The Sweetest of Times………….

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Valentines Day is approaching but that’s not what I am referring to!

This is what I am talking about. This my first berry of the season being grown in a 6” diameter, 5 foot tall strawberry tower.

My strawberries are just now setting fruit but nearby area farms have some organic pick-your-own offerings. While out exploring in the Conroe area a couple of weeks ago, I decided to visit a farm boasting ripe berries. I managed to pick about 7 pounds, even though pickings were slim. I was out the day after the MLK holiday and the out of school kids and families had descended on the strawberry patch nearly wiping out the ripe ones.

I arrived home with enough for two batches of jam. I cleaned them up and bagged them for the freezer. Pulled one bag out yesterday, let it defrost and started cooking the jam. I love the smell, or should I say, the aroma of the cooking berries.

Bringing the batch up to a boil. Mmmmmm good!
Ready to skim the foam off before filling the jars. The foam……never wasted…..trust me!

Seven more half pints of “sweetness” for the pantry. I am watching the weather and postings to drag me out on another picking adventure.



Two More Batches of Jam

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Yesterday was a busy day in the kitchen. I had planned on making a batch of both strawberry and blueberry jams. My wife had decided to do some full week meal prep the same day. Communication on each of our endeavors was, how should I say it, absent. We did manage to get our respective tasks done but I was crowding my timeline to get off to my evening workout at the gym! We were both successful!

Not an advertisement but a graphic visual of the low sugar pectin I have had so much luck and success with.

This video doesn’t exist

A short clip at an awkward angle of what a “full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down” looks like! It is a common question of novice Jam/Jelly makers.

The delicious foam scraped off of the jam after removing from the heat. I wonder if there is market for such a thing!

Finished product cooling and waiting for labels. I know, the pink towel really doesn’t lend itself to a quality “Good Housekeeping” type of food photo. I need to brush up on the technique.

I have at least two more batches of Strawberry Jam to make and blackberry season starts this week at Blakelock’s Berries out in Grangerland at my apiary location!

FYI, I inspected the bees out there yesterday and saw the most beautiful and large blackberries! Yes, just to ensure they were ripe, I sampled a couple before the birds had a chance!



End of the Week


It has been a busy week. The bees have occupied some of my time, weeds too much of my time, lovely carrots so sweet when roasted, removing the fading sugar snap peas…..replaced with English Cukes & Straight 8 cucumbers, two loaves of sourdough bread just pulled from the oven moments ago…….fortunately we are  not web-camming as the drool drips from the corners of my mouth, trimming back banana plants to maximize production, making strawberry jam, yard cleaning/kitchen table office cleaning……sister-in-law arriving this evening…..I am already tired and ready for my nap.

The bees, the queen and brood going back into the original top-bar hive over the weekend seems to have gone very well. The companion Langstroth hive is filling with honey!!!!!! Yee Haw! I am also helping the property owner get his garden up and going, feeding his chickens, harvesting eggs and mowing his grass. The things a beekeeper will do to for the host!

The split in Splendora on the “Cowboy” hive failed…..I feel guilty, as it was my mismanagement that lead to the failure. The only saving grace is another lesson learned to add to my prior mistakes. The remaining hive out there is doing well but may have earned a re-queening this coming fall. They are a bit defensive…..yes another one popped me in the face….on the nose.

Strawberry Jam. My “Goo” friend John’s daughter gives me the ultimate compliment for my strawberry jam – when she runs out of mine she falls back to “Smuckers”, she says mine is sooooo much better than store bought…..According to Brittany. I am a fan of the low sugar recipe from Sure-Jell light. Seems to let the taste of the berries shine through. I use Sure- Jell light for all my berry jams!


The jam, cooked, ready to skim the foam prior to canning. The foam does not go to waste, my wife uses it on her egg-white/oatmeal frittatas.


Six half pint jars and 3 – 45 ml jars for fun and gifts.

I have to share more about my carrots. As I have mentioned before, my soil has lots of clay but the adding of compost for four years has improved the soil, somewhat. I plant varieties that are shorter, stockier and tolerate the heavy soil better. Well, either a seed mix up or a rogue carrot in my patch. This guy was pretty hefty!


Frame of reference – I have to order XXL beekeeper gloves and would love to find some XXXL gloves.

Just had to add a bee picture.


There she is….tucking some pollen away. The symmetry is almost mind-blowing! I just marvel at what nature can accomplish.

Now, butter, knife, warm bread and some strawberry jam. Next slice, butter, knife, warm bread and honey.  Next slice, butter, knife and warm bread! Why can’t I lose any weight??????


Proofed for 28 hours…..the sourdough flavor is outstanding!





Rain, Rain – It’s Here to Stay


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!







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