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First Tulsi Harvest!

By June 8, 2018 Flowers, Gardening, Healthy Living, Herbs and Veggies, Recipes, Uncategorized

So very excited!  Our tulsi is starting to come in.  This plant, an herb, is a fragile one.  Anyway, this is the first of what we hope will be a bountiful harvest.  This batch will be my first attempt at tincture making.

I took 3 washings to get it clean enough to process.  hmmm!

Then I let it dry completely from the washing.  It took about an hour or so.  During that time, I went to the local liquor store for a fifth of 100 proof vodka.  Not a big fan of vodka but the alcohol dissipates when the tincture is added to hot water for tea.  Anyway, after I got back home I broke the tulsi into shorter pieces and stuffed it into a quart canning jar that I ran through the dishwasher just prior (to make sure it was spotless), and covered the whole thing with the vodka.

I put a sticky note on the lid so I would remember what date this process was started.  I will shake it daily for at least 2 weeks.  The plan then is to strain it several times (I will use clean coffee filters) and bottle it in amber glass dropper bottles.  If all goes well, it should last for years.  We put tulsi in our tea all year around as it is an adaptogen and good for our health. It gets stored in a cabinet, in the dark to insure its potency.

Tulsi is in the basil family so should you choose to use it, use less…less is more.  This is potent medicine.

Have you done anything with herbs as medicine or made tinctures?  If so, please share what you have learned.  Thanks.

See you soon…back to the garden!

Keep on Keepin’ on!

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Raised Beds Part 2

By May 1, 2018 Gardening, Herbs and Veggies, Outdoor Decor, Uncategorized

Hi!  Very excited that the weather is finally warming up enough to be outside aallll day!  Even the greenhouse doors stay open.  It’s just that the squirrels get in the greenhouse and wreak havoc by digging in my planting trays…little rascals!

Anyway…here are pictures of the raised beds planted.

The birds love the strawberries so it’s a race in the mornings to see who gets them.  We lose, mostly, but it’s ok.  The herbs are just coming up and the peas need thinned a bit more but, hey, that’s gardening!  Never done, never caught up but still loving it!

I can’t stand to be indoors on days like this so, guess what?  I’m going out!

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on!

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Raised Beds!

By March 19, 2018 Gardening, Handmade Items, Healthy Living, Herbs and Veggies, Outdoor Decor, Uncategorized

Hi!  Been busy here doing and learning!  Hope you have been busy doing and learning too!  Tomorrow is the first day of Spring and we are predicted a wintry mix here in coastal Virginia.  How strange is that!

Anyway, my husband built raised beds for me this past month.  It should be easier on our backs.  We are hoping.  We decided not to sacrifice any of our previous garden planting space but moved it a bit away from the garage and the back fence, as you can see from the pictures because putting siding on the garage is the next project!

This shows the area of the main bed.

Our main bed is 24″ high with seating.  It is constructed from 2″x8″ and is 6′ x 16′.  It has 4″x 4″ support posts and a few additional support places.  We filled the bottom with leaves from the yard.  We have no trees but our neighbors have these massive oak trees which provide some shade and lots of leaves in the fall.  Then we filled them with sifted top soil, organic manure and peat.  Hopefully, it will provide just what the plants need to bear lots of fruits and veggies.

We used about 9 yards of topsoil for both beds…lots of shoveling!

The first pic is the main bed.  It has onions, carrots and peas already planted.  The second pic is the smaller bed.  It is 18″ high and 4’x10′.  The bench hasn’t been added yet but soon will be finished.  The divider board is intended to keep the strawberries, which will soon be in there, in their designated space.  A lot of herbs will also go into this bed.  I have them started in the greenhouse.

So, now you can see what has kept us so busy!  Excited for the growing season…go away, winter!

Until next time, keep on keepin’ on!

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Hopefully…an early Spring!

By February 19, 2018 Flowers, Gardening, Uncategorized

I’m very excited!

Our frost date here in coastal Virginia is March 15…but, maybe it will happen earlier this spring?!

My roses are full of leaves.  So are the butterfly bushes.  The daffodils are up.  The forsythia is blooming!  All good signs.

Here is a picture of something special in our front flower bed. It was taken on February 15.  One full month before the frost date!

Of course the leaves are still there.  Can’t keep them out when the wind blows but, hey, they make soil eventually! The violas and pansies are healthy again after the cold and snow we had.

Soon be outside in the garden…can’t wait!

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on!

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I’m Thinking Butterflies…

By February 2, 2018 Flowers, Gardening, Herbs and Veggies, Uncategorized

Hi.  Its been a bit since I last shared.  Time flies when it’s holiday season.  Here in coastal Virginia, it’s time to start thinking about the spring garden.  My husband is planning to make my garden beds into raised beds for lots of reasons – the best of which is that it’s easier on both of our backs.  Any way, we have blocked out out plots and ordered our seeds.  Very exciting!

Last year, one of the things I really wanted to do was to dedicate our yard to becoming a monarch sanctuary way station.  Bot, did I have a lot to learn!
We planted butterfly bushes and a bit of milkweed and a pt of bee balm.  Pollinators are a good thing too, especially when you re growing something that requires pollinating.  Of course, you say…smile now.

Then we planted our herb garden which included parsley, basil, thyme, etc.  Well, after a bit we noticed that something was eating all our parsley.  And it had little worms!  We were upset to say the least.  I was headed for the neem oil when they disappeared!  A few days later we found caterpillars!

To say we were excited would be a huge understatement!  We thought we had the elusive monarch.  No, not yet.  What we had were Eastern Black Swallowtails and when they hatched we were surrounded by them.

       What a lovely experience!

We spent the fall and winter so far, learning about how to draw more types of butterflies, and bees, to our yard.  In future posts I will share what we have learned.  Butterflies…and bees, are essential to a healthy gardenscape.  I hope you are as excited as we are.

I haven’t yet reached the goal of being a certified butterfly way station, but moving forward on the journey.  Your comments and suggestions, as always, are most welcome!

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on!

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Still Blooming!

By November 13, 2017 Flowers, Gardening, Outdoor Decor, Uncategorized

I’m so very excited that it is the middle of November and there are still flowers blooming!

Can you believe it!?  I didn’t know that some flowers would bloom and thrive in the frosty chilly coastal Virginia weather.  So much to learn.  This wouldn’t happen up north!!

Here are a couple more!

Amazing!

The garden still has peppers, beets, onions and cucumbers growing and producing.  The greenhouse has herbs and house plants prospering.

How are your garden or house plants doing?

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on!

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Doing Nothing!

By September 15, 2017 Uncategorized

The seasons are beginning to change even here in coastal Virginia.  The 100 degree days have given way to 70’s and low 80’s.  Most pleasant.  I should feel more like doing stuff.  But…..sometimes I don’t.

I find that I can get my daily stuff done but I want to sit out on the patio and enjoy the coolness of the breeze.  Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.

The fall garden is planted and weeded (for the moment) and the housework is caught up (sorta).  The greenhouse is overflowing with basil, parsley, mint, chervil and oregano.

I have been challenged to learning how to relax…not a task that comes easily to me.  How do you do it?

Can you?

Well, here is the thing…I invite you to join me on the patio with a beverage of your choice (mine is ice water) before we have to go inside because the cold winds of winter blow….

Will you join me?

Until then…keep on keepin’ on!

 

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House of Hope in Haiti

By August 17, 2017 Uncategorized

Good afternoon!

I know…it’s been a while.  I’ve been busy settling the garden and other important stuff.  Sorry but I missed you.  I’m still on this journey of discovery and want to share something with you that is sooo very important to my heart.  It’s the House of Hope in Haiti.

See, I have been on the Board of Discipleship Ministries of Western Pennsylvania since it was created a looong time ago.  My dear friend, Rev. Terry Collins is the founder a d caretaker of the ministry.  Very long story short, he went to Haiti by invitation right after the earthquake hit in 2010.  It was a horrible year for the Haitian people. Here is a list of what happened just in 2010.

2010

  • 12 January: the magnitude 7.0 2010 Haiti earthquake which occurred on 12 at 16:53, local time. The earthquake killed between 46,000 and 316,000 people. Its epicenter was at approximately 25 km from Port-au-Prince, the capital. A dozen secondary shocks of magnitudes ranging from 5.0 to 5.9 were registered during the hours which followed.
  • 20 January: A second earthquake[16][17] of magnitude 6.1 occurred on 20 January 2010 at 06:03 local time. Its epicenter was at approximately 59 km west of Port-au-Prince, and at least 10 km beneath the surface.
  • 20 October: A cholera epidemic hit outside of Port-au-Prince, killing at least 3,597 and sickening over 340,000.[18]

5 November: Hurricane Tomas hits and kills at least 10 Haitians causing damage and worsening the                  cholera epidemic.  List is from Wikipedia

If the largest cities were destroyed, what happened to the smallest villages where no one was aware of the damage or the need?!  That is where Discipleship Ministries (hereafter called DM) was called to work. No clean water.  No livable space.  No healthcare.  No sanitary place to prepare food…no food!

After 7 years of rebuilding in a small village, there is now a church and a living compound that houses the children orphaned and a few widows who provide care for the children.  It takes over $7000 per year to provide just food for the ones living in the compound.  Transportation and medical care are in addition.    

I have promised that 10% of all profits from my online business will go to help DM with the House of Hope in Haiti.  You can help by purchases.  Here is the web address  www.gardendecorandart.com. 

Please help.

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on.

 

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Green Tomato Relish

By August 10, 2017 Gardening, Handmade Items, Healthy Living, Herbs and Veggies, Recipes, Uncategorized

August is here…what happened to the summer?  Anyhoo, the gardens are giving up their bounty and several friends have tomato plants that are finished producing.  The heat here this summer has taken quite a toll on the gardens.  There are a bounty of green tomatoes.  No sense in wasting what God gives!!

Time for relish.

My husband was literally drooling at the thought of relish time.  I made this recipe for him previously and he just loves it!  So, it cooks up quickly (after the initial effort of chopping and salting) and freezes very well.  So, we have it for a while, if the green tomato supply is sufficient…we find lots of things to put relish on…lol.

Here is the picture of the chopped results.

I used the food processor to make short work of the chopping task but it is also wonderful if you want to chop old school.  I have to admit that chopping all those onions isn’t my favorite thing…ever!

After everything is chopped, add salt and let it sit 4-7 hours to pull all the excess water out of the veggies.  Please be sure to drain very well.

Then throw all the sauce ingredients in a large pot and cook.  Add the veggies, stir, simmer , boil and your finished.  I let it set for a few minutes to dissipate some of the heat (stir often, this helps) before ladling into containers and cover.  When cool to the touch (when you can pick it up without hot pads) it went into the freezer.  Of course, we shared with the folks who gave us the tomatoes and a couple of friends.  Still lots left and I’m sure there will be another batch or two before the gardens are completely cleaned up!

Try it and let me know how you did and if you liked it.  We got 7 pint containers out of the following recipe.

Green Tomato Relish

  • 2 qts green tomatoes, chopped
  • 5 small green peppers, chopped
  • 5 large onions, chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons salt

Sprinkle over veggies and let sit 4-7 hours.  Drain very well.  While veggies are draining, combine in a large pot:

  • 2.5 cups apple cider vinegar (with or without the mother)
  • 1 Tbsp celery seed
  • 1 Tbsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 3 cups granulated sugar

Simmer 10-15 minutes to dissolve sugar and blend all ingredients together.  Add the veggies and stir well.  Simmer 10 minutes more and then bring to boil.  Remove from heat.

Remember to leave 1/4″ to 1/2″ head room in the containers to allow for expansion if freezing.  Enjoy!!  I have never had any left over for more than 8 months…FYI!

Be sure to let me know how it goes for you…

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on!

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Peperoncini Report

By August 2, 2017 Gardening, Handmade Items, Healthy Living, Herbs and Veggies, Recipes, Uncategorized

Hi!  Exciting news!  Three weeks ago, I tried a recipe for refrigerator peperoncini.  We have an abundance of them in our garden and I was looking for something to do with them that didn’t involve canning.  True to my word…I’m here to report that they are a smashing success!

Now, I gave them to my husband to try first because you never know how hot these peppers are and he likes things hot!  And hot they were!  But he said they were quite tasty…yay!  Too hot for me…I’m a spicy sissy!

In case you are interested in the recipe…here it is!

 

Refrigerator Peperoncini Peppers

  • 30 peperoncini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 coriander seeds
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar but you could use apple cider vinegar if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pickling salt

Slice each pepper but do not remove seeds or tops.  Stuff them tightly into the clean jars you have prepared.  Add the spices ( garlic, bay leaf, coriander seeds, peppercorns) to the jar.  In a pan, add water, vinegar and sugar.  Heat to boiling.  Be sure all sugar is dissolved.  Pour mixture into jar to cover the peppers.  Watch as the rascals may float.  They will bubble as the peppers fill with the liquid…no problem.  Just wait a few minutes and add liquid as the level drops.  Add lid.  Allow to cool a bit before putting in the refrigerator.  The peppers will be ready in 3-4 weeks.  I waited 3 weeks and 1 day…hehe!

If you make this recipe, let me know how they turned out for you!

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on!

 

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