Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
In spite of the cold snap of last week, our basil is growing well. I'm making some homemade tomato/basil spagetti sauce for dinner.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The oranges are not quite ripe yet. We all look forward to fresh OJ at the beginning of the Advent season every year. It's looking like this will be our smallest harvest yet. The two lemon trees are a sad sight with only a few lemons near the top of the trees. I think the reason is the development that went up on the west side of our property. There used to be a large orange grove there. I think our trees just didn't have enough bees pollinating them.
Our tomatoes survived the cold weather well. The lowest temperature we had was 37 degrees on Tuesday. I definitely think the tomatoes are sweeter after a cold snap. :)
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Milkweed, not my favorite from a distance. It lives for the Monarch butterflies whose caterpillars make those ugly holes on its leaves. Most of the time, it's a bare bundle of sticks. We enjoy the butterflies, so it earns its keep.
Carrot (Sweet Treat Hybrid) - Burpee
Lettuce (Jericho) - Seeds of Change
Radish (French Breakfast) - Seeds of Change
I have planted all of these already this season and have been harvesting the lettuce and mesclum for couple of weeks. I noticed some of the the first radishes I planted are showing their red tops, so not much longer before we start harvesting them. Jericho is still #1 on my list of favorites.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The author has a family of six like ours. I'm sure she would have to update the $12 amount, since she wrote the book in 2002. Still, all her ideas are valid. There is a lot of good shopping advice in this book. She suggests buying BOGOs with coupons, shopping at Aldi - which I will try once the new store in town opens its doors, and buying certain things in bulk at places like SAM's and food coops. She mentions gardening as a way to save money on produce but doesn't go into the subject past the suggestion. I'm sure that could fill another book, and there are already many out there. ;)
Monday, November 10, 2008
The seeds for this pumpkin came from a crop I grew last year. I still have plenty more. According to Seed to Seed they should keep for at least six years. Calabaza seeds aren't easy to find. For some reason, the large seed companies don't sell them. It may be that there isn't much demand, since the Calabaza (Cucurbita moschata) is definitely a tropical squash. The vines had damage after the low one morning went to 41 degrees. On the other hand, this variety is very disease resistant - perfect for our Florida garden.
To save seeds from a pumpkin or squash, all you need to do is scoop out the pulp and seeds, separate and wash off the pulp, and spread the seeds on a cookie sheet to dry. I like to put mine on top of the refrigerator. They have to dry for at least two weeks. If they aren't completely dry, they will not germinate - learned that from experience. To insure dryness, I keep my seeds in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator with one of those silica gel packs that come in vitamin bottles.
My pumpkin bread recipe goes like this:
Calabaza (pumpkin) Bread
2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 cups honey
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Turn on oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and honey until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Enjoy!
This weekend everyone enjoyed a pumpkin casserole. Tonight, we'll be having Pumpkin Curry Soup. I think I'll be canning some of the dozen or more pumpkins that are still on the vine. ;)
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I have a planter by the garden gate with a few Salvias. I planted the original plants there about a year ago. During the heat of summer, they died back but left seeds behind. The new plants are growing better than the parents did, and there are many more of them. They attract butterflies, bees, and others like this Silver Spotted (Epargyreus clarus)Skipper I found feeding on them this afternoon.
Michael asked to see the skipper's straw-like proboscis - we've been studying insects lately. He went and identified it for me in one of our Audubon guides :). It sat and fed on a Salvia, though the guide says it likes wisteria. I think the eyes, on close-up, are amazing; they take up about half its face. Teaching our kids about nature in our backyard has been one of the most exciting things I've done in my homeschooling career.
Lizards are masters of camouflage. I almost didn't spot this one, except that it jumped off a leaf onto the brown wood.
Our eggplant is finally producing. I think I'll harvest a few of them tomorrow morning. The plant is loaded with small fruit, so it will direct its energy to growing the little ones once the large ones are gone.
The Cassia bush in our back yard is starting to bloom. I found a Cloudless Sulfur caterpillar on one of the buds. We have enjoyed watching the Sulfurs fly in great profusion this Fall. I never knew that the Cassia was their host plant.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I was reading yesterday that rhonda jean likes to harvest her tomatoes green because, by doing this, her vines produce more flowers and more fruit, plus she avoids pests. I just don't know if the taste and nutritional value of a tomato picked green would really be comparable to that of a vine-ripe tomato. I have always thought that storebought tomatoes were flavorless because they were picked green. Also, I read recently that in order to have a sweet tomato, it must be allowed to ripen on the vine and picked after a cold night. The plant will send all the sugar it has stored into the fruit if it senses a freeze is about to kill it. I was also told this secret by a strawberry farmer in town and have tested it myself. Since we live in the winter strawberry capital, it was easy to do. Last year, I only bought strawberries the day after the temperatures had gone down below 40 degrees. We enjoyed the best strawberries ever. I am hoping this same thing will work with my Fall tomatoes, so I'll be looking to harvesting them the day after we have temperatures in the 40s. Stay tuned!