Friday, September 24, 2010

Blessed with Rogue Flowers

We have had the most gorgeous weather! This is the most beautiful fall that I have experienced since moving to Nevada. Warm day, cool nights – but not too cool – and calm breezes. And best of all NO snow! I have checked the forecast and it is supposed to continue this way for the next 10 days. Our lovely weather has yielded a couple of surprises that I discovered when walking along the edges of our property: Wild flowers. Not many, and they might not be that wild, but if not, surely they are a gift of the wild.
September2010 251 This plant looks like it belongs in the salvia family.

September2010 248 A purple daisy?

September2010 318 Every year poppies appear under our apple tree. They are late this year, but everything was late this year, so it seems appropriate!

I also have several wild roses that appeared this year, but they haven’t bloomed yet. I wonder if they will.
Have you been blessed with any rogue flowers in your garden this year?

This post is linked to Flaunt Your Flowers Friday at Tootsie Time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Vegetable Garden: A Labor of Love

Yesterday, I shared how being a lazy gardener is both frugal and green. However, there are some things that I find putting a little effort into pays great dividends, namely my vegetable garden.

September2010 240 I finally captured an eggplant flower! Since the eggplant is still flowering and because it does not like cold, I am adding it to my winter container garden.

When you transplant an eggplant, pepper, or tomato plant great care needs to be given to not disturb the roots anymore than is absolutely necessary. Plan to dig a very large root ball and if you are putting it in a container choose an oversized one.

Since I have had problems with squash bugs this summer, I will pull out all of the squash and cucumbers plants as soon as I harvest the last squash.  Then I will burn the plants in an effort to eradicate the bugs. I will use the ashes to amend the soil for next year’s garden.

It won’t be long before I am searching high and low for recipes using acorn squash: September2010 235

I have at least 12 of these gianormous squash, even though I did not intend to grow acorn squash. Since we had such a long winter, my garden got off to a late start. I started to panic and was afraid that none of my seeds would germinate, so I bought a 4 pack of seedlings labels crookneck squash. My zucchini and straightneck squash seeds germinated and produced fruit before the store bought seedling even produced a single flower. Once they finally started producing fruit, I was confused because they were the weirdest looking crookneck squash I had ever seen! Once they matured a bit more I realized what I had on my hands.  Being lazy didn’t quite work out as planned this time!

Each one of my potato plants is producing 3 –5 pounds of potatoes! I dig up all of the potatoes by hand so that they will not be damages by the tools: August2010 398So far I have only been digging up what I will use for dinner that night, but I will dig up all of the potatoes before the first hard frost. Potatoes can weather a light frost, but they should never be allowed to freeze. After I dig up the potatoes I cure them by letting them sit for about 2 weeks in a dark, cool, dry location. They will be stored in our garage this winter which remains very cool, but does not freeze.

Since we have such a short growing season, I start my tomatoes inside while there is still snow on the ground. Once it warms up a bit they are moved to a portable greenhouse and sometime in June they are moved to the raised bed garden. Despite this tender care, my tomatoes got off to a rough start this year and I wondered if I would ever have much of a harvest: September2010 237

My worrying was for not! That is one of four cherry tomato plants. I also have two Romas and two Early Girls that I use in canning, which is another area that I expend quite a bit of energy.

How do you prioritize the work you do in your garden? And, iIf you have any acorn squash recipes, please leave me a link!

To view other vegetable gardens, visit Grow.Eat.$ave at $5 Dinners.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lazy Gardening: Frugal and Green!

September2010 247 Some of you may not be ready to discuss the impending change of season.  However, it is just around the corner; I already have leaves that are beginning to change color. Autumn is the when, whether you realize it or not, you lay the foundation for next year’s garden. It sounds like a lot of work, but this is a time when being lazy really pays off!

When a fellow gardener visited my home she asked if I mulched my hollyhocks over the winter. I confessed that since they are next to the fence, leaves collect there naturally providing them with all the insulation they need. I am too lazy to remove leaves only to lay down mulch. Plus the leaves are free and when they break down they add nutrients to the soil.

I let leaves collect around the base of all of my plants, including hardy perennials like the Russian Sage, and leave them there until after the last frost: September2010 241
I collect the leaves that fall on concrete and use them to mulch my berries. I have experimented and found that my berries are happier when mulched with leaves instead of straw.

I don’t rake the leaves that fall on the grass, I mow them, but as when mowing grass, I don’t bag the clippings. Instead, I let the clippings add nutrients to the soil. The clippings also help retain water during drought conditions.

When writing about chrysanthemums, I shared that I do not cut dead branches back until new growth has appeared in the spring. I apply this to most of my other plants as well. Besides if I cut back my hollyhocks after they were done blooming, what would my morning glories climb? September2010 228

I also leave my Day Lilly Stems intact. I do not remove them until I can do so effortlessly. Then I use the dried stems as stakes when starting climbing plants in the spring.September2010 245Sometimes we work harder and spend more money than necessary to keep our yards looking nice. Do your yard and your wallet a favor and embrace your inner lazy gardener!  Tomorrow I will share some of the gardening tasks that I do expend energy on.

This post is linked to Flaunt Your Flowers/Fertilizer Friday and Frugal Friday because I am frugally fertilizing my flowers through sheer laziness! :-) fertilizer Friday

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Radish Recipe at $5 Dinners

September2010 193
On the second and fourth Tuesday of each month I will be posting a recipe and/or gardening tip at $5 dinners. Erin shares delicious, healthy dinners for less than $5.00 a meal. She is also a square foot gardener and hosts Grow.Eat.$ave on Saturdays.

Last night, I shared my recipe for Chicken and Radish Salad along with a few quick tips for growing radishes at $5 Dinners. I hope you will visit me there and share your favorite fall recipes or gardening tips!

I didn’t use the Watermelon and Black radish pictured above in my salad. I used the more conventional Easter Egg and Cheriette Radishes instead. And I used the leftover radish tops in Radish Leaf Soup.

How do you use radishes?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Controversial Chrysanthemum

September2010 172 Chrysanthemums can be a lovely and frugal addition to your garden, IF you don’t treat them like fall blooming annuals! Mums are actually pretty hardy perennials. I was chatting with a friend about being saddened to see my neighbors discard their mums after they have stopped blooming for the season. We wondered why people did that. Yesterday, I was thumbing through a gardening book that I picked up at the library sale for a dollar and it recommended buying new mums each year. Seriously? What kind of gardening advice is that? Telling people to go buy new flowers does not teach them anything about growing plants!

Mums are quite inexpensive to buy and I do take advantage of sales on them like the coupon for Buy 2 mums/ Get 1 Free from the Home Depot Gardening Club. But I do not buy mums with the intention of discarding them when they are done blooming. I buy more mums because we have one acre that we are trying to landscape and it takes a lot of plants to fill up an acre!

Mums are actually quite easy to grow. They grow best in sunny spots, with well drained soil. I mix compost into the soil, because that is how I justify keeping horses it does double duty, both nourishing the plant and helping to retain moisture near the roots. Although, Chrysanthemums do not like to sit in water, they do require a deep watering a couple of times a week.

September2010 173 Most of the mums you find in local garden centers have been bred to branch naturally, which makes them low maintenance. More branches = more blooms. so if you have a very leggy mum, you will want to move it to a sunny spot and prune it back to about 12 inches high. If you are going to prune or pinch back your mums, do so before July; you want to give the plant plenty of time to develop healthy buds.

Since mums do not bloom until late August or early September, I use them as a background plant in the spring and summer. I usually have a mix of spring and summer blooming bulbs and annuals in front of the mums. When they foliage of the summer blooming flowers dies back, I remove it and let the mums be the star of my fall garden.April 2010 315

If you want your mums to survive the winter (and if you are still reading, I assume you do) pinch the dead flowers, but do not cut back the branches until spring. I also add a couple of inches of mulch to protect the roots

Here is the really frugal part: Mums are easy to divide! In the spring (after the last frost and after you see new growth) dig up the entire plant. then using a clean knife or spade, cut pieces of new growth from the outer part of the plant making sure that you have roots as well. Plant immediately in a prepared bed. It is not necessary to divide mums each year; I only divide my mums every couple of years.

September2010 171
Do you treat your mums like annuals or do your appreciate them for the perennials that they are?

To view lovely gardens, cultivated by sweet gardeners who will not get up on their soap box about something so controversial as mums visit Bloomin’ Tuesday and  Garden Party Tuesday.

On Friday, the controversial topics will continue as I write about how being a lazy gardener is not only frugal, but better for your plants. :-)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Easy Cucumber Sandwiches

There are many great cucumber sandwich recipes for feeding a crowd. The problem is that since the recipes are intended to make a lot of sandwiches, we tend to only serve them when there is a crowd instead of enjoying them on a daily basis. Below is an easy recipe for one cucumber sandwich. You can easily double or triple it for a small tea party.


2 tablespoons cream of cheese
1 teaspoon creamy Italian dressing
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced onion
2 slices of bread
12 thin slices of cucumbers


In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, dressing, and onion. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bread slices:

September2010 118

Place cucumber slices on one slice of bread: September2010 121

Top with the other slice of bread. Cut into triangles, but DON’T cut off the crusts because that is just a waste of good bread! :D September2010 123 
And if there happens to be any cream cheese mixture leftover, feel free to scoop it up with some cucumber slices: September2010 131 
How do you enjoy your cukes?

For more cucumber recipes, visit Grow.Eat.$ave at $5 Dinners.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Late Summer Flowers

I wish that I had massive blooms all summer long, but since I live in the desert I have come to appreciate when something, anything is in bloom! Fortunately there is one time of year where I can sit back and enjoy the beauty! Late summer ( I refuse to call it fall) is when I have best displays of color on my property. Since the weather is more tolerable, I use this time to flaunt my flowers and throw garden parties.

The Butterfly Bushes have filled out: September2010 008

The Russian Sage is in full splendor: September2010 006
The Rose of Sharon is blooming: September2010 001

The mums are beginning to open: September2010 015Speaking of mums, if you are a member of the Home Depot Gardening Club, you should have received a coupon for Buy 2 mums/ Get One Free. I add several mums to my garden each year because they are such hardy perennials. I plant them towards the back of a flower bed and they create a lovely backdrop through out the spring and summer. In the late summer when I pull out the dying flowers, they get to become the stars!

Now, if only the gladiolas will bloom before the first freeze! September2010 016 Is your garden petering out or finally taking off?

To view gardens from around the world, visit Flaunt Your Flowers Friday at Tootsie Time.
fertilizer Friday

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Eating the Rainbow: Vegetable Garden Update

August2010 484

I tell everyone that I plant vegetables in unusual colors for my kids. I say that “kids like eating colorful food. It makes meal times more fun…” But I also tell people that I am reading the Percy Jackson books so I can discuss them with my children. And I tell people that I watch Pixar movies with my kids, because “it is  important to watch movies with your kids rather than use them a video as a babysitter”. Truth be told, I enjoy colorful vegetables, children’s literature and Pixar movies, as much as, if not more than, my children!

My son is proudly holding an Atomic Red, a Lunar White, and a Bambino Carrot. We pulled a few carrots for a salad. I hope the next time we pull one up we get a Cosmic Purple!

We have been enjoying Blue Potatoes, which are blue on the inside too: August2010 062Although our purple pepper seeds did not germinate, we have still enjoyed green, red, orange, and yellow peppers: August2010 092

Earlier this week, I shared my recipe for Vegetable Confetti, which calls for colorful peppers, at $5 Dinners.

The first couple straight neck yellow squash on the bush below, were unsurprisingly yellow. The last several squash have been green on the bottom 2 inches of the fruit: September2010 024 They still taste like yellow squash to me.

One of my green bean plants is producing purple green beans:  September2010 021 I don’t know why I have purple green beans. I only know that I did not plant any purple green beans. Of course, I did not plant morning glories in my potato patch, but some were growing in there.

And how about one normally colored vegetable? I have never been so glad to see pumpkins ripen! Last week, I went to 7 different stores trying to find pureed pumpkin and finally settled for pureed sweet potato. In response to last year’s pumpkin shortage, I planted Small Sugar Pumpkins which are great for baking. However, it will be a little while before this one is turned into a pie: September2010 018Last week I picked up a few ears of Sweet Red Corn at the Farmer’s Market and it was the best corn that I have ever tasted. I definitely want to add some to my garden next year and not just because it is red. Really!

Do you like eating unusually colored vegetables? Or do Blue Potatoes just seem wrong to you?

To view vegetable gardens from all over the country, visit Grow.Eat.$ave at $5 Dinners.