Decorations

There is no tree at my office. Rev Paul has that covered.
As I mentioned to Old NFO on his Christmas tree post, I just barely have a tree at home. Which I haven’t even put out yet.
But I do have a lovely gift from the boss lady (as in the one whose name is on the building)

image

So there. I have a Christmas decoration in my office too. Now we’ll see how long it takes for me to kill it.

So We Made Pickles

Hopefully.  They are cooling currently.

I should back up.  The summer in Oklahoma was not exactly fantastic for gardens, and yet, my pear tomatoes rocked. And then we got frost. So there were a lot of green pear tomatoes hanging from dead vines.

le sigh

But I hear there are great uses for green tomatoes.  They should make lovely pickles.  Right?

Some garlic and surprisingly pathetic onions (they looked awesome earlier in the year) and some previously smoked ghost peppers should make for something tasty.

On Friday, I hunted down a grocery store employee to tell me where they kept the canning jars because dammit, I’m gonna do this right. Maybe. I’m gonna try anyway.  I sterilized them in the dishwasher.  Google said I could.  I pre-boiled the garlic in some salt and rice vinegar. We prepped the onions and tomatoes and garlic greens (surprisingly tasty) in some brine.

We are ready to go.

FYI-If you put smoked ghost peppers in the bottom of your canning jar, don’t sniff deeply.  Just don’t. We decided that only 2 of the 4 jars should get peppered.

Ooh! Lookie! We’ve got smoked Kosher salt.  We should use that.  It went into one of the mild jars and one of the insanity jars.

Wish us luck on our maiden voyage into canning/pickle making. Nothing exploded, at least there is that. Pics and after action report in two weeks.

Salad!

On Sundays, we generally get together EvylRobot’s family for lunch after church.  Everyone contributes something to the meal and we just hang out and enjoy the family fellowship time.

This Sunday, we brought 2 extra giggly girls, some NerdBeer of AtomicNerds fame (BTW-Stingray, Dad-in-law was impressed and enjoyed the fruits of your labors), and a delicious salad from our garden.

Yes, the very same intimidating garden grown from the seeds so generously provided by Emergency Seed Bank.  Radishes, spinach, and romaine – oh my!  All have thus far survived the inept gardening skills of yours truly.

Okay, not everything survived, I must admit.  The Swiss Chard I was so proud of that started this adventure?

Um…

Well…

I waited too long to transplant it to the garden.  The book said to move it in spring.  I got distracted.  And it got too warm in my back bathroom and dried out.  I will do better with this one next year.  I still have more seeds.

And in case you are wondering how on earth it got that warm in my bathroom.  Well that was another stroke of not quite brilliance on my part.  I saw all these nifty warming trays for starting seeds and thought, “Hey! That looks like a good idea.”  Note to self, Jennifer is not an adept gardener and should stick to the instructions in the book rather than get creative.  I killed my first batch of jalepenos and green peppers by cooking the seedlings.  Oops!

But hey, that’s all that I’ve killed.  All the seeds that were sent to me have sprouted and most survived the invasion of the bunny as well.  Only 2 beets seem to have evaded the bunny, but still, there is food growing my backyard!  Plants that I haven’t killed.  Really, this is exciting.

There are beets, romaine lettuce, carrots, radishes, onions, parsnips, green beans, peas, spinach, and green peppers actively growing in my backyard.  And those are just the seeds provided by Emergency Seed Bank.  In addition to that, we’ve got 5 habanero plants that we purchased at the hardware store along with 5 heirloom pear tomatoes.  There are also several tomato plants started from FarmFam seeds.

Things I’ve learned so far:

1. It is good to have things planted in nice neat carefully spaced rows rather than haphazardly in a given section.

2. If the tree at the edge of the yard happens to drop seeds into the garden, you will be pulling trees out of the garden all summer.

3.  Rabbits like spinach, radish greens, and beets.  Also, garden fed rabbits are tasty.  That’s right self-righteous vegetarians, cute fuzzy animals died for your salad too. (Links go to pictures that some may find disturbing)  Who knew that meat would come from a vegetable garden?

4. Stepping stones would be helpful in wider sections of the garden.  Although, stretching out to get the weed 3 feet from the edge is a great ab workout.

5. Holy smokes!  I like peas!  I’ve never liked peas.  They’ve always been nasty, slimy things that the mean lady at daycare forced me to eat.  But from my garden they are sweet, crisp, and delicious. Also, I’m ridiculously entertained and wonder what a certain princess would think of the peas growing up the headboard of the flower bed.

Whimsical Flower Bed

6. Seeds should be started in something deeper than Weber drip trays.

7. Soaker hoses rock.

8.  I am totally impressed with Emergency Seed Bank and highly recommend them to anyone interested in starting down the gardening adventure.

The Emergency Seed Bank provided one seed bank for me to plant and write about here.  All gardening ineptitude is my own.  They tried to give me instructions.  And yet, they’ve grown in spite of me.  All information provided here is from my own personal experience.  They provided seeds for me to write about but my endorsement of their product is my own.

Apparently, They’re Insane

Remember when I said this?

Dear FTC:  They provided free samples to anyone that asked.  I asked; they sent.  Although, if Emergency Seed Bank is also afflicted with the insanity malady and wishes to provide me more seeds to expose to extreme peril and certain death for the sake of internet fame and recognition, I’d be happy to oblige.  I’ll disclaim accordingly if such madness transpires.

If not, that’s a big ol’ link that will take you there.

Well…They actually responded with this.

Hi Jennifer,

glad to hear that you liked the swiss chard. I would like to send you out an Emergency Seed Bank. It contains 23 Heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid varieties of garden seed sufficient for a 1-acre emergency garden. You can save the seeds from year to year. You’re welcomed to ask us any questions along the way. What we ask in return is that you write on your blog once a month about your experience with the seeds. And that you grow (or at least make a good effort) at least one plant of every variety.

Um…

You really want to risk me killing 23 Heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid varieties of garden seed?

I don’t think they know what they are getting into.  But hey, why not?  You all will enjoy my total noob gardening adventure right?  And I haven’t killed the chard yet.  At least, not all the chard…

So, in anticipation, we increased the garden area from this tiny section you can see bordered by the bricks.

Last year, this little plot contained 2 pear tomato plants, a better boy tomato, a beef steak tomato and an Armenian cucumber.  There was a pot at the end with jalapeños and a habanero plant.  The tomatoes did alright.  Not great, just alright.  The cucumber died a horrible and disappointing death during the drought.  We didn’t get a single cucumber from it.  Cucumber FAIL.

We eliminated the hot tub and expanded the garden to 110 square feet.  Understand that we live in town on about 1/8 of an acre.

And then a box came in the mail.

It came with a book to tell us how to plant and harvest.  And a separate book to tell us how to harvest the seeds.  Yep, these people are insane.  They’ll sell you this box of seeds with instructions on how to never need to buy another one.  And, it all came in a freaking ammo box.  These people have a good idea of their market.

So after careful planning

Complete with full consultation of the book, the Google and a beverage of choice.  We began to plant.

Notice the high end dividers.  Yeah.  That very night, we had a crazy windstorm.  Everything moved.  But that’s alright.  The garden is now random salad!  I found spinach where we hadn’t planted anything.  How’d I know it was spinach?  I ate it.  It tasted like spinach, and I didn’t die.  So either I have a very tasty random weed, or the spinach moved in the wind.

And look!  Radish!  (I’m pretty sure.)

And unidentified sprouts!

I don’t know what they are yet, but I bet they’ll be tasty if I don’t kill them.

And so, you will either be reading about the adventures of noob gardener Jen, or possibly, Farmer Jen, Vegetable Assassin.    Either way, should be interesting, right? So, Thank You, Emergency Seed Bank! As of this point, I highly recommend this to everyone that wants a vegetable garden. I’ve never grown anything from seed before this year. I can kill ivy, just saying. And yet, sprouts. At least one of which is big enough to eat. This is a big deal, I promise.

–Why yes mystery FTC character, they did give me seeds in return for posting.  That’s kind of what this entire post was about.  Therefore, I have nothing to disclaim.  I claim every word.

The Chard! It’s Sprouting!

Pardon me for a moment while I examine my thumbs.
*
*
*
*
Well they certainly don’t look any less brown. And definitely not green by any stretch.

You see, I’m a plant killer.  Mass murderer actually.  Seriously.  I’ve killed ivy.

/me glances over at yellow leaves on office philodendron

But last year, in a moment of insanity, I ordered a little package of seeds from Emergency Seed Bank.  It was a free sample.  No, they aren’t paying me a dime to write about them, and the sample was not provided in exchange for a post.  I didn’t even know what I was going to get.

So a few days later, I received a little brown envelope that I didn’t even remember ordering because I’m on top of these things.  Inside was a a little silver package that said Swiss Chard on the side.

Um…  What on earth is Swiss Chard???  This, apparently.  Yes, I had to look it up.

Well, okay then.  Still not quite knowing what malady had tripped a random wire in my head to cause me to order seeds, I placed the packet on top of the aquarium.

The same malady also encouraged me to save seeds from some lovely farm grown tomatoes and from our very own backyard habaneros.  So those seeds went into a jar and an old 35mm film* canister, respectively.  And up on top of the aquarium they went.  It’s a large and currently uninhabited aquarium.

And you know what having 3 varieties of seed stored in the dining room leads to?  Google!  So the internet told me that I should start them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last freeze for my area.  I live in Oklahoma.  They don’t know what the weather will do tomorrow.   How am I supposed to know when the last freeze is going to hit?  Google doesn’t even know that!

Now, I’m intimidated.  But a guy at church who knows about these things said it was time.  So I headed to the hardware store for some Jiffy Mix seed starter stuff, because the internet said not to use regular dirt, and some kind of trays to start them in.  The aluminum drip trays from Weber sold in a pack of 10 for $5 so I went with that.  And last Sunday night proceeded to start my seeds.

I learned that it is much easier to label the trays before you get them full of moist seed mix. (Should have been a well duh, but I’m new at this)  Also, seed mix is not like dirt and does not absorb water readily.  There is a lot of mixing and squishing involved.  Oh, and Swiss Chard seeds look a bit like grape nuts and are kind of spiny.  I let them soak in warm water, as per the internet, while I planted 3 tiny trays of tomatoes.

Wet Swiss Chard seeds will stick to your fingers.  Probably would have been smart to drain them rather than use my dirty fingers to pick them out of the water where they were floating.  But I planted them in 2 drip trays of their own.  The internet said none of the seeds would need light until they actually sprouted, but they did need to be kept warm.  And so, into the master bathroom went the five trays along with a space heater and spray bottle so I could keep the whole mess warm.

And this morning!  Swiss Chard sprouts!  OMG!!  I’ve never grown anything from seed before.  And there are several worm looking sprouts coming out of my drip trays!  It only took 4 nights.  Of course, now I’m wondering what have I gotten myself into.  And really, Emergency Seed Bank, trusting me with the care and cultivation of dozens of baby plants?  That’s probably not the wisest thing ever.  I mean, plants in the nursery recoil in horror when I browse.

So, I guess we will see how it goes.  It might be wise to place your bets now on how soon I kill them.  They may not have much time.

It occurs to me that this post would be much better with a picture of said baby worm things, but I saw them before 7 this morning which is also before caffeine.  Thus, no picture.  I’ll take one when I get home.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll have infant tomato plants by then too.  Although, the internet says that will take a few more days.

I’m starting to feel ambitious.  I think I’ll plant the habanero seeds this weekend!  I promise better photo documentation of their planting process.

*kinda like a memory card except that it was one time use only and delete was forever.  And no previews.  Also, you had to completely fill it up before you could look at the pictures which required you send it off to someone that performed special alchemy to transfer the image to paper.  So really, nothing at all like memory cards.

Dear FTC:  They provided free samples to anyone that asked.  I asked; they sent.  Although, if Emergency Seed Bank is also afflicted with the insanity malady and wishes to provide me more seeds to expose to extreme peril and certain death for the sake of internet fame and recognition, I’d be happy to oblige.  I’ll disclaim accordingly if such madness transpires.

Dirty, Dirty Weekend

There will be pictures later.

*snicker

Wow!  I really didn’t mean that to sound like it does, but now I have to giggle.  This weekend was dirty in a totally G rated way.  I played in the dirt and planted a pot of hot.

What’s a pot of hot?  A big pot with a habanero plant and six jalapenos.

Also, I planted to pear tomato plants to go with the better boy and beefsteak that I planted earlier.  And I added an Albanian cucumber.  I’ve never grown cucumbers before.  Actually, I haven’t been especially successful with tomatoes or peppers, but I have high hopes this year.  The plants are looking great.  I even have a tomato guardian.  (He’s a big toad.)  Hopefully I can keep the kiddo and the dog from pestering the guardian.

The high winds on Saturday snapped the sweet basil off right at the ground.  I’ve got the remains in water currently.  It has perked up and will hopefully put out some new roots so we can replant it.

I got to go see my best friend and her 4 week old baby.  Nope, I did not catch the baby bug, but I did enjoy the opportunity to hold an infant again.  Even got the giant baby belch right in my ear.  My kiddo can certainly handle the belching all on his own at this point in life.

We also went around showing off a couple of new holsters.  There should be some new pictures coming up on the holster site shortly along with a major announcement!  Keep checking, it will be big news.

So that was my weekend.  How was yours?