Friday, September 28, 2018

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
It's been a wet and wild week,
but we still managed to get a few projects completed.

 The tomato plants (which were blown about by TS Florence),
have all been pulled up.
Getting them from seed to maturity was a fun challenge,
but the constant battle between the squirrels and bugs
left me feeling that maybe next year I will let someone else grow them.
Or, perhaps I will grow some to sell starters for others.

 It's almost October,
the temps have been in the 70's and 80's,
and the okra is still flowering.
This is one crop that will return to my garden each summer,
as it is virtually care-free.
Aside from pickling it,
it has been enjoyed by sauteing it in coconut oil.

Our carrots are coming along,
although the germination is a bit sketchy.
This was the same tub in which I originally had quick germination,
and then the resident bunnies came to call.
After raising it up out of their reach,
it was reseeded, but germination was not quite as fast.
Elsewhere, in the hugelkultur bed we have more sown,
along with two kinds of beets,
and the germination has been dismal.
I still have time to resow before cold weather hits our area.

Earlier this week, we shared our rain barrel project.
It took us a while to get it finished,
but it's wonderful to have running water near the garden
that we don't have to pay for.
And thanks to Mother Nature,
they are already about 3/4 of the way full.
We worked this week to get my workbench moved,
so that I could organize it for sowing seed trays.
This is the before and after.

These corn crates were acquired from a local nursery.
We asked if we could have a few,
since they would be thrown out,
and the owners agreed.
We love upcycling anything we can.

They are perfect for storing all those little seed pots
so that they don't get blown away in a storm.

We can keep all of our cell packs tucked inside
so that we can find just what we need when it's time to sow seeds.

Other recycled containers help us store our miscellaneous items,
like garden staples, garden markers, twine and string,
and canning lids (which we sometimes use as plant markers).
Seedling trays fit snug in the corner,
and since they have drainage holes in the bottom,
we needn't worry about them collecting water to attract mosquitoes.

A stack of biodegradable pots sits at the ready,
for future plantings of broccoli, kale or lettuce. 
Organizing is one of my absolute favorite things to do,
so this was a labor of love.

 Even our birdbath is upcycled.
The top is the lid from an enamel canning pot I use as a planter.
The inserted stone allows for pollinators to rest and take a drink.

In the garden, it was so thrilling to see the Sugar Snap Peas coming up,
just a few days after sowing.
We also seeded lettuces, Swiss chard and tat soil,
but are still awaiting germination.
Hopefully, the rain will move that right along.

As far as the beets go,
I'm going to try using cell packs and then transplanting them,
although they are root crops, which do not usually like to be moved.
I'm not sure what else to do.
I've been jonesing for some beautiful beets. 

It's so fantastic having my own work space out there.
It may not be pretty to look at,
but it gets the job done.
So grateful for my little piece of paradise.

What's going on in your fall garden?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Grain-Free Sweet Potato Pancakes (gf,df,sf)

In an effort to find a solution to the dermatitis plaguing my hands,
I have decided to try going grain-free for a month
and see if it makes any difference.
I have already changed out all of my personal care products
and eliminated all Sulfates from anything that touches my skin.
I'm also excluding nightshades and almost all dairy,
in an effort to promote healing.
These are all foods that can become problematic,
so I thought I would give it a go.
Truth be told, the first 2 days without grains was pretty tough.
Bread is such a comfort food
and I miss my toast and jam something fierce.
But, the only way I'll know if it is a factor,
is if I eliminate it and then reintroduce these things
one at a time.
Allergy testing was done a few months ago,
but are not reliable.
Sensitivities do not show up on those tests,
only true allergies.
So, here we go again, trying to find our own answers.

This recipe gives me the comfort of carbs
without any grain at all.
A stash will be kept in the fridge
to be eaten a couple of times a week.
Other changes I've made are smoothies for breakfast,
and substituting celery, carrots and kale to be eaten with
hummus, tuna salad or egg salad.
It's a challenge to find satisfying foods,
since I have a fondness for sandwiches, pasta and oatmeal.
But after all, it's only for a month
and it is allowing me to discover new ways to add even more veg to my diet.
These pancakes are great for anyone who needs allergy-friendly food,
and I imagine that squash or pumpkin could be subbed out for the sweet taters.
Add some local honey and your favorite berries on top,
and you're talking yummalicious!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1/2 C mashed sweet potato
3 T almond flour 
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1 t butter (optional)

Cook sweet potato until soft, then mash in a bowl.
Beat eggs, then add remaining ingredients (except butter).
Whisk until smooth.
In a skillet, spray with cooking oil or add butter, 
then add 1/3 C mixture over medium heat.
(I added coconut oil instead of butter to keep it vegan).
Cook 3 minutes per side,
until each side is a golden brown.
Add favorite toppings and enjoy!
 Serves 2-4. 


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Let It Rain!

Our Florida butterfly bed and rain barrel
Why have rain barrels?
As Tropical Storm Florence recently reminded us,
in case of emergency situations,
it's vital to have your own source of water.
If it's impossible to get to the store,
or shelves are empty when you get there,
(water is one of the first things to sell out),
you'll have a stash to use for cooking, cleaning or flushing toilets.
Of course, it's also fabulous to have a water source
to use around the garden.
Rain water is perfect for hydrating seedlings or plants,
or for those outdoor washing duties
(cleaning out garbage cans, potting containers, etc.).
And what could be better than FREE?

My goodness, but this has been a long process!
We purchased rain barrels almost a year ago,
(each barrel was about $20),
and just got to the installation this past weekend.
It wasn't high on the priority list,
as we've been occupied with getting the veggie garden established. 
This is the location for them at our home here in NC.
It's on the SE corner of the house,
in a little niche close to the vegetable beds.

The first step was to put a spigot on the barrel.
Of course, our resident handyman, Big K was called into service.

He used a hole saw to make a hole for the spigot.

He ended up having to use a rasp to enlarge the hole just a bit.
The same procedure was done so that we could add
a plastic overflow piece to each barrel.
(We will be joining two barrels together.)

The plastic threaded piece was tightened in place.

Check out this little trick-
He didn't have the appropriate sized socket
that was also long enough to do the job.

he placed the socket inside of the larger one
and got the job done.
I can honestly say that I would 
have thought to do that.
He earns his keep, I tell ya!

Silicone keeps the water from leaking out of the spigot.

After the addition of the spigot and two plastic valves,
we readied the site for installation.
The materials we used were found on the property,
so we only paid for a few screws to complete the project.

I leveled the boards as best I could,

and then we screwed a few pieces of wood together to make a stand
for the barrels to rest on.
The hose from the wall spigot goes out to the veggie beds,
and I wanted to be sure that it would tuck behind the barrels.

We are blessed with gutters on this house,
and it was a simple matter of cutting a piece off of the main spout,

and replacing the end piece so that it rests
right over the barrel.

This piece of sturdy plastic connects the two barrels
so that we can collect over 100 gallons of water in a snap.
We have ample room to add a few more barrels,
should we feel the need.

Screen was cut and added to the tops
to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
This is especially important in the warmer months,
when the buggers are so prevalent.

It feels so good to finally be able to scratch this project off the list.
The area under the window will house my workbench
and some of my materials for potting and sowing.
Hopefully, we'll get it moved over here this week.

By Wednesday, we are supposed to be getting wet.
Bring it on!
We are finally ready!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Garden Friday

On this Garden Friday,
we are happy to report that,
there's not much to report!
Hurricane Florence made her way across the state,
(she was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time she reached us),
and dumped rain and heaved some heavy winds.

We were blessed to receive little damage.
This dead tree fell over from the gusts
and is now making it difficult to reach the compost bin.
We should be able to get it taken down this weekend.

A couple of the tomato cages got blown over as well,
and I used a makeshift prop out of a 3-pronged branch.
I knew it would come in handy someday!
Overall, we feel very fortunate that our neighborhood
was mostly spared any real damage.
Of course, with the storm keeping us inside for a few days,
not much got accomplished in the garden.

The Sow True Seed order came last week,
so I was more than ready to get started sowing.
I am planting by the phases of the moon,
as per The Farmers' Almanac recommendations.
In the hugelkultur bed,
4 varieties of lettuce, 2 types of spinach and our sugar snap peas got planted.

One of the Master Gardeners with whom I  volunteer at the Community Garden,
grew this Freckles variety in her bed,
and I was so impressed with it, I knew I just had to make room for it.
It's a beautiful green leaf lettuce with red speckles.
Can't wait to add this to my daily salad bowl.
The other varieties which were sown are Buttercrunch, Green Oak Leaf, 
and Red Salad Bowl.
A square was left next to each lettuce planting,
to keep space available for succession seeding, 
approximately 4 weeks from this planting.
I'm really focused on having home-grown greens
to enjoy all winter long.

The trellis was moved to the center of the bed,
to make it easier to harvest the lettuces in front.
The bed is 4 feet deep,
so with the peas growing up the trellis,
they should be easily reached.
That leaves room in front for the lettuces,
which may also benefit from some shade provided by the peas.
On the other side of the trellis,
our carrots, beets, kale and spinach are struggling to get started.

Two pots each of Packman and DiCiccio broccoli
were added to the northeast side of the garden bed.
There were two more pots started earlier in the season
on the opposite side of the garden.
If I can get a hold of some more pots or 5-gallon buckets,
I will most likely plant more.
Broccoli is one food that even C will eat,
so I hope to be able to keep it comin' all winter long.

Aside from sowing seeds,
we're still harvesting okra, peppers and tomatoes,
and some of our flowers are doing quite well.
We have started nasturtium and alyssum 
for the downtown boxes on Main Street.
Looking forward to adding some of that color!

This lil' guy was hiding on the front porch near the birdhouses
that are awaiting installation.
You know, where there's one, there are more,
and this looks like a baby.
But, what a beauty.
C and I did some research and it is a harmless cornsnake,
handy to a gardener because they eat rodents and other critters.
If it were up to Big K, he woulda been a goner,
but C and I discovered him first.
He was let go in our wooded area,
and may he live a long and healthy life.

Hopefully, this weekend will be less eventful weather-wise,
and our seeds will germinate quickly.
It's hurry up and wait time.
Good thing God made me a patient woman.

Tomorrow marks the Autumn Equinox.