Category Archives: garden

Canning Fail

I like to try to learn new skills or add to the arsenal of skills I already have. Case in point, canning. I can put up food for us without a hitch. So I decided to try Violet Jelly this year. A friend was raving about it and linked to a recipe online. My yard is full of violets right now, so I thought,”Why not?”

So the girl and I spent about an hour collecting blossoms. Then we brought them in, did a quick rinse and placed them in a jar.


Poured boiling water over them and…



Voila! Beautiful blue shade. Isn’t it gorgeous? I let it sit for 24 hours then strained the liquid. I followed the recipe exactly. Canned it and then had this:



It looks great. However…this is the fail part. It never jelled. It remained syrup. I waited 36 hours hoping it was just a slow batch. Nope. So I thought,”Well, I can just use it as a syrup.” Gave it the old taste test. Blech! It tasted like rotten fruit. I don’t know what went wrong. It was just gross. So I had to dump it out. I was all set to try dandelion jelly too. Now I’m a little skittish.



I thought I would post a few pictures of the beginnings of the garden this year. I’m always so hopeful in Spring and lose the momentum by the end of Summer. Hoping I can avoid that this year. My husband might have to get a permit and sit out on the deck with a bow and shoot the deer if they try to eat my garden this year. I’m serious.


This is last year’s kale. It is a biennial, but most people pull it up after one season. I’m letting this batch go to seed so I can save the seeds.



I’m trying two new to me varieties of peas. Desiree Dwarf Peas.Image

And Alaska Peas.


I also ordered a raised bed from my local Master Gardeners group. We are selling them as a fundraiser for our group. I think it’s great, I’ve never used a raised bed before.

It has been filled with: Lollo DeVino lettuce, Swiss Chard, Scarlet Nantes Carrots, Pepperone di Cuneo Peppers, Mixed Orach and Brussels Sprouts. Down the center of the bed I planted Globe Artichokes.



We are seriously considering another bed. I need to measure the remaining area to see if there is room for it without expanding the garden space.


Is it really November already? I could have sworn October just started. My garden is almost put to bed for the winter. I spent the afternoon raking leaves today. I put some on the garden as mulch and the rest went into the compost bins. I almost forgot I need to fertilize theย  dogwood tree we planted for Liam. I just glanced at the Extension Service calendar and it has that listed as something to do this week. So I need to do that and put down a fresh layer of mulch.

Phoebe picked out a few gourds and pumpkins to make a little garden display to celebrate Fall. We artfully arranged them in the flower bed.


I’ve got a few crafts planned for the next few weeks. Hopefully they turn out nice enough to share.


Webster’s Dictionary definition:

1: to give little attention or respect to : disregard
2: to leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness
So yes, I have neglected this blog. Sorry to disrespect you little bloggy. I just got busy with other things and it fell by the wayside.
The deer and groundhog have pretty much destroyed my garden. All that is left is kale and the Georgia Candy Roaster squash. Although the groundhog is working on those. There was one squash that was as long as my arm! It was beautiful. That stinking groundhog nibbled across the entire top of it like it was an ear of corn. I was so disappointed.
Here are a few shots of the garden.
Sunflower variety called “Irish Eyes.”
Bean Rust- is a fungal disease caused by the fungus Uromyces appendiculatus. I lost my entire bean crop to this and Root Knot Nematodes.ย  The recommendation is to rotate away from beans for two years. Nematodes can affect most other plants grown in the garden including tomatoes, onions, carrots, etc. The nematodes also explain why my onions grew huge, beautiful tops but the bulbs were the exact same size as when I planted them. The nematodes prevent them from taking up proper nutrients. I will plant a cover crop to add nutrients to the soil. The plan is to build raised beds for next year and get a better fence.
What can I say about this bird that I haven’t said before? I love her, she’s beautiful. It makes me smile every time I see her. I will be sad when she migrates for the winter.
We had family come visit from San Diego. They own a vacation home in Canaan Valley called the Coire Taigh.
It is very close to Blackwater Falls so we went there a couple of times. I had never been there before. It’s beautiful.
Now that summer is winding down it seems we’re busier than ever. My daughter started dance and tumbling classes. She really loves the tumbling. Ever since we watched the Olympics she has wanted to be a gymnast “Like Gabby!” We’ll see how she does and if she doesn’t like dance as much we’ll just opt for the hour long tumbling class next year.

Trimming Pine Trees

We have a group of White Pine trees in our back yard. They were planted as a wind break and to screen the view from the electrical substation just across the field. They are huge trees now. Especially beautiful in winter after a snowfall. However, they are also a nuisance when I try to mow the lawn. The lower branches poke me in the eye or smack me in the head. So I decided it was time to trim them off. I double checked with the Master Gardener text and had the extension agent come out to clarify for me. It worked out well since he was a forestry major, trees are his thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

June through July is the time to trim pine trees. If you are just trimming the tips of the trees keep in mind that some trees don’t produce fruit, pine cones, until they are at least 20 years old. Also note that trimming the tips will cause the apical dominance to be broken resulting in more branches. Which is how those full, bushy Christmas trees are made. If you are trying to maintain a certain shape to your tree you fist need to consider the natural growth habit, the area in which it is planted and the space available. A white pine can grow to be very tall. The tallest accurately measured is the “Boogerman Pine” in the Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It stands 188 feet tall, it was measured at 207 feet before losing it’s top in Hurricane Opal in 1995. So do your research before planting a tree that may quickly become too big for your available space.

If you plan to trim off entire branches you want to cut off at the branch bark ridge. This is a picture of the branch bark ridge on one of the pines.


See the bulge from the trunk as the branch grows out? You want to make your cut right against it but not actually into the collar. This will create the smallest wound possible and make it easier for the tree to heal. If it is a larger branch cut a notch into the bottom about 6 inches from the collar. That will allow the branch to bend and not break ripping off a large section of bark with it.

It took me about an hour and a half to trim up the seven trees I have. Now I can walk under them and not be injured. I only trimmed the lowest branches and the dead branches I could reach from the ground. I’m only 5’4″ so, yeah…

Happy trimming. ๐Ÿ™‚

Garden Progress

My vegetable garden is just a tiny little thing. Only 10 feet by 12 feet. That’s just 120 square feet of space. We have had rain nearly every day for two straight weeks. It was just a muddy mess. So I wasn’t able to get out and work the plot at all. It has finally dried up so yesterday and the day before I was out there weeding. It really was a shameful sight. I was so embarrassed I didn’t take any before photos.

After discussing things with the extension agent we’ve come to the conclusion that the slugs came from my mulch. It was shredded hardwood mulch from a local mulch plant. They make huge piles of it before it is bagged and sold to stores. So with that in mind I decided to use straw for mulch this time. I spent about 6 hours spread over two days weeding. It took that long, honestly I’m ashamed.


It looks so much better now. The bare dirt you can see there between the beans and onions is where I tore out the spinach. It had bolted, I was very disappointed in it. The leaves were barely big enough to eat when it bolted. Not growing that variety again. So I sowed some basil seed there yesterday. Hopefully it will all germinate and I’ll have enough basil for canning pesto.

We are picking peas and green beans now. I was very excited to find little baby tomatoes on the plants too!


The squash plants have big beautiful blossoms on them too. I can’t wait to try this variety. It’s called Georgia Candy Roaster. It’s supposed to be like a butternut squash.


This is a slug I found in the yard on his way to my garden. It is the biggest slug I’ve ever seen in my life! I was about 5 inches long as it was gliding. It was bigger around than the thickness of my thumb. That’s a quarter in the picture to try to give an idea of scale.


Got Slugs?

I do. At first I wasn’t sure what was eating all of my flowers. In one bed every singe pansy I planted has been eaten. I finally found out it was slugs a couple days ago. This is slug damage on a marigold.


The best time to find the slugs is at night or just before sunrise. I have decided to fight them with egg shells and beer.


Crush egg shells and sprinkle them around the plants. The sharp edges will cut the slugs, so they avoid the area.


Place a bowl full of beer near the plants you want to protect as well. Make sure it is deep. If it is shallow the slugs can climb back out. As long as it is deep they will get down into the beer and drown.