Watering Cows

Monday, December 23, 2013


  




Watering cows has become more of a chore with our unusually cold weather, so I brought my camera with me one day to get a bit of fun out of it.

Book Review: The Flower Recipe Book

Friday, December 20, 2013

The first thing to note about The Flower Recipe Book by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo of Studio Choo is that it is full of stunningly beautiful photos of flowers.  If you took all of the instructional information out, this would still be a book worth reading.  With great photos and detailed instruction combined it is an easy winner.

The authors take a single flower such as cosmos or dahlias and first give a "Recipe 1: On its own." Just like it sounds, the first arrangement features the flowers displayed in a vase or other container by themselves.  Next is "Recipe 2: With company" showing the featured flower with other supporting flowers and fillers that unite to create a pleasing, full bodied arrangement. This second recipe is often broken down with photos for every step, but at the very least you get an exact ingredients list and a text step by step.  Some flowers have a bonus "Recipe 3: Special occasion."   These special occasion recipes are gorgeous full-blown affairs, easily pictured as a centerpiece for an event or wedding.

This book shines the spotlight on 43 different flowers and details instructions for 100 different arrangements.  I also appreciated the varied vessels used to display the flowers.  If this doesn't jump start your creativity, I don't know what will! 

I first saw this book late last spring and it inspired me to make an effort to bring flowers into the house and arrange them just for my own pleasure.  I was also practicing and experimenting with what looked well and what lasted longest.  I wanted to be able to pull together a finished looking bouquet as an easy hostess or thinking of you gift.  I am excited to include more flowers for cutting in my garden next year. 
  
Note: My book review posts are all books I have checked out from the library unless otherwise noted.



2013 Cherry Tomato Varieties

Monday, December 2, 2013


The Sungold Cherry Tomato is and always will be my favorite tomato, first to ripen and ripening until frost it is the hardest working tomato of them all.  The flavor is bright and sweet.  It is the first tomato I learned to like, so I call it a gateway tomato.

I tried two types of red cherries this year: Sun Cherry and Super Sweet 100.  I honestly couldn't tell any major difference between the two.  Both were loaded most of the year, but with some tendency to sunburn in the most direct sunlight.  I couldn't tell in difference in flavor either.

This is Isis Candy which was a bit bigger and thicker skinned than the other cherry tomatoes,  I would not grow it again because the plants were much more leafy and hard to tame and the fruit color was not what I wanted it to be.  Ironically the shaded tomatoes seemed to get the most red.  Overall it just wasn't consistent enough to sell at the Farmer's Market.

I didn't keep perfect records, but I think I harvested over 200 pounds of cherry tomatoes from my garden this year!





Constant Exercise of the Imagination

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I really like this quote, it puts some of what I feel in my garden into words.  When I was going back through some of my photos from this summer, this one seemed the perfect candidate to showcase a quote.

2013 Large Tomato Varieties

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I am just now getting into the large tomatoes.  I never liked tomatoes as a kid, but slowly I am developing more and more of a taste for them.  I started with sungolds, those sweet candy-like bites, usually mixed in with something, never plain.  After a bit I worked up to really tasting a tomato on its own, and now I appreciate the full flavors of a homegrown tomato.  I still won't eat them like an apple, but I think I have made real progress. 

When I order my cherry tomato seeds, the company usually has a bonus seed packet that is included, so that is how I got two packets of heirloom tomato seed without picking them out for myself.  Early Girls were the only slicing tomato I had grown before, but I knew I wanted to try other flavors so I started with what I had.  You can see my tomato plant map here.

 Chocolate Cherokee Tomato:  It was my first time growing and eating a large purple or "black" tomato.  I really loved the flavor, but the vines succumbed to disease faster than my other tomatoes.  I would grow this one again, but also try out some other black tomato varieties to see if there is something I like better.  

Virginia Sweet Tomato:  I loved the colors on this tomato, it was mainly orange with some reddish stripping, but when you cut it open the flesh was much more red than you expected.  The flavor of this tomato was less complex but very good and the vines seemed a bit tougher.  I would grow this again.

I also grew Oregon Spring and Silver Fir Tree, but was somewhat disappointed.  Early Girl is a much better early tomato in my opinion because it takes the cool spring weather and the heat of the summer.  Both of these other varieties shut down in the heat.  The Oregon Spring was also hard as a rock.

I grew Martino's Roma Tomato for a paste tomato and while the fruit was fine, I was frusterated with the vines.  They were hard to keep off the ground and they broke easily.  I would like to find an indeterminate roma for next year.   

Flower Fashion Photography

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This is my floral interpretation of bold, high-contrast fashion photography.  Enjoy!


Seed Organizing

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I have been saving all kinds of seeds this year, and while I don't have enough confidence to instruct you in the proper methods of seed saving, I think I have figured out a pretty handy way of organizing my seeds.


 I went to the office supply store and picked out sheet protectors with trading card and 3x5 card sized pockets.  The 3x5 sized pockets work great for retail-sized seed packets and you could just go with those if that was all you had.


Since I have a large amount of collected seed I went one step further.  I keep all my collected seeds in small zip top plastic bags I found in the beading aisle.  These fit perfectly in the trading card sized pockets which let me have 9 types of seed per page instead of just 4.


I also tape my plant tags to a sheet of card stock and slip them into a regular sheet protector in the same notebook.


Add a few pages of garden notes and random pages torn out of magazines and now I have all my garden information and inspiration in one place.

My Faithful Sidekicks

Friday, October 25, 2013


Bailey

Kitten
I snapped a few frames of my favorite animals in the setting sun.  These two get along better than I ever would have thought.

Fall Foliage Arrangement

Monday, October 21, 2013

 
Sunday was a lovely fall day with beautiful sunshine and the perfect temperature.  Instead of cleaning up the garden or picking up branches, I spent an hour gathering fall colors and textures to bring inside.

Composed of rosemary, purple sage, cinnamon basil, Japanese maple, and euphorbia.

Grow Write Guild: Endings and Transitions

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sunrise or sunset?  It all depends on your perspective.
We have yet to suffer a killing frost this fall.  Some of the basil is a bit brown on the edges but the tomatoes are still growing away.  While the death of all the garden annuals is a bit depressing, I am excited for new things next year.  Sometimes the frost is a bit of relief when I just can't imagine what I will do with anymore tomato sauce and I have enough jalapeno peppers to feed a stadium. 

I am very grateful for the long growing season that gives me the ability to grow so much good food, but I enjoy the break of winter as well.  I have been thinking about how taking a break is healthy for almost any aspect of life.  There is something to be said about the renewed perspective and energy it can bring.  It is easy to fall into a routine and take things for granted so I am thankful for the winter transition which enables me to get re-energized and excited for gardening in the spring.

 This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.

Grow Write Guild: My fall garden in ten words or less

Monday, September 30, 2013

lush, overgrown, sprawling

 delicious abundant harvests

vibrant, beautiful, fleeting

 This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.

Zinnias

Monday, September 16, 2013



I am a firm believer in planting annual cutting flowers in your veggie garden.  For one they are just beautiful.  It is so nice to have a fresh picked floral arrangement no farther way than your tomatoes. 


Secondly, they will entice humming birds and bees and other pollinators into your garden.  Imagine looking up from your weeding to watch a humming bird flit between the flowers.  This year I used my zinnias as sort of a distraction buffer between my hot peppers and my bell peppers to (hopefully) prevent any cross pollination.  Seems to have worked well.

Grow Write Guild: Edible Rewards

Friday, September 13, 2013

Roma, Chocolate Cherrokee, Virgina, and Oregon Spring tomatoes waiting to be sauced or eaten.

 Bowls of Isis Candy, Sungold, Suncherry, and, Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes waiting to go to the Farmer's Market.

This has been a great tomato year with huge and productive plants.  Next year I will have to remember to allow more room for growth.  You can see my tomato plant map here.

This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.

Yard Long Beans

Thursday, September 5, 2013




I have tried various types and varieties of green beans and I have finally found the ones for me.  These are Yard Long Beans in both red and green varieties.  I purchased my seed here.


Reasons why I love these beans:

1. They are pole beans which makes them easier to pick and vines have much less foliage than normal pole beans which makes them even easier to pick. If you plant the red ones, then picking is as easy as it can possibly get.
2. They seem to perform well in our Eastern Washington heat.
3. The flowers, and really the whole vines, are gorgeous.


4. Their long shape is just too fun.  I find they are tender up to about 18 inches long.
5. Their flavor is bold in a good way.  The red ones have a hint of floral in their aroma.
6. The red ones stay red(ish) with cooking.  They did fade slightly when I blanched them, but hold their color completely when stir-fried.



Tomatillos

Friday, August 30, 2013


This was my first year growing tomatillos.  I love salsa verde and green enchilada sauce and when I started looking up recipes for these sauces I realized that tomatillos were the secret ingredient, so they went on the "to grow" list.  I had never seen a tomatillo plant before, but I was able to grow more than I could use without much effort. 


I started 4 plants from seed at the same time as my tomatoes.  Next year I would only plant two and start them a week or two later as the seedlings grew faster than the tomatoes.  I would also give them much more room in the garden.  The top photo was taken in June and now at the end of August you can't even walk between the rows.  I tried tying them to a fence, but you might be better off to just stick a sturdy tomato cage around them and let them sprawl.  The stems are more brittle than tomatoes.


The way the fruit develops is very unique.  First you see the yellow flowers which look kind of like hats to me.  The plant then forms an empty sac which looks kind of like a mini paper lantern (pictured above).  The fruit slowly fills the sac and then breaks free ready to be harvested (pictured below).  I was completely fascinated by this whole process. 


I have enjoyed using this recipe to use up my bounty.

Cosmos

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



Just a moment of summer flower perfection.


Book Review: The Food Lover's Garden

Sunday, August 25, 2013


The Food Lover's Garden by Mark Diacono is one of my favorites because it was the first book I read that explored the more unique edibles.  This book is not about growing potatoes and onions, it is about growing those tasty edibles that you will rarely or never see in the store.  There are seven main chapters covering tree fruit, nuts, soft fruit, herbs and spices, beans and greens, leaves and flowers, and root crops.  Each chapter profiles 4 to 8 unique edibles with a great taste that makes them worth growing.

You would think that garden planning with your stomach in mind would be natural, but I have failed at that more than once.  In the past I have planted radishes, parsnips, carrots and hot chili peppers all of which I rarely buy and don't enjoy eating.  Why did I plant them then?  Well I guess because the seed packets were there at the store and it just seemed like I should grow everything.

This book is very well written and the in depth descriptions of flavors will have your mouth watering.  You will suddenly think, "I must have this plant right now!"  when five minutes ago you never even knew it existed.  Some of my favorites are the mulberries, the honeyberries, the Chinese kale, the Szechuan pepper and the nasturtiums.

Note: My book review posts are all books I have checked out from the library unless otherwise noted.  

Perspective

Friday, August 23, 2013



Just a few photos of a moth on a marigold---what should be boring and common is captivating and beautiful with the right perspective.

Grow Write Guild: This Plant Always Lets Me Down

Thursday, August 22, 2013



Watermelon has always let me down.  And I know it is possible for me in my zone because there are commercial fields nearby.  I am lured by the promise of tasty ripe melon, but in reality there is no way to tell if a melon is ripe for those unskilled like me.  I have piked it too ripe and too green but never just right.  Last year my plants died before they even grew melons, so this year I took a break from the unreliable watermelons.  Maybe next year I will be enticed to try again. 

This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.

Farm Kitten

Sunday, August 11, 2013



My husband rescued this cute little kitten from under the combine.  I wasn't too sure when he brought her home, but she seems to get along well with our dog Bailey.  So now we have a farm kitten in training. :)

Bee Balm

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


 Last year I bought a cheap little four inch pot labeled bee balm.  It seemed to be about 30 seeds sprouting all at once, so I divided it up a bit and planted it out.  It didn't bloom the first year, so I sort of forgot about it. 


Imagine my surprise when this year I got blooms in two different colors, pink and raspberry red.  I think I like the red best, but they are both beautiful.  The blooms have enticed a few hummingbirds to my garden, but I will need much more practice as a nature photographer to capture those speedy little things. 
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