Monday, October 19, 2009

Sweet Potato

A garden experiment. Ok, not really, but at least for me. I don't know anyone who has done a potato. This gardening thing goes back generations too, but I still don't know of anyone growing potatoes. Maybe because it's of the cheaper varierty of things to buy at the grocery store so why bother growing them? I don't know. I've always wondered and I read that it's a great summer time veg to grow, which is hard to find in the hot humidity of Florida summers. I started mine late, what a suprise for those who know me. :) But, I won't make that mistake next year. Here is a blurb from Tom MacCubbin's site on the basics of starting the potato.
As you may recall the potatoes were started in May. This year I could not obtain starts at the garden center. The producer said a wet spring in Georgia cause a crop failure of starts. So my crop came from some saved potatoes from last year and a potato or two from the store. The potatoes were started in soil or a jar of water. The shoots that developed with roots were removed when about 6 inches long and grown on in containers until a foot or so long or stuck directly in the ground. They were kept moist and fertilized 2 to 3 times during the summer season. That is all it took to grow sweet potatoes.
 This is the month to harvest and I was ready to get the vine off the ground so I can make room for other veggies. Honestly I was just tired of moving the vine around since it kept creeping into the yard. Otherwise it's a no brainer thing. I started ripping it up and I found little sweet potatoes hanging off the roots.

Like I said before I started them late and their smaller then they should be, but just as delicious. Did you know you don't have to peel a sweet potato? One of our family's favorite dishes are the potatoes cut into bite sized pieces with a little olive oil in the pan. When they start to soften we add diced onions.Once it's all soft and yummy then I put in herbs-fresh or dried. Yum! Anyways, here is my harvest from two potato starts.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tomato Time

It appears to be tomato time. According to leading experts (Tom MacCubbin and his wife) we should be planting our tomato seeds indoors now to give them a fair start before putting them in the ground August 1. I was just at Lowe's two nights ago and there were still seeds to be had at stores. Be careful though. They take all seeds off the shelves, per law, and replace with new seeds a few weeks later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monkey Cake

I thought I would share one of my baking projects with you. I asked Kaitlyn what kind of cake Adeline should have for her dedication and she simply told me that Adeline had to have a monkey cake. So, I went looking for what to do. I found a great idea at the Martha Stewart website and attempted to recreate Martha's handiness. I think I did pretty well. The Monkey Cake was a lot of fun to eat!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cool Cucumbers

The start of a baby cucumber...Once this little beauty gets pollinated take a look at the process it goes through. In case you are rusty on the parts of a flower take a look at this site.Here's the little cucumber growing! You can see the flower on the end, it's not fully opened, kind of shriveled. Since it's already been pollinated the plant doesn't need to waste it's energies on upkeep of that flower. Eventually it will just fall off. However, look at the little prickles on the baby cuke. Self-defense :) Awesome. You'll notice the residue of them when you buy them in the store. Those little white spots are what's left when the prickles fall off because the cukes have been handled. When I pick mine in the garden they still have those prickles. Here's the little baby growing. And finally we have the end product. Another couple of things about cucumber plants. First they need to climb. They produce little feelers that cling and wrap around anything. They are way cool. I train my cucumber plants along a fence (as you can see in the pictures) and the tendrils will curl around anything it senses it's near. Some people let theirs just grow along the ground as a vine, but that takes up tons of room, so put something next to your plant it can grow up. Next thing you should know is that the cucumber plant has two separate kinds of flowers, one is the male and the other is the female. The pollen from the male flowers needs to get to the stigma of the female flowers. Reliance on insects to do this is best, however if they are failing you can always hand pollinate.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hair Bow Holder

With two little girls hair bows and clips are plentiful around my house. They always seem to pop up out of nowhere though and need a permanent home. I found this great idea and just tweaked it a bit for my smaller space. I picked up a pack of three 4x6 wooden frames at IKEA, some coordinating fabric and ribbon, mod podge, foam brushes and I already had the glue gun.

I ditched the plastic thing that usually covers the picture (maybe it'll come in handy for another project). The blog I got the idea from used a large picture frame and made this project into a large wall hanging. I needed something that can work in multiple areas, like setting it upright like a picture on the bathroom counter, the girls' dressers or even hanging all three vertically or horizontally on the wall. I then cut out the fabric for the frame, leaving enough around the inside and outside edges to fold the fabric to the back so that you can't see any edges. It's a little tricky, but err on the side of too much fabric, you can always trim it up later.
Then cut out a square on the outside edge of the frame on the corners and a slit on the inside frame edge corners. This will make things neat and tidy when mod podging it down. Go ahead and apply the mod podge (for those of you who are newbies, it's kinda like super strength Elmer's Glue) with your foam brush to the frame. Just start with the easiest, the front and then put the fabric over and smooth. Pick the outside or inside edges to glue down and make sure to smooth out all the fabric. Next, cut out fabric for your inside mat, mod podge it down and let it all dry. Hot glue your ribbon attaching it to the back of the cardboard mat. And, here you go with the final product. Very Cute!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fancy Flip Flops

Here's our latest craft, Fancy Flip Flops. I got the idea from the Family Fun website. All you do is take a pair of cheap flip flops that fit your kid's foot (or grown up too I guess) and find some fabric that matches. Cut out strips 1inch by about 4 or 5 inches long (depending on your kid's foot size) with a pair of pinking shears. This will help them not to fray so quickly. Tie the pieces on one at a time and push them close together to give it the full look. It doesn't take much fabric and Kaitlyn gets a kick out of wearing them. They make a fun gift for friends and are quick and easy to put together. Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I am always interested in finding out all about a plant before I put it into the ground. I like those long gardening books filled with the specifics about the plants. I typically don't find all the information that I would like to have in them so I just give the plant a trial to see what happens. This is very true of my zucchini plants. I've never had much luck with the squash family, mostly they just get a fungus and die. Sounds exciting? Well, these I found from the Burpee seed catalog. They have not had any fungus and have been champs at producing those yummy zucchinis. What I find interesting is how they grow. Each plant produces male and female flowers. The males are ones that proudly reach towards the sky. They are larger and it's stem remains skinny. (top) The female flower remains close to the plant and it's stem thickens with the zucchini. (bottom) The afternoon heat closes the flowers up for the day. The pollinating bee population is for unknown reasons, on the decline. Your hope is that an insect will carry the pollen from the male to the female, fertilizing and ultimately producing the zucchini. Did you know you can hand pollinate with a paint brush in the early morning if the insects are not doing a satisfactory job?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gardening in May

Summer rains have started a little early this year. We had our week of blasted hot heat and then our mini-tropical storm that poured down at least ten inches on the garden last week. So far we are getting a fair amount each night this week, which helps with the water bill for the garden. The kids are going crazy each evening since we can't go out and play, just sit and watch the rains come down.

There are plenty of tomatoes that have set, just growing and growing. The zucchini are starting to dwindle after lots of little yummy green fingers. I've heard that you can fry up the flowers, haven't tried that yet. The cukes are getting bigger and bigger. Some have that end blossom rot, yuck! They get mushy and yellow before they can get big enough. The peas and green beans are not doing that great. I have a feeling that they don't like the extreme heat and now with the rains they have not been getting enough sun. I did get to pick my first pea pod. Kevin, Kaitlyn and I shared the three fresh peas and boy they were yummy. I will have to remember those for the fall garden.

I keep checking back with my good pal, Tom MacCubbin to make sure I am on par with what I should be doing now. Seems I am a little behind with planting my sweet potatoes. I have it going in a pot. I'm just trying to make the time to prepare a place in my garden to plant the shoots. The other day I found a sweet potato on top of my fridge and it was sprouting of course. I wonder if I can start this one even though it's late in the game. Let's hope I get a chance this next weekend to put them in the ground.