Sunday, October 26, 2014

Potting Fever

Last weekend, I bought 2 bags of compost and 2 bags of topsoil, added some peat and 6-6-6 and revamped the little area in front of the deck and planted some tomatoes.

I also potted a bunch of flowers, herbs and "other fun stuff".

The fun stuff: 3 roselle, 3 goji berry, 2 golden berry and a mulberry.  Crossing my fingers they'll all sprout.

We cut back a lot of our trees and I've been watching the sunlight over the past few weeks.  I decided today that I'll plant corn in the foreground of this area, which used to be quite shady.

crappy picture - I know

I need to pull out a bazillion sprouted saplings then I'll bring in mulch to cover it all. Then a layer of my "soil".  It will be a few weeks yet before the corn can be planted, but that's my plan.

The roselle calyxes are still coming along:

Hubby took a picture of one of the flowers in the yard and made this fun little picture:

That's about it for today.  A Chicken is roasting in the oven and it's about time to put together the fixins.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fall Garden Update

Here's what's happening in the back yard:

The Roselle is finally producing flowers and calyxes!  Yay!

Getting a picture was very difficult.  I had to bend it down with one hand and try to make the phone camera work with the other.  I'm not very coordinated!

We tried eating the leaves last weekend and they were fantastic!  I just read today that you can dry the leaves, crumble them, and use them as seasoning for chicken and fish - a sort of lemon pepper flavor.  Interesting!  I'll give it a try!  I'm tickled the Roselle is finally doing something other than grow 8 feet tall!

Amazingly, the okra is still producing nicely.  I'm still getting a few every day or so.

I made another batch of okra, onion, garlic, fresh corn and stewed tomatoes to go over rice.  Good stuff.

I had a jicama that regrew this summer and it's now to the flowering stage.

Here's the plant itself.

I need to gently dig it up to see how the root(s) are doing.  Last year's crop was a bit gone by.  I waited too long.  The plant had pretty much died off.

The papaya are still green.  I do hope they start to ripen soon.

This next picture of my other papaya tree looks like it's getting pierced by the sun!

I amended the soil along the deck so I could plant a few tomato plants there.  It gets the most sun.

We bought two of these white fence posts that you can just plunk in the ground - you don't have to dig a post hole for them - so I don't have to get help putting them in the ground.  I plan to use them out in the new garden area (eventually) to use as a trellis for green beans.  I have field fence or chicken wire I can use to make the trellises with - I'll try chicken wire first since it's easier to work with.  It will be a good experiment.  They were under $3 a piece so it was a good inexpensive way to come up with a vertical trellis.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sneaky Velvet Beans!

A few months ago I had planted some velvet bean seeds which quickly grew into monster vines.  I pulled them all up since they were strangling my new sunchoke plants.

Or so I thought...

These sneaky little devils were hiding in my sunchokes, tucked in along my chicken run cage!  I was checking on my Roselle when I spotted these.

The Roselle, as I suspected, is flowering!  Yay!  It's so tall I didn't bother trying to take pictures.  I'm going to need to use a step ladder to get the calyxes off!

My Roselle isn't very attractive, it's just a giant stalk with leaves very close to the stalk. I'm definitely going to pinch off the top when I grow these again to see if I can force it to make more of a bush.

Finding these bean pods was a good reminder that I want to plant some of these where I don't need to worry about collateral damage.  They're nitrogen fixers and I can let them go, chop them down, and let them do their thing again.

But first I need to complete my garden because some of these seedlings aren't waiting any longer:

I'm going to have to put these in the ground today if they're going to survive. Right now in fact, since we leave for Sarasota in 2 hours!  So much to do, so little time...

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I was minding my own business at the office when one of the guys from the office next door started knocking on my door, a bit frantic, and said "you need to move your car!"

The woods were on fire, right in front of my car!  Holy smokes!


There was no lightning in the area - a clear sunny day here  - so we all came to the conclusion that someone was in there doing something they shouldn't have.  We all suspect there's a homeless guy living back there.  Yikes.

We have had 3 homeless men walk into our office over the last few months - one was totally disoriented and my boss escorted him out the door and away from the building. Another came in under the premise he was looking for the bus stop. Our office building is set back from the main road and is behind a car garage so it was a bit of a stretch trying to find a bus stop at our office!  And he wouldn't stop talking - it was August and we assumed he was just trying to get out of the heat. My boss rescued me again and told him I was busy (I have a terrible flaw in that I can't be mean to people, which I know will get me into serious trouble one day), and the third one practically fell into the office, handed me a folded up piece of paper which had both me and my coworker thinking "bank robber" type note, and looked like he was high as a kite! We were terrified!  My coworker immediately went to get my boss again. Meanwhile, I read the note which said he was deaf and he was asking for money.  He left peacefully but OMG - that freaked us out!

There was a fourth one that came in but I wasn't there, thankfully.  But my poor coworker had to handle him - he was one of those "close talker" people where they get right up to you.  She kept backing up but he kept advancing.  Thankfully my boss was there too and rescued her, but not before he nearly got completely past the reception area and into the main hallway!  

My office is the reception area.  My boss asked me nicely to take that office because he likes me taking care of people, although we rarely have anyone come to the office unannounced.  And, because there are no fluorescent lights (which burn me - the freak that I am), I said sure!

With all the strange activity, we now keep my office door locked.  It's a nuisance, but it is definitely safer!

Last Friday, the UPS guy came, then the FedEx guy, and I didn't bother to lock the door since the mailman was due to show up next.  Well, wouldn't you know it, in comes another guy with foil dishes like you'd get from a restaurant to put your leftovers in, stacked 5 high.  He said he was selling some sort of cakes for $5 each.  I kindly told him I didn't have any cash, sorry, and he went on his way. My immediate thought, sadly, was why would I trust baked goods from a complete stranger? Wierd.

I'm definitely going to start moving my car to the front of the building before everyone leaves the office.  After we change the clocks back, it's dark by time I go home.  The whole thing is creeping me out.  Sigh...Something else for my worry list.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seeds in a Jiffy (pot)!

I've been anxious to get some seeds started, but my garden isn't quite ready for direct seed planting yet.  Hubby has been after me to get tomato seeds going so I finally got around to planting the Jiffy Seed Pots on Sunday.  I've warned him they'll grow quickly and he'll need to help me finish the garden.  Sucker!

There are 72 seed pots in the tray - the bulk are tomato seeds (gap in markers):

I left the popular photography magazine on the bar - my little joke!  Ha Ha!  It's not mine, it's the hubby's.  Don't get excited.

Because I'm such a dork when it comes to knowing what's been planted, and where, I made up a spreadsheet so I can identify what's what:

Really Really Crappy Spreadsheet Pic!

I also planted up a few pots of herbs - marjoram, thyme, cilantro and sage.

I'm hoping to get another Jiffy tray tomorrow so I can start some flowers and more herbs.  If I get out of work at a decent hour.

I didn't get home from work til after dark tonight so I didn't bother to inspect the yard, or the seed tray.  Hubby says there are some sprouted seeds already.  Not surprising.  It usually only takes a few days for things to pop.

Got our vehicles sorted out (got mine back today and the truck back late Saturday night) and looking forward to the weekend!  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mighty Fine Okra!

I've been picking an okra (sometimes two) every other day.  I had half a dozen so I sauteed some onion & garlic in olive oil, added fresh corn off the cob, the okra, and two cans of stewed tomatoes.  Marvelous!  It made two pint jars.

We ate one jar with some rice last night.  Surprisingly, hubby loved it!  I kept telling him okra was yummy!

So the verdict is in.  I'm definitely growing more than two plants next summer, that's for darn sure, cause I really must can a batch of this awesomeness up!  It would be marvelous to have a dozen pints.


A week ago Friday the A/C crapped out in our 2003 truck.  We dropped it off at our fix it guy's house that night and he expected to have it fixed by Saturday afternoon because he suspected it was just the belt, which hubby confirmed had broken off. The noise it had been making actually sounded like a belt was "going".  It wasn't the usual A/C screech.

So our fix it guy replaced the belt, as well as the main serpentine belt since it had to come off anyway, but while he was driving it back from his shop last Saturday the A/C did make the screech.  So he ordered the compressor and said it would come in on Monday and he'd have it back to us either Monday or Tuesday night. He called us Tuesday night to say the new compressor was defective and he'd have to order a replacement which wouldn't be in until Thursday.  Ugh.

We still don't have the truck back but we are praying it gets finished today, because...

Last night, I went to leave work at 6:00 PM to go pick hubby up at his work and guess what?  My (2010) car wouldn't start!  Oh No!!!!  Two dead vehicles!

My co-worker was still at the office so she drove me home and our son picked up the hubby.  About an hour later, our son dropped hubby and I off at my friends house down the street from my office and we borrowed her car to sort out my car, hoping it was just the battery.  Nope.  Battery is fine.  It would turn over but just not start.  We called AAA just to be sure and he agreed with the hubs - it was a starter problem.


So both cars are defunct.  Yikes. 

Conveniently, I work behind a car repair place so we just pushed it across the parking lot and left my key and a note in the key drop.  The mechanic called me this morning to say it was definitely the starter.  They can't get the part until Monday.  Double Ugh.

We really need to get the truck back, TODAY!  Please oh please!

Meanwhile, I still have my friend's car so that's a relief.  Otherwise we'd be stranded and would need to rent a car.  Still might bite the bullet and rent a car today if Mr fix it doesn't get the truck back to us today.

I'm not stressed or anything...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mulch, Bonsai, and Missed Opportunities

On Saturday I finished covering the area I had weeded with a few loads of free mulch.  I only have a little bit more weeding to do and one more load of mulch should take care of covering it.

The next step will be to put a good layer of compost down, then cover that with some top soil/peat mixture (just enough peat to fluff up the top soil) and I'll be ready to plant.

Sunday was a gorgeous day here in SW(eltering) Florida.  We made another trip to Wigert's Bonsai to buy a tool my hubby needed.  We strolled around for a while and found two more little trees that will be next on the bonsai list - barbados cherry and jaboticaba.

And speaking of trees...on the way home we stopped at a Home Depot we never go to anymore now that there's one closer to home, and I found a 7' tall Mulberry tree for $36.98!  Not sure if that's a decent price or not, but I talked myself out of buying it since we had spent quite a bit of money already.  Between that store and the one near our house, I was already kicking myself for not buying one of those trees!  Drats.  I stopped at our Home Depot by the house but they didn't have any.  Double drats.  There were dozens of Miracle Fruit trees, which was interesting to see at a Home Depot, but I wanted a Mulberry!  Oh well.  I guess it wasn't meant to be.

At the second Home Depot, hubby found another juniper to bonsai so while he was standing in line to check out, I went out front in the shade to wait for him and was perusing some plants at the entry.  I spotted a butterfly pea vine and noticed there were quite a few pods that were drying out.  A few pods accidentally fell into my purse!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Kind Granola Energy Bite Experiment

This morning I was going to make my "energy bites" but couldn't find the recipe. Well, I found 3 different recipes but couldn't remember which one we liked best.

I wanted to do something different anyway, because I had an idea...

I bought some "Kind" chewy granola bars with amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal and millet.  We liked them, but they are pricey.

I also found a recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Granola which uses peanut butter, cocoa pebbles, old fashioned oatmeal and water.  I had high hopes this would be a good snack item for work.  But it was very disappointing.  I think the problem with this recipe is that it needed more peanut butter and/or a sweetener of some sort.  I think maybe the recipe has the peanut butter/water ratio backwards.  I might try it again using 4 tbls peanut butter to 2 tbls water.

So, I figured I'd make a mish mash of the Kind bars by adding some amaranth and quinoa grains to my regular recipe and also add cocoa pebbles since I now had a box that otherwise won't get eaten.

Here's what I ended up with:

1 Tbls of amaranth (thereabouts)
2 Tbls quinoa (thereabouts)
1/2 Cup cocoa pebbles
1/2 Cup flax flakes, crushed
1/4 cup slivered almonds, finely chopped
1-1/2 cup quick oats
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup mini chips - add after it's all mixed up otherwise they'll melt

I'm not 100% sure of the amaranth, quinoa or flax flakes measurements.  I wasn't really measuring.

It didn't form into balls, it made more of a granola consistency.  It is yummy! I'll definitely try to recreate this little experiment!

Meanwhile, I found this recipe to make homemade Kind bars.  I bought some brown rice syrup and PB2 - dried peanut butter.  Another fun experiment in the near future!

Friday, October 3, 2014


I thought I'd do a post about my favorite flashlight!

We have flashlights all over the house.  In the bathrooms, the kitchen, bedrooms, back patio and my "coffee table" which is an old wooden box painted "mostly" green.  We lose power frequently in the summer months and now that we have an oxygen tank in the house we don't use candles anymore.

Last summer I was hunting for a good flashlight.  Something sturdy, didn't weigh a lot, would fit nicely in my hand but also big enough that it could go under my chin or in my armpit if necessary while snipping herbs or whatever, and most importantly wouldn't burn through batteries.

Here's what I ended up buying:

Mostly Green Box

Yep, it's green.  Lime green!  But I haven't lost it yet and it's exactly what I was searching for.

It's from a company called Brightstar.  I found it on Amazon.  I haven't had to replace the batteries yet.  It takes 3 AA's.  I use "Eneloop" rechargeable batteries and those are impressing me as well. It definitely has a long run time (80 hours according to the manufacturer).

I particularly like the fact you can stand this one up on end, which comes in handy:

And that's my story about my nifty (albeit lime green - but who cares!) flashlight!
Worth every penny.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fruits and Veggies Coming Along Slowly but Surely!

A few weeks ago I dug up one of my cassava plants, but no roots had grown. I dug it up too early.  I planted several sections of the stalk and have been waiting for the sprouted stalks to grow a bit more before I took pictures.

I replanted the original stalk not really expect it to regenerate, but it has!

Here's a second cutting which has sprouted from below the soil and there's also a very tiny sprout at the first joint:

Crappy picture of cassava sprouting

Here's another which I planted next to my Moringa:

The papaya fruits still aren't ripe yet.  They're still teasing me:

And my second papaya:

I'm fairly certain these are Korean Melon:

More fruits on the vine:

Korean Melon aren't flavorful like a honeydew or cantaloupe, they're more "sweetly crunchy".  They'll be great in salads.

Here's a pinecone ginger.  I took a picture of this ginger in "white" mode.  I wasn't sure if it was pinecone ginger or not.  Although now that I think about it, I'm not sure if the ginger I planted from the store makes these cones.  Something else to research!


I've read that you can make soap out of these cones, but I haven't investigated as to how.

I guess that's enough bad photography for today!

Happy Plants

I inspected the okra plants this morning to be sure there weren't any pods ready to be picked.  I have two in the fridge awaiting its siblings for the soup pot this weekend.  No pods quite to size yet, but I finally remembered to take a picture of the lovely flower these plants produce:

Okra is in the hibiscus family, which of course I never knew because I've never had any reason to learn about it since I've never grown it.  Now I know!  I would grow these plants just for the lovely flowers!

Which reminds me, I really need to find some cranberry hibiscus.

Here's another little plant that survived the summer.

Wishbone (Torenia fournieri)
Here's what's happening in the shade garden:

The caladiums are still happy and the Persian shield is spreading nicely.

Persian Shield

The Lantana I found for $1 at Lowe's has just started flowering:

The knockout roses are still happy. I didn't take pictures since the flowers were just fading out, but there are more buds.  These plants are doing great.  So glad I found them.

Stay tuned for the fruit and vegetable tour!