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!

Peaceful gardening day

A scanned red tomato, along with leaves and fl...

A scanned red tomato, along with leaves and flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did manage to get outside and plant a few things today.  I planted the tomato and pepper plants I bought Friday.  So far, I’ve only planted a Patio Tomato and a Rutgers tomato plant, then 1 Cubanelle pepper plant.  I’ve planted the Cubanelles the past few years and had really good luck with them, very productive plants.  So we’ll see how this year goes.

I did pull some nice looking radishes today.  And I’m looking forward to having some lettuce in another couple of weeks.  Salad outside my back door!!  Yes!

I still need to buy either a grape or cherry tomato plant (funny how they named them, isn’t it?).  I usually grow one or two grape tomato plants and they  produce right up until that first heavy frost.  Have you noticed that tomatoes and corn taste best when you grow them yourself?  Or at least when you manage to eat them right after someone has harvested them.  I don’t really have the room to grow my own corn so I buy mine from a local farmer at the farmer’s market…still pretty darn good.

On another note, (but still food related) I’m starting this 5-day Live Below The Line challenge tomorrow.  It’s a project to bring awareness about extreme poverty…we have to spend less than $1.50 a day for food and drink, which is what a lot of people have to do day in and day out.  Wow!  And to think I bought a $1.49 bottle of tea the other day.  I’ve got my meals planned out, but it definitely won’t be easy.  I’ll keep you posted about how it goes…

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?

The long and winding road to fitness, day 62

Salad with vinaigrette dressing

Image via Wikipedia

Whew!!  What a crazy day at work…I’m exhausted, sleepy, in pain and in a bad mood…not a good combination, huh?  I just could not get to sleep last night so ended up with a little over four hours of sleep.  We went in to work at 5:30, the truck came at 7:30 and everything was hectic from that time forward.  I ended up working 10 hours…just go, go, go all day long.

My eating was  good…had a really good cucumber, tomato and onion salad with my favorite Hendrickson’s sweet vinegar and olive oil dressing…yum!  I’m thinking about having the same thing tomorrow.  It’s nice to be able to go outside and pick the cucumbers and tomatoes for that salad…handy and tasty!

I got in an hour’s walk today and did lower body strength training…oh yeah, and worked like a maniac on that truck…fun times!

I’m planning to get to bed really, really early tonight…I’ve got to try for eight hours of sleep.  When I combine lack of sleep and hunger, like I did at work today, it’s not a good thing.  I get just a tad grouchy…what’s that you say?  More than a tad…much more than a tad?  Hmm…okay, I’ll give you that one.  So, to any of my co-workers who I may have offended with my grouchiness, I’m sorry…one thing I know for sure, I need to stop and eat when I start feeling like that.

How does being really hungry, sleepy and tired affect you?

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!

Farmers Market in early July

I finally made it to our local farmers market this morning.  I have every other weekend off work and it seems like it’s always either raining or I’ve got other plans.  But today I got up early, gathered my totes, put on comfortable shoes and made my way down town.  I got there just a few minutes after it opened (operating hours are Saturdays, 8 am until 1 pm) while the crowd was still navigable.  Believe me, with this particular farmers market, that’s the only way to do it.  On occasion, I’ve gone at around 11 am and could hardly see the vendors’ booths through the mass of humanity.  By going early, I was able to find my favorite vendors (there are several organic farmers who sell their produce and plants at the market, one of my favorites is a farm that is owned by a woman…one of these days I’ll remember to take a picture of her at her booth, but that didn’t happen today.  It’s nice to be able to talk with the farmers who actually do the work to bring us all the fresh fruit and veggies.  I like to hobby garden, but to do it on a large enough scale to earn money is a huge undertaking, not to mention, a lot of hard work!  I have total respect for these people and thankfully,  I get to enjoy the fruit of their labors.  In addition to the produce, you can find honey, eggs, meat, freshly ground flour and cornmeal, all kinds of live plants, cut flowers, coffee, prepared food and lots of live entertainment.  It’s really a social event for a lot of people here in my home town.

I came away with several baby zucchini, some juicy peaches (I ate one as soon as I got home), some red leaf lettuce, a Patty pan squash, a yellow tomato, and a red tomato.  I think I’m going to grill the zucchini and the Patty pan squash, brushing them with olive oil first.  The red tomato will likely go into a nice fresh salsa, one of my favorite summer foods.  The lettuce?  Well, salad for work with tomato, cucumbers and peppers.  And the peaches, really, do I have to explain?  I will eat them out of hand…although I have read various blogs about grilling peaches and watermelon…should I give it a whirl?

By the time I got home, it was beginning to get hot (we’re under a heat advisory today) and the humidity was making it a little difficult for me to breathe.  I went out to look at my own little garden where I have several cucumbers ready to pick.  And I noticed one of my Amish paste tomatoes is turning…ahh…to be able to walk out of my kitchen door and pick my own produce right before I eat it, it doesn’t get any better than that!!  But the convenience and ambience of the farmers market comes in a close second!

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!

 

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