First Sweet Potatoes

So, I said I would keep you posted on my sweet potato experiment and this is the outcome. Eight tiny sweet potatoes that I was actually able to use. I cured them and they all emerged edible. A small win – literally. 😂

I started out by planting two whole, sprouting sweet potatoes. I then did some research and learned that you’re supposed to cut the sprouts with a bit of the sweet potato off and plant those. So, I dug up the original sweet potatoes (which were growing leaves like crazy), sliced off the sprouts, and replanted them. I had no idea how it would go.

I left them in the ground until after our first freeze, then pulled everything up and found the eight little guys pictured up top. I consider the experiment a success because it actually yielded something and because I learned a little bit about growing sweet potatoes. Next year I’ll plant them somewhere where they’ll have more room and hopefully see a bigger yield.

I love the experimental aspect of gardening. If you mess up, try to learn from the experience and just try again. Try different plants in different locations, and keep notes. That’s something I neglected to do in the beginning. It was a huge mistake because I couldn’t remember what I had done with what plant. Hard to learn that way. 😉. I can’t wait to try some new things in the spring. It’s an adventure!

P.S. I used my baby sweet potatoes in my sweet potato casserole for thanksgiving. 😋

Until next spring!
🌱😊

Adventures in the Dirt

I love to garden, but since moving to Texas and attempting several summer gardens with minimal success, I gave up. I realized that I was failing because I don’t like to go outside during a typical Texas summer. It’s my hibernation season. Inside with the air conditioning is where you’ll find me. I come out of my cave at the first sign of fall. Fall, winter, and early spring are when I do my vacationing, daytripping, and anything else I can find to do outside. Including fall gardening.

Things have changed in the past year, however. Due to health issues, I can no longer pursue some of the indoor hobbies I enjoyed during the summer months like crocheting and scrapbooking. I discovered I COULD still do the gardening thing. So, I decided to brave the heat and give it another go. I go out early in the morning, and I mean just after daybreak as much as possible. I don’t spend anymore than thirty minutes at a time (even though the temp. isn’t too high this time of day the humidity often is) and I focus on just one or two chores. So far it’s been manageable and fall is just around the corner. I think I’ll make it.

I actually only planted two summer crops. Baby steps and all. The first was green beans. I had some issues with them in the beginning. The leaves weren’t looking healthy and the beans would show up then immediately dry up and turn brown on the plant. After some research I realized the plant was lacking nitrogen. I cut all the unhealthy leaves off and cut the plant back quite a bit. I’ve been fertilizing it for several weeks now and this is what it looks like today.

The summers are long here in Central Texas and even though it’s September it’s basically still summer. I’m hoping for at least a small yield before it’s all said and done.
I also planted some cucumbers, a little late, so not sure what’s going to happen there. My garden this year is basically one big experiment. Next to the cucumbers I have some sweet potatoes. These were actually a couple of potatoes that were sprouting in my kitchen. Just for fun, I stuck them in the ground to see what would happen.

The other day I went digging around to see what was going on. One potato was just sprouting more leaves, buuut the second one had little baby sweet potatoes on the ends of some of the roots that had sprouted. I stuck them back in the dirt and the picture directly above this paragraph is where we are right now. I also planted some Kale seeds for the winter garden and they’re doing well so far (pictured below).

I haven’t done a whole lot of flowers in the past. Mostly herbs and veggies. I have a little seating area on my back deck that I thought could benefit from a little color though. I prefer perennials and wanted some color that would carry through at least the beginning of fall. I chose several different colors of mums and put them in pots around the deck.

Along with my already present asparagus fern, I also added a Coneflower.

I have two of these Asparagus ferns and two Fountain Grass plants on the deck as well.

As much as I love putting things in the ground and watching them flourish, my knowledge is very limited. I think that’s going to change now that gardening has taken a priority on my list of hobbies. Who knows, maybe next summer I’ll actually have enough of something to put some up for winter! Stay tuned. If I get any kind of yield from what I presently have planted, I’ll post pics. Until then, happy gardening!

😊🌱🌻

2 Easy Kitchen DIYs

I have two really simple things you can make yourself and have on hand in the kitchen.  The first is a remedy I use every winter to combat colds, flu, and chronic bronchitis – lemon and ginger infused honey.

67933E11-DBEA-4BFE-85A2-CE8BD40776DA

Ginger is a well-known traditional remedy for coughs, cold, and flu.  It’s anti-inflammatory and may help boost your immune system.  Honey soothes a sore throat, has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and local honey can help with allergies.  In general, the darker the honey, the stronger its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The lemon, of course, provides vitamin C, aids in digestion, and also improves skin quality, just to name a few of its many health benefits.

sliced lemon

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This infusion is super easy to make and use.  Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium lemon.                         1 piece of ginger root, similar in size to the lemon
Lots of honey                                1 quart mason jar with lid, or similar glass container

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop lemon and ginger into similar sized pieces (this helps everything diffuse evenly) and place in your jar.
  2. Cover completely with honey.  Pieces will float to the top, but as long as you initially covered everything with the honey, it’s okay.
  3. Leave the jar on a countertop all day, shaking or rotating occasionally.  By rotating, I mean turn the jar upside down for awhile then turn back right side up for awhile.  Make sure your lid is tight.
  4. Store in the refrigerator overnight and by morning, it’s ready to use.

TO USE:
Simply measure 2-3 tablespoons of honey into a cup and add 6-8 ounces of hot water.  Stir and enjoy!  If you want to amp up the flavor a bit, add a chunk or two of the lemon and/or ginger from the jar.  I recommend at least three cups of this tea a day.  More if you already have a cold or flu.

My second DIY is homemade vanilla.  Again, so super easy that a recipe isn’t really even necessary.  If you’re big on holiday cooking, you might want to start this in August or earlier.  It takes 8-12 weeks before it’s ready to use.  So, here’s what you need: 5 whole vanilla beans, 1 cup of your favorite vodka, rum, or bourbon and at least a half-quart jar.

20119B30-1B86-4546-8EC2-BD77F452A03A

My alcohol of choice is Smirnoff Kissed Caramel vodka.  It’s not real expensive and it tastes yummy!  This Rose & Ivy bottle used to contain vanilla extract that my sister brought me several years ago and I’ve reused the bottle over and over for making my own vanilla.  So, all you do is cut a slit in each vanilla bean and drop it in your container of choice (I also cut mine in half to fit the bottle better).  Pour 1 cup of vodka over the beans, seal, and store in a cool, dark place for 8-12 weeks.  Give it an occasional shake and there ya’ go!  In 8 weeks you’ll have a fantastic homemade vanilla to use in your homemade goodies.  The longer it sits, the stronger it gets, so 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks – depends on your taste.  If you want to make a larger batch, the ratio is 1 cup of booze for every 5 vanilla beans.

67A01D4A-300C-4A91-A942-992AC879D94E

I started this bottle three days ago and you can already see the vanilla “caviar” swimming in the vodka when I shake the bottle.  So exciting!  I love making my own ingredients for the kitchen.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these two ideas and that you get plenty of use out of them.

😊💕☕️