Monday, December 27, 2010

Overdue Garden Update

Well obviously the garden is long gone by now, but I never posted an update and several had asked me to so... here ya go.

After my first garden post, my plants seemed to be growing very well. Then, a tree near the garden decided to fill out with leaves (guess that's what happens in spring time?) and began to cast shade on the garden for too many hours than I was comfortable with. I think we ended up with only about 3-4 hours per day of direct sunlight on the garden. So we decided to move it. Which, with a normal garden, would have been all but impossible. But with raised beds, it wasn't impossible; just difficult. Do you have any idea how heavy a 4ftX4ft box, 8 inches high, filled with soil, is? Very.

We got the boxes moved to a sunnier section of the yard, but a few of the leg posts were sacrificed in the process. Instead of replacing the posts that broke, we were so exhaustingly annoyed that we ended up just ripping off the rest of the leg posts. So now as you can see, my boxes are sitting on the ground (which is ok with me).

We had great success with cucumbers and ground cherries, but everything else was just so-so. We only got one zucchini. We had a few Peacevine Cherry tomatoes, but my 2yo ate them all before they made it into the house. I only got one Rowdy Red tomato, and it wasn't very tasty (don't know if that's because it didn't grow very big, or if that's just how that variety tastes). The sugar snap peas did great until it got hot, but I think we ate most of them while working in the garden. We got enough beans for one serving for my 2yo. We had no Delicious tomatoes, and just a few scarce Green Grape tomatoes.

We got one good bunch of turnip greens. No okra, until it turned cold and 3 pods showed up. I thought to myself, what do you do with 3 okra pods? My 2yo answered, by gnawing on them. Oh and the Watermelons, don't get me started. We had one that looked like it was going to be great, but it stalled growing and I thought maybe it was ready, because it was a baby variety. Got trigger happy, picked it, took it inside to cut it open and it was white/green inside. Was so disgusted with myself. Not long after that the plant scorched and died. So, no watermelon.

We got a few jalapenos, but no banana peppers or bell peppers. The cilantro wilted, scorched, then bolted.

Things that were beyond my control this year were:
1. The flooding rains that we had earlier in the summer
2. The scorching heat that we had mid to late summer
3. (sort-of beyond my control) The shade that appeared a few weeks after planting, that slowed the growth of my plants at a crucial stage.

Things that I learned this year:
1. The soil needs to be deeper. Whether I raise the sides of the beds a few inches, or remove the plywood floor from my boxes and dig into the ground, my plants needed more room to grow roots. Deeper soil should also help keep the plants from scorching, which I believe is what happened to many of them.
2. Use more compost, and continue with natural fertilizers (fish emulsion and blood meal is what I used this year, along with some UCG [used coffee grounds] on plants that thrive in nitrogen rich soil)
3. I need to use some kind of pest repellant on my zucchini. Squash borers ruined my zukes this year, and I didn't realize what was killing my plant until it was too late.
4. Don't try to grow so many different things. Pick a few things, and grow lots of them.
5. The most important thing I learned this year is that I still have a lot to learn :)

Here are the tomatoes. See the 2 green Delicious tomatoes? They never grew bigger than that. I think Lilly picked them before they turned red, and I don't think I had any more to grow. Lots of flowers, but the fruit did not come to 'fruition' lol.

Watermelon, Basil:

Cucumbers (L), Beans (R):


Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries (We loved these, especially my Little Bug):

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Recipes 2010

♫ Christmas Time's a Comin... ♫

Just a few recipes for our upcoming Cousin's Christmas party and Christmas Day dinner.

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip
2 - 10 oz box frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 small onion, finely chopped
8oz sour cream
8oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup mayonnaise
House seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, whatever you like)

Combine all ingredients in a 4qt or larger crock pot. Heat on high 2 hours, or until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips.

Thank you Erika for the inspiration

Pimento Cheese on Celery
8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayo
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 tsp garlic
1 jar diced pimentos

1 bunch celery

Beat cream cheese with mixer 2-3 minutes. Add cheddar, mayo, garlic, and pimentos; beating after each ingredient is added.
Cut celery stalks into 3-4" long pieces; spoon pimento cheese into hollow of celery.

Sweet Potato Pie
If my Sweet Potato Pie tastes the same two years in a row, it isn't by design. It's about time I put a recipe in place and stick to it. Here goes!
2.5lb Sweet Potatoes
1 stick butter
1 can condensed milk
2 eggs
2 capfuls (2 tsp?) pure vanilla extract (NOT imitation!)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 rolled up ready-made pie crusts

Bake potatoes in oven til soft. Peel & mash in large bowl. Add butter to hot sweet potatoes, and beat with mixer until smooth. Add milk and beat until mixed. Beat eggs separately (can be done by hand); add beaten eggs, vanilla, and spices to potato mixture - beat until smooth.

Smooth pie crusts into 2 deep dish pie pans (I prefer glass...). Pour mixture into pie crusts. Place foil strips around exposed edges of crust. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, removing foil for final 10-15 minutes of baking.

Sweet Potato Casserole
by CMOORE1946 as posted on
4 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, milk, salt, 1/3 cup butter and vanilla. Mix together and pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.

To prepare the topping, combine in a separate bowl the brown sugar, flour, 1/3 cup melted butter and pecans. Mix together and crumble over sweet potato mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes.

My beautiful girl

I haven't posted in a while, so here is something to make up for that - a photo of my beautiful Little Bug. She is 27 months here (2 and 1/4)