Thursday, August 26, 2010

The glory of old things...

,I go on many adventures to thrift stores and antique shops.

Many people think that stuff is junk and a lot of it is but its the treasures you find that make the junk digging worth it.
I go to these stores for everything from clothing to fans.
I have found great clothing from name brands and high end chains like chicos, black and white, and macys.
I try to shop on days with sales on the items you want. I went to one thrift store and ladies items were .50 cents no matter what it was. Your darn tooting I stocked up and spent I think 7$. It was great!

I've also shopped for kitchen items at these places. I've got silveware that seems to magically dissaper everytime
My daughter "helps" clean off the table to a metal flour sifter I use in my baking!

Then one day I went to another thrift store a last week and found my pride. My junk searching gem!
A old working 50's westinghouse fan. It was shoved in the back of the top shelf behind old cracked lamp bases. It was next to some plastic fans but I was drawn in. It was heavy which I need with a young child and a cat. It also had more charm then any of these new sparkling plasic fans you see in the store. I had to have it! I took it to the counter and low and behold they were having a 50% off sale. So I paid 7$ for that fan and left happy as a dog going on a car ride. I came home and plugged it in as soon as I found a open outlet! It worked wonderfuly and that tiny fan puts out more cold air then my large fans! I am now on the lookout for old westinghouses!

I mean how great is it to know not many people have the treasures in and around your house... its not something you can pick up at any store its something you searched for and that makes it special all in itself.

I'm a firm believer knowing that the old "junk" was made hundreds of times better then the stuff sold in the stores.
So next time you need a fan or even something simple like a new set of cups. Check out your local thrift and antique shops because you never know when you will find a treasure!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Free Mulch!

I just found someone who was going to pay for mulch!!!


A lot of the mulches people shell out the big bucks for have awful chemicals and dyes in them that just ruin your soil.

Instead opt for the FREE and easy way!

Find a local tree trimmer and call them up! 99% of the time they will be more then happy to dump a load of freshly chipped tree mulch right at your house!

Not only this but as the non poisonous mulch decays it will add much needed nutrients to the soil!

For local service in the Tampa bay area call Mid Florida Tree Service and ask to be put on their list for a load of mulch!!!

Phone (813) 986-2258 or (813) 986-2133

Natural Weed Killers

Everyone i know has a problem controlling weeds, and the constant bending and pulling can have a very bad effect on your back so here are some simple all organic weed zappers!

Salt! Pour rock salt on a pesky weed and watch it shrivel to nothing...

Vinegar! Mix half vinegar and half water and put in a spray bottle! spray those nasty suckers..

Boiling water! In some cases boiling water poured on a weed patch can knock them out! also use this on ant hills...

Rubbing alcohol! Put some in a spray bottle and spray the weeds (only weeds this will kill all). i advise not using this where the plant near spraying will be eaten. (great for flower patches)

or for the real pesky sons a... use a mixture.. part coke (yes the soda), vinegar, water, and dish soap. Shake it up in a spray bottle and start spraying all weeds!

For all these methods try to pick a day where its not going to rain. I understand this is Florida so even though the weather says no rain it still may rain but... try.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Attempt to cut the electric bill

My last bill this summer was $320.. what!?!? I don't even know how that happened. So here's my attempt to cut down the bill!!! The person who lived here before had the carport built into an extra room there for there is no central air in that room. Not only that but it leads to a non insulated laundry room with no door in between. The extra room has a fireplace so a great room for the winter but less for the summer. It does have a ceiling fan and is the only room to have one. In the doorway that leads to the laundry room I have hung a heavy long curtain panel that reaches almost to the floor. I set the air to 84 and only turn it on at night before bed. I have at least 1 fan in every room. We make sure that all lights and electronics are off anytime we leave the house. I am going to invest in a couple oil lamps to use when you just need a low light (I found great charming rustic ones that mount on the wall). Also I found a small compact am/fm weather radio that has a hand crank and solor power instead of using electric or batteries. This will be great for kitchen radio and to take to the back porch and out to the garden. I'm also scavenging old thrift stores and antique shops for hand cranked items like juicers, coffee grinders, mills, sauce makers, and other cool hand cranked items. Because for the small amount of time it takes to use a hand cranked item you have a better taste a better product and you have the power that is the power goes out or the world comes crashing down around you. You can go on cranking!!!

My first real chapter..

I don't mean a chapter in a book. Well I guess in a way I do. The book known as life. We are all writting one everyday as we take of new trials learn new things and discover what a vast world that lays out there. My book up till 2 years ago was a mis match of paths taken in all sorts directions with no solid purpose in life. Such is life for someone so young. I had my child when I was 18 and at that point found a direction in which I wanted to head. I became a pharmacy tech for walgreens. And recently have become certified by passing the PTCE. I rely fully on my wish and need to feed my family real organic food without spending a arm and leg. I also wish my daughter to know where her food comes from and the amazing adventures and sad losses that come along with it. In a attempt to go "back to the basics" I will be preserving much of my own food, raising my own chickens for eggs and meat, growing most of my own fruits and veggies, using less electric, less water, and in return hoping for a happier calmer more rewarding life. I thank you all for following my blog already. And glad I can share my trails and errors in hopes of someone else learning from them!

Chicken breeds..

I plan to have 3-4 hens in my small coop maybe at some point upgrading to a few more.
As of now i have picked my breeds but 2 of the 3 are not available until 2011. so alas I must wait!

I plan on getting:
~ 1-2 Barnevelders
~ 1 Australorp
~ 1 Barred Plymouth Rock

I decided on standard size birds vs. bantams because I read that standards have a tendency to be less flighty then a bantam due to their increased weight.
All the breeds listed above have been said to be proven great eggs layers, as well as being very friendly, and quiet(which is what i need due to being in a urban environment). They sound perfect to me. Hopefully I can get these babies somewhere at the beginning of the year!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The 10 min breakfast doughnut!

This morning I woke up with a strange craving... I wanted doughnuts!!!

I was not going to go out and spend a hand a leg (roughly $4) for a pack of six very unhealthy noone knows what's in them doughnuts!

Instead I remembered a recipe from the amish cooks baking book that I had got from the library!

In her doughnut recipe she had talked about how if her mom didn't have the time to make the dough she would use
Refridgerated biscuit dough.

Luckly I opened my fridge to see a tube just waiting for me.
I popped it open layd out the biscuits cut holes in the middle and heated about 2 to 3 inch of oil in a pan over the stove. I heated it up guessing at the readiness. As a test I threw in the cut out holes. They burned within seconds. *sigh*

I turned down the heat and waited about 5 min for the oil to cool a little. I placed the first ring in and within 30 seconds had a light brown side, flipped it and waited another 30 seconds.

I removed from grease and placed to cool while I cooked the other 4. After they were all cooked I coated them in sugar and served.

What a hit!!!!! And a great way to fulfill my cravings!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Attack on the seed packets..

Any gardener who starts their fruits, veggies, or even flowers from seeds knows that the amount of seed packets can be overwhelming.

I have probably around 70 seed packets and when i want to find a certain seed that's just a lot to look through.

I have heard many people sort them by alphabet in little recipe containers. that didnt work for me still to much flipping.

Instead I purchased those trading card slips that fit in a binder from ebay i think it was $1.50 with free shipping. (Maybe your kid has them left over from a football card collection?) I purchased a pretty colored binder (bright pink) and placed the trading card pages in. I have my warm season crop seeds in the front, the cold season in the middle and the herbs and flowers in the back. This keeps the seeds packs in a safe dry spot, lets you see the pictures on the front of most seeds packets as well as the name, and takes up very little space. i have my binder on my bookshelf next to my ever growing stack of gardening books. Above is my binder of seeds (TOP PICTURE!!!)

Sweetwater organic farm

Today was the Sweetwater organic farm open house.
I was a little disappointed.
The owner talked about tomatoes and said how he doesn't like to grow them because they are to hard to grow??
And that strawberries and most other fruits were to hard to grow?
Is that right?
I mean besides last season I've had good luck with tomatoes. and last year i had a great turnout of strawberries that my daughter promptly picked and ate right off the plant. i did enjoy the herb garden that they recycled old tubs and used them to plant the tall herbs in. (i will prob use this in my design) but overall a little disappointed in the experience.
The entrance was great lush landscaping and a stage for their Sunday markets and so on. I will be attending their Sunday markets starting in November and every Sunday from 12am-4pm through may.
Hopefully i get better vibes off them at that time.

Also a thank you to Rollin' Oats that sponsored the tour and gave out organic lemonade and healthy snacks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

a chicken coop and brooder box... (updated aug 14th)

After collecting my scraps like discarded pallets, an old aquarium, old reptile warming light, unwanted newspapers.
I have the start to my coop.
I bought long strong nails and screws to hold the pallets together (walls, floor, roof) but all they did was split the wood. It was time to be creative. I came inside and bam it hit me. I collected all the dead extension cords, scraps of cable wire bright house left behind and some wire pieces.
I went back outside and lashed all the sides together in tight knots. I'm still short about 2 pieces but I have a very sound structure!. The front of the coop is open because I plan to have a hinged door but have not figured out what the use yet.
I still need to scavenge a single nesting box and a wood rod for a roost.

~~As of august 14th I have added a front hinged door to my coop. Making my total spent on the coop $9.92.
Also I have a roofing dilemma. I had planned on scavenging metal for the roof but after reading how that can really heat up the hen house I'm trying to think of another plan... then I thought "why waste the 4x4 space" it then clicked I will scavenge old pot and deep containers lined with gravel and shells for drainage (about a inch deep) then top that with soil and plant probably herbs like thyme and other low growing herbs. This is not only reduce heat in the coop and keep the chickens dry... it will also provide me with much needed gardening space!~~

My brooder box is a old aquarium lined in newspaper with a 250 red heat lamp bulb suspended above it from a hook in the ceiling. A small thermometer will be placed on the side of the coop a inch above the bottom facing outward so I can watch the temp. (Should be at around 98 degrees) ...Each baby chick will need at least 6 inch of space for each bird. I plan to have 3.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The new adventures of kelp meal...

Kelp meal is great at breaking down organic matter that releases the nutrients to your plants. As well as having large amounts of macro and micro vitamins and trace elements.

In general kelp (seaweed) is a great soil amender for any garden.

I just received my 5 pound bag from gardens alive. I read bad reviews about them so I wasn't going to order.
Until they sent me a catalog with a 25$ off coupon. I bought the kelp meal $15 plus the $8 s&h I had a $23 order minus the coupon and it was free. They didn't even make me put in my credit card #.

I didn't believe this could be true (you never get anything for nothing) but sure enough today in the mail my bag of kelp. So thank you gardens alive. In the future I might even buy something from you!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great Saying!

Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.

Fall herb planting!

Here is some great herbs to start this fall!!! I know ill be starting almost all of these!

Thyme is a perennial herb. In Florida, start the plants from seeds sown one-fourth inch deep in the fall or early spring, or even in winter in south Florida.

Sage hardy perennial herb. Sage may be started in the fall through spring using seeds or cuttings.

Anise is a annual plant grown for its seeds. Start plants by seeding in the spring or fall or grow in the winter in south Florida. Cover seeds one-fourth inch deep; thin seedlings to leave 2 to 3 plants per foot.

Rosemary half-hardy perennial evergreen. Rosemary is better started from cuttings than from seeds.

Parsley is a annual that grows well in Florida gardens. Parsley is a cool-season vegetable, best planted in late fall or winter. Seeds should be sown one-fourth inch deep, fairly thickly; then seedlings thinned to 6 inches apart.

The mints are some of the most easy-to-grow perennial herbs for Florida gardens. Mint should be started in moist soil, using surface or underground runners as sprigs for new plants. Grow in shade or sun.

Basil is a annual that grows well in Florida and is attractive as a potted plant. Plant seeds of this annual one-fourth inch deep. Plant in the early spring or fall.

Garlic is similar to that for onions. Suggested planting dates are October through January. Garlic is propagated by division of cloves and planting each as a set.

Fennel: Sow seeds one-half inch deep in the fall or early winter; space plants 12 inches apart in rows three feet apart.

Dill is also another annual that grows well in Florida, Seeds should be sown one-fourth inch deep; then seedlings thinned to 12 inches apart. November through December is the best planting time.

Chervil is an annual plant, sow seeds one-fourth inch deep in the spring or fall; thin to stand 3 inches apart in the row.

Borage is yet another annual that grows well in Florida, plant in the spring or fall, seeds of this annual should be planted thickly one-fourth inch deep, and seedlings thinned to 6-12 inches apart. The plant has a cucumber-like odor and flavor.

happy herbal adventures!

garden exchange lastest update!!!

Here is the official invite to the September garden exchange!!!

Location: 30918 Burleigh Drive Wesley Chapel , FL 33543

Time: 11am - 130 pm

Date: September, 4th (Saturday)

Bring: Plants, Money, Crafts, Compost, Seeds, Rooted Cuttings, Seedlings, Homegrown Produce, Ideas, and Stories!!

You don't have to bring all those things those of just ideas!!

This is mostly a trade but as some people have expressed they would also like to be able to buy and sell items (crafts and homegrown produce mostly)

This is a fun free get together for veggie and flower gardeners. A great place to exchange stories and fun ideas for the garden.

Pack seeds in labeled pouches to be easily traded. Place seedlings and plants in pot that you don't mind giving away.

This event is taking place inside a person home to do not be destructive to anyone elses items (I think this goes without saying)

This event is for new and experienced gardeners!

Thank you and I hope to see you all there!!!

A Fresh Start!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Its that time again! Time to start that fall winter garden!!!
*does a happy dance*

The coming months filled with corn, squash, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and pretty much and veggie you can imagine!! Short season warm loving and long season cold loving can all be started by seed now!

Don't forget to amend that soil before planting!!! Add some kelp mix and a rich layer or homemade (or bagged) compost to you beds!

And as a lesson learned from last year plant and shrubs flowers or trees now as they have time to get rooted and strong before the cold season. Last year I received many gifts of plants in november (my birthday) and 60% of them died and did not come back!

Take care my friends and happy planting!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

scavenging materials for coop building

I'm building a chicken coop for my backyard!!

I'm using only scavenged materials (well mostly screws/ nails of door hinges were bought)

I currently have about 60% of the needed materials. I'm missing the screening (currently searching craigslist/ and freecycle).

The frame will be constructed of old pallets thrown to the curb by some company. Wrapped in screening or chicken wire (whatever i happen to be lucky enough to stumble upon)

The front side is old lumber cut into a square that will be covered in screen and hinged to make a easy open door for cleaning and letting the chickens out during the day.

It will be tied shut at night with a old cord from thrown away dead appliance.

All in all I hope to have this project completed this weekend.

As soon as i do pics will come up!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

DIY projects??

I'm currently starting to collect wine bottles for borders in my garden as my first real DIY garden art project but I want to know what other good ideas are there?

I'm interested in making a sitting area that has a arbor over it for my vines to grow on but not sure how to go about it?

I know I can use rebar as a support for climbers to make a vine pillar but I want to know what ideas you have for fun crafty projects for the yard.

I have already painted scrap wood and hung on my chain link fence which lok great but I ran out of wood. : )

Thanks everyone!
- Me

Seed starting mix

For my seed starting mix I use 1 part potting soil to 2 parts peat moss (seed starting mix).

I use plastic cup filled 3/4 of the way with my seed starting mix.
Make sure before filling with soil you punch out 4 or 5 drainage holes in the bottom.

Place in your seeds and sprinkle with the correct depth of seed starting mix.

Use a spray bottle (recycle a old bottle- make sure anything you use is cleaned very well) and spray the tops of your cups until you can see the top is soaked. ( do this every 2-3 days until seeds are sprouted)

Place cups in a shallow tray and fill the tray with water about 2 inch deep. Make sure this stays full through the growing process your new cups will soak up the water from the bottom encouraging good root growth.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gardening classes for hillsborough county


Wildflowers & Native Plants, 7 PM
Town 'N Country Library


Ornamental & Culinary Herbs, 10:30 AM
Jan Platt Library

What is Hillsborough County Extension?, 6:30 PM
Bloomingdale Library

Compost Happens, 7 PM.
Upper Tampa Bay Library
1 free compost bin per household (must be a Hillsborough County resident). Fee for out-of-county residents. For more information, call (813) 744-5519 x146.


Succulents & Cacti 101, 6:30 PM
Lutz Library

Integrated Pest Management, 7 PM
Bruton Memorial Library


Ferns, 10:30 AM
New Tampa Library

Florida Vegetable Gardening, 6:30 PM
Seffner-Mango Library

Florida-Friendly Landscape Design, 7 PM
Jimmie B Keel Library


Bonsai, 10:30 AM
Charles Fendig Library

Care and Maintenance of Trees, 6:30 PM
Temple Terrace Library

Compost Happens (8:30 AM), Water-Wise (9:30 AM), and Rain Barrel (10:30 AM) Workshops. Pre-registration required.
Extension Office

15 Must-Have Perennials, 6:30 PM
Seminole Heights Library

Ornamental & Culinary Herbs, 6:30 PM
North Tampa Library


compost Happens (8:30 AM), Water-Wise (9:30 AM), and Rain Barrel (10:30 AM) Workshops. Pre-registration required.
Extension Office

High Color, Low Maintenance Plants, 10:30 AM
New Tampa Library

Bromeliads, 6:30 PM
Austin Davis Library

Compost Happens, 7 PM
Jimmie B Keel Library
1 free compost bin per household (must be a Hillsborough County resident). Fee for out-of-county residents. For more information, call (813) 744-5519 x146.


Dog-Friendly Yards, 10:30 AM
Jan Platt Library

15 Must-Have Perennials, 6:30 PM
Bloomingdale Library

Gingers, 7 PM
Town 'N Country Library

Propagation, 6:30 PM
Lutz Library

Bromeliads, 7 PM
Bruton Memorial Library

Herbs, 6:30 PM
Seffner-Mango Library

Modern Roses in Florida, 7 PM
Upper Tampa Bay Library

Backyard Wildlife Habitat, 10:30 AM
Charles Fendig Library

Landscape Pitfalls, 6:30 PM
Seminole Heights Library

Rain Barrels, 6:30 PM
North Tampa Library
1 free rain barrel per household (must be a Hillsborough County resident). Fee for out-of-county residents. For more information, call (813) 744-5519 x105.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The rich grains of amaranth

There are 3 types of amaranth a/an ornamental, leafy green, and grain.

As of now I have the 2 good types of amaranth the summer green and grain.


The great thing about the grain is its such a heavy producer you don't need a huge space for it. They say in a 100 sq ft space you will get 10-15 pounds of grain.

As I'm learning it was a native american staple but was all but wiped out when we invaded switching to a more "civalized" crop like wheat and potatoes. The result? Malnutrition and high infant mortality wide spread through the native americans.

Amaranth has the highest lysine content of any grain and ranks the highest (only matched by quinoa) in protein, and vitamins like B, E, iron, potassium, calcium, and others like zinc.
As a huge plus its gluten-free!

Amaranth loves warm/hot humid seasons. (Perfect for the florida gardener)

The seeds can be used whole, flaked, popped, or ground into a flour. And many say the white-seeded types taste better then the black-seeded types.

Amaranth is normally ready for harvest around 3 months after planting. (You can tell when ready when plant loses seeds when shaked.) The seeds are easily removed from the plant just by rubbing the seed head between your hands over a bucket. Winnow as you would other grains to remove the chaff.

Make sure the grain is fully dry before storing to discourage mold.

You must cook amaranth before eating because the raw grain blocks vitamin absorption.
You substitute up to 25% of flour with amaranth flour in yeast breads (this is because it has no gluten) or you can use 100% amaranth flour in any quick bread like biscuits, and muffins.

Happy adventures in growing amaranth.

Sources: Homegrowin whole grains by: Sara Pitzer

fast raised bed building

Today my boyfriend and I built a 4 x 8 bed in roughly 3 hours. This was with breaks and running after an active 2 year old. A finished bed not only looks great but will provide a wonderful house for your veggies, fruits and even flowers. i plan to plant My carrots, turnips, tomatoes, onions and chard in this bed. If you use the square foot gardening you can double even triple the amount of used garden space then traditional row planting.

Here i will put the fastest steps to build your own raised bed:

First stop home depot: where if you don't already have scavanged or prevously bought wood you need to hit the lumber section. Look for non treated lumber if building a veggie bed or any bed you may eat out of. Using the landscape timbers or scavanged wood from items like pallets are your best bet.

Next make sure you have the proper nails or screws at least doubly long as your wood is thick.

Final is get your soil. A lot of people can provide this free as well as compost and mulch. But if you must buy your soil. Make sure to amend even this soil with rich compost and vitamins (kelp is great multivitamin for your veggie beds)

Get home and unload. Place your building items right near where your going to build your bed.

Lay out your bed (this can be in any shape or size you want but remember they say not to make your beds over 4 ft wide unless you are going to have a walkway. this makes harvesting easier)
Outline your wood on the outside not inside remove wood and proceed to dig out your grass.

I have never rototilled my property. I hand dig out the grass and weeds. Using a sharp shovel or spade I dig about 3 inchs under the soil to remove grass but as little dirt as possiable.
Once all grass is removed use a pitch fork or any other tool with prongs to dig into the soil at least 6 inchs and loosen all soil.
Add you wood layout back and nail or screw boards in place

Add your compost then soil and mix sprinkle with your vitamin fertilizer. Please for yourself and our earth use only organic methods.
Fill your new bed to the top rim of the new bed as it will settle about 2 or 3 inchs over the next week.

even more reason to get a little dirty

In honor of the 2010 flu season I'm writing this stay healthy article...

When we hear about some new danger (last year it was the swine flu) we all run for cover pull out that hand sanitizer and scrub ourselves to prevent from getting sick, some people even refusing to go out and do things like enjoy a family dinner night out, or going on the long planned camping trip.

Well next time don't. Experts are proving its actually beneficial to go out and get a little dirty.
As exposure to germs will mature and strengthen your immune system.

Also hand sanatizer (states right on the bottle kills 99% of germs) but they don't tell you a lot of those germs its killing are helpful germs that can leave you in worse shape then if you had left the bad ones alone.

Experts are even saying that living in a ultra clean house can make the immune system attack things like animal dander, ragweed pollen, and even your own cells, leading to chronic inflammation.

And that children who grow up having fun playing in dirt, being around barn animals, and attending day care have a decreased rate of getting asthma, hay fever, eczema..
While vaccinations have helped lower the death rate of infections, and other sicknesses.

So go out and have a little fun getting dirty or enjoy a nice night out we all love to do it!

Pieces from the mother earth news article Germ hypothesis.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

the something special tree

Well most people go out and celebrate a joyous occasion. Spend money on drinks/ food or any other number of things. But why?

I feel the most rewarding way to celebrate a wonderful occasion (the birth of a baby, a wedding, or even smaller things like reaching a milestone in your life) we should start planting trees.

This is a great way to celebrate because not only are you helping earth repopulate the trees we cut down you are making a permanent mark that will forever remind you of the joyous moment in your life.

I remember my grandma planted a pine for each of her children. I also have a pine tree somewhere in PA that was planted when I was born!

From now on I will be planting a tree or bush (prob a tree that also gives fruit) for every large milestone. Starting with my life milestone I reached today ( I passed my PTCE exam for pharmacy techs).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The evils of peat pots..

Well let me just say that this is now the firm belief of myself and my mom!

Peat pots were great a fine invention for the gardener. Start seeds in peat that allow the whole pot to be planted after it reached its desired seedling stage. Great concept bad product.

My mom purchased the more expensive cow pots (yes made from cow poop) while I bought the least expensive peat pots. Generally the same item... I thought great because there are those picky plants that don't like to be transplanted etc.
So I spend my hard earned money, plant my seeds and watch. Great results.. seeds sprouted, and grew into fine young seedlings. I wait till the perfect time and plant outside.

Well if you read my early blog about garden fails you know my early spring summer crop sucked something awful. I blamed the quick changing weather this year but know after talking with other gardeners believe this might have been some of the problem.

The plants grew but never produced only half the size of last years plants before dying
Well as I'm pulling up the long dead plants I notice the pot that should have dissolved into the ground was still fully intact more or less and the roots could not get out. Maybe 1 or 2 large roots pushed through put unwrapping the pot was a cluster of the small roots. All tangled together as it had made an attempt to bust out only not being able to.

I will never again use a peat pot for veggies or fruits and I'm using the last of mine (I waste nothing) to start flowers.

In my old school plastic cups with hole in the bottom I have started about 8 different seeds tonight.

Thank you for letting me rant, and hopefully nobody else will waste their hard earned cash on this monster of a plant binder : )

Monday, August 2, 2010

the lovely papaya..

A wonderful plant but not a tree. Papayas usually are a single stocked plant with hollow stems. Leaves don't last long and the result looks more like a palm tree. There are male, female, and bisexual plants. You need 1 male for about 15 females so cull the rest (they don't fruit). I just inherited solo papaya seeds which produce 1 pound fruit. Perfect for a single serving.

The most common problems of papaya plant problems are: frost, overwatering(root rot), shade (which creates a spindly plant that may not fruit), and of course pests and animals.

The easist and cheapest way to grow papaya is through seed. Buy a local grown papaya cut in half scoop out the seeds rinse and set out to grow. About a dozen per bed (you will cull all weak and male plants). You can tell a male plant when they start to flower. Males will have many small flowers, while females have less but larger flowers. Papayas do not like to be transplanted so start the seeds where you plan to keep the plant. May that be in ground or a large pot.

Papayas like super rich fertile soil so if planting in the ground dig a large hole at least 1 1/2 feet wide and the same deep. Fill with your choice mixture of compost and soil.

Have a happy papaya adventure.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

bread making.

Armed with a simple but knowledge packed 32 page book on basic bread making I set off for my first bread making adventure. Its simply called "basic bread baking" by glenn andrews. Its by my favorite publication company storey.

So I heated up my stove and slowly simmered milk sugar salt and butter till melted and warm. Then I proofed the yeast. I added the milk mixture to the now proofed yeast. Stirring. I Added 1 cup of flour and mix real well. Then add another repeat. (It takes 6 cups of flour (I use unbleached)).
I knead and knead and knead then let rise. It seems like that part (the rising) took forever (more like a hour : D) then i punched it back down rolled it out formed it into loaves and let rise again this time in the cast iron bread pan. While it was rising for time #2
I preheated the oven and noticed it took about half the time to rise the 2nd go around! : D I threw the loaves (I made 2) into the oven and seemingly watched the minutes tick by.

A bad smell filling my house reminding me that I keep forgetting to clean the stove.

After 40 minutes their ready I take them out of the oven and realize holy cow poop they are rock hard.
Gritting my teeth and cursing under my breath I wonder what I did wrong.
It easily slide out the loaf (this is why I'm loving cast iron)
I butter it and let cool. Even though they are rock hard I figure I can chisel it open and see the inside. After all this was my first time and I was curious as to what the inside looked like.
Well as its cooling on the kitchen counter and Google "rock hard bread" not finding any answers I go back to my trusty book. What could I have done wrong? Maybe the yeast was bad? Maybe I used bad flour? to much flour? *sigh*
After 45min I'm cooking up my homemade noodles and pesto and baking my garden herb flavored chicken I decide to cut into my bread....

Its perfect!!!! As it cooled the rock hard bread was no longer rock hard. A wonderful buttery crisp crust with a white fluffy warm inside. I cut slices and added it to my homemade dinner. All I can say it yummmmm

And it went great with the meal and to wash it all down garden herbal tea!! Sweetened with local honey!

What a great adventure!!