And I thought 2020 was different. 2021 seems to be an equal challenge.
Although I worked less, I worked harder last year.
This year is following suit with less merchandise available.
At the end of November, I tested for covid and passed the test. I stayed home for 2 weeks. Retested negative and returned to work.
Made it thru inventory and soon thru tax time. But once again the best laid plans are on hold.
January brought more snow than I recall in this area.
At the end of January, my sweet Annie was diagnosed with a malfunctioning epiglottis. I now know what is causing her problems. On Feb 2nd I realized it was too late. I had to put her to sleep. I am so sad as she was my sweetheart.
Then on Feb 3rd, I was walking Stretch who is vintage as well. It was dark and I was watching him but not where I was going. Slipped on gravel and broke my leg. Hobbled home, grabbed crutches and drove myself to the hospital. With a temporary cast and new crutches, I came home. Ate dinner late and headed to bed only to get tangled up with the sticky rubber on the crutches. I lost my balance and fell hard on a crutch breaking my hip. Stubborness made me wait till the next day to call EMTs and the rest is history. Both broken bones were operated on, the balance of the month in rehab and now grounded at home. Home health comes to continue therapy but being home is the best therapy of all.
I was saddened to peek into the greenhouse to see that I have lost the majority of my tropical plants. Our cold was down to single digits and stayed below freezing for an extended period of time. This second bout of weather brought more snow (but not enough to insulate) and a 24 hour period of sleet/ice. This wooded area of Texas is prone to limbs and trees damaging power lines. My home was out of power for an extended time. All was well but I sincerely doubt I could have prevented the loss in the greenhouse had I even been home.
Even knowing what to expect, I was in tears and couldn't assess what might have survived. The next day I ventured out for some two sided velcro that I use for tomato vines. I am using it to seal the garbage bag on my leg so I can shower. A shower is one of many blessings to be grateful for. Many folks in this area are still without water over 10 days later.
On this second trip to the greenhouse I noticed a few of the hardier succulents may be all right or revive from the root systems. I will deal with that later. As a believer in things happening for reasons, I will have to ponder the direction this will take me.
In the raised beds that I had planted for winter, I was delighted to harvest lettuce, mizuna, pak choy, radicchio, cilantro, endive leaves. It made for a delightful fresh salad, counted as another blessing. Most of these greens had managed to shake off the ice and snow.
The mustard will make a come back although the taller leaves were laid low. The Di Cicco broccoli is toast. The growth with the radishes, beets, carrots and peas was slowed but all will take off as well. The bed of garlic and multiplying onions show frost bite but aren't harmed.
I had jumped the gardening gun and planted a small bed of potatoes about a month earlier than normal. They had nice growth on top but the tops were pruned back from the freeze. I have no doubt the potatoes will be fine. Yesterday I saw a pop of green potato foliage coming back to assure me all will be well.
An interesting note on my lettuce, I had two types planted. Little Gem and Parris Island. I find that neither was killed by severe or lengthy freeze, ice or snow but Little Gem had frost bite damage on the perimeter of the leaves. The Parris Island is apparently more cold hardy.
I had started seedlings for tomatoes and of course they are history as well. Perhaps I can get my seeds restarted while I am off from work. The greenhouse will keep till I am in a mood to deal with it.
pod said:This start of garlic was shared with me by an older man in this area. I have grown it for almost 30 years now. He had grown it for years and told me that in earlier days it used to be grown as a cash crop here. (I would guess in the 1940s). He told me about areas where it grows wild in the ditches. I am still aware of one of those spots. The bulbs volunteer each fall and grow through winter before the mowing crews cut the foliage back in June.
I was relocating my garlic bed so this is on my mind. I keep it in a permanent bed. New growth starts in October or November, usually correlating with a slow soaking rain. It will grow through winter putting blooms on in the spring. Then dying back in May. I leave it in ground and dig as needed.
With no exceptions, it is a single clove or bulb. The garlic is spicy (almost hot).
These are some of the bulbs and bulbils that I relocated.
The front half of this bed is the new growth on the replanted garlic.
I have read about single clove garlic being in use in other countries but wonder if anyone here has ever run across it as a growing crop in the US. Does anyone have any thoughts on this garlic?
Leftwood said:Very cool! I am always looking for garlic strains that grow with a small number of large cloves. Sometimes if I start with a small clove, it doesn't divide that season, but then it never gets that big! And I've never heard of a garlic that never produces multiple cloves. At least in my eyes, I think it is something special, and I am envious. I see it is a hardneck type which are hardy here in Minnesota.
So if it never divides, then you have to raise new plants from the sets on the flower stalk?
pod said:Thanks for your interest. It actually sends out little bulbs underground. I've never seen it develop bulbils on the flowers and honestly don't recall seeing seed either.
When I dig them, I find large bulbs as well as medium and small sized. Then there are tiny bulbs (?) which I don't currently have a photo. They are odd looking with a flat side on them and don't resemble the garlic bulb.
Your comment about it being a hardneck type is interesting to me. If I recall, that is indicative of the bloom?
I confuse myself with all the articles I've read but I believe this would normally be considered a garlic suited for the north. I am not sure it would endure your hard freezing winter ground though. Do you leave garlic in ground in winter?
Leftwood said:Your description makes me wonder if you really have a true garlic, the type that is normally eaten. (But not that yours isn't edible!) Garlics grown for consumption don't produce offsets, or send out roots/stolons/short stems underground to make new bulbs. The mother bulbs "divides" into a mass of individually wrapped cloves within one large wrapped bulb like you see in the grocery store. The number of cloves per bulb usually ranges from 3 to 30. Cultivated garlic does not produce seed, or actual flowers with petals, but goes straight to producing tiny bulbs in the head where the flowers and seed would be. Growers usually remove the flowering stem before maturity. Do you have a pic of the flowers? I wonder if it could be a wild form, perhaps native to your area? We have two species of wild onion here in Minnesota and one wild garlic. All are Allium species.
Hardneck refers to the stiff flowering stem that this type of garlic has. Yes, it is much more cold hardy, and most of them do well in Minnesota. We plant them in the fall, and they grow roots, but usually wait until spring to grow above ground. Softneck garlics produce stems that are not very stiff. They are the ones that can be braided together. Can't do that with hardneck garlic.
pod said:Thanks, that is interesting information. I am going to have to do some digging for a photo of the bloom on this plant. If I can find it, I will post. If not, it may have to wait till next May. Thanks again for taking the time to explain the process to me.
pod said:I found some of the small bulbs I mentioned earlier. These are corms and as I have read, it is similar to the way elephant garlic reproduces.
I am searching my external hard drive for a photo of this garlic bloom as well. Will post if I find it.
pod said:This weekend, I dug this bulb with the next generation of garlic bulbs still attached to the roots.
When I locate a photo of the bloom, I will attach it.
pod said:Never was able to locate a photo. They have now bloomed. The foliage is now dying down for the summer.
If anyone has a thought on this ID, I would appreciate it.
Deebie said:I'm curious as to an ID. I think I have that same allium, as a passalong plant. My friend who gave them to me, says it's a garlic and eats them. I don't. I treat mine as an ornamental allium.
pod said:@Deebie ~ how interesting! Is your very tall? Have you ever sampled them?
I was hoping someone had some hands on experience with the garlics from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. They have a single clove garlic called Solo. I would love to compare them.
This has been an enjoyable and productive April. I promised myself to see the good in each day. I started each day with a project to tackle and usually ended up accomplishing that as well as another that I hadn't planned on. I also incorporated a little time for me every day with either a nap or a book.
The weather has been accommodating for the most part. There has been a good amount of rain which has impeded some of my planned projects but they will be there when ready.
All of the garden beds have been planted and growing amazingly well. I also managed to assemble the sixth raised bed. Now I have decided I have room for one more, I will have to order another. The location I intend to put it has flowers currently. As they finish blooming, I am digging, potting or relocating them.
On the vegetable plants, I have lost a few. The first tomato plant to come up missing was dug up by an unknown nighttime marauder, perhaps one of my own. I think the critter dug it up because I use powdered milk at the base of the tomatoes which seems to prevent BER. After that I protected the tomato plants with wire baskets. Should have done that to begin with... I have lost a cucumber also and never found it but there will still be plenty of tomato and cucumber plants to enjoy. There are first blooms on the Waltham Butternut squash and Carbon tomatoes. I also planted two Piel de Sapo melons which are promoted as good to store for a period of time. Fingers crossed for success.
As I am loathe to give up on my fresh lettuce, I am nursing a bed of old lettuce and have planted new batches of Parris Island, Little Gem, Mustard and Kale. If possible I will provide shade to keep them limping along. I also decided to experiment with summer Cilantro. New growth to harvest before it bolts is my plan.
Other plantings are Cannellini beans to share a cucumber trellis, New Guinea basil, dill, lemon grass, Pipicha. Red morning glory vines will climb another trellis with some of the tomatoes. I planted a row of stock along the length of one bed. Perhaps for the pollinators but the fragrance will be for my enjoyment. Still needing to be planted, the peppers, the sweeties (if they survive), two different types of egg plants and Spilanthes,
Sweeties (if they survive) was an order from Shumways for a Porto Rico vineless sweet potato. I bought a dozen with hopes of these being suitable for a raised bed. The shipping/packing was probably not the best due to the flu virus putting a strain on all aspects of business. The plants weren't all well rooted, the packing wasn't sealed well enough to retain the moisture so the sphagnum moss had totally dried out. I attempted to revive them. At present they are in moistened soil and it looks like I may save four out of the dozen.
A few days later their next package had Big Kahuna Blue Ring Ginger root. The dry dirt was seeping out of the shipping box. The container with root had lost most of its' soil. Why it was even shipped in soil, I do not know.
I have shipped enough plants over the years to think they certainly have room for improving their packing. I don't believe I will order anything beyond seed from them in the future but also see no percentage in complaining to them. I am sure these are unusual times even for them.
I managed to expand the brick flooring in the shade house and after the plants were situated I added a temporary shade cloth to protect from the evening sun. It has become a haven not just for my plants but also for my pets and I. In the afternoon with the days projects done, I grab a fresh cup of coffee and a good book enjoying the birds singing, the hummers buzzing. A nice way to wind down at the end of a day.
I had been casually looking for a pair of night stands for the guest bedroom. It occurred to me that I had two old ones in storage that I had intended to refinish back in 2004. I dug them out, determined they would work and stripped the paint. The wood was pretty but not in the best condition so I opted to repaint. I used white paint left over from the house woodwork. They are painted and suitable. When I can shop, I will look for new drawer pulls.
After much rain, I have had many herbs needing harvesting. On the drying rack are lemon balm, lemon thyme, oregano, Texas tarragon, rosemary, cilantro and Estafiate. In the dehydrator, the bulbils from the garlic chives. I noticed that the comfrey has put on two bloom stalks. When done, I will cut it back also.
I learned that I can use parchment paper in the dehydrator rather than purchase the expensive sheets from the company.
I knew but validated the fact that wheat and white flour as well as jars of yeast store well in the freezer. I leave the yeast in jars and I put the bags of flour in sealed plastic bags.
I have learned that I can use the old time canning jars with the glass lid and wire bail to ferment my vegetables. In order to vent them I will only need to pull the rubber ring to relieve the pressure build up. I rummaged though the canning jars and found I had four quart jars and one quart and a half jar. I also had some pints but left them in storage for now.
I have found that cedar shavings spread around the perimeter of the house do indeed repel scorpions. It has been many moons since I have encountered one. At its' peak, I was finding them daily in the house.
I have learned to run water in the unused drains a few times weekly to keep water in the trap to control odor in the house. In order to conserve water, I keep a quart jar by the kitchen sink and fill it while waiting for the dishwater to run warm. That is a perfect amount for adding to the traps.
Many household projects have been accomplished, new recipes tested, my sanity restored.
I have proven to many doubting friends that I could indeed become a hermit! And now, it's back to work...
Home for some time off due to the virus and what a wonderful time of year to be off from work. Although the ground has stayed too wet and the temperatures too warm already, I promised myself to find the good in each day ahead.
I have a list of projects for indoors when it rains and another list for outdoors when the sun shines.
I have been laying bricks for the summer shade house floor. It is close to the greenhouse and easy to move plants in or out. I hope to take some time to lay more bricks expanding the floor. I also need to fix more shade cloth covering for the scorching summer evening sun.
In the garden spot I have five 3' x6' raised beds which are making my life easier. I have a sixth one which I will be assembling but am waiting for the summer flowers to develop so I can dig and relocate them. It will probably be too hot by then to finish or plant the last bed.
I have half of one bed dedicated to multiplier onions and the other half is home to the old single clove garlic bulbs which a friend shared with me years ago. These plants will shelter in place year around.
Two beds have winter crops which are winding down. One is snow peas that are wilting from the early heat/humidity. I plan on turning them under this week to make room for tomatoes and cucumbers.
The other winter crop bed is half full of romaine lettuce. Today I pulled up all the red lettuce and promised myself I will not plant them again. I really dislike the texture of red lettuce. It exhibits its' delicacy with this heat by melting.
The green romaine is quite durable. I have two that I really like. Little Gem and Parris Island. To harvest, I pull the whole plant, trim off the roots and toss them in the compost. Amazingly, many plants with new growth have popped up from the roots in the compost bed. Today I transplanted them to a half bed 3" x 3' . They were wilting with the sun/heat so I covered with shade cloth. When I peeked at them an hour later, they had perked right up. Hopefully that will keep the lettuce coming for a few more weeks. I always hate to see the lettuce season wind down.
In the fourth bed, I still have Canary Chard and Cilantro. Today I added 4 Carbon tomato plants, 4 Waltham Butternut squash and 3 Green Fingers cucumbers.
The fifth bed was planted with cover crops that I have cut back and turned it once. I need to turn it again before planting in it. I will not use winter wheat for a cover crop again. The root system was so thick it is difficult to dig in.
I am still working on the logistics as I have 8 more cucumber plants and 19 tomato plants to place in ground. Five of these are the Sleeping Lady tomatoes and will be in large containers. The rest are black tomatoes and will be planted in the raised beds. The peppers are slow to germinate and won't go into ground till later.
Another "to do" will be to mulch these beds early with pine straw. I think it will be imperative with these temps to help keep the roots cooler and to retain moisture as it will surely stop raining some day.
No it won't!
I have been patiently awaiting a driveway installation but it has remained too wet for the past year. They placated me by bringing out a piece of equipment in late summer. It only irritates me to see it sitting there as I wade through the mud. I have inherited a cat with it. This is a male who is diligent about marking our territory. Grrrr… I have not encouraged him to stay. I believe he belongs to the neighbors. He hasn't really fought with my cats but little Nosy Rosie is scared of him. I am not sure why.
My Mom always said when the strays would ramble through that it was "catting season". Guess that is why he hangs with us but all mine are neutered and spayed so no catting around here.
So tomorrow, rain is projected and I will do bookwork, finish the wingback chair which I have been upholstering, dig out the two night stands from storage so I can prep them for painting, catch up on some reading. I have assessed my pantry and shouldn't need more than occasional dairy products and could do without if necessary. Fun to be ordered to stay home for a change.
The year of the Instant Pot ~ New Years Resolution for 2019
I picked up an Instant Pot as a replacement for my deceased slow cooker in 2016. I liked the variety of features it offered.
At that time, I was having the house rebuilt and was living in the small shop. I used the slow cooker often. Without internet access, I never researched recipes or hints for the pressure cooker feature. The manual included was mediocre at best.
Later that year while moving back into the house and still working, the slow cooker was still being excercised but I never slowed down long enough to experiment with the pressure cooker feature of the Instant Pot.
Fast forward to 2019... I was determined to master the pressure cooker and decide how useful this feature was.
Lots of tips and recipes later, this is what I've found.
I found that it is excellent for boiling eggs. Yes, boiling eggs. It is quick and the past years worth of boiled eggs have never failed to peel neatly, even yard eggs which are normally relentless about giving up their shells.
I found that fresh vegetables steam wonderfully in the instant pot. Wash and prepare by cutting if desired, add 1 cup of water, place produce in the steamer basket, seal and set the manual timer set at 0 pressure. That's right zero pressure. It took me a bit to wrap my brain around this one. Seal the lid and set the timer at zero. When the pot reaches pressure it immediately turns off. I have cooked fresh asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and beans in this manner and all taste wonderful!
One of my Labs has a skin allergy that is suspected to be food related. I decided to start cooking the soft food that I add to their grain free dry. I have used many ingredients, simply chopped and dumped into the pot, then cooked thoroughly and mashed with a potato masher. Foods that have been included are:
beef, boneless chicken parts
using broth for a liquid,
sweet potatoes, brown rice, squash, pumpkin, beans, quinoa, barley
cauliflower, broccoli, peas, carrots, green beans and blueberries
I'm sure more that I am not thinking of at the moment. I read that if you had (and I did) part bags of frozen vegies, they can also be added. This helped clean out the freezer. After it is cooked and cooled, I portion it and freeze to be used on a daily basis. I have yet to have these guys turn their noses up at this food. Easy to fix and healthier for them, I can't see a down side. The kitten and some of the big cats love this as well.
Tips, bonuses and hints:
My water left deposits in the base of the inner pot. When boiling eggs, I occasionally add a splash of vinegar.
Food stains can be removed using ceramic cooktop cleaner.
Make sure the eggs to be boiled aren't cracked in the least or they will expand, leaking. It makes the steamer basket difficult to clean.
If you do not want food over cooked, release pressure immediately or it will continue to cook.
Always use natural pressure release for meats. Quick release will make the meat tough.
Instant Pot accessories I have found useful:
A steam basket by Hatrigo. Thank you for this suggestion @gasrocks
A second inner pot liner so I can cook in succession.
A lid to keep the first inner pot food warm.
Spare gaskets ~ Because the gaskets will take on the odor of food cooked, some people use one for seasoned foods and one for sweets. I haven't noticed it imparting the taste to what I am cooking but did want a spare gasket.
Silicone moulds with lids to cook egg bites.
Springform cake pan ~ to make cakes bake thoroughly, I find using a pint jar in the center will help.
Trivet with handles to remove the egg bite molds and the cake pan easily.
I don't mind the preparation of food but I am not a cook. I dislike standing over the stove to tend to things. I get distracted and what is cooking often gets neglected.
The Instant Pot requires assembling the food, programming the settings and being near by when it is done. My kind of cooking.
It is also easy to clean up. The preparation tools get washed while the Pot is cooking and all that remains is the inner pot when finished.
I find that I have not used the slow cooker feature one time this year.
I believe my New Years resolution for 2019 was successful!
A few recipes I have experimented with follow... most have been snagged from the internet. Some have been tweaked to suit me.