Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pumpkin Bumpkin


My daughter helping clean out the pumpkins.

Easily distracted by the chickens.

Separating out the seeds for future plantings.

One pumpkin turns into this:

Times * 2.

And this:

Times * 10.

We also feed what I call the pumpkin guts, not the seeds, not the fruit part but the stringy guts part to the chickens. They ate it up.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cucumbers




Our cucumbers are coming in.

Hot tip: Pick them early. Its better to get smaller delicious ones. They can get a bit bitter the larger they get.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Fall-esque Harvest




We picked some corn!

We had the two smaller pumpkins on the bottom shelf of a cabinet in the kitchen. Then the larger pumpkin fell off the vine and we brought it into the house while my daughter was asleep. When she woke up the next morning and saw it on the shelf she laughed and laughed and laughed. Then she carried it around the house for an hour giggling the whole time. Why are pumpkins so funny? It makes me love the pumpkins.
I can't motivate myself to clean them out, skin them and boil them just to make some out of season pumpkin bread. Its so much easier to make zucchini bread. Maybe I need another use for the pumpkins. Roasted seeds are pretty decent. My husband thinks we should carve jack-o-lanterns and put them on the porch. Our neighbors love us.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moon and Stars Watermelon




Our first watermelon!

This is a heritage seed from Baker's Creek, the Moon and Stars Watermelon. They thought it was extinct at one time but discovered a farmer growing it and now it has grown in popularity. It is named after the yellow spots on the leaves and rind. I think the leaves are pretty and I am beyond excited for homegrown watermelon.

"You don't have to be tall to see the moon." African Proverb

Amaranth




While I was searching for a replacement for my lettuce, I completely overlooked all the amaranth growing in our garden. We planted it just because it looks interesting but the leaves, when they are small, have a really mild delicious taste similar to spinach. The baby leaves make for a great salad. It is drought and heat resistant and we grew about 10 just by my husband shaking out a seed head a few months ago against the back fence and forgetting about them.

You can also harvest the grains on top which are higher in protein than other similar grains. We have not tried this yet. When we are feeling daring maybe we will try this recipe I found from the website Chet's Day, Health and Beyond:

To cook amaranth boil 1 cup seeds in 2-1/2 cups liquid such as water or half water and half stock or apple juice until seeds are tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Adding some fresh herbs or gingerroot to the cooking liquid can add interesting flavors or mix with beans for a main dish. For a breakfast cereal increase the cooking liquid to 3 cups and sweeten with Stevia, honey or brown rice syrup and add raisins, dried fruit, allspice and some nuts.

Amaranth has a "sticky" texture that contrasts with the fluffier texture of most grains and care should be taken not to overcook it as it can become "gummy." Amaranth flavor is mild, sweet, nutty, and malt like, with a variance in flavor according to the variety being used.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chocolate Mint



Another good find from the Festival of Flowers, two chocolate mint plants! I have been on the look out for these since my daughter ate up half the plant on the farm tour. They need more water than regular mint so we are planting them under our hose facet that drips, which we can't seem to fix. The best thing about this mint is the taste which, sadly, doesn't transfer over the internet. Come by and try it sometime. Also, I just realized, we did not come home with a single flower from this Festival of Flowers.

Side note: Why doesn't any company make biodegradable plant tags? These little white plastic plant tags always end up in my compost pile. I think its an idea who's time has come. Copyright dirtiest kid in the world.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pineapple Tomatillo



I am no longer green with tomatillo envy. At the Festival of Flowers, I was able to pick up a pineapple tomatillo! You wait until they fall off the vine and they you can eat them straight. The saleswoman said they taste sweet and her son goes around gathering them up and eating them before she gets a chance. You can also make pineapple salsa with them. Hooray for finding something new. I popped it into the ground immediately.

Artichoke Flowers






How can one plant taste so delicious and be so beautiful?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Festival of Flowers


While I was spending my Shades of Green birthday gift certificate, (thanks to my awesome sister-in-law) I ran into our neighbor who works at the nursery. She was telling me about the Festival of Flowers this Saturday. Today she stopped by and dropped off some free tickets for us! It really made my day.

I have never been but it looks like a lot of fun. It is free for kids 10 and under and only 5.00 for everyone else.

They have gardening seminars throughout the day, Texas' largest plant and seed exchange, a huge plant sale, farmers market and an organic gardening panel. I won't be able to make the organic gardening panel at 2, which sounds amazing, because of prior commitments. John Dromgoole will be one of the presenters. I know I go on about Shades of Green because its close our house and a cute, little organic place- but The Natural Gardener in Austin is the end all for organic nurseries. It is worth a trip up to South Austin to check it out if you have never been. John is also the founder of the Lady Bug Brand and the place has a donkey. Come on! Its amazing.
Anyhow- back to the plant sale- I am very excited to check it out tomorrow, and am wondering if I can gather some seeds up to exchange - here are the dets:

Festival Of Flowers
Saturday, May 23rd
9am-5pm
Alzafar Shrine
901 n. Loop 1604 between Stone Oak and Blanco
5.00 adults, kids 10 and under free
Free Parking

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birthday Bloom Day


Echinacea

I am a member of this website, Blotanical, which is a great place to find a million other garden blogs if you are ever interested. Anyhow, on this site, many of the writers do a monthly post on what is blooming in their garden. It falls on the 15th, or maybe 16th, of each month. I have wanted to participate since I heard about it months ago, but as I am a bit, hmm lets say absentminded, I have forgotten every month. I clearly am incapable of remembering the right day. So since it is my birthday today (!) I am making my very own birthday bloom day post. Here what we have flowering in our garden today:

Coreopsis

Pretty Petunia In My Mostly White Garden bed


Bat-faced Cuphea


Cana Lily


Cosmos

Russian Mammoth Sunflower- It currently stands about 1 foot over my head.
Central Texas Standby- Plumbago

My Bogainvilla.




Blackfoot Daisy


Diamond Frost





The almost an artichoke flower.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chicken Snacks





When we toured Santuario Farms, I noticed they were feeding their chickens lettuce plants that had gone to seed. After saving a ton of lettuce seeds for next season, I pulled up some plants and feed them to our chickens.

Hot tip: Chickens go crazy for lettuce seeds!

They devoured the seeds, then moved on and ate up the lettuce. It was so entertaining watching them, that I ended up pulling all the old lettuce to feed them.

Now we have a cleared spot in the garden. I am running out of ideas for what to grow next. From a Central Texas planting guide for May, I see we can plant Okra, cantaloupe, warm season greens, southern peas, sweet potatoes and watermelon. We are already growing everything but the okra and warm season greens.

Oops- I got excited about the possibility of warm season greens and I just realized warm season greens = chard. Haha. OK so the only thing we aren't already growing is okra. We saved okra seeds from last year so time to pop them in. Any other suggestions? Specifically suggestions for a summer lettuce substitute would be great. I'm missing a crucial salad ingredient and chard just isn't cutting it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fun with Composting Mulch


We got a nice cool front here in town with a bit of rain this weekend which makes for nice gardening weather. A cool front around here means highs in the 80s. So we are taking advantage of it while we can and decided to mulch some beds with some almost finished compost. We pulled open the side of the bin and while we were working around the yard, our dog climbed in. My daughter thought that was a swell idea so the she climbed in too.
After the dog got bored, my DKIW built a chair into the compost. Here she is sitting in her dirtiest kid in the world throne. Don't call CPS. Thanks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Berry Monster




This might look like a photo of nothing. Nope- this is a photo of where the blackberry I had my eye on should be. I had been waiting patiently for the berry to become just ripe. I had decided the next day it would be perfect. When I saw it was gone, I started ranting and raving to my husband about the birds and how we need to find a way to protect my berries. To which he replied, "It didn't even taste good- I think we need to water more. It was too tart."

Hmmmmmm I'm keeping a close eye on these. Clearly no one is to be trusted.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Echinacea





The purple coneflowers are starting to bloom also. I have taken Echinacea as an immune system booster when I was getting sick in the past so I researched online how to harvest and dry it yourself. It involves cutting both some of the roots and the flower heads to dry- but it says the plants should be atleast 3 years old and ours are only 2 so I guess it will have to wait.

Bat Faced Cuphea




This is one of my favorite flowers blooming right now. I love the name and it has taken off in the side garden. These were started about two years ago as small 4 inch transplants and they seem to love their spot. I have also read hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the pollen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What a Difference a Month Makes

Here is our big veg garden now:

Here it is one month ago, April 16th:
You can't see much detail on account of the corn and the pumpkin vines so here is what we have in the mix.

Pumpkins

Our best friend zucchini. We are slowly working our way through all your great recipes. This is a great zucchini bread recipe:
Texas gardens need Texas veggies, Jalapenos:Eggplant. I'm pretty sure we don't like eggplant so I am not sure why my husband planted about 10 million- hopefully I am wrong about this. We will be accepting eggplant recipes soon.


Beans climbing up their stick trellis.

Nothing says bbq like summer corn!
Soon we will have more tomatoes than we know what to do with, but now I am ready for some red ones to show up.
To think last month I was excited about our first zucchini. What will next month bring?