Tag Archives: Strawberries

Adventures in Gardening Part 32 ~ Goodbye Zucchini & Cucumbers

I have been so busy working on the inside of my mom’s house that I’m afraid I’ve neglected a few things on the outside ~ my garden.

And specifically my zucchini.  Just look at the size of these babies!I had to place that yardstick in the photo with them just to try and show how freakishly humungous they are ~ 20 inches!  But you still can’t really tell.  And they weigh a ton.  Heck, I could club someone to death with these things.  Not that I would mind you, but you get the point.  😉

Well these massive mutants will be the last two of the season because I decided to clear all my zucchini plants out of my garden.  I have bags and bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer for later use, and have eaten my fill of them otherwise as well.  I am very pleased with the bountiful harvest of zucchini I’ve had, but it was time to say goodbye.

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Once I got them all cleared out I was able to get a better look at some of the poor plants that had been crowded out by them for most of the growing season.

Look at this sad scraggly broccoli plant.It’s probably not going to produce anything, but it was still alive so I couldn’t bring myself to pull it out.  It wants to live!  😀

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And look at my beensie little carrots.  The poor dears never got enough sun to fully develop properly.~

My poor celery will be so relieved to be out from under the shade of those giant zucchini leaves.  I hope they perk up a bit now.~

Also, with the zucchini out of the way it’s nice to be able to see (and smell) my rosemary again.  Mmm…~

Even despite the zucchini crowding it, my jalapeno plant is still growing happily and producing its spicy little gems.I found a few new recipes online and made some jalapeno cheddar parmesan cornbread muffins and a different sort of jalapeno poppers.  Both were quite tasty.  🙂

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My bell pepper plant that was nearly destroyed by a storm a while back, still has one stalk that refuses to give up.  There is a nice big pepper on it that I’m anxiously waiting to have turn yellow.And new little ones are forming on it as well.I sure hope no more storms come along.

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I’m excited to see that my onions are poking up out of the soil and are almost ready to harvest.~

And my champ of a strawberry plant still has tasty little berries consistently coming, but it’s producing much smaller fruits now.~

I also have small bunches of tiny tomatoes growing, but I don’t think they’ll amount to much.  I just do not know what is the deal with them, they have not met my expectations at all.  😦~

Of course it doesn’t help that the naughty thieving squirrel is still raiding my produce at will and leaving his half eaten evidence behind.

And just look what the absent minded little beast is doing to my mom’s lawn looking for his nuts.  There are tons of holes like this all over her yard…

Here’s one of your stupid nuts you idiot!Found this in one of my pots and I’m stealing it as payback to him for stealing all my stuff all summer.  Starve this winter you horrible little creature!  Muwhahaha!  😉

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I also pulled out all of my cucumber vines.  They were looking mighty haggered and weren’t producing any new cukes, so I harvested the last of whatever cucumbers were still on the vines and said farewell to them as well.

My garden box looks sort of bare now…Especially compared to before, but it feels really good to have it all cleaned out, and I did enjoy a wonderful bounty of cucumbers and zucchinis while they lasted.  🙂

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The various blooming things around my garden are at a bit of a quiet stage at the moment, even my begonias have lightened to a softer shade of pink.~

But there are a few things blooming outside at my apartment that other tenants planted earlier in the spring that are looking lovely, so I snapped a few photos of them this morning.

Blue morning glories against a glorious blue morning sky.  Ahh sooo pretty!

And a creamy white Zinnia nestled in among some pretty pink Snapdragons.

Oh I do so love blooming things!  ♥

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It was really nice to spend time outside in my garden today.  Even though it was quite a bit of work, it was relaxing work ~ unlike the remodeling project going on inside.  😉

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 30 ~ Bounty & Babysitting

At the end of my last gardening post I mentioned that I was getting ready to make some of my delicious refrigerator pickles from the bounty of cucumbers I am having.  Thought I’d share a photo that I took of them.  I don’t know about you, but not only is an ice cold drink refreshing on a hot summer day, but so are some tangy refrigerator pickles as well!The recipe I have used for years to make these is from the Kerr Kitchen Cookbook Home Canning and Freezing Guide because it’s quick, simple, and delicious!

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I’m also looking forward to rustling up something yummy with my jalapeno peppers that are ready.  Take a look at these little beauties!I don’t have enough to make my jalapeno poppers with, but I have a couple other new recipes up my sleeve that I’m itching to try.  🙂

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My tomatoes are finally starting to ripen.  It’s about freaking time!  Just starting to see a hint of orange on this one…Sadly, my tomatoes don’t seem to be doing all that well and I’m not sure why.  I knew I probably wasn’t going to get enough from only 2 plants to make my salsa with, but I had hoped I’d end up with more than what I’ve got so far.    😦

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My one lone strawberry plant is really living up its name as “ever bearing” ~ it just keeps on going with its lovely little blossoms and sweet-tart berries.If I ever have enough room to plant more strawberry plants, this will definitely be the variety I will choose.

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And speaking of “lovely little blossoms” here are some delicate lavender colored blossoms that are flowering on my mint plant.My mint had a rough start because the bugs were nibbling on it quite a bit, but it sure is looking happy now.  🙂

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My sis is on vacation for 2 weeks and brought some of her outdoor plants over to my mom’s house for me to babysit while she’s gone.  She brought them over there because she figured it would be easier for me to take care of them while I’m outside at my mom’s tending to my garden, rather than for me to have to make an additional, separate stop at her place each day.  I say “the more, the merrier” and she can just keep them all there permanently for me to enjoy!  😉

She brought over a hanging flower basket that her husband got for her that has such a bright, pretty assortment of colors.~

And some weird looking plant called Horehound that she says she’s going to make her own cough remedy with.  My sis likes to imagine herself as a mad scientist sometimes.  😉~

This is some mystery plant she got from a neighbor who brought it from Brazil.~

Hmm… these 2 mints of hers very well might be all snipped naked by the time she gets home because they want to become tea for me.  😉~

And I’m totally loving these gorgeous Gazanias of hers too…~

See what I mean?  Can’t blame me for wanting to keep all of these!  There are a few other randoms that she brought over as well, along with a couple of things that I even re-potted for her because I’m such a wonderful little sister.  I haven’t even stolen anything out of her closet when I’ve stopped over there to bring in her mail.  😉

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 26 ~ Enemies and Allies

I’m definitely no insect photographer (ew, I’d never want to be), but bear with my lack of skill here as I share a few of the photos I’ve taken of the bugs that I’ve found visiting my garden over the past couple of days…

I believe this guy here is a Candy Stripped Leafhopper.It’s very interesting looking and colorful; it even has a cute name, but I’m pretty sure it’s the thing responsible for some of the damage that I’ve been noticing on a few of my cucumber leaves.  So this is what became of him…Killed him with my bare hands.  I’m becoming quite the expert at smashing bugs.  Which is interesting since I’m completely terrified of them…

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This next bug was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.  It looked like a snail to me at first glance.  I had to use my flash setting to get a semi clear shot, so it looks like it was night time, but it wasn’t.  After spending a considerable amount of time scouring the Internet looking at more bug photos than I’d ever want to see, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a Two Striped Planthopper Nymph.  Apparently these things suck out plant juices and also feed on trees and shrubs, so figuring it’s not doing good to my cucumber leaf here, I gave it a quick flick with my finger and flicked its weird looking butt out of my garden, hoping it doesn’t find its way back.  Seriously, it does have a weird butt.  If you do a Google images search (for a photo with a better view than my amateur skills provide here) you’ll see it has fuzzy things coming out of its hind end.  Bugs are ishy, but the variety in nature is pretty darn cool.

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I had the hardest time trying to catch a shot of this bugger ~ it kept scurrying all over the place or flying away (reason for its blurriness), and I’m surprised I even got a photo of it at all. I looked in some of my books and on the Internet, and I think it might be a Striped Cucumber Beetle, but I don’t know for sure.  If it is… it’s not good.

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Here’s another bug I found hanging out on my cucumber leaves.  Why is everything going after my cukes?!  Must be a conspiracy.  I think this is another type of leafhopper. I might have to find out what I should do about them.  I mean other than smashing them by hand ~ that was unusually brave of me to kill Mr Candy Stripper that way.

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But not all the bugs I saw were enemies.  Some were allies…

I found this little sweetie crawling around on my cucumber leaves.  Definitely a welcome visitor!  Ladybugs are excellent at helping control aphids.  And as you saw in Adventures in Gardening Part 23 ~ Attack of the Ants and the Aphids, I definitely have aphids in my garden…~

Although this next bug is sort scary looking, I was happy to see one exploring one of my zucchini leaves.  Soldier Beetles are another great ally in the fight against aphids.  It is also a predator of Cucumber Beetles.  🙂    I did not take the above photo.  I didn’t happen to catch a shot of the particular one that I saw in my garden, but I wanted to show what they look like.

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It’s really good to know that I have a few buggy allies out there fighting the good fight with me!  Eat my garden’s enemies to your heart’s content guys, and bring your friends!  🙂

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And on the growing front…

Omygosh look at these cute tiny little beans growing!~

And my tomatoes are continuing to bloom away.  I only have 2 plants, but it would be so awesome if I got enough tomatoes to make a small batch of my yummy salsa. ~

Also, I thought my peas were pretty much done for the season, but now I see more blooms on those too.  Very happy about this!  🙂

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And I have a couple more strawberries just about ready to pick…~

My celery was getting totally crowded out by my zucchini’s giant solar panel leaves so I cut a few of them off.  Hope that doesn’t affect the production of my zucchinis, but I had to give my celery a fighting chance too.~

In other news…

I think one of the robin eggs fell out of the nest above my potting bench because I found these little broken shell pieces on my potting bench.  Sad.  😦~

I found some Johnny Jump ups springing up in an old empty abandoned pot.  They’re such cheerful little darlings and were really a fun surprise to find in the garden today.  ☼~

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 24 ~ Birds and Blooms

It was lovely outside today, so I really enjoyed my time puttering in the garden.  One of the wonderful things about gardening is that there is always something new going on each day.  Of course it’s not as much fun when there’s bad things happening like pests or diseased plants, lack of rain or too much of it and so on, but when things are good it’s just so very rewarding.

And it’s especially fun to find unexpected things!  As I was standing at my potting bench filling up my watering can, I looked up and saw this robin sitting on its nest in my mom’s lilac bush only a few feet above my head…Several days ago I had noticed a mess of grasses and twigs on top of my potting bench, but I thought it was just debris brought by the winds during one of the storms that rolled through.  How exciting that I will be having a family of robins keeping me company now while I’m gardening!  🙂

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I keep forgetting to take photos of my peas!  We’ve just been so busy picking them and eating them up.  But today I caught myself and snapped a photo before I popped them all into my mouth (see one is missing ;)).~

My cukes are really starting to take off and are growing so nicely!

In an earlier post Adventures in Gardening Part 7 ~ Trellis Time, I shared about a little A-frame trellis I built for my cucumbers to climb on, and I’m so excited to finally have them doing just that!  I’ve got two different varieties growing up each side and then my lettuce growing underneath… An A-frame trellis is seriously an excellent idea for space saving in a small bed.

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Strawberries are still continuing to grow in abundance on my one little plant.  Here is another one just starting to show the first hint of color…I simply adore strawberries. ♥

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I also adore flowering things…

Over the years I’ve always enjoyed growing Astilbe in my shady garden areas and planted some for my mom in hers too ~ they are blooming now.  ~

Her Hosta are blooming as well.~

At one of the garden nurseries I visited earlier this spring they had a special promotion where the first 500 customers got a free plant.  Mine was this lovely begonia…~

Now, I realize that marigolds are quite ordinary and nothing special, but they are still bright and colorful, and a faithful bloomer.~

And another shot of my English lavender because it’s my favorite…~

The ants and aphids are still hanging around doing their thing, but don’t seem to be causing any real damage at the moment.  I’ve just been spraying them off with the water hose for now, but I’m keeping an eye on them…

~Gardening is my therapy~

Adventures in Gardening Part 21 ~ In Between the Rain

It’s been storming and raining a lot lately which makes it a bit tricky to get out in the garden, but today while there was a break in weather I went out and poked around out there for a little while and was very pleased by what I saw…

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Man, I do love me some zucchini and was so excited to find this little bad boy shooting out from under the giant leaves of one of my zucchini plants!  There’s tons more developing too!  This makes me one happy gardener!  🙂~

And my one lone strawberry plant that I bought on impulse and stuffed into a random pot sure is happily doing its thing!  It was hard to even get all of the action going on with this little plant into one shot.  Too bad I don’t have more room in my garden so I could grow more of these.~

Everything else is doing well too and I’m just so glad.  It was rocky there for a while with the bugs bugging.  There is still evidence of them here and there, but nothing like the destruction I was dealing with earlier.  Hopefully it stays that way.

My Bee Balm got a little damaged by some of the strong winds we had a few days ago and lost one of its main stalks, but the rest of it is still blooming away beautifully…~

And my English Lavender is now blooming too.  Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE lavender?!  😉~

There are two different yellow flowering perennials that I put in for my mom ages ago and don’t remember what they are, but look at how bright and beautiful their blooms are…

Anyone recognize either of these?

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I noticed a couple of little mushrooms growing in my garden too.  I know they’re a fungus, but they’re still pretty cute.  It’s supposed to continue raining throughout this next week, so I hope my garden isn’t getting too much moisture.  That could cause all sorts of other problems.

But I’m gonna try not to worry about the “what-ifs” of tomorrow, and for now just enjoy the beauty of the present.  🙂

~Gardening is my therapy~

Strawberry Pie Fiasco

I swear this pie is absolutely delicious despite how it looks.

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In my humble opinion, this is the yummiest recipe for strawberry pie on the entire planet.  I’ve used it many times over the years ~ even though this time I slightly failed at it.  😉   It’s from a very old flyer from Berry Hill Farm where I usually get my strawberries…Of course I realize at this angle you can’t see/read the full recipe, but don’t worry… if you’re brave enough to want to try it after reading this post, I will certainly share it with you.  😉

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These lovelies are not from Berry Hill however, because they had a very short season this year and I was not able to get any from them, but theirs are just as luscious.  These are some of my left over strawberries from canning the other day…~

I am a big lazy cheater (pooped out from all of my heavy labor canning) and bought a ready made crust ~ don’t judge me.  This shortbread crust goes perfectly with this recipe.  Look there’s even a photo of a strawberry pie on the packaging to prove it.  😉~

The first step of this recipe is to make a glaze.  After hurting my weak girlie hands again using my sis’s dumb potato masher, I mixed the mashed strawberries with water, sugar, and cornstarch, and stirred constantly (and forever) over medium heat bringing it all to a boil.  And then set it aside to cool.~

Next I whipped some cream cheese to soften it and spread it in the bottom of my lazy cheater’s pie crust.~

Then I started filling the rest of the crust up with berries.  The recipe calls for whole strawberries, but I halve mine because it’s easier to eat and to cut with my fork.  🙂  I arranged them somewhat haphazardly I know…~

Once the glaze cooled a bit I poured it over the top.~

But it wasn’t cooled enough and I filled the crust too high with strawberries so it made quite a mess and started leaking out onto the edges of the crust.  Whoops!But it was yummy as I swiped the excess up with my finger!  I totally grossed out my daughter by “double swiping” but I had to because it was leaking all over.  😉

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It’s supposed to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours, but we wanted to eat it sooo bad that we just couldn’t wait that long.~

And when you cut into a pie before it’s set… messy things happen.~

Oh well, cover it up with a bunch of whipped cream and no one will be able to tell the difference.  😉   It tasted amazing even if it was a mess!

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Adventures in Gardening Part 14 ~ Planting Pleasures

After purchasing all of my goodies at the garden centers in Part 13, and then buying even more again on Mother’s Day, it’s needless to say that I ended up with quite a bit of planting to do…

And I loved every minute of it!  Up until now it has been only seed planting for me, and don’t get me wrong, it has been very exciting to watch all of those little green lifes poking up through the dirt, but planting actual plants definitely has pleasures of its own.

And because it was Mother’s Day, I also had the pleasure of having company while planting ~ my mom, my sis, and my daughter all took part in making it fun and memorable. ♥

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In all my years of gardening I’ve never happened to grow celery before, but I thought I’d give it a try and see what happens.  I love celery and I’m always up for trying something new!  🙂~

I love jalapeno peppers ~ gotta keep life spicy!  😉  Over the years I’ve developed a delicious recipe for jalapeno poppers that I came up with by combining bits and pieces from 4 or 5 different recipes.  With limited space in my tiny garden I only planted one, so I don’t know if I’ll end up with enough to make many poppers with.  Hopefully I’ll have enough to make at least a small batch.  They are sort of a pain in the butt to make anyway, so maybe it’ll better this way.  😉  I’ll just have to wait and see.~

I also planted a yellow bell pepper called “Golden California Wonder.”  I hope it grows happily here in Minnesota. 🙂  In the past I have always had red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers in the garden (for making salsa), but again… with limited space, I had to pick and choose.  So I chose yellow because they are my favorite out the bunch.~

I didn’t know this, but apparently my mom absolutely hates the smell of Rosemary.  Oops sorry mom, you’ll be smelling it all summer in your yard.  It’s a wonderful garden companion to vegetables, not to mention its many culinary and medicinal uses.  I placed it near my carrots and beans because it is a great carrot fly and bean beetle deterrent.  And by the way, I happen to love the smell of it!~

Oregano is another great vegetable garden companion and provides excellent general pest protection, including being a delicious seasoning!~

I hadn’t planned on planting basil, but when we were in the herb section of the garden center and caught a whiff, it just smelled too good to resist.  You can see my one lone broccoli in the background.  It’s such a spindly looking thing, I sure hope it grows.~

The Apple-Mint I got is so pretty and yummy smelling!  I can’t wait to start snipping some of it off and using it to make tea!~

That first pretty strawberry blossom that hooked me into buying my strawberry plant is fading, but now comes the yummy part… the fruit!  You can see the strawberry just starting to develop.  Nature is so amazing! This is an everbearing variety so hopefully we’ll be enjoying fresh strawberries all summer.   Aside from this new beautiful bloom, I see 3 other buds starting too!~

I planted 2 Roma Tomatoes in an old double bench planter that I handed down to my mom when I moved ~ not knowing I’d eventually be the one using it to plant in again.  They’ll have a lot of growing room as they get taller inside the fun blue colored tomato cages I got.  😀

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Like the tomatoes, I planted these Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions in a separate container.  I love them and there just wasn’t room to plant them in the garden.  I’ve never grown onions in a pot before so I hope they work out.  Poor things look so pathetic in this photo, all flopped over.  Hopefully they’ll perk up a bit after getting used to their new home. ~

While we were at one of the garden centers, my sis surprised me by buying me some Bee Balm!  I absolutely love it and have always grown it in my gardens.  It’s a butterfly, bee, and hummingbird magnet!  This big guy will be living in a pot though because there is no room for him in the garden or anywhere else in my mom’s yard.  I am not used to growing perennials in pots, so I hope I can get it to overwinter all right.~

My Spinach is continuing to come along nicely…~

My cucumbers are now sprouting up!~

And even though that evil diabolical squirrel came back and all but destroyed 3 out of 5 mounds of my beloved zucchini, I am happy to announce that the ones I managed to salvage are looking great!~

My lettuce are coming right along as well…~

Gardening isn’t just all about planting food ~ it’s about flowers too…

I know Marigolds are common and not all that exciting, but they are bright and cheerful and last well into fall.  They also deter many garden pests.~

I rescued these Impatiens from one of the garden centers.  They looked so sad, all root bound, and scraggly, but I knew all they needed was a little TLC, so I bought them and put them in a mini Terracotta planter ~ another rescue, from a thrift store.~

When I moved, I couldn’t bear to part with a pair of urns that I had, so I brought them over to my parent’s and set them in front of their garage.  It’s a perfect spot for them and with a few growing things in them make for a lovely entrance when pulling up into the driveway.  🙂~

As soon and my mom saw this Hydrangea bush at the garden center she fell completely in love with it, and it just so happens that she has a bare spot along the side of her house to plant it!  ~

As we were leaving to go out for breakfast on Mother’s Day morning we noticed a bunny visitor over on the side of my mom’s yard.  She says it’s been making itself comfortable there for quite a while now.  It’s cute, but I have to say that I’m really glad that I built my raised garden up so high now because rabbits can reek havoc on a garden.  My peas and onions are pretty near to the ground in their separate pots though, so I hope this cute little critter doesn’t decide to team up with the evil squirrel and become a problem…~