Sunday, April 26, 2015

Daily Doin's, Third Week Of April, 2015

Planted Crosby Egyptian Beets.  Here is what they say about Crosby Egyptian Beets:  Early -  45 days.  First introduced in 1869.  Doesn't get woody, winters over (pay attention seed savers) and doesn't have an earthy aftertaste as some beets do.  My seed was from Pinetree but also available from Baker Creek Rare Seeds.  I set them to soak Monday morning and then discovered the ones I'd planted two or three weeks ago had come up.  I just didn't see them because of all the dill growing around them.  I planted a row of old Cylindra seed on the same day, haven't seen them emerge yet.  Cylindra were ok to try but they push themselves up out of the ground so badly that the top part of the beet is always woody and inedible.  It's billed as a good canning beet because it's long and narrow and maybe that's an advantage but if the Crosby beet works out I will just grow them from now on and not buy any more Cylindra seed.

Caught another rat.  I had cleaned out a spot along the east garden fence for the transplant of dipper gourd plants that came up from seed I'd scattered at the east yard fence, then another spot along the west garden fence for canteen gourd seedlings that had emerged at the south yard fence, and a spot in the newer part of one of the garden beds where I buried compost that included seeds from a couple of cantaloupes that we had bought at Aldi.  Hubs carted all the rock from these digging episodes, plus that which we dug out early last week where I'd planted some tomato plants, to The Rock Wall.  Then he did some trimming in the yard and out around the property with the weed-wacker.

I had intended to plant fennel around in the garden instead of dill and then found out fennel apparently isn't a good companion plant for anything.  Bummer.  Glenda, I wonder if you have found fennel "unfriendly" to your other plants?  Sometimes all this "companion planting" information seems a little too rigid.  I like to add fennel to my spaghetti sauce and I think I would enjoy the taste of fennel seed tea.  It's said to calm the nerves and promote mental clarity.  And yeah, like Glenda said, it'd be really good in sausage.

I planted six Ruth's Perfect tomato plants.   There is space for one more row of something in the south end of this particular bed.  I think it'll be Aunt Molly's tomatillo.

Sitting out on the front steps, smelled "an odor", found another dead rat under the plant table, in front of the un-used garage door.  Hubs doesn't think it's the missing one from Sunday because it was where it would be kind of hard for something else to drag it.

Mother Robin sitting on her nest in the Maple tree in the front yard.
Now you can say you know what the under-side of a Robin looks like.  Heh.  The robins are thick this year.  Haven't seen Cardinals since winter was over.

I'm really concerned about that bird flu.  Even if a vaccine is developed for our domestic turkeys and chickens, what about the songbirds?  What about all this bug-catching and weed-seed eating and fertilizing from the tree branches that our wild birds do for our gardens?

There is so much talk of The End Of The World As We Know It, and I really think that could be caused by so many things.  We are living on the edge and we should be banding together for the greater good.  But no.  We're killing each other because of our religion or our color or our nationality or because we're a nutcase or we're drunk with power (or just plain drunk, period).  We're using our skills and talents to wreak havoc in the lives of people we don't even know.  Our children are being desensitized to killing in front of the television, through the game console, or on the iPad screen.  They'll be killing each other just because they're bored. 

I worry about a global shortage of water in the parts of the world where our food is grown.  Americans (maybe people in other countries, too, but I don't know enough about that to say) are so wasteful across the board, including with water.  Many people have these grassy lawns that are thicker than any carpet you'll ever see, and sprinkler systems that go off automatically every morning in the summer months, even when it's raining.  The water runs off the curbs and into the streets.  Such an obscene waste.  It's just GRASS, People!!  Hubs and I don't use a lot of water.  If our grass dies, it dies.  Bermuda is our native grass and though it's an invasive grass that we are constantly digging out of our gardens and flower beds, it does make extensive root systems that run deeply in the ground and prevent erosion of the soil during dry times, though the surface may have stopped growing and turned brown.  Even burning off does not damage Bermuda grass roots.  We do water the gardens and our young trees and bushes during the dry months in an effort to keep things alive, but many times it's rain water that we have collected, for edible plants, or recycled "gray water" from the kitchen and the bathtub for flowers, trees and bushes.  It saddens me that people always think every resource we have is available in unlimited supply until it's so dang late that there's no going back.  Even if they have to go through a shortage, they never learn anything from the experience.  Once the emergency has passed, they go right on back to their greedy, wasteful ways.  They laughed at Al Gore.  He who has the last laugh, laughs longest.  But really, People, this is no laughing matter.  God made mortal man to be the steward of all living things on the earth.  What a disappointment we must be!  Water and soil are living things.

If there is ever a serious food shortage, the Upper Class will eat as well as they always have, they can afford it.  The Poor will be taken care of through non-profit organizations.  The Middle Class will be Up Sh** Crick Without A Paddle.  Like always. America needs its Middle Class and ought to be protecting it.   We carry everyone else on our backs, and not usually because we want to.

Back to situations that I can actually do something about.  Caught another rat.  Hubs talked to Joe, across the street, and he said they are overrun with rats, too.

Hubs watches all our neighbors and tries to guess what it is they're doing when it's not apparent.  Before long he's unable to stand it any longer so he goes over there and asks what they're doing.  He's been watching our new neighbors on the turn-off, and they have been busy building something, so he went over there and introduced himself.  Turns out the man is someone I went to grade school with and we haven't seen each other since 6th grade.  And here I was thinking it would be a young couple.  But really, that house is ideal for an older couple and probably not big enough for a young couple with a growing family, at least by today's American standards of needing a bedroom for every kid, plus a master bedroom and a guest room.

There has been no activity on the acreage on the other side of our North Fourth, but Joe says it has been bought by a couple who plan to build on it and then sell for a profit.  As much as they paid for the acreage, it's hard for me to see how they could make much profit, unless they put more than one house on the property.  He is a contractor and she is a realtor.  They told Joe this is an ideal spot for people who want "country living" but don't want to live 'way out in the sticks.  I think we'll all miss that big open field on the curve of our road, and the feeling of open-ness it affords to us all.  But that's progress, I guess.  Our new neighbors told Hubs they're thinking about building a second house on their land for their son and his family.  What they're building right now, though, is a storage building for the son's boat and apparently he has race cars.  I'm grateful that, regardless of what everyone around us does, we will still have enough open land all around our house that we will never have to hear what our neighbors do inside their houses.  Been there, done that.  Houses in town look so crowded together to us now.  Boy, are we ever spoiled now.

I was pretty worthless on this day, it being cold and windy out.  I puttered around in the kitchen.  Made Glenda's 20-minute hamburger buns (see her post of a couple days ago -- Living & Gardening In The Ozarks on my sidebar).  I used half whole-wheat flour and they were very good.  Would've been better had I not scorched the bottoms by leaving them in the oven too long.  Next time I'll watch them more closely.  I'm really bad about getting side-tracked.

I went out to the garden to bury the contents of the compost bucket, then harvested enough kale to fill the sink.  Of course when I came back in from the garden I forgot and left the compost bucket out there.  I wonder how many trips I will make out to the garden, get side-tracked, and still not bring in the compost bucket?  I guess I need a belt with hooks.  Heh.  After stripping out the tough center rib of the kale, cutting it up and sautee'ing it, I had two full pints of kale.  One went into the freezer, I thought I'd make beans of some kind today and use the other pint in that, along with some chopped Egyptian Walking Onions, since it went over so well the last time.  I'm getting a little tired of these chilly days, but they are good conditions for kale.  When the weather warms up I will probably not harvest from them, as I understand they have to have cold to "sweeten them up".  This is the coldest spring I can remember having in a long time.  As long as we don't get temps below 30º, I should just keep my big mouth shut.  Lots of baby fruit on the trees.  Barring freezing temps, high winds, disease, pestilence or theft by wild critters, there will be a lot of canning going on this summer.  Trying not to worry about it, take what I get and be grateful.  Remember, it's only about one year in three that fruit trees in NE Oklahoma don't have the bejeezers frozen out of them right after fruit-set.

I did harvest the Comfrey and discovered a good use for one of my flimsy tomato cages.
They don't work very well as tomato cages at all because they collapse and/or fall over too easily under the weight of a healthy plant. 

Spiraea prunifolia are done flowering and now the Spiraea japonica are in bloom.
I bought these at WMT -- I think it was the spring of 2013??  And then I learned that japonica doesn't get as big as prunifolia.  They're only bigger than the prunifolias now because they're older.  I think I'll propagate more of both kinds and intermingle them so there will be extended bloom all along the fence.  The prunifolias draw beneficial insects to the garden at a time when hardly anything else is blooming.  The japonicas will not get but about a foot taller at full maturity, but they will get wider.  I'm hoping the prunifolias will get to the top of the fence. But it's nice to have both, because the japonicas take up where the prunifolias left off, bloom-time-wise, even though there are more things blooming to draw the beneficial insects now.

This Alabama Crimson honeysuckle, for instance.
When the sun is shining, these red flowers are almost fluorescent.  We have seen our first hummingbirds.  They should find plenty to eat here without my having to dig out the feeders.

The iris are starting to bud up and open out.  Already, Eleanor Roosevelt, Indian Chief, and the Dwarf Yellow/Brown are in full bloom.  There's a new white with greenish-brown markings on the falls that is opening, and so is Tahiti Sunrise, which was growing at The Ponca House when we moved in there.  My newest iris are from a bag that I bought at a garage sale last spring.  The woman said they were "hybrid iris", and almost all iris are hybrid, but anyway.  The white one I mentioned is one of them.  She couldn't tell me what colors they'd be so it's going to be a surprise.  If they all turn out to be the same, I'll clump them together.  And of the iris I got from a dear and loyal friend (you know who you are), all have lived here now two years and some have buds.  Looking forward to them blooming.  I'm taking pictures as they go along and will probably do an Iris post later on.  Since I "go 'way back" with our new neighbors already I guess I can ask them for a start of those rust-colored iris that grow on their place along the road.  Heh.  I love Iris.  I guess you can't tell that though.  They don't bloom for very long, but they'll grow nearly anywhere, tolerate hot and dry, hold their own with weeds and grass (and rock), and when they're in bloom they knock your socks off.  Back in the old days, before cemeteries were maintained with power equipment, lots of people would plant iris at headstones. 

Iris always remind me of a story about a couple of feuding "ladies of The Old South" whose children fell in love and were getting married to each other.  Now, back in the day when women were ladies, you couldn't BE out-and-out rude, hateful or otherwise bitchy.  Because your Mama taught you, if you couldn't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.  But some of them found ways to dig at each other that were more pervasive.  So, the story goes that, at the wedding, the groom's mother approached the bride's mother, bent over to smell her orchid corsage, and said, with a wide, gracious smile and steely eyes, "Oh, I just love Iris...."

There is so much trash on TV these days.  Even during "family hours".  Somebody's asleep at the wheel because I sure wouldn't want MY little kids sitting in front of the TV when shows like Two And A Half Men and Hot In Cleveland are on.  Here are a couple of real jewels from a couple of sitcoms that, unlike a lot of what is offered today, really deserved to be on during family hours.  From Everybody Loves Raymond, Amy and Robert's Wedding Dance.   From The Cosby Show, Theo and Rudy doing James Brown and then Ray Charles.  I don't know how you feel about the allegations about Bill Cosby, in fact, I don't know how I feel about them.  Somebody's lying, we just don't seem to have proof who that is.  God knows.  In the end, it's so pointless to lie about the things you do, and I wonder if people who do awful things and then try to get away with it by lying about it really believe in God.  So many people say they do but they act like they think they're exempt from God's wrath.  But for the moment, let's put that aside and just enjoy these for what they are, OK?  Now that you're warmed up, here's a remake of Laurel and Hardy dancing to Happy.  LOL!  Of course I had to find the original it was taken from  HERE.  Here's one to 100 Pipers.  And here is Shine on Harvest Moon

Thursday, not much to report.  Caught a couple more rats.  Went to visit our good friend June.  The recycling drive is being held on Saturday and she had some things for us to put in with the stuff we're taking.  On the way home we saw our new neighbor outside and stopped.  He took us inside to meet his wife.  They've already painted the walls, took up all that ugly beige carpet (just like what we took out of our living room and dining room) and put down wood-look vinyl flooring strips.  They said it was a lot easier to install than the laminate flooring planks, which they'd had in a house they lived in earlier.  It looked very nice. 

This is now Sunday morning.  On Friday, we went into town and hit a few garage sales and an estate sale.  I don't know why I even bother to go to estate sales that are handled by "professionals".  Everything is so expensive on the first day.  On the second day, they mark everything half price but the prices were marked up so high to begin with that most of the time there aren't any bargains on that day, either.  If I was looking for something that was hard to find and didn't care what I had to pay for it, I might buy.  But lately, I haven't seen anything that I would want to buy even if the price was low.  So, as usual, I didn't find anything I wanted at the estate sale.  Didn't find much I wanted at the garage sales, either.  Just a set of eight crocheted placemats, a nice wire basket, and a hat for Our Little Punkin' Pie, this winter.

While we were in town we bought a few groceries and passed where our grandson JR works, but it looked like they were all in some kind of meeting so he just waved to us through the glass and we waved back. 

That day was chilly and there was a cold wind blowing.  I didn't do much else except some laundry.

Saturday was the day of the local Garden Club plant sale, AND the "Clean House" recycling drive put on by Conoco-Phillips, AND, we noticed, some kind of a running thing in the middle of town.  It was a lot of stuff going on at the same time and I thought it was kind of poor planning.  But it's been raining and they originally planned the Garden Club sale the weekend before.  For the past several years, there have always been two Garden Club plant sales every spring.  One has a lot of things offered and the prices are really decent.  The other is a lot smaller and the prices are a lot higher.  Guess which one this was.  So all I bought was a Pregnant Onion, which was reasonably priced. 

Since we were right there at the back of Atwood's for the Plant Sale, we went through Atwood's greenhouse and all the plants they had setting outside before we left.  I didn't find anything I wanted there, either. 

We took our things to the recycling drive and by the time we got there the lines were moving quickly and we were in and out in pretty short order.  June had an old computer monitor and a scanner, we had a crashed computer, some oil-based paint, some empty spray-paint cans, some batteries, and some burned-out fluorescent light bulbs.

We stopped at a greenhouse that was on the way home, and that place was really humming with customers.  I bought a new iris for $9. 

This is called "Rock Star".  The price wasn't marked and there was a sign nearby that said "Perennials, $2.99".  I didn't find out it was $9 till I got to the counter.  But, by that time, I was in such a good mood because I'd found a Rober's Lemon Rose scented geranium that I've been looking for, that I went ahead and paid for the iris without a whimper.  That's about what they were asking for iris at the Garden Club sale, anyway. 

After we got home I transplanted the Purple Tomatillo plants. 

The herbs have dried and have been put in jars and labeled.  Always label your dried herbs.  You can ruin a good dish by grabbing the wrong thing, and when they're dried, many of them look very similar.

See how nice and green everything is?  THAT's what they should look like.  If you dry your herbs with heat, some of them will turn brown.  I re-use canning flats when I vacuum seal, and I always end up throwing several flats away before I get everything sealed, because I have bent up the flat too much when I opened the jar that it was originally sealed onto.  I usually pry the jar open with the back of a dinner knife blade, but it's a struggle to do it that way and often still bends up the edge of the flat so it won't seal down ever again.  I went out on the Internet to see if anyone had come up with a good way to open a sealed mason jar without damaging the lid and I found one,  HERE , of a guy using a chopstick.  I don't have a chopstick, so I went out to the garage and got a small flat-end screwdriver and tried to use the technique, but I didn't find it to work very well.  What I did do, however, was to place that screwdriver between the narrow end of the glass threading and the edge of the metal flat, then slowly twisting the screwdriver at an angle between that jar thread and the metal edge of the flat.  This worked better than the way I have been doing.  I didn't hurt the glass jar and I didn't see any damage to the lid.  But I can see how, if a person wasn't real careful, they could nick the glass jar.  Maybe I should just buy some bamboo chopsticks.  Does anyone have a better way of opening up a mason jar so that the flat can be used again?   

I'm happy to report that the acid reflux problem I've been having since the first of the year seems to have gone away.  I don't know exactly why.  Maybe I just plain wore it out, do you think?  Or maybe the fact that I've changed my eating habits such that I've lost ten pounds since mid-January is the reason.  I admit that I tried "coconut oil pulling" a couple of times and found it not to be as gag-worthy as some people have said, but I haven't shared this information with Hubs and so I haven't wanted to do it while he is around.  He'll just roll his eyes and shake his head, and he already does too much of that, if you ask me.  I'm not sure it's really the panacea some people claim it is, they make themselves sound so much like those "snake oil" medicine shows like you see sometimes in the old westerns that it kind of puts me off.  You know, where something in a bottle cures everything from a skin abrasion to cancer.  But one of the things coconut oil pulling is supposed to cure is acid reflux.  HERE is a YouTube about it.  It could've also been those Ricola cough drops, I don't know.....  I can't think of anything else I did that was any different than normal than these three things.  Regardless, I'm a happy camper to be rid of THAT.

So now I'm able to drink my tomato juice with breakfast and I have really missed it.  This juice is from my own home-grown organic tomatoes, and in fact, is a spin-off of an idea Paula passed on to me about how to make thick tomato sauce without having to cook it down.  So what's in the bottom of the pan becomes tomato sauce, and the clear-ish liquid that's poured off the top canned separately, as tomato juice.  It is difficult NOT to get SOME tomato pulp in the jar and this is just fine.

After it's chilled, shaken and poured into a glass, it looks and tastes like tomato juice should.  All I added to the jar was a teaspoon of salt.  This is thinner than commercial tomato juice, which I think is 'way too thick, anyway.  But if it's too thin for your tastes, you could buy tomato juice or V-8, and mix them half and half.  Or you could brighten it up with lemon juice, or even make your own V-8 if you wanted to.  Otherwise, what are you going to do with this liquid you've siphoned off your tomato sauce other than use it as a base for soup?  Does anyone really eat enough soup to be able to use it up that way?   
Go HERE if you want to know what's in V-8.  This is a really interesting website and I'm thinking about signing up for their newsletters.  But, anyway, if I were making my own V-8, I think I'd use kale and cucumber instead of watercress and lettuce.  I could be wrong (and often am), but I'd think there'd be more nutrition in kale and cucumber than in watercress and lettuce. 

Next week is surgery for my good friend Paula.  I hope y'all will keep her in your prayers, as will I. 

The people from a local charitable organization are supposed to come take our sofa on Tuesday, hopefully it will not be raining, or they will cancel and who knows then, where we'll be on their schedule.   With the sofa gone, I can take some pictures of the room with our new furniture in it and get that posted.  I don't want to bother God with a little thing like this, so I won't ask for your prayers.  But think good thoughts, ok?  

This day has turned off cold, again, after we enjoyed a beautiful day yesterday with a high of 83º.  It's supposed to warm up to only 68º today but maybe I can head out to the garden before too much longer.  

And that's about all I have for this time.  Till next time,  Rock On....  Hugs xoxoxoxo


  1. I only grow bronze fennel and I grow it away from the vegetable garden with flowers. It is a beautiful tall plant. It will self seed like crazy but you can just chop it out. I don't pay any attention to the companion planting thing! and not much to the 'different spot' every year thing either. I do like to grow flowers in the garden and sometimes do marigold between things or just a row of zinnias.

    I love how you dry herbs. I need to check into that with my Foodsaver. I often just freeze them once they are dried. Great idea for the tomato cage. I hang mine over wire hangers and then hang in the dark middle bedroom

    I take notes when you have a very informative the name of the beet.

    Beautiful row of spirea. I love the old ones. I am still watching for iris to open to see if Champagne Beige has survived the clear cut project and the DH mowing!

    1. Glenda, I take notes from many of your posts too. We are a fine pair. Heh.


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