Signs of Hope

by ann on February 23, 2014

Bright yellow crocuses, dainty daffodils, soft pink blossoms of the wild cherry and one Sweetie Wildcat. All signs of hope that spring is near and healing is at hand. My heart is grateful.


Meyer Lemons – Delicious and Easy to Grow

by ann on February 21, 2014

I recently picked this gigantic Meyer lemon that was growing in our greenhouse and used it to make my husband’s favorite lemon pie. Fresh lemons can really brighten up a recipe, especially when they are homegrown fresh. Meyer lemons have thin skins and an orangey tint which is a result of an orange in their family tree. (Pun intended!)  History is a bit clouded there, so family secrets shall remain so. Because of their orange ancestry, they are sweeter than other lemons and can be eaten straight off the tree if you don’t mind a little bit of mouth-tingling lemony zing.

You don’t really need a greenhouse to grow your own. A warm, bright sunny window will suffice. They aren’t fussy either. A little fertilizer and regular watering and they will produce happily. The sweet fragrance of their blooms is a spirit-lifting bonus. Small trees are usually readily available at quality nurseries for about $40 and are worth every penny. It’s difficult to find organically raised trees but you can, as I have, grow yours organically without a great deal of effort.

Next on my list of citrus to grow  is the exotic Kafir lime! Hard to find, but the hunt is part of the fun.


It’s been a good year for summer squash, despite the soggy weather. I found an heirloom variety that is a top performer and has been of minor interest to squash bug and borers. Hard to believe, but true! From now on ‘Early Prolific‘ from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange will be a part of my summer garden. It is sweet and tender when eaten fresh and it freezes well, too.  This cook appreciates a prepared dish on hand to speed up dinner preparations, so I make several casseroles during squash season and stash them in the freezer. One of the best things I like about the recipe that follows is that it is simple, easy to prepare and I don’t have to pre-cook the squash and onions, which saves time and means one less pan to wash. Maybe I’m just lazy, but I have always disliked the redundancy of that step. In some recipes it is necessary but I’m a happy girl when I can avoid it. This recipe came from a dear friend and ultimate Southern Lady, the late Shirley May. She’s the only person I’ve ever known who sent me a thank you card for sending her a birthday card and who could turn my single syllable name into three or four, making it sound beautiful and melodic.  🙂 Shirley’s gracious spirit lives on through this classic Southern favorite.

– 2 pounds sliced or dished yellow summer squash

– 1 cup mayonnaise (actually I use 3/4 cup)

– 1 small onion, diced

– 2 eggs, beaten

– 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

– fresh ground black pepper to taste

– Panko bread crumbs, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9″ baking dish. Combine beaten eggs with mayonnaise until thoroughly blended. Mix in Parmesan cheese. Place squash and onions in a large mixing bowl. Pour egg/cheese/mayonnaise mixture over squash and onions and stir until evenly mixed. Pour into baking dish and top with Panko bread crumbs. Bake for one hour. To shorten baking time you can saute squash and onions until soft. Allow to partially cool and slowly mix in the other ingredients. This cuts the baking time in half.


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Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart

by ann on July 16, 2013

That’s about 7 pounds of beautiful, purple beans in that basket. I snapped them all last night in one sitting. Now to blanch and freeze them for cold winter days when our palettes are longing for a taste of the garden. I’ve been really, really pleased with this variety, Dean’s Purple.  It’s a heirloom that I found on the Southern Exposure Seed website, which is a wonderful resource for heirlooms tempered for the Southeast. Dean’s Purple is a high yielder (obviously!), stringless pole bean with a superb resistance to the notorious Mexican Bean Beetle which has plagued my garden for many years. It’s mid-July and I haven’t seen a beetle yet. Gardening is always an adventure, no matter how experienced you are. I’ve been at it longer than I’d care to admit but it still pleases me no end to find a variety that is a real winner and Dean’s Purple is for my northwest GA urban homestead.


A Garden Sink; Recycling At Its Best

by ann on July 3, 2013

I looove my new garden sink. It’s really not so new, only a few weeks ago it was in our kitchen. Some kitchen upgrades displaced it and I did not like the idea of sending it to the local landfill where it would far outlive me. Creating a garden sink was the perfect solution. Husband Myke built the sturdy stand and hooked the faucet up to the irrigation system. Giving a preliminary rinse to beets, lettuce and other gritty veggies has saved me a lot of kitchen clean up time. Now I’m not chasing ants and earwigs around in the house. They all go down the drain outside!


Holy Moly! This is a First!

by ann on June 30, 2013

Yesterday evening I was picking hydrangeas for drying. I reached for this beautiful, full mophead thinking that the brown slivers present were debris brought down by the recent rains. So, I shook the blossom  to remove them and woke this guy up from his nap! What I had seen was not debris but his tail draped throughout the flower! Snakes don’t bother me in the least. I really appreciate the place they have in nature. What a lovely place to rest, all curled up in a blue cloud. Can anyone identify this slender 12″ long fellow?


Greenhouse Olives!

by ann on June 28, 2013

My first ripe arbequina olive appeared today! I’ve had this little plant for about two years now and about 4 olives appeared this spring. Not enough to make a tapenade but maybe next year. 🙂



by ann on June 18, 2013

These bright, beautiful stems were part of yesterday’s harvest. Five Color Silverbeet Swiss chard is a sturdy summer green that can be tossed into salads raw or sauteed with a touch of garlic and oil (walnut is light and yummy) for a healthy side dish on a hot summer’s night. Leftovers are a nice addition to a quiche, too.  I love the enormous leaves that remain tender in spite of their size and the thick ribs that are slightly salty and have a texture similar to celery. The bold colors are eye catching and add a bright splash to the garden scenery. It is easy to inter-plant with other veggies to maximize space. In my humble opinion, one cannot have too much garden space. 🙂

My garden is coming on strong now. We will be passing out cucumbers to neighbors this weekend and by next weekend we will likely be doing the same with the summer squash. The tomatoes got off to a late start, or I should say I got them off to a late start so we will likely miss the standard ‘first ripe tomato date’ of July 4th. Whenever they come, they will be worth the wait!


Spring in the Greenhouse

by ann on March 24, 2013

This is the time of year when the greenhouse is jammed full of plant life of all kinds. Seeds for the summer vegetable garden have been sown, the amaryllis are beginning to bloom and the citrus are starting to fruit. It is one of my favorite times. Here is a peek at what’s going on.

Itty bitty arbequina olives.

Oranges about the size of marbles.

Teenie key limes.

Little lettuces ‘Webb’s Wonderful (background) and little ‘Joi Choi’ bok choi.

One inch high Tropic’ tomatoes and ‘Jimmy Nardello’ sweet peppers.

This young bok choi is sprouting from the salvaged root end of a bunch purchased at Whole Foods.

This celery is, too. I love free food!

And, crazy gorgeous Chinese red amaryllis!


I’ve Always Heard It In My Heart…

by ann on April 5, 2012

just not with my ears, until husband Myke sent me this beautiful link to the singing plants of Damanhur. The voices of these plants are brought into the human realm via special electrodes connected to their leaves and roots.  Their vibrations are given voice when the impulses are transmitted into a synthesizer. As you will see in the video, the ethereal music changes as the plants interact with individual humans.  I’ve always found being in the presence of plants to be a soothing to my soul. Now I have a new depth of understanding why this is so.