Monday, August 11, 2014

zucchini soup?

Test recipe:
roasting some potatoes and zucchini.  4 red potatoes roasting at 450 with some olive oil before i add 1.5 huge zucchini cut into inch cubes.  We were at deb and brians this morning while Deb was making some chicken cassarole.  I grabbed a gallon of her chicken broth from the stove and brought it home in a milk jug.  I've got half of it simmering on the stove in a huge pot with some sauteed onion and celery. I threw it all together and let it cook for a bit.  I added some whole milk and heated it back up to almost boiling.  Blended, bagged, and freezed.  It tasted like a cream of celery soup.  Something I don't thing I want to just eat, but I should be able to use it in place of a canned soup in a casserole.  We'll see.
I got the general idea from this recipe on allrecipes:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Excuses. Excuses..

2013 wasn't a great garden year.  I'm sitting here on a snow day and we don't have any frozen tomato soup to hit the spot.

Excuse #1-  Henry

Excuse #2- the tiller
    The old rear-tine craftsman tiller that has been getting it done for upwards of a dozen years was spilling more gas out of a poorly reconstructed carburetor than it was delivering to it's sputtering motor.

Excuse #3-the rain
    All of those prayers for rain over the years got answered this year all at once.  Early summer was a wash.  By the time we went to the beach in July over half of the tomato plants had drowned.

Soooo- 2014- Solution #3- If it looks like the pit will hold too much water I'm going to dig a little channel out at the side and loose all of that nutrient-rich compost tea out into the yard.

Solution #2- I got myself a new husqvarna tiller that I already used a couple of weeks ago to get everything ready for 2014.

Solution #1- Big man is going to be ready to eat vegetables this year.  I'm pretty happy to be able to grow Henry some organic veggies.  Of course he probably won't have anything to do with them.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Sage is a pretty tricky herb.  I think Clary sage is the variety that I usually grow.  I've tried bicolor sage before and it never makes it past midsummer.  I tried golden sage and it shared the miserable fate of the tricolor.  Silver sage was nice for a season.  It had a very distinctive foliage but I didn't have anything to do with it except for letting it look cool in the garden.  I need to harvest the sage at the end of the fall.  Cut the stalks down and harvest the dried leaves.  This spring there is a nice crop of new growth coming from the bottom of the plants.

Early spring '13

Check out this mid-January weekend forecast:

Weekend Forecast

Updated: Jan 12, 2013, 6:13pm EST

FriJan 11

Light Rain / Fog
Light Rain / Fog Actual high of 54°F and low of 48°F. The estimated precip measured 0.01 in.

TonightJan 12

Mostly Cloudy
72°FObserved High3:25 pm
Mostly Cloudy
SSW at 6 mph

SunJan 13

SSW at 13 mph

So I figured it was a great time to get some seeds in the ground.  70's in January.  You know I was going to have to be outside doing something in the garden.  Might as well take a gamble on a spring planting.
Problems-  by later in the week it was in the 20's again.  It was pretty chilly all of the rest of January and February.  We got a few inches of snow in mid-February and it rained a ton these last few months. It's been excruciating waiting to see some little seedlings.  I think that I have been used to seeing some sprouts a couple of weeks after the early winter planting.  I replanted a couple of rows with some spinach in mid-february because I got impatient with my mid-January experiment.  Today I got my first bite of the spring garden with of course.... radish.  By far the easiest plant in the world to grow.
There are some lettuce seedlings in the middle of the pit that need thinning out, but the main garden is pretty disappointing.  I left a bunch of collards in the left side of the garden and I missed out on some nice real estate for spring planting.  I did pick some collards last week for a little side dish with dinner.  A small concession for missing out on bunches of beets and spinach.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012: In summary:
In gardening you are really at the mercy of mother nature.  You do your best to make everything nice, and you just try to make the most of what you're dealt.
The winter was hellamild, the spring was wet, the summer typical, and since July we've barely seen a drop of rain.  Now it's almost 2013 and I don't think it's gotten below 30 yet as you'll see in my Dec 21st sunflower picture.

You can always tell when a bird has been sharing your tomatoes, what does a butterfly bite look like?

The crops:
  • Garlic, onions, and leeks did fine
  • Peas were astounding.  wasted too many in the fridge waiting to get eaten.
  • harvested a few carrots as usual, let plenty more go to seed as usual for my pleasure.
  • Beets weren't as productive as last year.  still made about 8 jars of pickled beets.
  • Spinach was typical.  Froze several batches and had lots of spring salads.
  • Planted more spinach and less lettuce, but the lettuce was good for plenty of salads.


  • The tomatoes were as bountiful as ever.  Lauren mentioned last night that we should diversify a little more in the summer and maybe not plant as many tomatoes.  Good time for me to practice selective hearing.  I love growing tons of tomatoes.
  • The peppers were a complete failure.  I think it got a little too dry even for them.  Last year we were drying, pickling, and eating the mess out of them.  This year we had a few to add to recipes for flavor.
  • The squash were great.  When they were getting crazy in June it was hot and wet and they were everywhere.  I froze a couple batches of squash soup and froze a couple of squash casseroles. I haven't tried the soup yet, but i needed to not add the crackers to the top of the casserole before freezing because they got really mushy.
  • The okra handled the lack of rain fine.  As usual, the dozen or so plants we had were plenty to keep us eating as much as we wanted in the fall.
  • Beans- not too shabby.  the purple violetta green bean are still my favorite.  the huge speckled limas did well this fall in the pit despite the dry conditions.  I harvested them a few times and found plenty of stragglers when I pulled down the vines in November when we finally got a light freeze.

 The tropicals on the porch stayed nice with regular watering and plenty of hot days.  The moonvine wasn't nearly as big or as productive as usual.  Some years there would be 40 or so blooms/night.  this year we were lucky to get 15.

Summer time on the grill. The corn and ribs didn't come from the garden but the pot of tasty beans, tomatoes, and onions were a nice, homegrown compliment. 

  • The sweet potatoes were as domineering as ever in the pit this fall.  I knew better than to try to plant anything else out there that might get swamped by their vines.  The dry fall made a big difference in the 2012 harvest compared to 2011.  This year there were still lots of sweet potatoes, but they were all small. On the bright side I think they may have a little better flavor this year.  Still it's sad to use 8 or 9 potatoes to make a casserole for thanksgiving when 1 monster tater made almost 3 casseroles itself last year.

 Looking into the pit in early November.

 A November tomato holding on.

 The seat beside the bay tree on the porch is favorite spot of mine for imbibing a cool drink.

 Holden and I enjoyed the November weather when we got topless and dug sweet potatoes in the pit.
 So Lauren and I went walking with the dogs on Forestview's cross country track one weekend and I started eating these wild pears.  I thought they were tasty so I went back the following week and picked a bunch to mix with the sweet potatoes for a thanksgiving treat.  As best as I can tell this tree is called a Callery pear, some hybrid of a Bradford pear that is pretty invasive around here.  Lauren said "I hope you don't poison your whole family" so I made sure to eat plenty of them before thanksgiving as a little assurance to my family's perpetuation on this earth.
 Fall/winter cont.-

  • Cabbage- this was the first time I was successful with cabbage, and I use the word successful loosely.  I grew a few little, not dense heads out in the garden.  They make for nice single serving slaw portions.  It was tasty slaw; not bland like what you would get in the store, but not overpowering either.
  • Broccoli-  The first time I've had any luck with this brassica too.  I only had 1 successful plant in the garden and Lauren ate it's little head while we were walking around out there a couple of weeks ago.  It has a couple of little heads growing in some leaf axils that I hope will get a little bigger.  There is one in my bed at school that has a pretty big head going on.  Hopefully I can get to it before some scavenger harvests it. 
  • I planted 3 cauliflower plants in the garden and they all made big 'ol heads.  One I overcooked in the oven and it tasted nasty, 1 we chopped up and took to a panther's game with some other veggies and ranch dip, and 1 is still sitting out there turning yellower as I type.  The one we took the the panther's tailgate was a little yellow and uneven but very tasty.  I think the other folks there were a little scared of it's appearance so I got as much as I wanted.

  •  Collards-  What a shame.  New year's is next week and we won't be able to harvest our collards.  A couple of rows just dried up and died with their little leaves turning brown.  The little bed just to the right of the garden entrance and the front row of the left side of the garden were looking good early but all of the leaves got what looked like some kind of white powdery mildew going on and they are worthless now.  We harvested the outer leaves off of the plants a few times earlier in the season and had some tasty collards but now when we need them the most they look awful.

 This is a picture of a sunflower in the bed outside of my classroom the day before Christmas break.  December 21st and a sunflower is blooming. The okra beside the school is gone, but the less tender sunflowers are still going.  Global warming?  I think yes.
A picture I took yesterday when I was checking out the sprouting garlic.  I love that the garlic and leeks are green in the middle of the winter like harbingers of the spring to come.

Friday, November 9, 2012


This is the wikipedia picture of the crab nebula (m1).  Looks like a poster in Jimi Hendrix's bedroom.  I set out looking for this guy again tonight and once again came in with a cold nose and no check beside M1.  
So I found out more about a Messier's Marathon.  These guys try to find all 110 objects in one night.  I'm trying to find one stinking blur of light in the night sky and I'm getting stumped.  Saul texted me about 10:30 and said I needed to get outside and enjoy the stars tonight. I shuffled my scope out the door and resumed the search for M1.  I googled "how to find the crab nebula" and a explanation came up first.  (The article on  I looked between one of taurus's horns and betelgeuse and I saw the star that marked the other horn.  I scanned with my binoculars-nothing.  I looked through the low-power eyepiece on my scope that I still have no idea how to use- nothing.  I even put in a higher power eyepiece- big surprise, nothing.  

Here's a picture from that shows how to find M1.  

If this marathon is supposed to last 1 night, what is my search gonna be called if i've finished day 2 without taking my first step?  Messier's ____________?  I did get to check out Jupiter while I was out there.  It was in Taurus and looked nice.  I also scouted out my marathon route a little by checking out M42, the orion nebula.  That makes two of the 110 objects that I've checked out through my scope.  
I tried to take a picture through the eyepiece with my iphone and that was another unfruitful venture for the evening.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


There's definitely plenty of garden status to update, not to mention my new garden at the school house as Ronnie Davis would call it.  But, tonight I started my messier's marathon.
For our first anniversary, lauren got me a nice telescope.  We went down to Kara's house on Dewee's Island and she had these huge presents in the back seat.  I couldn't fit the cooler in the car to take it to the beach because of the gifts, but I knew she was trying to be sweet so I figured I could handle warm beers on the beach.  Anyway, the night we got down there she wanted me to open my presents.  She got me a nice scope and a bunch of eyepieces.  I got her a pearl necklace but she already had one so she took it back to the store when we got home and got some nice earrings.
So I was thinking about the telescope at the schiele the next weekend and I thought I could try to see all of the messier's objects.  I thought it was a pretty original idea until I started looking for a list and found books called the "Messier Marathon" and variations on that.  Well, I haven't read any of those books but i have checked on wikipedia and I know that M1 is the crab nebula in taurus.  Theres a pretty good story about ancient civilizations seeing a star go supernova and it later being linked to this nebula.  I went out on the back porch and unpacked the scope and prepared to start my marathon.  It wasn't the clearest of nights ever and I had been at a baby shower and checking out Kurt's new house in unsober conditions, but I thought it was a good night to start this thing.  There was a 3rd quarter moon low on the horizon and Jupiter was still behind the trees to my east.  Aldebran, the bull's red eye, was above the trees.  I read tonight that M1 was in Taurus so I thought I had a shot.
I don't really know how to work my scope and I had no real idea where or if I could find M1 from my back porch.  How did Messiers find this thing first.  How was the pleiades 45th?  I checked the internet and found out that M1 was between one of Taurus's horns and betelgeuse.  It might be above the trees now, but when I was looking it was too low for me to see.  So I started my Messier's marathon with M45- the pleiades.  I'm not sure if you are supposed to go in order or finish in a certain amount of time. I tried to start with 1 but it wasn't up yet.  I needed some success tonight so I tuned into the 7 sisters.  I even woke Lauren up to share the start of my journey.  She looked through the eyepiece and said " I see a lot of stars."  It was magical.  She immediately went back to bed and I thought I'd catalogue the nights events.  By the way I just went out back to pee over the porch and betelgeuse has made it above the trees.  I could break the scope back out and try to see M1 now but this is a messier's marathon, not a sprint.