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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


As I finish my short work week today, I am heading into a 10-day vacation cycle. I will be doing a short trip to middle TN and then home for a week of working on the garden home. In days and weeks ahead I will be giving my long range goals for the veggie patch as well as my updates for the LANA Christmas home tour, which I officially registered to do yesterday, Tuesday. The dates for the home tour will be Friday night, Dec. 4 from 7-9 pm., Sat. Dec. 5 from 1-5 pm. & Sun. Dec. 6 from 1-5 pm. I hope you will make an effort to at least come see my will be worth it!
We are getting rain again this week which means more & more cucumbers and hopefully more tomatoes and squash. I harvested a large amount of tomatoes on Monday this week and yesterday processed them into cored, cut up chunks. I put these in a large pot and added salt, pepper, a little sugar and some basil and cooked them down into a stewed tomato chunky soup mix. I then let it cool completely and put it into quart "zip lock" freezer bags. I inserted the empty bag over a large heavy plastic storage container for support and inverted the top over the side to hold the bag then ladled the soup mix into the bags. I then pressed out all the excess air and put in a large plastic bucket for cautiousness and put in the freezer. When these bags froze I put them again in gallon bags to help prevent freezer burn. If I keep this up I should have enough soup, spaghetti and starter mix for all winter...hey, isn't that the idea of a home garden anyway?
I have harvested enough squash since Sunday this week to feed 4-neighbors with fresh squash and enough for me to make 2-casseroles. One I kept and am eating on here in the garden home and the other I gave to some very ill neighbors. Cucumbers are never ending now with the many-many plants taking over the back fence. They are being harvested by the bucket fulls about twice a week. So this garden season I would have to say has already been a success even with any failures from the peas the raccoons got into, etc.
As I being work on the garden home for the LANA holiday tour I may not have as much time to write here but hope to be in touch at least twice weekly +/-. Hopefully the time will not go too fast during vacation this week but I have lots to do and places to go. I must get things done here inside the home for this tour. I have removed the once covered up transom from the two front doors. But I broke 2-panes out and 2 were already cracked and I have someone scheduled for that replacement. But when the new door gets in that will look so good. But that chat will come later.
Take care my gardening friends and remember: GARDENING: One yard at a time!

Monday, July 27, 2009


It is that time in summer where there is not much happening in the garden home other than maintenance & mowing-mowing-mowing. Keeping the veggies picked and the tomatoes tied upright and standing tall, with the unusual good balance of rain & sun, is keeping me busy these days. I harvested 13-crooked neck squash yesterday, Sunday, and more to pick either today or tomorrow. But mowing is the main focus just now.

When I moved here there was almost no turf grass in any part of the yard. But now some 3-years later I have a true lawn now. I believe it is the best ever to date. I am a stickler for keeping the lawn fresh and I am mowing twice a week now. I guess the ammonia sulfate & 15-15-15 & pelleted lime I added just before the last rain session are really working. I love a pretty lawn and it is almost there.

I will be on vacation next week and may not post much but keep your eyes & ears to the site and see what I might come up with. A lot of my next few weeks may be on some internal repairs and maintenance. I am preparing the house to be on the LANA Christmas home tour this 2009 season. Keep watching for updates. I will be making comments on the monthly plans in the garden home and doing my seasonal chores as required by law....MY LAW, of gardening that is.
I am looking forward with great anticipation to September 3rd, 2009 to start my Tennessee Master Gardener classes at the TN Ag Research & Education Center. I feel sure this will greatly add to my knowledge and my gardening pleasure.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I purchased a digital camera today and now will be able to share the happenings in the garden home. I promise to try NOT to bore you with too much but wanted today to catch you up on the garden as it stands now. My plans are being drawn up for a change indirection for both flowers & vegetables for next year and I hope to share those with you in the future.

My overall plan has always been to have a few vegetables and mostly enough flowers for something fresh cut every day as needed inside the house. I have only partially achieved the latter. I have tried in years past to give away most of everything I have grown to the neighbors on my entire block, often rotating deliveries between pickings. Not quite like "milk at the door" but very close if you live on my block. But every year I alway say I will not have the large amount of veggies I have this year and every spring I overplant again and again.

I hope everyone has a good gardening weekend and remember your gardening affirmation for today: Plant seeds, pick the blooms and the day will be much brighter for all!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Speaking of Things Amish...

While recently visiting Giles County, TN where my middle brother & sister-in-law ( I usually just say "sister"-she's the life coach!) live, us "boys" took a drive to Ethridge, TN 38456. I was amazed with their "plain" lifestyle of living, working and especially gardening...well FARMING actually. The rows were perfectly straight and not a weed in sight. Ethridge is an old order Amish community where fields of red clover, honey bees, draft horses and buggies abound. They look in amazement as we "English" drive by in our fast cars, with radios blaring.

In January 1944, three Amish families migrated to Lawrence County, TN from Ohio and Mississippi. Now there are around 300 Amish farms there. They have not only become an asset to the community but have definitely lived up to their beliefs of helping others. With a population there of around 750 members and 5-district churches, the Amish are primarily farmers, with lumber mills and furniture making following.

In late September, there is an annual Sorghum Festival held the last weekend of the month. The Amish farmers start in June taking great pains with the land to have it just right and some 110-days after planing comes the harvest. Lawrenceburg is known nationwide for their almost blackish, thick sorghum cane syrup. At harvest, the cane is stripped of its leaves, cut and processed into syrup. This effort takes a 3-5 man crew it is that intense but well worth the effort.

I wanted one of the very wide brim straw hats I saw the men wearing for my own gardening needs. I knew it would have to be the best to keep out the sun and shade the face. So on my way home I detoured back to Etheridge, just north of Hwy 64 and bought one. It has been the best investment I made in a long time. I wear it daily in the garden.

Plans are being made for another excursion over that way very soon and I will post some photos from that trip. I hope to make a more intense study on my next trip to southern-middle Tennessee.

I am going to harvest squash, tomatoes and cucumbers today. On inspection yesterday I saw the squash is about perfect with the 2-days of rain earlier this week and of course there are cucumbers literally hanging off the trees on the back fence as well as climbing up my now 9ft tall sunflowers. Do you think all this growth could be from the triple-15 or the JEA compost I added once again this year? Hard to say but when adding BOTH you better look out....I am telling folks in my neighborhood I am growing "pods" for the next remake of the movie "Invasion of The Body Snatchers" - the vines are that big!

Your daily gardening affirmation is: "When all else fails, just plant a garden in your mind". I hope you have a good-garden day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My New Daily Gardening AFFIRMATION:

"GARDENING - One Yard At The Time!"

Exciting Summer In The Garden

It was the best of times - it was the worst of times. This spring/summer garden season that is. Here in Jackson, TN we had a rather cool & very wet spring. Unusually so for our Zone #7 of the planting guidelines. That delayed the setting out of my vegetables starter plants and of course any seeds I would sow in directly. Which of course set back my usual first harvesting of tomatoes in mid-June. I did get 1-tomato in the third week of June, small of course at that time.
The rains were really needed as last year we experienced some drought conditions and we needed the water table build up for this season.

But here we are now at the last week of July and with a few weeks of early high 90's in late June and early July the veggies are making up for lost time. I have a chain link fence around my back yard which back up into the alley way behind my house. For the past 3-summers I have used the back portion of the fence to plant my cucumbers against the outside and then train them to run up the fence, keeping the cukes off the ground and clean as a whistle and mostly bug and bird free. This year I used left over seeds from last season and wanting to get rid of them all and thinking some might not germinate anyway I planted them all. Well, needless to say that today I have 35 cucumber vines that have literally taken over the entire fence and anything else that will stand still. There is a young 15ft curly willow tree I rooted from a single stem cutting 3 years ago that has been covered like a tree on the highway covered with kudzu. I am producing about 25-30 cukes every 3-5 days and of course my neighbors are loving the fresh vegetables like milk delivered to your door every week.

The 18 crooked neck summer squash plants (1-pkt) are producing around 30 fruits per week at this time and now the 37 tomato plants are just now starting to really come in heavily, producing about 75 fruit per week just now. I had planted some field peas, 48-hills, and 36-hills of bush beans. They came up and were just beautiful. Then they started to bloom and the peas were above my knees. I went out to check the garden one morning early and it looked like "crop circles" were cut in them. Even though I have erected a tempory chain link fence surrounding the garden I realize it is not raccoon-proof or opossum-proof and I think that they played all night in the pea and bush bean patch. They can climb remember.
So today is the first of what I hope will be a fun and exciting time with your Garden Daddy. I am enrolled in the University of Tennessee Master Gardener program for the fall of 2009 starting on Sept. 3rd and running till Dec. 2009. After that I need to do some 40-hours of volunteer work in my community in gardening situations to maintain the certification. Then one must complete another 8-hours per year of training to retain the certification. I hope to do most of my volunteering out at the UT Research Center here in Jackson. I will have some photos coming later of the UTRC as available. Photos are coming of the 2009 garden as well as my newly constructed 3-bay compost bin I just built last weekend. I am proud of that project. I still plan to add the compost available through my local water treatment plant, where they take the pasturized "humanure", mix it with the leaf waste picked up from the yards in town, add sawdust, some sand and then "cook it off" and re-pasturize it where it reaches temps allowable to use in food consumption vegetables and then recycle to the public for around $20/truck load.
Have a good day today friends in your garden and know that every time you dig a hole or plant a seed you are touching the very life you have been given and are making a difference as every leaf will add back to your life in the way of oxygen and purification of your own air and your own body. Not to mention the food you eat and the beauty of the flowers you grow. And remember as well....give some to your makes for good feelings and lasting friendships and brings you and your neighborhood closer together and TALKING to each other!