Thursday, June 19, 2008

Weekend projects and garden update

The rain has been crazy here, but we've been blessed with no flooding in our area. We've had over 12 inches of rain in the last month, which is 248% over normal!

So needless to say I didn't get to spend too much time outside over the weekend. I did putter around on Sunday, pruning bushes, putting down more hay, weeding, and cursing out the flea beetles. I also dragged all the leaf litter from the fallen limbs we had down from a few weeks ago back to the compost pile. I added that, some paper shreddings, and some charcoal to the pile to really start it a-sizzlin'. It's already shrunk down by about a foot, but I think that's mostly due to the water.

I was outside for two hours on Sunday, but I worked up the sort of sweat that looked like I'd been out there all day long. It's Florida humid here - you walk outside and it feels like you just stepped out of the shower. Add grime, dirt, hay, grass clippings, and leaf litter and it's not a pretty picture! But while I was rummaging around in the humus I had the pleasure of finding two toads and a small garden snake. I thanked them for hanging out in my backyard and left a small pile of twigs and leaves for them to call their own.

Instead of playing outside, I played inside and completed various projects around the house. First I braided all the good-sized yellow onions for storage and they're now hanging over my dryer (conveniently placed hook is the only reason why they're there). I'll probably just snip them off from the top as I use them. I'd originally planned to snip off the bottom ones, but that might unravel the whole braid. I also had a bunch of spring onion sized baby onions that I threw into an empty bottle of pickled jalapeƱos. There was still plenty of spicy-hot brine and it's making them into fabulous fridge pickles. In a week or two they'll hit their prime and we'll have a lovely snack on our hands (great with cheddar cheese).

Onion Braid

I also made lavender infused vodka! I had some extra lavender that needed to be used and that seemed like the best solution that the interweb could throw at me. It's pretty, too! After a couple of weeks I'll check it for flavor. If the flowers still look okay I'll leave them in, but I imagine I'll eventually have to strain them out.

Lavender Infused Vodka

The weekend before last I pulled some wild yarrow out of the ground and had set that to drying. I finished that and crumbled it into tea. Yarrow is an amazing plant. I'm so happy that it grows wild in Oklahoma. It's a good spirit to have on our side.

The last adventure was making more of my super-vitamin-green-powder that I mentioned at the end of a previous blog. So far I've dried cabbage, broccoli, carrot, kohlrabi, and radish leaves for the powder and have about half a jar full. I dumped a big spoonful into the barley stuffing for stuffed peppers that I made last week. It added flecks of color, but no real flavor difference that I could tell. Hopefully there is a nutritional component to this or it's a lot of work for nothing! However, I do feel some margin of satisfaction that I'm getting to use these leaves for something other than compost.

Super Vitamin Green Powder

In garden news I've got several Hungarian wax and habanero peppers that are skating on the other side of being ripe. I also found some cherry tomatoes that are starting to turn an orangey red, too. I'm betting that in a couple of weeks I'll have all the makings of a great salsa! (I need to replant cilantro, though, and Frau, if it bolts be sure to save the coriander seeds. They're delicious in soups, stews, and Indian food and for flavoring beer! Plus you can regrow next year...Marvelous stuff!) My sunflowers have opened, the nasturtiums still look great (I'm trying to resist picking them all for salads since I love the little seed node that comes up behind it - great pickled!).

Let's see what else, still getting some broccoli side-shoots and I have six or so softball-sized heads of cabbage that will come up soon. The beets are kaput - never made, the leaves only got 5 inches long or so (I read that they're heavy feeders and the soil on that side of the garden was not well-amended. Maybe that's it.) The burgundy okra is coming up but still looks a bit spindly from being planted in the thick of the turnip leaves. It's starting to fill out, though, now that all the turnips are gone. The three winter squashes all have two or three sets of leaves and will probably explode any day now. The volunteer squash has taken over the back yard and has two or three viable looking butternut squash on it.

The zucchini and Suyo long Chinese cucumber keep making plenty of flowers but none of the fruit has yet been properly fertilized that I can tell. I know this is normal at first, but I thought there'd be something at this point! They were victims of the transplant fiasco, however, so maybe that has something to do with it. And the stem on the zucchini looks like it might have some squash borer damage except that the plant hasn't wilted and doesn't look bad at all. I love the mini-mysteries included in a daily dose of gardening. I find myself thinking, "huh," quite a bit. The two cucumbers left in quite a lot of shade (they get about 4 hours of sun/day) have started producing and we harvested a tasty cucumber last night. It had some squirrel damage - little bite marks - on it, but I just cut those away and it was fine! I'm supposing our harvests will be low from these shaded plants, but at least we got one! Maybe we'll get a few more - that would be a lovely surprise (and good to know cukes can grow in that little sun).

We also harvested the second big helping of beans. Tonight I'm planning to make a mushroom, lamb's quarters, and basil risotto with pistachios, a garden salad (literally!), and green beans. It'll be an almost 100-foot meal (except for the pistachios and rice!). Now that's satisfying.

Romano Pole Beans & Provider Bush Beans

Since the root crops are gone I'll probably spray the spring side of the garden with fish emulsion and pepper/garlic/soap spray this weekend. That side is slowly transitioning to a deep summer garden, hosting winter squashes, okra, and New Zealand spinach. I'd still like to try some cowpeas (black eyed peas) which people grew right through the summer sizzle in Florida and left them to dry on the vine. Maybe some collards, too, although it might be too late for that. We'll

Dragon Carrots flanked by De Cicco broccoli and bifurcated honor guard

Kohlrabi, turnips, and buttercrunch lettuce

A local bowl


Hausfrau said...

What pretty garden pictures you have! And so much going on in your garden! I love your line, "I find myself going 'huh' quite a bit". Me too. I am having the same experience with my zukes and cukes - just a few tiny ones at this point, despite the massive flowers. And trust me - my cilantro bolted long ago. Definitely counting on volunteers this fall, but haven't harvested the coriander yet.

jeneflower said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Gardening is such a miracle isn't it? I love going out every day to see the changes. I am always surprised. I love your pics. Looks yummy!

anajz said...

Lewru! You have been very busy and I am so very jealous that you have a harvest from your garden...and a bountiful one at that. The only thing I have harvested thus far is spinach.
The humidity has been horrid here as well. Reminds me of my days of growing up in Texas.
That green powder is interesting. One of today's To Do items is to dehydrate some extra onions that I purchased on sale a few weeks maybe I will throw in some bits and pieces of other items, as well. Thanks for the suggestion!

Tara said...

I'm so envious. My little garden was showing such promise in the spring, but the endless heat has taken its toll and I now have very little that's doing well. My garden is also now overrun with fire ants (I got a painful surprise). Not having much good luck down here this year.