Week 7 has been a busy week- suckers to pluck off of tomato plants growing fast and the first of the potato bugs. Even in a small garden, there is work and diligence needed. I was shocked to see a potato bug–we’re two stories up? So at this time, I have removed two of them and the leaves they were sitting on in case that is where they laid their eggs. I have a total of 40 tomatoes on three tomato plants at this time. I purchased my potting soil, tomato gro and fertilizer from Purple Cow Organics and I never ever want to plant another garden if I can’t plant it using these products. Wow, what a difference organic soil and organic fertilizer make!
Right now I am mounding dirt around my potato plants because tubers will only grow in dirt that is around 65 degrees. So it is a must to keep the soil and pot and plant cool. The opposite is needed for tomatoes to turn red. They need hot 75 to 85-degree heat both on the plants and in the soil. Last year I stopped watering my plants for two to three days at a time and all my tomatoes ripened. Tomatoes will keep ripening even when the plant looks half dead.
Our week started out with a trip to the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. This was a trip we had planned for a couple of years and we really enjoyed seeing the Seed Savers Exchange gardens, fields and visitors center. We stopped at a few other favorite places in Decorah and then made our way back to Wisconsin. Of course, we had to stop at Bauer’s Marketplace in La Crescent, MN because they were having their buy one pot get one pot of flowers or herbs free. We purchased 6 large guinea impatiens and 4 geraniums and paid just over $20.00 for all. Fabulous deal and they had fresh asparagus to boot.
Everything in our container garden has grown double in size in less than two weeks. Plants we thought were going to die haven’t and plants we re-potted from Walmart potting soil, which had fungus gnats in it, are doing way better than we thought. Our garden looks great this year! I’ve harvested two small bouquets of lavender, more to come, and of course we had over a dozen salads from the lettuce. I also crushed the chocolate mint after I dried it and made tea from it. Best tea ever. I will share the recipe next time. A little over a week ago I planted pumpkins and zinnias which are both up and doing well. My next project is to make some homemade salve or lotion using my lemon thyme. I am hoping for good results and I will share pictures here if successful. That’s all for this week–until next time be well.
This past Saturday our morning plans included picking 12# of fresh strawberries. We were out in the local strawberry patch just before 8am and picked 12# in about 30 minutes. Once home I followed the instructions on the Sure-Jell package and after approximately 1 hour I had 12 containers of various sizes of fresh strawberry freezer jam. The recipes called for 8 cups of fresh fruit–and here’s an important step>>but the instructions stated 4 cups of liquid (once strawberries crushed). Eight cups of fresh strawberries yielded way more than 4 cups of liquid so I refrigerated the rest. So- once you crush the eight cups of strawberries take 4 cups of strawberries crushed and their liquid, three cups of sugar and one box of Sure-Jell. I did two batches of it at a time. So in saucepan #1– three cups of sugar, one box Sure-Jell, and one cup of water. Bring to a boil, stir for one minute. Remove from burner and add 4 cups of crushed fresh strawberries. Stir for one minute until blended. Pour immediately in clean, freshly washed with boiled water and dried containers (I had various sizes of plastic containers). Put the lids on containers and let sit for 24 hours room temperature to set.
This was my very first attempt at making homemade jam and it was a success! Pardon the pictures I am trying a new photo editor and they may appear too bright on your screen.
Until next time- be well!~
Fresh green asparagus is usually the first vegetable of the season for us. Personally, I don’t like asparagus, but my husband loves it as long as it’s cooked, or grilled right. All summer long I grill food for my husband and I. I’ve even been known to grill late fall/early winter. Most of what we grill is grilled in packets–so fast meals like salmon, grilled corn (I parboil it first), asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, and sausage. My secrets to successful grilling are a good hot grill, butter or a good marinade and patience.
Depending on my husband’s preference I either grill the asparagus for him or steam it with some salmon. Paired with tiny red potatoes or the seasons first fingerling potatoes and we’re enjoying the first home grown (almost) meal of the season.
Marinade- just before asparagus is done, whether grilled or steamed I drizzle lemon, lemon zest, parsley, and salt & pepper on it.
Our Grill– a Weber Spirit Gas Grill
First off let me just say– Thank you Purple Cow Organic Potting Soil and Tomato Gro! This year’s container garden is really growing fast and looking fabulous 🙂 Our container garden is in its fourth week. Everything on our deck made it through three touches of frost… Frost burned the leaves on my tomato plants, but they bounced back with a vengeance. They look full, beautiful and full of flowers. My potato plants are absolutely huge and are so beautiful. I did notice one big mistake I made when I planted them. Three weeks ago I planted six potatoes with eyes cut in half into Purple Cow organic potting soil. Unfortunately, one of the pots I put them into is not deep enough.
I found out about my mistake while talking up a local farmer who told me–in order for potatoes to grow the soil they are in must stay at around 65 degrees. In order to keep the soil that temperature, in the heat of summer, one must mound the dirt up against the potato plant. He also filled me in on several tips and tricks to avoid every conceivable pest and problem that can and usually does happen when growing potatoes. I never knew growing potatoes could be so difficult. No wonder everyone I mentioned my growing potatoes to thought I was really really ambitious. We shall see I am ready for whatever they want to throw at me. I learned quite a bit from this website about growing potatoes and it also has faq section. I harvested a sixth lettuce crop, so two salads a week for three weeks, and first cuttings of my chocolate mint plant and lemon thyme plant. I found a neat site with chocolate mint recipes here.
That’s all I’ve got for today. Stop back next week, I’ll be sharing some tips on how to grill veggies to perfection!
For most of the last three weeks, all we’ve had in Wisconsin is rain, rain, and more rain. Every day is cloudy. Somehow in my fond dreams of yesteryear, I remember spring having some sunny, warm and simply satisfying days before the hot and sticky days of summer arrive. This year I made a solemn promise to take spring slow and enjoy every moment of it. Now all I want is heat and sun–go away rain, the rivers are flooding. Less than two weeks after planting the last six lettuce plants we’ve had two big salads from those six plants, a lettuce leaf on five sandwiches this week, and lettuce on our hamburgers tonight. Believe it or not, there is still at least one salad left and more to come. This has been my most successful year of growing bibb lettuce. While harvesting the lettuce I was bitten a total of three times by pesky mosquitos, which reminded me I need to order some Bug off! from Rocky Mountain Oils.
Last year I used a blend made from RMO’s cedarwood, lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass essential oils in purified water in a 4 oz spray bottle. I put in 30 drops of cedarwood, 25 drops of lavender, 15 drops of peppermint and 15 drops of lemongrass. I shake the spray bottle gently before each use. I use either, it just depends if you want to make up your own batch or buy a blend that has all of the essential oils and more already in it. Either way, you cannot go wrong using Rocky Mountains Oils as your go-to pests go away and stay away from me spray.
I planted lettuce plants 10 days apart, all of which were bought at the same time, same place, but I ran out of big box potting soil for the rest of my veggies and six of my lettuce plants. Every year I use regular potting soil from a big box and I add nutrients/minerals to the soil. Last year I bought really expensive organic fertilizer, that did absolutely nothing for any of the vegetables I was growing. This year via Facebook I noticed the coop I shop at was stocking Purple Cow Organics products**. We found someone local who carried them and proceeded that very night to plant the rest of the lettuce and veggies.
I re-potted a tomato plant that had been severely frost burn in Purple Cow Organics Tomato Gro. Currently, that tomato plant is thriving, the one I did not replant died in big box potting soil.
Side by side you can see big box vs. Purple Cow Organics– the big box potting soil lettuce plants were given a 10-day headstart and still we’re not even close to a lettuce salad.
The lettuce planted 10 days ago in Purple Cow Organics is ready and waiting to be harvested. This picture was taken 3 days ago for a photo op, today I am planning on harvesting what I can and having a salad. The beauty of all of it is the lettuce will grow back and we will have several salads from these six plants.
Ten days ago this was a container filled with Purple Cow Organic Potting Mix and three seed potatoes–today a potato plant appears! So get out there and get you some and enjoy that first home grown salad grown all by yourself (with a little help from Purple Cow Organics, of course)! 🙂 Enjoy.
**not compensated in any way by Purple Cow Organics for my awesome experience using their products and then blogging about it.**
I’ve been using oils for almost thirty years. For almost twenty-nine years, I’ve been buying them from a high-end grocery or health food store. I’ve always enjoyed using oils in soap, homemade lotions, and aromatherapy. I’ve practiced aromatherapy since I was a teenager. My favorite oils are- peppermint, orange, lemon and lavender. Peppermint is like Christmas for me and I use it all winter. Orange and lemon are fresh scents and I use them for cleaning, freshening my home and lightening my mood. Citrus oils are springtime for me. Lavender is a calming smell for me and my family and I’ve used it a lot in lotions and soap. I use lavender every night to help manage my sleep. Although these oils have served a great purpose throughout the years, I wasn’t always sure they were pure and/or what they said they were. So I decided to look online for some alternatives to store bought essential oils. I found RMO- Rocky Mountain Essential Oils. The first essential oil I tried through this company was the Immunity Roll-On. It’s part of their kid’s line, but I use it every day.
I love the smell of their oils, their customer service, the speed that they ship product and the products themselves. Rocky Mountain Oils is a leading non-MLM essential oils company. They’ve been around thirteen years and deliver directly to the consumer pure, authentic and safe essential oils. As a personal testimonial for this company, everything I have purchased from them has benefitted my family in one way or another. My husband LOVES their oils and he used to be the biggest non-believer of all. I would highly recommend this company and its oils to anyone searching as I did for oils for my family’s day to day use. *I was not compensated in any way for this review*
My go-to essential oils guidebook
This week at the first of the season local Farmer’s Markets–
Ramps are related to leeks and here in the Midwest they’re the very first thing that pops out of the ground and are usually sold at Farmer’s Markets from late April to very early May (about three weeks) and then gone. It’s hard to define what a ramp tastes like. They taste both sweet and strong- maybe slightly like a sweet earthy garlic. A popular way to enjoy them is in a salad. We spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Madison WI and brought two bunches of ramps home with us. I made a ramp salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing– the recipe is here . It was fabulous, you will love it. Give it a try. Next week, perhaps two weeks from now, rhubarb will be available for sale. I’ve included a favorite family recipe for rhubarb crunch.
3 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup & 2 pats of butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.
I’m joining Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life for her 373rd Inspire Me Tuesday! Until next time be well!