Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Going Local-Asheville

A few weeks ago,
we headed out on another day trip.
This time, our destination was Asheville,
which is about an hour and a half from our home.
The drive was pleasant, and the view of the looming mountains
made us grateful to be residents of this magnificent state.

Our first stop was Sow True Seeds, right downtown.
Although I had written ahead to let them know we were coming,
our wires got crossed.
We drove up to discover that the storefront
was closed on weekends during the summer.

It didn't stop me from taking a few shots 
of their gorgeous gardens out front.
Can you just imagine the pollinator parties going on here?

Practically around the corner, we found this fascinating place.
Don't let the humble facade fool you.

Inside were scads of untold treasures.

The young artisans demonstrated and narrated each step in the process.
Big K and I could have spent much of the afternoon there,
mesmerized by the magic unfolding before our eyes.

It was nothing less than amazing to see pieces of glass
being transformed into beautiful and functional pieces of art.

Just look at some of the contributions...

Incredible, right?
Big K and I bought a Christmas ornament,
not that we will need a memento to remember our visit.
This place alone is worth a drive from just about anywhere.
Lexington Glassworks' website can be found here.

There was so much to see and so little time.
Next on our agenda was visiting an antique car museum for the boys.
This little gem was a place worthy of spending some time.

Nestled in Historic Grovewood Village,
the car museum was just one of the features of this quaint getaway.

The assortment included vintage automobiles 
from the early 1900s up through the 1950's.
All vehicles are in running order and treated with kid gloves.
The boys were in their sweet spot.

The jewel in the collection 
was this 1922 American LaFrance fire truck.

To our surprise, 
admission was free,
although there is a donation box near the entrance.
We appreciate the time and attention it takes
to provide a place like this for others to enjoy.

The grounds of the village were a delight to stroll.
With artists' studios nearby,
we were able to joyfully witness their creative offerings.

Beautiful gardens surround the village,
and entice one to linger.

The final stop on our Asheville tour
was the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center.

This gorgeous LEED-Certified building houses special events,
visitor information, a theatre, and a retail shop. 

You can find displays describing the history of the Parkway's construction,
as well as artifacts from the project.
What a fantastic homeschooling field trip!

We found a vista not too far away.
The Parkway itself is another day trip we hope to take,
maybe closer to fall, when leaves are turning.

There is so much more to see in Asheville,
so we know we'll return.

Where'd you go on your last day trip?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Garden Friday

As we prepare for the deluge sure to greet us for the next couple of days,
we welcome you to another Garden Friday.
Hurricane Florence is paying us a visit
and we will be hunkered down all weekend long.
Having lived in Florida for over 40 years,
we are quite familiar with storms
and feel grateful that we do not seem to be in harm's way.
We Garden On.

The tomatoes are coming in almost daily now.
The tomato is the most popular crop grown by home gardeners.
They can be quite challenging,
and it has always been a personal mission to grow them successfully.

Although I had no problems with blossom end rot,
most of the tomatoes grown here suffered from splitting.
They were still quite tasty and some were over a pound,
but worms did get to many before they were harvested.

They aren't the prettiest fruit I've seen,
but I do feel a sense of accomplishment.
I've passed my personal litmus test and can consider myself a proper farmer.

Such a feeling of satisfaction sweeps over me each morning,
as I return from my daily walk to harvest what God has provided.
Each basketful of goodies validates the abundance in my life.

On occasion, one gets away from me.
Okra is so good at hiding,
and sometimes it grows larger than one would like.

I do have to say that this okra has been a pleasant surprise.
A different variety had been ordered, but the seed company was out of stock,
and so these were a substitute.
They have had no pest issues to speak of,
and even the largest veg has not been the least bit woody.

There are still a couple of banana peppers out there producing.

The pumpkins are done.
I think the black marks I noticed on the stems were a heads-up.
The vines started wilting for no apparent reason,
and when I sliced into one,
squash vine borers were having a party in there.
Next year, I will be sure to sprinkle the pots with diatomaceous earth
to prevent the problem.
The alyssum in the pots still look good though!

First step-logs and twigs

After relocating this sandbox to the corner of the veggie garden,
we decided to use the Hugelkultur method of filling it in.
This will be a pollinator bed, strictly used for attracting those beneficials to the garden.

Second step-leaves
This garden may not be planted until spring,
so we may use it to host our scarecrow this fall.

Third step-soil
By the time spring rolls around,
it can be filled with all kinds of perennial seeds
to welcome those helpful critters to the garden.

The garden between seasons

We used some of the leftover branches when we took down our peach trees
to edge the veggie garden.
It helps keep the mulch in place and adds a rustic feel.

We also removed a couple of bushes that were not where we wanted them.
This empty space to the left of the mailbox
will be used to create a pollinator-friendly spot.
Drought-tolerant and natives are our go-to choices.
This will most likely be a spring project.

Our dogwood tree has been flaunting these vibrant crimson berries.
The birds will get an early autumn treat!

This mum, showcasing yellow and orange blossoms
has been blooming for a couple of weeks.
It is the monster that has taken over the mailbox planter.
Another easy-care plant that will bloom for years to come.

Although we aren't ready to say goodbye to summer yet,
we feel the changes coming that will give way to cooler days
and new projects.
Kale, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard were sown yesterday,
and will be successively sown to allow us to enjoy our own harvests
through the colder months.
For now, we will embrace the remnants of summer
and pray for our brothers and sisters dealing with the aftermath
of yet another bout with Mother Nature.
Stay safe out there.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Lemongrass Salsa

 This is lemongrass.
It grows gangbusters through the summer here in NC.
We'll find out this winter if it will survive the cold.
It's an easy plant that needs no coddling.
I first became familiar with it back in Florida,
where my friends Faye & Lynn grow it on their organic farm.
They also introduced me to this recipe for lemongrass salsa.
I changed it a bit to my liking, and it is quite refreshing.
It's reason alone to add this crop to your garden.

 The lemongrass grows in stalks, like most grasses.
A few of the older stalks toward the center of the plant were snipped.
The outside of the stalk was peeled, much like a leek,
 until only the white was showing.

Now that our tomatoes are coming in,
it was a great way to use some of them up.

 This is one, happy bowl full of flavor.
A few simple ingredients and in less than 10 minutes,
you'll be scarfing it down with your favorite chips.
If you have a bit more patience, let it sit,
so that the flavors can become more developed.

Lemongrass Salsa
2 stalks lemongrass (white part, minced)
2 red chili peppers, finely chopped (I used red pepper flakes)
2 T chopped cilantro (I used parsley)
1/4 t salt
1 medium red onion, diced (I used 1 small yellow onion)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 T white vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
2 T vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

Wash fresh ingredients and combine in a bowl.
Chill 1 hour before serving.
Makes 4-6 servings.