Eggplant Parmesan

I have never made Eggplant Parmesan before,  though I love it.  Then the other day I was looking at blogs and saw a very simple and easy Eggplant Parmesan recipe.  The recipe calls to use pasta sauce of your choice, so I made homemade sauce.   I don’t have a recipe as I just kinda throw it together.  I use whatever fresh ingredients I have tomatoes, peppers, herbs and then just add to it.  I put it in a slow cooker and by the end of the day it is delicious.  Click here to go to Dakota Garden and get the recipe for the Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

I must say, I was feeling very adventurous, and thought I would also make a carrot cake, as the sauce cooked.  This was my first attempt at carrot cake and lets just say there is a reason there is no picture here,  it turned out awful!  If anyone has a good carrot cake recipe I’d love to have it.  I’m sure it was the recipe that was bad, couldn’t possibly be me.  🙂

This Garden to Table challenge is held by Wendy from Greenish Thumb, head over there to check out other great recipes.

Last Supper

Tonight this Green Lynx Spider is eating it’s last super on my Butterfly Bush.  I previously posted this same spider eating a bumble bee.  I feel that I am very tolerant when it comes to insects, but even I have my limits.  It just seems wrong to plant a butterfly bush to attract bees and butterflies, and then at the same time knowingly allow a predator to take up residence there.  Am I overstepping my boundaries?  Do I just need to let nature take it’s course or is it okay to step in?

Green Lynx Spider eating its last supper

Pickleworm

I noticed some of my cucumbers were yellowing.  I was unsure what was causing this and then upon further inspection I noticed tiny holes in the cucumbers.

After doing research I learned these holes were caused by pickleworms, making them inedible. 🙁  Below is a picture of the pickleworm once I broke the cucumber apart.  Glad I didn’t eat that.

There are several natural enemies of the pickleworm including various beetles and imported fire ants.  At this point I figure I must not have these becuase so many of my cucumbers are infested.  At first, I thought my only choice was to use a chemical insecticide.  But then I read in my “Rodale’s Chemical-Free Yard and Garden” book that BTK, Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki,  should kill the pickleworm.   If you nee more info, The University of Florida has a great page on pickleworms.

Walking the Highway

A few years ago, I was visiting my parents and we were sitting around the kitchen table talking.  My dad turned to me and asked me, “how was I giving back to the community”.  At the time, I had no response for him.  It was one of those nagging questions that stays in the back of your mind.  As I am sure I have said in other posts, this upcoming year is a milestone birthday year for me so it seems like there is no time like the present to answer some of these nagging questions.  So when it comes to helping the community I asked myself what could I do?  Now I know, with as much bad stuff going on, it may seem rather lame to consider joining  The Navarre Garden Club to be a civic duty.  But, I have a hope, that if  a few people care about the community maybe it will be infectious and others will join. Today we cleaned a 2 mile stretch of highway that leads into our community.   It’s a start….

NGC ready for clean up

Fall Planting

The past two weeks have been so busy for me, that I haven’t even had time, until today, to plant my much anticipated fall garden.  I transplanted my fall seedlings and everything else got directly sown into the garden.  As you can see my second summer crop is doing very well, I have tiny cucumbers and zapallo squash, and blooms on my tomatoes, beans, and winter squash.

Fall Garden

Our weather here is still hot with the highs in the upper 80’s to low 90’s and lows around 70.  When I ordered my seeds from Heirloom Seeds I got a sheet specifically telling me that lettuce won’t germinate in hot weather.  I went ahead and planted my lettuce today but am a little worried it’s still too hot.  Hopefully, they will germinate.  But I figure, what’s to lose, each seed pack comes with hundreds of seeds, enough to last me years in my square foot garden.

While in the garden I noticed I have a helper, no this time it’s not my dog Kahlo, but an insect eating helper.  Non other then a Praying Mantis.  Hopefully, I didn’t scare him off by taking his picture because I sure could use his help.   Do they eat caterpillars?  I hope so.

Praying Mantis

Then much to my dismay in my butterfly garden I found this.

Green Lynx Spider eating Bumble Bee

I have been adding flowers to my garden that attract bees.  I have convinced myself the reason my zucchini and summer squash, in my first summer garden, didn’t produce much fruit was due to a lack of bees.  So to see that the Green Lynx Spider got this bee made me sad.

Colorful Corn Salad

My pepper plants are continuing to produce so I decided to make a Colorful Corn Salad.  This is a great summer salad, just be prepared to do a lot of chopping, but it’s worth it.

Peppers from my garden

Colorful Corn Salad

Here is the recipe for this great salad.

This Garden to Table challenge is held by Wendy from Greenish Thumb, head over there to check out other great recipes.

Rabbits and Compost

After having to purchase compost to build my square foot garden, I told myself no more, from now on I will make my own.  I have to say that my previous attempts at composting have been less than successful.  This time it will be different, I will succeed.   To start, I bought “Composting for Dummies” and have enlisted my friend’s mom, Collete, for help.  Colette takes in hurt, abused, and homeless rabbits.  So what better place to go for a little rabbit poop for the compost pile.

12 of the 26 rabbits

I thought you might enjoy seeing her prize rabbit, the only one which was not a rescue.

Lion Head Rabbit

Here is Colette with one of the rabbits.

Colette

The Making of a Mosaic Bird Bath

I’ve been thinking I need a bird bath.  You may wonder why, to make a long story shorter, I just recently, within the past few months, got my courage up to set my bird feeders back out.  Now I know that sounds strange, but when I first moved to this house, I set up my bird feeders at the back of the property. One night, with the help of a flashlight, I saw a big black bear sitting down helping himself to my bird seed.  The next day down they came.  I missed watching the birds.  Deciding to be brave, I put my bird feeders back up, this time I  placed them near the house.  I figured, either that would deter the bear, or at least I’d get a good view of him eating my birdseed. 🙂   Of course, now I needed a bird bath.  I’ve been looking but couldn’t find one that I really liked. Then the other day I salvaged a clay saucer from someone’s trash (sshhh).   I had seen other people use these as bird baths but what would I use as a pedestal?  Then I remembered, I had purchused some 6″ pvc pipe to put in my pond as safe haven, from the blue heron, for my Koi.  The Koi refused to use them, so I would use this and just mosaic it.

Following are directions for how I made my bird bath.

Supplies:  6″ PVC, saucer for bath, tile or ceramic plates or anything you would like to use to cover the PVC, sandpaper,  tile mortar, sanded grout, grout sealer, baby wire brush (not necessary but helpful), tile trowel (not necessary but also helpful), hammer, paint scraper to apply grout, and safety glasses.

Tile and Plates for covering PVC

Tile Mortar, Grout, and Grout Sealer

Here’s the fun part, using a hammer, break the tile and plates into small pieces.  You should wear safety glasses when doing this.

Break Tile and Plates

Lightly sand the PVC so the mortar will adhere better.  Mix tile mortar according to instructions.  I used half the bag, but should have only used one third, I had a lot left over.  Also, I didn’t use the premixed kind, because the tile guy at Lowes said “the kind in the bag holds up better in outdoor situations” (sure hope he’s right).   After the mixing is done, apply the mortar in small sections, so it will not dry out, this I learned from experience.  Next place tile.

Applying mortar and tile

Continue placing tile until the PVC is fully covered.  Note:  I did not apply tiles to the bottom 6″ because I am going to bury it to keep it from tipping over, this is probably not necessary, just personal preference.

Cover PVC except bottom 6″

After mortar has dried, mix grout per instructions.  I used about one third of the bag, I also used grout boost.  You do not have to use this, but once again, the tile guy at Lowes said, ” this would help with the elements” (again hope he’s right).  After mixing is completed, apply grout make sure you get it down in all the creveses.

Apply grout

As the grout dries use the baby wire brush to remove excess grout.  You will want the grout to dry a little but not all the way.  If it is too soft you will remove too much from in between the tiles, but if it’s too dry it will be a beast to remove.  I suggest you just test a small section to see if it’s dry enough.

Use baby wire brush to remove excess grout

Once the grout is almost completely dry use a damp cloth to completely remove remaining grout and haze from tiles.  This may take time, just keep at it until the tile is nice and shiny.

Remove all excess grout and haze from tile

Once the grout has completely dried your are ready to place your bird bath out in your garden. 🙂   I  put a few rocks in the back in hopes butterflies would also use it, though I’m not sure how that will go.

Completed Mosaic Bird Bath

If anyone is interested in making one of these, the cost is about $30 each, not counting the saucer, I don’t know how much those cost.  To keeep cost down; check local tile stores, they always have scraps they will give away, (most times they will only have nuetral colors, I use some nuetral colors along with the colorful), also look for colorful plates at garage sale and thrift stores, the flatter the plate the more usable pieces you will get.   I purchased my  6″ PVC at a plumbing store.  It only comes in 10 ft pieces which will make at least three, depending on how tall you want your bird bath.  I paid around $20 for this a few years ago.  The draw back is since the PVC, mortar, grout, and grout sealers are only sold in quantities to make three bird baths, the cost of $30 each only applies if you make three.  But Christmas will be here before you know it, I’m sure we all know someone who would like one of these. 🙂  Did I just tip my hand?   The time in labor to build the bird bath is approximately 5 hrs (not including drying time), give or take depending on experience.   If you have any questions I’ll help if I can, just drop me a line at charsgardening@yahoo.com.

Zucchini Boats

Stuffed Zucchini Boats is one of my favorite recipes.  I am sorry to have to say, I had to purchase these zucchini’s because, as I’m sure your tired of hearing me lament, I have no produce of my own at this time.  🙁  This recipe is fast, easy, and tasty, making it a real winner for me.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

This Garden to Table challenge is held by Wendy from Greenish Thumb, head over there to check out other great recipes.