Saturday, July 31, 2010

End of July Garden Updates

The forecast calls for it to be in the 100's here the next three days - just in time for the weekend, my only free time to work in the garden (very funny, Mother Nature). My garden has been suffering this year. I'm not sure if it's from the heat or what. Things that always bloom haven't (bearded iris, tiger lily), and my veggie garden has been ridiculously hit or miss (lots of green beans early, lots of cherry tomatoes and cowpeas later, a very few eggplant and larger tomatoes now, bell peppers just getting started, no cucumbers in sight, and some utter failures: corn, pole beans, butter beans, winter squash).
One weird thing about pregnancy is that your tastes change, so some things I planted in the garden the spring don't appeal to me now, namely eggplant.

This is the second year I've grown these asian eggplants from seed. The basil and black krim tomatoes were grown from seed, too (the red tomatoes are from a friend). Trying to figure out what to do with these eggplants that sounded remotely appetizing right now was a challenge, but then I found this recipe. I basically followed it except that before frying the eggplant pieces, I breaded them in flour with salt and pepper mixed in (and skipped the step about drying the eggplant pieces after rinsing them). It was so good!

The tiny fish pond is the only area of the yard that looks lush. I was thrilled to find this helvola dwarf water lily blooming! Word to the wise, even a dwarf lily will send out an incredible number of lily pads. I'm glad I didn't just get a small lily, because this is all our ~100 gallon pond can handle.

These naked ladies took a couple of years to bloom, but they were worth the wait. They are a shimmery pale pink and so pretty.

I love how they come up literally overnight on these long stems.

The heat has not put a damper on the critters. Check out this neat/creepy sphinx moth that was hanging out in our carport last weekend. It was huge! It reminded me of the stealth bomber.

Have a great weekend and stay cool!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Canoeing the Okatoma

I had July 5th off from work (thanks boss), so Scott and I drove about an hour south to canoe the Okatoma Creek, home of Mississippi's only "whitewater" (level 1) rapids (you'll see why whitewater is in quotes below). The Okatoma is so serene. Most of what you see is this:

Ignore my big mug and check out the "rapids" in the background. There are a few of these along the 8-mile trip, and they really are fun - just not in the North Carolina rapids kind-of-way (though, I don't know if people canoe those rapids)! You will notice that our boat is backwards in this picture - the swirl at the base of the rapids turned us around.

Another general scenery shot:

Scott, providing most of the effort required to move the canoe forward :)

Scott spotted this great blue heron in the woods. It was the biggest bird I have ever seen. We parked the canoe and I got as close as I could to get a shot. A long kelly green snake and I scared each other when I almost stepped on it (haven't been able to ID it) - but my muffled scream didn't scare off this bird. It was busy hunting and not at all worried about me.

We brought sandwiches and stopped on one of many sandbars for lunch.

The river was low, and in this picture you can easily see the rocky bottom. We had to get out and carry/push the canoe a couple of times.

It ended up raining torrentially (seriously) most of the second half of the trip. Here is the water in our boat between bouts of rain:

Needless to say, our towels were soaked! Next time we'll know to bring extras and leave them in the car.
I have one final bit of news before I let you go enjoy your weekend. We are expecting a baby in January! That is the reason for my neglect of the blogging world recently. I'm going to try to get back to posting once a week now. Thanks for sticking with me!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back to the garden!

It's been a busy summer (more on that soon), but I didn't realize it had been nearly a month since my last post - yikes! If anyone is still reading, here is a snapshot of what's happening in our garden in hot, hot July:

Above: I bought this veronica last year because it was covered with bees at the nursery. Looks like that wasn't a fluke.
Below: orange "roadside" daylilies, pink double delight coneflowers, and shasta daisies brighten up the front yard.

The vegetable garden is mostly thriving, with the exception of the epic failure of corn. These sungold cherry tomatoes are delicious and prolific. A keeper for sure.

Dinner tonight included three crops from our garden: snap beans, potatoes and pinkeye purple hull peas. I cooked the beans and potatoes in homemade vegetable stock for 30 minutes (with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper). For the peas, I sauteed yellow onion and jalapeno in butter, then added hot water, shelled peas, and s&p. Cooked for about 30 minutes, then stirred in chopped tomato just before serving.

Our pond is doing surprisingly well in the midst of its first hot summer. We haven't had an algae problem yet, and the three original fish are still kicking. Here is the pond last August, right after we finished installing it:

And here it is now! A beautyberry, a turks cap hibiscus, and a confederate rose hibiscus frame the pond and help hide the fence. In the pond are a mini water lily (helvola), Louisiana irises dug out of my mom's lake, pickerel rush, and a variety of annual floating plants.

Thanks for sticking with me though my inadvertently long break! Happy 4th!