Sunday, March 29, 2015

Moringa, Pigeon Peas and Vegetable Amaranth

We had a wonderful cool front come down into SW Florida for the weekend. Back down into the 70's yesterday and today.  What a relief.  It's been pretty sweaty outside the past few weeks, into the 90's.  Ugh.  Sooo not ready for summer weather yet.

I had cleaned out the failed corn patch last week so I planted more moringa tree seeds, pigeon pea seeds and filled in the rest with vegetable amaranth seed.  I'm hoping these will grow well here.  The pigeon peas, once started, should do fine. There are two plants already about 6 inches high from seeds planted a few weeks ago.  The Moringa is a bit sensitive until it gets about 2 feet high, so those will need tending for a little while.  The vegetable amaranth seems to do well just about anywhere, but since this is a bit shady, it will be a good test for these as well.

I cleaned out the old pea patch yesterday and found a LOT of worms!  Woo hoo! I have carrots growing on the other side of that garden and I missed thinning a few so I gently pulled those out and replanted them.  Hopefully they'll make it.  If not, they were destined to be culled anyway.

I was trying to identify a weed that's growing like crazy all over the back yard and was searching Green Deane's "Eat the Weeds" website.  It wasn't there, but I got sidetracked and spent quite a while looking at all the edible weeds.  If you haven't visited his site, give it a look-see!  I looked at his post on Moringa, and was surprised to see that his grew way faster than he expected.  Apparently my crap soil keeps them from getting out of control.  Sadly.  Which is why I'm experimenting by planting seeds in the ground in various locations as well as in pots.

Oh, so back to the weed.  I did identify it, but through a different weed ID site at University of Florida.  It's "Wandering Cudweed" or "Pennsylvania Everlasting". According to this article it's a host plant for the American Painted Lady butterfly. Who knew?!

Ugly Picture of Wandering Cudweed
It sort of looks like a miniature mullein.  Unattractive little flowers on top.  There are over a dozen plants just in this one shot.  It's a bit out of control!  But since it might bring more butterflies into the yard, I'll need to let it do its thing in the back part of the yard.

I watched a video of a guy who chews the leaves of this weed (although he didn't chew it on camera I noticed!) and apparently it forms a wad similar to chewing tobacco or gum which you can chew for quite a while before spitting it out. Hence the name "cudweed" apparently.  Not so sure I'd give this a try since it's a very unappealing looking plant to begin with.  

This is the other weed I did some research on.


I'm fairly certain it's Horse Weed but haven't found sufficient evidence to confirm that. Not sure if it's useful or not but for now, for fun, I'll probably let it grow taller and/or to the blooming stage, which should confirm its identity as Horse Weed.

I weeded out about a foot of the "gaillardia" patch (left of the 2X6) to make room for a wider board which I'll use as my "path" between garden spaces.


The right side was my (failed) experimental English pea patch.  Once I finished weeding the gaillardia out (or dig them up and move them), I plan to add more green beans here.

Didn't get as much done as I should have, but it was fun all the same.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Leeks, Pigeon Peas, Eggplant and Flowers

I bought leeks a few weeks ago for the first time ever.  I had leek and potato soup at an Irish Pub and wanted to try making it at home.  It was so so.  I'll try a different recipe someday soon.  Whenever I buy green onions, I plant the root in the garden.  Just plunk them in here and there.  So I did the same with the leeks and I'm amazed at how well they're doing! Check this out:


I'm not sure they'll amount to much, but they sure have grown a lot since I cut the stem off.

I haven't been out in the yard much over the past week since it's usually dark when I get home, even with the time change, but I got off work before dark today and was able to do a walk-around.  I was surprised to find an eggplant growing.  I thought it had fallen off:


Crap Picture of Eggplant

I'm pretty tickled about this discovery - my longevity spinach is getting ready to flower!


 It was hiding in my Rosemary.  Very nearly missed it.

My pigeon peas are still going crazy - lots of pods and still flowering like mad:


I've tried several times to get a picture that shows how large this pigeon pea bush is but I just can't capture it.  Of course it might have something to do with the fact that I'm an idiot with a camera(phone).  There's too much other greenery in and around it to sort it all out.  But you can see the brown pods all over the place.  I've filled a pint jar so far and I'm fairly certain I'll get at least another pint of dried peas this season. Meanwhile, I have 3 more plants just coming up and if the other seeds I've planted come up as well, I'll end up with about 8 more plants, in addition to the 4 growing now.  That should do the trick!

My weed gaillardia patch is still alive and kicking.  I will get around to pulling it all up and planting something edible here.  Eventually.


And these salvia are starting to come back to life.  I didn't have the heart to pull them when they stopped blooming.  Love these!


My corn didn't do well, unfortunately, so I pulled it today.  This area doesn't get much sun and the corn didn't get watered nearly enough.  I have an experiment in mind for this little area though.  I'll plant a few Moringa and Pigeon pea seeds on the north edge, and longevity spinach and vegetable amaranth in the rest of the bed.  I think it will be an interesting experiment!  These are the plants I love best in my garden.  Just set 'em and forget 'em (mostly).  And they'll grow through the summer.  Win win!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Cake Experiment

Oh my my...

I have finally found the perfect small vanilla cake recipe to pair with the perfect peanut butter frosting.

When I was in high school, a hundred years ago, they always served white cake with peanut butter frosting or chocolate cake with white frosting.  Always.  I ate them both but particularly loved the peanut butter frosting.

I found what looked like an excellent peanut butter frosting on Pinterest and figured I'd search for another small vanilla cake recipe to give this frosting a try.

The cake recipe I found makes just enough batter for an 8X8 glass baking dish.  It would work well with cupcakes, but I love making small cakes. They're a bit moister, and much easier to store.  

I've baked half a dozen or so small vanilla cake recipes and none have been quite right. And I absolutely hate the taste of box cakes.  This recipe is dense, but moist, and has good flavor.  I probably wouldn't like this cake with chocolate frosting but it would be excellent to make into petit fours...another experiment for another day.

My quest for a good peanut butter frosting that's not sicky sweet, peanut buttery enough, and the right consistency/texture has also been achieved!  

I had leftover frosting so naturally I had to whip up another small cake to finish it off. Although, I will admit I was tempted to take the leftover frosting to work yesterday and eat it straight out of the jar - it's that good!

To give credit where it's due, you can find the cake recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Simple-White-Cake/Detail.aspx

Peanut Butter Frosting recipe here: http://www.recipegirl.com/2008/06/04/creamy-peanut-butter-frosting/

I cut the frosting recipe down a bit and still had enough leftover for a second cake (albeit a thinner layer) a few days later.  Here is the reduced version of the recipe I ended up using for the frosting:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbls milk  

Good stuff.  Now that I've had my fill of cake for a year, I can get back to the gardening experiments...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hubby's Trashy Bonsai Art

I got home from work a few days ago to find two dwarf Yaupon holly bushes in buckets.


He found these bushes in someone's trash.  He said he only picked up two because he didn't have room for all of them, and figured two would be sufficient to practice on.  But apparently he couldn't resist going back for more because he ended up going back and getting 7 in all.

He has since trimmed and potted 3 of them to practice his bonsai art.  I love the hole in the trunk of this one!



The patio is a bit of a mess with all the trimming and watering.



A work in progress.


It was quite a bit of work getting the bulk of each bush cut back.  They were all generally this size to start with.



What he didn't know was that the leaves of these plants can be used to make a caffeinated tea.  So I've read.  Not sure I'd want to do that since the scientific name is "Ilex Vomitoria".  Hmmmm.

Pigeon Pea Harvest Update

I harvested my second round of pigeon peas!  I filled a large collander last weekend and made sure they were good and dry before shelling.

My first harvest didn't quite fill the 1/2 pint jar.   My second round will probably manage to fill a 1/2 pint jar but I'll leave them in this bowl and move them around each day for a week to make sure they're dry before putting them in a jar.


The two newest bushes aren't really "bushes" yet, but they're established and did have about a dozen pods each.  So the majority of the peas came from my two older bushes.

I'm guessing with what's left drying on the two older bushes I should be able to fill another 1/2 pint.  And there are still scads of flowers on the bushes!  So more to come still.  

I've run around the yard planting more seeds.  I want at least 6 to 8 more plants.   Particularly because the two older bushes might not live another season.

It will be interesting to see how long they will live - supposedly up to 5 years! Amazing.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Funny for Today


Found this on Facebook and I had to laugh:


But in reality, I think we missed spring altogether:


And cruised right into summer.  Ugh.

I have such mixed feelings about the hot weather returning...I am looking forward to:


  • Caladiums and Gingers popping up
  • Growing Okra again
  • Getting a good crop of moringa growing - it does best in summer months
  • Growing Southern Peas
  • Daily rainstorms 


But I hate the thought of the high heat and humidity.  Yuck.  So hard for me to work outside in that weather.  I'm torn because I've just recently begun to appreciate summer vegetable gardening but absolutely wilt in the heat.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

Herbs, Flowers and Veggies

I got some gardening in this weekend.  Feels good to get the new garden patch planted, but when I hurt immediately, that's not a good sign for the days to come. Ugh.

Oh well.  At least I got to poke around the yard all day, sweat a bit, and accomplish something.

Meanwhile...the herbs are doing well:




 Still lots of flowers here and there:





One of my orchids is in bloom:


This patch of Gaillardia (and other weeds) is doing so well I can't bring myself to dig it up to make a new garden:





But I did manage to plant this garden with green beans and carrots today:


I buried a black pot in the middle for kitchen scraps.  I placed a broken clay pot on top to keep critters out.  I had a board in the middle of this garden at one point for a walkway but replaced it with mulch.

And I'm very relieved that my new moringa seeds are viable!  I'll get to work planting more seeds now.

The tomatoes are starting to come in:


And two more huge papaya!


I also decided to plant the Goji Berry.  It's growing like crazy!


After sitting on the deck with a cold drink of water, pondering the back yard, I decided we need more lemon grass.  I really love how it looks and it's wonderful in tea.  Not so sure it will work as a mosquito repellent but I want more in the yard regardless.  So we went to the Asian market and bought 4 more stalks which I'll plant this week.  

It was a good day.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Love

Mushy Grandmother Love.  Goofy Grin All Day Long Grandmother Love.

Rosalind Maeve



Sunday, March 1, 2015

My First Grandchild Has Arrived!

I'm officially a Grandmother!  Hooray!

Our Granddaughter was born yesterday, February 28th, 3 weeks early! Boy, what a surprise that was for our Son and his Wife!

Our Granddaughter was 5 lbs., 6 oz, and 19 inches long.

She still hasn't been given a name...hopefully tomorrow the decision will be made.  So many names to choose from, and it all comes down to "the one"!

Speaking of names, everyone has asked me what my "grandmother" name will be.  When it comes right down to it, the baby will be the one who chooses, but I'll be steering her toward "Memere".  My Father's mother (French Canadian) was called Memere and my Mother's mother was called Grammie.  When our kids were born my mother chose to be Grammie and my Mother-in-Law chose Gram. So Gram and Grammie have been done and done! My kids never knew my Memere so I'm happy to be called that!

That's my exciting news for today!  Can't get much better than that!