Saturday, October 8, 2011

End of the Summer Garden

The garden is winding down and it's just about time to plant garlic again, after the first light frost, which should be here shortly. One of the great things about gardening is that we get to try again in a few months and the mistakes or lack of knowledge we experienced this year will help us for the next.

This morning I picked radishes, butternut squash and Spanish Melon. This is the first winter squash type we've picked. I'm going to attempt to cut into it and bake it. It certainly has a hard stem and outer coat, guess I'll try the electric knife. I just learned to enjoy radishes this year. The key is to pick them as quickly as possible before they get bitter. Radishes are ready to eat in a short time - 23 to 30 days compared to 80 - 100 days for melons.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Busy Summer

Wow what a busy summer. Don't ask me what I've been doing to stay so busy. I wouldn't be able to come up with an impromptu answer. It recently struck me though that I could stay busy in the kitchen all day.  I like to cook and try new recipes and I have a keen knack for using every bowl, pan and utensil within reach, which means a lot of quality time spent with my kitchen. Ha Ha.  

Like many in the Midwest, we're having somewhat of a drought so the garden is not as productive as usual. We are so thankful for what we have harvested.

I have rain barrels at the downspout of one of the garages. They fill up if we get even a half inch of rain. I mostly use the rain barrels for a little flower bed that's down hill from the barrels by connecting a garden hose that will gravity drain right into the bed. I have said in the past that I prefer manual productive labor instead of exercising, but when it comes to carrying water - good manual labor that it is - I try to avoid it.

We have had a nice quantity of cabbage from the garden. Here's a recipe I have made several times.

Cabbage Soup

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 quarts water
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 head of cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) stewed tomatoes
A dash of Italian seasoning

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic. cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in water, boullion, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir in cabbage. Simmer until cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes. Return to a boil,then simmer 15 to 30 minutes, stirring often.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May Has Finally Arrived

Spinach has grown really well in the hoophouse

My new very sturdy garden cart
Spinach in the garden waiting patiently for sunny weather

I'm so happy to see Spring arrive if only by the calendar. We, as well as many others, are having a turbulent change of seasons. It's still wet and cool in our garden but the hoop house is doing very well. With this being our first season for the hoop house, we keep making mental notes of what to do differently next year. Cool season plants - spinach, lettuce, radishes, green onions, etc. have done so well we're thinking we'd like to have another bigger greenhouse for next year. It would be so fun to grow most of our vegetables.  

I have made some mistakes with the planting and learned some things. Now I know how important it is to label seeds as you plant. Similar to baby people, seedlings don't look alot like their grownup selves. I thought the kohlrabi was broccoli until the bulbous parts started growing. Since we are transplanting nearly everything, they start out in little mini-blocks. After the seed germinates and gets true leaves then they are moved to a bigger block and then out to the greenhouse until it can go in the ground. They get moved around quite a bit and in that moving some have temporarily lost their identity. I'm now using markers, which I think will help. 
My dear husband made this beautiful garden cart (in the picture) for me. He got the plans from this website.  This is a very well-thought out cart. It's easy to push and heavy duty enough that I can ride in it which means it can handle quite a few pounds. Ha Ha
Have a good day,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Salad from the Greenhouse

We've enjoyed a couple of salads from the greenhouse. When we get the planting schedule figured out and get to know the cool season and winter crops, we should always have home grown salad, but this being one of the first, it was pretty exciting.

This salad has green leaf lettuce and red leaf lettuce, arugula, Baby Bak Choy, Radish, Onion, Tokyo Bakana, Mazuna, Spinach and onion. We read about the Asian greens from market grower, Eliot Coleman's books. He farms in Maine and grows salad vegetables all winter. He describes his greenhouses as cool and cold. He keeps one house just above freezing and the others have no supplemental heat. The idea is to plant vegetables that like to grow in winter temperatures. Tomatoes and melons and green beans will benefit from growing in high tunnels (also called hoop houses and plastic covered greenhouses) in the spring, summer and fall, but not during winter. I am really enjoying learning about and trying lots of new vegetables.  One of my favorites has been a red leaf lettuce called, "Amaze".  I'll have to get a picture of it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Design Wall

My mom explained how to make this quilt years ago. She used newspaper for the foundation. I'm using muslin so I don't have to tear it off. It's a scrap quilt, but I have bought a couple of remnants since starting it. My color choices are iffy. Sometimes I like them and then other times, I wish I would have put other colors together.

I saw the preview for a training DVD (on Knitting Daily) about putting colors together. I'm going to research that and consider purchasing. Maybe you get better with practice, but a little self-help / training couldn't hurt.

Check out Judy L's blog to see what other quilters are working on   here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Here's our little (10' x 30') greenhouse that my husband designed and built. Pictures of wind collapsed greenhouses prompted us to put ours here behind the shop for some wind protection. 

There are three beds on one side and benches along the other side. The structure is made from top rail (the pipe used for chain link fence). You bend the top rail using a pipe bender. We got our pipe bender and greenhouse plastic from these folks in Texas. Lost Creek
We presently have one layer of 6 mil greenhouse plastic covering the frame, but plan to add a second plastic layer with an air space between the two for next winter. That white fluffy stuff in the picture is the cover that is pulled over the beds at night if it's below freezing. The fan at the end is thermostatically controlled to open the vents at the other end when the temperature reaches the set temperature (76). This winter when it was sunny but below freezing outside it would be over 80 inside. 

There are many hardy greens that will grow right through the winter. We had some this year and hope to have the greenhouse full next year.  Spinach, lettuce, radishes, green onions, arugula, mache (corn salad) are a few that will grow in the greenhouse with no additional heat. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Design Wall Monday

I recently enjoyed my first quilt class.  It was so much fun. Sue, from my daughter's church taught a room full of mothers and daughters and granddaughters how to make the Log Cabin block using Eleanor Burns, Quilt in a Day book. I needed a lot of help to get started, but by the end of the class I was able to see the progression of putting the pieces together to make the block. Granddaughter, Elyse, who's 11,  got some practice sewing and 9 year old granddaughter, Abigail sewed for a minute, but was lured away from the sewing machine by the other children. 

The next step is to finish the blocks. Then I'll decide how to finish the project. I'm thinking it will be big enough for a recliner throw. I use those frequently; a snugly throw and the recliner. Ha Ha.  

To see more Design Wall Monday inspiration visit Judy L's, Patchwork Times. here's a link

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I really like these popovers. My dear husband does not care for them. He'd rather have a hard crusty bread like the bread in the "Artisan Bread 5 Minutes a Day" book I just ordered.

These are so quick to stir up, I can put them in the oven while preparing the rest of a meal.


1 Cup Flour (Whole Wheat Pastry Flour or White Flour)
3 Large Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 Tablespoon butter for pan (approximately)

Mix together the flour, eggs, milk, and melted butter until nice and smooth. I use the food processor but you can also do it by hand.

Put a little bit of extra butter in each cup of the pan and put in the oven to melt.

When the butter in the pan is mostly melted, fill the cups about hallway full.

425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 for 15 - 20 minutes.

I use Wilton's large size muffin pan, but you can use a regular muffin pan or a popover pan.
This bread provides some protein so you can serve these with a large salad and have a complete meal or you can also serve with "meat and potatoes" if that's what the rest of your household likes.

Monday, February 28, 2011

UFO Finish February

Here's my completed scarf that I listed in the UFO challenge at Judy's blog.

These two yarns independently, were not my favorite, but when I knitted them together, I liked the way it turned out - just a simple garter stitch (knit every row) scarf.

I'm glad I finished it and I've worn it with this navy jacket. Yeah!! for another finish!!

Friday, February 11, 2011


My little seedlings are growing. This is a variety of lettuce and Asian greens. After they germinate on the heated mat and get a little bit of green growth, they are moved to the 2 inch block of soil.

Due to the freezing weather, these plants are continuing to stay in the house. They would like more sun instead of the  big window and grow lights. Fortunately, I hear that we should get some warmer temperature and sunshine real soon.  

I"m looking forward to getting to know some new vegetables. Many of the garden farmers who are growing in hoop houses are growing Asian greens, all kinds of lettuces, beet greens, Tuscan Kale, etc.and harvesting at baby size to get a tender, sweeter salad mix. In less than a month I plan to be eating baby salad greens from our small unheated hoop house.

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's a snow day or two or three or a week

We're having some beautiful weather in southwest Missouri. Not much fun to be out in it. I keep reminding myself that after winter comes Spring.. Yeah, for spring!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

UFO Finish

I am such a procrastinator. I love starting and starting and starting again. Everyday starting something new is so fun, but eventually that will get the best of you and you'll have UFO's (UnFinished Objects) everywhere. There comes a time when you have to make it to the finish. Here's my first finish for the UFO Challenge that Judy ( has given us.  So happy with a finish. Can't wait to start on the next one. Hey, that's another start. Maybe I'll start - grow to like these starts - finishes.

This little lap blanket is going to Operation Quiet Comfort for an injured military soldier.  

Monday, January 31, 2011

Planting Flowers

I really like using soil blockers to get seeds started. No need to put on outdoor clothing and I don't have to worry about my seeds taking a ride on the wind into Arkansas or Illinois. The kitchen table is my preferred place for planting. I can sit down and be comfortable as I plant my garden. In a later chapter of this story when seeds have become baby plants, they will be transported and transplanted in their permanent home in the garden or greenhouse.

To start the process, I pour the packet of seeds into the saucer. The pencil is moistened in the bowl of water and then dipped into the seeds carefully to only pick up one. Touch the tip of the pencil to the moistened soil blocker and the tiny seed sticks to the mini - seedbed. One seed planted.

I'm planting lavender (Lavendula augustifolia) in this photo. I don't think I could have too many lavender plants. I just love Lavender. Even though it is slow to germinate (14 - 28 days) and it may (or may not) flower the first year, the good part is that it's a perennial in our zone. Once it's established it will grace your yard and garden for many years. A little mulch blanket for winter and it will produce that lovely scent and flowers each summer and fall. Cutting the flowers as they are produced will encourage more flowers.

What to plant next? I'm thinking salad.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Garden Peas

We're continuing to busily plant and work on the greenhouse garden. Seeds to transplant to the outdoor garden will be next. We had a small set back with our first batch. Our soil mix was not so good. The seedlings were coming up very poorly. I bought a professional (organic) seeding mix to make the mini blocks from and the seeds have been germinating within days of planting.

We're experimenting with the greenhouse (meaning - we're learning as we go). I'd like to try a little of everything in there. The plastic cover of the greenhouse is like moving 500 miles south. So we used the dates for planting 500 miles south from the USDA Zone maps calculating with an Excel spreadsheet. The first thing we've transplanted to the greenhouse are peas. Garden peas are hardy annuals which can be seeded in the garden 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Today I plan to transplant onions and radishes.

It's a nice sunny day here which makes it feel like Spring is on the way, but the weather forecast says we'll be back into the 20's next week. The peas will be glad to have that greenhouse cover and a blanket for keeping warm.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soil Block Planting

I have 420 seeds planted (Jan 9 & 10). Using the soil blocker method, it takes a small amount of space at the seeding stage. We've transformed our basement into a garden plot for the time being. Using a heated mat set at 70 degrees ( spinach, lettuce, peas, pansy, bok choy, arugula, cabbage, Sweet William and onion), spinach has started to germinate at 3 days.

Experience tells me, I must keep good records so I thought I'd put info here as well as in several other places. The specific varieties and planting dates are written in my garden diary in a Word document on my computer and also in a table / chart.

I hope to plant several hundred more onions today, which will go in the garden around March 20. Plotting out planting and harvesting dates seem to make the year go by quickly.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting Ready to Plant

We're new to greenhouse planting and just found out from Eliot Coleman's book that you can use the planting dates for two zones south. A quick calculation in the spreadsheet says that we can start planting several vegetables - Celery, spinach, peas, beets, kale, cabbage and salad greens. So now, we're scrambling to get the seeds started in the soil blockers which will then be set out in the greenhouse. This is also the date to plant onions (seed) for spring planting in the garden. We're hoping to sell at Farmer's Markets or here at our farm stand this summer. How many to plant - that is the question. I'll start with a couple hundred onions and will plant more next week. This is so exciting - I can't wait to see everything green and growing.