Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This is the Good Stuff

It's not oregano...
...it is basil seeds.  What?  You were thinking something different?  Shame on you!  Before I cleaned out the whiskey barrel yesterday, I cut of the seed heads off of the basil.  It is lemon-lime basil mostly.  I have three bags of it and one bag of a mix that I am not sure of the varieties (lemon-lime, sweet, and Genovese is what I grew last year).  If you want some drop me oa note in the comments, I've used all I plan on this year.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Busy Day

 After a trip to town for some herbicide and whiskey barrels, I returned home to get a little gardening done today. It was a cold day, especially since we had temps in the 80-90's last week. The first thing was some clean up on the back deck. This is where I like to grow my herbs. After a few years of annually buying plastic planters, I decided it was time to go ahead and invest in the whiskey barrels. I might get a couple of years out of $15 plastic pots, but the one whiskey barrel that I have is about 7 years old and still holding strong. So out with the plastic and in with burned out oak. They smell really good too!

So I filled the barrels, first with the old potting soil from the plastic pots and them with some sand. On top of that I put potting soil and and garden soil. Then I mixed up the soil and sowed some herbs: Genovese and sweet basil, chives, flat-leaf parsley, and dill.

 We had more clean up to do in the yard. We once again had leaves to rake. By we, I mean Elijah. Now I will be able to spray the weeds and mow.

One thing that I hadn't planned on needing to clean was the inside of the car. Next time I need soil and whiskey barrels, I'll use the truck.

We also have a few new critters around. Our neighbors have a new nanny and kid. baby goats are so cute! We found the snakes, by we I of course mean Jeff, while raking leaves. They were so cold they could barely move. Now they are in the house in our old lizard tank. I think they like the warming rock.

After cleaning out the old whiskey barrel, I sowed the lemon-lime basil seeds from what had been growing last year. The plants in the green pots are my lemons and lime trees. I tried my best to freeze them out last fall, but they are budding back out. Unfortunately, they did take a step back.

Here are some of the plants that didn't make it into the ground today. The broccoli will go in Thursday, hopefully and the rosemary I will pot then as well. The strawberries will go in as soon as we rework the strawberry patch.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


You can garden many different ways.  You can put hours of work into weeding, tilling, watering, etc.  With this your garden will probably look great and your back will probably hurt.  You can put a little work into it but have weeds, fewer fruits of labor, and not a great looking garden but your back may feel better.  You can throw some seeds in the ground and let nature take its course.  Then you have more weeds than veggies and an overgrown plot of land that the neighbors call the city to complain about.  But there is still another way.  Lazy gardening.  It is not really lazy, just more effecient ways to take care of everything from soil prep and weeding to wateringand harvesting.  You can find 100's of websites about it and one of my favorite books is Tips for the Lazy Gardener.  I have checked it out at the library a couple of times and today i finally just ordered it from Amazon.  Once I get it, I plan to put it to good use.  I will have a great garden that looks awesome, produces loads, and I will not spend hours a day in it.

I was able to employ a little laziness in the this morning.  First off, Jeff put 6 bales of straw on it, iIstill have trouble carrying heavy things that require both hands.  I was going to go out later and spread it around.  That many bales of straw usually takes about 3 hours to spread out evenly.  Instead, we let the chickens out and 2 hours later, I have not set foot in the garden (by-the-way, March is going out like a lamb with a heavy wool coat) and my hay is spread out almost perfectly.  A bonus, they will eat many of the wheat seeds that are still on the straw!

Ladies at Work

Friday, March 25, 2011

Vanilla Extract Update

Well, it's been 3 months and a change in vanilla beans, but I think the vanilla is as good as it is going to get.  It smells just like my store bought vanilla extract, but it is not nearly as dark.  I wonder how they do that.  I thought maybe they allowed it to evaporate down a little, but reading the ingredients on my 100% vanilla extract bottle (vanilla bean extractives in water, alcohol [35%]) I kinda doubt it.

<--Mine         Theirs-->

Here is the original post with the how to.

Now, what to do with the vodka soaked vanilla beans?  i am thinking home made ice cream will do the trick!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Little Work Done

Not that you can really tell, but I did a little work in the flower beds.  I planted some gladiolus bulbs in two of my beds and still have one more to go.  In one I spread some zinnia seeds.  I am hoping to have some flowers for arrangements during the summer.  I will also sow a few cosmos seeds in the other bed.  In the bed closest to the house I moved a few things.  The daffodils were fading and so I bunched them together.  It is probably better to wait, but I am terribly impatient.  Then I moved the one surviving coral bell and added two more. I then planted several pansies as a border and two clumps of them in the center.  (On a side note, that anything survived this dry winter is amazing, but that coral bell, about a dozen strawberry plants, and the irises all remained green (purple in the case of the coral bells) throughout the winter.)  Two of my hostas are peeking through.  It shouldn't be long for the others to make their appearance.  The only thing is that it may freeze again in a few days.  I will have to bring in my lemon and lime trees again, especially since I almost killed them in the first frost of last fall.

Soil tests:  pH is good, everything else, not so much

Flat of pansies

Doesn't look like much, yet!

Irises are doing well, now waiting for the rest to pop up.

We picked up some straw and fertilizer for the veggie garden.  I think we may have to wait until Sunday to get that put down, but then i can get my broccoli, lettuce, and spinach in.  It would have been better to get it in a month ago, but it will still produce enough for our needs.

It's getting busy around here.  Most of that is on the other blog!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Layers

I told you I thought the chickens liked their new straw bedding.

The top egg is from yesterday, it is a large-sized egg.  The bottom one is from today, probably a double yolker!

I also tested the soil for the garden.  I bought an electronic soil tester which shows the pH and overall N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) concentration.  Unfortunately it doesn't show each individual mineral's concentration.  It is low overall, but I think I will get a kit that tests each one individually.  The pH was perfect!  So more testing then we will begin adding.  Finally we will plant and cover.

I'm also thinking of changing the name of this blog.  It is more than just gardening I seem to blog about.  What do you think?

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Things First!

It's tilled!  Jeff got out in the garden yesterday and got it tilled for me!  We are just planting in the south half of the garden this year, last year it was the north.  The ducks ran on the south end last year and there was not a weed or sprig of Bermuda to be found.  Hallelujah!

This morning we got out there and spread around some soil amendment, cleaned up the tomato plants from last year, and let the chickens and ducks back on it.  They do a great job of scratching and digging the stuff around.  They also eat lots of grubs while they are at it.  We found a little snake and moved him to safer ground.

Doing what they do best!

No, we will not keep it as a pet!

Next we will test the soil and add anything it needs.  We have lots of chicken poo to use should we need to add it.  Then we will get it covered with straw to hold what little moisture in that there is.  That's not much since we are in a "severe" draught here in central Oklahoma.  Since last July I think we have had less that 3 inches of moisture.  That's including the two blizzards we when we had 6+ and 12+ inches of snow.

It's getting deep in here

Another thing we did this morning was put fresh straw in the laying boxes.  The chickens had scratched most of it out and we were getting broken eggs.  Now we should be okay and they seem to love it.  They are finally laying again. 

Happy ladies


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ricotta Is Good Too

So the mozzarella was a bust, but it did turn out to be very ricotta-like.  I think I just need to order some new rennet or it could be that the milk it too pasteurized.  I may check around some of the health food stores first, because I was really wanting it for Friday.  I could buy some fresh mozzarella, but it's so much more fun (and better tasting) when you make your own.  I did get quite a bit a whey from the process.  I will use that to make bread and pizza crust this week!

Here's my, we'll call it ricotta, after hanging in cheesecloth to drain the whey off.  I see lasagna in our future.

No whey!  Yes way, lots of whey, this is only about 1/3 of it.  Just no curds to go along with it.  Sorry Miss Muffet.

The turkey is on the grill/smoker right now!  It will take all day, but it should be well worth the wait.  I also have a duck breast that I'm going to stick out there a little later.  I think that should be pretty tasty too! 

More pics later!

I finally decided that I just can't make, or haven't found a good recipe for, breakfast sausage.  It all tastes fine, but just like a spiced up burger.  I want that Jimmy Dean taste.  I broke down and bought some seasoning for wild game.  Last night I made up some more bison sausage.  This time it was much closer to that taste I am looking for.  It may have to do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two, Too Fun Things

I am going to make some cheese today, mozzarella!  it will be great for the caprese salad i am making for guests on Friday evening.  I am also brining a turkey that I plan to smoke tomorrow.  Both of these projects are pretty easy.  I'll have pictures of both endeavors up tomorrow.

I also found this great blog/site:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Waiting to Till

While I'm waiting on my garden to be tilled, Jeff is swamped with cabinet jobs and my wrist is still in a brace,  I've been grilling out.  We just bought this great new pellet grill/smoker.  Bison burgers and steaks, chicken, asparagus, potatoes, squash, sweet potato fries.  Wow!  This stuff is great.  It gets a great smoky flavor to it and it smells soooooo good.  I've got a turkey thawing as I type.  This should be good.