Sunday, August 22, 2010


Last night, while working on the garden we happened upon this sexy little jalapeno!

I'm so excited!

John and I used this little guy for dinner. We chopped it up and sauteed it with some onions & bell pepper as one of our toppings for baked potatoes! yum!

Monday, August 16, 2010


On Sunday, John and I headed out to the Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens with John's mother, Karen. John's parents volunteer at Mercer and have talked about it a number of times, so I was interested in seeing the place. It did not disappoint. :-)

John and me in front of the new tea house -
Welcome to the jungle -
Photo by Karen

This little area was one of my favorites.

Really cool fountain -
Photo by Karen
The Chapman brick -

Water Wall -
Photo by Karen
Here I am photographizing a snake. Nice action shot. I love that I had one foot in the air. Totally don't remember that!
Said snake - some species of Nerodia
Karen photographizing some Japanese yew
Said yew -
Japanese maple -
Some bamboo -
More bamboo -
Photo by Karen
Crinum lily -
Pink Banana -
Brown Anole -
We were sweating BUCKETS while walking around but I think a good time was had by all. I think it would be really fun to volunteer or work at a place like this...just so that I won't be tempted to turn my back yard into one giant botanical garden!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Recommendation

After I posted this book recommendation, one of our lovely readers bought a copy and had it sent to our house!! We have no idea who it was, but we LOVE it! Thanks so much!!!

I LOVE this book! A few weeks ago, I scoured the library for gardening books to skim through during my down time in my office. This is the one I look at the most: Growing Fruits & Vegetables Organically, edited by Jean M. A. Nick and Fern Marshall Bradley.
I look at this book so often that it's become a sort of permanent fixture in my office, which is something I need to change before the library declares it as lost. (I've never officially checked it out.) I've added it to our Happy Chappy wishlist on Amazon and am thinking about purchasing it as soon as I earn enough from the books I'm selling.

What I like most about this book is that it's really well-organized ("you only need to read what you want to know today") and I never have to hunt down what I'm looking for. Everything is really easy to find and really easy to read about. (Some of the soil science stuff is a little tedious for me, but I guess it is supposed to be.) I'm looking forward to trying out some of the simple do-it-yourself construction projects, including cloches, cold frames, hotbeds, and the "weather station" for recording temperature and rainfall.

This book is really a great reference. It's got tips on composting, planning and record keeping, crop rotation, interplanting, biocontrols, and troubleshooting pests and diseases. There's a neat little Botany 101 section for people who know absolutely nothing about plants and a practical encyclopedia for individual crops. Each encyclopedia entry contains a huge expansion of what you might find on seed packets (sowing, spacing, days to maturity, etc.) as well as historical information, problem prevention, propagation, how to select varieties for your area, and some interesting folk information. Did you know that oregano is planted to repel sadness?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vegetable Garden Update

Our corn did not fare well during our absence (San Diego trip) -
Our cucumbers, however, surprised us. We thought they had stopped producing but lo and behold, there were two giant cucumbers waiting for us when we got home.

You can imagine what happened next...
Instead of slicing the cucumbers, we cut them into wedges.
This is John's flow chart of our pickle preparation:
Last time, we didn't process the jar in boiling water. But then Karen (John's ma) told us that the boiling water step is to kill off any remaining microbes. Oops. So we made sure to let the jar sit in boiling water before and after there were pickles in it. After letting the jar cool, we stuck it in the refrigerator (unlike last time) and let it sit for 24 hours. When we opened it back up, we were thrilled with delicious deli-style pickle wedges. The jar lasted about four days.

After doing some reading, I learned that you're actually not supposed to let your cucumbers develop for so long if you plan to pickle them. They're not supposed to have developed seeds like ours did. They're supposed to be under-developed (but not yellow) for crispy pickles. While ours were delicious, they would have been much better if they hadn't been so floppy.
Next time...

Our pickles from our last attempt are still sitting in the pantry and should be ready in about a month. They don't look as appetizing.