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!

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

Jul 8, 2009

Wednesday Words

 

 

Bush Bean flower

 

Be sure to visit other Wednesday Words at Muddy Boot Dreams! Thanks, Jen :)

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Jul 6, 2009

Recent holiday beauties and more

 

With the running around lately, I’ve had to skip over some things. Today I thought I might post just a couple quick photos.

For Father’s Day, I did a post dedicated to the ‘Fathers’ in my life, but what I left out was the really yummy salad I’d made that day! The salad ingredients were from my garden except the mushrooms. My dream of making a salad packed with all kinds of yummies that came only from my garden came really close to reality this year!

Here are the ingredients: Not including the mushrooms that were from the grocery store.


lettuce ‘Red Sails’                                 
Beet greens ‘Bull’s Blood’   
Swiss Chard ‘Fordhook Giant’  
Beets (steamed, chilled, and sliced)  
Peas ‘Super Sugar Snap’  
Carrot ‘Parisian Market’  
Yellow cherry tomato ‘Gold Nugget’  
Pak Choi 
Nasturtium leaves and flowers
Red tomato ‘New Girl’


 

salad from the garden- except mushrooms!

 

It was delish! We’re getting closer and closer to that all organic salad every year!

On the 4th, I made an attempt at a red, white and blue bouquet. It wasn’t great, but it was patriotic! Sorry the pic isn’t great- I should have had Taylor take it ;)

Ingredients: 


Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ I think (thanks to Lynn identifying it) 
White Lily 
Lobelia ‘Trailing Sapphire’

4th of July bouquet!

 

How fun is that? I love making bouquets, especially fresh from my garden- you all know how I dislike ‘foreign’ flowers!

In more news, I’m really excited about a book order I just put into Amazon today! I ordered Eliot Coleman’s new book (of which I knew nothing about, until today!) The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses- Whew! What a title, but with Eliot Coleman there is no question that it is a ‘must purchase’ book. Although he’s looking a bit older (aren’t we all;), he is the master of all Master Gardeners, in my mind. Really nice guy too, I called him once because I was concerned about the build up of nitrates in leafy greens in winter (lack of sun), and knowing that I am about on the same latitude that he writes about in his book The Four Season Harvest, we still don’t get nearly the sun he gets- he set my mind at ease and said that my winter crops would be fine, and if I had any doubt to soak them for a bit in cold water and rinse well- great guy...I can’t wait to get that book!

One more tidbit of exciting news (well, at least for me!)- I finally found an answer to my bitter lettuce question! After asking around on blogs, posting the question on ‘expert’ gardening sites, etc. I finally have an answer- or at least something I can test! You all know I love to grow my greens and I’ve been on a search for a lettuce that doesn’t get bitter- it turns out that when you harvest the lettuce plays a significant role in taste. I know this, why it never occurred to me before is a bit mysterious and quite the ‘duh’ thing! For example, I know not to harvest any berries or tomatoes after the sun has been on them, why would lettuce be any different? Morning is always a better harvesting time. The answer came in a quick book purchase at the airport bookstore when I found out I would be in one airport or another pretty much all day! I looked and looked for a good gardening book that A: I didn’t already have, or B: If I didn’t have it, it wasn’t full of info I already knew ;). Of course, an airport bookstore is going to carry best sellers- well, gardening books (some of them anyway) should be on all the ‘bestsellers’ lists! In looking at the books (all 4 of them) I came across an organic gardening book, divided by month and it included recipes for things growing in the garden that month- perfect! The title of the book is From Seed to Table: A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing Green by Janette Haase- and as the title suggests it has more info than just growing food. At the end of each chapter it includes a ‘Food for Thought’ section that is full of environmental issues.

So on page 139, at the bottom in a harvesting tip- there it was! While working one day she tasted some of her lettuce and found it to be bitter. This was not a good thing since she was a market gardener, at the time, and the lettuce was to be sold the following week. Just to make sure she tasted it the following morning before pulling it all and tossing it in the compost pile. To her surprise, it was sweet as could be. She later read an article in a gardening magazine that explained why this happens.

Which brings me to my review of this book. Now I haven’t used any recipes, and the book did have a lot of info in it that I already knew. There is one thing that I didn’t like- the book claims to be for beginners or experienced gardeners, but I found that there were a few too many times that more info was needed, especially for a beginner- like just where and what article did she find that tidbit on when to harvest lettuce!!!! I always need more input, however, and I will give this book a fair review after I’ve used some of the recipes ;)

And never fear, a review of the Coleman book won’t be too far off!

Oh, one more picture for you...

 

Ransom

 

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Jul 3, 2009

A few more of Taylor’s pictures

 

I just had to post these when I saw them...I think she’s holding out on me!

 

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Jul 1, 2009

Playing Catch-up

 

Well, I’m back. My sudden trip to TX is now done and I’m glad to be home- it was hot! It is truly amazing to leave your garden, for even a few days, and see how fast everything grows while you’re away! I had to plant a few things quickly just before leaving too and even they grew fast. The rest of the bean seedlings I had, as well as some lettuce and New Zealand Spinach, had to be given away.

As tired as I am, I am glad that my daughter wanted to experiment with her Aunt’s camera, so she ran around the garden getting some fantastic shots. She has quite an eye and I think I should just have her take my pictures that I use on my blog from now on!

Things are really taking off this year! This post will showcase some great photos that my daughter took while experimenting with her Aunt Beth’s camera and in another post we’ll see what is growing in the food area of the garden. Taylor’s camera needs to be replaced soon, so this is a good test for another camera that won’t break the bank- so far I think she likes it. The shots below just got better and better as she played with the Canon Power shot SX110 is.

 

Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’


 

 Crocosmia variety unknown

 White Lily variety unknown

 

 Sunflower ‘Strawberry Blonde’

 

 Black-eyed Susan vine

 

 Nasturtium ‘Cherry Rose Jewel’

 

Sunflower ‘Lemon Queen’

Oregano in bloom with a little friend

 

Yep, I think I’ll just let her take photos from now on!

 

Well, I’d better quite or this page will take forever to load, if it doesn’t already! I hope you are enjoying your gardens this week and as usual...

Happy gardening,

Tessa

Photo credit Taylor Neill