Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Growing up my great grandmother had a big pecan tree in her backyard.  In the fall when the pecans would fall to the ground she would send me out with a gallon milk jug with the top cut off and I would spend way too much time picking pecans off the ground.  I'd inspect them for the little holes that weevils or worms would make and only fill the jug with the biggest and most perfect pecans.  She would send us home with this jug of pecans and we would crack and eat them until we were stuffed and content.  Although you had to be careful where you walked because a stray pecan shell shard would always end up underfoot! 

I hope that old pecan tree is still standing and littering the ground with pecans, but that property is no longer in the family.   I've always wanted my own pecan tree.  The problem is that they get very large (100 ft +) and you should plant two to ensure pollination.  I never had the space to plant two pecan trees, until now!  With 12 acres, the first thing we planted was two pecan trees.

I ordered the trees from Stark Bro's: the Surecrop and the Hardy Giant.  When we got them planted they were pathetic little sticks barely a foot tall. 

However, they have finally put out leaves!  Now just stay tuned for 8 - 10 years for when I get my first harvest! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/22/13

Happy Earth Day!!  I hope everyone gets to spend some time digging in the dirt and appreciating nature.  It has been a busy gardening week here.  I've been trying to plant the old and new garden.  I keep forgetting to take pictures of the new garden because by the time I remember to load all the tools, seedlings, seeds, watering can, and anything else I might need into my car, the camera has been long forgotten.  I did get all the tomato seedlings planted, half of the peppers planted, lettuce seeds sowed, and a 50 ft row of sunflowers planted!  I think I went a bit overboard with the size of the new garden since I have room for that many sunflowers.  The birds and rodents are going to love me!

Anyway, back to harvest Monday.  This week I harvested most of the leeks (2.1 lbs).  These have been in the garden forever!  Well, at least it seems like forever.  I planted them last spring, so a year later I finally harvested and ate them.  I made them into little Leek and Potato Pies and the leek tops I will use to make some vegetable stock.  I doubt I will ever grow many leeks because they take up space in the garden for so long, but they seem easy to grow and you can ignore them for a very, very long time.

Also this week I harvested the first of the spring planted crops: spinach leaves!  I pulled a couple of little carrots and picked some more broccoli side shoots.  The broccoli is completely covered in aphids right now.  I soaked the broccoli in water to try and get all the aphids off, followed by a high pressure spray in every direction.  I still had to inspect every bite before eating!

This week's tally:

Broccoli: 1.3 oz
Spinach :1.6 oz
Carrots: 2.1 oz
Leeks: 2.1 lbs

Weekly total: 2 lbs, 5 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shade Leads to Big Changes

If you missed the announcement, I'm leaving my lovely garden and moving to a much bigger plot of land.  This was not really something we planned to do.  It all just kind of happened.  When I questioned J about how we suddenly bought 12 acres and started having a house built, he claims it was all my doing because I was complaining about shade in my garden.

So how did a little shade lead to such big changes?

Last summer, I noticed my corn on one side of the garden were tall and the other side were really short.  I knew that there is more shade in the back of my garden, but I didn't realize it was having such an impact on growth.

One sunny afternoon I took pictures of the garden to track the sun and shade.  I discovered that the back half of my garden is shaded until almost 2 pm!  The problem is the neighbor is to the south and they have let trees grow next to the fence.  These trees are just going to get bigger and bigger, which means my garden is going to have less and less sun.  

So what's a gardener to do?  Ask the neighbors to cut down their trees?  Move the garden?  Our lot is about an acre, but it is mostly wooded.  The only sunny spot is in the middle of the front yard.  I contemplated having trees cut in the back to allow more morning sun, but that would probably be expensive (and sad to cut down trees) and I would still have shade from the neighbor's trees to the south.

So I started looking online at houses and land for sale.  I wasn't really too serious about it, but it was fun to dream.  I promise that the shade in my garden wasn't the only reason.  My current commute is 100 miles a day and I hate it.  More sun and a shorter drive was my goal.  We drove around and checked out some lots and some houses, but nothing seemed worth the cost or the hassle of moving.  Most of the lots for sale were forested without much level ground.

Then we found it. 

It was the perfect location.  My commute would only be 30 miles per day.  It was private, there was a pond, and it was 12 acres with plenty of sunny spots for a garden.

Then began the roller coaster of realtors, builders, county permits, and banks.  I did not know how difficult banks are about construction loans.  I lost count of how many times we went from excitement to disappointment back to excitement.  It took almost three months from when we made an offer on the land until we finally closed on both the land and a soon-to-be built house.

So that's how shade in my lovely garden led to a very big change!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/15/13

I have been leading a double gardener life and it is exhausting!  I have my lovely terraced garden at my current home, but we are moving at the end of May/ beginning of June.  It is very sad to leave my pretty garden that was so much work to build:

J says we will move my potting shed although I'm not sure how because it was built behind a tall fence!

But the good news is that our new home has 12 acres and much more sunny spots for growing veggies and fruits!  A normal person would probably just wait until next year or at least fall before starting a garden at a new property where we don't even have a well yet.  Luckily there is a pond, but hauling water back and forth is not fun.

There is so much work to be done preparing a new garden while maintaining my current garden!

Anyway, more about the new garden later.  Now it is back to the purpose of this post: Harvest Monday.  Not a lot to harvest this week.  I had enough to make a small salad of lettuce, broccoli side shoots, and carrots.

I also harvested Swiss chard, but neglected to take a photo.

This week's tally:

Carrots 2.5 oz
Broccoli 1.4 oz
Lettuce  1.4 oz
Swiss chard  1.5 oz

Weekly total:  6.8 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/8/13

This week was my biggest harvest so far for the year.  I harvested veggies that had overwintered in the garden to make room for spring planting.

First up is 2 lbs of turnips:

Unfortunately I think I left the turnips in the ground too long- they were a bit tough and fibrous.

Much tastier were the carrots:

Fall planted carrots are always so much sweeter than the ones I plant in the spring.

Next up are collared greens.  These are a first for me to plant because I hate collared greens.  Growing up in the South, collared greens make a regular appearance and as a kid I hated them.  I decided I would give them a second chance after seeing a recipe that didn't seem to turn them into the green mush I recalled as a child.

I only planted two collared green plants, just to be safe.  I sauteed it with garlic and olive oil and cooked it in a quiche.  I can say I don't hate collared greens any more, but I wouldn't say I love them.  I think I'll stick with kale and swiss chard.

Lastly this week was a handful of broccoli side shoots:


This week's tally:

Turnip 2 lbs
Carrot 9.7 oz
Collar greens 9 oz
Broccoli 0.9 oz

Weekly total: 3 lbs 3.6 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Babies Waiting for Spring

Seedlings have been growing in the potting shed for the last month and I don't know if it is just me transferring my feelings, but they seem to be impatiently waiting for spring.  The tomatoes, eggplant, and pepper have to wait until mid April for their garden debut. 

I fell for a new tomato hybrid this year.  I usually stick with heirloom varieties such as Cherokee Purple, Amish Paste, San Marzano, Brandywine, and Yellow Pear.  This year my tomato goal is to harvest enough paste tomatoes to make sauce to can.  When I saw Burpee's new Super Sauce Tomato, I couldn't resist trying.  I've never paid $6.50 for 25 seeds before, so these tomatoes better be amazing!  

Also growing in the potting shed are some broccoli seedlings.  I will be hardening them off this week!

I can't wait for a growing garden and yummy harvests.  I was a bit (ok, a lot) neglectful of my winter garden, so not much survived to provide fresh produce in the early spring.  However, the bees seem to appreciate my neglect.  I planted pac choi in the fall and never got around to harvesting it.  It is now flowering and the bees are flocking to it.

I'm glad someone can benefit from my gardening neglect!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/1/13

Today was a beautiful, warm day.  March brought temperatures well below normal and it seemed that spring was never going to arrive, but today changed that outlook.  Spring seems to have finally arrived and to celebrate I harvested my first spring salad.  (Well, more accurately this was a fall planted salad that survived the winter and was harvested in the spring.)

My first spring salad consisted of freckles lettuce, radish, some broccoli side shoots, and some mini carrots.

All chopped up and ready to be savored on the back porch on a glorious spring day:

This weeks tally:

Lettuce: 2.4 oz
Radish: 2.2 oz
Carrot 1 oz
Broccoli 0.5 oz

Weekly total: 6.1 oz

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.