Browsing Archives for May 2009

My garden is just about planted.  I have one corner left that still has room for something…  maybe a cantaloupe?..   A pumpkin?..  A tiny patch of corn?  

Probably not corn.  

My one experience with growing corn involved a horror movie scream coming from my own mouth each time I ripped open a tender ear only to find exploding black mold, exploding green worms, exploding maggots, exploding smut, exploding blobs, exploding slime, exploding green worms covered in slime, blobs, mold and maggots.  I have never been so traumatized by a vegetable and I refuse to EVER do it again.

Which brings to mind a penetrating question…  

Field Corn?  

Yes or No?  

Do you like the wooden tasting stuff?  

My mother, my husband, and a few other people in my life known for their immense capacity for long suffering like field corn.  Myself?  

NO.

I think field corn tastes like old glue and sawdust.

Except without the flavor of old glue or sawdust.

Why not just eat a shoebox instead?

Or a tire?

Or a shingle… freshly ripped from your roof?

It would taste just the same.

As to my garden, except for that one corner of NOT CORN and the center raised bed, I am finished!  I planned to put strawberries in the center patch, but I think it might be too late.  Instead I am going to plant some flowers in that area.  This allows me both the pleasure of looking at something pretty while I garden, AND the added benefit of tormenting the Country Doctor by putting flowers in a vegetable garden.  

So far, I have planted tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes.  I grew several varieties from seed and then at the last minute I decided to do a ‘test patch’ of some of the varieties we sell at the Garden Center.  It will be fun to compare how they grow and how they taste.  Also, next year when customers ask me which tomato is the best… I will have a real answer instead of a made-up answer.

Customer – Which tomato is the best?

Me – Uh… this one!

Customer – That is a cucumber.

Me – Oh!  I mean this one!

Customer – That is a cabbage.

Me – Oh!  Sorry!  The light is SO BAD IN HERE!  Let’s see… tomatoes… uh… Oh!  I like this one!

Customer – That is a light switch.

Me – Dammit!

In my test patch,  I planted a Jet Star, a German Johnson, a Burpee, a Better Boy, and a Big Boy… I think…  

Next year… I will be known as the TOMATO ANSWER GIRL!

I have also planted eggplant, peppers, onions, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, green beans, a single watermelon plant, and a small variety of herbs (green basil, purple basil, and oregano).  I grew most of these plants from seeds, except a few hot peppers, the herbs, the watermelon, and my tomato test patch.  

I have also mulched around most of the plants with layers of newspapers, placing a thin layer of cotton burr compost on top of the papers.  Has anyone ever tried this?  I hope the newspapers don’t break down too soon.  I would hate to have to re-mulch in the heat of July.

 

 

We planted a small orchard.  

 

 

 

 


Six small fruit trees grace the back forty in stately lines of three.  We are considering adding a row of three fruit trees each Spring.  We planted two apples (a Fuji and a Jonathan) two pears (a Summercrisp and a Bartlett) a Northstar Cherry and an Elberta Peach. The trees in the orchard bring the total amount of trees the Country Doctor has planted this Spring to one hundred and thirty one.  Last year he planted closer to one hundred and fifty trees.  He must be slowing down.  Most of the trees he planted are seedlings from The Kansas Forestry Department.  He buys them in bundles of twenty five.

 

Here is a Hackberry…

 

And a Burr Oak…

 

And a Lace Bark Elm…

 

And a Redbud…

 

Okay… actually they were all the same tree… but who can really tell at this point?


He has also planted twenty five Spruces in five different varieties from Carino Nurseries.

Planting the garden and the orchard has been a lot of work, but very enjoyable.  I am glad my vegetables are finally in the ground, because I am ready to plant some flowers!  Deep down, I am far more interested in the pretty plants than the practical ones.  I know we have to eat, but isn’t it all a little meaningless without a floral arrangement in the center of the table?

Happy Gardening,

Rechelle

On Sunday,  I grilled some steaks for lunch and made a salad to go with it consisting of grape tomatoes from a plastic box, red leaf lettuce, and half a bag of ready to eat spinach.

I don’t normally buy ready to eat salad fixins’

There is something appalling to me about ready to eat salad fixins’.

Which really makes no sense at all.

I mean, I am not exactly a food purist.  

My family has been known to subsist on microwave popcorn, cold cereal, and Ramen noodles for weeks at a time.  It is just that making a salad… tearing up some lettuce… slicing up a cucumber… tossing in a few grape tomatoes… this is not hard.. this is not rocket science.  Must it be made simpler with bagged salad greens?

So I don’t buy bagged lettuce.  I buy lettuce and spinach that requires a few tears… a few weak and shaky slices with a knife… before they can be added to a bowl and slathered in salad dressing.

I also don’t eat store bought salad dressing.  I am not sure that there exists another product in the aisles of the grocery store that can be so uniformly bad tasting as store bought salad dressing.  All of them.  Every last one.  I usually have a few bottles of ancient store bought salad dressing in my fridge that I haul out for company.  But for myself, I make my own. 

I use those little Hidden Valley packets.

Yes, I know…   

Not very impressive.

Did you really think it would be?

Really?

Seriously?

Because if you have ever witnessed a single feat of impressive cooking on THIS BLOG, I think you were actually reading a different blog.

Nevertheless!

I went to the store to pick up a few items for our lunch and I was hoping to find some spinach.  Alas, our small town grocery store didn’t have any fresh spinach.  The store only had bagged spinach.  So I bought it.  

For the first time EVER I bought bagged salad.  

I brought it home, opened the bag, poured it onto the other salad parts that I sliced and diced myself.

It was delicious.

Tonight for dinner I had big plans for a nice family dinner.  When I got home from work, I made a chicken and rice casserole that my boys love.  I then sped off to teach an aerobics class and when I came back home, the Country Doctor was loading up all my children in his truck to take them all to various baseball practices.  No one is here to eat my chicken and rice casserole.    I don’t really feel like eating a chicken and rice casserole by myself.  Instead,  I am eating the rest of the bagged spinach and the rest of the grape tomatoes and the rest of the salad dressing that I made myself.  

AND IT IS DELICIOUS!  

I am also watching The Office on Hulu!  We have not ever been able to watch television shows on the internet because our connection has always been far too slow.  Well guess what!  It isn’t slow any more!  The Country Doctor signed us up for a faster internet service.  I can watch The Office on the internet now.

MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!

I can watch The Office on my computer and eat bagged spinach and grape tomatoes from a plastic box and salad dressing from a Hidden Valley packet.  

My life is pure bliss!

And yet it also seems to be tanking at the same time!

Someone send help please!

Tipsy in the Garden

May 12th, 2009

Wait!

Not Tipsy in the Garden!

I meant Garden TIPS!

A few Garden TIPS from my father-in-law Joe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the way to Joe’s garden.

Inside there is a bountiful harvest of garden wisdom.  

 

 

 

 

A few years ago Joe started planting his tomatoes and cucumbers inside of these sunken buckets which were placed inside of his raised beds, which were placed inside of a circle of wire mesh. 

You might need to be a little tipsy to go to all this trouble for the sake of a garden fresh tomato, but there is a method to Joe’s madness.

Joe cut the bottoms off of those buckets (which are laundry soap buckets that he collects from the nearby nursing home).  He fills the inside of the buckets with new potting soil every year, thereby eliminating all sorts of soil diseases that could infect his plants.  This method also saves on watering, as Joe can train his hose on the inside of each bucket and not waste water on the surrounding dirt.

Joe also stuck several Tums tablets in the soil around his tomatoes.  The Tums tablets add calcium to the soil which prevents ‘blossom end rot’ on his tomatoes, and also keeps his tomatoes from getting indigestion.

 

 

 


 


Besides gardening and farming to support his large family, Joe also maintained oil wells for a living. Because of this, he is a skilled welder and he often puts these skills to use in his garden. Here is a garden implement to which he added some length and reinforced with a second support.

 

 

 

 

 


Here is a support he made for his pepper plants. When the plants get tall and heavy with peppers, they can rest upon the metal grid.

All of these welded tools in Joe’s garden caused me to ask him…

“What if you want to grow a garden and don’t know how to weld things?” 

“You can’t grow a garden if your can’t weld.” Joe replied.

 

 

I think I may be in trouble with this whole gardening thing.

 

 

 

 

As many folks do, Joe uses a raised bed system to garden.

No welding required.

 

 

 

 


To keep the weeds down on his paths between his raised beds, Joe stapled fabric weed barrier from the edge of one bed, across the walk way and onto the edge of the other bed. He then covered the fabric with mulch.

 

 

 


Joe keeps his green onion patch going longer, by keeping a small store of extra onion sets and replacing every onion that he picks with a fresh set.

 

 

 


Joe always washes his hands before he harvests his lettuce so that there is less dirt to wash off later.

I hope to visit Joe’s garden later in the season to show you his shocking asparagus beans.

…and to see if the Tums worked on his tomato’s indigestion.  

 

Dreaming of my own garden fresh produce someday soon,

Rechelle