Monthly Archives: April 2012

I Spell Relief C-L-A-R-I-T-A-N

I Spell Relief C-L-A-R-I-T-A-N

I love spring! I love being outside! I am completely allergic to both right now!

I know I’m not alone in this.

Paisley Tissue? Of course!

People that would be hard pressed to spend more than $3 for a gallon of milk show no qualms when plopping down their $25 for 10 capsules of antihistamine. Forget the inflated oil industry, look at the drug companies! Seriously?

I will say that East Texas has thrown me a curve I had not expected. I’m used to the drainage, watery eyes and sinus pressure every year. I’ve dealt with that all my life, except in Guam, where I was, remarkably,  allergy free.

So, the new order of business…or should I say disorder? Rash and hives. I have no idea what is causing them and no amount of lotion, oatmeal baths or antihistamine is coming close to relieving them. I’m miserable and have found no consolation.

I’m going to the garden where I can be miserable and at least productive.

If anyone knows of any sure fire anti-itch anti-rash remedies, please do not hesitate to comment! Email Write them in the sky! I’ll gladly give you my home address…if you’re a serial killer…at least I won’t itch anymore and I’m good with my Maker at the moment! Good gravy, I’ve lost my mind, I’m going outside now, that’s probably where I left it.

I hope your day is 100 times more paisley than mine!~KeriAnne


Outsmarting the Heat…Or Not!

Outsmarting the Heat…Or Not!

The weather is warming up considerably in East Texas. We’re to reach temperatures of 85° by weeks end. It’s so pleasant to be out that it’s beginning to be a struggle to keep everyone, including myself, inside to do those indoor tasks that must be done, like school and cooking.

I’m learning to outsmart the heat though. For one thing, I’ve begun to incorporate school with outdoor tasks again. The boys usually walk a mile or two for exercise, this has been changed to garden chores like hoeing and digging. Poor Jonathan is ready to start walking again. He said yesterday he would be happy to go three miles. He’s not getting off though, I want the chives in by Wednesday. Poor boy.

Garden wise I’m doing a few things to beat the heat as well. As most of my regular readers know, I have a love hate relationship with growing lettuce. In Arkansas I never had a problem with bolting. I had more of a problem keeping Ryan from eating it straight out of the garden. When I moved to South Texas, I planted all the things I had grown in Arkansas. It didn’t work. Year after year I had lettuce gone to seed before we could taste it. It was just too hot.

Now that we’re further North, in relatively the same climate as we were in El Dorado, I’m crossing my fingers for some “real” lettuce this year. I had gotten in the habit of growing micro-greens, which, don’t get me wrong, are delicious and quite nutritious, but I want a head of lettuce. We always want what we can’t have, don’t we?

So, under the cucumber trellis in Patrick’s garden I’m growing Tom Thumb lettuce, and they’re coming along beautifully. So far, so good. But I’m also trying some other things I think will satisfy my longing for those beautifully developed, Mr. McGregor type garden plants I’m looking for this year.

I’m trying many of the offerings from a great company called Kitazawa Seed Co. from California. This company has an interesting history and I’m a sucker for interesting history. They also have a large assortment of Non Genetically Modified seed, so that rocks.

I’m growing Pak Choi (called Bok Choi also) for the first time this year. I’ve read that it

Extra Dwarf Pak Choy from Kitazawa Seed Co.

will be tolerant to heat until it’s pretty warm, so I’m thinking to keep it in until about the beginning of June and then switch to tomatoes for the summer. I’m planting about five feet a week to ensure a continuous crop for a few weeks. Again, so far, so good.

I’m also trying Nappa Cabbage for the first time as well using the same five foot method. I’m growing “Blues” which is a hybrid variety, and “Tenderheart” which is an heirloom. Both of these varieties are early maturing which will help me get them in and done before it gets really hot around here. My family adores Nappa

Tender Heart Nappa Cabbage from Kitazawa Seed Co.

Cabbage. We have been using it as a lettuce substitute for the last couple of years. When we have BLT’s they are actually BCT’s. We use it for everything except Taco Salad. Taco Salad insists on having “real” lettuce. What a snob.

I’m growing cilantro now, but will stop probably about the middle of May. It too, loves to bolt, even the “Slo-bolt” varieties I use.

I have a funny-ish story about my cilantro from last year.

At the beginning of December there was a “hard” freeze heading to our area so I decided to pull up the remaining basil and start a “lasagna” bed so it would be ready for spring planting.

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Paisley Plant of the Week: Jelly Melon

Paisley Plant of the Week: Jelly Melon

Kiwano or Jelly melon

What is this thing? Roughly the size and shape of an oblong personal melon of some kind. But, then it’s “horned” and bumpy, and well, it’s orange. Open it up and, woah Nellie, it’s green! Bright green! Is this someones idea of a garden joke? Sort of.

In Africa, where it originates, it is called “gaka” or “gakachika”. It can be called kiwano, melano, horned melon, English tomato, or cherie. It has many names. I think it’s because it’s kind of hard to peg. It can be eaten while it is still green, allowed to ripen to it’s full bright yellow and orange or at any stage in between.

Fruit from Outer Space?

It’s called a melon, but it’s really a cucumber. It’s kind of big like a melon, but inside it looks like a cucumber and it’s banana, citrus, cucumber, zucchini flavor all at once will have you wondering just what is this thing?

I love the Jelly Melon for a few reasons.

  1. It bears smallish size melons, perfect for a trellis.
  2. It’s interesting color and texture provides imaginative decoration in the garden and in the kitchen.
  3. It’s good in juice, you can also make a jam with it.
  4. It is extremely productive.
  5. You can pick the fruit small and pickle them.
  6. It’s high in antioxidants, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, B6,  and and has about 2g of fiber when you eat it skin and all. That’s pretty nutritious for one fruit Read the rest of this entry

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Symbiosis

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Symbiosis

With all the talk of the Three Sisters planting, I couldn’t help but think that the appropriate Botany topic this week should be symbiosis.

From the Ancient Greek syn (together) biosis (life). As the German Mycologist Heinrich de Bary said, “the living together of two or more unlike organisms.”

For the purposes of a gardening blog, I’m going to focus on how different plants, growing together, help each other and fulfill the symbiotic relationship.

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Throwback Thursday: Morning Glory

Throwback Thursday: Morning Glory

Picture this…

Trailing emerald green vines of perfect heart shaped leaves winding their way up, stretching to the sun, reaching up to glory. Quietly unfolding brilliant azure disks, velvety orbs of stunning cerulean grandeur, beckoning sapphire treasures.

Heavenly Blue climber

Okay, they’re morning glories. But aren’t they beautiful? I mean, seriously, they’re stunning.

I love everything about morning glories. I love that these guys will just do their thing whether you watch them or not. But who can help but watch them?

When roses say, “Treat me nice and I’ll put on a show for you. “Morning glories say, “It’s whatever, I put on a show for me.” (I suppose if your plants are literally speaking to you, it may be time to adjust your medication, but that’s another post for another day.)

Today is for the morning glory.

Grandpa Ott

There are a zillion varieties, many colors and even different shapes and sizes. All of them are beautiful in their own way.

Some things you need to take in consideration when choosing your variety, length of vines, foliage virility. In other words if you want a mannerly morning glory that will fill out your fan trellis and stay put, choose a variety that plays that way. Some are very obedient, but others are impetuous and not content to only go where you want, you need to prepare for that and be ready to discipline them or let them go if you have the space.

Some can grow 15-20 feet in practically no time at all. They can make a great pergola specimen, a shabby- chic country porch addition, and adds heirloom charm to any outdoor space.

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Planting Three Sisters

Planting Three Sisters

Earlier this week I talked about the practice of burying a fish with your crops as a natural fertilizer. This started me thinking of other long used methods of farming that I may have been overlooking. A little digging brought to surface another ancient gem that I had completely forgotten about.

It is the Three Sisters that I am interested in today. The sisters, corn, beans and squash are grown together in symbiotic bliss.

Bonus Corn. Those adorable baby corns for stir fry!

I had planned to make 10 bean and pea tipi’s in several places in the garden, but I’ve had an anomaly this year that has prompted the need for other plantings as well. I started four kinds of beans and three kinds of peas in anticipation of my tipi structures. Usually I have about 75-80% germination so I over start to get all I need. This year I have had very near 100% germination. I’m loathe to toss a plant that is healthy and really wants to grow, so what am I to do?

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Time to Thin the Radishes

Time to Thin the Radishes

Time to thin the radishes!

Yesterday and again today I had to thin my radishes. I want my French Breakfast radishes to grow nice long beautiful cylinders so I am thinning them to a manageable line.

This prompted a search for what to do with all my little radish sproutlings. I came up with two ideas that I think are interesting enough to pass along.

First is a radish sprout sandwich. I’m not even going to bother with a “recipe” format. I cut thin bread into three inch squares, buttered the bread and piled on the radish sprouts. These little sandwiches are as scrumptious as they are cute. If you want you can slice some radishes thinly and put these on as well.  I think they would also be good with whipped cream cheese on the bread, but we didn’t have any so, there you are.

Radish sandwich! Yum!

The next idea I am giving a recipe for because it is a little more involved. I hope you enjoy it!

Radish Top Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 large onion rough cut
  • 4 celery stalks rough cut
  • 3 potatoes diced
  • 4 cups raw radish greens
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (not broth)
  • 5 radishes (any variety) sliced thin (reserve a 6th for garnish if desired)
  • Course ground sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan melt butter. Add onion, celery, saute until tender. Mix in the potato and radish greens, stir until they are coated with the butter. Add in the stock, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or so. You can add the cream at this point simmer for ten minutes, or you can transfer the lot to the blender (or use your immersion blender in your pot) to make it really creamy and silky. Either way, add your cream, salt and pepper to taste, Serve with your radish slices, radish green sandwiches (see above) or some home made potato bread. Yum!

Radish Top Soup and sandwiches Yum!

Another variation I love with this is to add a few avocados, they make it buttery and even silkier. It really is delicious and so so easy!

One Fish, Two Fish, Feed Your Plants Fish

One Fish, Two Fish, Feed Your Plants Fish

4 out of 5 colonists agree that planting your corn on top of a fish results in better yields.

It’s no “fish story” that the colonists learned from the Native Americans to plant their corn crops with a fish. They didn’t know why it worked, but they knew that it did.

Today, we can understand that the decay of the fish provides a nitrogen rich environment for plants, and that nitrogen is essential for leaf growth and that leaf growth is essential for plant health. Corn needs plentiful amounts of  nitrogen throughout it’s entire growth cycle. This makes perfect sense when you consider a kernel the size of pea will end up being six foot tall and produce hundreds of seeds.

I use a combination of a few fish based fertilizers with results that keep me content.

It's like Magic from the Sea

I use Sea Magic on everything for many reasons.

  1. It’s inexpensive. Generally under $5 per packet each packet makes 60 gallons. That’s pretty inexpensive.
  2. You make a “tea” with it then use the “tea” as a water supplement when you want to feed.
  3. I have never had a problem with “burning” plants, even the tiniest of seedlings when I use my kelp tea.
  4. Plants love it! The proof is in the pudding. Healthy plants, huge yields and gorgeous fruits and veggies.

Sea Magic "tea" ready to go.

Paisley Plant of the Week: Green Meat Radish

Paisley Plant of the Week: Green Meat Radish

This is only the second year I have grown radishes. I had forgotten how fun they are. I remember now.

So, what’s fun about radishes?

To start with, they grow super fast. Super Fast! I started a line of French Breakfast on a Thursday, this was them on Tuesday.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Propagation from Cuttings

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Propagation from Cuttings

When the Parsnip was a young preacher just getting started, we would often visit with the older members of our congregation. We would see if they had any physical, environmental or, most pressing in our line of work, spiritual needs.

While living in El Dorado, Arkansas we were always glad when the time would come to visit Henry and Marguerite Hogg. Henry was a strapping man in his early eighties when we met him. He had stories, many stories of how he had been a school teacher (at age 16!), then went on to be the county postmaster at the ripe age of 19. He had been to war, lived through the Depression and raised a strong, loving family.

As interesting as it was to visit with Henry, I always looked forward to my visit with Marguerite. This tiny, 5 foot, soft spoken woman chose her words carefully and didn’t “put on airs”. I liked that and I liked her. But, my favorite thing about visiting with the Hoggs was…the violets.

Marguerite had loads and loads of beautiful African Violets.They covered every inch of every windowpane. Rich burgundy, royal purple, majestic pink, quiet lavender violets, violets, everywhere.

Violet Array

One Thursday morning Curt (the Parsnip) called me and said, “Hey, Henry and Marguerite want us to come over, can you be ready in 20 minutes”? When we got there we had coffee and some treat or other and then Henry took Curt out to his large, beautiful garden to talk man things. Marguerite said, “I want to give you a violet, you always admire mine so”. I was thrilled beyond words. My own violet treasure. Read the rest of this entry