Category Archives: gardening

Oh boy….. been a LONG time.

Broccoli flowers, California

Image via Wikipedia

Yes, I have been gardening but no I have obviously not been blogging.  So I guess I should get back into it.

Have I been growing anything.  You know it!

Zukes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Tom (lots and lots of them), Peppers (lots and lots of them), CORN, and a few others.  The Tom’s came in nice this year.  I have had over 50 nice red and ripe ones.  Weird since it has been hell trying to make them turn the last few years.

Colored in left…. Hubby wants me to say this?  Plumbing.

I have corn!  I have a few ears again!  And they look great!  I was about to take them down until I realized I had little ears.  I almost did the same thing I did the year before.  I will be pulling my garden soon as the cold is coming in fast this year.  I see snow on the mountains already.

I also have a new blog…. As the Fireweed Turns ( http://asthefireweedturns.wordpress.com/ ) which is a spin-off of a blog I use to have.  Come on over and see what I am talking about if you would like.  I will be keeping this blog for my gardening adventures.

A Frightful Tale of Tales for this All Hallow’s Week…. for the home buyer!

Scary House

Image by Randy Son Of Robert via Flickr

 Once upon a Time, there was a newly married couple who enjoyed fishing, hunting, gardening and other outdoor recreations but needed to buy a house.  They found a cute little house that either could take care of if anything huge happened to it, and within a reasonable price.  The wife called the realtor, twice, in which the realtor selling the house never called her back. 

The couple decided to get a different realtor, in which they called him Larry and Larry got them in to see the home the couple wanted.  Cute and small but with good bones and skin, the couple wanted it and asked for Larry to draw up the offer to send to the realtor, who we will call the WW. 

Well, here is the story in a condensed version.  Larry sent in the offer which took 72 hours to get back to use that they didn’t like it and said no… no counter offer, nothing.  The couple walked away upset but scratching their heads.  After a hunting trip, they came back and asked Larry to draw up another offer, sent it to the WW and another 72 hours later got an offer back.  The couple talked it over and excepted it and hoped to get the ball rolling and got a mortgage loan on the roll… hahhhahhahaa!

The Couple and Larry worked together to get the inspections and appraisal and other items in the window of time posted. While the WW Realtor dragged her feet and didn’t return calls for important meetings with the Appraisal person or the Septic Inspectors and did not return calls concerning questions for the Mortgage nor the buyers requests.  And all the while Larry and the couple worked and slaved to get this house.

When the time came to sign for the little house, to make it theirs, the bank couldn’t let them and the Title company was bare!  The WW Realtor had been screwing up the paper work, had stopped calling people back on questions concerning the house and nothing had been inspected.  Which made the couple not just sad, but very very mad.

SO the Couple was stressed and began to fight, the lady was more upset for the WW dropping the broom and letting all the work, and money go to waste and the couple both hated waste.  Larry their Realtor was more than upset, as the WW was completely unprofessional and come to find out yelled and cussed at the Couples Mortgage Broker and would not give him vital information. 

So, with all the fighting and all the waste and all of the agitation beyond the color of things, the Lady said I am done and went to the bank and talked to her Mortgage Broker about the problems at hand.  The Mortgage Broker felt bad for the couple since the Bank and had screwed up some of the paperwork as well and told the couple they didn’t have to pay for their bank fee!  Some good news was always a plus in a very hard mortgage year.  She asked him when they were ever going to close as it had been a month since the couple was supposed to sign… in which the mortgage broker made some calls and got a hold of Larry and they worked out the paperwork to close the house for the couple.

If you are wondering yes it is I and my wonderful Hubby.  We closed today and get the golden key tomorrow.  As for Larry we will be doing a surprise for him as the seller is paying his fees, but he worked miracles and his own magic.  But as for the WW Realtor….. that is going to be the next frightening chapter in this Horror Story in which she will wish she would have been…. a little nicer!

…… to be continued……..

An entry from a Canning Blogger.

Cleaning out the Pantry

Image by Chiot's Run via Flickr

I am going to admit it.  I have NO CLUE how to can.  BUT I have an excuse (don’t we all)!  I am trying to buy a house (still), I have no room to spread out for canning (which is the truth), my garden in not where I live (which is another truth) and I want to get the house done before I start canning, as I like a clean environment. 

But, when I stumbled upon these people’s blog, I had to put them on my blog roll.  1. is because they have some interesting recipes.  2 is due to their straight forward way of explaining how to can certain items and how much in metric details.  and 3. they are really nice people.  I recommend you go and check them out after you read the plug I am going to put into my blog. 

Without further ado:  Putting up with the Turnbells

Top 10 Reasons to CAN and PRESERVE

I am getting ready to host my first canning party and although most of my friends are really into gardening and canning there are a few that could use a little persuasion.  In order to attend my party you must CAN or preserve at least one food item for this year.  My goal is to get more people excited about canning and preserving their own food.  This party is for beginners as well as the more experienced canner.  It is time to EAT UP what we’ve PUT UP!

Top 10 Reasons to CAN:

  1. Know what you are eating.  When you CAN your own food you are in control of what goes into each jar.  And, although you may need to source the produce from your local farmers’ market, veggie shop, garden co-op, a friend or the grocery store you are the one responsible for cleaning, preparing and jarring your food.  It’s empowering!
  2. Eliminate the preservatives.  Too many of us eat too much fast food, over prepared food, frozen junk and food that is more filler than anything.  I’m not saying I don’t like a good cheeseburger but we’ve got to find a healthy balance.  Do away with additional preservatives so that you can enjoy that burger as a treat…guilt-free.
  3. Better than TV.  I’m an artist by profession and used to spend my evenings painting my wood carvings in front of the TV.  I calculated that in an average day I had the TV on for about 5-6 hours.  Now, that does seems excessive and maybe impossible to believe but it’s true.  This left very little time to enjoy the evening communicating with my husband.  Now, Matt and I spend most of our free time growing veggies in our garden, forging the back roads, and canning everything we can get our hands on.  Time well spent. 
  4. Cut down on your CARBON FOOT PRINT.  Growing your own food to can or canning locally produced fruits and veggies cuts down on the fuel emissions spent moving fresh produce around.  Has anyone seen that new show 100 miles?  It’s an experiment with several British Columbia families taking part in a challenge to only eat food that is grown within 100 miles of their home.  Although, this would be impossible for most of us because of our endless need for sugar and vinegar the concept is great.  Why not incorporate as much of this idea as we can and try to be more conscious of where our food is coming from and try sourcing more local produce.
  5. Eating GREAT food is GOOD.  When you are at the helm you can create the food that you enjoy most.  Take the time to season it perfectly or experiment with a new recipe.  Lots of times you will be pleasantly surprised with how good it turns out.  This year I’ve tried lots of new foods and recipes with both successes and failures but it is finding that one great recipe and those favorite ingredients that can turn something in a jar into something you can’t live without.  Like the Tomato Jam…mmmmMMMdelicious!
  6. Reuseable Jars and Lids.  Part of the reason I first started canning was to cut back on our household waste.  Buying food in plastic and tin cans is not only harmful to your health but the by-products and waste just don’t make good sense.  We’ve all got to do our part to cut back on adding to the landfills.  Canning jars are reuseable help to eliminate a great amount of waste.  And I just found out about these cool reuseable lids from Tattler.  Now, that makes canning even better.
  7. Great gifts.  There is nothing in the world like getting a great home-made gift.  Something that a friend or family member took the time to make is better than anything money can buy.  And, although not all of us can paint a master piece or sew an amazing quilt…all of us can read.  So there is no excuse not to follow a recipe to create a unique jar of preserves to give to that special person in your life.
  8. Rewarding.  There is nothing more satisfying that opening a jar of your own home-made preserves.  The time spent putting up countless bushels of tomatoes and cucumbers, fresh fruits and veggies will satisfy you for many months to come.  It’s like having a grocery store with stocked shelves right at your finger tips.
  9. Support Local Agriculture.  These days nothing seems more important that supporting the hard-working men and women that grow the food we put in our mouths.  Why not go to them directly?  You get food that is freshly picked and bred for its’ flavour while preserving agricultural green space.
  10. Because it is just plain fun!

Pondering…. worms.

Earthworm on earth

Image via Wikipedia

Yep, I would be pondering.  I have yet to close on that darn house.  Ugh, that selling agent is going to kill me… I don’t think they get the meaning of :SELLING: a house, which means move your buns.  It is almost 2 weeks since we were suppose to close…. would you be as ticked off as me?

As for the garden, it is frosty BUT for those Alaskan gardeners who know what i am talking about, I had a very awesome surprise.  I got WORMS!  Oh Yes, WORMS.  Now, this may come as a shock to many, but worms are a beautiful thing to behold up here.  When you have worms, you know you are doing something right, even though I still haven’t figured out quite what the heck that is yet.  How do I know I have worms… well, I was pulling stuff up, like celery and notice big fat ones, in a beautiful brown and reddish hue.  Oh yes, earthworms are a beautiful things here in Alaska!

Let the Seed planning begin!

front yard landscaping the ultimate in contain...

Image via Wikipedia

Oh yes, I have been thinking heavily about this.  One reason is due to when we finally sign on the house, I have to start from scratch again with containers.  The Second reason is besides my containers, do I want to bring my hot-house with us or just use visqueen?  Honestly, I really would love a green house… but I have a feeling that will be a couple of year down the road.  But since I will be starting out… all… over….again, I thought about what would be worth my time, my energy, how quick will it grow, the versatile vegetables as well as what I would eat more of. 

Container gardening is no big deal for me really.  I actually do rather well with just containers.  I have multiple black containers, that are the type you would use in a green house environment.  I have them from 50 gallons down to a half-gallon.  If you want to know where I got the 50 gallon, I bought it at a feed store in Anchorage, called Mill and Feed and I think they both cost around 20 bucks or so.  They were also the only place that had containers that large!  Also, I will have to use a bleach and water sanitizing as I do not want any of the mold nor the slug eggs to come with me.  I usually wash mine off after the summer is over… but I dumped all the soil this time in preparation to take most of my gardening items with us. 

I am planning where to purchase soil from as well.  Some places around our Valley actually tries to mix phospherants, magnesium, nitrates and such into the soil medium.  That would be worth a few extra dollars but I will always lime, use egg shells and coffee grinds. 

So on to the seeds.  I did NOT do well ont the squash and zuke front.  Actually I barely got 1 out of everything.  I may try 2 seedlings of each summer squash and zukes.  I did okay with the tom’s, but they never did turn red (except for the patio tom’s).  I will lessen those to only 6 plants.  Any suggestions on types?  I would really like to try the russian black cherries or some type of Siberian yellow bell types.  But I don’t know who grew them this year to get a good idea of how they might do.  I like Kahlrobi, so I plan on doing a few of those.  Brussel sprout maybe.  I didn’t do so well on them this year, but I did start them out as seeds and almost had some sprouts, and then the cold hit.    I was also thinking about carrots, mustard greens, radishes, and of course herbs.  I brought my rosemary plant in as I don’t want to have to wait 100 days for germination and maybe an inch or so of growth.

I am thinking about getting some river rock, some cement and just making a raised bed river rock and cement wall.  At least it won’t disintegrate in a couple of years. 

This is the start.  Lets see what happens.

Indoor Gardening. My House Plants. :)

Corn plant

Image via Wikipedia

Other then gardens, I love growing inside plants as well.

I have 7 (I think) different varieties of African violets. All different colors and some are ruffley. They are just starting to bloom now, as they bloom when the temperature shifts to colder conditions and light. I have never fertilized them, I may this year, nor have I don’t much to them other then water them from the bottom. I had to repot a couple as they had grown too large and were tipping the pots over. Since repotting, it seems they have grown twice as fast… I may have to repot again soon.

I also have cactuses. One is called a Madagascar Jewel. I grew it from a seed from an original plant someone had given me. These are such neat cacti! When they get big enough, they develop seeds, like most plants do… but when they are ready to drop their seeds, it is more a spitting. I kept hearing a “TING” and couldn’t figure out why little stones were being thrown at me. Well I figured out it was my cactus and looked at it. It has a corkscrew like spring that spits it out of the “thorns”. How COOL! So, ever since the spitting I have been waiting for my new Jewel to grow. I think it is time to replant that guy too.

I also have my little sequoia trees that I talked about a for blogs threads ago. They are going into hibernation mode now. So I will only water them once every two weeks. But when the sun comes out for the next spring rotation, they are going to grow like no tomorrow. I for sure will have to repot the 5 of them next summer. And since they do not like to be repotted, I hope they do not die on me.

We also have Christmas cactus. I got them for a dollar at either home depot or lowes. One is at my house and the other at our cabin. Well the one at my house, isn’t and hasn’t done much. I guess it doesn’t like where it is at. But the one at the cabin LOVES it. It has flowered 3 times and has grown new segments 2 different times. Maybe the one at my house, will like the new house better.

I have other plants like Mothers Tongue (which grew a new root system) and spiders plants of course. But I own a Corn Plant. Now, it isn’t a CORN plant, but a Massangeana. You see them all the time at lowes or home depot or just any store in general. They are great plants and I have had mine bloom. YES, they BLOOM! They smell awesome. They are a lot like the African violets. When it gets chilly.. they start to bloom for some reason.

So there you have it, what I have that are my favorites. DO you have some special house plants?

Snow? Where? But lets talk about the trees all over!

Mount McKinley, or Denali, in Alaska is the hi...

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When everyone was freaking out about SNOW, I was driving through Wasilla at that time going.. look at the SNOW on the Mountains.  I didn’t see the soft fluffy cold stuff coming down, it was more sleet like but nothing to get worried about. 

Now, there was a nasty windstorm a few das ago and the wind left big trees laying everywhere.. including on people’s houses.  The lights were on when we got to our cabin, but the Toyo stove wasn’t working.  Air bubble in the line it seems and MAN was it chilly last night.  Hubby is driving back up tomorrow to fix it and then we are going to sit down and figure out what to do for sure.  Rent out the Cabin for honeymooner types, and get together’s and mountaineers and so on?  Or should we go long-term rental?  Or should we just sell.  Someone told us about their rental and what they did.  I don’t know.. but the honeymoon rental would work.  IN Alaska in a Cabin WITH running water and sewer… hmm.  Something to think about for sure.  And if you didn’t know, Talkeetna has a huge population explosion when you can climb Denali and they rent well and are usually cleaner then most people.

But I can at least have some of the garden there for “pretty” purposes.  Grow things that really do not need to be looked at or watered a bunch.  SO gardening will be interesting.   Just something to think about in a more hippie-esqe area.