Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- October 12, 2017

I can't tell you how much I appreciate other gardeners and how generous they are.  It's seed trading time on a couple of the Facebook Garden groups that I belong to, and I'm getting ready for next year's garden now. 
 These are heirloom tomato and pepper seeds that I'm ITCHING to try! Oh the fun I'll be having in January in the greenhouse. I can't wait!  I got mostly sweet peppers this time, with a few hot ones thrown in there.
 These were from a fellow gardener here in Texas who's hobby is HOT HOT HOT peppers.  The Facebook group that specializes in peppers - what a bunch of nice people on there. They (and me!) really enjoy sharing our experiences, varieties, and recipes!  I asked for one variety (the Sugar Rush Peach) and he included all the rest of these when he sent it to me. 

I also got some green cotton seeds from another gardener, and he included a few other seeds with the packet in the most beautiful hand-made and stamped seed packets. Some people are so creative. Puts me to shame.  

I'm going to challenge myself to begin serious seed saving this coming spring/summer garden.  I've dabbled in it, but have not been really serious about it - that's going to change!

Out in the garden, the Shanghai choy and the Extra Dwarf baby choy are both doing so well - we used some of the dwarf choy tonight in stir-fry veggies with dinner.  I'll start some new seeds as soon as half the bed is harvested.

There are tomatillo plants coming up all over the garden. I'm pulling them up as soon as I find them, but I've left a few to see if we'll have time to get any fruit. We'll see how long we have until our first freeze.
 Meanwhile, I'm starting some greens in pots for the greenhouse this winter.  Two types of kale, some spinach, and two pots of lettuce, a pot of corn salad, and a new variety of basil (Lettuce Leaf Basil.) They're all sitting out in the potting garden for now, but will go inside once it starts cooling off here.

I started one tray of micro-greens in a tray, also - it's the basic salad mix in the picture above. They're coming up nicely (I had a cover on the tray for a couple of days, but took it off today so they wouldn't cook in the heat.) If they do well, I'm going to try to start a tray every couple of weeks.

John covered the greenhouse for me this week. I bought a shade cover for it when I got it, but we've taken our sweet time to put the thing up. It makes it so much more pleasant in there! He's getting ready to run the electricity and add a light in there for me, and then he'll hang up my grow lights. 
Here is one of my "something new" this next year! I got cuttings for Mayan Tree Spinach. It sounded interesting and perennial, which is desirable. The scientific name is Cnidoscolus Chayamansa "Estrella".  I got 5 cuttings and have potted them for the greenhouse.  

Have I told you lately that the cotton plants just won't quit?! Good grief!  More flowers!
John has been working in the orchard this week - he's mowed and plowed and planted a cover crop of crimson clover in the back. The two pomegranate trees are growing so well, and the Russian mulberry is growing by leaps and bounds. I tell you, mulberry trees are the easiest things we've ever grown.  

One of the pomegranate trees with lots of new growth.

Update on my eyebrow lift....

Well, it's been about 6 weeks since my surgery and I'm happy to report that everything seems to be healing nicely and the scars are starting to fade/relax.  They'll always be there, but they don't bother me and I'm so happy with the lack of that dark shadow on my right side now, it just doesn't matter.

By the way, I'm using a product called "Scar Fade" that the doc recommended and it seems to be working.

So, I'm back to my real life now and don't have to go back to see the surgeon until January for the final checkup.
No more Frankenstein stitches!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Who's Responsible....

9) You are responsible for yourself.

No one is going to live this life for you. We all know a talented 40 year old living in their mom’s basement. Get out and do something with your life.
-----20 Brutal Truths

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- October 5, 2017

My poor sweet Gypsy peppers....I cut them back months ago, and they came back real strong, then the chickens got into the garden and completely stripped them. They grew back (surprisingly!) and then it happened again. I know, I know. I really need to check that garden gate, but these and the sad tomatoes were the only thing growing in there, so I wasn't really going out there much.  

Well, here they are again. These 6 plants have the WILL TO LIVE! I just finished mulching and fertilizing them (after this picture was taken), so they will probably look even better in about a week.
 These are the mystery green sweet peppers I had potted up that were supposed to be Bishop Hat (hot pepper) but obviously there was a mix up somewhere. These are quite good, so a happy accident.
Mystery solved. I made the mix up. These are Beaver Dam peppers. 

This past weekend I pulled out all of the hot peppers that were in my potted garden.  These were the Aji Golden - I pulled them all up, harvested the peppers, and gave the plants to the chickens. They proceeded to completely strip them down. 
I also pulled up the Aji Angelo which were still green, but I'll use them anyway.  
The Violet Sparkle was repotted for the greenhouse - I gave it some new soil and fertilizer, and I repotted some plants that are supposed to be a small sweet orange pepper. We'll see what they turn out to be. Ha! 

Then yesterday John and I made our first ever hot pepper sauce! It was fun to work on this together. I cut the peppers in half and de-seeded them using a grapefruit spoon - the serrated edge works great to remove those seeds and membranes. We used this recipe but John added cumin, cilantro, onions and apricots.

The garden is coming along - small chard, carrots, spinach, and kale plants are starting to show up. Not much germinating with the lettuce.  I may need to seed again. Sigh....
I've had a few little tomatoes starting to turn, the Japanese Black Trifele and Blueberries are about all I'm hoping to see in the fall.  I started a tomato plant for the greenhouse called Green Grape. It's coming along.
The cabbage and broccoli starts that I planted a few weeks ago are really growing well - they're all looking great.  Of all of the cabbage seeds I started only one cabbage plant survived and I planted that one today.
The pineapple continues to grow!

Close up of the pineapple - weird!
And this is why you don't get too close to the pineapple plant -- look at those serrated edges. Ouch!

The Brown Turkey fig looks fabulous, this is the one I started from some cuttings I purchased last fall.  
And speaking of cuttings, all of the berries have grown and flourished. I think these are the black raspberries.

I've been a little worried about this Warren pear tree -- it's not been taking the heat and dry weather well, but now that we've had some good rains, I'm hoping it will pick up. 
I brought the little Truly Tiny banana trees down from the pool deck and added some new soil and fertilizer.  They really did just fine on the deck all summer, even through all that heat.  Pretty little ornamental banana trees.
And those crazy mulberry trees are starting to put out a few more berries.  They just keep chugging along!
We're so happy to have gotten some good rain the past week - about 4-1/2 inches in total. Everything is greening up again and John is having to mow the grass again. Nice problem to have!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mustang Wine

I just realized that I never did a post about making the Mustang Wine!  I was gifted a five gallon bucket of mustang grapes by a friend back in July and was so excited to try making wine with it.  I found a fairly simple recipe (I used the one for a sweet red) and loosely followed it, although I did add sugar several times trying to sweeten it up.  
This was after 7 days of stirring these grapes in the five gallon bucket.  It bubbled fairly constantly during the whole time.

 After the 7 days it was time to strain off the grapes. It took several pressings to get all of them out. So, so tart! Strained again and put into the 5 gallon carboy after adding sugar, and left for a month.
 After one month we re-racked to remove some of the sediment, moving all of the wine into 3 one gallon carboys. There was a LOT of sediment.  More sugar added! Very tart, still.

 After another month we tasted and it was perfect! Not too sweet, but not too tart.  It got a thumbs up, even from John! High praise, he's not one for sweet wine.
 Sterilizing bottles in the oven before bottling the wine.
 Using the corker. 
 After corking we put PVC shrink caps over the top, and then label.  Now we'll wait until Thanksgiving to break these out!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pepper Sauce -- hot stuff!

We pulled out all of the hot peppers yesterday before the rains came -- I'm cleaning up the rest of the garden and the potted garden, getting ready to put everything in the greenhouse as soon as the weather permits.  We'll have hot weather for at least another month, I'm sure, but the days are already getting a bit better.

I followed this basic quick sauce recipe: 15 Minute Homemade Hot Sauce, and then changed it up to match what we had to use. I had a pile of Aji Golden, Aji Angelo, and about 4 jalapeno peppers. First I cut the tops off, deseeded them (by the way, a grapefruit spoon works so great for this!), and put them in a saucepan.  Then I added the vinegar, salt and garlic.  John added cilantro, cumin, chopped onions and apricots.  Then we simmered it for about 20 minutes, put the whole thing into the blender until it was smooth.  Whew -- should have seen the smoke coming out of the blender! ha!  
Taste test went VERY well -- I tried it straight from the spoon, and John put some on a taco chip. A quick burn that disappears pretty quickly - leaving a nice fruity/peppery after-taste.  I think we'll use this often!  

Monday, September 25, 2017


8) Feelings are important too.

If you think thoughts have all the power in your life, think again. Feelings cause us to do some pretty amazing things, and some not so amazing things. Pay attention to how you feel instead of trying to trick yourself into hiding from your feelings.
-----20 Brutal Truths