Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pictures and future additions

I was cruising around in the yard the other day and took some pictures, including some pictures of things I hope to add to my etsy store in the future. I uploaded the pictures to my flickr account after I took them, but I shall present them to you now. :)

Here is Gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields'. It's a globe Amaranth, and a native of the south Texas and Mexico. What I love about it is that it's easy to grow, drought tolerant, and absolutely stunning. It gets about a height of about 20-24". I will be offering seeds, hopefully, in a few weeks.

Another thing I took a picture of is my frog cave. I made this as a 'what can you do with this?' from my guy out of hypertufa. I have it sitting in the back of one of my flower beds, with the inside dug out and filled with a comfy bed of moist sand. Frogs (and the occasional garden snake!) are often holed up in it in the hottest summer months. I'll probably make a few of these and post them on etsy to see if anyone is interested in a little garden whimsy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The lettuce is getting taller and taller and...

I'm leaving a head of lettuce to bolt, so I can collect the seeds from it. I love how they look when they're working towards flowering, though! They get taller and taller and the leaves stretch apart from each other and then, poof! A little flower appears on top.

Mine is at about 25", currently, and growing up noticeably every day.

Here's a picture of it next to a 1.5 gallon jug:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another stray orchid

Here is my Epicat. El Hatillo 'Pinta'. It, too, survived the Great Orchid Roast of 2006; but, being the weed that it is, has made a full recovery. It decided that it would bloom this year, and now has three honey-scented flowers. It's actually more mead-like than just honey, but I think more people know what honey smells like.

This is the second largest plant I own, topping out at a whopping 18". It has thick pseudobulbs and long, floppy leaves. It's not a bad plant to look at out of bloom.

The flowers start out a yellowy-green with a pure white and purple lip. The petals and sepals slowly turn white, as well. This flower doesn't have the best form, but I'm still very pleased with it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gluten-free diets and the Amaranth

The Amaranth has been treasured as a food plant across the globe. It's not a grain, but it is versatile enough to be used successfully as a grain. It's also prized as a leaf vegetable.

A few years ago, my doctor was concerned that my allergy/upper respiratory issues were caused by a gluten intolerance. I decided that a gluten-free diet was worth the effort, if it would help me breathe again! Sad to say, it wasn't a gluten intolerance causing the problems, but I learned a lot and picked up some tricks.

One of those was the Amaranth. Most people haven't heard of it; and, if they have, they don't know how to use it. You can pop it and use it like cereal (Rice Crispies, anyone?), grind it into a flour and make pasta and bread out of it, or just take the leaves and use them in stir fries.

However, it's hard to find and pretty expensive, if you manage to find it. BUT! it's really, really, really easy to grow. It's a pretty plant, as well as a tasty one, and very productive. One plant can produce pounds of 'grain'. A few years ago, I grew about thirty plants and ground, shared, ate tons of it. It's got a delicious, almost nutty flavor. Sadly, this year my seedlings all died when I fell ill. :(

At the request of SapphireChild, here's a recipe for an amaranth bread that I experimented with last year. It's a modified version of a recipe from Nu World Amaranth.

Wheatless Amaranth Bread

3/4 cup warm water (you can also use soy or nutmilks, but I'd recommend using a bit less than if you use water)
2 1/4 cups amaranth flour, divided
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil (I like grapeseed oil for baking)
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
-You can mix this up with seeds (I like to add sesame, sunflower, milo, chopped walnuts...)
-You can also mix this up with dried fruit (dried apricots and dried pineapple were some of our faves)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine and mix 2-1/4 cups of the flour with the starch, salt, and whatever extras you want. Add ¾ of warm water (or milks) and oil to the flour mixture and mix well. Comine the boiling water and baking soda and add to the dough. Stir until water incorporates and turn the dough onto floured board or kneading surface.

Coat the dough in flour and knead for 2-3 minutes. Pull dough into a ball and place on floured baking sheet. Score the top of the bread and reduce temperature to 325F as you're putting the bread into the oven. Bake for about an hour and crack the loaf to test for doneness. If there are any gooey spots, put it back in for another couple of minutes.

Here's a link to the Amaranth in my shop. :)


greenthing put together this awesome treasury for us plant folks!

Here are some screen shots!

And the Treasury West!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mmm, more tomato flowers!

I can't wait until we have fresh tomatoes! All of my tomato plants have flowers all over them, and it'll be soooo nice to have a tomato with taste again.

Here's a monster flower from one of my Brandywine plants:

I don't think I've ever had a single flower on my Brandywines, but this one has the most multiple flower I've ever seen, I think. It looks like a little monster, but it's pretty cool. The tomato is probably going to be a big, ugly, fused thing!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Garden dog!

I went out this morning to take some pictures, and my dog decided she didn't like the wet grass. For her morning sunning, she laid down in an empty spot in my flower bed...and hammed it up when I brought out the camera.

She posed and I took probably 30 glamour shots of her. Can you tell I don't have kids? :D

Here's one of my favorites. The unimpressed look is a classic.

I also started a new flickr account for the 'hair talk' thread and that'll be my etsy flickr.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Promotional madness.

Two people posted on the forums last night about taking other peoples' promotional materials with them to various and assorted events. I thought it was an awesome offer of them, and I thought it might be a good opportunity to get the word out to areas a bit farther from the eastern seaboard, where most of our team (EtsyPHAT) seems to be located.

I convoed crescentwench and GemsbyJules, and it came to me this morning that I don't really have any promo stuff! I usually do an extra packet of seeds with orders, but that's with an order. Handing out seeds with the flavor on it doesn't really work for promotion, so I went into a whirl this morning trying to come up with something.

I decided to just go with something easy, since I wasn't going to stress about something that I got myself into, all by myself. Then, it became not so easy. The computer hooked up to my color printer is defunct, and my main computer needs to be reinstalled with a stable version before I even start to hack on it. That left me with the black-and-white laser printer on yet another computer.

The postgres driver for that printer is pretty gimpy, so I had to do some creative manipulation to get it to print on notecards. It doesn't realize that you can print on any paper but A measures, so I had to do interesting page alterations to get it to feed through the notecards. The result is simple, unoffensive, and it gets the point across. Not very flashy or cool like the EtsyPHAT ones, but they're excellent for a last minute panic, if I do say so myself.

Here they are:

Monday, May 19, 2008

More pictures and updates on the Guerrilla Seed Project

EtsyPHAT is doing a promotion of guerrilla gardening, and I've been leaving these wherever I've had an opportunity. I dropped some on the entrance table at Home Depot and noticed a woman inspecting and taking a few of the packets on my way out. Score! I also left some at one of my many doctors' offices. The next appointment I go to will also be seeded.

And, as usual, more pictures! I'm a picture addict, it seems.

Callirhoe involucrata
(buffalo rose, wine cups):

This is a stepping stone I made a few weeks ago. I love playing in the concrete, and this was one of my first sandcasting attempts. It makes me smile. Here's Oh No! Al:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm all about these!

I LOVE these sunflowers! I'm all about these guys this year. This is the second year I've grown them, and all of the rain has turned them into something special. Their fuzzy little heads really make my day every morning when I take my lovely, lazy hound out for her morning sun. They're nice and short so they fit in my flower beds and I don't have to worry about staking them or wind taking them down.

Here's my girl with her new haircut. I gave her a nice summer trim -- down to 1/8" on her body and 1/16" on her flatwork! I'm so glad I don't have to worry about keeping her show coat on a roll.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Some bloomers.

I was a bit worn out today, but I did my regular walk-about and decided to take some pictures.

Here's, I think, Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow'. I need to go out and check the tag, but I'm pretty sure that's what this one is. It's dealing quite well with our direct, roasting, southern sun.

Here's one of the blooms on my Teddy Bear sunflower. I sold it's 'cousin' with a blue cut bottle container a week or so ago, and I hope it'll be shining it's sunny head for it's new owner soon. :)

Friday, May 9, 2008

I got a Storque article!

Check it out!

I pitched an article to the Storque on guerrilla gardening, and they snatched it up. After several back-and-forth emails with the very patient Storque crew, it's live!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

One shovel-scoop of gardening pests...

Coming right up!

I went out to dig an area for my new veggie plot, and got one scoop full of traditional gardening pests.

There were about twenty rolly pollies, two grubs, and three snails, all under one scoop! It's pretty great that we're finally getting BUGS in the yard.

This is the first year that I've seen worms everytime I've dug, and really any sort of bugs that eat organic matter. Usually, we have a plethora of sucking insects, but they haven't made an appearance yet, unlike the past couple of years. I'm very pleased with how well the land is doing since I've moved in.

Apparently, spreading compost throughout the lawn, adding beds, mulching and amending them, adding plants, mulching leaves and grass in place, and not using pesticides and chemical fertilizers is a way to successfully keep a garden growing. That pleases me immensely.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Guerrilla gardening

For those of you who don't know, guerrilla gardening is a bit of a rogue sport. You plant seeds, plants, and can even landscape areas that are neglected, abandoned, or just an eyesore. I think it's considered a form of passive protest, but I really see it more as a way to beautify our environment.

Here in suburbia, I find it immaculate, boring landscaping to be standard. If you don't have a 2', weeping evergreen surrounded by dyed red mulch, tightly, poorly pruned Ilex, and leggy nandina, you're not conforming and people stop to watch you work. What seems to also be standard are naked sides, rubbish strewn sides to office buildings and corner lots that are empty and weedy, waiting for future development.

My gardens happen to be exactly that. I don't have a 'yard', unlike a majority of my neighbors, and I can sometimes barely resist running across the street in the middle of the night to plant something interesting. So far, I've been able to resist, but there are a few places that I walk by that aren't so resistable.

Here's a rose I planted on the trashy, blank side of a doctor's office about a year ago. I went to take pictures yesterday for an article, and found that the rose is getting ready to bloom! It's in a place the landscapers probably don't even notice, but I always get an easy glimpse of it from the sidewalk.