Category Archives: Oh Grow Up!

A southeast Missouri gardeners journal.

Today’s Harvest Basket 6/12

It’s all green

All three of these vegetables were started from Renee’s Garden Seed.

Pak Choi, Green Beans, Chinese cabbage.

We are mostly eating out of the garden this month, because I set my own personal challenge. I’m cooking everything we eat this month, no eating out. It’s my choice because we have some amazing fresh, organic food.

This week we also have chard, onions, kale, squash blossoms and baby zucchini. I have all these good foods growing just a few feet away from the kitchen door. It tastes like every meal is a special occasion.

Tonight’s dinner includes Glazed Shiitakes With Bok Choy. The recipe is from the NYTimes Cooking section. From my Pinterest page, Zucchinni Everything you will find squash blossom recipes that are baked, not fried.

Trying to keep a head of the zucchini tsunami, we are picking plenty of squash blossoms for stuffing.

Rabbits love these long, thin green beans, so pole beans are ideal. The rabbits can’t get to the beans! As the bush beans come on, I’ll surround them with chicken wire.

One of my favorite green bean recipes is the dry stir fry method in Chinese restaurants. These are Pole Filet Beans, French Emerite. If I keep these very productive vines picked every day or two, it will be an extended season.

Beside the kitchen door are pots of herbs. You will be surprised how often you add fresh herbs if they are handy.

There are four kinds of mint near the patio. I keep them under control by cutting a generous spring from one plant every day for my tea.

You can still find herb starter plants at most garden centers. Buy a few herbs. It will turn an everyday meal into gourmet fare.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6/4

Last of the lettuce.

Salad and stir fry ingredients

Picked the last of the lettuce today. The lettuce, radish and green onion will make a salad topped with strawberry poppy-seed salad dressing. Sweet local strawberries make the bright pink dressing.

Today’s harvest: kale, mustard, lettuce, peas, green onions, radish.

Fresh, red ripe local berries make this dressing bright pink. It looks like food coloring is added. There is no onion, usually found in poppy-seed dressing.

Strawberry Lime Poppy-seed salad dressing

1/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients except poppy seeds and blend till pureed and emulsified. Stir in poppy seeds.

Heads Up

Zucchini plants are loaded with golden blossoms. Zucchini Everything is my collection of zucchini recipes.

Zucchini is on the way.

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Betty Jo, about Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day. My mom made my life easy even though hers was very hard. We had plenty of food, new school clothes every year, money for lunch and field trips.

That was in the sexist sixties, when she did the same job as the man beside her and got paid less because boss man said, “because you’re a woman. And he’s got 3 kids to feed.” “I’ve got 3 kids to feed”, said Mom. Well then, little lady, you better get yourself a husband, the boss man said.

That discriminating boss will forever affect her retirement and social security income. I did not know we were poor until I took a sociology class in college. It was later that I learned Mom really had to count pennies to buy bread and milk.

As a youngster she suffered though some of the great depression and dust bowl, hard times indeed. But it was just normal times for folks in rural Arkansas She hauled water for washing and bathing. There was no plumbing, not much electricity and the phone service was no picnic even though it was  a party line.

When she got to School of the Ozarks, she became an athlete. Her Betty Grable legs turned her into a superstar on the basket ball court. She should be in the Hall of Fame.

So, Happy Mothers Day, Mom. You rescued me from trees and broken down cars. We both lived though puberty, (that’s another war story.) You built my confidence, gave me courage, strength and tossed me back into college again.

You got all three of us kids off to college and married before you to any time for yourself. I’m still looking for that application for sainthood or miracle worker because it’s yours if you want it.

Betty Jo Ward. single–handedly raised and potty trained three kids. Eventually she taught them to fly the nest, get a degree, a marriage certificate and live happily ever after. Then she did the same thing for herself. (The college and degree part, anyway.)

So, Happy Mothers Day, Mom. You are the best. No, really. You are. Here is a picture of mom and her two sisters, They are all good moms, Mine is the GREAT MOM, Betty, (R) as you can tell. The other two are darned fine Aunts Janet McCreary(L) and Shirley Wilkie (Middle).

Don’t mess with the Johnson Ninja Sistas. They look innocent enough, don’t they?

  • I feel like it was destiny.
  • What with their great MOM, Arvilla Johnson being my grandmother.
  • AND Then, my great MOM, Betty Jo.
  • Plus+, being surrounded by great women family members like Aunt Janet and Aunt Shirley.
  • I just naturally turned out at the peak of perfection. And, that is why I don’t have any kids.
  • Also my mom put a curse on me.

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Radish Report

The vegetable garden update. See What’s Growing Now, Including Today’s Harvest Basket and Plant Tips

The first garden harvests every year will fill the salad bowl. By May,  there will be a steady source of radish, green onion and lettuce. I’m growing a lot of Sanguine Ameliore lettuce. Greens are on their way.

Lettuces, radish and onion are waiting to be thinned out in My Garden Post*.

Keep thinning chard, mustard and, kale. Those baby leaves will also go into the salad bowl.

Try growing Watermelon or “Beauty Heart” radish from China. Since they do best in cool weather, I may have to wait and replant in the fall. I’ll wait to see if I have any left.

When you order radish seed, order extra. They are always a good spring salad accent and I will always plant them in a fall garden. Red globe radishes have plenty of potassium, vitamin C and folate.

Because they come up so quickly, use radishes as row markers as you plant other vegetables in the garden. Mix them and plant in with lettuce and spinach greens. Peppery radish sprouts are great on salad or sandwiches.

Watermelon radishes go bigger than the traditional spring radish.

Other pink, red, purple radishes are coming up sparsely. A squirrel is digging them up fast than I plant them. But I continue to reseed and have covered the radish seed with chicken wire.

We have had a few prized crunchy radishes for salads. I’m waiting for the day there are enough radishes to serve with butter and bread.

Radish Sandwiches With Butter And Salt

Heavenly spring flavor, simply a baguette, butter, salt, radish and a few herbs. It’s a very French picnic recipe. Add chives or chervil and maybe a leaf or two of arugula for a sandwich.

First baguette, butter, salt, radish and chives sandwiches of the spring. PBH.

Nobody can do Radishes with Butter and Salt any better than Ina Garten. Her version is a lovely way to show off your beautiful whole radishes.

I’ll continue to plant radish seed until it gets too hot to grow them. Then, I’ll plant them again in September and October. Fall radishes are mild and crisp.

My beautiful radishes are from

Renee’s Garden SeedsThe finest heirloom, certified organic seeds for the home garden.

Mary’s Heirloom SeedsHeirloom, open-pollinated, non-gmo untreated & organic seeds

  • My Garden Post will be replanted with dwarf tomatoes and herbs for the summer. You can buy My Garden Post from this Oh! Grow Up Blog. We both benefit. You save money and I get credit for your order. Use this code: 50offMGP at checkout to save $50 for My Garden Post with Drip Irrigation.

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April 15, 2017

It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day,

Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Easter Weekend.

GBBD is inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” 

April blooms are the reward of the back-breaking bulb planting last October.

I may have thousands of daffodils. Each year I add a few more and some will naturalize. If it’s a mild winter, spring will be spectacular. A long, sever winter will kill off many varieties.

 These double daffodils are on the patio. It’s a subtle color, but the blooms are huge. I’m looking forward to their return next year. Maybe they will multiply as well.

Poet’s daffodils

Daffodowndilly
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Thalia is One of my favorites. Thalia is an heirloom that offers beautifully scented white blooms. It’s no wonder this special variety is sometimes called the orchid narcissus.

Chillier, but daffodillier.
–The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1991

Butter and Eggs Daffodil. A very old heirloom.

Once daffodils and tulips have gone by, add bone meal to the soil for next year’s blooms

Daffodils are both deer-resistant and rodent-proof, as these animals do not like the taste of the bulbs in the Narcissus family.

Tulips are putting on a display today too.

There is no such thing as a black tulip but this purple bloom looks black on a cloudy day. It is much smaller this year, but a repeat performer. Because of our mild winter, many tulips are blooming for a second year.

Don’t let folks tell you pink and orange clash. Mother-Nature doesn’t clash. I posted these tulips on Facebook and folks haven’t stopped with the positive comments.

I’m happy GBBD happens the mid month. In another week the tulips will be gone. Thank you for stopping by. You are always welcomed in my gardens.

♣  On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers come together to share what is currently blooming in their gardens.  Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Get a signed copy of her new book, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life, on her website.

Patsy’s Vegetable Garden Update

The vegetable garden update

The vegetable garden update. See What’s Growing now, Including Today’s Harvest Basket and Plant Tips

Vegetables: My tomatoes are in the cold frame and about 6 inches tall, getting acclimated. So are the eggplants and a multitude of peppers. I’m growing  anchos, Anaheim, red, yellow, purple, chocolate and green color bell pepper plus a few padrone.

Herbs: There are lots of spring herbs already up and flavoring morning omelets. Chervil, chives, mint, cilantro are thriving,  There are 6 or 8 kinds of basil just in the seedling stage.

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The Daffodils of National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.

The daffodils are at their best.

What a great combination.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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In Praise of Onions in April

April in National Poetry Month

Growing onions takes very little space. Plant in containers or tuck into empty spaces between other vegetables.

The raised beds are ready and waiting to be planted. About half the onions are already in the garden.

The garlic planted last fall is thriving. Early bird chives have been up for a couple of weeks. The leeks and sweet onions are just waiting for me to work the soil and plant.

Ode To The Onion

     by Pablo Neruda

Onion
luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
happened
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
onion
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
upon
the table
of the poor.

You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone

and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature.

When little onion starts arrive in the mail, they don’t look very promising.

Plant. It’s onion planting time. Onion starts and onion sets are at the garden centers now. Plant them 1″ deep and too close, thinning them out to use as green onions, spacing about 4″ apart. Choose a full sun area with well-worked soil.

Spacing depends on the variety of onion. Generally, planting to 3″ – 4″ inches apart for green onions and thinning to at least 5-6 inches apart for large bulbing onions. Proper spacing will affect the size of the mature onion.

Weed and water. Onions have every shallow roots, so don’t let them dry out. Keep onion patch weeded. Do not make them compete for nutrients in the soil with weeds. When the onion tops start falling over, stop watering. Allow the soil to dry and more of the tops fall over.

Harvest. Wait for most of the onions to fall over. You can bend the stems of any remaining upright plants, signaling the plants to enter dormancy.

At this point, stop watering and leave the onions in the ground for 7 to 14 days (depending on how dry or humid your climate is) to allow them to fully mature.

Pull onions in the morning and leave them laying on the ground to dry for a day or two.

Cure. How long your onions will keep depends on this critical step and how you handle them after harvest.

Spread the onions out in a single layer. Choose a shady spot or a covered porch. I use an open garage with good ventilation. Do not clean off the onions.

Turning the onions every few days, this curing process will two to three weeks. A shaded area with good air circulation is very important. The stems and roots must be completely dry.

The papery outer skins will tighten around the bulbs and a few layers of the dried onion skins will fall off when removing the stems. Clip off the roots and stems.

Sweeter onions won’t store as long as stronger onions. Use the sweeter onions first. Store onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area in mesh bags or netting to permit airflow.

My Favorite red onion recipe.

The red onions turn pink and are quick to make. Great with sandwiches or in potato salad. Keep a jar of them in the fridge for up to two weeks.

‪Pickled Red Onions‬

1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ – 2 cups of white vinegar
herb sprigs or peppercorns (optional)

Slice 2 or 3 medium size red onions in 1/4” slices.

In a small sauce pan, add sugar, salt and vinegar. Heat and stir until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Add onion slices. Heat through and cook for 1 minute.

Add a sprig of herbs or a few peppercorns to the bottom of each container or jar.
Pack onions into pint canning jars or a container with tightly covered lid.

Pour vinegar over onions to completely cover the onions. Close the jars or containers and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Keeps up to three weeks in refrigerator.

Suggested herbs: oregano, dill, small nasturtium leaves.

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Pruning Time: Red Heart Rose Of Sharon

Big soft pink snow-ball buds bloom into giant white discs.

The last to come back, you may think it failed to survive the winter. But wait. Be patient. It will blooming in its own good time.

Before the branches begin to green up, prune them heavily, February is the ideal time.

 (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’)

Summer long saucer-sized blooms

Red Heart Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’, is an upright-growing shrub with large, single, saucer-shaped flowers of pure white with a scarlet center.

  • Mature size: 6-10′ wide, 8-12′ tall.
  • Flowers bloom from July until frost.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8
  • Few serious insect or disease problems.
  • Medium to Dark Green foliage
  • called both Rose of Sharons or Altheas.
  • Widely adaptable to many soil conditions.

 

Red Heart Hibiscus can also be used as a hedge or screen. Hummingbirds love the flowers.

Those tight green buds produce hundreds of seeds. Seedlings randomly appear near the 8′ tall shrub in my from yard. In the fall, I collected a lot of the seed pods.

Care: Prune back heavily in the early spring.  Annual pruning creates increased shoot vigor and larger flowers.

 

Insect damage when the bud was rolled tight, created a natural pattern.

Even growing on the same plant, bloom oddities are a regular occurrence.

The Bible calls You by many names
each one giving a glimpse of Your glory.
Like a cut diamond radiating in the sun
with every facet depicting a glorious
aspect of Your Divine Nature.
Today I have thought of You as
‘The Rose of Sharon’

 

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Do you see what I see?

A Bright Christmas Story

He might not have seen this Christmas.

Jeff woke up concerned about his rapidly failing vision. He was seeing visions of white streaks and flurries of black rain.

This was the third day of these troublesome visions and he called the ophthalmologist. The entire Eye Center was out for the holidays until after the new year. But the receptionist could make an appointment for the following week. Would you like for me to make an appointment for January 6th for you?

Since he thought he was loosing his sight, waiting two weeks for an appointment, seemed too long. He went to Immediate Care because today the situation is very much worse. We can’t help you with that kind of thing, they said.

Neither of us said it out loud, but because we both have multiple sclerosis, we thought about the very real possibility of sudden blindness. Since he has sight in only one eye, we always worry about that. They could call the eye specialist who is on call… if you think we need to….

Yeah, why don’t you call, Jeff said. And we waited for a call. Finally, the “on call” doctor called back and said come in right now.

Jeff had one of the most thorough eye exams. Then, Doctor Tatyana I. Metelitsina came in, did some more exams, asked a number of questions and listened to Jeff’s every word. Retinal detachment is an emergency we learned.

By the time she had diagnosed the problem, the surgery room and equipment was ready and waiting. The doctor explained the problem. She told him what he was going to do, what to expect and asked if he had any questions.

Dr Metelitsina completed the laser surgery in a matter of minutes. It was her fourth surgery of the day. For four families, this Christmas really will be much more merry and bright.

Not every Christmas story ends wrapped up with a bow. But this one did.

After story:

The longer retinal detachment goes untreated, the greater your risk that you will go blind. The warning signs of retinal detachment include the sudden appearance of floaters and flashes and reduced vision. Contacting an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) right away can help save your sight.

Or, in other words, go with your gut. If you feel like you need medical care before the doctor’s office Christmas party, Get It. If your wife thinks you should quickly follow-up on a health care matter, do it before she tears of the head of the cute little receptionist who thinks you should wait two weeks.

May all your Christmases be bright.

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Grow your own leeks, garlic and onions

A Little Leek Love

Known best in French cooking, leeks are often overlooked in our home gardens. Leek Potato Soup, or vichyssoise, is a cold soup that every French chef has mastered. I use leeks in potato leek soup, three onion pie, and vegetable soup.

Leeks are expensive at the grocery store but you can grow them for pennies. They take up little space, have very few pest or disease problems and can be grown in containers.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Plant leeks deeper than onions. Continue to mulch plants as they grow to increase the tender white part.

Grow leeks from seed or starts. It will probably be your first late-winter or early spring crop. Onions, leeks, garlic can take a late snow or freeze.

Tender young leeks can be used as scallions or green onions.

Plant starts deep er than onions. The deeper, the better able to retain moisture. Select well worked soil with plenty of organic matter.

As leeks grow, continue to mound soil over the stems to blanch them, creating more of the white, tender part of leek. Consistent moisture will encourage tender leeks. Thin leeks to grow six inches apart.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Use only the tender green and white parts.

Grow vegetables – Make Soup

Grow your own soup. Garden fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and cost very little to make. If you don’t think you have time to make soup, make a double batch and freeze half for a busy day. Make soup in the crock pot. Soup usually tastes even better the next day. What could be faster than that?

Chili, chicken and noodle soup, vegetable soup and stews of any kind are better and usually have less salt when made from scratch. I love soup and will be sharing some soup gardening and soup making tips from time to time.

Potato Leek Soup

Jazz up your favorite potato  or cauliflower soup recipe by adding leeks.

Potato soup is a winter time favorite of mine. The leeks in the garden will continue to grow and I will pull them as I need them for Potato Leek soup. Simply add leeks or replace the onions in your favorite potato soup recipe.

I make this big batch because this soup is even better the next day. You can make half this recipe, but I bet you will wish you made more.

Basic Potato Soup

Makes about 8 servings (about 2 quarts).

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • water to cover
  • 6 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped OR, chop 2 or 3 leeks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • nutmeg to garnish

Directions:

In a large sauce pot, cover chopped potatoes and carrots with water. Cook in water until fork tender.

Drain and set aside carrots and potatoes, reserving cooking water.

In a Dutch oven, while potatoes are cooking, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Sprinkle in flour.

Slowly add milk. Bring to gentle boil, stirring until thickened. Add carrots and potatoes, salt and pepper. Gradually add cooking water until the soup in the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasonings. For smoother soup, use a potato masher or stick blender. This will thicken the soup and create a smoother texture. Add additional cooking water or milk to taste.

Grate a little nutmeg to garnish soup.

potato leek soup with sausage

Potato and Leek soup with kielbasa.

Go Gourmet:

Top your soup as you would a loaded baked potato, crispy bacon, grated cheddar cheese, green onions, a dollop of sour cream or a pat of butter.

Bake: Use baked potatoes instead of boiling potatoes.

Veggies: Add a cup of frozen or fresh vegetables in the last few minutes of cooking to thoroughly heat through all ingredients. Try green peas, chopped kale, corn

Meat: Plan on adding a half a strip of crumbled bacon on top of soup. Use crumbled chorizo or Italian sausage

Herbs: Stir in chopped parsley, celery leaves, chives or thyme.

Enrich: texture and flavor with 4 ounces of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, cream, butter. Add a little at a time.

Leeks, chopped

Chop tender young leeks to freeze for soups and casseroles.

If you do not like onions, try leeks. They are  milder and easier to digest. These mild alliums are beneficial for cardiovascular and digestive health. Research points to leek’s  potential to fight cancer.

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