Well, it's getting close to garden planning time and so I have started accumulating seed catalogs and seeds.
From Baker Creek, I've added
- Angel Wings (China Rose) - An open-pollinated rose. HERE is more information.
- Beet (Crosby's Egyptian) - I've grown this good beet before, it's an old heirloom, doesn't have that "dirt" taste many beets do. Nice red color, round shape.
- Calendula (Resina) - This is supposed to make flowers that are more potent than your regular Calendula, which is good for the skin, used topically.
- Loofa (Bonanza 141) - I've grown loofah before, and, yeah, I made some loofah sponges but wasn't real impressed. HOWEVER, I found out the immature fruits are what my mother used to grow, and we ate them, sliced, in stir-fries and soups. They taste like squash, when young, and make cute little star shapes when sliced. Kids are kind of intrigued with that. Here, kid, eat a tree (broccoli); OR a star! Kids love pretending to be a Giant.
- Moldavian Balm (Dragonhead) - medicinal for tea. "Lightens a discouraged heart". Don't we all need that.
- Mugwort - Artemesia - medicinal antibacterial, antifungal. Tall, interesting plant, nice for dried wreaths and arrangements..
- Okra (Fife Creek Cowhorn) - To replace my cowhorn okra that just didn't do well this year. The pods got fibrous much sooner than they usually do. Not sure what happened.
- Petunia (Coral Salmon)
- Petunia (Rose of Heaven) - I'm told if petunias are planted with squash, they will deter squash bug. Might be too good to be true, but going to give it a shot.
- Siberian Wallflower - Highly scented bee magnet.
- Sorghum (India Red Popping) - Also called broomcorn. I've grown Rox Orange the last two or three years. The seed is really too small to pop, they just burn. Birds love the seed, though, and so it self-seeds and you never have to plant it again after the first year. After the seeds are combed off, or picked off by the birds, you can bundle the brushy ends of the stalks together and trim them off even to make a broom, if you want. There are several You-Tubes that will show you how it's done. Just one makes a cute little whisk broom.
- Sorghum (Tarahumara Popping)
- Squash (Jumbo Pink Banana) - been trying to grow this one for years. They say it can be eaten like yellow summer squash when the fruits are young and will turn pink and store well like a winter squash if left to mature. Unfortunately, squash bugs love it so I've never been able to grow this. Trying, one more time.
- Toothache Plant - Interesting little border plant. Makes your mouth numb for a little while if you chew a leaf. Also called eyeball plant because the "flowers" look like eyes.
- Wormwood - Another Artemesia. This is an ingredient in my homemade Absorbine, Jr. It was growing under the Hackberry trees, near the North Fourth when we moved in here but I didn't see it this year. Antifungal, antibacterial. I also have another Artemesia, Sweet Annie, that grows in my garden. Weird about this one. I grew it at The Ponca House in 2008, but I didn't save seed. We left there in 2010, and then, about in 2014, I kind of wished I had some growing here, as I just love the scent. Not long after, I was digging around in the garden and there was that familiar smell. Yup. They it was! Since then, some have come up every year, but this year, I moved them to the fenceline simply because they take up a lot of space in the garden and some plants just don't like them very well. We brought the contents of our raised beds out here from The Ponca House. We worked so hard "making" that soil, I was definitely not leaving THAT behind. Plus, you never know what a buyer's going to want. Some would welcome beds full of garden dirt in their back yard and some would put the removal of them down as a condition of the sale. Even if we hadn't needed good garden soil out here, we didn't want to have a last-minute scramble. So, some would say it came up in 2014, four years later, because the seed was in the soil. But I prefer to think it a God thing. And thank you, God....
From Terroir Seeds (Underwood Gardens), I've just received
- Amaranth (Joseph's Coat) - I've tried to grow this before and didn't have much luck.
- Amaranth (Love Lies Bleeding) - I had only a little bit of seed last spring, which I wintersowed. It came up and made one red "flower", but never got very tall and didn't make any seed.
- Basil (Magical Michael) - I had this before and liked it because it was a nice compact plant and made small leaves that air-dried very quickly and seemed to keep their flavor for use during the winter.
- Bean (Lazy Wife / Housewife) - I think I lamented earlier that I've been unable to find these where I normally buy seed. It turns out there's been some kind of mix up in that there are Lazy Housewife beans and there are Lazy Wife beans and they have been thought the same thing but are not. Apparently the Lazy Housewife have more roundish beans and Lazy Wife beans are kidney-shaped. These were advertised as Lazy Housewife but the picture provided showed the beans to be kidney-shaped. And that's what the beans in the packets were. That was one of the first things I did when I got the package last week. I'm happy, because the variety that I had and preferred was the one with kidney-shaped beans. What I had saved came up spotty or not at all last spring, and must've gotten crossed with something else as the bean pods were short and twisted. I was not a happy camper. At all. I have not had a good bean crop in about three years now.
- Bean, Scarlet Emperor - I've grown Red Emperor and Painted Lady runner beans before, but they have both had wide, short, fuzzy, kind of meaty, strong-tasting beanpods that I really don't like very well. This variety is supposed to be very prolific at making long, more slender beans. There is another variety of runner bean that's called White Emergo, and the beans, instead of being black and pink, are white and look like cannellini beans. The beans are said to be very tasty. Maybe one of these days I'll try that one. But I won't try both in the same year because of cross-pollinating concerns. I'll grow these on the trellis over the cellar, I hope they won't cross with the Lazy Wife beans out in the garden.
- Fireweed - Bee magnet. Early shoots can be eaten fresh or lightly cooked. Early leaves can be eaten like spinach. Older leaves can be used for tea, and have a citrus-like scent. Flowers are pretty. Some parts of the plant are medicinal. More info HERE.
- Hollyhock (Indian Spring Mix) - I've really admired this variety for awhile now. I have the old fashioned kind. These are also singles, like what I have, but the colors are a little different and they have yellow centers.
- Hyssop (Rootbeer) - I think this is often referred to as Hummingbird Hyssop, if so, I've had it before and is was a butterfly magnet.
- Mint (Virginia Mountain) - A medicinal, camphor-like mint. I might use it in my homemade Absorbine Jr. instead of Orange Mint. The American mountain folk used it medicinally, much like Vicks Vapo-Rub, and as a tea for sore throat and coughs.
- Onion, Nodding - This was growing in the flowerbed at the library and I thought it was interesting-looking. I collected seed from one but nothing came of it.
- Onion, Sweet Candy bulbs, 1/2# - supposed to be an improvement over the hybrid Candy onion, a little longer storage, and open pollinated, so hopefully they'll make seed that I can keep going in future years. The hybrid Candy will make flower heads if they're left in the ground for another spring, but there are no seeds. Since there is one bulb in the package that's a lot larger than the others (and I would've rather had the 4 or so little bulbs this big one took the place of, but, oh, well. It will most likely bolt to seed right away next spring, being the size it is, and that might serve my purposes just fine.
- Roselle - Yeah, Fiona, you got me in the mood to grow this again. Needs a long growing season. Sometimes our first fall frost comes too soon for it to make bracts, though.
- Sunflower (Van Gogh Mix) - I love me some sunflowers. Our goldfinches do, too. I love to hear the goldfinches talking to each other: "sweeeeeet? sweeeeeet?" We have a lot of birds here that we didn't have when we moved in. We saw Orioles for the first time this summer. We put up Bluebird houses and they came and had two families in one. One of the House Wrens had two families in one of the others. Barn Swallows, Scissortails, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Mockingbirds, Robins, Grackles, Crows, Hawks, occasionally an Eagle, Buzzards, have always been around. Even though Hubs is not very good at managing the Martin house, we still have a few that come. Of course several different kinds of sparrows have sometimes been the bane of my existence. They made themselves quite at home with the chickens and ate their feed, when I had chickens. We have to close off every nook and cranny, up close to the house, or they're building a nest in it. I can't have a wreath on the outside of the door or I get baby House Sparrows, who, while really cute, will poop all over everything before they're able to leave the nest. There was one spending the night perched under the patio cover for awhile, which would never fail to startle me, flying almost right in front of my face, when I'd first step out on the patio in the mornings. But, moving on, now.
- Thyme (Orange Scented) - I've grown "Orange Mint", and it does not smell or taste like orange. Kind of hoping this will.
I don't think I posted the sweet potato harvest in October. It wasn't a whole lot, but enough for the winter, since Hubs doesn't like sweet potatoes.
The dang grub worms took as much as they could before they were dug up. We don't have chickens to feed them to, and now the birds aren't taking them because their digestive systems have changed, with the season, to seeds rather than to bugs and worms. I thought about taking some out to the field where the geese land, but by the time they fly in, the grub worms will have dug themselves in. Come to think of it, I haven't seen them there in the last few days. Maybe they have gone south.
Fortunately, we have some neighbors on the county road east of us, that still have chickens. So, last time I had a bunch of grub worms collected, Hubs took them over there and asked if they'd like to have them for their chickens. Hubs said they have some little pullets now, and when they put some of the smaller grubs in front of them they just didn't know what to think. They looooooked at the grub worms, and then they looked up as if to say, "What you talkin' 'bout?" Heh. But the bigger hens, well, the chase was on, with much excited squawking and wing flapping, as it always was with our chickens when we had them. They were so fun to watch. We don't think of chickens having actual personalities, but they do. Some of them are butt-heads, and are mean to the others, but some are really delightful.
From mid-May through part of June, you can't be on the patio with the patio light on, early in the morning, without being dive-bombed by Junebugs. They, and Japanese beetles, are what these grub worms turn into. Usually I'm out there picking up the Junebugs and dropping them into an empty milk jug. Chickens love these, too. Or you and just make a fire in the burn barrel and drop them into the fire. They kind of "go to waste" that way, but it's still better than letting them dig themselves back into the soil and deposit about a thousand larvae. Some people eat June bugs after they've cooked them in hot coals, but I'm going to have to get a lot hungrier than I ever am to do that. They say they turn kind of "molasses-ey". Ewwww. Last year, we took them to Jo-Alyn Lowe park, which has a big pond and there are always lots of geese there. People take bread out there to the park to feed to the geese, and they will come right up to you. We created pandemonium, shaking out our grub worms onto the ground in front of those geese.
I still had some sweet potatoes in the pantry from last year, but they were really too old and fibrous to be good to eat.
So they were cut up, and went into the compost bucket.
The ends with sprouts became "starts" for next spring.
No, I don't usually start these this early, but I think they'll be ok. When I was a kid growing up, my mother would always buy an extra sweet potato at Thanksgiving time, and she'd put it in water in an old crockery bean pot, and then would put that on top of the refrigerator. By spring the potato itself would be pretty much rotted but there would be miles and miles of potato vine. I don't think she ever thought to put the vines out in the garden, she just liked to have something green and growing in the house through the dismal winter. For as many years as my mother gardened, there was so much about which she was unaware. She didn't usually gather seed. She thought hybrids were The Best, and was always so proud of her Better Boy and Early Girl tomatoes. So when the seed catalogs would come in late winter, she'd study each one, and make out lonnnnng orders, mostly for the same things that she grew the year before, with maybe a few things "to try", and almost always, a new Iris variety or two.
I thought Mom had more different kinds of iris than anyone around, until I walked around the house of my friends, Hazel and Dorothy, who lived on a county road north of Copan. Hazel and Dorothy would take excursions in the summer, and one of the places they went to every spring was an iris farm, somewhere in Kansas, I think, and with each visit they'd each buy a variety they didn't have already. I didn't get any of Mom's iris, but Hazel and Dorothy shared with me, so I have those to remind me of them. And I have some real beauties from Glenda, and some I bought at garage sales and local plant sales. Every spring when the iris bloom, it's like a visit from friends.
I grew "fall potatoes" this year, and it was an interesting experiment. All that I did was just to tuck the small potatoes back into the soil where they have grown. I've had potatoes actually grow from the compost that I bury in the garden. And I've had some potatoes show up in the spring that wintered over. But this is kind of rare for this area.
There were several potatoes that were about the size of a tennis ball, but most of them had been riddled by the grub worms. So I scrubbed those till they were clean, cut out the bad spots and blanched them in boiling water. Then I peeled and diced them. They have been in the freezer waiting for some morning when we want to have eggs, sausage and hash browns with onion and sweet peppers, and that turned out to be Sunday morning.
But I digress.
So this is what I mean about not wasting things. Some people would have looked at those holey potatoes and just thrown them away. There are probably four healthy servings of potatoes there. Dr. Oz says the foods that are good for inflammation in the body are good fats and potatoes, preferably potatoes that have some color to them, like Yukon Golds and the blue potatoes. I like the Golds and they make pretty mashed potatoes. But I've never had the blue. Might get some blue seed potatoes next spring to add to my repertoire. Oh, and guess what? Lard is considered a good fat now.
I think I'll bring in that bucket of sand I have in the shed and spread some in the bottom of a big pan, then put these potatoes in a single layer, and add the rest of the sand to cover. Maybe if they're out in the garage, where it's dark and cool (but not freezing), they will make it to spring and be "seed potatoes".
We're almost in Kansas here, so we're Zone 6. Most of the state of Oklahoma is Zone 7. That means we have an earlier first-frost in fall and thus a shorter growing season than the rest of our state. Colder winters. We used to get so much more rain than the rest of the state that our area was dubbed "Green Country", and we are considered to be the southwestern corner of "The Ozarks". But it's not so much that way anymore. We've had drought and intense, triple-digit temperatures in the summer pretty regularly in the past couple of decades. When we first moved out here in 2010, where rock can be found with just the bite of a shovel, we had a terrible time growing anything.
Some of you might remember I tried growing peanuts this year. It was too late in the spring to get seed when I decided to try, so I bought a package of raw peanuts, the kind that are sold for making peanut brittle with, and planted some of those. I didn't think they were doing much, though I did notice that they bloomed, so I almost didn't bother to dig them up.
But lookit here.... Don't this beat all??
I had read somewhere that the tips of the peanut plant find their way back into the ground and the peanuts grow from the tips. I didn't find that to be exactly true. These peanuts pretty much grew a lot like potatoes do: up the stalk. Probably would help to hill up the soil around them as they grow, like a lot of people do their potatoes.
My ginger didn't do so well. I started with a nice big hand I bought at Whole Foods. I broke it into several pieces before planting. They sprouted and grew fronds about a foot tall. Every time I'd water, the soil would wash off the tops of the pieces of the hand and I could see they were there and still fat. Then one day, it looked like they had just dissolved right out of the skins! The fronds were still green so I replanted the ones I'd dug up, just to be sure I was SEEING that right, and waited awhile longer. I read somewhere that you're supposed to wait till the fronds die, but they just never did. The first frost was coming. So, what the hell. I dug 'em all up.
I guess I can replant these and maybe they'll get bigger instead of smaller this time. *Sigh*. I wouldn't ever have attempted this if it hadn't been for you, Fiona, and it was an interesting experiment. I'll keep on trying.
I had to process the Futsu pumpkins that I grew this summer. One of them developed a bad spot and the others seemed like they were not as heavy as they were before. Drying out, obviously.
Don'tcha just LOOOOVE that color? OMG, I could just eat that with a spoon. And I had three smallish spaghetti squash that matured before the squash bugs found the plants. I have two nice big Long Island Cheese pumpkins that still look very good, so I didn't process them. Glenda said hers are into their second year of storage and still look fine. I don't remember, Glenda, if I have ever thanked you for all your "big-sister" advice and so on over the years. But I have appreciated it and have learned so much from you. So, thanks, Hon.
Up to this point, we haven't had any fire out here this year and so we haven't been over-run with field rats. We did see one run across the walkway to the patio, where the Lime Basil grows and had been dropping seed. The birds just love that seed and I guess the rats and mice do, too. So I set the trap and started catching about one a day. The count is up to seven, but that's for the whole month so far. Remember, last year, when we had fire that actually got onto our land, within a week or two the count was up to 178. This month's count includes one that actually died in the trap, I forgot to look for 3 or 4 days in a row and the poor little bugger must've starved to death. I feel kinda bad about that. Hubs says that's silly. Maybe he had a dose of D-Con in him from somewhere, and died because of that. In that case, I did good by keeping something from eating him and suffering consequences. As disgusting as they are, rats are one of God's creatures and have their place, though Not In My Back Yard. Nor is it in my car engine or in my freezer motor in the garage, thank you very much.
In the evenings, when I'm too tired to do anything else (or too lazy), or when the weather is not such that I want to be outside, I've been knitting dishcloths!
I'm not a very good knitter. But these are so simple. Just cast on 4. Knit two rows. Then, at the start of each row, knit two and increase one. Then knit the rest of the way across. Just do this for every row till you have 50 stitches, and then start knitting stitch number 3 and 4 together on each row till you're down to 4 stitches again, and then finish off. There's a really nice tutorial HERE. Note that she does her increase by just throwing the yarn to the front, and when she does the next knit stitch, it makes a "place holder" for the one before it because the yarn came from the front instead of the back, and that's what gives her the increased stitch. Does that make sense? I noticed in the comments of the tutorial that someone was really confused by her saying "yarn over" at this point, because that normally means that then you're going to change from knit to purl. But if you do not purl, but KNIT the next stitch, well, if you're not familiar with how that works, try it and you'll see. I also like how smoothly she knits, by just moving her finger to loop the yarn over the needle. I learned to knit, when I was about 12 or so, from a magazine-sized booklet that Mom bought during the 1940's or 50's. Mom didn't have the patience to teach her kids how to do things. Mostly she'd find some kind of learning aid, and then give advice after we had the basics down.
When my mother knitted, she would throw her yarn over the needle with her whole arm. I always knew when she was knitting, early in the morning or late at night, because I could hear her chair creak with every stitch. But all that jerky movement hurts my shoulder that I damaged when I fell in the garden, ten or fifteen years ago. So I'm grateful I was able to watch this other woman on YouTube to see how the thread can be handled with only a flick of the finger. I just looooove YouTube. I'm using a size 7 pair of knitting needles and 4-ply cotton yarn,Peaches and Cream or Sugar and Cream brand that you can get at WMT. A 2 oz. skein is only enough for a dishcloth and a half. But Amazon sells it in 14 oz. cones and you get quite a price break per ounce that way. I had my yarn already, bought at a garage sale. I love it when people decide they're going to learn to knit or crochet and then find out they don't enjoy it. Then they load up all their yarn in a bag and price it at a dollar at their next garage sale. Considering the price of yarn, that's a real bonanza. I wanted to use up that left-over yarn but I didn't want to make half-and-half dishcloths so I decided to try starting with two yarns, one variegated, and the other a solid color. I began by just picking up, say, the solid color, and knitting a row and then back, then dropping the solid color yarn and picking up the variegated, knitting across and then back, and drop it and pick up the solid color again, and so on. No cutting. Work it like you're doing a narrow stripe sweater, in other words. This worked out pretty well. The top two dishcloths in the picture were done this way. Can you tell the difference?
That dark green yarn that's on the needles is actually my old, holey, faded green garden sweater, raveled out. Heh! I bought a new GAP sweater at a garage sale this summer for $3 and I'll be wearing it instead. Wow, there's a lot of cotton yarn in that old garden sweater.
This was us in 2013. OMG, look how fat I was. I don't even WEAR those jeans anymore because I can't keep them UP. Thank you, God.
I had an email from Marsha asking for my Absorbine, Jr. recipe the other day. I took that post and several other old ones down from the blog because I didn't think there was a need for all those old ones to be there. However, I realize that post has been linked to by a few people on Pinterest and maybe some other places. I still have it in my Drafts. I think I'll update it a little and then put it back up when I get time. I'll back-date it so maybe anybody that's looking for it to be in February of 2014 will be able to find it. Taking it down probably broke the link that people have to it, not sure if back-dating it to the date it was originally published will fix that or not.
The men come to install my new countertops today. Everybody that prays, please pray for them today. I did, and Carole has. I have some concerns because I really didn't feel that the man who came to take measurements seemed very capable to do the job. I don't know, it was just the feeling that I got from things he did and said while he was here. I expressed my concern to the young woman I dealt with at Lowe's to get this ball rolling and she said if I'm not pleased their Satisfaction Guarantee will kick in. But even so, I don't want to be without the use of my kitchen any longer than I just have to. They'll do the job from the tear-out to completion today.
So, we'll treat the workers well so that they'll be motivated to do the best job they can do.
Till next time... Hugs xoxoxo