Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Thoughts of Chickens

Welcome DG friends! Thoughts, opinions, and constructive criticism welcome. :D

I had better buy a house soon. My ambitions are vastly over-running what my landlord would consider acceptable. What are these ambitions, you ask? Here is the answer.


Why? Because I like an animal that you can get your money's worth out of. And they are sort of cute. I also like fresh free-range eggs. It also seems like a worthwhile effort to teach my son to care for an animal. So why not? Yes, I know it is a lot of work to raise chickens. It would certainly be an interesting experience. My husband weighed the issue and said that he wouldn't mind fresh off the bird chicken. I told him that he would be the one doing that. I don't think he really minds the idea. There is a lot more thinking to go into this. Might be worthwhile though. I blame my friends from Dave's Garden for getting me started on this idea.

Garden update:
Almost all of the corn has sprouted. The beans are just now starting to sprout. I guess I'll be putting in squash seeds later this week. Whoohoo! I was almost afraid that I had lost my cucumber seedlings because they looked REALLY pathetic after I transplanted them. I checked yesterday and they are putting on new growth. Phew... I transplanted some mustard and collard greens into the garden yesterday. Hopefully since the spring will be cool, I might get something out of them. And finally, I planted chive and genovese basil seeds in the garden.

And finally, onto last night's dinner. Low cholesterol, low sodium, quick and easy...

Fountian of Health Roasted Garlic Hummus (3 tbs)
Pita Bread
Carrot sticks (from the garden carrots)

Everyone ate it, including the picky preschooler. Winner. We will be doing this again. It was great for a night where I was exhausted, late getting home from work, and it was beautiful out so we were outside most of the evening. Cost per person (there are three of us)- $1.72. (Actually, it was more like $1.00 since I used carrots out of the garden which were free, and we didn't use the whole package of pitas).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Big Happenings in the Little Garden

We have corn seedlings! I am growing Silver Queen corn as part of a Three Sisters Garden and am very excited to see them poking thier heads up. I was sure that they were goners since I planted them and we got one more freeze and lots of rain. I guess it wasn't true. We planted Kentucky Wonder pole beans on Thursday of last week. They should be up any day now. A little later on this week, probably Thursday again, we will plant the squashes.

I am very optimistic about this year's garden. The potatoes are doing very well. The blueberry plants and lemon tree are flowering like crazy. I can taste blueberry muffins already. The garlic looks like it is just about ready. I need to pull the last of the carrots and make them into dinner. :D I also have more herbs than I know what to do with. I am probably going to take them to the farmer's market in two weeks. I have more than we'll ever use and I wouldn't mind making some garden money in the process.

Of Bunnies and Backhoes

I took Anthony to an Easter Egg hunt at our Church. It was great and well organized. Anthony was interested in everything and seemed to be doing pretty well. Then, enter the Easter Bunny. One look at the human-sized rabbit had my sweet little guy burying his face in my shoulder and whimpering. Okay, no Easter Bunny this year. I made sure that he really didn't want to go near the Easter Bunny and anytime we went near the stage where the Easter Bunny was posed for photos, we had instant waterworks. Understand, I didn't go within about 20 feet of the bunny. I knew he was afraid. I was just making sure that he didn't miss it if he decided that he wanted to say hi to the bunny. It was a no-go, so we went out with the other kids to hunt eggs. Anthony is definately a champ at easter egg hunts now. I even tossed a few back out for other kids to find.

Fast forward an hour or so and we arrive at my parents' house where Dad is working in the side yard with a backhoe. We do a lot of work at their house with power tools and Anthony hates it. So I was a little concerned about how he would react to all the noise of the backhoe, considering the earlier reaction to the Easter Bunny. I shouldn't have worried. Anthony saw his Papa and the backhoe and it was all I could do to hold him back long enough for Dad to shut off the engine. Then he was running as fast as his little legs could carry him over to the backhoe. He got the thrill of his short life when Papa let him raise and lower the bucket. All I heard the rest of the afternoon was "MY tractor" and "Its MY turn, Papa." He was a very sad little boy when it was time for a nap and the "tractor" had to go bye-bye. I can't wait to see what he does with the bulldozer this summer. I think there is a career in construction for him later in life... Its okay. I love the big earthmovers too.
Anthony having the time of his life with his Papa

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Plans

I am primarily a kitchen gardner, whereas my mom and grandmother were mostly flower gardners and grow edibles as a pastime. My grandfather was the one who grew the edibles. I cannot sit and eat my garden carrots without thinking about him. I think I started the vegetable garden because it felt right. I think somewhere along the line, I realized I was doing it to fill the void left from his death and the end of his vegetable garden. My vegetable garden is sort of a memorial to him. I also have some typical flowerbeds in the front and back of the house. I tend to fill these with plants that like neglect, because I like flowers, but I just don't have any real passion about raising them. I think it is the fact that the house is rented and I don't want to put the time in because I know that eventually, we'll move. The front flowerbeds are filled with lantana and the back flowerbed (also known as the Shadow Garden) is filled with passalong plumbago.

When we rented the house, it was a blank slate. No flowerbeds. Just a messy looking porch. But oh, there was potential there. We were given permission to do anything we wanted with the yard, so long as it was removable and not an eyesore. Easy. Too easy. My landlord is going to be thrilled when we leave since I have since built 7, count'em 7, raised beds. The materials will go with me. The improved dirt will stay. Anything is an improvement over black clay. I'll even be nice and till it in where I can.

Onto the plans for the spring...

I am in the process of building the 7th raised bed. A tree died during the hurricane two years ago and the landlord decided last week to remove the stump. The only problem was that what was left was basically a hole in the ground where nothing would grow, except maybe weeds. I am repurposing some leftover edging from Mom's garden as the border for this one. I'll fill the bed with garden soil and probably some annuals, although I am debating about some other ideas for this one. I might make it into a child's garden and letting Anthony take care of it. I realize that he is barely 3, but if I mix some annuals and fast growing edibles, I might have a winner on my hands. I will definately have to do transplants of some sort, because I am pretty sure that he will not have the patience to wait for seeds to grow.

I built the 6th raised bed only a few weeks ago. It is a Three Sisters bed, which I am trying out this year. If it is successful, I'll do it again. I have planted it with Silver Queen Corn and Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans. In a week or so, I'll plant a variety of squash seeds (zucchini, tatume, yellow, patty pan).

I am growing tomatoes and peppers again this year, along with a variety of herbs. New to the garden are carrots, garlic, onions, cucumber (pickles!), cabbage, broccoli, peas, bush green beans, brussel sprouts, turnips, and beets. I have potatoes growing in trash cans, as well as blueberries and strawberries growing in pots. I am VERY excited to see how it all turns out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

If this is what it looks like now...

I can't wait until October... I think this is the year that we are going to eat out of the garden. Last year was a little hit or miss. Got a few tomatoes, some peppers, and plenty of herbs. I was still learning. I am still learning. If nothing else, the garden has taught me patience. That lesson does not go over well when one is waiting on the garlic to finish so that she can start adding it to all sorts of things. And then get the new seeds in. It has also taught me to strike out in new directions. I got bold. I built a new bed. And since it was May, I planted okra. Lots of okra. We ate okra for months. I was sticking it in people's pockets as they left my home. I was even tempted to stick bags of it in open car windows. But it was my first real measure of success in the garden. I couldn't believe that I had actually managed to get it so right that I managed to get sick of okra for a summer. Will I do it again? Damn straight. Because it was fun. I loved going out to the garden after work and picking it every day.

My other real success story is carrots. Anthony loves picking carrots. A lot of them looked funny. It didn't and doesn't matter. We've been eating garden carrots since January. So I planted more for this spring since it looks like it will be a cool one. I'm going to let Anthony pick the rest of the mature ones this evening and we are going to have them for dinner. Well, I am. Anthony will taste test one, tell me its yucky, and hand it back to me. Totally fine with me. They are the best carrots I've ever eaten.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Changes Just Keep Comin'

The gate came down today. No, not some monumental or metophorical gate. The very real one that has been in place between the place where we keep the knives, things that can burn, and cleaning supplies and the rest of the house. It has been a tripping hazard, a source of pain, a safety net, and a refuge creator all at once. But we took it down today. The baby gate that was in between the living room and kitchen is now up in the attic. It is tacit acknowledgement that Anthony is now officially old enough and tall enough to climb over it, swing on it, and open it by himself. It feels strange to walk into the kitchen and not have to go through it. It was there for two years. We put it up the day he learned to walk. He'll be three next month. I know my husband doesn't miss it, but I'm a little sad. My baby is getting older. At least I know he isn't too old for an after bath snuggle. :)


Pull up a chair, grab some lemonade, and sit a spell. I started this blog to chronicle life in my home garden, the antics of my cats, and life in the day of my preschooler (which is usually more than enough comic relief for my small family). Our family is in the midst of some major changes, so I'll be writing about them too.
I have recently acquired a passion for gardening, brought about by a move back home to Houston, Texas where you can grow things year round.

It all started with the move. I had lived in apartments since college, but tried to get my fingers in dirt at least once a year in the spring with some impatiens in pots on the porch. I'm an environmental geologist...and mostly deal with nasty disgusting dirt. Digging my hands into a bag of clean soil and sticking flowers in it did me a world of good every spring, even if it was to only stick them into pots. When things in California got tough economy-wise, we left Cali and moved home to Houston.

Once the wet and depressing 2008 Houston winter let go, I was ready to get out in the yard and do something that involved dirt. Since the house that we found had a huge backyard, I could not resist the urge to put in a small herb garden and some tomato and pepper plants. This was my first mistake. I've been gardening ever since.