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Showing posts from May, 2009

Heirloom Tomato History

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I planted my tomato plants this afternoon. I used a totally unscientific method of selecting varieties to grow. I chose 'Granny Cantrell's German' tomato, 'Williams Striped' tomato, 'Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter' and 'Burpee's Beefsteak' tomato. I chose the heirloom varieties simply because I thought the names were interesting. I chose the 'Beefsteak' because, tried and true, cut into half-inch delicious slices, it compliments a hamburger perfectly. It turns out, the varieties I chose have interesting backgrounds as well as funny names. 'Granny Cantrell' was grown by and named for Lettie Cantrell of West Liberty, Kentucky. She had obtained the seeds to this particular tomato variety from a soldier returned from Germany after World War II in the 1940's. She liked this variety so much it was the only type of tomato she ever grew. Granny died in 2005 at the ripe old age of 96.
'Williams Striped Tomato', is a red …

Bride & Groom

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It's time to plan a bridal shower for my son's fiancee. We're thinking finger food like quiches, chicken salad in tiny croissants, baked Brie en croute with raspberry jam, raspberry iced tea. Maybe a pitcher of beautiful fruit water as shown on the Vegetable Gardener website this week. I think cupcakes, too. I can start baking and freezing as long as I don't try to ice them until just before the party.

Gardening within my Ability

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I have unlimited enthusiasm for gardening. I try not to let my physical limitations get in my way. I'm not adverse to taking credit when something beautiful happens accidentally. These Aquilegias are native American wildflowers and were apparently the offspring of plants that were here when my husband bought the property in 1999. Aquilegias are normally short-lived and only transplant well when they are very small. I'm leaving these alone and planting some vegetables around them. I hope to end up with some seedlings that I can move in the future.

Love, Good Wishes & Prayer

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I received a chain letter today from a beloved friend. It had been a forward to her from her daughter-in-law. My friend's daughter-in-law prefaced the mail by stating (in essence) that she doesn't usually pass these things along but that this one was worthy of a chain because of the positive message it carried. The message requests that I make a wish or say a prayer before I read the quotation and that I pass it along to twelve women who are important to me because (effectively) through a group like-minded women, all things are possible. After passing the message along, chain, unbroken, something good will happen on the fourth day. Okay, I admit it. I'm dying to know what's not going to happen to me on the fourth day. I have the e-mail addresses of twelve women, but I know, without a doubt, that most (if not all) of these women do not want a chain letter from me. Chain letters carry a certain burden of responsiblity that most of us simply do not want to shoulder. I don…

Old Kitchen - New Kitchen

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It's not a nice day...again. Rainy and cold and I don't feel that well so I'm staying in. It's a good time to sort through paperwork, throw away the old and file the rest. I found some bills from the kitchen renovation while I was filing. Sometimes I forget what a change we made until I pull out the before pictures. The plumbing under the sink was leaking and the oven was too small for a turkey. The update took 40 years off her looks.

Eggplant Topiary

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I bought two Black Beauty eggplant seedlings and then decided to investigate their "care and feeding". It really sounds like they're more trouble than they're worth. I think it's going to be a case of the $1,000 eggplant. Barbara Damrosch writes in The Garden Primer, "eggplant is tough to grow in any climate" and "a certain amount of eggplant-growing is sheer luck". Basically, get them started as early as possible, watch for bugs, worms, wilt and blight. Don't let their roots touch the ground, don't pull weeds around them because they don't like it. Harvest your little, tiny eggplants as quickly as possible before something attacks them. Baby eggplants are very "au courant" so nobody will know you're coming home from work on your lunch hour to catch them at the peak of their perfection. In other words, snatching them from the mouths of bugs and disease that are waiting patiently for you to turn your back. I couldn'…

Basic vs. Sexy Support

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There was a lot of chatter this week-end about "lingerie". My soon-to-be married son wanted to know what the big deal was about bridal showers. I answered him with three words: Pots, pans and lingerie. I visited a lingerie shop on Saturday. There were lots of frilly underthings in tiny sizes (appropriately) and some body armor of the more basic design. Now here's where I can make the gardening connection. Last week I hammered some heavy-duty stakes into the ground and erected a nylon trellis to support some sugar snap peas I had planted. I hope I sewed the peas on the right (correct) side of the trellis. When the seeds sprout, I expect them to reach out toward the direction of the sun so I planted them on the north side of the trellis. Anyway, the pea trellis is "basic support" to say it in the kindest way. It really is ugly and utilitarian. I don't know what the trellis company was thinking by manufacturing it in white instead of green. Now the garden tote…

Square Inch Gardening

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Last month I planted a few lettuce seeds in a container before it was too early and too cold to play in the garden. Each tiny head of buttercrunch lettuce is supposed to mature to the size of a soft ball. This variety was developed for the "Japanese luxury market". I planted according to the directions on the packet. Five to seven of these little babies are supposed to fit comfortably within a 12 to 15 inch pot. Somebody's going to get transplanted. They remind me of little birds in a nest. All this coddling and each little head will barely make a salad for one.

Tuesday in May

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Robert Lewis Stevenson said, "A friend is a gift you give yourself". I gave myself a gift yesterday in the form of a four hour lunch with my friend, Kathy. If a whole afternoon at Rainbow Gardens restaurant weren't enough, we topped off the day by going shopping at Coldwater Creek. To make that even better, Kathy gave me a $25 coupon to use at CC. Every girl needs a friend like Kathy.

Getting More than I Paid For

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I continued my autumn ritual last November. For the last few years, I've delayed my puchase of fall bulbs to take advantage of clearance sales. I've had to check the display a couple of times to get the best deal, but I've never paid more than half price for my bulbs.
Of course, this results in a very limited selection. Basically, I end up with what nobody else wanted.
So far, the tactic has worked just fine. The result of my thriftiness is that I buy twice as many bulbs as I would have purchased at the full price. I throw the bulbs in a pile and mix them up. Then I dig large holes and plant five or seven bulbs in each hole.
Last year I planted red triumph tulips, yellow darwin hybrid tulips and mixed lily flowering tulips.
I treat them as annuals and never expect them to flower a second year and they usually don't. Popping up around the highlighter-yellow spurge (inherited from the previous owner), dutchmen's britches (also inherited), and lion's bane (my addition…

All Heart

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Our little Cocker Spaniel is 99% heart - not much in the brains department - but Cocker Spaniel love is enthusiastic and unconditional. You can always tell where you stand with my puppy girl. The only time the tail stops wagging is when she's asleep or involved in one of her favorite pastimes - people-watching...

It's a Bumper Crop of Dandelions!

I finally got to read the Home section of the New York Times with my morning coffee. Sometimes I'm right on the cutting edge - who'd have guessed? According to an article by Anne Raver in this past Thursday's edition, ecologists are beginning to link the decline in bee population with the eradication of native plants. In research performed by Professor Gordon Frankie, an entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley, bees prefer to eat locally grown! Who knew? According to Professor Frankie, out of 1,000 plants surveyed, 50 were native plants. 80 percent of the bees counted were attracted to those native plants as opposed to only 10 percent of the bees who buzzed around the 950 non-natives.
The author's advice? "Don't be so quick to mow." Right on, sister. I don't have to be embarassed any more because I choose to relinquish my picture-perfect spring lawn to masses of life enhancing dandelions and wild violets. I'll have more cucumbers and…