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Enjoying the modern conveniences of life in a sustainable manner through technology, resourcefulness, and Zone 8a (North Texas) Gardening.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gardening & Parenting

You raise them from birth (or at least a very young age); you take care of them daily...feeding them and cleaning up around them. You give them food; you protect them; and you give them every opportunity to grow up and reach their full potential.

Yes, in time, the plants in your garden become your babies. Gardening - like parenting - is mostly great, but I'd be irresponsible if I weren't truthful about some of its down points. You love your kids garden; but let's face it, sometimes, they let you down. You do everything in your power to protect them, but you can't protect them from everything.

Sometimes, they get sick;
Bean Rust?
Whatever it is, my beans have no leaves :(
Some of the pods seem affected
But most pods look fine
Whatever it is, seems to be spreading to the bush beans next door
My tomatoes show small signs of sickness; but nothing widespread yet

Sometimes they may get attacked by negative influences;
Pumpkin stem cracked wide open. Getting sucked to death by cucumber beetles and squash bugs. ARGH!
More squash bug/cucumber beetle damage
Yep, caught in the act
I promise I am picking eggs everyday, so where did these come from!
Not sure if this pumpkin will make it. These were going to be our giant ones too.

Sometimes, they may make the wrong choices.
The squash have snuck out to the pea bed and is climbing its trellis...follow the black lines.
We even have a squash growing in the pea bed...bad news bc it interferes with the effects of crop rotation.
It was holding on tight too, but I sent it back home.

And sometimes, we as parents mess them up. We try to hard, are too protective, and get in the way of their growth and potential.

I pruned off some ill looking leaves and inadvertently exposed the toms to the western sky. Sunscald!

But we keep trying. We keep working at it. We give them a chance to rebound. But unlike parenting our kids; this love is not unconditional. We will yank you out or till you under!

This post has been linked in with An Oregon Cottage Tuesday Garden Party. Click on over and join the party with other gardeners sharing their stories, tips, and harvests.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Harvest Monday

We're off work and hanging out! So I'll make this harvest monday post short and sweet.

In the basket is broccoli seed pods and on the paper is some of the actual broccoli seeds.
I also harvested the first of the patty pan squash. This may also be the last because the squash bug is under serious attack (squash bugs).
All of the squash were grilled yesterday. The roma tomatoes were used to make homemade guacamole and the celebrity tomato was used on hamburgers.
This week instead of closing with a preview, I would like to close with unintended benefits. Gardening is for all ages. From the very young to the very old. This makes it the perfect family activity. A great way to spend time together instead of being in front of different TVs. Kids really love it and they are more willing to eat vegetables that they helped grow and harvest. Here are some pics of my kids hunting for zucchini and beans to harvest.
Check out more harvests over at Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Heritage Gardening

We all mostly plant what we eat and we try the most popular or dependable varieties. But in my garden, there are three plantings that have a special significance to me.

1. Fish Peppers
This is a look at three of my fish pepper plants. I have seven in all. As soon as I read the history behind this heirloom, I knew that I had to plant it. I don't even care much for hot peppers. I am not even sure I can eat a pepper any hotter than a jalepeno; which this pepper is supposed to be. That matters not, because this pepper has a special significance to me. This pepper is an African-American heirloom that predates the 1870s. In the late 1800s, the Fish Pepper was widely grown in the Philadelphia and Baltimore area. Being an African American, I almost felt an obligation to grow this plant; just because so much of our history is lost/unwritten.
It is an added bonus that these plants are beautiful. The foliage is variegated with green and white. The peppers are variegated too. The peppers range from a cream color with green stripes to oranges, browns, and eventually red. Historically it was used to make salsas. I'll also use it to make hot sauce.
Even if you aren't African American, I think you would still enjoy growing this pepper for its sheer beauty. I have a few baby peppers and their uniqueness is already evident.
2. Cherokee Trail of Tears
According to my family's verbal tradition, my great-great grandmother was a Cherokee woman. At this point, I probably don't have much Cherokee in me, but the Cherokee's are still significant to me nonetheless. The Cherokee Trail of Tears bean is a black bean that was said to have traveled with the Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears - a forced relocation West to Oklahoma. A trail in which 4000 Cherokee was said to have died. Much like the middle passage that Africans suffered while being forceably brought to America.
3. Aunt Lou's Underground Railroad Tomato
I just found this tomato and snatched up seeds as soon as I did. Therefore, it won't be planted until my fall garden, but I am already excited about it. There is so little that we know about our ancestors during and before slavery. All we know, is that odds are, they were a slave. This tomato traveled the Underground Railroad from Kentucky to Ripley, OH. After arrival, the tomatoes were grown at Rankin House (a well-known stop on the UR and now a museum). The seeds were shared with a lady named Lou. Her nephew later shared the seeds with Ellis' Feed Mill who called them Aunt Lou's tomato. In 2010, the name was changed to reflect its history of having come to Ohio via the Underground Railroad. No word on how these look or taste yet; but I'll let you know this fall :).
These three hierlooms will always have a place in my garden. I look forward to the day that I will share their history with my children; they can take them to school for show and tell; and they can even grow them themselves in their own gardens.
Do you have any heritage plantings or any plantings that have significance beyond taste and dependability?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Exciting Anticipation

Everyday my 3-year old runs out to the garden to see if the tomatoes are red yet. He gets so excited and squeals: 'Their getting bigger!' Then he says matter of factly: 'We're going to eat them when their red.'

We'll, he doesn't have long to wait. (Celebrity followed by Black Cherry)

I thought his antics were so cute and it got me to thinking. I am the exact same way; aren't we all? Maybe we don't squeal like a 3-year old at the excitement of anticipating a harvest, but we are excited - nonetheless.

I run out in excitement to see how my winter squash is coming along. Particularly, my acorn squash which appears to be fairly close to harvest time. I have two and they are the biggest acorn squash that I have ever seen.
I love my winter squash bed. They are so unruly. They are my troublemakers. Sneaking over to the tomato bed, covering my basil along the way.
They are even trying to take over my pea bed.
They are really producing too. Particularly, the butternut squash. I was able to get 4 of them in one shot, can you find them all
The spaghetti squash is producing fairly well. These vines are so rampant that I have a spaghetti squash growing right next to a butternut squash.
The entire bed is its own ecosystem...its a jungle in there!
Another source of anticipation is my potato bed. I've had another variety die off, so I can start digging anytime now. Potatoes bring feelings of excitement and anxiety because you just don't know what you are going to get.
I'm excited about how my Dakota Black Popcorn will turn out as well. The stalks are about 6' tall and the tassles and silks have shown up. Its only a matter of time now...
A wee-b-little pumpkin is starting to turn a nice shade of orange. But I  am concerned that there is only one on this plant. Maybe it's production will pick up soon.
I've allowed one basil to flower because it had blooms on it every day no matter how much I pinched. The 3 plants around it are not flowering, so I let it go.
Lots of rattlesnake beans in the works. One of my readers said that these were delicious as snap beans, so I will be harvesting a bowl of the smaller ones this weekend to try them out.
But I am definitely growing cannellini beans as shell beans. I love them! and I love minestrone!
My zucchinni are producing about one per day. I hope they keep up that rate because I love zucchini; especially zucchini relish.
My carnival mix bell peppers are amazing me. They are only about a foot tall, but they are producing nice sized peppers like crazy. One bush has 4 growing on it. For some reason, carnival mix has four colors, but half of my plants seem to be producing purple ones. Can you see all 4 below (hint, one is purple).
Well, this next one isn't exactly an anticipation, but it is a surprise. I never knew that nasturiums were so pretty. I may have to plant some in my flower bed. I grew all of mine from seed.
Another nice surprise (and source of anticipation) is my spinning gourd. The flowers are beautiful, but I am also anticipating drying these to make toys for my kids and their friends/cousins.
But, of all the things that I am excited about and anticipating. There are three that I am most excited about and I'll tell you why in my next post. Until then, what do you anticipate the most from your garden?

Back to Life

Ok; I had this one broccoli plant that did awesome last fall. It was a hybrid Packman variety, but it did so well, I decided to save seed. Perhaps I can dehybridize it for my garden.

Well, the seed pods have dried and I am now ready to harvest the seed.....but

the broccoli is coming back to life. Whaaa? I think I will just snip off the seed pods and see what this broccoli does. There are actually side shoots on it; maybe I should taste one.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gardening Sleeves

Speaking of squash.

I sure hate to work in my squash beds because their vines cause me to itch; they're so prickly.

I came up with a solution. Sleeves!

These 'sleeves' are just an old pair of man's athletic socks with the toes cut out. Cheap, but very effective!

What was I Thinking

Bed 6 is my bed of winter squash. I have lots of butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash out maturing now.

We are fighting squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and the squash vine borer in our other squash beds. But this one hasn't been attacked yet.

Instead, this bed is suffering from.....uneducated gardener mistakes. I planted 6 winter squash in this 4x8 (ish) bed. I had no clue that winter squash were vines. These things are huge! They are attacking the pea bed to its right and the tomatoes to its left. I had some extra cucumber trellis' left that I stuck in there to train some of the vines to go up.

So far it looks like they are going to tear the trellis down. Unruly things they are! Its almost like looking at a jungle when you peek between the vines. There are lots of squash under there; so getting close to maturity...Can't Wait!
Note to self: Winter Squash are vines; not bushes!

Monday, May 21, 2012


My harvest lull appears to be over. This week the garden produced a nice harvest. The  last of the garlic came out (last week) and most of the onion is out. They are now all hanging in the garage. I had a few other things that were used immediately.

As exciting as this past week was, the next few weeks look even more exciting. There is a lot more one the way, but for now...I'll give you a sneek peek at what will be harvest first's for us. As we have never grown any of the items below. Well, we have grown beans, just not shell beans: Rattlesnake and Cherokee Trail of Tears. It may be a while before these come out because we want them to dry on the vine.

There are plenty more harvests to enjoy over at Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Female Blossom Looking for a Mate

Name: Squash Blossom
Location: Vegetable Garden in North Texas
Occupation: Produce Squash
Strengths: Healthy, Beautiful, and Ready to Produce
Likes: I like to open up for mating in the morning and close up and rest at night
Weaknesses: I only have about 2 days before I wither away unpollinated and leave behind only a minature version of the wonderful fruit that I am capable of producing.
Dating Situation: The female to male ratio, in my current location, is 6 to 0.
Looking for: A Male Squash Blossom. Just someone to bloom with one morning; hang out; and willing to share his pollen.