Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 87

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.* 

We were graced with a good dose of rain yesterday.
Those afternoon storms are appreciated,
as they break up the oppressive heat we've been experiencing.
Our summer crops are few, but we grow what we can.
Here's a garden update.

The leaves on the sweet potato we planted last week are a dark green color.
That's a good sign.
We are letting it sprawl through our recently created Veggie Bed #1.

Two types of heat tolerant lettuce were directly sown
in our shady area.
We are attempting to grow lettuce in the summer,
no small task.
So far, so good.

Here is some of the "Freckles" variety that had been started in seed trays.
Slow growing, but worth the wait if we get some for our table!
This will most likely get transplanted next weekend to a pot.
I want to see if it grows better in a container
or straight in the ground.

What a thrill to see a pigeon pea vine sprouting up.
Although several seeds were sown,
this was the only that has amounted to anything.
We acquired the seeds from someone who came to one of our plant giveaways.

This canary melon was also gifted us by the same couple.
We've never grown either of these two plants,
so it'll be fun to see what happens.
I'm hoping to have enough production to be able to save seeds. 
Here's a little bit about this variety.

Another project has me potting up volunteer crape myrtle seedlings.
With the onset of some much needed rains,
they're holding their own.
They will be listed on Craig's List when they get a bit more size to them.

The gloriosa daisy plants don't need much.
They are quite heat tolerant and do well with the most stringent watering.
The pollinators love 'em!
So much beauty for so little effort.
What a blessing.

The cosmos drink up the rain water.
They are scattered throughout the garden,
adding a pop of color everywhere they dwell.

A small clump of agapanthus graces our backyard bed.
This is an all-time favorite that was brought to my attention by our neighbor,
when we first moved here 10 years ago.
This picture doesn't really do it justice,
but Meems, over at Hoe and Shovel has done a wonderful job of showcasing this beauty.
Her garden blog is extraordinary!

This gorgeous feather grass was given to us 
by my friend KK, who recently moved away.
She will be missed, but part of her will stay with this garden.
The way it sways in the breeze is a sight to behold.

We are still inundated with gulf fritillary caterpillars,
and a record number of chrysalises can be found surrounding our back porch.
Lots of butterflies will soon be hatching!

 The rain was a welcome visitor.
Everything is renewed, refreshed
and cooled off, if only for a short time.
We'll take any cooldown we can get!

What's happening where you are?
HOP on!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Sweet Potatoes

Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, already looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe. 


We begin the series with sweet potatoes.
It's one of the only crops that will thrive in our summer heat.

It starts here.
All that is required is to place a sweet potato
into water until sprouts form at the bottom.
It's called a sweet potato slip.
We used small nails to prop the spud out of the water,
but toothpicks, chopsticks, or wire will do just as well.  


After a few days, white roots will emerge from the bottom.
A few more days will pass before you see 
the leaves start to sprout right out of the top.
It doesn't get much easier than that, folks. 

When the leaves are abundant,
transplant it to the garden.
It will take off and sprawl,
so give it space or use a trellis to support the vine.

The light purple (almost pink) blooms are an added bonus!
When the leaves begin to turn yellow,
they are ready for harvest.
Dig them up, compost the leaves
and cure the potatoes for about 10 days.
This simply means leaving them out to dry in a warm place
(but not in direct sunlight).
This enables them to develop their sweetness.

Eating a variety of colors is a sure way to
add health and vitality to your life.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with calcium, potassium and
the A and C vitamins.
Something so delicious and good for you too?
Who could ask for more.

We hope you'll add this easy-to-grow crop
to your garden.
Join us each Friday for our Summer Series- 
Seed to Table.

Here's one way we enjoy these sweet delights:

Sweet Potato Fries

3 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
olive oil

Lay the potatoes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Add oil and seasonings to lightly coat.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes,
turn and continue baking 8-10 minutes.

Quick Announcement!
The premier issue of Modern Farmstead magazine is out today.
This is the brainchild of my friend, Staci,
over at Life at Cobble Hill Farm.
I hope you enjoy my article on simplifying,
as well as the contributions of some talented bloggers.
You can find it here.

Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

Recipe Swap

Tuesday Garden Party Co-Hosts

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One Simple Thing-Easy Beans

We love finding ways to simplify our lives.
What could be better than having someone something else do the cooking?

In this case, we employ our crockpot to cook our beans.
The crockpot is a great way to keep the heat out of your kitchen in the summer.
Just add the beans, throw in a bay leaf or two, a bit of salt, add water,
and place it on low overnight.
(They can also be simmered during the day,
while tending to other things.)
Drain them the next morning (save the water for the garden),
and you're ready to go!

Having beans at the ready makes preparing meals so much easier.
They can be added to soups, stews, burgers, burritos and so much more.
They are loaded with fiber, minerals and protein,
and a great choice for meatless meals.
To get double duty from the crockpot,
after draining them, add them back to the crockpot with salsa or barbecue sauce
and heat them through.

We do a big batch every couple of weeks,
so they are ready to toss into any dish.
Since we scratch cook,
they are a wonderful addition to most anything we make.
The date and type is added to the container,
which makes it easy to see what's available 
without opening the bin.

Having cooked beans in the freezer just makes sense.
It takes so little time cooking them this way,
that they practically cook themselves!
Whatcha waitin' for?
Get slow cookin'!

One Simple Thing

Other posts on beans:

We're Fulla Beans
Belly Fillin' Beans
White Bean Ragout 

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 86

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.* 

We're taking a field trip today.

This cute little cottage belongs to a friend of Big K.
He and Mr. R know each other from Ham Radio.
He invited us over to look at the tiny house
that he customized from a storage shed. 
It was originally going to be a cottage for a family member,
but the situation changed, 
so he currently uses it as a getaway,
right in his own backyard!

There is an area designated for use as a kitchen. 
There is still room for additional cabinets, 
or maybe one of those fold-down tables on the wall, if needed.
 Although his lot is amply shaded,
you can see all of the natural light streaming in.

The living area is cozy as is.
What a great reading nook or music room.
He added shelving for display items and art for that homey feel.
The flooring was obtained for free and he installed it himself.
We love that it got repurposed!

The loft area has enough room to sleep two.
This tiny house is fully insulated and air-conditioned for ultimate comfort.
The perfect man-cave.

The cottage is actually twice the size we've shown.
Mr. R uses the other half for storage of lawn equipment.

We were so impressed with his handywork and creativity.
This would be a great solution for anyone who is looking for a guest cottage or even a rental unit.
Thanks, Mr. R for showing us  your tiny house!

What's going on where you are?
HOP to it!

Friday, June 19, 2015

The People's Pharmacy

The People's Pharmacy with Joe and Terry Graedon 
is a radio show
dedicated to empowering the listener
with information about health.
We listen to it every Saturday at 7 a.m.
on our local public radio station.
It's one of the best hours of the week.

I always learn something new 
and it's a great way to keep up with
current dietary and health news.
Being someone who leans more toward
natural remedies and the wisdom of old-fashioned common sense, 
this show explores many of the home remedies we all grew up with.
In many cases, it's better than what the doctor ordered.

Beyond that, practitioners from many different medical fields
participate in providing the latest information on a variety of health-related topics.
A specific subject each week is discussed 
and folks can call in and ask questions or share their experiences.

Big K and I listened in amazement last week,
when Dr. Neil Spector shared his story
about being misdiagnosed.
The man nearly died before his fellow physicians
started taking him seriously about his symptoms.
Who needs reality tv, when stuff like this is going on?

The topics range from homemade remedies for the common cold 
to the latest research being done at the university level.
There is a lot of great practical information to be heard.

Here's where you can find the program in your area:
The People's Pharmacy

I hope you'll listen in and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 85

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.* 

We've been transitioning our garden
for the hotter summer weather.
The season doesn't officially start until Sunday,
but you wouldn't know it by walking outside.
 Here's what's going on in our Central Florida garden.

Our Epic eggplant have been smaller than usual,
but just as tasty.

Leek are planted as a border in the third veggie bed.
They won't be ready until closer to fall,
but they are worth the wait.

The Slenderette green beans have been slow to grow,
but we've gotten a couple of harvests so far.

This is a new crop for us that we got from Mary's Heirloom Seeds.
It's called the Royalty Purple Podded Bean
and we look forward to observing its growth habits,
and of course, the harvest.

 It's so exciting to grow new crops!

We've turned what used to be the veggie garden into a butterfly bed.
Since the flower seeds I sowed were taking a while to germinate,
I decided to transplant one type of summer crop to the area.

 This canary melon seed was gifted to us 
by someone who came to one of our plant giveaways.
Can't wait to sample this!

It's wonderful to be able to grow sweet potatoes.
We use them a lot and they are one of the easiest things to grow.
Knowing that they enjoy the sweltering summers makes it even better. 

It started with this slip we grew from a sweet potato we bought at the grocery store. 
Can't get much easier than adding water into a container.

The Buttercrunch and Simpson's Elite lettuces that Lynn gave me
are holding their own under the shade of the saltbush.

The Calabaza doesn't mind the heat,
but it has been planted under shade to hedge our bets.

Okra thrives in our hot, humid weather.
We'll be pickling it soon!

The broccoli is spent and has been pulled up for the summer. 

 This is a new type of lettuce called "Freckles" that we're trying.
We got it from Sow True Seeds, another favorite seed company.
We've sown a six-pack of it and will continue to create starts
throughout the summer.
What a blessing if we are able to grow lettuce this time of year!

This plumbago is pruned almost weekly in the warmer (and rainier) months.

Zinnias are one of my favorites for cutting and bringing inside.
We do leave many outside for the pollinators.
Butterflies and bees flock to them.
Can you blame them?

Multiple sunflowers on this stalk add lots of cheer. 
Sunflowers just scream summer!

Our rudbekia comes back year after year.

These are absolutely glorious in flower arrangements.

Stormy skies look promising,
but the rain is not predicted to bless us this time.

What's going on where you are?
HOP to it!