These are the new green grapes I bought this past weekend. Aren’t they lovely? And so full of promise? I am a big novice when it comes to gardening. I hate dirt. I hate bugs. I don’t even like to be outside that much. But I am learning to get over it. Learning to enjoy nature, dirt, life cycles and especially the way life is intertwined. So, I put on my gardening gloves, grabbed the shovel and dug a big hole for my new vines. Then I did it again for my new fig tree (which I do not have a picture of) and was sweaty and a little tired. But tired in a very satisfying way. Here’s to hoping they flourish in my yard.
This other picture is one of 3 peach trees that came with the house. They are full of tiny little peach buds. And it smells heavenly. I love peaches. How much better to love my own peaches?! I might even share
We have our new house. No more apartment or laundry mat or lack of yard. We are now on nearly an acre! We have 3 peach trees, a pecan tree, a garden already plotted out and a chicken coop. Yes, a chicken coop. We are going to raise our own chickens. There are 4 for now and they’ve managed to make it 5 days in my care. Let’s hope we continue the streak. And they are soooo super cute.
Tower garden planting has begun again….20 plants have started their process as seeds and half have sprouted already. Yay! I’m looking forward to seeing the difference full sunshine makes this year. If you have one and want grow lights, Living Towers sells grow lights that attach to the tomato cage. A good friend has had a lot of success with those. I’d like to use them during the winter, so that I can grow my fresh produce all year long. Yum!
I have a lot of musings in mind to write about. There are so many topics of interest to me, stories I want to share. It may take me a little bit to get them going, but expect a variety
Update: one sweet chick passed away. We ordered 3 more-they will be here by the end of the week.
I haven’t been on here in quite some time. Clearly But I have good reason….my oldest is out of school for the summer, we are buying a house and I am packing (sort of). So, now that we have gotten through my list of reasons for being absent-let’s move forward.
First a recap….it got so hot here this summer, with one day reaching 117 degrees, that my plants almost died. They all tuned brown. But I still harvested some tomatoes. The one at my daughter’s school did very well-once I killed 6 green tomato caterpillars. Ugh. After cutting off all of the dead branches and such, I noticed significant new growth from my plants today. That excites me!
Next, I gave up on making sourdough bread for now and will resume after we move with more kitchen space and time. Yay! So be sure to check in for those updates. I have been enjoying coconut flour immensely-it makes some excellent pancakes and for anyone doing the whole Paleo thing-it’s a nice chance to eat what feels like a carb It also makes to die for brownies-courtesy of the recipe on the back of the package.
Third, we’ve started drinking raw milk. It’s delicious. I haven’t been a milk drinker since my early teens because I didn’t care for the over-production of mucous. (eww). But I don’t have that problem with the raw stuff. I get it at a very reputable dairy here and am thrilled. It’s pretty inexpensive considering what I’m getting in health benefits. Did you know raw milk is a natural probiotic? Cool huh? And I made some butter with the raw cream, as well as whipped cream to dip strawberries in. Yum! I even tried to make my own yogurt with it-it was a little runny, but nothing a cheesecloth can’t fix.
And then last I want to mention GMO foods again. I have a few friends who are learning to eat better, think they are consuming healthy “clean” options, but in reality are not. The label “NATURAL” means absolutely nothing in manufacturing. It is not a regulated term and can be put on the front of any box, can, wrapper if that company thinks it can sell more under the natural label. I highly recommend the TRUE FOOD app for android or iPhone. It gives a list of brands by category that are non-GMO, and likely to be GMO. It gives a great frame of reference for shopping. Cereal grains, baking grains, etc tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Avoid those, buy organic. Most cereals and granola items have corn or soy products in them that are GMO. Know where your food comes from, ask questions. Grow your own, go to the local farmer’s market, join a CSA. You make a difference with your dollars.
Here is a list of resources for helpful info on what foods, brands, etc to consume:
So…I have been trying to make my own sourdough bread. We eat it fairly often and I thought-”why buy it when surely I can make it myself?”
For those of you who don’t know me-I wanted to be a pastry chef once upon a time and I love cooking-LOVE. IT.
So, how hard could it be??? Um-so hard. I was not prepared for it. Who knew you had to feed a started everyday, or be super, excruciatingly patient while you wait for the bread to rise? I had no idea what I was in for. After a few very failed attempts…my starter is working, it grows, bubbles, ferments. It’s good. But the bread part is where I am running into trouble…the bread doesn’t want to rise much. Not enough for a decent loaf anyways. So, today I thought I finally had it-it was double the size!
And then I realized I didn’t oil the bowl it was rising in and probably wouldn’t be able to get it out after it baked. So I removed it to a pan. And then it fell flat. Ugh. So, I will try again-after I buy more flour….not exactly economical at this point. But…on the plus side-I found a fabulous recipe for sourdough pancakes. These are seriously, hands-down the best ever, fluffy pancakes! It’s from Gnowfglins and the recipe if for these crazy good cast-iron pancakes. I modified by making them in a regular pan. But they were still fluffy and really yummy. I added chocolate chips instead of fruit! *Gasp* it was so good.
I will attempt the bread again tomorrow….I’m willing to take suggestions on this and am contemplating trying a new starter too.
My tower garden is an official jungle now and it’s amazing! This thing grows like nobody’s business once it gets going! My tomato plants are 4 feet tall and branching off all over the place (thank goodness for a tomato cage!). We just harvested our first cucumber. There are people who have wondered if it would taste the same, especially since I’ve used grow lights. Well, I have to say…that was THE BEST, most delicious, perfect cucumber I have tasted in a long time. There are 8 more growing. And my tiny little watermelon that was the size of a marble is now bigger than a plum. Note: remember to always check the water levels! Mine got way too low and the plants got pretty wilted. They sprang back to life within 30 minutes of getting water again. Whew!
This has been the most fun growing experience I’ve ever had. And involves the least amount of back-breaking work. None. I’m going to start more seedlings and fill in a few of the empty holes in my tower and take some to my daughter’s school tower. I want them to be surprised when they get back in the fall
Last weekend I took the family out to pick blueberries. Thunderbird Farm has beautiful berries, rows and rows of bushes full of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. The girls had so much fun traipsing off to find the last bush and to see who could pick the most. The berries are free from all pesticides-a huge plus! And if you pick your own it’s only $3/lb. A bargain.
The sun was shining, breeze blowing and it was glorious. One of those moments where your heart swells, your soul is refreshed, and you realize that you are soaking in one of life’s important, meaningful, memories.
“Remember that time we went berry-picking and Zoe was covered in dirt?” and we’ll laugh.
“Remember that time we picked 13 pounds of blueberries?”
Drink it in. Life. Is. Full.
We’re going again tomorrow. We’re out of berries and I need more cobbler.
So after 2 months, a little help and lots of love-our Tower Garden is flourishing! The tomato plants are getting so high, the cucumber plants are HUGE, the lettuce is catching up, the strawberries are coming along and the peppers are beautiful. We have about 8 teeny tiny cucumbers. I am so excited to see them all mature!
We ended up needing to purchase a couple grow lights. We are using a 1 foot square LED panel of red and blue lights. It works like a charm! There just wasn’t enough sunlight on the deck, but now things are looking great. There aren’t too many pests either. The best part is that I spend a total of 20 minutes a week tending to it and that is primarily to check the water level.
What a simple way to grow!
I also have learned some very interesting things about this Tower Garden. The plastic is food-safe and UV stabilized. This means that when sunlight hits it, it can’t pass through-so the plastic won’t break down and leach chemicals. It stays intact! It’s very strong-you could drop it onto concrete and it wouldn’t break. The tonic mineral solution is pure and perfect for all the plants in the Tower. Most hydroponics use multiple solutions for different stages of growth and different formulas for each type of plant. That’s a lot of bottles and gets expensive fast! The Tower Tonic is easy, safe, pure and inexpensive. The man behind all of this, Tim Blank, said he wanted to do it right from the start. I admire that.
In short, I absolutely LOVE this Tower and want to add more if you want more information-this website has some very helpful videos, info, pictures, etc here