This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT


You know you're a gardener when...
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Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Nov 22, 2009

Our New Yard...in White

 

I wasn’t really prepared to do a post about our new yard, just yet, but I couldn’t resist sharing this!

This is part of the front and side yard- in the left-hand corner, you can see a small pond.

 

Part of back yard. Now that’s what I’m talking about- a storm and then sun!

More will follow, so stay tuned!

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Oct 16, 2009

Windy with a chance of trees

 

This week we had quite a surprise!

 


I know it’s fall...but come on!

Our old pear tree that died a while back finally fell- and it broke right at soil level! It fell perfectly...and didn’t hit anything (thank God!). We couldn’t have planned it better :). We left it because the squirrels used it, silly I know! The really weird thing is that normally this time of year the wind comes from the west- not the east. If it had come from the west it would have fallen on the house possibly or in between our house and the neighbor’s house maybe. In hindsight, it was probably (probably?;) a bad idea to just let it be- I’m just thankful that no one was hurt!

See what happens? You don’t hear from me for a while and WHAM! As busy as I’ve been lately with sorting things in the house, I had to report this one! I’ll post as I can, but know that it will be hit and miss for a while because of our moving- stay tuned, though as I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on what’s going on in that department!

Some of you have asked how the healing is going from surgery, and I wanted to let you know that it is going well (but too slow for my taste!). Thanks so much for the emails! I tire easily and from what my doc said, that is to be expected for quite a while- blah! I do a little more every day sorting, packing, etc.

Last week, while we had some sun, we packed up what we’re taking that is outside and moved it to the garage. Everything but the greenhouse and what is in the small shed is packed up- anything that we didn’t want getting wet, in other words. I was sad to find out that my potting bench will have to be left- it is just to weathered to make it. I love my potting bench! I hope the next family to live here will find it useful!

Very sad!

I hope you are all enjoying your fall weather and as usual,

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Sep 29, 2009

Basil- The Jury’s Back

 

Not too long ago, I did a post about our basil and the best way to dry it. I wasn’t very happy with the results of drying it on my new soil sifter (thanks dad!;), and it was in the heat of summer that I tried it that way even though it was in dappled shade. I decided to dry my basil 3 different ways (thanks to hubby) to really get an idea of how best to go about it. I want my dried basil to end up with good flavor, and be fragrant too- unlike store bought, dried basil.

So, the results are in. I tried drying it on the soil sifter, as you remember. Then I tried it in the dehydrator, and the third choice was to hang it in a cool, dark place in a mesh-type bag. I chose to use the little bags lemons come in. To start off, I was so unimpressed with the basil I dried outside on the soil sifter, I tossed it. Now maybe if the heat hadn’t been so high that week, I might have had a different outcome- something to think about for next year, maybe.

The basil dried with the dehydrator left me a little disenchanted as well, but for comparison sake I didn’t toss it. I then grabbed some fresh from the garden and put it in a bag (lemon bag) and hung it in a cool, dark spot that doesn’t get disturbed much. I also left the dehydrated batch on a plate in the same location. You can see a picture of the sad outside, heat dried basil here, and read the previous post.

 

 

On the left is the dehydrator dried basil, the right is the air dried basil. I can say, without a doubt, that the air dried basil has a heavenly scent that causes my mouth to water! The color is a little brighter green, which is hard to see in this shot, but the scent is really strong compared to the other- which is almost void of any scent at all. The flavor is far superior as well...and just in time for some fall/winter dishes- Yum!

Now maybe I shouldn’t have dried the first batch during a really hot week outside. And maybe I over dried the second batch in the dehydrator- I think it was Daphne at Daphne’s Dandelions that warned me of the dehydrator being a tricky way to do it- maybe take a look at her comment on the previous basil post. All I know is that the 3rd batch that was dried in a cool, dark, indoor spot ended up the best- and that is how I’ve always done it, just with much smaller bunches. Next year, I plan on drying some in a dark, cooler area outdoors (a shed maybe?) and we’ll see what happens- this is all assuming I can grow it next year!

I hope you are all enjoying the days heading into fall- our sun is gone now and it looks like our typical, cloudy, dreary days are now upon us- and will be for quite a long time. Goodbye sun, it was nice knowing you.

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Sep 23, 2009

Is it any wonder...

 

Why fall is my favorite time of year? Yes, it means winter is right around the corner. Winter carrots taste like candy, thankfully. Each season brings great things, if you live in an area that has 4 distinct seasons- (which is not here).

Here in Portland, fall can signal that a long, grueling, depressing, gray sky is soon to follow. If we’re lucky, we get some snow to brighten up the landscape! Although, most don’t agree that snow brightens their day :). September, however, is one of the most lovely months here- just take a look at this forecast and see if you agree.

                                                Portland, OR fall (week 1) forecast 

I apologize for the clipping, hopefully you can see the temperatures! Today- 95 degrees! A very pleasant first week of fall. And look at the lows. I have to admit, if you compare the lows this time of year to Bend or Redmond lows, Portland wins- about a 10 degree difference that will require some adjustments as far as my fall/winter crops go.

 

                                               Redmond, OR fall (week 1) forecast

It is looking like a wonderful fall so far. Last year I did a tribute to Portland falls because I love them so much and I will miss them. It’s hard to believe we’ve been wanting to move away from Portland for so long. Then again, a year can go by in a blink of an eye. A move is looking more and more likely and it looks as though it will be time to put our garden to bed- but it is still not for sure, the wait and see game is brutal! When we do leave, I can only hope that the next family that buys our home will have a love of gardening too. I look forward to the journey ahead, and hope that you will all stick around to follow the progress, however it may play out.

I have taken down Peetree’s feeder and I worry that Portland will see another winter like last year and we won’t be here to help him get through. If you remember last year I did quite a bit of research on the hummingbirds in our area and weather we should be feeding them in winter. After lots of reading and talking to local experts, I learned that they stay for the winter anyway and that it is best to give them a helping hand if you have them in your yard and you’ve been feeding them.

Peetree has been around somewhat- they leave for a while in summer, it seems, and then they return late summer/early fall. Now that I’ve taken down his feeder, he will search out another one while he takes full advantage of all the bugs and other foods that are abundant and available this time of year. I will miss him too.

I plan to get out there a little this week- slowly and in spurts :). After all, I can’t possibly miss this beautiful first week of my favorite season, now can I? I may have to put on my blinders, however, as I imagine that there is a TON that needs to be done!

I hope you are all enjoying your September weather, wherever you hang your hat!

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Sep 16, 2009

A Garden Doesn’t Wait

 

 

 

Amazingly, even with all the neglect, the garden still produces! A short walk in the garden may have been exhausting, but well worth it- Pole Beans, Swiss Chard, ‘New Girl’ Tomatoes, Eggplant and some Zinnias!

 

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Sep 14, 2009

Helpful Tool


After seeing the link for GrowVeg numerous times on quite a few blogs out there, I felt it was time to take a look at this popular tool. I unfortunately started my subscription not long before going in for surgery thinking that it would give me something other than some books to read while recovering- my road to recovery has been a bit off (a long story), not to mention it’s a little hard to do things on Darvocet :), so I only managed to get in a few sessions before my 30 day trial was up- sad but true. I do think, however, that 30 days is plenty of time to check it out and I did get some plans drawn up of my next garden!
To start off I’d like to say that it is very user friendly. I made my way around how to do things very easily. I also would recommend going through the tutorials because there were some tips in there that were useful (and probably would have saved me some time, if I’d watched them first- duh!).
Planning next year’s crops (or next garden, which I also played around with designing ;) is a snap. Planning the garden size, bed size, and what plants will go in which beds was very fun! The crop list was quite large and arranged with the alphabet above the icon for switching quickly, but if there is a crop you don’t see, the creators have added a basic crop icon in I believe 3 sizes for those really exotic crops you choose to grow. You’ll know how many plants can fit in whatever bed size you have planned out and printing out your plan or crop list is easy as well (with planting distance and I believe when to plant info too). I really like how you can put in your frost dates, which is how it calculates when to plant everything you plan to grow- nice.
Here is a list of features I snagged from their site and a screen shot as well-
  • Create Plans: Quickly produce garden plans, add plants and change the layout. Either metric units or feet and inches are supported.
  • Growing information: Just click for full details of how to grow each plant, where to position them etc
  • Spacing and Crop Families: Clearly shown by the colored area around each vegetable
  • Personalized Planting Chart: Print a chart showing how many of each plant you require and when to sow, plant out and harvest them. Our advanced system works out the dates for your own area.
  • Reminder Emails: Reminds you what needs sowing and planting out in your garden (optional)
  • Easy Crop Rotation: Plan next year’s garden and it shows you where to avoid planting each vegetable
garden-planning-toolUS
One really helpful feature in GrowVeg is in crop rotation- upon planning your next year’s crops, you can start the plan with the previous year’s plan and when putting in the crops, if you happen to choose to put a crop in a place it was grown the year before the crop will highlight red alerting you of this- very useful! The crops are color coded to crop families too- again, nice!
There were a couple things I wish it had. There is pretty good info on each crop, but one thing that it’s missing is the ability to customize that info, making it fit how you grow them. For example, I start my beans (as of this year ;) in long paper pots to give them a good start and an advantage over pests- I would want to include how I start my crops, i.e direct sow, mini soil blocks, paper pots, 6 pack, etc. The other thing is I’d like to be able to include succession sowing info. I did ask them about adding the ability to customize crop info and this is something they plan to work on.
I was able to make some non-standard beds, like a keyhole bed, but it was a little challenging- I’m sure with practice it would get better. I also planned out my next greenhouse and adding the finer details like the location of water sources, bird baths, ponds, bug hotels and more was really a lot of fun!- it leaves a lot of room for your creativity and imagination!
Customer service was speedy and very friendly. The author saw I was from OR and sent me a very useful link to a site called Portland Bright Neighbor, which is a social network in Portland that helps to safely introduce Portland neighbors to one another- lots of good stuff and happenings info on this site even though I’m off subject here.
Bottom line, I like the tool and although I’m not crazy about a subscription fee of $20/yr. (although reasonable) because I try hard to keep the cost of gardening down, I think it would pay off in the long run because you could be more exact with how many plants you’d need- And for me, who uses graph paper quite a bit, it would cut down on wasteful paper use (helping trees). I’ll no doubt think about this next time I’m aiming my next scrapped plan for the recycling can! For now, it will go on my wish list :).
So go check it out and take advantage of their 30 day trial and decide for yourself! Have fun :)

Happy Gardening,
Tessa
Note: Like other links and reviews on my blog, I put them here because I’ve used/tried them and like them. I get no payment, except the satisfaction of passing on great finds! Enjoy!
(See note at the bottom of my blog, which includes other companies I like)

Sep 11, 2009

Remember Today

 

9-11-011                                

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Sep 8, 2009

I Love it- Smart Chickens!

 

With the real possibility of getting some chickens in our near future (Yes, chickens- I can hear you!) I’ve been reading up on them to educate myself. It seems to be a general consensus that they aren’t that smart- well, they’re smarter than 'they'You know, the 'experts' that think GMO foods are okay! are. With all the information we read about concerning GMOs, I think it’s time to just admit they just might not be good for us- ya think? What are 'you'experts that think GMOs are okay.  chicken? I guess not! As the old saying goes ‘You can’t fool Mother Nature!’ Or is it ‘It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature!’

 

                                 

Chickens not liking GMOs might just be the least of our worries!

 

Check out the story below-Thanks for sending this, Mom!

Chickens Not Fooled by GM Crops

images

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Sep 7, 2009

Great Find! Great Resource!

 

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am a bookworm when it comes to gardening books . I’ll go to great lengths to search and hopefully find books, including ones out of print. There are a few places online that have helped when searching for out of print books for home schooling, when the kids were young. One of which is Project Gutenberg the very first and largest, single collection of eBooks.  Today, when I was searching for a book I’ve read about in other books, PG was the first place I looked when I discovered it was out of print. When I didn’t find it there, I went on a hunt. Within 5 minutes, I found it and found a goldmine too!

For those of you that love to read older, out of print, garden books and papers that many current authors (such as Coleman) refer to- this site is for you! The Soil and Health Library has great books in eBook form for free (more about the free part later)! And to top it off (and this really blew me away,) it’s run by Steve Solomon previous owner of Territorial Seeds and author of one of my favorite gardening books Growing Vegetable West of the Cascades ; he now resides in Tasmania, Australia.  Of  course, I’m assuming this is the same Steve Solomon- it might not be! If I hadn’t read all his books I wouldn’t have known that he lives there now, and I wouldn’t have made the possible connection- you can bet I’ll be sure to find out if it’s him (more on that later).

Just so you know, I was after a book called Weeds: Guardians of the Soil by Joseph Cocannouer that is listed in the bibliography section in Gaia’s Garden A guide to Home-Scale Permaculture 2nd edition. This is the second or third time I’ve read about this book about weeds and a search at my library came up empty. I’ve been after a good weed book that not only identifies weeds, but more importantly, reveals how to use them to judge the condition of soil- might come in handy for someone starting a new garden food forest, in a new location/climate :).

Now, if  you go to the home page of Soil and Health Library, you’ll read all about how it works- but there is one thing I want to encourage here that I feel is important. You can get the books listed in their library for free. You have a choice, however, to donate a small amount that helps pay for this unique resource-and it’s a lifetime, one time fee. The choice is yours, of course, but consider what you’d be getting for such a small price :) not to mention the satisfaction of contributing in a small way. And with a librarian like Steve Solomon you really can’t go wrong- but wait there’s more! (me sounding like a infomercial) You can have an opportunity to chat with Steve himself on the subjects in the books! What more could you ask for?

I hope you enjoy this great find!

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Sep 5, 2009

A Ha! Permaculture!

 

Warning: For those of you that only look at my pictures (you know who you are ;), you will be disappointed, sorry :)

In all my gardening years (just over 10 I think), I’ve always done one thing every year and that’s experiment. I’m always looking for a better, faster, more economical, more low maintenance way of doing everything all the time. I also have had it in my mind that when I build or add something to my garden, it should have more than one purpose. I’ve leaned toward working with nature instead of against it (yes, it’s because it’s less work). After all why dig down when going up is easier and better for the soil structure (lasagna beds opposed to double digging!). Why are forests so lush, green, and teaming with life and diseases are kept in check when there is no one coming in to turn the soil (a no-no in my book), fertilize, mulch, or even water? Every time I’d learn about a new idea, or get one myself, I’d ask myself  WWND (what would nature do)?

So, can someone please tell me why I’m just now learning about Permaculturea system of cultivation intended to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by relying on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem..? I read garden books sometimes 3 at a time! My shelves are full of books, highlighted and falling apart! I’ve know about  sustainability and have worked hard on growing my own compost supplies to work towards that end, etc., but Permaculture has opened my eyes to a much bigger picture. And I even live in the hairy armpitaka hippie haven, tree hugger city, etc. capitol of the world! From keyhole and Mandala beds, to building swales and berms that collect and store water in the soil in addition to rain barrels- I’m hooked! What better place to store water than in the soil- assuming the soil is humus rich, of course. The beginning of this video explains what a swale is-

 

                                 

 

Permaculture...where have you been my whole gardening life!

Of course there is so much more to it that just these things I’ve mentioned, so if you’re wondering what I’m babbling about, go to your library or local Barnes and Noble and get a book called Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture 2nd edition. I’m flying through this book and had a need to grab my highlighter very early on, but couldn’t because it’s a library book! By the way, if anyone knows of even better books, websites, etc. about this subject please email me!

I’m so excited about this it is unreal. With the very real possibility of moving in our future (and to a sunnier, high desert area possibly), I’ve been mulling over some ideas of what my new garden would look like. I started drawing up some ideas on graph paper and had some really nice ideas and then I found this book! Some of my ideas fit right into Permaculture, I’m happy to say!  Forget ‘garden’. Forget straight rows in boxes (except my Coleman 30” wide beds in the greenhouse;). The only reason we garden that way is because that’s how ‘they’ve’ done it in the past, and because it made sense with farming equipment. These straight rows have never sat well with me- there’s no flow. If you go back a little farther past industrial farms, you’ll find that some ancient cultures had much better ideas- and prettier too. Go ahead, do a search on keyhole or herb spirals (Thanks Stuart at Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas).  Or even better, Mandala beds! They have more square footage as well- I know, surprising.  I think you’ll be as inspired as I have been!

Okay, I feel better now that I’ve shared my new and exciting love with you all. My next garden  food forest (or the current one, if we stay a bit longer) will be so much fun to put together! I’ll be sure to put up some of my plans, as soon as I figure out a way to do that!

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Sep 4, 2009

Last time I saw it...it was alive!

 

 

I wanted to do a quick tomato bag update and review. To start, it was easy to work with when planting the tomato starts (plugs). It looked nice hanging there...if watered ;). I would definitely use a cherry tomato and no bigger if I tried it again. The type of soil used is very important and I chose to use Black Gold Coco Blend, which was a good choice because it retains water well. I also hung the bag in a part sun (dappled) area and one that was more shaded in the afternoon- that helped. The constant watering was still a problem and the design had everything to do with it.

The way it hangs, because of where the cords are located, the holes the plants are in are facing forward and downward. This means that when you water in the top, the water runs out the holes instead of saturating the soil. And if you’re watering it up high the water will trickle down your arm and into your shirt, and finally into your armpit! I learned the bag needs to be lowered- duh :). I put it on a bungee cord and that helped (I could then pull it down easily), but I had to be careful because the bag is long and could hit the ground and what is the sense of it doing that if it’s a ‘hanging’ plant?  All this didn’t help the fact that the holes faced forward and down and the water still came right out the holes. I then tried holding up the end, which meant that now it wasn’t just my armpit getting soaked :). In the end, I had to put the darn thing horizontally and soak it.

I did a search for these things on the internet and found similar ones that come with a cone attachment for a soda bottle. You put these in the top of the bag and they’re watered by drip. I’m not sure that would be good enough, but I plan on trying this next year with similar attachments I already have on hand (why I didn’t think of it is beyond me;)  I can’t remember the site I found them on, but here is a DIY for making them.  If I have the same troubles, I’ll have to say it’s a bad design and scrap the idea of at least hanging it- with some creativity, I’m sure I can find another use for it.

With travel, surgery, and life in general there was bound to be a causality. I’m afraid any potted plant was the first to be at risk. We did get a lot of tomatoes before it bit the dust though and I must say that ‘Gold Nugget’ will be added to my ‘must-have’ list! They were stocky, delicious, sweet, and the skins were thin!

So to all of you that had a need to know...now you know.  If anyone still wants to try these next year be sure to let me know- I still have a couple more bags, just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

 

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Sep 2, 2009

Mini Eggplant

 

Yummy! Eggplant Parmesan!

with garden fresh basil, of course :)

 

Happy harvesting,

Tessa

Aug 31, 2009

Playing Catch-up while Recovering

 

 

Eggplant ‘Hansel’ twins! Watermelon, strawberry, bush beans and plums.

 

Morning Glory sky :)

 

Come on pepper- turn!

 

Nicotiana

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Aug 10, 2009

Drying Basil

 

I’ve grown basil many times, but I’ve only dried it in small bits. Hanging a few stems up in a cool, dark area in my house at a time or using it fresh has been the only way I’ve used it. This year I decided to dry a bunch at a time, harvesting from 3 plants that I started from seed. You can see them as babies here.

First, I tried laying them out on my dads soil sifter (you know you’re not getting that back right, dad?:) It was REALLY hot at the time.

Here is the basil, growing really well.

 


Drying on the sifter

After

 

Oh, what a shame. I guess it was too hot, and probably too much humidity in the air here in Portland- probably? Ha ha!

Here is what it looks like just drying a few stems at a time hanging in a fruit bag. Notice how much greener?

 


So my wonderful, smartass, hubby says ‘I know, we have this thing in the house that just sits there in the cabinet. You could use it to DEHYTRATE it’

Well, what a great idea, I thought :).

So, here is what it looks like after using my food dehydrator.


Now these are green, but not the same green as the above picture. So it comes down to taste. I unfortunately ate the lighter green, air dried basil a while ago. I haven’t tried the basil dried with the dehydrator, so the jury is still out. I have to air dry some basil this week so I can do a proper taste comparison.

To be continued...

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Aug 6, 2009

It’s a Boy!

 

Er, a girl! Oh heck, I don’t know- but it sure is cute! Peetree should be quite proud (especially considering he doesn’t have a penis! Ha Ha :)

 

baby hummer

 

 

You can see his/her downy in this one, a little of the color too :) A little fuzzy butt- too cute!

The tiny nest can’t be to far away, but I have yet to see it. Peetree is around too and I hope he doesn’t get territorial with the baby and chase it off the feeder- so far so good, I see the baby eating on it. I would think that he’d be fine with his offspring, but you never know.  It’s so much fun learning about these things!


Happy gardening,

Tessa

Aug 4, 2009

Vandals!

 

Okay, the first time it happened Pat said ‘Well, just some bored kids and you had the perfect grenades!’ I was astonished that we hadn’t heard a thing and that the dogs didn’t bark- this was last Saturday. The scene...gruesome! Tomatoes, nice and ripe, thrown all over the back gardening area, and some even by the back door...everywhere :(. They grabbed green ones, and even got my ripe beefsteak in the greenhouse. The smaller plum tree that is loaded this year was attacked as well. Luckily, they didn’t get to the watermelon! I was too distraught to take any shots.

Then on Sunday, they struck again!

 

These are only a few of the ‘New Girl’ tomatoes they threw at our door. The door was covered with seeds. They were probably having a contest of who would hit the door first. It is at least 40 feet from in front of my greenhouse to our back door- someone had quite an arm and had to throw it just right to go under a big cherry tree too.

However, they weren’t too smart. Doing this on a weekend is not a good idea as most people are not at work on weekends, right? And with it being as hot as it’s been people have stayed in.

One minute we’re sitting in our living room and THUMP! THUMP! I thought it was one of the kids, at first, then we both realized what it was. The next minute Pat was out the door! You could hear Pat yelling at them down the street, I’m sure. You should have seen their faces as they realized they were busted...and some really mad man with Clint Eastwood veins sticking out around his temples was coming at them. I’ve never seen kids run so fast! They took off to their yards...that’s right both of the kids live right behind us. Pat came back in and took a little ride around the corner and knocked on their door- one of them answered the door shocked, Pat said the look on his face was priceless and he didn’t think they’d be back around. I guess when his mother became aware that they were throwing our vegetables at our house she wasn’t happy. He also said, however, that he didn’t go into explaining to her how hard we work for those vegetables and having them ruined like that was just wrong- he felt she just wouldn’t ‘get’ it and he’d be wasting his breath. The kids were young enough, and scared of Pat enough that we really don’t think it will happen again- I sure hope not. We’re both home every day, so they’ll get caught again if they do it again.

Our Defender of the Vegetables!

 

Unfortunately, there are not too many tomatoes left...sad. This is one reason I think it is so important to garden with kids. Let them start things from seed and care for them and plant them- the process along teaches a basic respect for life and possibly, just possibly a love for gardening.

The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies!

 

   

Happy gardening to you,

Tessa

Aug 1, 2009

Hungry for Change?

 

Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the water- after watching ‘Super Size Me’ and getting really sick- now (thankfully) someone has done a movie about where our food comes from, and just how bad is it on our industrialized farms. Now this is a real movie...the big time, and thank God for that! I plan to see this, I’m just not sure when. A review will hopefully follow. With my surgery coming, I’ll be lucky to see it when it’s in the theaters, we’ll see, it might have to wait on the DVD.

I encourage everyone to search for a theater near you (click the cow)  and go see it!

Food, Inc.

Update: Looks like it’s available at Amazon- you may find it cheaper somewhere else, who knows!

 

Happy food production,

Tessa

Jul 30, 2009

Beat the Heat...the squirrel way!

 

Catherine over at A Gardener in Progress was asking if we were getting the heat here in Portland...

 


We had set up a mister near the birdbath and looks like the squirrels liked it too! We had a good laugh seeing this out our kitchen window! I barely managed to get a shot with my not so hot camera.

We’ve hit 107, or so I’ve heard, and that was on Tuesday- the car said 105 while driving around! I’ve taken advantage of the heat and put some basil out to dry, which is seen in the above photo. I made sure it was far enough away from the mister, of course.


I used the soil sifter I took borrowed from my dad...he sure can make things nice...you know you’re probably not getting this back, right dad?

I hope you’re all finding a way (even the squirrel way!) to beat the heat- stay cool and as usual...

Happy gardening,

Tessa

P.S. Happy Birthday to my little grand baby girl! Love you S!

Jul 29, 2009

Beautiful Bounty


I just wanted to put of a couple quick pics of a harvest this week, and another new harvest basket (thanks, mom!).

And another great thing going on in the garden- Watermelon!

Watermelon ‘Red Little Baby Flower F1’


The bench was nearby, so I decided to use it to support the watermelon- I hope you can see them :).

The bush beans are doing really well- but I gotta say that I’m not really impressed with the taste compared to pole beans. They are heavy producers, however.

Bush Bean ‘Blue Lake 274’

The marigold seems to be doing well with them- these are the ones I started in the cold frame a while back, and I moved them to different places in the garden. That is a pepper in the front- it doesn’t seem too happy, but then it was purchased and probably had some shock when planted.

I hope your gardens are doing well!

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Jul 28, 2009

Got Bees?

 

So, we were sitting around and happened to catch a show called Nature on OPB- very, very interesting. It reminded me of a post Karen wrote on Greenwalks about her bees too. One day Pat and I were weeding and he told me that he overheard the bees talking and they said they didn’t care for the GM crops, and pesticide filled fields on industrialized farms, so they were glad to find our garden and others like it :).

So, why are our bees dying? Where are they going?

I know where the bees are- in my organic backyard garden! We were just recently commenting about how many bees we have in our yard this year- noticeably greater in number...hmmm. I think it may be that our bees are smarter than we know (or are). Maybe they don't like the industrialized farms with their genetically altered crops as much as we don't like the watered/pus filled, anemic looking, tasteless vegetables in our markets :). Could it be that hanging out in these fields, working diligently as bees do, lowered their immune systems and when we introduced these Australian bees to our already physically compromised bees, their little bodies couldn't fight off a new virus? I mean seriously, does anyone really expect there to NOT be problems when we play around with genetics? We are at the top of the food chain, are we not? What we do to the environment on a large scale will effect us- duh! Doesn't anyone notice that we are all unhealthy, and have problems ranging from women having hysterectomies earlier to little girls starting their menstrual cycles earlier, people dying all around us, some at much younger ages? Pesticides, hormones, synthetic fertilizers, genetically altered foods- yes, foods- tomatoes are top, soy is another top and it's in everything. There are (especially in the US) so many hectares of land dedicated to GMOs- it is staggering! They, in turn, affect (or infect!) the organic farms that are near by.

Why is it that we can't learn that maybe there might be something wrong with a seemingly harmless synthetic fertilizer- when the worms take off in soils where they're used? Are we smarter than the worm? Are we really so stupid that we don't see that we need to go back to small acre or 2 sized micro farms, located in cities, or just right outside that produce 'real food' locally, fresh, and serving those close by- we need to become locavoresa person who attempts to eat only foods grown locally. Locavores grow their own food or buy foodstuffs grown within their region.! Does anyone even remember what a tomato is supposed to taste like?

 

‘Beefsteak’

This tomato was juicy, meaty, sweet, not a bit mealy, and full of flavor! I had to take a paper towel to it before putting it on my sandwich! My new saying is ‘This is a tomato...just so you know’- or ‘This is real food...just so you know’ (as I imagine talking to a grocery store produce man (poor guy, not his fault), or maybe an industrialized farm manager-notice I didn’t say farmer?)

 

Okay, I'm done ranting- great program and one that obviously got my panties in a wad! Check it out!

Happy real food eating,

Tessa

Jul 22, 2009

A Good Harvest in July

 

Before our Bend trip last week, I thought I’d better get out there and see what is ready to eat! I also was looking forward to using my new harvest basket that I found in an antique store recently :)

Note: Image pops on mouse over- looks best on the web (not in email or reader)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I figured my mom and the kids (kids being optional ;) could use them up while we were away. I harvested the following veggies-

3 kinds of tomatoes- ‘Beefsteak’, ‘New Girl’ and ‘Golden Nugget’
Beets and their greens- ‘Bull’s Blood’
Carrots- ‘Parisian Market’ these are now finished up!
Green beans- ‘Blue Lake 274’ Bush
Mini eggplant- ‘Hansel’_
Lettuce- ‘Red Sails’ although this lettuce was bitter- it was the only one, out of the four I had left, that hadn’t gone to seed, but it’s time was up anyway (it being very early morning when I harvested)


 

 

 

 

 

Not too bad considering I’ve had to go out of town a bit this year! I’ve hinted here and there that we are moving so more trips out of town are planned and the garden will be a little neglected this year. With a move in our future, I may pull a lot and cover everything with a cover crop or a plastic mulch- so the next gardeners will have nice soil to plant in :). Selling the house will be difficult and I can only hope that gardeners will buy it!

Starting over is a bit scary too- what kind of soil will I have to work with? How big an area? All questions that will soon be answered. Notice I didn’t include what kind of house, or what size kitchen? He he!

It will be an adventure starting from scratch.  My current garden took all 8 years to get the soil how it needed to be, the layout how I wanted it, etc. I’m hoping with all my experimenting in this garden that the plan I have on what to do first in our new home will run a little smoother- I can only hope!

No worries, I’ll keep everyone posted!

Happy harvesting,

Tessa

Jul 20, 2009

Greek Salad! Yummy!

 

Well, our trip to Bend was really nice- I love the weather there!

Before we left, I was wondering what to do with all those tomatoes. I did give some away and took some with me. While we were there, I made a yummy Greek salad!

Here is one of the tomatoes I put in it- it was sooooo good.

Tomato 'New Girl'

Tomato ‘New Girl’


The ingredients included:

1. 2-4 tomatoes ‘Beefsteak’, ‘Golden Nugget’  and ‘New Girl’ cut into chunks
2. 1/2 cucumber chunks
3. Red and Yellow pepper- again chunks
4. Red onion
5. Black olives
6. Feta cheese
7. Olive Oil
8. Red Wine Vinegar
9. Artichoke hearts in oil from Trader Joe’s (I threw in some of the oil from this too)
10. Dried Oregano
11. Chopped fresh Parsley

I think that’s it!

The other tomato I used in the salad looked more like the ‘Beefsteak’ in the picture that will follow- it was so red and meaty you could hardly see any seeds. I just threw in everything as I went- it was yummy (I think I already said that!) I must make another one. This salad is the reason I wanted to grow ‘Beefsteak’ tomatoes again in the greenhouse this year. I didn’t grow them last year. I purchased a Greek cookbook, however, and decided that it would be a ‘must’ this year after seeing a beautiful picture of Greek salad in it! I didn’t follow a recipe, but after looking at a few different recipes online and in my book, I had it in my head how I’d make it. We saw the jar of Artichoke hearts in Joe’s a while back and thought it would be delish in a Greek salad! We were right- it was wonderful in it.

 

Yummy! Greek Salad!

 Greek Salad ‘Beefsteak’, ‘New Girl’ and ‘Golden Nugget’ tomatoes shown


Yep! I have to make this again (I think I already said that too!)

As I said, Bend was beautiful! We stayed in the Shilo (of course), since DH cares for all their phone systems, and it is right on the Deschutes River- just beautiful! Out of all the Shilos, Bend is my favorite property- it’s so natural and woodsy.

I noticed right outside our door something growing in the grass- and then I smelled it!

 

Mint growing in the lawn at Bend Shilo Inns

 Mint growing in the lawn

Mint.  Now I could have made some nice sun tea to go with our yummy Greek salad- but I thought it best not too, they probably sprayed it to keep it under control, for all I knew. I looked up and down the grass behind the other rooms and saw no other mint- how weird that it was only growing behind our room!

We also had a couple visitors one SUNNY morning :)

 

Visiting deer at the Bend Shilo


They meandered right past our sliding glass door right as Pat was opening the drapes. They just looked over at us and walked along past the other rooms. Something scared them right after I took these- sounded almost like a gunshot.


I really didn’t expect to get any shots of them as I went out a bit after we saw them meander past our room- I guess they liked the young leaves on the trees. I bet these guys cause a lot of fits to gardeners here!

 

I hope you all had a nice week in your gardens, and as usual...

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Jul 9, 2009

What to do with these?

 

We’re leaving for Bend next week and I’m not sure what to do with these!

 

Greenhouse tomato 'Beefsteak'

 

Greek salad maybe? With some Feta cheese? Yum! Too bad I didn’t grow cucumbers.

I guess I’ll have to give some away :)

 

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Garden beauty through a photographers eyes

 

Here are some more great images Taylor has taken recently- enjoy!

 

Crocosmia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy gardening,

Tessa