, in progress, garden.

Today I spent over an hour just planting 3 more of the Hollyhocks I started from seed.  The soil here is hard clay and without any natural rainfall in over a month, or more, I had to wet it down repeatedly just to get a hole started. Then I hit and disconnected a drip line and had to get to the garage and turn that part of the system on to find where it had disconnected from. Fortunately, it was an easy fix and I got on with planting the last of the 3 I had room for in that bed and headed back in the house to cool off.

With a big fire covering North of us 18,000 acres that is only 25% contained, bringing smoke into this valley starting around noon every day and not moving out till around dinner time when the winds shift, and the high 90s temperatures, morning is the only time I can work in the garden with some level of comfort.

It's been a bad year for tomatoes - worst I've ever had in my 56 years of gardening. Until a couple of weeks ago when my oregano came into flower, I hardly saw a bee in the garden. I don't know if all the constant summer fires the past couple of year is the cause or the poisons that people and growers are using on all the plants, decimating the population, but it's definitely concerning.

Hope all my fellow gardeners are having a good summer.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Yesterday was a marathon plant buying day and today It's been another marathon day of planting, and other garden chores. All but two of my larger tomatoes are planted, (Planting 7 this year) as well as the serrano chiles, sweet roasting peppers and bell peppers, my lone Eggplant, cantaloupe, parsley and basil.. I also got two hanging planters and a wall planter cleaned out and planted.

The early planted lettuce is ready for harvest, snow peas are looking good broccoli and the spinach are doing well.

After lunch I put my bean seeds on damp hand towel paper and in a baggie for a few days till they sprout. The bean tower is in place and the soil turned over and amended.. There is still some kale, summer squash,carrots a couple of herbs and a lot of flowers to plant.

A while ago I planted some snow peas,cilantro, lettuce, spinach, scallions,and brocccoli and the leaf lettuce is now ready for harvest and everything else is doing well. Most of it is planted in my large raised bed, using the square foot gardening method again.

If I can still walk after dinner I might get out and move some things out of two large planters I want to use for those two large beefsteak tomato plants, and put some new soil in there so I can plant those last two big tomatoes tomorrow.

The last couple of days I've bought a lot of flowers - some for planters and some to add to a recently enlarged flower bed, and and a couple more herbs and veggie starts, so there's still a large amount of planting still to do in this heavy, rocky soil. The weather looks good for the rest of the week, so if my back holds out I will be able to get a lot done in the next few days.

It looks like most things did well over the winter except a jasmine that didn't make it. My other jasmines in large pots always seem to do well, but some of the jasmine varieties can't take our cold winters. If I decide to buy another one of those, it will go into a pot and get moved to the garage or hour for over wintering. Meantime, I have a nice, new gallon of a Nelly Moser clematis to plant in that spot.

Hope everyone is enjoying some good gardening weather now.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Same day Jim Lahey No Knead Sour Dough bread

This morning I started around 7am on this Jim Lahey one day, no knead sourdough bread and I'm happy with how it turned out even though I made a couple of mistakes! I forgot to mix my starter in the water and put the starter in the bowl and put the flour on top of it; but I guess I mixed it enough at the beginning that it didn't make a difference. But by 2pm I had a finished loaf of bread.

As usual for this type of no knead bread, the crust is firm, but the bread inside is soft. His recipe call for all purpose and whole wheat flours. Next time I do this same day recipe, I'll use white whole wheat which I've read makes a lighter loaf.

But I'm very happy with this one pound loaf. It's great to know I can get a decent loaf of sour dough  bread  the same day. Next sour dough I make, I'll try one of the overnight night recipes which I imagine might give a bit more flavor. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Ooni oven arrived and is put together

The oven arrived a few days ago and I had no trouble putting it together. I swear, it took longer to unpack all the parts than it took to assemble it. But our weather has been horrible since it arrived, so pizza making will wait a bit. Plus, I still have to get a table for it.

Bi-Mart had a sale on the perfect sized, folding table with adjustable height legs, but after driving a half hour to buy one, they were sold out. So I got a rain check and will have to keep calling and go back when they get more in.

Meantime the bad weather continues. This morning it was below freezing, and alternating between rain and snow and at times a mixture of both. But I spent some time with the pizza calculator at, and printed out a Neapolitan dough recipe for 1, 2 and 3, 10? pizzas using the same bakers percentages. I'll probably make enough dough for 2 for the maiden firing.

I also found some you tube videos to watch made by some owners of this Ooni 3 model. It looks pretty straightforward as to how to get it started. The trick with baking the pizza will be to turn it about every 20 seconds which involves having to remove the door; but since it only takes about a minute or so to bake, that shouldn't be a problem.

Now I want to research a recipe using my Ischia starter.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Sour Dough starter and new Ooni wood burning pizza oven

I was up refreshing 3 jars of sourdough starter at 6am this morning. It's a rainy day with more cold, wet, and maybe snowy days his coming week, so it's a good time for thinking about making breads and soups.

This week I bit the bullet and ordered a small pizza oven. It's the Ooni, which can get up to 932 degrees F, and can be fueled either with wood pellets or gas. I opted for the wood pellet version, figuring that I could always buy the gas burner attachment at a later date; but frankly, for the once or twice a week at most, I might make pizza, I think the wood pellets would work fine. Plus, I think they might impart some extra flavor to the pies. Also, I have a 500,000 BTU weed burning torch that I've used to fire a small raku kiln, and I should be able to use that to fire this little kiln if I had to.

It enroute and  should arrive sometime next week. I've already purchased a 25 lb bag of mixed wood pellets for it. Now I just have to figure where I will put it. It needs to be on a wood or metal surface, The unit only weight 25 lbs. I can temporarily put it on my outdoor wood table until I can find some kind of used wood or metal table of appropriate size for it.

It takes less than a half hour to get the oven up to temperature and only 6o seconds to bake a pizza. The unit can also be used to cook steaks and their other, larger unit, can be used for roasting larger cuts of meat, making stews, etc.

I'll have to put it together, but that shouldn't be a problem from the look of it.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Pizza and Margarita night

This is the first pizza I've made in a couple of months. This one has my home made sauce, mozzarella cheese with a sprinkling of fresh grated pecorino romano on top of the mozzarella before baking and a light sprinkling after the bake. It also has thin sliced fresh mushrooms, rings of fresh, golden bell peppers, a sprinkling of pepperonici dried pepper flakes and a light drizzling of olive oil.

We had a few hard freezes  for a couple of nights and have had a couple of mornings with freezing fog. The sun came out this afternoon and if I didn't have a prior commitment, I would have gotten out front and planted the remaining small bag of Siberian irises. Maybe I can do that tomorrow if weather permits. The small area for them is already prepared so planting won't take long as long as the soil isn't frozen.

All my Christmas decorations are up, other than a fresh evergreen arrangement for the living room table, which I should get to this week. Our local garden center says that they now have fresh greens for sale, so I'll be getting some in the next day or so and be making the arrangement over the weekend.

I'm not going to be baking regular Christmas cookies this year; but  if my back is OK, I might mae some Chruschiki which are part of my family's Christmas tradition. These, at least how my family made them, are not commercially available, so if I want some I will have to make them. A few years ago I saw a video on you tube of some ladies using a hand operated pasta machine  to roll out the dough, and since ever then I;ve been doing the same thing which make the process a lot less stressful as well as faster on this old body. I'll be 79 in about two weeks and it was getting harder every year to roll out that hard dough for a few hours.

Well, time for a Christmas movie, a bit of yoga, meditation and lights out.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Fires are out and the rains have arrived along with my new bread machine

Hope everyone who celebrates the holiday, yesterday, had a lovely Thanksgiving. My family was up for the week and I joined them and friends for dinner at their river ranch. The cold, rainy day, seemed perfect weather to stay indoor and take in all the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen.

Between the horrible fires and dangerous air, it took forever to get around to planting some of my Siberian and other Irises and a couple of package of daffodil bulbs. As soon as there's a let up in the rain I will have to get out and pull the last of the veggies and tomato cages and other supports.

I treated myself to an early birthday and Christmas present and bought this new Zojirushi BB-PDC20BA bread machine. It's like the Roll Royce model and makes great bread. I had an older model of this that I gave away early in the year when I thought I was gluten intolerant and missed it. Turns out I wasn't gluten intolerant but had another digestive problem. About two weeks ago I found a used Oster bread machine at a local thrift store, and it worked well. In fact, for the price new, I think it's a good deal. I only paid $18 for the used one but it looks like it was rarely used. So I'll be giving that one to my grandson who just moved into his first apartment.

This afternoon I made my first loaf in this new machine and it came out great. Their new cookbook that comes with the unit didn't have a recipe with part white flour and part whole wheat; but I did find a honey wheat recipe on line that the poster said worked on this machine, so I thought I'd give it a try. The bread is tasty, light, rose well and will be my every day bread for toast and sandwiches. The right side of the loaf is a bit lower, so I'll have to check the book to see what caused it. Normally with this machine, which has the same two mixers as the last one I had, I remove the dough after it finished mixing and removed those mixers, and they straighten up the dough before putting it back in the machine for the rise and baking parts of the process.

I'm still getting settled after a year because so much of my time has been spent building a garden from almost scratch. The front and back yard are 100% better but there's still a lot of work to do to get it the way I want; but most of that work will have to wait till spring.

I was going to make soup today from the turkey carcass I brought home yesterday, but had too many other things to deal with so I will be making that tomorrow. Now I just have to hope I can find enough room in the garage fridge freezer for the soup because the freezer in the house is stuffed to the max!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

It's been a bad summer - heat and fires non stop

It's been a bad summer here in the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon. Tonight we got the first rain we've have in months and the constant fires here in Oregon and Northern California have made it dangerous to spend much time outdoors.

So the garden has suffered as well as we humans and the wildlife. Hopefully next year will be better.

It was in the mid 90's yesterday and the 70's today. So I took advantage of the cooler weather and spent some time in the garden spraying fungicide on my newly planted (this summer,) small, magnolia tree and the roses. I also removed three more of my tomato cages and transplanted a few cauliflower starts that I think I waited too long to plant; but I'm hoping they might actually do something.

My beans and tomatoes did well, but several plantings of lettuce bolted fast in this summer's heat and smoke, and the zucchinis and other squash and melons were a bust because of lack of pollination. I think the smoke kept the pollinators away, even if they were able to survive the endless heat and dangerous levels of smoke the last few months.

I hope everyone else's garden did better than mine this summer. I'm definitely looking forward to putting this garden to bed and getting on with my winter projects.

I canceled my morning paper and decided to learn how to read Tarot cards as my mental exercise instead of the morning crossword. The only reason I bought the local, mediocre paper, was for the crossword and it was over $300 a year, so I thought the money would be better spent buying some Tarot card decks and books. If I want to do a crossword there are free, printable crossword puzzles on line, I have found.

Well, that's it for the late September garden report.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Is it fall or summer

We are officially in fall, but by Thursday our temperatures are expected to reach 87. One of my Brandywine tomato plants is full of big, beautiful, green tomatoes, and I am moving (movers arrive in 9 days), and I'm wondering if I'll be packing green or red tomatoes.

I'm only moving a few towns over, so taking my garden produce won't be a problem, other than the time to harvest as the movers do their thing.

Packing a household, plus over 40 years of pottery making and the tools and books from my cooking, gardening, jewelry making and the recent soap making efforts, make for a large packing job. I've been at it for weeks and have over 200 boxes packed so far. And that's not counting all the boxes of things that are packed but can't go into the moving van, which include, garden fertilizers, etc., cleaning chemicals, liquor, wine, anything inflammable and even deodorant!

Yesterday I started working on the garden and there are days worth of work in the vegetable garden. At almost 78 years of age, I fade after an hour or two of heavy work after being at it for weeks, and need rest time. But I'm like a quarter horse - I run hard and fast for a short time and I'm done for a while.

Yesterday I gathered up most of the tomato, pepper and pea supports, took the many bags of organic fertilizers, etc. out of the shed, put the poles from the tomato supports in my big old oil can with other garden tools and got the side supports into it's own big bag, moved things around in the shed and swept it out, cleaned off my potting table, etc etc..

Then I decided to empty one of the earth boxes since I would be putting new potting soil in it in the spring. I couldn't pull out the two plum tomato plants which are at their end and had to turn the box over to get the impacted soil out of there. And then there was the job separating that impacted soil, and finding a place for it and washing the planter.

While dealing with gathering these things I saw that some lettuce was starting to go to seed, so I pulled one of the plants, deciding to throw it over the fence for the mamma deer and baby I saw there earlier. By now I was pretty tired, and when I flung the lettuce over the fence, I saw my favorite, little, red, pen knife, which I forgot was in my right hand, fly by as well. It didn't make it over the fence but landed, I think, somewhere between some raspberry plants and a huge, nearby yucca. Two attempts to find it failed and I was way too tired to continue the search. I have a backup for that little knife, but unfortunately, it is already packed, so I had to get back to the house for a kitchen knife to cut some ties on the eggplant and other plants.

We close on the new house Friday, and before the movers come I have other things to do besides packing up this garden. The interior of the new house is being painted the next couple of days, and I have my lawn man going over to the new house today to check out the lawn which is going to need a lot of work, and check the automatic watering to make sure it's still on with this new heat spell and no rain in the forecast for at least the next ten days.

Five days after I move into the new house my daughter and son-in-law will be arriving from Germany for a 3 days visit on their way to Hawaii to celebrate their 10th anniversary, so I will need to unpack enough for basic living before they arrive.

I've numbered each box and made copious notes about what is in each one, so I should be able to find the things I need to get the house guest ready in a few days. So far my energy, although waning in these last 9 days, is still holding enough to me to get a lot done each day. I'm just taking more and longer breaks this week, but there are always phone calls, bills to pay and other paper work to fill in the time during those rest periods.

I'm hoping to pick up a few more free moving boxes today. Someone in town has offered some wardrobe boxes which I desperately need, and I could use a couple more medium sized, heavy weight boxes for my very heavy juicer and a couple of other similar things.

Time for my morning herb tea before I start my work day.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dealing with lots of eggplants, tomatoes and zucchini

We've been dealing in over 100 degree F days for weeks now. These temperatures are 20 degrees above the norm for this time of year. On top of that, we are surrounded by fires, and the smoke for the past couple of weeks, so I'm not spending much time in the garden.

I check my veggie garden every couple of days to harvest and now wear a small particulate mask when doing it to protect myself from the smoke. I'm busy packing for a move early next month, and I'm trying to use these veggies without freezing or canning. So I've been eating a lot of tomato sandwiches for lunch, making a simple fresh tomato, garlic, basil, hot pepper flakes sauce with my numerous cherry tomatoes, with a bit of anchovy paste for extra flavor, and also, a chunky spaghetti sauce with the Oriental eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onion and herbs. The flavors combine well and make a very nice, satisfying vegetarian meal.

I'm in the middle of packing since I have only a month to pack a whole household, pottery studio and all these gardening supplies. Fortunately, I'm only moving about 50 minutes away, so I can put the things that the moving companies don't allow in their vans in my and friends cars.

I've already started to gather some of those garden fertilizers, insecticides,and   and have them in boxes and buckets for easy loading into the car. The movers can take the large, metal drum that has my bigger tools, and stakes for the tomato cages, all the big and medium pots, earth boxes, and similar.

I will have to disconnect the drip lines to those potted flowers and veggies a few days before the move, and plug the lines. I'll take those drip lines and emitters to use at the new house. This is a pretty  big move. You certainly collect a lot of stuff in forty to five years of pottery making, gardening and cooking. I also have a lot of rocks of all things, as well as a few heavy lapidary machines that I have to move. I do like my hobbies!

My son will be coming two days after the closing with his big car and his 4x8 trailer and I'll have a couple of friends here to help load and unload. We'll have 3 big cars and one sedan to fill up with the garden and cleaning supplies as well as, wine, alcohol, framed family photos, some small pottery buckets of raw materials and glazes and the other other items not allowed in the moving van, as well as lightweight big things like my home made light box, soap drying racks, soaping oils, and scents, garden trellises, bean tower, pea fence, etc. etc.

I'm hoping they get on top of these wild fires in the next couple of weeks so I can get in some garden time to divide and take some perennials with me. My new back yard is a pretty blank canvas which in many ways is a good thing.

Hope every is having better weather than we in the Pacific N.W, are; and hope you gardens are giving lots of wonderful and abundant things to eat and beautiful flower to adorn your home.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


I had to check some things in my veggie garden before I headed out at 8am for the Farmers market, and I decided to check my garlic, so I pulled a couple of bulbs and it's ready. I'll have to get the rest later, because parking at the Farmers market is at a premium. Even getting there before it opens, I had to park a few blocks away!

Some of my favorite growers were there and I got 3 gorgeous, one gallon Phloxes - one intense, deep, magentaish pink and two pale pink and white combinations. They look great together. I was also happy to find a one gallon pineapple sage. The hummingbirds love those bright red flowers and since my flower garden is most pinks, purples and lavenders, I like to have one or two bright red and cool yellow things among all those pinks and lavenders to keep it from looking monotonous.

I also found the white gaura that I haven't been able to find elsewhere. So now I'll  have a pink one and a white one.

After pulling out all those big, volunteer oregano plants in my flower bed, as well as some other things, I needed to find some two or three foot perennials to fill those spots.

One of the vendors at the market sells tiny veggie starts - 6 for $2.50. Since this big heat wave, most of my cool weather crops have gone to seed and I've pulled most of them. So I was able to get several new lettuce, arugula, cilantro, swiss chard and escarole starts. He also had a very different, pretty colored zinnia, which is a cross between pink and orange, and I got a couple of those to fill in a spot at the front of the flower bed.

My cherry pink zinnias that I started from seed are a long way from flowering. Next year I won't bother starting my own since I just don't have a special room to set up my grow lights in this new house, and I have since found two nurseries in the valley that sell them.

My tiny blueberry plants are producing and I had 2 hand full sized harvest from one of them early his morning. After seeing how many are on that tiny plant, I starting to wonder why I planted four blueberry plants for one person! LOL I'm sure as they get bigger  won't have any trouble finding takers for them! LOL

That's it for today. Time to think about some lunch and then a nap. After such a busy, running around morning in the heat, I'll be ready for a nap right after lunch!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


We've gone from sunny, 90 degree days to a  cloudy, 70 degree high day today. Crazy weather; but it will be comfortable for planting this afternoon. This bit colder weather should be good for my lettuce and radish seedlings. I was afraid of the lettuce going bitter or bolting with those 90 degree days but so far, so good.

We had a short thunderstorm wend it way through here yesterday afternoon and it brought light rain for ten minutes or so - just enough to give everything a light watering. Every bit helps. With the late spring rains, I finally got a water and electric bill this week that was less that two hundred dollars for the month. That will change next month, but I'm grateful for those late springs rains we've had this month.

Yesterday I just did some weeding, fed my young seedlings on the back porch and pulled a lot of weeds, and pulled out extra borage that was taking over my flower bed.

Today I'll plant some young geraniums, cosmos and cherry pink zinnias in my flower garden. If I can find a small bare spot, I have a few more tomatoes but plant; but that may not happen today. First I have to dig up a bunch of volunteer fennels, weeds, and other things to make room for them.

Tomorrow will be a bit warmer than today and only partly cloudy, so it should be another great planting and gardening day. Hope everyone's garden is doing well!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Garlic scapes removed and raspberry plants taking over the world!

I never seem to plant enough garlic so last year I upped my plantings but now I wish I had left a bit more space for all these tomatoes.  I planted thirteen tomatoes and still have another couple to plant if I could only find the room! One may find itself in my flower bed since at the moment, that's the only good sun spot left.

There's no room for the few sweet potato slips I started. They're now sitting in a couple of little pots with no place to plant. I'm thinking of maybe using my wheel barrow but if I do that, I won't have a wheel barrow to haul my compost and other things,. Decisions, decisions!

There is one possible spot - a small corner in not the sunniest part of my hidden veggie garden, but I have to get out there in the next day or two and clear out the vegetation there. There's some pretty, almost tropical looking, leafy things there which seem to survive the drought, which makes me suspect they're some sort of bulb. So my plan is to be careful digging some of them out and see if I can transplant them outside the veggie garden.

The last couple of days some of my garlic has suddenly produced scapes which I just cut off. I'm hoping in another month or so I'll be able to harvest that garlic and plant some more bush beans and other things in those spots.

It's been in the high 80's and low 90's for a couple of days, so I'm expecting some of my lettuce to bolt and go to seed if this continues.

All my hand watering is done for the day and I was able to harvest some strawberries and pull some weeds before the heat did me in. I'll try to get back out after lunch. I want to harvest some of that lettuce and there are a lot of new, volunteer raspberry plants that need to be dug up and removed and more small starter plants to plant and all the veggies to feed in the next couple of days. And I still have to get those big raspberry plants under control with some wiring fencing. The metal fence stakes are in the ground so it should take me long to get that under control - I hope!. I still read up again on how to recognize old canes so I can remove them! So I will probably put that job off for another day or two till I figure that out!

Fortunately the weather is going to get cooler in the next two days so I'll be able to get longer, morning, garden time. The Rogue Valley here in S. Oregon does get very hot in the summer, so I need to take full advantage of those rare, cooler days.,

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Decided to take the day off and do almost nothing, since it's not much of a gardening day and I'm still tired from two days in a row of some heavy digging through a lot of tree roots to plant a few things and other garden chores.

Early this morning I retrieved some of my Bolognese sauce from the freezer in the barn section of the garage for an easy dinner tonight.

Other than seedling and animal care, tending to my self with lots of vitamins, rest, eating and kitchen cleanup, answering some emails and reading the Sunday paper and doing the crossword puzzle, my time today will be for some computer work and watching lot of saccharine Hallmark, made for TV movies - aka "Junk food for the soul!".

My beautiful daughter called from Germany earlier and we must have been on the phone for close to an hour, if not longer talking about our garden and other plans this spring and as always talking about what we've been cooking lately. I was intrigued by her telling me she use barley to make risotto, which surprised me since she also said she never liked the beef, barley, vegetable soup I made regularly when my children were growing up. Who knew, since she always ate it; but then she was never a fussy eater except for beets which she despised, as did my husband.

I just had a delicious, long, very hot soaking bath and afterwards got right back into my PJ's for the rest of the day. I think I might do more of these lovely, lazy Sundays in the future. It feels too good not to repeat this, and often!

Friday, April 21, 2017


My early planted potatoes are up, the neighborhood lilacs are blooming and my Japanese Maples are all in full leaf. The strawberries are full of flowers and this year I hope the birds and other critters leave some for me!

This is the first sunny day we've had for a while. It was 75 degrees by mid afternoon. I only got a bit of garden time today. It took me almost two hours to plant a six pack of snapdragons and one packaged blue hydrangea due to all the tree and other roots I had to struggle through to get those planted.

I was very disappointed to find out the larger San Marzano tomatoes I bought are not San Marzanos. They were behind the sign that said Sand Marzanos so I never bothered to check the small tlabels in the pots until I got them home and found out they're Sun Golds. So I'll keep one of them and give the other one away, It looks like a small orange tomato if the picture on the little label is correct. Now I have to get back to the store and pick up a couple of San Marzanos.

Tomorrow the temperature drops down quite a bit and rain is in the forecast, so I doubt it I will get garden time. After breakfast I want to make a pot of mushroom bisque, so if there's any garden time to be had  it will have to be after lunch, if there's no rain. I'd like to pop in some of my cold weather veggies starts that I didn't get around to planting today, and maybe tame my wild raspberry plants.

I installed several metal fence posts and have some wire I need to attach to them to keep the raspberries from flopping into my raised vegetable beds. There are also a few raspberry volunteers  that have made their way into and near the raised beds that I want to dig up and move.

Since the weather has been so cold and wet, I'm very behind my garden chores this year. I can catch up pretty quickly if I get a few days of decent weather.  With the rain expected tomorrow, I can probably work on my back porch and get my hanging planters planted and watered. I'll put off hanging them until I turn on the automatic watering system. Either that or I have to buy a new, long, watering wand to be able to reach them. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


My dinner tonight was my Asparagus on toast, topped with a chopped hard boiled egg and fresh bacon bits and lemon butter. This would also make a lovely brunch or lunch or appetizer if scaled down.

For each piece of bread I cooked 6 large asparagus, 2 1/2 slices of bacon and one hard boiled egg. It was served on a piece of toasted, buttered honey wheat bread. After topping it with the asparagus, chopped hard boiled egg and bacon bits, and some fresh ground black pepper, I poured a generous amount of melted lemon butter over it all. Delicious!

My plan for the day was to do some planting but with cold temperatures and and rain putting a stop to that and the same weather expected tomorrow, it looks like it will have to wait till Friday when it's supposed to be 70F in the afternoon. I have a packaged hydrangea that need planting as well as some snapdragons and the rest of my cool weather vegetable starts.

There are many more other garden chores on my list and I just hope we get a few days from now on for me to get all these things done. My raspberries are looking pretty wild and I have some metal fence posts to install with some wire to contain these wild beasts, Right now they're flopping over half of my raised beds.

A new discovery I made after my nice, healthy cherry tomato plant broke off near the base, is that you can remove some of the lower leaves, put the broken stem in water and it will root. Now I have to get it planted and hope it will thrive  in the potting soil as much as it is in its temporary water environment.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Morels have arrived.

A friend just sent me a photo of some morels they just found on their property here in the Rogue valley in Southern Oregon. I haven't had time to look for them since I'm still trying to get my cold weather crops in,  clean up my flower beds and pull the abundance of weeds thanks to the almost non stop rain we've had the past two months.

The only things I planted today were some sweet peas to grow up part of my secret garden fence. I have a lot of volunteer borage so I dug one up and put it in my secret veggie garden. I'll have to move a couple of more in there. They're supposed to be good to plant near members of the cabbage family, I think. I love putting the pretty blue flowers in salad, after removing the little inedible, black centers. The flowers have a pleasant peppery taste, and look lovely in a tossed salad.

It's supposed to go down to the low thirties tonight and I didn't want to take a chance that it could hit freezing, so I covered the lettuce with remay. I ran out of planting space in the veggie garden for the latest lettuce starts so I planted them in my flower bed behind the house. I only have one empty raised bed left in the veggie garden and that's going to be for zucchini, summer squash and melons.

My tomatoes are going in the ground and in large containers along with the serrano chiles, bell peppers. I have one tiny area near the back fence that I'm saving for a small block of corn and winter squash. Even my bush beans will have to go in planters.

Last summer I planted a lot of garlic. I won't plant as much this year because I'm lacking space for carrots and other veggies like turnips and rutabagas that I want to plant.

I put my little tomato seedlings and marigold seedlings outdoors in the sun. And I'll bring them in before dinner. To my surprise, yesterday, I saw a whole cluster of newly sprouted tomato seedlings in the garden. that was a big surprise to see those this time of year. I think tomorrow, if they survive tonight's cold, I'll separate a few of them. I think they may be Brandywines which were in that bed last year; but I can't be sure until the leaves get bigger. I also had Opalka plum tomatoes andBig Zac, a hybrid beefsteak in there, so it will take a while to figure out what they are.

Overnight some marauder came in my secret veggie garden and ate the tops of all my beets that I had growing in containers. My neighbor thinks it may be a possum. I wish I knew what it was. These were last years beets that I kept in the container to harvest the greens and I was jjust about ready to harvest those tops for greens. Wish I had a secret night vision camera to ID the culprit! Guess I will now have to put some bird netting on the next beet crop!

I don't think a bunny could jump up 18 inches to get into the planter. Could it be rats, or racoons or the possum???? No deer can climb that 7 foot fence, so I assume it's something smaller that than either squeeze through, climb over or dig under?????

Friday, March 31, 2017

It's Asparagus time

The rain, wind and cold have left, at least for today and tomorrow, so I was able to get out to the garden and prep a small, new asparagus bed. Last years asparagus planting it bearing fruit. A few have come up and I'm hoping the rest of them made it through the winter.

I only planted four of the seven new asparagus plants I bought a couple of weeks ago because they were the only ones so far, showing any sign of life. That was a heavy job working in a bag of manure and compost and then digging a ditch to give them a proper planting.

There are a lot more veggies and herbs starters to plant; but today was for focusing on prepping that bed and getting those few planted and doing some weeding.

The only other things I planted today were a half a dozen parsley starts and one dill plant.  I also pulled up my bean tower and tomorrow I'll relocate it to the opposite end of the garden where I think it may fare better. Last season the beans on it did fine but one side that was dedicated to cucumbers had hardly any pollination, so I'm hoping this new location will work better.

There's a lot of garden work ahead because of the gawd awful weather the past two months, I haven't been able to get in hardly any garden time during the winter months, so I'll take advantage of the next day or so because the cold is coming back again, and I want to get all these starts planted and still want to plant beets and carrots  and more spinach.

I was so happy to see that my young fig tree that I planted in a large planter survived the very cold spell we had with temperatures in the teens. Looking like that mulch I put around it worked. I can't wait for all those figs. Last year I didn't get any till very late because critters were eating them just as they ripened; but I finally sent away for some fine bird netting and it kept away all the marauders and I finally got a few figs to eat. .Better late than never!

Well, it's time to check my baby back ribs. I made some coleslaw and potato salad this morning and put the ribs in a very slow oven before I went out to the garden. Now I just have to uncover them, coat them in BBQ sauce and give them another half house to cook. I'm ready for a big dinner after all the digging!

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Dawn roses need help

The forecast for mid afternoon rain didn't come so I actually got in the garden to do a not too heavy, spring pruning of my two New Dawn climbing roses.

Spring is here - finally! Flowering cherry and plum trees, daffodils, quince, camellias, and forsythia etc. are in bloom all over town. I do love spring!

George the handyman was here early for me to go over how I wanted him to put up lattice on the sides of the rose arbor. He drove to Home Depot for all  the pieces and some shelving hardware for a couple of shelves in the garage. Then he drove back here with the sheets of lattice, got them cut and stained and in the garage dry overnight so he can install them on the sides of the rose arbor tomorrow! Then  I can stop getting attacked by those rose canes which had nothing to block them from falling in the path under the arbor.

I hope tomorrow brings a mid afternoon rain free spell so I can plant some root veggies. It was lovely to finally get out there to prune those climbers and pull a bunch of weeds. There isn't a sunny day in the forecast for at least the next week; and it's been like this, just about, all winter.

This first day of spring was a good one even without any sun peeking through!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Too wet to plant but not too wet to cook.

Yesterday was mild enough by mid afternoon for me to get out to my secret veggie garden and do some weeding and some planting. I planted a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, and transplanted some arugula and collards and pulled a lot of weeds.

In two days slugs destroyed my few newly planted lettuce, broccoli and cauliflowers starts, so I will have to replace them. I'm glad I only planted a few of them because I wanted to stagger the planting so I don't have so many broccolis, etc. maturing at the same time. Fortunately I had some of the slug/slain bait Escar Go on hand, so I wet down a couple of the beds and put it down. I sent a bunch of those slugs to heaven on my own. There are sure a lot of them this year after all this rain. At least these are tiny, unlike the monster slugs we had when we lived in Washington state!

If the temperature warma up a bit more by mid afternoon I may be able to get into the garden and prune my two newer grape vines and the climbing roses in the veggie garden. The forecast is calling for rain about that time, but maybe this will be one of the times they're off in their forecast.

Since I'm really not holding great hope for that mid afternoon pruning opportunity, I've planned a decent dinner for myself. I'm going to make a pork cutlet dinner using panko crumbs for the coating. The first time I had one of these was during a trip to Japan in the 80's. It's much tastier than a veal cutlet. In any case, none of my local grocery stores even sell veal, which isn't a problem since I try to avoid it. I have a hard enough time giving in to my carnivore appetite without eating baby animals.

I've spent decades going back and forth between being a vegetarian, and back again to eating meat. In recent years I've stopped swinging back and forth but now mix up my weekly menu with meat and non meat dishes. My body feels good with this pattern of eating. In summer, I naturally gravitate to lighter fare particularly since there are so many lovely, fresh vegetables in the garden.

Well, the rain did come, so I think I'll start dinner early.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Here Comes The Sun but not today!

OK, who stole the sun! This was supposed to be another sixty degree sunny gardening day and the promised sun is a "no show"; and it's colder than they said it would be. Time to stay in my warm house, and recharge after a heavy gardening cleanup and pruning session yesterday.  Hopefully the sun will honor me with its presence tomorrow! I have a whole tray of cold weather veggies and a bag of potato seeds and more asparagus to plant in the next couple of days as well as continuing weeding and garden cleanup. There are a few more roses to prune and perennials to clean up; but as long as the warm weather they're promising holds for a few days I can make a lot of headway with it all.

I took the remay off everything yesterday but am still keeping it close by for any late freezes. I was thrilled to see that my three artichokes survived those temperatures in the teens we had this winter. Thank God for heavy duty remay to protect them. Mulching them well, also helped.

Yesterday I pruned all the roses in my flower garden, pulled up a lot of spent annuals and trimmed a lot of the spent foliage on many of the perennials, did a bunch of weeding, took apart the rest of the tomato cages and moved them to the back of the veggie garden shed area, and hooked up a couple of my hoses. There's still a lot more cleanup to do but I'll wait for the sun and warmer temperatures tomorrow. I was exhausted this morning, so it's just as well I took the day off from the garden.

I overfilled the equivalent of two big wheel barrels with all the prunings, weeds and other debris I cleaned up and that was just from one flower bed in the back yard. Those late winter weeds are taking over the world this year from all this rain. Fortunately my veggie beds in the secret garden are in pretty good shape weed wise, but the pathways are infested with them; but those will wait a couple of days until I get my cold weather veggies starts, potatoes and asparagus planted.

The other garden chore I need to do in the next day or two is to start some tomato, pepper and eggplants. I will buy most of my starters but I have one hybrid tomato Big Zac and two heirlooms Opalka, a large, wonderful paste tomato, and a new giant, Italian beefsteak that I just got this year and want to try, that no one around here carries, and buy the rest. The Big Zac tomato is earlier and more productive than Brandywine and similar beefsteaks and has a superior flavor to any other other beefsteak type hybrids I've tried over the years. I also like to grow Corno del Toro Italian frying peppers. Two plants will give me enough to enjoy fried pepper, sausage and onion heroes this summer.

Gone are the years when I would start most of my veggies and flowers from seed. I just don't have the room that I always had to set up several grow lights fluorescent fixtures to start most of my own seedlings. Fortunately we have some great growers here in the Rogue Valley who sell as lot of organic and heirloom varieties at our local farmers markets.

These days I'm only growing veggies for myself and to share with a neighbor or two. In fact, I've had to put off buying fresh kale starts because I don't need 6 kale plants which I only use in my green smoothies. So I will have to get to the farmers market where there's a grower who sells single veggie starts for 50 cents a piece. I get to try a lot of different varieties of veggies that way without having to commit to all those six packs.

What are you all planting or planning to plant this month in your area? 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Last night I made this sourdough pizza but even though my starter is well developed, I didn't get much of the flavor in the dough, I had made the dough the night before, so it had over 19 hours in the fridge to help develop even more flavor. I used my 25 whole wheat and 75 bread flour starter. I suspect it was too recently fed. I guess I could have used an older batch since the recipe also called for the addition of yeast. I just need to play with the recipe a bit longer.

I halved the recipe and still wound up with a 15" pizza, so I'll be eating pizza for lunch for a couple of days. Tonight I want to make a BLT for dinner since I have lettuce and a tomato I need to use now.

The instructions said to remove it from fridge and let it rest 15 minutes but that wasn't long enough to relax the dough. I let it rest for a bit over an hour and 2 hrs would have been better. It was nice and round when I put it on the pizza stone (I use a one inch silicon carbide kiln shelf, preheated for 1 hr). But it pulled baked while baking. Next time I will let it rest longer right out of the fridge!

I think in the future I might use my own good pizza recipe but experiment with adding some of my older starter just for the flavor it should impart,  as well as much usual IDY yeast.

The perfect New York style pizza search continues!

Sunday, February 26, 2017


I made another loaf of no knead sourdough bread using one of one other three new starters I made last month. This time I used the King Arthur one and got a better rise with this loaf, than the last one with the rye and bread flour starter, because the starters have matured a lot more in the last month. This loaf has 25% whole wheat flour and 75% bread flour. It makes a nice, hearty and tasty loaf. I expect in time the starter will give me a more sour flavor which I'm looking forward to.

Next loaf I make I want to try the Tartine method. I've been watching some of the videos on you tube and I got the book out of the library and I think I can tackle that very wet dough and all that folding to get a really great crumb.

We're still dealing with yuk weather for the next few days but by the end of the week the sun will come out for a day or two and that may be my chance to plant this new group of asparagus roots I bought last week. Right now Southern Oregon is on a Winter storm warning with rain and snow coming later in the day. Since the ground is too wet to dig and plant, I laid the asparagus roots on top of the ground when I brought them home and covered them lightly with soil. I'm hoping they will be fine until the end of the week.

It's pea planting time too, but I think I'll just put some seeds on wet hand towel paper in a zip lock back and they should be sprouted in a few days and then I can plant them at the end of the week when our daytime temperature will be going up to the low or mid fifties. Hopefully the ground will start to dry out a bit after a couple of no rain days.

After a couple of days of meat dinners (roast chicken and pot roast), tonight I'm making an orichette pasta with olive oil, garlic, anchovies and hot pepper flakes making up the sauce, and with the addition of steamed broccoli florets and some pignoli nuts. It's an easy, quick recipe that I got years ago in a Italian country cookbook I bought on one of our wine buying trips to the Napa valley and it's been one of my favorite, non meat, pasta recipes since then. I cook it so often that I haven't looked at the recipe for years. The original didn't call for the pignoli nuts but my late husband was such a fan of me experimenting with adding them, that it quickly became part of the recipe. I had to agree with him that it did add so nice other texture and a bit more protein to the dish.

Pasta is always a comfort meal for me and I usually try have it at least once a week and I rotate this non meat one with pasta putanesca and another vegetarian one made with caramelized tiny tomatoes, lots of fresh ground black pepper and a bit of heavy cream and pecorino romano cheese. Yum!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Finally some signs of spring.

Just got back from the garden and was surprised to see the few crocuses I planted last fall are up and flowering, They weren't there yesterday! Two days ago I discovered that my one camellia shrub is flowering with it's lovely, soft pink flowers. I guess the couple of 60F afternoons we had woke things up. We'chad so much cold, windy, wet weather, it's been depressing at times; and that weather has not been conducive to any garden work. The forecast for the next ten daysis now showing colder temperatures and more cloudy and rainy days to come with night time temperatures back down to the twenties again.

I was happy to see that one of my 3 year old artichoke plants  that was well mulched seems to have survived the below freezing temperatures we had this winter; and there are still collards, leeks, kale and some spinach that survived as well. I'm hoping the young fig tree I planted in a very large pot last summer and mulched in the fall has survived; but I won't hold my breath over that one. I hope my other Italian, giant artichoke that I started from seed last season has survived. I have it mulched and under heavy duty remay; but just haven't check it out yet.

Well, it took over a month but now I have 3 healthy sourdough starters. Now I soon will have to make a choice and get down to just one, maybe two. Two are my own and the third is one from King Arthur. The King Arthur one arrived without much life in it and it took forever to get it restored.

Since they've matured, I made a sour dough version of the no knead bread and a sourdough  pizza which came out really well. In both of those I used my 75 White bread flour, 25 Dark rye flour stater. The bread didn't rise as much as I would have like, but the starter was still young, I want to try that one again now that the starter has had a few more weeks of regular feedings.  Then I want to try my hand at making a Tartine bread. I've been watching the videos on Your Tube and am anxious to try my hand at that once I catch up with other things around the house, including taxes.

This week I've been busy going through garden catalogs, doing some cleanup in my hidden veggie garden and made this years vegetable garden plan. I cleaned out planters and pulled up all the dead tomato and pepper plants, removed all the tomato stakes, and did some weeding. Normally I would have done this in the fall but last fall I was dealing with another health challenge and my energy was too low and the weather too bad for me to do any even moderately heavy garden work.

There's a lot more cleanup to do both in the flower garden and veggie garden. We've had so much cold and rain and wind there haven't been a lot of opportunities for gardening. Plus, the  health issue I was dealing with has kept me on a liquid diet days at a time, on  and of,f since early December.

I'm also behind in my soap making, so I'm hoping in another week or so I'll be making some soap. Right now the kitchen counter is  covered in bags of flour, scales, etc. for all this sourdough break and pizza making.

Today I'm spending time in the kitchen cooking a nice,wet and cold day, kind of  dinner. It's German night with a braised sauerkraut dish made with bacon, onion, white wine and chicken broth. With that I'm making a easy bake German pork chop recipe with a dijon mustard, butter and white wine sauce. I'll just do simple boiled and buttered parsley potatoes. I halved the sauerkraut recipe and am using my new 2 quart crockpot to cook it. If this works well, I think I'll be trying a lot of recipes in this small one. I have a large, oval, Cuisinart one which is a steamer, browns, etc, but I'm cooking for one these days, at least most of the time so the larger unit will be good for pot roasts, soups, and things like apple sauce which I used it for last fall.

This sauerkraut recipe supposedly appeals to people who don't even like sauerkraut and my guess is because the sauerkraut is soaked over night, then rinsed a few times and drained before using it in the recipe, it removes most of the sour taste that some find unacceptable feature of sauerkraut. I happen to like sauerkraut, so I would have been find without the soaking as well.

Hope some of you out there are having weather than we on the west coast have been having all month!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

False pregnancy sourdough starter

The garden and everything else is covered in a new blanket of snow overnight, so I had a chore dragging my trash bin out to the front yard. They haven't yet cleared my side of the road, so I'm hoping at some point they will and I'll be able, I hope, to get my larger, recycle bin out there as well.

My garden was put to bed last month but I'll still have a big spring cleanup. I had a late, volunteer potato crop which was a nice surprise, but a health challenge kept me from doing the complete cleanup I had planned.

My meyer lemon and bay leaf trees are in the house and doing OK; but the gardenia is sad. Leaves have turned yellow and I don't know why. I gave them some ironrite when I first saw the yellowing but they continued to look sadder and less healthy. I had a couple of months of incredible flowers and a very healthy looking plant. I re-potted it into fresh potting soil before bringing it in and it was happy until about 3 weeks ago.. I hope it survives whatever has hit it.

The late season volunteer Thai and Genovese Basil brought in are doing well so I'll have months of fresh basil for cooking and more pesto.

Since I can't garden now, this seemed like a good time to get back to baking bread. Since I gave my sourdough starter away before I moved, I'm trying, so far in vain, to start another one. I think my two starters have a sort of false pregnancy. Seems they were going fine, then stopped maturing, so I did a bit more research and found that this often happens, Often, it's because your starter does capture a bacteria that looks like the one that creates a sourdough starter, but it's a different air born bacteria, and eventually it just fails. I'm keeping my two going for a while yet just in case it can capture some of the right bacteria. There is sign of life, but not as much as needed to pass the float test which indicates it's ripe enough and strong enough to rise bread.

Meantime, I have ordered a mature, wet starter from King Arthur flour and that should be here in a few days, I hope that will work out fine. The way things go, my own may start to wake up around the same time,

I have a rye starter going (that one is showing more activity), and a half and half white bread flour and half whole wheat flour going I was doing all white and yesterday decided to switch it to the current 50 -50 blend hoping that might help.

I've been using this bad weather and time to do a lot of reading on artisan baking which I'm looking forward to doing once I get some success with my starter. Today I found a good recipe for sourdough pizza on the fresh loaf web site, I have it written on an index card and will be trying it as well as the no knead sourdough bread that I also just found on you tube.

This cold, damp, wet, snowy weather is definitely great bread and soup weather I just want to wait until I have a starter that works, So tonight, it won't be soup and home made sourdough. Instead I'm making yaki soba noodle stir fry with zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and snow peas.

How are the rest of you doing this winter?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


My new Charbroil Big Easy Smoker, Roaster, Grill is now put together and seasoned, so tonight I will be using it for the first time, to grill my lone, marinated shoulder lamb chop on the infrared grill, but before I do, I'll be checking some of the You Tube videos for some tips.

This garlic, fresh rosemary, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt and fresh ground black pepper marinade that I use gives great flavor to this budget cut of lamb; and I think the bones in these shoulder lamb chops actually add more flavor to the meat than some of the more expensive cuts. Plus, my dog Bodhi loves chewing on those bones.

The reason I bought this Charbroil Big Easy SRG, was because I could place it one my covered back porch, which is right out my kitchen door; and there's no flame back from grease using an infra red grill, which is a nice bonus, and you can add some wood chips in a little smoker box if you want to add some smoking flavor. I won't bother with that tonight since this chop will cook in less than five minutes, and I may be cooking with the lid open as well. The infra red technology also makes things cook faster and you can get really good, crispy skin on roast chickens in these cookers. A roast chicken will be my next test but that won't be for another week or more since I just had a big roast chicken and two days of leftover this week already!

I also found out from other owners on the Internet's Let's talk BBQ forum, that you can make good pizzas on the grill, which supposedly gets hotter than the average home oven. So now I will have to buy a new pizza stone since my current stone is a one inch thick, 15X15 inch silicon carbide shelf which is too heavy to keep lifting and hauling back and forth; but before I do, I'll use my laser heat gun to double check hot the preheated unit actually gets

My home oven does a great job, but it takes an hour to heat up that big oven and that very thick silicon carbide stone. And in summer, having an oven on that long heats up the house and uses a lot more energy than this Charbroil that can heat up in 15 minutes, or so. 

The veggie garden is giving me a lot beans, tomatoes, kale, zucchini and cucumbers at the moment. The butternut squash is big with more coming, but I won't harvest them yet because I want them to harden well for winter storage. The veggies I planted for fall - snow peas, lettuce, spinach, and the second crop of beans are doing well. The new beans are starting to flower and since there are a lot of them, most will be blanched for freezer storage. The rattlesnake pole beans I planted late are already producing, but not the Asian long beans. The recently planted mixed varieties of beets are up about 1" now, and doing well in their planter. I only wanted enough for fresh eating, so a large, round planter was a good place for them. Plus, I had run out of space in my raised beds, so I'm glad I saved all those big planters from the other house!

The garden also gifted me some volunteer broccolis and collards, so I will be pulling out some of the older broccoli plants and non wintering kale, to make room for these few volunteers.

We've had cooler days the past week, which has been delightful and cut down on my hand watering; but in a couple of days we'll be back to the high 80's with a few 90's right behind, so the basil and tomatoes will be happy; but not so sure how well the beets are going to fare in a week of such hot weather. 

Well, time for me to strain the chicken stock I made last night using the carcass of the roast chicken. I'll keep a quart of the broth for the freezer for a Stracciatelli soup I want to make in another week or two, and freeze the rest with the veggies and a bit of the meat for a future dinner once the cold weather come back.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Apple sauce in my new Cuisinart slow cooker

My new Cuisinart cooker arrived yesterday morning, and after unpacking and reading the little manual and looking at the really nice, small, recipe book that came with it, I decided to make the applesauce recipe for my trial run.

I have a really old, decrepit apple tree that was barely alive last year when we moved here. After removing one large, dead limb and some other pruning, and adding a sprinkler head that would allow it to get water in our hot dry summers, it seems to be finding new life. So I went out and collected a lot of the fallen apples, and after much trimming, wound up with more than I needed to for the recipe. Next year I will have to find an organic spray treatment to keep the bugs out of the apples, so I won't have to do some much trimming!

The Cuisinart worked very well, was easy to clean and the applesauce came out great. I just cooked it a bit longer than it called for, but I suspect I actually had more apples pieces in there than the recipe called for. The recipe was sugar free, so I added a bit of liquid stevia at the end and then there was the job of putting it through a sieve and getting it packaged and marked for the freezer.

I bought this unit because of it's high rating and it's browning and steaming features. I'm looking forward to trying more of the recipes. They actually look like decent recipes in the included (30 pages of recipes) cookbook. There are even recipes for stock, which would be a great use of this slow cooker.

The best part was the price - under $100 and free shipping with my Amazon Prime account. Now I just have to decide whether I want to make the short ribs with Guinness or the chicken thighs with lemon and rosemary, or the pot roast or all the others that look good!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cool mornings time to plant beets

The mornings have been cooler the past three days, so I decided to plant some beets in a large planter since I've run out of planting space in my raised beds. I got fresh soil in a good sized planter and planted a combination of mixed beets varieties from one package, and Early Wonder tall tops from another.

My first planting of Roc d'Or yellow bush beans is slowing down, but I have three other later plantings that I'm hoping will start producing in a couple of weeks.

I'm still getting more cucumbers than I can use, so I'm sharing with neighbors. The big heirloom tomatoes (Brandywines) are starting to ripen, finally; but for some reason my two varieties of plum tomatoes aren't. In fact, there are very few plum tomatoes on the vines! My neighbor said the raccoons are eating her green tomatoes, and I think I may be having the same problem. I think something is also eating my cherry tomatoes. The vine is covered with them, but maybe I can get one or two ripe ones a day. So I think it's obvious that I am sharing with some critters. We have raccoons, rats, squirrels and of course birds, who I'm sure are helping themselves to the strawberries as well. I'm lucky if I can get two or three days from 30 plants. So I guess it's best to share.

The first carrot seedlings popped through this morning and the mixed lettuce is also coming up in a few places, so it looks like I'll have some good fall and early winter veggies. I even have a few volunteer broccoli or  collards (not sure), and I'll be pulling out a couple of the older broccoli soon and transplant these few volunteers.

Well, that's it for this morning's garden news.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tacos and best ever margaritas after a busy day and Margarita recipe included

I slept in a bit this morning so didn't get to the garden till 8am to do my harvesting, some weeding and hand watering. My late planted summer spinach is sprouting as well as the peas, and I think I saw a hint of the mixed lettuce seeds starting to sprout. The squash has finally sent out fruit and it looks like the tomatoes have finally started to ripen after a few 100F degree days this week.

Yesterday I dug up the last of the potatoes. They were actually sprouting in the ground! I pulled some dead fava beans, but saw new pods on some of the plants, so I decided to leave them, give them a good watering and feeding and see if they'll keep on producing as the evenings get cooler. The raccoons, squirrels or rats, discovered them fairly early on; but I at least got a good harvest before they discovered them and started eating them all.

The couple of cucumber plants  are really producing and giving more than I can eat so it's time to start sharing with a neighbor or two, so it's going to be time to make either my Thai or sour cream and dill cucumber salad in the next day or two. After a meat taco dinner tonight, I think I'll do a no meat Monday tomorrow and make a ziti casserole with ricotta and mozzarella. I'll just have to get to the grocery store for the ricotta after morning garden work and breakfast.

Here's my margarita recipe which I've fine tuned over the years and if I do say so myself and my friends agree, it's the best ever!

This recipes will make one small, single margarita. I have generous glasses so I always double this single recipe for each drink, for those glasses. It's important to use the same ingredients I list - no short cuts allowed if you want a really good, crowd loving, frozen margarita recipe!

June's frozen, slushy, margarita. This make a single drink in a normal margarita glass.

1 1/2 oz (liquid measurement)Cuervo gold tequila (don't use cheaper or more expensive  Tequila. It's not necessary)
1 oz of Meyer lemon juice. If you can't get meyer lemons (they're usually seasonal), use half regular lemon juice and half orange juice.
3/4 oz of curacoa (no other orange liqueur)
2 - 3 heaping tsp of granulated sugar.

You want the mix to have a sweet taste, because when you blend the mixture in a vitamix, which is what I use, or another good blender, the ice will water down the mix and make it taste less sweet. Put the margarita mix in your blender and slowly add crushed ice and blend till it's a very creamy, slushy, yet thick consistency. You don't want any unmixed pieces of ice in there. After it's mixed very well, taste and see if you need more sugar.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cucumbers producing, so here's a recipe for Thai hot and sweet cucumber salad.

Cucumbers like well drained soil, but they also like consistent watering and that's what mine have been getting during these 100F and high 90's days. I have them on a 15 minute daily drip, but I give them and other plants extra water in the morning and sometimes a bit more in the evening on the super hot days. I must be doing everything right because my one mound which three days ago gave me my first, and only cucumber, now are producing two to three more a day!

Here's the recipe I use for the Thai Cucumber salad. It's really delicious. I suggest going light on the serranos even if you like heat as much as I do. You can always add more later. Our commercial serranos are quiet large, compared to the type I grew on my own years ago.

 Thai Cucumber salad:

3 large cucumbers, peeled and very thinly sliced.
1 T kosher salt
1/2 C rice vinegar
1/2 C or more of white sugar
1-2 Serrano chilies seeded and very finely minced
1/8 - 1/4 C finely chopped cilantro leaves (I probably just add the smaller amount so the cilantro isn't too dominant a flavor.
1/2 of a small red onion thinly sliced, then chopped into small pieces (about 1/2" long)
Add enough water to reduce the sharpness of the vinegar to your taste.

Put the cucumber in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the T of salt. Toss to get the salt distributed and let the cucumber sit in the colander for a half an hour. Meantime you can mix the other ingredients for the dressing except the cilantro, whisking long enough to dissolve the sugar and blend all the ingredients well.After a half hour, drain the cucumbers well and press to drain the excess water. Add the cucumbers to the dressing,and adjust seasonings. I usually add a touch of salt and maybe a bit more of the minced serranos if it's not as hot as I like. Lastly, sprinkle on the cilantro and toss lightly.

OPTIONAL: you can add some finely minced peanuts right before you serve the cucumbers. If I don't have any on hand I skip it. They're perfectly fine without them.

These are a delicious side dish with BBQ, baked or broiled chicken and pork dishes or as a side with a sandwich, Thai or other S.E. Asian dishes. They're sweet, slightly hot, and so cooling.

If you're ambitious you can make pickles, or just peel them cut in half horizontally and the cut each half piece in half vertically, and then cut each vertical half into thirds and use them to dip into your favorite dip, or even Marie's ranch dressing which works well as a dip for these, baby carrots, raw cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, snow pea pods, etc. etc.

And then there's the old stand by of Cucumber with sour cream and dill leaves. In fact, you can use a classic cucumber dill sour cream recipe, but instead of using vinegar, use lemon juice and instead of slicing the peeled cucumber, dice them, and serve it as a topping for baked or grilled salmon. It is wonderful accompaniment for the salmon.

It's been a very busy garden morning prepping a couple of small areas and planting the lettuce seeds that I had sitting on wet hand towel paper and in a zip lock sandwich bag for two days. Then I fed most of the other veggies, other than the tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and three of the four various squash mounds. I'll get those tonight after dinner. After a bit of weeding and then hand watering all those beds and parts of my flower garden and deck planters, it was time to think about breakfast, which actually turned out to be an early lunch instead!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August planting and new method for freezing bush beans

The pre sprouted peas I planted several days ago are now up. I didn't even have to sprout them intentionally. When looking for something in the small drawer of my fridge, I came upon a small zip loc bag of fresh peas which were deeply hidden in the back of the drawer; and they were sprouted! What a surprise! I didn't know that fresh, refrigerated peas would sprout, so I planted them and will have a fall crop a bit earlier than I would have expected.

I planted some carrots nearby and am watering that area twice a day. It may be too late, but I think I will plant some lettuce seeds where I pulled out some old broccoli this morning. Using heavy duty remay in past years, kept me in lettuce through December, so I will put some seeds on slightly wet hand towel paper after breakfast and get that in a zip loc bag and plant them when they sprout.

We are in a hot spell with over 100F expected tomorrow and 106F expected in R, Thursday so I think it's best to sprout them in the house.

My Roc d'Or yellow bush beans are producing like mad and they are the best tasting beans. Since I was only planting for one, my first planting was only about 8 or 9 seeds, and I'm getting enough daily now for one generous serving, so I'm now starting to freeze some.

Yesterday I read where a couple of people tried freezing bush beans without blanching and they said it worked fine. So I did that yesterday with a couple of packages. They said the bean taste and texture was better using that method, so it's definitely worth trying.

Since my tomatoes were planted so late, the only ripe ones I'm getting are the sweet millions, and some garden critters are helping themselves to a lot of them. My neighbor said raccoons are eating her green tomatoes!  My late planted cucumbers are now producing and I see that I have my first butternut squash. All my squash was planted late because of my having to recuperate from the surgery on my leg after a bad car accident in April that required 3 months of healing, and no weight on my right leg for the first six weeks of that period. So this late garden planting of so many things is going to be an interesting experiment.

This week I also cleaned up the dead and dying sweet peas and edible peas. Some of the sweet peas were in two window boxes on a bench in my flower garden, so I got them out and loosened the soil, added organic fertilizer and planted 3 different varieties spinach in both those boxes a few days ago. They should be coming up in another couple of days.

We have a lot of rats in the neighborhood and I think I'm finally getting on top of that problem. I think they may have been helping themselves to some of my garden produce as well. Newly sprouted bean plants that were three or four inches high just disappeared overnight, and I know I'm sharing strawberries with some critters. My early fava beans did well until some critter discovered the patch and then I found them half eaten on a daily basis. Since those beans grow pretty high on the stem, I'm figuring it may have been either a raccoon or those darned rats again!

Since I have to go out to the veggie garden after dinner to do a bit of hand watering, I think I'll plant more spinach where I just removed some of the old broccoli plants. There's some summer kale going to seed and looking pretty sad, so I'll probably pull those as well and give me even more room for extra spinach.

It sure feels great to be able to feel healed enough to be spending this time in my garden again!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting free basil plants from cuttings and hot weather gardening schedules

This is a week of 90 and 100 plus degree weather, so early morning and early evening gardening is in order.

I was in the garden at 7:30 this morning transplanting a couple of young lettuce seedlings, harvesting broccoli and strawberries, doing some weeding, trimming leaves from some of the tomatoes, feeding some of the veggies and doing some spot hand watering.

After that I had to set rat and mouse traps in the barn, garage and basement, because I think those guys are the ones who ate my newly sprouted pole beans and ravaged my fava bean crop. And all my figs are disappearing from my lovely new tree before they ripen, It's now human and vermin war at my house! Then I came in the house and put a couple of dozen Roc D'or yellow bush beans on well dampened hand towel paper and into a sandwich bag to sprout. That usually takes about 3 days, and then I'll plant them. It's so hot, that if I planted them outside, they'd probably cook before they sprout!

I'll try to get back in the garden a little before dusk. The basil cuttings I started in a short, wide glass of filtered water are well rooted and I'd like to get those planted tonight. The trick I found is to change the water daily. I have a lot of basil already planted, but I believe you can never have enough basil and I want a lot of pesto for freezer to last me through the winter.

It's too hot to spend any large amount of time outside right now but I have gone out a couple of times for about ten minutes at a time to pull up some dill plants from two of my back porch window box planters and re-water those planters, and pull a few weeds. Even though those planters are on a 15 minute morning drip, in this weather it isn't enough. I also had to spot water a couple of things in the back yard flower bed where I recently had to plant some squash plant starts because I had run out of room in my raised bed veggie garden.

This split early morning and early evening garden work is going to continue all week. We're expecting mid and high 90's and even two of three 100 plus degree days this week. My serrano chiles will love it!

Time to check my Farmers almanac and double check when I can plant some late veggies and make notes of those dates in my garden calendar.

The good and bad garden news of artichokes fava beans etc etc

Well, it's been 3 1/2 months since my car accident and surgery to repair the tibia fracture in my right leg. It's healing but it's a lot slower process than with my two hip replacement surgeries. I'm still sitting down while gardening, and am grateful for my faithful, strong, short, ladies shovel.

Fortunately I got a lot of early planting in before the early April accident, but after not being home for about 6 weeks, the garden was filled with weeds and lettuce and arugula  that was bitter and going to seed. The first week home I was still not able to work in the garden, but the following week my friend Kay came over and the two of us did a great job in pulling out those spent plants and weeds in the veggie garden, and I planted a lot of basil and some beans.

Before the accident I was getting ready to plant a bunch of perennials and other things and fortunately Bill, who cuts my lawn was able to just plant them wherever there was space. So I have a lot of things that are not where they will be permanently and at some point I will have to be moving them, but that will be a job for the fall or early spring.

One of the grape vines I planted this spring already has grapes on it, which is a nice surprise, and an old grape vine that has never had grapes, now has some after we cleared and pruned a lot of things to let in more sun. I have no idea what kind of grapes those are, but since the house is 100 years old, I imagine they may be concord grapes.

That last two weeks I've been harvesting my early potatoes, fava beans and broccoli, some strawberries. My early beets and radishes were woody and past their time by the time I got home, and the spinach was gone. I harvested my garlic, shallots, and bulb onions about a week or two ago and they're curing on the front porch which is shady and get a lovely breeze throughout the day.

There are evidently a lot of critters visiting the garden and helping themselves to the strawberries and other things. I planted pole beans against the back of the barn and they sprouted and a day or two later they were all gone, I'm dealing with a rat problem who I suspect are responsible for that. They or a raccoon also ate a lot of my fava beans. I also have squirrels, and a visiting skunk, and lots of birds, so it's difficult to pinpoint exactly who the guilty culprit or culprits are. Meantime I'm working on the rat problem and have caught a lot in traps. They're in the barn and in the back walls of the barn area which facea the veggie garden and have done a huge amount of damage in to the paper goods and food I had stored in there. They even broke through all my bags of organic fertilizers and were eating them! They also ate into plastic jars of organic insecticides, large plastic jars of soap, olive oil, ketchup, etc. The damage they did and the mess they made while I was healing away from home was unbelievable!

But there is good news, my two year old artichoke produced a lot and the ones I bought and those I started from seed are doing well. The leeks are looking great and the broccoli is still producing so many side shoots that I'm getting a bit tired of eating broccoli. I planted a good amount of basil and it has taken off in this heat. Bill my gardener planted the tomatoes and they're planted too close, and weren't planted the way I'd plant them with lots of compost worked in; but at least there are tomatoes on my  plants.

The cherry tomatoes have started to produce but I'm not getting a lot so I think the critters are keeping those down. I picked my first heirloom but it's really small; but I'm happy with it small or not. The newly planted blueberries were productive considering their size and the same with the first year raspberries. And I have peppers on my bell pepper plants and the serrano chiles have a lot of small peppers on them now. So with all the time lost, and plants maybe not being planted in the right spot, or too close together, I'm grateful for what I am getting from the garden.

So far, the pole beans I planted late in another area, against a pole bean tower are so far untouched by critters.

I have late planted Italian Corno de Toro peppers that I started from seed, but the plants are so small that I doubt if I will get fruit this year but I'm hoping for the best.  I planted a few Roc Dor yellow bush beans, which are my favorite and they're flowering now. And the new fig tree has a few figs on it, but I haven't had one yet because some critter is getting to them as they near ripening.

This week I transplanted a few volunteer arugulas, and I think I'll pull out the fava beans and plant more Roc D'or beans in that spot.  Some I planted were eaten by a critter and only one plant survives so far; but I'm hoping for the best since I've already culled a lot of the rats and am keeping the traps baited and hoping for the best. I think this time I'll put some remay over the newly planted seed bed and leave it there till they get  bigger. I've never had this type of rodent problem so I'm learning as I go.

It's time for me to get some early garden work done, We are going to be in the 90's today so 8 am garden time for spot hand watering and harvesting is on the agenda today. Breakfast will have to wait.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My garden is in limbo

About a week after my last blog post I was in a bad car accident. The car and I are fixable, but the car will be fixed long before my shattered leg will be.

I'm facing 2 1/2 more months of physical therapy and this heavy brace which is meant to keep the metal plate and screws in place while my leg with it plateau tibia fracture heals.

Since I am not able to put any weight on this broken leg, the best I can do is hop short distances with the help of a walker. Needless to say, not only can't I do any gardening, I can't even go in my garden until mid July at the earliest.

Friends are harvesting some of my spring planted veggies but my garden is pretty much going to be a bust this summer. At least I did get to fully plant the new perennial bed and create the raised beds in the secret veggie garden and get them all pretty well planted with lots of cool weather veggies, strawberries, raspberries and some asparagus.

 Unfortunately the plants I was on the way home with from the nursery the day of the accident, had to be given away to friends. There were mostly annuals and some shade perennials that there was no way for me to plant.

So now all I can do is dream of my garden, which curiously, I've been doing! LOL Hopefully I will be able to plant some fall crops depending on how the leg heals and the doctors instructions.

Hope everyone else's gardens are doing well!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

New life in the garden

Well, one of the newly planted asparagus has finally come through the soil. It's no thicker than a toothpick, but I'm thrilled. Hopefully the other 19 will come through soon and I'll be able to slowly fill in the channel so I can make another new bed next to them for tomatoes in another month.

My few Gigantica San Marzano tomato seeds sprouted so I got those in a peat pot, and took my other larger seedlings outdoors on the back porch for the day.

The only other garden chore I did today was hand watering all the things I dug up and moved yesterday as well as  the broccoli and brussel sprouts starts I also planted yesterday.

The garden is pretty well set. If I want to plant anything more, like the heirloom Desire rose that arrived in the mail yesterday, I will have to dig up some of the herbs in the garden right behind the house and move them to the Secret garden.

If we don't get rain tomorrow morning or early afternoon, I'll plant that rose and transplant the things I dug up the other day and what I'll have to dig up tomorrow.

Yesterday and today I pulled out some of my old ceramic and other larger planters that I had behind the tool shed. I'm going to need the two largest ones for two of my new artichoke seedlings, and probably use some of the others for a couple of the San Marzano tomatoes and maybe one of the slightly smaller ones for a pepper plant.

This April forecast shows our S. Oregon weather changing faster than Texas weather. We went from 50's to the 70's, then 60's and by Wednesday and Thursday it's going to be in the mid 80's for two days and then back down again. At least we're not getting the flooding, and snow or tornadoes that they've been dealing with in other parts of the country.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

You can plant a lot of veggies in only three to six hours of sun.

Having a vegetable garden with varying levels of sunlight is a bit of a challenge, but I'm learning how to deal with it. I was happy to find a pretty long list of vegetables than can do well in 3 to 6 hrs of sun a day. Kale, collards, spinach, arugula, radicchio, swiss chard, beets, beans are just a few that will do well. You can get a complete list by checking it out on google.

I've been up since 3:30 this morning, by 5am, I was checking the seeds that I have on damp hand towel paper in zip lock bags. A couple of the different version Brandywine tomato seeds sprouted and I got them in a couple of peat pots, and got a few more pots ready for more of those and the Big Zac and Gigantica San Marzano tomato, and Oriental eggplants that I'm waiting to sprout.

As soon as it warms up a bit some of my other tender veggie starts have to be put out on the back porch for the day. With this warm spell those plants are going to be well hardened off by the time they're ready to go in the garden.

The past few nights I've been leaving my artichoke seedlings on the porch, but just covering them with a box around 7 pm.

Yesterday I filled the last of the 3 window boxes for herbs on the back porch and planted it with a French thyme and dill and will plant the rest of it with some basil when it's warm enough. I also planted a Nelly Moser clematis which was a chore since half the hole was filled with large gravel sized rocks, dug up what seems like a totally dead clematis that had a bad fungus right after I planted it last year, and  re-potted it and set it aside to make sure. Then I replanted that spot with a climbing rose, set up my new compost bin, dug up and replanted an artichoke that I had in a temporary spot, moved some planters and hand watered.

With this warm weather it looks like I need to turn on the automatic watering later today. I have too many newly planted things that are needing hand watering now. There's also a new section as well as new raised beds that need to have the drip system added or redone and hand watering is taking too much time at the moment.

Time to get my protein and banana drink breakfast and check if it's warm enough to put some of those veggies out on the black porch for the day.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Morel hunting

Today's morel hunting was cancelled due to rain; but here's a small group that were found last weekend at my son and daughter-in-laws new ranch land here in the Rogue Valley in S.Oregon.

Since it's raining, I doubt if I'll get garden time today and it's just as well since I'm tired and sore after a couple of day of digging out rocks and tree roots, making some new beds and planting.

The past couple of days I've planted potatoes, onions, leeks, fava beans, carrots, beets, some annuals and perennials. I also dug up some herbs and transplanted those in the Secret vegetable garden so I'd have more room for flowers in the flower bed behind the house. Shallots that were temporarily in one of my earth boxes had to get moved to another spot. I still have a few more of those to move and plant and garlic that is temporarily housed in another earth box has to get moved as well.  

I do companion planting and many of those herbs work well to keep the bugs away from the vegetable and fruit plants,  I've planted thyme near the cabbage family plants and will plant the oregano near the two new grapes I planted this season. The garlic does well near the lettuce and is supposed to ward off black spot when planted near roses. It also wards off aphids on the roses.

The past month I've planted six new roses, so I'll plant some of those garlic transplants around those. The garlic is also good planted near peas, and cucumbers.

My first peas are up about six or more inches and a later group is up about three inches, I have the earlier ones in a couple of window boxes and they'll be replaced with heat loving flowers or peppers  once our S.Oregon summer high temperatures slows them down.

Building a new gardens over meager, old, neglected ones is a lot of hard work, but I do see some light at the end of the tunnel, The raised beds are done and I'm just waiting for the newly planted asparagus to show some signs of life and growth so I can fill in the channels with all the soil that is blocking me from prepping the last area for planting tomatoes in another month,

Tomatoes benefit from being planting near the asparagus which helps prevent nematode damage to the roots of tomatoes.

If anyone is interested in learning more about companion planting there's a wonderful little paperback book titled "Carrots Love Tomatoes", by Louise Riotte.