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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.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Last blueberry planted

The weather forecast was for rain all day and thunder storms in the afternoon, so I had no expectation of getting into the garden, and was ready for a lazy Sunday doing paperwork and making a small batch of pizza dough in the afternoon. But miracle of miracles, no thunder came, and the pizza dough was made and covered to rest for an hour, just as the sun came out!

So, not wasting a minute, I rushed to the garden in my lounging PJ's and planted the last blueberry, a few red calendulas, transplanted another oregano, and pulled a few weeds. And miracle of miracles I didn't even get dirty!

I finished just in time to get the rested pizza dough in the fridge for it's two or three day cold rise.

With rain in the forecast Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday will be the next day I can get in the garden. Meantime I'll just keep an eye out for  the seeds I've planted in the house the past few days.

Time for my beans and cornbread dinner, and maybe figure ot where I'm going to plant the rest of the veggies!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Getting rid of garden pests

Here's a good source for dealing with garden insects, with pictures of the critters and ways to deal with them.

There was no time for the garden today. It was a day to meet with the account for taxes, then stops at the Farmers market and local garden center for more things to plant.

I was surprised to see some tomato plants at both places, and the selection was pretty good, although they didn't have a lot of heirloom tomatoes, so I only bought one Cherokee purple, one Brandywine, and a cherry tomato. Tomorrow I'll plant my own seeds of an Italian San Marzano heirloom that is larger than most San Marzanos, and a hybrid Beefsteak that I started from seeds a few years ago and have never found available as plants. It's the only Hybrid beefsteak I ever found that actually tastes like an heirloom.

It's too early to plant the tomatoes and a few other things so I will bringing them in every night and putting them out in the morning.

Tomorrow I need to plant some of the annuals and perennials I bought today, including another blueberry; and if I have time and energy, I'll prep some soil and have it ready for potato planting. My red seed potatoes are well sprouted and I cut them this afternoon. When the cut sides seal, they'll be ready to plant.

It felt so good to be at the Farmers market see flowers in bloom, smell the food cooking (I had a Thai chicken red curry that was delicious), and brought home a croissant for breakfast tomorrow. With today's 70 degrees and the same tomorrow, it feels like spring is already here. It will be rainy Sunday and cold next week, but I will relish today and not dwell on the more crazy March weather to come.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Morning seed starting and garden in the afternoon and resident skunk problem

Started planting some indoor seeds of basil, hollyhocks and some perennials for the endangered Monarch butterflies right after breakfast this morning. Those need 3 days in 60F temps, and then a month or more in the fridge. I've never started those from seeds, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. If it doesn't work, maybe the local farmers market will have some this season.

Then I got some pinto beans soaking for tomorrow night's bean and cornbread dinner,.

It's going to be 60F by two o'clock this afternoon, so I'll be in the garden by 1:30 to continue digging trenches to plant the remaining asparagus plants. There are also some pink lily bulbs and violas to plant today.

My raised beds need to get extended but I can't do that until I get my earth boxes moved, and before I can move them myself, I have to remove some of the soil and replace it with fresh potting soil after I move them.

Right now I have to call the Amazon seller who I bought a new compost bin from, because the package was missing the clips so I can set that up. I have two buckets of kitchen waste ready to go in there now! Actually, they were ready to go in there two days ago, but I've been holding back because of the skunk who's been hanging around the past couple of nights, and I don't want to put that stuff in my old compost pile where he can easily get to it and have a reason to hang around here even longer.

I read the other day that they don't like moth balls and will avoid areas with them, and since this is the time of year they're looking for places to have and raise their young, I'll be  buying a lot of moth balls tomorrow!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Seed starting chart

Link to seed starting chart from Dept of agriculture NC edu

This is a handy chart to use this time of year. I've already gotten most of my seeds sorted and just need to make my gardening calendar, as to when I need to plant them indoors.

My little artichokes are now about four inches tall, and I gave them their first meal of weak (1/4 strength), fish fertilizer this week.

Yesterday was a heavy gardening, moving soil and removing big roots day. I got my two blueberry plants dug up and re-planted, extended one of my strawberry raised beds a bit and planting a few more strawberries. I also finished planting most of the perennials I had on hand.

The job that caused the current stabbing pain in my back, was moving a lot of soil to lower and level the ground next to the entrance to my secret garden, so I could move on of the very large ceramic pots that flank both side of the entrance gate into the garden.

Digging and shoveling the soil was the easy part, cutting out large roots, some over 1 1/2 inches is what did in my back. Even a long soaking bath with epsom salts and sea salt didn't help, but the Tylenol extra strength seems to be helping a bit.

Moving the pot after I got the soil, roots and rocks removed probably contributed to my painful back today; but the job is done and this rainy day is giving me a day to rest it.

The only thing I harvested yesterday was some Italian parsley for my linguine with clam sauce dinner. I have some over wintered escarole that I should use this week to make my bean, sausage and escarole soup. These cool, rainy days are perfect for soup.

So today I'll do laundry, catch up with snail and email, and a couple of days of newspapers, and try to see if I can edit my soap making video. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

May get a bit of garden time

We've had so many cold, wet days, that I'm still trying to catch up with my planting and other garden work. Most of it would have been done now if it hadn't been for the weather; but we really need this rain, so I can't complain too much.

Fortunately, we've had enough days where there's been a lull in the rain in the afternoon, so I've been able to get out there and work for 3 to 4 hours at a time.

Yesterday I planted seven new perennials and dug up and re-planted several others. I also planted more snow pea seedlings. The ground is wet and heavy and I need to finish digging trenches and planting the rest of the asparagus. I'll try to do that this afternoon after I dig up and move a couple of young blueberry plants.

I've now got 7 raised beds and they're all planted with strawberries, perennial herbs, and  cool weather veggies. I also planted several raspberries and a thornless boysenberry in there, and one lone, rhubarb.

I have a couple of earth boxes that I'll use for tomatoes and a couple of peppers. Right now, one of them is temporarily housing some shallots which I'll have to transplant once I get these beds enlarged a bit. There shorter than they need to be because those earth boxes and other planters are taking up space in the walkway, but once they get moved, which I hope the gardener can do for me today, I can enlarge the beds enough and still have a wide enough path for my wheel barrel.

Now that I cut down a huge, diseased evergreen, and my neighbor has cut down the huge deciduous tree that was blocking so much sun from my Secret Garden, aka the vegetable garden, I've been able to get another area with enough sun for some veggies and fruit. I built and planted a small 4x4 raised bed with ten June bearing strawberries. They, along with the 25 everbearers I planted this season should give me a nice amount of strawberries for one person, even with the birds helping themselves to some.

The back yard area that houses my flower beds is now 99% deer proofed. The gardeners just have to put up a wire and raise one small section of fence by the back gate. Hopefully they can do that today.

This week I've just about filled up the flower bed that I extended with perennials. There are some herbs I want to move elsewhere to make room for a couple more perennials that need to go in there, and that will complete that bed other than spaces I've left for some annuals like cosmos, bachelor buttons, cherry pink zinnias and other bedding annuals.

It's been a lot of hard work digging out rocks and roots to get these back gardens planted, but I am feel encouraged that down the line I will have a lovely garden. Now I just have to get rid of all that moss in the lawn and other areas. I have a large container of moss removing concentrate and I just need the time and better weather to get it sprayed, or have my lawn person do it for me. It's a very sad looking lawn at the moment!

Well, this is as warm as this day is going to get, so time to dig up and move those blueberries,

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hoping to beat the rain

Looks like we have rain predicted every day for the next two weeks, so I need to take advantage of the warmer afternoons like today, where the rain isn't expected till later in the day. This is about the norm for Southern Oregon weather this time of year.

I've gotten a lot planted already. My Secret Garden, which is my veggie garden, has been my main focus till now. I had to build or add on to several raised beds and most are planted already with cool weather crops. I planted 35 everbearing strawberries a couple of weeks ago, and this week I planted five raspberries and one thornless boysenberry, and planted a six pack of beets, broccoli and lettuce.

Earlier I planted spinach, beets, arugula, kale, brussel sprouts, escarole, garlic, one rhubarb and shallots. My peas should be up soon. I check them a couple of days ago and they have started to sprout.

There are June strawberries and asparagus on order and I was hoping they'd arrive before now. At this point I'm worrying if I have enough room for everything I want to plant. I need to save room for potatoes, squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions and beans. I'll probably put some peppers in one of the earth boxes and put a couple of tomatoes in the other earth box.

My plan is to leave one small section without raised beds for the bean pole, squash, potatoes and more tomatoes. Since it's only myself I'm growing veggies for, I'll use part of the beanpole for cucumbers. I'm hoping I'll have a tiny section for a 4x4 foot section for corn that the squash can meander through.

This week I cleaned and planted a couple of my large window box planters for my back porch which about second floor level. I got tired of going up and down steps for my herbs, so I've planted those two boxes with perennials and annual herbs. There's room for one more planter which I'll use for basil when it's warm enough to plant.

One of the things I've already started from seed is artichokes, because the plants available at my local garden centers, only provide medium size artichokes, so I found a variety that should work here with larger fruits. I love to stuff them and the larger ones work best for that. Now I have to find room for the 5 that have come up. I already have one plant I bought last year that over wintered with a good layer of mulch, and a second one I just bought, which is an Italian heirloom that I'm hoping will have large heads. Since I don't think I'll have room for all of them, I'll probably find a home for 3 or 4 of these new ones.

Well time to get into my garden clothes for the day. Today I'm focusing on planting perennials in the back yard now that I've deer proofed that fence. Last summer I already put a separate deer fence up around the secret garden.

I also have a bunch more primroses to plant in the primrose bed in the more shaded side of the yard, and two roses if time and energy permits. My plan for the back yard is to create a cottage garden. There was almost nothing much in the way of perennials there when I moved in last spring, and at that time I focused on building my secret veggie garden. I've already planted fresh lavender plants after getting the very old, overgrown ones out of there, Asian lilies, and a lot more perennials. So by next season, if all goes well, I'll have the beginnings of a cottage garden to go with this 100 year old craftsman's cottage.

It's going to take me years to get this property in shape and at 76, I hope I live long enough and have the energy to make a lovely space for those who follow me.

Monday, February 15, 2016

More gardening weather for a day or two

It was overcast the whole time I was gardening and then when I called it a day, the sun came out.

Today and tomorrow are a bit warmer so I'm taking advantage of these milder afternoons and getting a few hours in the veggie garden today and tomorrow. Today I built a new, small, raised bed and planted it with some lettuce and broccoli, and re-planted my terra cotta strawberry planter with ten Quinault ever bearing strawberries. That makes 35 ever bearings planted this year. The other 25 are in a raised bed. 

I have some June bearers on order, so hopefully they will be here soon, so I need to get another bed made for them. This year I decided on planting a lot more strawberry plants than I think I'd need because once the birds and other critters take their share, I never seem to have more than a couple of berries left to nibble in the garden. 

At my old house, a neighbors dog loved to help himself to my strawberries. I like to share; but hey guys, leave me at least as much as you take, alright?

My lone artichoke survived the winter thanks to the mulching I did in the fall. A couple of days ago. I planted a few peat pots with more artichokes  I should have done that a couple of weeks ago, but hopefully they'll do OK this season. It's a variety that produce a larger fruit and since the type my local garden centers sell only produce medium fruit it was time for me to find a variety with bigger fruit since I loved making and eating stuffed artichokes.

Tomorrow I'll be back in the veggie garden AKA the secret garden to make another raised bed  and plant spinach seeds. I already have a bed of spinach starts planted, so these seeds will keep me in fresh spinach later in the spring.

My snow peas aren't up yet but they've only been in about a week. This year I planted a 3 foot section of them, which will be plenty for my stir fry dishes and in my salads, and some to snack on in the garden.  

Well, that's the garden report for today. Time to clean up, get in my pj's and start on my linguine with clams comfort food dinner, and tune in the Grammy awards later.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Planting weather

It's been over 9 months since my last blog post here and so much has happened. My husband Jim passed away two and a half months ago after a  5 year battle that he fought with optimism and courage; but in the end, the cancer won out.

I've been spending the past few months trying to deal with all the paper work and that is still not finished, but I am beginning to see a light at the end of this paper work tunnel. Living alone has it's own set of challenges, and one is the temptation to just grab any old thing to eat, so I've promised myself to not get into that trap and I am cooking healthy meals for myself.

My body was so stressed after those last 6 months of taking care of Jim and the house and animals, that I lost a lot of weight. I'm getting my strength back now and hoping to keep the weight off.

Cooking just for myself is easier, only because, for the most part, I'm cooking simple dinners for the most part and often have leftovers even though I'm halving my usual recipes.

My kitchen was in the middle of a remodel when Jim passed away and it took another month after his passing before it was completed and another week or so for me to organize all the cabinets.

Life goes on amid the loss and sadness and with a short bout of spring weather this week, I'm taking advantage of it and have purchased a lot of bare root berries, roses and perennials. I planted 25 ever bearing strawberries the other day and have June bearing strawberries and asparagus on order.

Tomorrow I'll start planting the packaged perennials, and then the roses. The berries are temporarily covered with soil, so planting can wait for those.

Today I bought some spinach, lettuce and swiss chard starters, so I'll need to prep another two of my raised beds and get those and spinach seeds planted tomorrow or the next day or so.

This lovely, warm, high 60'sF weather is due to be here till Thurday when rain is expected later in the day,  and cooler weather is coming in with it. Hopefully the planting and some new raised beds will get made before the weather turns back to more typical early February temperatures.