Monday, August 22, 2016

Cherokee Trail of Tears beans

Yesterday I harvested about a third of the beans. Some I just didn't get to, some aren't ready. But what a lovely sight, all those glossy black beans. My chili is going to be awesome this fall.

Monday, August 8, 2016

West Fence Bed and Randoms

It's amazing what a few years growth can do

A closeup of some phlox with coneflower and brown-eyed susans in the background.
Rosehips! I have 9 bushes equally laden.
From the veggie garden, we have homegrown cukes and dill.
Which, of course, means pickles! Plus some beans that I flash-steamed for freezing.
Orange and purple carrots similarly steamed. I'm in love with these Purple Haze carrots.
Remember a few weeks ago when I made my first batch of dilly beans? We cracked open our first jar and they were PERFECT! I'm so happy! We finished the jar within two days. The liquid was so pretty I ended up saving it for the next time I make brined chicken.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Garden photos

Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
Garden beds around the yard
New fireplace bed is looking good.
Veggie garden is really productive this year.
Cherokee Trail of Tears beans on my trellis
Lots of purple things blooming. Russian Sage, Liatris.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kid's Bathroom, take 3.

So, last October I re-did the shelving in the kid's bathroom. Which was great! Until the bottom shelf literally ripped off the wall. Fortunately no one got hurt when the whole thing came crashing to the top of the toilet.

And the train shelf just was not up to the task. So. Out it came. Blank slate. I decided this time I couldn't go for the nice minimalist brackets and needed something more heavy duty. Something that also would be able to screw into the wall stud.

Et voila! Shelves and brackets are from Rubbermaid. They were easy enough to install in an hour or so. The middle bracket both top and bottom are screwed into the stud. Along the top row on each outer bracket I used Elfa screws that I had left over from the boys' closet installations. The kind where the anchors expand behind the drywall to distribute pressure and provide a more secure fit. Another alternative would have been a toggle bolt, but I had these on-hand so in they went. 
My kids climb on their Elfa shelves, so I figured this, combined with the middle bracket being secured to the wall stud, means that these things shouldn't be going anywhere. I hope. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Processing the harvest

And so it begins.

I turned about a pound of beans into dilly beans. I have been repeatedly warned against doing water-bath canning on my glass-top stove, so I just do lots of refrigerator pickles. Fortunately C and G adore them. I used my mom's recipe, which came from her Aunt. This is one of those wonderful family recipes that gets handed down and it's not your typical format. It started off with 2 lbs of beans; the amount of brine specified was for 3 pints; a final note indicated that 3 lbs of beans makes 9 pints. You do the math! And woe be unto the person who didn't read it all the way thru.

The color looks different because I was using my Royalty Purple and Dragon Tongue beans and the hot brine "cooked" away the purple! You can see the smaller jar on the right the purple beans still in place. I think that brine was cooler when I poured it in. We'll see how these turn out in a week or so.
For the first time ever, I have a surplus of yellow squash and a dearth of zucchini. So I made several batches of large and mini muffins using that instead. G loves the mini muffins in his lunch.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Beans, squash and corn

Lots of beans and squash. Corn is looking nice. Here's our "Sugar Buns" hybrid sweet corn.
And our popcorn is also coming along.
Busy bees bouncing about the corn and pumpkin flowers.
For those of you not familiar with how corn pollinates, the tassels are the male flower on the plant. They produce the pollen that then drops down on to the sticky silk on the corn ear (the female flower).
Corn is technically considered wind pollinated, but bees can also knock pollen grains down as they work the plant.
Further down you can see we've got our female flower (the ear of the corn) all ready.
Our pumpkin plant is also putting out these MASSIVE beautiful flowers.
A nice view of our Three Sisters - squash below with beans climbing the corn stalks.
I found at least one pumpkin! I need to look for more when the bees aren't quite so busy.
In other parts of the garden - Royalty Purple Pod beans.
The morning's harvest. Lots of beans. Lots of summer squash. Two cucumbers. One eggplant. One zucchini.
My favorite beans to grow with little kids - Royalty Purple Pod and Dragon Tongue. I can't wait to pickle these up into dilly beans.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pergola canopy!

We've been wanting a permanent solution for a sun screen on our pergola for years now. In the meantime, we've made due with some cotton fabric, weaving it thru the boards, but it always comes undone in the wind and it's not flexible in terms of moving it as the sun moves, much less easy to put up or take down. I wanted a system that was all 3 - adjustable, easy to set up, easy to take down.

I'd scoured Pinterest for ages, never finding quite what I wanted. Most were permanent installations, which doesn't work when you can have storms with 70mph gusts as a routine part of your spring/summer (much less tornadoes). So I decided to make one myself based on my own designs. 

I went and bought a ton of fabric in a color and pattern we all (including the kids) agreed upon. Two 3 yard stretches that I then sewed together so that the pattern matched up.
It's a lot of fabric and I don't have a designated crafting area in the house. I use my dining room for sewing. But it turned out pretty good, I think. At one end, for about a foot or two the pattern gets a little bit off. But it's one of those things I think only I'd notice.

So then I went out and bought the supplies I thought we'd need. Basically my thinking was we'd put the screw eye in on each side, create a loop on each end of the cable using the ferrule and stop, then attaching the cable to the eye with carabiners.  
Originally I'd planned to just attach the fabric using ring clip hooks. Those, however, proved too flimsy to hold up to the wind - the fabric was bunching up and pulling out. And it didn't let us pull the fabric taut at all. Additionally, once the fabric was attached to the cable, we ended up with a large sag on the cable length due to the weight. So the fabric came down for the night and we planned Version 2. It had been a long day of 90ยบ heat and we were all hot, hungry and tired.

The next morning I sewed in two 2" pockets to run the cable thru. We also had ended up purchasing two turnbuckles to better control the tautness of the cable. The end result?
Not bad. Not bad at all. A view much improved.
Here's a closeup view of how it's connected. You can see the setup on one end with the screw eye, turnbuckle, carabiner and cable. 
And the carabiner attached to the cable and eye on the other. This allows a flexibility to remove the canopy within seconds should the weather require it.
I'm really quite pleased with how it turned out. Yesterday was a pretty breezy day, but the fabric stayed put all day long, just gently blowing in the wind. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Randoms from the weekend

H finally made me my folding trellis! The peas are happy now.
Hopefully the kale and collards appreciate the slight shade they'll be getting.
Also, I finally got around to picking out fabric for our new deck canopy. I had to get 2 lengths of 9 feet and sew it together. I think it turned out pretty good. The pattern gets a little mismatched towards one end, but otherwise is spot on. Now I have to hem it and find a cable attachment system. I'm thinking something like the Ikea Dignitet system, though I'm not sure the hook will work holding the canopy parallel to the ground.
New rose bush is flowering! So pretty!
Finally, last night we got blasted by an early summer storm. You can see the leading edge here. It went from no rain, mild wind, to 70mph gusts as that hit.
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