Category: Gardens and Food

Anticipation…Impatience…How Does Your Garden Grow?

Slooooooowly! That week with highs in the mid and low 40’s really put a damper on a boatload of seeds, and the frost one morning caught a few of the tomato plants on the edges. The seeds have it under control, though, and finally this morning there was enough “action” to get some pictures. I will use this post to remind myself of the progress when I get impatient again!😄

This is the corn and squash patch-not much happening yet. If you look carefully, there are four squash seedlings sprouted, and two spikes of corn have popped up next to a couple of the stakes.

Definitely more going on in this section! The tomatillo transplants remind me of little soldiers, and the chives seem to love their new home! They are sharing a box with the garlic, which is nearly 100% up. The dill in the small square box is a fine fuzz of green. The tire has cantaloupe, nothing to report yet. However, the cabbage, rutabegas and turnips have asserted themselves, with nice fine lines of seedlings. There is a box of onions at the very end, they are looking good! The box right after the turnips and friends is half onions and half jalapeño pepper transplants.

This slightly closer view of the north side doesn’t show as much progress, but things are starting to emerge. Just off camera are the bell pepper transplants; they came through the frost unscathed, probably because of the protection of the mini greenhouse. The first square box has beets, which are nearly all up, but still too difficult to see. The next box is spinach and baby romaine lettuce. If you look carefully, you can see some of the spinach spikes. The far long box is all green beans, and they are just beginning to pop. I think they need some warmer days to encourage them! Along the side you can see the sunflowers we just transplanted; most of them are now standing up tall and straight.

Along each edge of boxes is a row of carrots. I was amazed that these came up in only a week, usually it takes them about three weeks to germinate! Another space you didn’t see is the tomato field on the other side of the corn. We set up cattle panels on diagonals and that is the home of 48 little tomato plants, which are hanging in there. Several were sampled by the deer before the fence was complete, and we lost 2 to the frost, with a little damage to a few others, but in the end, I only replanted four. We’ll give them all a dose of tomato miracle grow this week and then they should be pretty well established.

At long last, this is a potato leaf! These were planted back in April, and they always take FOREVER! 

I didn’t photograph them, but the grapevines are greening up nicely along the northeastern corner, and I have seen the proof that we will get a few plums this year in spite of finding a blooming pollinator well after the peak blossom time, and we have lots of baby cherries too. The apple tree bloomed, but but not sure yet if we will finally get apples.

The new acquisition was three peach trees that DH is going to train as espalier on the sheltered south side of the house which has a narrow alley with our neighbor’s garage. He thinks it will be protected enough to save them from the desiccating winter winds that can kill even the northern varieties. 

Last, but not least, the mini greenhouse has the herbs that spent the winter in the house, as well as some seedlings that are starting to sprout. The turmeric is very happy as is the cilantro and parsley. We hope the rosemary and basil will be happier outside. The oregano is looking a bit ragged, but we still have hope for it, and the thyme is barely up, so that is still a question mark. 

The only other question marks now are whether the strawberry roots will take in their barrels, and and if the pumpkins will  invade the neighbor’s once they finally sprout in the alley on the north side.

All in all things are shaping up! Hopefully in a week to 10 days the green will be plainly visible.

Transition Land–The Benefit of Hard Labor, Etc.

Yes I was a weepy girl a couple of weeks ago…the cure was some more time, and a lot of hard labor, and probably a big dose of sunshine☀️. I couldn’t tell you if one is more necessary than the other, they are too interrelated. Or, maybe its the satisfaction from nearly finishing a huge job. First, I must credit DH, because he did the heavy lifting…literally! We were both exhausted, and filthy,  but we managed to complete the most important tasks before the rain began again this past week, and in spite of horrible weather, my spirits are excellent. The fence is up and only the door is left!


In fact, I haven’t really thought about my old career these past two weeks! Conclusion: I have either turned the corner or have finally embraced a summer vacation. I don’t really care which at this moment, I am just pleased to be content. I know I am, because I’ve spent the past two rainy days in the sewing room, and I don’t usually sew more advanced stuff unless I am in a good place mentally. Quilting is therapy, but garment construction, for me, requires a different mood. I have also begun turning over new projects in my mind, which is another healthy sign, as is an interest in experimenting in the kitchen.

Yes, I have more BIG TASKS on my list, but as I have caught up over the past month, those big tasks are getting more manageable. Now we are down to things like washing the curtains and washing the outside windows. Oh yes, and cleaning out the linen closet.

Outside, there is huge pile of firewood to move, and then yard renovation. I have waged war on the dandelions in the front yard, and at the moment, I am winning! And the nasty pile you see in the first picture, well it has been re-purposed; the materials have all been put to use and this space is going to become the new woodpile/privacy hedge. That means that there will be some shaded lawn in the backyard again, which makes me very happy.


Still a ways to go, but we will be done by the weekend I think! In retrospect, I believe that all that manual labor was exactly what I needed, along with the satisfaction of seeing a big change in our backyard.

Fantastic Bake Along

Who doesn’t love fried chicken? Our recipe this month was a fried/baked chicken. Since there are only two of us at home these days, I opted to not bake, and did a total fry job. (Fewer pans to clean up!)

I adjusted the recipe for the two of us, and instead of putting the seasonings in the flour, I put them directly on the chicken. So garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika, followed by the double dip in Tracy’s recipe. I have always double dipped my chicken and I think  it really makes a difference!

Since I kept mine in the electric skillet, I did 10 minutes then flipped it; turned the heat down to 350 and covered it for 15-20 minutes; flipped it back, uncovered it and turned it back up to 375. When I have a full pan, I do 400-350-400, but it isn’t necessary with just 2-3 pieces in that skillet.

The recipe is a keeper, I like the addition of paprika and garlic. Next time I’m going to add thyme as well. That’s in my normal seasoning for chicken, but I was out so went “as written!”

Thanks Tracy for the great prompt. I am excited to see what others did with this great basic recipe!





Transition Land–Healing a Heart

Ugh! I thought I was doing pretty well with this transition thing. I was keeping busy, being productive, and was even starting to think about the future and my thoughts for it. Then we hit the weekend of my big 4-H event, and every time I turned around I was leaking tears. What? I thought I was over this. After some contemplation I realized that maybe my brain had refused to deal with the finality of things until this past week, or maybe my brain knew my heart just wasn’t yet ready to start dealing with it.

Gosh I hate it when I get all emotional…that is just not me, but I found myself in tears while walking the dog, at the Ladies Retreat last weekend, even on Monday when a volunteer called me for advice about his daughter’s competitive goals, and when I wrote my original co-workers to explain …GEEZ! The retreat, by the way was focused on the this passage and did speak to my heart! It was very encouraging.😊

The reality is that I’m enjoying being home, and I am not missing having to go to work. I hear things about my boss and can only shake my head and think what a relief to not have to deal with him. I am not bored, and now that we have good weather, I have plenty of things to work on outdoors, which I have never been able to, so I guess I am just impatient! How long does it take for one’s heart to catch up with one’s head? Or maybe it was the final blast of winter and all those cloudy wet days last week? 

This weekend was filled with hard labor (as in 3 tons worth!) and lots of sun, which seems to have chased whatever away. I have plenty of chores to keep me busy this week, with more compost needing to be moved and other smaller jobs so that DH can spend his time setting the fence posts.  Physical labor is therapeutic, or maybe exhaustion keeps one from having a pity party! So after a not great week, I’m back to my regular self for now.

So Heart, please take note, your owner has too much life to live to waste time moping! 

I’ll leave you with some before and after shots of the garden makeover, confident  that my heart will see a similar improvement in the not too distant future!

Spring at Last?

Spring at Last?

A benefit of living in the upper Midwest USA is that on the west side of the Missouri River we have fairly temperate summers, usually lower humidity and temperatures do not often reach 100 F (38 C). We make up for it with a wide variability in the fall and spring. The average last killing frost is May 4, and the early average killing frost is September 12.  Many years we experience spring time in March only to have a killing frost, or a 30 inch snow in the latter part of April. Likewise in the fall, we may have a killing frost in early September, followed by two months of gorgeous weather. Gardeners in South Dakota learn early to invest in tarps to cover their squash and tomatoes!

This spring has been more regular. The temperatures have very slowly risen, with a day or two of lovely spring like weather thrown in here and there, but nothing constant enough to cause us to do anything but clear out what we didn’t get to last fall, and to wait for a sunny day to apply some necessary weed control. DH and I are not proponents of herbicides, but we got a batch of manure that was full of noxious weed seeds; with thistles sporting three foot long roots in spite of me pulling them last year. They choke out grass and vegetables alike, so war must be declared! Therefore, we are applying a small amount of RoundUp, which is a contact only herbicide, followed by a layer of cardboard, and finally compost. I will use a paintbrush to deal with those that migrated into the iris patch, painting the individual plants I want to kill. 

Because the temperatures have prevented applying weed control AND planting, we have been working around the edges, so to speak. That has included taking down the fence on the old squash patch and the east border fence on our original garden. We will set some larger posts in the corners and then redo the fence. The old squash patch will become tomatoes, and instead of cages we will run some cattle panels in a few rows. They provide a grid for the plants to climb on, but are much easier to store during the winter. 

I am itching to get something planted, so time has moved slowly. We had snow last Tuesday, then cold and cloudy weather early this week, but only rain. We are now headed for a week or more of highs in the  60’s and 70’s , so I believe that spring has finally sprung!  

Today has been lovely, so Max and even the citrus spent the day outside! Our lemon trees have survived the widnter, along with three grapefruit seedlings. Yesterday we started a pineapple, and today two avocados. Unfortunately, we haven’t hit upon any orange seeds yet, but we have two limes sitting out, and a mango in the fridge, waiting patiently. The success of the citrus has spurred DH on to attempt all the above. 😊

This afternoon I discovered that our sunflowers have started sprouting, so we have, at long last, the beginning this year’s garden! Tomorrow they will go outside permanently and we’ll transplant them into their permanent home in a week or two.

 At last today the dirt people called, and our 4 tons 😱 of compost will arrive tomorrow, so the weekend will be spent doing a ton of work, literally! We visited the cardboard recycle bin this afternoon and picked up nearly a third of the cardboard we’ll need for this effort.

Bagels, a Yummy Adventure

I noticed the bagel recipe right underneath the one for pizza dough last week, and thought it would be worth a try. The boiling part seems a bit scary, but it was really quite straight forward! If you’ve never tried bagels, and you like them, give it a whirl!

The recipe from my bread machine cookbook…though I have made plenty of these by hand with good result. Using the dough cycle:

1 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast

Remove the dough from the machine and punch down. DSCN0710

Divide it into 4 parts, and then each part into 3 pieces for a total of 12.DSCN0711

On a lightly floured surface, shape each dough into a smooth ball.DSCN0712

Punch a hole in the center with a finger, and pull dough gently to make a 1-2 inch hole.

While bagels are rising for 15-20 minutes, bring 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a low boil.

Place a few bagels at a time in the boiling water, simmering for 3 minutes, turning once. These are the same bagels at 0, and at 3 minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Brush tops with 1 slightly beaten egg white (I used the whole egg); sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.DSCN0722

Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.


Remove from cookie sheet; and allow to cool.DSCN0725

Sure enough, they were soft and chewy goodness, especially with the cream cheese! I am already thinking about what I want to do with the next batch…cheese, cinnamon apple, raspberry, hmm…….



Transition land–Moving Forward

Do I have a new job–no!

Have I started looking–no!

Do I have a clue about the future–not so much!

So what am I doing? Well, not a lot actually, and that is OK right now! I have accomplished a few things…I am finished with the last work project, and my house is getting cleaner by the week, which to me is a NECESSARY task. I’ve opted not to do spring cleaning; instead I am tackling a not pleasant job each day in the assigned room. It’s working, and probably driving DH a little crazy, but he’ll get over it!😘

The first BIG TASK is in a good spot…after all, I can only ask DH to do so much sorting, but the library is looking 100% better, and I have moved on to some other significant sections in the basement. By the end of the summer it will be in Better Homes & Gardens order (joking!!, but it will be better organized).

So what’s the next BIG TASK? The backyard and gardens….they look neglected and here are the photos to prove it. So, why share this? Motivation!  Saturday I decide was the day to get out and start. DH will be in on this big time, but there are things that I can do that will move us forward and will be a nice surprise for him…besides Miss Necchi is still  in the shop and Max wants to be outside, so I might as well hang out with him! 

The Before pictures showing the nasty winter just ended, get out there situation:

The result of Saturday’s efforts:


Yes this would correspond with photos 1 and 4 above. Still lots to do, obviously, but I got a pretty big grin out of  DH when he returned home, and we continued together on Monday, and ended up here, which correspond with photos 3 & 4 above. The next nice day will have me out with Max working on my iris beds.😍

So, while I figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life, I’m busy organizing and improving my space without spending a nickel, although a few nickels may be involved at some future date!😊