Friday, September 28, 2012

About Growing Stevia

Look at this huge pile of green. No, I haven't been weeding my garden. This is stevia harvested from my garden. I know, that stevia powder you get in the store is horrible. I hate the aftertaste. I decided to grow stevia sort of as a novelty. I decided to try and dry some and put it in my iced tea maker. I wasn't expecting much. Holy smokes! My iced tea was sweet without the aftertaste. I didn't have to put very much (2 pinches of dried leaves). I quickly went back to Nelson Water Garden and picked up two more plants. As you can see, I have a very nice harvest. The leaves are sweetest right before the flowers bloom. Keep your soil consistently most as stevia does not like dry soil.  Pick in the morning and hang upside down to dry. (you may have to explain to all visitors that nothing illegal is going on here. he he) Take all the leaves off and put in a jar for use.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Wonderful Example of Perseverance

My amazing husband has been in college for the past 13 years working on his civil engineering degree. Before that, he had never taken a college class, so he had to start at the beginning (including some remedial classes). He works a full-time job, is the world's best father and is a conscientious student maintaining a high GPA at University of Houston. Because of his work schedule, he is only able to take one class per semester. It just drags on and on. We sat down together this weekend and figured out how many classes he has left until he graduates. There were more than he thought and we both got really frustrated. For the first time ever, I told him he should just give it up. He was close to the end, but we had sacrificed so much family time in his pursuit of a degree. Was it even worth it? He initially agreed. By the end of the day, he looked me in the eye and told me he couldn't give up. He would keep pursuing his goal. It made my heart almost burst. This guy never ever gives up! I am so proud of him! One good thing that has come out of this is that our boys have seen his struggle. They both know that they must pursue their degree before having a family. They also know that they cannot complain about any hardships throughout college life. I am just so proud of the example my husband is to my boys. I love you Snugglebunny!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Falling in Love with Fall

Oh I fall in love with Fall every year. The temperature in Houston is cooler today. I can actually walk outside and look at my garden without getting drenched in sweat. Everyone that lives in the South knows what I mean. I loved being able to use up my homemade compost. I used up all three bins and I will need to supplement. That means I need to invest in some more plastic boxes with lids for additional compost. Hard to believe I had bins and bins of kitchen scraps that I would have just thrown out. I love that I kept that out of a landfill and reused it in our garden to feed our plants that will now feed us. What a beautiful cycle!
Baby French "Rolande" beans sprouted

We planted our string beans. They are the  "haricot vert" thin delicious ones that are so expensive at the grocery store. I purchased them from Renee's Garden Seeds here . They are called Bush, French, "Rolande". They did very well this spring. The only problem was that I just couldn't get enough of them! I also am trying the pole "haricot vert" variety from this same site called Filet, "Emerite". Here are the bush ones pushing up from the earth. I'll soon trim the weaker of the two seeds that sprouted. There are nine plants and I planted three squares of the bush plants. I planted eight plants of the pole beans in two squares. That should give me a fair amount of beans. I had to laugh that at the beginning of the Spring season I panicked that I wouldn't be able to fill the 128 squares in my eight gardens. Now I am eyeing things to pull up so I can put in more cabbage!! I am waiting a bit to plant carrots but they are coming soon. 

In the meantime, I have planted three kinds of tomatoes including my favorite sweet millions cherry tomatoes. I have also planted lots of broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower and a few greens and cabbages. All are doing well in the fertile soil provided by the compost. The peppers are getting their second wind and taking off. The habanero peppers are beautiful! 



Habanero Peppers - someone help me eat these!

We also have lots and lots of friendly lizards to keep the bug population down. 
Look at this cute little guy! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nelson Water Garden - Where everybody knows your name

Yes, I left some for you!

I woke up this morning and nearly skipped out of bed. This is the day I would get to finally purchase my fall garden babies at Nelson Water Garden. I'd been calling for a few weeks trying to pinpoint exactly when they would get their fall vegetable plants in. I knew I would have to pounce on them immediately or they would be gone. I am also anxious to get my garden started. Fall feels like it is coming early this year.

I had made a huge batch of Chewy Ginger cookies yesterday (recipe here), so I brought a dozen to Cramer, my favorite gardening guru at Nelson's. He is always so sweet and helpful and greets me by name every time I walk through the door. People that can do this amaze me because I am just awful with names.

Colourful cauliflowerI made a beeline for the veggies and started loading up. I have 33 empty spots that I have to fill and I wanted a LOT of that to be broccoli. It seems we never had enough last year. They also had some cool "cheddar cauliflower" that is orange. It is not the result of genetic engineering, but came after decades of traditional selective breeding. Check out the purple and green ones! I want purple cauliflower too!

I got some different kinds of cabbages too that I'm really excited about. I'm keeping my eyes open for kale and spinach now. Sometimes kale is labeled as ornamental cabbage. I love to put it in my front garden. Showy and delicious! If you have never gone to Nelson Water Garden, plan to make a visit. So much to see and do. Your kids can even feed the Koi in the ponds.
Cramer - my gardening buddy at Nelson's!

All the winter veggies ready for choosing

Lots of variety in the tomato section

Best herbs anywhere!

Beautiful ponds and atmosphere


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