Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tray Project

My latest craft project is this serving tray. It is on this blog as I will probably use it to entertain in the garden. It is perfect for bringing out lemonade on a hot sunny day, don't you think?

The tray I found at a garage sale for 50 cents (a steal I know!). It had a outdated picture and saying inside, so I removed that. Next, I decoupaged some stamp wrapping paper, also found at a garage sale in a free bin by Thorny Guy, onto the tray. Cut out grouping of stamps and added those. Not bad for a garage sale steal.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A review: Water Hyacinth

The water hyacinth are blooming and they are a delight. This is our first year growing these so we did not know what to expect. Well they took off!

The plants are very interesting, they form these balls with pockets of air that allow them to float. The flowers have this deep purple and yellow petal on the top, I wish my camera was better, then I could show you. With these and the water lilies, they have done a great job at covering the water's surface. This (and the filter plants) kept the algae under control. And as a bonus the turtles like to hide under the plants.

Anyway, it is a good thing that they do not keep over the winter. Even though they are pretty, I would not want it to invade any of the lakes near by. They can just invade my pond every year.

LadyBug gives Water Hyacinth
ThornyGuy gives Water Hyacinth

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Piece of Garden Junk Art

I picked this piece up at left over garage sale event for free. Originally, it probably was a candle holder? I just put safflower seeds in it for the birds. They should enjoy it, or maybe the chipmunks. Not sure yet if this will be its final resting place. Art seems to move around the garden, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Canning Part 3: Pears

I finished canning the rest of the pears. Previously, I had canned 13 pint jars with a medium syrup. Thorny Guy is an excellent pealer and corer, aren't you Thorny Guy?

To reach the rest of the pears, I had to use our apple picker on a pole. I missed several which came crashing down, bruising when it hit the ground. The pears at the top of the tree are the biggest and best for canning like this. I did another 4 quarts, this time with a light syrup and honey, because I ran out of sugar.

Here is the chart Thorny Guy found on the internet for different types of syrup.
Per PintPer Quart
SyrupWaterSugarWaterSugar
very light3/4 cup1/8 cup1 1/2 cup1/4 cup
light3/4 cup3/16 cup1 1/2 cup3/8 cup
medium3/4 cup1/4 cup1 1/2 cup1/2 cup
heavy3/4 cup5/16 cup1 1/2 cup5/8 cup

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unwanted Guest

NOTICE: This is how we treat unwanted guests, so be warned!
video

Just kidding... only those pesky raccoons!

Canning Part 2: Pear Butter

My mom came over on Sunday and helped me cut up the rest of the pears. Since these were ripe, I made pear butter. It took forever to boil down making the house smell like pears. In the end, I had ten jars and a little left over for Thorny Guy to eat.

Here is the recipe, from "Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard:
Spiced Plum/Pear Butter
10 plums or pears, sliced
1 cup water
Sugar (See below)
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Place plums and water in saucepan, bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Place plum mixture in food processor and process until smooth. Measure and return to saucepan. For each 1 cup plums, add 1 1/4 cup sugar. Tie cinnamon and cloves in spice bag and add to sauce.
3. Return plum mixture to boil, simmer unti, mixture is very thick.
4. Discard spice bag; stir in nutmeg.
5. Ladle into hot jars and process for 10 minutes in water bath.
Makes about 3 cups.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Review: Mexican Sunflower


Pretty flowers right? That is what I though when I bought seed for this Mexican Sunflower. With promises of butterflies and blossoms what could go wrong?
Well the foliage is dang ugly! Not only that but it took forever for this plant to bloom. Part of it is my fault, I got the seeds in late to the ground and I misread the final height of the plant. Here is the plant in all its glory!

The description from the company I got it from reads:

Boasting the deepest, most intensely-colored blooms of any Mexican Sunflower we know, Goldfinger is a two-tone delight in the sunny summer garden! The deep, persimmon-orange petals and bright yellow central buttons almost glow with warm color on floriferous, long-blooming 4-foot plants, putting on a long show of unforgettably rich color!

One of the pure joys of the sunny summer garden, Goldfinger needs almost no attention once it begins its massive months-long bloom! The densely-branched plants sport so many big 3 1/2-inch daisies that they attract every butterfly for miles to your garden! And the hotter it gets, the better Goldfinger likes it! Every garden deserves a trouble-free, floriferous joy like this hard-working annual!
Notice how much more red their flowers are, not to mention how many more flowers they show in their picture. Also notice how they do not show any foliage, because it is UGLY. I have seen butterflies on it so at least that part it true. I have to say they definitely got me on this one.

Here is my final review:

Flowers: Nice, not as big as they claim, mine are 1.5-2 inches. They are more orange than pictured. Good for attracting butterflies and bees.

Foliage: Ugly! Leaves are big and unappealing. Leaves are droopy at night.

Fragrance: None that I noticed.

Growing Notes: Needs more sun than where it is now. Plant earlier, since take awhile to flower.

Would I grow this one again: Maybe, if I can find another plant of the right height to put in front of it to cover up all its foliage.
LadyBug gives Mexican Sunflower
ThornyGuy gives Mexican Sunflower

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Canning Part 1: Pickles

Over the weekend, I did several sessions of canning. I used up the pickles and some dill from the garden to make five jars of dill pickles. In a couple, I added a hot pepper, watch out Thorny Guy!



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Update from the berry patch

Our raspberries are done for the season. We got a few to eat, but not enough to make jam. The strawberries didn't turn out so well because we used straw with seeds to mulch them, turning our strawberry patch into a hay field! The same thing happened to the raspberries but they didn't seem to be effected as badly.

We also planted blueberries but they failed miserably. We ended up taking them back to Fleet Farm. The NEW plan is to amend a patch of soil this fall and try again in the spring.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bowling Ball Art

Here are my first bowling balls which I covered in flat glass pebbles and then grouted. The bowling balls I picked up at a garage sale for one dollar each. Gluing and grouting was a messy job, but the end result is nice. See instructions for more information. Now the plants in this woodland garden need to grow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Zinnias


The zinnias are blooming. These were sowed directly in the ground in late spring. The ones in full sun are doing well, but the ones which ended up in part shade have yet to bloom. The butterflies love these guys! I will have to save seed for next year. I think they will be a standard staple in my garden for years to come.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Move in Day

The coop is done and ready for its occupants to move in. So far they have not really checked out their nest boxes. I did put two golf balls in a couple of boxes to hopefully explain to those silly chickens what they are for. Chickens, we are ready now, you can start laying eggs! Thorny Guy did a good job with the perch. They are already using it at night. It beats fighting for spots on the ladder outside.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Braiding Onions

Here is my attempt at braiding onions. I made three bunches according to size of the onions. This is the smaller set which was easier to braid. There were a couple of sites I read before attempting this, Maggies Farm and A Homesteading Neophyte.

The biggest problem I had was that the tops would break off since they were too dry. The next set I braided when the tops were less dry worked the best.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bread and Butter Pickles

On Wednesday night, I canned 7 pints of bread and butter pickles. Thorny Guy should be happy. This was the first time I have canned since I was a little girl, but even then mom did most of the work.
We had the hardest time finding all the spices for the recipes. Rainbow was out of cheap celery seed, and I refuse to pay five dollars for a small little container. We resorted to the Indian grocery shop where you can get a huge bag of most spices for around three dollars. Overall, process went well and the jars seem to be sealed. Here is the recipe I used, mostly for my own records.

Bread and Butter Pickles
6 pounds cucumbers, scrubbed and sliced 1/8 inch
1 1/2 cups peeled and sliced onions
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup salt
Ice Cubes
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
3 cups distilled white vinegar

1) In large bowl, combine cucumbers, onions, and garlic. Add the salt and mix. Cover with ice cubes and let stand for 3 hours.
2) Rinse well, drain the mixture, and remove garlic.
3) Combine the rest of ingredients and heat to boiling. Add drained cucumber mixture and heat for 5 minutes.
4) Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Cap and seal.
5) Process for 10 min in a boiling water-bath canner.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Problem: Shrub


This is an unknown shrub, growing in front of a utility box to hide it. It kinda looks like a ninebark, but our other ninebark does not have thorns. Is it one, you decide?


A note from Thorny Guy:
Also, at the end of July this shrub had large dark purple berries on it. I'd guess they were about the size of a small marble. Maybe this will help.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Chicken's Schedule


The chickens have become familiar with the daily routine. In the morning, I give them cut clover which they seem to enjoy. Here they scratch through it looking for bugs and leaves.

They stay in their chicken run while we are at work doing who knows what. We really need a chicken cam.

They are always excited to spot us coming down the hill to let them out and "have the run of the place". After they fly out the door, they like to check out the edge of the woods for bugs. They then work their way to the orchard to see if any plums have fallen from the tree. After that they roam around or bug Thorny Guy if he is working on their coop.

The weekends sometimes throw them off schedule when we let them out all day. Since there is always the danger of a hawk or cat near by, we usually only do this when we are working in the area.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pileated Wood Pecker

The Pileated woodpecker has been an rare guest of our bird feeder. You can imagine our surprise when a pair showed up the other day. They managed to scarf down the last bits of the suet along with helpings of sunflower seeds.

We are not sure if this is a mating pair or a mother and baby. Thorny Guy claims that one was feeding the other seeds. Have to research the behavior of these birds.

video
video

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pears

Our pear tree is loaded with pears to the point I am afraid that the branches will break. I wonder when they will be ripe. I will have a lot to can whenever they do.
Hopefully, soon we will get more rain and that probably would help them ripen. Just not a windy thunderstorm or those branches might come down.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Obedient Plant

This is the obedient plant I picked up at a plant sale. It just started to bloom. I have to say that I really like it thus far. Although I have been warned that it does spread vigorously.

Obedient plant is also known as False Dragonhead. The plant has opposite lance shaped leaves and bears showy spikes of light purple flowers in September and also earlier. The large tubular flowers have white areas on margins and interior. The common name "obedient plant" results from the fact that the flowers will remain in place after being moved. The other name "False Dragonhead" results from the flower's similarity to a Snapdragon. The plant is easily cultivated and used as an ornamental perennial. In fertile soil it can become a weed pest.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

County Fair

Thorny Guy and I went to the county fair and spotted a breed of chicken we have never seen before, Dark Brahmas. Not that we need any more chickens, but they have a unique appearance.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Problem: Juniper


Keeping with unidentified plants around the pond, here is the next Friday Problem. These two trees were here when we moved in. They are about 8 feet. Currently they have small round blue berries. What is it?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Plant Swap

I have the following plants that need to be divided:
Iris - Purple and White
Iris - Purple and White
Yarrow - Yellow, Red, White really any color
Baby's Breath - white
Peonies - White and Red (These do not smell and do not attract ants)

Day Lilies - Picture makes them seem red but they are more of an orange.
Clematis 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' if my layering technique works and it roots

Seeds



Columbine 'William Guiness'
Double Holly Hock - probably end up white

Poppy, Oriental Papaver orientale

Caluendra - annual

Bunny Tails - annual

Vinca 'Apple Blossom' and 'Sunset' - annual
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