Monday, August 31, 2009

Rainy End to August

Last night to stormed me to sleep. Lovely to sleep to the thunder and rain pounding on my bedroom window. I slept like a baby.

However, its dreary and rainy today too. I didn't see August going out so icky as fall closes in on us. Summer has just gone by way to fast.

Yet my garden is still going full swing, and we've been getting our fall garden planted slowly. I'm still waiting on cabbage seed which is going to be kinda late but I've gotten some carrots out and lettuce. The potatoes are going strong, I'm glad I got those out at the beginning of the month. I was going to do spinach today, but I'll hold off on those until tomorrow. I harvest a ton of radish seed this summer, so I'll be planting those along side my spinach to keep the end of the season bugs away.

Today, I am going into the kitchen to can some muscadine grape jelly instead. With how many tomatoes I have I will probably make tomato sauce as well, if not salsa. So today will be a canning day then! Maybe the rain was the push I needed to finish what I needed to finish in the kitchen! (Photos to follow when I'm done.)
Here are the giant muscadine grapes I will be turning into jelly. (These are popular in NC as a wild grape, fantastic and sweet and a great choice for wine!

Which reminds me... I have a new listing in my online store! Naturally grown and dried herbs from my garden!

Don't forget, I always have biscotti cookies listed... order yourself a dozen cookies and some herbs and don't pay the additional shipping charge for the herbs. Its a limited time only so take advantage!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gardening Tip #1 - Saving Seeds

This is one of the most cost effective things a gardener can do! Save those heirloom seeds. Heirloom? Yes! Heirloom means a plant / veggie / fruit that has not been genetically modified or cross bred. These are the seeds that will breed true for you next year so you get a good quality plant and fruit for your efforts!

But what about cross pollination? Now this can be tricky to under stand, but simply cross pollinating varieties (ex; beef steak tomatoes planted next to brandywine) will not affect the fruit you enjoy but has a high likelihood of effecting the plant you try to grow from that fruit's seed. Chances are that seed will grow a mixed plant of the two next to each other, and may produce a unsavory fruit or more likely no fruit at all on the new plant.

Well what do you do to stop cross pollination to save those all important cost saving seeds?

Either move the plants far away from each other, maybe 100-200 ft or more to ensure a better chance of untainted seed, or simply 'self' pollinate the flowers to produce fruit you know is pure. Taking an eraser or paint brush to pollinate the flowers on your plant and the covering them with some cheese cloth to protect them from further pollination helps. Then when the fruit come onto the vine, simply remove the cheese cloth, perhaps keep it hanging on the vine, so you know which fruit you will get pure seed from when its ripe.

This bring me to ripening! That's right, that fruit has to be essentially WAY ripe to get good seed. These fruits shouldn't be picked until completely ready to ensure the best seed! So a green tomato will NOT have good viable seed. A green pepper won't either! So those green peppers you like at the store... 99% of those seeds won't grow... it wasn't ripened on the vine!

Now for a quick over view on 'bolting' varieties... lettuce, radish, cabbage...ect. "BOLT" means the plant goes to flower and seed. These are usually cool season plants. We grow them in spring and fall so the don't bolt but produce yummy greens we can enjoy slowly. So what do you do to make these plants produce seed? Plant a few right next to each other where you have extra room in the summer and allow the veggies to goto seed. Then let them slump over and start to brown and dry before collecting the seed pods.

How do I save the seeds now that I have collected them?

Easy, let them dry in a cool dry place or on a counter out of direct sunlight to cure for a couple of days. When the seeds are dry enough to slide across a kitchen plate without sticking, you can then store your seeds in bags, envelopes, or whatever until you need them in the spring.

Notice, some seeds have to be 'wintered' or tricked into thinking they have gone through the winter months outside before they will germinate. Do the research on your type of seed first, and if it needs to be wintered store it in the fridge from anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks before trying to start that seed for spring planting!

That's today's tips! I will try to add tips randomly, at least monthly.... so ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Man, I have been canning like there is no tomorrow... actually, I have been canning knowing that I'm bringing in a few pounds of tomatoes a day!

I just went through 9lbs.... with a couple more buckets I brought in this morning.

I have 2 gallons of Tomato Basil soup on the stove now. Going to have a bowl for lunch, and can the rest for some warm winter soup.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Contimplating the Siding...

I keep looking at before and after's.... even though the after is still not done. There is only 1 day worth of work left on the second floor of the WEST side of the house only. I bet our neighbors will be as thrilled we are done as we will be!



So what do you think?! Made the right changes and choices?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cotton Pear

Ok, this post isn't about fruit. Its about sewing! I took some time this evening to make myself a pin cushion. I wanted to get some practice in and take a break from the quilt I have been doing for a couple weeks now. I think it came out pretty good!

On the gardening side of things, I did manage to plant carrots and lettuce today. I am ordering cabbage seeds in the morning since I can't seem to find mine.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Those Jams and Syrups Looked Really Good Huh?!

Well, they are... we've eaten a lot more then I should have so far (my gym membership is going to get a full work out this week!!!).

Now you can purchase and enjoy these jams and syrups at home with your breakfast by purchasing them through my etsy store. Http://

Soon I will be offering breakfast teas and coffee when my garden starts to become fruitful. Expect teas and coffees to begin arriving in my store in 2010.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

So I promised Updated Pictures of the Garden...

...well here they are!

My fast growing deck plants (look at that vine that climbed and is now just laying out along the deck rail.)

My garden at the end of the drive finally filling out! The vine on the arbor died awhile ago. So my arbor is still naked.

Front walk garden bed.

Close up of front walk garden by stairs. You see the fairy statue I bought at an auction last week. It was several different peeling paint colors when we got it, and her arm had fallen off. Some glue, and new fresh black paint helped a lot!

Here's the old wrought iron patio set I got at the auction too. It was rusting and worn down to several shades of grey. I sanded and painted it back to new.

Look at my happy little veggie garden! THRIVING I tell ya! (There are 100's of green tomatoes hiding in there.)

Daughter's play house with her sunflower garden! They've gotten so huge they've flopped over.

This is a fun hanging pot I fell in love with!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Whats been done with the harvest?

Well what we haven't cooked immediately or eaten fresh we have to can don't we?!

There was some things that were blanched or cooked and frozen. So I've decided to make sauces with the tomatoes to can and now I've added Jams, Jellies and Syrups to the canning mix.

I've done more then just whats come from my garden. There have been good deals at the farm stands and gifts from neighbors I had an abundance of too!

So these Jams, syrups and jellies are now going to be available to purchase through my online store at


Monday, August 3, 2009

Just add water...

...actually, just take it away! Its been nothing but rain on and off for 2 weeks. I don't think a day has pasted where a shower hasn't spoiled one plan or another. Friday I was caught in 3 total rain showers... one was a storm so heavy looking out my window I could not visually make out any shapes in my yard beyond my deck. Even the winds that day whipped around and moved most of my deck furniture from where I would have preferred it to be!

So far today looks to be a good one. We'll see though...

Saturday I went to an estate auction and purchases a metal patio table and broken fairy statue. I managed to fix the statue, now I just want to go out and spray paint the furniture and statue with a fresh coat of black.

Keep your fingers crossed for a nice dry sunny day! If I can get all this done by lunch, I might actually get to walk through my, still soaking wet, garden!!!! :D