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Flowers, any way I can get em.

This is a short post because the one I REALLY need to publish is not quite ready.  I am checking my seeds for viability and trying to figure out what I want to plant this year. 

I came across this picture in my email from Anthropologie.  And well, it  made me smile in these cold, wet ,dreary winter days.  So I thought I would share it with you!

I love how they made the flowers out of recyclable water bottles.  They  say these water bottles would not decay in the next millenium!  Then they put them together to make this………

Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!

They have used them to decorate their new stores opening in the Spring.   I love the flowers and this very green idea.  Kudos to Anthropologie!!!

 

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Aftermath

So a couple of posts back I commented that it had been years since I remembered the weather being in the teens.  1997 to be exact (per our local weatherman) was the year.  Boy, am I ever glad I  purchased frost cloth over the past few years.  I am going to buy even more now.  I found these nifty covers on line which I should have bought, but will asap.  http://www.heirloomseeds.com/supplies.htm

These are one of those genius products I love to find. ( Scroll down to the FROSTPROTEK Cover – Large Round and FROSTPROTEK Cover – Long Bag.)

They will be great since they  actually fit OVER the plants, pot, etc. instead of having to wrap them “around” the plants.  Which means they won’t fall down, looking like they lost their trousers and exposing themselves to the cold.  Arghhh.  Very annoying.

The few plants/tree/shrubs I was concerned the freeze would harm, seem to have come through unscathed.   The first one I worried about was my Texas Mt. Laurel.  It is in a corner, protected by fence on both sides and I did wrap it.  But, it was one of those that the wrap fell down and exposed the top.  However, there was no damage.  I knew this tree was hardy to 20 degrees, but we were in the teens with fierce north winds.  Another shrub I wrapped, were two wax leaf legustrums which face west and are located next to the house (one on each side of entry).  They also seem to be ok. 

I also had coverings on my fall veggies, three large pots with arugula, watercress and lettuce which all came through fairly well.  The one exception was the kale.  This is the one I would have thought would do well. (Maybe in a sunnier location?)

My one disaster was my terra cotta pot which broke. 

So sad.  I have only myself to blame.  I should have moved it to the garage, but oh well.  Terra cotta is so unpredictable.  I have others I left out and they are fine.

I have to say my garden looks terrible.  Not just because it is winter but because it just looks, well, neglected.  This week we are  back up into the 60/70’s.   I know, crazy, right?  Welcome to Texas.  So, hopefully I will be able to get some weeding, pruning, and general cleanup done.

I am also planning to check my seeds for viability so I will know what to order.  I am still in the “thinking” stage but I had better get into the “doing” stage or ALL my produce will be coming from the farmer’s market.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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A Gift

Right  before Christmas, my friend Rita gave me a gift…

which started like this…

and now looks like this…

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Thank you, Rita.

 

 

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Welcome 2010

 I know I have complained about the weather a lot this past year.  But, it really has been difficult.  I wanted you to read an email I received from a local CSA, Barking Cat Farm (so you wouldn’t think it was just me, hehe).  They and many farmers here in Texas, and across the country had a very difficult year.   We need  to support our local farmers.  Farming is hard work, even in a “good” year.

Hi Folks,

It has been a very long while since we sent out an update. In fact the last update we sent to the whole list was in July, 2009. A lot has happened since then, so we thought we’d tell you what’s been going on and give you an update on our plans for 2010.

2009 or “The Year it Rained Too Much”

2009 was a disaster for us and many other farmers across the country. In our area, we & others had complete crop losses due to the excessive rain. We also know of at least one local CSA that went out of business due to the incredibly bad weather. In the NE part of the US, too much rain was also an issue as well as a large outbreak of late blight spread accidentally by big box stores to commercial growers.

If you are farming, you are at the mercy of the weather. We do plan ahead for problems, but this last year was overwhelming and there was really little that we could do. First we had a late freeze in April that killed crops normally okay to plant by then (tomatoes, peppers), followed by heavy rains in May (preventing replanting of tomatoes, peppers, direct seeding squash, rotting the Akin potato crop in the ground), followed by scorching heat that lasted all summer (algae bloom in the pond that clogged the drip lines, killing blueberry bushes), and then record heavy rains in September & October (disrupting fall planting of broccoli, cabbage, carrots, beets, etc, wiping out the Akin Fall bean crop). The whole recap of 2009 is long and not included here.

So, I am thinking if they are willing to regroup and start again, then by golly, so am I.  Because to be honest, I am already dreaming of those wonderful homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, …  

  Yeah, I’m hooked.

I may not have the most successful, or most prolific, or most beautiful produce in my garden.  But, it is a source of joy, a stress reliever (most of the time) and a delicious hobby.  So, here’s to Gardening!!!!!!!!!!

Goodbye 2009 (and good riddance), Welcome 2010!!

 

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Peek a Boo

Winter is here.  We have had temperatures in the upper 20’s.  One day, we were colder than New York.  What’s up with that? A snowy “blizzard” on Christmas day and  then more sleet and snow.   This week in the teens.  THE TEENS.   It  has been years since I remember it getting that cold in Dallas.  You know why this is happening don’t you?  Yes, because I decided to start a garden blog.  Not a recipe blog or diary blog but a garden blog….sweet.

All of my vegetables I am trying to grow through the winter are covered.  So, I couldn’t stand it.   I had to take a peek.  Juuust to see how things were going.

 

But turns out, they are rather cozy under there.  I harvested some of the watercress, arugula and lettuce for a salad.  The watercress has grown fairly well but the arugula and lettuces are a bit larger than micro-greens.  Oh well, it IS winter.  It’s about this time of year I wish for a greenhouse, but unfortunately I have no room for one.  Maybe I should rent space from my neighbor next door who does absolutely nothing with their outdoor space.  Hmmm.

Seriously, I am worried about some of my plants, shrubs and one small tree in particular.  I have been busily wrapping the tree.  I did cover the top, but just didn’t get a picture of the end results.  You get the idea.

The spinach is about the same size as a few weeks ago and probably won’t grow much until early Spring.   That is, if I can keep it alive.  The kale had frost on it this  morning even with the row cover  and didn’t look too good,  so it may not make it.

The radishes are hanging in there too.

 Most everything else has a row cover or I moved into the house or garage temporarily.  Oh well, this weather should be good for the peonies.

How’s your winter going?

 p.s.  Many thanks to the couple of people who have been checking my blog daily for a post.  This holiday season was just too busy for me.  I hope to get back to more regular posting.  Thanks for hanging in there.

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Yin Yang

 Have you ever planted something  just because the seeds were cool?  I hadn’t either until I came across  Hyacinth Bean Vine.  I saw it one day at my  favorite nursery,  on top of a gazebo,  in full bloom.  It was gorgeous!  I decided right then I had to have one.

Since the plant was in full bloom, it was too late to start seeds or even find a transplant.   So I forgot about it until one day the following spring, while browsing seeds, I saw the plant beautifully painted on a packet (Renee’s Garden).  Realizing it was the same vine, I  immediately brought them home.

What a surprise when I opened it up and found this…

Don’t they remind you of the yin yang sign?  The Yin Yang sign means complete balance.  And who wouldn’t want that?

So, this is what those little seeds grow into.

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I love this vine.  This particular variety is called Ruby Moon.  It is so easy to grow, and grows very quickly.  In my area, zone 8b, the blooms continue until October and then it is covered in ruby red seed pods.  I usually save a few just in case it doesn’t reseed.  But, so far it has every year.

I just still can’t decide which I like better, the vine or the seeds.

 

 

 

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Can’t believe it!

So yesterday, early in the morning, we had snow flurries.  Big, beautiful snowflakes which melted slowly as they fell to the ground.  Lovely.

We rarely have snow, so even flurries are exciting.  The temperature never fell below freezing, but tomorrow  it is supposed to dip into the upper 20’s.  SO.  I ran outside and put out my frost covers over my spinach, kale, swiss chard, lettuces, arugula , watercress (which is growing amazingly well) radishes, parsley and beets which were barely  visible in the ground.

I have to say I really like this frost cover.  It is thinner and more lightweight than what I had bought at my local nursery in the past.  AND the pegs are awesome.  My only complaint is that the pegs come in packets of  10 and all of my areas and probably yours too, have FOUR corners.  So, needless to say I was short a couple of pegs.  Here is where I found them:  http://www.heirloomseeds.com/supplies.htm

The nice thing about Texas weather is even though it is freezing cold this week, next week we may be back up into the 70’s.  We just thaw out between our “cold spells”.

I also harvested my dill.

I used some in my fall arrangements.  It worked beautifully.

 

 

Hopefully everthing will survive the freeze.  Stay tuned.

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Still growing and growing…

I wish I could show you a crop of something ready to eat, but alas, it is still a work in progress.  I think I am just impatient.  But, I do have some newcomers.

My radishes have sprouted!  I read that these were the easiest vegetable to grow, which is why they are a good choice for children starting a garden.  Not too shabby for older folks, as well.  I believe these germinated in 7 days.

 

My spinach and kale have also sprouted.  I am very excited about these two!  I planted spinach last year and it never came up.  I am quite certain it was too warm.  This year I planted much later and it looks promising.

The kale, I have never planted but wanted to try it.  Kale is a wonderful  green and I look forward to harvesting it.

I bought some of this frost cloth for my beds in anticipation of the first frost (not yet please!)  which can  sometimes make an appearance around here at Thanksgiving. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 And these handy little spikes to hold it in place.  Much neater than the bricks or pots I usually use. hehe

 

 

 

Hope you all have a truly wonderful and safe Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

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Serious gardening.

It was so wonderful to be able to get out in the garden, at last.   I had no excuses.  So, I finally planted my beets (Chioggia and Bull’s Blood – nice name huh?) radishes (China Rose and Chinese Red Meat) spinach (Viroflay) and some kale (Russian Red).  Lo and behold my parsley has sprouted AND the Tom Thumb lettuce (which I will need to thin when it gets a little bigger).  Soon, I will be planting my garlic.  I am preparing the soil in that bed, so maybe this weekend.

sproutlings

 Here are some close-ups.

parsley

swiss chard

tom thumb

Would you believe I harvested some bell peppers still growing from summer?  I couldn’t.  I think these may look better than the ones from the summer.  Some had been on the vine long enough to turn red.

I used them in this recipe for Vermicelli Salad.  This pasta salad is delicious and just gets better each day, lasting for about a week.  That is, IF it lasts that long.  I got the recipe from my mom and have no idea where she got it and neither did she.  So if this is your recipe I am giving you credit right now, and thank you.  It’s wonderful!

Vermicelli Salad

  • 1 – 16 oz. pkg. vermicelli
  • 1 T. Accent
  • 1 T. seasoned salt
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 4 T. vegetable or canola oil

Cook and drain vermicelli.  Rinse well in cold water.  Mix Accent, seasoned salt, lemon juice and oil.  Pour over vermicelli.  Mix well, cover and marinate overnight.  (I don’t want to hear any gourmet discourse about the Accent.  Ree at www.thepioneerwoman.com uses it in almost everything and she just published a cookbook.  so there.)

  • 1 – 4 oz. can pimientos
  • 3/4 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1 small can chopped black olives
  • 1 small jar chopped green olives
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper

Chop these 6 ingredients.  Mix and refrigerate overnight.

  • 1  and 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Just before serving, mix all ingredients and blend together with the mayonnaise.

(here is the printable link)

 http://sites.google.com/site/fromgardenrecipes/vermicelli-salad

Here are some new photos of the petite rouge lettuce, the watercress, and the arugula.  Can’t wait to harvest some!!!!!!

watercress

 

arugula

petite rouge

I was proudly showing my sproutlings to my son, who carefully surveyed the tiny growths.  He then said,  “Good thing we’re not having to depend on this for food”.    Smart aleck kid.

 

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Look What I Found

I am sure you could almost guess what the weather has been around here, couldn’t you?  Yep, raining.  Again.  I have been very concerned that my seeds would just wash away.  But when I went out today to see what was going on, I found this …

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Garden Cress.  Isn’t it pretty?  The leaves look like little stars.  The watercress is still alive and growing, although slowly.  My arugula and lettuce have also grown a bit. 

In the bed where the Garden Cress has sprouted I can also see tiny sprouts from the Swiss Chard (too little to show up on camera).   Nothing yet from the parsley or the Tom Thumb lettuce.  I remember last year, it took the parsely  f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get going.  Usually the Tom Thumb germinates fairly easily. Maybe it washed?

We are due for more rain this evening.  gah!

So while I was in the garden, I took advantage of not being rained upon and did an inventory of the herbs I have growing.

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Dill.

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Oregano.

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Tarragon.

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Scrawny Thyme.   The snails had gotten into this pot, but they are gone for the moment and as you can see it is putting out new growth (lighter colored leaves).

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Rosemary topiary.

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and Spearmint.   I also have Lemon Balm and Chives which I have shown you before.

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 I always grow tarragon for one special recipe.  This recipe is the chicken salad from Eli Zabar’s restaurant in New York called EATS.  When I would visit NYC I would eat this chicken salad almost every day, it was so amazing.  So you can imagine how excited I was to find the recipe on Martha Stewart.com. 

Ina Garten also makes a version of this, but she roasts her chicken.  I have tried both thinking the roasted would be better.  But I believe poaching  is more like the original and I like it better.

Eli’s Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwiches

adapted from marthastewart.com

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, poached, boned, and skinned  (I have used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and couldn’t tell any difference)
  • 1  loaf whole grain bread (this requires a substantial bread like a 7-grain bread ) cut into thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1  long sprig tarragon, chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut poached chicken breasts into 1 inch chunks.  Mix together with the lemon juice.  Add mayonnaise, tarragon, and salt and pepper to chicken mixture.  Mix to combine.  (Martha’s recipe calls for 2 T. lemon juice but I find it is way too soupy.  This chicken salad is very “wet” which is why the whole grain bread cut thickly is important.  However, if it should be too dry for your taste, add more lemon juice.)

Place chicken salad between two slices of bread.  Press firmly to flatten.  Enjoy!

 Here is a link to a printable copy of the recipe. 

http://sites.google.com/site/fromgardenrecipes/eli-s-tarragon-chicken-salad-sandwiches?tmpl=%2Fsystem%2Fapp%2Ftemplates%2Fprint%2F

 

 

 

 

 

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