Category Archives: Gardening

Garden Meals – Eating Well

Despite not following some of the gardening strategies that I had mentioned earlier this year, like planting by the moon and companion planting, our gardens have produced abundant crops. For the last several weeks we have been blessed to be enjoying meals prepared with fresh home grown vegetables. We are thankful to be eating well.

Some of the meals we’ve enjoyed include:

Yesterday’s DinnerBeef Stew (with home grown potatoes, swiss chard, celery, tomatoes and garlic)

Thursday’s Dinner Pepper Steak over White Rice (with home grown bell peppers, tomato and garlic)

Wednesday’s Dinner T-bone Steak, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Acorn Squash and Sautéed Swiss Chard. (with home grown potatoes, garlic, squash, and Swiss chard)

Eggplant Parmesan

Stuffed Cabbage

Spaghetti – with home made/ home grown sauce

Corn on the Cob

Green Beans with Garlic Butter

Swiss Chard

Cucumber Salad

Tomato Sandwich

Banana Pepper Poppers

All this, my friends, is why we do what we do.

The Banana Pepper Poppers are one of our favorite side dishes. They are easy to make so I decided to share the recipe. (Please note that I am one of those cooks who does “a little of this and a little of that” so the amounts do not need to be exact. Feel free to put the word “about” in front of each ingredient listed.)

Banana Pepper Popper Recipe

6 – 3 to 4 inch banana peppers

4 ounces cream cheese softened

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

three strips of bacon cooked and cut into bits

a few shakes of crushed red pepper (optional)

bread crumbs (optional)

Slice peppers in half lengthwise and remove stem and seeds. Place in baking dish. Mix together the cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, bacon bits and crushed red pepper. Fill each pepper half with cheese mixture. Sprinkle each pepper with bread crumbs (optional). Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes (until peppers have softened). Enjoy! 🙂

Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator they are even good eaten cold.

Are you eating any in season vegetables?

Do you have a favorite seasonal recipe you would like to share?

Mid-Summer Garden Tour

We will start the garden tour in what we refer to as the main garden. This garden are is our largest and is part of our back field. In addition to annual vegetables that we plant there it contains 4 apple trees, our blueberry patch and for the last several years our strawberry patch.

Lets see how some of the annuals are doing there. This year it is mostly corn, pumpkins and squash growing there. There are also buckwheat that has mostly gone to seed and sunflowers that have not blossomed yet.

Corn and pumpkins growing together.
The pumpkins play hide and seek.
This should make a nice pumpkin pie.
Hubbard Squash.
Looks like a perfect apple.

Then we move on to garden three. This area is in the front of our property and this is our first year using it as a garden. My husband started planting strawberry runners in there last summer. Then in the fall we planted garlic in there. In the spring this is where he planted many more of our annual vegetables. Lets have a look.

Pumpkins out of control.

These pumpkins which are planted with corn have grown through a row of sunflowers and are now climbing out of the fence.

Sweet corn with melons to the left.
Bush Acorn Squash
Watering the Squash

During the dry season, when it is a challenge to keep things alive and productive, we look for innovative ways of watering. This year my husband used zip ties to attach the hose to this long 1×1 board. He could then reach areas that he is not able to get to otherwise. It’s not a perfect solution but will buy us some time until the rain comes.

Up Front – Green Tomatoes. Green Beans in the Second Row
Beets and Swiss Chard
Eggplant
Calendula
Our First Cucumber

For several weeks we have been enjoying the fruits of our labor. Thus far we have eaten Swiss chard and beet greens, green tomato, banana peppers, beet roots, and green beans (with garlic butter). We also picked our first cucumbers and they are on the menu for today.

Do you have a garden this year?

Do you enjoy fresh locally grown produce when it is in season?

The Garlic Is Harvested

Each year after the garlic is harvested I let out a big “WOO HOO!” and my husband and I each sigh in relief because it is such a laborious task. This year, however, the harvest went so quickly and easily that I thought it hardly worth a mention.

For the sake of keeping a record of it I decided to write about it anyway.

250 Garlic Bulbs Harvested July 10, 2020

We harvested the crop on Friday, July 10. It was hot and humid in the morning when I got started, but I thought it would be good to get it out of the ground before the rain and storms, that were predicted for later that day, arrived. I began digging the bulbs up like we normally do but quickly discovered that the soil was moist enough that I was able to pull the bulbs out without breaking the stems. This saved much time and energy. After 40 minutes or so I had about 1/3rd of the crop harvested but my body was telling me I needed to get out of the sun.

We decided to go home for a break and lunch. Then, despite the fact that it was raining, my husband returned to the farm that afternoon to finish the harvest. While we ended up getting a decent rain that day we did not get any of the storms that surrounding area experienced. After my husband harvested the rest of the garlic he bundled and hung the bulbs that I had pulled earlier. Later that evening I bundled the rest of the bulbs that he had pulled. We ended up with around 400 bulbs total (our smallest crop ever) and plan on saving at least 150 bulbs for seed to plant in the fall.

The garlic is now hanging upstairs in the barn where it will cure for at least three weeks before being cleaned.

NOTE: For anyone thinking about growing garlic, in the U.S. now is the time of year to start looking for seed garlic. I have never seen seed garlic it sold in stores or garden centers but an internet search should produce many options. In northern parts (colder climates) fall is the time of year for planting garlic (about 6 weeks before the ground freezes). Then it should sprout up in the spring around the time the daffodils and other bulbs start sprouting.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

The War On Weeds

In any war it is important to have a strategy and that includes the gardener’s “War On Weeds”. I don’t think it is possibly to have a garden that is perpetually weed free, so I don’t know that it is possible to truly win the war. I am going to share some tips, though, that might help you win some of the battles.

The Plan Of Attack

We have learned over the years that pulling weeds when the soil is moist is the best approach. When the soil is dry the roots are reaching deep into the earth searching for water. This makes digging them difficult and pulling them next to impossible. When the soil is moist the roots are relaxed and can be pulled out much easier. Weeding in the morning when the soil is moist or after a rain will make your work much easier.

Keep Your Enemy In Check

Most plants will reproduce by forming flowers or seed heads. In order to keep the plants from multiplying (often exponentially) remove the weed before it forms flowers or goes to seed.

Know Your Enemy

Being able to identify the type of weed and how it grows can be most helpful in ridding it permanently from your garden. Plants that are annuals and are pulled or cut before they go to seed should be gone for good. Other plants that are biennial (taking two years to mature) or perennial (come back every year) will need to have their entire root removed otherwise they will continue to grow back. Some perennial’s, like Canadian thistle and sow thistle, have roots systems that run horizontally under ground. When the shoot/plant is pulled and detached from the horizontal root it will, in a quest for survival, send up several more shoots. (A loosing battle.) However cutting the shoot/plant at ground level will deprive it of the ability to perform photosynthesis. That particular shoot may grow back and need to be cut another time or two before the plant (root) dies.

In the past we have had much success in getting rid of thistles from lawn or field areas by mowing the area throughout the summer. This year as I weed my prayer garden I am on a mission to eradicate thistles, so I am cutting them with the intention of coming back once a week to cut any that are starting to grow back. Wish me luck!

Happy gardening! 🙂

55 Things # 22 – Dirt Don’t Hurt

Click here to learn more about my “55 Things” and here to view previous posts in this series.

Gardening season is upon us, and yes, we have been busy playing in the dirt. Tilling and planting began nearly two weeks ago. My husband planted potatoes and cabbage after the threat of frost and freezing temperatures was presumably over. He has since, in between rain days, planted tomatoes, eggplant, squash and pumpkins, sunflowers and buckwheat. There are still seeds to go in the ground but we are off to a good start.

Weeding has also begun. I spent some time pulling weeds in the asparagus patch and about three hours on Wednesday weeding the garlic bed. Weeding the Prayer Garden is next on my list.

The contrary among you may argue that the title of this post,  Dirt Don’t Hurt, is misleading because there are ways that dirt can be harmful to us. That I will concede. Now that I’ve got you here though I would like to share some ways that dirt may therapeutic.

Grounding or Earthing

Grounding or earthing refers to the simple act of placing our bare feet on the natural ground, such as dirt, sand or grass. By doing that, we are in direct contact with the Earth. While the proposed science behind it is explained in this article some of the heath benefits are said to be reduced inflammation, reduce stress, improve mood, reduced pain. Personally I don’t care how it works I just know that it feels good to go barefoot in the cool green grass or on a sand beach.

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil

A while back a Rory, a fellow blogger included this interesting article in his gardening series. The article explains that “The soil microbe mycobacterium vaccae has been found to mirror the effect on neurons in the brain that drugs like Prozac can provide, but without side effects.” It also suggests that the benefits may be gained either topically by having your hands in the soil or by inhaling it while working in the garden.

All this time I’ve been using the term “garden  therapy” I never thought that there may be some science behind it I just knew that I find working in the garden enjoyable and I feel good when I do it.

Bacillus Subtilis Probiotic

It was right around the time I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease that I began including probiotics in my diet daily. Largely I was doing this by eating and drinking fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha. There did seem to be a connection between my poor digestion and some of the other symptoms of the PD, and probiotics did have some positive effects.

Bacillus subtilis is a probiotic that is derived from the soil and as this article explains is able to endure extreme conditions such as heat, dryness, humidity and acidity. It is said to improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, suppress harmful pathogens, strengthen the mucosal biofilm and enhance the growth of other probiotic strains.

Several months ago my husband came across  this information which describes studies being done on bacillus subtilis in relationship to PD and positive results that are being seen. This got my attention. This particular strain of probiotic is not one that is included in the many probiotic supplements that I found on the store shelves. I did find one blend at a nutrition store that contained it but beyond that it is easier to find online.

I have been taking bacillus subtilis supplements for a few months now and have noticed several benefits to my health.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to “Play in the Dirt” this summer. 🙂