Monday, June 29, 2009

Garden Tours - Part 4

Last Saturday, we visited Heartland Harvest for a tour of their farm and gardens. They have 584 acres. Their beautiful gardens are huge! Below are some pictures from our tour of their gardens.

They have potatoes in a separate field down the road from their house. One group of rows is red potatoes and 3 more groups of rows are white potatoes. In the same field are some pumpkins. They use oats as mulch in both the field and the garden. Mr. Showalter grows the oats, and then turns them into the ground in order to enrich the soil.
They are growing beans, squash, watermelons, strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, lettuce, spinach, grapes and onions. Their tomatoes also had blight like mine did this year. The asparagus has gone to seed, but the plants are still beautiful. Their rhubarb is about done. We had gotten our rhubarb at Heartland Harvest this year since our plant is not ready to use. The Showalter family uses black paper around the plants to keep the weeds down. I was excited to hear that Mr. Showalter uses garlic to keep pests away like I do. He uses garlic in a spray form, though I used the powder. (He has a lot more space to cover!)

The grapes grow over an arbor. We tasted some of their grape juice at our home fellowship for communion. It was very good!
Thank you, Heartland Harvest, for the tour! We are glad that you are our neighbors!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cabbage Patch Kids

I planted some cabbage in the garden this year. The plants have some heads growing. A problem has developed in the cabbage patch. One of the heads had been chewed. I examined it further and found something that looked like dark green eggs.I guessed that they were eggs or "cabbage patch kids" developing into a new pest. The picture below is of the eggs. I removed them by squishing them. Then, I sprinkled garlic powder on the cabbage. Garlic is a natural insect deterrent. If they are aphids, they also do not like garlic like ants, their friends. Both are pests in the garden.

After some research, these are some of the ideas I had.
  1. Is it aphids? They come in a variety of colors, including green.
  2. It is not coddling moths, as their eggs are transparent. (They eat cabbage)
  3. Is it a cabbage loop worm or a cabbage moth?
  4. Or, is it entirely something else?
I still do not know who or what the "cabbage patch kids" are. I am leaning towards aphids. If it is aphids, I need ladybugs! If you recognize this problem, please comment and give me your ideas and suggestions on what they are, or how to treat them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lemon Balm and Toads

On Tuesday, Momma, Ben and I went to the greenhouse again. We got a lemon balm plant. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family. It is an herb that is not commonly known. The herb has a strong lemon flavor and many uses. One problem with lemon balm is that it takes up a lot of space, as most mint family members do. Its uses are varied. Lemon balm can be used as bug repellent, lemon flavoring and medicinal purposes. Bria's Bug-Be-Gone Natural Herbal Spray is a lemon balm based insect repellent spray. (Bria's mother, Mrs. Crawford, has a great CD that you can get here.)

A good recipe with lemon balm is a vinaigrette salad dressing.

Lemon Balm Vinaigrette
This recipe is from Old Fashioned Living. You can get more good lemon balm recipes here.

3 tablespoons light olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
6-8 leaves lemon balm
Fresh black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons wine or regular vinegar

Stack the lemon balm leaves together and roll, then with a very sharp knife cut thin strips, and then chop finely. Combine with the other ingredients and serve with steamed vegetables or mixed salad greens.
Ben and I used to catch toads and play with them. (Actually, we still do!) Just recently, I read that toads are good for the garden. Ben found a toad in the shed, and we put it in the garden to catch bugs. We decided to name him Chub, since he was so plump. Chub was deposited next to the peas and carrots. Toads like secluded places, and that location was perfect camouflage. Can you see him in the picture below? Hopefully, Chub will do his job and rid the garden of pests.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Garden Tours - Part 3

Last Saturday, we went to Grammy and GrandRiley's farm to deliver a Father's Day present to GrandRiley. Before my family left, Grammy gave me a tour of her garden. Her garden has fed many families over the years. She is very generous with her excess produce!

Grammy is growing tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, lima beans, lettuce, corn, asparagus, onions, peppers and green beans. Grammy normally will can some of her produce. She has some raised beds and a one large regular garden.


Grammy's stone bench is an interesting decoration. It was built by Uncle Kirk. He found a limestone slab in the field and made the bench. Grammy decorates it with yellow daylilies and pink coral bells. What a relaxing place to rest after working in the garden!

Some of her favorite gardening time is in her flower garden. Many different colored irises decorate the outskirts of the vegetable garden. Grammy also has some coral bells, zinnias and other annuals around the raised gardens. She also garnishes the border of the washhouse with pansies and daylilies. Do you notice anything around the daylilies?

Did you find what was in the daylilies? It was Brady! Brady is a collie puppy that Grammy and GrandRiley got a few weeks ago. All of the collies that they have had love to lay in Grammy's daylilies. Isn't Brady cute?

Thank you, Grammy, for letting me tour your garden!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Practical Flower Pots

Momma and I made some practical flower pots this year for the first time. We put some vegetables, herbs and flowers in them to beautify our patio and to help the family food bill. We designed 3 practical pots. The 1st one has apple mint, spearmint, two types of lavender and red leaf lettuce. We have already enjoyed the red leaf lettuce in our salads. It also has some marigolds for color and bug protection. Eventually, the pot will be only mint and lavender for tea and gifts.

The other two pots are the same, and they decorate the front corners of the patio. We call them "hot" pots. They have bright colored flowers and hot jalapenos. Both pots have orange marigolds, carmine glow, zinnias and jalapeno pepper plants. The peppers are for salsa and already have little jalapenos on them.

We got our idea from Mistimorne greenhouse. Momma and I saw some "edible" pots when we went to the greenhouse in May. They had a "Salsa Garden", a "Salad Bar Garden", a "Pick and Eat Garden" and a "Fresh Eatin' Garden". Some of the edible pots had lettuce, tomatoes, marigolds, basil, jalapenos, bell peppers, parsley and other safe to eat plants. We thought that it was a great idea! What do you think?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gardening and Herbal Gifts

Yesterday, Grandpa came over to our house for a Father's Day present from me. I gave him some radishes that I had especially grown for him. I also supplied him with some leaf lettuce for his neighbor and himself. We have had a lot of leaf lettuce with all the rain we have been having. Plus, we started getting some butter crunch head lettuce, which is Daddy's favorite.

Besides giving away fresh produce, you can also give away some herbal gifts from your garden. Remember how I had talked about drying oregano? I found some things that you can use dried herbs for-not just cooking. I thought that these two were very interesting for presents.

Herbes De Province
I thought that this one might be like Mrs. Dash®, a no salt seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried marjoram
  • ½ Tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon dried summer savory
  • 2 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoon lavender flowers
  • 1 bay leaf
Mix together and store in an airtight container.

Dried Flower and Herb Sachets

This would be good to scent clothes or beds...
  • Make a small bag with a somewhat open weave. Leave one side open to stuff the herbs in.
  • Mix together enough dried herbs or flowers to fill the bag.
  • To enhance the scent, a few drops of essential oil can be added.
  • Fill the bag with the flowers or herbs.
  • Sew the bag closed, or tie the end tightly with ribbon or string.
  • Gently rubbing the bag will crush the herbs and make them release their fragrance.
Tips and Ideas
  • Good, strong-scented flowers and herbs to fill the sachets with: lavender, lemon balm, lilac, mint, rosemary, roses, scented geraniums and thyme.
  • To scent the bathroom: Let them float in the bathtub or tie a string just long enough to hold them under the faucet.
  • Holiday and seasonal fabrics help turn this simple sachet into a thoughtful gift
On a future post, I will give some gift ideas for using fresh herbs. It is a joy to share your harvest with family and friends!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dehydrating Oregano

Last week, Momma and I gathered oregano from my herb garden. Oregano is a member of the mint family. We decided to dehydrate the oregano to use this winter. Momma and I dried it in our dehydrator which our family uses for a variety of foods. Here is how we preserved the herb.

Early in the morning, I went to cut the oregano in order for the good oils to stay in the plant. Momma and I gently washed the oregano and allowed it to dry on towels.
After most of the water had evaporated from the oregano, we placed it on the racks of the dehydrator. We dried it for 15 hours at 105°. We then checked the dryness. Some of the herbs were dry after 15 hours, but most had to go a little bit longer.
We broke the leaves off of the stems and placed the leaves in a glass jar.
After all the leaves were dry, we placed a plastic lid on the jar and marked it. We labeled it since a lot of herbs look alike when they are dehydrated!

Momma and I hope to dry some other herbs from my garden when we have an abundance of them. Have you ever dried herbs?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Updates and Blights

My garden has been doing quite well lately. We have been harvesting leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, spinach and onions. My cucumbers have sprouted and are growing. I raised the squash from seed, and it is a little behind the other plants in most people's gardens. Also, bad seed does not help matters much. :) The buttercrunch head lettuce is almost ready for harvest. The peas have gotten some blooms, as well as the peppers and jalapenos. The carrots, radishes and cabbage also have been developing.

However, the cherry tomatoes are not exactly healthy. They were doing well until Momma and I noticed yellow and brown spots on the leaves. I researched it and found out that they had early blight. One of the causes of early blight is hot weather with lots of rain which is exactly what has been happening recently with our weather. We have experienced hot and humid weather with thunderstorms almost every night and rain, just the perfect combination for early blight.

Would you believe that another cause for early blight is plainly too little water? All types are treated the same. You DO NOT need to water the infected plants as often, unless they have the blight from too little water.

Here is what I did. I first put cornmeal on the soil around the plant to dry it. Then, I put grass clippings around them as mulch. I read that you should put mulch around the plant to keep the moisture in the roots, but not near the leaves. I trimmed off the bottom leaves so that air could circulate through the plant. I got some Serenade® fungicide spray to apply to the plant to destroy the blight. This spray is supposed to be organic. If you want to try to make your own fungicide spray, here is a good place to look.
The blight on the tomato leaves looks yellow/light green with some brown spots on some of the leaves. Have you ever had early blight? If so, what did you do?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Garden Tours - Part 2

Today, I went to Hannah and Mrs. Girotti's house while Ben worked on their lawn mower. (He does small engine repair.) I toured Hannah's vegetable garden and Mrs. Girotti's flower garden. You can visit Hannah at Graceful Designs Cards and Mrs. Girotti at Mountain Musings.
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Hannah's Garden
Hannah has 2 large gardens. She is growing squash, zucchini, cucumbers, garlic, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, corn, lettuce, arugula, spinach, peppers, beans and parsnips. Herbs, berries and fruit complete her garden. The herbs consist of cilantro and basil. Hannah's berries are blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. The fruits that she raises are cantaloupe and watermelon.

Hannah was the one who gave me the suggestion of putting up peas on chicken wire. She uses chicken wire with posts for a fence around each garden. She has a lot of trouble with deer trying to eat her produce, and the chicken wire helps to stop them. Thank you, Hannah, for allowing me to tour your garden!
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Mrs. Girotti's Flower Garden
Mrs. Girotti plants flowers around Hannah's garden. Yarrow, lavender, cat mint, coneflowers and wild blue indigo decorate the outside of the vegetable garden. However, she does not limit her flowers to the garden alone. Mrs. Girotti planted some flowers around the outside of the house and porch. She has more lavender, different colored petunias, begonias, geraniums, and pansies.

Mrs. Girotti enjoys antiques. She creatively planted her flowers in an old wheelbarrow, a watering can and a metal tub. You can view more of her pictures at her blog. Thank you for showing me your flowers, Mrs. Girotti!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garden Tours - Part 1

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be doing some garden tours. The gardens that will be featured are ones of family and friends. Enjoy the tours!
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Mrs. Shifflett's Garden
Mrs. Shifflett has 6 raised beds. She also has some pots with herbs in them. Her daughter, Olivia, tends one of the raised beds and part of another. Olivia is growing some yellow pear tomatoes, bush beans, banana peppers, yellow squash and Mr. Stripey tomatoes. Mr. Stripey tomatoes are heirloom tomatoes. They have stripes of red and green or yellow.

Mrs. Shifflett planted potatoes, large bell peppers, yellow peppers, beef steak, better boy and volunteer tomatoes. Volunteer tomatoes are the plants that come up on their own from previous years. She also grew spinach, onions, zucchini, cucumbers, romaine, green leaf and red leaf lettuce.

Did you notice the red plastic pieces around the tomatoes in the picture in the upper left corner of the collage? They are called Super-Gro tomato boosters. The red color of the boosters are supposed to ripen the tomatoes faster. The water wells slowly let the water out to the plant. There are three fertilizer holes that are filled every three days with new fertilizer. The plant is grown in the hole in the middle. I will be excited to find out what happens with the boosters.

Mrs. Shifflett has some herbs growing in pots next to her porch. She enjoys having them nearby so that she can go outside and easily get fresh herbs for her cooking. (The picture is in the bottom left corner of the collage.) She is growing parsley, cilantro, dill, rosemary, thyme, chives, oregano and basil.
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I hope that you have enjoyed the first garden tour. Thank you, Mrs. Shifflett and Olivia, for allowing me to post about you and your gardens!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pressure Canner Testing

Today, we went to the local co-op to test our pressure canner with our extension agent. The agent tested the canner first by looking through the petcock. Then, she added pressure to the lid to test the gauge. She said that our gauge was great, except that it was off by 2 pounds. The extension agent explained that all we needed to do was add 2 pounds to the poundage that the recipe said. Otherwise, she noted that the canner was in very good condition. We asked her how old she thought that it was, and she guessed that the canner was about 40 years old. We got the pressure canner off of eBay for a very reasonable price. I can't wait to use it! Here is a great place to visit to find out more about pressure cookers. The link is to Canning Jars etc., a blog that Momma and I both enjoy. We like to read the posts and ask canning questions to Ms. Charlotte. She responds quickly and is very kind and understanding. I love learning from her. You can visit her blog here. (Thank you Ms. Charlotte!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Strawberry Pie!

This morning, Momma and I made a strawberry pie. The recipe is from Momma's Aunt Kay. It has always been a favorite in our family. I always look forward to June for strawberry pie! YUM! We use a deep-dish pie shell from the store, but you probably could make your own pie crust.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons strawberry jello
1 deep dish pie shell

Bake pie shell according to directions. Allow to cool. Mix sugar, water, cornstarch and jello. (Mix cornstarch with dry ingredients before adding water.) Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Cool. Pour over strawberries in pie shell. Chill in refrigerator over night. Serve with Cool Whip.
We made one, although I am hoping that we can make some more pies before the season is over. Do you have a favorite strawberry recipe?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Strawberries!

Today, Momma, Ben and I got some strawberries for jam. We got 12 quarts! We also bought some rhubarb for strawberry rhubarb jam.
After we got home, Momma and I made some strawberry jam and strawberry freezer jam. We got the strawberry jam recipe from my Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Out of 8 quarts of strawberries, we got 16 pints of jam! I loved to listen to the lids "pop" and seal as they came out of the canner. With 2 more quarts of berries, we made strawberry freezer jam. The other 2 quarts will be used for ice cream and strawberry pie. I will post on the strawberry pie soon.

Here are the 2 recipes for both the strawberry jam and the strawberry freezer jam.

Strawberry Jam

Yield: About 6 pints

2 quarts strawberries
1 package powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar

Wash strawberries; drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Combine strawberries, powdered pectin and lemon juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if neccessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
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Strawberry Freezer Jam

Yield: Maybe 2 pints. (We had some different sized jars from the jelly you can get in the store.)

1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups crushed strawberries
1 package freezer pectin

Mix together pectin and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add crushed strawberries. Mix well. Ladle into freezer safe jars. Place one-piece lids on the jars. (We used the lids that came with the jars.) Let jars sit 30 minutes. Place in freezer.
I had a long, but happy day. I cannot wait to can some more!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Mystery in the Flower Garden


Today, Momma and I noticed that a beautiful flower had bloomed in the corner flower bed. We did not know what it was, so I decided to see if any of my readers might know what this pink flower is.

Here are some guesses and clues that Momma and I came up with. Unfortunately, our guesses did not produce answers.
  1. It might be one of the flowers that Grammie gave us last year with some irises.
  2. The plant could be a wildflower, since we planted some seeds in that spot a few years ago before the irises.
  3. It also could be from a seed that a bird dropped. We have a lot of birds come to our yard.
  4. Our flower is 1½ feet tall.
  5. The flowers are somewhat like that of the petunia and the morning glory. (We had morning glories there many years ago...)
  6. The leaves are narrow and jagged.
Can you help solve our mystery? Please comment if you can help us identify this plant!