Monday, June 30, 2008

More peppers, of course

I have my garden right behind my house and my dryer vent is right by my jalapenos and poblanos. At first, I was real concerned about the heat and fluff that comes out of the vent when I'm drying clothes. But for some reason the two plants closest to the dryer vent are doing the best! The closest poblano plant has a nice sized poblano growing- the other poblano has nothing growing yet, though the plant looks good. And the closest jalapeno plant has more flowers and little jalapenos (and one larger one) growing than all of them. The other two jalapeno plants are pretty ratty looking, though the top leaves are starting to flourish and look nicer than the ones below. I know, I haven't weeded out my jalapenos yet, as you can see. It's slow going for me!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Raining and Weeding

It's been doing a lot of raining here. That's a good thing, so that I don't have to water my garden, myself. The problem with lots of rain is when you can go out and pull weeds. While pulling weeds is easier when the ground is soft after a rain, I usually wait a few hours for the ground to firm up just a little. I have come out of weeding my garden, just full of mud! But I love to slowly pull the weed out of the soft dirt, getting as much as the root as I can. The satisfaction that I feel when I accomplish that is gratifying. It's very disappointing if I feel the weed break too early, leaving most of the root in the ground. I woke up today just a little achy from bending over all day yesterday. My arthritis didn't like it, my my garden sure did!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Raspberries are easy to grow. Actually they spread like weeds, so you have to watch them. I have a raspberry patch on the west side of my house. The patch is thick with tons of raspberries! They are still green, but won't take too long to get ripe.

Raspberries (and all other berries for that matter) are so expensive to buy. One of those itty bitty cartons cost $3.99. That little carton contains just about as many raspberries as what you see in my picture. Crazy!

They go great on your morning oatmeal or cereal!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

German Queen Tomato Picture- young

Finally got a close up picture of my German Queen tomato that I have growing. They are squat, fat tomatoes, and supposed to be able to get up to be a pound. Let's see how far this one goes.

It rained all day yesterday, so I didn't have to water my garden - YAY! But today it's supposed to be the hottest day of the summer so far, with a small chance of rain in the afternoon. A hot and sticky day for sure!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thyme and Oregano

We had a little accident this weekend. The pot that my oregano was growing in, had broken. It's just too bad that the pot that is broken was my favorite. It had a very pretty flower painted on the side, and it had some interesting writing around the rim of the pot.

I immediately scooped up my oregano, and placed it into the big urn that contained my thyme. I hope my thyme likes to room with oregano. Actually, my oregano looks a lot happier in the urn than it did in the pot by itself. Time will tell if my thyme and oregano will get along!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Little Poblanos

My poblano plants are growing to their heart's content. See my little poblano's? I don't know what is with the produce stores lately. They either don't have poblano peppers or they are there, but are real old and wrinkled. I don't know how they can put those out on the shelf.

Poblano peppers are pretty mild, with a smoky kind of taste - if that makes sense. I use them chopped up in everything, including guacamole. I've even made a big dragon bite out of poblano peppers. Absolutely fantastic!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sweet 100 Tomato picture

I have little tomatoes growing! It always makes me feel good to see that I'm doing something right. This bush is only a 12-16 inches tall but it's blooming and growing little tomatoes like crazy! You can see the little green globe in the picture on the right hand side.

This is the plant that my husband and I didn't put into our shopping cart, and we got home and said "what is this?". But it's looking like a little winner! The Sweet 100 Tomato plant can get up to 4 feet tall, and grow lots of cherry-sized tomatoes. Fun stuff!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Garden of Weeden

After all of this rain, there are plenty of weeds that I have to pull out of the garden. It's supposed to rain on and off all weekend too. Well, the plants need the rain. Perhaps this weekend I will finally give them some fertilizer. My tomatoes are all looking fine, except for the bottom leaves which are touching the ground. They are yellow. Nothing is wilting, and everything is standing pretty tall. There are plenty of blossoms on the tomato and pepper plants. So I'll have to get the Set Spray for them too. All in all - looking pretty good!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Magical World of Basil

Magical properties: Money, peace, happiness, conscious mind
Basil has a rich, spicy scent - which stimulates the conscious mind, refreshing it and reducing mental fatigue. - helps clear your mind - elevates spirits

Basil has long been associated with money. They say to attract money, inhale the odor of basil, and visualize your bank account balance going higher.

In India, it's grown in gardens to ward off misfortune.

Medicinal use: A standard infusion of fresh leaves helps indigestion and constipation - if you add honey and lemon, it helps ease chest congestion.

But my favorite thing with basil is to just consume it. My kids love my tomato sauce with fresh basil and garlic. I've already made my first batch! Admittedly, with tomato sauce from a can because my tomatoes aren't ready yet!

Basil grows pretty quickly. I let my basil get to be about 9-12 inches tall, then I cut it down to about 2 inches tall. It'll grow back quickly, so don't worry about using your fresh basil as much as you want! I had bought a plant for my deck, then also grew some from seed in my garden. This is how big my seedlings are. It won't be long until I have plenty on hand!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mucho Nacho Jalapeño Picture

My 2-inch jalapeño picture from my Mucho Nacho plant.
I took it at 5am today. I love to look at things first thing in the morning! Looks like I need to start fertilizing.

Did you know that jalapeños contain a substance called capsaicin that has shown to have anti-cancer effects? However, you would have to eat a LOT of jalapeños to get that effect.

I made home made ravioli stuffed with a mixture I made from my
jalapeño poppers the other night. I threw those leftovers in my food processor and made the filling up good! The ravioli was delicious!

How do you stop the burning after eating jalapeño peppers? Eat a dairy product, like milk, yogurt, or ice cream. Dairy products contain a chemical called caisen that combats the effects of chile peppers' capsicum by stripping it from its receptor site on the skin. If it's on your hands, try a little rubbing alcohol (I've used tequila - I know - what a waste of good tequila) on your hands first to take off the oil, then dip in milk. It really helps!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thyme is magic

Last year was the first time that my thyme ever took off. I had bought a big urn-type pot, and planted one plant of thyme. I watered it thoroughly every day. It just got so big and bushy! I decided to do the same this year - same pot. I actually planted two types of thyme. They are both taking off so well - just like last year! The pot you see will be totally filled by the end of summer.
Thyme can be made into a syrup for use in the winter time as an antiseptic. A standard infusion of fresh leaves and a teaspoon of honey helps with sore throats, coughs and colds. Thyme is another herb that you don't use medicinally when you are pregnant.
Thyme is a great ingredient to spice up any meat or fish. As usual, you are supposed to use thyme leaves sparingly so that it doesn't overwhelm the flavor of the meat / fish, but I still use just a bit more because I just love that flavor and strong smell. You can almost do no wrong and make things always taste great with fresh thyme (and rosemary, my other favorite herb) - just like magic!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Roses for jelly

Roses are such an elegant, feel-good flowers. The petals are used in many things, from aromatherapy to recipes.

I've been growing roses around my deck for many years. The smell is just wonderful! My roses tend to overload themselves. It's the perfect time to carefully pick some flowers and make sachets or my fabulous Rose Petal Jelly! The jelly is so delicately flavored, people think they are eating gourmet. You can eat it with peanut butter, but I prefer it on crackers, especially with a little brie cheese - just superb!

People use rose water in making frosting. It's been said that rose water can be drunk to help with diarrhea and the digestion of fatty foods. I've never tried it for that - but that's what they say.

Plus, of course roses are used in perfumes and aromatherapy. It helps ease stress, anxiety and emotional trauma. Like I said, roses are truly a feel-good flower!


Monday, June 16, 2008


One of my all time favorite herbs is rosemary. I grow it every year. I just can't believe that we have to pay the price of $2.99 for a couple of sprigs at the grocery store! This year, I had gotten a bigger bush. But for some reason, it instantly started wilting on me. Now, rosemary has never done that before to me. So I bought a little rosemary plant, just in case my big one died. Luckily, the weather got good and both of my rosemary plants took off! This past weekend, my daughter came by for Father's Day, and she had looked longingly at my smaller rosemary plant. I had to give it to her, of course!

Rosemary - just the smell is exhilarating! The flavor is wonderful. It's very strong, and recipes always call for just a pinch, because rosemary can overwhelm as a flavor. But I tend to like that taste. There is nothing better than fresh rosemary!

The smell of rosemary helps get rid of headaches. The smell is a natural "upper" - helps with getting you out of a little "funk". Rosemary is used in balms for aches and pains (pregnant women shouldn't use it). Even using a little water that has had rosemary steeped in it, helps with controlling dandruff. It's just an all round great herb!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

It has started out at 65 degrees this morning. It seems like it will be a fine day. Supposed to get up to 82. We'll see. It's supposed to thunderstorm at various times today. I weeded the garden yesterday. It didn't take too long to do. I sprayed my blossoms with the Burpee tomato and blossom set spray. There is one jalapeño plant that has many blossoms on it. Go jalapeños!

My tomato plants worry me. They are in an area that is really quite muddy. My husband (and wonderful father), had dug a trench, filled it with rock and PVC pipe, all the way through our yard to the back of the yard, which is a field. It's supposed to help draw the water out of the area. Too much, and we'll be drowning the tomatoes, like I did before! We placed the tomatoes in that area because of the direct sun. The tomato plants have some yellow leaves, but they haven't wilted, like I've seen before when they are ready to die. They do have some blossoms. Perhaps I should check out some tomato fertilizer. Yeah, that's what I'll do!

All you father's out there - have a happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weeding the garden

Today is supposed to be a sunny Saturday! It's also the day that I'll spend pulling out the weeds. There are no big weeds, just lots of little weeds. I could be on my hands and knees for awhile! While I'm down there, I can apply my tomato and blossom spray again to my pepper and tomato plants that have flowers. I have MANY flowers. So far, I haven't lost any (that I know of). Did I mention that I have a couple of jalapeños growing? One is already an inch long! What fun!

While I weed the garden, The husband and son are going to re-paint the deck railings. Next week, they should be able to paint the deck. I love when things look new and fresh!

Speaking of jalapeños, I'll be putting some stuffed ones on the grill tonight for dinner! Instead of my usual dragon bites wrapped in bacon, I'll stuff these instead with my cheese/cream cheese/herb mixture and some cooked maple sausage. I can't wait to try that!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Onion Chives

Onion chives. Another herb I bought because it's so expensive in the store. It's great for a patio garden, placed in a container. I know that my plants are growing well, because it took a bout a week for me to find a pot to plant them in, so I just placed the plants, still in the plastic containers from the store with drainage holes, right on top of a pile of dirt. When I planted them in a new pot this week, they had already rooted to the pile of dirt through the drainage holes! Anyway, I put them in my pot and they should grow well.

Did you know that the name "chive" is derived from the Latin cepa, which means onion.

You can constantly cut these grassy leaves and use them in recipes. They grow back nicely!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Oregano is so wonderful to put into sauces, but I've always had a hard time growing it. So far this year, my one plant that I have in a container on my deck is doing very well. I'm shocked, actually. Mine always fail - but I never give up trying! This may be the year I do it! Well, I hope I didn't jinx the whole thing.

Did you know that in ancient Greece, that oregano was used as a remedy for narcotic poisons? The Romans believed it brought happiness at weddings, and was made into bridal wreaths. You learn something new everyday!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I had planted two cilantro plants in my garden a week ago. Buying the cilantro plants actually is against what my garden is all about. Growing expensive produce at a price I can afford. I don't know why I bought the cilantro, as you can get 4-5 bunches of cilantro on sale at the local produce store when they have a big sale. Lately, it's been 2 for .99 - I just like cilantro. I like the smell and the flavor. I just wanted to grow it. It's actually doing very well in my garden.
On the Internet , I found that cilantro is also called coriander. Supposedly the essential oils in cilantro leaves contain antibacterial properties and can be used as a fungicide. The Chinese used the herb in love potions believing it provided immortality. I've eaten so much cilantro that I should be immortal by now!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cubanelle Pepper

I had gone to the grocery store the other day and found they were selling Cubanelle Pepper plants. I had to buy one and plant it in my garden! I first came upon these peppers last year at my produce market. They are wonderful peppers to cook with! At first they were cheap. And as usual, went up in price, as everything else has. This is the info I found on the Internet about cubanelle peppers:

A long slender banana-shaped pepper that is considered to be a sweet pepper, despite having a mild to moderate spicy heat. Ranging in color from green to yellow or red, this pepper has a glossy outer skin that is smooth and firm in texture. Also known as Italian frying pepper, this pepper is mildly hot and very similar to an Anaheim pepper. Cubanelle peppers are often used in casseroles, salads, pizzas, and as a pepper to be stuffed with a savory filling.

The plant tag said it's best stir fried with a little olive oil. I've made spaghetti sauce with these peppers and it just added a hint of heat. Wonderful!


Monday, June 9, 2008

German Queen Tomatoes

My German Queen Tomatoes have flowers on them! I must be doing something right! I had gotten these tomatoes at Lowe's after drowning my seedlings. I just grabbed what I could find. I found out that the German Queen is a beefsteak tomato. Those tomatoes can get to weigh a pound! They are one of those huge odd-shaped tomatoes, but good tasting!

I also bought a cubanelle pepper plant yesterday, but couldn't put it in, as we got some good-sized storms that rolled through out area!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mucho Nacho Jalapeños

My Mucho Nacho jalapeño plants have jalapeños growing! I had sprayed the flowers last week with the Tomato and Bloom Set Spray from Burpee. So far I am impressed! So I sprayed them again this week. I noticed flowers on some of my German Queen tomato plants and sprayed them too.

I found info on the Internet about Mucho Nacho jalapeños. It is a recent, jumbo-sized hybrid jalapeño with fruits longer, fatter, thicker and hotter than standard jalapeños. Its 4-inch length makes it at least an inch longer than other jalapeños. I believe these are the jalapeños that I've been buying from our local produce store, and I make the most wonderful dragon bites from these jalapeños!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sweet Basil and Mint

I ended up with more seeds than my garden allowed, so I planted the extras in troughs on my deck. My husband made a wire cage on top of the troughs so that the squirrels in the area don't dig any of the dirt up. I had sweet basil and jalapeño seeds that were leftover from the garden. Right now, the basil seeds are coming up in the troughs, but not in my garden. And my jalapeño seeds aren't coming up in either place yet. It's interesting how nature works!

Today, my husband and I will be on the hunt at various stores to find "mint". Not peppermint. But mint. We have very good friends from India. They are always on the lookout for fresh mint. They make some kind of sauce or paste by grinding jalapeños and mint together. They said for some reason, they've never seen the fresh mint here that they had in India. So we'll see what we can find.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Health Kick Tomatoes

After I drowned my original Romas, which I had grown from seed for two months, I had found some roma-like plants at the store called "Health Kick" Tomatoes. I bought them because I wanted more roma tomatoes in my garden so that I can make tomato sauce to can.

After I got home and planted them, I did a little research on what they were like. I guess they have 50% more lycopene, which is a good thing for fighting some cancers. Checking online, the taste got various reviews. Some said a robust taste, while others said "tangy". Not a juicy tomato, very meaty. Just what I want for making sauce! Though some say it has a "mealy" texture, I don't think that will matter in sauce.

Last year, I had made one batch of tomato sauce from a friend who had too many tomatoes. I cooked my sauce down very thick (like in the store), added fresh basil that my mother-in-law gave me from her garden, and a bit of garlic. That sauce turned out to be my kids favorite, and they are very picky! Hopefully I will do just as well this year with my own tomatoes!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

The shallots are coming, the shallots are coming.

My shallots are peaking through the soil! I'm so excited!

Okay, okay, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to grow shallots. You stick a bulb in the ground and let it grow. Supposedly easier to grow than regular onions. But the flavor of shallots are so wonderfully delicate. To buy them at the grocery store is expensive, as compared to regular onions. But I'm pretty proud of myself. Let's hope I don't kill these, like my first endeavor...

I find on the Internet that the best time to plant them is in the fall? You mulch them over the winter and you are supposed to harvest them the next fall? Well, we'll see how that goes. I planted in the spring, I'll harvest them in the fall, and probably try planting more at that time. You learn something new everyday!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sweet 100 Tomatoes

We didn't want cherry tomatoes. For some reason when we got home a week ago with our new tomato plants, we found there was a Sweet 100 tomato plant in amongst all our others. Rather than return it, I did a quick search on the Internet for more information. Found a real cool picture (link above) of the tomatoes on the vine. They are supposed to be very sweet with high vitamin C content.

I learn quite a bit of information from our University Extensions - since I'm in Illinois, here is a link there: - they have answers to just about everything!

Ducks and Bunnies

We had to put up fencing all around the garden to keep out one big brown bunny and 6 male ducks. Where have all the female ducks gone? We've been visited by a whole group of 6 male ducks now for over a month. Not one female. One duck is lame. It has an injured leg, and it's just terrible to watch him. He hops one step, then falls on his face. But he perseveres. Nature always finds a way!

My Mucho Nacho jalapenos already have flowers on them. I actually bought the Tomato and Blossom Set Spray from Burpee to see if I can yield more tomatoes and peppers, and applied it. Can't wait to see if it works.

I'm already dreaming of canning salsa and tomato sauce!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


My garden was made by a meticulous husband. He took a spade and overturned all the dirt in a 6' x 20' plot right behind my house. Then he borrowed my sister's tiller and worked on the dirt with it. He then got out his old big sifter - the kind like you use for prospecting. Don't ask why we have one - we have a house full of useful and useless stuff. He proceeded to sift all the big chunks of clay and grass out of the garden. Afterwords, he threw sand all over the garden and tilled it again. Then he raked my garden down all level. You would think he must have been a farmer in his past life or something.

We had to go out and BUY my plants. We got German Queen, Better Bush, Sweet 100 and Health Kick tomatoes. We also got some shallots, basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro, jalapeno and Mucho Nacho jalapenos. We put them all in the ground and watered them. Oh, I forgot to mention that there were two tomato plants from my original drowned batch that I'm trying to save. We'll see what happens!

Back in April

My vegetable garden was all I could think about. Prices have gone so high on vegetables, I had decided to grow my own. I sent away for some Roma tomato seeds, as well as jalapeno and basil seeds from Burpee. I nurtured those seeds into nice sized plants for 2 months. I kept them in a room that was 74 degrees and had lots of window light. I watered them very carefully. I had to place my peat pots into troughs my plants had gotten so big. I had 30 tomato and 30 jalapeno plants ready to be placed into my garden when the time was right. I was so proud!

My husband was to cultivate a 6' x 20' area in my backyard for my new garden, on Mother's Day. What I got for Mother's Day instead was a new roof. Our old roof decided to leak big time, right over my staircase leading into the basement. Big time is actually putting it mildly. I had a nice river going down the stairs into my basement. Oh well.

Two weeks after that was my birthday. Then I got my garden! During this 2 week time frame of waiting for my garden, I had been taking my troughs outside during the day to toughen them up. That's when things went downhill for my lovely tomatoes and jalapenos. It seems that I didn't take out the plugs in the troughs when I placed them outside. Okay, I forgot. Since the plants got so dry outside so quickly, I gave them extra water. I couldn't understand why they wilted so fast - down to nothing. I found out pretty quickly that I DROWNED two months worth of time and effort, as well as money! WAHHHHH!