Relief From The Heat!

Todays Weather:

75 degrees, mostly cloudy, winds 10 – 15 mph, and absolutely no humidity!

What a difference a day can make. Yesterday it was 95 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, no wind, and humidity about 300% (okay, that last part was a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like 300%).

Finally a day I could spend in the garden and not worry about heat stroke, sun poisoning, or dehydration and I took full advantage of it. I cleaned up the zucchini (check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener Taming My Zucchini), pruned all 72 of my pepper plants, clipped more of the cucumber vines to the A-frame, and weeded.

The best part of the day though was being able to harvest my first 6 zucchini and first 3 Romanian Bell peppers!

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Last year I harvest more than 1,000 peppers from the garden with less than half of the plants I have now. I wonder if I can top that?

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to start getting warmer again, but still bearable. Next week…well that’s another story. 90’s all week and humidity again. Oh well, at least the garden will enjoy it, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Surest Way To Make Sure It Doesn’t Rain

Over a month ago Hubby and I embarked on a rainwater harvesting expansion project in order to help cut the amount of household water that would be needed to maintain my garden. At the time I felt rushed to get the project up and running so as to get the most savings possible out of this new endeavor.

Last year our rain barrel supplied me with hundreds of gallons of water, thus saving us lots of money on water bills. My hope was to eventually have so many rain barrels full of water that I wouldn’t need to use the house water at all. A huge hope, but one can certainly dream.

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Hubby wanted to keep things a bit more realistic in our expansion and we compromised from my suggestion of 10 barrels to 5. I don’t know that this is really a compromise though because eventually, if things work out the way I think they will, Hubby will see things my way and we’ll be up to 10 in no time.

For two days we worked on the project, leveling, cutting, measuring (hopefully not in this order), and piecing together garbage can to garbage can. Although we had a few mis-drillings, which resulted in those cans becoming the “Compost” bins, in the end we ended up with 5 ready-for-rain rain barrels. For more information, check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardening Rainwater Harvesting.

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Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

June came and went with not so much as enough rain to make a dent in one of the rain barrels, let alone five of them. I began to wonder if I’d jinxed us getting any rain at all by putting in so many rain barrels.

Then came July and again we waited.

And waited.

And waited for seven days. Then, last night it finally happened.

IT RAINED!

For joy, for joy, we have been blessed!

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Yep, this morning I woke to five completely full rain barrels, a rain drenched garden, and inspiration to begin collecting more garbage cans for… “just in case!”

Happiness is a rain barrel full of water and a garden NOT in need of watering (that’s what I call security), and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Finding Solutions to Gardening Problems

I read the books. I watch the shows on television. I listen to the professionals when they talk. I even follow the directions (or so I thought), and yet, the gardening problems continue. Thank goodness for the Internet and the myriad of information floating around the web.

Although my harvest yesterday was bountiful, there were issues with both the radishes and the carrots. The radishes were inedible and the carrots, well for two plantings of three 6-foot rows, I’d think you should get more than a handful of finger length carrots.

After much research and reading some humbling information (humbling for someone who thought they were doing everything right), I have once again been shown the way and will hopefully not make these same mistakes again.

Check out my posts at Simply Grateful Gardener for my solutions for The Incredible Inedible Radish and Why Aren’t My Carrots Growing?

I don’t know why it always surprises me when I screw up in the garden, it’s not like I don’t screw things up in every other aspect of the household, so why should the garden be any different. That’s okay, every time I screw up and then figure out where I went wrong, I grow, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

What to do with those beets!

Planting beets has become somewhat of a tradition here at our house. For the past three years now I have enjoyed success with growing beets and because of this it was only natural that I would plant them again this year. The trouble with this is the pantry is already full of canned and pickled beets. Not that they’ll go bad or anything, but there is only so much space in the pantry and beets have taken up their allotment.

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Yesterdays Beet Harvest

In the past I’ve done four things with the beets we’ve harvested from the garden:

  1. Pickled Beets
  2. Canned Beets
  3. Beet Jelly
  4. And the last is Beet-Horseradish Relish which I made last year for the first time.

I posted the recipe for the Beet-Horseradish Relish on Simply Grateful Canning if you’d like to check it out.

Besides making the relish I also decided to try and make the most of the beet greens. We aren’t too big on eating a big variety of greens around here, but when I read I could freeze them and use them to make stock I figured what’s the worst thing that could happen? I’d end up throwing out a batch of stock if it didn’t taste good. The only precaution I read was that the beet greens would probably turn the stock reddish or brownish depending on what kind of stock you were making. No worries, I can deal with that and if it gives the stock another dimension of flavor, well that’s just an added bonus on top of the added nutrients.

The process for freezing beet greens is posted on Simply Grateful Canning Making The Most Of Your Beets, if you’re interested.

I plan on planting another crop in August for the fall. Why? I’m not really sure, but when I’ve had as difficult a time in the garden as I have had this year, I need a little gardening success. I might can them or perhaps I’ll just give them to the neighbors. Either way they won’t go to waste, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Does anyone have other ideas for canning or using beets?

Since the 4th

The 4th was a wonderful day of family, friends, food, and fireworks. I thought I was being clever by having Hubby, the kids, myself, and my parents all meet up at Planet Fitness for their FREE Pizza Night, but in the end I did just as much work (if not more) as I would have had I cooked dinner. Instead of dinner I made 6 appetizers for late in the evening and 6 desserts for after the gym. Two days in the kitchen cooking — so where’s the time savings?

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We did several of these lanterns. What fun and a lot safer than fireworks.

Oh well, when don’t I want an excuse to try a few new recipes and make a few old favorites? That would be never!

Now I’m enjoying the first true harvest from the garden and working on my first canning project of the 2016 garden season. Check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener for July 6, 2016 Garden Harvest.

July is still hot and humid, great for the garden, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Gadget Crazy

It doesn’t matter if it’s a kitchen gadget, a gardening gadget, a scrapbooking gadget, a house cleaning gadget, or really any sort of gadget — I love them all. So when I came across this little gadget to help figure out if I was watering my tomato plants too much or too little, I had to have it.

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It was cheap enough, compared to some that I saw online for over $30 and the one they had at Home Depot for $24.99, so I snatched it up when I found it at Wal-Mart for around $6.

Don’t know if it will be a tomato-saver, but along with some new pertinent information about my tomato plants, I’m hopeful that tomato leaf curl will become yet another stepping stone along my gardening journey. Check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener Tomato Leaf Curl Epiphany.

Some gadgets are bought and then get lost in a drawer or forgotten in a cupboard. This is one I think will be worth it’s weight in — let’s go with TOMATOES here — and for this I am, Simply Grateful.

Garden Update – July 2, 2016

For all the false starts, mishaps, and plain screw-ups I’ve had this year, overall the garden is progressing well.

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To read the whole update and see all the pictures, check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener Beginning of July and all’s well in the Garden.

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Looks like we’re in for a hot and humid July, just what the garden needs, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Using Every Last Strawberry

Although Grace and I only picked 20 pounds of strawberries this year, I had to make sure not a single one went to waste. So, when I found myself left with too few for jam, pie, or shortcake, it was time to come up with something new.

Strawberries are not typically one of those fruits I like to eat warm. It could be because they tend to get soft or maybe it’s just a texture thing, but I prefer my berries with a bit of crunch to them. Even when making jam I do my best to cook them for only a short time and usually the first batch of the season isn’t even sealed because I don’t want the jam subjected to the boiling water bath for even 10 minutes.

Even with this slight aversion to cooking strawberries, I decided to give making a strawberry cookie a try. Check out my post at Simply Grateful Cooking for Soft Strawberry Cheese Cookies.

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Boy am I glad I decide to try these. They were soft, creamy, sweet, and full of wonderfully tender strawberries. The family made short work of them which means I get to try another new recipe very soon, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Planning Ahead Pays Off

Back in March when it was too cold to garden and Hubby had just begun his experiment in retirement, I spent three days in the kitchen (while Hubby was settling in to his new spot in the office) canning bags of beans I’d accumulated from grocery store sales. I canned pinto, Great Northern, navy, and new to my bean canning roster — Garbanzo beans (chickpeas). I think in the end I ended up with somewhere around 70 jars (varying sizes) of beans.

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For months now I have enjoyed using these beans in various recipes and can’t say enough about how nice it is to use home-canned beans right from the pantry whenever I want. I’ve especially enjoyed making Hummus with the garbanzo beans.

Today I made a batch of baked beans. It’s actually the second batch I’ve made this year, but although I took pictures of the first batch I neither did a post nor did I seem to find it necessary to save the recipe. I know we liked it, but I can’t cry over spilt milk. So this morning I spent several hours reviewing recipes, choosing ingredients, and then making a batch of quick, saucy beans.

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For the entire story and recipe check out my latest post at Simply Grateful Cooking for Saucy Homemade Baked Beans. These turned out excellent. It’s funny though, when I look back at the pictures of the ingredients I used for the first batch of beans I made, they look very different from the ones I used this time. I wouldn’t be surprised if I decide to continue my experiment with baked beans because there is always room for improvement.

Losing my first recipe could be considered a bad thing, but at least I found another one that everyone liked and got to experiment with some different ingredients, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Some Crops Aren’t Worth A Hill Of Beans

It took me several years to get a single bean plant to grow in my garden. To my delight last year not just one plant grew, but an entire garden of them sprouted, flourished and produced beans for months. We had more beans from our plants than we could eat or give away. I canned them, froze them, ate them, and when we finally couldn’t find another thing to do with them, I looked into how to dry them.

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Being the frugal gardener that I want to be, I couldn’t let a single bean go to waste. For months I let the beans sit on the plants undisturbed and at the end of October I harvested all the dry pods. Although my efforts were rewarded, they were not rewarded as well as I would have liked.

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Although I’d like to grow as much of our food as possible, for a suburban housewife this is one crop that isn’t worth the effort. That is at least not for the purpose of harvesting dry beans.

I love having had the success last year with our beans, but I am also very content this year that my bean crop failed, and for this I am — Simply Grateful. I know that must sound wrong, but check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener To Bean Or Not To Bean for the whole story.