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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

 

 

 

 

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Tomatoes – Hasta Luego en Espanol und Bis Spater auf Deustch

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The freeze or near freeze last night put the hurt on two of the 4 remaining tomato plants.  The Juliett plants showed significant freeze burn on the extremities and my potted patio plants have begun to droop. Some of the droop is due to the large number of tomatoes ripening and trying to ripen.  I picked quite a few today and will get the remaining in tomorrow. I saved some so my little buddy Caleb two doors down can pick some. During his last visit to the garden I had to do some coaching concerning what was ready and what needed to wait….poor little guy, there wasn’t much that he could pull! Tomorrow he can pick large and small tomatoes, Poblano peppers, Meyer lemons, turnips, carrots, radishes and some leaf lettuce. If his mother approves I hope to capture his joy and smile in some pictures to include in the near future.

A large mixing bowl with at least double that remaining. They may have to sit in the widow sill to finish ripening.

A large mixing bowl with at least double that remaining. They may have to sit in the widow sill to finish ripening.

A closer look at the tomatoes and a few radishes.

A closer look at the tomatoes and a few radishes.

December 11th, 2012……I will have to wait about 90 days before I can put my transplants out for 2013. With a little bit of shelter I might be able to get these tomato plants to over-winter, hmmmmmm, another potential experiment !

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

 

So What’s Happenin” in the Garden?

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I am back home for a full week before running off to California again. Now I don’t mind going to California mind you, at least they are having a California start into a winter. It was nice, cool, a little rain, some wind and a bit of fog. I didn’t mind that a bit. Houston will not budge, it is still stuck in a end of summer doldrums well into December. Today, December 8th, a day removed from one of the most emotional days in American history, December 7th 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor we are still running our AC unit!. Today in Houston we were “blessed” with 82 degrees for the high and 64 on the low side. Sunday should mirror today. Monday, yes Monday, our version of winter will arrive and may even linger for most of the week. The high will be 54 degrees and the low will nudge freezing at 34 degrees F. My tomatoes in the barrel on the patio are days away from being ripe but I am afraid that they will finish the process on the kitchen counter. I picked one and sliced it this evening and it is a bit too firm.

A barrel full of tomatoes nearly ready to pick,

A barrel full of tomatoes nearly ready to pick.

I picked some turnips and a few carrots today, one of the turnips had a growth runaway. It just dwarfed the rest of its bed mates. I made a mess of turnip greens for an evening snack and the turnips, well I will find a way to get them into play over the next several days. Turnip greens update – I just ate the greens with a little sea salt and crumbled, thick slice bacon along with a glass of my recently kegged Dirty Honey Blonde Ale. Turnip greens are something I didn’t grow up on but the great flavor and vitamin component will make them a more frequent visitor to the kitchen. Both the greens and the beer wee pretty durned good. Some further reading on turnip greens. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=144

Turnips and carrots ready fo the kithen

Turnips and carrots ready fo the kithen

An extra large turnip!

An extra large turnip!

The freeze or near freeze will finish off my tomato vines, the ancho/poblano peppers will hang on a little longer changing from that characteristic dark green of the immature Poblano to the red color of the mature Ancho – same pepper but two names based on color and maturity – as it matures it turns red and becomes hotter. The name ancho is associated the mature red dried version.

The rest of the garden….carrots are getting thick their beds, turnips are kicking butt, my curly kale is getting close to picking size, broccoli may be getting close to heading, the cabbage is showing signs of creating heads and the Brussel sprouts are now showing some energy to reach on up and develop some size. The sugar snap peas, I’ll have to wait as the sugar snap peas are just starting to flower. I have been pinching flowers off of my poor confused strawberry plants – they think it is a warm early spring…..I may have to chat with them as I have done with the asparagus – be quiet, develop your roots and wait for the real spring. My lettuces are looking good but sparse. I will put a third round of lettuce seeds out and hopefully it won’t be too warm for better germination.

Kozmic Purple carrots

Kozmic Purple carrots

Last week a spread a fresh batch of worm castings and have a very full wheelbarrow full of finished compost to spread. A brief visit to my friend John’s garden this evening showed a need for some of my compost. Some clean-up work will be needed as the tomato plants will have be pulled. I have some onion sets for him and I think some garlic cloves. By the end of the week I should get his garden looking good and ready for our brief winter.

The neighborhood is filled with leaves just begging for a visit from my leaf vacuum/shredder……I may have to go back to work for a week just to rest up from what I have planned this week!

TTFN

Bishop

Ok – I Will Try The Turnips!

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Three nice turnips on an 8 inch plate - ready to peel, boil and mash!

I have been looking to find some decent recipes for my turnips. They seem to grow like crazy here in Houston! Most of the recipes I find include turnips as a companion for the main portion of the recipe, i.e., stews…… I dove into allrecipes.com and found “Patty’s Mashed Turnips”….. I have been trying to curb my appetite for starches and refined carbs over the past few months. This recipe may help satisfy my craving for mashed potatoes. My daughter’s 27th birthday was a week ago and she asked for “meat and potatoes”, specifically mashed potatoes. I indulged in a spoonful at her birthday dinner and avoided loading my plate up! Lord knows I would have and could have put away a mountain of mashed potatoes – with garlic and real butter! I needed a mashed potato fix!

I picked three nice sized turnips from the garden…. I am plucking them at this size rather than letting them become large and pithy. I have also staggered my plantings so I have a good variety in size and age in the beds. I cut the recipe down to a more manageable size. What I like about the allrecipes site is the feedback section…. I usually read and make modifications based on what the practicing audience advises. In this case, most recommended cutting way back on the added milk when mashing……the recipe tends to be very wet naturally due to the high water content of the turnips. That is the approach I took. Boiled until tender, about 35 minutes, rinsed and then mashed. My only add to the recipe was a large clove of garlic boiled along with the turnips and mashed together with everything else. I used skim milk….not much but enough to provide the “right” consistency. I used a few tablespoons and that was too much….. also a teaspoon of butter, a little sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. Surprisingly good! So, I tried them and they were good enough to become a keeper recipe….. They are filling and low in calories! Nothing was wasted…the peelings, tap root and cap all went to the worms….they have to eat the remnants raw, but hey, they don’t seem to be fussy eaters.

I will still experiment a little. I read that some folks tried cauliflower along with the turnips. That seems to be a reasonable alternative…. and then maybe a 50/50 mix by weight of potato and turnip. This recipe can help my efforts to be/become healthier in 2012. I started my quest last July at 19.8% body fat, just under the recommended upper end for men. Last week I tested out at 12.1 % body fat and I feel like a younger man (is that right hun?)…..The lower end of recommended % body fat  for men is 10%…. That has now become my target. Portion control…and more activity!

My vegetable garden….a stress reliever, a place to experiment, the satisfaction of seeing the results of my efforts & sometimes my failures, a place to share with friends and neighbors….including the “cyber” neighbors looking over the “blog fence” into the garden as well as providing for the table. Pretty good stuff, eh! ……( I have been practicing my Canadian as I will be paired up with a lad from Alberta this week in my consulting work)

P.S. – I started another experiment in the garden today……..details later! Oh yes, today in my posts, I ate the turnip from top to bottom, well almost bottom…. I did cut the tap root off!

TTFN

Bishop

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