I need a drink!

My little piece of the world is very hot and very, very  dry. Absolutely too hot to be in the garden. I mean, I actually want to stay in the house and that is not like me at all.  “I don’t want to stay inside,” my inner gardener whines.  “Surely there is something in the shade garden … Read more

Cucumbers, Okra, and Beans Oh My!

Cucumbers, Okra, and Beans Oh My!

Why do vegetables ripen when it’s 105 degrees?
Why don’t I just get up at 5 a.m. and pick them?
Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?♫♪
Beans.  What’s not to love about pinto beans.  They are an easy-going, fuss free veggie that likes to hang out with cornbread.    You plant them, water occasionally, and let them dry on the vine.  Once the plant looks dead, pull the plant up and begin shelling.  It really doesn’t get any easier than that.  But wait!  It does get easier.   If you act in the next 10 minutes,  you might be able to pull a person out of the house to help you shell them.  There’s just something about sitting on the porch late in the evening, listening to the hummingbirds and purple martins, and shelling beans.  In my opinion, it doesn’t get much better than that.
For several years, I have grown a bean called Lina Sisco’s Bird Egg Bean.

Lina Sisco’s Bird Egg bean

As you can see it looks like a chickadee egg.

According to Seed Savers Exchange, these beans were brought to Missouri by covered wagon in the 1880s by Lina’s grandmother.  How cool is that?  The great thing about dried beans is that they keep well until I have time to can them.  (More on that here)  But don’t eat them all!  You will want to save some of these beauties for next year’s garden.
The okra I grow is called  Red Burgundy.
Red Burgundy Okra

I love the deep red stalk and red okra as well.  It usually grows about 4-5 ft. tall.  This year, probably due to our extreme heat and drought, it is only about 12-15 inches tall.  Be sure and let some stalks over grow and go to seed.  Not only will you have seed for next year but the pods make beautiful fall accents.
I don’t have a picture of my cukes because I forgot to plant them!   I even painted some old tomato cages to support them.  Watermelon Sorbet, Pink Fluff, Purple Smurple.  My cucumbers were going to look magazine worthy on those cages.  Sigh….
Not to worry.  I’ve noticed that people who do have cucumbers usually have enough to feed a small city and are always glad to get rid of the extras.  I’m lucky to have such a friend and she saved the day.
Why would I worry about cucumbers?
Why am I so forgetful?
Why do stars fall down from the sky, every time you walk by? ♪♫

If I didn’t have cucumbers, I could not make pickles.  And not just any pickles.  Refrigerator pickles.  Say what?
My grandmother made these every summer and kept them in the fridge in a huge glass container.  They keep for weeks AND  keep their crunch.  They are cold, sweet,  and sour and are the perfect summer food for me.   I can eat them at every meal or as a meal for that matter.
Just like me, they long to be………close to you♫♪♪♫
Sorry, I’ve had that Carpenter’s song in my head for days.
Now, for those  folks with lots of  cucumbers, here is the recipe.
Grandma’s Sliced Refrigerated Pickles

6 cups sliced, unpeeled cucumbers

1 c. sliced onions

*Place in a large glass container with a lid.  Then mix:

1-1/2 cups to 2 cups sugar (I have substituted equal parts of Splenda before and it was ok)

  1 Tbs. table salt

1 c. white vinegar

 Mix together and pour over cucumbers and onions.  Let stand for a few hours or overnight for best flavor.

Sliced Refrigerator Pickles

Hummers and Bummers

The Good News:  Hot weather brings hummingbirds!

Not to sound like Cliff Clavin but did you know that a hummingbird’s heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute? That it weighs as much as a penny?  That they also eat small bugs?

It’s also a little known fact that a hummingbird will visit an average of 1,000 flowers per day for nectar.  Yep.  Pretty amazing little birds.

Hummer abode

This is a hummingbird house.  I had never heard of them before.  The cute little old man who sold me this told me his hummingbirds fight to build a nest in this house.  So far, my birds have not given it a second look.  But I liked the looks of it and he was so darn cute.
I can also use it as a Christmas ornament so all is well.
The Bad News:  The grasshoppers are still abundant and have invited friends and family to join them.
Bronze fennel before grasshoppers                                      Bronze fennel after grasshoppers


Peach tree before grasshoppers                                            Peach tree after grasshoppers


As my friend says, “It is what it is”.  I can’t undo the damage or control the elements.  I won’t starve.  My children won’t starve.  Everything will be fine…eventually.
I do feel better knowing that, in my presence, I have a fearless ally.  The protector of the crops. The guardian of the veggies. The defender of all things edible.
Magnum P.I.
Where’s my Ferrari?


I am being invaded by grasshoppers.  Not just a couple or a few but thousands.  Possibly millions.  Maybe a gazillion!

They are devouring everything green and leaving bare sticks in their wake.
I can not get rid of them.  At this point I am only using organic methods and this is what I have tried so far:
Semispore bait–a bran-like flake they eat which turns them into cannibals.  Gross!  This method takes some time to work (about 2 weeks) and I have applied it 3 different times.  Which is probably over kill but remember…..I have a gazillion!
Plan B.  Neem Oil–a spray that should repel them.  It says so on the label.  The photo above shows arugula sprayed with Neem Oil.  See how repelled they are?
Plan C.  Food grade Diatomaceous earth (DE)–My non-techie definition of DE is this.  It is microscopically like glass.  It looks like talcum powder and when any bug with an exoskeleton goes across it, it will dehydrate them and they die.   I debated about using this because it also kills earthworms and I like earthworms.  So my brilliant reasoning indicated that I should sprinkle the leaves with DE instead of putting this on the ground.   Don’t mess with this gardener!  (evil laugh and wringing of hands)
Final conclusion:  Grasshoppers are the devil.
Then I discovered a way to tolerate them courtesy of my 2 year old granddaughter.

A driver and putter work best

You hit them with plastic golf clubs,
Using a loud, outdoor voice

while singing twinkle, twinkle little star
and wearing really cute shoes.

Big City Gardens

next to the NYC Public Library
Reading Paradise for the Big City Dweller

When I travel, I am always on the lookout for interesting gardens, parks, or flowers.  I am a garden junkie and not afraid to admit it.
I need trees.  I need color.  I need green.  I must have it.  Daily.
On a recent trip to New York City, (by far the biggest city I’ve ever been in) I was amazed at the amount of green space tucked  between tall buildings.  Busy streets have trees with small flower beds surrounding them.   Apartments buildings have small courtyards filled with plants, water features and seating.  Roof tops are spotted with trees, chairs and I’m sure a  tomato plant or two.  Even alleys are flower-lined.  Not what I was expecting at all!
This is Bryant Park next to the NYC Public Library.  You can see the huge skyscrapers but the lawn area was very quiet and peaceful.  There were small reading tables surrounding the lawn, food vendors,  and pergolas with massive hanging baskets.  Loved it!
I could sit there all day

I was also amazed at how many people you can fit on a street.
Looked busy to me but according to our bus driver it wasn’t

One morning, we had a couple of hours free of any planned activities and we decided to take a morning stroll to Central Park.
For those of you that don’t know, Central Park is 800 some odd acres in the middle of the city.
And for those of you that don’t know, you can not walk that in a couple of hours.
View from one of the lakes

We decided that if for some reason we had to pack up and move to the city, we would have to live near this park.
The beautiful paths, pockets of flower gardens, and benches strategically placed to enjoy the view, made this walk one of our favorite walks.  It amazes me that this is in the middle of the city.

Plenty of room to stroll

Walking from Lower Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, you end up in the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights.  This was a very charming part of Brooklyn with knock out views of Manhattan.  The area is known for their Brownstone apartments built in the early 1900’s. Some even had backyards which is rare and a luxury for these apartments dwellers.

Brooklyn Heights brownstone

Brooklyn Heights backyard

Brooklyn Heights Window Box

Rooftop Patio

Every now and then I could see rooftops with flowers and trees.  It made me smile.  It’s good to know that there are people like me that can live in a big city and enjoy their gardens as  much as I love mine in the country.
Rooftop Geraniums

Of course, we did not go to New York City to look at gardens but I really enjoyed the ones I did find.  The fact that Manhattan alone has almost as many people as my whole state, made me anxious to get back to my little neck of the woods.
Goodbye city life. Green Acres here I come!