Archive for May, 2010

The Other Day in the Garden, May 26, 2010

May 31, 2010

Well, I am already falling way behind in both weeding and posting here!  Here are some garden pictures from the other day.  Again, they had not been watered yet for the day, so everything looks dry.  And, yes, there are plenty of  weeds in there.  Truth be told, we have been so busy, there is a chance the weeds are now taking over.  We have not been out there in a few days and it has been raining regularly, so those weeds are getting a lot of water.  I am also hoping that the bugs have not gotten too out of control.  There are a lot of green caterpillars on the collards.  They will do a lot of damage, but it will come back later in the season, so I’ll keep the unsightly plants growing there until it cools down a little and keep drowning those caterpillars that I catch.

Before I post garden pictures, the children and I took a little pilgrimage with some other homeschoolers from the Nashville area last week.  We started at Ave Maria Grotto and also went to St. Bernard Abbey’s church.  We then picnicked and went on to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  It was a joy to meet those ladies and their children.  It was also a pleasure and a privilege to pray for  many of our friends’ intentions there.  I have not been taking too many pictures, but here are just a few…

First at the Ave Maria Grotto…

Then at the Lourdes Shrine at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament…

   

The next day MaryEllen was at the creek and found a little tiny salamander.  It was the smallest one we’ve found here so far. 

   

Now onto the weed patch garden…

one of the many bean circles growing     beets 

marigolds around the border   carrots  

remember my first pepper?  In this picture it is hiding behind the leaves, so you must look carefully.  We have already picked it and two new pepper are big    

 radishes…we already picked a few 

summer squash      tomatoes and petunias

more tomatoes and petunias  

watermelon  

moon and stars watermelon.  You can tell by the yellow markings on the leaves

In the pumpkin patch…The plants are starting to get their leaves…

   

Although part of me is afraid to go in the garden to weed tomorrow, another part of me is very excited.  How big will the plants be?  We have had plenty of rain and sunshine, so everything should be growing well.  The other day I was trying to plant.  (I still have so much to plant yet!)  Gathering sticks is enjoyable and I like to mark little patches of plants with them.  That was my goal, planting.  First I got sidetracked by weeding.  Then I got sidetracked by the grass clippings on my way over to get sticks.  Then I got sidetracked by more weeding.  Then the sweat bees were so bad that I finally went in after killing about 50 of them.  Better luck this week.  Hopefully I’ll have an update with a lot of big plants and relatively few weeds!  Have a great week.

Today in the Garden, May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010

When looking at the blog archives for old gardening posts, the one thing I regret was not posting more pictures.  Time is already tight, so I don’t know if this year will be any better or not, but I’m going to try.  From looking at the archives, it appears that the pumpkin patch was planted at least 2 weeks earlier than in previous years.  I’m interested to see if that will help with the squash bug problem.  Interestingly enough, I suspect squash bugs around the summer squash already.  Why?  Because I smell them!  Belive me, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would know what a squash bug smells like, but after squashing them so much, they have a distinctive smell.   It has been 2 years, but it is recognizable to me.  I did take some yellow beetle things off of them today.  There is a name for them, but it escapes me now.  They look almost like lady bugs, but are thinner and yellow with black stripes.  MaryEllen was there so she knows what to squish them now too. 

Anyway, on to the pictures.  These were taken before the evening watering, so they look very dry.

 beets      tiny carrot leaves

 collard greens     cucumber

 here is that first hot pepper again.  I tried to get both the pepper and the flower in the shot.

 zucchini     watermelon

Beauregard Sweet Potato     radishes.  Tall ones in the middle are daikon.

 Chinese red noodle beans      and up close

 This petunia finally got a permanent spot in the garden today.

Marigolds….

   

   

Today in The Pumpkin Patch…

This morning’s walk up there revealed some cracking in some of the hills which indicates sprouts are trying to shoot up.  It was particularly exciting because 3 of my favorite varieties were the hills showing this:  Butternut squash, Kubocha squash, and Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins.  In the evening, may of the sprouts had sprung.  One of the Howden Pumpkins and Long of Naples squash had also sprouted.

 John and James watering.     

 Looking from the opposite end.  The part nearest is the empty part.  When speaking of planting a few more hills, Kevin yelled, “Oh no!”  He thinks 114 hills are enough to water. 

 Winter squash sprouts    

 Kuboach squash sprouts    

Howden sprouts      This one gives a better idea of how tiny they are.

Back at the house it was chaos as usual.  Veronica had a late nap and MaryEllen carried her over to me.  They looked so darling and I was going to take a picture of them, for they were both dressed in pink.  However, Veronica was not at all happy and would not smile for a picture.  MaryEllen, the bright, cheerful child is always ready to smile for the camera.  So, as not to have all garden pictures, I present MaryEllen…

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Happy Birthday to my Mom who turns 83 today.  Happy Birthday to Irene who is still in her 20s.  It is her first birthday pregnant.  And last, but certainly not least, Happy Anniversary to Fr. Pokorsky.  May you all have many more!

First Garden Post of 2010

May 15, 2010

Happy Feast Day of St. Isidore the Farmer!  It is fitting to put up my First Garden Post of 2010 today, don’t you think?  I got lost a little while ago looking in the archives of this blog at the previous garden posts.  Looking at them, I think I am at least 2 weeks ahead of previous years for planting winter squash.  I’m hoping that is a good thing.  In the meantime…on to the rest of the post…

This is so exciting, this time of year.  Last year we did not get a garden in at all.  The year before we barely kept the garden up.  This year the children are all helping and there is the hope that exists before things start to go wrong (like squash bugs, Japanese beetles, etc.)  We have been working very hard in the garden trying to get things in before it’s too late.  Our garden is once again surrounded by marigolds and hot peppers, which help keep the deer out.  We actually had to get some more marigolds because we spotted a deer print and figured he came in close to the compost pile.  We put in a few more “barrier” plants closer to the compost pile and have not seen any more deer prints. 

What’s out there this year? 

Collard greens…Georgia Southern from seed purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (my favorite seed company!)   (You may click on the pictures to enlarge them.)  They are growing quite well despite little tiny black bugs trying to eat them.  (If you are wondering what the white thing is, that is a rose.  Charlotte has been decorating the garden with some of the roses she is picking.)  They were the first thing we planted sometime last month and we surrounded the little plot of them with bricks from our creek (of all places.)  It was a good thing the kids got them when they did because the remainder were washed away in the last flood. 

 (New this year, a “white” marigold.)

Radishes…several kinds.  Once again the garden features Cherry Belle, Pink Beauty, and German Giant.  They are growing well.  We also have some Japanese Minowase Daikon radishes.  I use daikon on a daily basis so we’ll be planting several rows of these throughout the summer.  I’ll probably order some other kind that is better in the cold for the fall and winter.   In the late summer, if all goes well, Watermelon radishes will be planted as well.   We already have those seeds waiting.   Here is an old post about radishes.  One of the best things about radishes is how well they seem to grow, and fast, too!

(First hot pepper of 2010.) 

  (Another hot pepper plant.)

Carrots…they are coming but it will be interesting to see how big these get.   They are such tiny little plants now.   This year we have some St. Valery, Chantenay Red Core, (both from Baker Creek) and Early Nelson hybrid from Johnny’s Seeds.  I picked the Early Nelson because my friend Sue grows them and the taste is just out of this world.  The kids love them too.

 (Strawberry Patch 2010.)

We have a few beets growing, but it is hard to tell what kind.  We planted several rows, but only 2 are coming up nicely.  We had some older seeds and figured we’d use them up.  We’ll be planting some more in a few weeks anyway.  We have Detroit Dark Red and Bull’s Blood waiting to be planted (and I’m sure they are the ones coming up right now.)  We like the redder color to go in our Chocolate Red Velvet cakes

 (Marigold)

Cucumbers….So far we have 5 hills of cucumbers growing.  The seeds have all sprouted nicely and the little plants are growing well.  Once again we have Early Russian and Japanese Long.  The reason for the Early Russian is that I read in a catalog once that they are never bitter.  It seems to be true as I don’t ever have to worry about bitterness with those, at least any that I have ever grown here, where as other types were not as forgiving.  The Japanese long have always tasted good as well and we got used to the longer cucumbers with less seeds from buying the ones that Costco sold.  Both of these varieties were purchased from Baker Creek (as was most of my seeds!) 

 (Summer Squash or Cucumber.  Funny how they look so similar in the beginning.  And to think I only took the picture yesterday and can’t remember!)

Summer Squash….There are several hills of summer squash growing out there.  This year I chose to plant only one hill of lemon squash.  A few years ago, the lemon squash did so well that I got sick of seeing them!  We have Early Prolific Straightneck  for yellow,  Black Beauty Zucchini and Green Bush Vegetable Marrow green zucchini.  Two years ago all the zucchini died for some reason.  I’m hoping to have better luck with it this year. 

 (Marigold)

Beans…Most of the beans will be delayed this year as I seem to have misplaced the Kentucky Wonder seeds.  The children and I were in WalMart the other day.  That is usually not big deal, but that trip the girls were whiny and Veronica was not settling down at all.  I tried to find some organic pole bean seeds but they didn’t have any.  I went looking for regular bean seeds and saw several varieties.  Most were no good because they were bush beans and I needed pole beans.  James had already assembled 3 sets of poles for me.  We picked some out, and believe me, it was difficult!  We ended the trip with the self checkout register giving me $20 back when I had asked for $0!  Ugh!  Anyway, I digress!  This morning I’m out in the garden planting these seeds around 6 poles.  When finished, I pulled a label out to mark the beans and to my horror…Tendercrop Bush Beans!  Agh!  I then proceeded to pull out the poles and relocate them .  We’ll have a nice circle of bush beans.  After that it was to the internet to Baker Creek to order what I want!  In the meantime, my friend Jennifer in New Jersey sent me seeds for Chinese Red Noodle Beans.  They were planted the other day around one set of poles.  They are long red beans and, if the Japanese beetles aren’t too bad, should look really, really interesting in the garden.  (Today I noticed that the red beans have begun to sprout!)  The other day we also planted a few Royal Burgundy bush beans.  We have had pretty good luck with those in the past. 

Watermelon…We are all so excited about the watermelon, especially because they have been sprouting the last few days.   Baker Creek once again carried Ali Baba.  This variety originally came from Iraq and it has since been impossible to get seed from that country due to the wars.   We have grown it before and it is quite tasty.   This year we thought we might try a smaller, earlier variety.  Blacktail Mountain is the one we chose.  The Baker creek catalog said that this variety is heat and drought resistant.   The next variety is Georgia Rattlesnake.  This is another that we have grown before.  The last (from Baker Creek) is Wilson’s Sweet.  The Baker Creek Catalog has so many to choose from, it is so hard to limit what to plant!  On top of that, I went to Walmart one day and they had organic Moon and Stars variety.  I just couldn’t pass that up!  So, if the weeds don’t take over, we should have plenty of watermelon!

 (Watermelon sprout)

Tomatoes…I didn’t grow tomatoes for a while because we really don’t eat many of them.  However, I like them from time to time in the summer.  I started several thinking not many would sprout because the cups and soil I put them in were kind of old.  A friend of mine gave me two plants and then a bunch sprouted!  We have tons of tomato plants!  The varieties are Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa (that came free with a Baker Creek seed order), Pink German Tree,  St. Pierre, and Roma Rio Grande.   Just the other day we learned that petunias are a good companion plant to tomatoes since they help deter tomato horn worms and their leaves make a good natural pest spray for veggies.  We just happen to have some petunias that were waiting to be planted, and they are now near the tomato plants.   Yesterday I went out and one of the baby tomato plants was gone!  I think the ants took it.  They also took one leaf from another baby.   Southern ants are not the passive little creatures like northern ants are.  Since we moved to Tennessee, I have lost my fear of spiders and gained a fear of ants!!

 (One of the petunias planted near the tomatoes.)

In the pumpkin patch…Well, it got bigger today.  Joe had to plow it again because the first time was just a little too early.  Originally we were going to have the patch next to the old one, so that was where he plowed.  The other day he re-plowed that along with the old patch.  It was heavenly to plant in that nice tilled dirt.  I have so many varieties of pumpkin and winter squash that even with double the size, I’m not sure where I’ll put them all.  Two days ago several hills of butternut squash were planted along with Kubocha squash, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins,  Black Fusto squash, long of Naples squash, and one hill of Mammoth pumpkins.  There is a lot more planting to be done up there.  I’ll have to find the time to do another Pumpkin & Winter Squash post to introduce you to all the new varieties.  Until I find that time, here is the old post.  Some of those same varieties have been planted again this year. 

 (Marigolds)

I nearly forgot to mention the sweet potatoes!  We have the Beauregard variety once again as they did well the one and only time we grew them, several years ago.  (Yes, and we still really like the Confederate general with the same name as well.)  The day the plants arrived it was storming and there were tornado warnings.  However, they looked so pitiful in the box that I just had to plant them.  Frustrated because there were no instructions on planting, only a few sheets with recipes in the box, I figured I had to get them in the ground ASAP.  Planting in the mud can be messy!  About 20 plants were planted in a little plot set aside just for sweet potatoes.  When finished planting, I looked over all the paperwork again and found the instructions.  They said don’t worry about them looking bad, they are very strong and will most likely survive.  However, if it is windy, wait to plant them.  Well, you know in that stormy weather it was mighty windy.  For many days I wondered when they would all start dying.  They didn’t.  There were even two little plants that were practically cut off, I don’t know if some bug ate them or what, but I told the boys to keep watering them anyway.  A few days ago, two little leaves came from them!  It was so exciting.  Perhaps we’ll get some sweet potatoes after all!

I wrote most of this post the other day.   There is still room in the pumpkin patch and we now have about 114 hills planted.  Tomorrow is Sunday so I won’t be up there, but perhaps we’ll put a few more in this coming week.  I’m looking forward to seeing the growth and all the bees buzzing around the flowers when it is time.  This year we’re thinking about taking some to the farmers market, if they do OK.   Only time will tell.  Happy Gardening!

Strawberry Edition 2010

May 13, 2010

Once upon a time, long ago (well, early ’90s) and far away (Tuckerton, NJ) there was a restaurant called DiGregorio’s.  (Forgive me if that name is spelled incorrectly.)  Just about every Sunday morning a friend and I would ride our bikes there when it was located near Mathistown Road.  Every Sunday I would order strawberry crepes.  Belive me, after all that sugar and dairy, I needed to ride my bike!  Since changing my diet several years ago (about 10 or so), I have been wanting to try a substitute, but always seem too busy to play with it. 

So, in come the strawberries.  We really need a bigger strawberry patch because we never seem to have enough of our own.   I go out and pick the strawberries and come in to wash them.  There is always at least 2 little people standing there with two little hands extended waiting for strawberries.  They are almost all gone before they are washed.  We remedy this every year when my friend Sue, who owns the local health food store, calls and tells me she has strawberries.    This year I bought 2 gallons from her.  When the strawberries come, that day, or the next, is spent making all things strawberry.  You’ll have to pardon the pictures as people just had to get into the goodies before pictures were taken.  We made Meredith McCarty’s Award Winning Strawberry pie:

We also made Christina Pirello’s Fruit and Custard Tart, but we made it with just strawberries.  This one was my personal favorite.  It has a wonderful almond and oat crust that is so tasty!

We also made strawberry shortcake.   That is quite popular, so there are no pictures of it!  One of the cakes was a short-cake recipe from a book called High Road to Health by Lindsey Wagner.  The other cake was Christina Pirello’s Sure Fire Basic White Cake.  On top of the cake we put strawberry sauce.  I’m pretty sure that sauce was a Meredith McCarty recipe, and a tofu cream.  Yum!!!  I doubled the strawberry sauce and tofu cream recipes so we could have more the next day. 

Here’s where the crepes come in.  It occurred to me that the strawberry sauce would probably go great with the crepes.  However, while I had seen healthy crepe recipes, I never actually tried one before.  The crepe recipe was a dessert crepe by Christina Pirello (where would I be with out her in the kitchen??!!) 

Out came the little cast iron pan that was just the perfect size:

  The first crepe didn’t come out too well, but the rest did.  This picture shows the first side being cooked.  After that I had a small stack of the crepes. 

 Not bad, even if I do say so myself.  Next, I assembled them. 

 That was pretty easy.  It rounded out my breakfast that morning.  Any typical day, breakfast around here consists of miso vegetable soup, greens, and a grain of some kind.  Here’s the menu on that particular day:

Miso Vegetable soup = daikon radish, carrot, small tofu cubes, miso broth, and scallions for garnish

Greens = boiled kale  (yes for breakfast, try it sometime and see how you feel!  Yum!)

Crepes

Twig Tea

  All this food is healthy, vegan, and contains no refined sugar, no dairy, and no preservatives.  I can’t wait to make this again!

Kristen, Bishop Choby, & Pattie

May 9, 2010

I just unloaded John’s picture card to my computer.  Among the “Star Wars at Bodenburg” movies the kids shot, there was this picture.  Just thought I would share…

MaryEllen’s First Communion

May 2, 2010

Tis the season for First Communions and Confirmations!  The other day I was a sponser for “Scholastica” for her Confirmation.  It was a lovely day and a really special thing was seeing the excitment on her face while awaiting her turn to be Confirmed.  Another special thing was that John was asked to serve.  He loves to serve at Mass, especially if a bishop is involved, espcailly if that bishop happens to be Bishop Choby.  (In your charity, please pray for Bishop Choby as he has not been feeling well.  He was visibly tired and hurting at the Confirmation.)  Here is John and the good Bishop:

MaryEllen…

MaryEllen’s First Communion day is not one we will soon forget.  There was all kinds of weather going on that kept all of our local friends away.  We did, however, had a lovely turn out for the little party after Mass.  It was a very windy and cloudy day, but warm, and we even manged to get some nice pictures outside.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

   (Those two photos taken by John.)

 

   (You may click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

OK, now the fun part.  There was a lot of talk of the flooding in Nashville and the pictures on the news.  We were busy telling everyone that we  had not been affected by this.  The creek was lower this morning than it had been the night before.  So, we were driving home and we started noticing a lot more “ponds” and “lakes” than we had when we went to Mass that morning.  We got to a chruch down the road from our house and this is what we saw…

Hmmmm…do you think we’ll be able to get home?  

  That’s our front … lake?  At least the top of the bridge is still visible…

 

Yes, we were able to get home, yes, we prayed a lot going through the water.  Our neigbor and Joe decided that it would be OK and the water was already starting to go down.  The picture of the barn was taken from up near the house.  Thank God we live on a hill!

 This is looking down from our front lawn towards the road.  It is usually a normal size creek.  At that point, the water had started to go down a bit.

 This one is the bottom of our driveway.  It’s still a good little ways to the road.  Yikes!

Since we came in it stormed more, so I have no idea what it looks like now, as it is getting dark.  We are being hit by more thunder and lightning as I speak. 

Yes, a day we shall not soon forget!  Praise God that MaryEllen was able to receive her First Holy Communion.  Thank you to all who were able to attend and to those who prayed for us.  Thank God we were able to get home safely.  And, thank you for your continued prayers.