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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

My Novel

So, some of you know that I have been working on a novel since 2006.  It is largely unfinished and unedited, but hey… I’m an engineer, not a writer!  I want to finish it so my thought is that maybe I should just publish it in installments on my blog and let my friends read it 🙂  It makes me laugh and smile so maybe it’ll do the same for you!

CYA: These characters are pure fiction of the author and any resemblance to real life people or circumstances is purely coincidental.  (Or whatever it says at the beginning of Law and Order to prevent them from being sued!)

So, stayed tuned:  My Prince Was a Frog debuts soon!

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Riddle me this…

So, what happens when Greg heads off to a football game and I’m left to my own devices? Well, new craft projects of course!!!

It all started when I found this awesome jar project on Pinterest.  I immediately wanted to try it because I have all the jars (thanks, Mom and Dad).  BUT, what the heck is “magic paper”?  I can tell you that it is not at Target.  It’s not at Staples.  When I asked for magic paper, the clerk looked at me like I was a loon.  Plus, I also needed the equally as evasive “decal paper.”  Oh, and a laminator.  Suddenly, my afternoon jar project was getting pretty costly.  Oh, and the only place I could find “magic paper” was some vendor in Australia.  So, now I am going to add to Global Climate Change (re: carbon footprint of shipping across the planet) just to label some jars.  This is crazy pants!!!

So, now I am project-less and at Target.  But, you know something about Target?  Well, the wonderful things about Targets, is Targets’ are wonderful things! (Sung to the Tigger Song).  And, there are all kinds of fun things to find.  What if I get some clear labels, I thought?  Could I use the idea from above and just print them out?  How would that look???? And without further ado…. Jar Labels:

They came out pretty good!!!! And, now I know what’s in the jars!  The only issue I had was with the small “honey jars.”    The stickers just didn’t want to stay on the rounded jars.  So, I guess we’ll have to just wait and see if they last!

How did I do it you ask?  Well, it was simple.  First, I used Avery shipping labels 18664 (I also tried labels 22822 — but these were small and didn’t stick well).  Then, I opened the template in word.  I used American Typewriter font to give it an “old time” feel.  Next, I printed, peeled and stuck!  That was it!  I imagine they are not dishwasher safe… so it will be handwashing for these guys in the future.  All the while, I watched college football and waited for Greg to get home!

So, what did you do with your Saturday????

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And…. we’re back!

Ok, so a lot happened over the past year… here’s the recap:

First… Greg and I got married!  On 11/12/11 we tied the proverbial knot in Charlotte, NC.  It was the best night of my life!!! 

Then… we went on our amazing honeymoon to Whistler and Vancouver, BC.  It was an AWESOME time, but I totally understand why people spend their honeymoons laying on the beach and not doing adventure sports… it’s exhausting!  

As if those changes weren’t enough… Greg got a new job… in Colorado.  Yep, you read that right… Colorado!  Fortunately, his new company is the SHIZ and is letting him work from our Blacksburg home until I finish up this May… oh yeah, that’s right… I’m finishing!  I will be defending my PhD in March and I teach until May… and then… we’re off to new adventures out west.  

Ok, now that you are caught up, you are probably thinking… “But, Farmer Ran… what about that garden you spent all that time making???” I know!  I know!  Well, the time came and since we’re renting out our house, Dread Pirate Roberts finally bit the dust.  Or did he???? We have a potential renter that is looking to garden, so no funerals just yet… he may live on to fight the good fight once again.  Stay tuned to find out.  That being said, I don’t know what the future holds for my gardening endeavors in the mile-high city, but that is why my I Beg Your Garden blog will be expanding!  Instead of just gardening, I’m going to be blogging about our move, our adventures, eating local, farmers markets and all things Western!  Greg and I are both self described foodies who will try anything, so I’m super excited to expand to locally farmed and hunted game.  I may not hunt, but I happy to reap the spoils of another’s effort. 😉 I will experiment with cooking and baking at high altitude (this could spell disaster) and trying new recipes.  I have heard WONDERFUL things about the farmers markets around Denver so get excited — 2012 is all about trying new things.  

Happy Farming (and Eating)!

🙂 Farmer Ran

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Garden (Blog) Hiatus???

Hello friends!

I haven’t written in FOREVER.  Well, that’s because Dred Pirate Roberts is dead (but a good dead, I swear).  I guess he’s more “hibernating” than dead.  Today, though, we should chat about pine needles and chemistry.  Chemistry? I know, I hate it too (and I’m getting a PhD in science).

Anywho, last summer we explored the many reasons for blossom end rot.  One of the reasons we get this nasty rot on our peppers and tomatoes is due to a chemical imbalance in the soil (re: too much acid).  There are a few “cures” for acid in the soil… egg shells, Tums, etc.  However, the most effective way to change the pH back to more neutral is by using lime (CaCO3).  This is standard practice in farming.  Here’s the ABC’s of the chemistry.  Things that add ammonium (NH3-) to the soil (re: fertilizer, pine needles) will make the soil more acidic.  How?  Well, the Nitrogen in ammonium and bacteria in the soil convert the NH3- to nitrite and then Nitrate in a process known as Nitrification (shout out to my friend Allian — this was part of her masters thesis!).  Ok, so what happens to all that Hydrogen?  Well, H+ is floating around making the soil all acidic, that’s what!   So, what does the lime do?  Well, the CaCO3 combines with the H+ and turns  it to H2O and CO2 (gas form… leaves soil) which raises the pH of the soil back to a more neutral state.  Did I mention that my masters degree is in soil?  For more info on this process (if you’re curious) visit this WSU page: http://www.ncw.wsu.edu/treefruit/soil/lime.htm.

CAUTION: too much  of a good thing leads to… well too much lime will raise the pH too high.  For a more complete discussion we’d have to get into alkalinity and the carbonate system… bicarb vs carbonate… and now my head hurts.  Take home message:  Do not over lime!  Apparently there are fast acting limes and slower limes.  I think it’s probably a good idea too add slow acting lime to your soil right before the first snow fall and let it work it’s magic during winter.  Of course, I never did this, so I will be trying a little bit of fast acting lime come March!  🙂 Too much science?  Well, gardening (like most things) is based on science and it’s good to know what’s happening in that soil of ours!  Once we get a handle on what causes problems, we can try to fix them, right!?!

So, I have big news.  Greg and I are engaged!  Thus, baking and gardening have been replaced by wedding planning and the like.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing all about it.

Farmer Ran Out!

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So, I brought some cherry tomatoes from Dread Pirate Roberts over to a friends house.  Her 7 year old who is a bit of a food pill described them as “a flavor explosion in your mouth.”  He also informed me that I should bring small ones and big ones next time.  Yes, Sir!

🙂 Farmer Ran

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The Miami Pumpkins?

So, every time I plant something new I learn something new.  For instance, did you know that pumpkins started their life green??? I for sure didn’t!  That is, until Greg pointed out the newly fruiting pumpkins in Dread Pirate Roberts!   Since the entirety of my pumpkin experiences have been with harvested or canned pumpkins, I just always assumed they were orange.  Why would they be any other color?  I do not have any picture to upload today, but I promise to be back with some later.  I just had to post my surprise.

So, green and orange… where have I seen this before?  I’m going to start a campaign to officially change the Miami Hurricanes to the Miami Pumpkins.  I mean, if the color fits…. Who’s with me????

In other gardening news, it appears that my new harvest of green peppers are doing much better than the first harvest.  Same plants, same soil, but no blossom end rot!  This is puzzling… seeing as blossom end rot is mostly due to a  lack of calcium in the soil, I wouldn’t expect to see this much improvement.  However, after some pondering on the subject, I seemed to recall that too much nitrogen can hinder calcium uptake.  Well, it could be possible that my soil (that came with 3 months of feed) started getting low on nitrogen towards the end of the summer.  Perhaps the depletion of nitrogen helped the green pepper to flourish more?  WHO KNOWS???? Thoughts????

Happy Farming

🙂 Farmer Ran

p.s. Some of you astute collegiate football fans may notice how I ended in blue.  This is because orange and blue is by far the better color combination and Florida school!!! GO GATORS!


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If you haven’t yet seen the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Nick Cage… I highly recommend it!  What a fun movie.  That being said, if you’ve seen the Mickey version then that’s good enough to understand what is happening in my garden.  If you haven’t seen either, well, long story short… the Sorcerer’s Apprentice is tasked with cleaning a room.  So, naturally, he uses magic to do so.  Quickly, this turns into a nightmare as brooms start multiplying, water’s flying everywhere… you get the picture.  Ok, so I think that’s how it goes with summer gardens as well!  First, you have nothing.  Then, maybe a tomato or two.  Suddenly you have 500 tomatoes, 1000 jalapeno peppers and it’s getting out of control!  Who can eat or even give away this much produce???!?  What is a Farmer Girl to do?  Freeze things!!!!

According to some friends, salsa freezes nicely.  Plus, you really cannot mess up salsa, can you?  Ok, here’s what I did:

Ingredients:
(From Dread Pirate Roberts):

Tomatoes, Jalapenos, Green Pepper, Parsley

(From the store):

Garlic, onion, salt, pepper, olive oil

1) Chop all ingredients to approx equal chunks and throw into food processor

2) Pulse to desired thickness

3) Add some olive oil, salt and pepper

4) Store in containers and Freeze

Seriously, I think I was done in 15 minutes — and it is delish!!!!

🙂 Farmer Ran

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