Category Archives: Growing Pains (Gardening)

Sunday Was NOT My Day of Rest

I decided I had to begin my anti-zombie training today, despite the rec center being closed, so I took to the streets.  I forgot exactly how much more slowly I move when I have to propel my own mass across the ground.  It was slow going, but I did it!

zom1I wish I’d headed out earlier than 11:30ish – it was hella humid by the time I hit the road – but I did it and that’s what matters.  Tomorrow will be another elliptical day.  I wish the rec center had Body Pump; it really was the only time I habitually got any sort of strength training.  I know I need to start hitting the weight machines again, but my goal is to hit the gym for five days in the next week and then add weights the following week.  We’ll see.  Right now, I’m just trying to develop the habit of working out.

I’ve also been experimenting with smoothies.  I know I have to eat before I work out and since I’ve been working out in the morning, that limits my options.  So far, I’ve tried banana-peanut butter, strawberry-banana, and today’s try was strawberry-peach.

smoothie3So far, the peanut butter-banana is my favorite, but the other two fruit-yogurt smoothies were tasty, too.  The only change I would make is perhaps adding fewer strawberries; their flavor was a little overpowering in both of the fruity selections.  I’ve contemplated adding protein powder, but for now I’ll stick with fruit and yogurt.

When I got back from my “run,” I watched the shitshow of a race in Kentucky – *sigh* still got a top 10 finish, maintained points lead (silver lining) – then went to go do my usual round of minimal gardening.  Good thing I did…

squashLet there be squash!

My little beauties are all about nine inches long, with the two on the left weighing in at over a pound and the one on the right coming in at about nine ounces.

So, anyone have any squash recipes?

 

 

 

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Crankypants

HRG wanted to come check out the garden with me when I went to water and weed today.  NOT a good idea.  I wasn’t planning on a full-scale assault; just wanted to water it if it was too dry and do some token weeding.  I knew I’d have to settle in and do some hardcore kneeling and plucking at some point this week, but I also knew it wasn’t going to be today.

From the second we pulled into the parking lot, HRG was critical of my little plot of soil.  I didn’t plant enough.  I didn’t weed enough.  Why did I plant this and not that?  Why didn’t I plant more of that and less of this?  So-and-so’s plot a couple of plots over looks so much better.  At first I acted like a grown-up and everything.  I showed her where my summer squash were blossoming and how there we wee yellow squash growing.  I showed her how my second pea planting was coming along and how the first one was starting to show pods.  I showed her all the baby grape tomatoes that were coming along and how the peppers were starting to sprout.  Her only comment?  “How come you have so many more weeds than the plot next to yours?”

That’s when I left her in the garden and went to sit by the car.

She wants to come back with me tomorrow; I’m not sure I can take it.  Maybe if I have a fully-charged iPod…

Garden Pest

That would be me.

After spending eight hours pulling weeds and cultivating and re-planting over the last couple of days, the Garden of Weedin’ has been at the forefront of my mind lately.  I promise to invent other things to blog about in the coming days.

done-ishThere are still a few weeds and a lot of grass scattered, but I just couldn’t spend another five hours crawling in the dirt today.  The fact that I walked away from the television during a NASCAR race – WHILE JIMMIE WAS LEADING – in order to go garden is mind-boggling enough as it is.

There has been baking.  I finally got around to fixing another loaf of Strawberry-Cream Cheese bread and whipped up a batch of chocolate chip & pecan cookies.

creamAs much as I DESPERATELY want a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, something about mixing up chocolate chip cookie dough makes me nostalgic.  Creaming butter and sugar to me means a big metal bowl, a sturdy wooden spoon and elbow grease.  My father and I always voted thumbs down on adding walnuts to our chocolate chip cookies, calling ourselves purists.  Of course, once we wolfed down our 75% of the plain cookies, we would delve into her stash of nutty ones.  This batch of cookies ended up being a combination of milk and semisweet chocolate chips, as well as adding chopped pecans.  Hooray for using what’s on hand!  This cookie base – taken from Julie’s Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe – may become my go-to.  I love the texture with the cake flour and cornstarch, plus they stay soft forever!

In The Weeds

After yesterday’s rather embarrassing phone call, I knew I had to get serious about weeding.  Four and a half hours later, I feel like I barely made a dent.  I don’t understand how some of my neighbors have NO sign of weeds in their gardens.  Did they sprinkle some magical elixir that keeps the weeds at bay?  Am I just special?

Part of the reason today took so long is that I did most of it – nay, ALL of it – by hand.  Didn’t drag the snazzy new cultivator out of the trunk at all.  Initially I wasn’t sure whether the soil had dried out enough to use it, but then I decided I would try to weed through some of the seedlings to see if they were salvageable.  That required a lot of hunching over and kneeling and squinting and…let’s just say I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow.  Maybe I should just take the ibuprofen now…

Before going to the garden, however, I went to Up and Running Dayton to get fitted for new running shoes.  It’s doubtful that I’ll ever move at a pace faster than a brisk wog (walk + jog or “bouncing walk” to those not used to my made up words), but need a new pair of shoes dedicated to exercise now that my old sneaks have become my gardening/hashing shoes.  Not surprisingly, Sauconys are the winners for the third time in a row.  Now I just have to convince HRG to shell out $100+ for shoes.

I did carve out time to take my Fat Mum Slim photo today.  Today’s prompt – an animal:

0608The rest of my photos from this year-long project can be found at my photo blog, if you wanna check ’em out.

 

Take Two

post-till

That tall thing just above the tiller?  Giant, man-eating weed.

It may not look like much – especially since I didn’t take a “before” photo – but this is SOOO much better.  Most of the weeds have been chewed up, but some of the more fierce ones are still rooted.  I’ll get in there and pull them by hand after the next rain.  Right now my goal is just to get to the point where I can replant everything.   Tomatoes, peppers, peas, green beans, green squash and leaf lettuce are all planted.  I may plant more peas, green beans and lettuce, in addition to beets, Swiss chard and cucumbers.

HRG tillHRG plays with her new toy

Although the cultivator only lasts about 45 minutes on a charge, I still prefer it to dealing with mixing gas and oil for a traditional tiller/cultivator. I also believe that it’s better for the environment and we won’t have to spend $4.00/gal on gasoline to fuel the sucker.   I got about half the garden tilled today and hopefully will be able to finish it up tomorrow.  I think I’ll let HRG relax at home; I think today took a lot out of her – though I may let her sit and dictate my next move.

 

Keeping the Weeds at Bay


plot final

This was the plan before I actually started put seeds and seedlings to dirt and actually started my garden, about three weeks ago.  Things ended up getting moved around and added, but for the most part, I stuck with the master plan.  The problem is, once I planted everything, I made the critical error of not labeling exactly where my rows were.  I figured it would be a piece of cake to tell what was where once the seeds sprouted.

Unfortunately, the weeds beat me to the punch.  What’s worse – I’m so new to this gardening business, I can’t even readily identify the difference between, say, cucumber sprouts and weeds.  HRG is so disgusted that she bought a tiller and wants to just plow everything under and start from scratch.  At this point, I may just do it.  The tomatoes, peppers, peas, leaf lettuce and green squash may survive the cut, but everything else is going down.

planted tomatoesTomato plants in the dust bowl

miniplantsTomatoes & peppers in the ground

I haven’t taken any photos of its current state of overgrownedness.  At this point, I’m just trying to weed close to the plants and seedlings that are starting to sprout.   When the tiller arrives, I’ll use that to chew up the rest of the weeds that have taken over and replant – hopefully it won’t be too late to get things started.

 

The Kitchen Sink

I meant to do this follow up post on the Sticky Lemon Rolls a couple of days ago, but – as usual – time got away from me.

lemonrollsThey were delicious!  I found them to be a smidge on the tart side but they earned three “very good” comments from HRG, so they have her stamp of approval.  If I make them again, I think I’d sweeten up the icing a little – then they’d be perfect!

daily dish breadIt makes my grandmother nuts that I never (or rarely) use the same bread recipe twice.  Emma’s Everyday Bread has gotten some repeat action but that’s one of the rare ones.  Today’s recipe came from the Daily Dish Recipes blog.  Their Favorite Homemade Sandwich bread recipe has a chewy crust with a soft, squishy center.  I’m not sure how it toasts (HRG’s favorite way of eating bread) but I had a turkey sandwich for dinner and it was delish.  This recipe yielded enough dough for two loaves; the second half is in the fridge so there will be more homemade bread later this week, in case someone drops additional not-so-subtle hints.

I swung by this afternoon to rope off my plot and remove some of the larger rocks, and – to my novice eye – it still just doesn’t look plant-able.  I made a couple of phone calls about tiller rental this afternoon (because no one seems to know where my grandfather’s tiller has gotten to), and we are pretty sure the ground needs to be broken up some more.  Hopefully we can reach a decision about it before the end of the week.  We have until the 20th to get seeds in the ground or risk losing our plots.

At least we’re getting rain.

storm2

The Asiatic lilies appreciate it:irises

The Ol’ College Try

I’m thinking my attempts at growing my garden from seeds was HORRIBLY misguided.  The peppers, the last holdouts that seemed to be going strong, are now on their last legs.  Of course, I had to help them along their way to that great garden in the sky.

repotIt looked like there was some kind of white scum or mold or something weird starting to form in some of the cells with the dead plants in them, so I wanted to separate out some of the seedlings so that hopefully it wouldn’t spread.   Of course, the seedlings are so small and spindly that I don’t think the roots will survive the transplant.  I’ll water them and keep an eye on them and see what happens.

Of course, while the healthy foods fail, the not-so-healthy ones are going gangbusters!

0503These sticky lemon rolls are in the fridge, waiting to be baked tomorrow morning for breakfast.  Flavored by butter (of course!), lemon, sugar, and a little nutmeg and ginger, they seem like they should be fabulous.  I’ll whip up the lemon glaze in the morning and hopefully have them out of the oven before HRG* has to leave for her morning meeting.  Unfortunately, this will only happen if I can manage to turn off “Young Frankenstein” and go to bed.

* Her Royal Grandma

 

 

Farm Day

May 1 marks the first day of planting season in the land of my community garden, so I swung by to see if where things stood.

dustbowlThe phrase “dust bowl” comes to mind.  They claim that the large plots were tilled, though I’m not sure that explains why I still have this straw strewn across my small section.  Most people have started to mark off their plots; I’ll head back over tomorrow and do the same with my little corner of the world.  It’s hard to say which is larger – the rocks scattered throughout or the hard, dry clumps of dirt.  HRG claims that there’s a tiller somewhere here on the homestead; we’ll have to go digging through the garage this weekend and see if we can turn it up.

After checking out the sorry state of my plot, I decided to check out the rest of the farm at Possum Creek.  This little fella was the first to greet me:

kidb

Mostly, I think he was begging for food.

feed me

yellingI know he was.

I felt bad, but there’s a big sign that says I can’t feed the little guy so he’ll just have to make do.  The final photo shows him yelling at me, which he continued to do until I finally walked out of sight.

sleepy sheepyIt was a little warm this afternoon – the high temperature was somewhere in the mid-80s – so these sheep were trying to keep cool in the shady grass.  They were a little wary of my presence, but not enough to leave their comfy spots.

warrenI’m not entirely certain what this structure was supposed to be.  It’s located near where the map indicated the rabbit house should be, but those fences don’t look like they’d do much to keep rabbits inside.

polloI believe this is one of the two chicken houses.  The majority of the chickens and turkeys were scratching in the yard behind the other house, but there were a couple of rowdy roosters caged in this one.

bales

Earth Day

0427

Officially, Earth Day 2013 was last Monday (also my dad’s birthday), but “Earth” also happened to be today’s Fat Mum Slim photo prompt.  Coincidentally, it was also the Spring Gardeners’ Meeting at the park where we have our community garden plot.  It’s still in REALLY rough shape, especially since we’re supposed to be able to plant as soon as next Wednesday.  The coordinator says she’s going to try to get them to till the plots again before 01 May but she’s not sure she’ll be able to get it done.  As little as I know about sowing and reaping, I know even less about plowing and tilling.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the peppers are the only items to have survived either my inattention or smothering – it’s a toss-up.  Today I tried Round 2 with my tomato seeds:

greenhouse

Insert, the Tomato Greenhouse (exit, sucker for marketing).  Each of these little peat pods has been planted with 2-3 tomato seeds; hopefully they’ll start to do their thing.  Theoretically, when the time is right, I can just plant the entire pod.  I also started pots of basil, thyme and parsley seeds because…why not?

At the meeting this morning, the coordinator mentioned that there were a couple of extra plots available so I went ahead and signed up for a second one.   Remember when this was just going to be a couple of containers on the patio?  Me neither.  *sigh* I don’t know how this got so out of control.  That’s not true; I know exactly what happened.  My grandmother happened.

seeds

Every time I turn around, she’s casually mentioning how she would like to add some or another vegetable to the garden.  It went completely off the rails this morning when she discovered the seed table where last year’s seeds were available for the taking.  Fortunately, my cousin and co-gardener had begun to realize that her planned plantings exceeded her half of the plot, and she was completely okay with splitting off on her own.  

Now I have to figure out what I’m doing with 18′ x 36′ all to myself.

plotX

Back to the drawing board.