All posts tagged: Gardening

Garden Project 2015 – Celer-y… Celer-Ra!

We go through a lot of celery. That’s nearly 2 bunches a week. It goes in salads, soups, stews… the occasional ants on a log…and sometimes, just to munch. I mean, it’s like negative calories. The amount of jaw muscle work and digestive hoo haas going on far over-reach the measly 7 calories per stalk. But that leaves me with a bounty of these little celery stalk butts. Yes, I know it’s still celery… but the color is all wrong and to be completely honest, it doesn’t really taste like much of anything. You remember back in grade school when you stuck toothpicks in potatoes and suspended them over water to watch them grow leggy, useless plants? Or the carrot tops left rotting in jelly jar lids? I found out you can do pretty much the same thing with celery butts…. only instead of a pile of non-producing potato stems – you can get actual – edible – celery! And it only takes about 4 weeks. To do this, you have to understand a couple …

Wildflower Walkabout ~ Venus’ Looking Glass

Say hello to Triodanis perfoliata, Clasping Bellwort, or Venus’ Looking Glass. A wild member of the Campanula family which contains the more cultivated Bellflower. A mere 18″ tall, the Looking Glass is an extremely showy native with single stems tilting in the breeze adorned with clasping, shell-shaped leaves and a violet 5-petaled flower emerging from the center of the leaf. Looking Glasses bloom May through August and are found in more open and sunny locations. Our are growing among the gravel and rocks in the front walkways. Considered invasive in some parts of the country, the Triodanis perfoliata are self fertilizing (not really needing to be pollinated), but are huge attractants for moths, flying beetles, and other pollinators. Each seed pod produces multitudes of miniscule seeds which germinate in the fall and winter over as small leaf clusters close to the ground. Beginning in early Spring, the single ribbed stem emerges and begins flowering within a few short weeks. Bloom Time: May through August Description: Single ribbed stem with opposing single, rounded leaves clasping the stem at intervals Sun: Full sun …

Garden Project 2015 ~ Ebb & Flow

I’m taking a step back from the fervent gardening of the past. As with most living things, gardens need to grow, change, and evolve.   And while I’ve had immeasurable enjoyment experimenting with the hay bales, the potato cages and hanging beds, and all the different varieties of vegetables here at Turtle Creek,  I’ve decided it’s time for a change. Don’t worry, there will still be some unique vegetables, but I’m allowing the garden to slowly morph into what we intended for the space –  a restful spot and  flower garden for Jane. The wild strawberries I uncovered as part of the front forest clearing will be relocated to a permanent home in the garden, and the asparagus I planted last season are maturing nicely and will remain. However the bulk of the vegetable garden will move over to the Lodge property where there is more even / fully accessible ground for a workable Hay Bale garden. (The ground there is in the same condition as the rest of the property and will need several years of conditioning …

Baleful Bounty – Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes – that mainstay of Church Homecoming potlucks – the master of family Sunday dinners – the keystone of just about every holiday get together… And, face it… most of them are pretty dreadful. Flaccid potato slices floating in noxious, overly garlicky gravy. But, it doesn’t need to be that way. Let’s break away from the norm and make something a little lighter, a little more flavorful, and a hell of a lot prettier to look at.   Since I was blessed with a handful  (really, out of 5 plants, I got 2 pounds of potatoes) of beauties from the garden this year, I thought I’d do something to go with the Sage Battered Pork Chops I was making. And, smashing them up just seemed a crime… you know, since I only got 8 taters from all my hard work and all. I decided to do Jane’s scalloped potatoes… except, I really didn’t know her exact recipe… just basically how it was done… So, I did what I always do… I punted. ________________________________________________ Plate Fodder’s …

Baleful Bounty – Curry Glazed Carrots

Baby . Chantenay . Carrots You remember earlier in the season when I told you about my fantastic brainstorm to create these stunningly amazing growing baskets out of chicken wire, burlap, weed block and my 4-in-1 dirt (1 part hay mulch, 1 part sand, 1 part hummus, 1 part composted cow manure) high above the chomping incisors of marauding rabbits? Well, they were – and are – still stunning…. but I forgot a basic fact when I chose the vegetable to inhabit said stunning suspended medium. Carrots, like a great many other rooty-type vegetables, like a hot head. However – carrots (once again, like any other rooty thing) need cool bottoms in order to achieve maximum rootiness. Hot tops and hot bottoms gives you supreme stunted rootiness…. much like … say… a hot summer day and a 40 year old guy in a very cold swimming pool…. … I’ve got a bumper crop of short, stubby, diminutive chantenay carrots to deal with this year. Which if you’re someone like me that gets all gooey over baby vegetables …

Baleful Bounty ~ Sauce Rustica

With Summer in full swing, the garden should be producing to beat the drum. However, after the issues I had earlier in the season, I’ve played it safe on the tomatoes; I only planted one plant of a single variety ( Mountain Pride). And, since it’s a late season tomato… there isn’t anything resembling a ripe fruit on the vines yet.  Thankfully, friends are seeing to it that I have more than enough extra ripe tomatoes to go around. Here’s the thing with being gifted with a dozen tomatoes that are ready to eat NOW – like it or not, some are going to go bad. And the only way to combat all that spoilage is to either cook it down to sauce, or can them (which I don’t do), or zipper bag them up whole – and freeze them (as it happens, I’m all over that action.) Freezing and thawing fully ripe tomatoes allow you to keep that fresh picked flavor that you don’t get with a processed product. Granted, they can’t be used for …

Garden Project 2014 ~ Busy as Bees

With the recent late afternoon storms and hot , hot – ninth ring of hell hot – summer afternoons, the Early Sunglow Corn has shot up like kudzu.  Sun and heat trigger the tassels Which in turn release the rows of  pollen laden capsules which makes the recent emergence of a new hatching of bumblebees VERY happy… which fertilize the corn silk which makes ear upon ear of delicious, sweet, milky corn later this month. To read more about how corn does what it does, you can find more information  HERE and to read  more about bumblebees and pollination, and why they’re more important than honey bees – you can find out everything you need to know HERE  

Steakhouse ~ Red Spring Onions

  Looking at this year’s garden plan, I realized I had gotten a tad over-zealous with my onion planting. No one really needs 5 dozen red onion plants… especially when I’ve got 3 dozen Texas Sweet and another 4 dozen Late Season Yellows bedded in. I mean, I do like me some onions, but I’d never be able to utilize all the reds before they rotted… or stunk up the pantry… or both. So I’ve harvested them all as tender spring onions. Why, you ask? Because: 1). As a spring onion, they hold less water than the common white variety, which makes them a bit more meaty. 2). Less Water means they’ll hold up better on the grill and not disintegrate into a slimy pile. 3). They are less aggressive than white onions, and can be added to salads without the fear of onions taking the salad bowl hostage. 4). Red onions (even the immature ones) have up to 8 times the anti-oxidants as their paler cousins, making them an excellent choice for healthier eating. …

Garden Project 2014 – The Unconsoled

For all the planning, prepping, and planting done last year, the 2013 Garden Project was a bust. The cooler than normal – wetter than normal – stranger than normal Spring wreaked havoc with the layout and the Only things that produced like I expected were the eggplants and peppers. I tried these nifty looking potato cages, where you layer mulch and slips into a hay-lined cage… and Voila! (supposedly) you get a bounty of taters. this was my “bounty”…   Don’t get excited… it was 187  potatoes ranging in size from a golf ball to a cat’s eye marble…. heavy on the marble. So, I’ve let the failures knock a bit of the stream out of my rhubarb this year, but only a bit. Once again we’re doing without the hay bales. I think 4 years of  hay much worked into the soil, along with composted cow manure and a healthy compliment of mushroom compost will bolster the soil perfectly well for anything I plan to grow this year. And what is that? you ask…   …