Garden Rows

Monday, October 31

Happy Halloween

Have a spook-tacular day!

Green is the Color

Usually green is associated with Spring, but in this case it is my garden's theme for Autumn.  When I saw that the night time temperatures were in the 30's and that there was a frost advisory the other night, I decided it was time to gather my last harvest.  

Not a bad harvest considering my tomato crop really did not come on strong until late August.  The tomato plants spent the hot summer just trying to survive.  They struggled with minimal light and I realized that that I did not plant them deep enough.  As a result, they were not able to reach deep enough to find water when I (on occasion) did not have time to water.  At least there was coco chip mulch to hold the water when it did get watered.

This tomato plant got so big.  It really took off as the hot dry summer faded.  I could not find my twine to tie it up, so I just let it sprawl and take over.  It pretty much engulfed the poor little sweet red pepper.  I decided to let it go for two reasons.  Air filtration (because that's what plants do), and fried green tomatoes.  Since tomatoes just seemed to keep appearing I thought I would let them grow as long as the weather permitted.  So they grew bigger and bigger.

They are just beautiful.

 Too funny, I just realized there are 13 tomatoes!  Lucky 13?

 They will make a lovely fried green tomato dinner.  Maybe 2 dinners!  My husband and I have been looking forward to this for a while.

The pepper plants did not thrive as heartily as the tomatoes as the weather turned, but they did produce just a little something extra.

There are two small green peppers.  They have been the same size for about a month.  I guess the ground and night time temperatures have been too cool to encourage growth, but not cool enough to kill the peppers.

There were also two more baby banana peppers.  Unlike the sweet red peppers, these guys actually have made some growing progress in the last few weeks.  The two banana peppers I picked a few weeks ago (can be seen in this post) went into burritos.  yum.  These guys are half the size of the others though, so they might be a garnish if sorts, not sure just yet.

Last night my husband asked me if the little garden paid for itself, if it was worth the $$ investment.  I thought for a moment and told him probably not.  Though, the more I thought about it today, the more I think it might have come close to breaking even.  There was no really spectacular harvest, but the herbs alone more than paid for themselves.  Every time you buy a bundle of cilantro you could pay about the same for a plant that will produce more than what you just put in the produce bag at the grocery store.  It is true, jalapenos are very cheap, but if you can provide a plant with enough light, you will have reasonable success.  One of the things that made it valuable for me was that I could go out side and just grab a hand full of cilantro, a jalapeno, a bundle of fresh oregano, or mint and add it to what ever I was making.  It was the freshest produce I could hope for, and I did not even have to get in my car!  It was right there.

I would like to plant a fall crop in the future.  One with plants that actually like the cooler temperatures.  Do you have favorites to grow in the fall?

Happy Gardening

Tuesday, October 25

My Mega Maple

October is coming to a close and the enormous maple tree in my front yard has dropped half a dump truck of leaves in about a 1 house radius.  Funny thing is, it's still green!

I have a beautiful, huge, old maple tree in my front yard.  It is a fair chunk of what sold me on renting this house.  It provides shade for the house in the summer.  It can be a bit scary in the spring though when the winds are blowing strong.  Branches hang right over the whole front half of the house!

I am not the only one who enjoys this tree.  There is a whole club.  I caught this, uh, chubby guy scratching an itch.  There are lots of birds, squirrels and chipmunks that keep this tree active year round.

I anticipate the tree turning a bright golden yellow and all the leaves falling off within the next 3 weeks.  I would LOVE to mulch the leaves, but I am not set up to do that.  Maybe someday when I own my own house.  Mulching leaves is a great way to "dispose" of the leaves responsibly, especially if you live in town.  Compost piles make wonderful garden medium in the spring!  Yes, I am dreaming big :~)  I also can't wait until I can turn vegetable scraps into fertilizer!  Ah yes, the worms will be so excited.

Monday, October 17

letting go

October 8th
Sometimes we have to let go.  Sometimes in anticipation of something greater.  All the flowers have fallen off my surviving orchids.  I left the flower spikes alone for a few weeks on the off chance that the little buds at the ends might keep blooming.  I knew better.  I have read up enough by this point that I understand the basics of these plants.  After some waiting around on my part and no action on the orchids part I decided it was time.  I decided to do the Trim and Hope thing.  I did this with one of the orchids that died earlier in the summer, but that poor plant had some moisture issues and was doomed when I bought it . . . I just did not know it at the time.

Here is the trimmed flower spike of one of the orchids.  The cut is sealed with cinnamon as a fungicide.  Cinnamon has many great uses beyond oatmeal and apple pie! check it out.

If you trim an orchid flower spike once it is done blooming there is a chance that it will do one of a few things.  It might bloom again, it might grow a keiki (baby orchid plant), or it might just decide it is done with the spike and is going to put energy into the leaves.

This is where a keiki would grow if it decided to grow one.

However, it looks like this this plant would rather grow a new leaf.  Time will tell.

October 17th
Just over a week later the little leaf sprouts have really grown.  I am not sure if there will be one leaf or two.

The thing that concerns me is the threat of fungus on this plant.  The black spots at the base of the top leaf make me think that it may be too late.  I am going to look into something at one of the local green houses in hopes of fixing the situation.

Sometimes we have to let go in hopes of something great.  We just don't always know what that great thing is going to be.  Follow your heart and trust.  In my case, it may be a lesson to fork over the cash and get an orchid that is not on sale yet!

Sunday, October 9

Philosophical Vegetables

90% of this dinner came from a garden, just not my garden.  I could have easily grown the main ingredients here in the Midwest.  Pumpkin, onion, garlic, potatoes, bell peppers.

What you see here is Pumpkin soup with rye bread from the Bread Basket, and bacon ranch potato salad.  (see the bottom of this post for the recipes, or check the recipe tab at the top of the screen for other yummy edibles)

This was a good dinner, but it just was not as satisfying as the dinners I have made this summer with ingredients from my own little garden.  There is something to be said for the fruits of our labors.  I think that so often we get wrapped up in what has to be done, and how little time there is to do it that we forget to look at our accomplishments and appreciate all the amazing things that we manage.  These things do not have to be big.  They can be little.  Lots of little things add up!

Thankless, never-ending tasks like laundry and dishes. Who wants to do any of that?!  But don't you feel better once you have made a dent?  What about washing the car?  It's one of those things that falls by the way-side in my drive way, but once it is done, (I mean really done including dusting inside!) it feels so much nicer.  I am a little proud of my clean car.  When I actually clean it, I tend to keep it nicer longer, you know, like clean the trash and junk out every time I get home :~)

This may seem to stray far from the gardening topic, but really I am just going out of my way to prove a point.  When we invest ourselves in what we do we pay closer attention to the details.  Our accomplishments are a bit sweeter when we can take a look at the bigger picture of what the tiny details create.  A cozy home, a loving family . . . a beautiful garden!

Making dinner tonight got me to thinking about these things.  I knew dinner was going to be pretty good, but wouldn't it have been better if the ingredients came from my own garden?

That is just what I am going to do.  We have to dream.  So I am dreaming up a little place where I will have a little house with a big garden.  A place where my husband and I can be proud of our dinner, because we grew it ourselves!  I have been called naive, a romantic, these types of things.  As long as we remember to keep a little reality in sight than a little whimsy helps keep the practical more interesting.

Pumpkin Soup

2TBS oil
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms
2 bay leaves
2 cups cooked (about 3/4c dry)
      1 can navy beans
2 cups or 1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
*In a large soup pot, heat oil until hot.  Add onion and garlic; saute until golden.  Cover with 4 cups water (use bean cooking liquid if cooking beans from scratch)
*Add mushrooms and bay leaves; bring to a simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until mushrooms are tender.
*Add remaining ingredients.  Adjust consistency with water as needed.

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
3lb small red potatoes cooked and quartered
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup red pepper sliced thin
4 green onions, sliced
*Mix dressings and seasonings in a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients; mix lightly.  Refrigerate any leftovers.


I was in a bit of a hurry making these recipes and did not follow all directions to a T.  Make to your taste!  A recipe is only another person's idea really, unless we are talking baking where there is actually science involved!  We will leave science for another day and leave today with dewy philosophical ideas.

Monday, October 3

Chill in the Air

Ahhhautumn.  I love this season.  (I think I mentioned that already)  It is now October and the trees are blushing realizing they will be naked in another month.

The other thing that the height of autumn is known for in central Indiana is a drop in temperature.  Much of September was chillier than normal as a result of the hurricanes that moved through the south.  I brought the potted plants in on October 1st when I saw that the low that night was 37 degrees.  The nightly lows have been in the 40's and 50's the last week or two.  The plants did not seem to appreciate the nightly chill.

While some plants seem to like the move indoors:

Getting color back, the Thanksgiving cactus is even setting a flower bud!

Though not everybody seems to appreciate it!

I have read that most Gerbera Daisies rarely last the winter.  We will see how this one does.  Can you see the cat damage?  This is one of the most dangerous aspects for the plants indoors.  You can see the omnivorous feline in the lower left corner eyeing her new buffet.

The thing that is difficult to see from this picture is that this entire corner of the room is taken over by plants.  There are 4 tables with pots on them.  The avocado tree had to go in the living room.

It is larger than last winter.  It was hard to get the whole thing in the frame.  The ivy in the pot got huge over the summer, too.  It was cascading out of the pot in every direction.  I tossed the cascades up into the pot to make it easier to move, and less inviting to the kitty.  I think I better trim it back.  This particular ivy roots very easily.  Want a cutting?!

While the plants generally appreciate the warmer indoor temperatures, one of them seems a little confused.  The Hibiscus bloomed in the night!  I watched it set a bud, and I thought it would bloom the next morning, but I guess it could not wait!

During the time this plant was outside flowering, the buds would burst open first thing in the morning and then close up as the sun went down.  This flower is much smaller and going on 2 days with out closing!  I do not leave lights on at night, maybe it is the stable indoor temperature.

Yesterday was a beautiful Sunday.  A friend and I decided to take advantage of the amazing afternoon and walk on the B-line trail . . . as did every third person in town!  The bridge is finally done.  It's pretty high up there!

The sun was hot and the breeze was skipping about, an amazing October afternoon.

It may be the end of warm summer afternoons, but there are still a few things blooming, soaking of the last of the hot sun.