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!

Where in the world have I been?

Dead plant in pots

Dead plant in pots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realized it’s been a coon’s age (one of my grandma’s phrases) since I sat down to write anything at all for my poor, neglected blog and all of my faithful readers.  Sorry about that.  Even though I’ve not been taking the time to post here, I’ve still been writing.  I’m taking part in Camp NaNo again this month and I’m pleased to say I’m doing a pretty good job…a little over 12,000 words written (not counting whatever I may churn out tonight).  I had every intent of writing something new, but when I sat down that first day, my fingers had other plans…so still working on the same story just at  a different stage in his life.  I know, I know…I’m such a rebel!

I do have something positive to report!  After seeing the pulmonologist and taking a ton of meds, I’m finally feeling better…not great….not 100%…but oh so much better than I felt a month ago.  I still get on these coughing jags in the evenings and at night or if I’m outside in the cold….thank goodness mother nature is finally giving me a break in that department.  I’m back at work, just this past week.  Sometimes it’s a struggle, but I’ve got a pretty compassionate boss, he’s working with me to make sure I continue recovering.  I love the folks I work with…and really did miss seeing them on a daily basis.  Sounds like a pretty good gig, huh?

I’m so happy that spring is finally here.  I have Tuesday off work and I’m hoping the weather will cooperate so I can get outside and plant some lettuce and radishes…I need to stop and buy some pansies to plant too…maybe I can do that after work tomorrow, if I’m not just worn out.  I haven’t decided how much I’m going to plant this year..definitely a couple of tomato plants, but I may end up buying most of my produce at the farmers’ market this year.  We’ll see…

How about you?  Got any gardening plans?  Getting outside to allow that sweet spring breeze to kiss your face?


Gardening? Not so much

I don’t know what’s happened to me this year, but I just haven’t been able to get motivated to do very much gardening.  I’ve got some tomato plants and a pepper plant growing, the lettuce is done what with the hot weather we had a week or so ago.  I just can’t seem to  convince myself to get out there and dig in the dirt.  Maybe I’ll just give the farmers market my business this summer.

Ooh…that reminds me, the little farmers market (as opposed to the huge, super-busy farmers market on Saturday mornings) starts this week on Tuesday afternoon/evening.  Just may have to meander on over there Tuesday and check out the offerings.  I guess, if I’m not going to do my own gardening this year, at least there are some local farmers who will be glad to do it for me…well, for the right price…

farmers market in B’town, 2011

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?

Gold finches in the garden

gold finches on a feeder

Image by DanielJames via Flickr

I walked into the kitchen this evening and saw a tiny little bird perched on a big leaf of one of the sunflower plants outside my kitchen window.  The bird kept leaning over the head of the sunflower then perching on the leaf again, presumably eating the sunflowers she was pulling from the flower head (hey, that’s okay, the birds planted those sunflowers in the first place).   It was quite the balancing act and very amusing to watch.  A few seconds later, I saw a larger bird doing the same thing.  When he flew up to the top of the garden arch, I could see that it was a gold finch.  Shortly, the other bird joined her mate on the garden arch.  How adorable, a male and a female gold finch.  They kept me company for a few minutes before flying away.  I’m sure they’ll return again…the buffet is still open, sunflower seeds for all.

Gardening with Grandma


Image by Big Grey Mare via Flickr

My grandma has been gone for 30 years now, but I think about her often.  She had a tough childhood, lots of brothers and sisters, family living in poverty.  I remember her telling the story of how her mother worked at a restaurant and they let her bring the leftovers from diners’ plates home to her children.  I can’t even imagine that, but they were thankful to have the food.  My grandma had to drop out of school when she was just in junior high, they simply couldn’t afford to send her to school.  And the thing of it was, my grandma was smart.  She liked to read and could spell like nobody’s business.  I don’t know if she had regrets or was able to just accept how things played out.  She didn’t talk about things like that, at least not to the grandkids.

Grandma always had a huge garden and canned, froze, pickled, and stored everything.  She raised all the usual vegetables (corn, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, peppers, squash, lima beans, cucumbers, cabbage,  pumpkins, lettuce, radishes, onions, rhubarb, asparagus, etc), but she also had a large strawberry bed, grape arbors, fruit trees (apples, peaches, pears).  We also gathered persimmons, blackberries, elderberries and whatever else she came across. 

She saved her own seeds and had a cold frame where she started her own plants…none of this running out to Lowe’s to buy plants for her.  I wonder what she would think about how we garden these days?  She’d probably laugh at my little patio container garden…or maybe not, maybe she’d like that I still garden using what space I have available at this time. 

She had a huge crock that she would make sauerkraut and pickles in (I now have that crock sitting in my living room)…all I remember about the sauerkraut process was that it tended to get this scummy stuff on top…ick..I suppose she scooped it off, but I don’t really remember that part of it.  She made what she called chow-chow, which was a sort of relish with corn and a bunch of other stuff in it.  I never really liked it as a kid, so I can’t tell you more about it.  She also made pickle relish, jelly, jam and preserves…oh my, that stuff was so much better than what you can buy at the store.  She ran the persimmons we gathered through a food mill and froze the pulp in two-cup containers.   I specifically remember that, because that’s how much persimmon pulp she used to make her persimmon pudding…holy moly…what a treat!!

We often went out to abandoned homesteads (either walking or riding on the tractor if the overgrown dirt road was passable) and dug up perennials.  I think her vegetable garden was something she felt obligated to do (growing up dirt poor probably had something to do with that), but her flowers brought joy to her life.  She dug up all along the road and just kept planting and planting any flowers she came across (peonies, iris, roses, tulips, daffodils, lilies, hollyhocks, glads, canna lilies, snowball bushes).   There was always something in bloom and she loved to talk about those flowers.  I’m so glad for her that she was able to do something that made her happy.  And I’m so thankful that I had her in my life for close to 20 years.

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!