Freezing our green bean harvest

This is not a big garden year for us.

Strangely, I didn’t want to be prepping and planting two huge vegetable beds early this spring when I was a zillion months pregnant and wanting to scratch all the skin off my hands and feet. Even if Daniel had done all of the prep-work, I didn’t feel confident that I’d be able to keep it alive while I learned to keep a tiny human alive. So we decided to mostly rest the beds for the year. Lots of people use clover as a cover crop to put nutrients back in the soil. You just till it up into the soil when you’re ready to plant again. Fun fact. Did you know that clover is a legume? Clover is practically a bean. How crazy is that? So we (and by we, I mean my lovely husband) planted the smaller bed full of bush beans and pole beans as a way to refresh the garden soil and maybe have a small crop to harvest after all.

We figured maybe we’d get some beans from them and if it got too hot and burnt them to a crisp, oh well. It looked like that was the direction we were going until we had a week straight of rain.

The rain cleared, the sun shone, and I picked nearly half a bag of green beans.

Bag of Beans

 

It took me quite a while to snap them all but we ended up with four and a half pounds to put up.

Bowl of Beans

 

At that point I was so tired of dealing with this giant stack of green beans and I was pretty intimidated by the thought of blanching and freezing all of those beans. I didn’t think Samuel would stay settled long enough for me to get through them all. I searched and searched and found a lot of people saying they don’t blanch, they just stick their beans right in the freezer. I’m all for going the easy way. Especially if it’s a vegetable I’m not going to eat anyway.

Did I forget to mention that? I don’t eat green beans. I just love my husband enough to make sure he has nice home-grown frozen veggies all winter. Yes. I’m awesome. Where’s my cookie?

I was out of vacuum bags so I had to improvise. Here is how you freeze green beans in freezer bags with no vacuum.

Straw

 

Use a regular freezer bag and a drinking straw. I squeezed most of the air out and zipped the bag closed except for a hole for the straw. Then I sucked as much air out of the bag as I could and pinched the straw closed. At that point I pulled the straw out and pinched the bag the rest of the way closed. Easy peasy. Four and a half pounds made four and a half quarts of tasty (I assume) veggie goodness for the freezer.

I just picked some more beans this morning and there are even more that will be ready later in the week. If I can carve out the time I might blanch this set before I freeze just for a quality comparison.

Not bad for the year we skipped a garden!

In which I re-pot an orchid and hope for the best

When Daniel and I were dating I was in a play and, instead of a bouquet, he bought me a potted orchid. Now, my mom had a bunch of orchids growing in coconuts and pots on our front porch in Thailand and they were crazy easy to keep alive. You know. In a tropical paradise. In Arkansas? Not so much. I have slowly been killing that beautiful orchid for the past several years. I’m a champion houseplant killer. That exotic beauty never had a chance.

I’m cleared by the Dr. to start going back to normal activities now but when I was still on lockdown I was excited to find anything productive to do that didn’t require me to lift anything or be more active that I was supposed to be. Re-potting the deathbed orchid was a perfect opportunity to feel like I could accomplish something more than being a milk machine (which is a very important job, indeed, but still!). Getting out in the sun was a wonderful mood-lifter as well.

Here is how I re-potted my orchid!

Orchid Potting Tools

First I gathered all of my tools.

  • My nearly dead orchid
  • Orchid Book with re-potting directions
  • New Pot
  • Scissors
  • Potting material (orchids don’t live in regular soil)
  • Big bowl or bucket for soaking the potting material with water the night before
  • Hand shovel and gloves
  • The new tiny orchid we bought when we picked up the potting mix. It was 50% off. We couldn’t resist.

Orchid 1

 

If your orchid looks like this, you need to re-pot it. And maybe give up houseplants altogether  I personally don’t know when to quit. Mine used to have two big stalks and lots of leaves on it. Poor orchid. I should be ashamed.

First I soaked the potting mix with equal parts water the night before. I drained off the excess water before I started re-potting. I also gave the orchids a good soaking so it would be easier to clean the potting medium off the roots. Once I carefully freed the roots from the old potting medium I snipped off all the brown and/or mushy bits of root.Orchid Roots

There was a lot to cut off. I ended up with only one long and two short stalks of healthy, bright green root. Oh, poor, poor, abused Orchid.

Orchid New Pot

 

 

I planted the orchid in the potting mix up to the the leaf just like you would any other plant. The good news? There IS a new leaf growing next to the big one. YAY! Hopefully it will survive the shock of the re-potting. The book says that’s a possibility. The potting medium isn’t very pretty so I added a decorative covering. Daniel had some leftover green mossy stuff from the egg-laying box for the geckos. Isn’t he sweet to share with me? I can’t remember what that stuff is called but it’s pretty 🙂
New OrchidI also re-potted the tiny new orchid into a bigger pot. After doing a little more research I realized I should have waited on this one until it was finished blooming. Whoops. It’s been two weeks though and it seems to be doing OK and not trying to die on me so maybe I didn’t kill it. See? I should probably not try to grow Orchids. Seriously. Who makes one last attempt to save a plant they’ve almost killed and buys another one in the process? Cause the first one worked out so well. But see how pretty?

New Orchid 2I just happened to have this purple pot and the black river stones out in the shed. SCORE. Finding ways to NOT spend more money makes me so happy. Plus, see how pretty?

Garden surprises make me happy

I have volunteer petunias coming up all over the place. In a pot for the 2nd year in a row as well as all around the new 4×10 raised bed! Those are the biggest surprise and they put such a smile on my face. We also finally have some poppies blooming from seeds we got for Christmas from Daniel’s grandmother. They came from her own garden so they are extra special just like our blackberry bush from her house. It’s FULL of green blackberries. I see cobbler in our future.

Life is good.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

No silver bells or pretty maids but there are lots of hot peppers! It’s May Day and everything I had planned to put in the garden is already there. That’s definitely a first. Two years ago I was scurrying to get as much planted as I could the first weekend in May before Daniel and I left for Memphis to go to Memphis in May. Last year was 3 weeks pre-wedding so that’s pretty much a blur and I really don’t remember what I had planted but it wasn’t anywhere near being finished since it never did get finished all summer.

I tried to prepare as much as possible in advance this year. I spent evenings at Tanglewood with my map of the gardens and many cold afternoons on my couch with my seed catalogs and some new gardening books.

This year we did a major over-haul l even bigger than we did the year’s before. We didn’t double the square footage like we did every other year. In fact it’s a bit smaller. But we did move the beds in the back yard to the side of the house so that they will all be together and we’re planning to add a nice little picket fence around it all to keep out the critters and the hooligans. We have already had a problem with someone helping themselves to our pile of dried bamboo that I plan on making trellises with. What is WITH people?

Despite the rocky start to the trellises I have high hopes for the garden this year! We are having some additional guttering and a downspout added to the middle of the side of the house so we can have an extra rain barrel and I’ve added some drip irrigation lines. Hopefully it will help us combat any crazy hot, dry weather we might have like last year.

This is what we have planted this year:

Bed #1 (4’x10′)
–Lots of Lettuce
–Some Cabbage from the neighbor
–4 Cucumbers (2 pickling 2 slicing)
–2 Zucchini
–1 Yellow Squash
–2 Giant Jalapeño
–2 Regular Jalapeño
–Random peppers from our friend Matthew that I lost the label for and don’t remember what it is. So let’s call it pepper surprise
–Lots of Dill

Bed #2 (2’x10′)
–2 Rows of Strawberries (We’ve already harvested a few!

Bed #3 (Maybe 3.5’x20 who the heck knows. It’s cinder blocks. It’s slightly ghetto. But there are marigolds planted in the wholes in the cinder blocks for a nice border. Anyway…)
–1 Pumpkin
–2 Watermelons
–5 Tomatoes (for canning, not slicing)
–Rosemary
–2 Soy Beans (for edamame)
–Huge Oregano
–Lots of Basil
–Green Onions
–Yellow Onions
–Garlic

PLUS
–2 Blackberry Bushes
–2 Blueberry Bushes
–1 Raspberry Bush (the 2nd died)
–Big Lemongrass Bunch

I’m probably missing some things but I think it will be a pretty good variety and I’m looking forward to doing lots of harvesting and canning and EATING this summer!

In which a computer error at Lowe’s makes my day

I usually don’t buy plants at full price. I wait for the people at Lowe’s or Home Depot or wherever to pretty much kill them and then put them on the “Almost Dead” rack. Then I pay 25cents for them and either nurse them back to health or I finish the job and they end up in my compost heap.

Yesterday was the first time in ages that I’d been to Lowe’s because a) I would definitely kill anything new that I planted in this heat just as I killed 99% of the plants already on my deck in the past few weeks and b) I just really didn’t need to be spending money on more plants. I have a birthday party to prepare for, people! But because of said birthday party it really IS time to fix the running toilet.

A plumber friend at church offered months ago to fix it if I’d just go buy a “Tank to Bowl Kit.” OK. I can do that. If there is something called a kit and all I have to do is ask for it at Lowe’s I’m golden. I was even more excited to realize that such a kit is less than $5! The teenage boy in the plumbing section even said it was a one-size situation. Even better! But I’m cautious (ok, paranoid) about that kind of thing so I asked him “Are you SURE this will fit any size toilet?” and he returned from asking another employee with the answer “Probably, but maybe not.” Instead of buying both sizes and returning the one that doesn’t fit, I decided I’d let my plumber friend come look at my toilet and tell me which to get. At which time I will go get the correct size while he takes apart my ancient toilet. Problem solved; now it’s time to go look at the crispy plants!

So while I was checking out a very meager selection, Daniel was noticing that a particular section of plants was swarming with butterflies and bees while none of the other plants were getting much attention. Since he was getting really excited about the butterfly bushes and we had a disappointing showing around the garden this summer when it came to the precious little pollinators I suggested we get one. The big sizes were marked to $16.95 or something like that but the smaller ones didn’t have a price anywhere. So another high school boy/Lowe’s employee came along to get us a price check.

And it rang up as $1.91.
“Did you say $11.91,” I asked skeptically.
“Nope,” says another high school boy. “They’re $1.91.”
“…..”
“DANIEL! Get 3 more!”

Four plants for less than what one of them probably should have cost! That is the kind of thing that makes me just giddy.

Because I might have someone out to grind up a stump right where they’ll be going they aren’t planted yet but here they are patiently awaiting their new home.So pretty!

My photography skills leave a little to be desired and they’re pretty small not but THIS is what they WILL look like.
And they have a really fast growth-rate. We were at some friends’ house for a party last night and coincidentally they had a butterfly bush in their yard that they bought last year. When they planted it it was a foot tall. now it’s about 6 feet.

I also finally remembered to go to the park and pick up a few horse apples for decoration. I have meant to do that every year for 3 years and I finally remembered!

Saturday was a pretty dandy day!