Sunday, June 30, 2013

Green Beans for Dinner

Burgundy beans turn green when you cook them
We had green beans for dinner.  They were the entree, no sides.  Pile of green beans on a plate.  I did snap the stems off and saute them in butter with garlic, but not for long.  They were still crunchy.  They were very good, if you like raw green beans.

The remarkable part of this story?  Nobody in my house thought twice about it.  I called, "Green beans are ready!" and the kids got themselves plates and piled some on.

Of course...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Plan B for Basil!

A lot of bad words were said today and the ones I didn't spew I just thought.  Every single one I know, I used either out loud or silently.

The basil has downy mildew.  The picture on the left was taken YESTERDAY.  We should have enough to fill a bathtub.  Gone in two days.

Son. of. a...

This is going to require a lot of diet Mountain Dew.  I might even spray it on the plants.  I think I will.  Maybe vanilla Oreos can help them too.  It's the crutch I'll be using for the next month.

Just last night on #seedchat I tweeted...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tomato Cage Fight (Testing) It's Down to the Wire!

Giant radish was hidden in the tomatoes!
It's bad luck to say it, but all the tomatoes are still standing.  Too early to call a winner for support, but cheap lumber is in the lead.

On the outside we have the classic wire tomato cage shaped like an upside-down cone and made of something that looks like I might hang my t-shirts on it.  I didn't stab it into the ground in its factory-made condition.  This isn't exactly a scientific experiment, my tomatoes really need support.  So, I...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Got Locus?

Nat Geo takes awesome pics!
The basil is growing beautifully which can only mean a swarm of locus is heading our way.

Strangely, this is cicada year!  Coincidence?  I think not.  Do they eat basil?  The cucumbers look really beautiful too.  Anybody would eat those.

A little research illuminated that my concern for the basil was misplaced.  Seems I should have had more concern for the 17-year cicada swarm!  Everybody from National Geographic to a professor in Ohio is recommending them as a crunchy treat, like popcorn but with more protein.  More like shrimp since you pull off the legs and wings.

The dishes don't sound half bad:  Banana Cicada Bread, Southern Cicada Tartlets or Sizzling Chili Cicadas.  Sound interesting?  Here is the free online cookbook to expand your culinary adventures.

But for all the hoopla made...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Never Trust a Tomato :Wheel-of-Fortune Round

Wheel-of-Fortune could not be more frightening.  Vanna is turning letters each day and the answer is becoming obvious: T-O-M-A-T-O-E-S.  The tension is rising as each day clicks one wedge closer to the jackpot.  I hear the chant, "Don't get greedy. Don't get greedy."  But I am powerless to stop the wheel turning.  I don't want to spin again, but the tomatoes aren't ready.  And we know where the conflict arises:...

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Robot Order and Other Regretable Impulses

They took away my "Buy With One Click" button  when my 6-year-old bought that $700 robot and I cancelled the order.  :(

Sometimes I run my life that way:  impulsively and not efficiently.  

Today I am going crazy impulsive and making a to-do list, but tomorrow I will be back to wrestling the tomatoes into some cages without regard to what is on the list.

This week, for just the five business days of this week, I am going to make a plan and follow it.  Maybe more than one, but nothing scary: 
  • The meal plan - saves me money every time I make one!
  • The organize one thing plan - Oh yes! the "educational activity pile"
  • Chip out of the expenses plan - You won't believe this list!...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Never Trust a Tomato Day3: Pole Beans?! Please help...

Can you even see the tomato cage?
One of my first employees was a 90-year-old woman who walked two miles to the greenhouse each day.  Her deep insights stay with me even today:

"Gardening was invented to give old people something to do."   


Her "messed up son" who managed to hold a job, live on his own and had never been in jail.

Ahh, the standards of yesteryear...

I feel confident...

Friday, June 21, 2013

(Tomato) Cage Fight Day 2 - Never Trust a Tomato

Plant spacing is another of my problems...
In addition to the very trendy pallet wood, I also had a few "classic" (read: old) tomato cages made of wire.  They matched better with the tomatoes that have only been untended for a month rather than the two month giants.  It's not called procrastination.  It's called succession planting.

Wrestling the tomato was an Ultimate Fighting challenge.  I was winning, I was losing.  We were both on the ground!  I was sweaty and bleeding.  Finally, victory!  I got a couple weaklings into the skinny ends of the cages.  

Again, I am wondering at the design of these cages.  Why?  For the love of humanity, WHY?!  It's like voting in a Presidential election: Are these really the best we can come up with?  

Because there was no possibility...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tomato Cage Testing Day 1 - Never Trust a Tomato

Aunt Pam bought these cool teepees for my kids at a craft fair.  Imagine my surprise when I saw their doppelganger while web searching for tomato cages!

Besides little boys, I also grow herb and vegetable plants and it's time to set some limits for the tomatoes.  I don't stake them because they don't usually deserve it.  This year, they are picture perfect and the picture is about to fall over and break on the ground.

Never trust a tomato.

"No! Don't cage us!"  The tomato plants scream, "We want to be free!"  When the chickens say that, they have their eyes on the broccoli.  It's all a ploy with the tomatoes too. They will stand up while I'm looking but the next morning I find mushy tomatoes under them. They will keep up appearances until you are sure they are upstanding. They are not. Cage them.

However, tomato support systems are so lacking in actual support, they suck my motivation like the last Red Lobster biscuit.

This year will be different.  (Ya right.)  I will put them through the ringer.  We will find a few good exoskeletons. 

All great projects start with...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Betty's Tomato Plants

I have a cousin named Betty who I've never met, but I'm helping her grow tomatoes.

The story I was told about my closest uncle was: he was married three times and each time he started over by having a baby girl and naming her Rachel after his mother.  There are some tricksters among my family.  Turns out he was married twice and did not name any of the children by duplicate names.

My cousin's name is Betty.  She lives two states away from me and I haven't met her yet.  But we have met virtually and she is growing  tomatoes in pots.  She's got a cousin in the business - that's me.  (wink wink)  Alas I do know how to grow tomato plants!

She's not to be confused with the Betty who lived next door to the first greenhouse and had a tomato plant growing contest every year with her husband.  I tried to give her advice too, but she never took it and he did until he was really unbeatable.

Nor is she the Garden Betty.

Here's my easy tomato advice for Cousin Betty and for you:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Taters 2: Reaching Out from the Pantry Floor

Potato plants flowering!
Ice trays and lunch boxes were piling up in the bottom of the pantry, but when had I tossed the long straws down there?  I kept bumping them for a couple days.  They kept reaching up to attack me.  That's when I realized:  Another bag of potatoes is growing in my pantry.

Everybody has something hiding in their closet!

This predicament never bothers me as much as it should although this time it was a little creepier.  I still had room in the raised bed where I had planted the last bag of potatoes.  Yep.  This was the second bag of potatoes I had grown in the pantry during this Spring planting season.  Think of it like getting tomato seeds started early!

But wait!  If you read now...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chickencatraz Point of View

Chicken Busters
The chickens flew the coop, dug up all the watermelon plants and some tomatoes.  Grrrrr...

I spent $50 on lumber and hexwire to raise the height of the chicken yard.

The kids dubbed the new plan "Chickencatraz." 

I tried to calculate if the money in the checking account would cover the supplies.

Early the next morning we went to work... 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Balcony Vegetable Garden

Strawberry jars work better, but strawberries aren't picky!
Expanding our "Little Apartment Farm" series - we will move from the windowsill to the balcony or porch and make a sizable dent in the food footprint!  A few containers outside will level the playing field for most families because even house dwellers don't often expand past what will fit on a porch! 

You are bound to benefit from this part of the plan!  Once established, almost every dinner can have a serving of vegetables from the garden!  I was so thrilled when I first started doing this, I dragged all my containers inside when winter came.  With a cheap grow light bulb in an old lamp, they limped along until Thanksgiving, still producing enough vegetables to snack on.

Since we want payback for our efforts, here are the big producers:

Monday, June 3, 2013

9 Plants for a Windowsill Vegetable Garden

We are making pesto from a tray of basil plants.  Let me be clear: the basil plants are still growing in the little square, black, plastic pots in the black, plastic tray from the greenhouse.  We have fertilized them and watered them and made pesto a few times.  The realization dawned on me a couple days ago that...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Million Dollar Dress and the Onions.

When I was still young and beautiful, I learned that if you want to look like a million bucks, you need a million-dollar dress.  If you buy a cheap dress, you had better have the million-dollar body.  If you don't, you will need a million dollars worth of undergarments to pull it off.  Even youth and beauty can't always make up for a cheap dress.

Enter: the clearance onions...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Garden Planning

Today the kids and I finished the watermelon we bought yesterday.  Suddenly I realized we need to plant watermelon!

Luckily, I haven't finished planting my garden!  Procrastination is my friend (again)! 

I have so many old packets of seeds, my goal this year was really to empty the seed boxes.  I hadn't given any thought to what we eat most, what I have the energy to cook, and which things to process for storage...