Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Garden Notes, January 21, 2016

It's still winter, but I've made a small start to the upcoming spring garden, planting a few of the peppers and tomatoes that we will put out after the last frost date.  The Farmer's Almanac is putting 2/28 as the average last frost date for our area, but I'm shooting for mid-March, as that's more likely closer to the date for us in zone 8b.  We've had a pretty mild winter so far, and I don't believe old man Winter is done with us yet.

The peppers that I'm starting are:

  • Gypsy Hybrid (Totally Tomatoes)
  • Cayenne, Long Red (These seeds were a gift from my son two years ago, so I'm hoping they are still viable)
  • Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (bought at a tourist shop in Fredericksburg, TX at Christmas time. I'm hoping these seeds are good.)

The Gypsy was recommended by one of the bloggers I follow as a good producer of sweet peppers, so I'm looking forward to trying these.  Here's what they should look like:
 Photo from Google Images
The tomatoes that I started are some that I've read about on other garden sites.  I'm kind of excited about these.  I'm also going to start a full size tomato (Mortgage Lifter) but I'm doing a viability test on those seeds since I've had them since 2012.

  • Rapunzel (Totally Tomatoes)
  • Ten Fingers of Naples (Totally Tomatoes) a paste type tomato
Here's how these should look (fingers crossed!)

 Photo from Google Images
Photo from Google Images

And finally I started 12 cauliflowers and a small flat of onions:
  • Veronica Cauliflower (Territorial Seeds)
  • Ruby Ring F1 red onions (Johnny's Select Seeds)

Thankfully the grow light and heat mat are both still working this year.

 So the bench in the greenhouse is starting to fill up with little seed pods.  I'll be planting more each day for a while, so more to come!

The California white garlic plants are still growing, despite being scratched up some by the chickens. Those birds will do some damage if I don't keep them penned out of the garden. These are all in the big raised bed.

John pruned the four peach trees the other day.  There's still the plum and apple trees to be pruned soon. 
The deer should enjoy these peach tree trimmings!

I came back from our mini-vacation in Florida sick again, so I'm moving kind of slow around here, and trying to stay warm.  I have a horrid cough that I'm more than sick of, so the sooner I get well the better.  I'm sick to death of being sick!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

And so they are married....

We took a quick trip to Florida this past week to attend the wedding of our niece!  We had a great time, driving both ways.
John's sisters Susan and Cindy did all of the flowers for the tables - beautiful fresh hydrangeas in shades of blue, with babies breath. They were just beautiful.  Susan also did the flowers for the wedding party table.  We spent time on Friday dipping wooden spiral sticks in glue and glitter, and on Saturday morning she got up at 5am to make them. Whew!! They turned out very pretty.
We arrived on Thursday evening, and on Friday we went to the wedding reception hall.
John's sister Cindy, brother Bob, and sister Susan.

 We all helped the family set up all the tables, candles, kitchen and the wedding party table.  They set up an area for dancing and for the DJ.  This really did look pretty when they dimmed the lights.
The dance floor was ringed with these lite towers.

On Saturday while his sisters went back to the hall to finish setting up the cake table with gazebo over it, we went with Colleen and Jeff to take the girls to the beach.  So much fun!

 After that, everyone went home to get ready for the wedding!
Mr. and Mrs. Marcos Acosta and their flower girl and ring bearer.
The Koenigs -- KT and Joss were flower girls (although Joss got a pass just before the wedding because she was sleeping!)
 KT was just beautiful!
 SeaWorld wedding cake (the couple met at SeaWorld where they both worked at Shamu stadium)

 Bob, Adrienne, and Andrea as they walked down the aisle.
 One of the groom's cakes - all chocolate.
 Adrienne's grandmother made some traditional Italian cookies to add to the sweets. These flat cookies are called pizzelles.
 These tasted like licorice, flavored with anise.  They are called anisette cookies.
 Sisters Cindy and Susan with Colleen
Mother of the bride -- just glad it's all over!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Where were these when we were first building fences in 1975?

We've been covering the entire turkey pen with chicken wire.  Kind of crazy, right, but its going to make our lives a lot easier.
John introduced me to a new product he found when he put the chicken yard up -- these hog rings.  These little rings are so easy when you're tacking wire to a fence.  All you need is one of these little tools to clamp them together.  I can highly recommend these!

 We had to join the wire together across the top and these make it so-o-o-o-o easy. Amazing.  Before we would have had to wire these together - tedious.

 Turk was very interested in everything we were doing....

Problem solving....critical thinking!

I just have to brag for a minute.  My 5 year old granddaughter recently caused me to stop and say "WOW" the other day.

We were gathering the eggs from the chicken house and were heading to the turkey pen to pick up the egg that Turk had laid for us.  I have a small white bucket that I usually use to bring them up to the house, and KT had the seven eggs that she had picked out of the layer boxes.  As we were crossing the chicken yard, she stopped and picked up some hay that I had piled in a tire for the chickens to play in.  She emptied the eggs out on to the ground and picked up a few handfuls of hay to line the bucket with.
I asked her what she was doing and she said she was making it so that the eggs wouldn't roll around and break in the bucket!

What?!! I have to tell you, I was just blown away.  It wasn't like we were even talking about broken eggs, or anything like that.  She must have been thinking about that on her own and just started thinking about how she could make it better.  Amazing.  Did I mention that she's 5 and only in Kindergarten?

Winter Garden Notes, January 5, 2016

Well, here we are - 2016. The years just seem to whiz by faster and faster as we get older.  I fixed some of our Mississippi Silver cow (black-eyed) peas for the New Year -- down south here it's what we eat to assure good luck in the new year.  This was the last of this variety that I grew back in 2013.  Very good with a ham bone from our Christmas ham.
 We also are still enjoying these beautiful maroon Sleeping Lady tomatoes from the greenhouse.
 A few days ago I chopped down all of the spinach from one of the pots in the greenhouse -- these will continue to sprout up from the roots.
This pot of radicchio also found its way into our salads.  This is the Rossa di Treviso variety.  I've noticed that it doesn't develop a lot of red color when grown in the greenhouse - it's there, but subtle.
Rossa di Treviso Kale
And here's how the same pot looks after I mowed it down! I know some people pick these leaves individually around the edges, but I just don't have that kind of patience.
I've been enjoying looking at this Japanese weeding sickle that I got for Christmas! I can't wait for the spring garden to begin using it.  (Well sure, I could use it in the winter garden, but that would be a lot of work out there in the cold.... ha!)
Speaking of weeds, two of these plants have sprung up in a part of the garden that I didn't plant.  I think they are the same radicchio that I have in the greenhouse, but its definitely red out there in the open garden.  I'm not sure, though, since I didn't actually plant them.  I think the chickens will enjoy these, though, so they won't go to waste.
 A quick check in with the celery plants - growing slowly.
Following are a few pictures from two mornings ago - we had the heaviest frost yet this winter.  The kale and other plants were coated -- I think they are just so beautiful with the covering of frost.
 Red Russian Kale
 Dwarf Siberian Kale