"But whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun."
~Thomas Jefferson

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Project, Painting the Old Garden Benches

While most people are out enjoying a picnic in the park, or a cookout in the backyard, we chose to actually do some labor on Labor Day.  I had  painting the two garden benches on my to-do list since early summer, and before autumn comes, I decided to get moving on this project.

Yesterday afternoon I finally got Tony to take the hardware off for me; since the nuts and bolts were pretty much rusted to the thing I didn't have the strength to remove them.  It was super hot yesterday so I bribed him with the promise of a REALLY good dinner.

Note that Tony left himself last night. We left the benches and boards on a table in front of the garage door.  He thought he might forget this morning that they were there, and back into them.  

I added the child-like drawing for him before I went to bed.  Keep in mind that I drew this with the lights off, and only the light from the moon that was shining through the kitchen window. 

 Bench before spray painting

These are the boards I painted last night, and I needed to let them dry overnight.  Now you know why he needed to leave a note, it is only a couple of feet to the garage door.  If he decided to head out early in the morning in the Jeep, which is pretty high up, he would not have noticed this table when backing out.  You know those blind spots!

Bench iron spray painted a glossy black.

Tah Dah, one bench all finished and by the entrance to our home.   I will put the other one somewhere in the backyard, maybe by the herb garden.  It would look very nice next to the lavender bushes.  Now I need to make some pretty pillows. 

 Look how pretty my lavender bouquet looks on the newly painted bench.  

I love it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Preserving 21 Peaches and Homemade Muesli

The morning started out with a bowl of homemade muesli topped with a sliced peach and some blueberries.

Homemade Muesli
(makes 8 servings)
  • 1 cup Barley Flakes
  • 3 cups Rolled Oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Cranberries, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 4 TB Chia Seeds and Flaxseed (optional)
Add milk, yogurt or almond milk to each serving.  Refrigerate overnight.  Add fresh fruit when you serve it and if you like you can add the chia seeds, some flaxseed and a drizzle of honey. 

Then I remembered I had 21 more waiting for me to peel, cut and freeze.  

There are two types of peaches, one known as Clingstone and the other as Freestone.  If you think about it you can figure out the difference.  Freestone means that the flesh does not stick to the pit and Clingstone means that it does.  Clingstone's are sweeter peaches but are also an early variety and I think are best eaten fresh.  Freestone peaches are available from late July through September, around the time that you think about preserving and that is the type I have here.  The pit comes out very easily, they are still sweet and I think are better for pies and desserts since you generally add some sort of sweetener when baking.  This type also makes great jam; come to think of it I am supposed to make Jalapeno Peach Jam, too. 

Let's begin:
Cut a small X in the bottom of each peach, just through the skin.

Place peaches in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes.  Make sure the water covers them.  I left mine in for about 2 minutes since the first batch didn't release the skins as easily as they should have.

Have a big bowl of ice water waiting in the sink, remove the peaches from the boiling water with a strainer, and gently place into the hot water.  Leave for a minute to cool, then peel beginning at the bottom where you cut the X.  The skins should peel off very easily without pulling any of the flesh with them.  If not, put them back in the boiling water for a bit longer.

 Peeled peaches ready to pit.

Cut the peach in half and remove the pit, also clean out the center if any pith or fibers remain after removing the pit.  Add some lemon juice or as I have this time, some pomegranate vinegar to keep them from turning brown. Thanks to Ann from The Garden Spot Blog  for reminding me!

 21 pits down and slicing to go

 The 21 peaches made about 5 quarts sliced.

Now we are ready to pack them into bags and freeze.  I made two large 2 qt bags that would be enough for a deep dish peach pie and the other bag is about a qt size.

Ready for the freezer.  I know I will look forward to bringing these out in the winter months when about all we have for fresh fruit is apples and citrus.  Added bonus, peach pie for Thanksgiving!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Birth Anouncement, We Have Sprouts!

August 25

Look at the little ones at just 5-6 days old! 

August 25

Just a couple of photos today to keep my blog up-to-date on my newly planted winter garden plants.  I have another flat of plants that only had a few sprouts showing so I didn't bother to take a picture of those.  Most of these are the lettuces, a few of the lacinato kale and a few broccolini are showing too.  

Planted August 20

Planted August 20

Today's Harvest

Here is what I picked today from our community garden plot

Lacinato Kale from our community garden plot

Pulled the rest of the onions from bed along the driveway

Last of the Cherry Tomatoes from raised beds in the grove


Last of the tomatoes from my vines here at home.  I have 4 plants at the community garden but they are not doing all that well, I will give them until October when I will then need the space for the winter garden.

 a sweet little bouquet from my backyard flowers

Have a Beautiful Day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Garden Update 2014 and on to the Winter Garden

 These photos are from our community garden plot.  The squash plants are the ones that I reseeded in July.  After harvesting a ton of squash from Patty Pan, Ronde de Nice and Crookneck, the plants were then attacked by aphids.  We finally gave up and pulled those out.  I am so happy to see that the new plants are looking healthy and so far no signs of another infestation.  I also had problems with the Japanese Cucumbers (soyu) that I planted back in March.  The new plants are looking good and are loaded with blossoms.  I think I forgot to get a picture of those so I will add one later on.

 Purple Bell Peppers are doing well, but they have been small.  Too much heat for them early on, but now they are looking better and the fruit is larger. 

Yellow Bell Peppers

Crookneck Squash coming in now.

Lacinato Kale looking sad in the heat, but still growing and we are picking once a week.  These two plants will continue to grow year-round for us and will get taller and taller; we pick from the bottom up.

 This is Kentucky Wonder pole beans, again I pulled out the plants from March and this batch was planted  in July.  We had the worst July temperatures that I can remember, plus high winds which really damaged so many of my plants.  Fortunately for us, the weather up until November and on into December will still be perfect for the newly planted seedlings to continue to produce for us.

 First of the Patty Pan I harvested from the seeds planted in July.

 The six Italian Basil plants had no problems at all for me and I have picked so much basil this year.  I cut half and leave the other half to flower for the bees.  Then when the other half grows back, I let that one bloom and so-on and so-on: these plants are constantly serving up nectar for the bees. 

 More Kentucky Wonder pole beans.

 This is Cocozelle, the only squash plant that did not get infested with aphids or at least not enough that I had to reseed.  It is now beginning to vine and taking over the pathway.  As long as it produces I will let it go where it wants.

 Here is the second seeding of Crookneck.  I plant way to many seeds so some are being choked out by the larger plants, but I will let them decide who gets to take over.

 Here is the second planting of Ronde de Nice.  I should be picking in a couple of days.  See below.

I think this is another Cocozelle that I planted just in case the other one got infested.

 This photo shows an overview of the plot.  We took out all but one tomato plant and that is Cherokee Purple (not in photo here)  I have not seen many new blossoms forming so I may take it out.  We ended up buying 3 more San Marzano plants in early July, so far they look good and I have picked about 6 from those plants.  Still plenty of time for them to give us a nice crop.

Another view of the basil in bloom.

 I have started 3 flats of seeds for my winter garden.  This is just two of them. 

Garlic waiting to be separated and planted in a flat.

Winter Garden Plan 2014

Here is what I have sowed so far:

Lacinato Kale
Winter Red Kale
Broccoli Raab Rapini
Michihili Chinese Cabbage
Rocket Arugula
Mesclun Blend Lettuce
Butterhead Marvel of Four Season Lettuce
Freckles Romaine Lettuce
Butterhead Speckles Lettuce
Oak Leaf Blend Lettuce
Valentine Mesclun Blend Lettuce
Butterhead Buttercrunch Lettuce
Ruby Red Swiss Chard
Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard 

Still need to plant seeds in flats for:

Mustard Greens
Snow Peas
Brussels Sprouts

When we get to planting I will direct sow:

Early Wonder Beet
Turnip Purple Top White Globe
Rutabaga American Purple Top
French Breakfast Radish
Easter Egg Blend Radish
Garlic (from bulbs started in flat)
Spring Onions Sets

Have a beautiful day!