Sunday, September 17, 2006

Guess what else has been growing around here...

sorry for the lapse in gardening, but we've been having a very busy summer....

on July 24th, we found out that we are expecting a bundle of joy! confirmed by the doctor on August 10th, we are looking forward to seeing Baby V on or around March 13th, 2007.

on a gardening note, however, one of my aversions (aside from feeling sick and puking, fatigue, and gagging to bad smells) is gardening, and, sadly, to whole tomatoes. so, i'm afraid the only ones who have been eating my home grown tomatoes are the birds and my dog. i don't know if tomatoes are toxic to dogs, but my dog, who continuously defies death due to eating everything (she even slurped down a prenatal vitamin), seems to be fine.

so, unfortunately, unless my aversion subsides anytime soon, i will most likely be blogging about fall clean up next. wish everyone bright and juicy tomatoes and a gardening delight for the remainder of the gardening year! and wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

sunflowers make me happy

my aztec sunflowers are finally popping.

Monday, July 31, 2006


sorry i have been MIA for so long. there has been a lot going on outside of gardening, as well as really not much going on in the garden (until now). yes, i'm stuck in the rut of WAITING. i did check on the garden daily though, and let me show you what has been going on:

oops. i cannot right now. blogger is having issues.

will check back this evening to see if the site is up and running.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

is this a japanese beetle on my nasturtium?

this bugger is gone now. and no signs of others like him. and no signs of damage to any leaves or stems. he was alone and not mating (thank heavens). knock on wood......i have been blessed (so far) with few bad bugs. maybe it's because my garden is so tiny in comparison to other's, maybe it's because i have attracted some beneficial insects, maybe it's because i have beneficial plants, such as nasturtiums to lure bugs away. maybe it's because i have weeds that are turning out to be somewhat beneficial too luring bugs away.
maybe it's because it's so dang hot that if i were a bug i would follow my dog's lead and find some cold concrete to lie on instead.

Monday, July 17, 2006

garden update

so my garden has been growing fiercely, but the growth is not as noticeable as before because everything is either going to seed, trying to flower, or bearing fruit.
hot peppers in bloom.

green zebra tomato taking shape

brandywine tomatoes taking their shape.

cherry tomatos starting to tinge dark green....just waiting for them to turn red.......

sunflower trying to bud.

zinnia trying to flower

calendula going to seed (when should i collect them and how?) it looks kinda creepy, like it's infested with some sorta larvae....just like when i opened the seed packet the first time and thought a worm had gotten in and ate the seeds and laid eggs then died. ewwwww.

you see how overgrown the garden has become? i have been meaning to do some trimming, but michigan's had a run of over 90 degrees for a while. and really, i've mulched and it's kept the weeds out pretty well, so it would just be hacking back my tomato plants. which i have done once already.

however, the calendula and the nasturtiums are blooming the most amazing colors, red, cream, fushia, golden, rose, etc. and the bees! bumble bees everywhere (a good thing) they are the cutest things bumbling around.

portulaca update

portulaca grandifloras only open their flowers before noon, then close them back up again. even earlier in intense heat as we have been experiencing lately. i did not get out yesterday before noon.

but i did this morning. i wanted to catch the first bloom of the year.

it's a beautiful bright fushia color (actually, the photo washes it out a bit, yes, it's even more bright than this). very cheery, and made me instantly happy. how could it not?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

mystery plant...almost identified

remember this mystery plant?

i think it's growing up to be a hot pepper plant. look at the buds:
they look exactly like the buds on my known hot pepper plants. which is good. because i only have 2 pepper plants in the garden. and these look healthy.

they also could be something else. who knows. we shall see......

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

eeeewww again

remembering that i am beginning to be an insect lover (beneficial insects only), but there are some bugs that still freak me out. such as this one.

so can someone tell me what type of bug this is? this one was crawling on my ceiling, and they have been plaguing my existance ever since i moved from minnesota to michigan. and i cannot find any information on the internet or in my parent's bug book. reminds me of the bad alien/bug in men in black. apparently it's very prevalent in michigan homes (most of my coworkers have them too), especially the older ones.
oh, can anyone also tell me (and my coworker who has them also) how to get rid of them? other than my cat or dog (my home is relatively bug free as my animals tend to eat them all) running around chasing it, toying with it, and finally eating it. although i think they taste bad since they always seem to spit it out (maybe they taste like peas). i would just leave them to the pets, but they sorta freak me out.

garden update

so for a while, i thought that my garden was getting pretty boring and then thought, "what the heck am i going to blog about now?" i mean, my usually meek attention span was only now starting to wear out, my garden space is small, and with the (knock on wood) consistent but not too much rain we've been getting and the mulch i placed around the plants, there really is nothing to do now but sit and wait and let nature do her thing.

i just wish she'd hurry it up.

it took some time before the first tomato sighting, and now those tomatoes are STILL green (yes i know it's only been one week). i check with fervor each morning, noon, and night, before work, after work, before i take the dog on a short walk, after i take the dog on short walk, before a rain storm, after a rain storm, forcing my husband who just wants to have a little peace from the garden mania watching the world cup to come outside only for me to say "do you see that tomato? i think it's a millimeter larger"...well, you get the picture. i know, i know, i am a young jedi knight and need to practice patience. but we are gardeners, and most gardeners that i know are waiting with ants in pants to have their plants finally do something. i am a far cry from mr. miyagi or yoda (i just realized the amount of star wars speak i was using for someone who never actually seen any star wars completely through**insert gasp here**). it's the same reason why we might consider paying a load of money for seedlings, plants, and trees for that instant gratification of seeing a mature yard. or almost killing the dog when she chews up your well aged and expensive japanese maple (she is so lucky she has such a cute face...and some new chew toys).

but look what has been going on just today, when i checked after work. thanks to a rather scary but much needed rain storm last night. of course, none of this was here before work. brandywine tomato finally starting to fruit

'alaska' nasturtiums in the bed border finally starting to flower

this one is the most brilliant deep garnet red color

mesclun i've let go to seed, going to seed (finally, or at least flowering)

my first calendula flower in all of its glory

finally, my green zebra tomato starting to flower (i actually think this one has been pollinated and starting to set fruit...look how long the green thingys are)(i don't even know if tomatoes need to be pollinated to start to fruit i'm just babbling now over my excitement).

ahhh....i love nature. she can take as long as she wants. so long as she hurries it up. *wink*

Monday, July 10, 2006

attack of the killer tomatoes

so in my pursuit of the perfect tomato, i think i've left my cherry tomato plant a little too long. and in an act of revenge to my absence, i think it is plotting to take over the world. or at least my garden (sort of like my dog i guess...i may name the plant after my dog). yep, the whole thing is one plant, invading my italian parsley, calendula, peppers, and even my other tomato plants. something had to be in an attempt to save the world from my killer cherry tomato, i took to pruning the dang thing. i figured i was waiting long enough for the darn tomatoes to turn from green to red, that a little pruning would not only help this process along by redirecting energy, but save the rest of my plants from the wrath of the tomato.

only i have trouble with cutting anything that is growing well. and as anyone that knows me will tell you, i am very indecisive when it comes to most anything outside of work. so i was outside, nearing dark, with clipper in hand, marching around my garden for 20 minutes, trying to decide which branches to clip off. it was hard, as some of the more aggressive tzar branches that were threatening to conquer the space actually had fruit growing on it. but i finally did make a decision, and ruthlessly pruned the little sucker.
okay, so it doesn't really look that different. i guess i was a little less ruthless than i thought. but i really did prune:and this is the proof. yup, i cut back what i could, and got the green tangy smelling hands to prove it too.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

beans and polenta

so in my attempt to save money, i am trying to eat 3 meatless
dinners a week (breakfast and lunch i eat leftovers). so i revived my old vegetarian cookbook i owned in college, called "1001 low-fat vegetarian recipes" by sue spitler.

the book is a favourite of mine, and was immediately sold on it after trying the "brown sugar banana bread", so i browsed through all 1001 recipes and came across a quite peculiar one: "bean and corn bread loaf". i thought, beans, veggies, and corn meal? well, it's got cheese on it, and everything tastes better with cheese, so why not? so i tried it.
with recipes, i really only use them as guidelines, as i don't like to measure things, and i usually don't have all the ingredients on hand. and in my adapted recipe, it's not so much corn bread loaf, but a polenta casserole. some different veggies, different assembly, different seasoning ingredients, and chicken stock instead of vegetable stock. but it turned out great, pretty, and delicious. here is my adapted recipe, and my post for WEEKEND HERB BLOGGING#41. so here's how i did it.

adapted by me
inspired from the bean and corn bread loaf recipe via 1001 low fat vegetarian recipes by sue spitler

3 C chicken stock
1 C corn meal (i used yellow)
2 T olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 hot chili pepper (i used finger peppers from the farmer's market)
1/4 of a large zucchini, julienned
4 cloves garlic, minced (i used 1 garlic scape, 1 clove green garlic, and 2 cloves garlic)
1 can beans, drained and rinsed (i used kidney beans)
splash of soy sauce
2 tomatoes, chopped
chili powder to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
ground cumin to taste
salt and pepper to taste
large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 C cheddar cheese, shredded

heat stock to boiling, SLOWLY add corn meal and reduce heat to a simmer while stirring constantly to avoid clumps and lumps. stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. remove from heat and add salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. leave to cool a bit, then spoon into a nonstick or a greased baking pan.

put olive oil in skillet, heat on med heat. add celery, peppers, and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. add a splash of soy sauce. add beans, zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs (except cilantro) cook until tomatos just start to wilt. continue to cook until liquid is almost absorbed. remove from heat and cool. stir in cilantro, season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne. spoon on top of polenta mixture. sprinkle with cheese and pop into oven for 30 minutes. cut into squares and enjoy.

daily garden inspiration

i was starting to feel left out of the lilliness. so here is a photo of mine. they have exploded along the back border of my yard. i love the red detail.
and i threw in a picture of a nasturtium bud about ready to explode. love nasturtiums.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

the evolution of a cherry tomato

so i was out in my garden today, as usual, and i thought how fun it was to have my cherry tomato plant in all stages and right before my eyes. to be witness to nature.
click on photos to enlarge.

cherry tomato flower buds

cherry tomato flowers

nature doing its thing. pollination.

flower dying, fruit beginning to set.

flower fell off, fruit getting larger

cherry tomato looking perfect. no, no red tomatoes yet. soon.
when am i supposed to pick large cherry tomatoes?

Friday, July 07, 2006

jumping peas

i bought a bunch of shelling peas at the farmers market last saturday. i've been shelling and eating peas all week as a snack. then i realized that the pea pods were starting to get fuzzy and rot. so i decided to shell all the peas, blanch and freeze them. being my first time doing anything with peas that did not come out of a plastic bag from the freezer...better said than done.

apparently, my fingers, as tiny as my hands are, were not meant for shelling peas as most of the peas landed on the ground. very small sample of my kitchen rug after shelling.

i would employ the 3 second rule, but as people with hairy shedding cats and dogs know, with pets, there is no such thing as a three second rule unless you wish for your food to be hairy. and if you are one of those people, more power to ya, but the thought just grosses me out. so i only got less than 1/2 a bowl of peas, not even enough for a side dish for one, or to validate freezing. so i plunked them in my fridge, and i think i will eat them for breakfast.

usually i don't have to worry much about picking up food, as my portable food vaccuum on paws usually cleans my kitchen floor. but i guess that she does not like everything as she kept spitting out all the peas. my husband says "good for her".

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

daily garden inspiration

buds. oh the jokes and puns i could tell you with this word.
but i will spare you.
to heck with spring, now is the time for budding in my garden apparently. i'm too excited.

calendula starting to bud.

aztec sunflower crown. it looks as though it's getting ready to set bud.

my "i can't wait for them" green zebras FINALLY starting to bud

kalanchoe already flowering but still with lots guessed it, buds.

my screaming morning

so it rained pretty heavily yesterday, but only for a short while. this morning (okay it was more like's a day off, what do you expect?) i walked outside today, and literally SCREAMED IN DELIGHT as i saw this:
my large cherry tomato plants, which have been growing VERY VERY WELL have finally started to set fruit. and i'm just delighted, they are perfectly round cute and just the daintiest little guys ever. course, i'm biased.

i also broke down and bought an heirloom green zebra tomato this weekend at westborn market. i am growing them, i've got 3 plants. but i never had green zebras before, and wanted to taste as a sneak preview for the fall. it was so good....and now i'm looking forward to my harvest later this summer more than ever. i am just hoping that my tomatoes are this good, i will be so bummed if the plants go to pot.
pun intended.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

my first trip to the local farmers market

so, we've been trying to cut back on spending money and saving (and if anyone has any suggesetions we'd really appreciate it!!). a couple of things on a long list of things we've done so far is:
1. save any and all $5 bills we receive
2. have 3 MEATLESS dinners a week (meat costs soooooooooo much)

the first one is a fun game, and now i find myself actually using a larger dollar bill to pay with something just so i can get a $5 bill in return to put away.

the second is getting easier with my vegetable/herb garden getting riper. that and we are now the gourmet GRILLED CHEESE chefs of the neighborhood. oh and PB&J too. any new ideas for NONMEAT dishes that a steak and potato lover would like, let me know.

the third came into play mainly due to trying to a) be healthier and exercise more b) i work about 40 miles away so i try to drive as little as possible on the weekends and c) the local farmers market is about 3 miles down the road.

giddy to check it out, i strapped on a little soccer sack pack, my helmet, took my bike out of storage, washed it and dusted all the cobwebs off, pumped up the tires, and rode in the beautiful weather that shined down this weekend. so i picked up a large perfect zucchini, bunch green onions, a TON of fingerling potatoes, huge bunch fresh dill, a TON of shelling peas, garlic scapes, and a hard necked green garlic stalk, all for about 6$ after haggling (and with a fresh squeezed lemonade for 1.50$ AND getting 2-5$ bills back to save to boot). i was excited to find the green garlic was hard necked (in the fall, i plan on getting a bulb of garlic and planting it after farmgirl's story) and looked pretty darn funny riding my bike with my soccer sack pack on my back with a green garlic stalk protruding out of the top and over my head! yep, i am an asian woman, riding my bike (complete with helmet) with groceries and a large stalk on my back in the middle of a detroit cityburb.

but all joking aside, i was amazed at how little frivolous things i bought knowing that i could only fill my little knapsack up and only buying what i need. it really helped kept the cost down.

so i've been making yummy things with my score at the market and my score in my garden (* denotes from my garden). this is my new vegetable dish (complete with that gourmet grilled cheese i was telling you about):

extra virgin olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
cherry or grape tomatoes (i had to use them up), sliced in half
zucchini, julienned
garlic scapes, chopped
salt and pepper
white wine (i used pinot grigio...just what i had open)
lemon thyme*
italian parsley*
grated parmesan cheese

preheat olive oil in skillet, throw everything but the fresh herbs in and saute over med heat. when tomatoes and zucchini are ALMOST to desired tenderness, add a splash of white wine and the fresh lemon thyme. simmer until vegetables are to desired tenderness. add parmesan, basil and parsley after vegetables have been removed from heat. enjoy!

oh and i must add that this grilled cheese was made with american cheese (what i had in the fridge), sliced red onions, and sliced roma tomatoes on trader joe's tuscan bread (the best, cheap bread-1.99$-around to make grilled cheese) on my grill pan.