Book Giveaway: “Crockett’s Victory Garden”

Gardening has been in my blood for many years.  Probably more than 50 years if I think hard enough about it. My grandfather taught me everything he knew – from soil preparation to harvest.

And all the sweat-filled, mosquito-swatting tasks in between.

 

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Hanging on to Summer … And a new blog about tomatoes.

Tomato garden in the morning

 

My (self-diagnosed) ADD is getting the best of me. : )

Read on for details!

The weather is teasing me with the warm, almost summer-like days.  I love it, don’t get me wrong.  But it cannot last.

Can it?

The tomatoes are still producing as you can see from the photo I took early this morning.  Although the cooler temps and shorter days are making it tough for them to ripen.  I’ll miss the garden goodness, for sure.

Speaking of tomatoes (and ADD), I’ve done another crazy thing and started yet ANOTHER blog.  This one is all about…tomatoes.

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Summertime. And the Livin’ is Easy. (And Full of Color!)

Ahhh, Summertime!

With all the rain we’ve had over the past few weeks, all the plants (and the grass) have been growing like crazy.

The flowers around the patio and in the back-of-the-yard landscape area look the best they’ve ever looked.

As I was watering my container gardens, it dawned on me that this beauty may be short-lived.  I’m a photo-freak so I had to capture this stuff digitally.

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Proper Lawn Maintenance Starts with SAFETY RULES

Lawn Care Safety

 

Summertime means a lot of time spent in the yard.

Much of that time is devoted to lawn maintenance.  My wife and I enjoy taking care of the yard.  It’s a time to de-stress from all the other tasks that need to be done.

We like to do things right.  And by ‘right’ I mean we want the end result to look great.  And we also want to be safe.

With kids (ours and the others in the neighborhood) and a dog, it’s important that we obey some basic safety rules of lawn care.

Check out the photo above.  I gathered up our typical yard-work tools and accessories.

Gloves and goggles are a MUST.  Your hands and eyes are priceless.

Be safe!

Safety Rules

Here’s the list:

1.  Before you pull the rope or turn the key on the equipment — take a walk around the yard.  Check for objects that might wreck havoc on your machine (or your shins, or the windows of the house next door).  Look for twigs and sticks, water bottles, soda pop cans, rocks, chunks of mulch, and anything else that might cause trouble.  Pick them up and dispose of them properly.

2.  Make sure your equipment is in good working order.  Filled with gas?  Oil at the proper level?  Blades sharp?  Weed trimming line intact?  Eye protection clean?  (PLEASE wear either goggles or safety glasses.  Your eyes are so very important.  Keep them safe!)

3.  Be sure the young children are away from the area being mowed or trimmed.  You need to stay focused on your task.  Kids and dogs can run in front of a lawn mower in an instant.  Avoid tragic accidents:  keep the kids and pets inside or far away from equipment that your operating.

4.  Keep fuel and oil out of the reach of kids.  Need I say more?

5.  Speaking of fuel.  Be sure to use the proper fuel.  Some engines use gasoline, some use a mixture of gas and oil.  Consult your owner’s manual or do a Google search if you have questions.

6.  Use the right tool for the job.  Don’t try to be a hero and think you can cut down small trees with a weed-wacker.  It ain’t gonna work.  Be smart, okay?

7. Wear shoes and socks.  Trust me on this one.  I love my flip-flops just as much as the next guy.  But for lawn mowing and trimming?  No way.  I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.  Long sleeves are a good idea too — especially when operating a grass trimmer.  It stings like heck when that machine picks up a piece of mulch and launches it into your forearm (ask me how I know).

8.  Never leave a machine unattended.  Turn the mower off before stepping away from it.

9.  Operate your lawn mower going forward.  Try not to pull the mower backward.  Same goes for riding lawn tractors.  Operate the machine in the DRIVE position as much as possible.  Mowing in reverse can be dangerous.

10.  Weed trimmers should be used in a forward direction too.  I fail on this one.  I have better luck with trimming if I walk backward.  Crazy I know.  I really should walk forward so I can see what’s in front of me.

Backyard Landscape Area

 

Make your yard a fun place to be.  Keep it looking nice by cutting grass and trimming often — before it gets out of control.

And remember:  SAFETY is RULE NUMBER ONE!

 

 

Mother’s Day Flowers – Part One

A trip to the greenhouse

Early last Saturday morning, we ventured out to get started on our annual flower purchases.

With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, we knew that the longer we waited, the skimpier the selection would be.

I am happy to report that we did very well! It just took us awhile.  : – )

Our first stop was Miller’s Farm Market and Greenhouse.  It’s a small, family-owned operation not too far from home.  The Millers are great people, and (usually) have a great selection of vibrant, healthy-looking plants.  This year the selection was not quite what it has been in the past.  We were bummed.

My wife has several flower pots that she puts out every Spring.  This year would be no different.

We try to stay away from the big-box stores and buy local.  It’s the right thing to do, in our opinion.

The photo above shows what we carted home.  A flat of seed geraniums, a few begonias, marigolds and (something new for us this year) some dianthus.

Lots of tomato plants

 

Lloyd Miller grows the NICEST tomato plants.  I buy one or two of his Patio Tomatoes every year. So why didn’t I buy one?  Or two or three?

No idea.  I just spaced it, I guess.

I ended up buying some tomato plants at the … big-box store.

Fail.  Big time.

So much for ‘buying local’, huh?

We ended up finding some nice tomato plants at either Walmart or Lowe’s.  I can’t remember.

What I CAN remember is that it took us a VERY. LONG. TIME. to pick out more flowers at Lowe’s.

We have SO many flower pots at home.  We simply couldn’t remember how many went under the fountain on the patio.

We had trouble picturing the two pots we have outside the garage door (near the patio).

Oh. And what about the trio planter?  What are we going to do with that this year?

A fern.  Yes!  We want a fern this year.  They seemed over-priced everywhere we looked.

I finally found a beautiful specimen at (ahem) Walmart.  It was only $10.48!  I couldn’t resist.

I know:  failure again.  Those big-box stores get me every time.

Stay tuned for Part Two.  Yes — there’s more.

 

 

 

 

The 2013 Gardening Season has Begun!

matt at garden boxes

We don’t have a lot of room in backyard for a garden.  Sad, I know.

The Home Owners’ Association has some strict rules.  I like rules.  But I don’t like THAT one!

We’ll push the envelope by planting as many veggies as we can in containers.  And, we’ll tuck some in between other ornamental bushes, flowers and shrubs.

We’re just getting started!

 

Whistle While You Work

community garden 2011

 

Garden Memories

I’m not a big whistler. Oh, once in a awhile I’ll whistle a little tune, but it’s rare.

My grandfather was the king of whistling.  All the time.  It’s one of the special things I remember about him.

He was good at a lot of things.  Gardening was his passion.  And that bit of DNA has been passed on to me.

Matt (my 12-year old) and I are strongly considering a community garden again this year.  We opted out of gardening last year — there were just too many things going on.

We missed our garden.  The trips to the plot in the pickup truck.  The stops at Penguin Point for a burger and fries after an hour or so of hoe-ing, watering, and weeding our 20 x 40 foot patch.

Yes, we got REALLY aggressive (a/k/a foolish) and tended TWO 20 x 20 plots in 2011.

Even after washing up for dinner, I’m sure we had dirt under our fingernails when we were eating.  We didn’t care — we were farmers.  It didn’t matter.   : – )

This year’s plan

I’ve done some research and found that, due to budget cuts, the community garden will no longer be handled by the City.  It’s been handed over to the Master Gardener club.  I’m okay with that.

My contact at the Environmental Center says he has a meeting with the leaders of the Master Garden Club this coming week.

I’m waiting to hear how their meeting goes. I am hopeful.  We are hopeful.

Matt and I are thinking positive, green-growing thoughts that we get to rent a 20 x 20 foot space for this season.  We REALLY want to get our hands in the dirt.

There’s something really awesome about planting some seeds and seeing them produce a harvest.  You can almost watch cucumbers and zucchinis grow before your very eyes.  That’s how much they can change in just 24 hours.

It’s amazing.  It’s nature.

We Remain Hopeful

So, for now, visions of tomatoes and green beans and zucchini are dancing in our heads.

We have our fingers crossed that we get a space.

The seed catalogs are filling up our mailbox each day.  They are teasing and taunting us with their beautiful photos.  We MUST tend a garden this year.

And I might just whistle while I work.  My grandpa would like that.

 

Pickle Time!

 

Late this summer, we made pickles for the first time.  My wife prefers bread-and-butter pickles over dill, so we made a batch of those.  The boys and I really like dill pickles…so we made several quarts of those too.

We choose to make the refrigerator variety as opposed to the true ‘canning variety’.  It was an evening of fun for all of us!  We set up an assembly line operation and ended up with lots and lots of pickles.

Where did we get all the cucumbers?  From the community garden that we had this summer. It was a semi-successful venture.  I’ll tell you more about it later!

These are easy-to-make so you could make some for Holiday gifts. I’m sure your foodie friends and relatives would appreciate them.  They are really, really good!

Here’s the recipe for the Bread and Butter Pickles. You’ll get about 4 quarts of pickles:

  • 7 -8 cucumbers (sliced)
  • 3 medium onions (sliced)
  • 2 sweet red peppers (sliced)

Pack clean canning jars with cucumbers, onion and red peppers.  See photo above.

Mix together 1-1/2 cups sugar + 1-1/4 cups vinegar + 2 tablespoons salt + 1 tablespoon celery seed.

On stove, bring sugar mixture to a boil stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Let syrup cool and then pour over pickles.  Seal jars and refrigerate at least twenty-four (24) hours.

There’s no need for a hot water bath.  You simply pour the liquid over the pickles, seal the jars and put them in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Another Busy (Blessed) Day in the Life of CraftyDad

Ready for the Season

With all the rain we’ve had during the past several weeks, I’ve had no need to use the sprinklers. So…I had no need to test the sprinklers.  Until tonight.

I just got finished and ALL the sprinkler heads are working!  That is a-mazing.  There’s always one or two that get busted up from the snowplow or a snow shovel that went over the driveway and into the yard.  But this year:  SUCCESS.  Everything is working just fine.

Busy Day

Let’s see.  What else did I do today?

Oh yeah, I worked from 8-5, stopped at the garden and watered the plants that we set out over the weekend.  My green beans have popped through the soil (excited about that).  Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, watermelon and zucchini all looked good.

The deer has not been through our spots lately.  Hopefully all the five-foot tomato stakes will scare him (her/them) off.

After the stop at the garden I got home and had a quick dinner.  Chicken stir-fry (thanks Honey, it was wonderful!).  Then…I made a dozen triple-berry muffins and a dozen chocolate chip muffins.

I’m taking some of each to work tomorrow to share with my team.  They turned out REALLY nice.  You should try the recipe.  It’s fantastic!

It’s 9:06 PM and time to get the kids settled down for bed.

Tomorrow is another busy day.  Plus a band concert in the evening.

So Thankful

It’s great to be alive.  And busy.  The alternative?  Not so good.

 

Flowers and Friends

This is just a sampling of the flowers we bought last weekend.  Wow…there are Impatiens, Marigolds, Begonias and a few other selections.  My wife was busy on Sunday getting all the pots cleaned up and planted for the summer season.

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