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Strawberry Quickie

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Maybe not what you were thinking but I went out with the camera this morning after the storm front had passed to check on the garden and in particular, the strawberries. I was greeted by clear blue skies, much nicer temperatures … a nice break from the mid to high humid 70’s we have been experiencing and a seemingly happy garden. The sun felt nice, the shade was cool and the breeze was stirring up the leaves not yet sequestered in my compost bins. While out in the garden I attacked some of the never ending supply of weeds, checked on the carrots, yes-the strawberries too, made notes to pull out the remaining pepper plants and checked on the internal compost bin temperatures…..getting pretty darned warm.

Take a gander at my strawberry shots below….I suspect that I will break the old record…I should have my first ripe berry in just a few days. My guess is February 3rd +/-. I may be able to thank global warming for the bounty. I am continuing my reading and knowledge building with the issues around global warming….an opinion piece will be coming in the near future.

Now for the feature presentation; Strawberries.

January 30th - Should be ripe soon!

January 30th – Should be ripe soon!

One of the Strawberry tower pockets headed toward a bountiful harvest.

One of the Strawberry tower pockets headed toward a bountiful harvest.

A look at one of the ground based plants. I will have to watch for competitors...There are some bugs that also enjoy juicy red berries!

A look at one of the ground based plants. I will have to watch for competitors…There are some bugs that also enjoy juicy red berries!

Another ground based plant setting lots of potentially sweet berries!

Another ground based plant setting lots of potentially sweet berries!

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

 

Getting into the Garden – Again

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My three weeks wandering across parts of the Western US is over and I can spend the next several weeks at home, recharging my personal batteries, prepping the garden for spring, investing in some needed family time and possibly brewing a new batch of beer – the beer doesn’t have anything to do with my gardening but it is one of my many vices/hobbies.

Sunday I pulled up a bunch of the purple carrots. My soil is still a bit heavy in one of the newer beds for best carrot growth. They tend to be short, stubby and prone to many forks in the root. Some of the deformations are pretty comical but it doesn’t seem to impact the taste at all! I usually cook them unpeeled….the skin is purple but the meat is carrot orange. When sliced cross cut, the carrot bits have that nice purple edge and the usual common carrot interior color. Adds nice color to the plate.

Freshly picked and rinsed off - interesting, eh?

Freshly picked and rinsed off – interesting, eh?

Oh yes....colorful carrots.

Oh yes….colorful carrots.

I have strawberries in all phases of development. In fact several appear to be showing signs of turning red. I shouldn’t be too surprised; two years ago I picked a beautifully red, heart shaped strawberry on Valentine’s Day – how appropriate! I may be able to share a few with my wife on or around Valentine’s Day. Fingers crossed for just enough rain but not too much – too much rain tends to mute the strawberry flavor – dry conditions seem to concentrate the sweetness.

Strawberry in the tower beginning to ripen!

Strawberry in the tower beginning to ripen!

I fired up the leaf vacuum and added close top another cubic yard of leaf litter to my compost bin. I have seen a few locations in the neighborhood where I can go out and round up another few loads to top off the bins. I will be adding some as mulch in the next few weeks to help keep the dad-burn weeds at bay!

Tonight I brought some of the colorful and yummy carrots into tonight’s menu. I cooked up a couple of Speckled Trout filets that the boys had caught a short while ago. I sautéed the carrots in a little butter and let them steam, no added sugar, they were sweet just as picked. The fish was simply prepared, fresh home squeezed lemon juice, a little olive oil, salt & pepper, a pat of butter then sealed up in foil and placed over medium heat on the grill. The rice was an experiment in a pouch – a lime flavored microwavable pouch – it was very limey and will probably not grace our table again. The fish was awesome, of course, and the carrots were like candy. Kathy had one of my home-brewed Pumpkin Ales and I tried a Breckenridge Brewery “After Rackin’ Autumn Ale” – after we swapped…..the Autumn Ale  – not too hoppy for her but the roasted malts imparted a bit of coffee and chocolate notes…..the coffee notes are not her thing.

My plate - Speckled Trout filet, my carrots and the limey rice.

My plate – Speckled Trout filet, my carrots and the limey rice.

Lettuce and Swiss Chard will be featured for tomorrow’s meal…….fresh from the garden.

A view down my newest bed...redone a year ago.Lettuce, Chard, cabbage, peas, carrots, brussel sprouts, turnips, garlic and a few beets.

A view down my newest bed…redone a year ago.Lettuce, Chard, cabbage, peas, carrots, brussel sprouts, turnips, garlic and a few beets.

TTFN

Bishop

 

The last of my Tomatoes

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My last post was January 9th. Here it is the 23rd of January and I have only been home two and half days in that period of time. I am not sure who misses who more –  me missing the garden, the garden missing me or maybe me and the Mrs. missing each other? I better be careful how I order my responses! I really do miss my Mrs. – and Hun could you check on the garden for me and send me a couple of pictures? Thanks

The tomatoes, tomatoes I picked in early December, are now gone. I passed through Kingwood Texas, my home, this past weekend to repack my bags, took a quick peek at the garden and spent one night alone, my wife was in Austin watching our son play soccer. She returned Saturday evening, we spent a night together and then I was off to California early Sunday morning. While fending for myself Friday evening and for a big chunk of Saturday I snacked on the remaining Juliet tomatoes that had been sitting on the kitchen counter. I loved it….January in the Northern Hemisphere and I was able to snack on home-grown tomatoes, still full of real tomato flavor.

The green ones I talked about in an earlier post were just too green, too hard and too immature to ripen in the house…I just couldn’t toss them out without giving them a chance. They are headed off to the compost heap to add nutrients to my 2013 gardening efforts. Some of the mushy ones are being processed by my composting worms in their snug little home in the garage.

Part of my recent travels took me to a very different clime – it was minus 14 F up in Vernal Utah and nearly as cold over in Rangely Colorado. I taught a short class at the local college in Rangely. It was a beautiful shade of white on mostly white and very chilly. For a Houston boy, it is a bit of a treat to step into the snow, hear the crunch under my feet and marvel at how the winter snows transform the landscape. I captured a few photos of what I found to be lovely scenery……the locals seem to have a very different opinion of the snow-covered scenery!

Me and my shadow on the snow.

Me and my shadow on the snow.

A lokk form the school up on th ehill overlooking the town.

A look from the school up on the hill overlooking the town.

An ice climbing tower. A class offered during the winter. Looks like a cool challenge.

An ice climbing tower. A class offered during the winter. Looks like a cool challenge.

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A light dusting of snow overnight.

Looking forward to two full weeks at home with my wife and my garden. I have lots of work planned for the garden, a new batch of beer to brew and maybe crank out a few miles on my bicycle!

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

Rain, Rain – It’s Here to Stay

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Wow, – we may get 6 or more inches out of this storm and we have another day to go! I have tried to get a little more compost spread today but it will have to wait. The ground is very soggy and the river is rising….now, we needed some of that, the lake has been about 3 feet low the last 4 or 5 weeks now. Hopefully with the saturated ground it doesn’t get up to flood stage!

With the little break in weather yesterday my little curious gardening buddy, Caleb, his new 4 month old brother Levi and mom Lizzie came down for a visit. I didn’t grab my camera and missed the opportunity to capture some of the fun. I had put together a little picking bucket for Caleb, already loaded with two jars of home-made jam. The big Meyer Lemons caught his eye first so we grabbed a few for the bucket. He wants to make some lemonade!!!

Then on to the main garden. He wanted to pick some of the turnips so I said “why not”. Lizzie wasn’t sure what to do with them…I offered a few suggestions. I had some short stubby purple carrots for him to pick as well as some Danvers orange carrots, also short and stubby. The peppers caught his eye next… most the Poblanos have turned a bright shade of red and they were like a magnet for him. The bucket was getting full now. Lastly we added some red Romaine and red leaf lettuce to the bucket.

I am always fascinated how there is so much wonder in the world of a curious three-year old.  On the way back to his house he sat the bucket down, something in the gutter and water running through it had caught his eye. I stooped to see what he saw…..same old stuff to me but new, different and fascinating for him. My lesson….slow down and see what we take for granted. As I looked a little closer I saw some little plants in the cracks were waving and wiggling in the water as it moved past. It was pretty cool! He poked his finger in amongst the plants, stirred them around for a bit and then spun away to see something else! Don’t you just love it.

A couple of years ago we had a similar steady heavy rain and the river really came up ! See photos below. Fingers crossed!

The creek by the soccer field during a flood event a couple of years ago. Normally you stand by tree in the foreground on the bank.

The creek by the soccer field during a flood event a couple of years ago. Normally you stand by tree in the foreground on the bank.

The walkway along the river where the kids can fish. Usually 3 feet above the water.

The walkway along the river where the kids can fish. Usually 3 feet above the water.

Hopefully the creek don’t rise much higher than that!

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

 

A Park Like Setting

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I have written several times about the wonderful area of California where my mother lives, Los Osos on the central California coast. I may also  have mentioned that my mother in law;s place in Bakersfield has a nice selection of citrus trees. My mother in law, Joan is 85 and very active. She spends a portion of each day tending to her yard work in an almost park like setting. I stopped by this past November, November 20th to be exact and took a few pictures of the yard that I would like to share.

Looking back to the far corner of the yard with a grapefruit, a lemon and an orange tree - among other stuff.

Looking back to the far corner of the yard with a grapefruit, a lemon and an orange tree – among other stuff.

Near the back of the yard looking toward the house.

Near the back of the yard looking toward the house.

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A view of some of Joan’s ornamental touches to the yard – There is a story about the fountain!

The fountain is in three very heavy pieces. I think the current location is the final one! Joan has four healthy and athletic sons. I fit well with the group at 6’3″ and enough weight to keep my feet very firmly on the ground. It takes an assembly of the 5 men mentioned to relocate the fountain. It hasn’t been moved in probably 8 years now. We are all 8 years older, sometimes feel even older, since the last move. I think we will hire the job out on the next move! Here is a closer look!

The Mermaid Fountain. This is location number 4 or 5 in the yard!

The Mermaid Fountain. This is location number 4 or 5 in the yard!

TTFN – FYI – we have a very nice rain falling right now, mid 40’s and I am heading to the soccer field to watch my 17 year start his final High School soccer season….I’m sure in parts of the world this is “football” weather. Not so much here in Houston!

Bishop

 

 

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