May 26, 2011

Raised Bed Garden Progress

Thyme Spent In The Garden

Let's just say that this garden is exceeding my expectations. I had no idea how quickly everything would grow and I haven't added a single drop of fertilizer. I did purchase some organic fish protein but have not had to use it to date and I might not have to. I do have some bugs making some of my plants look spotted and that doesn't make me happy. So I made a trip to the local farm store and they suggested an insecticidal soap. The leaves of some of the plants got a spritzing. Now to wait and see if it works. Our family garden is the one with the green, metal fence posts, nine to be exact. We'll be stringing plastic-coated clothesline along those posts to tie the tomatoes up as they grow. I think it might just work.

Remember this photo taken the weekend my plants were put into the raised bed? I can't believe what four weeks has done. One of the most gratifying things about this entire process is that I started all of these plants from seed except for four zucchini plants and three eggplants. I still can't believe how well my little seedlings are doing. I could sit in the garden all day and watch everything grow. Very therapeutic!

Zucchini Blossoms. Beautiful, don't you think?

I met a new neighbor today and we got to talking about all sorts of things. Mostly her Beagle, Maxine, but we got on the topic of the garden and she had said she would have liked to have participated but had a lot going on at the time everything was getting underway. Long story short, I mentioned the zucchini & squash plants were already blossoming. Sandy, my new neighbor, told me to save the blossoms and to stuff them with a cheese mixture & then bake them. YUM! Doesn't that sound delicious? She said, "Don't waste a thing." I love meeting new people that share an affinity for gardening.

Goldbar Squash Blossoms. I'll have to stuff these too. Mmmm.... Mmmm... GOOD!

Ground Cherry Blossom. This is one of the plants that is looking spotted because of those darn bugs. I took a photo of the pretty part and spared you the ghastly holes in the leaves.

Radishes. These are at full maturity 25 days after seed sowing. Everyone should plant radishes. It's almost instant gratification and makes you feel like you've got a green thumb and you know a little bit about what you're doing. I enjoy the taste of a radish. Not everyone does. However, they were planted around each of the squash plants to keep bugs away and I must say it's working. I planted several more last night so I can harvest these bad boys.

Pepper Plant. My peppers have really leafed out and are beginning to bud. Peppers are a slow go. At least they have been in the past.

Well there you have it. An update on the raised bed garden. I can't wait to show you some actual fruit from all of this labor.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

May 23, 2011

Farmers Markets, Baked Goods & Pretties

Sweet & Savory


I baked some sweet rolls a few days back but instead of doing the typical butter, cinnamon, sugar combination which is always yummy. I filled them with mascarpone cheese & freshly made strawberry freezer jam. Don't they look delicious? Well they are. I can assure you of that.

I am sharing this with you because I am considering a booth at my local community farmers market. I love farmer's markets. When we lived in North Carolina there was a very large market not to far from us and it was so much fun to walk through all the open-air buildings to see what everyone had brought to sell. I purchased one of the most amazing wooden cutting boards from that very spot. There were always fresh cut flowers, pottery, baked goods and of course lots and lots of produce.

The market I am considering being a part of will be on a much smaller scale. There is a small fee to set up and I would of course need a tent and tables. If I do this I would sell home baked goods and maybe some original creations made by "Blue Sky Confections".

How do I decide what to make? 7 am is the start time and the breakfast hour. Would english muffins sell? These are much simpler to make than I thought and market goers could slather on some homemade strawberry jam and grab a cup of coffee.

What about chocolate chip cookies with finely chopped pecans?

This wouldn't be a money making venture. I don't think there's loads of money to be made in small batch baked goods one Saturday morning each month. It would be more of a "get my name and blog" out into the community in hopes that my local readership would increase and maybe even open up some new doors of opportunity. What doors of opportunity? I don't know. I'll be waiting to see.

To participate or not is the question I'm asking myself. I definitely don't want to waste my time and resources.

Any thoughts from those of you that may have done markets in the past.

I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

May 20, 2011

Flowers Started From Seed

Thyme Spent In The Garden

I usually have all my window boxes and hanging baskets fully planted and up in mid-April. This year is different because I decided to try my hand at starting my own flowers from seed so I've been patiently waiting on them or maybe not so patiently. Next year I will start all my flowers in January to ensure that I will meet my own deadline. Below are the Coleus-Versa. Aren't they luscious? Here they are just peaking through the soil. Here they are the last time I posted about their progress and now just look at them.

I planted the hanging baskets just about 2 weeks ago and I've had them on my deck soaking up some additional sun and gaining some size before I hang them on the front porch. Here's a shot of one of the baskets. The white petunia's are wonderfully hardy, early blooming varieties. I also planted a pink petunia, white bacopa combo. The petunia's have started blooming but the bacopa has yet to show me a flower. I added a coleus in the center of each basket with petunia's around the parameter. I also bought a sweet potato vine for each basket. I couldn't find seeds to start my own. The salmon petunia that I planted has a beautiful color but it is not a profuse bloomer as of yet. I've only seen a couple flowers. When they get into full bloom I will take a photo. The color is just lovely!

Here's a shot of the pink petunia in a basket. I can't wait for them to start cascading and really filling out.

Here's a shot of the combo that will go into my window boxes. I purchased the lovely verbana in shades of pink and white to combine with my white, pink and salmon petunia's. I will also add some coleus into the mix. I thought the watermelon coleus was perfect with the flowers. However, I only had one watermelon coleus in the mix. I may go buy 3 more from a local nursery.

I love, love, love starting my own flowers. Next year I will try to find verbana seeds and purple heart seeds and maybe a few more flower varieties. I will plant less vegetables because honestly I planted 2 gardens of my own, added several plants to the community section in our development, gave plants away to two different families and I STILL have more vegetable plants. I'll post an updated photo of my gardens soon. They are growing by leaps and bounds.

I've got Chocolate Mint and Corsican Mint growing in pots. I adore the scent that wafts up from these plants when I brush up against them. The Corsican Mint can be a great ground cover but I really love to watch it mound over the edges of my pots. Tip: Add a few snips of chocolate mint to your coffee grounds in the morning for a wonderful, natural chocolate mint flavoring.

Check out this dill that reseeded itself from last year. I'm so impressed. Now I need some cucumbers or green beans so I can try my hand at canning with this wonderful herb.

I planted some more arugula. It's just starting off but it will grow fast. This is my favorite green for salads and sandwich toppings. YUM! YUM!

I don't want to leave my blueberries out. I've got two large pots on the deck that hold blueberry bushes. Once these pretty little berries ripen it will be a stand-off between my son and the birds to see who gets these anti-oxidant wonders. Last summer the first thing my son did was run to the patio door to see if there were any fully ripened berries for the day.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

May 13, 2011

Strawberry Fields

and Freezer Jam...
and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, and Strawberry Upside Down Cake, and Strawberry Shortcake Cookies and Sliced Strawberries over Warm Fudge Brownies and Strawberry Salad... should I continue? I think you get the picture.

I used the recipe from the Fruit Pectin box. I quadrupled the ingredients and it made 12 of the smaller jars pictured above and 6 of the larger jars. I absolutely adore the smaller jars Ball has put on the market. They make my homemade creations appear gourmet. Now I need to buy a chest freezer for the basement. I won't have room in my main freezer for all these jars. I will of course give some of these away to friends and neighbors but for the most part it's a great way to have sweet, strawberry, deliciousness all year round.

and it all began with an afternoon in the strawberry fields...
The kids really enjoy themselves. It's good family fun and clean, fresh air on a great big beautiful farm where there are field after field of living, flourishing, edible plants.

The kids get along very well. It's amazing what being on a farm in the countryside will do for everyone's moods.
Just look at that heartfelt hug. That fills my heart with so much joy.

My wee one was just eating up the attention that her big brother was showing her.

The kids behaving and getting along makes the Handsome Hubby happy! Say that three times fast.

We filled three flats full of these gorgeous red berries.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

May 11, 2011

Raspberry Bars

Better Homes & Gardens Recipe

Raspberries are my absolute favorite berry and bring back fond memories of childhood, so I was a bit partial when I saw this recipe in the latest issue of BH&G. You can of course make this sweet delight using any berry of your choice and get the same delicious results. The recipe can be found here.

Growing up in a very rural area and having acres and acres of land gave my siblings and I the chance to discover wild raspberry patches along the edges of the fields and roadsides. I could pick for hours because I knew if I got enough berries my mom would make a raspberry pie and that folks is my absolute favorite dessert! Later in life I would be the one to make the raspberry pie and never begrudgingly.

To this day I miss where I grew up. I wish my children had the same opportunities to play outdoors without fear of being hit by a car or snatched by a stranger. We'd head out the door in the morning and we weren't back inside until it was dark. There were forts to build, trees to climb, flowers to be picked, songs to be sung at the top of my lungs because only myself, God & nature could hear. I'm trying to get back there, I really am. Now only if the economy would cooperate.

Here I am in an effort to style a shot. I need to purchase another set of dishes. I've got this red set and they're okay but for photographing food it can get a little tough. Not everything works with red. Am I right? My kitchen is red and I want to change that too! So many projects, so little time.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

May 10, 2011

Plants - 10th Week

Raised Bed Garden

I know I haven't posted in a while. I haven't even posted my plant photo updates the past couple Tuesdays. I've had a lot going on and now hopefully I'm back to a regular schedule for a bit anyways.
I planted my raised bed in the community garden last Saturday and it took me 5 hours. A lot of my own plants that I grew from seed went into this garden. I sure hope they produce a harvest. I've got Brandypink, Pineapple, Aunt Rubies German Green, Chocolate Cherry & Giant Oxheart heirloom tomatoes. The Mortgage Lifter tomatoes that I started from seed were not a very strong plant so they didn't make it into the raised bed.

I also purchased Cherokee from a local nursery and a Tomaccio which is supposed to be a gourmet tomato that is referred to as a raisin tomato and best used for sun-drying. I really hope that one produces well. I'm excited to dry some of my own for breads and pasta dishes. Doesn't that sound good?

I had an overabundance of tomato plants that did well so I gave six to a fellow community gardener, planted sixteen in the community section of which a portion will be donated to the Food Bank and I still have more plants.

Planted amongst the tomatoes are three different pepper varieties. Jalapeno, Yummy & Gourmet Rainbow. I'll be using those jalapeno's in my fresh pico de gallo and salsa this summer. The Yummy's are the smaller, mild peppers best used for snacking and stuffing for fancy h'ordeuvres. Finally the Gourmet I'm hoping will be great for grilling and stuffing.

I also put ten bitty Basil plants amongst the tomatoes and the peppers and then dropped a lot of marigold seeds around the parameter of the bed. This is referred to as companion planting. Certain plant varieties do better planted amongst other plants and this is a good combination I'm told.

Zucchini and Squash have a better chance of succeeding when encircled by radishes. So I surrounded each zucchini and squash plant with radish seeds. I also dropped in some sunflower seeds which are said to be good planted amongst the zucchini. It's a smaller variety of course. I don't want a 10ft sunflower springing up out of my raised bed.

This is a Ground Cherry. I don't know much about them. I don't know what they grow best amongst so time will tell. I'm told they're similar to a cherry tomato but sweet like a strawberry.

My Lemon Heirloom Cucumber plants are flowering but not doing so well. I planted them much to early inside and I think they're stressed. I may drop some seeds right into the soil and see how they do. I really was excited to try this little, round, lemon colored, cuke.

I've planted a small garden in my side yard full of tomatoes & peppers. The tomatoes here are roma and large beefsteak hybrids. I also put in some basil seeds and some marigold seeds because of the companion planting tip.

Not highlighted in this post but planted in my raised bed are yellow squash, eggplant & beans. I had some sweet pea seeds but after a discussion with a master gardener found out it was a little late in the year to plant them. She said they are a cool weather crop and to plant them in early fall for a late fall harvest.

I've got a cedar box full of dill, another full of arugula and a large pot full of gourmet vite lettuce. I'm saving the spinach seeds for a fall planting. Again it's much to warm to plant them and I should have put the seeds in the soil the end of March beginning of April.

There is so much to learn but it's also a lot of fun.

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to my followers. I really do appreciate each and every reader. I sure hope my upcoming posts have something to offer each of you.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.
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