Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bees & Butterflies

Sedums are starting to turn color, and I'm so happy to see honeybees, as well as the various butterflies and other bees that love these plants.  Summer arrived and mounds of crown vetch came into bloom, and the lavender too, and nothing.  No honeybees.  It was so weird.  Days of checking and I saw one bumble.  Now, thankfully, I'm seeing quite a few honeybees on the sedum.

The Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia Torch) did good this year, and butterflies and bees love them as well.  These I started from seed on April 2.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Avalon Lake

Montmorency County, northern Michigan.

Making Croutons

Did up some croutons the other day.  I used to buy them and more than once got a bag of rock-hard things  they labeled as croutons (but I had to wonder).  Finally I thought - what am I doing?   Why am I buying these??

Here I used Italian bread.  Just slice them, then bake at 400 degrees for about 13 minutes or until golden brown.  Store in the freezer in a ziplock bag.  They come in handy to grind for bread crumbs too.


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Vegetable Garden 2011

This year was the one of the best years for my veggie garden, probably due to the amount of rain we had in Spring.  The above shot was taken in July when everything was growing like crazy.  You can see my boxes for potatoes as mentioned in previous post.   What was (is) in this main bed:  dill, spearmint, marigolds, basil, cilantro, onions, chard, green onions, spinach, Melokhiya greens, lettuces, garlic (planted in Fall, pulled in July), potatoes.  Oh and there’s one Roma tomato plant in there too.

This photo shows the other beds containing tomatoes (Roma, Rutgers, Gardener’s Delight), more herbs (basil, lemon balm, spearmint, oregano, lavender, thyme), more potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and one Alma Paprika pepper plant.  Grape vines are on the left.  Tried a container variety of tomatoes called Totem, but they didn’t do good.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kennebec Potatoes

Pulled a few more potatoes out of the garden last night for dinner, and they looked good and healthy.  And tasted great too.  Got a few that were pretty big - good baking potatoes - but last night I made mashed.  I have a system of starting them in early spring and use large cardboard boxes, buried half-way in the bed.  This way, the box tops can be closed at night to protect against frost, and the box also helps with layering in straw, mulch, dirt as I mound up.  This year I didn't plant the seed potatoes until May 6, and kind of interspersed the boxes, so some mounds were between boxes.  After the potatoes are dug out, I'll rip up the boxes and add them to the compost.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lake Michigan

Storm coming in.

Friends rented this classic lake cottage on Lake Michigan for their 20th anniversary.  Beautiful woodwork, wrap around porch. I'm guessing it may have been built in the 1930s or so.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Metal Art

Sun face made from miscellanous objects; it was hanging outside a gallery in Madrid, New Mexico.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Arundo Grass

This Arundo grass is an ornamental that grows quite tall and is useful in the garden.  I cut it all down in Spring, and new growth does this in one season.  Peeling off the outer covering reveals a nice bamboo cane.  Besides using for tipi trellises for green beans and plant stakes, here are some other projects:

A screen I made to shade lettuces from the hot sun.  Later this went on our arbor to help keep vines from hanging down.

Canes tied with raffia and used in the bathroom to add interest to the shower curtain.

Mason bee housing.  Stuck some of these in different places in the yard.  Holder is a plastic bottle with the ends cut off.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fall is Coming

Getting cooler nights and misty mornings now.  I can't believe summer is coming to an end already, but that's the way summers go - too fast!

Minty Witch Hazel Astringent

Here's a simple homemade astringent I made recently which is good, yet gentle to the skin.  Really nice to use after a shower or after cleansing the face before bed.

1/2 cup witch hazel
1/2 cup distilled water
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar (optional)
3 drops spearmint essential oil

Add to a plastic or glass bottle (I reused my witch hazel bottle) and shake to blend.  Label it with name and date.  Shake it before each use, and apply with cotton ball or cotton cosmetic pad.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August Days

These past few weeks have (thankfully) not been as unbearably hot and humid.  I love the days where the windows can be open, breezes coming in, sounds of the cicadas buzzing.  Hummingbirds are whizzing around the house.

The third set of canning is done now.  This year, I grew Romas and Rutgers for canning purposes, and also mixed in Gardener’s Delight which produces A LOT of smaller-sized tomatoes, but they are bigger than cherry types.

Also in the works – starting new seedlings for Fall.  This photo actually shows tomato plants from Spring; right now I have Bibb lettuce going and will do some more cool weather stuff.  I use these type of egg containers, which are easy to wash and reuse multiple times, and it saves seedling mix.  Plus the topper is handy for catching draining water.  Found I was wasting a lot of mix when reusing the packs that come in flats from the nursery.  Either I keep the egg cartons whole or cut them into 2-, 4- or 6- packs, then cut holes in the bottom for drainage.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Doing the Blog Thing

So here I am in the middle of life, learning to blog!  I’ve been inspired.  In the past year or so, a variety of blogs have been particularly enjoyable to me.  I like to write, and I like to share ideas and connect with like-minded people, so thought I’d give this a shot myself.

My husband, dog and I are out on ten acres of mostly brambles, brush and evergreen trees (a lot of which we planted).  Usually I’m trying to come up with more interesting ways to do things in the garden and at home to be creative, and to save time and money.  It’s a must when there’s a lot to take care of.  Life away from the city is what we wanted, to be closer to nature, have space and quiet.

My adventure with blogging will begin here then.  Hope you enjoy!