Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things To Do On Thanksgiving Vacation

Watch the chickens....
Make a hut using bamboo, palm and ginger. Push tall bamboo sticks into the ground in a 3/4ths a circle. Gather at the top and secure with a large cable tie. Weave smaller bamboo stalks in and out to create the wall. Fill in with ginger leaves. Add palm fronds to the top and a piece of fabric "deer skin" for a door and you're a pretend Native American....(You could probably use willow and other leaves for those areas that do not have bamboo and ginger.)! There's a black panther checking out the wicki-up!
...or you could draw faces on miscellaneous objects...Seleste explained that this yarn was so sad because it had to wear a dunce hat....
....This dried cucuzza squash looks pretty happy all cozy by the fire...
...or you could make "Steen's Molasses Cake" and eat it right out of the pan with a very cold glass of milk using.....
...the recipe right off of the jar!
Steen's Molasses Cake
1 cup dark molasses
2 tbsp sugar
2tsp vanilla
1/3 cup salad oil
1 1/2 cup flour sifted
1 egg
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
Combine all dry ingredients except sugar. Beat egg and sugar until creamy. Add dark molasses, mix well, add oil, mix. Add dry ingredients, beat 100 strokes or 3 min with mixer at moderate speed, add milk and vanilla, mix. Do not over beat. Pour in pan. Cook at 375 degrees until done.
Now don't waste that very last day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Contemplating Electricity and Seeds

I know seeds and electricity do not have too much in common, but I have been thinking a lot about both of them lately. Usually I can't wait for summer or winter to come. Both of them have their drawbacks and blessings, but in the winter my electricity bill hits almost nil.

After Gustav our electricity was out around 18 days. Actually and unbelievably a longer time than after Katrina which was incomparably worse. It was sweltering. If you've never experienced the summer in New Orleans the best description I can use is oppressive. Humidity drapes over you like an iron x-ray apron and sweat soaks underwear, spine and stomach first and works it's way out. In the hottest part of the day it's best to rest to avoid overheating.

Me in my optimism and desire to "find out how much I can take" after Hurricane Gustav, resisted the desire of my husband to run out and buy a gas generator and window unit. After much sweating and griping my husband explained he really didn't want or care about my "experiment" and went out and bought both. We kept the master bedroom and bath cool and the kids "camped out" on the floor around our bed. I must admit I didn't volunteer to sleep in the living room to complete the experiment. What a difference it made in the attitudes of certain people in the household. We also ran the refrigerator and a few fans and lamps.

It really bothered me that we were so quick to rush out and spend large amounts of money to get our own electricity. My grandparents and my parents, Byron's grandparents and parents didn't always have air conditioning. Even though she had central air my grandmother from Mississippi never used it. I'll never forget the feeling of laying in bed with her on a summer night with the windows open and a breeze blowing, all the covers kicked off and my silky night gown sticking to my skin while my grandmother told me the story of the very wise King Solomon who wanted to cut a baby in half. That story really stuck in my mind and I mulled it over and over. Byron's mother likes to say, "I don't remember it being this hot when I was a little girl!" In many ways I believe her, but always just tell her she's wimpy now. Everyone cuts down their trees to "keep them from fallin' on the house during a hurricane", and so much more of the land is concrete. When I stand in the dense shade of a large live oak I realize we've been cutting down our "air conditioning" for years. In college I couldn't wait for the first sunny spring day to take a nap under the wide low sweeping branches of one of the ancient live oaks that can still be found in most city parks.

I once read on someones blog that his goal wasn't to replicate dependency on electricity with solar or wind. He explained that those who did went to great expense to secure a source that was still basically dependent upon outside sources to supply the necessities to generate electricity....turbines, solar panels, batteries, repairs...etc.... His goal was become less dependent upon electricity period.

Life should be able to go on with out it. You should be able to eat, entertain yourself, function and most of all cope. I quickly saw a breakdown of my family's ability in the cope department. But could you? Could you really live without electricity and actually be happy? I certainly love all the great stuff electricity gives me one of them being the limitless fingertip knowledge of the Internet, but if it and all the other electrical niceties disappeared would I moan like a wronged in love country singer or conjure up a "I will survive" spirit?

...and oh yes, on the seeds. I've heard quite a few advertisements about "emergency seeds". You know... just in case anything apocalyptic happens. This really is a joke. Unless those seeds fall into the hands of an experienced gardener or farmer, planting them and getting a decent crop is about as certain as winning the lottery. Maybe they should come with gardening classes as well. So if you're thinking about stocking them and have never gardened a lick. Go head and plant them as soon as you get them...It'll do you more good in the long run. You'll have more fun than you've had in a while too....

....hmmm maybe my next post will be on steps I've taken to help my family cope without electricity.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Preparing to Build The Pergola

You've probably read about my plans for the last section of my potager. It includes an outdoor room in the form of a pergola covered by and surrounded with tons of bright aggressive flowers! It's going to be 16 X 12 and 10 feet tall.

It's going to include a back panel with a circle aperture and built in bench, two bench swings and a fire pit that will be topped with a piece of stone and serve as a table in our mostly warm climate. In the winter we'll enjoy fires on the occasional cold day we have. Fortunately it's gotten into the 40's at night lately around here. Whoo Hoo down right fireplace weather here, and yes, I did have a fire.

Finally after all these years of planning, Byron's started my pergola! First things first, we had to rent a small utility thingy from Home Depot to move a pile of garden soil. This utility thingy also comes with an auger and a ditch witch.....which...Byron will use to dig the holes for the column footings and waterlines to the garden. Also we're considering drainage as well.

Byron was working with me gawking, when he asked, "You wanna drive it?" Me, "You Bet, Get out of the way." This picture is of the first pile in the wrong place. I had to move it to the second pile out of the way. "O.K....Hmmm what's all these levers for....hmmm....forward, backward, bucket, up, down......"

"Hey this is easy!...."
O.K. Here's the second pile. Now I just have to dump it out. "This is fun."
"Very Cool"
"I could be dangerous with this thing.....Think of all the stuff I could do around here....Those guys who drive those giant construction bucket thingys must have a blast....."
"All right, All Right, I'll let you get back to work...."
"You're such a sweety Byron.....Thanks for caring about and helping me make my dreams come true!"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Around The House And Gardens

Ida blowing through. It wasn't much of a storm as far as storms around here go. I've seen summer squalls that were much worse.
The front garden is blooming it's heart out! It's full of zooming flying creatures. Remember the before pictures?
Sessie gathering the eggs.
Hi Mom!
A Musquee De Provence blossom with fruit. Those that have been on the vine a while are finally turning orange.
The vines just went crazy!
There should be plenty for sharing, canning, and cooking!
The veggie garden. Byron is beginning my pergola this week.
Broccoli seed I saved from last year. This year I have planted arugula, silverline melon, broccoli, and purple hull peas from seeds I have saved. I'm looking forward to my garden eventually being sustainable in the seed department!
A colorful harvest!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ishsy Squishy Gushy Worms!

Remember my compost corral.... compost!
All of the organic household scraps I have been faithfully saving and toting ...
all of the leaves and clippings I dutifully hauled across the yard...
every shovel full of chicken droppings I tossed into the compost corral have finally settled, decayed and been converted into nutritious compost teeming with earth worms for my garden. Truly gardening requires and teaches patience, but the joys experienced are well worth the wait. Yes, I even love the feel of squishy worms in my hand.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recent Harvest and Oldham Bamboo

The best time for gardening in my zone is right now! I've been spending as much time as possible outside in the garden. Everything is so beautiful when it's not being stressed by heat. I'll have to ask Byron if I'm more beautiful lately ;-) Here is my recent harvest....
Curly mustard, Asian greens, arugula, pok choy several types of eggplant, several types of peppers, oregano, and green beans....yum yum. Recently I planted lettuce, beets, carrots (yellow, purple and orange), cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Look how tall my Oldham bamboo is getting! It's supposed to grow to a height of 75 feet and have canes 5 inches in diameter. This cane is probably about 20 feet. Can't wait to see how tall it will get next year.

Here is a close up of the tall cane. As the plant matures it is supposed to take on a golden hue. This is a clumping variety and should make a clump about 15 feet in diameter. If you can grow bamboo it makes great stakes for the garden. I pick bamboo stakes almost every year from a wild clump growing near the levee. I'm hoping that I will eventually be able to harvest large canes from this clump to fashion garden features from it.
Here's a link on this variety of bamboo OLDHAM BAMBOO
Oh yes, My husband is planning to start my pergola soon! Maybe it'll be done by Christmas. Fingers crossed. Its going to have two bench swings and a fire pit that serves as a coffee table in spring. One more reason why I love Byron!