Spring Planning– Seed Catalogs for 2018

It’s not long after Christmas that I begin to think gardening. This year I requested my seed catalogs early–

Richters Herb and Vegetable Catalogue and Seed Savers.

I mentioned earlier this fall I was going to overwinter a geranium and rosemary plant. Well, the geranium ended up getting gnats in it and all new growth was yellow so I threw it. The rosemary plant, however—

has some new growth. I could hardly believe it because it has really been looking rough. For once following directions for care has gotten me somewhere. Anyone else out there have the same problems as I do when you follow directions of care. I’ve killed African violets, succulents, Christmas cactus, so many to mention following care directions. But my 40-year-old cactus and a couple of succulents I have are thriving and I’ve ignored them both.

At Christmas time I bought a bag of Halos at Walmart, which almost always tend to be a bad idea, but this year perfection!

Three a day has kept the doctor away even when my husband came down with a slight cold/allergy that lasted for four days after Christmas. I had him take Sambucol Elderberry syrup from his first symptom and whatever he had was cut in half and like I said lasted just four days.

My Lemon Cypress is holding on as well–

This year, coming soon, I will be posting about Endocrine Disruptors–a subject I’ve been researching for about three months.  I will have that post completed in the next two weeks. I also hope to take you on my journey ordering and caring for Heirloom tomatoes, what I order from my seed catalogs, some favorite Keto and Paleo recipes I tried over the holidays, and so much more.

 

 

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I thank you and my family thanks you. If you ever have any questions about any of my posts or just want to talk to me feel free to email me at runjumpbegin@gmail.com

 

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My love affair with heirloom tomatoes

To be truly honest with you when I was growing up I’m not sure what kind of tomato we were growing. I suppose they could have been heirloom? Maybe they were started from seeds grandma saved? There was no Walmart’s or Home Depot’s back in those days, so our only source besides seed saving was purchasing plants from local greenhouses.

I’ve loved tomatoes since I was eight years old and never throughout the last forty-five years has my appetite for them waned. Up until a few years ago, I’d never had a home garden. Which meant any tomatoes I would be eating would either come from a grocery store or a Farmer’s Market. I never enjoyed grocery store tomatoes, but I ate them nonetheless. Because (ahem) I love tomatoes.

In the last three years, I started seeing Heirloom tomatoes pop up at the farm stand and a time or two at the Dane County Farmer’s Market. When I say pop up I mean scarce and rare, but it happened. I remember buying one for $4.00 about three years ago and thinking “boy that was worth every penny I spent.” But that’s a lot of money. The last two years I’ve waited patiently for the farm stand we visit every week to have them. Usually, right at the end of the season, they’ll have a half dozen heirlooms sitting at check out waiting just for me. I pay about a $1.00 a pound for these. This year the farmer saved just one big red one–the nicest one he could find just for me. I’ll take them bruised, soft, and overripe. It doesn’t matter to me. While eating the heirloom this year I vowed never to eat another tomato for the rest of my life unless it was homegrown and an heirloom tomato. No more store bought ever again.

Until you’ve tasted an heirloom tomato you have no idea what you are missing. Their taste is more than just sun-kissed, or warm and fleshy. Heirloom’s taste like the very best homemade pasta sauce you’ve ever tasted –authentic and flavorful. Nothing sold in grocery stores for the last thirty years can compare.  There are also taste differences between the different colors of heirloom tomatoes. I prefer the red ones which are quite acidic, whereas the yellow ones are very mild.

For tomatoes to qualify as Heirloom tomatoes there seed must be at least 50 years old.  I found out a lot of information here about heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve found a place online that I am going to order heirloom plants and seeds from and I am going to try to grow my own. If successful I will be delighted, and if not well–I’ll wait for the farm stand to save me a few precious tomatoes at the end of their growing season. It’s a small price to pay to be able to eat a real tomato.

Here’s an almost current picture of my container garden all wrapped up for winter!

We bungee strapped a couple more blankets around the middle of each tree hoping to keep the roots from getting cold. I read that keeping the roots from freezing is the secret to over-wintering container shrubs and trees. Fingers crossed. I brought both the rosemary bush and the last geranium inside to overwinter because both plants performed better than any flowers or herbs I’ve grown yet and I’d like them to have another chance next spring.

I’ll be sharing this post over at the lovely blog A Stroll Thru Life for Marty’s 398th Inspire Me Tuesday!

Container Garden Week 17

Well, summer is winding down to almost the first day of fall. I’ve been at this container garden this year since January. Though only one thing in my container garden remains that was grown from seed. That would be my spindly, never having quite flourished, rosemary plant.  What is left in my garden are four impatiens that have lasted 3 x longer than any other impatient plant–thanks to fertilizer and good soil.  I have two beautiful, still blooming geraniums that look 2x better than they did when I bought them. Usually by now they would have been long gone dead and dried up. Not this year! I have a tree that has experienced sun scorch that I am trying to rehab. Along with that tree is another that also experienced sun scorch two years ago that is green again and thriving. I’ve rehabbed both with epsom salt, tender care, and compost tea. I’m not sure if the most recent damaged tree will survive? Last but not least I have another rosemary plant that is tree like, that I’ve harvested from three times, and I’m currently thinking about overwintering inside the house this year.





Until next time!

Zucchini Bread

What to do with our overflowing abundance this year (everyone giving us) of Zucchini? Well, Zucchini bread of course! Best ever recipe here . I promise you this one is a keeper-easy, moist, and delicious bread.  Slowly but surely the container garden is dwindling down to one tomato plant that is still producing, and has produced 27 tomatoes. One plant!! I thought both of the bigger plants were producing, but it turns out just the one. How unreal is that? He recently got knocked in half by wind, but still has a whopping 5 tomatoes trying to ripen. All of my New Guinea impatiens are still blooming, along with my hardy and always blooming geraniums. I bought all of my plants this year from Bauer’s Market and Garden Place in La Crescent, MN. The shrubs have quadrupled in size and after growing in soil full of fungus gnats (thanks big box potting soil) my mini sunflower flowers have bloomed. The zinnias planted with them have no buds, so no zinnias this year. All in all I’ve been very fortunate to have the tomatoes I’ve grown, most around here haven’t had such luck. Again, I’m thankful for Purple Cow Organics potting soil, tomato gro, and their bio-active fertilizer. The nights are getting cooler, so eventually we’ll have to clean up our deck. We’ve already transplanted a sick tree we are hoping to save. Almost time to buy our fall mums. Some time back I posted a picture of part of my blue glass/ ball glass collection and someone asked if it is hard to keep clean. Yes, yes it is. Twice a year I have to stand on the counter top and take down all of the glass and antiques and wash them up. Not easy and the last few years I’ve had to do it in stages. Here is half of it taken down, cleaned and polished and put back up. Until next time–be well!

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Summer Sun and Container Gardening

Sun, just the right amount of sun, is essential to a successful container garden. We live in an apartment that does not get southern exposure, and the western exposure we get is HOT, quite hot, from about 1pm each day through 6pm. Watering plants in the early am hours here does not work. Also keeping houseplants thriving without southern exposure can be quite a challenge. I have fifteen African violets that I move around in our bedroom to catch the sun from the west, and then as it creeps around the side of the building I have a shelf in my office loaded with succulents and cactus plants, not to mention my husband’s ever growing bonsai collection, trying to catch the last rays of sun before it disappears for another day. Lots to keep up with. I’ve killed way more than I’ve saved but this year I’ve actually had some much appreciated success.


Figs

First how can you tell if your fig is ripe, overripe, or just right when you see figs for sale in the market?

Pick the fig up and smell it near the stem to see if it smells sweet–honey like. If it does it is ripe. Unlike avocado’s figs do not ripen once you get them home. If there is stickiness near the stem the fig is overripe. For the last 6 or 7 years I have purchased a dozen or so figs and found that I really like them. I wouldn’t say I could eat them all the time, but once or twice a year -yes.

This year I am going to use my figs three ways:

Figs with goat cheese and pine nuts  (gluten free)

Figs and berries–just mix sliced and cut up figs with whatever berries are in season.

Figs and mascarpone and warm spiced honey

Figs are generally sold around here until early fall (Sept.)

These are all really easy recipes (10 min prep times).

Health-wise figs are loaded with fiber, magnesium and calcium. All things all people need especially women like me in their 50’s.

Until next time–be well!

Hello August!

Can it be that summer is almost over? As of this month I’ve been at my container garden now for almost 8 months. From my failed starter plants I worked on in January and February, to the young plants I nurtured inside March until late April that became my super producers all summer long. My two 8″ tomato plants grew to almost 3 ft and are still producing tomatoes. So far I’ve harvested 12 med., med large tomatoes with about 10 more ready to turn any day. My spindly tomato plant that survived a couple of frosts ended up giving me over 30 cherry tomatoes. Best tomatoes ever! My rosemary has quadrupled in size, as have my shrubs (doubled) and this years New Guinea Impatiens are gorgeous.  Herbs have been dried and preserved and several of my plant containers have been emptied, and cleaned up for next year. In just a few weeks fall will be upon on and I definitely feel like this year’s container garden was my best yet. A lot of work, but a lot of rewards and I’m already looking ahead to next year. P.S. Although my pumpkin plants bit the dust last week thanks to leaf rot and gnats, my sunflowers and zinnias are ready to bloom any day now. Pictures soon! Until next time–be well!





Blueberry Buckle Recipe–and processing produce tips!

This week- a few things I did today as I enjoyed my day off!

It’s blueberry season here in Wisconsin and I just happened to have got my hands on 3 pints of fresh berries. I froze some for smoothies, so now we have fresh strawberries and fresh blueberries for smoothies this winter.

My husband purchased a bunch of beets at the Farmer’s Market this past Friday so I processed them today. Total time was one hour- I put them in a pan of water –medium setting 1-1/4 of an hour and then turned them off. I then let the water come down from a boil to warm and ran cold water in the pan and slipped the skins right off. They were put into freezer bags and we will be eating July beets 5-6 different times this coming winter. I would pickle them (my favorite) but hubby doesn’t like pickled beets very much.



There’s a story behind the peppers. About 7 weeks ago our neighbor, who travels a lot, asked me to take over her pepper plant due to her not being around enough to water it. We were at our max limit for weight on the deck so we kept it downstairs by the front door. It should be noted this plant had been planted in big box potting soil with Miracle Grow added and sold from a big box store. When I took it over it was about 1-1/2 feet tall, scrawny and dry. Thinking it would die I never did get a before picture but 7/ 7-1/2 weeks later it’s loaded with peppers of all sizes. I have grown peppers on our deck in containers–even now that I think of it I’ve successfully grown cucumbers. But it was hard between bugs and wind and limited full sun areas, neither of them do well on our deck. But hey maybe I’ll start a garden by our front door? I just cut up and take out the seeds from the peppers and freeze the cut up slices for future pizza’s and stir fry’s right away. Our first harvest yielded 7 peppers, I took 3 and I gave my neighbor 4 and plan to split the bounty with her each week to her delight.

Update- after the initial 7 small to medium sized peppers all the rest (5) which were quite small developed bottom rot. I used my soil tester to determine what was lacking in the soil and discovered the soil was severely lacking calcium. It should be noted this isn’t the first time that plants I bought from a big box store, planted in the wrong type of soil mixed with Miracle grow, developed rot on their fruit. The soil is dry even after watering because the soil mixture does not retain any moisture beneficial to the plant. So the plant is constantly in a state of over- watered or under-watered and each time you do water all the nutrients (and there probably isn’t much to start with) wash out the bottom. Hence this pepper plant was really deprived of the calcium it needed to produce healthy peppers.

Here’s the promised recipe for the blueberry buckle

My Container Garden at 10 Weeks!


Things are thinning out in my container garden–my lettuce, cherry tomatoes, first growth of rosemary, lemon thyme, and potatoes have now been harvested. Containers that have become waterlogged due to the excessive rain we’ve had in these parts have been drained, emptied and stored away until next year.

I have replaced some with a couple of pots of oregano, some impatiens and sylvia’s (my first try at an annual on my deck). My pumpkins are growing slow, as are my zinnia’s and sunflowers. Fungus gnats have taken over their soil.

I cooked up several of my cherry tomatoes with local bought zucchini-




The new potatoes were out of this world. Even though we’ve been eating organic red potatoes for years, nothing has ever tasted as good as the ones I’ve grown this summer. The skins melted in our mouths, and the flavor was out of this world. I used organic red seed potatoes and grew them in organic soil from Purple Cow Organics.  I harvested my potatoes when the plants were dead looking and dried up. There were three plants total in the pot and we harvested 28 potatoes of various sizes. I harvested too early as there were still tubers growing. Next time I will wait longer.


Until next time–be well.

June in review–in pictures

Tomatoes– one slicing tomato from what was just 8 weeks ago just an 8-10″ better boy tomato plant, and two Mighty Sweet cherry tomatoes. The plant these were growing on went through 3 mild freezes and was just barely a twig when planted this spring. It now holds almost twenty little tomatoes! My better boy plant is almost 2 feet tall and my spindly little cherry tomato plant has reached almost 4 feet tall. I won’t lie growing vegetables on a balcony/deck isn’t easy. I have found tomato worms, and I’ve picked three potato beetles off of my potato plants. We have a lot of the wind on the north face and I am constantly out there adjusting tomato cages and trying to keep my plants from breaking off in the wind. Storms are the worst because, although we don’t get much of the rain, the trays the planters sit in fill with water. So that involves picking up heavy pots, draining the trays and then it all starts over again with the next rain. This summer our area has had a lot of rain, storms, and wind. In the end though the fresh homegrown produce, even though the yield isn’t much, means everything to me. I feel secure in knowing I can grow some of our food, and I know once we have our own place again I can and will do well with a fairly good-sized garden. I cannot wait. Until next time–be well!