Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Birds Have Landed

This is a post that I really wish I had pictures for. I have been searching for the past 2 weeks for the eagles that come through our area every year at about this time. Yesterday I finally spotted them! I figured they would be coming soon. The geese are migrating through here. ( The eagles follow the migrating geese and use them as a food source) Also the ice on the lake is slowly melting, and now there are spots where the birds can reach into the water to fish. It really is a sight to see. The eagles are massive. They stand about 3 feet tall and just walk around on the ice in loose groups. I saw about 6 together out on the ice yesterday at Lake Manawa. Its exciting to actually see them catch the fish.

Another bird that I caught a glimpse of yesterday was a robin. I haven't seen any robins around here in months. With the return of the robins, I will have to watch out for baby birds on my porch soon! Even though the official start of spring is Saturday, with all the birds coming back it sure does seen like Spring came a week early.

I will try to get some pictures today when we take Copper to the lake

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Snow is Melting

Finally our temperatures are getting above freezing. The snow is slowly begging to melt. ( The snow piles are only 4 foot now) About a week ago I was pretty sure I wouldnt get to start my garden until July. Maybe I will get to use my tiller soon! Besides my tiller some new garden additions are lattice fencing that will go on the outside of my "expansion", A nice pink garden bag and new tools. I'm contemplating starting seeds soon. First I will have to figure out a way to keep the cat away from them :(

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Actually Won Something!

Seeds of Change was having a contest on facebook. They displayed 3 pictures of flowers on their facebook page and contestants had to be the first to correctly guess the popular AND scientific names of each flower. And guess what? I won! They told me to pick 3 seed packets from their catalogue and they would ship them to me. I picked Dragon Carrot, Rosa Bianca Eggplant, and Cherokee Purple Tomato. As A bonus they sent me one packet each of the flowers that I guessed correctly. How Nice! The packets the seeds came in are really neat too. They are a light weight plastic that reseal. That means next time I forget my seeds outside and it rains, They wont all be ruined! YAY! Here are the pictures that where given for people to guess on:

Mckanna's Columbine
Aquilegia vulgaris

Everlasting Starflower
Scabiosa stellata

Pacific Beauty Calendula
Calendula Officinalis

Friday, February 5, 2010

Officially Tired of Snow

As of today we will have recieved 40 inches of snow this winter. By Monday that is supposed to go up to 44 inches. Thats double our average amount of snowfall that we usaually get. We've still got 2 months of this! I've got snow piles taller than me in my front yard, some of which the poor dog has fallen into and gotten stuck. I think it's safe to say I'm ready to be done with the snow. Who knows when I'll be able to start my garden- I'm sure it will take forever for the ground to dry up once the snow has melted. Right now all I'm left t do if shuffle through seed catalogues and read Garden blogs. My favorite catalogues have turned out to be Johnney's, Seed Savers Exchange, and Baker Creek. Johnney's seems to have alot of the traditional what I'm expecting when I think about vegetables kind of stuff. SSE and Bakers Creek have some of the more exotic heirloom types. I think I'll get a bit from each catalogue. As for Garden blogs acouple of my favorites are and . Check theses out if you've got a minute.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Forbes Magazine + Monsanto = FAIL

Forbes Magazine recently chose Monsanto as its "Company Of The Year". At first I thought it was some kind of sick joke. I was wrong. How Forbes could have done this in good conscience I'll never understand. Besides pushing family farmers out of business by coercion and harassment, Monsanto has something comparable to a monopoly on seed. This not to mention the problems I have with their chemicals and GMO's. Shame on you Forbes!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wee Little Watermelon

Here is my first watermelon! I'm not sure if it will ripen before the cold weather gets here but it's worth a shot. It looks kind of ucky, but the black stuff on it is just flowers peices with mud on them. It's been raining here quite bit. Speaking of rain, A storm 2 nights ago blew my pole beans down :( Just as they were really getting going. I managed to prop them back up and spent an hour picking beans. I also had alot of tomatoes, banana peppers and cucumbers out there as well. My Yellew Bell Peppers finally turned yellow! I picked a bunch of those too! By the time I got back in my counter was full. I didnt have time to can everything, so I froze it. I ended up with 5 quart bags of peppers, 1 bag eggplant, and 2 bags of green beans (and yes, I blanched them first) I also picked 2 red habeneros for mom. I hope shes hungry... I only have about a million more out there.

This huge tomato snuck up on me. It looks to be two tomatoes stuck together but I think I'll count it as one :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Odd Plant in Front Yard Update

The odd plant thats in my frontyard has taken over. I think it must grow a foot a day!I was thinking it must be a pumpkin of some kind, but now I dont think I'll ever know! It has bloomed and has many more blooms ready, but they are all male flowers though. The big blooms stay open for just a few hours then they close up and fall off the next day. Oh well Jer likes it so I guess it will stay out there until fall.

I thought this was too pretty to leave out. Its an upsclose picture of the flower of the odd plant.

This rainbow is from a couple days ago. I was driving home and it seemed to stretch all the way across town. You can just barely see it right above the garage. It was a nice cap to the day... It had rained all day and cleared up just long enough for this.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Canner

Here it is in action. It took a while to figure out just how much heat I needed to make it work properly. First it jiggled too fast, then too slow. I eventually got it just right.

Here's what I got done today. 4 Strawberry jams and 2 1/2 mushroom spaghetti sauces. I didnt know you werent supposed to only fill a jar 1/2 way if thats all you had. Oops. I guess I will have to use that soon. All of the jars popped close, but my jam did not set well. Its kind of runny :( Oh well I'm sure it will taste good on biscuits or on Ice cream.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Its entirely too hot to do anything! I got 3 clematis plants and a couple clumps of daylilies off of craigslist, but its too hot to go plant them . I think they will sit in the garage for a couple hours until it cools down.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Long busy week, no time to post

WooHoo! YARD SALE FINDS: First up, a buzzing bee water kettle. When the water boils the Little bees on the top fly around and buzz... too cute. Second up, a Mirro pressure cooker and 78 jars. Everyone keeps saying these things are deathtraps, but hey I have AFLAC it will be OK. I read up on them so I would be somewhat sure that I wasn't going to burn the house down. It seems to be a newer model as it has multiple air vents to release pressure should anything go horribly wrong. I watched a few YouTube videos too. I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing. I guess well find out soon though. I plan on making strawberry jam (as requested by Robbie), spaghetti sauce, ketchup, and maybe some apple butter. Oh, and canning some of my up and coming green beans. My 3rd Yard sale find is a Cuisinart pure indulgence ice cream maker. I think this might be my favorite find of all. Its brand new in the box and here comes the best part... it was free. I also have plans tonight of having homemade cookies and cream ice cream. Yippee!

Item number 4 is...
An extra set of eyes watching out in the garden. Maybe he will scare of some of the critters that keep helping themselves to my food.

Storm walloped my peppers and tomatoes last night. I suppose I'm lucky it didn't pulverize them. The weather also did a number on my little bean sprouts. :(

I wasn't sure how big this cuke would get. Seems as though over night it turned yellow. I think that means its ripe and might not taste very good. :( Its my first one that I will get to harvest. Oh well looks like there a bunch more coming. Still haven't had a chance to spray the cuke plants for mildew, I'm such a procrastinator.

I've now got blooms and beans on my pole beans. I thought they would never produce. unfortunately they are just in time for a week of scorching temps. hopefully they hold up.

Found this guy while checking the garden. I think he was trying to dry off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Caught in the Act

Someone has been digging in my newly seeded pots outside. I had a pretty good idea who it was but I couldn't prove it... Until now. I happened to glance out of the window earlier today and caught this rascal in the act. He knew he'd been caught and starting "clucking" at me. I then proceeded to scare him off of the porch.

Sleepy bunny out in the garden

I think my corriander is getting ready to be bagged. My book "Gardening in Iowa" says that when the seeds start to turn brown you should put a brown paper bag over it and tie a string around the bag. This is done to catch the seeds.

My Pepper plants are getting so big! they are almost as tall as my tomato plants. The habaneros are starting to really produce. None have turned colors yet though. I think my moms ok with that though. These might be a tad too hot for her. Jer said we should put them in just for her ( she did say she likes to eat hot stuff)

Harvest today: Lemon Boys,Better boys,bell pepper, green beans, lemon balm, and pinapple sage.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heres a cute picture of Obama defending her spot on the coffe table. I havent gotten to take many pictures of the bunnies outside. I get out in the backyard and all of my attention turns to my gardening.

This is a really dark picture of a little cucumber. I always go out to check the garden before I go in for the night to see if I missed anything (If I dont get it the critters will) I found this little guy and a couple of his friends hanging out in the cucumber patch

Here's the harvest for today: 3 tomatoes, an eggplant, a banana pepper, and one yellow bell that refuses to turn yellow :(

Heres last nights dinner. It had so much garden items I just had to put it on here.
Porkchops in an orange sauce
Fresh Green Beans
Eggplant delight (my eggplant and my onions fried up and topped with cheese)
Lemon Boy tomato
Baked Spaghetti Squash ( from a neighbors garden)
Jer of course refused most of the vegetables, but he would at least try a little before he said no. He did however take a liking to the beans. Tonights dinner chicken noodle soup. Stuff used from my garden: onions,carrots, green beans

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yard Work and Powdery Mildew

I went out to the garden to inspect and collect yesterday, this is what I found. My cucumbers seem to have been affected by Powdery Mildew :( Everything I've read says to pull the affected leaves out. My plants aren't very big, if I pull more than 1 or 2 I'm afraid I wont have a plant left! I found a recipe for a baking soda mixtures that a couple people said might help. We'll see
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 quart of water
couple drops of liquid soap
We did lots of yard work yesterday. Robbie came over to help. This is him on our roof trying to clean out the gutters. They were really bad. There was even a newspaper up there! Apparently the tenants before us didn't feel this was anywhere near the top of their priority list. It was on ours though. Debris was catching at certain spots and making the gutters sag. Unfortunately one of those spots was right over our pond. Robbie was nice enough to help clean out the pond too. Our fishes love him I'm sure.

This is Jer with his new weed eater. He was excited to get out in the yard and use it. He had the weeds running in terror! Especially the ones on the neighbor guys side of the fence. I had Jer whack 'em because they kept creeping over into my garden. Other accomplishments from yesterday:
Cleaned out the garage
Put up new feeder (yes, another one)
Mowed everything, including in the bunny cage
Cleaned the grill

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Here is my harvest for today. 2 Better Boys, 1 Lemon Boy (Isn't it pretty), and lots of lettuce. I decided to clear out the remainder of the lettuce because the kind I had left is really not my favorite. (Its Bibb and not arugula ) I'm going to seed the patch again maybe tomorrow with arugula, spinach, red and green lettuce. I'm still having issues with the shoulders of my red tomatoes being green. Here is what I found out from :

Intense heat or light is the culprit. Ways to prevent it are having good leaf cover, having a good potassium level, and selecting varieties that are not prone to green shoulders. If all else fails pick the tomato as it first begins to ripen and put it in a window.

Here is a July overview picture of my garden. I like the way it looks now. Everything looks in its place and there's not nearly as many weeds as there was a month ago. Still waiting on my garden gate. I think it will be almost perfect then. The ear of corn that you can see in the picture was attacked by what I'm assuming was raccoons. They tore through the husk to get to the little kernels inside. That does not bode well for corn next year.

This is one of my Tender Pick bush beans. The beans are almost ready to pick. I was told to wait until they are 5 inches long. The "test" bean i picked today was 4.5 inches. Looks like another day or 2 before harvest.

This plant volunteered itself in my front yard.Its right next to our pond and in a patch that i neglect to weed. Hence how it came about. A bag of squirrel feed got ripped open in that spot, so I think it came from that. It looks like maybe a pumpkin or a squash. Its got little tendril reaching out. I hope it flowers, maybe that will give me more clues as to what exactly it is.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teasing the squirrels

Jer found this contraption at or local feed store. Hook corn cobs onto the screws and you've got entertainment for the next couple of hours. As the squirrel tries to get the cob, the contraption starts to spin. The end product is a very upset squirrel either clinging upside down to the cob, or laying on the ground. After a few go's of it though they usually manage to get a cob off and eat away. FYI forgot to make it to the store to get more corn cobs :(

This feeder is my peace offering for the squirrels I manage to tick off with the other contraption. I like to watch them eat from my living room window. It's especially neat when its raining or snowing. Every once in a while, the feeder will cause the critters to scrap. Yesterday one was inside eating and another came up from behind. The one inside tried to run out the closed side of the tea jar. Unfortunately for him there was glass there. He ended up almost knocking himself out and on his back trying to escape.

Harvest today: lots of eggplant, one less than spectacular tomato, and a similar pepper. I have a feeling more eggplant delite is on the way!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Massacre in the Backyard

As I walked out to my garden yesterday something seemed awry. Then it hit me. Try as I might, I couldn't stop the scream that came from my mouth "Oh my god they killed everything!" After that came the wailing. I'm still not completely sure as to why 911 was not called. Any spectators Ihad (and I'm sure I had them, the way I was going about) must have thought I found the dead body of a loved one in the back yard. Scattered about were the remnants of my tomato,pea,bean,carrot,beet,and cucumber plants. I have never been so upset in my life to be at the point of being physically sick... until yesterday. All that hard work gone. I thought of the many days I had worked until I couldn't move anymore. I thought of digging out the lawn in 35 degree temperatures. I thought of the money that had just flown right out the window. Then I was MAD. At this point if I had been the "They" I spoke of earlier I had run to the next county. Also at this point I began to understand completely why some murderers were allowed to plead mentally insane. While poor Jer tried to piece back together what was left of y garden, I was heading into the house. "They" knew they were in trouble as I opened the door. Everybody ran. At which point I was trying to think of how I would haul all of these animals to the pound.

Stepping back a couple hours, you would see 3 cute little fuzzballs being let out into the backyard. 1 of the fuzzballs being mine, while the other 2 were my parents. We had agreed to dog sit while my parents were away. No big. We had had the dogs over before, no problems. I let them out into the backyard as usual. They all began a game of tag. They most I feared at this point was that they might get out. (One had escaped a couple weeks back and had terrorised a neighboring golf course for 2 weeks)

Anyway, as I was packing the animals up (including another dog we were sitting, who had absolutely nothing to do with the mess outside) Jer walked in and tried to calm me down. I was hearing none of it though. I then preceded to try to pack up the cat (yes another innocent victim). Jer walked me back out to the garden. No it wasn't AS bad as I had thought, but it certainly wasn't good! Some of it was repairable. So that's what 8 hours of my day was spent doing yesterday. "repairing" my poor garden. Needless to say it looks very "thinned" out. I got some seed packets from Earl May (the only store within a 50 mile radius who still had them) to hopefully put something into the bare spots. I ended up with rainbow Swiss chard, 2 kinds of lettuce, spinach, yellow wax bush beans, and some silver dollar radish. I think I will still have room left. I'm not sure what else I will put in. Things I do have left are 4 better boy tomatoes, 2 Early girls (3 if you count 1 mangled, sad looking plant), 1 lemon boy, 1 very tore up German green tomato,some lettuce, 3/4 of my cucumbers, and 3/4 of my bush beans. My other stuff peppers, eggplant, pole beans, watermelon, strawberries, and herbs were left untouched. To upset yesterday to take pictures :( Here's the pics of the suspects of the "massacre". The 3rd dog Doesn't do much but lay out in the sun (hes very old) so I did not suspect him in the crime.




Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lots to Talk About

We have gotton our 3rd round of baby sparrows. I thouht it was a little late in the season for them but apparently not. They are very hungry ( and loud) babies.

I got to my strawberry first! The critters did not get this one. And boy did it taste GOOD. Suckers
I was supposed to plant sweet corn for Jer, unfortauntly that didnt happen due to the fact that I had a need to expand my garden and that wont happen until next year. So when this volunteer corn stalk popped up I left it there just for him. ( I think the squirrels took a kernel from the feeder and decided this was agood spot to bury it) Somehow the cornstalk has a little corn on it. I wonder if it will get big enough to pick.

These are my bush beans. I thought they might never show any signs of getting ready to produce. Fortuantly they have begun to flower madly . I wonder how long it will be until I get some green beans? No sign of anything but reaching for the heavens with the pole beans.

I planted cucumbers a while back and was worried that maybe they had been started too late. Lucky for me Sherbondy's was having a sale. They too felt like cucmbers and such should have already been put int he ground so i got each plant for a $1. At the time they seemed much bigger than my plants at home. I went home later that day and planted both the store cucmbers and my cucumbers. Well, The store ones are flowering ( lots of flowers). However, the plants i seeded have buds and are just about the same size as the ones i bought. We will have to see which produces first. BTW: the top plant is the store one and the bottom picture with no bloom is mine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I picked this last week but I thought it was so nice I'd share it with you now. I used the eggplants in eggplant delight. It was very good (Jer even said it smelled good, heaven forbid he actually taste it) It consisted of my eggplants and my onions fryed and topped with cheese. Sophie and Obama enjoyed the carrot tops, while I enjoyed the carrots. Today I picked lettuce, more banana peppers, peas, and some garlic chives. Oh and 1 eggplant

I got my first tomato last friday. It was off of one of my early girls. There was 1 more but something got it before I did. A storm last week toppled my early girls (bad stakes were used on those oops) Now I can not get them back up, they are too big. So now I'm left digging through them to find tomatoes. I found one that will most likley be ready tomarrow. Heres to hoping I get to it first.

My herb garden is lacking soil. I have neglected to repot some of my herbs :( Despite that my onion chives have flowered. I did get about half of my herbs into the garden before I ran out of room. The corriander is starting to seed, and my garlic chives are big compared to when i got them. My basil leaves alot to the imagination though. the leaves are itty bitty. Humph. I started it by seed a few months ago, maybe next time i will just buy it. My pinapple sage is going to have to be moved, it swallowed up my thyme and apple mint. I didnt imagine it would turn into a bush.

I decided to give beets a try in the garden. I put out some seed of Red Ace. These are some of the little sprouts that came up.Hopefully they are yummy. If not I hear Grandma Shirley likes them.

One of my strawberry plants decided to give it another go this week. I now have 3 little strawberries on it. Yum. Now this time I'm going to get to it before anything else does! I only got to eat 2 of the dozen that formed in the spring.Bird netting is a definant thing next year.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Catch up

Its been entirely too hot to do anything lately :( For almost a week straight my little thermometer read in the 100's. Any thought of going out during the evening was quickly retreated from as the storm clouds would roll in. All in all not much has happened lately. We did have a rather nasty storm that walloped my tomatoes the other day. I had to go out and restake some of them. As far as harvest go I did get to start picking my peas. I've gotten quite a few so far. I thought for sure the hot weather was going to kill them straight away but thankfully it did not. They look a little worse for the wear but are now flowering again. My lettuce patch went to flower- Sorry Mom! I have a little bit of bibb left that I'm using as cut and come again. Maybe i will try to get some heat resistant kinds in this week. I miss my arugala too badly to not try to plant more. While meandering through Sherbondy's this week I stumbled upon clearance vegetables. Too bad Jer wasn't there to put in some reason. I ended up with more cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon.( Oh MY!) I'm not sure if its too late for all of those but at least I will get to see. I planted those today seeing as the weather was only in the 80's. I was looking at my johnny's seed catalogue when I noticed something peculiar. My fairy tale eggplant is a mini! Here I've been waiting for them to get bigger (they are about 5 inches long and 2 inches wide) OOPS! I have a little square of unused space towards the back of my garden right now and I'd like to try beets. I do this with great hesitation because of an incident at a salad bar once. Everyone swears that fresh grown beets taste nothing like the salad bar stuff though. So here I am in the seed packet aisle again. I should be banded. I ended up with Hybrid Red Ace as my choice. Lets hope they stand up. For my harvest today its 2 green peppers, 1 banana pepper, more peas,2 eggplants, and some carrot thinnings for my sidekicks. oh I also picked some lemon balm,pineapple sage, and some apple mint.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Flea Beetles and a Mister

I've come across the problem of flea beetles. They have taken a liking to my eggplants. I've tried picking them off a couple times a day and smashing them. ( which is quite fun I might add) This method did not work however.Everyday I would come out and find more. I did not want to just spray everything with pesticide as the lady at the garden center seemed so fond of doing. I've got a lot of lady bugs in my garden, I did not want them gone as well! So I went perusing the pest control aisle and found neem oil. I mixed it up like it said to on the bottle and just sprayed the affected plants, thus saving my ladybugs. I went out today and did not find a single flea beetle. Tiffany 1, Flea Beetles 110

Jer got me a surprise the other day. He thought I could use a mister for outside. The temperatures have turned more summerlike here lately and I got to use it today. It made being outside so much nicer. It also made me a little more motivated to clear all the weeds that have that have sprouted well like weeds from all the rain we've had.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I'd like you to meet my garden helpers, Sophie and Obama. Sophie is in the basket and Obama is in the grass. They love to come out to the garden and munch on the grass and dandelions. Their outdoor pin is right next to the garden, so I can watch them while I work. They both love it when I sneak them thinnings and such. When they are not in the garden helping, Sophie likes to plays fetch while Obama is content to sit on laps and watch tv.