Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy List

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Come Join Mamarazzi

My Gardens are making me very HAPPY!  They are looking good and healthy so far.  I know they are not out of the woods yet but they are looking good so far.  I am sure we are going to lose some cucumber plants because they have Cucumber Beetles on them, but we also just planted new and they may be ready to bloom after the peak of the Cucumber Beetles.  I am hoping for a lot of pickling cucumbers and look forward to cucumbers to slice and add with our own onions.  I love marinated cucumbers, they make me HAPPY just eating this healthy snack and to know it came from our garden just makes me even HAPPIER.

We picked our first Zucchini's late last week and one of our broccoli will be able to be picked soon.  HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!

I am also HAPPY I was able to post in our Garden Blog about this year's gardens.  Click here to read about it.  I plan to make a different post here, one will be about the Community Garden itself.  I love going there and seeing how everyone does things different.  There is this one plot that is so adorable with all the ornaments they have added.

You know what makes me HAPPY also about the gardens.  The simple beauty of it.  I love the different shades of green and colors of a garden.  My friends on facebook may think I am crazy because I post pictures of our gardens during different phases, but I can not help it because it is so beautiful.

My butterfly/humming bird garden turned out beautiful this year.  I just need to add something to keep blooms going in the Summer now.  All the plants but 4 were added last year and free.  They were giving the near death plants away.  I am seeing many different types of butterflies too this year.  This makes me HAPPY.  I just love it!
 

 My Day Lily Garden is looking beautiful right now. I love the little ornament I added this year.
 Please ignore the fact the grass needs cut.  Our mower broke.
I am HAPPY I was able to see at least one of my Lilies in my Oriental/Asiatic Lily Garden.  The stinking rabbits eat all of them and I have only been able to see 3 of them the first year I planted, the plants were already close to bloom when I planted.  The others were all bulbs so the stupid rabbits eat them.  This fall I will be adding a little fence around it to keep them out. Something similar to my Butterfly/Humming Bird Garden.  I saved this one (well my Mom did while I was in Vegas) by wrapping s little boarder fencing.  It kind of reminds me of a war zone.  My Mom makes me HAPPY.
 
Here is a picture of my favorite flower bed.  I planted this one 4 years ago and I love how it grows. It makes me so HAPPY...well not so much Lamb's Ear would make me HAPPIER but they do keep the rabbits out of the garden.
 Picture below is with some of all the flowers blooming but prior to the mulching.
Gardening makes me HAPPY!!!  I also am HAPPY that I am able to do more in the gardens this year.  I am actually getting down and I am able to do some weeding myself and planting this year.  Oh words can not express HOW HAPPY THIS MAKES ME!

What do you have to be HAPPY about this week?  Come join us.

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Gardening 101 ~ 3 Sister Crops

We heard about 3 Sister Crops a few years ago.  We first read about it on the Internet.  It helps one get the most out of a small space for gardening.  It is also noted that Native Americans would use this method as well.  The 3 crops are planted in the same area... Corn, Squash, and Pole Beans.

This technique is one way the companion crops help one another and the soil.  The Corn creates a pole for the Beans to grow up.  The Squash leaves are considered a "living mulch", blocking sunlight to the earth creating less weeds and keeping moisture in the ground.  The pricklier leaves were to keep bugs away as well.  The Beans add nitrogen to the soil, exactly what the Squash needs.   A gardening class we took also brought up this method explaining you have to keep up on it for it to be successful.

Last Summer we tried this method...we did try to keep up with it.  I would NOT recommend this and we will NOT ever do it again.

We found it a complete mess.  Pole Beans tend to go anywhere.  We continuously go out and check where our Pole Beans are wandering and help guide them back to the fence.  It was nearly impossible to do this with the Corn Stalk.  The Squash did not get enough light due to the Corn Stalk and Pole Beans to get many blooms.  We also get the lovely Japanese Beetles.  They typically only go to our Pole Beans. We found they are not harmful to this plant.  They just devour the leaves leaving only the veins of the leaf.  It sort of looks pretty actually. They have not caused any harm to the actual beans.  The Japanese Beetles have never affected our Corn, except last year when the Pole Beans grew on it.  The Japanese Beetles do not allow the Corn to develop, therefore we get stumpy stalks not worth eating or even picking.  They do not even develop fully.

The picture below is our section of 3 Sister Crops.  What a mess!  It may work on paper and some people may have success, but we did not. 

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Gardening 101 ~ Watering/Irrigation

Water is important not only to humans but to plants as well.  One needs to make sure your garden is properly watered. Some plants need more water than other plants, such as melon require a lot of water.  We have learned by trial and error sometimes water can create problems as well for some plants.

A few years ago our tomatoes were looking good, growing tall and healthy then it happened.  The leaves started to look yellow and brown.  Our tomatoes were being infected as well as the plant.  We did research on it and found it was caused from the water on the leaves, more importantly bouncing off the ground and hitting the plants. At that time we were watering our garden like we water anything else, with the hose and spraying it with a wand or hooking it up to a water sprinkler.

The following year our watering method in the garden changed.  It also made watering much easier. We chose to use a couple of soaker hoses instead.  A soaker hose looks like a regular garden hose, however the hose is made of a different material and has several holes in it. This allows the water to come through the hose watering the garden with out getting the plants wet.
After all of our plants were in the ground, Todd wove the hose through out the garden.  We noticed birds pecking at it the past few years. I am not sure if they were the cause of some damage to our hose or if it was just normal wear and tear.  This year Todd did it differently.  Typically, the hose was the last thing placed in the garden, this year he laid the compost on top of the soaker hose.  Time will tell if this method is better, one thing I can see, is  that the compost protects the plants from the water as well, it may be a better solution.


When it comes time to water, all we need to do is hook up our regular hose to the end of the soaker hose and turn on the water.  It really is a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday's Song- Landslide

This song is a favorite of mine, I loved the original by Fleetwood Mac (Stevie Nicks).  I also loved Glee's version of it.  I chose to post the Dixie Chic's version though, maybe because it had so much meaning for me when it was released. This song you could have said was my theme song back then. The lyrics was my life.  In 2003, I left my husband with our boys.  I definitely climbed a mountain and turned around.  It took a lot of friends helping me handle the changing ocean tides but I was able to handle the seasons of my life.  It was a very healthy move for all, myself and our boys.  Enjoy!




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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gardening 101 ~ Spring Crop of Sugar Snap Peas

 
Our Spring crop of Sugar Snap Peas is done.  Sugar Snap Peas do not like the heat, they become stressed and die out.  We had a successful crop this year.

I was able to make 4 side dishes and 3 stir fry meals out of them and freeze 10 bags for side dishes later and enough for 6 more stir fry dinners.

Here are 3 new dishes I made this year with them.

Sugar Snap Peas and Noodles


Sauted Sugar Snap Peas


Balsamic Vinegar Sugar Snap Peas

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Gardening 101 ~Tomatoes...To Cage or Not To Cage

Tomatoes... to cage or not to cage that is the question.   This post I will discuss how we determine to cage or not.

Why cage?  Well, the cage helps keep the plant and tomatoes off the ground.  Having the leaves and tomatoes just lay on the dirt puts your tomatoes at risk of disease.

Not all tomatoes need to be caged though.  If your plant is a deterrent type of tomato.  These plants tend to be smaller and one can get away with just using a stake to support the plant.  Your taller plants should definitely have a cage to support it besides the staking.  The cages come in so many different styles and colors now. 
We have square cages in our Community Garden
We use the round cages in our Back Yard Garden

We do not cage our cherry tomatoes, patio tomatoes, or grape tomatoes.  We do use smaller stakes for them and these are the plants we put in containers that I talked about in a previous Gardening 101 post.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Confessional

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It's that time of year again. Come join Mamarazzi and confess away.

I confess...
My sinus infection is getting the best of me.  I feel horrid right now and have so much to do.  I do not want to slow down but I am afraid I might need to spend some time in bed this weekend just to get better.

I confess...
Tomorrow I plan on going to a strawberry patch for the first time and pick tons of strawberries.   Canning and baking are going to be in my future this weekend.

I confess...
I started another blog a few days ago.  This one is going to be about my journey to become healthier.  I am hoping this will be the tool I need help me and hold me accountable.

I confess...
I am happy with our garden so far.  I hope it keeps going well for us.  Our Spring crop of Sugar Snap Peas are over for now.  We will plant another in August for a fall crop.  I hope we get just as much out of it as we did the first crop.  I ended up freezing enough Sugar Snap Peas for 10 meals and 6 stir fry dishes.  We also had 3 stir fry dishes and 4 side dishes from this crop.

I confess...
It is a little sad looking at the garden and seeing just dirt where the peas were, however we just planted more cucumbers and squash so we should see life in that spot once again.

I confess...
A post of our garden is over due.  One will be coming soon.

What do you have to confess about this week? 
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Random Ramblings

I have not had the opportunity to blog much this week.  I have been very busy with trying to catch up around the house with things for the weekend prior with Taj's birthday.  I have been busy with the garden, to be more exact the Sugar Snap Peas.  We have picked 3 times now and we have had 3 stir fries from it as well as 4 sides for dinner.  I have also blanched and froze 10 more meals as well as 6 more stir fries.  I think we will have one more picking and then it will be time to remove the pea stalks from our early Spring planting.  We will then plant more later for a Fall crop.  I am very happy with our Sugar Snap Pea crop so far.

We also had a busy weekend watching Taj this weekend.  On Saturday, Todd and I took him to the park where the community garden is.  We saw our first zucchini's growing.  We also went to the splash pad there.  Ethan and Noah did not want to go with us, if they would have joined us, it would have been perfect.  I did enjoy watching Taj and Todd.  Taj would make the funniest faces when the water would hit him.  My Wordless Wednesday is my favorite that I took.  Here are a few others...
 
 
 
 I am also fighting a sinus infection.  I am trying to prevent bronchitis because I do not want to be sick when we go on vacation.  VACATION, oh how I can not wait for you to come.

I missed my Happy List this week... but I am going to throw a quickie inside my Random Ramble here.  I am Happy that Joshua has been calling me every week since he has gone to the East coast.  I am Happy that Matthew has been working this summer and no major fights this summer.  I am Happy Ethan and Noah are enjoying time a part in their own rooms this summer.  I am Happy my Mom will be going on vacation with us.  She needs this and deserves it.  She has so little time for her to enjoy what she wants to do because of helping other family members.  I am Happy I was able to talk to my Dad on Father's Day this year.  I am also Happy that Noah wished Todd Happy Father's Day this year.  I am Happy we have hired everyone we need now at work.  We will finally be at full staff in a couple of weeks.  Now just to get through the training of them.

Can we talk about cats?  I am totally frustrated with ours right now.  For some reason (not sure which one or more than one) is not using the kitty liter boxes.  One of the cats is using it, the other two are just crapping and peeing where ever they want in the room where the boxes are.  Someone is also peeing on my throw rugs in the main living room.  I have had to toss 3 now.  I am not happy with them, nor is Todd.  We are totally frustrated and do not know what to do about it at this time.

Mmm Mmm Mmm... we had some delicious Sugar Snap Peas the other night.  I made up my own recipe and it was delicious!  Watch for a recipe post soon.  We also had our first zucchini from the garden today. Nothing is better than fresh veggies from your own garden.

My Dad's MRI was postponed.  He started his Chemo Pills late so they chose to put it off.  He will have a CAT scan on July 31st and hear the results on August 1st.  I am so worried about the tumors growing in his liver since he is losing weight and lost his appetite.  I also fear what they say about the spots they found in his lungs a couple of months ago.
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Garden 101- Trellis

Hello again!
This time I wanted discuss trellis.

There are several vegetables that thrive or need with trellis and or cages.  There are so many items that you can use to assist these vegetables.  I will start with pole beans, other than the obvious a simple pole or stake you can use trellis as well.  We made this Willow Branch Trellis a few weeks ago, it is too late to use for beans this year but we are thinking about it for next year, I also may use it in my butterfly garden for a  hummingbird vine.
Some people use simple stakes in a row, not a straight row, there would be two rows, the gardener would alternate which row to place the stake.  After the stakes are in the ground, one would take string and make a zig zag with the poles as shown in the picture below.  (This is someones crop at our community garden.)
 
Another method could be a simple tripod method as pictured below.  (Again another gardener's method at our community garden.)
Here is another tripod, where someone built one resembling a ladder. (This is another gardener's vision at our community garden.)
 
One can use whatever they have.  Pictured below is a shoe tree someone is using as a trellis. (Yes, you guessed it another gardener at our community garden.)

Why do you need a trellis in the garden?  Well we use them for Sugar Snap Peas, for one.  The picture below is our first trellis we made for the Sugar Snap Pea.  Sugar Snap Peas will grow as tall as your trellis. Our Sugar Snap Peas that year grew as tall as 8 ft and our row was 16 ft long.  How we Todd constructed it was building a frame out and then a netting was stapled to the frame.
It worked well but we feared for it during some of our storms therefore we found another method.  This is what we did this year.  We Todd took some flattened tomato cages and used zip lock ties to attach to one another.  We planted one row in between our fence that boarders the garden and the flattened tomato cages.  We then planted another row directly behind the flattened tomato cages.  On more row of peas were planted behind the second row and another row of flattened tomato cages went into place after the 3rd row.  Although our Sugar Snap Peas only grew to 5 ft, we had 3 rows of 16 ft Sugar Snap Peas.  The two pictures below are from this year's garden.
Beginning of the season.
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We also use a trellis for our cucumbers.  This will help control where the cucumber plant grows.  Cucumbers, zucchini, and squash can easily take over your garden and if you trellis them, you can use less space for your vegetable.  Below is one we constructed for cucumbers.  We also have used the fence perimeter as a trellis for zucchini and cucumbers as well.
One can use trellis for pole beans as well.  Once again our fence around the garden is what we use for pole beans.  It has worked wonderfully for us.  (Pole Beans are in the back, this is a picture of our garden in 2010.)
I have seen some people use trellis for strawberries and some other berries.  I am sure there are more things to use a trellis.  As I said in my first Garden 101 post, I am not an expert but love to share what we have learned.
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September Goals