Sunday, August 31, 2014

Busy Bees and Pesky Moths

As much as I hate the way the garlic chives like to spread through out the garden (should be labeled as invasive), I decided they weren't so bad when I saw how many bees were in the garden today. Wow!

But then I saw there were bees, bumble bees, a butterfly that had a moth attached to it, and the biggest bee I have ever seen on this plant. 
It's not easy to see but on the side of the butterfly now was stuck a moth. 

Profile of flying bee tank. See the normal size bee on the second flower from top and then pow here's "Tiny".

See Mr. or Mrs. HUMONGO Bee there on the right. It's as big as the butterfly below. Oh and you can see the moth wing on the butterfly wing in this picture.

Butterfly before moth attached to it.

Here it is again in case you missed it.

And the mothra butterfly.

Close ups:

Tomato Time Again and Our Favorite Meal!

Tomato plants gone wild. 
Tomato plants back in June without support!
Tomato plants without cages gone wild!
This year the production quantity I expect will be a lot less. Not because of the weather but because of silly me. I ordered cages so late that by the time they came I already had 2-3 foot vines and had to wrassle them (much more difficult then wrestling) into the cages.Needless to say the vines suffered so I'm sure it'll cut down production. But there are still a lot of green tomatoes and I just processed my first batch.

Now in cages and coming out the top

Second bed of tomatoes

Future tomato sauce! I love these red cages from Burpee

But the good news is that I finally bought some cages to last past one season! These Burpee cages came highly recommended by Cheryl Snider. You may not know her but she's a knowledgeable gal! Her husband and her plant about 40 tomato plants every year. So they know what they're doing.

Here's the link for the cages:   Burpee Pro Series Cages and Extenders Red

Yesterday started the tomato sauce canning season.  I used my favorite kitchen appliance, the electric tomato strainer and my assistant, Rylie, and we had enough that after cooking down to make 4 quart jars of sauce. Which is about half of what I got from the Arkansas Traveler's alone last year. We'll probably eat half of it tonight because I'm making spaghetti and meatballs for Pat's birthday. Today using beef instead of the traditional turkey because a patient brought me some beef from a locally grown, free range cow.

So here again is my trusty friend I bought from Harvest Essentials Roma Deluxe Electric Strainer

Isn't she lovely.... isn't she beautiful. If I knew how to embed Stevie Wonder singing here and not get in trouble for copyright and what not I would.

Now let's see if I can find my meatball recipe. I can't find it so I'll just write it here from memory. For family of four where one of the children is a 6' 2" 21 year old male, I use 1 and 1/2 lbs or even 2 lbs of ground meat. But if you have 2 little kids 1 lb. would be enough.

My Meatballs

1 1/2 lb ground meat
Fresh minced herbs, have to be small or meatballs fall apart
      Basil, marjoram or oregano handful of each
Garlic cloves 3-4 minced
Onion also minced
2-3 eggs, can use 3 egg whites and 1 full egg if your funny like that
Rolled oats (in my case gluten free) 1-2 cups depending on consistency
Salt/pepper to your tastes

And I think that's it. I make them bigger than golf balls but not quite as big as a baseball but pretty close. Palm size. I have browned them a little, a lot, and not at all. Honestly the latter tasted the best but fell apart too easy. So try and brown them barely, just enough to help hold together. I think the reason they taste better when you do that is then they soak up more sauce.

Then I add them to the sauce. The sauce I make different every time and I wish I kept track of the best results. But I haven't done that plus I assume since I keep it pretty simple that when one is excellent it's due to the tomatoes I used. I try and raise a paste tomato and this year it was San Marzano. And for the second year I grew Arkansas Traveler, a pink tomato. I like the pinks because they're low acid and we all have some heartburn issues.

Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Herbs

2 quart jars of tomato puree I've cooked down already
2 small cans of tomato paste or a pint I made
2 more handfulls of fresh herbs or couple tablespoons of dried herbs
Taste and add a little sugar if needed

I'll cook up spaghetti in two pots, one regular and one gluten-free. Or all gluten-free but since my husband and Joe don't need gluten-free and it costs so much they usually get regular.

When I make paste I do it by roasting the tomatoes in the oven first. See the previous blog post for Easy Peasy Tomato Paste.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Herb or Vegetable Wheel

Just thought I'd note here that if I decide to ever put one of these in my yard, it would take 120 plants of each type to go around the wheel. Perhaps I would make mine smaller.

These are from the Missouri Botanical Gardens when I was there in April 2013. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Garden Update

Peas, Beets, Carrots, Celery that will never make it, Lettuce, Rutabaga

Pumpkins that I planted so late also will likely not make it but I was in fear of squash bug.

Pole Beans on one side of tunnel

Bush beans, 1st row should have beans in 2 weeks, Edamame coming up

Shady side-Hostas, Cherry Tree, Mugo Pine

Someone dropped off 2 mums? Probably my mum!

Dogwood-Cornus Elegantissima, Zinnias, Geranium, Lime Tree

Sweet Potato Vine trying to swallow up spirea and smoke bush.

Little Lime and Limelight Hydrangea

One side of herb wheel, next time I'll put lemon grass in container on patio and fennel in garden. Hides too much of the Japanese Maple.

Russian Sage, Roses, Karl Foerster Grass, Lady's Mantle, and Coreopsis

Fall mum from 2 years ago coming back again! Blue Fescue and Artemesia Powis Castle.

Salvia all leggy and Ajuga Black Scallop continues to grow.

Rock Garden corner, love the sedum!

Tiger Eyes Sumac so chartreuse! Love it!

Herb wheel from front.

Deck Dreams



If only we could build this fast. Plant this fast. Grow this fast.....But where's the fun in that?

Espalier! Espalier! Espalier!

Anyone out there that speaks French and wants to tell me how to say this word I'm all ears. I'm saying it as "es-spa-lee-aye" but no idea if that's correct.

So here's the plan....not only espalier-ed but an apple tree guild. A guild is a method of companion planting to support the main crop, in this case the apple tree, by growing around it other plants that will deter pests, enhance flavor, improve soil, and increase yield.

Here's the easier to understand diagram:
But since drawing this diagram and reviewing my perennial beds I decided that most perennials need 18-24 inches not a foot so my collage has less plants than diagrammed to give them more room. So the plants I plan to possible put around or *definitely put around the apple trees are as follows:
*Chives, regular not garlic unless garlic already there
*Allium Globemaster, some already in place
*Yarrow, summer dreams have 3 plants
Daisy, not sure which type needed
*May Night Salvia because I love it!!!!
*Lupine plant from seed
*Strawberries, some already in place
Trifolium purpurens-purple clover
*Thyme creeping pink, have lots of seeds not sure how easy to grow

Need to add stepping stones into the diagram as well. Maybe need new diagram!

And I guessed when I drew the tree about a foot from the fence but that turns out to be the right minimum distance away.  This blog was also helpful:

I would normally never be planting or moving plants in July and August but this summer the weather has been ridiculously mild and lots of rain. So let the planting carry on!

Now to get my husband to work on the deck and fencing. He promised to do so tomorrow. If he reneges there is going to be some possible blood shed, ok at least tears.