Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Fall

I can't believe the leaves are falling already. I raked a huge pile for Bailey to jump in after school yesterday -- leaf pile pictures are an annual tradition around here. Actually though I hate fallen leaves. We have 5 massive maples along the side of our property line and leaves are tracked in the house all winter. There are so many it is impossible to rake or mow them all -- and they've really only begun to fall the trees aren't even beginning to look bare. At least someone enjoys them.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sweet stuff

I haven't been doing much in the garden other than a bit of clean up -- though the weather this week has been sunny and in the 80s. I did dig some sweet potatoes though. Most were small to normal size, but one was huge and round -- It reminded me of the size of a baby's head for some bizarre reason. I've baked one and made a couple into fries. I may try my hand at sweet potato pie -- Bailey may eat it if she thinks it's pumpkin.

Other than the sweeties the garden is pretty much over. The new seeds I planted are coming along - except for the lettuce (I can't raise a second crop of lettuce apparently -- it's the second year in a row), I still need to put in the garlic. I bought a head, but can't remember where I put it. Hopefully the weather will hold until the weekend so I can do some major clean-up. I may put some solarizing covers on some beds to kill the weed seeds and soil bugaboos. I heard it can work if you leave them on all fall/winter/early spring. If I don't work this weekend, the next time I turn around it will be Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

High water

We lucked out compared to others in Louisville metro -- just about an inch of water in part of our unfinished basement and some water leaking through the bathroom window because of loose flashing. The creek is just rushing -- the power of water is really amazing. A huge fallen log that had gone most of the way across the creek -- about 3 feet in diameter and about 10 feet long is totally gone I can't see it anywhere for the about 100 yards I can see downstream. There are giant rocks upended and moved from their usual spots as well. I took Bailey down for a little object lesson in why she should stay away from the creek after it rains.

The other side of this is that a heavy rain lets me do my little good deed for the day. I usually take the opportunity to pick up all the broken glass and trash that washes downstream. It is amazing the stuff people toss or that has turned up after years -- I swear I found a piece of an old cast-iron porcelain clad sink as well as a whole grocery bag of glass. When we first moved here I pulled about a pick-up load of scrap metal - bedsprings old fencing, a bicycle and tire rims from the creek. I'm always amazed there is still more. I figure every piece I remove is one less accident waiting to happen. One bonus is there is a mysterious supply of old bricks that keep washing downstream -- perfect for the path I am putting in between my blackberry rows. Oh, and yes, that is someone's patio cushion hanging in the tree.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Florida Weave

Note to self -- next season try the Florida Weave trellising technique on my tomatoes. There are no tomato cages to deal with and prop up half-way through the season and the only cost is a few metal T-posts and twine. Of course, I have to grow decent tomatoes to make a good test of the method. If you want to see the method in action (and a truly awesome veggie harvest) check out the Dirt Sun Rain Blog.

The new blogger beta has turned into a bit of a pain. All of a sudden I can't comment on any other blogs. I'm not sure if it is that I just can't comment on non-beta blogs or what -- but how can you tell, and I write the comment and try to publish before it tells me I can't. Hopefully it won't continue too long -- since once you've gone beta you can't go back.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Feels like fall

Check out this cool spider I found
in the front yard today -- luckily before I stuck my big fat hand in to
pull weeds. I've never seen one like it. It was quite large too.

We had a few days of heavy rain last week and on the other
side of it, the weather has begun to cool down a bit. I went out and
pulled weeds and cut off big hunks of creeping phlox that were creeping
down over the driveway and put some in the drainage ditch next to the
road and some other "problem areas. I love that stuff -- you don't even
have to dig, just toss some on a patch of dirt and water it in. I also
noticed that my winter garden seeds have sprouted -- and have done it
much more quickly with better germination rates that in the spring. It
remains to be seen whether anything will come of them.

Aside from cooling the temps, the rain did one other thing -- caused my goliath of a hyacinth bean vine to snap my stick tuteur.
It's all in a heap, though the vine itself still looks perfectly
healthy and is still reaching up. It reminds me of this book I just
finished -- The Ruins by Scott Smith -- about this creepy and sentient vine that takes over this Mexican mountain top and has developed a taste for tourists.

I also did what I thought was a good days work this past weekend and got my shed cleaned out. Organizing can be so satisfying -- unfortunately it all goes to hell again too quickly. Before and after pics.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fall Garden

The weather was perfect on Sunday so I spent the day in the garden -- I'm still feeling it in my arms. I got out the Mantis to till up a few beds for fall seeds, but the stupid thing was not cooperating. Steve got it to start long enough to till the large bed, from which I had just pulled a ton of potatoes. Then when I took my hand off the throttle to move it to the next bed it stopped and was just as hard to start. It stopped again and I couldn't get it going again. I'm not sure if it's the carburator, old gas or what. I'll have to drain it and put in fresh gas/oil mix and see. I hate picky maintenance stuff. I wish stuff would just work when you wanted it to.

At any rate, I got 4 beds done and seeded -- a few things I know probably won't work but hey - I had the seeds. I put in some Pinetree Gardens Winter blend lettuce, Meridia Overwintering carrots, Swiss Chard, Detroit Yellow Beets, Peas and I had a packet of 45 day Cool Breeze cucumbers, so I thought I'd give a few of those a shot -- you never know. I may set up a little coldframe for the lettuce. I had saved one of my shower doors when I took them off the tub for just this purpose. It has a nice handle and everything and is about the right size for the small bed I put the lettuce in. I still need to put in my garlic and put down some foxglove and forget-me-not seeds that you're supposed to start in the fall.

Another benefit of working in the garden was that it helped me figure out what to do with it next year. The perennial area is so blah -- I think it has too much shade. The butterfly bushes grow like crazy though, so I think I will just go with it and do another couple of those and make that entire area bb bushes with just a few daylilies in front and move the rest of the perennials to the front when I move out those sickly roses to the back where they will get more attention.

Oh - I also made my Jalopeno Relish -- I ate some with cream cheese and crackers and it was quite good -- kind of sweet and sour. I used about 30 green and 10 red jalopenos and 2 onions chopped (my hands still sting this morning) put them in a large pot cover with boiling water and let sit 5 minutes - drain and return to pot. Add 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups sugar and 3tbs salt, bring to a boil, boil 5 minutes. I then put all the peppers and most of the liquid into my food processor for a few pulses, because I wanted it a bit finer, then loaded it in a big jar. The sweet & sour effect was quite nice with a little bit of heat -- and it wasn't too fiery even with all the peppers. The original Ball 1922 recipe called for 12 green and 12 red bell peppers and 12 onions but was otherwise the same.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My favorite summer treats

I just realized that summer was almost over and I hadn't made my favorite thing --- a Tomato and Cheese Galette from my Baking With Julia book. It has a crust with corn meal in it and almost a full stick of butter. The topping is monterey jack with slivered basil leaves topped with slices of plum tomato. So good. My tomato plants are so sad now though, I just hope I'll get enough to make another one. The Jolly Elves are the only ones producing.

I also made some more Jalopeno poppers. And I found a recipe for pepper relish in a 1922 Ball Blue Book that I'm going to adapt for hot peppers -- I have a full colander of peppers and I can't possibly eat that many poppers (well I could, but I'd regret it). Also in the book was an interesting recipe for pickled Nasturtiums -- the seed pods left after it flowers can be pickled and used as a substitute for capers.