Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sunshine, Summer, and Memories

Sunflowers are bright and cheerful. They bring to mind running barefoot in the sunshine on warm days. A cold glass of lemonade under the shade of a big tree, enjoying what summer has to give. Last year, the brother of a good friend of ours grew sunflowers for the first time. Acres and acres of sunflowers. Just before they flowered, he passed away after a tough battle with cancer. Now when I see a field of sunflowers smiling at me, not only do I think of sunshine and summer, but also of a hardworking young farmer, sending love to his family through bright yellow sunflowers.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My First Harvest Monday!

I wanted to take part in Daphne's Harvest Monday. This is some of what I got from the yard this week: basil, zucchini, scalloped squash, grape tomatoes, my first Fourth of July tomato, and.... drum roll please... lemon verbena! We bought a little plant a few weeks ago at the farmer's market, and now it's big enough to cut a little from. Oh, and I got a dozen eggs. That counts, right??

I got enough glads to make 2 bouquets for the house, and give some to my neighbor for her birthday.

This is my first year for growing onions. I pulled them all out and started drying them. All the pictures I'd seen of onions drying were in the sun, so that's where I put mine. Then we started thinking, and I went onto the internet, and found that we should have them in the shade. We lost a few, but not bad.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Version of Weed Control

I'd like to share with you my current method of weed control in my garden. It's fairly simple and straight forward, and a whole lot faster and longer lasting than any other method I've used in the past. These pictures are all in the walkways, but I use this method inside the beds before I fill them up, too. It's the same principle, you're putting a thick layer on top of the weeds, to stop the growth. Sort of like the old way of putting down black plastic, but with cardboard instead. And as a bonus, it will decompose and won't be a mess in 5 years like plastic. This will stay pretty much the same for the whole gardening season. I will need to pick a few stragglers, mostly along the edges, but other than that, I'm set!

My before picture. I almost didn't show you this! It looks pretty bad.

The first thing to do is get out the weedwacker and go to town with it! When I've had a big area, I use the lawn mower, but with these pictures, I used my trusty little weedwacker. The next step is to get yourself a boatload of cardboard and lay that on top of the weedbed. It's easiest if you sprinkle it with the hose at this point, just to sort of let the cardboard relax a little. You could also use newspapers, probably 5 layers or so, but cardboard is just so much easier. And I figure, if I can do anything to shorten my work load, I'm all for that. Then toss some chips on, and you're good to go!

This next picture is what it looks like, all finished.
Nice, huh?

Where do I get all these chips you ask??? We have a bunch of eucalyptus trees, and they drop leaves and junk all year. This makes great stuff to put in the garden. These two gents have so kindly offered to help me out! They chip everything up so that when I go barefoot, the sticks won't hurt my tootsies. Isn't that sweet???

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Busy, Busy!

Today started out early. Well, 6:00 is early for me. Hubby woke me up when he left for work, and he'd already been up for well over an hour. Anyway, I headed out to the garden, since it was supposed to be another hot day today. David helped me for a few hours, when he begged me to go inside to work. "Mom, you know how much I love helping you in your garden, but there are so many things for me to do inside! Why don't you let me go and do the stuff you hate to do, just because I love ya so much?" How could I say no? Besides, between the two of us in just a few short (cool-ish) hours, we were able to accomplish so much. Let me show you!

This is the before picture of my pea and onion bed. They were both done and just taking up room.

This is what it looks like now, weeded and fertilized! It's ready for beans to be planted this evening. I forgot to soak the seeds last night, so I popped them in a bowl this morning.

What's that? Where's the onions??? Here's some of them, drying in the next row, with the squash.

The, "before picture" of the OLD cabbage bed. A few days ago, I dug up and tossed out the old cabbages, but it still needed lots more help.

Here it is now, with cardboard down, weeded, fertilized, mulched, and posts put in for the new cucumbers. I'm really late with my cukes and beans this year, and I'm hoping I haven't waited too long. These will get planted tonight, too. If it's not too hot, I'll go find some fencing and put that up after the seeds are in.

Oh, hey, do you remember that about half of my raised beds are new this year? It's helped out alot with keeping the weeds down in the beds. Yesterday, I took my trusty weedwacker to the weeds between the beds, and then put down cardboard and chips from our eucalyptus. Check this out!

And last, but certainly not least, here's what I'm going to be picking tonight. I hope they taste good. It's a new variety I'm trying called 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream!

It's officially summer. I've made four (4) batches of ice cream. Well, actually, David and I have made 4 batches. He's great for watching over the ice cream while it's working. I make up the ice cream, and give it to him in the canister with the dasher inside and the lid on top. He's in charge of the rest; putting in the ice and salt, then helping it along when it doesn't want to go around.

We make it in the laundry room in my laundry sink. So much better than making it outside, with a hand crank freezer, with somebody sitting, and somebody cranking. When the kids were little, if I wanted ice cream, I would have to crank and sit at the same time. It was usually when hubby was at work, and unless you've got over about a hundred pounds to put on top, it moves all over. My little guys were no where near that much, and I was....... well, let's just say I was a little over that. Anyway, I have an electric one now, and I make ice cream like there's no tomorrow. Ummm, yeah. We also tend to inhale it like there's no tomorrow. I was a little slow in getting a picture of the finished product.

Want the recipe?

Vanilla Ice Cream
(makes 4 qts.)

1 cup fake eggs - eggbeaters or store brand
2 cups sugar
2 cans evaporated milk
6 cups fat free 1/2 and 1/2 (oxy-moron!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons vanilla

Stir together fake eggs and sugar until combined. Add in the rest of ingredients and mix well. Pour into canister and freeze in ice cream freezer.

Chocolate Ice Cream
(makes 4 qts.)

1 cup fake eggs - eggbeaters or store brand
1 1/2cups sugar
2 cans evaporated milk
4 cups fat free 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 to 3/4 of a 24 oz. bottle chocolate syrup ( I just start squeezing!)

chocolate milk to fill line

Stir together fake eggs and sugar until combined. Add in the rest of ingredients, except the chocolate milk, and mix well. Pour into canister. Find fill line on canister, about 2" below top. Pour chocolate milk up to fill line. Freeze in ice cream freezer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Barbequed Steak and Zucchini

My last day of school was Friday. Life is good. Then Geoff went to the grocery store after work and found some steak on special. So, he bought it to barbecue for dinner over the weekend. What a guy! You know what's even better? He's been doing the barbecuing! I didn't think life could get much sweeter than that, and then we went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday and found the nicest looking zucchini. Barbecued steak and zucchini, AND it's summer vacation? My world is just about perfect! Here's a glimpse: steak marinading in a bbq base- (enough for leftovers tonight!)

Zucchini marinading in a beer/olive oil, herb base-

Tools of the trade-these are "must haves" -- Little tongs, big tongs, really big platter, oil for seasoning the grate, and a glass of wine.

Nice grill marks, dude!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Just F.Y.I..........

Like most folks, I carry a cell phone with me. Except today. And yesterday. You see, on Sunday, my cell phone decided it was going to give up working. Geoff ordered another for me, and it's on its way, but for now, I am out of commission. Unless I use the house phone. Or my email. Or I could drive to someone's house. Or someone could drive here. Or walk. Or ride a bike. But, please don't suggest I use David's phone, because I already did, and I busted that one, too. Maybe it got too hot the day I didn't have pants with pockets, and I stored it in my bra. Wait, that didn't sound right. I had pants. They had no pockets. Anyway, now Geoff has to order another one to replace David's, after he ordered another one to replace mine. So for the next few days, if anyone needs me, they will need to use our house phone. Or email. Or a car. Or a bike. Or a homing pigeon. Wait, scratch that. We don't have any homing pigeons.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The "To Do" List Is Longer Than The "Done" List!

We've been pretty busy around here, and I'm happy to say that we have some things finished. Wahoo! But, I can't get too excited, because we have more (lots more) to do. Not that we have to do any of it, mind you. We just want to. Would you like to see some of the things on my list??? Yes?? Ok. I'm told we should always start with the positive, so here's some of the things that we have accomplished. Now we can just sit back sipping our iced tea enjoying life in the fast lane.

My tomatoes. For now, they don't need anything except to be watered. The beds have been made, filled, planted, and the supports are in. Or up. However you like to look at it.

My peas. I am picking my peas about every other day to stay ahead of them. I consider this a "done" sort of thing, even though they need some attention, because they are giving back more than I am putting into them right now. And besides, I'm writing this, so that means I can make the rules! Or so I tell myself. Anyway, here are my little peas.

This is in our backyard. It used to be lawn, but we have evolved to a more civilized state. (ha!) Now, we have raised plantings, and decomposed granite that we walk on. This is one of the raised beds. It has lavender and milkweed. Yes, milkweed. It's a variety native to California, and absolutely beautiful. The seeds pop out of puffballs that look like elongated cotton balls. Very cool.

So now, here are the "to-do's". See all those apples on the ground? That's only a minor portion of what needs to be with them. We have 4 apple trees, and one of them has decided to bear like never before. Since we have a college student living at home, one of the things he has so graciously volunteered to do is thin the trees. What a guy!

This pile of dirt is where we used to have a burn pile. We aren't burning there now, and it has just sat there waiting for us to move the ashes and leftover metal. We decided it would be much easier to pile dirt on top and cover it with flowers. It's got a few more loads of dirt coming.

My swiss chard. I don't know what's gotten into them, but they're all bolting. Yes, all of them. I need to cut them all down to the base, and let them start over. I have alot of chard. Just a little job that will take me a few hours some morning. Just not today. Or tomorrow.

Thank You, Veterans

We went camping on Memorial Weekend. My dad is getting on in years, and I drove him up in the cushy car. It was a nice drive, and we enjoyed each others company. On our way out of town, we stopped by the cemetery. It was beautiful. There were flags on each grave, and large flags lining the roads in and out of the cemetery. There's something about our flag that really gets to me. Then to see so many, well, it's just a sight to see. The symbol of our country, and all who have fought to keep us free.