Jan 7, 2015

Gardening Off Season

I've spent some time thinking about the gardening off season.  What do gardeners do with the time when they can't really grow something?  (High of 10 today, folks, with a brutal windchill)

Just kidding, I really like the cold and snow.  Just not negative 13.  Mostly, during the off season, I dream and plan and look at seed catalogs.  Sometimes I am on the ball and start making newspaper pots, but let's be honest, I'm quite the procrastinator.  Once you've gardened for a year or two, you realize, as I have, that the best laid plans... =)

In truth, what I've found is that when I can't grow anything, I turn my attention to other interests.  Music is one of my great loves in life.  I was talking to my sister about it over Christmas break, and we both said how unusual it was for someone to really understand what music means to you when you REALLY love music.  Music is the soundtrack to my entire life.  I would prefer to always have some playing in the background, and if I'm with you during a song, I will most likely always think of you when I hear that song again.  Almost every important memory to me has a song.  It's a fatal flaw.  =)

I always have a new band I'm in love with and an old band I can't live without.  My current obsession, for your entertainment, is Leon Bridges.  He has two songs on this website that make me happy!  Take a listen, and tell me your thoughts!

In the meantime... Something is growing in my house.  More info to follow in your next Gardenerd installment.

Dec 29, 2014

What do you DO on Christmas Break??

The above is the question I get asked, second only to: "What do you DO on Summer Break."  For those of you who don't know, I am a teacher.  Let me explain this to you.

First, I am a teacher of adults. This is very fun for me, because you can laugh when they say something sarcastic and/or inappropriate and no one gets in trouble or has to go to the principals office.  And although they sometimes take less monitoring than small children, when you are a teacher, what you DO during the school year is pour your entire heart and soul into the people asking you for help.  You also pour your heart and soul into those students who don't want your help.  You are basically a mother, counselor, friend, coach, cheerleader, and on and on to all of your students. Does this sound exhausting?  No?

Second, I am also the one who manages two locations and three programs total.  My DH put it best when he told someone, "She kind of runs her own business, because she markets her sites and does the advertising and recruiting, as well as managing a small staff."  Add these two things together and what you get is....

Something REALLY rewarding!  I am in no way complaining about being a teacher.  What I am saying, though, is that there is plenty to do on breaks.  PLENTY!

So, what do I do???
What I DO is take care of stuff around the house.  I clean and grocery shop and make all the meals, so that my DH can have a break too.  I try to tackle a few things on my own to do list! (Must clean out closet.  Must switch to winter clothes.  Must hang pictures that have been sitting by the wall for 6 months now.)  Also, it's the holidays!  So I do holiday stuff like travel home, buy gifts, make baked goods for gifts, entertain my darling niece and nephew, and so on.  Sometimes, I write blog posts. =) During the summer, I travel.  I read for pleasure.  

In short, what we teachers DO over breaks is recharge our hearts and souls, so that we can go back to work renewed and refreshed, and ready to take on a new challenge.  Please, please dear readers, don't ask teachers what they do with their time off.  From now on, you can only ask me.

What am I doing right now?  Waiting on laundry.  Because yesterday I refused to do laundry even though the mountain of laundry was threatening to collapse and bury me under a very large avalanche.  If no one hears from me today, check under the giant pile of laundry.

Dec 16, 2014

The lost and the listless

Something strange happened to me last year, and I'm not sure what.  I do feel like I'm just waking up from a weird dream.  Last year I pretty much stopped doing all the things I loved.  I didn't read a lot or write.  I didn't shoe shop (gasp) or enjoy basketball. (double gasp) I didn't run a single race and logged less than 10 miles for the whole year.

I think I took a vacation from being me.

I'm not sure where I got lost, or even what happened.  I'm working on figuring that out.  I'm even less sure that anyone noticed but me.  Although this is sad in it's own way, I think it is telling of my relationships and how much I keep to myself.  More self reflection needed here.

On the plus side, I'm starting to feel like me again.  I'm starting to feel like traveling and exploring and reading and writing.  I've been watching and enjoying basketball!  I recently fell in love, I mean hard core love here people, with a pair of shoes. (I bought them.)

Long story short, thanks for bearing with me, readers, as I use this gardening platform to fall in love with writing again.  :)

Dec 2, 2014

The Demise of the Gardenerd

The end of this blog came about rather suddenly.  Once I didn't have a garden and/or time to garden, it became difficult for me to decide what to write about.  I was busy with grad school, adjusting to a new job, dealing with my plot of land being taken over by persons who still remain unnamed.  =) I have since stopped going to grad school, and am unsure what direction I will turn to next in the career and/or school department.  At the end of the day, though, I'm still passionate about growing my own food.

Another year of gardening has wrapped up, this year with neither me nor my DH having time to give our poor plot of land the attention it deserves.  I'm going to try harder next year to make it work.  I've got to get a drip system in for this to be successful, as I travel so much in the summer.  I will do my best to have a plan in place by summer, or at the least a plan to not travel as much!

In the meantime, if anyone is still reading, this blog will shift away from gardening for a while.  It will be a little more random, if that's possible.  Thanks for sticking with me, and please let me know if there is anything you'd like me to write about in the meantime!

Sep 30, 2013

Plethora of Produce, Part One

It's that time of year when all your produce comes in at once... Even if you don't have a garden, your local farmer's market should be swamped with goodies right now.  What should you do with it?  Well, I've got a few ideas.  =)

When I had a bunch of tomatoes this weekend, I made tomato sauce.  (Easier than you think!)

I started with these babies:

Aren't those some gorgeous love apples?  I happen to think so. (That middle one is a zebra variety.)

After a quick wash, I cut them in half, like so:

Then I squeezed out the seeds and pulp and roughly chopped them, leaving out the smallest section of core possible. Aside: Do you have one of these rimmed cutting boards?  I have a small one for produce, and it catches all the juice.  I have a larger one for meat, and it also catches all the juice. =)  They are fantastic.

See the tiny amount of core I leave?  You don't want to waste any tomato goodness, do you?  Then I put all of these tomatoes in a pot with their skins on.  (I'm all about easy cooking.)

Add a giant tablespoon of salt to get the water out of these love apples. Then, start to cook them down to a mush.  =)

 You can see the water that comes out very quickly.

It soon turns to tomato heaven.  :)  Once it cooks down, you can add flavors of your choice.  Simple is best for me, so I added a little basil, garlic, and red pepper infused olive oil at the end.  A quick pulse of the immersion blender for smoothness and...

Voila! Yummy goodness.

You can also freeze tomatoes whole or in slices, and then give them a quick zip under warm water to remove the skins later.  You could make salsa and freeze some.  You can also make this sauce and freeze it.  However, I intend to eat it this week. =)  Part two, with more produce saving ideas, will follow soon!

Sep 23, 2013

The Curious Case of the Benadryl Itch Stick

First, I have to say: Mosquitos love me.  I mean they really love me.  If there is one in a mile radius of me, it finds me.

And then it bites me.

And then I swell up and itch.

And then I reach for the Benadryl Itch Stick.  (And that thing works, man, with none of the drowsiness of Benadryl.)

Here's the latest problem I had, though, just as a cautionary tale to you folks.  I was outside on the deck with a friend late one night, and I got about 5 bites, even though I was covered in mosquito repellent, and even though it was close to midnight.  The next day I was outside, in broad daylight, and managed to get 11 bites.  (I hate mosquitos) So, I was very itchy.  I grabbed the itch stick and applied it liberally to all bites.  Itches be gone, I have no time for regular Benadryl and the mandatory nap that ensues!

Then suddenly, I felt so sleepy... *insert snoring here.  After a 2 hour nap, where I slept like the dead, I realized I may have had too many bites for the benadryl itch stick to handle without making me drowsy.  Whoops.

Now you  might be wondering why I am telling you this story.  Or you might have found it mildly humorous like I did.

Aside: (Luckily I didn't have to be anywhere.  It was Labor Day weekend, and I had told a friend I would be sitting by the pool, after said friend had said his weekend consisted of working.  I do believe I got what was coming to me.)

The point is, folks, for the next two days, I could not set foot outside.  One more bite would have pushed me over the edge.  But, luckily, I another project to take on indoors.  I had failed to water some soybeans in the garden, so I had some seeds to save!
Don't they look so sad?  I failed them miserably.  One of the great things about some failures, though is that they turn into small successes: I'll have seeds for next year! =)  So, I took the trouble of opening up all the dried seed pods.

Like so!  Soybeans for everyone!!!  (If I can just remember to water.) =)  Happy Monday, everyone!

Sep 2, 2013

Garrett Juice and Carmel Sauce

My favorite organic fertilizer is Garrett Juice.  It looks like this:

(I know you might be wondering, "What does this have to do with carmel sauce?" That remains tbd.) It can be found here, and maybe even at your local garden supply store.  It is completely organic, and is safe to use at any stage in planting from seed to harvest.  (With other non-organic fertilizers, you have to wait until plants are a certain age.  This one is so safe, you can use it at any time!!)  Take a look at these ingredients:

All completely pronounceable and definable.  In fact, if you are so inclined you can google this and make your own.  It takes a tiny bit mixed with water to give all of your plants a little extra nutrition.  In the weird world I live in, (aka my brain) mixing this up reminded me of making carmel sauce.  Here's what it looks like when you mix it with water...

For some strange reason, although it smells nothing like carmel sauce, it reminded me of the carmel I made not that long ago for salted carmel pretzel brownies.  Something about the bubbling and the carmel color, I don't know.  I've never claimed to make a lot of sense.

Anyone else see the resemblance?  Anyone? Bueller???  I know, readers, it's ridiculous how everything in my life relates back to food.  =) Please note, you should try the fertilizer, and you should also make those brownies.  They are delicious.  And maybe, just MAYBE, your plants will think Garrett Juice is just as delicious.  =)

(Here's the easy carmel sauce recipe I use too, should you be so inclined to make your own.)