4 days to Christmas Update

Happy Christmas SNH’ers,

It has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks, thus my lack of posting. Let’s run down the list:

* I suffered a severe back injury that laid me up for several days and had to go to the emergency room!

* Little SNH’ers got sick before the Christmas holiday.

* Christmas school events were attended.

* Santa’s lap was attended by the youngest SNH lady.

* Lots of good home cooking was done – chili information below.

* Cabbage ended up getting a leaf miner and will likely die out completely unless it is treated and tended.

* Grow bag seems to have 2x growth versus standard plastic planters.

* I had an injury to my foot, rather, an attack of psuedogout. It swelled my right foot to double the standard size and needed some quick treatment. I am currently on the mend, but will likely take about 5 days to be really walk-able again per the fine staff at the walk in clinic.

The Garden has had some interesting items happen to it. First, Little SNH’er #2 planted a cabbage for a school scholarship progress. The winner was to submit the cabbage for a chance at a $1000 scholarship. Unfortunately, it has secumbed to leaf miner and the growth is very slow. Likely not a winner. Here is a picture of the leafy pathways it has made through the plant:

I have battled with leaf miners before when living in Florida about 15 years ago. They can be treated effectively with organic solutions, but can damage plants to a point that they cannot recover. With my foot being out of commission, it may have gone too long. I plan to get some this weekend to try.

The grow bag with the turnips are outgrowing the plastic bins with Parris Island Romain and Beets. I think the water regulation (soil drainage) of the grow bags is far superior to that of the plastic bins producing a better environment for soil consistency in a container garden. I removed the water retainer in the beets to allow more water to flow out of the container in hopes it will regulate better. I have never done will with beets.

Baby organic gmo free Turnips in grow bag

It really is time to get my metered gardening solution up and running. I have 1 more major component to order, a vegetronix VH400 meter (https://www.vegetronix.com/Products/VH400/). It is in my scientific and engineering opinion, the best option for long term soil metering. It uses TDR to read moisture vs corrosive annodes as are most of the low cost solutions. TDR ignores the salt content (a big issue in coastal Florida where I am at) as well as maintains a long lifespan sitting in the soil.

I made a great chili and seem to be honing in on a style that I really like. I apologize, but I put beans in mine. Here goes the latest version:

  • 1 lb micro cubed steak
  • 2 serrano peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapenos finely chopped
  • 1 poblano finely chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1-4 cups water depending on how soupy you like.
  1. Saute the onions, peppers and cubed beef together until brown and creating a lovely “spicy” scent through the house.
  2. Add your favorite chili spices. With this recipe, the peppers do a pretty good job, but some paprika, 2 tbsp of generic chili powder, 2 tbs salt work well.
  3. Add in your tomato sauce and beans and simmer on low for about 2 hrs.
  4. Serve with sour cream and cornbread.
Cutting of Peppers
Saute Peppers and Onions
Finish Cooking before adding tomato sauce.
Simmer and Enjoy.

Have a blessed Christmas, praise Jesus.

Mr. SNH.

Low Hanging Fruit

If you ever looked at the detailed economics of growing a few plants for their harvest, you might want to be careful about your purchase. With the Florida move now complete, I thought it would be great to get in on the March strawberry haul and grow about 10 plants myself. The Florida strawberry season sets plants in October and harvests between February and March, so it was a perfect time to get a quote. At $2.95 per plant at the local garden center I started to think about the average haul from each plant. Usually, it is about a pint or so.

Locally, the in season Florida strawberries usually host prices between $1.50 and $2.50 per pint when in season. At $2.95 a plant, I can’t justify buying the plant for the potential yield. While I love gardening for the excitement of great quality fruits and vegetables, I like to ensure that it is worth my dollar. It really is disappointing. Unfortunately, in Florida, the strawberry is grown as an annual and dies out fully during the summer months, so I really can’t re-populate through division or suckers. If anybody is out there who knows a bit more on this or other resources in the space coast for local varieties that are under the threshold per plant, please leave a comment as I would like to get the cost under control to make it worth growing strawberries. The 3 little snhers can’t get enough of them.

Plant Database, the geeky way to keep plant data!

Greetings fellow gardeners, I have been keeping a database of plant varieties for a while now and wanted to make it available to you. This will never be a completed item as I scour varietal information across the internet. If you have more data to contribute, I would love to add your info to it.

For those who don’t know, I don’t use excel at home and prefer open office. All files that I put out (here) will be in open office formats. If you need other formats, just post the need and I’ll get in contact with you.

http://www.openoffice.org Tree and Plant DB

Compost, the smarter way to garden

Greetings SNH’ers,

As the Fall season starts to come into view, many of you are eyeing a mountain of yard clippings full of leaves, grasses and small trimmings from your plants. Don’t throw that stuff out, start using it for compost to feed your garden next year.

If you aren’t in the habit of composting, now is a perfect time to build a 3 bin compost system in your yard and start with your fall stock. Make sure to put a healthy mix of green stuff (fresh grass clippings, clean food scraps, egg shells etc) and a mix of the brown (twigs, leaves, paper products like egg shell containers).

The compost still has about 6 months to cook until you need it for spring to feed your plants. Nothing beats free compost for your garden and now is the perfect time to get on it. It’s also a great way to reduce the amount of waste you put out to the curb every week!

Here are some great YouTube videos about composting:

link 1 link 2

Why gardening is smarter, not harder.

Gardening is a past time that I have used over the last few years to relieve stress. I think is it genuinely one of the few activities that can be a positive on your belly, body and mind!

There is of course the first benefit of feeding yourself. Who doesn’t love the freshest and tastiest grouping of fruits and vegetables delivered minutes from the vine? There is no comparison between a tomato brought to a deep red on the vine vs a store bought tomato picked at the “peak of green-ness.” Yes, I have coined a new nonsensical phrase. The flavors are rich and sweet where a store bought tomato is often mealy.

Growing your own also benefits your body. It encourages you to eat higher quantities of the good stuff we should put into our bodies instead of the inner circle of grocery store goods which arguably contains nothing good we should be eating. Little monster SNH’er #1 completely decimates my pea plants each year, leaving nothing for me. Little does she know, I plan for that and encourage it! #3 loves to raid the fresh organic strawberries before anybody else. I also love that little monster #2 ate more cucumber that he ever did with grocery store produce!

Gardening gives our brain a chance to decompress from long doses of the workday routine. If you are in the retired community, it can give you a bit of a gardening high to brag among your friends about the biggest zucchini or heaviest bean bush that you have grown.

If you haven’t started a garden, it really is easy. Since I have been a renter the last few years, I have stumbled on a great way to create a temporary patch of real soil. Just get a set of 6 to 8 tomato cages, some plastic ribbed 3′ high mesh fencing for a few dollars at your local big box. Mark out an area around with the tomato cages as if they were fence posts and attach the mesh with some zip ties. In about 30 minutes, you can have a great patch to start planting and likely a bit lower in cost than the same equivalent for potted plants. The cleanup is quick too so you can return the ground to its original state when you move out!

That is all for now. Happy gardening. Oh, and since winter is coming up, might be a good time to get some red russian kale in the ground!

a 2013 incarnation of the garden.