Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More from the Pumpkin Farm

This is a picture of me and the kids at the pumpkin farm a couple of weeks ago.  What a glorious day!  The temperature that day was close to 90 as I remember.  Today the temperature is 47 degrees and rainy and VERY windy.  So, I love looking at these pictures of us and our shorts and tank tops.

You might have seen in one of my previous posts that we spent a lot of time in the corn pool.  We also did a lot of apple picking!  The kids absolutely love picking apples and I do a lot of canning and baking afterward with our bounty.  Here, my friend Melissa's son enjoys an apple on the way back to the car. He is just old enough (and has enough chomping teeth) to eat an entire apple by himself.  However, he realized quickly if he dropped one, we would take it away and give him a new one.  He probably thought it was a pretty fun game, seeing how many times we would replace the apple.  We figured out his game after the 3rd or 4th one though, and he gave up and finished eating.

The kids enjoyed helping Nick climb some apple trees.  The jonathan apples were really picked through on the lower branches, and we had to work hard to get apples out of the top.  I pick golden delicious for apple pie filling, jonathan for applesauce, and honeycrisp for fresh eating.  I also got some Arkansas Black this last weekend when we went to Eureka Springs.  You can see I had to stretch up in the background, even with one of those apple picker things.

I love doing things like this with the kids.  I know they will remember it for the rest of their lives.  It has been a tradition in our family for going on 4 years now. 

I am hoping someday when they are all grown and have their own kids, they will take them apple picking and talk about how nice it was to go altogether when they were young. 

Apple picking also appeals to my love of getting our food fresh and local.  When we take apples we picked and make food to eat later in the year, it shows the kids that not everything they eat has to be off a store shelf.  Not everything has to be pumped full of preservatives so it can last forever in a grocery store.

I also love to get the kids outdoors doing things.  We have been a little lazy this year with exercising outside, but once we are out doing something, I am so happy we made the effort.  Every kid should have the opportunity to climb a tree and pick an apple.  If I had a couple acres, I would grow my own.  Maybe someday....

I know my friend Melissa agrees that our kids should be outside and moving around.  Of course this is not usually a problem with 2 year olds!

Nick figured out that these holes were for sticking your head into, then posing for the picture.  We had to remove him a few times from trying to stick his head into other people's pictures!

My son didn't want to, but because I asked him to, he reluctantly agreed to sit with Nick so he could ride on the train.  The rest of us were too big to sit easily in the the little car.  As you can see, my son is less than thrilled about doing this.  I can't believe how big he looks sitting next to Nick.

What fall traditions do you have in our family?  I'd love to hear about them...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bloom Day - October!

I am just thrilled to see all the things that are blooming on this October Bloom Day!  A year ago, I had almost nothing to photograph because we had a freak cold snap in October.  We got 3 inches of snow close to this date last year.  So, I am very glad to have high 70s and high 80s for temps this year.  Because we have only had minimal frost, almost everything is still hanging on in my garden. Of course the annuals are looking very tired, but most of the perennials are still alive.  This is one of my new coneflowers...I don't remember the name exactly...it is something about sunset I think.  (I looked it up...Big Sky series, Sunset).  

My pineapple sage is a rockstar as usual.  I bet the hummingbirds love this, but it is around the corner of my garage, so I can't see it from the house. 

My dwarf iris, banbury ruffles always blooms twice a year.  It got moved to the front yard this spring, so it is doing a much better job blooming this second time.  The first time it bloomed it was still in my laundry room. I love iris so much, so it is such a treat to get a bearded iris in the fall.  

This is one of the lovely mounding nasturtiums, which I think I like slightly more than the climbing/trailing version.  The mound is so delightfully round and uniform.  This one is from the jewel mix...and the foliage is so perky and happy. 

One of my potted mums from Dahls.  I love this burgundy color.  I am going to try planting it in my yard after it is done blooming this fall.  

One of my favorite annuals for containers are geraniums.  This one has been so happy to sit on my front steps all summer in mostly shade.  It actually did much better than the ones that were getting much sun.  The poor fellow sitting next to him didn't fare as well, unfortunately.  

To add some fall color, I put some kale and some perennial asters in around this bed.  I have bulbs coming to plant this fall in the middle, under the spider web.  So in the spring will be bulbs, in the summer will be zinnias, and the fall will be mums, kale, and asters.  

The graveyard keeps growing and growing.  I need to get a nighttime shot.  I also need a fog machine.  

Buttercream nasturtium.  Gorgeous big flowers that stick out from the foliage. No hiding underneath. 

Deep red amaranthus, heavy with seeds/grains.  I want to try harvesting it when it dries out a little more. 

Unfortunately by the next bloom day, most of my flowers will be in the same shape as this guy.  What's blooming in your garden right now?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dive In!

Last weekend we made our annual trip to a local pumpkin farm.  One of the kids' favorite parts is the corn pool. You might ask, what is a corn pool?  Well, duh!  It is a pool filled with corn.  No, really, they take a shallow pool and fill it a few feet deep with dried corn kernels.  I don't think I've ever seen anything like this anywhere else.  The kids love digging and wallowing in the sea of yellow corn.  One of their favorite things to do is to jump into it.

One, two, three...


 And the crowd goes wild!!!! (Rawwwwwwww)

They also enjoy burying each other up to their necks...

And slithering through the corn like a snake...

Me, I personally enjoyed sitting and taking it all in while snuggling with my sweetie...

My stepson enjoyed snuggling with this little sweetie... This is the son of my friend Melissa from Illinois.  We visit each other at least a couple times every year.  She likes to tease me about how many cornfields and how few Starbucks there are in Iowa.  I like to tease her about how you have to take out a loan or sell your first born child in order to do activities near Chicago.  I'm starting to see city mouse, country mouse parallels here. Anyways, her son is almost 2, and he was a lot of fun for all of us, especially the kids.  He did NOT like the corn pool at first, but relaxed a little and starting rolling around by the time we got out.  He even ended up with corn in his diaper!  I think everybody ended up with corn in weird places...but my son had everybody beat...

What?  Isn't that how you carry your corn?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Creepy How Old This Pumpkin Is...

The pumpkin from yesterday's post is a YEAR old.  Maybe that is normal and I'm overreacting, but I think it probably should have rotted by now.  I purchased this cute little pumpkin from a grocery store somewhere, I don't remember which store, about a year ago for fall decorating. I understand that under ideal conditions, some hard squashes can last for a very long time, however...

1.  This squash has NOT lived under ideal conditions.  It has been subjected to extreme temperatures (but not frozen and then thawed) and wild temperature swings.

2.  It has been packed and transported during a move.

3.  It sits in my kitchen now and gets subjected to the odors and humidity of cooking and cleaners.

4.  It has occasionally sat in direct sunlight for long periods of time.

And now, a year later, it is not even soft.  Considering how fast some other things rot, this disturbs me a little.  What the heck did they spray it with that it is so well preserved?   I am glad I am not eating that pumpkin.  I keep thinking of the advice of Michael Pollan:  Don't eat anything that is incapable of rotting.  I suppose at SOME POINT, this would eventually rot.  Now I am on a watch to see how long it does last.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Guess How Old This Pumpkin Is?

The Nasties Escape the Freezer!

Saturday and Sunday night we had our first freezing temperatures of the season.  The first night, there was hardly any damage...only a little singe on the top of the basil.  However, the next night, even though the temperature was one degree warmer, there was more damage.  I guessed two nights in a row had its toll.  I was pretty happy with the results though.  All that got damaged was the tops of the squash plants and a few leaves here and there throughout the garden. Here you can see the pumpkin plants looking a bit freezer burnt.

Amazingly, the plants are still alive and doing okay. 

Here, the moonflower plants have the same look. 

I honestly expected the nasturtiums to be dead when I came out in the morning.  But they were still shining their happy nasturtium perkiness.  Some of my mounding nasturtiums are getting very big and lush since the temperatures cooled off at the beginning of September.  They all seem to prefer the slightly cooler temps.  I've learned that nasturtiums do not really care for extreme heat.

All my nasturtiums have an abundance of blossoms.  This one has beautiful buttercream yellow blossoms that the moths love at night.

My spitfire is still doing well, if not a little dry. We haven't had any rain in over a week.  The flower has taken on a funny mottled look. 

Some of the nasturtiums have even decided to make a run for it.  A few of them grew under the garage door.  They look really funny because they are all flat and reaching for the sunlight. 

The flowers are starting to look strange on this spitfire as well, but the plant is healthy and growing without any sign of frost damage. 

No matter what, a frost or freeze that kills most of my summer plants will come soon, even though I snuck through this time.  Maybe my sign should say, 'Welcome Fall, Good-bye Nasties...'

This was a wonderful experience, blogging and sharing with other gardeners about the same plant.  I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to participate.  I can't wait to do it again next year if possible.  

I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Castor Bean Seed Giveaway!

The first frost is coming tonight, and as part of my preparation, I collected my castor bean seeds.  I've heard that the seeds are dangerous around children because they are HIGHLY POISONOUS.  One seed is enough to kill a grown man.  Part of the reason they are dangerous to children (people say) is because they look like chocolate bonbons.

I don't know about you, but these are the most spiny, vicious bonbons I've ever seen.  Maybe the actual seed inside the seed cover looks like a chocolate jelly bean, kind of...but it's a stretch.  Regardless, they should be treated with caution around children and animals.

Because my castor bean plants did so well, I have a lot of seeds.  I am willing to share them with people who would like to try growing castor bean plants in their yard. 

Castor bean plants need full sun, and can't withstand frost.  Mine got upwards of 8 feet tall, and so heavy I could barely prop them up when they fell over.  I would recommend staking them with a heavy metal stake, I am going to do that next year. I did not really do anything to them...they grew fabulously with only an application of manure tea. 

I will be giving seeds away to as many people as I can...all you have to do is follow my blog, and leave me a comment telling me about it.  I will give seeds to as many people as I can until they run out.  At this time, this giveaway is only open to US residents.  Thanks for reading!
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