Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fall Garden Starting/ Summer Update

This is one of 4 Cinderella pumpkins growing in the hugelkultur bed.  It's not ripe yet; it will turn bright reddish orange when it is ripe.  They are huge and beautiful.

Here is a view of the hugelkultur bed.  In the foreground is the extra mound, and you can see all the vines - those are sweet potatoes.  The sunflower presides over them.  Behind is the hugelkultur, with the Cinderella pumpkins along the right side.  On top are more sunflowers, not yet blooming, sunberries, a couple of tomato plants, arugula that has gone to seed, several calypso bean plants, candy onions, lettuce gone to seed, and sugar baby watermelons.

These are calypso beans.  They are really delicious; they taste a lot like kidney beans.  I often put them in soups.

Malachi's banana tree is growing nicely.

And here is the deck garden.  Lydia said, "It was a forest, and now it's bare!  What happened?"  What happened is that I cleared it out/harvested, and now I've started replanting fall crops.  In the foreground I planted radishes, spinach, and broccoli seeds.  The arugula, cilantro, and dill reseeded, and now there are tiny seedlings that aren't visible in the picture but are located just beyond the area I planted.  In the middle there is a small cantaloupe plant that is a quick-maturing type.  I hope to get cantaloupe from it before frost.  There are some cabbages at the back, and kale.  I plan on replanting that area soon as well.  A few cherry tomato plants have volunteered along the house to the right.

Here is a glimpse of the tomatoes.  They are doing so well; I'm harvesting around a dozen a day of these types: Black Vernissage, Black Krim, Golden Jubilee, Woodle Orange, and St. Pierre.  All are delicious.  I've been canning and freezing quite a bit.

I didn't take photos of the butternut squash, but it is doing fabulous.  I also have tomatillos, some cucumbers (not tons), golden crescent beans, sunberries, herbs, cantaloupes, blue pumpkins, etc.  I have a few pepper plants, too, which are getting closer to harvest time.  I replanted carrots in the square foot gardens and in some pots, along with more radishes.  Lydia and Gyunay planted pea pods out front.  

Overall, the summer garden has done very well, and for once I actually have focused on planting a fall garden, so we may continue to have harvests of various things for at least a couple more months.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review - Fault Lines by Thomas Locke

 Fault Lines by Thomas Locke is definitely a suspenseful book.  The action starts right away and rarely lets up.  It is a bit hard to follow in spots, because there are multiple characters at play, and not all are as well-developed to make their personalities and roles easily apparent.  I really enjoyed the characters of Charlie Hazard, Julio, and Alessandro.  The book does have a good resolution, but it is apparent that the end of the book is not the end of the story.  I enjoyed all of the action and suspense in this book, but I struggled a bit with some of the elements in the story line not quite meshing, or being well explored.  Perhaps some of these elements are better defined in the rest of the trilogy.  I'm not being too specific here, because I don't want to spoil anything for readers.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it was not my favorite.  Then again, sci-fi in general is not my favorite, although I do really enjoy suspense, so this would probably be more appealing to people who enjoy sci-fi as much as the suspense.  Readers looking for an overtly religious book would be disappointed, as faith elements are subtle and not forefront.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

July Harvest Totals

Arugula - 2c
Blackberries - 5 1/2 cups
Carrots, Dragon - 19
Carrots, Little Finger - 12
Corn - 12 ears
Cucumber, Edmonson - 10
Cucumber, Russian Pickling -1
Eggs - 168
Golden Crescent Beans - 2c
Kale - 1 bunch
Onion, candy - 1
Onions, green - 3
Pea Pods - 1c
Potatoes, fingerling - 17.5 oz
Potatoes, purple viking - 7 oz
Tomatillos - 10.5 oz
Tomatoes, Black Krim - 19
Tomatoes, black vernissage - 38
Tomatoes, golden jubilee - 20
Tomatoes, St Pierre - 12
Tomatoes, Woodle Orange - 16
Turnips - 9
Zucchini (grey) -3

All in all, it was a pretty good month.  We also harvested sunberries, basil, mint, cilantro, dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley as needed.  And now I'm rearranging those herbs in my mind to sing "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme..."  And now it's stuck in your head, too.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Back from the beach

We had a great vacation, and we just got home a couple of hours ago (and found literally over 100 ripe tomatoes in the garden - yay!).  But back to vacation.  We enjoyed the beaches on Lake Michigan in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The boogie boards were a big hit.

Malachi loves to be silly.  He is always wearing his tinted goggles at the beach, or he would suffer migraines.

The vacation was a huge hit with everyone.  We spent time with my inlaws, then met my family at a rental house in Michigan, then went back to the inlaws, took a train to Chicago (me, Lydia, and Nathaniel's parents) to go to the American Girl store, and then back to the inlaws and now home.  We're all pretty exhausted and very happy to be home.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Garden Bounty

The tomatoes are really coming in now.  We picked these today:

I'm not sure how big of a basket that is, exactly, but it originally had 20 lbs of apples in it.  The largest tomato in that bunch weighed 1.25 lbs!  I now have 6 1/2 quarts of crushed tomatoes in the freezer, waiting for me to can salsa later.  I plan to can a lot of salsa at once, now that I have the huge canner.  That way, I don't heat up the kitchen as often.  I should be doing well enough in tomatoes to also can crushed tomatoes for sauces, too.

I also harvested the fingerling potatoes, and I roasted them with olive oil, rosemary, and parmesan cheese.  Now it's time for dinner, with those and bacon and tomatoes!

And here are all of the grandkids on my side of the family:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tadpole Rescuers

We use an inflatable pool, which the younger kids are generally in about every day, but we went a couple of days with no swimming or adding new water, and we ended up with tiny tadpoles.  Hundreds of tadpoles. These two spent an hour rescuing tadpoles by transporting them bucket by bucket to the pond:
Here they yelled "Save the Tadpoles" before posing.  

Some of the saved tadpoles are visible here in one of the buckets.  Lydia took the bucket pictures.

Gyunay was less interested in tadpoles, but he enjoyed pushing around his lawnmower.  

Sweet Corn!

I've tried and failed to grow heirloom corn in the past, but this year just look:
I harvested this last night.  We tried a few kernels raw, and I did a happy dance.  It is absolutely delicious, sweet, and fresh.  I only harvested half of the corn, since the other half will probably be ripe next week.  Tonight, we are having sweet corn!

And this golden jubilee tomato has Lydia very excited.  We are also having hamburgers tonight, with fat, juicy slices of tomato both on top and on the side, sprinkled with pink salt.  I love summer.