Saturday, July 27, 2013

Purple Peppers

Pooka has some purple peppers going from the Chinese 5 color peppers. She is so happy to see such a pretty purple color on her pepper plants. I found them while she was playing and all thoughts of her game were forgotten as she went running to the garden.
Hello purple pepper
When we went outside today there were multiple pepper starting as well as some other peppers that seemed to look a bit yellow. It looks like once these get started, they will be pretty heavy producers.
Multiple peppers
Daddy just wants to see how hot they get. He is hoping we can dehydrate them to make our own hot pepper flakes. He has held off on trying them yet, but he keeps saying he can't wait to try them. 
5 color pepper plant
I will say they are adding a nice pop of color to the front bed, but color is not exactly what we are striving for here. Hopefully they taste good as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Taking the day

A flower for the one I am thinking of.
Life has intruded on the science garden, and Pooka and Brother need my attention more. As a result, I will be taking today off, and possibly Friday. I promise to return with more posts by Monday at the lastest.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Filling in

Since we harvested the garlic in the front bed, it was looking a bit barren. This would not normally bother me, but since it is in the front of the house, it looked very sad when I would pull in. Not to mention to come to our front door, you had to walk past a completely empty bed. Add to that, I got an email from our local nursery that all the veggies and herbs were 50% off. Off to the nursery we went.
So empty looking.
After some looking and thinking, Pooka and I decided on some nice plants. I will admit they were a bit thin on plants, but that is what you get waiting on clearance. We decided to plant the dill that was in the red pots on the front porch, as well as the oregano that was potted on the back deck. From the nursery we brought home a French and a Spanish lavender, an oregano, a 4 pack of celery and some milkweed. Yes, Pooka and I decided on a flower when they are $0.80 and they will attract butterflies for Pooka. She wants to see how many butterflies she can get to visit.
Laying the plants out
 I laid everything out to see how we liked it. Most of these are annuals, so I won't feel bad in a few months ripping them out and putting in more garlic or anything else. I made a point to put the lavender on the edge so I can plant around it if needed.  Another issue we have had with waiting this long, is some of the plants were fairly root bound. We are keeping them well watered in hopes it helps them get established.
In the ground
However, upon further thinking, we decided to stick the Spanish lavender between the bolting cilantro and the sad chive plant. It seems to really like this location and now I won't need to move it later this fall.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Keeping track

Since I just finished updating the harvest and preserving totals. I figured now might be a good time to show you how I am keeping track of everything. Let's be honest here, using the scrap of paper method does not work in this house. Goodness only knows where it would end up.

The old method
I wanted something that would be easily accessible, easy to use (so that Daddy and kids could use it) but I wouldn't have to stare at it all the time. Enter the inside of the cabinet. This cabinet is at the end of the peninsula. The scale is kept in this cabinet as well. The peninsula is also where the daily harvest seems to get dropped when it comes in from outside.
I had a couple of cork pieces hung inside the computer room closet. There was a plan for them once, but really, they never seemed to get much use. I figured they would work better for this.
reusing cork
I used double sided tape to adhere it to the door. Now in this case, I didn't have any good double sided tape laying around, however this is the same stuff we use when we put plastic on the windows in the winter. I put double-sided tape on the back along all 4 outer edges.
Add tape
Then I just pressed the cork into the door. I held it there for a moment to make sure it stuck really well and didn't fall down. I will say it has been holding great for over a month now.
Cork adhered to door.
Now, if you want to get real fancy, I suppose I could of trimmed it out or something. I didn't think it needed that. I did however hastily write a note to say what is suppose to go on this notepad. Now we open the door, and either take the notepad down and write on it, or if your tall like Daddy, he just writes on it in the cabinet. I can remove the pages as I log it, and then if there is still room on the page, I can pin it back up. The push pins and the notepad I had laying around.
Ready for totallying harvest.
When all is said and done, this project has worked really well. It is nice to have a spot to keep track of things. Best part is the fact that it was all made with found materials, so there was NO COST at all to the projects and all told, took maybe 5 minutes. Those are my kinds of projects.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Getting filthy

On Saturday, Daddy and I had to finally admit the potato plants were dead. I admit I was more the a bit nervous that we would find nothing. Brother on the other hand had thoughts that he would have enough potatoes he could sell them to the grocery store.
Dead potatoes
May I just say the word filthy comes to mind when digging these out of the bags. I swear I still have dirt in my hair, no matter how we tried to extract these things. However, the best method we came up with is to have Daddy hold the bag on the side of the bin we were putting the dirt into.
Sitting on the size of the bin
 Brother, Pooka  and I  (mostly brother and I since we didn't have enough space for all of us) would then reach in and form a bit of a cavern in the bag looking for potatoes. The dirt would fall into the bin and we could be sure we were pulling out all the potatoes as we went.
Cavern of potatoes
We didn't have a great crop, but we had over a 1 pound of blue potatoes. they are about the size of baby potatoes at the grocery store (you know, the ones that are $3.99 for a lb and a half) so that is what we priced it against. I think next year we will have to pay a bit more attention to what we were doing, and Brother is still excited to eat them. I was about to call it a failure, but Daddy said "since we got at least one meal out of it, not to call it a failure but a learning experience and isn't that what this garden is for, to teach the kids and us." Point taken

Our potato crop
What are we going to do with the all the dirt that came out of those bags? Daddy had us empty into this old plastic bin that was in the shed. After looking at it, (and not wanting to have to carry it back into the shed) Pooka and I decided to plant a few more sugar snap peas in it and let them grow. We will be sticking some wood in it to make a small trellis, and then letting them grow onto the deck. This way, the dirt isn't just sitting around and we can put some nitrogen back into the soil so it can be reused next year for something.
Reused and reuse and reuse

There be Dragons.

The garden is showing some nice color. In fact, Pooka's snapdragons finally bloomed. We only have a couple to start, but more are on their way. It is great to see something that generally makes her smile every time she goes out there. Just like her mom. Hopefully she will always have the wonderful memories of them that I do.
Snap dragons

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Harvesting and saying goodbye

Let us start with the good things. On Thursday, Pooka and I realized the heat was definatly getting to her carrots. Enough so that we had to harvest the older pots of carrots. The older carrots were drying out and in some cases getting ready to bolt, so we pulled them. The carrot containers on the top are the older carrots, while the ones toward the bottom are the second sowing.
Carrots needing harvesting
I won't pretend Pooka and I were not a bit disappointed in how smaller her colored ones were. Brother's orange carrots were decent baby carrot sized, but the colored ones were a considerably smaller. However, Pooka and brother both managed to make short work of the over 10.5 oz of carrots we harvested for snack that afternoon. I am hoping the second and maybe 3rd sowing of these should get bigger as things cool off. Here is to hoping anyway. At least Pooka still got to enjoy ripping them out of the dirt and shaking them off. She was asking to eat them before I even had them washed off.
Last of the first set of carrot harvest
On the more somber/failure note, Pooka's Venus fly trap died. I have no idea what happened to it, I was keeping it well watered for quite a while, to the point it felt like I was refilling the water cup daily. I also know it got one good meal since we had killed a random fly (and it was in tact) and fed it to it. Pooka is very sad her little plant died. Especially since she bought it with her own money. I promised her we would do some more research and if she gets a new one (either buys it herself or receives it as a gift), we will try again. Until then, well it is another lesson in the cycle of life.
Goodbye fly trap

Friday, July 19, 2013

There is a stargazer

Pooka was outside yesterday putting recycling in our recycling bin that has sadly not made it back into the garage. She came running in to tell me one of my stargazers had bloomed. She said it looked very pretty and smelled wonderful. She was so excited I had to drop everything so she could show it to me, and then to Daddy as soon as he got home from work.

First Stargazer
The last few days have been very hard for us here, due to non garden stuff. But seeing a bit of color and remembering what it brings can help. Maybe that is why they say that "Gardening is cheaper then therapy and you get tomatoes."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New friends

The other day I was sitting on the porch and I noticed some odd looking little black shapes on the dill. You can almost make them out, there were caterpillars on the dill plant. They were little black ones with a white stripe. I wanted to save our dill plant, but I also wanted to save the caterpillars. I had Pooka run and get her bug house. There were 3 in all, and we placed them and some dill in the bug house. Pooka wants to raise them. I figure since we already have the habitat, why not.
We have since found a green one on a sage plant (I am pretty sure its a cabbage moth, but she wants to save it since that sage leaf was about to be blanched for dehydrating). Looks like Pooka will be raising more caterpillars this summer. Anything to have pollinators. Too bad at this stage they are more trouble in the garden. But if they are contained, I can feed them only what I want them to eat, which is a good thing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


We have Cucumbers. Our first 2 were picked yesterday. The kids were so excited for cucumbers for lunch, that we sliced the first one before we could get a picture. In fact, Pooka took a bite before we could get pictures. Now, I know it summer, I have fresh cucumbers.

Cucumbers FINALLY

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Starting to really see results

The garlic and the red onions were starting to look really sad. Daddy and I decided it was time to deal with them.
The red onions are done
The red onions were falling over and in some cases drying out. I could finally see how bad the weeds were. It was time to pull them.
Test bulbs
A test yank of the onions showed that we had some smaller onions. They were decent sized so we went ahead and pulled the red ones.
A bad picture of the entire harvest
The final harvest of the red onions. It doesn't look like much here, but the onions are about half the size you see at a grocery store. This works well for us since we tend to only use about half a red onion at a time. We decided to lay them out in the garage to dry/cure so we can try and store them.
Garlic is done
 The last of the garlic finally gave up. It had browned and fallen over.
The big ones have even given up
 Even the big giant plants were falling over and had given up. Daddy has been so excited to pull these. The giant garlic plants made bulbs about on par with what you would see at a grocery store. In fact, I think we will be making a point to get the garlic in the ground during the fall.  And if it sprouts early and grows over the winter, it does not seem to hurt them.
Overwintered garlic
I am comparing the overwinter garlic to the ones we had planted this spring. I had harvested them much earlier this year and they are considerably smaller then the winter garlic. The spring garlic was also from a nursery where the overwintered garlic was from a organic market. While neither ever produced the scrapes everyone talks about, I think we got our money worth from it all.
Spring garlic
All this harvesting has left us with a fairly empty bed. I am hoping to fix that today. But that is another post.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A friend for Cave

If you will remember, for our anniversary, Daddy gave me a lemon tree. That Pooka and I quickly named Cave Johnson. We have one very good sized lemon growing on it, and it is a great giggle to say I own a lemon tree in the middle of the Midwest.
Hello, I'm Cave Johnson
Saturday, the whole family was at Lowes for their build and grow clincs. The kids love it and its free (what can be better). Well, I had to check the clearance areas. The garden center had a huge clearance area, and one of the things on clearance - the lime tree.
"Say Hello Caroline." "Hello Caroline"
We had seen this tree on clearance before, but it was only marked down $5. I wasn't really going to pay that so I decided to wait and check again. It seems to have been a smart move since on Saturday we found the same lime tree for only $10. What a deal. Needless to say we decided to bring home a friend for Cave Johnson. This one has been named Caroline, after the secretary to Cave Johnson in the game. At least Cave won't be lonely during the winter.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

At the end of a long day

Today was a long day. Very productive in and out of the garden, but long none the less. So it was very satisfying to be able to walk outside and pick our dinner. In fact, Pooka began to run around asking what else we could eat.

Dinner tonight
Now granted, most of it just went into a salad. But when the salad is completely home grown with romaine and bib lettuce, baby spinach, sugar snap peas, basil, parsley, red onion and cherry and regular tomatoes, I would call it a very good salad. Even if Pooka has decided to have "Yummy mold that Daddy likes on it." At least I can say I didn't grow the bleu cheese (aka mold).

Friday, July 12, 2013

Snack Time

Having a garden generally means (in theory) that Pooka can go outside and pick anything she wants to eat and go. Lately Pooka has decided that it is fun to just go outside and pick the herb leaves. It got to a point where daily she was asking "Can I try this plant? What does this one taste like?" Considering how excited I am that she is trying all these things, I told her to pick whichever herbs she wanted and basically gave her blanket permission to eat anything she wants out of the front herb bed.

Herb garden
She does this about daily, just walks out there and starts munching. I just tell myself there are worst things she could be eating. However, on Tuesday, Pooka had her friend K over to play. What did they spend most of the afternoon doing? Eating out of the herb bed, especially the chives plant.
Can you find the chives? They are the most cut back plant.
 They would go over and eat a bunch of chives until they realized their breath was getting a bit stinky then run over to the mint plant and eat some of that, then go back to the chives. The poor little chive plant is looking rather depleted, but this is why we grow plants, to eat them. At least both girls are adventurous enough to try new things.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Signs of progress

A walk into the garden shows the fact we are getting close to really producing food. We have tomatillos that are starting to look like tomatillos.
 We have a second broccoli head appearing on the plants.
 And the blue corn looks to be starting to get there as well.
blue corn
Maybe soon I can stop going to the store. Maybe

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Accepting the world

Try as I might, I think I have finally lost the battle for the cilantro plants. They have flowered pretty heavily, and I am going to let them go to seed and then harvest the coriander.
Flowering cilantro
It was time to start growing some replacement plants. That means more pots that I start over again. Yesterday that was our only goal.
Back to filling pots
This time, I wanted to make sure to try restarting the pak choi. Something is loving it int he bed and the seedlings are having a hard time, so I will restart it and hopefully move it. We are also trying a new kind of cilantro from Seeds for Change. Hopefully we can actually get the saved seeds to work next year.
Seeds ready to go in the dirt
In the end, we planted 2 of each type of cilantro and 2 pak choi. Now to wait for it to grow so we can see how different the two forms of cilantro are.
Now to wait.

Monday, July 8, 2013


In a bit of a rush, but I wanted to show you all what I am taking to work for lunch tonight. Everything was grown in Pooka's garden and she said I could take the second cherry tomato "since you haven't tried them yet. They are delicious."

Homegrown carrots, peas, beans and cherry tomato
I know using plastic bags isn't the best answer, but the kitchen is still in process of being rebuilt and we don't currently have a sink for dishes. I added a store bought cucumber to make sure I get enough. I am waiting impatiently for ours to come in. Hopefully I bought my last sets for awhile.

Cucumber is getting there.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Getting There

The harvests are getting bigger. On Friday, Pooka and I harvested these yellow squash from her yellow squashes from her mystery squash plant. They are fairly small still, but I heard if you harvest them smaller they are less seedy and taste better. That's the hope. We haven't had a chance to try them yet since we lost the kitchen this weekend. We are planning on trying them today.
Pooka was so very excited to see that first yellow cherry tomato. I barely got pictures before she was jumping in and eating it. She said it tasted wonderful and is hoping for a purple cherry tomato next. I told her we will see. Brother also had a handful of blueberries in there. Those lasted about as long as the cherry tomato.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Again with the bunnies

Today we rescued yet another little bunny from our yard. He is the second one this summer that we have rescued. I am tired of the darn things since they keep me from being able to put the dog out unsupervised. What is even dumber is they seem to be nesting in the yard with the biggest dog on the block.
Scared little bunny
  It is not fun, but we managed to save this little guy that keeps giving me heart attacks. Let hope he is the last one. He froze and Daddy was able to put him in a box and then the kids and I took him to a wooded area and said goodbye to Bugs.
Run free and stay away.
Oh, and if you do a search on how to keep bunnies out of your yard, the number one answer is get a dog. That is the problem.