Wednesday, December 27, 2017

True Confessions

I hope you're sitting down when you read this, because I have a confession to make. This revelation may shock some and disgust others, but I feel it's time I just brought everything out into the open for the sake for full disclosure. So here it is. I LIKE fruitcake. Yes, that's right. I enjoy the dessert that has been the butt of so many jokes for so many years. The present that has won the Most Likely To Be Regifted Award more than any other. So you can imagine that I was overjoyed to learn that there is actually a day dedicated to the celebration of this unique sweet.

Now here are some fast facts that you may not know about fruitcake:

  • Typically, American fruitcakes are known for being rich in nuts and fruits. 
  • Mail-order fruitcakes have been around in the U.S. since 1913. 
  • Commercial fruitcakes are often sold by charities to raise money for many causes. 
  • The expression “nutty as a fruitcake” was coined in 1935 during the period in which Southern bakeries, Collin Street and Claxton, began to use inexpensive surplus nuts in their cakes. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, most mass-produced fruitcakes in the U.S. have no alcohol.
  • Some traditional recipes do use liqueurs or brandy and then are topped off with powdered sugar.
  • Some people use brandy soaked linens to wrap their fruitcakes and then store them to allow time for the cakes to age. They believe that this improves the taste of the cakes.
So take some time out to enjoy a slice, O.K., maybe just a sliver of fruitcake today along with your coffee or tea. You may yet become a fancier of this much maligned confection.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Robo Weeder

If you're looking for a special gift for that  gardener who seems to have everything, you might want to consider a robot weeder. Yes, the silicon servants are now in the garden. And they might be just the thing for those who are eager to reduce the time they spend weed wrangling. Who knows, you might even want to pick one up for yourself.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

To Brighter Days

The winter solstice is upon us. From this point on, we can look forward to brighter days.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

It's Not Uncanny

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there really is a National Mason Jar Day. And you can learn all about this amazing invention that is one of the gardener's best friends here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

To Thanksgiving And Beyond

Yes, I still have a precious few tomatoes wrapped in newspaper, ripening in a brown paper bag in a cool, dark, dry place in the garage. Would that I had enough to last through the entire winter. Alas, that is not the case.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Yeah! It's National Cake Day!

What better way to celebrate a day dedicated to one of America's favorite desserts than to use some of those green tomatoes that remain in the garden that won't ripen on the vine before the first heavy frost arrives? This recipe makes a moist, spicy cake that most will enjoy. You may sprinkle the finished cake with confectioners' sugar or a nice dollop of vanilla fat free yogurt. And it can be made with or without the nuts, either way its very tasty.



    4 cups chopped green tomatoes
    1 tablespoon salt
    1/2 cup light stick margarine
    1 1/2 cups white sugar
    2 eggs
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1-Place chopped tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Place in a colander, rinse with cold water and drain. 

2-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. 

3-Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until creamy. 

4-Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add raisins and nuts to dry mixture; add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Dough will be very stiff. Mix well. 

5-Add drained tomatoes and mix well. Pour into the prepared 9 x 13 inch pan. 

6-Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

7-Now gather about two dozen of your favorite people together to help celebrate the day and enjoy your cake!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Leaf Storage Made E-Z

As Nature's red, brown and gold falls to the ground, don't forget to gather up plenty of it for use as compost. And when it comes to storing and handling leaves the best thing that you can do is to shred them first! Shredding the leaves will make them much easier to handle, allow you to store them in a smaller amount of space, and will also speed up the decomposition process when the leaves are applied to the garden or used in making compost.

Once shredded the possibilities for storing your organic leafy matter are almost endless and will vary depending on your situation. Dried leaves can be bagged or placed in large containers for storage over the winter without the worry of them blowing away, just take care that you don’t create a combustible hazard if the leaves heat up in storage.

Another simple alternative is to incorporate the shredded leaves right into the garden beds with a garden fork or tiller during the fall months. Or mulch vacant beds with a thick layer of leaves that can be removed or tilled under in the spring. You can also insulate your garlic beds and other fall vegetables that are being over-wintered with a blanket of shredded leaves.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Get Your Mind Into The Gutter

If you don't have the space for a garden plot, you might want to consider going vertical with a hanging gutter garden.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Happy Discovery of Puerto Rico Day!

The date on which Puerto Rico was discovered, November 19, is celebrated as a national holiday. Discovery of Puerto Rico Day, or Día del Descubrimiento de Puerto Rico in Spanish, is celebrated with all schools and public offices being closed. A huge parade is organized annually on November 19 to celebrate the occasion.

Friday, November 17, 2017

We All Need A Walk On The Wild Side

If you know someone who you want to say "take a hike" to, this would be the day to do it!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fast Food

While today is National Fast Food Day, when it comes to gardeners, fast food doesn't have the same meaning as it might for others. After all, what could be faster than getting your food fresh from containers located on your window sill and patio or from the garden only a few steps from your door?

Of course, there are those who would argue that it takes time to produce all of that produce. So it's not really fast at all. However, the meat, fish and veggies used in the production of  meals for fast food restaurants doesn't just appear in an instant from out of nowhere. So all things being equal, gardeners are quite justified in calling what they eat fast food. It's all in how you look at things, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Coming Around Again

Gardeners certainly don't need to be reminded of recycling by a special day. After all, we see recycling, repurposing and upcycling around us on a daily basis. The discarded storage totes we've made into planters, the two liter bottles that have been converted into long term automatic watering devices, the old water hose that now serves as a neat border and a host of other things constantly remind us that we live in a country of abundance where there is more than enough of just about anything that can be used to make life better and reduce the size of landfills.

As stewards of the land we are acutely aware of the effect our choices have on the environment and are always seeking to make the best choices for sustainable living. For us the the old adage, "Waste not. Want not." is not an outdated idea but a way of life. And we encourage others, whether they be gardeners or not, to celebrate and practice recycling not just in America, but around the world 24/7, every day of the year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

If You're In A Pickle, Then This Is Your Day!

Yes, it's National Pickle Day. And for those of us who garden, we know that pickling is one of the tried and true ways we can make our harvest last all year long. There is almost no limit to what you can pickle. But here are a few general rules to follow:

1. Always start with clean, sterilized mason jars! Don’t skimp…they are fairly cheap and you can reuse the jars several times.

2. New canning lids …never reuse old seals or ones that have been used before. never! You can reuse the screw lid tops but, what the heck..just keep with new ones and make a wind chime or something with the old ones:)

3. For best results, make sure that whatever you are pickling is at its peak of ripeness and freshness.

4. Use 5% vinegar distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar…if you're like me sometimes I will use a combination of both of these vinegars.  The key here is to look at the labels on the vinegar to make sure you have a 5% acidity rate.  Vinegar along with the salt is what preserves your pickles and keeps them from spoiling. So very important…to get the right stuff!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

When Buildings Go Green In Barcelona, They Don't Do It Halfway!

For some reason, I don't think anyone would mind me having a garden on my balcony in this building.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

If Only

I'd love to have a garden full of these. They are known as Swaddled Babies Orchids and are native to the Andes Mountains in South America.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Year Of The Cabbage

Nine pots, eight harvests. From soup to casserole. From coleslaw to kapusta. It's been a very, merry cabbage year. Let's do it again sometime soon.

Each type of cabbage has its own unique flavor and nutrient profile, but all contain the cancer-fighting glucosinolates and good levels of vitamin C and K.

1. Green Cabbage

This is the most common variety. Pale in color and with tight leaves, it is great for slaws, salads and stir-fries.
Varieties include: Grenadier, Charmant, and January King.

2. Savoy (Curly Cabbage)

Savoy cabbage has looser, crinkled leaves. It is a great addition to your regular green salad, or as the wrapping for a raw burrito.
Varieties: Salarite, Savonarch, Promasa and Wivoy.

3. Napa (Chinese Cabbage)

This popular variety has light green, narrow, crinkled leaves. The leaves are more delicate than those of its green cousin, so they cook much more quickly. It is delicious in salads, curries or just very lightly steamed.

4. Bok Choy

Bok Choy has dark green leaves and white stems and a much different shape than the cabbage you may be used to. Wonderful both raw and cooked, the stems have a sweet flavor when fresh. Other varities: Michihli, Pe-Tsai, Tai-sai, Lei-choi and Pakchoi.

5. Red Cabbage

If I had named this group, I probably would have called them purple rather than red, but don’t let the color deter you. You can use red cabbage in pretty much the same way as the common green variety, and it has a higher lever of protective phytonutrients then its green counterpart. Other varieties of red cabbage: Meteor, Red Rodan, Ruby Ball and Scarlet O’Hara.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Near At Hand

Fall colors just a hop, skip and a jump down the street.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Freeze Dried Tomatoes

This is what happened when I left some container cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator for an entire winter.

And this is what happened when I planted some of them.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hey! Hey! Hey! It's National Sandwich Day!

The sandwich was popularized by John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, in the 18th century. He liked to be served a little beef between a couple slices of bread while playing cards, and friends would ask to be served "the same as Sandwich".

Take some time to ponder all the things that can be grown in a garden from which a sandwich can be made. This may be best done when eating your favorite sandwich.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

How Devilish Can You Get?

You would think that National Deviled Egg Day would occur on Halloween. But nooooooooooooo! I guess the egg producers wanted a day with no other distractions. Although, placing it on the second of November definitely puts it within shouting distance of All Hallows Eve.

There are many ways to dress up the ordinary nature of eggs and make them devilish. And when one thinks of the devil, the thought of fire most certainly comes to mind. So here is a recipe that uses two garden products that are easily grown in pots(indoors or outside) or in the ground to bring some heat to your delectable,  devilish delights.

Jalapeno Deviled Eggs Recipe

6 large hard-boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 fresh sliced jalapeno pepper, for garnish

Halve the eggs lengthwise.  Carefully remove yolks and place in a small bowl; mash yolks with the back of a fork.  Add jalapeno pepper, mayonnaise, cilantro, mustard, pickled jalapeno juice and cayenne pepper.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Spoon mixture into hollowed out egg whites.  Garnish with fresh jalapeno slices.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  Serves 6.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Write Stuff

While you're making plans, labels and illustrations of next season's garden, you might want to think about the fact that on this day in 1888, the patent for the first ball point pen was issued to a gentleman named John J. Loud.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's Cool Man!

We're not expecting icicles such as these yet in our fair city, but tonight should bring what is the first hard freeze of autumn and the official end of the outdoor gardening season.

Friday, October 27, 2017

First Ever Container Potato Harvest

I had hoped for more and bigger spuds, but I guess it would be wrong of me to complain too much. Next season I'll have to put them in sooner.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cereal Creator

On this day in 1854, the man who gave the world Grape Nuts and Post Toasties, C.W. Post was born. Although he only lived to the age of 59, the effects of the company he founded are still being felt at breakfast tables in America and around the world today.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Should Have Known

I had heard that there is a national day in the U.S. for practically anything and everything. So it should not have come as a surprise that there is even a National Greasy Food Day. No, I'm not kidding. Today is the day that is dedicated to the foods that may not be the best in the world for us. So be it. But you can mitigate the worst of the effects of fried food if you use healthy oils. Here is one of my favorite crockpot recipes that uses extra virgin olive oil(EVOO) and also as three ingredients that are easily grown in the garden.

Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces(peeled or unpeeled)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary(chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Add oil to the crockpot/slow cooker. Cover, set to high and allow the oil to heat up while preparing the potatoes.(15 minutes is a good preheating time.) 

Combine all of the ingredients in the crockpot and toss to mix with the oil. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours. Or until the potatoes are tender and browned. Your crockpot should be 5-7 quarts in capacity. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Garden Sweethearts

According to the calendar, today is Sweetest Day. Well my sweetest memories of the garden include not only melons, but also heirloom Pineapple tomatoes.
The large, often asymmetrically shaped Pineapple tomato not only tastes sweet straight off the vine, but the sweetness increases when it is simmered in various dishes. It's a pity that their easily damaged skin and lengthy time to maturity(80 to 90 days) make them economically unsuitable for mass cultivation. However, if you have the patience and a growing season of sufficient length, I highly recommend adding them to your garden.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Memories Of Gardens Past

In 2008 I grew spaghetti squash for the first and so far only time. The quantity of the squash wasn't great, but the size of them was certainly substantial. Once cooked each squash provided meals for several days!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Least We Forget

“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.” 

Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lycopene Cravings

The first hard frost hasn't even arrived yet, but I am already dreading the severe withdrawal symptoms that I'll experience because of my addiction to fresh tomatoes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Believe it or not, October 17th is National Pasta Day in the U.S. Now you don't have to be an expert on Italian cuisine to know that there are any number of things that can easily be grown in a garden or even in containers large and small that can be used in the almost endless variety of dishes that can be made using this versatile ingredient. I mean, just look at the photo below. 

O.K., so you can't grow cheese or olive oil in the garden, but you get the idea. From pasta primavera to lasagna, there are many things that can be produced by even a small garden that will add fresh flavor to many pasta dishes. And if you like garlic, now is the time to plant it so that you'll have a fresh supply for next year. Just make sure you plant it before the ground freezes. A sunny location with rich soil is best. Plant the cloves root side down four to six inches apart at a depth of one to two inches in rows one and a half to two feet apart. And in Northern areas six inches of mulch should be used for protection against the winter's cold.

You can even grow garlic indoors. Use pots that are at least six inches deep along with a good potting mix. And if you wish to plant more than one clove in a single pot, make sure that it is wide enough to allow at least four inches of separation between the cloves. Of course, a sunny, south facing window is preferred. Only light watering is required.


Monday, October 16, 2017

National Bosses Day 2017

I'm the boss of my garden, but that doesn't keep the lettuces and cabbages from arguing about who should be the head.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oh, If Only...

I think I'll try planting some of these next year.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Thank You Mother Nature!

Since all the squash are in and tomorrow marks the average first frost date of our area, I think I would not be premature in thanking Mother Nature for another squash bug free growing season. I don't know where these pests have gone or what is keeping them away, but I hope they'll be absent from next year's growing season as well.

Friday, October 13, 2017

It's Time To Smile

Here is something every gardener knows. The knee is a device with an uncanny ability to find any and all of the rocks in your garden.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

These Pickled Peppers Have Nothing To Do With Peter Piper

Well, it's not quite a peck of pickled peppers, but I think six pints will be more than enough to see me through the winter.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Columbus Day

Love him or hate him, there can be no argument that Christopher Columbus' voyages changed the world map and the way people eat. Without the age of discovery unleashed by his travels, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and chocolate would have remained locked in the New World for years, decades or centuries to come.

Try to imagine German, Irish or other European cuisines without potatoes. What would many cuisines of the world be like without peppers, both sweet and spicy? And would you want to live in a world where the Italians had never encountered the tomato? So if you can't celebrate Columbus for the man he was, you can celebrate the food diversity his voyages triggered in the rest of the world.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Meatless Monday?

October is National Vegetarian Month. So, whether you have a garden or not, here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Pick one day of the week where all of your meals are of a meatless variety for the entire month.
  • If that's too much, pick one meal where you will consistently avoid meat once or twice a week for the entire month.
You'll be surprised at the variety of things you can eat to help you avoid meat. And if you wonder why you should even bother, just remember that according to studies done by the Mayo Clinic and other medical research institutions, eating less meat has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Not What I Expected

According to the seed packet, this was supposed to be a Kincho Hybrid melon. But what I got looks more like a green cantaloupe. No matter, It tastes GREAT!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Teach The Children Well

World/International Teacher's Day has been celebrated on October 5th for more than two decades. It was started by UNESCO to recognize the invaluable and lasting positive contributions that teachers and teaching organizations make to the human condition. As gardeners we spend so much time absorbing information we often forget that whether we have a degree in education or not, we are obligated to pass on our knowledge and love of gardening to others. 

So where ever you can and whenever you can, pass along some of what you know to others, especially children. So that the fruits of our labor will be around for many seasons to come.