Rather silly, I suppose, but one of my enduring memories of the Minnesota Renaissance Fair is the cheese soup in a bread bowl. Back in college it was a fall ritual to road trip from Superior down to Shakopee and spend a day roaming around the fair grounds. We didn't have much money, but everyone pitched in for gas and the shows on the grounds were free. Puke and Snot (a comedy act) were a perennial favorite. They had a wide variety of foods, but cheese soup in a bread bowl was something I almost always indulged in. I hadn't had any in years, until the winter of 2007-2008 when I saw it on the menu at a local restaurant. It was so good that I really wanted to have it again, but we don't go out to eat very often, so I figured why not make it at home? Enter the internet. I love online recipe searches. Now we don't have to wait for the fair to enjoy cheese soup in homemade bread bowls. [Read more…]
Now that the bulk of planting is finally done (other than adding a few things later in the season for fall and winter harvest and maybe a few more flowers – you can never have too many flowers), it's time to settle down into regular maintenance. Weeding, mulching, thinning, staking – turn your back for a couple of days and it's amazing how much things can change (and get out of control).
The root veggies planted from seed are coming along nicely, so they need to be thinned out so they are not overcrowded. I've tried planting more thinly, but then it always seem to happen that they don't germinate well for some reason or another and I up up replanting. Thinning is easier for me. My mom never thins, and I didn't when I first started, but the roots grow so much nicer when they have more room. The last few growing seasons have been short on rain, too, so more room equals less stress on the plants.
You can see in the “before” pictures that the carrots are growing in bushy little clumps without much wiggle room between plants. The goal for the first thinning is so have about an inch between them.
Here's the after. Much easier to see individual plants. As they grow, they'll get thinned again, and the small carrots will end up as salad fixings, and the larger carrots will be left for winter storage.
The potatoes are around a foot tall, so they are ready to be mulched or hilled to get more plant undercover to produce a better harvest. I prefer mulching, as I find it easier to move around leaves and straw than dirt. Also, if it gets rainy in fall (not a problem recently, but it does happen), you don't end up with such a muddy mess. Given that I mulch almost all of my garden anyway, this is just a better all around solution for me.
I saved several bags of leaves from my in-laws last fall (and actually stored some of my root cellar vegetables in leaves, which worked well), so my Kennebec potatoes received a leaf mulch this year. The leaves also acidify the soil, which reduces potato scab. (Note to self – avoid planting potatoes in beds that were occupied the previous year by brassicas that were mulched with lots of composted manure, as too much nitrogen contributes to potato scab….sigh…garden rotation is not as straightforward as it seems.)
The cat seems pretty happy with the abundance of catnip volunteering all over the garden, too.
Warmer weather means the last of the transplants have come out of their shelter in the cold frame and the seeds planted earlier are finally starting to pop up out of the ground. What a slow start to the season! At least we didn't get flooded this year.
On the down seed, the bugs have also defrosted. Working at dusk last I got mauled by mosquitoes. Normally I rub down my exposed skin with a couple of handfuls of crushed catnip or other herbs, but I was stuffing in a few last transplants and my hands were muuuuuddyy! It got too dark to hunt down some plantain to crush and apply to the bites (this does work – my grandma used to call it medicine leaf), but Benadryl spray is a modern marvel. Sweet relief! (UPDATE: I've learned how to infuse plantain into oil and make a salve out of it. It works even better than the Benedryl!)
The flea beetles are back in force, too, and chowing down on my pepper plants. Flea beetles are nasty little bugs that hop and are about the size of fleas. They start by chewing so many holes in the leaves that it looks like the plant has been hit by buckshot. As they continue feeding, they can completely defoliate a plant. A couple of plants are likely beyond hope. This is two days damage – nasty little buggers.
Others are hardly touched, and will hopefully stay that way. I'm trying a new approach – used coffee grounds and crushed eggshells. I read about using each of them on different gardening forums, so I thought I'd try to the two together.
Update: The coffee grounds were effective on the flea beetles, the eggshells were not. ALL THE PEPPER PLANTS RECOVERED – even the ones that looked beyond hope! Eggshells do work great for keeping slugs at bay, and can be added to the planting holes of tomatoes to avoid blossom end rot. Another option to help prevent blossom rot is to put 2-3 calcium antacid tablets in the hole when planting. To improve fruit set on tomatoes and peppers, water new transplants with a mix of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts dissolved in one gallon of water.
I got an award from Hannah at Preparing for Our Children's Future!
Thanks for thinking of me, Hannah. 🙂
At the risk of providing TMI, here we go.
10 Honest Things About Yourself!
1. I have eaten dirt, on purpose. Can't say I'm a fan, I prefer to grow fruit and veggies in it and eat them.
2. Being a mom is the toughest thing I have ever done, and the most rewarding.
3. The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.
4. Homeschooling has rekindled my love of learning and made me rethink nearly every thing I've taken for granted all my life.
5. Faith is a powerful tool that can help people accomplish amazing things and provide peace in a troubled world.
6. I find ancient history fascinating. Actually, I find a lot of things fascinating. I wish I could split myself in two so one of me could research while the other did what needs to get done. They could take turns.
7. I've grown (and eaten) over 100 different varieties of fruits and veggies.
8. I have big feet, which makes it hard to find shoes.
9. I exercise almost every day.
10. I wish I had better self-esteem. I'm working on it. :o)
Okay! Here are my four blogging friends that I picked to give this Award to:
Here are the Rules of the award
1. Thank the one that gave it to you.
2. list 10 honest things about yourself.
3. Give to 7 other blogger friends. (I only did four because I am new at this.)
4. Place the picture at the top of your post.
Hope ya'll have a great time and look forward to reading each of your 10 Honest things about yourself!
Raising Butterflies – A Homeschooling Experiment
Back in late June 2006, we found that our parsley plants had attracted an abundance of parsley worms, otherwise know as swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, so we decided to try our hand at raising butterflies. As my youngest has professed that he wishes to grow up to be a butterfly rancher, we took the opportunity to create a private habitat for the little critters (protected from our many songbirds which had been munching on them in the garden). First, we gathered an assortment of parsley plants against the south side of the garage, then we built an enclosed out of wooden lattice scraps and covered it with garden cloth. Here's a picture of Duncan checking on his “wormies”. [Read more…]