A Peck of Pickled Peppers . . . Perhaps

We have four jalapeno plants this year. Two planted in containers and two planted where are raised bed used to be. All of these pepper plants are producing way more peppers than we can possibly eat. So, we decided to try some quick pickling recipes.

We had three recipes to try, but only two saucepans. So we tried two recipes in two batches producing to pints of pickled peppers. Relatively easy and didn’t take long at all. We wore latex gloves, however, while slicing and handling the jalapenos.

The first recipe we tried came from Chili Pepper Madness and was simply called Pickled Jalapenos. We found the second recipe “Quick 10 Minute Pickled Jalapeno” at Gimme Delicious. Both of these batches will last several weeks in the refrigerator. We did not want to go through the hot and humid process of pressure canning, so this was an acceptable alternative.

We sliced a dozen plus a few more to split between the two recipes. It didn’t take long at all to get the first batch of water, vinegar and spices boiling, followed quickly by the other one. As soon as you put the jalapenos in the boiling brine, you give it a quick stir, pull it off the heat and let it cool for five to eight minutes. Then we transferred peppers to the pint jars and poured the brine until it covered them.

The jar on the right is the Chili Madness recipe.

Depending on which of these two recipes we like best, we may do a double or triple batch to share with family, friends and neighbors. We’re letting the pint jars rest in the fridge for a few days to infuse the flavors of the brine in the jalapeno slices. We’ll let you know which one wins the taste test in a future blog post.

Gardening Baby Steps

I started writing this post last Monday. Now six days later, on Sunday, I’m composing this first sentence. I got only so far as to think of a title for the post. I’ll be inside most of today as the ‘good weather’ of the past week has finally reversed (as so often happens during springtime on the Great Plains). As I look out my home office window, the trees and lawns wax verdant. My mail box flower garden sports a single red Dahlia bloom while the Gazanias sleep in.

Sunday morning view out my home office window (looking southeast down Fawn Valley)

My front yard drama I’ll cover in a separate post that will become a review, possibly scathing, of a local lawn and landscape company. But I will not mar this post with dark brooding thoughts.

Over the past few days, I’ve planted a Dahlia, four Gazanias and sixteen moss roses (also known as Portaluca). I bought a bag of mulch but I had so many moss roses I’m not sure I can squeeze in the mulch between all these plants. All of this in half my flower garden on the south side of my mail box. The north side is still dominated by my two robust day lily plants. I had two on the south side but that bed was damaged sometime in the last year or two and I’ve lost one of the day lilies and the remaining one is small and stressed. At the end of this year, I’ll probably completely redo this flower bed, put in new soil and find some different perennials, leaving some space for annuals to switch out next year.

Click on photo of the Gazania to see my Flowers and Herbs photo album, updated frequently with new photos.
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Zo ExZited

Third Zucchini Closeup
Click on any photo to see entire album.

Last night, after walking and feeding the dogs, I let them out into the back yard as the sun was setting. Since the wind had died completely and the light was that perfect golden twilight time, I took a few photos of our summer container garden.  It has been a few days since I’d checked the interior of the zucchini plant (pictured above) and I quickly noticed the large yellowish-green bloom.

This morning, as I was watering the plants, it was hard to miss this bright beautiful yellow zucchini blossom among the green leaves of the rest of the plant:

Zucchini Bloom

Continue reading “Zo ExZited”

Summer Patio Container Gardening


We haven’t tried our hands at gardening for a couple of years. Our raised bed has been overtaken by oak and maple tree saplings which are now taller than me; as well as leftover containers, fencing and tomato cages from our last gardening effort. We invested in new larger containers this year (larger than five-gallon buckets) and planted two cherry tomatoes, two Cherekee heirlooms and two jalapeno plants on May 9th. A week or so later I planted a lone zucchini plant. I love zucchini and wanted to try one to see how well it does.

Ten days after transplanting the seedlings (shown above in the first photo), we already had baby tomatoes on both of our cherry tomato plants.


Today, I finally saw blossoms on the heirloom plants (but not baby tomatoes yet).


And the jalapeno plants both of small baby peppers.


The zucchini appears to be blooming as well, or at least I think these are blooms (near the base/root of the plant):


My husband thinks we may have cherry tomatoes to harvest in another ten days. Since it’s been in the mid 90s the last two days, he might be on to something.

Click this link see our Summer Patio Garden photo album.

Wildflower Garden Update

20160609_055708Last fall, we had some landscaping done on the east and north sides of the house. The south side just had some fill dirt graded against the foundation and a cherry try planted between the apple tree and the fence. We also removed the bothersome mulberry terry from the corner of the fenced backyard.

I attempted to grow sunflowers last summer with limited success.  This year, I decided I wanted a wildflower garden to give bees and hopefully hummingbirds something to enjoy.  I bought a bag of wildflower seed, raked the fill dirt to loosen it and even it out and liberally sprinkled the seed along the entire south wall of the house.  A few weeks later, I’m starting to see blooms, thanks in no small part to nearly ten inches of rain we received in May.

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Revamping Our Mailbox Flowerbed

I am the first to admit that I do not have a green thumb.  Nearly every plant I’ve ever been given as a gift, unless it’s a cactus, has died.  This makes no sense, since I grew up in a farming community and helped my parents maintain a vegetable garden as a child.  Plants and I just don’t get along.

Four years ago, I decided ten years of neglect to the flowerbed hiding under our mailbox was enough.

What a mess! Ten years of accumulated neglect. (May 2009)

I enlisted Rachelle’s assistance (she’ll tell you I drafted her) in removing the weeds and ground covering shrubs.

Rachelle wrestling the shrub.

Eventually, we got down to dirt.  We visited a local nursery, where I bought four pots of already blooming day lilies.  Rachelle dug the holes and got them transplanted to the flowerbed.  We mulched it and I kept my fingers crossed.

Two years later, on Rachelle’s birthday, the day lilies were having a celebration.

Day Lilies Blooming on Rachelle’s Birthday (June 2011)

Three months later, Terry and I decided to have the driveway torn out and completely replaced.   During the winters, it became nearly impossible to shovel it:

Driveway Before Tear-Out (Aug 2011)

During the tear-out, the southern portion of the mailbox flower bed was damaged, hurting one of the day lily bunches.

Driveway Destruction (Aug 2011)

Last year, thanks to the drought, I didn’t do much of anything with landscaping or with our yard.  The grass seed we planted (and which thrived during the Spring of 2012), died and my front yard looked awful.  This year, we replanted grass seed again, over a larger portion of the front and side yards and thankfully we’ve gotten plenty of rain.

Terry tore out the remaining landscape timbers a couple of months ago. We hauled that off to the dump during the city’s annual spring cleaning initiative. My dad provided some used landscaping bricks he wanted to remove from his backyard.

Earlier this week, we were at Home Depot and I saw an orange lily I thought would look great with the almost-ready-to-bloom day lilies.  We bought two of them and planted them Wednesday evening:

Day Lilies BloomingAs you can see from the photo above, I installed the landscaping bricks along the front of the mailbox at the same time.

Yesterday, Terry and I visited a local nursery and picked up two large pots of cone flowers and three flats of moss roses to add to the flowerbed.  I spent an hour or two digging a shallow trench for the landscaping bricks and got them installed before the sun set.

making progeess under the mailboxThis afternoon, Terry dug two large holes to plant the cone flowers and I plugged a few of the moss roses around the front of the bed.

Done Digging
All that’s left is mulch. (click image to view rest of album)

Now, all I can do is pray that they’ll continue to thrive, despite my history with plants.