Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I hope everyone is having a nice New Year's Eve. With the new year year hours away, it is time to think of your garden resolutions. Here are three of mine for 2010.
1. Add more items for cutting--- In particular, I have pre-ordered some roses. I love cutting flowers from my Graham Thomas rose, and I really want to add more. Therefore I recently ordered three roses; Jubilee Celebration, Fragrant Cloud, and Queen of Sweden. They should fulfill my desire for fragrance, large blooms, beauty, and flowers for cutting.
2. Add more fruit--- The cost of fruit at the grocery store can be outrageous. In particular, berries. Oh how I love berries. Four dollars for a tiny container is just too much for me to spend on berries weekly. Therefore I recently ordered berries!
Strawberries--- 100 Fort Lauramie everbearing strawberries. These will go in flower pouches, a strawberry pot, and along the newly removed edge of the sidewalk.
Grapes--- I've never tried growing a grape before, so I ordered one Reliance vine. A seedless, red grape with disease resistance to cover the entire raised porch railing.
Blueberries--- Tied with strawberries for my favorite berry, I just had to find room for blueberries. I was going to order some half-high bushes, but decided to sacrifice my stone wall space (where I typically grow my tomatoes) in order to grow three large, highbush blueberry bushes. The varieties I chose in order of ripening were Patriot, Blueray, and Chandler. The benefit of having them near the stone retaining wall is that they will be easy to net upon fruiting time.
Raspberries--- After discovering that my one and a half year old loves raspberries, I had to find some room for raspberries. One each of Fall Crop (yellow) and Caroline (red) everbearing raspberries. I am still deciding which plants to move in order to accommodate their spreading habits.
Blackberries--- As requested by my dear husband, I ordered a thornless, upright blackberry bush named Navaho.
3. Add more fragrance--- Two years ago I planted an Acapulco and Salmon agastache and absolutely love it's strong lemon fragrance. The scent always made my day. I've decided that I need to incorporate more plants that will do the same. I have moved my Golden Zest rose closer to the agastache. Their fragrances will compliment each other well. In order to add fragrance near the back porch I will plant the Fragrant Cloud rose. I also plan on starting Ellagance lavender, a perennial, from seed to form a small patch by the front door to greet visitors.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Time For Giving

Today I went through all of my seeds. Seeds packets that completely fill my crisper drawer of my refrigerator. I sorted out all of the seeds that I do not think I will use in 2010. I have them packaged in a separate one gallon Ziploc bag.

Now I need to figure out what to do with them. I considered posting them for free on Craigslist or on a garden website, but I want them to go to someone that NEEDS them. Maybe I will find a local community garden or garden club to donate them to. Perhaps my son's school would like to use them for a school lesson. A local church or food bank might find them a good home. Granted a one gallon bag of seeds isn't much, but for someone that would like to try growing some of their own flowers or food, it might mean quite a bit.

I suggest that we all go through our seeds and share them with our family, friends, and communities. There is so much potential in each one of these seeds, but they need a chance to grow. Don't let them wither away, because you might plant them "someday". Let someone that NEEDS them plant them today.

Still not convinced....

Other Reasons to Share Your Seeds:
1. Germination rates drop year after year.
2. Giving to others will make you feel good.
3. More importantly, giving to others will make them feel good.
4. Freeing up the seed space will give you an excuse to buy some new varieties.
5. It's Christmastime!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baker's Creek 2010!

Check your mail everyone. I got my 2010 Baker's Creek catalog this afternoon! Let the fun begin....

My Favorite New Toy!

If you like making pumpkin cookies (or other cookies from your harvests) I found a must-have item. I didn't even know these existed until a friend of mine mentioned them. For less than $20 I purchased two aluminized steel cookie sheets with silicone liners. I will never bake without silicone liners again. Ever. I wrote more about the product on my Recipe blog if you are interested and posted the link to the item. They say they'll be delivered by Christmas. Right now they are on clearance, so get them while you can. A great gift and a must-have for any cookie baker. I love these pans! I couldn't burn a cookie on them if I tried!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The feeders have been very slow for the last few months. The birds have found plenty of natural seeds, bugs, and berries on their own. It wasn't until the snow storm that we had this week that we started to get good bird activity again. Yesterday around 10am it began. Blue jays, white-throated sparrows, house sparrows, tit mice, black-capped chickadees, dark-eyed juncos, male and female cardinals, and an unidentified woodpecker in our old oak...oh my. All within the span of about a half an hour. It was a flurry of activity and the kids were enjoying it as much as I was. Here's what we saw through our window.

Monday, December 7, 2009


This is the same iris from the previous post. It's now two days later. It's a symbol of resiliency despite temperatures below freezing for a large part of the last two days.

Irises and Snow

On Friday this beautiful iris opened its first of two flowers. Isn't it beautiful?
This is the same flower Saturday while we were accumulating approximately 2-3 inches of snow. Our first snow of the season here near Reading. I guess I should be glad that at least one of the flowers had a chance to open...briefly.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bagging Blossoms?

I know it's a bit early....or very late, but I wanted to share how I bag blossoms for seed-saving. This is a technique that I use primarily for my tomatoes and peppers.

The Easy Method:
Many large craft stores such as Michaels and A. C. Moore carry bags made of tulle that have drawstrings. Buy these in light colors and cinch them around your blossoms before they open. They come in different sizes, but I would definitely recommend the largest bags they have. These can be a bit pricey, but there's a way to make them more affordable. Check the ads in the Sunday paper. Most large craft stores have circulars with great coupons. For instance, "Get 40% off one regular priced item". Find the largest pack of bags they have and get them! If that is still too pricey, try this other option.

A Little Self-Help:
Use pre-cut white tulle circles or tulle rolls that they sell in craft stores. Typically with the wedding decorations. Thread a needle with a large eye with some yarn. If you need to, sew the tulle into a bag and tie off the yarn. Then sew along the top edge of your bag all the way around. Weaving in and out until you get back to where you started. Place the bag over the blossoms, and pull the loose ends. You can cinch it as tightly or loosely as you want. This takes a bit more work then buying pre-made bags, but it should save you some money.

No matter how you bag your blossoms, be creative. And remember, it's not important how you do it, it's just important that you do it for the sake of your seed purity.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Are you kidding me?!?!

I went to the grocery store yesterday. Just a handful of blueberries are 4 dollars. FOUR DOLLARS! I love blueberries, but four dollars. Ugh. Then I had a brainstorm. I need to plant my own blueberry bushes. Obviously with my small garden size I will have to choose carefully. I got out my catalogs from last season, and I've been searching online. I figure I can have one bush that maxes out (or can be pruned) to around 6' x 5'. I need a second to assist with cross pollination. That would have to be under 3' tall. Width wouldn't matter as much. I can move flowers around pretty easily. So far I am trying to decide between the following varieties:
For The Large Bush:
Chandler - large berries, good flavor; Question: How well does it produce compared to Patriot? Pounds per bush at maturity?
Patriot - good producer; Question: How does it taste?
Northland - matures early, great yield potential; Question: How tall does it get? Sources conflict by up to 3 feet!
For The Smaller Bush:
Dwarf Northblue - okay yield, only listed as getting to 2-3 feet. Question: Is it really under 3'?
Top Hat - very compact; Question: I don't expect tons of berries, but how many pounds per bush at maturity?

Friday, November 27, 2009

2010 Expansion

Below is the picture of the garden on the main side of the house. As you can see, there is a section that is newly covered in newspaper and mulch. The future site for my onion bunches and annuals. This solves my husband's line trimming problems. My lack of garden space problems. Two birds. One stone. Sweet. You can see in the picture all of the new space that this expansion has afforded me. The bricks are still lining the original bed.

Problem Solved!

I solved the pea and onion problem. My son and I spent a part of this morning smothering grass. There was an annoying one foot grassy section between the garden around the house and sidewalk. The mower never could handle the small space. Now my dear husband won't have to get out the line trimmer for this area ever again. Next season it will be filled with impatiens, nasturtium and ONIONS! Problem solved.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2010 Garden Design

Lately I've been having fun sketching out next year's garden layout. I thought I had it perfect. That was until I read the onions should not be planted near peas! Ugh. Now I have to figure out what to change around. I have five small raised beds that measure 3'x3'. Four of which will be used to tomatoes. The other for garlic, carrots, and celery. So the raised beds are full. Where am I going to put these peas...or onions?
My other planting area is below. Following is the plan for that section of the garden. The stone wall extends another 20 feet or so to the right. There are two roses along the uncharted section. Beyond that is where I will be placing a PVC trellis about 10 feet long to grow my Baby Bear pumpkins and beans. How am I going to separate peas and onions? I'm going to have to do some research and look into this. If you have experiences to share they are very welcome. Suggestions as well.

Back to the drawing board. At least I have a few months to play around with the design. I'm actually enjoying the design part quite a bit.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

If April showers bring May flowers then what do May flowers bring?

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


In mid-October the garlic cloves went in the ground. They are planted 9 per square foot about 2 inches deep. That spacing worked great last year, so why mess with what works. I have 54 cloves in the ground. Last season I had a terrible time keeping the cloves buried. Squirrels were constantly digging them up for months. Somehow, after being replanted several times, almost all survived. Garlic is pretty tough I guess. As you can see they are covered in chopped leaves from my leaf blower/mulcher. As soon as planted the cloves and watered them in I covered them up. Not once have the squirrels dug into this raised bed. I can't say the same for the other beds. They are full of squirrel holes. The two or three inches of leaves doesn't appear to be having an adverse effect on the garlic. I would have waited to mulch, despite the squirrels, if these beds weren't so well drained. I wouldn't want them to rot, but that isn't an issue with these well-draining beds.

Next year I will have to watch how much I cook with, so I have more to share with friends. It goes pretty quickly, and I had just barely enough for planting stock by mid-October. I planted 81 cloves this past season. I don't have the room for that much anymore, so I'll just have to enjoy and appreciate what I can fit in the garden.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't Forget Your Free Seeds!

Free seeds. Get your free seeds. It takes nothing more than a few minutes and a few steps out your door.

Although I miss having crops to harvest the fun doesn't come to an end. There is always the fun of seed-saving. Below are seeds from my beans that are dry and ready to store until next season.
Scarlet Runner Beans and Blue Lake Pole Beans

Even if you don't have the time to prepare them ideally, it's still worth saving them. For example, these Jack Be Little pumpkin seeds. Before composting the rest of the pumpkin I cut out some seeds and tossed them on a plate. Since the are just for me I can get away with that. Germination rates aren't a huge concern when you only have room for one or two plants a season.

So don't forget to get your free seeds!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Catalog Time!

Seed catalogs have just started rolling in, and if you're anything like me you already started your 2010 wish list. Let's see. Oh, 'Green Arrow' peas sound great. 'Spirit Bush' hybrid pumpkins would be perfect for Halloween. Small mixed gourds....the kids would love those. I never grew 'Paprika' peppers. Well, there's always a first for everything. I'll have to get a pack of seeds for those too. Hey. Look at this. Onion bunches. A sampler bunch. Even better! Now something for the butterflies. How about 'Fiesta Del Sol' tithonia (Mexican Sunflower)? Two of those would fit along the stone ledge perfectly.

I can't wait until the mail arrives tomorrow. I just love this time of year! Happy catalog browsing everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Squirrels and Birthdays

Give me a few days of rainy, cool weather, and what do I do? Daydream. I've been daydreaming about next season. What I would change. Where I will plant things. But most of all what would I like to add. This daydreaming has led me to pre-order some items for next year. First it started with strawberries. I bought some last season, but the squirrels managed to pull them out of my new strawberry pots....OVER and OVER!!! I had to resort to covering them with netting. Did that work? No. Those little buggers would still pull them out and leave them sitting inside the netting. Pure FRUSTRATION! I then moved them into our screened in porch. Did that work? No. Those little buggers found the openings by the roof and scurried their way in to those remaining, poor strawberry plants. My new plan of attack is to use flower pouches. I ordered those as well. I'll hang them from the ceiling to see if I can thwart their attacks.

Ordering the strawberry plants and pouches didn't stop my daydreaming. I was reading through old catalogs that I kept from last season. Flipping through the pages I saw different seeds that I would love to try. Making a wishlist. Then I grab another catalog. My David Austin Roses catalog. Here we go again. Picture after picture of the most beautiful roses you have ever seen. What do I go and do? I order myself three rose bushes. Do I have room for three rose bushes? No. So what does that mean? There goes some more grass. When my dear husband sees what I'm doing to the yard I just tell him that it is one less area that will need mowed.

Ordinarily I wouldn't order so much stuff. My dear husband doesn't know it yet, but he no longer has to worry about what to get me for my birthday. Although these plants won't arrive until Spring, I have to admit he has such great taste in presents!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free Seeds

What a fun discovery I made yesterday. My asclepia tuberosa has finally gone to seed. I started this plant two years ago from seed. I missed this event last year, so it was a treat to get a chance to save a few seeds...just in case. I also plan on starting more of these Monarch host plants for next season.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Frost

I awoke this morning to the site of shimmering frost. This is our first frost of the season here. Summer is officially over.

The 'Coral Nymph' salvia on the left was a volunteer from the salvia I had in a container just above this spot. I found another volunteer 'Coral Nymph' in another container about 4 feet away. Goldfinches were feasting on the seeds in the original container a few months ago. I guess they spread them around a bit. Both were a pleasant surprise.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Although we have danced with temperatures in the mid-30s, these strawberries are still hanging on. I have only been able to enjoy two of these Florian strawberries that I started from seed (Thompson and Morgan). The squirrels seem to enjoy them as much as I do. Not to mention how much they love to dig them out as well. Ugh...
The foliage has seen better days, but they are still producing. They are very tasty and have beautiful, pink flowers. You can still see some of the dark pink petals in the middle of the picture.


Halloween started out very rainy, but ended much drier than it began. I haven't dressed up for Halloween in years, but I'm glad I did. My vampire costume scared a few small children, so it was a great success. :) This picture doesn't do the makeup justice. In dimmer light, I even gave myself the creeps.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just For Laughs...

What did the snowman and vampire name their baby?

How do you make a tissue dance?
Put a little boogie in it.

What is a mummy's favorite kind of music?

Why didn't the ghost go to the dance?
He had "no body" to go with.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recipes by KIM

Please check out my latest blog dedicated to my favorite recipes! Some have taken months to perfect. Other have taken years. I hope that your family enjoys them as much as I have enjoyed creating them. Feel free to comment on them. It would be appreciated. The link is posted to the right.

Recipes by KIM

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blooming. Finally!

'Lady' Lavender
I grew this lavender from seed about 3 years ago. It has always been lush and healthy growing on my livingroom and kitchen windowsills. This season I decided to give this perennial a home outdoors in a mixed herb container. It wasn't until just a few weeks ago that it finally decided it was going to bloom. With a little neglect, fresh air, and sunshine I finally have some beautiful blossoms opening up. I'm hoping next year it will put on an even bigger show.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Square Foot Garden Beds

Clockwise starting in the back left:
Scarlet Nantes Carrots- These produced exceptionally well in my SFG. I harvested, blanched, and froze many of them this season. They will surely be back next season.
White Bunching Onions- I haven't used them. Not quite sure which parts to eat, but it is growing well.
Tango Celery. I wanted to see if it would produce seed before winter. These weren't harvested on time and became hard and bitter. My mistake. They were ready when I wasn't. I planted another five plants...four in the front right, one in the front, middle. These might get to harvestable size before we get frost. Fingers crossed.
'Black Krim' Tomato and 'Salad Bush' Cucumbers. These were pulled from the empty squares. The tomatoes did remarkably well until they were hit with a suspected late blight. The bush cucumbers refused to grow vertically on their cage. Next year they will be back in the ground with a little room to roam.'Little Gem' and 'Jericho' Romaine Lettuce
These were grown from seeds from plants that I allowed to bolt this summer. After collecting seed to save for the winter I shook the plants with some remaining seeds over this bed. It worked well...very well. I didn't expect such good results.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wind and Rain.

It is cool and very windy here. So much for raking up all the leaves yesterday. Rain seems to have been dangling over our heads all day. It looks like the skies are going to open up soon though. Stay warm and dry everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boy Are My Arms Tired!

Boy are my arms tired. I just raked and shredded all the leaves I could collect before the leaf truck came down the street to clean them up. They will be my mulch for the winter months.

I also moved my Golden Zest rose to the front of the house where it won't get completely shaded out my my butterfly bushes in the back. Despite being completely shaded under those bushes for the last month or so, the rose foliage is perfect. It's not as lush and vigorous as it could be, but this rose sure packs some disease resistance.

Now that winter is approaching I get out in the garden as much as possible. I have been pulling weeds so they can't get a foothold over the cooler months. I planted the last of my garlic. I hoped to have some left to share with friends, but I didn't keep very good track of my supplies. Most was used for recipes over the last few months. Whoops. I have completely pulled all of my tomatoes and stored the cages. My peppers are just refusing to quit. We haven't had frost yet, so the baby peppers that I thought wouldn't have a chance are big enough to harvest now if frost is in the forecast. They won't get a chance to turn red, but I like the flavor of them green just as much. What else have I been doing? Planting perennials that have been sitting in the containers I purchased them in. I didn't want to plant them in the heat of the summer. I'm only now getting around to it. I brought in some plants to overwinter. Took cutting from my lantana and impatiens. I've composted most of my annuals from containers. Collected flower seeds for next season. I don't get much time to spend in the garden, but I make the most of it when I do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can Anyone ID This?

If you know what this shrub is called, I would love to know. Also, when and how much can I prune it. We have only lived here for a few years and it has doubled in width. It's at least 15 feet wide and it has a twin back there on the other side of the yard. They are starting to take over. My instinct tells me to wait until Spring to prune so it doesn't try to send out tender new growth before winter hits. Am I correct? How much could I safely prune it back? That's another important question. I don't want to kill these two monsters. Just rein them back in. Any suggestions?
Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Fall Garden

'Feedback' iris and 'Acapulco Salmon and Pink' agastache (in the background). This agastache has refused to quit blooming. Heavily at that. Even with nights in the 30s! Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE this plant? :)
Mums I purchased from Walmart three years ago. I think one was named 'Ashley'. The other??? I do recall looking them up online after purchasing them and found that they weren't supposed to be hardy here in zone 6. Boy they were wrong. I've had them in the same two small containers for the last three years. They stayed out the entire time and kept springing back. They even reseeded themselves.

'Purple Dome' aster
I purchased this aster in the very beginning of the season. It was in a 2 1/2 inch pot. Boy has it grown. Next season I will have to pinch it back and/ or stake it. The persistant rains we had in the last week left it very floppy.
Itea virginica 'Little Henry' ('Sprich')- 2’x3’, Z 5-9, full sun-full shade.
I bought my first sweetspire this past summer. It had long, sweet-scented flower shoots that pollinators adore. Now it is showing spectacular fall color that I've decided my garden doesn't have enough of. This has been a great addition to the fall garden.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Glorious American Holly Tree

If you step on one of its spiky leaves with your bare feet you may not think the American Holly is wonderful, but one look at it with its berries blazing. Berries that persist through winter....breathtaking.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


We have had rain for days. It is so dreary and cold here. You can feel winter quickly approaching. Now begins the process of ungardening. Undoing all of the things that took so much time and hard work to set up this past Spring. Container contents are being composted. Tomatoes are pulled and thrown in the trash. Cages are folded and put away for the year. Although there is a little sadness when the growing season comes to an end, there are still things to look forward to. It is a time of deciding what to plant next season, where to get the seeds, and when to start them. In only a few short months the enjoyable moments of flipping through the new 2010 catalogs will be upon us, and a new season of gardening will be underway. Happy ungardening everyone!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It Is COLD...Time to BAKE

With frost rearing its ugly head, flowers and veggies dying back, and leaves falling on the ground it is time to warm up the house with some fall baking! Here is my recipe for some light pumpkin cookies. Nothing makes your home more inviting than the smell of something yummy baking in the oven. There are other options for this recipe. You could add nutmeg (1/8 tsp.), pumpkin spice, or chocolate chips!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 10 minutes at 350 degrees

1 cup applesauce (Two 4-ounce individual applesauce cups works very well!)
1/4 cup Splenda Sugar Blend (If you want, you can use 1/2 cup of real sugar)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the applesauce and sugars in a large bowl.
3. Add in the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture.
6. Spray baking sheets with Pam and use a spoon to place cookies 3 inches apart.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
8. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
9. Add your favorite glaze, icing, confectioners sugar, or eat plain.
10. ENJOY!
As you can see I started to sprinkle them with confectioners sugar and realized I should take a picture of them fresh out of the oven first. These were all that was left of the 30 cookies...until the hubby got home. No. No. I didn't eat them all by myself. My dad and kids insisted that I share them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beer Chicken

This was the first roaster chicken I ever made. I made it in a Technique ceramic roaster pan that I ordered from QVC. It was very moist and flavorful. I followed a beer chicken recipe I found on Recipezaar pretty closely. Luckily, it didn't end up tasting like beer. ;)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Orange Harvest

Orange Harvest Iris- A beautiful reblooming iris. Not as orange as in pictures. More of a dark peach and very stunning in the fall garden.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I have never harvested lettuce seed before. In fact, this was my first year of seriously trying to grow lettuce. Turns out it's not very difficult. Little Gem and Jericho romaine lettuce were my experiment for this season. They held up beautifully to the crazy weather we had and were slow to bolt. I let some of my lettuce from the summer go to seed. I wasn't sure how viable the seed would be, so I saved some and sprinkled the rest on two of my empty raised beds. I guess the seed is good, because I have a lettuce field growing out there! I never expected such good results, so I didn't take the time to space the seed. I'm just going to let it go and see what happens. If I really wanted them spaced half decently, I would be there half the day pulling the extras out. These are two great varieties of lettuce. Highly recommended!

Monday, September 28, 2009


I had a chance to get out into the garden yesterday. The first time in weeks. Even though I only have a few plants I sure got another great harvest from them. Some bells were picked on the smaller side due to my inability to get as much time in the garden as I would like and the low temperatures we've been getting some nights. These are bell peppers, Anaheims, and jalapenos. In the garden I have eight bell pepper plants, four jalapenos, and couple Anaheims. I am very proud of how these turned out this season. The bells were in the square foot garden (raised bed), and they were spectacular. I planted one per square foot, and they couldn't have done better. Two of the jalapenos were also planted in a square each. Again, they thrived in the raised bed. The Anaheims and other jalapenos were planted in the ground. They yielded almost as well. Below is one of my largest peppers picked yesterday. A 14.4 ounce Fat N' Sassy bell pepper. I'm loving these peppers!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Speaking of High Country Gardens

I'm pretty impressed with High Country Gardens. I placed my first order with them last fall. I ordered the Acapulco Salmon and Pink agastache that I just mentioned along with this Fireworks goldenrod. Again, it was a tiny plant that could just fill the palm of my hand with great roots last fall. This season...bam! It took off. It is now around 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It does live up to its name. It looks like fireworks bursting in the sky. I've never been a big fan of yellow in the garden. I always associated it with weeds. This is one of the few yellow plants that I really do like. It started blooming a few weeks ago, and it is going strong now. It provides a great introduction to fall.

My Favorite Plant....EVER!

Last fall I ordered an Acapulco Salmon and Pink Agastache from High Country Gardens (back left). This has quickly become my favorite plant ever! Not only has it bloomed NON-STOP, but bees love it. I have it between the sidewalk to my house and driveway. This highly-scented gem fills the air with the scent of lemons. Rain or shine. I wish I could afford more of them to place all over the garden. It's a nasal treat. :) I've never had such a fragrant, free bloomer.
This plant looked like nothing more than a few dormant twigs last fall. Look at it now. It took no time to fill in and be a real stunner. This photo doesn't do it all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon

My first ripe Bush Sugar Baby watermelon was ready yesterday. It had a hollow sound when I thumped on it and it had some yellowing on the part that touched the ground. Blemish free on the outside. Sweet smelling inside. My father was here to share it with. It was the perfect size for two people. Although it looked and smelled great, I thought it was a bit bland. On the other hand, my father thought it was good. It has been a particularly rainy season which might have something to do with the lack of flavor. These vines took up very little space, so I will give them another try next season to see if the yield and flavor improves. This vine only yielded this ripe melon. There are two softball-sized melons still outside, but wilt has pretty much desimated the foliage and vines.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Iroquois Muskmelon

I finally had a ripe Iroquois muskmelon and some Blue Lake pole beans. It slipped easily from the vine and had a slight sweet aroma. It weighed a whopping 7 pounds, 5.8 ounces!
I sliced into it...beautiful! Aroma...delicious. Taste...blah...watery...such a disappointment. There were bad rains for two days leading up to it ripening. Such bad timing :(

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Red Peppers

I finally was patient enough to let peppers turn red in my garden. Above are Fat N' Sassy bell peppers.
This is a mix of Fat N' Sassy bell peppers in red and green stages, Opalkas, two Black Krims, and a small Cowlick Brandywine tomato.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beans. Beans. The More You Eat...

Blue Lake Pole Beans. They are now producing a heavy crop. Tasty to boot.

Our Latest Adventure- Tropical Freshwater Fish

About 7 years ago my husband and I started two fish aquariums. These fish survived a three hour drive to a new apartment. Then another move around two years later to our current home. It's amazing what you can do with large cooelrs. Unfortunately we had a fish heater malfunction about a year ago that only left us with two very large plecostomus. One in a 29 gallon tank. The other in a 55 gallon tank. All by themselves. This allowed them the opportunity to grow over a foot long. They each took up their entire tanks, so we couldn't get any other fish. We found a local pet store willing to find them new homes.We also decided to make our first attempt at using real plants. I love gardening, so how different can under water gardening be? Just kidding. From left to right I have these plants in the tank (photo above): Lemon bacopa, lace java fern clinging to the "wood", Amazon sword, red ludwigia, Italian Val along the back (tought to see), another lace java fern on the other piece of "wood", and a frill plant. There was a small tan snail mixed in with the frill plant that I got a PetSmart. I can't find it in the tank (I couldn't NOT put it in...I didn't want to kill it). Hopefully it doesn't multiply. The little blue bags contain gravel from the established tanks. I am also running the old filter cartridges from the established tank in the new tank. The former tank had no problems with disease, so I'm not worried about introducing anything harmful to the tank. I do want to introduce the good bacteria into the tank to help cycle it a little more quickly.

This all stemmed from my four-year-old son showing an interest in getting Dwarf African Frogs. We invested in some new lights and a glass cover and moved the tank to the living room. Now we are the proud owners of 8 Red Wag platties...all male. No baby fish are welcome here! That would cause a whole new fish problem. After a few weeks my son will get his frogs and some other tiny fish. Overall it has been a great experience for the family. We spend lots of time watching them swim around and eat. The kids are fascinated by them, and their smiles are worth every bit of work it took to get the tank up and running again.

Late Summer Garden

Summer is coming to an end, but there is still a lot of pep left in these plants. There are scarlet runner beans and Scarlet O' Hara morning glories climbing up the trellises. The back includes red, Will Rogers zinnia. The front is a mix of Butterfly pentas, Red Rubin basil, petunias, Lady in Red and Coral Nymph salvia, a Jalapeno M pepper plant, and anaheim chili pepper plants. Moss Curled parsley is hiding behind the peppers on the right. Closer to the birdbath are volunteer marigolds from last years plants.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Iroquois Muskmelon
I am still waiting for the giant in the front to ripen. It just sits there tempting me. I can't believe how large it has gotten. It almost spans the edger is sits upon that is 12 inches wide. These can grow to around 7 pounds! Wow! Maybe next year I'll find seeds for a smaller muskmelon. An heirloom or open-pollinated variety. Maybe Charentais or Petit Gris de Rennes. Those both had delectable descriptions. That way I may get a few more per vine, and they would hopefully ripen a bit quicker.

Bush Sugar Baby Watermelons
I'm still waiting to try one of these. The largest on the middle right has appeared to slow down in growth while the other two are taking off. I'm hoping that's a sign of its impending maturing.

Scarlet Starlet or Scarlet Charleton?

I was so excited to find seed for Scarlet Starlet marigolds. I wanted marigolds in my garden, but I'm not much of a fan of their look. Scarlet Starlet didn't look too marigold-y, so it was perfect. Unfortunately over time the flowers have begun to change. For the first few weeks most blooms looked like the flowers advertised. Now that the season is further along the blossoms are quite variable on the same plant. Above is a picture of what the blooms look like now. The flower on the left is the new variation taking over. The right flower is what they should look like. I don't exactly dislike the newer blooms, I just wish the plants were consistent with their packaging.