26 June 2009

bzzzz! bzzzZZzzZz!

i have been busy bee. right now i am in ohio visiting with my cousin and her family. (arrived wednesday night) next stop, my parents' place for a bit. then rW arrives and we spend the 4th of july all together.

this means that excluding the backlog, no new garden news, and there will be none until i return to the east coast. i am knitting on the road, but some of my projects are secret projects! news on the knitting front later.

Day Twenty-Seven
saturday. in which we alternate.

it rains. no wait! the sun shines! i am sure the garden is glad for the latter, but the former is doing it no good. the soil in my containers has not been 100% dry since... oh... maybe Day 3.

to make matter worse, rW and i planned to pick sweet cherries today, and the weather is making that impossible. this is very disappointing because the cherries are only on the tree for a bout week, so you have to get them while they are hot!

aide from the rain, i caged my cucumber plants last night. cukes an get very viney and grow all over the place. i am training mine to grow up! we'll see how the little tendrils of vine do latching on to the cage.

vineDay Twenty-Eight
sunday. in which we finally have sun.

finally, no rain. just sun, and cage news!

cucumbers grow quickly, and mine have taken to the cages right away. little vine tendrils quickly lashed themselves to the cage structure and curled on tight. i hope the plant take well to this. the lowest layer of leaves has turned to a yellow color, which is a bad sign in my book. same this happened to my melons' leaves, however, and they are hanging in okay.

Day Twenty-Nine

monday. glamour shots

i decided you needed some glamour shots of peppers. i have some forming on the jalapeno, and some impressive ones on the Early Big Bell.

i am excited about the EBB because they are supposed to get HUGE! (8" peppers!) i have high hopes that one of the later rounds of peppers from the plant will be enough to allow me to make red pepper spread. yum yum.

peppersright now the peppers are smallish (2" range) and still green. they are supposed to turn red when they are mature and ready to be picked.

rW speculates that it will be shortly after we return from the trip. i think it will be longer. maybe i am a pessimist, but this whole gardening thing has been a very slow row to hoe.

Day Thirty

tuesday. vines are funny.

the vines n the cucumber plants are scrambling to be the #1 vine on the cage. they are very funny because they lash together in clumps, and some of them are "strangling" the plant as they tie branches of it down to the cage.

they grow so quickly, inches over a span of a few hours--i wish i could watch them and see it happen!

Day Thirty One.
wednesday. RIP.

i lost a pepper in progress.

i was looking at the jalapeno, and he seemed funny. one of the connector branches was getting a bit yellow. i reached to see the pepper better and it fell off in my hand. and he is still tiny. boo.

he he was in his glory before the drop... (pepper in the background.)


19 June 2009

Too beautiful!

I love heirloom tomatoes because they are goofy looking. check out these pictures here. And here. (two whole pages on that second link!)

All grown at the Love Apple Farm in CA.

also food related yet not at all related to tomatoes... last night I worked a party for one of the theatres i am involved with, and i wanted to share that the food was awesome. I (of course) had none of the meat, but the side veggies were intensely flavourful and delicious and there were cupcakes.

topped with blueberries.

did i mention handmade chocolates? as well as cupcakes?

okay. here are the details.
the food was done by Oliver Friendly (yes! that is his name! and he is!) and his business is called Eat & Smile. he does private parties, meal delivery, weddings, cooking lessons, and so forth! the website is here. totally lived up to the raves the hostess made before he arrived!


curli am powerfully tired. this last week has been a lot of fun, but it has also worn me out. i have clearly been neglecting the garden updates, and honestly... little knitting has happened.

quick overview!

Days Nineteen and Twenty
thursday and friday.

i was sick both of these days with wht appears to have been a sinus infection. it was painful and draining, but now it is gone. i was the short of functional sick that allows you to get out of bed and go teach a class, but when you come home, you don't really remember teaching the Northern Renaissance or riding the train home.

i think i dragged my miserable body out to the garden both days, but my thoughts didn't go much beyond "ahh. plants".

Day Twenty-One
saturday. pumpkin blossoms!

i am still sick, but this is the only day rW and i can go out to pick tart cherries. next weekend he is going on as an understudy, so cherries must be picked.

we hit the garden first on the way out and i finally caught a a pumpkin blossom while it was fully open! (above) i also took a picture f the little curling vines on my pickling cucumber plants. (below) cute!

here are pictures from the cherry picking trip. rW took most of them because i wasn't feeling so hot by the end of the adventure. i wouldn't let him take pictures of my face because i was scowling about the sun and my congestion all day.

Tart Cherries 2009

Day Twenty-Two
sunday. peppers?

i am having suspicions that some insects managed to pollinate a few of my peppers when it stopped raining for a few days. the little leftover green bits look like they may be growing into vegetables!

Day Twenty-Three

monday. and tomatoes!

i think (and hope i am not getting myself too worked up over nothing) that i may also have a tomato forming on the cherry tomato plant. it seems possible because the few dys it did not rain, there were many insects visiting my garden.

Day Twenty-Four

tuesday. blossom drop.
so, it is true. i have both peppers and tomatos forming in the garden, but the pumpkin plant seems to not get the insect visits it needs to make little pumpkins. the flowers are pretty , but they close up and fall off the day after. boo.

Day Twenty-Five

wednesday. gah! rain!

more thunderstorms, and this time the rain was so hard that it shredded my pumkin blossoms! it was so sad seeing a tattered one try to open up and attract the insects who are all probably bailing water out of their homes.

maybe when i am in ohio, the pumpkin will get pollinated and i can have a surprise when i get back.

Day Twenty-Six
friday. poor peppers.

conditions this seson are not that good for peppers. my green pepper looks like death. the poblano is losing leaves all over the place and won't make more blossoms. my red bells are trying to blossom, but who knows if we will have enough dry days to get them pollinated. my anaheim pepper is in the same boat as the reds.

two have peppers, however! the jalepeno and the Early Bell (supposed to be red, but i fear it is green) have tiny fruit on the plants. the bell lost one pepper over night. i am not surprised. he was not growing at the same pace as the other two.

so right now i have jalepenos, bells, and tomatoes producing. we shall see if the garden kicks some butt while i am in ohio. i really want it to dry out enough that i can apply some fertilizer to a few on the plants. i leave next wednesday and i am not back until after July 4th--that is a long time not to see my plants! rW will have some garden sitting on his plate!

10 June 2009

finishing--i can still do it!

bunny slippersbelieve it or not, i can still finish my yarn craft projects. it take a lot to get me going, but when i just bite the bullet, accomplishments abound!

these are a pair of bunny slippers that i have wanted to make ever since i bought the pattern in September of 2006. i scoped out the yarn at the shop in March of 2008 when started working there, and i started them in April 2009 because we finally put that yarn on clearance and i had to buy it before it was gone. the crocheting took about 3 days. obviously the sewing up took a bit longer. ahem.

but they are done! next!

blanketi finished this baby blanket yesterday. no baby to give it to right now, but i am sure the perfect one will present itself to the world and demand to be kept warm. this is a small one--about the size of a receiving blanket. i have doubts that i could have made it much bigger because it was worked in mostly fingering weight yarns with a little sport and dk thrown in here or there.

i love all the colors. for some reason i just cannot exactly capture them in a picture. ah, well!


Day Sixteen

monday. the sun doth shineth.

finally. sun. my plants are happy because their soil is drying out nicely. everyone is looking a little perkier.

today i cut the bottoms off of some 2L bottles i emptied. after removing the labels, i placed them around my two pickiest plants--cantaloupe and honeydew. they were probably not hardened enough when i put them out and the intense force of the rain has been tearing their leaves. my hope is that the bottles will limit insects and keep out "angry rain".

Day Seventeen.

tuesday. i am tired all day.

at 6am a huge crack of thunder simultaneously woke up 90% of the DC metro area's population. we were all grumpy for the rest of this wet wet day.

i checked my plants briefly. if they could have given a planty finger, thy would have. at least i put those bottles over the two melons. they were not damaged by the storm. the 2nd round of pepper blossoms has fallen off, however. peppers are picky, and they are not getting their way.

good news: one pumpkin blossom has pulled ahead in the race and is bigger than all of its siblings.

Day Eighteen
wednesday. mixed bag.

when i trotted out to see the garden this morning, i was greeted but a pumpkin blossom that is getting orange! and bigger! i think it may open this weekend. speaking of blossoms, they are opening on the cherry tomato plant.

also, my Early Girl is rallying for the cause and the new growth has doubled in height since i took the last photo on sunday.

right now as i sit here typing this, thunder is rumbling outside. sigh!!!!

indoor gardening

all of rW's herbs have sprouted. mint is very tiny, but basil is forming a second tier if leaves and cilantro wants to be very tall. i think he is getting a little impatient for finished herb products, however.

i transplanted arugula over the weekend to thin it.... i think i did more harm than good. lots of sprouts around transplant sites are dying off, but the other guys are forming a second set of leaves. time will tell.

07 June 2009

a welcome creature!

turtlei went out to my garden today and made a new friend. well, i wanted to be friends, but he was not as interested.... a box turtle! isn't he cute? (his head is in the upper part of the picture... you can only see the ti of his nose.) i wanted to pet him but i settled for scratching his back with a stick. he was only tolerating this and moved on after i let him be for a while.

a fun backyard discovery!

growthnow! in garden news!

Day Fifteen

sunday. discovery day.

lookie! my Early Girl tomato is regrowing leaves after the deer devastation. lots of little new shoots are growing in the joints of the remaining old leaves. it is very exciting. my hope is once again renewed that this plant will make it.

Mr. Stripey is rolling along with very little change. we'll see if we get some progress this week now that the rain has tapered off and the sun is peaking into the picture.

in fact, today the the soil on the top of my containers is finally drying out. turning the soil with the cultivator was a good move.

blossoms finally, we have the cherry tomato that is growing well. in fact, there are future blossoms! (they re the little green things in the middle of the picture.) they are not open yet, but they are forming. i hope they make to the blossom and fruit stage.

yum. yum.

tomato growth and turtle friends, this is the kind of gardening day i like.

06 June 2009

planting and wishing

plants and stitchesDay Twelve
Thursday. in which i rampage.

i tore out another marigold, put one to pasture in a separate pot and jumped up and down shaking my fist at the bastard slugs. thatisall.

Day Thirteen
Friday. in which enough was finally enough.

okay. enough is enough. i took away the slugs' preferred candy so they are transferring to my pepper plants. specifically, they are attacking my poblano pepper. it is shedding holey leaves and the first blossom fell off. slugs will not stay off it no matter how much pepper spray i put on it or coffee i pile around the base.

time to buy some big guns.
okay... not inorganic animal dangerous big guns. moderate guns. just slug killer

Day Fourteen
Saturday. in which i recomposed myself.

last night i bought some plants to fill in holes and provide a balm for my bruised ego. some more peppers and some pickling cucumbers. i also acquired iron phosphate pellets to deter the slugs and cages to stake my tomatoes.

finally the rain has stopped and we have sun. to dry out my soil, i tried to break the surface and turn it over to get more air down there... it was so compacted from the rain. i planted my new plants and staked the tomatoes.

rW made his contribution in the form of elevation... specifically he raised the containers up off the ground on pieces of wood and removed the water trays that came with the planter boxes. we hope this will allow the rain to drain away better.

herb update

and other indoor friends.

we now have 4/5 plants showing up to play: basil, oregano, cilantro, and rosemary.... spearmint is still lollygaging.

i transplanted some of the arugula into other containers, trying to thin my big red tray. we shall see how successful i was in that venture. time will tell! ps- i have been knitting and my arugula likes it!

my blender and i are no longer on speaking terms.

peaspeas are one of rW's favourite vegetables. the local english peas are fresh on the vine right now, so i went out to the orchard where we picked strawberries to pick some peas. (season is short, gotta be fast!)

lately, the weather in the greater DC area has been trying to reenact the great stories of the bible.... or relocate itself to seattle. needless to say i was the only picker out in the PYO pea field in the rain. rain boots and an umbrella helped a lot, and i came away with 5 unshelled quart containers of peas. i shelled those babies as soon as i got home (watch a PBS documentary--it makes shelling fly by) and my 5 quarts yielded 5 and 3/4 cups of peas. what to make!

right away i blanched 2 cups and stashed them in the freezer for real peas post season. then i put a cup away to cook and eat tomorrow. tonight--a fresh pea soup!

after reading a few pea soup recipes online, i decided to wing it with what i have on hand. i wanted this to be simple and let the peas shine.

all was going very well until i moved to the blending phase of operations. my only options in pureeing are a traditional blender or a tiny mini food processor used exclusively for pesto and small batch jam.

blender it is.

little did i know that when one blends a hot soup, the top wants to explode. after sealing the blender and holding the top on, i was sloshed with pea soup. i tried again, holding on very tightly.... same. i managed to force all of my weight on top of the blender lid and i was able to blend the soup. however, i was covered in soup. as was my counter and kitchen floor. and i was burned. but just a little.

the good news is that the 75% of the soup that remained was delicious. here is my recipe...

shelledFresh Pea Soup
2.5 cups shelled English or garden peas.
1.5 cups (approx) organic vegetable stock
2 big cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup mild onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter

First, shell the peas, and dice the onion--have everything ready for a quick prep.

Saute the onion in the butter until just translucent. Add the crushed garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add stock, scrap down the sides of the sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the shelled peas and boil for approximately 10 minutes or until they are tender. You will hear popping as the peas beak their skins and they will start to wrinkle slightly.

Once the peas are tender, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes to prevent kitchen doom. Reserve a few tablespoons of peas to garnish. Then puree peas with an immersion blender or food processor. Return soup to sauce pan to reheat slightly if desired. Serve immediately. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh ground pepper, or shreds of parmesan cheese.


03 June 2009

garden track: the ups and downs

containersgarden photo is from last wednesday. it gives an idea of my set up--there are been plant developments since this was taken.

Day Six
Friday. slug day.

as i mentioned in the previous garden post, i have planted a garden that slugs are powerfully attracted to. add to that the fact that The Ark should be appearing on my street any moment, and we have a problem.

i removed all of the slugs and now i am entering a research phase. i don't want to kill things other than the slugs, so i must be careful. i keep reading about people killing their plants trying to get the slugs off them. slat is bad for plants. at least in slug lethal quantities, i am learning.

Day Seven
Saturday. pumpkin buds.

rW and i went out bright and early before berry picking to check out the garden. no slugs to be found, but the weather was dry last night (comparatively speaking at lest. hold that order for an ark).

instead we founds lots of pumpkin buds! i should count them. i am a bit afraid our one little plant will make 10 pumpkins and what on earth would i do with that many? rW is concerned that because the little buds have appeared this early, we will have pumpkins in august. i think it will hold out.

Day Eight
Sunday. Coffee and Beer.

slugs are back, and they have eaten the entirety of one of my marigolds.

i am fighting back with coffee grounds on the soil around my edible plants (at first... the marigolds with get coffee as i drink it!) and beer traps.

Day Nine
Monday. Waterlogged.

all i want is one sunny 90 degree day. i need it for the pots to dry out! i went out this morning and discovered tiny mushrooms have sprung up in my tomato pots. i don't think they are bad, per se... but they can't be good.

only one slug in my trap this morning.

Day Ten
Tuesday. Escar-GO!

again, only one slug in my trap. it has not rained since the weekend, which may be the cause of this lack of slug activity. i still baited the beer traps and i continue to spread coffee grounds after every pot i make.

i will drive them away!

i am becoming very worried abut my poblano pepper plant because of the dampness. i think it wants drier soil and short of my going out there with a hairdryer, it isn't happening. the leaves feel flaccid rather than perky and smooth. it even dropped a few. boo.

Day Eleven
Wednesday. good news. bad news.

the rain came back last night and it brought the slugs along for a visit. to add insult to injury, the rain washed away my beer traps, and the slugs ate another marigold.

i asked the two nibbled plants to make a sacrifice for the good of the group--i dug them up and flung them into the woods beside my garden spot. i added more coffee and set more traps.

the only "up" side to this slimy, waterlogged situation is some pepper blossoms. both the jalapeno and the poblano have beautiful little white blossoms that opened this morning!

Herb Update
indoor gardening. allsorts.
rW's herbs are joining the party. he has three seedling of basil and two seedlings of oregano. i'm not sure if i am supposed to tell you this, but he has been naming them.

i am personally overrun with arugula seedlings and i think i must thin them out if i want a decent salad. still deciding what to do and where.

finally, i think i failed to mention the carrots. they were a shot in the dark. i planted a perimeter of carrots around my arugula in the dish and they have now sprouted! i believe the first carrots appeared on saturday morning. more developments as they happen.

01 June 2009

fruit favoured weekend

strawberry boozerW and i had another weekend of activity, and i think, good times. we went out to the Butler's Orchard and picked strawberries on saturday morning.

it was lots of fun. right off 270 is this little nook of farmland with berries and flowers and happy people helping city dwellers pick fresh spring treats.

rW and i picked approximately 6 quarts of berries and i turned them into...
  • freezer jam (3pts total)
  • cooked jam (3 pts total)
  • frozen smoothie berries (1/2 pt)
  • two meals of dessert (strawberries in Liqueur 43)
  • a breakfast of delight
  • Fragolo (pictured)
Fragolo is strawberry liqueur, and rW and i are making some. this is his pet project and the incentive rW has for taking me out to the country, picking berries, and carrying things for me. isn't the color pretty? all natural too.

in addition to the strawberry jams i made, i also cooked up some orange-lemon marmalade, apple jelly, and spiced honey. i have been a canning fiend.

to see pictures of all our fun and games, go here....
Strawberry Picking

garden updates soon! things have been pretty active around here!