Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Miss Summer

Here is the damage. Quite a lot died. The confederate Jasmine, honeysuckle, agave, roses, iris, liriope, boxwood, windmill palm, and holly did just fine....but all the tropicals.....ack! I'm going to wait another month before cutting them back just in case we have any more freakish freezing spells. The dead leaves should help protect their roots from further damage.

Once I'm sure the coldest weather has passed the work will begin! First I'll cut anything dead back. All of that will go into the compost. Then I'll go a head and divide any perennials while everything is cut back. Next I'll keep an eye out to see what comes back from the roots. My garden was a little overcrowded anyway because I can't make up my mind and love every plant! So this winter weather will make those decisions for me.

If there are any bare spots, I'll plant some replacements and mulch the entire area with a truck load of pine needles....come on summer!

I included some pics from this summer for comparison. As far as the citrus goes, I lost all my lemons and limes. The oranges, grapefruit, kumquat, and satsumas seem to have made it through even though they're a little rough looking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Local Page Mandarin Orange Juice and Haiti

My neighbor Sandy keeps me well supplied with loads of citrus from her orchard. The recent odd four nights and days of freezing temperatures forced the growers to scramble to save what fruit was still on the trees. Which resulted in Sandy giving me quite a bit of citrus! She especially loaded me up on what she knows is my very favorite...Page Mandarins.

These little oranges are bursting with the sweetest tangiest juice and it's bright orange color reminds me of all those color enhanced glossies from garden magazines...except this is its actual color...beautiful. But with some of them softening, I decided I had better juice what I had left before they rotted.'s the best orange juice I've ever tasted. Really...I rarely buy store juice because it doesn't compare.

As I squeezed the oranges carefully trying to extract as much of the yummy juice as I could, I couldn't help but think of Haiti. Every time I take a sip of water or sit down to a meal I think of them. Besides donating....the only thing I can do at this point is pray for them....and that is what we do as a family.

My last blessing over dinner went long while we remembered those that didn't have what they needed and praying that their needs would soon be supplied. I looked up and apologized to my girls for taking so long. With big eyes they all assured me that sometimes long prayers are good even when your hungry and waiting to dig into the yummy plate of food set before you. I realized that they completely understood what a true blessing having all your needs met was. Although they waited minutes, there were others who were waiting days. I know what we can do is limited, but we must do what we can do.

Here is a pic of my seedlings. A reader informed me that I needed to move the light closer. Hey guys this is the first time I've ever grown seedlings indoors. I'll take all the advice I can get. Please let me know if I am making a mistake. Look at the difference it made. The seedlings in the back were the first ones that grew when the light was higher. The shorter seedlings in the front are the ones that sprouted after I lowered the light. They are much greener, stockier, and healthier looking! She said the light should be six to eight inches from the seedlings. Thank you!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Home Made

It never ceases to amaze me....
that when you try making something at home....
that you always bought, and thought the bought item was pretty good....
now the bought item no longer seems very good at all...
when you carefully make it at home fresh from quality ingredients....
Wow! no longer want to buy it, because if you did, you wouldn't eat it anymore!
Because these are sooooooooooo goooood!
This is the recipe I got from "Throw Back at Trapper Creek". Not only are they scrumptious, they are a fraction of the cost of store bought ones. To my best estimate I made 24 muffins for the same cost of six at a discount store. I used organic ingredients as well.

Sourdough English Muffins

1/2 pkg. yeast
2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
2 1/2 c. water

1 c. starter
2 T. honey
2 c. warm milk
5 c. flour (4 c.) (1 c.)
1 t. soda
2 t. salt

Combine starter, honey, milk and 4 c. flour in glass bowl. Let rise in warm place overnight (or all day). Stir down; mix in soda and salt. On board, knead in 1 c flour for about 5 minutes, working in enough flour to make a smooth dough. On lightly floured board roll or pat to 1/2″ thickness. Cut using a biscuit cutter or tuna can. Sprinkle a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Place muffins on cookie sheet; sprinkle tops with cornmeal. Cover with a light towel and let rise approximately 30 minutes. Heat griddle over low heat for at least 5 minutes. Cook each muffin with a little butter for 4 – 5 minutes on each side, turning once.

To replenish your starter, add 1 c flour and 1 c water mixed well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yikes and Cheap New Seedling Stand

It's been a long time. We've been told it hasn't been this cold since 1989, freezing weather, all the way down to 19 degrees one night...YIKES....
every one's scrambling to protect animals and plants from four nights of freezing weather...
the citrus...
I'm really not sure how much I'll have left when it all thaws out, but it's beautiful in it's own way while it lasts...
...but there's a lot at risk....we'll just have to wait and see what we have left...
...meanwhile in the cozy seeds are sprouting!!!
Byron built me a light, inexpensive A frame stand with a plant light. It's been way too cold to put the seedlings on the front porch like I usually do, and they were crowding up my limited kitchen counter space. This is working wonderfully. It's also collapsible and will store nicely in the loft of our shed until it's needed again next season.
See my little solar oven underneath waiting for a sunny day? I've planted my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Everything else I direct seed in the garden.
Here's a close up of the top. See the hinges? The framed chicken wire shelf is held on with nails that slip in and out easily. You just remove the light and shelf, fold it up and it'll store nicely. It only took a couple of hours for Byron to make it.
The supplies were: 4-6 ft 1X2 boards, 2- 8ft 1X2 boards, 2 small utility hinges, 8- 1 1/2 inch nails, chicken wire, staples, plug in florescent light fixture ($9. something at home depot), and two plant spectrum florescent light tubes ($10 a piece at home depot). We bought everything but the chicken wire at home depot to make it and the total cost was $60.00 even.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Start

The beginning of the year signifies an opportunity to start again in so many ways. My husband thinks, "so what? It's just another day", but to me it always feels like turning to a fresh page in a sketch book. You get to start all over again if only in your mind. I always forgive myself of my past failures and remember a motto I learned to live by a long time ago: "You can't make deals with the past, but with the future everything is negotiable."

So at the beginning of this year I'll congratulate myself on my past success, forgive myself of the failures and look forward to trying again and tackling new challenges.

I do believe setting and writing down goals is important to realizing them. I smiled as I looked through an old sketch book of mine. My sisters happened to be close by and I pointed out to them a rough sketch I had done of my "dream garden" and the computer generated drawing I had painstakingly rendered, printed and place between the pages of my sketch book. The date was January 2004. Here six years later I am in the final stages of realizing a completion of this dream. We slowly installed the garden one stage at a time and I am closing in on the final stage.

If there is any complaint I have about myself it is my tendency to start a new project before the last one is finished. This year my motto is going to be: "Start it. Do it. Finish it."

I'm going to find all my projects in the "Do it" stage and I'm going to finish it. I'm going to find all the projects in the "Must Start it" stage and start, do and finish them. Must is the key word here. I only want to start those projects that must be finished.

For example I "must" start my seeds indoors to have a nice crop of tomatoes. All other "Start it" projects "must wait" until the "do its" and "finish its" and "must start it" projects are done. In other words I'm not starting anything unnecessary this year until I wrap up all the loose ends!!! I could have said that to start with right!

My first exciting "Must do it" project is to plant my tomato and eggplant seeds. Mission accomplished! Also I "must" order my new seeds for this year. Done did! And I am so anticipating their arrival any day now!

Some seeds are best started indoors before they are ready to be placed out. I finished planting mine a few days ago. In our zone 9 you can start tomatoes and eggplants indoors in December. I like to start them as early as possible to avoid a lot of the pests that come along with the hot temps. Once they sprout I am going to keep them under grow lights this year. Last year I grew them on my front porch facing southeast and protected them when cold temps threatened. They did well, but I am starting them even earlier this year so I am going to try using grow lights. When I plant them outside I am going to use row covers to protect them if necessary.

I start seeds in peat or plastic pots using seed starting soil. They can be started in large trays and then divided and placed individually in their own pot, but I'm not doing that this year. I placed at least three seeds in each pot. I'll thin them down to the strongest one.

I like to buy my seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I really enjoy their catalog and the descriptions of each plant.

Here are the boxes I use to sort and store my seed. I store them alphabetically by type...tomatoes, eggplant, greens, beans, peas, carrots,...etc...

This is a pic of the things I dehydrated, and some of the seeds I saved from last year. I'm doing my best to save seed from year to year. I didn't have to order many types this year because I saved seed.
Here is a list of seeds I ordered:
(The ones in bold are varieties I have already successfully grown)
Asian Winged bean
Blue Lake Bush Bean
Golden Wax Bean
Red Seeded Asparagus Bean (a long bean variety)
Bull's Blood Beet
Crapaudine Beet
Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts
Bacalan De Rennes Cabbage
Nero Di Toscana or Black Palm Tree Cabbage
Cosmic Purple Carrot
Jaune Obtuse Du Doubs Carrot
Parisienne Carrot
Tendercrisp Celery
Chires Baby Corn
Dakota Black Popcorn
Rainbow Sweet Inca Corn
De Bourbonne Cucumber
Suyo Long Cucumber
Long Purple Eggplant
European Mesclun Salad
Georgia Southern Collards
Tom Thumb Lettuce
Green Machine Melon
Sleeping Beauty Melon
Sakata's Sweet Melon
Vidrines Midget Cowhorn Okra
Red Creole OnionAnaheim Pepper
Coban Red Pimiento Pepper
Emerald Giant Pepper
Quadrato D'Asti Rosso Pepper
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
Bennings Green Tint Scallop Squash
Crookneck Early Golden Summer Squash
Black Beauty Zucchini
Green Striped Cushaw
Brandywine Tomato
Cherokee Purple Tomato
Moneymaker Tomato
Pineapple Tomato
Yellow Mortage Lifter Tomato
Boule D'or Turnip
Moon and Stars Watermelon
Crackerjack Mix Marigolds
Giant Primrose Sunflower
Bright Jewels Cactus Flowered Zinnia
Some Seed Varieties I have saved and will plant:
Curley Mustard
Purple Hull Peas
Silverline Melon
Striped Marigolds