Friday, July 31, 2015

Daily Doin's, Last Week Of July, 2015

I start this on Saturday, July 25.
The garden is such a mess these days.  It's been too hot and humid to get out in it except to water and pick.  Those two things take priority over weeding.

The nice thing about not keeping up with the weeding is that we get "gifted" with volunteer plants I might've dug out had I been weeding regularly.  The Internet community doesn't have a consensus as to whether weeds are bad for a garden or not.  Some say the roots give off poisons and growth inhibitors and they take up water and nutrients that you'd rather the plants you planted have them.  Others say the weeds know how to find moisture, that they send their roots 'waaaay deep into the ground, and that the roots of plants near them benefit from their micro-whatever and follow the weed roots to the water.  Hell if I know which it is.  I do know that lots of times a good old sturdy Lambsquarter plant in with a tomato plant can help shade the tomatoes.  And some people eat Lambsquarter greens, and they grind the seed into a powder and put it in their baked goods.  All I can say for certain is that you do the best you can do, let the rest fall by the wayside and don't look back.

Our volunteer plants are doing well.  If something's that dedicated in its quest for life, it seems almost sacreligious to rip it out.  Especially if I planted the seeds to begin with, but maybe in a previous year.  I'm just in awe of Mother Nature sometimes.  Other times I'm just in shock.

I think this is one of those Pink Banana squashes I have tried so hard to grow for the past two years and failed.  Now it's a volunteer growing in a cage with one of the tomato plants, apparently came up from a seed that didn't germinate last year.  Go figure.

I haven't planted watermelon seed in four years.

The bugs and worms continue to take their share first.
This is curly blue kale.  Sheesh.

The Purple Hull Pink Eye Peas are coming on now.

And the pears are coming ripe on the Asian tree.

Hubs and I bought a new bed yesterday.  I had been thinking, since we want to set up sleeping arrangements in my office, where there are fewer "accessibility barriers", that it might be a good time to get a new mattress.  I take very good care of our mattresses, I use mattress covers and mattress pads.  Our used mattresses look brand new.  But I am getting to the point where I wake up hurting every morning.  Not just my knee, but my back as well.  And I would venture to say that one of our mattress sets is probably quite a bit more than ten years old.  Since we were going to have to drag one of the beds down from upstairs and then schlep it back upstairs once I've recovered from surgery, anyway, this is the perfect time.

Mattresses are sure different these days.  This one looks like two pieces: a normal-sized box spring and a thin top mattress.  But they are connected to each other.  We did not get the box springs.  Oh, I guess they call it a "foundation" now.  Instead, we got what is called an "Adjustable Base".  It is a metal frame on legs, has a hand-held control that allows us to raise the panels under our knees and/or behind us, like hospital beds do. These are the specs:
- Pocket Coil 600 14 GA
- 4-Way Stretch Breathable Knit Fabric
- Foam Encased-100% Sleep Surface
- Quilted Comfort Layer
- 1/2” Talalay Latex
- 3” of HD Soy Based Foam Topper
- Soy Based Memory Foam Support Band
- 3/4” High Density Soy Based Bottom Support Foam
- No Flip Maintenance Free
- Environmental Friendly Wood Foundation
- 10 Year Warranty

We laid down on so may beds yesterday that I got so I couldn't tell WHICH one I liked better.  But Hubs chose this one, and it's just one down from Top Of The Line, so I think we'll be comfortable on it.  I'm so glad I just bought a new sheet set because I don't think the sheets that fit tightly on our regular mattresses will fit.  And since the mattress protector that I bought several years ago was too big, I'm thinking it'll fit this one just fine.  It's supposed to keep dust and dead skin cells from migrating into the mattress.  It's hard for me to believe, but they say by the time a mattress is ten years old, it weighs a lot more than it did when it was new because of the dust and stuff that have filtered into it.  I can't attest to that because I've never weighed any of my mattresses, nor would I have any idea how to go about doing that sort of thing.  So it could be just another lie the product marketers say in order to stimulate business and I would never know any different.  Regardless, I do feel it's important to protect your mattress from dust and so on. So I've always used a mattress pad under my fitted sheet, and when people started having trouble with bringing bedbugs home from motels, I bought those mattress protectors that WMT started carrying.  JC was living with us at the time, and he had a lot of friends whose housekeeping left a whole lot to be desired, not that he appreciated me telling him that.  I had to keep having the exterminator in for roaches and I was determined I was not going to end up getting bedbugs.  Well, God was just looking out for us, that's all I can say, because JC didn't like that mattress protector and took it off his bed.  I realize I'm tempting fate saying this, but since he moved out, we haven't seen any sign of roaches, either. 

I called JR and asked if he'd help bring it home and as it worked out, he was able to do it right away, so I hurried around and got things moved to make room.  It's real cramped down here and I'm feeling a little claustrophobic sitting here at my computer, but when I think about some of the tiny places I lived in when I was young, I think how silly that is.  I once had an apartment that was really no bigger than my office is.  The "kitchenette" was built into a recess in one wall and there were hinged louvered doors that could be pulled across to hide it.  The sink and stove were "apartment sized".  There was a Murphy bed that pulled down from what looked like a closet.  And the bathroom had no tub, just a shower.  They called it an "Efficiency Apartment".  Heh.  It was plenty for a young single girl fresh out of high school and working her first real job.  That was such a long time ago!

Oh, I just have to share this with you.  I had told Carole about us buying the bed and from my description of it, she misunderstood that we had bought a Rollaway Bed.  But it was well worth the misunderstanding because then she told me this story:

"I was working for insurance adjusters located on a busy street.  I had just told my boss that morning that I was looking for a rollaway bed.  He was perched on the side of my desk that afternoon, looking at something, when he happened to look out my window. Right in front of the office, he saw a pickup truck lose it's cargo, with guess what?  A rollaway bed.  He simply couldn't believe it.  He ran out and helped pick it up.  By that time I was out there and asked the driver if it was for sale.  He called the owner and found out they were going to sell it, so I bought it for $7.00, good mattress and all.  Now that's a true story.  Last time I talked with my old boss, he still laughed about that.  I think he must have thought I was a witch." 
The more I thought about that, and pictured it in my mind's eye, the way her boss must've looked at her like he thought she was a witch when that bed fell out of the truck, the funnier it got.

But I think I've said here before about how I believe God just loves to give us little gifts and to work little miracles, just to show us that He loves us and knows what's going on with our lives.  The first time I figured this out was when JC and JR were little boys.  We kept them every summer and I was working that particular summer, so I had them in daycare at YMCA.  I think maybe they had been in kindergarten that school year.  It was a Friday and there had been a field trip.  I had sent the sack lunches and the cans of cold pop wrapped in aluminum foil, as instructed, but no one had said anything about there being a gift shop at the laser-tag place.  So when I went to pick the boys up after work, lots of the kids had bought things and JR and JC didn't get to do that because I hadn't known they'd need any money beyond their admission costs.  JR was quite a little tattle-tale along about then, and he whispered to me that JC had a Whoopee Cushion in his backpack that some other child had bought at the gift shop.  JC and I had a quiet talk and I explained to him the nuances of Things That Aren't Yours, and I told him I was sorry I hadn't given him any money for the gift shop and that as soon as I could find out where they were sold, I'd buy him a Whoopee Cushion of his very own.  He was OK with that, returned the one in his backpack to its rightful owner, and we left for home.

The next day was Saturday and we always went garagin' on Saturday mornings.  I'd give JC and JR a little money to spend and they'd get a little lesson in economics along with some trinket they probably found at the first sale because that money would burn a hole right through their pockets.  And so I wasn't surprised when JR came and got me at the very first sale to show me something he wanted to buy.  They were supposed to show me what they were buying because I didn't want to get in the car and see they had something without knowing whether they'd paid for it or not.  When I saw what he had found, I was surprised, because....


Both JC and JR had a lot of little-boy-type fart-sounding fun with that Whoopee Cushion in the days that followed, and I hoped JC would remember the lesson that its presence at that garage sale was meant to teach.  For sure I remembered and I rejoiced in the fact that God has such a great sense of humor and used this instance as a way to show us that He loves us.   Stuff like this still happens to me to this day.  In fact, if I'm needing something for an important reason, sometimes I'll just cut to the chase and flat-out ask God if He will help me find one.  He never disappoints, though sometimes it turns out to cost too much or to be the wrong size or color.  And sometimes He has a lot of fun with it, showing me one at almost every sale I go to that day.  LOL  One time, about potty training time for the boys, there was a potty chair for sale at so many sales that we started calling it "Potty Chair Day".  Heh.  Of course, that was back before I realized it was "A God Thing", and so we considered it just a weird coincidence at the time.

Our Cabbage Roll Casserole cooked all day in the crockpot and by suppertime Friday the rice still wasn't as well-cooked as I thought it should be.  Of course I had to unplug it before we left to buy the new mattress, but that was only for a couple of hours.  It was edible and after supper I packed the rest into meal-sized bags and now there are four more meals in the freezer for later. 

Today we were home to watch "Oklahoma Gardening" on OETA.  They had an interesting segment about spiders.  Go HERE to watch any of a year's worth of their shows, although at this writing, they don't have this particular segment up yet.  But it was interesting in that there are only two spiders in Oklahoma that can put a bite on you that will require a doctor's attention, and that is the Black Widow, which may or may not have red spots on it but will always be black and will always have a body that looks like it's carrying a marble, and the Brown Recluse, whose bite may or may not affect you, depending on how sensitive you are to the venom.  I had a neighbor once who was bitten by a Brown Recluse, and boy, was she ever sensitive to it.  The bite was on her face near her eye, and she looked really bad for awhile.  But otherwise, spiders are "the good guys", they eat insects or each other.  If you have kids around, just show them where the webs are and tell them to avoid running through that area.  Teach them how to recognize the dangerous ones, but don't instill a fear of all spiders.   We humans tend to try to kill that which we are afraid of.  So we kill off the spiders and snakes because we don't know how to discern which ones will be harmful to us.  We kill bats because they freak us out, thanks to the Dracula movies we all used to watch.  We kill birds because they inconvenience us.  All of these are great little insect consumers.  So once we have been successful in eradicating them, then WE have to kill the insects that they would've eaten, and that normally is not 100% effective without chemicals, which harm us and our planet a lot worse than spiders, snakes and birds do.  Go figure.  HERE is a website that will teach you how to identify spiders native to Oklahoma.  If you're in another state, you can back up one level and filter for your state.

This spider weaves its web in front of our patio door nearly every night.

I think it's a Wolf Spider.

I did try out my Spiralizer, and my conclusion is that, when I have a zucchini, or if I ever try it with a potato, I will probably like the results better.  The Cuccuzi squash/gourd was a l'il too limber and skinny.  I had trouble with the spikes at the handle end breaking through and therefore reaming out the end of the squash instead of rotating it.  Otherwise it did a decent enough job, and reasonably quick.
There are the end pieces and the tubular center that I didn't quite know what to do with, and ended up just cutting them in little pieces and adding them to the spirals.  Four Cucuzzi, after blanching, filled three pint freezer containers. 

We have been working our way through this Heat Advisory and there are chances for rain and slightly cooler weather today.  It gets into the low 70's by sunrise but the humidity is so high and there is so much dew on the ground that it feels much warmer.  I just go out to pick things and then I'm back in for the day.  The inactivity is affecting my back and so I have been going with Hubs to his workout, pretty much just to use the stationary bicycle. 

On Monday I thawed out part of a turkey breast and some broth and made noodles.  I thought I had the recipe posted somewhere but I can't find it.  Some people add things like baking powder and/or oil to their noodles and sometimes I do that, too.  But this time I just used 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs.  I had to add a little water in order to get it to hold together enough to knead into a cohesive ball.  And then I cut it in slices, covered them in flour and ran them through my Marcato pasta machine.  I cut my noodles by hand because the makers of the pasta machine didn't see fit to make a noodle-cutting attachment for 1" wide noodles, just some little narrow ones that I don't really care for.  I used half the noodles I made and the other half were allowed to dry completely and they went into a jar.  I'll be using my FoodSaver to vacuum seal the jar and it'll go into the pantry for later.

Since what I had left only filled the one quart jar, I decided to make another batch on Tuesday.  I heard on the news there was going to be an egg shortage because of The Bird Flu and so I had bought some extra eggs on the last shopping trip.

Sometimes the things that are happening worldwide make me feel really insecure.  I have to force myself to remember that freakish weather conditions have been happening all along and that diseases seem to come and go.  I remember in the late 50's when there was a big flood where my sister lived in Ottawa, KS.  And during the 60's seeing dead cattle laying bloated on the ground from Anthrax.  And most recently there has been Mad Cow Disease.  Somehow we still seem to manage to have beef in the stores.  Maybe it will be that way with poultry and eggs, though the statements made on the news sounded pretty dire.  I wonder, though, if there will be any flu shots for us humans this fall, since apparently the serum is incubated in chicken eggs.  Last winter we had the flu because apparently the right kind of virus wasn't included in our shots.  I don't know how they can know ahead of time so I'm not hacked off about it.  It was just inconvenient and kind of hard on us, but we doctored with Elderberry tea and made it through.

I've started picking elderberries, and this will go on for awhile, as they come ripe.  Here in Oklahoma, all the berries don't ripen at the same time, I'm told because of the erratic weather.  Grapes are the same way here.  But I've hit upon a way to make this work out.  When the Elderberry umbrellas have about half berries on them that have turned black, I pick the whole umbrella.  It snaps right off the branch, like Mother Nature meant for it to do so.  I bring these in and put them all in a plastic bag and twist it closed.  While Hubs and I are watching TV, I'm picking off the black berries.  If that empties the umbrella, the "skeleton" goes into the compost bucket.  Any umbrellas that still have berries on them that are green or somewhere in between green and black are placed into another plastic bag, and when I've gone through to the bottom of the first bag, I just close the second bag up, pour my picked berries into a freezer container, and I'm done till the next evening.  This takes most of an evening and I get pretty tired of it but I'll be happy I have these this winter, I bet.  The bag keeps the umbrellas from drying out and on the next evening, there will be more berries on them that have ripened. 


The "cold front" (if you can call it that) came through this morning and it was a nice morning.  Hubs weed-wacked and used the push mower in the garden for me.  I spent most of the morning Wednesday watering the garden from the bullet tank, that is located at the side of the garage and collects rain water from the gutters on the front part of the house.   And today I watered from the cistern, and finished up in the garden.  While I was out there I took a better look at the Adzuki beans and found they've all made long skinny bean pods that have dried and turned brown.  I had my pockets filled with them and when Hubs got within hearing distance I asked him to bring me a container to put them in.  I had already been out and picked a few blackberries, a few tomatoes and three cucumber.

This is my first year to grow Adzuki, and they came to me in a sprouting mix with the garbanzo beans that I also planted, and am growing for the first time.  I showed the garbanzo beans I picked on the post before this one but I failed to say that I ate a couple of them, right out of the garden and they taste like a raw peanut.  So I see why people like oven-roasted garbanzo beans.  They are a good source of protein and so I'm surprised that more people don't grow them.  The only way I had ever had them before was back when it was popular for restaurants to add canned garbanzo beans to salads.  I never liked them that way.  They were mealy and I didn't think they had any flavor.  Funny how a poorly-prepared vegetable can turn a person off it like that.

Adzuki beans remind me of mung beans, the way they grow.  The difference is in how the beans are dark red, instead of dark green.  And the mung beans are all sort of crowded into the pod.  With the Adzuki, they're spaced apart from each other.

I had read that the beans are supposed to be sweet so I ate one that was in a green pod and YUK.  I will have to read more about them to find out how it is that they are so sweet that they are ground into a paste and then used in desserts, because, at this very moment, I'm not much impressed.  But, since I got them as part of a "sprouting mix", I bet they'd be best used for that. 

There is finally a gourd on the Bushel Basket gourd plant.

I grew some of these at The Ponca House and the gourds got as big as bowling balls.  I've seen them twice that big but I think they must've been grown where summers are longer than here.  There towards the end of the growing season I was cutting off baby gourds every day.  I knew they didn't have time to develop into anything that would dry properly, and I didn't want them sucking water and nutrients away from the ones that were already hanging on the vine.  Oh, and I had to make hammocks for these gourds when they got about the size of a cantaloupe, because they were very heavy. 

Last year I planted the seed I had saved, and I had plants but they didn't get very big, and never made any gourds.  This year, I started the seed inside IN JANUARY.  I used a milk jug, and when it was warm enough to transplant the plants into the garden, I just carefully cut the milk jug away from the soil that was in it, leaving the roots intact.  Dug a hole and set the rootball down into it, and except for a couple of days where it was just a little too cool, the plants never knew they'd been moved.  These have till late October to grow, maybe we'll get our first frost late, and if so, that would be helpful.  It took them a little while to start vining out but they have done so much better than last year's.  Bear in mind, this seed is now beyond five years old.  By the time the gourds dry enough that you can get the seeds out, a year has already passed.  Before they get dry, they will get moldy and look like hell.  You want to be really careful and not breathe in that mold.  Instructions that I found for drying gourds left a lot to be desired.  If you leave them on the vine in the winter weather, they will freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw.  The immature gourds will end up hanging there like a deflated balloon.  The mature ones will make it but they become thin-skinned.  I had the best results just loading 'em all onto the garden buggy and pushing it into the garage.  Still lost some, I guess that's inevitible, but at least the ones that dried out had nice thick skins.  The mold and a thin outer skin will scrub off after the gourd is dry enough to rattle.  Just wet them down in a tub of water periodically while you scrub with something abrasive.  A wadded-up plastic net bag that our Thanksgiving turkey came bundled in did the best job of anything.  I found keeping them wet kept the mold from becoming airborne, but you might also want to wear one of those masks to keep from breathing anything in.

Here's how the Canteen Gourd plants are doing.

Canteen gourds were used by Native Americans as, well, canteens.  They make nice bowls, too.  It's all in how you cut them.  Native Americans used gourds for all kinds of things.  It was almost as important for them to plant gourds as it was to plant food.  Some gourds are edible, but most are not.  The cucuzzi is a gourd, and tastes like squash.  I can't think what use there would be for a cucuzzi that was left on the vine to mature.  Other nice things about gourds is that they will grow in poor soil and will tolerate heat and drought.  Most bugs will not eat them, though as you can see, they will still make bite-marks on them.  Squash bugs DO favor the plant that makes egg-shaped gourds.  The egg-shaped gourds are not edible but, once dried and painted, make good egg-decoys to encourage a hen to lay.  They're nice to keep in the sewing basket if you mend small things or darn socks.  And they're cute in a basket, painted or not.  Squash bugs manage to kill the vine in pretty short order but they still want to hang out on the shoulders of these egg-shaped gourds if they are left hanging on the vine.  Not very pretty, but a trap crop that might save your other stuff from them, if you go out a couple of times every day to squash the bugs.  Take an old rag, they're juicy.  And be prepared, they stink.  Just so ya know.

Friday and the last day of July.
Now we just have August to get through and then we can enjoy having fall.   Nothing much new today.  Did my picking, Hubs did some more weed-wacking, and then we both came in damp from sweat.  So much for "the cool front".  So much for the 60% chances of rain, which did not materialize past a few dark clouds, and further chances have pretty much evaporated from the forecast until at least Tuesday.  Supposed to be in the mid- to upper 60's in the morning.  But at this point I'm thinking "Promises, promises....", and rather darkly, I might add.

Well, it's time for me to "slip out and do something", so guess this time it'll be to pick off all those poor, sad little peaches from the ground and do something with them.  I see where Amazon has a product made by Bonide that's called "LiquiCop" and I may check and see if Lowe's has it any cheaper than $15 for a quart of concentrate.  It's gotten good reviews and is supposed to be "organic".  Not only does the peach tree need it, so do the grapevines.

Hubs bought a bucket of KFC chicken and we had that for supper last night.  I just didn't feel up to cooking.  There's enough left over for another meal and fried chicken is something that Hubs could probably eat every night for awhile without getting tired of it.  You can't take the Country out of the Boy.  So he can have that tonight and maybe I will too.  I'm thawing a beef roast for tomorrow.  I'll put it in the crockpot with the contents of a can of beer and a few onions, and cook it out on the patio.  After the roast is done, I usually pour off the broth, add a 6-oz can of mushrooms and thicken it with cornstarch, and serve with mashed potatoes.  The taste is similar to Beef Burgundy.  Add a vegetable and you're done.

I hope y'all are faring ok with your weather, whatever that is.  Seems like every post, there's always someone to send up a prayer for.  We love our Mother Nature, but Wowzers, she can be one heck of a bad old girl sometimes.  Y'all stay well and safe, in other words,

Rock on.  Hugs xoxoxo

1 comment:

  1. I really like your garden yard, it looks great, much better than a bunch of flat grass. (-:



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