Monday, March 15, 2010

HAPPY HOMECOMING!

Well a bright and early first-day-of-spring-break morning to you! How are you doing today? I am super peachy! My garden is thriving, my family is happy, and my DD comes home today! YAY!!!! It’s been a long few days without her. I am so glad she had so much fun, and I will be even MORE glad when I can give her a humongous bear hug! I know, from talking to her, I think she is ready to come home.

Alrighty, lets get down to some business… I got some updated garden pics to share with you first. Check out this great stuff! I am a proud plant momma! LOL!



Ok, do you remember those cute little Pea sprouts I had started from seeds? Well they went wild! SOOO it required that they are now in their own planter! I cut the 6ft trellis in half and put the half in the pea pot. Since Peas grow up, I needed a down. What better than my sugar baby watermelons!? Yep, got those in front of the peas. So that’s the newest planter! I am sad because it looks as if I lost a corn and one of the bush cucumber plants. I was quite sad.



So while I am planting the crazy peas, I had a visitor. I’m calling it “Sugar” LOL because I was planting the sugar snap peas at the time. Sugar just kinda sat there and watched me while I planted. And he was on bug patrol for me too, eating about 3 gigantic mosquitos while I sat there LOL! My garden is open to all of natures creatures. Even the wasps who were trying to pollinate my head yesterday morning!



Can you see it? It’s the first strawberry of the season… sitting there just taunting me! It says “Oh don’t I look so juicy and delicious? Don’t ya just wanna cover me in chocolate and eat me up?” LOL! Yes I am a strawberry fiend! I love those little red bites of bliss!



Isn’t this the cutest thing?? Its my first Roma tomato of the season!! I have this one, which is the biggest, and 3 more tiny little babies! Oh they just tickle me pink… or in this case tomato red! LOL!



Here you see the biggest group of Husky Cherry tomatoes I have so far! Every Husky Cherry has groups of tomatoes on them. I am so excited about my upcoming first harvest! I see delicious fresh garden salads in my future! I have the lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers all in my own garden! OH and cabbage and hopefully carrots!



Seed sprouts! You gotta love them! I am having so much luck with the seeds this season… something I have never had. Baby eggplant and okra is what you see here. I am so proud of them. I transplanted the lonely giant pumpkin into a 4in. pot yesterday so it would have more nutrients and space. These just kinda popped up out of nowhere LOL!

While I was looking at my seeds and placing the peas in the container, I got a thought. Around here in our area, you can find little produce stands on the side of the road with their fruits and veggies for sale. Well I thought that if I have enough produce from my plants, then maybe I could do something like that. And that’s when it hit me… may I can go one step further! Plants for sale! I am having such good luck with the seeds (knock on wood) that I already have more sproutlings than I might have room for… so why not sell them? I never planned on my seeds doing well (from past experiences). Home & Garden centers do! I could start a ton of seeds and once they sprout, offer them for sale. What do you think? I think it might be a good idea… and I would love your feedback on it!

Ok, so you have grown all this wonderful stuff… but when is the right time to pick it? Well check out this article which gives some great harvesting advice!

Hints For Harvesting Common Garden Vegetables
By Ellen Brown

Ideally, you want to pick your vegetable crops when they at the peak of freshness. For some crops this means keeping almost a daily vigil to ensure you catch them at their peak. Here are some hints for when to harvest some common garden vegetables.

Asparagus: Harvest asparagus spears from established beds when they are 4 to 10 inches long. To prevent spears from becoming fibrous, harvest them at least every other day. Spears with loosely formed heads have passed their prime.

Beans: Frequent harvesting will keep bush and pole beans producing longer.

Beets: Harvest beets when they reach the size of a golf ball up to a tennis ball. Smaller beets will give you less overall quantity, but better quality.

Broccoli: Harvest them when the buds on the head are firm and tight (approx. 4-5 inches across). Cut the heads 5 to 10 inches down the stalk to promote an abundance of tender side shoots that can be harvested later.

Brussels Sprouts: You'll get the best flavor after a light frost. Pick individual heads as needed or harvest the entire plant (place the roots of whole plants in a pail of water to keep them fresh).

Cabbage: Cabbage tastes best after a frost or two. Harvest them when firm, glossy heads have formed (they may look small). When left too long the heads will split. If too many are maturing at once, try giving a few heads a gentle twist while still in the ground. This will break some of the roots and temporarily prevent splitting.

Carrots: Carrots can be pulled every few days as soon as they are big enough to eat. They are easier to pull out of the soil on a day when the ground is slightly moist. In cool weather they can be left in the ground for several weeks.

Cauliflower: Harvest when the heads are solid, before the curds roughen and start to separate.

Celery: Use a knife to harvest single stalks from the outside or dig up whole heads using a spade.

Corn: Check for readiness when the silks have turned brown but are not completely dry. Pull back the husk and poke a kernel with your thumbnail. If the liquid is milky, pick the corn. If clear liquid comes out, it's not ready. If no liquid comes out, it's past its prime.

Cucumbers: Clip them from the vine as soon as the cucumbers are large enough. Harvest pickling types daily to keep the vines productive.

Eggplants: Pick when the fruits are big enough to eat. The skin should be glossy not dull. Pick often to keep plants productive.

Lettuce: Harvest leaves early in the morning to preserve crispness. Once lettuce start to bolt, it gets bitter. Shear rows or patches of leaf lettuce with scissors. They will resprout for additional harvests.

Onion: Pull green onions as needed. If storing bulb onions, allow the bulbs to mature before harvesting. When tops start to yellow, the bulbs are maturing. This process can be sped up by bending the tops over.

Peas: Pick garden peas when the pods are plump and the peas are just touching. Wait too long and they'll get starchy. Snow peas should be harvested when they're 3 to 4 inches long, but before the seeds start to swell. Harvest dry peas when the pods are brown and dry and the seeds rattle when you shake them.

Peppers: For maximum flavor, harvest peppers after they have completely changed to their mature color.

Potatoes: You can start harvesting potatoes shortly after they flower. At this early stage, they are called "new" potatoes. Once the foliage starts to turn brown they have reached their full size.

Pumpkins: Wait to harvest pumpkins until the vines have died back. (usually 90 - 130 days after planting). If you can't break or dent the skin easily with your thumbnail, the pumpkin is ready.

Rhubarb: Don't harvest the first year after planting. The second year after planting, harvest for two weeks. The third year after planting, harvest for one or two months. From then on, harvest as often as you like.

Squash: Summer squash are best if harvested while they are still small - about 3 to 4 inches across or 4 to 6 inches long. Winter squash should be allowed to ripen fully on the vine before picking. It's ready when you can't pierce the skin with your fingernail.

Sweet Potatoes: Start checking sweet potatoes about 70 days after planting and harvest them when they reach the desired size. The crop should be fully harvested after the first frost or when the vines turn yellow.

Tomatoes: Pick them when they develop their mature color. Check them daily because they can pass their prime quickly.

Turnips: Pick them for their greens anytime they are large enough to use. The roots taste best when they are 1 to 3 inches in diameter.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

Did you think I forgot about a craft for today? Nope! I found this adorable PIG egg and I had to share it with you. My friend Vicki would LOVE this craft as she is a huge pig freak!



Craft Idea of the Day: Pig Eggs

Courtesy of hard-boiled eggs, vibrant egg dye, a cute pipe cleaner stand, and some glued-on details (paper ears, pom-pom nose, and so on), this critter is an Easter favorite. Want to make the entire crop of egghead critters? Find instructions for the rest of the creatures at our Easter egg decorating party.

Materials

eggs
newsprint
egg dye
paper towels
birthday candles or crayons
pom pom
marker
pink paper
glue

Instructions

Color Hard-boiled Eggs: Before you begin decorating, cover your worktable with newsprint. Set out plastic cups with assorted colors of prepared egg dye, either homemade (For each color, stir one cup of hot water and one teaspoon of white vinegar in a plastic cup. Then stir in 10 to 20 drops of concentrated food coloring) or store-bought. Have a roll of paper towels on hand and plenty of hard-boiled white eggs. Let the kids take turns submerging eggs into the dye until the eggs reach a desired shade. Gently blot excess dye with a paper towel. Set the eggs atop plastic bottle caps to dry. For eyes and spots, draw circles on the eggs with a birthday candle or crayon before submerging them in the dye.

Pig: Start with a pink egg with eyespots. Glue on a pom-pom nose and pink paper ears. Draw eyeballs and nostrils with a marker. Curl the tail.

Craft Pipe Cleaner Legs: Set the decorated animal on a pipe cleaner stand. To make one, bend a pipe cleaner into an oval and twist it closed, using the excess as a tail. Cut a second pipe cleaner in half. Wrap one half around the back of the oval to form the back legs; wrap the other half around the front to create the front legs. Bend the ends into feet.

Ok so let’s talk some munchies! Remember I told you I was gonna have the DH get me some sour cream so I could eat my jalapeno dip from the mix I found at the show Saturday? Well he got me some and then he and the DS18 proceeded to bogart my dip! I didn’t get very much of it LOL… they were loving it! So I figured, in case you like different chip dips, you might want to try some from this company. Its called Mesquite Country Seasoning and their spices are (to me) impressive. I will be ordering more of the jalapeno dip mix (if I can’t figure out what’s all in it LOL!) in the future.



Here is the dinner I made for the guys last night… pork tenderloins (remember the ones I found on clearance at Kroger at the beginning of the month… yea those), mashed potatoes with some of that garlic I got Saturday chopped up in it, corn, and butter croissants. They were really loving it.

Ok so I got to thinking about all the neat things I am growing and all the kind of things I will be able to make once it all starts growing. One thing I am growing is Eggplant. Now normally, many people do not like eggplant. BUT try making this vegetarian meal and I bet your little carnivores don’t even notice that there is actually no meat in this dish!



Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.

In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Ok friends… I’m gonna get started doing some things I need done before Madison gets here. Also have to check the water of the babies outside and get dressed even LOL! I wish you a very happy Monday and I will meet you back here tomorrow! HUGS!

3 comments:

  1. Debbie "MOM" DonahueMarch 15, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    Your pea planter turned out good. And pea plants dont usually bring those nasty bugs that like to eat veggie plants. My garden is perking up after the shock of replanting and the what seemed like gale force winds out here near the coast. I am looking forward to my eggplants and the meals I can make with them. The recipe you put up is good but you can also leave off the sauce and have it crunchy, its great that way too!

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  2. The pea planter looks great. And pea plants dont bring around some of those nasty bugs like some of the other plants. I cant wait for my eggplants to grow. That recipe looked yummy but it also is a great tasty crunchy delicious side dish if you leave off the sauce.

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  3. good afternoon... it is dark and cold and wet out here today... and allyour plants look so pretty in the sun....
    i have a bad back so i doa lot of container plants and DH puts in our garden.... we plant tomatoes (brandywine-heirloom) and big boys and this year I am gonna get romas.
    we also plant cabbage there is nothing like cole slaw made with just picked cabbage...yummm
    and then we have cukes, zucchini, green peppers, corn (a whle other story lol)
    and taters.....
    i go up to visit my family in the Adirondacks and come back with some different tomatoe plants... mountain prides are very good....
    DH gerts a load of seasoned manure and tills it in the the garden each spring too.
    jean

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