Category Archives: Compost

Head Count

Head Count

So, I’m still fighting an infection of some sort. Ibuprofen and Goldenseal tea are my two best buds. However,  yesterday evening I got dressed just enough to not shock the neighbors and went to do a quick inspection of the garden. I had decided I may need to make a list of tasks for the Parsnip to do if anyone was in desperate need of anything.

All was quiet on the garden front. Our abundance of rain coupled with warm (okay, hot) weather has left my garden feeling rather smug about herself.

Lemon Cucumber June 2012

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The Summer Is Here!

The Summer Is Here!

Today is the first day of summer! So happy summer! It’s the longest day of the year (or the shortest if you live on the other side of the world).

Summer is…

  • a time for home made and carted popsicles.
  • swimming pools or swimming holes.
  • firefly lanterns and sleep outs.
  • lemonade on the porch and watermelon in the fridge.
  • secrets with friends.
  • daisy chains and banana bikes.
  • pirates and princesses.
  • grandparents and cousins.

It’s the first day. What are you going to do with your summer?

Make it paisley!~KeriAnne

Comfrey, and the Livin’ is Good!

Comfrey, and the Livin’ is Good!

In a rather neglected part of the yard, over by the treeline of the woods, I have three Comfrey plants that seem to like their arrangement. I like them there as well. They have pretty lavender and white flowers and they will come back next year even though I’ll cut them down to two inches this year.

As a Green Manure, Comfrey is a workhorse. As a natural fertilizer, it will be your “go to” plant food. You may even come to depend on it as you do your Aloe or lavender. This hardworking, often overlooked plant can really do wonders in the garden, and in the home.

I grow Comfrey for three purposes: compost, herbal medicinal, and as a nice border.

 

Comfrey Border by the woods.

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Throwback Thursday: Is There Anything As Cool As A Cucumber?

Throwback Thursday: Is There Anything As Cool As A Cucumber?

Is there anything as cool as a cucumber?

Cucumbers are just happy plants to grow. They’re so enthusiastic about things. If you have a cool spell, they’re  okay with that. The heat gets turned up, that’s good with them. Rainy spring? They love it.

Really the only thing they may, perhaps, look sideways at you about is if you fail to give them a drink. Cucumbers are lushes, they want a drink. No, they need a drink! But, even with the extreme drought we had last summer, the cucumbers were fine as long as I remembered to water them in the morning and not at night.

Originally from India, cucumbers are now grown on every continent, except Antarctica. (If you live in Antarctica and are growing cucumbers, please let me know) You know after I said that, I’ll bet the scientists in Antarctica do grow cucumbers. Hmmm (Great, now all I can think about is Antarctica)

In case you missed it, I love cucumbers!

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Plant Nutrition

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Plant Nutrition

It was time to feed the melons. They said, “Thank You!” They’re so obedient and respectful when they’re little. They have rewarded me with loads of beautiful flowers that will blossom into a protrusions of melon sweetness. So, I’m more than happy to give them a springtime snack with they’re drink.

Plants get nutrients from the soil, but they also get some goodies from the rain and some plants, like legumes, get nutrients like nitrogen, from the atmosphere. Plants also change the energy the get from the sun into nutrients using the green pigment called chlorophyll in the process of photosynthesis.

So, what are the nutrients that plants need?

Plant nutrients are broken in to two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.

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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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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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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Mushrooms and Other Spore Bearing Fungi

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Mushrooms and Other Spore Bearing Fungi

It seems appropriate this week to talk about mushrooms and other spore type critters. On Wednesday I talked about the Mushroom Growing Kit we are doing this spring with Patrick, so it’s fresh on my mind.

Mushrooms are not plants. They are a fungus. The classification has to do with how they reproduce themselves. To be completely accurate, a mushroom is the spongy, fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. Whether a mushroom is safely edible depends on the type of fungus the mushroom fruits from.

The mushroom has three parts, the stipe (or stem), the pileus (or cap) and the lamella (or gills). There are other fungi that produce spores to reproduce, they are often lumped in as mushrooms. These include Morel and Turkey Tail. Turkey Tail mushroom has been used in Chinese medicine for many years and now is being developed in Western medicine as a possible cure for several types of cancer, HIV, and Malaria.

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There’s a Fungus Among Us

There’s a Fungus Among Us

A mushroom walks in to an ice-cream store. “We don’t serve to mushrooms here” says the man behind the counter. The mushroom asks, “Why not? I’m a fungi!

Yay it’s finally here! For the last three years Patrick has been wanting a mushroom growing kit but there was always a reason it wasn’t the right time. Not enough money, not enough time, enough money enough time, not enough desire by the parents that would have to deal with it.

Mushroom Growing Kit and Patrick

So a few weeks ago I was perusing my seed catalogs and came across a 50% off coupon for one item, offer expires in three days. This is perfect, the mushroom box is regularly $39.99, I was already getting four container blueberry plants from the same company, so now I’ll get free shipping on my order over $50. Half off the mushrooms, free shipping, it looks like fun, perfect.

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