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12/31/2008 11:34:00 PM

Happy 2009!

MySpace Graphics

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12/31/2008 01:13:00 AM

Recycled Newspaper Pots

Recycle your old newspaper! Patti Moreno shows you how:

It's very simple to make these and that way there is more room in the cupboard for dishes instead of yogurt cups for seed starting.

If you've gotta have a do-hicky to make your life complete, Thompson and Morgan have a newspaper pot maker.

12/31/2008 12:27:00 AM

Green Tomato

Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomato

Green tomatoes are not necessarily unripe tomatoes, there are a few out there that when fully grown and mature are no other color but green. When the green tomato does ripen, it does change color, it just happens to be another shade of green.

Green Grape Tomato

While the tomatoes roots come from a small yellow berry from South America, the green varieties emerged during the 18th century or so. Green tomatoes were a favorite in the 19th century for pickling but this was more for the unripe fruits than for the green tomato varieties. Now mostly, they are prized for their flavor and the fact that they are heirloom varieties.

Green Zebra Tomato

I know more than one gardener that are completely anti-green tomato, but I believe they add texture and color and flavor to whatever salad or meal with which they are paired.

12/31/2008 12:18:00 AM

Lavender Jelly

Lavender Jelly

3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dried lavender flowers*
Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 (1 3/4-ounces) box powdered pectin or 1 pouch (3-ounces) liquid pectin
4 cups sugar

In a large saucepan over high heat bring water just to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in dried lavender flowers, and let steep for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, strain mixture into a deep kettle or pot, discarding the lavender flowers. Stir in lemon juice and pectin; continue stirring until the pectin is dissolved.

Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil; add sugar. When the jelly solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes (see below), stirring occasionally.

Boil Times:
2 minutes - soft gel
4 minutes - medium gel

After boiling, transfer the jelly into hot sterilized jars. Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.

Makes five 1/2 pints.

12/29/2008 08:25:00 PM

Easy Hydroponic Seed Starting Factory

Patti Moreno's newest video. A hydroponic set up for seedlings.

12/29/2008 07:47:00 PM

Black Tomatoes

Black Cherry

Black tomatoes are native to the Ukraine and didn't make it out of a small area in the southern part of the country until the 19th century when Russian soldiers took seeds home with them. Up until them, there were very few black tomato varieties out there but by the the seeds spread through Russia, there were all sorts of them. Now there are over fifty black tomatoes to choose from, ranging from black plum tomatoes, to Black Prince, Black Zebra and Southern Night. Germany, former Yugoslavia and also the US have been credited with new versions of the black tomato over the years.

Black Krim

Black tomatoes are noted for their very earthy flavor and are noted to have the strongest flavor of all tomatoes. They are prized for their lovely colors ranging from deep mahogany (Brandywine) to dark purple (Cherokee). There are many places to sell seeds for these tomatoes, but the safest bet is to go to a place like Seed Saver's Exchange who actually know the lines of the heirlooms (for the most part, they don't always get full histories when they get seeds).

Some varieties:

Black Prince

Black Plum

Black Russian

12/28/2008 06:54:00 PM


I was whipping together basil chicken in the kitchen when a friend of mine pointed out that I could just run down to the Thai restaurant and pick up some fantastic basil chicken with all the veggies and a little spring roll. I smiled at that, not in the least bit offended that she thought that my basil chicken wasn't as delicious because that wasn't the point she was making. She was making the point that it would be more cost effective for me to spend $30 at the Thai place down the street than to go through all the trouble of going to the store buying what I needed and then coming home and making it myself.

Is that true? I don't think so. There is something compelling about chopping the vegetables, frying up the food, tasting it to make sure that there is just the right amount of basil and then laying it out on a bed of jasmine rice so that my family can eat healthy.

Even better is pulling the ingredients from your own back yard and doing it. Fresh broccoli, peppers, basil, carrots, zucchini, onion, garlic. Everything you can pick up from the grocery store, sure, but it means so much more when you do it yourself. The time and patience that goes into a good meal is also the same time and patience that goes into growing it yourself. It just takes a little more time and a little more patience and once you've established your garden, these meals will be second nature.

Once you've tasted the flavors and textures from your garden, the grocery store will not look so economical. Why spend 2.99 a pound when you can buy the seeds for much cheaper and just use a little elbow grease? The rewards are so much more satisfying than the rat race. And the only things you'll be buying from the grocery store will be the things you can grow unless you have the space for cows and pigs and such. I personally am profoundly happy for little kids all over the world that don't have to spend hours churning butter (yep, that was me) because of the electric ones that have recently come out in the last 50 years or so.

We live in a time when we have access to foods from all over the world and we can grow them in our back yards. Our ancestors brought over their staples from the various countries they came from and encompass those varieties with the varieties native here, that is just a stunning array of flavor, texture and color. We are losing them now, from the thousands to hundreds. Our palates have become placid and we are accustomed to singular lines of bred foods that are now becoming hybrids whose seed do not produce the same as the parent. Slaves to what someone else thinks is easy to ship, long lasting after harvest and quick growing. Where is the fun in that?

Space is a problem now. There are many, many more people here now than in the day of my great grandparents. Where my great grandparents had acres. My grandmother and uncles have acres, I have 3 acres that I'm about to leave for a back 40. Vertical gardening, raised beds, and indoor gardening are the keys to being liberated from foods that taste like plastic. When I moved to Atlanta from rural Louisiana, that is exactly how everything tasted to me when I was 12. I grew up eating foods right out of the garden, then I was confronted with huge grocery stores with tomatoes wrapped in plastic and apples coated in wax. My mother said I'd get used to it and unfortunately, I did.

But as I stood over my basil chicken chuckling getting a strange look from my friend, I just nodded and said "That is probably so," and left it at that.

12/27/2008 11:22:00 PM

Solar Revolution Project

I came across an article from earlier this year and was excited by the potential after I read it!

12/27/2008 08:56:00 PM

Freedom Gardens

This is a very interesting set of videos. I encourage everyone that comes through here to watch them.

12/26/2008 11:21:00 PM

Another Year..

2008 is almost over. I look back over the year and see wonderful things. My children are growing up and most of all they have an active interest in growing their own food and that leads to them being more healthy eaters. I've learned a lot about my family through gardening, successes and failures have contributed to a closeness that we would not otherwise have. It is interesting to think that this small thing endears us so to one another and it is becoming more important to me.

Our seed stock is becoming rather respectable, a plethora of new things to grow and try. This has sparked off the need for new ways of cooking and offers a wonderful addition to the palate that would otherwise be stuck statistcally in 10 alternating meals. We are a family that spends 80% of our time together in the kitchen and at the table. Another amazing everyday activity that keeps us close.

This coming year will see the upheaval of a major relocation. And then another after we've found a place to buy. It is going to be a hard road to walk for a while, with most of our lives in storage until we can break free from rental properties and into our own house with our own land. It has kept us from buying all those trees I keep pointing at and jumping up and down over, and that is going to take a toll, too. The prices are rising and it is frightening to think of what the cost will be initially be. That is our only fear in all of this. It just seems that nothing can outrun the rising costs, including our want to return to a simplier lifestyle. Especially our absolute longing for the land we've dreamed of having.

I'm a tad put off because I won't be able to garden this year like I'd planned. I will only be able to do the bare minimum which puts my teeth on edge. Our grand plans for a year of growing, harvesting and preserving are on the backburner until this entire mess is back to flowing easily. I'm looking forward to getting this over with as soon as humanly possible.

On a lighter note, my seed swaps have, indeed, put me in a much better position to be a good gardener next year. I'll definately have a choice in what to grow and will be able to expand gradually over the course of the growing season. I'm looking forward to getting to know each of the plants we intend to grow and taking endless notes and pictures to share here. I'm also looking forward to finding a garden mentor to help unlock some of what I already know but have not recalled so far. Growing up on a farm, I spent a good time in the garden, I remember from seed to harvest. Endless hours of shelling, shucking, dicing, canning. But those memories are through a childs eyes and some of it doesn't fit into what I "know". So I'll be hunting for garden buddies and mentors in the Portland, OR/ Vancouver, WA area.

Very exciting!

I started with Jack-o-lantern pumpkin seeds and some carrots and through seed swaping I've come up with:

Carrot, Danvers #126
Broccoli, De Cicco, Organic
Chives, Garlic
Corn, Sweet, Early Golden Bantam
Cucumber, Miniature White
Honeydew, Earlidew
Leek, Summer
Lettuce, Organic, Mix
Mix, Carrot, Lunar, Solar, Cosmic, Atomic
Mix, Salad Greens
Oregano, Greek
Paprika, Capsicum Annum, Szentesi Pincos
Parsley, Italian Flat Leaf
Pepper, Sweet, California Wonder 300 TMR
Pepper, Sweet, Orange
Pepper, Sweet, Orange Sun
Pumpkin, Jack-o-Lantern
Radish, Altaglobe
Tomato, Black Cherry
Tomato, Black Moor
Tomato, Black Plum
Tomato, Cherry Red
Tomato, Gold Nugget
Tomato, Green Grape
Tomato, Health Kick
Tomato, Heinz 1439
Tomato, Hong Yuen
Tomato, Red Pear
Tomato, Roma Giant Paste
Tomato, White Currant
Tomato, Yellow Lemon
Tomato, Yellow Pear
Watermelon, Sugar Baby
Watermelon, Yellow Doll

With more on the way. I also have a lot of flower seeds that I'm looking forward to getting out there. That list is about as large as this one and I started only with cypress vine and ended up with a lot more from swaps and newbie freebies.

My seed box needs to be replaced soon, I'm running out of room.

I have been very blessed with generous amounts of home grown seeds from good people who want to help us get started.

I want to experiment with growth lights and aeroponics since I won't have a lot of land for a few months, it seems the easiest way to do things for now. I'm looking forward to having a nice salad before meals and later growing most or all the vegetables that we cook with on a regular basis.

I just have to get over that potato hump. My husband thinks I'm crazy for wanting to grow two or three different varieties at the same time, but he is thinking on too large of a scale. He'll just have to wait and see.

2008 was a year for planning, 2009 will be the year that we get through one project at a time.

12/24/2008 05:00:00 PM

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays Graphics provided by MUDTRAP.COM

12/23/2008 10:34:00 PM

Seed the Day and Rue It At The Same Time

Dagoba, you know how I love Dagoba, is doing Seed the Day. You send them a pic with you and your favorite bar of their chocolate and they will send you a packet of seeds. You can't beat that. Details on their website. The offer actually ends at the end of the month so get moving!

On a more dramatic front, Obama nominates Tom Vilsack as the Secretary of Agriculture. I'm not usually a hugely emotional person when it comes to politics. I'm not usually a hugely political person, period. But what a downward swing this is. Vilsack lobbies for Monsanto *shutter*, the makers of Roundup (which has been shown to be damaging over long term use if I'm not mistaken) and supports things like not putting labels on milk declaring them rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) free because they know that the public would rather not drink the stuff and they know that we're willing to pay whatever it takes to protect our health. Better that we just don't know about that. This would be devastating to companies like Monsanto who are major researchers for these types of hormones and other things too.

With such disastrous chemicals as Agent Orange riding on their coat tails, Monsanto has a long history of covering things up. They recently paid out a staggering $700 million for not cleaning up their mess from back in the 70's to a town in Alabama. They are also in deep with foreign court systems for basically lying about the type of seed they brought into the country for farmers to plant. Not nice business at all.

Then there is my favorite. The "terminator" seed. What did you say? You're asking if this is a seed dressed up like Arnold Swartzenager from the Terminator movie, complete with shot gun, cool glasses and clad in black leather? Nay, I say! If only. This technology produces sterile seeds, my friends. That's right. Commercial farmers would be forced to purchase seed over and over from Monsanto because the seeds that the plants would produce would be non-viable.

Did anyone actually stop to think about this on a global scale? A bunch of morons go into a lab, decide to figure out how to make all seeds sterile so that big companies can decide the fate of the world's food. And in the mean time while commercial farmers are forced to abide by this, who gets completely screwed in the end? Well lets see, uh the WORLD maybe? Cross pollination with these plants would devastate natural forests and fields. It would complete shut down the home gardener. Grow your own only to find out next year that half the seeds you saved are sterile.

And where would everyone have to go to get viable seeds? Hmm? You got it. Monsanto. Even though they say they have no interest in further research on the sterile seed, I still find it terrifying that they purchased the company that came up with the concept in 2007.

Idiots. All of them, complete morons. Once you let it all out into the world, things change. The earth is not a laboratory and life finds a way, strangely enough. I, personally, like things just how they are. I enjoy the fresh foods of my labor and certainly don't need some big company coming in and screwing up the planet more than it already is by letting loose to the world plants that produce sterile seeds. It is just unthinkable.

This is what Tom Vilsack supports. This is the future that he could potentially bring forth. It isn't just the growth hormones, its is much bigger than that. The GM corn that actually causes damage to the liver and kidneys. It's the audacity they show by trying to patient the birth of pigs because they have a specific instrument they use to artificially inseminate. The patients on specific varieties and the law suites they filed against farmers for selling seed they grew. It's Terminator, Agent Orange, DDT, Roundup.

For shame Tom Vilsack. For shame Monsanto. For shame Obama for even thinking that this guy would have the minds and hearts of the American people on his agenda.

Sound your voice! Make you're voice heard. Take action!

Say "No!" to GMO's. Say "No!" to the lack of labeling on our foods. Say "No!" to the cover ups and the lies. Say "No!" to Tom Vilsack and to Monsanto. And for the love of all things sacred, say "No!" to the Terminator seeds. They may be saying that they aren't pursuing research, but look at their track record and make the decision for yourself.

12/22/2008 08:03:00 PM

Citrus Crisis

While this time of year is a time for giving fruit baskets filled with orange and apples and nuts of all sorts, there could be in the very near future a small problem with giving a good old fashion fruit basket.

There is brewing in the southern part of the US a small crisis that is beginning to escalate. The Asian citrus psyllid is causing quarantines all over the southern United States. This has also hit Brazil and Asia. The Asian citrus psyllid apparently carries a bacteria that causes the fruit to green and from this they call it Deadly Citrus Greening Disease. It destroys the plant and fruit.

The Citrus Crisis Alert site has a full listing of what and why. Keep an eye on this page and watch as the citrus prices go on the rise. All the more reason to have your own right now.

12/22/2008 07:29:00 PM

Multiple Fruiting Trees

Yea, I know. My obsession with dwarf fruit trees has again caused research and a post concerning it, but there is the thing: Last time there weren't as many of these out there and now that they are out there, I have to post about it.

The fruit cocktail tree is a very interesting tree producing a staggering six different fruits on the three including nectarines, peaches, plums, and apricots. Fairly amazing in my mind.

This is the graphic that accompanies this tree wherever I've found it, which are:


Both places charge the same price for the tree, but what I also found interesting was at the House of Wesley is the pear and apple trees. Each tree has 5 different apples or pears and they are both dwarf varieties, not growing over 10 feet. Lovely.

Excitingly enough, Direct Gardening has a citrus version. A dwarf variety that has orange, tangerines and lemons. I'm just loving it!

Now if only we could manage to get all my favorite fruits onto one tree.

Outside of fruit, while driving along one day I saw a Roses of Sharon tree with two different color blooms. I was surprised to see it and thought it was a fluke. I was wrong! I found this little gem and also a butterfly 3 in 1 and a red white and blue hydrangea. Completely awesome!

I was also surprised to find a site selling Mayhaw. This is not a well known fruit as it is a southern tree growing primarily in Eastern Texas, all over Louisiana and in Mississippi. I grew up on the jelly, ice cream and cobbler. I also grew up harvesting this berry. It is much like a cranberry and harvested similarly. We would get out in the boat and use a net to gather them out of the water and lay sheets around the bank side of the tree to catch dropping fruit, usually caused by one of the boys shaking the tree. It is a delicious fruit and tastes similarly to cranberry made into a jelly but is much different when eaten as ice cream or a cobbler. I found it at Aaron's Nursery.

These trees will have the same shipping restrictions for specific states. Most will not be available to the west coast and citrus producing states like Florida from these sites and specific searches will need to be local for those areas.

12/19/2008 11:34:00 AM

Peppermint Patty

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12/16/2008 11:39:00 PM

Victory Gardens

A forum post got me to thinking about Victory Gardens and the roll they once played when First Lady Elenore Roosevelt planted hers at the White House. The Victory Garden was utilized in the US, Canada and the UK as a way to not only boost food production in those countries but it was a way to help keep the home fires burning brightly. The Victory Garden accounted for an astonishing 40% of the total fresh food production during the war years from about 20 million Americans.

Families were encouraged to plant their own, harvest and preserve their home grown foods through such major periodicals as Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping and Life. This helped to ease the burden on the labor and transportation shortages that were abound throughout the country and it also helped to save the commerically canned items for the troops. The government urged everyone to make Victory Gardens a family and community effort. And it made a tremendous difference, more than 20 million gardens were planted putting out about 10 tons of food.

Unfortunately, when the war ended so did the push for Urban American to be more self sufficient. The gardens that were grown during the war years declined significantly, but the concept never died. With our current economic status in the US and worldwide, the Victory Garden is making a come back, however small.

12/14/2008 10:54:00 PM

Winter Sprouts

Part of winter gardening is growing sprouts to munch down on. A popular sprout is alfalfa. Sprouting is becoming more popular as gardeners yearn for more fresh produce that isn't grown in some distant country, costing more and more every season.

You will need a quart (or liter) glass jar or maybe a sprout container or bag.
Alfalfa seeds (untreated seeds).
Something to prop the jar up on so that it is sitting at an angle to allow for drainage.
A warm dark place to stash your jar.

Rinse your seeds, then soak for 4 to 8 hours. Drain the seeds and then prop your jar so that the excess can drain. The idea behind sprouting is to keep moisture available without harboring mold or drowning the seeds so make sure that your jar can drain.

Once or twice a day rinse your seeds. This keeps them from developing funky smells and sludge that comes from beneficial bacterial growth that the seedlings will use to help them grow in soil. Make sure your jar is returned to a draining position.

After a few of days, taste test your sprouts (after a good rinse) to see if they are ready to eat. If they are, munch down, if not, try again the next day. Always check your sprouts for mold before you eat them. Throw out any sprouts that are moldy.

Spouts can be stored in the chill chest for a few days. Put them in a dry container and in the case of alfalfa, ventilate the container, and eat whenever your in the mood.

Sprouts can be used in stir fry for added nutrition. Remember that the older some sprouts get, the tougher they will be so make sure to use them when they are only a few days old.

This is another grand experiment. Not all sprouts are the same!

12/14/2008 01:35:00 AM

Irish Cream Fudge Recipe

Irish Cream Fudge Recipe

2 packages ( each package should be 12 oz. each) of milk chocolate chips 
1 (12 oz.) package semisweet chocolate chips 
2 jars of marshmallow cream, 7 ounces EACH 
2 t. of vanilla extract 
2/3 C. of Irish Cream 
2 C. of chopped nuts - optional 
4 1/2 C. of granulated sugar 
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk 
1/2 lb. of butter

In a very large bowl, combine the 2 packages of milk chocolate chips, the one package of semisweet chocolate chips, both jars of marshmallow cream, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, the Irish Cream, and nuts if you are adding them. Set this mixture aside. 

Line a 10-x-15-inch pan with foil and spread lightly with butter or margarine. 

In a medium sized saucepan, combine 4 1/2 cups of granulated sugar, 1 can of evaporated milk, and 1/2 pound of butter. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes. 

Pour the milk mixture into the very large bowl holding the chocolate chip mixture. Stir slowly by hand to combine. It is very important to do this by hand and NOT use any kind of mixer. 

Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and chill until set.

12/14/2008 01:05:00 AM

Holiday Rush!

Christmas is right around the corner and it is almost like the year managed to sneak past me.  Normally by Thanksgiving I've done all my shopping already but this year, like so many others, I'm behind and unorganized.  We've managed to keep our tradition of getting the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving, I'm happy to say, but I'm still waiting for some things that we've purchased to come in, some of it not even clearing the account yet.  That is more than a little frustrating because some of it needs to be mailed on after I get it.

I've been making candy again this year, too.  The chocolate rum candy I made last year was a hit, but the chocolate covered everything else was far more popular.  

But, even with all the rush, and the standing around waiting for midnight to roll around because we're waiting for the Wii... that was annoying.  They had it, but they refused to bring it out before midnight.  Figure that one out.  And they only had 3 of them!  The guy told me that this was not their doing, but Nintendo will only send so many out.  But after over an hour waiting and hearing the woman who was in front of us tell us that she had an hour and a half drive home, I didn't feel so bad because we were right up the street.  Though it shocked me to see that she racked up nearly $700 just in stuff for the Wii.  I started to say that we should probably rethink this when it was our turn.  

The kids got their Wii, however, and we're kinda liking it because it isn't a sit on your butt and play, its a get off your butt and play, better than the former.  At least it will keep the kids up and ready for next spring.  Christmas will be fairly good this year because they just don't see it coming.  Now to keep them from finding it...

12/10/2008 03:31:00 PM

Heirloom Vegetable Archive

I just love this site. Jeff has a massive directory with pictures of the cut fruit, whole fruits and leaves of each of tomato, garlic and peppers. Very handy information with seed parentage for some.

12/10/2008 02:18:00 PM

Wire Growing Bins

An easy way to compost is to take a length of wire for fencing and let it naturally roll up, take the ends, wire them together and then drop your leaves and compost materials in and allow it to do its thing.

But another idea for one of these bins and plant your potatoes in it. If you're going to make a wire cage compost bin why not make a couple of larger holes in the wire to insert potato seeds? It saves space, its mobile to keep pests down and you can still use the compost in the bin as a soil amendment later.

Pull the plants from the bin and either knock your bin over or dig them out. The one in the article from Hill Gardens of Maine is rather large, but if you're interested in a variety, there is no reason why several smaller bins couldn't be done instead. Just remember, the smaller, the faster they will dry out.

12/10/2008 10:58:00 AM

I think i got it

I think I've got my template straightened out here. I'm not seeing any more bizzare stuff but it was at the expense of a couple of widgets. I'm sure everyone will live until I get everything put back up, again. I think what steams my potato most about is that I had just finished putting everything back up from the last time there was a template problem and the day I got finished I'm suddenly knee deep in html (not a stong suit of mine, I'll be the first to admit).

Anyway, I'm pleased that its all back in one piece and hope you are, too!

12/09/2008 10:33:00 PM

Remember that Generosity?

Welp, here is another example of it. A post over at Garden Girl, Patti Moreno's forums talks about gardeners helping out by donating fresh seed and food to Gleaners based out of Beaverton, OR with a list of seed needed to help the establishment out.

One thing that annoys me more than anything in the world is to see a field of beautiful orchard trees with a ton of rotting fruit sitting on the ground beneath it. *sigh* I went to a farm recently and this was the case. I tried not to let it bother me but it did. I wanted to say something to the owners but thought better of it. 3 or 4 pear trees with 50+ pears just rotting on the ground and that was only what I could actually see. There are hungry people, what is wrong with you!

In addition to helping out a place that will grow it like Gleaners, there are other emergency places that will accept the food stuffs. Fish Emergency Services comes to mind. They accept cash, packaged foods, canned foods and fresh produce and they are all over the place. Fresh produce being the key here.

Feeding America has a food bank locator that can be used to find a local food bank to drop off your extra produce.

I'm an American but I've lived abroad and know that other countries face the same challenges as my native home:

Canada has a variety of programs like the US. The Food Banks of Canada has "Plant a Row, Grow a Row" on their website and a list of the food banks they have or are affiliated with across the country. Both sites are in both English and French.

The worlds first food bank ever: St. Mary's Food Bank.

The European Federation of Food Banks. Has a map of participating countries in Europe. According to the site, there are as of 2007, 232 food banks with 14 in creation, serving about 17 countries.

Food Bank in Australia. Has listings of locations throughout Australia and a nice list of donors.

These are just a few of the big ones. There are lots more out there. One such is Second Harvest, in the US.

This was just a quick look around on the net. Imagine what else is out there with more time and a specific location. If you're going to grow it and you're not going to eat it, what is the point? On many of the sites I read through there has been talk of food and seed shortages. What happens when this becomes such a reality that the hungry rates goes up and up and up? Will it be as it was during the Great Depression where everyone eats more cabbage (the poor humble cabbage has never recovered since) than they really want because there is nothing else? I say not!

My own plans for my garden are to feed my family, sell at the farmers market, but what I don't sell, I intend to drop off at a food bank. With so many of us gardeners out there that are going to end up with more than we can eat, can or sell, it is the only logical choice. Don't let it sit there and rot. That is such a waste and we're living in a age were waste is the worst thing we can let happen.

12/07/2008 04:59:00 PM

Garden Network

It amazes me how easily gardeners all over slip into their own world during the growing season and then get back into the networking habit during the off season. Every year I talk to more gardeners and network and meet more gardeners during the winter. Seed exchanges and plans for plant swaps for the following year. It occurs to me that the people that are the home gardeners are the most patient people ever. Even when a small garden, I realized that I let my own correspondences slip during the growing months and have only just now gotten back into email and phone calls.

I'm also amazed at the generous many of my gardening friends truly are. Seed swaps and cutting exchanges. I've only really recently started to really swap and it is just stunning at the amount of plants there are on the "swap market". Purchasing seeds is nice, but exchanging seeds is better. This is not only because the seed will be fresh and the plant known, but because of the intricate threads that are woven by each of us. That guy that knows that lady who has the daughter-in-law that just loves to grow that thing you're looking for! That is so much better than just going to a website and just buying it.

In the past few months, I've corresponded with several very excellent people and have swapped with them and I really thing that these are going to be lasting relationships. Will I ever step foot in their gardens? Probably not. But I know without a doubt that if they have something I want, they'll be more than happy to share and I'll do the same.

12/03/2008 08:27:00 PM

Seed Swap

I have a list of seeds I want. I have a stash of seeds I'll never go through! I found a few places to go to for your seeds.

Browse through The National Gardening Association site for people looking for seeds with seeds of their own for trade. The Farmers Almanac has one, similar. Thrifty Fun has a large list of seed wanted adds on their forum. Blossom Swap has a nice set up to include the US, Canada, Europe, and other places, too.

I found Southern Seed Legacy's Old Timey Seed Swap a good place for heirlooms. But you'll need to show up in person at this one as they are based out of Georgia.

Garden Web has dedicated a forum for seed swaps.

And there is always the Seed Savers Exchange. You can get a catalog or you can join up for swaps.

There a tons of these out there, but if you love your seeds and you love to network, this is a great way to do it.

12/01/2008 02:20:00 AM

Template Woes Take Two

Yep it's screwed up.  Yep, I'm trying to fix it.  I've followed the directions on getting it fixed up from the site I got it from but for some reason even though I've changed the links to the images, here we are.  It no workie.

But I'm still trying to get it to work and I'll get it figured out eventually.  I'm not sure why only the one image is showing properly.  If you've got ideas, I'll be happy to hear them.

Ok, I've got a few more things working properly now.  It's late and I'm gonna head to bed.  I'll tackle this again tomorrow!

11/30/2008 09:30:00 PM

I decided to put the globe tracker up because I was curious as to who was coming to the site and I was pleasantly surprised to find I've got repeat readers!  Thanks for coming to my blog and reading my ramblings!  Stick with me because once we've moved and we're settled down I'll start getting pictures posted of my projects.

Moving on!

I was surfing around and found this really awesome and easy pattern for a reusable Swiffer mop pad.  I just adore stuff like this!  And then another one.  So I started hunting and found one made from fleece.

I found one where a lady put a ankle sock on hers, too.

11/30/2008 05:19:00 PM

Winter Gardening

This is not something that is limited to the boxes in the backyard with cold frames and hoop houses. I've rambled about this before. Hydroponic, aeroponic and bubbleponic systems in a warm room will keep producing those tomatoes and depending on the space that can be given to such a project a host of other foods that you just don't want to be without. But it isn't even a system of water it can just be a flower pot growing root crops with a grow light.

Considering I have a family of four, an inside winter garden is a good idea not only because it will cut down on the food bill, but because it will also keep down on cabin fever. We have something to keep us busy during a period of rest for the earth outside.

We have our fresh herbs in the kitchen window. If it is one thing my children know better than anything is the difference between all the herbs in the window. They do most of the picking for me when I'm cooking and they make sure to give them a good rinse before we start cooking them, too. We're actually not doing it this year because we're moving in 6 months and my son was horrified when I told him we weren't going to plant more basil.

Another one on our list of food to grow indoors would be potatoes because we love our potatoes and a good tall slender bin or flower pot for potatoes can be easily grown in a window seal or with grow lights in soil not even necessarily getting into the water systems. It's easy because potatoes don't have to have temps above 75 to grow. Most prefer 60 to 65 which is easily attained in the home. Flo tubes could help with lighting if a window isn't getting enough sun and those are cheap, cheap, cheap.

Drop some soil and then a seed potato or two in the bin and cover with soil to the top. The potato plant will seek out the light (if you remember your science experiments from the 8th grade you'll remember the potato in a maze finding its way to the light). I've seen some seriously complicated potato bins, mostly for outside growth, but I've not seen anyone do just a tall slender planter of them in the house before but for once and I swear I thought that the woman who did it must have been in my head. She keeps hers on her deck and hers worked just fine and so have mine inside. You get a mess of potatoes that last about a week or so and then you can start again. Get two or three of those alternating and you've got yourself potatoes all year round with better flavor and without chemicals.

Little pots of lettuce or an entire hydroponic system. Patti Moreno definitely has the right idea, she has a fish tank fertilizing and watering her lettuce which is growing in bins of perlite under flo tubes. An easy and inexpensive set up.

Strawberries are a favorite, especially since the little hydroponic systems came out and a variety of strawberries fit for the little system. Grow some on the counter in the kitchen with one of those like this guy, who has set up his hallways to grow lettuce and strawberries.

There are plenty of dwarf varieties out there that can withstand a good cold snap, but for those that don't, they can become the plants that get brought in for the winter. Banana is getting hugely popular for growing indoors and others as well. A lot of these can be bought mail order depending on where you live.

There are just a ton of things you can grow indoors. Late winter and spring aren't the only times of the year that food can be sprouted and grown. With enough time, space, and patience our old favorites can be grown indoors within reason.

A couple of places and products of interest:

Universal Garden - this is a really cool system consisting of large covered buckets for the reservoirs and adjustable amount of pots to use for the system starting with 4.

Specials for all sorts of great equipment.

LED Grow lights.

11/28/2008 05:42:00 PM

Ease the Water Consumption

Water absorbing crystals.  A biodegradable cornstarch crystal that is tiny spec when dry and the size of a dime when wet.  These things absorb water when it is plentiful and give it back to soil.  Good for container gardening and water hog plants that you want to plant in a little water environment or an area with water restrictions.  You can find these little gems at your local garden center and if not there, amazon sells 'em.

11/28/2008 03:40:00 PM

Ya know...

Now that the holidays are over we're back to planning for our up coming move to the PNW.  I'm very excited that we've going to be moving back up there and look forward to beginning to live a more simple life.  We've been looking into work from home projects, including work from home tech support so that we have more time for our children and more time for the work on the property.  I'm very excited about this prospect, it will mean a pay cut, but there will be less money going out with this: no parking, no huge gas bill and certainly no monthly business wardrobe updates, among other things.

I never realized it before, but moving is a huge hassle when you have a house full of stuff.  And we definitely a house full of stuff, specifically the kitchen.  We're a family that spends 80% of the time together in the kitchen cooking, baking, canning, eating.  And everyone contributes, my five year old made the stuffing for our Thanksgiving and did a pretty good job at it.  Because I don't like stuffing in anything larger than a quail for obvious health hazard reasons, it was easy for him.  But because we are a family that spends a ton of time in the kitchen, we have accumulated sooo many giggits and gizmos and gadgets that we scarcely have enough room for most of them.  And I am proud to say that not one of them is a uni-tasker.  But all of that stuff has to be packed!  Thankfully, we've slowed down on the freezer foods and one of two of our freezers is already lined with cardboard waiting for the contribution of kitchen supplies we'll be packing into it.  We've got one more freezer to empty before the kids are out of school in May so we're trying to keep it at a minimum so that we're not going to end up with a ruined mess when we pull into Portland for our short stay there and then on to Vancouver.

This move has renewed my want for easier things such as the tankless water heater, an aeroponic's system, and of course my obsession with dwarf varieties of fruit trees.  But while it has renewed that want, it has also kicked into gear the other things that we want to do.  Solar panels and wind energy to help get the green incentives that the government has offered and will continue to offer to help ween us off petroleum products and big energy consumption.

I'm taken back to a time when I was a kid when the most we picked up from the grocery store was a gallon of milk, a couple of loaves of "light bread", some cans of spaghetti and some top ramen (we loved ramen when I was growing up, it meant we didn't have to cook a huge meal).  Instead of tins with printed labels, it was jars with hand written ones in the cupboard.  Two large freezers were out in the shed, one for wild game we hunted, and the other was for slaughtered farm critters.  

We were a community of people trading and sharing and helping each other with the trials of failed crops, diseased farm animals, and older folks that couldn't do what they once did.  I was talking with my father last night and he was going hunting today with a couple of friends specifically to surprise someone with a deer kill because the man couldn't go hunting himself, even though my father has already killed two bucks this year and traded a side of one of them for a hog from a local farmer.  And when my father got out of his last surgery a couple of years ago and couldn't go hunting, this man brought him fresh deer and hog kills that were already wrapped and frozen.  He also said that he'd gotten a visit from a couple of others that came by only to grab a jar of jelly and he said he probably wouldn't see them again until they ran out or they brought by some fresh something-or-nother from their own garden.

There is a huge difference in that life from the one I lead now.  I'm still a hunter and a farmer but I'm very used to my city conveniences.  I like my 24 hour grocery stores and pharmacies.  And I also like the short amount of time to get from place to place.  Living where my father is it is a 40 minute drive to Wal-Mart that closes at 10PM.  Newp, I don't want to go back to that, I'm too spoiled.

But what I do want is a place that is out of the way with an couple of acres that we can develop for our chickens, quails and rabbits with our greenhouse and our raised beds and our mini orchard.  We're looking forward to being off grid and being one more person that causes less stress on the system that we currently have and maybe we can help to convience a few people along the way to join us.  And we're looking forward to going to the farmers market with our fresh foods and giving away the stuff we don't sell to a local emergency service for folks that can't afford to feed their families.  We're not trying to change the world here, but we certainly trying to get the movement started with the helps of thousands of others like us.

Thanksgiving has brought a lot of this out.  Our children want to know what the game plan is and we've got one.  They are just as excited about this move as I am and they want to get out there and get their hands dirty.  They want to experience these things and we want them to have these experiences so that they have a better understanding of dependance and independance.

Right now, I don't have pictures of my garden to post and I know that makes a huge difference for a blog (considering no one reads this regularly).  But once we're working on our little farm and the trials that we face and the failures and successes we have, everyone that we're going to miss on the east coast will be able to watch us grow.

11/27/2008 12:28:00 AM

11/25/2008 12:17:00 AM

Random Thoughts

I've been reading so much lately.  My goal is close at hand.  In the spring, we'll be making our trek to the PNW.  After we're there and we get the house unpacked and straightened out, well, even before then, we've already discussed how we're going to get started.  The first thing that happens is a compost bin.  I've talked about composting before and the stuff that you can use to compost.  I didn't touch on cold or hot composting but that will come later.

Raised beds, my husband's strawberry patch will definitely go up post haste.  We're planning on growing reds and yellows.  Raspberries, too.  My personal favorites are blueberries and we're going to have a few bushes growing.  All of this in hopes that we'll have strawberries, blueberries and raspberries from the beginning to the end of the season with plenty to eat fresh and plenty to can.  I'm excited about a trellis of grapes and kiwis.  We can eat kiwi for snacks for days and days.

I have some small things going right now.  After the rabbits got in and ate everything, I put out some garlic when it got cooler.  I don't know if I caught it before it went to seed or not, I hope I did, if not I'm going to have some tiny heads of garlic come next year.  I'm still stunned at the fact that they ate it all while my dogs were out there.  Those are some fairly brave critters.

I guess I'm just sitting back enjoying everyone's success at growing their gardens and I'm just dying to get to a point where I can get my big one going instead of having such a small one now.  Not that my landlord didn't advocate us getting out there and gardening, but on the scale that he plants, we needed a tractor to till it all and we didn't have one and by the time the old man got around to getting his out there, the growing season was over.  Then he past away.

I am very much looking forward to getting back to the west coast.  So many strange things have been happening of late, like our land lord's passing, it just seems after being away from home (I say that and I'm not from there) and wanting so much to get back for these past few years that we finally decided to .. well just go back.  It seems like the right time.  And we both have wanted so much to go back to Portland.  

So the plan is get there, get a house, and then get the garden going.  Once we've taken that step, we'll get the chickens and the quail, then go for the rabbits.  And hopefully in the future, bees.  

I know it won't happen over night and we'll take it one project at a time starting with a composting bin.  =)

11/25/2008 12:14:00 AM

Winter Project: Water Barrels

With so much to do during the main growing season in the garden, build a rain barrel this winter. 

Here is a link with complete instructions with photo's:

11/18/2008 11:32:00 PM

Winter Sown

Make sure to check out Winter Sown. This site helps in how to sow seeds during the winter time. A very informative site AND they also will send free seeds for the price of the stamps on the SASE.

11/12/2008 09:31:00 PM

Yep I'm a Slacker

I have been hiding in my oven here lately. I've produced what seems to be a pumpkin pie or two per day. Not only this but, I am ashamed to say, I have been neglecting my own blog in favor of posting at Patti Moreno's site. So much in fact that she has asked me to contribute to her E-zine!

I get this email and I'm speechless for like five minutes. My husband finally comes over and closes my mouth for me and asks me whats up. I explain and he looks blankly at me (he is sooo not a dirt farmer) and congrats me out of complete auto-response and then wanders off to do his own thing while I'm sitting there stunned.

Image that. Me who has been gardening and canning since I was a little one contributing to Patti Moreno's E-zine? Me!

Needless to say, I've been glowing for the past couple of days.

On a really cool note, I've been working on getting my seed empire going and making out a list of needful things for after we get a place in Washington state. Our list is rather big so we're going to take it one step at a time.

We want bees. Even though my husband is allergic we still want bees. We like mead and such way too much not to have bees. We cook with honey constantly and I like it in my tea and having honey fresh from the hive sounds worth the risk to us.

Not only do we want bees, but we want chickens and quail. Which I have experience raising, keeping and incubating both so that isn't hard. I have the plans for the chicken tractor I want to be able to move from bed to bed so that we can have a nice fertilized soil.

We want rabbits. Fried rabbit is a good thing. Stewed rabbit is a good thing. I can make both. ;) I'd probably get a visit out of my father who lives 14 hours away if he knew I was making it on any given day. Rabbits are very easy to raise and we're looking forward to having some. I have vague memories of raising rabbits as a child. I can't remember why we stopped raising them, but we did. Sounds like a good reason to call Dad!

Aside from the critters we'll have a cat, two dogs. We also have two kids for cheap slave labor to tend the garden beds and grow the stuff they don't wanna eat. ;)

I've been nuts for dwarf fruit trees and I've also been checking into small nut bearing bushes and trees. The smallest one is a hazelnut bush. Everything else grows on these huge stately trees. Ok, so we'll need another acre.

Aside from this huge garden plan we've got plans for solar panels, rain barrels, a water cistern if we can swing it and a green house and a winter garden area.

Our plans are definitely not small but we're looking forward to it. My husband swears that we'll have a cow... but I don't believe him. I didn't like milking them when I was a kid, I certainly won't be up for it now.

Sooo many plans.

11/05/2008 01:11:00 AM

Elegance with Impact

I talk a lot about the various invasions we've experienced this year. Flies and such that have crept up on us. However, something I haven't talked a lot about is how densely populated my back yard is with butterflies. Now, not to knock the noble bee here, butterflies have their place in the pollinator's world. And little attention has been paid toward them until recently. There is a commercial on TV now that sends you the caterpillars with food, then they cocoon then they emerge and you release them after so long.

As wonderful as this may be as an experiment for children, it is also a vital part of reintroducing the butterflies into the world to help with the passing around some pollen. Bees are in trouble, and that trouble may not pass for some time. Butterflies will help reduce that strain.

I found a website (as if you could ever doubt!)

Social Butterflies is a site that will send them to you to introduce. They also add flare. You can release them at your wedding or a birthday party or some special event. They offer packaging for this.

Elegance with impact.

11/02/2008 02:35:00 PM

I'm being stalked by lady bugs

Ok, picture this. Stepping out onto my deck this morning I was greeted by a rather interesting sight.

A sea of lady bugs.

And I mean a sea of lady bugs. They were everywhere. On the deck cover, the deck, falling between the cracks. Dive bombing both dogs. Actually giving one of the dogs a near aneurysm when one landed on his nose.

Sooo, I whipped out my camera.

And at first, I think I blinded them. They all calmed for a moment when the first flash went off.

But that didn't last long.

They ran from me when I tried to snap off some shots.

In the end after I'd picked two out of my hair and blew one off my nose, we retreated inside to watch from afar.

At this moment, my youngest child has squealed exactly 20 times in the last 15 seconds from all the near misses and sure hits.

This isn't the first time this has happened to us either. At our last house we had this same thing happen like 4 or 5 years ago. It was much colder that November and they were coming in the house instead of just hanging out that year.

Our neighbors aren't experiencing this. They didn't before at the other house and they aren't now.

I'm being stalked by lady bugs!

11/02/2008 09:59:00 AM

Autumn Beauty

Last year the leaves went from green to brown over night. This year, however, we've had the right combo of crisp nights and warm days to bring out the color:

10/31/2008 09:11:00 PM

Happy Halloween!

10/22/2008 07:32:00 PM

Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles

Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles

Per gallon jar:

8-10 cucumbers for pickling (a medium size)
1-large handful fresh dill with flower heads (or add 1/4 teaspoon dill seed if flower heads are missing)
4-6 large cloves of garlic, flattened Water
1/2-cup coarse kosher salt or pickling salt
4 teaspoons pickling spice (Blue Ribbon, or other)
1-2 large bay leaves

1. Pack each gallon jar with cucumbers, sprinkling salt between each layer.

2. Add pickling spice, salt, dill (dill heads) and bay leaves.

3. Fill jar with water but leave two inches of room for brine to form.You may prepare this in large crocks (something non-reactive) and then transfer to glass jars when finished.

4. Weigh cucumbers down to keep submerged and cover.

5. After 2-3 days, remove scum (if any has formed)

6. Let ferment 3 more days and check for doneness by cutting off a slice of one cucumber.

7. Once they are fermented to the right stage (to taste), transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate. Ferment longer (12-20 days) for pungent sour pickles

Note:Real deli-style Kosher pickles have no vinegar added in the process unlike regular dills. They get their bite from fermentation. Just like when you go to the grocery store and see pickles in the refrigerated section, these pickles must be kept in the fridge. The fermenting will continue unabated if you don't stop it by putting them in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows down the fermentation but won't stop it completely. It will continue to age but at a much slower rate. There is only one thing to do to stop the aging. EAT THEM ! Enjoy !

10/22/2008 07:29:00 PM

Chili Sauce

Chili Sauce

2-cups sweet red peppers, chopped
2-cups chopped onions
24-large tomatoes (4 quarts peeled, cored, chopped)
1-tsp. ground allspice
1-tbsp salt
1 1/4-cup vinegar
1 1/2-cup sugar
1-tbsp celery seed
1-tsp ground ginger
1-tsp ground cinnamon
1-tsp ground cloves

1. Combine and add all ingredients to a heavy saucepan or cast iron skillet.

2. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 2 hours or till desired thickness has been reached. Stir often to prevent sticking

3. Pack hot jars with hot prepared tomato mixture leaving 1/2-inch headspaceRemove air bubbles. Wipe rim and screw threads and adjust lids and screw bands.

4. Place jars in Boiling Water Bath Canner 1/2 Pints 15 minutes Pints 15 minutes

5. After processing, remove jars immediately, place on a rack to cool.Test for Seal.Makes about 6 pints

10/19/2008 05:50:00 PM

BBQ Sauce for Canning

BBQ Sauce for Canning
Basic mild BBQ sauce with hint of a bite. Intended for canning.

25 cups quartered ripe tomatoes
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
2 onions, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, minced
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon soy sauce


1 Cook tomatoes and vinegar until soft.

2 Chop fine.

3 Return to pan.

4 Add other ingredients.

5 Bring to boil.

6 Cook until thick.

7 Ladle into hot jars.

8 Leave 1/2 inch head space.

9 Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes

10/19/2008 05:19:00 PM


I found a product that I was unsure of until I've used most of it now. I discovered Laundry Dropps not too long ago and have fallen for them utterly. They come in a little baggy and locked inside a veggie cap type package is concentrated laundry detergent. No huge bottles. No extensive shelving needed to hold said huge bottles. Just a baggy about the size of what brown sugar comes in.

I just adore this stuff. Drop in one and do your laundry and no mess. Definitely a 10 on the greener meter.

Laundry Dropps

10/17/2008 11:23:00 PM

Blueberry Syrup

Blueberry Syrup

Makes about 3 (16 oz) pints

You will need:
8 cups blueberries , crushed (about 3-1/2 lb)
6 cups water, divided
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


1.) COMBINE blueberries, 2 cups of the water and lemon zest in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.

2.) TRANSFER to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours.

3.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

4.) COMBINE sugar and remaining 4 cups water in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook until temperature reaches 230°F, adjusting for altitude. Add blueberry juice. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

5.) LADLE hot syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

6.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

10/16/2008 08:41:00 PM

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

9 inch pie
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 eggs
2/3 cups milk
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves

50 min bake time.

To Prepare Pie Crust

Evenly brush sides, then bottom of a graham cracker crust with 1 beaten egg yolk. Bake crust for 5 minutes at 375 degrees and remove from oven. (Put the leftover egg white plus any leftover egg yolk in pumpkin pie filling).

To Prepare Pumpkin

Use any firm pumpkin flesh scraped from your pumpkin. Don’t use the skin or seeds. Boil until soft (like you would potatoes). Drain and mash. Firmly pack pumpkin when measuring, being sure to drain off any excess liquid.

To Prepare Pie Filling

Combine pumpkin, eggs, milk, sugar, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves in blender or mixer. Blend until smooth. Pour into prepared crust and bake at 375 degrees F.

10 inch Pie

1 1/2 c pumpkin
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
3/8 t salt
3/8 t ginger
3/8 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves

65 min bake time.

10/16/2008 08:29:00 PM

Blueberry Grand Marnier Jam

1 1/2 quarts blueberries (5 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups sugar
2 packages liquid pectin
1/4 cup Grand Marnier


1 Place blueberries in large pot.
2 Add water and lemon juice.
3 Mash slightly.
4 Let stand 10 minutes.
5 Add sugar and mix well.
6 Place over high heat, being to full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
7 Remove from heat.
8 Stir in pectin and liqueur.
9 Stir and skim for 5 minutes.

10/16/2008 02:34:00 PM

Happy Valley Lavender and Herb Farm

I love this place.

10/16/2008 02:28:00 PM

Basil Tomatoes

Basil Tomatoes

10 lbs tomatoes
6-10 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
bottled lemon juice


1 Wash tomatoes and dip in boiling water for 45 seconds.

2 Plunge in cold water, peel, core and quarter.

3 Put 4 cups wedges in a pan and crush.

4 Quickly heat to boiling.

5 Add the rest of the tomatoes and bring to a boil.

6 Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently.

7 Remove from heat and add basil.

8 Stir well.

9 Put 1 T. lemon juice in each sterilized pint jar or 2 T. lemon juice in each sterilized quart jar.

10 Ladle tomatoes into jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.

11 Remove bubbles, seal, and process 35 minutes for pints, 45 minutes for quarts.

12 If freezing product leave 1 1/2 inch head space, seal and freeze.

10/16/2008 02:26:00 PM

Black Raspberry Jam

Black Raspberry Jam

Makes about 8 (8 oz) half pints

You will need:

3-1/2 cups crushed black raspberries (about 5 pints)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 3-oz pouch Ball Liquid Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp butter or margarine, optional
7 cups sugar
8 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

2.) COMBINE prepared berries with lemon juice and sugar in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Add up to 1/2 tsp butter or margarine to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring frequently.

3.) ADD pectin, immediately squeezing entire contents from pouch. Continue hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

4.) LADLE hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

5.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

10/16/2008 02:25:00 PM


1 oz. fresh lime
1 oz. fresh simple syrup
2-3 lavender sprigs and 5 mint leaves
2.5 oz. Charbay Rum or Charbay
Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum
2.5 oz. Club soda

In a mixing glass, muddle mint & lavender, lime and sugar with vigor; add ice, rum, clubsoda and stir well.

(Contributed by David Nepove, a.k.a. Mr. Mojito, of Enrico’s SidewalkCaf√©, San Francisco)

10/16/2008 02:20:00 PM

Free Seeds

Seeds everywhere. When you feel as if you can't afford your own seeds, there are some resources so you can grow some seeds for the cost of a couple of postage stamps.

They are doing something wonderful here. Saving seeds from landfills, feeding the hungry, beautifying the country.

And there is also Winter Sow. These guys are awesome. You send them an envelope with a couple of stamps on it, they will send you some seeds. In some cases it is your choice, in others, you get a nice surprise.

10/11/2008 03:02:00 PM

Blessed by a Velvet Ant

I found this critter wandering through the yard and I was happy to see her! The velvet ant is not an ant at all, they are actually wasps. I was stung by one as a child that was trying to escape me. I put my hand over it and the next thing I knew, I was in terrible pain. The velvet ant is a beneficial insect, eating the cicada killer wasp larvae. The adult cicada killer wasp lay their eggs on the body of a cicada so when the larvae emerge, they eat the cicada as a food source. The velvet ant goes into these holes made by the cicada killer wasp and lay their eggs on the cicada as well. When the velvet ant emerges, it eats the larvae of the killer wasp. Be nice to the Velvet Ant!

10/07/2008 10:23:00 PM

Dwarf Crazy II

I have found so many dwarf varieties out there. I have found so far:

Cherry (but dwarf for this still gets 20 feet tall)
Satsuma Mandarin

I know I'm probably forgetting something in there.

Most of these trees are very affordable for under $10 and most of the sites will ship for free if you purchase so much from them.

These are patio trees so all you apartment dwellers, buy a jungle for your balcony!

Happy gardening!

10/04/2008 11:29:00 AM

24th Annual Native Plant Sale & Garden Festival

This festival is going on at the Ijams Nature Center this weekend. There are several local nurseries involved and its $20 to get in. You know you wanna to. Get!

10/03/2008 10:54:00 PM

This says it all

10/03/2008 10:41:00 PM

Plant Research

Cornell University has the right idea. There is a massive plant list available there to browse before you grow some several thousand varieties. And it is user rated, not just University rated. Named simply Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners, it has mostly commercially grown items with a few heirlooms thrown in. I've been browsing it for the past couple of hours and have learned things about several varieties that I'd intended to grow. It isn't terribly complex, but is packed with good information.

10/02/2008 09:12:00 PM


I just love this time of year. The heat of the days and evenings begins to wan. The colors of fall are beginning to appear. Harvests (even if they aren't mine) are being brought in. In my childhood, this was family time. Everyone had a job to do as we picked, shelled, shucked, cut, diced and cooked and then canned. The aromas coming out of the kitchen at all the homes of my family members and the trading of fruits and vegetables amongst us and the community. My father always over planted so that the widowed ladies that lived around us that were elderly and unable to do much gardening of their own could still keep up their own canning traditions and share them with us.

It always amazed me that we were, as a family and a community, closer at this time than we were at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Getting together to eat is not the same as getting together to survive, I suppose. A rainbow of relishes, jellies, jams and preserves, vegetables, fruits, all lined up in order in our store shed with two 14 cubic foot freezers with all the meat that we could stand. We were fairly self sufficient. We bred rabbits and cattle and had hunting dogs. My uncle had duck and turkey and hogs. We traded. The boys would go saddle up and go hog hunting. The little kids would go out to one of the channels and set bullfrog traps. My great uncle would pick up some of the men and they would go gator hunting. And we all shared and traded. Where we had peaches and plums, one of my uncles had apples and potatoes and peanuts. My grandmother had the best greens you could ever lay eyes on because there was a small stream that ran at the back of her house so she never had to worry about watering them. And man they were as green as green could be. She aways had a large paper shopping bag full for someone to come and bring her fire wood for her cook stove.

And then the duck, goose, quail, turkey and chickens. And the catfish and the white perch. Thankfully, a very good friend of the family was a meat cutter and it cost us perhaps a quarter of our kill for him to cut it up and package it for us in the days before vacuum sealing. And he would have the best tasting heirloom tomatoes.

I miss those days of a community family but it is difficult for me to leave land of the 24 hour store where I drive for 7 minutes from my driveway to work. It is hard for me not to want to go back. I do want to go back. Simpler lifestyle. Even as it is, my father was telling me the other night someone brought him a deer in trade for half a hog he killed. His freezers are overflowing. But they can't afford basic necessity. Milk and sliced bread and butter. He had to let his chickens and quail go because they couldn't afford the feed and he isn't on a large enough piece of property to grow it for them. It saddens me to know the way that my great grandfather taught all of us seems to be slipping away.

I'm determined to have that back.

House hunting with a solar package is a must. I have a bit on this and we will go where ever it is that we must go to make it happen. No more gas fed objects. I've found a new tiller I want. It weighs less than a gas powered one and it has more accessories with life time warranty for the tines reasonably priced. Raised beds and hoop houses. Gardening was a tradition when I was a child, now it is becoming one again. My children are excited about growing their own food (if we can keep all the critters from eating it first).

I first realized that we needed to move forward when I had the thought of getting a shed and getting a solar power set on it so that we could power our lights and hydro system from that instead of paying out the yin yang for it. My hand is almost at the top and I feel the goal with my fingertips but so much has to happen before I have it in my hand.

How do I have that family community once again? I can't grow it all alone. Where is the fun in that?

9/26/2008 07:46:00 PM

Good resource
Good article.

9/17/2008 09:54:00 PM

Seed Saving

Ever wonder about those precious heirlooms that were ferreted away by our great grand parents? I know my great grand parents were seed savers. They grew the same wonderful foods year after year. When they passed away, those seeds were past to other family members. Now, those heirlooms are gone. No one in the family gardens like my great grand parents once did. My father still gardens like they gardened. He still follows the same traditions every year putting plant after plant in the ground, but he doesn't start his from seed. He buys the plants.

Seed saving is important. Not only to save those precious heirlooms we all grew up on, but for the fact that prices are going space bound with each passing day. How much did you pay for milk the last time you bought it? How much more expensive was it from a year ago? Apply this principal to everything else you purchase at the grocery store and start looking at your grocery bill escalate like gas prices. It is a disgusting reality. One that more and more people are struggling with everyday.

Save seeds, save money. There are numerous resources on how to save seeds. One is at the Seed Savers Exchange.

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