Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Girl’s Gotta Grill

A Girl’s Gotta Grill

I love to grill. My favorite to smoke is brisket. My favorite to grill is chicken. My favorite time of year to grill is anytime!

Anytime is time to grill!

In the fall it’s fun to sit next to the pit watching your garden while grilling German sausage.

In the winter it’s fun to go out with the snow on the ground. You have to sit real close to the firebox side of the cooker to keep warm, but it’s so worth it. It’s like having an outdoor fireplace.

In the spring, you’re out getting your garden chores done and you can pop over to the cooker to check things occasionally, at the end of the day you have clean garden beds and supper is ready. Score.

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Paisley Plant of the Week: Bonus Corn

Paisley Plant of the Week: Bonus Corn

This plant is so paisley…it’s dripping paisley!


Sounds boring, right? Not so!

Bonus Corn!

Bonus corn is a hybrid that produces those little corns that are so delicious in stir-fry. Each ear is 4-6 inches long and the entire ear is edible, no need to slice it off of the cob. My wise son just told me to tell you, you do still have to peel it. He was worried you might try to eat it peel and all. Thanks Jonners.

Growing Bonus corn is also fun. It emerges quickly. I chit mine, but it probably isn’t necessary. I just got in the habit of doing the corn along with my beans and peas. It may give me a little jump on my seeds, I dunno.

Bonus corn grows to a height of 5′. Here’s something different (and paisley) about Bonus corn, each stalk produces 4-5 ears! That’s cool. I also grow Country Gentleman, a standard shoepeg variety, you only get one ear per stalk with that. So 4-5 little ears are super cool, and paisley!

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Book Review

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Book Review

My stuff you missed is not a Botany term at all, but rather, a book review.

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

I’m recommending this book to everyone, not just those with kids. In truth, I use it more than my kids, or at least as much as they do.

Inside Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

The book is The Handbook of Nature Studyby Anna Botsford Comstock. It was written in 1911 with a rewrite in 1931. Either version is great, but I prefer the 1911 personally. This book has a thousand things to learn about that you’ve always wanted to know, and another thousand that you didn’t even know you wanted to know.

So, here’s how we used it this week.

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Throwback Thursday: Honeysuckle

Throwback Thursday: Honeysuckle

Every time I step outside these days I’m taken aback by the heady smell of the honeysuckle wafting from the woods adjacent our property.

I love the woods by our house for many reasons. 1. They provide a nice barrier from the commercial businesses on the other side.  2. They make a wind break from the strong wind that blows over the lake. 3. They provide shelter for wildlife. 4. They make a sound barrier for the traffic from the highway. 5. They are chock full of the most delicious smelling honeysuckle.

It’s the last bit I’m talking about today.

Japanese Honeysuckle growing in the woods by the house.

Honeysuckle is a shrub Honeysuckle is also a vine. We are lucky enough to have three different kinds of Honeysuckle by the house. I love that at different parts of the day, the smell is different. I can’t help but wonder if the scents are sending different signals. This is not scientific, just the musings of a sensitive nose. ; )

In the morning there is a light, fruity almost citrus smell. About noon, there is a stronger, more wild honey sweet smell. Then, around six, there is the strongest smell of all. This is the intoxicating, permeating, vanilla bourbon yumminess.

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Gourmet Parsley? Yep.

Gourmet Parsley? Yep.

Parsley isn’t paisley. Unless, of course, it is.

This year I’m growing gourmet parsley. Three kinds of gourmet parsley to be more accurate.

You may ask, “What, pray tell, is gourmet parsley”? I’m so glad you asked.

Gourmet Parsley #1: Hamburg

Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg parsley is actually a parsnip (not my scoffing husband, Parsnip. The vegetable parsnip) The root can be used and is delicious mashed either with potatoes or just on it’s own. Seriously, most people cannot tell the difference between mashed potatoes and mashed parsnips.

I grow parsnips year round…well nearly year round. I sometimes have a break in July through August as they do love to bolt in the extreme of Texas summer. Last year, I just kept growing them, let them go to seed and saved the seeds. This will work if you are not growing carrots or other root veg in the immediate area. Most of the things that would cause cross pollination problems are cleared out by the end of May because of the heat, so it works for me. Read the rest of this entry

Free Range…Tomatoes?

Free Range…Tomatoes?

I’m not a fan of tomato cages. While they are quite effective at reining your sprawling queens in, they also make the tasks of picking off pests, wilted leaves or sometimes even fruit, laborious. I know I’m in the minority on this matter.

Everyone I know cages their tomatoes. They are perfectly happy with their arrangement. I am perfectly content with mine. It’s just a personal preference on my part.

I’ve taken to using the same fence method that I use for melons, and I’m quite satisfied with it. It is simply straight rows of stakes with chicken wire, hog wire, or whatever wire I have handy at the time, tied to the stakes.



I plant my tomatoes on both sides of the fence and tie them to the fencing as they grow. In this way I am able to get to the middle of my plants at any given time. I don’t have to wonder if there is fruit somewhere in the middle of that mass of leaves and flowers because I can see clearly to the main stem. Read the rest of this entry

Testing…Testing…One, Two, Three…Four!

Testing…Testing…One, Two, Three…Four!

Without me, the garden has continued to do it’s thing. I’ve been stuck in the house with my stupid back this last week, but the garden has managed without me. I’ve been sending Jonathan out to do some things, move the sprinklers, fix the trellis, check things over, but I’m more than ready to see everything for myself.

Today I can walk unassisted and I’ve been up for three hours without pain medication, so I’m thinking I’ll be outside for at least a little while later on. Ryan threatened me before he went to work. “If I even see you with a hoe in your hands, I’m telling dad.” He needn’t have bothered. The pain this last week was sufficient a lesson, the “real” work will be done by the boys from now on.

So, what am I going to do? Thanks for asking. Today is testing day. I have a bunch of things that will be ready in the next little bit to go from their juvenile containers to the garden. I’m making sure their new beds are ready for them with the nutrients and pH conditions they’ll need.

This is the kit before testing.

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Paisley Plant of the Week: Tom Thumb and Little Gem

Paisley Plant of the Week: Tom Thumb and Little Gem

The Paisley plant of the week is really two plants. They are very similar and grown almost identically. They are quick to grow, headache free and super fun to grow (and eat)!

So, with out further ado…let us speak of lettuce.

Tom Thumb Lettuce

Tom Thumb and Little Gem to be exact.

These tiny four inch heads of perfectly formed verdant feathers of tasty salad fixin’s are just too easy and cute not to try.

The seeds are tee wincey (technical term for extremely small) so care should be used when it’s time to sow. Make nice straight rows and space 6 inches apart. Barely cover and keep moist. In no time your little guys will be peeking up at you, two blinks after that, you’ll be enjoying a delicious salad.

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Stuff You Missed In Botany: Cambium Growth

Stuff You Missed In Botany: Cambium Growth

Did you ever wonder how a plant can turn itself towards a light source (the  sun, or a grow light)?

It’s called Cambium Growth. There is a tissue paper membrane called Cambia that form identical rows of parallel undifferentiated cells for plant growth. The side of the plant that is away from the light source grows longer, stretches out, this is how it reaches for the light.

If you turn your plant, you’ll notice that the next day, it will again be reaching. The cambia will grow longer cells on the side away from the light. If you remember from photosynthesis, the plant needs the light to complete the chemical transformation of light to food for the plant. It makes sense that there would be a mechanism to ensure the light source can be utilized most effectively. Our God is an awesome God!

Cambia is also the layer that makes the rings of a tree each year. They are dormant in the winter and grow long during the summer. Let’s see a cross section. This will help the visuals out there.

Cross Section of Cambia

Here it is again from another angle. Just for you = )

Another way to see it, Cambia

So, next time you see your plants performing their little plant acrobatics, reaching for the sun, you’ll know, “Hey, that’s the cambia!”

Have a paisley cambia day~KeriAnne

Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Dear Friends,

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for my absence as of late. On Tuesday, the 17th I worked all day in the garden and I accomplished quite a lot. Unfortunately, I also injured myself. As some of you know, I have a condition of degenerative disk disease. The disks of my back rupture with little or no provocation. On Tuesday, I provoked them plenty.

In my on defense, the “signs” I usually get if I am aggravating my condition were completely absent. I had no tingling, no numbness, no electric shocks down the side of my leg, just the same dull ache I have every day. So, you can imagine my surprise Tuesday night when I was unable to walk even a few steps. Today is Friday and I am still unable to walk without aid.


Fortunately, there is some light at the end of the tunnel (I think). The pain is a little less each day which is at least an indication that the swelling is going down and things are mending to some degree. Now that the extreme pain has lessened I am left with a melancholy that is harder to shake than the injury. For this, I would ask for prayers on my behalf. In the still of the night, it is sometimes hard to wait for the morning.

So, for the time being, the Parsnip and the boys are managing my little green friends outside. Watering and turning, thinning and overseeing what needs to be done. I need to be back out there. I know I’ll feel better when I can be back out. But, I also know that I have to allow my back to heal and let the inflammation recede, and with it, the pain.

Again, I would ask for prayers on my behalf. You all inspire me and I’m grateful to you. Thank you for your friendship via email, instant messages and twitter notes. You guys rock!

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding~KeriAnne