Monday, March 8, 2010


Oh, I know that's a cheesy title - I just couldn't resist. Tonight's the Grammy's or Oscar's or some big hullabaloo. And no, we won't be watching. We'll be watching the back of our eyelids, I suspect. And pretty early, too. It's been a long weekend filled with family and fun ... and gardening!

We made another quick trip to Lowe's this morning. Yesterday we bought 30 bags of mulch. Today we bought 35 bags of "egg rock." It's like small river rock, but bigger than pea gravel. With all of this unloading and bending and lifting, I'm pretty sure my chiropractor will see me tomorrow. My back is killing me! But the garden path looks awesome! Big John even helped me find the old stepping stones that led up to the front porch my entire childhood. They'd been out on the brick pile for many years, just waiting to be hauled off or broken up. It feels good to see them in our garden - lots of memories!

We planted everything we possibly could this early in the spring. We're counting on no more really cold weather (which means it will probably snow again!) We seeded okra, corn, and potatoes, and transplanted the rest. Our original garden patch - all fancy-fenced and irrigated - proved to be a tad bit too small this time around. So we're enlarging! We've tilled up half again the size just to the south of the garden.

Arturo even got in on the tilling action. I wonder if he's sore today. Probably not - he's young and in shape (at least that's what he'll tell you!!) Thanks to all that blasted rain, the ground worked up perfectly. We've got enough fencing and posts left over, so we'll get it fenced off next weekend, if not sooner. The current plan is to put the melons and cukes in that patch. I've vowed to make pickles this summer, which will be a first. Mother used to make the BEST bread and butter pickles! I doubt that I have the recipe, so I'll make do with whatever is in the Ball Blue Book. (Help your mom in the kitchen all you can now - you'll regret it if you don't. Most of those "tricks" aren't written down.) My secret wish is to extend the garden the entire length of the yard fence. But I'll have better luck if I go about it asking for it a little bit at a time!

I think the last hard freeze - it was in the 20s several nights in a row, which is unheard of for us - did our two Norfolk pines in. One was a "gift" from Su when they moved to Vernon. The other was from Mother's funeral. They were both very special to me, but I never thought they couldn't take the cold. We've talked about putting a greenhouse in that corner of the yard. Big John's always wanted a greenhouse. It might be just what we need for the future ... more to come on that soon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


We hosted a garden party this past weekend. It was by invitation only - a very exclusive list! Sunshine showed up, as did the tiller, some seeds, 500 pounds of limestone, the hoe, the shovel, blood, sweat, and tears! Oh, Big John and I were there too.

It has been a long, cold, wet, WEIRD winter - at least by South Texas standards. The temperature was in the upper 30s again this morning - March 2nd (Texas Independence Day! The greatest state in the nation!). Old timers have told me that this is how it used to be - we'd have spells where the cattle were knee deep in mud from one Fall to the next. It must have been before my time, 'cause I sure don't remember it. I have been heard to say recently (before this winter hit) that I sure wouldn't mind living somewhere where they actually get more seasons than "warm" and "hot as hell" -maybe Tyler or Abilene. Well, I told Big John this morning that if THIS is what winter is really like, I might have to revise my wishes! My blood is too thin for this.

We've had a couple of days where the rain stopped - or paused - and the sun came out. Those are glorious, beautiful days. And two of them happened this weekend! Big John and I are like two hens on a junebug - racing to town, buying up seeds and seedlings and compost and anything else "gardeny" that we can find. Then we hurry home to see what we can mix or mulch or hoe or plant. Unfortunately, the danger of a late freeze hasn't passed, so we've contained ourselves to planting only cabbage, spinach, red and white onions. This week I hope to get the dill and thyme in the ground. I think they'll withstand some colder temperatures too. We're dilligently watering the seedlings. Tomatoes, squash, basil, oregano, dill, tarragon, parsley, thyme, and cilantro all made it into the truck - and are all still alive. We faithfully take them out during the day and back into the garage each night. They have a temporary home high up on top of the freezer - out of Daisy's reach. That dog will tear up ANYTHING. (I'm still mad at her for killing that hen.) Big John came home with a wonderful present for me yesterday - 6 seed potatoes, all wrapped up in a brown paper sack! Country girls don't need store bought flowers to say "I love you." We planted 5 pounds of red and 5 pounds of white potatoes last year and quickly decided that we had WAY TOO MANY POTATOES! I thought I'd thrown out all the leftovers at the end of last year, but found a gunny sack way back in a closet that had been forgotten. It was sprouting from all sides. Yuck! (I wonder if we could have seeded those?) Big John found a farmer's coop that sold 'em by the pound, so he got just the right amount. We took out leftover seeds from last year and double checked the expiration dates. It won't surprise me if Big John decides to ditch those in favor of new packets. He doesn't drink milk after the "sell by" date either! Our plans are to seed corn, okra, melons (water or cantaloupe) and transplant the rest.

We gathered all the leftover limestone from the fireplace project several years back and brought it into the garden. Between the two of us (Bad Back Susie and Bionic Big John) we dug a trench along the sides of the path down the middle of the garden. We laid those rocks in there and will fill in the path with more gravel or stones. That will probably be this weekend's project!

We're still enjoying last year's bounty. Once I got brave enough to try canning again (no food poisoning - just lots of years between tries), there was no stopping me. Big John's hot sauce was a hit among the teachers, and we've started tapping into all the frozen vegetables we put up. If you haven't invested in one of those vacuum sealers, you really should. They are well worth the money. This year, my goal is to harvest enough to travel to some local farmer's markets. How much fun would that be? Farm fresh eggs, vegetables fresh from the garden, homemade bread ... do you see the metamorphosis? Pioneer Woman, watch out! I'm on your tail and gainin' ground!