Where in the world is Patti?

green cherry tomatoes Houston, Tx

green cherry tomatoes Houston, Tx (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know if anyone has been asking that or not, but I’m still here.  I have some good days, some bad days, but mostly I just have okay days.  This past Sunday I felt the best I’d felt in a long time (and that’s even with working a full day…make that a full, hectic day).  So I feel like there is at least some hope that I can manage this.

I woke up this morning at around sixish…didn’t have to work, but thought I’d throw some clothes on and step outside to do a little “gardening”.  Ha, I haven’t planted anything or even weeded the one bed I have outside my kitchen window, so you can imagine what a mess it was.  But I spent about half an hour pulling and cutting weeds…imagine my surprise when I discovered two volunteer tomato plants!  One of them is obviously a grape tomato plant as it has the clusters of tiny tomatoes growing.  I went inside and grabbed two tomato cages and used them to corral the little wildings.  I also have some coneflowers blooming that had been hidden in the weeds.

Finding the tomatoes and flowers encouraged me to do a little planting of my own.  Yes, it is kind of late to be planting most things, but I decided to plant some cucumber seeds in a couple of containers.  Hopefully I’ll manage to pick a few before fall gets here (doesn’t it seem strange to think about fall in July?).

The plants that managed to survive through some difficult growing conditions reminded me that we can do the same thing…life isn’t always easy and it doesn’t always go as we’ve planned.  But we can survive and make the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in.  I hope you’re having a day with the joy of discovering the unexpected!

Time to start some seeds

Garden Strawberry

Garden Strawberry (Photo credit: jomilo75)

Okay, I know it’s just the first of March, but I’m anxious to get my hands dirty and plant some seeds.  I don’t have a greenhouse or sun room (don’t I wish…), but my spare bedroom gets a lot of sunshine so a big table directly in front of the window is the perfect place to start those tender seedlings.  But what should I plant?  Do I want to start some tomato plants or several varieties of peppers?  Do I want to start some herbs?  How about some flowers?  Why, yes…yes, I would like to grow all of the above.

Unfortunately, I have to kind of limit myself since I only have the patio outside my kitchen and a small bed under the window.  So I usually grow a few tomato plants and a couple of pots with peppers in them…always have to grow jalapenos to use in my salsa…just thinking about homemade salsa is making my mouth water.

I can definitely be thinking about starting lettuce outside…well, once this next little cold spell passes us…we might even get some snow tonight…yippee!  And of course, I’ll have to grow some spinach and radishes.  I have cilantro coming up outside right now…that stuff self sows like crazy.

Mixed lettuce and radishes from last spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I look through the seed catalogs and want to try all of the new things, but I usually stick with the old tried and true veggies…what I know will grow well here.  Is that boring?  I think I’ll challenge myself to try something I’ve never grown before…not sure what that would be.  You know what I’ve never grown?  Strawberries.  Yep, my grandma had a huge strawberry patch when I was a kid.  Oh how I remember those days.  We had to help her pick them and she didn’t want us to eat any because she sold a lot of them.  Man, that’s just mean to a little kid.  Somehow I survived the cruelty though.  But yes, strawberries it is.  I know I won’t be able to grow a lot of them with my limited growing area, but even just a few would be pretty cool.

Are you already dreaming about your garden?

What in the world am I going to do with all of this zucchini?

I’ve been gardening long enough to know that even one tiny (?) zucchini plant can provide you with more zucchini than you can possibly eat.  All week long I’ve been saying I was going to do something with the zucchini on my one plant.  The abundance of zucchini on my one plant.  After being shamed (thanks, Patti) for not following through with my zucchini plans, I decided to tackle it today.  I only picked the two largest fruits on the plant, knowing full well that those would be more than what I needed for my purposes today.

So the plan was to bake a loaf of healthier zucchini bread and freeze the rest of the shredded zucchini in 2 cup freezer bags..then I can have zucchini bread all winter long.  I had printed a recipe for a healthier type of zucchini bread from backtoherroots (thanks, Cassie), so figured I’d give that a try.

So I set about shredding those monster zucchini, ended up with enough for the bread and three bags to put in the freezer.  I had some left over and decided to try oven “fried” zucchini.

The bread recipe was easy to follow and used ingredients I already had on hand…I love it when I don’t have to buy special ingredients for a recipe, don’t you?

Now on to the oven fried zucchini…when I was a kid, we ate a lot of fried foods.  That’s something I’m trying to get away from in my quest for a healthier lifestyle.  But fried zucchini sure did sound tasty to me.  Soooo…how can I get that taste and texture without all of that fat? 

I bought Panko bread crumbs a while back and had yet to open the box…so that’s where I started.  I read the box and saw a recipe for baked breaded shrimp…figured that would probably work for zucchini too. Why not?  Took a couple of eggs and beat them in one bowl.  Mixed some flour, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese in another bowl.  Then poured some of the Panko into another bowl…Dredged the zucchini rounds through the flour mixture, then dipped into egg, and patted Panko crumbs over that.  Placed on a baking sheet, baked in a 350 degree oven.  I checked them after 10 minutes, decided to leave them in for another five minutes.  Then I turned them and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

I can not believe how seriously good these things are…crispy, tasty and so not fried…wow!!  Will I be making these again?  You betcha!!

I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do with my zucchini…that and more today…I’ve got a lot of little zucchini on that one poor plant…there has to be more oven fried zucchini in my future!

My little garden in mid July

As with most gardens, there are some hits and some misses.  Some things in my garden are performing wonderfully.  I’ve got plenty of cucumbers…

Only one pepper plant has actually produced any peppers so far, although the jalapeno plant is now blooming, my fault, I transplanted it late.

The zucchini plant has taken over…

See how huge the plant is relative to the terra-cotta bird bath?  This thing is gigantic. I have plenty of zucchini even with picking them small.

The sunflowers are still blooming although the little gold finches are eating all the seeds.

Now the black-eyed Susans are blooming…

Unfortunately, the tomatoes have been hit with blight again this year…darn it, darn it, darn it! I’m hoping the ones that have come up on their own will manage to avoid it, they did fine last year even though the others all succumbed to the dreaded blight.   In the mean time, thank goodness for the farmers market.

The garden outside my back door

The Great Seal of the State of Indiana

Image via Wikipedia

Here it is, early July, and it certainly feels like it.  Hot and humid here in Indiana, just about what we expect for the July 4th holiday.  While this weather can be uncomfortable for us humans, as long as we provide them with plenty of water, the garden plants (for the most part) love it.  Okay, sure, the lettuce and spinach can’t take the heat, but the tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers love it.

I’m getting plenty of peppers from this one Cubanelle plant…I planted my jalapeno plant late, but it’s now blooming, so it won’t be long…

There are several small cucumbers almost ready to pick…the taste of a home-grown cucumber is nothing like what you buy at the grocery store.  I’m not really sure what those things they sell as cucumbers at the grocery store actually are…definitely not the super tasty, crunchy cucurbits that I grow.  When I raise my own cukes, I eat them in their entireity…skin, seeds and flesh.  No bitterness, just yummy cool cucumber taste.

The zucchini plant, as zucchini plants tend to do, is growing like crazy….

There are tiny little zucchini squash on the plant…at least they were tiny yesterday, by tomorrow they may be baseball bat sized!!

And I was surprised to see a red tomato on the Amish paste tomato plant…almost ready to pick!

And how can you resist smiling when you see these cheery flowers?  Gardening is good for you, body and soul!

Container garden gone wild

Wow…all of the rain we’ve had this year has caused an explosion in my container garden…well, okay, not exactly an explosion (thankfully), but the plants continue to grow like crazy…over running the small patio outside my kitchen.  When I heard the mowers early this morning, I knew I was going to have to do something because the cucumbers were growing out into the grass and the mowing crew would just run over them.

So, lacking the supplies on hand to grow them vertically (make a note now for next year, Patti), what could I do with them to get them out of the way and to have them take up a little less room on the patio?

I put one of the pots on the top shelf of a plant stand altho it looks like this will only be a temporary fix…I think the plant will continue to grow so much that I’d have trouble getting in and out the back door.

I set the other pot in front of the Adirondack chair that I won’t be sitting in this summer.  I kind of originally used it to give a little extra support to the tomato plant, but the plant quickly took over.  I’ve just come to the conclusion that the chair will simply be a background for the art that is my garden this year!

Hard to believe I’m going to all that trouble for this…only another gardener would understand…

I picked another pepper today that I’m going to use in black bean salsa later today.

The zucchini plant continues to grow.  Hard to believe, when I first planted zucchini, many years ago, I planted an entire row…funny how many things you can do with zucchini when it’s got you buried in the kitchen…and really, there’s only so much you can palm off onto friends and family!  I actually found a cookbook devoted to zucchini…some very interesting recipes (many that I’ve never tried…and likely will never try).

And one of the sunflowers that the birds planted for me is getting ready to bloom…enjoy little birdies, maybe you’ll eat a little less of the expensive bird seed I buy for you…or not!

Don’t you just love how gardening is never the same year to year?  I just hope this year is a better year for my tomatoes than last year was…oh well, if not, there’s always the farmers market!

Volunteer plants in the garden

I always enjoy seeing what plants just manage to come up on their own.  Every year I have a few that somehow manage to self sow and most of them turn out to be stronger and more prolific than the plants I spend my hard-earned money on.  The other day I noticed several had popped up.

It never surprises me to see the sunflowers come up on their own.  Those crazy little birds scatter more seed than they eat, I do believe.

The cilantro has already flowered and gone to seed.  I always make sure to save the seeds for future plantings (anyone need some cilantro seeds?).

Ahh….but this is what I’m most excited about.  I noticed a couple of decent sized tomato plants coming up…I just hope one of them is a grape tomato plant.  I had one come up on its own last year and it ended up growing to over six feet in height and was simply loaded with tons of sweet little tomatoes…yum!!

One of the fun things about the volunteer tomato plants is that you don’t really know what you have until closer to harvest time, but I like surprises…most of the time…don’t you?

Container garden, mid-June

My little patio garden is looking good…

As long as I’ve been gardening, it still amazes me every year to see how quickly the garden grows.

From this in mid-May…to this in mid-June

Cucumber in mid-May…to cucumber in mid-June

Tomatoes setting on…

Cubanelle peppers, looking forward to these…

And looking forward to watching my garden continue to grow!

 

The storm I didn’t hear

Young tomato plant.

Image via Wikipedia

Well, we had another storm last night.  At least all the evidence this morning indicated that we did.  I must have slept through it and that’s fine with me.  I don’t care what the weather is like as long as it doesn’t blow the house down and I can get some much-needed sleep.  After getting ready for work today, I decided to go out back and look at my tomatoes and peppers.  Wow..what a shock.  My biggest, prettiest tomato plant was bent over…the cage had come out of the ground.  At first I was afraid that my plant was destroyed.  But after looking it over, I realized the stem hadn’t broken or splintered, so I was able to get the cage set back up and prop the plant up again.  One of my pepper plants had also suffered a little damage, but nothing too bad.  A lot of my flowers were really windblown, looking pretty scraggly.  But I think they’ll come back out of it in a few days (of course, now I’m hearing thunder again, might have more storms blowing in…yippee).  As I was walking out the front door, I noticed a lot of tree branches down.  Then I saw the big flag pole in front of the office.  It was bent at probably a 45 degree angle, the weak spot in the pole being about two feet off the ground.  I had no idea that we’d had that much wind come through overnight.  Mother nature can sure pack a punch…I’m pretty much ready for her to calm down for a while.

Now this is some gardening weather

After all the rain we’ve had, it’s so nice to have a few days of sunshine.  The ground is really still too wet to do much..had I only prepared my new bed in the fall, I could probably be out there planting right now.  Alas, I simply couldn’t talk myself into doing the work in the fall, so now I’m paying the consequences.  I may end up doing more container gardening than I’d hoped to do.  But…in some ways container gardening is easier…fewer weeds and pests…but a lot more watering.  During the absolute hottest part of the Indiana summer, I end up watering twice a day for some of the containers.  I’ll worry about that when the time comes though.  Right now, I’m watching my spring veggies grow.

radishes and a lettuce mix

another container of leaf lettuce

Amish paste tomato that I still need to transplant

some of the prettiest pansies I’ve ever grown

yellow and purple pansies interplanted…so nice together

I still have several tomato and pepper seedlings that I need to transplant.  I’m hoping to be able to get some of that done Wednesday.  I’d also like to get some cucumbers planted outside…we’re just about at our last frost date.  My fear now is that it’s going to immediately turn into summer.  It’s supposed to be 88 degrees tomorrow and Wednesday…whew…lower 60s yesterday, almost 90 Wednesday.  Gardening is never boring!

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