Friday, September 2, 2016

Name that shed! Here is my new pink playhouse where I do my jewelry & pottery. I need a catchy name for a sign, so help me out.

It originally was going to be a rustic shed with barn wood, but we got a little carried away with it. It even has a loft!   There is also a covered porch on the back. We still need to finish the porch decking, but that's all.  

Later this Fall we'll work on landscaping.  It's just too hot right now.

My hubby designed & constructed it. I'm truly blessed. 






Monday, May 23, 2016

This was my new booth display.  I was fairly pleased with it, but I think it looks too closed in with the table facing forward AND the screen.  I'll have to tweak it a bit more.  If I have a corner booth next time, I can always put the table at an angle to open it up.








Thursday, May 19, 2016

Country Creek Relics barn sale.  I'm ready to head out the door to set up for a new show in Chickamauga, GA.  It sounds like a FUN show!  If you are in the area, come on out & see some fantastic vendors. 

Friday & Saturday, May 20-21, 2016.  10 til 6 both days
994 Dougherty Gap Rd, Chickamauga, GA




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bishop Bean Trellis update

An update on the Bishop Bean Trellis.  It WOULD HAVE worked if we had done our layout a little differently.   We should have planted the beans end to end instead of side by side.  The first box shaded the second one too much & harvest was poor on the second one.  Another thing that lessened my bean harvest is that my McCaslan beans were mislabeled and turned out to be white half runners, which are MUCH smaller & stringy.  I'll order my seed next year instead of going to my local co-op.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Part III, June 2014 garden

I'm almost finished with show & tell, so bear with me.

Just a little more on the vegetable garden.  We are trying a new trellis system that was featured in Heirloom Magazine from Baker Creek Rare Seeds.  It is the Bishop Bean Trellis (Elvin Bishop) and is an inverted trellis.   We are using it in 2 1x6 boxes that are side by side, but next year we will use 2 boxes end to end.  Even with 3' spacing between boxes, it is going to be crowded when harvest time comes around since the trellises are wide at the top.    Can you see the tarp covered mound at the far end?  That's my coveted mushroom compost pile.

These are McCaslan pole beans, a flat Italian type bean.




















Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 2014, Part II

Wow, 2 posts in 2 days!

I love Fedco Seeds.  I've also ordered quite often from Baker Creek, but Fedco has better prices, a much larger selection & FREE SHIPPING.

I ordered 2 sweet pea varieties & a new larkspur, Carmine.  It was their last year to carry Carmine, and I'm really glad I ordered  them.  They are double flowered, a rich pink & so pretty.  I planted them with a mixture of blue, purple, lavender & pink larkspur that I already had.





Here are the sweet peas.  The first one is America.  Fedco's description is very accurate, except I would call the color bright pink:  "An antique striated variety, arresting both to eyes and nostrils. Each blossom contains subtle variations of bright reds with creamy white streakings. Heavily perfumed. Looks lovely next to Cupani. First offered in 1896 by Morse-Vaughan. Vines grow to 3'."



Per Fedco:  "Oldest and among the most fragrant of all sweet peas. Celebrated its 300th birthday in 1998 amidst a surge of renewed interest. Named for the Sicilian monk who found these bicolors growing wild, Cupani combines deep maroon-purple upper petals with deep violet-blue lower petals. Grow Cupani for enticing intoxicating aroma. 5' vines."  Mine were planted against a fence with poppies.  The poppies grew about 6' tall & the sweet peas didn't get enough sun to do well, but the blooms are still very pretty & fragrance is outstanding & are a "keeper".   





If you are interested in non-GMO, open pollinated, heritage varieties you need to check Fedco.  Their catalog is printed in black & white, but you can always Google if you aren't familiar with something.  Their catalog is really interesting and they give lots of plant history and vintage line drawings.

I don't get any compensation or discount from Fedco, I just really like them a lot.


June 2014 Garden - Part I - mostly tomatoes

OK people, it's time for my semiannual blog post!

We (well, it was mostly my hubby, but I am a very good supervisor) completely redid the garden this spring.  We built more boxes, moved the pre-existing ones and mixed, mixed & mixed Mel's mix.  A friend from church brought me a large dump truck full of mushroom compost for $350, which should last for as long as I am able to garden (I turned the ripe old age of 65 this year & am proud of it.)

The initial investment is a bit costly, but after the boxes are built & filled, you only need to replenish the compost after each harvest.  When something is through producing, just pull it out, add a scoop of compost & plant something else.  Remember, with Square Foot Gardening you don't use garden soil - a mix of 1/3 each compost, vermiculite and peat moss.  The mix doesn't pack down, you can plant in it right after a rain and NO WEEDS.


My previous beds were 4x8, which were too big.  I could never quite reach the center of them.  I also use a lot of trellises for cukes, delicata squash & Tromboncino squash at the end of most beds, so we changed the sizes to 3x6 and 1x6.   So far I am really liking the new design.  I'm especially pleased with the tomatoes in the 1' wide boxes.  Plenty of air circulation.

You can click any picture for a larger view.








I have eight 1x6 boxes, each of which has 6 tomato plants.  And no, I don't know why I thought I had to have that many tomatoes.  Actually I do have a good idea as to why - I start my own seed & in the dead of winter I get a little carried away sowing seeds.
 




 It is very important to sucker the plants or you will have a major jungle on your hands.

Each tomato is supported with a length of heavy nylon fishing line that is looped over the top of the PVC pipe, extends to the ground with a couple of extra inches.  As the plant grows, I just loosely wrap the nylon around the plant.  Every few days I wrap loosely til the plants are at the top of the pipe.  Nylon carpet yarn is actually better, but I couldn't find any this year.

As large as these plants are, the one strand of nylon is all that is needed & doesn't cut into or through the plant.





 PVC frames are removable - just slip them out of the pipe clamps.  This will help with crop rotation.  My husband is really brilliant figuring out stuff like this.  I give him a general idea of what I want & he makes it.




Huge German Pink tomatoes





Rumi Banjan tomato

Rumi Banjan is a new variety I got from Winter Sown; they have been the earliest ones.  It is a medium sized, somewhat ribbed tomato that was brought to the U.S. in 1937 from Afghanistan and is thin skinned & very juicy.    Rumi Banjan is bright yellow with a pinkish blush on the bottom.   The taste was pretty good, especially for the first tomato of the season, but a little too tart for me.  (That doesn't mean I had any trouble eating them!) .
 


    
And now the ugly:  My grandmother always said the Japanese beetles arrive after the first rain in June and unfortunately this has been my observation too.  I hate that they are so reliable.  

Stay tuned - I actually have plans for another show & tell post.




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SPRING is on the way!

The past few days have been fantastic - temps in the high 60's and low to mid-70's.  We are due a cold spell (one of several, I'm sure) with temps going down to the mid-20's for a couple of days.  The only bad thing about the warm weather is that the mosquitoes are out in force. 

What's going on:
  • We have been moving boxes and building new ones the past few days. 
  • Planted 18 squares of cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower.  
  • Two 72 cell trays of tomato seedlings are up.  Varieties include Dad's Sunset, Dixie Sweet (heirloom from my family), Donskoi, Isis Candy, White currant, Amish paste, German Pink, Opalka, Rumi Banjan, Stump of the world, Maiden's gold, TN surprise, Tomcat cluster, Tidwell German pink and Early Cascade.  
  • Prisma shallots, King Sieg and Lincoln leeks have sprouted very well.
  • Rhubarb seedlings potted up.
  • Foxglove seedlings potted up.
  • Worked on bean trellises - one of 4 finished. 
  • Cut down 1 of my old 12' x 4' boxes to make two 12' x 2' boxes for blueberries and blackberries, will transplant as soon as we get them filled with Mel's Mix.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My newest book addition: The Complete Guide to Greenhouses & Garden Projects: Greenhouses, Cold Frames, Compost Bins, Trellises, Planting Beds, Potting Benches & More

I recently ordered this GREAT book from Amazon:   The Complete Guide to Greenhouses and Garden Projects: Greenhouses, Cold Frames, Compost Bins, Trellises, Planting Beds, Potting Benches and More by Black and Decker.  It is well worth the money spent. This is a quality paperback book measuring 8 1/2 x 11 inches and loaded with color photos.

Like all Black and Decker's DIY series books, it covers everything you need to know, including:
  • Choosing a greenhouse
  • Choosing a site
  • Greenhouse styles
  • Greenhouse Elements
  • Complete plans for several different greenhouses
  • Garden projects including seed starter rack, cold frame box, raised planting beds with and without cover, potting benches, hoop houses and MUCH more.
Check it out at Amazon.com for preview pages of this great book.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2014: The year of my dream shed

For years I have wanted a rustic shed with a greenhouse and it looks like this is the year for it and I am really excited.  Today we measured and squared up the layout, ready to dig the footing.  

This first photo is the area where we are working.  We had lots of large trees in the woods with dead limbs and trees that only had limbs on one side due to lack of sunlight, so the best way to start was to clear out this section to the end of the driveway, leaving the largest, nicest trees in place.  This  photo doesn't look so bad, but in actuality it was pretty awful.  There were lots of scrubby growth, some sort of wild huckleberry bushes (not edible fruit) and just trashy looking.

We had power lines coming through this part, so before cutting down the trees we had the power lines put underground.  That is a story in itself, but briefly while we were in the midst of having the lines moved, we had a huge storm that downed one of our largest trees at the very end of the drive.  It fell right across the power lines and pulled everything off of our house.  Since all we had to do was have the new breaker box inspected before the actual change-over, we decided not to replace & repair all the damage and have the power turned back on.  

We figured this would only take a day or two since we had already called for our inspection.  Ha!  It was 5 days before the power was turned back on and temps were in the high 90's.  Since we kept thinking we would only be a day or two without power, we went to my Mom's.  I dearly love my mother, but she is 85 and is really cold natured and she wouldn't turn the thermostat down past 78 degrees.  I'm overweight and don't handle heat very well and was MISERABLE, especially at night when trying to sleep in a hot room.  




This second photo was taken after the trees were cut.  We still have a lot of clean-up to do, but it's coming along nicely.  I have a nice, level area (about 60' x 200') for new SFG boxes, but I won't be using all the area for SFG. 




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A glorious day!

Thank you, God, for this beautiful day.  A week ago we were waiting for the snow, today the temperature was around 60. 

Here in the Chattanooga area (about 2 hours north of Atlanta) we don't get much snow.  We usually have one, maybe 2, snows a year, but never much accumulation.  A couple of weeks ago we had less than 2 inches, which was mostly ice, which pretty much paralyzed all of the Southeast.  Then last week we got 10 inches of snow, which is VERY unusual for us.  As you can see, it was beautiful.  The best thing about it was that it melted off the roads quickly due to the above freezing temperatures.


Today was really nice and I couldn't stay out of the dirt.  Since I practice Square Foot Gardening and use Mel's Mix, my boxes thaw quickly and digging in wet "soil" doesn't pack it down.  In one of the 3' x 12' boxes we (I use the term "we" loosely, since my husband did most of the heavy work) added mushroom compost and worked it in well, then moved part of an asparagus bed into it. The roots were huge and I expect quite a nice harvest this year.  This was my newest bed, which is about 3 years old now.   I now have a total of 100 asparagus roots, so maybe we will get our fill of asparagus this year.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Gluten-free baking mix, pie crust and pasta recipes

I realize a lot of people see the gluten-free bandwagon as a fad, but for those of us who have truly been diagnosed with a gluten allergy (celiac disease), there is nothing faddish about  it.  When you HAVE to eat gluten-free, it is a tremendous challenge to find products that are safe.  Reading labels gets old quickly and previously "gluten-free" products were essentially impossible to find (in my area anyway), unless you could find them at a health food store.  Even in purchasing gluten free products, you have to "know your stuff" & still read labels.  Gluten is in other products other than wheat. 

Recently my daughter bought her dad some "gluten-free" muffins, but the label lists barley, which is a no-no. 

OK, enough with the rant.

The purpose of this  post is to share the basic gluten-free flour recipe that I have been using for a long time.  I can't give credit for the source because I don't have it.  

You can use it for many things, but baking cakes and biscuits still isn't on the list.  If I ever find a recipe for an edible biscuit, I'll share it.  I use it for breading meats for frying, thickening sauces, thickening for cream soups, mixing with corn meal to make a corn meal mix that isn't too grainy in texture as with pure corn meal, PASTA and PIE CRUST!!!  Below are the recipes for both.

First, the basic flour recipe.  I buy my flours in bulk at Muddy Pond, a Mennonite community in Monterey, which is just outside of Crossville, TN.

BASIC GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR MIX (Original source unknown)

2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 cups tapioca flour
2 cups rice flour
4 teaspoons Xanthan gum
1 teaspoon Lecithin
1 cup corn starch

Place the 2 cups of oat flour in food processor or blender and add Xanthan gum and Lecithin
powders.  The Lecithin especially is bad to clump together. Mix well.  Add to remaining flours and mix thoroughly.  Store covered in a cool, dry place.

For SELF RISING FLOUR:  4 cups of flour mix, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt.



PASTA: 
2 cups flour mix
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (yes, additional to the xanthan in the flour mix)
3-4  eggs

Place eggs and xanthan gum in bowl of food processor, pulse to  mix thoroughly.  Continue to process while adding flour.   Dough will pull away from the bowl.

Either roll out thinly with a rolling pin and cut, or use your pasta machine.

I use mine fresh without drying, but that is personal preference.  I freeze the leftover pasta (cut but uncooked).


PIE CRUST:   I've been married & cooking for 46 years & had never mastered the art of pie crusts until I found this recipe from Simply Gluten-Free. This recipe makes the perfect pie crust - very flaky, light and easy to handle.  Did I mention easy to handle?  I had followed every trick I had heard of - rolling between 2 pieces of waxed paper, placing over your rolling pin, etc., but still ended up with a mess.  This one turns out real purty.

Perfect Gluten-free Pie Crust from Simply Gluten-Free.   Check out the link - good tips for the perfect pie crust & lots of recipes.

Gluten Free Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter or solid, all vegetable non-dairy shortening
2 to 4 tablespoons cold water
*1¼ cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Cut butter into ½ inch pieces and place it the freezer for 15 – 30 minutes.
Add some ice cubes to the water and let it get ice cold while preparing the dry ingredients.
Combine the flour blend, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 -6 times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 6 -8 times or until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea size pieces of butter.
With processor running, add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture just barely starts to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough together and it holds then you have enough water, if not add more a little at a time. You do not want to add any more water than is absolutely necessary.
Remove the dough from the machine and form into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or for as long as 2 -3 days.  Since the dough is so crumbly and does not hold together at this point, I find it easier (and far less messy) to pour the mixture into a large food storage bag and form it into a disk using the bag to help. Then just close up the bag and put it in the fridge. Remove dough from fridge 5 minutes before rolling.




Saturday, June 8, 2013

Leek harvest April 2013

My youngest granddaughter and I harvested leeks on April 8th.  She is very fashion-conscious and her shoes have to match her outfit.  Since her outfit was pink and purple, don't you think she chose the appropriate shoes?  She is 4 and so much fun. 






I started King Sieg leeks from seed and transplanted to my square foot garden in a small trench (the seedlings were small).  After they had grown a good bit I used my hands to mound the dirt up around the leeks & left them over the winter.  I was quite pleased with the results.



Here she is with her new bunny going for a stroll.  That is the tamest rabbit I've ever seen. It loves to cuddle & doesn't bite.  It will get right up under her chin & sleep.




This may be my favorite picture of the year.  In case you can't tell, she is a tomboy to the core.  She chases the chickens (& usually catches them), loves to help in the garden and is NOT AFRAID OF A LITTLE DIRT!    Again, that rabbit is amazing.  It is usually dressed in baby clothes.










Monday, February 4, 2013

New book ordered

I just ordered a new book, VERTICAL VEGETABLES AND FRUITS by Rhonda Massingham Hart from Amazon.  (You can get a direct link in my side bar to the left, it's the top one.)  Amazon shows some preview pages and it looks quite interesting.  I'll keep you posted on what I think about it after I receive it.  


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Free garden planner from Gardener's Supply (Gardens.com)

This is an edited post.  Earlier I reported Territorial Seeds has a garden planner with a 30 day free trial, but this one is at GARDENERS.COM just plain ol' free!!

This is a great planner, simple to use and perfect for square foot garden planning.  (Did I mention it was free?)

GARDEN PLANNER     It is simple to use and perfect for square foot garden planning.





Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Are you ready for Spring?

I am SO looking forward to springtime.  I've been a big fan of Baker Creek for several years, but I discovered Fedco last year.  I have already placed one order with Fedco Seeds, but am working on another.  I love ordering from them - they have free shipping.  Their catalog is no frills, simple black and white, but it is full of information and the comments are so much fun to read and the Fireside Chats from F. D. Roosevelt really apply to this present day and  time.

Some of my favorites from Fedco are their Deluxe Lettuce Mix and Freedom Lettuce Mix,  Both of these lettuce mixes are chock full of wonderful varieties - Romaines, reds, red splotched, light and dark green, deer tongue, butter heads - just an amazing variety.  I planted some late lettuce in the Fall and made a hoop bed cover from light weight PVC pipe and covered it with a piece of heavy plastic drop cloth, leaving the ends partially open so things could breathe and I have harvested some wonderful salads.

Bright Lights Chard is another of my favorites.  For some reason I had never tried Swiss Chard before last year.  I assumed it would be something like turnip greens or kale, which I definitely do not care for.  In a seed exchange I received some Bright Lights and went ahead and planted them.  I am SO glad I did!  The bright colors of yellow, green, red and purple would make it pretty enough to grow alone, but the flavor was amazing.  I love spinach but have no luck growing it, and the flavor of the chard was very similar to spinach.  It is also a cut-and-come-again variety that has been growing all winter uncovered.

So what did I order the first time?
Golden Gopher Muskmelon
Ministro slicing cuke
Saffron sumer squash
Jaune du Doubs carrot - old heirloom with absolutely wonderful flavor
Deluxe lettuce mix
Freedom lettuce mix
Bright lights chard
Galine Eggplant
Boldog Hungarian Pepper
Odessa market sweet pepper
Opalka paste tomato - heirloom, huge sausage shape, very sweet, few seeds
Ventura celery
Red broom corn,
Danish flag poppy.

My tummy is growling already!

Happy gardening.



Saturday, June 2, 2012

Homemade Lemon Meringue Pie - easy microwave version




Admittedly, this has nothing whatsoever to do with gardening, but since I just made 2 pies, I thought I would pass along this recipe.

I detest standing at the stove and having to constantly stir something until it thickens.  I now do all my pie fillings in the microwave and it works like a charm.

You do NOT  need to adjust your recipe in any way, except that you add all ingredients at the beginning.  Most lemon fillings instruct you to heat part of your ingredients and then gradually add the eggs, but there is no need for that when using the microwave.

This method works for any cooked pie filling that I have ever tried & I'll share my Coconut Cream recipe later.

Here is my recipe:

Carla's Lemon Meringue Pie:

1 9" lightly browned pie shell

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour (either gluten-free, all purpose flour or self-rising, it doesn't matter)
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 1/4 cups water
3 egg yolks (save egg whites for meringue)
6 Tablespoons lemon juice.  Fresh squeezed is best, but bottled lemon juice is OK in a pinch)

IMPORTANT:  Use a wire whisk instead of a spoon for stirring.

Add all ingredients (except egg whites) in a microwave-safe bowl and whisk thoroughly to blend.

I always set my microwave for 10 minutes so I don't have to keep resetting to 2 minute intervals, but total time will vary with different microwaves.

Microwave on HIGH and whisk thoroughly every 2 minutes.  The filling will start to look thick & set up around the edges, but don't worry.  Just whisk real good & continue to microwave in 2 minute intervals til it is thick & bubbly.  

Pour into your baked pie shell and top with meringue, sealing meringue completely to the crust on the edges.

MERINGUE: 
Heat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar (optional)
1/2 cup white sugar

Mix egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, add cream of tartar & continue to whip, adding sugar gradually & continuing on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Immediately spread meringue over HOT filling & making sure to seal all the way to the edges of the crust.  (This helps prevent weeping.)   Swirl the meringue in a nice pattern, but I avoid peaks because they will brown too much before the rest of the meringue browns.

Place in a 350 degree oven & bake until meringue is browned.

Remove from oven and leave uncovered until cool.  Cool thoroughly before serving.

Enjoy!




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