DIY Carrot Boxes for raised beds

Grow carrots in a box

(Plus, after you grow these carrots, there’s Mom’s Carrot Cake)

I’ve been making mini raised beds. Little one foot wooden boxes without a top or bottom and 8″ tall. It is a little raised bed for the raised bed.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Here’s how: cut four 2 x 8 x 12 wooden pieces. Cedar lasts longer, pine is cheaper. Scrap lumber makes me happy. I call it a Carrot Box because I made it to grow carrots.

Loosen and add organic matter or compost to the raised bed. Set the box in your raised bed garden. Fill with a light soiless mix.

Thinly sow carrot seed. Cover. Firm. Water. Details are on my hub page Grow carrots weeks ahead of the last frost.

For the best results, thin the carrots to 2″ apart.

Using a double-deep container with extra fine soil will be the key to growing carrots. It is critical that you fertilize and water carrots regularly.

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“Sunshine Orange and Yellow” carrots from Renee’s Garden. Wonderful simply oven roasted. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Rose Marie Nichols McGee at Nichols Garden Nursery has one of the best gardening blogs, The Gardener’s Pantry and newsletters.

She has good information How to raise carrots without using a spade or hoe

You might like:

How can you make a soup rich?  Add 14 carrots (carats) to it.

Mom’s Carrot Cake

with cream cheese frosting

I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but it is the best.

1 1/2 Cups vegetable oil

1 3/4 Cups white sugar

3 eggs

2 Cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

2 Cups peeled and grated carrots

1 Cups chopped pecans

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple

Beat together oil, sugar and eggs until well combined. In a bowl sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add to the eggs and sugar. Mix well. Drain the pineapple, add carrots, nuts. Mix well. Pour into 9 or 10 inch tube pan or a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or check with toothpick.

Cream cheese frosting

2 (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick butter, room temperature

1 box powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

Cream cheese and butter together. Add sugar gradually until complete box has been added. Add vanilla. Refrigerate for an hour, then frost cake. Use all frosting.

Lettuce think Spring

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Renee Shepherd

Renee Shepherd

 

I met Renee Shepherd at my first Annual GWA Symposium*. I admit to being a little star struck meeting Renee of Renee’s Gardens.

“You’re Renee! Of Renee’s Gardens! I recognized you because you look just like your picture,” I said.

She was kind enough not to say anything.

It was about that time when I realized that I sounded like I had the IQ of a seed packet. “OMG, I just told this woman who she was.” 

Then, I quickly left, praying that Renee had not read my name tag.

Growing Salad Greens

Spring greens, spinach, strawberries with balsamic dressing.

Spring greens, spinach, strawberries with balsamic dressing.

I always order way too much seed for the spring salad bowl.  Lettuces, arugula, radishes, scallions, and spinach come up by the crisper full. I love salads. Plus, I like those generous seed packets that have enough seeds for succession planting all season. I will always plant more lettuces and radishes every single week of the spring until it just gets too hot.

baby romaines

Thin small lettuces to allow room for the others to grow.

I can never have too many spring greens, baby leaf lettuces, chopped salad, wilted lettuce. Top with chive blossoms or lacy chervil leaves. Serve with the lightest of dressings.

Renee’s Garden Seeds has a big gourmet greens selection. The only problem will be limiting your salad selections to the size of your garden. I like Renee’s combo selections because the seed combination’s are a thrifty way to get a lot of variety into a small garden.

Container lettuce, “Ruby & Emerald Duet” is a perfect pairing of emerald-green baby butterhead rosettes with red and crispy mini leaf lettuce. The “Caesar Duo” romaine lettuce combo of red and green baby size lettuces. These Romaines are the foundation of the best homemade Caesar salads you’ll ever make.

Romaines also grow to crispy, crunchy leaves, perfect on sandwiches. The “cut and come again” mescluns are a jumble of color, size and texture in containers or hanging baskets. Lettuces, radish and green onions will be gone before you need the baskets and containers for their warm weather annuals.

Last spring I tried the “Paris Market Mesclun”, a mix of several baby lettuces, chicory, endive, and arugula. Small successive plantings stretched the flavors, textures and colors of this “cut and come again” mix through the whole spring.

Yes, there is a real Renee. And yes, she selects, grows and eats this stuff before she offers it to us in her beautiful online only catalog. Plus, the website tells how to plant, grow, harvest, prepare and cook all these amazing vegetables.

Renee’s Garden Sowing in seed-starting containers to transplant into your garden will get you headed in the right direction.IMG_9430

Renee’s Garden Seeds offered seed to garden writers. It’s a great way to grow and share information about what’s new for home gardeners. For example, I grew “Little Prince” a container eggplant. I was smitten. It was beautiful. The lavender blooms alone would be reason enough to grow Little Prince.

Being a garden writer and blogger is great fun because I get to share the joy and pleasure of gardening with others.

Little Prince in bloom.

Little Prince eggplant in bloom. Dozens of delicate lavender flowers become 2 – 4 ounce eggplants. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

 

 

Eat Little Eggplants

Small and tender, marinade little eggplant halves and quarters then, grill. Serve as a warm side or add other grilled vegetables for a cold marinated vegetable salad.

* GWA = Garden Writers Association

How to Grow Your Own Baby Greens

 

Snowed in with home grown tomatoes

My front yard.

My front yard. Photo by Jeff Hobson

A foot of snow does not seem like a lot if you are living in the east. And we have only had a couple of snows so far. I was delighted to be snowed in, with heat, electricity and my sweetheart. We could have gotten out in an emergency. But it is fun to be snowed in.

Whole tomatoes were frozen while at the peak of ripeness.

I filled the crock pot with frozen tomatoes. It was so full, the lid couldn’t fit firmly. As the tomatoes cooked down, I skimmed off the peels and the cores.

To the thawing tomatoes, add a coarsely chopped onion and a couple crushed cloves of garlic. Add salt and pepper if you choose.

Next, decide where to go with the tomatoes. Mexican or Italian are my choices.

Turn the heat on high, leave the lid ajar to reduce the water content. Break up  tomatoes with a wooden spoon or a potato masher.

Stir two pesto cubes into the sauce.

Stir two pesto cubes into the sauce.

Later, when the tomatoes have cooked down by half, use and immersion to blend as much or a little as you prefer. I decided to go for an Italian spaghetti sauce. As the tomatoes cooked down, I added a frozen cube of roasted garlic* and a couple of cubes of pesto.*

This is where I get creative and make this sauce Italian, by adding herbs and spices.

Rich, slow cooked spaghetti sauce made with homegrown tomatoes, garlic, basil..

Rich, slow cooked spaghetti sauce made with homegrown tomatoes, garlic, basil.

 

*Cube of roasted garlic* and a cube of pesto.* In the summer when we had a huge harvest of garlic, I roasted the cured garlic, mashed it up with a little salt and olive oil. Then, I put the roasted garlic paste in  a silicone tray of mini ice-cube shapes and froze them.

*Homemade pesto, minus the cheese, was made and filled plastic ice-cube trays and frozen.

These little frozen cubes of gourmet delights are stored in ziplock freezer bags, labeled and dated.

 

Tomato triage for too many tomatoes

When there is no time to can tomatoes in the heat of summer, freeze the whole tomatoes individually and store in a freezer. When tomato overload gets too hot and hectic in August, chill.

Slow cooked pasta sauce made by cooking your home-grown tomatoes and herbs on a cold winter day, priceless. 

My big break

Last week, Andraè Crouch, the ‘Father Of Modern Gospel,’ died. An old memory surfaced. He was my first real live celebrity interview. It was one of those events that nudged me on to a career and an education in journalism.

David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

I heard about his passing on NPR: Andraè Crouch, ‘Father Of Modern Gospel,’ Dies At 72

The week before the big interview, I won a competition sponsored by University of Tulsa for Best Editorial. Being on the Tulsa East Central High School newspaper and yearbook staff were my credentials.

Andraè Crouch was performing outdoors in a Tulsa park. Armed with a pencil and spiral bound notebook, I nervously approached the back stage area. Lucky for me the first person I approached was Andraè Crouch’s twin sister, Sandra.

This many years ago, it’s hard to know what impressed her most. Maybe it was the confident approach of an award-winning reporter or, maybe my quivering voice and white knuckle grip on that number two pencil.

Gospel music pioneer Andraè Crouch went on to win 7 Grammy awards. You’ve heard his work as the choir director on Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.” I will always remember the day when I went from star struck teen to an honest to gosh reporter.

GBBD 1/ 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

January 15, 2015

The only thing blooming is a Meyer Lemon tree. GWA members were given seedlings years ago. Mine did not make it home.

Blooms everywhere.

Blooms everywhere. The leaves are looking better, greener, everyday.

However, this past summer, I bought a Meyer Lemon tree. It was on the clearance table at a garden center.

It sat, potted, on the patio wall. Lush and green, it was outside until threats of winter approached.

A few weeks ago, I noticed the pale, yellowing leaves and the dry container. Rescued once again, the 2 ‘ tree is thriving with gro=lights, fertilizer and water.

Then, the lemon tree began to bloom!

I am exited, because you don’t see many citrus trees in the Midwest. It has thorns. I snipped them off – like you do roses in a vase.

It is the only flower I have this January. Plus. the poinsettia from last month still looks good.

 

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The true flowers are the tiny ones in the center. PBH 

*GWA: Garden Writers Association

What’s blooming in your garden on this January bloom day?

Join in for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and show us what’s blooming in your garden now. It’s easy to participate. Thanks to Carol.

We can have flowers nearly every month of the year. ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Myths and Mysteries of Missouri: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained

Book Review

Myths and Mysteries of Missouri: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained  by Josh Young

Myths and Mysteries of Missouri by Josh Young.

Myths and Mysteries of Missouri by Josh Young.

This book just screams “Road Trip!” Each chapter is one of 13 myths or mysteries scattered across the state. One topic makes for a perfect day trip. Select a handful of mysteries for a weekend snooping and detective work.

The Jesse James family home is not far from his grave and close to a bank he robbed. I did not think there was a thing I didn’t already know about this ruffian. In Clay county people celebrate Jesse James.

Myths and Mysteries of Missouri author Joshua Young.

Myths and Mysteries of Missouri author Joshua Young.

This is where Myths and Mysteries of Missouri shines. There are Jesse James Days, festivals, carnivals, websites, marathons and parades to sort through. How much of the legend is true?

Super sleuth Josh Young has investigated how Jesse James managed to avoid capture, even while living a normal life in public. Practically every public touring cave in Missouri claims to be a Jesse James hideout. He is a local hero and his name is known worldwide.

Josh Young’s book separates the notoriety from the nonsense about Jesse James, Jim the Wonder dog, and the Horse Whisperer Tom Bass. Young’s book is a great jumping off place for armchair historians and road trip warriors.

Find Myths and Mysteries of Missouri: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained on
Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  Books A Million Buy an autographed copy at Long Creek Herbs

A Myths and Mysteries Series. Paperback, publisher Globe Pequot Press, 208 pages.

Here’s the thing

$200 Shingles shots (ZOSTAVAX)

(Spoiler alert: the medical system and the federal government did it.)

The drug company MERCK, is terrorizing the American public with those horrible shingles shot advertisements on TV. The ads are really scary. But if this shot will protect me from the fresh hell of shingles, I want it.

By shingles shot, I mean  ZOSTAVAX, a vaccine used to prevent Shingles (also known as zoster).

The pharmacist at Walgreens gives me the $200 shingles shot for an additional $20!
And then she says, “Now, maybe you won’t get shingles”
“Maybe?,” I said.

“It only works for 50% of the people who get the shot”, she says.

I’m thinking SOMEONE, like the doctor, the doctors assistant, the pharmacist, the pharmacists assistant could have mentioned that the shot is only 50% effective BEFORE they gouged me or my insurance company for $200.

A 50 – 50 chance of the shot working, would be a deciding factor for a lot of us.

AND why did the FDA approve something so useless? They should have said, “NO, go back and get the vaccination right. It is morally and ethically Wrong to make people pay a hard-earned $200 for something no more effective than a coin toss.”

AND, by the way, Walgreens, if I had known you were going to charge me $20, I’d have given myself the shot.

  • For more information: ZOSTAVAX vaccine  (MERCK)  Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., at 1-877-888-4231.
  • Walgreens.com I got my shot at WALGREENS 3338, 1 S KINGSHIGHWAY ST, CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO 63703 (573) 339-1700.
This is a quilt. It has Nothing to do with shingles. Its just beautiful.

This photo of a quilt has nothing to do with shingles. It’s just a beautiful work of art at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY.

Happy New Year

Sunrise salute 2015

Sunrise over Saint Louis Photo PBH

Sunrise over Saint Louis
Photo PBH

January 2015 – Cape Girardeau, MO USA

How to celebrate the New Year.

Instead of trying to squeeze out every last moment of 2014, the celebration starts at sunrise January 1, 2015.

I’d rather be there at the beginning of the new year to greet the day and welcome the sun. Jeff and I will be in downtown Cape Girardeau by the Mississippi River. Bring a lawn chair and a thermos of steamy coffee, cappuccino, or hot chocolate. There are always a few folks who have braved the frozen morning to see the sun rise over the Mississippi.

If I weren’t bundled up like the Michelin Man, I might try the yoga version of the Sunrise Salutation. (Saving this idea for Maui.)

Just standing there, huddling in a blanket is OK. The sun rises precisely as predicted. In Cape Girardeau, sunrise is 7:12 a.m. It’s a pretty short day, only 9 hours and 38 minutes long, if you care to salute the day at the beginning and the end.

Get help to figure out sunrise at Sunrise and Sunset Calculator or Tomorrow’s Weather Forecast for Sunrise Or just Google it.

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Ice floating on the Mississippi. Photo PBH

It is a rare few that show up. The celebration is quiet. So quiet in fact, I can hear my husband’s teeth chattering.

No cheering or party horns here. Everyone is left alone to offer a welcome nod of the head or a silent prayer. Greeting the new year at sunrise is a peaceful event.

As a gardener, it just makes more sense to start the New Year on a sunny note. If I weren’t at the river, I think I might be outstanding in my field. Or, possibly in the healing herb garden.

It is also a good time to share your intentions for the year with the new sun. If you make resolutions, making the pact at the beginning of the day seems right. Tell that good old sun your resolutions. Or, even whisper them to that old Mississippi River.

Honestly, it’s over in a flash, I’m pretty sure no one has ever frozen to death in the few glorious moments of sunrise. There is a McDonald’s between our house and the river so the bribe of a breakfast sandwich and a cup of cocoa may be enough to get your partner out of bed. Or, in our case, the promise not to stop at McDonald’s is incentive enough.

That’s it. Jeff and I greet the New Year standing hand in hand at sunrise. Surely that’s Good Luck. Our year begins with gratitude. We pray for another blessed year.

The New Year’s launch party is complete. You can head home and put the black-eyed peas to soak. Or, go back to bed until the Rose Bowl Parade.

 

Print Rose Parade used to march right past the Hobson’s house in Pasadena, CA. All 11 Hobson kids got to see the parade from their own front yard years ago. In 2015, the parade begins at 8:00 a.m., PST. We watch it on TV and can almost spell the roses.

Access The 126th Rose Parade and the official ROSE PARADE PROGRAM or download the ROSE PARADE APP for mobile tablets in the Apples iTunes Store.

 

Black eyed peas for dinner

Our dinner is simple home cooked food and very nearly the same every year. Black eyed peas are the star of the table. Really, we’ll be having purple hulled peas from the local farmers market.

Ham is on the table, not chicken or turkey. We eat ham on New Years Day because a hog roots forward and a turkey or chicken scratches back. Learn why we eat this food every January 1st and why we feel lucky to have it. Just click below ↓.

Why black-eyed peas are good luck

These Black Eyes are purple hull peas grown locally

These Black Eyes are purple hull peas grown locally

GBBD December 15

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

December 15, 2014

I got nothin’.

I found Waxt Bulb at Lowes. This one is has one more bloom, but it is about spent. Photo PBH

I found Waxt Bulb at Lowes. This one has one more bloom, but it is about spent. Photo PBH

The only blooms in my house, indoors or out, are store-bought. Still, I have some interesting things to share. This Amaryllis, with 8 big blooms, required no soil, no water. Called a Waxt Bulb, there is not a lot of info on the web. But this is a great gift idea.

It’s just about foolproof. You don’t water it or feed it. You just watch it and enjoy. That makes it the perfect gift plant. Aunt Ellie can’t under or over water it. The cat can’t knock over a pot of soggy dirt or rocks.

Most of my Amaryllis are scheduled to bloom after the holidays, when I can really use the color.

Most of the 8 big blooms are gone by bloom day.

Most of the 8 big blooms are gone by bloom day.

 

 

 

Christmas Cactus will be in full bloom by Christmas.

Christmas Cactus will be in full bloom by Christmas. Photo PBH

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a poinsettia.

The beautiful red leaves are not the real flower of this plant. The true flowers are very small. Photo PBH

The beautiful red leaves are not the real flower of this plant. The true flowers are very small. Photo PBH

What is currently blooming at your house?

Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” inspired Carol of May Dreams Gardens to start Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

 

Hardy fall vegetables

Big beautiful leeks, leafy chard, sweet baby carrots are still in the garden.

chard, leeks

Pot of Gold chard, is a garden show off now that the weather has cooled. The big leafy plants are not bitter. Photo PBH

 

There are also some young kale, broccoli and, cauliflower plants still in the garden. The plants are slow-growing and may not have time to make before the cold weather settles in. I’ll harvest the young kale leaves.

Read more:  Cool season crops organic Swiss Chard

Build a bed this fall. Get a jump or the spring garden season. Try  simple wood framed easy raised bed. Build the basic garden this fall. Get a jump on next spring’s garden.

Raised beds are a quick start for new gardeners

Baby kale is sweet and crisp.

Read more:  Cool season crops organic Swiss Chard

 Kale

The baby kale will be part of Zuppa Toscana, an Italian potato soup with sausage and kale. It’s one of the many soups collected on the Bread and Soup board on my Pinterest .

Add kale in the last minutes of simmering so it will stay bright and green.

 

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Sweet baby carrots

Carrots

Little carrots still have time to grow bigger and sweeter.

Little carrots still have time to grow bigger and sweeter.

Daucus carota. There are lots of carrots out there in the garden. They are sweet, orange and about three inches long. I’m curious, they have been thinned and are growing faster than anything else.

I’ll just watch and see how long they keep growing. Carrots as a fall crop are new in my garden. I’ll sow more carrots in the spring.

A packet of carrot seed has about a gazillion seed. Buy it and you will have enough for two crops a year. There are dozens of varieties.  You can get a generous packet of carrot seed for two bucks at Nichols Garden Nursery

I pulled up some short fat carrots, Chantenay Red Core Carrot, I think. It’s an old heirloom and it is growing well in my Southeast Missouri garden. They take up so little space in the garden.  Try to grow carrots if haven’t.

There's lots of parsley in the garden this fall.

There’s lots of parsley in the garden this fall.

Parsley

Parsley is loaded with vitamin C. It’s a real asset in chicken soup. I’ll add a heaping helping in the last minutes of simmering.

Some parsley will stay in the garden because it is a biannual and will appear early in the spring. It will flower and go to seed in the second year.

Calendula

Calendula

Calendula

And finally, perky little blooms are hard to come by in November. Calendula, “Flashback” is a volunteer. They frequently self seed. Anywhere this colorful plant appears, it’s welcomed to stay. This bright orange bloom brings pollinators to the garden.

Yaya

Yaya

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Scarlet Nantes

 

Baltimore

Baltimore

More information:

Grow 2 crops of carrots this season

How to grow long straight carrots

Nichols Garden Nursery – Fine Seeds & Herbs. Has some good carrot growing tips. Plus, they have 11 varieties of carrots. several good varieties that are under $2 a packet. I may have slightly exaggerated in saying there are a gazillion seeds in a packet.

There are approximately 18,500 carrot seeds per ounce or 650 seeds per gram.

 In the soup pot today: Washed and coarsely chopped chunks of  these Leeks, kale, carrots, onions, oregano, garlic, parsley and rosemary are simmering in a big pot destined to be a vegetable broth by tomorrow. Beef, chicken, or vegetable both will make any soup brighter, adding another levels of taste.

When cooking a chicken for chicken soup, cook it in your homemade broth instead of water. The resulting golden chicken broth is the best. Really. I mean it. Double broth may have originally come from heaven.

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