Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Looking For a Good Book?

I just finished "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford. It was true to its name: bittersweet. It takes place in two time periods in Seattle, before and during WWII and in 1986 Seattle. You learn quite a bit about the treatment of Japanese-Americans during the war. A sad chapter in our history.

Looking for a good book to read? Look for this one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Harvest Monday



Since last Harvest Monday the tomatoes have really come into their own. This week I have harvested:
13 Amish paste
11 Goldie
8 Rutgers


Also harvested this past week: 2 eggplants, 4+ cucumbers, 2 green peppers, and lots of basil.





Here are scenes of the garden.



Brussels sprouts are growing well.
An eggplant that was later picked on Sunday. Rather small but we were impatient to eat it.


Marigolds are keeping the tomato horn worms away so far.

Hope the green peppers will grow bigger. Slow growers.

Blueberries that are slowly ripening.



Beans growing tall but not flowering yet.


Zucchini will be producing soon, I hope.


Space to plant more beets in that one bed which has eggplant and peppers.

See more harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Delicious Dessert

The King Arthur Flour blog has a wonderful recipe for Cherry Clafouti. Never heard of clafouti? Neither had I. There were no cherries to be had to try this so I used 3 cups of blueberries and one large peach instead.

Since you bake it in a cake pan I was expecting something cake-like.

It's more of a light custard. Delicious, too!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Favorite Tomato Sauce

Years ago Country Living Magazine had a wonderful food editor. Can't speak for the one they have now since I stopped subscribing a couple of years ago. A recipe from a long ago issue I have usurped as my all time favorite is for tomato sauce. It has three main ingredients: diced onions, tomatoes quartered, and basil. There is also salt and pepper and sugar to taste.



I saute the onions in olive oil until they're soft then add the tomatoes and basil. Stir occasionally to mix up the onions.

Everything cooks down. Add the sugar, salt and pepper (thought lately I've been doing without the salt).
Use an immersion blender to blend it all into a lovely sauce.

I know I didn't give you any quantities because I just use what I think. You will have to do the same. The sugar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes, so make it as sweet as you like. The amount of basil and onion is also a personal preference for those flavors. Enjoy on pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It's what's for dinner tonight!

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Could Kick Myself!

I have had a volunteer vine in my garden that I even made a netting for it to climb. I wasn't sure if it was a cucumber, a squash, or a melon. I'd been checking it for fruit but never saw a one. It had loads of flowers, but never seemed to set fruit. Today I decided that is was time to take it out so that the zucchini next to it would have more space. I cut down the netting and dragged the plant to the compost bin. As I cut it out of the netting ...ACK! There was its fruit! In fact there were three of them of various sizes and they looked like melons!

How stupid could I be! I suppose if it hadn't been a volunteer I would have pampered it more after all I have some pepper plants that haven't set any fruit yet either.

I did manage to get quite a harvest of tomatoes today and plan to make more sauce.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Mystery Death

I placed chicken wire cylinders around the plants like the cone flower and black-eyed susans that the ground hog likes to eat. I never imagined that it would be an instrument of death, but I know of no other reason for the death of this lovely tiny bird that I found hanging from one of the cylinders just a few minutes ago.


One claw is still grasping the wire. Did it fly into the wire?


It has lovely iridescent feathers on its back.



I'm sorry that this is the only way I've been this close to a humming bird.

A Long Book

Just finished reading "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, all 993 pages of it! This book takes place in 12th century England and revolves around the building of a cathedral. Overall Follett weaves a good story line involving the struggle between good and evil. Believability is something else since all but one of the main characters live to ripe old ages; something very doubtful for that time period. Another flaw in the writing is the excessive detail which bogs down the story. I find myself skimming over these parts to find out what is going to happen next.

Do I recommend it? Only if you have the time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Garlic


Last fall I planted an entire 3 x 3 bed with hardneck garlic. Below its the bed on the right.



In the spring thin shoots visible.


They continued to grow through the spring.

They put out the scapes all of which I cut off, but didn't use them all.

When the lower leave died at the end of June I pulled them and laid them out to dry in the heat of the garage.

Here is my final harvest cleaned up. 14 large bulbs and 5 small ones. There were a few more that I used already or gave away.

Now I have to select one or two of these for next year's crop. I won't plant as much because it took up so much space which meant I had to start the zucchini later.

Harvest Monday




Amish paste tomatoes are ripening. Here are the ones picked on Saturday. I weighed them on the bathroom scale and it came to 3 lbs! The one in the center was 1 lb. alone. I think I need to take seeds from that one.


Here's the large one compared to the normal size. I don't know why it so much bigger.

The goldies are ripening too. These were picked on Saturday.


One of several cucumbers that I picked this week to make pickles following Daphne's recipe (as best I could) for refrigerator pickles.


My first goldie and sliced below to dip in flour and fry in butter.

See other wonderful harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scenes from the Birdbath

Yesterday as Dan and I sat on the swing cooling down from our exertions in the yard, a chipmunk, oblivious to our existence came to the birdbath which was just feet from where we were sitting. The birdbath sits low on the ground and the chipmunk came up to rim and drank its fill of the water there. We'd never seen a chipmunk do that before.

This morning the bluebird stopped by to bathe and to show the birdbath to its youngster. It came twice, each time with the young bird following and perching on the rim to watch. Later the young one came alone but only lightly touched the surface of the water before flying off. It never did get the courage to bathe like its parent.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bloom Day (late!)


The butterflies are blooming!




First hibiscus flower and more on the way if the deer don't find them first.





See other blooms at May Dreams Gardens.
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