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Shhhhh – Go to Sleep Asparagus

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It is October 29th and my asparagus just won’t lay down and go into their winter slumber. This morning we finally had a low 40 degree temperature so maybe they will get the message and stay in bed! As a parent I remember those days when the little ones did not want to stay in their beds. It was a tiring and a bit painful series of nights but the kids finally figured out that mom and dad were not going to give in. They finally stayed in their beds!

The asparagus, now that is a different dilemma. They do not listen….their cue’s are taken entirely from the environment and they ignore my planned schedule for their winter sleep. I trimmed them back several weeks ago but the stubborn root crowns are still sending up shoots. It is a mixed blessing, the nicer, thicker shoots have found their way into the kitchen and the skinny ones that reach on up are sending a little more energy back into the buried crowns. I would like to get the bed deeply covered in mulch and fertilized for the next spring but…..as with the kids, I need to be a little more stubborn than they are and a little more patient. Yes, easier said than done.

I harvested a few spears today and plan on incorporating them into a meal tomorrow night. I inspected the new strawberry plants that my wife has so nicely cared for in my recent absence – nicely done Hun, they look healthy! I planted another round of beets, Danvers carrots, Cozmic Purple carrots, Watermelon Radish seeds and pulled a bunch of never ending weeds. I have a lot of tomatoes that are needing to turn red or at least break that direction real soon. The lemons are mostly yellow now, my little buddy Caleb down the street wants to pick them now! A couple of cucumbers are nearly ready and I have some turnips that are maturing. I have a bin with some potatoes that seem to be doing well…..an extension of the spring’s experimentation. Oh, the Ancho pepper plants(2) are overloaded and will be donated at the farmers market on Thursday. Wish I knew how to do chili rellenos ….. these are perfect size and flavor…..

I feel blessed to have this weather, high of 70 today and mid 80’s by Thursday. I can’t help but pray for and wish the best for the folks on the East Coast in the path of Sandy. At least the 13 days I spent without power after Hurricane Ike was accompanied by decent weather. I hope all y’all are well prepared and will work to help your neighbors in need.

One for the kitchen, one for the root crowns and couple just starting to break the surface.

A squad destined for the kitchen. Thank you lads for being so persistent.

Strawberry Towers with Sweet Charlie plugs looking healthy and snug in their new home.

TTFN

Bishop

Remembering

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Remembering is holding on to the memories that have shaped and defined our lives. I would love to be sharing a garden post with you today but it will just have to wait…I flew in from California early Friday morning, zipped off to the house, exchanged some hugs, spent 10 minutes seeing how well my wife had cared for the garden(well done Hun!), packed and drove 280 miles to Baton Rouge to see my son Benjamin. Time together that I think we both really needed. (FYI – to my English major friends…yes, some lengthy sentences but that is how my thoughts come out most of the time)

I read a blog post this morning from a young artist who uses acrylics, bold colors and textures depicting the sights and motions of the world around us. I say motion because her paintings, at least to my eye they convey movement, motion and energy. My tastes tend to be less abstract than her art, nonetheless I can still see and feel the energy she captures. She tells of creating a special painting to take to her infirmed mother. Her post caused a flood of thoughts and a vivid memory.

The triggered memory was a vivid day long memory I shared with my father in October of 2001. This was the last time to see him before he passed away at the end of following month. We were able to get him loaded up into the minivan for a drive.  He asked to be driven up into the mountains around Bakersfield, California. We drove up into the Walker Basin, an area where we had spent time hunting quail. The Walker Basin is one of those stark but beautiful places, rarely visited off the major highway passing through the Tehachapi Mountains…..probably just as the residents spread out across the area would prefer.

We returned through Bodfish and stopped at the park in Kernville adjacent to the Kern River. It is a quiet place where we had spent countless hours fishing, both here and far upstream into the Sierras. I unloaded the wheelchair and pushed Dad down the path to be near the river. We could hear the sound of the water gurgling and splashing over the polished rocks and boulders. There was a young man doing his balancing act, hopping from boulder to boulder, trying to find the best locations as he stalked the rainbow trout. I remember as young child marveling at the balance and daring of my father as I watched doing the same ballet across streams and rivers….always wanting to be able do what I witnessed him doing. Our young angler caught several trout while we watched. The simple joy of watching him do something that Dad and I had shared so many times brought a smile to both of our faces, a silent communication that requires no words. His last weeks were a constant battle with the pain that was consuming his body but he still found relief and joy in sharing our memories, even if silently said.

I had an inexpensive disposable camera on the trip. Even in its simplicity it captured images that are priceless reminders of that day and the thousands we shared before those last few days I had with him. Over time our relationship had evolved, from a son looking up to his father, through the tumultuous years of a rebellious hell raising lad and culminating in my father becoming my best friend. The simple picture I share below is a powerful image and memory for me. It represents a view that he and I shared, he saw it, I saw it, it captures a moment in time that touches my heart every time I look at it. It represents memories  that I strive to both create and share with my family.

Cherish those special moments and create as many memories with those that you love as time and God will allow.

The Kern River from the park in Kernville, October 2001.

TTFN

Long Beach California – Someone Has to Take One for the Team

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I am seriously missing my wife and my garden this week….(did i get the order correct Hun?) Ah, the life of a consultant! I focus on the oilfield industries so I am off to some of the garden spots of the producing world….in the US I go out to Midland Texas quite often….great people but it is definitely not much of a garden spot. Hobbs New Mexico….nearly the same as Midland but in a different time zone. Williston North Dakota – grain fields, pump jacks and man camps as far as the eye can see. Laredo Texas …. nuff said.

Well this week I am in the oil patch in the middle of Long Beach California. The training room is at the Reef Restaurant out near the Queen Mary cruise ship. The weather is so nice, the scenery is so green, blue and awesome. The first photo is looking off of the balcony of the training room looking toward the Queen Mary. I brought my newly repaired Nikon J1 but I failed to check nor charge the battery….so you have iPhone captures…you still get the idea. Can you spot the oil rig in the photo…..it is there but pretty well disguised.

Queen Mary and a Carnival Lines ship moored behind it….

Working, gotta do it but being in an area like this does ease the pain. Everything grows so well here …… makes me want to find away to move my backyard farm this direction! So, this next iPhone shot is out the window behind the folks in the class….otherwise they wouldn’t be looking at me nor learning.

Looking across the small bay toward the Long Beach Convention Center.

Lots of palm trees, succulents, flowers and that cool ocean breeze. Why can’t I convince my other clients to use this facility…..may not be economic but I would certainly be happier.

TTFN

Bishop

Rose Petal Jelly and Other Gardening News

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I stepped out into the front yard yesterday and picked up the scent of my wife’s roses in bloom. What immediately hit my mind was an article I read a few days ago about “Rose Petal Jelly”. I knew that I had to get it made this weekend before I left for Long Beach California for a week-long session with a client.

I picked this recipe up from “The Creamer Chronicles” blog. Easy recipe!

The ingredients you need are:
1 cup packed fresh flower petals
3 cups of water
Juice of one lemon
1 box powdered pectin
4 cups sugar

“Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and stir in the roses. Remove from the heat, and let the mixture steep for 10 minutes, as if you were making rose-petal tea. Strain the “tea” making sure to squeeze the petals to get every last drop of flavor out of them. Now this is where the magic happens: Pour in the fresh lemon juice and the “tea” turns back into the color of the flowers you used………”

The jelly making from this point forward is pretty straight forward. After steeping, I went triple the 10 minute suggestion. I poured the tea through a coffee filter before the jelly cooking process.  Stir in the pectin and bring to a boil. Add the sugar stirring constantly and return to a full boil. Boil for 2 minutes at a full boil, remove from heat and skim any foam off before ladling into clean sterilized jars. I went ahead and processed the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

A small rose shown with the jelly. The jelly does take on a hue very similar to the color of the petals used.

I also put a few more strawberry plants out this afternoon. I ordered “Sweet Charlie” plugs from Ison’s Nursery. They are a recommended variety for my Zone 9 gardening area. I filled my strawberry towers and filled in a few spots in my beds. I had 5 of the 50 remaining so I went over to John’s house, you remember him, Mr. 2 – 4X4 raised beds that I tend part-time. He has been smitten and does a pretty good job keeping stuff alive.

My home-made dibble used to plant some strawberry plugs.

I thought that my Asparagus bed was done for the season…beginning to yellow and die back. I cut it back a week ago and look what I find. A few of the root crowns are still pushing up spears. I love to just snap them off in the garden, give them a quick rinse and munch away…..so sweet!

Renegade asparagus – I cut it all back last week and I have a few trying to break out…Guess I’ll just have to eat them!

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

Gardening In Hot Water

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If you read my last post,” A Letter to Home”, you probably realize that if I had indeed been serious, I would have been in serious hot water. Fortunately my wife somewhat tolerates my tongue in cheek adventures. I received some feedback on the post from my cousin Sandy how read the post and picked up on my intent pretty early on.

“By the coffee grounds I was LOL !  Yes, good thing you don’t have a dog house!

Sandy”

Now as for Ms. Gloanah Bruce, I am not so sure see immediately saw the humor that I had intended. She posted to my Facebook –

Gloanah wrote: “And this is my son, I didn””’t teach him that kind of behavior. His MOM”

Sorry Mom….I was only trying to have some fun – Uh oh, I can hear her words now, “It is only fun until somebody gets hurt!”

Let me try to redeem myself. I did not immediately rush out to the garden to check on it when I returned home from my trip. I waited a good 45 minutes, visited with my bride, confirmed that she had understood my last post as intended. She did, but she also reminded me that my Mom had made the comment about us maybe not making that 31st anniversary milestone on October 2nd 2013! I hope Mom was being tongue in cheek. There are risks to attempts at humor….should I put the disclaimer at the top of the post or is the bottom position OK???????

The garden looked very healthy upon my return. Kathy kept the moisture levels just right, appeared to have pulled a few weeds, Hun you really didn’t have too! I also decided to take a peek under the abundant asparagus foliage. The plants are doing very well. I also discovered another sweet potato hiding under the dense ferns. I suspect that I will discover a few more when I cut the ferns back.

I hope that I have stepped out of the hot water, at least for a bit…..I will probably find something to write about that will raise the temperature again….but it is always meant to be in jest, well maybe mostly in jest…..My Valentines Day post and poll hit a hot button amongst family and friends!!!! I still think the SS Sink was a great gift.

A view of the asparagus stems at ground level supporting the canopy of ferns above. I will cut it all back to ground level soon – and maybe discover a few more sweet potatoes lurking in the soil.

TTFN

Bishop

A Letter to Home

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Dear Kathy,

It seems that I have been on the road far too many times this year. I haven’t slept well on this trip and the only factor that comes to mind has nothing to do with the bed quality, the room or the hotel…….it has to do with missing you and not having you here with me. I wish that we had opportunities for you to travel with me when I am off on my consulting trips. One more day and I will be home! I do miss you.

By the way how is the garden coming along? I know that some of the lettuces and carrots were beginning to look good. While you were out in the garden watering, did you remember to pull the weeds that seem to be constantly invading the garden? If you get a chance pull the slats out of the compost bin and turn the contents over for me. The pitch fork is located next to the bins. Try doing it early in the morning Hun because you will work up a bit of a sweat while lifting the heavy fork loads, but take your time …. I don’t want you worn out for my return on Friday. I trust that you have been feeding the worms all of the vegetable scraps and pulverized egg shells – please use the coffee grinder to pulverize the shells but also remember to wipe it out so it won’t contaminate my coffee.

Here is an example of what the pulverized eggshells and coffee grounds should look like.

I wasn’t able to run the weed-whacker around the edges of the garden before I left so if you would fire it up and knock the weeds down if you would Hun! he engine can be a little temperamental – push the fuel bulb 6-8 times, put the choke lever over on full choke for a couple of pulls, then mid choke for a couple and then open and it should start. Make sure you wear eye protection….you know how much I love the beautiful star eye look…you know what I mean. Before it gets too warm please rake up the weeds and dump them in the freshly turned compost bin.
I know how good you are at tidying things up so if you would, try organizing the tool cabinet hanging over in the corner. I also have quite a few stakes piled up over  there too ….could you just move them around a little to make it look a little better. Please wear gloves when you handle the stakes…they have some spurs and slivers – I would feel so bad if you hurt your beautiful and loving hands. Oh, on the rack in that same corner would you also roll up the kayak straps and place them in the garage.

Again Dear, thank you and I am so anxious to get back home and spend some time in your warm embrace.

Your loving husband,

Bishop

Smile all y’all – some of the above was really tongue in cheek! Fortunately we don’t have a dog, I could be sleeping with the dog for a few nights….

TTFN

Bishop

 

Gardening Perspective – Thrifty or Cheap?

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Am I cheap or am I thrifty? I guess, if I were to answer my own question, I would say yes! I am a bit of both. For example, this morning I was out in the garden straightening a few things up. As I was removing some of the supports/stakes for the cucumber vines I started saving bits and pieces of twine to use next time I need to support my vines. Twine, jute garden twine is about $ 2.00 for a 200 foot roll, that’s about a penny per foot. In about 10 minutes I saved maybe 50 feet of twine, 50 cents worth. That works out to a $ 3.00 per hour rate of return….. That sounds cheap to me! I will probably continue to waste my time with this effort. The twine is a very slow decomposer in my compost piles.

My ball of twine salvaged!

A diffrent look at my salvage efforts.

$$$$$ Saved eh? Some twine and a few stakes/supports…about a 3 year life for the crepe myrtle limbs.

The supports/stakes I use in the garden are from my Crepe Myrtles. Ugh….Just read how to prune Crepe Myrtles and my technique has been labeled crepe murder! My technique does produce an abundance of tall straight limbs that I use to support vines and such in the garden. My technique produces knobby looking plants. This past year I looked at some of the professionally trimmed crepes and modified my technique but I inherited stumpy crepes when I moved in…. don’t take that statement as a political jab at the current administration…I would never do that. My Crepe Myrtle is definitely not better off than it was 4 years ago. But, I have saved money over buying commercial stakes/supports. A six foot bamboo stake will cost a buck and a half. I use 50 or so every year. I am saving at least $ 75.00 annually – I am discounting the labor cost because I have to cut the crepe myrtle every year regardless of the use of the limbs….I am also keeping waste out of the landfill – my verdict – thrifty and “green”!

An example of the mess I inherited! Murder is a strong word – lets just say brutalized!

The way they should be!!!

What aspire to accomplish…..may require removal of the brutalized example in my yard!

A link to a pruning lesson and the source of the photos…

http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2009/02/24/what-concerns-p/

A spring look at a portion of my garden using the crepe myrtle limbs –

Supports/Stakes in action this past spring.

A Vibrating Garden Visitor

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I went out into the garden today intending to shoot a series of macro photos showing how a flower blossom matures from bud to seed cone. I may still share the sequence with you in the future but I had a pleasant surprise visitor in the midst of my photo sessions…. a bumblebee that completely ignored me as it went about its business of gathering pollen from the subject blossoms. I did ask him to buzz my tomato plant blossoms but he ignored me….guess I will have to don my hoop striped shirt and buzz them with my electric toothbrush again!

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