Thursday, October 2, 2014

Anthropology of Lettuce

Red Romaine
The fall vegetables are in various stages of their life cycles.  A closer study will yield a wealth of information for gardeners of every level.  Don't be intimidated.  Fall vegetables are hard to kill.  This information is only going to fine-tune your garden.  For simplicity's sake they will all be called lettuces.

These lettuces were planted about a month ago.  Remember post about fall seed suggestions?   These were some of the same varieties that supported my garden center each fall and were sold wholesale as bedding plants in Charleston.  If you bought watercress bedding plants from Abide-A-While, Hyams or Cross Seed in Charleston, they came from my greenhouse.

A few differences in technique have slowed the lettuce development in the non-professional world.  Here 'ya go:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Farm Is Possessed

I can see David Bowie in the kale: It's the Ziggy Stardust David Bowie, with the spiked hair:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Leek Haiku

Leeks runneth over. 
Leeks make soup in cold weather.
Leek seeds are on sale.

Sometimes things fall into place and motivation sprouts.  Stringy, little, pale sprouts of motivation.

Other sprouts get picked off by the chickens before they even break ground.  So I took the seed trays to the 'burb and put them on the patio.  The no-chicken patio.  The boys set up the little greenhouse that I still can't figure out a use for, but it's cute.  And I went on the internet to order a packet of red romaine seeds.

$45 dollars and four days later...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chicken Saga Continues

The chickens spend their nights in a dog crate in the kitchen of the farmhouse.  Only three chickens remain.  We don't know what's been killing them. They may have multiple predators. 

Last night, we were going to have a relaxing night of camping at the farmhouse. The farmhouse is a lot like a cabin.

After snacks, some 3DS games and reading we hit the hay about 11:30.
The chickens started sneezing around 1:15.

I thought about sleeping through it, but this wasn't our usual setting so I grabbed the phone and went to check it out.

The cat was lurking in front of the chicken cage and I hate to admit this, but it looked like he had disembowelled a rabbit there.  I really thought about going back to bed.  It looked to be a big rabbit.  Human size?  Something made me want a closer look. It. Was. A. Snake.

In the kitchen.  Sorry I didn't...

Monday, July 7, 2014

One Little, Two Little, Three Little...Leeks

The Leeks today.
It happens to the best of us... when we don't do the proper research.

Leeks are biennial.   Oh the harbinger of lost opportunities:  the Leek.

Sadly, I have no pictures of the leeks.  Guess why?

The story is one of persistence, hard work and sacrifice.  The leeks' persistence, hard work and sacrifice.

Since it is the very hottest part of the summer and the tv networks air their old Christmas specials, I'll do the same.  (Am I the only one who gets a mild panic attack when John Lennon sings, "Another year over.  What have you done?"  For crying out loud man, get off my case!) 

To celebrate a couple cool mornings (64 this morning) let's discuss leeks.  Leeks are a winter crop.  So call this planning and pretend it proves that we have it all together.  The seeds also might be on clearance since leeks are completely out of season.

The leeks we tried...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"You can eat WHATEVER YOU WANT!"

Some things are bigger than us.
Personal rant:
Here's what is rubbing me raw:  Homeschooling.  It's certainly not for everyone but I don't understand the vitriol people spew when the subject comes up.

I did a quick Google to see if there is a reality tv show about homeschooling and found this blog where so many of the comments were hateful and conformist.  Today I hit angry reviews of this homeschooling book I really like.

Control issues?  Personal insecurities projected onto others?  Just take what you like and leave the rest.
I think a glimpse into our lives would help people to quit asking me, "Are you going to homeschool again this year?"  Curiosity is probably the root of the question but it chips away at my already fragile uncertainly.  Any homeschool parent who isn't conceited hears: "So, are you keeping your kids chained to the furnace again this year?"

It is a giant, Costco size can of worms with no bottom.  I cried when I filled out the forms to take them out of school.  It is so impossibly hard to do something so unconventional without training and so much is at stake.  But it has worked better than I ever imagined it would and...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Once there was a way...

This has nothing to do with this post.
Some obstacles are just too big to overcome.  To keep progressing, you have to find a way to get around them.  

Another unrelated picture.
The riding mower is broken, dead, unfixable, don't bother asking... something about oil and the engine block... now it pours out of what looks like a big crack.

I can't possibly mow it all with the push mower so...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

If You Got 'Em - Plant "Em

Plant everything you've got.  Do it now.  The prime of the planting season is here!  Don’t take a day for granted.  Those tomatoes aren't going to plant themselves!  You get a lot of chances in life to start over and here's another.  Plant your favorite vegetable today, or at least the seeds and bedding plants. Because...
IT'S SPRING! and the weather is nice, for now.

My statistics professor once asked, "If you got 'em...what?"  She kept asking and it was about to slip out - what I was sure everyone was thinking: If you got 'em, smoke 'em.

Turns out statistics professors never think of that.  They think of: If you got 'em, plot 'em.

Well GARDENERS would put it this way: If you got 'em. PLANT 'EM!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Get Your Children to Behave - Parts 1&2

Here is a post from my other blog: How to get Your Children To Behave - Parts 1 & 2

It's not about gardening, but it is really important, so I recommend it to everyone.  These are lessons I learned the hard way and some from psychology.  Learn form my mistakes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Good Riddance to February

Start small.
Compost those romantic expectations.  February is over!  Go buy seeds.  TODAY.

Now is the time to carpe diam!  Time never flies as quickly as it does in the Spring in the garden.  Take a couple days off and you've almost missed the planting window!  Lucky for you, Bonnie Plants never does.

It's always time to plant something.  The window to plant cool weather vegetables in the South is really short.  Get those cool weather plants started today.  Here is my plan:

Friday, February 28, 2014

Plant Seeds in March, That Should Have Been Planted in February

If you haven't started your seeds, not to worry. has freezing temps forecast through to the middle of March.  This won't be one of those years where you are convinced the cold weather is gone and then get another freeze.  This year, the cold weather is never going away.  No deception on Mother Nature's side this year.

Go ahead and get started.  The average last frost date is getting ever so imperceptibly closer. IMPERCEPTIBLY.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Breath of Spring

The light at the end is Spring.
Did you feel that first breath of Spring?  Between the continuing sobs of Winter?  That is when you know it's time to start seeds.  If that's your thing. 

The seed selection at your local garden center or hardware store is overflowing with tempting experiments.  What more could you hope for?  Purple cauliflower?  Got it.  Yard long beans?  Got 'em.  Red  okra?  Yep.  Details on exactly what order to get those done? Tomorrow. 

First, every good garden needs a fluffy foundation.  By all means, get those seeds.  But don't leave the store with babies and no bedding.

The best thing about the pre-Spring days tempting you to plant things that can't survive that last cold snap, the cold snap that will come even when it's been warm for weeks and you are convinced this year will be different?  It gives you the energy to do what the plants need before they nestle all snug in their beds:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Traditional Valentines Day Breakfast

Almost any food can be cut out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and made into Valentines Day food.  Check the internet for pictures of heart shaped fruit slices, eggs, toast, pancakes, waffles.

But only the best will do for my munchkins.

Here is the recipe for heart shaped Pop Tarts:...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Chocolate Strawberries (Valentines) Day!

1/2 a king sized, nuke for 48 seconds
Chocolate strawberries are super easy to make.  Forgive my bluntness.  Here's the quick recipe to give you a jump on the directions before Valentines Day (That's VD day for some of you.)  I'll add pictures later.  Of the chocolate strawberries.

One half of a...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Stay Brave, Greenhouse Owners.

It doesn't seem possible when the monster heating bill just arrived and you've spent more time stuck on frozen roads than breathing fresh air.  This is the challenging part of owning a greenhouse.  Intellectually, obviously, Spring will arrive.  But the wait is long and lonely and so full of work with no reward in sight.  Customers rarely see this part.  The scary, up-to-the-eyeballs debt where everything is hocked and more invoices are arriving, thirty days net.  Then employees have to be paid.  I don't miss it.  Glad I sold that job to somebody else.

But there is a warmth in the humid greenhouse that can't be replicated with simple heat.  That warmth is probably...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Think Spring. But You Don't Have to Plant yet.

The carrots are dormant.  

The garden and field are an inch under water.

Spring is coming. Really.
The chickens have abandoned the coop and I can't find their new nest.

A little bit of sunny, warm weather last week almost made me crawl out of my den, but the sun scared me back in.  Don't be surprised if we have four more weeks, or months, of winter.

Vegetable selection in the garden this year is shifting noticeably.  I could pretend it's proper crop rotation and that's true, but here are the real reasons:
  • Bugs and thieves really like tomatoes.
  • I don't like processing tomatoes.
  • Thieves really like watermelons too.
  • Bugs love squash.  Hey, somebody must love it, right?  Bugs.  Squash bugs.  And squash borers.  Try to think of some boring jokes and imagine them here.
It is time to...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

How to (pretend to) Grow Winter Vegetables

Why yes, you HAVE seen this picture before!
Leafy greens are THE super food.  Look like a trendy health nut by following these steps:

1) Get credit for every one of them you eat by posting pictures of them on your plate.  You don't have to cook your own.  You just need to take a picture of some on a plate.  You don't really even have to eat them.

2) Get credit for the same greens again by posting pictures of the plants.  Pull this off  by...

Less Is More

Enough is all you need.
Half a trash can full of wasted food and I really have to let this out:

Buy less stuff.  Plant less stuff.  Eat less.  Have a smaller house, smaller garden.

That's right.  I said plant less stuff.

This is a complicated post brought on by the tomatoes I am still picking from the vines I hung up in the coat closet.  And all the food I threw away when my family came for the holidays with their own food and ideas of what we should eat.  There was too much food.

Every person who has ever hosted a Thanksgiving or Bunco knows...

Friday, January 10, 2014

What To Plant In January

Wheatgrass.  Nutritious.  Grows fast indoors.
January is a tough month for gardening since January weather is usually not conducive to planting anything.

The temptation starts to build for growing seedlings now, but unless you own a commercial greenhouse, this is a waste of money.  Especially soft plants with weak immune systems like basil, rarely make it even in a commercial greenhouse.  Here's the one exception I've grown: habanero peppers.  I started these in the summer once for a fall crop.  Those things grew so slowly I had to overwinter them in the greenhouse before they were big enough to transplant into the garden.  Some other crazy hot pepper was with them.  Don't remember what it was.

Die-hard plant junkies jonesing for a fix should try growing sprouts or wheatgrass.  If the weather is warm for a week or so, plant a few cold-hardy greens in the garden.  There is a neat carrot project you can start in a soda bottle.  I'll post that when it grows.

What you CAN do in January that will bring you a breath closer to Spring:...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chicken Autopsy Results

White Out is/was the white chicken on the right. Drunk.
Chicken labwork update!  The initial necropsy reports came back immediately.  The Poultry Lab sent the other test results a couple weeks ago.
The tracheal swab and histology reports on White Out the chicken showed her to be a healthy bird with a few fatty deposits on her liver.  

I didn't even realize she was a drinker.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Did It! (Cheap Easy Meals Part I)

That one on the left.  Is fast.
The last chicken wouldn't get in the dog cage and it was 15 degrees and so we made a quick grocery run.  I was saying bad words in front of my kids.  I had had a headache all day and I was out of ibuprofen.  SO, I stepped away.  To the grocery store.

They had a bin of individual Twinkies and you better believe I was in it.  Those frosted, chocolate cupcakes too.   And a 2 liter bottle of ibuprofen on sale!

Beside the checkout was a display of...

What Does The Cat Say

Our house cat is a feral tabby named Amelia.  She wants to play but she's scared.  She wants to get pet but she's scared.  She's scared to go outside.  She spends a lot of time under the bed until everyone's asleep.  She begs for people food but doesn't like it when we give it to her.

Don't be Amelia.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Git Your Garden On!

With the snow piling up and the mercury dropping, it's a Hometalk, Pinterest kind of day.

Sorry I haven't been more diligent with the gardening posts, it's just that, well, it's cold. 

I'm so tired of seeing posts by garden gurus claiming to ache and yearn with unrequited desire to...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

This year I will follow-up on opportunities.
I will thank people more often.
I will have more patience.
This year I will invest more time in myself.

The rest of you are on your own.  Let me know how that turns out for 'ya.