Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fertilizing the Lawn

Fertilizing the lawn is tricky business because different grasses require different fertilizer.  Be cautious of the weed and feed fertilizers that may kill your grass and leave the weed alone.  Care and consideration should be given to the choice of fertilizer and talking to a professional may be advisable.

We have St. Augustine grass, tough and rough, that require much water to green up and we fertilize it spring and fall.  In our case, we are using only fertilizer--no weed killer.  We are using fertilizer containing 30% nitrogen and 3% potash totaling 33% and the remaining 64% is "inert material".  It is strongly recommended that the lawn be fertilized on a calm day or the wind will blow the nutrients away and leave the inert material on the ground.

Nitrogen is the primary element found in most fertilizer.  Basically, it is used to make the grass grow green; however, too much nitrogen will make the grass grow too quickly and creating work for you.  It will become top heavy and the root system will not be able to support such vigorous growth causing stress for the plant and you as well.

Nitrogen is not a food.  Grass and plants make their own food (in the form of sugar) through the process of photosynthesis.  The various lawn nutrients, including nitrogen, support photosynthesis.

Now, let's go to work.  First, we cut the lawn using a rather low setting.  Then we measure with a 100 foot tape measure and mark the lawn with pegs.

For 1,000 square feet, we use 3.5 lbs of fertilizer (30-0-3) and we spread it with a hand held spreader that covers a 12 foot wide swath.  After the fertilization is complete, we water the lawn.  This process will be repeated this fall:  acquire fertilizer, cut the lawn and measure it, stake it out, apply fertilizer, and water.

Enjoy a green and healthy lawn, visit my humble blog and leave a message but only your foot prints on the beach.  Thank you.

Zinfandel and Zen

On the last day of the A to Z Blog Challenge for April 2013, I am sitting in my summer kitchen snuggled into my stairway patterned quilt.  I have picked a handful of the wild small aster like flowers and put them in a pretty vase.  The candle is lit and the flame is flickering in the gentle breeze.  It is peaceful.

On the table is also a bottle of Zinfandel with a "fresh strawberry and hint of sweet white peach."  It will be carefully poured into a long stemmed delicate glass.  Let me take this moment to raise my glass and salute you:  your blogs are awesome!  Keep on blogging and so will I.

I also want to say a heartfelt thank you to my technical blog support.  Your advice has been well taken.    Of course, I would like to say Thank You to all of you who have visited my blog.  Finally, I would like to leave you with Loving Kindness:

May you be filled with Loving Kindness
May you be Happy and Peaceful
May you be free from suffering, aches, and pain,
Be well, and filled with Compassion
May you be strong and healthy
May you take care of yourself with Love
May you continue to blog and visit my humble blog
May you leave a message for me and only your foot prints on the Beach.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Yoga in the Garden

At the end of a week's intensive gardening,weeding, and writing for the A to Z Blog Challenge, it is time for some serious relaxation Yoga.  I found my one and only colorful quilt with a stairway pattern, draped it over a chair, and placed it near the garden in the park.

I plopped myself down, placed my soil covered bare feet slightly apart on the ground and put my arms on the rests with my palms up towards the heaven.  Finally, I straighten my back to make my spine longer.  I am now ready for my simple Yoga breathing session.

I close my eyes, inhale and let my breath come on down to my core.  I hold it and exhale slowly with no strain and no discomfort.  I repeat the breathing exercise while trying to still my mind which seems to be impossible.

I keep breathing in, holding, and exhaling.

As I breathe in, I hear the noise of the traffic in the distance; I acknowledge it; hold my breath, and as I exhale I let the noise leave, too.

I breathe in and I hear the Cardinals twitter and chirp.  I hold my breath and this time I feel the cat from the tractor store rub her face against my legs.  I exhale.

I am aware of my surrounding in the park.  I feel calm and refreshed.  The Yoga session is over and I am ready to tackle Z for tomorrow's Challenge.

Thank you for visiting my humble blog, 
leave a message but leave only your foot prints on the beach.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Saturday has finally arrived and I am on X for the Challenge.  I am so excited!  Lately, I've been grinning and acting giddy.  During the summer time, my husband and I do it together every Thursday and Sunday morning.  I am so happy!  Individually, we do it every day.  I know for sure that you will join us in Xeriscaping, won't you?  Together we will conserve a lot of water.

The concept of Xeriscape was developed to conserve water in times of drought and in regions of limited water availability.   I had to smile when I realized what Xeriscaping entailed because it is something that we have practiced for a long time on the Back Forty.  We didn't know that there was a name for it--Xeriscaping.

Xeriscape derives from the Greek "Xeros," meaning dry and "scape" is view or scene.  Xeriscaping in Florida and elsewhere for that matter is common sense measure that will help to conserve water, reducing the use of lawn grass, and using indigenous low maintenance plants.  For this purpose, mulching is practiced extensively by using various types of barks in various colors and using mulch from compost piles.

You may have seen these landscapes that contain natural material such as rocks and gravel, yucca and sword plants, and drought resistant trees, accented by lawn furniture, sculptures, and bird baths. The irony of such a landscape in a development is that the community associations frown on such settings because they do not conform with their standards.  These landscapes are unique, different, and handsome when well maintained.

Water conservation is mandatory in NE Florida.  During Daylight Savings Time, residents are required to only use their irrigation systems twice a week.  Those with even house numbers water their lawns on Thursdays and Sundays e.g. and avoid watering in the middle of the day due to extreme evaporation.  There is an exception to this rule:  if you have a garden, you may water as needed.

What I have done in the Park is creating "islands" around trees surrounded by azaleas and Shefflera plants, even Bougainvillea, using mulch from the compost pile and pine straw.  I find it rather attractive and it does cut down on using the gasoline driven lawn mower and tractor.

Now that Saturday is here, let's go out and have some fun.  Let's support the wild life and be kind to the environment.  Imagine what an impact all of us will have.  Thank you for visiting my humble blog.  I hope you will leave a message and only your foot prints on the beach.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Weed be Gone

It would be so easy for me to get a large bottle or can of weed killer and go around and spray the weeds on the Back Forty and in Park.  The weeds would be gone in a few days.  This would, however, result in absolutely no ground cover on my property--nothing to hold the sand in place.  My lawn is made up of such a variety of weeds and very little of actual grass.  The beauty of it is that the lawn looks very green and healthy when cut.  It blends in with the rest of the neighborhood.

Instead, I crawl around on all fours and weed by hand under the citrus trees like I did yesterday.  The roots are near the surface so I can't till the dirt too deep, but I do ever so gently pull the stubborn dollar weed that grow with a vengeance, not only under the citrus trees but everywhere.

I use the shovel to dig up pretty blue flowers with their roots leaving the lawn uneven with small indentations.  I am multitasking by weeding and aerating.  Then there are some miniature asters (my definition) that are easy to pull along with some clustered flowers with small light purple blooms.  These flowered weeds do serve a purpose by attracting bees and insects for pollination in my garden.

There is one problem that I have with hand-weeding.  I am wearing out garden gloves in no time.  I mostly use the right hand for weeding and I always develop a large gash at the top of my middle finger. I am puzzled why my thumb is intact and so are the rest of my fingers.  It is only the right middle finger. Maybe I shouldn't use it so much.

As I mentioned, I have often entertained the idea of using weed killer, but I have this sign prominently placed in the Park.  It reminds me that it is my mission to protect the wild life by providing a safe place for winged messengers, beneficial bugs and other flying critters as well as the four footed friends that come for water and shelter--a safe place for them to raise their young in an environment free of pesticides and herbicides.
Tomorrow is for X in the Challenge and I am looking forward to write about gardening using that letter and illustrate with an explicit picture.  See you tomorrow!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Various Vines

In certain areas, like the Back Forty and Park, the vines sprout up spontaneously and grow very quickly.  The Virginia Creepers make its appearance along tree trunks and the Honey Suckle makes its appearance known by its fragrance.  The Morning Glory also climbs on an anything it can grab.  There are other vines that are simply considered as weeds.

It is important  to first determine what you want the vines to accomplish in the landscape.  Are they going to be permanent or something fast growing for one season?  Perennial vines usually are started from transplants or cuttings.  They are slow growing and require trellis for support when large enough to provide shade.

Bougainvillea with its large cluster of red, pink, and even orange blossom is a great example of a perennial vine that grows best in full sun in the South.  In a cooler climate, it is more commonly used as a houseplant but put outside in the summer.

Another perennial is the Clematis with many hues and is considered the most beautiful of northern climbers.  It blooms on previous year's wood and does best in light, loamy, and well-drained soil.  It is recommended that it be pruned after finishing blooming.

Annual vines are fast growing and offer good solutions for immediate shade for one summer.  Morning Glory is an example of an annual vine that seems to reseed itself to return in the spring along fences and stumps.  Some consider this a weed.  It grows in any soil and blooms early in the morning.

I found that there is a Nasturtium vine with fragrant flowers.  The flowers are edible and used as decorations on ice creams and other desserts.  I read that this vine grows in poor soil and thrives on neglect which is good news for this gardener.  At first chance, I plan to get some Nasturtium seeds to see how well they will grow around some stumps on the Back Forty.

Thank you for visiting my humble blog.  Please, leave a message.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Umbrella Plants

Different garden books give different definitions of the Umbrella Plant.  One source claims that it is related to the Shefflerea and the other claims that it bears no resemblance to the Shefflera.  It is related instead to the ancient Egyptian papyrus and is also called Nile Grass.  This plant has feathery top growth and stiff stems grow from a clump with palmlike leaves radiating from the stems (Better Homes and Gardens).

Let's go with Miracle-Gro's information on the upright Umbrella Tree and the Shefflera.  Both are fast growing plants with coarse leaves.  They are both used as "architectural accents."  I have several hardy Sheffleras in the Park.  They are doing very well and they are a welcome addition to the landscape with its lush and dense greenery.

You will instantly recognize the Umbrella Plant as you walk through almost any lobby in an office building.  You will also find them in a hospital setting or doctor's office.  They require little care but provide a lot of green both inside and outside.



I am so excited!  On Saturday, I get to write my blog using the letter X.  
I would love for it to be group participation.
Please, join me!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Tractor and the Cat

Since our Back Forty is a rather large area, we needed a work horse to help us but the powers that be in this fair city would no doubt frown on the notion of us having a real horse.  So we got the next best thing:  the animal that runs like a deer.  We house it in a very nice shed with flower boxes under the windows and curtains with tractor motifs on the inside.

This is how it happened almost eight years ago:  We went to the tractor store and looked around at all the tractors and equipment.  Would they assemble the tractor for us?  Of course.  Would they load it up on the trailer?  Of course.

While waiting for the staff to finish up with the tractor, I looked around and came upon a large cardboard box in the middle of the store.  Hmm.  What's in it?  At the bottom of the box lay the smallest kitten I have ever seen.  She was sleeping but I picket her up and put her on my shoulder close to my face.  I have never heard such load purring from such a small kitten.  I told the girls behind the counter that the kitten was mine.  Of course.

Initially, she loved to be outside but found the shelter inside a whole lot better than the wilderness beyond the porch.  She won't go to the garden unless my husband and I are both out there with her.  She loves to check out the plants; find shade among the foliage; and lap up the morning dew from the leaves.

We make our rounds with her, checking in on the goldfish in the pond and the ducks and turtles in the "scenic creek."  We make mental notes of the work that needs to be done while we wait for her to do her own investigation.

I have taken over cutting the grass with the tractor and I have hauled tree limbs and garden debris to the curb for yard pick up.  The waste management workers have scratched their heads many times in wonderment:  Where does she get all that debris?  They have told me that I do keep them employed.

Since I now use the tractor exclusively, guess who the cat is snuggling up with nowadays?  You should hear the conversations in the mornings before she gets fed!  My husband never talks to me like that; well, it's been a long time since he told me I was cute.

Thank you for visiting my humble log.  Please, leave a comment.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Special Steward on Earth Day

I have fallen off my high horse, missed the soapbox, and landed smack down in the sandbox with a thud.  Today, I am declaring you as a very Special Steward for this Earth Day.  You are a significant care taker of our environment and I am presuming to give you valuable advice.

Let me dust myself off and we can all go on a picnic in style with the Nature Conservancy Organization.  I looked at their web the other day and they had all sorts of wonderful and doable suggestions about picnicking.  Here is one that I particularly liked:

They suggested that we recycle and reuse our "serveware."  That means that we serve from real plates etc. and glasses that are washable.  Instead of paper, use real table cloth and napkins.  I have my round canvas bag packed for these occasions or when I camp out in motels.

Here are some of my suggestions for saving the environment:  My special way of being kind to the environment is to carry my own bags to the grocery store, you know:  Save the environment, one bag at a time.

Buy local.  Buy fruit and vegetables in season from roadside stands and farmer's market.  Even grow your own vegetables.

Conserve the energy by only washing the laundry with  full load and using an outside clothes line for drying.  Let your underwear flutter freely in the wind.

Collect rainwater.  It's supposed to be good for washing your hair.

Conserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth for the two minutes recommended by your dentist.

Finally, save on water by taking showers with your partner.  On the other hand, skip the showers.

Thank you for visiting my humble blog.  Please, leave a comment and now, let me go back to my sandbox somewhere on the Back Forty.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Some Root Vegetables

I have come to the last of the root vegetables in my garden.  The Red Beets and the Rutabaga finally had to be pulled to give room for the spring plantings.  Both of these roots were grown in fertile and well-drained soil amended with well rotted compost from my pile.

The Red Beets have done well enough to pickle.  Some say that the tender leaves may be used in salads.  When cooking the beets, it is recommended that a large chunk of greens be left and the root remain uncut to prevent the bleeding of the strong red color.  See recipe below for pickling.

Trying something new this winter, I sowed rutabaga to see how well they would do.  I'm surprised because it did very well.  The rutabaga may be used in the same manner as turnips but they have a much milder and sweeter, somewhat nutty, taste.  Cut up thinly,they may be eaten raw.  I peel my rutabaga, chop them up, cook them, and make a mash with nothing else added.  Other times, I use them in soups and stews.

Recipe for pickling red beets:  To cover 2 cups of cooked, skin removed, and sliced beets, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup water,1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt (optional), and a trace of black pepper.  Heat.  Chill.  Cover the beets and let stand for 2 days.  Don't store this too long in the fridge.  Eat and enjoy.

The same type of brine will do for sliced cucumbers, too.

Thank you for visiting my humble blog.  Please, leave a message.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quick Quiche for a Quiet Morning

Early and sunny mornings are special.  We retreat to our summer kitchen, our sanctuary.  The summer  kitchen places us out in our park among trees and greenery.  We make our breakfast as the sun comes up and the birds start chirping.  Other than natural noises in nature, it is quiet.

Early this morning I brewed hazelnut coffee, lit a candle, and set the table with napkins and flowers.  I told my husband that I was making a Quick Quiche.  He groaned.  He reminded me that real men don't eat Quiche, but he humored me (I'm sure) and urged me to bring it on.

To prepare the Quiche, I mixed 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 and 1/2 cups of milk and added 5 medium eggs to this mixture and set it aside.  I chopped some onions, tomatoes, and broccoli and set that aside, too.  I grated 4 oz of Swiss cheese and let that stand somewhere.

Since I don't have a conventional oven in the summer kitchen, I made the Quiche in a non-stick skillet. Otherwise, this Quiche would be poured into some kind of pan and put in a 350 F degree (175 C degree) oven to bake for about 35 minutes.

I melted 2 tbs butter in the skillet, added the vegetables, the egg and milk mixture, and the grated cheese.  I stirred it around a little and let it cook in 350-300 F degrees for around 20 - 25 minutes.

The Quiche looked rather pale, so I added some finely chopped parsley and colored the Quiche with paprika.  It's looking pretty good!  My husband enjoyed the Quick Quiche .  It was even better the second time around.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Plans and Plants

I went to the home improvement center to get some garden soil that specifically retains water.  I asked the clerk for help and he loaded up my cart with the garden soil.  I almost made it out without any plants but my eye caught tightly secured 9-packs of cantaloupe and cucumber plants and, don't you know it? some of them ended up in my cart.

I'm a bit dazed and confused today.  The letter P conjures up so many topics to write about:  there is the pond (saving that for later); and, of course, the park, my park (saving it for later, too).

As far as plants go, I could write a short paragraph about pink petunias and Johnny Jump-ups, one of my favorite flowers.  I could possibly put together an even shorter paragraph about the potatoes in my garden:  they are blooming and doing fine.

One of my all-time favorite vegetable is the snap pea.  A good cultivar is the Oregon Trail, or one with similar name.  I won't plant any other than these peas whose pods I can pick in the garden and eat raw right there on the spot.  I don't have to wash the pods because no chemicals are used and the pods seem to be free from insects and bugs; thus, no protein is inadvertently eaten.

The other day, I harvested the last of the peas and pulled up the vines.  These snap peas don't have  to be shelled, but I remove the ends.  I quickly dunk them in boiling water, let them chill under running cool water, and drain.  Finally, I put the peas in bags and into the freezer.

This is the end of the planting season this spring.  No?  Well, maybe one more that I dedicate to Mike.  Here is Plant and Page.  Enjoy!


Okra is an edible vegetable pod best grown in well drained and well manured soil in tropical and warm regions.  At this time, my okra seeds are sitting in a bowl of water because it is sometimes difficult to get them to germinate.  This will give them a head start.

One gardener at the seed store suggested that I add a bit of vinegar to the water and another said that I should knick the seeds with a sharp knife.  Do you know how small those seeds are?

I found out that okra is related to the hibiscus and cotton families.  The okra's pale yellow flowers do remind me about the hibiscus but the relation to the cotton is a stretch.  The okra blooms attract pollinating insects as well as stink bugs.  The latter are the light green, shield shaped beetles.

I read somewhere that the okra leaves may be cooked as greens (kale, mustard, etc) or they may be eaten raw in salads.  I will check this out for myself later this summer.  I usually cut up the okra and stir fry them with onions.  Okra in any form is an acquired taste--a good and interesting taste, different.

If you have a taste for okra, also known as lady finger, you love the slime and all.  Okra is used in gumbo, a famous New Orleans soup thick as stew. The okra is used as a thickening agent. The gumbo is made in so many different ways and served over rice.  It is good eating.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No Till Gardening

No till gardening is an interesting concept but far from new.  It all started with the "dust bowl" back in the 1930's.   Farmers tilled and expanded the fields with the idea that bigger is better and more profitable.  The wind storms came and blew the topsoil away.  After a decade of this disaster, the farmers figured something different had to be done; thus the no till farming.

For example, the corn fields were mowed after the harvest with the stubble remaining and another crop planted in the fields.  I am sure that the farmers rotated their crop and beans or grain may have replaced the corn.

More recently, one fellow in Wheeling, West Virginia, converted a deserted area under an overpass to an organic no till garden for kids.  He even raised free range chickens for eggs and manure.  He didn't want to disturb the soil because houses once stood on this property.  He was afraid that asbestos and lead paint from these buildings may be buried in the dirt.  He created a no till garden by using mulch (pine straw and hay, compost from kitchen scraps etc.)  The project was very successful.

Now, have you heard of raised garden beds?  Have you seen vegetables grown in various size wooden boxes laid out in backyards and community gardens/parks?  You know what I'm writing about?

If I were to have a raised garden contained in a wooden box, the soil underneath it would be undisturbed.  I would collect pine straw and put it in he bottom as a first layer.  Pine straw is slow to decompose.  Then I would add other straw or hay.  If I didn't have any of these natural material, I would buy bales straw from garden centers or farms.  I would use compost from my own pile that I started this spring using organic matters from my kitchen.  If this isn't enough, I'd get some commercial compost from the big box store.  I now would be ready to sow my seeds and put down my vegetable plants in my no till garden.  Voila!


My thoughts and prayers are with the people in Boston, Mass.
Let there by Peace.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mock Aquavit

Once again I went to the local Liquor Store and this time I asked the clerk for 2 cups of inexpensive vodka.  "Come again," he said politely.  I repeated that I wished to buy 2 cups of vodka that is 1 pint.  I explained that I was going to use it for my cooking.  He looked at me quizzically but got me a pint of vodka which I paid for, left, and let my designated driver take me home.

Are we there yet?  It's a long journey from point A to Z, a challenge.  To fortify myself at journey's end, I have infused small sprigs of mint and rosemary from my garden with some of my favorite spices, dried cranberries, and orange rinds to make mock Aquavit using the pint of vodka.

Aquavit is a popular Scandinavian drink served ice cold in a fancy shot glass.  It is also used in cooking as often demonstrated on PBS by Norway's noted food expert.  It takes two weeks for the concoction to infuse when left in a dark area, such as a kitchen cabinet.  If a stronger flavor is desired, let it stand for another two weeks.  Check on it once in a while and shake the bottle gently.

For two cups (1 pint or 375 ml) vodka, I used the following:

In a handsome bottle, I added some broken pieces of cinnamon, very few since they have a tendency to overpower the rest of the spices.  In a mortar, I crushed lightly about 1/2 tsp each of anise, fennel, and caraway seeds.  (I use the spices I have and like.)  I found some dried cranberries and orange peel that I dropped into the bottle.  (Any dried, frozen, or fresh fruit will do.)  I also added sprigs of fresh mint and rosemary from my herb garden.  Finally, I poured the two cups of vodka into the bottle and put it aside.

The mock Aquavit looks nice with the herbs and spices, dried cranberries, and orange peels floating around.  When the two weeks are up, I  will strain the concoction, discard the herbs and spices, and pour the mock Aquavit back into its bottle.  When day Z in the blog challenge arrives and the journey is complete, I will taste and savor some of the mock Aquavit.
Warning:  Although the mock Aquavit looks nice, it is still 80% proof vodka and it will knock your socks off.  Handle it carefully.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth is often confused with the maze.  In a maze, there are wrong turns and blocks in your way creating frustration and a sense of panic.  When walking the Labyrinth, there is only one way in and the same way out--no tricks, no panic,

The Labyrinth was a "must have" when my husband and I retired to Florida.  At first, we built the seven ring Labyrinth using sticks and pine cones, but they soon disappeared into the grass.  Then we collected large oyster shells from the banks of St. John's River and laid them out.  They looked pretty, but when spring came and the grass started growing, the shells joined the sticks and cones.

We finally decided on grass on grass for the Labyrinth.  The path is wide enough for a lawn mower and the borders are trimmed with a weedwacker.  The entrance to the Labyrinth is located on the North end.  In other words, when you start walking you are facing the South.  Your first turn is toward the East;  you are following the sun.

"The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol relating to wholeness.  It is a combination of the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering purposeful path.  The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world."  (The quote if from my notes of a long time ago with reference.)

When you walk the Labyrinth purposefully and with meaning, you center yourself, your blood pressure lowers, and your thoughts calm.  You are actually on a walking meditation, a spiritual journey that leads to healing, self-knowledge, and peace.  Janis Strope, Itchaca NY composed the following little poem:

With open heart and quiet mind approach this place and you will find
That shifting into Labyrinth Time reveals anew your Life's design.

Bow to the Spirit at the start with reverence in your heart.
Enter now this sacred place.

Spiral around into the core
Determine what your life is for, then spiral out again and see
The mysteries revealed to Thee. 


Friday, April 12, 2013

K Vitamin and Coumadin

Vitamin K is also known as the clotting vitamin because it aids in stopping the bleeding after a cut or an injury.  It is a most beneficial vitamin that we don't hear much about but it is abundant in our garden vegetables.  In addition to stem bleeding, vitamin K helps building strong bones and helps in preventing osteoporosis.  It also helps in prevention of calcification of arteries, and provides protection against liver and prostate cancer.

Leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard and turnip greens have the highest amount of vitamin K.  For example, a cup of cooked leafy greens contain over 1000 mcg of vitamin K whereas a cup of cooked broccoli holds a little over 200 mcg.  One cup of blueberries has nearly 30 mcg of the K vitamin and iceberg lettuce has a very small amount, too.

The K-vitamin is vital to our health but people on Coumadin are cautioned against eating too much of vegetables containing this vitamin K.  Persons with diagnosed heart problems and those with known blood clots usually take Coumadin and are constantly under doctor's care.  Most often the patients are encouraged to eat as they normally do and this includes the garden vegetables of any kind as long as the patients are consistent about the food intake.

Coumadin, also known as Warfarin, is an anticoagulant used to treat or prevent blood clots in veins, arteries, lungs, or the heart.  Coumadin prevents clots from forming but it does not prevent patients from the the benefits obtained from the vegetables containing this powerful vitamin. The dosage of the coumadin is adjusted by your doctor according to your needs.  Always follow your doctor's direction.

This information is obtained from personal physicians.

Thank you for visiting my humble blog.   Please, leave a comment.  Come again tomorrow, I plan to write about my Labyrinth.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


When my husband and I visited granddaughter last December, I bought a book to use as my journal.  Granddaughter was surprised to learn that the book had only blank pages.  I explained to her that I planned to write about my adventures, add stickers, color, and decorate with pretty flowers and vegetables, or whatever else caught my fancy.  This ended the conversation and the subject was forgotten.

I have a twelve month gardener's journal but it's for the West Coast and is not applicable to NE Florida.  However, it has some guidelines and check lists for each month.  There is plenty of space for me to write a " to do list," document what is in bloom, and jot down thoughts for next year.

It is important for me to plot my garden even if it is for planning purposes only.  Once I get the seeds and plants, the best well laid plans go astray.  I still draw and write down what is planted where and when, the expected germination and maturation periods.  Once I wrote down how much 5 pounds of seed potatoes yielded:  it was not a good year.

Have you noticed that broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage look quite similar when first transplanted?  I have ignored writing in my journal many times, because I would remember what I did for heaven's sake.  The following day I wondered what the heck I did (which isn't just applicable to gardening).  It's old age, you know.  What did you think?

As you may know, my husband and I again visited granddaughter for spring break and we went to a used bookstore with her.  Her grandfather helped her pick out her books while I did some browsing of my own.  Back at the motel, she told me that she was going to write in her journal.  She had found a book with blank pages!  I was surprised that she knew about journaling.  She'll be six today.  Happy Birthday!  Don't think that the children don't learn from you.

With some help with the spelling, she wrote in big bold letters:  I love you, you love me, and together we are a happy family.

Happy Journaling

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Very Invasive Plant

The air potato is one nasty weed, a vine related to the Yam family.  It is a native to tropical Asia and was first introduced to the Americas from Africa and in 1905 to Florida.  In 1993 is was placed on the Florida Noxious Weed List.  It has also reached the beaches area in NE Florida and the Back Forty Garden and Park.

When my husband and I retired to our home in the beaches community, we discovered this vine with bright heart shaped leaves and grayish round bulbils in various sizes.  Some of these bubils were as big as my fist or as small as a pea.  We were curious about this fast climbing vine that seemed to cover anything in its way.  We soon found out how damaging it was if not controlled.

Prevention of the growth and spread of this extremely invasive plant is on ongoing battle.  I have pulled this vine from its roots and most importantly picked up every bulbil in sight.  It is strongly recommended that at least the bubils be bagged and put out with the kitchen waste, not with the yard debris, to keep from spreading.

A very important method of the air potato management is the "roundup."  Every spring, the local news media announces times and meeting places for this community event.  It is often in recreational parks and natural areas.  It is a constant chore on the Back Forty property.

Information was obtained from the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants prepared by the University of Florida, IFAS and my personal experience.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hinnant Family Vineyards

The Hinnant Family Vineyards is the oldest and largest muscadine vineyard in North Carolina with 75 sprawling acres just off Interstate 95 in Smithfield.  Signs for the Hinnant Vineyard appeared along the Interstate so my husband and I decided to pay them a visit.  It's the half way point for our travel to visit our granddaughter.

The first time we visited, we took the tour of the winery and found that they use stainless steel tanks for the wine to age in.  One such tank holds 12,000 gallons which is impressive in itself.  Most of the time, wineries use oak caskets for the aging process,  I am not a wine connoisseur, but I find that the oak gives the wine a bite, a bit of a bitter taste.  I like my wines sweet and smooth.

Along with muscadine, scuppernong is another grape grown in the South.  Both of these grapes can stand the heat and humidity well.  Early this spring, my husband and I planted two of each kind and, of course, we have visions of harvesting huge clusters of sweet grapes.  I don't think that the Hinnant family has to worry.

In the meantime, on our travels along I-95, we stop and pick up a few bottles of these sweet and unique tasting wines such a the Red Tar Heels produced at the Hinnant Vineyard.  It is amazing how well both the muscadine and scuppernong go with my simple but hearty meals.

The Hinnnants have converted their original tank room into a beautiful event space and are hosting many weddings.  The setting is truly neat, private, and popular.

In addition, you can't leave the Hinnants without picking up some homemade jams or jellies or a few gifts for friends who enjoy a glass of wine now and then.  A blue bottle of white table wine sweetened with honey was my special gift to me at this time.  It promises to "treat my senses to a delightful bouquet."

Thank you for visiting my humble blog.  I'm almost home from visiting granddaughter and I will return your visits and respond to your comments.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Greens from the Garden

The most interesting, hearty, and most Southern of the greens must be the collards.  I put four of them there transplants into the garden last fall and to my surprise they grew quite large without much ado.

I remember my mother-in-law cooking greens for hours and I couldn't understand why.  Paula Deen of TV fame and Southern Cooking Bible cooks her greens for two hours.  She adds various smoked meats for flavoring, but not at the same time, ya' all.  I tried adding ham hocks to my greens but it failed to enhance the flavor.

While "shaking his manly body," the Guy Gourmet from Men's Health sautees sweet onions and garlic together, adds the greens, and finishes sauteeing with white wine for acidity.  It is not clear whether he drinks the wine or uses it in his cooking; however, his greens are done in 20 minutes.  I like the time it takes this gourmet to cook greens.

I cook greens in slightly salted water for no longer than 30 minutes and I encourage my dinner guests to drizzle a generous amount of pickle juice over the greens before eating.  The collard greens are a simple and oh! such a nutritious green vegetable.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Farmer's Market

The Farmer's Market in Inwood, West Virginia, is our destination for our outing today.  This is an indoor's market with some beautiful pieces of Blanko glass that I can't afford.  It doesn't prevent me from drooling and yelling at my granddaughter not to touch anything:  just look!

The Farmer's Market does sell seasonal fruit and vegetables, too.  But the attraction is the wine room representing numerous vineyards in West Virginia.  Some labels are artsy and sophisticated while others promote the colorful names of farms and hollows.  My purchase consisted of a bottle of Fried Meat Ridge Rouge from Potomac Highland Winery, a semi-sweet table wine.  It should compliment veggie sticks dipped in "Dark Sauce," a sweet cranberry colored sauce, extremely versatile, according to Kay Kingry.

In addition, there is an eclectic collection of apple butter and various relishes as well as jams and jellies made from locally grown fruit and berries.

What makes this Farmer's Market special is the friendly staff.  It is a pleasure to visit.

Thank you for visiting my humble blog.  I'm still spending time with granddaughter.  I will get back to you.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Educational. Exciting. Entertaining.

Those words describe the 260 feet descent to the bottom of the Skyline Caverns in Front Royal, Virginia.  Dr. Walter A. Amos, a retired geologist, and his 20 men expedition discovered a sinkhole as they were exploring and mapping the caves around the area in 1937.  The sinkhole is now the parking lot to the Skyline Caverns.

I am taking a break from gardening to spend quality time with my granddaughter. Our excursion brought us to the caves where we enjoyed The Orchids of the Mineral Kingdom, a naturally white and extremely rare formation of anthodites grown in a vacuum.  Exactly how they are formed is still a mystery.

The Grotto of Nativity consists of several stalagmite formations and with a little imagination Mary holding the Christ Child with Joseph at her feet soon becomes apparent.  Further away are the three Wise Men bearing a gift of gold.

An excellent example of pillar formation is the 9 ton and 12,000 year old Capitol Dome which needs no explanation.  It is just as easy to make it out to be a huge elephant's foot trampling in chewing gum.  Of course, my granddaughter loved the Fairyland Lake with Cinderella's castle.

In the Skyline Caverns, scientists discovered seven (7) Valentine Beetles, about 1/4 inch long, amber, and with no eyes--the only seven in the world.  When the beetles were brought out of the cave, they died.  This happened in one single day.  The beetles may now be seen, if you request it, at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


A to C Challenge April 2013

Along with direct sowing Dill seed ever so neatly in rows in my small herb garden, I am also going to sow a few seeds in a clay pot or two and call it container gardening.  Using peat pots would be even better because they can be put into the ground without disturbing the plant.  Dill does not transplant well.  It is recommended  (by experts) that the seeds be sown where ever the plants are expected to grow.

Planting in containers is one way of growing dill.  Another way is to broadcast the seeds by tossing the seeds high in the air and let them fall where ever they like.  Hopefully, they will sprout and grow into tall feathery green plants with full heads of yellow flowers.

The dill is a native to southern Russian, western Africa, the Mediterranean region, and Margareta's garden.

I love cooking new potatoes, the first of the season, with a hefty handful of dill sprigs.  The kitchen smells heavenly with its aroma.  I also use a generous amount of fresh dill when I boil shrimp from a small fishing village of Mayport, Florida.

The dill will not grow well after midsummer, I've been told.  Therefore, I plan to dry the dill for use throughout the year.  Oh, am I an optimistic gardener, or what?  I usually cut the seed heads with some stalks, tie them up loosely, put them in a brown paper bags with air holes, and hang them up to dry.  The seeds will eventually drop to the bottom of the bag.

Sometimes, I spread the dill out on a cookie sheet to air dry.  To speed up the process, I put the sheet with the dill into a warm oven.  This works well after the oven have been used and has cooled down.


Thank you for visiting my blog.  Please, leave a comment.  Bear with me; I will get back to you.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chunky Cauliflower Mash

The A to Z Challenge April 2013

Surprise!  Surprise!  The surprise was on me.  I actually had cauliflower growing and maturing into nice heads last fall/winter season in NE Florida.  They ended up in the freezer for later use.

I am inspired to share with you a recipe for a Cauliflower Mash-up that I snagged from the Children's Page in last Sunday's Washington Post.  It's a Rookie Cookie creation.  He is boiling/simmering a head of cauliflower, cut up into florets, in 1 and 1/2 cup of chicken broth.  Have you tried doing that?  I usually boil a full head of cauliflower in water because that way it looks most attractive on a serving platter surrounded by colorful vegetables.

OK.  So the cauliflower is cooked any way you want it.  Now, let's mash it up!  Remember, this is for kids to do under an adult's supervision.  Add 2 tbs butter or margarine, 1/3 cup of sour cream (light), and 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Beat with a hand mixer until the consistency of mashed potatoes.  It may be slightly chunky, Rookie Cookie cautions.  I know mine will.

I am wondering if I could use the same kind of grated parmesan that is used on spaghetti.  You know, parmesan from a can.  What ever, the recipe reads well.


Thank you for visiting my humble blog.  Thanks to Hilary, the word verification (WV) is off.  It should make it easier for you to leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Butter Beans

The A to Z Challenge April 2013

Butter beans, or Lima beans as they are also called, come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  It is another summer plant that thrives in hot and humid weather and may be cultivated as a bush or a climber.  The latter requires poles or a trellis.

When sowing the butter beans, I like to double up on the rows.  In other words, I sow two rows real close together, skip some space, and make another tight two rows.  It saves space and prevents weed from growing.  I rather have butter beans than weeds.

Sieva is my tried and true preference of butter beans because of its somewhat dainty size, delectable color, and buttery flavor.  Some insist that butter or margarine is required for cooking and serving of this nutritional vegetable.  

It seems to me that I get a more of a plentiful harvest from the climbers than I do from the bush beans.  I pick the beans as soon as they fill out and mature and also remove the dried ones which I save and store.  This promotes new growth and more butter beans to come for a long time.

After first shelling the beans and blanching them quickly in hot water, I let 'em chill under running cold water; then I bag 'em and put 'em in the freezer for using later.  The butter beans retain their color, taste, and nutritional value after freezing which is commendable for any vegetable.  

Monday, April 1, 2013


The A to Z Challenge

The aubergine, aka eggplant, is one of the easiest vegetables to grow for a beginner.  This is one plant that thrives in humid weather and rich well drained soil.  My favorite cultivar is the Black Beauty with its plump and deep purple, almost black glossy appearance when ready to harvest.  The eggplants will stay the winter and under right conditions stay many years but it is most susceptible to frost.

I end up planting two to four  Black Beauties in soil mixed with commercial cow manure and rotted material from my compost.  The aubergine is a thirsty and hungry plant so I water often and fertilize sparingly every two weeks or so.  Unfortunately the eggplants are also susceptible to the ever present nematodes, an invisible organism that strangles the root system.

When I harvested my eggplant fruit last year, I sliced them up, dunked them in boiling water, chilled them in ice water, drained them, put them in a bag, and finally in the freezer.  They looked fine going in but when I thawed them to use, they were a soggy mess.

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