Friday, October 16, 2009

Herb Market This Saturday

Just wanted to let everyone know that the famous herb market is this Saturday at Pearl Brewery. Lots of local vendors selling herbs and other unusual plants. They will also have speakers throughout the day. I'm excited about herbs:pathways to health, green cleaning, drip irrigation and demos on tool sharpening. (Ok that last one is for my husband.) Here's the whole schedule. It's all free! 9-5. Stop by the farmers market while you are there.

Tomatoes: Going Rogue

A few of our tomato plants had fungus on the bottom of the stems. We had to pull them up so it wouldn't spread to the other plants. We still have a few heirlooms going strong in the garden.

These are not those tomatoes. These are cherry tomatoes that have gone rogue. They just took over a random spot in the yard near an old cherry tomato spot. We did nothing to encourage them. Sometimes (most times?) nature can do a better job then we can. This year we are going to try building low quick hoop houses over our tomatoes to keep them in the winter. I read about it Mother Earth News if you would like to try it too.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


In the past, I have never been a huge succulent fan. My in-laws have a great new cactus garden though that I really enjoy. So when the geraniums in our stone planters started dying off in the heat, I thought I give succulents a go. Every time I see the little guys on the way in the front door- they make me happy. Succulents like well draining soil. I mixed potting soil with sand and a handful of compost to get them started. They also like to be snug in their pots. These guys aren't too snug yet- but as they fill out, they should be happy.

Sunflower Forts Are So Last Season

Amaranth forts are the new sunflower fort. Quick,tall and tasty. Best of all- the birds don't eat my amaranth seeds. My daughter runs to the fort yelling, "Imma go hide from Mama!" I pretend to look for her while I weed or harvest veggies with her giggling the whole time at my incompetence.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Purple "Green" Beans

It is a bit odd the first time you bite into a purple green bean. If you can get past the color, they taste exactly the same as green green beans. These can be great for kids who enjoy wretched inventions such as blue ketchup or gogurt or other things not normally found in nature. If you cook the purple beans- they lose their fun color and look like plain green beans. We just eat them raw. In fact I can't get my daughter to stop eating them. If you can't get your kids to eat their veggies- I think you just need to grow some in your garden and tell the kids not to pick any.

"I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it."- Alice Walker

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Please Tell Me You Are Not Harvesting Your Own Grain

We are harvesting our own amaranth grain. When a friend saw our card table grain harvesting operation in the dinning room she said , "Please tell me you are not harvesting your own grain." I guess that puts us over into the too far gone category. It is an operation born of necessity. We were planning on using our corn to make corn meal for carbs for our week experiment. But the pumpkins over took the corn and now our corn crop is stunted. I need a carb plan B. Enter Amaranth. We have an over-abundance of the stuff. It grows like a weed. I was reading an old timey book that stated back in old timey days- they just harvested the grain by beating it over a chair to get out the seeds and then threw the wheat and the chaff into a light breeze to sort it. Lets say the first experiment with a light fan breeze and throwing the grain into the air was... how shall I put this... completely unsuccessful.

So here's my new and improved method.

Cut the tops of the Amaranth off the plants. By the time they are light brown they have already dropped most of their seeds naturally- so try to catch them before that. Karate chop the tops and then shake out the seeds.

Find a large piece of cardboard. (Ours is from the back of my daughters jumbo coloring pad.) Place a thin layer of the grain and chaff and put it in front of the fan air.

The fan will blow off the chaff and keep the grain seeds in place.

Dump the chaff into the compost bin and repeat until all the seeds are seperated. Homegrown grain!
Cooking the amaranth successfully ... now that's still a work in progress.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bringing Tea Time Back

I always enjoy tea but I seem to forget about its existence often. Lately I have been reading about how to make homemade teas out of the herb garden. Today I made Lavender Mint Tea. 1 part lavender to 2 parts mint. Couldn't be simpler. Lavender is suppose to calm nervousness and help insomnia. Mint is said to calm the stomach and help digestion. Best of all it tastes fresh and delicious for an early fall day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Harvest Day!

We harvested half of a dinning room table worth of food today. It is wonderfully rewarding to be able to eat meals from what you grow.

Here is our first mason jar of southern peas. We let the bean pods dry on the vine and when the beans feel hard inside we snap them off and shuck them when we have the chance. We are saving them dried for our week long experiment in November. Trying to live out of the garden for a week has really motivated us to learn more about how to save food. I feel like a pioneer woman when I successfully store for the winter. I am currently working on our amaranth grain. *They* claim you can make popcorn from the seeds - I have only had mixed successful with that so far. Anyone else ever tried it? I'll let you know when (if) I get it all figured out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tigger Melon

Here's a melon of a different color. Tigger melon! The rain (over 5 inches!)prematurely split one of our little tiger melons open. We ate it anyhow and it was really delicious. They have pale flesh and taste a bit like sweet honey dew. These came from Bakers Creek Seeds. Before they are ripe- they look like small watermelons and then bang! bright orange melon.

Nature is crazy.

Well There's Flooding Down In Texas

We got the pond we have always wanted in the back yard!

Everything has been drenched by the thunderstorms for the last few days. We are happy- the plants are happy- the dog is not so happy.

My daughter, after almost two years on Earth, finally learned the joys of puddle jumping!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Our Big Veg Garden Looks Like Today

Melon Patch with Chinese Beans
People have been asking if I can show the whole vegetable garden in one photo or post. I tried to get a good photo of the whole thing but couldn't really capture it. So here are a string of photos of our main veggie garden. *I just reread that paragraph multiple times because I haven't finished my coffee yet and cannot comprehend if it makes sense. Onward with the photos!

Southern Peas and Bush Beans

All The Broccoli on Earth- Currently giving away transplants to anyone who wants to dig a few up for their own garden.

Herb Garden
Lemon Grass, Corn, Pumpkins

Cucumbers, Climbing Beans, Edamame, Toad House
Zucchini Fields for Ever

We have a lot cooking over here in the garden right now. I will try to get all the buddies left out of the main garden in another post. We also have tomatoes, black berries, satsuma oranges, cabbage, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, sugar snap peas and a few kinds of squash.

Coffee. Garden. Coffee. Does a good morning need anything else? ~Betsy CaƱas Garmon