Thursday, May 27, 2010

Want List

We are approaching the time when we will buy our first home. We haven't been talking about it much in the last couple of months, but it seems like this month, with the end in sight, someone mentions it almost daily. We're working up quite a list.

1. Must have plenty of sunny backyard for my gardens and possibly a small orchard.
2. No white cabinets in the kitchen (I HATE cleaning cabinets with a passion!)
3. Must have plenty of storage space in the non-white kitchen...preferably with a walk in pantry.
4. Garage...must have..end of story
5. TWO bathrooms. Three people cannot happily co-exist in one tiny bathroom first thing in the morning. Too many bladders, not enough potties (yes, I realized that I called it a potty...we are potty training. I say potty a lot these days. 'Nuff said.)
6. I still want a chicken coop. Hubby wants horses (not that he knows what all is really entailed in that.)
7. I would also kill to be able to have a clothesline.
8. I do not like HOAs. Period.
9. Lots of storage.
10. LARGE bathtub in master bath. Preferably a garden tub. Jacuzzi tub would be even better. Mama comes home sore all the time from work and needs soaking room. Did I mention that I am 5'9" and seems like tubs are not built for tall people to completely submerge themselves? Major body parts stick out and get ice cold while the rest is nice and toasty.

Starting to sound like a tall order isn't it? Thankfully, we have lots of time. I'm even willing to budge on things for the right home. Although not on the cabinets. I still refuse to have white cabinets.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rockin' Out

I know that I mostly write about my garden. Its free therapy for me. But every now and again, my absolutely favorite subject does something so adorable that I am compelled to write about it. My favorite subject, of course, being my son Anthony, aka the little gardener. Most of the time, the cute stuff that he is up to is immediately halted by seeing the camera out. And then comes the ridiculously cheesy smile and cute moment is ruined. Occasionally, I get lucky. This time, for instance. We were out at an outdoor concert that the City puts on. We brought the chairs, found a good spot, and settled in to enjoy ourselves. Anthony decided that he was really into the music. He got up and started doing this...

Then he saw me with the camera...and for once, instead of the cheesy smile, he kept on dancing.

And dancing...

Then, he realized that his ball had escaped for the umpteenth time and ran after it, with me hot on his heels so he didn't annoy everyone else at the park. Such is the life with a preschooler.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Great Galloping Garlic

Since this was my third year in the garden, I decided this would be the year of experimentation. So I planted root crops. To my great suprise, they grew. One of the ones I was interested in was garlic. I got a couple of bulbs from a local source, Wabash Feed in Houston, and divided them into cloves. Then I dug holes, placed some bone meal in the bottom (also bought at Wabash), and planted the cloves. Then, I waited.
And waited....

And waited some more....I thought for sure that they would be done before the onions. But they weren't. They weren't even slowing down. Just growing and growing.

Finally, their tops turned brown. I pulled one to see if it was ready. Nope, not really. So I replanted it.

Finally, yesterday, they all looked pretty done in. So I started pulling them. I have garlic! They were planted in November 2009. Finally, in late May 2010, they are ready. Next time I grow garlic, I will make a dedicated bed for just garlic. I kept feeling like they were in the way in the main bed. However, they grow shallowly, so it will be easy to put them in an out of way place.

Here they are drying on my potting bench, next to some drying cilantro.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bad, bad blogger (and garden updates)

Many apologies. See, I have this incredibly unpredictable work schedule. Not in that I don't go to work every day. It is just that it is entirely possible for me to go out into the field for three straight weeks and not turn on a computer except to check email and then go crash for the night. It has been one of those jags and sounds like it is going to continue for the next couple of weeks. There are even days, gasp!, that I don't go out into the garden. I send my husband out with the watering hose and instructions to water anything that looks dry.

In the midst of the crazy fieldwork, my inlaws made their annual visit. It was my great pleasure to be able to use some of the things I had grown in our meals. An onion went into shish kebabs, sugar snap peas and hummus for get the idea. I was just pleased that I was even able to offer those things.

Summer is arriving in Houston. I have been cleaning up the vegetable beds and getting rolling for the summer season. The first of the tomatoes are ripening and I am very excited. I have been seeing baby cucumbers on their vines. I did a little hand pollinating yesterday to try for some insurance on the whole deal. I have pickles in mind for later in the summer. I spent yesterday afternoon clearing dead bean plants out and putting in OKRA! We are going to be eating lots of it this summer and fall, I hope. I also hope to pickle some of it and give as gifts.

I recently planted sweet potatoes in containers. I am hoping that they do well. The vines are growing well so I am pleased to see that they have settled into their new homes. I still have herbs coming out my ears. They seem to be quite happy where they are, so I have no intentions of moving them until we buy a house. I'll just have to work around them.

In other happenings, the Three Sisters garden has rebounded. An application of Triple 13 fertilizer and some water has cured the chlorosis and the bed has rebounded. The squash is the happiest of the bunch and has grown like crazy.

The little gardener has grown too. I think he is trying to match the plant growth in the garden. He has been trying to help me harvest and plant everything, even when I don't want him to. :) I think this summer will be spent teaching him how to pick when things are ripe...not just tempting.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Saga of the Strawberries

March, April, and May are the strawberry months in Texas. Everyone goes just a little crazy snapping them up from the local markets since they aren't the tasteless little ping pong balls that get shipped into the grocery stores. My family is not immune to this craze. In fact, I think we got into it a little TOO much this year.

I had snapped up some cheap strawberries at the supermarket with an eye towards making more strawberry jam. 4 pounds of them in fact. Then, my husband declared that it would be a great weekend to go strawberry picking at the local farm and vegetable market. The bonus was that this year, Anthony would be old enough to pick them himself. So we piled into the car and headed down there to meet my mom and dad, who are usually invited to join in whatever family activity we decide to do. We got our buckets from the kid at the store and headed out into the fields.

Picking strawberries with Papa

Once he got the hang of it, he was good to go.

Not bad for a 3 year old!

When we got up to the counter to have them weighed, we had 6, count 'em 6 lbs of strawberries. And the kid was not leaving without his berries. Remember the 4 lbs that I bought earlier in the week? Let's do the math folks. By the end of that Saturday, I had 10 lbs of strawberries in my fridge. Yikes! So we started trying to get rid of them. We took them for snacks at Anthony's birthday party. We made jelly.

There were 6 more of these in the pantry!

We made muffins. We made so many muffins that I took them to work in an attempt to get rid of them.

Mucho muffins

I also made ice cream topping. And finally, I made my FIRST strawberry rhubarb pie. If you don't know what rhubarb is, educate yourself quickly. Google it. You are missing out. There is no picture because it was consumed in the amount of time it took to make it by four strawberry rhubarb pie lovers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Work and the Garden

I like to think that I have a pretty good work/life balance. Well, most days I have a pretty good balance. And then there are the weeks where work completely takes over, where I leave before the sun comes up and return after it goes down and keel over into bed. Some of those days, I even get to see my son for a few minutes. And many praises to my husband for picking up the slack...even if it does mean that the two of them eat PB&Js and chicken nuggets for dinner several nights in a row. The last couple of weeks have been like that. Most of what I have been able to do in the garden involves checking to make sure that nothing has caused any major damage and putting off minor stuff until I had time to deal with it. And then there's potty training to go along with it. Enough excuses. I'm writing now. But other than a case of chlorosis in the Three Sisters bed, and ants in one of my potato containers, things seem to be going pretty well.

Chlorosis is a yellowing of the plant caused by a nitrogen deficiency. An application of balanced fertilizer seems to be taking care of that and the plants are greening up again.

See? We just needed more nitrogen!

I also have been starting sweet potato slips. Easiest science project ever. Buy an organic sweet potato, stick some toothpicks in it. Stick that in a jar filled with water. Place in a sunny, warm location. And tahdah! Sweet potato slips. Then go plant those in an 18" deep container and wait.

Container Sweet Potatoes

Other photos around the garden:

These pretty little peas will be joining us for dinner soon!

Tomatoes are thriving!

Herbs gone wild!

Stay tuned for the saga of the strawberries.