August Reflections

As I sit here and type reflecting on this August soon to be over, the fragrance of fresh picked basil fills the air around me… makes me think of pesto and fresh tomato mozzarella pizza with lots of basil leaves scattered on top…absolutely my favorite kind of pizza. : )

Rosemary and oregano in the bouquet on the table…love herbs…

bouquet

Who would have guessed that?  With a title like Rosemary, Lavender and Thyme…

Rosemary

Love zinnias too… They are prolific right now…

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Sedum, hosta flowers, liriope, lamb’s ears…

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Oat grass in a favorite blue glazed ceramic pot…

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Love the colors…

I’m listening to a daughter chopping cucumbers and making bread and butter pickles…We have such an abundance of cukes this year…it’s crazy…

Painted a bouquet of gorgeous flowers from a photo blog…couldn’t help myself…so fun…so many incredible colors…

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The temps are more normal for August in Oklahoma…HOT, but for the first time since I’ve lived here, I’m actually going to miss summer…unbelievable!

I still wear my boots, long sleeves and trusty gloves to go pick tomatoes in the field to avoid chiggers and ticks, but this year incredibly I’ve only found one tick on me and that was last night and I’ve only had a mere 6 chigger bites… again unbelievable!

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Our charming neighbors stop by for a visit…a mama deer and her three fawns…

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They have been leaving my garden alone…I think the glittering of the shiny CDs really works to keep them at bay…

Seeds of kale and bok choy started in pots and lettuce, spinach, parsley started out in the garden…going to plant radishes, broccoli and cabbage a little later today. It’s soon to be fall…

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Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

I never follow a recipe too exactly, but here is basically what I did and this will feed 3-6 people depending on how much you eat, or how much you like it. 😉

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Ingredients…

olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes or your own fresh tomatoes
1-2 Tablespoons fresh thyme

2 medium to large eggplants
salt and pepper

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, sliced
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8-inch thick or crumbled
1/2 cup (or more) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted with butter

First make tomato sauce by sauteing onion and garlic in olive oil, and then adding canned diced tomatoes. Of course you could use your own fresh garden tomatoes…yum! I also added some fresh thyme. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Slice eggplant about 1 to 1/2-inches thick. I had 12 slices. Spread a little olive oil on a baking sheet and then place the slices on top. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake about 15 minutes.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the largest 6 eggplant slices in a baking pan, cover slices with a layer of tomato sauce, then fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese. You can use slices or grated…I used fresh mozzarella that separated into chunks. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and then repeat the layer.

All I had was some Ezekiel bread so I toasted that and sauted it in butter before I sprinkled it on the top, but you could use any bread crumbs or skip that part.

Bake in the oven until the bread crumbs are golden on top and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. 🙂

Garden Update and Savings on a Fall Seed Collection

I’ve been trying to do a garden update, but by the time I’m ready to post the pictures I’ve taken, everything has grown and my pics are outdated…

My pumpkins are twice as big as this now…and already turning orange…

Pumpkin

Moon and Stars watermelons…I’ve always wanted to grow these and I’m really excited to see how they turn out…

Moon and Stars

We’re starting to get quite a few cucumbers now, but this one was huge…

cucumber

Eggplant…

Eggplant

Last week I picked two of these and made a wonderful Eggplant Parmesan with homegrown eggplant and basil…

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That was the first layer…now the second…

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And finally a crumb topping made out of Ezekiel bread…

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Let me know if you want the recipe. 🙂

This morning one of my daughters, the interior design painter daughter, showed me the cover of the new Sherwin Williams publication called STIR…

Stir

There is an article inside about  Farmer John who has an heirloom seed company out in California and she gave me his website info…

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Once at the website I was surprised to see his reasonably priced seeds of amazing heirloom varieties and this Fall Garden Collection

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I love supporting farmers like this, don’t you?

It’s Been a Year…

It’s been a year since I started this blog. What reminded me of this fact was seeing the cicada killers buzzing frantically around my garden trying to scare me, like I blogged about  last August…

gulliver

I think this drawing  looks a lot like me… It especially shows how I feel most of the time when I go outside to do anything…It’s a war zone most of the time…

Here’s me, braid and everything…just like the top pic, except I don’t have any shoes like that 😉  I either wear flip-flops or barn boots depending…

me

And here is the cicada killer that was resting on my basil after trying to scare me this morning…

cicada killer

This one wasn’t the only one. There were about 10 of them. So can you see the resemblance?

So they are back, but so far they have not turned my garden into a mine field, in other words they haven’t started burrowing yet. Here’s a great little video so you can see what they are like…

This year my greatest enemies so far are these sweet looking deer…

deer

Three spotted fawns and one mama have made their home in my gardens. Amazing how cute these creatures are…but how destructive they can be. I think they have delayed both my bean crop and my cucumbers by eating on the new leaves as they were beginning to grow. My solution was to hang CDs and human hair around the garden, and it seems to be working. 🙂

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Comparing last year to this year weather wise…we were having a drought of epic proportions last year and the temperatures were over 100 degrees for 6 weeks. This year we are having the most beautiful summer ever…plenty of rain and cooler temperatures.

Last year I was starting a fall garden. I started this blog as a type of journal to keep track of what worked and what didn’t.

I planted Lavender, only 4 plants survived, but they are still growing strong and I started a couple plants from cuttings…

Lavender

I can’t believe I propagated this lavender from tiny little cuttings…

The Parsley was amazing in the greenhouse, but this year I have none, as it has all gone to seed. I still hope it will reseed itself in that same bed in the greenhouse where it thrived so well.

I need to replace about 6 Asparagus plants that didn’t make it, and actually it would probably be good to make another bed to have enough asparagus to feed our large family. Right now the asparagus bed desperately needs weeding. 😦

asparagus

Basil always does well. This year the basil went in a little late, but I have planted lots of plants so we will be able to make and freeze pesto.

basil

This is the first year ever that I have not had a lot of chigger bites and it could be due to the unusually late freeze we had here in May, the one that killed all my tomato plants, but also made this summer the best ever. We haven’t had a lot of Squash Bugs either, and come to think about it I haven’t seen any Bees…That’s not good…

Last year I began to work out the  Problem in the Greenhouse. Even though I made some progress there is still a lot to be done.

greenhouse

That’s it for today. Hope you all are having a great summer. 72 followers in the past year… who would have thought, and it has been so nice to make friends with you all… I’ve learned so much from you about gardening and raising chickens and I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and I’ve prayed…Hugs to all of you. 🙂

A Little of the First Harvests

Here it is almost June…it is just starting to warm up and get muggy. The weather has really influenced the garden. We are just now harvesting the very first peas…

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Lettuce, parsley, cilantro, spinach, asparagus, peas and radishes…very disappointed in the radishes this year. They usually never fail me, but they are going to seed and not producing, I think it must be the weather….my dwarf Bok Choy did the same thing.

Ever seen red lettuce go to seed?

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I’m hoping these two will reseed themselves in the same bed. They look so fabulous together…the deep red and the bright green.

Basil seeds sprouting…

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Oh, and lavender…

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I’m really excited about this lavender bush…I’ve had it for 3 years…It survived 2 years of  drought and now it is full of spikes that will blossom.

Moved the potatoes outside the greenhouse…

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Still comparing them to the ones in the row outside…

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The final analysis will be the potatoes, of course.

Eggplant that was transplanted in the greenhouse is finally taking off…

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Love a hint of color amidst all that is green…

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Herb Labels

Just had to share these beautiful  labels for Herbs from World Label

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And there are more… even shopping lists and recipe cards that you can print off.

I saw these over at Rachel’s blog   Happily Occupied Homebodies where she shared her very clever idea using these cute labels. You should go have a look. 🙂

And take a look at the labels too…  Labels for your Herb Jars

Cucumbers

I’m really rejoicing tonight.  My hero husband has successfully killed all the cicada killers, except one… and he knows his time is limited!

And… I saw a bumble bee on the zinnias.

After a horrendous week of battling these creatures that made it impossible to step inside the garden, we can take a big sigh of relief and get busy repairing the damage they have done.

I finally was brave enough to harvest some cucumbers and cut some basil…

 

The little squash plants are looking good. The pumpkin leaves look fabulous, but I’m not seeing any fruit. I pulled out the remaining very sad and wilted tomato plants. Peppers are still doing well. As soon as the temperature gets below 100, I’ll plant the lettuce, spinach, and kale. I hope that is soon. : )