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Showing posts from August, 2012

How NOT to Gather and Eat Black Walnuts

Smack! Bam! Thwack! Thunk! Crash! Nope.  I'm not quoting a comic book.  Rather, These are the sounds I've been hearing outside every day and night for a little over a week. The black walnut trees are dropping walnuts at a rather fast rate.  I'm seriously considering donning a helmet every time I go out into my backyard. Naturally, I wanted to crack one of these walnuts open and have a taste. First, I had to remove the outer husk.  These husks tend to be green, brown, or green and brown. A pile of un-husked black walnuts Generally, the idea is to use walnuts that don't have a pre-cracked outer husk.  This, unfortunately, is nearly impossible in my yard, because the black walnut trees are huge. As in at-least-one-floor-taller-than-a-2-story-house-with-attic huge. Yeah, they don't fall without cracking. And that's when you want to gather them: after they fall.  If you pick them, you may end up harvesting them too soon.

Garden Grain and One Tiny Cookie

Artisan breads!  Cereals! Cupcakes!  Cookies! Dinner rolls! I twirled around my backyard, no doubt causing the neighbors to fearfully peek out their windows in an attempt to figure out what 'that crazy lady next door' was doing. Happy I was, because yet again, I made an interesting discovery: I know what the grassy stuff in my bird seed garden is!!! W  o  o  h  o  o  !  !  ! It's wheat!  That's right... soon I'll be staring out at 'amber waves of grain'! Well, ok, an amber wave of grain... Alright, already! A couple of stems with a few grain heads poking out of them. But that's still pretty cool in some small-scale, crazed pseudo-scientist way, right? In reality, there won't be enough grain to produce much of anything... except maybe one cookie. That's a bit of an exaggeration, isn't it? Ok, in reality... But, hey!                       's still a cookie! Right?

Fall is in Full Swing!!! ...In Summer?

Fall is in full swing!  The leaves are falling in bursts throughout the day.  Every morning I walk outside to a fresh yellow carpet upon my back porch. Just one problem. It's  still  summer . Oh, boy.... The leaves are falling like crazy, and it happens in waves.  It's like the trees all coordinate with each other and, regardless of breezes or lack thereof, fall from the trees at the                                                                                           exact                                                                                                same                                                                                                      time. It's really quite creepy. But that's not all.  Here's the black walnut tree that I keep my suet feeder attached to in my front yard, right beside the street: Yellow leaves galore, right? Ok, now let's change the camera angle: My neighbors across the st

Onion Bandit or Success Story?

I looked out the window and down into my front garden. There was a hole . Where was this hole, you ask?  It was where I had planted the basement onion so long ago.  I could see the limp onion leaves that were clinging to the edge of the big vacant space. I had... An Onion Bandit!!! Some critter had ruthlessly absconded with my onion, leaving nothing but the tops of the plant! How dare he?! Furious, I began to come up with intricate plans to stop the bandit from ever attempting such horrible thievery ever again. But then I removed what was left from the hole and looked a little more closely. It appeared I didn't have an onion bandit, after all!  Upon closer inspection, it seemed that the original onion had decomposed in order to make way for the growth of a new onion.  Tiny roots were shooting out from the remainder of the bulb. I stuck it back into the ground and covered it up. I wasn't convinced of this idea yet, however, so I went to t

Miniature Dragon Tracks Spotted!

I have a miniature dragon living in the backyard!!! I have it all figured out, you see.  Some poor, unfortunate bird landed in the wet sand.  It moved forward and dipped its beak into the cool, moist soil, retrieving a fat earthworm. Then, the dragon leapt out of its hiding place deep within the soil. Like in the movie Tremors. RAWR!!! The bird never had a chance. Feathers and bird tracks were all that remained of it, as the miniature dragon crawled away, dragging its full belly across the dirt. Content. No, really.  I have proof . See? ...what? You doubt me?! The evidence is right there.  In the green sandbox. The bird tracks are very obviously in the center, and the dragon tracks go along the edge of the area, three indentations, then a wide space, then another three indentations, etc.  A perfect repeating pattern. It's a miniature dragon, obviously. Duh. What?  You think it's something else? You rej

Farmers Market Happiness - The Hula Way!

"Mommy, look!  There's feet under there!"   My daughter giggled and pointed to our right.  We had just entered Central Park to gather this week's supplies from the farmers market. Sure enough, I saw some bare feet poking out from beneath a tarp that was being put together. Searching through my mental filing cabinet, I remembered that day was the Faribault International Festival .  My daughter and I arrived at the park about 20 minutes before starting time, so all we could see so far was people setting up. That was ok, though, because we had some shopping to do.  Again, funds were low, so I had to do a lot of comparative shopping within the farmers market.  This time, I walked in with $18.  I really hoped I could get everything I needed! So what kind of treasures did I gain this week? 1 pound of tomatoes 1 loaf of poppy seed bread - that stuff is amazing!!! 1 yellow patty pan squash 1 broccoli 1 gigantic bunch of carrots 1 black plum kolache (eaten

Tea Tree Oil for Tooth Pain

Yep, you read that correctly!  I've made another tea tree oil discovery. Hooray for this medicine cabinet in a bottle!!! In this case, there is one simple, very important ground rule: That's right.  Don't drink it.  If you have problems with accidentally swallowing your mouthwash, this natural remedy is not for you. That being said...  let's talk about just how awesome tea tree oil is if you're suffering from tooth pain. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties.   Generally speaking, the reason a person has tooth pain is because bacteria has invaded a cavity or sore in the general area.  Remove the bacteria and you remove the pain. A while back, I made a very unfortunate trip to the dentist.  This was a new dentist that I knew nothing about.  I swiftly learned, however, that she was very good at both taking care of the problems I had, and creating new ones.   This, of course, didn't instill a great deal of confidence in me. I've been pl

Even Green Boots Will Have a New Look

My discussion today is going to be a bit off track from normal.  No gardening, no DIY projects, and no tips to help in the quest to go green. Told ya... I'm way off track today. What in the heck am I thinking?! I'm thinking that you, as an important part of this blog, have the right to know when changes are afoot. The thing is, my green boots are going to have a sparkling new look in the near future, and I didn't want that to scare you into thinking you've managed to land on someone else's blog. No, I'm not changing my concept.  Even Green Boots Leave Trails will still follow me on my quest to become more environmentally responsible, and I'll still talk about my successes and failures in that regard. None of those things will change. Rather, I wanted to warn you that the look of this blog will probably be vastly different.  See, I've discovered errors in the template I use.  For those of you that don't know what a template is, think

Male and Female Blooms? What's the difference?

It all finally makes sense! Everything I had ever read just seemed like gibberish: "It's so easy to tell the difference!" "The blooms with a bulbous base are the females." Yeah, so... since planting my first squash varieties this spring, I had never been able to tell the difference between male and female blooms on a squash.  They all looked the same to me. I was really beginning to feel like an idiot.   If it was so easy, why couldn't I tell the difference?  Was I really that inept at spotting changes?  I mean, I always did pretty well on those games in which you spot the differences in two photos, so I couldn't be that bad... right? Well, it turns out that my problem came from the fact that everywhere I looked, nobody had ever shown a picture of the difference between male and female blooms.  I mean, I'm sure they're out there... I just hadn't seen any.  This, of course, makes all the difference in the world. Here's a p

Branches, Saw Issues, and LOTS of Sweat

It's been weeks since I started building my sister's birthday present.  There's nothing more fulfilling than giving a gift that was created via your own blood and sweat. Unfortunately, her birthday just recently passed. And I'm still not finished. I should have stuck with gardening, like with my other sister's mother's day present . I'm lucky, though, because she understands that a present that comes directly from the heart can sometimes take a little longer than expected, due to unforeseen difficulties. And, wow... difficulties there have been... from the very start. I grabbed a huge pile of black walnut tree branches that I had collected over the past couple of months.  I thought it'd be great to try to use a pocket saw to cut the branches I was using for the project. I mean, how cool is that?  Such a tiny piece of equipment that can be used to fell branches just screamed for me to use it!  I'd loop a saw that's basically a th

Pillbugs in the Potato Grow Bag. Oh, My!

Armored bodies scurry across the soil of my potato grow bag on 14 legs.  Not just one body.  Or two. Or three. There are many of them.  Tiny babies, half the size of the mature form. Pillbugs. Obviously, that picture didn't come from the potato grow bag.  Sadly, due to color similarities, the pillbugs kept blending in with the soil, so this was the best I could do, unless I wanted to tease you with a game of Where's Waldo: garden style.  I took this picture looking down on a cooler. Yesterday, I talked about the ants that had overrun one of the stems on my potato grow bag.  This, I believe, is due to the fact that I wasn't giving the potatoes nearly enough water, which was very surprising to me, because I didn't neglect the grow bag.  Sure enough, though, when I checked the soil, it was drier than I'd like it to be. There were also pillbugs.  Now, there weren't nearly as many as I had found in the cinder blocks that I turned into a cinder block

Ants In My Potato Grow Bag!

"Argh!!!  No!!!!!!!!  What the heck?!" "What's wrong?" "I'll call you later!" Click. It's a good thing most of my phone calls don't end this way, right? I thought my potato grow bag was doing well.  I really did. And, well... for the most part it was.  Except that I ran into a wee little problem that I was not expecting. Ants. A lot of ants. Leaning in closely, I was able to see that they were tearing off an entire branch of one of my potato plants.  I followed the trails that were made, leading away from this point, hoping that I could discover where the ants were coming from, yet I kept losing them. Poof!  Just like that, I'd lose the trail. Whenever I have a problem with my garden, I always try to find out why the problem occurred. Therefore, I ran to my computer to see what could be discovered about voracious ants that are driven to lay waste to potato plants, with the specific intent of causing me mental

This Weekend's Farmers Market Haul

"Just like Grandma's!" "What in the heck is that?!" "Wow!" These are just a few of the things I said while at the Faribault farmers market, or soon after the walk back home.  Yesterday's farmers market visit was most definitely a good one. I came out with a surprisingly good haul.  I may not have to go back to the grocery store for any supplemental produce at all this week.  The farmers market plus my own edible garden should provide everything I need.  Hooray! So what did I get? 1 loaf of poppy seed bread 1 eggplant 1 large bell pepper 1 jar of peach salsa 1 heavy bag of red potatoes 1 bunch of carrots 1 tube of butterscotch lip balm 1 bag of rainbow swiss chard 2 cucumbers (one is the size of my forearm!) 3 pounds of apples 6 cookies from Kristi's Cravings (Doesn't really matter which kind... all of her cookies are yummy!) Not pictured: a small, handmade headband for my daughter.  I've been needing to get a

Basement Onion Project Update - Finally!

How in the world did I manage to forget?! It's been quite a while since I gave an update on my basement onion gardening project .  A really, really long time.  When last we visited this project, the onion that was planted in the raised garden of the backyard was starting to get comfortable in its new environment. What the backyard onion looked like on day 5 On that same day, however, the front yard's onion was starting to yellow at the tips of the leaves, thanks to the squirrel that thought it might be good food. It's been a few weeks, and the onion in the front yard hasn't shown much progress, at all.  That squirrel really did a number on it when it chose to bite into the bulb root.  I have no pictures of that one, because there's not really anything interesting to report. In the back yard, however... Wow! I'd say the onion planted in the backyard raised garden is doing pretty well!  I have enough leaves that I can cook meals that require

National Honey Bee Day is August 18th, 2012!

Tomorrow is National Honey Bee day! The first National Honey Bee Day was on August 22, 2009, so it's relatively new.  I'm rather amazed at that. I mean, really...  What took so long for this to be created? Oh, yeah... a large majority of people fear them. There's really nothing to fear from bees, though, as long as you take the time to understand them.  Well, unless you're allergic to them.  I imagine that may be reason for fear. Or is it?   Again, knowledge is the path to security. This year's theme is: "Sustainable Agriculture Starts With Honey Bees!" Can't argue with that. Indeed, part of my reason for allowing so much to grow wild in my garden is to bring honey bees and other pollinators into the area.  Being environmentally responsible means allowing the earth to prosper.  Picking every last weed hinders that process. My biggest harvest so far has come from the cucumbers that I planted in the wild area of my backyard.  They

Project: Bird Seed Garden?!

Totally crazy. Absolutely bonkers... Or maybe just full of a larger amount of curiosity than usual? I kinda like that last option, so let's go with it! A while back, a squirrel decided to get into my salvaged bird feeder .   Naturally, bird seed was scattered everywhere, and the feeder was... Well, let's just say that it's time for me to come up with a new use for it. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time trying to pick all of the plants that grew from the seed that was dumped all over that side of my raised garden.  I then realized, however, that it was going to be a never-ending process.  I'd danced to this tune before in the desert southwest, and knew that unless I actually removed the soil it would be an exercise in futility. But then I realized something. There was nothing growing in half of that area, aside from a low-lying ground cover that had been planted before I moved here.   My peas were damaged so much during our heat wave that I allowe

Deceptive Vines With Plump Berries

At long last!  Finally, I can figure out what in the world these vines are!   The drums roll, the trumpets blare.  I gaze at the beautiful blue berries, wondering if there's any chance that these are edible.  I dream of pies, of jams, and of berries popped directly into my mouth. Armed with photos, I race to my computer.  I now have plenty of pictures to make my discovery with.  Using the leaves, the berries, and even the vines themselves, I can narrow my search. I know that I was wrong about these being grapes .  I knew it from the moment that the leaf buds produced whorls of five slender leaves with jagged edges. But what were they? Well, it actually took me quite a while to discover the answer to that.  I started by trying to identify the berries. The blue berries were absolutely gorgeous.  They were plump, firm, and round.  The fact that the color of the area by which the fruit attached to the vine was red felt like a great way to help determine what it was. I

Ripening Tomatoes! Finally!

Salsa!  BLT sandwiches!  Spaghetti!  There are so many things I can make!!!  I gazed lovingly at my freshly picked cherry tomato.  It was bright red, unblemished, firm, and beautiful.  I knew that this first tomato wasn't nearly enough to create any of the recipes I mentioned above, but I like to dream big. As you can see, I moved my spaghetti garden from its original spot on the porch.  While the herbs were doing well in that location, the tomato plants weren't getting nearly enough sunlight.  The tomatoes did a great job of growing, but they weren't ripening.  They insisted on staying green. Within 2 days of moving the spaghetti garden into the area beside the backyard fire pit, however, they all showed signs of ripening.  That area gets a lot of sun, and the fire pit isn't used very much, so the location was ideal. The tomato pictured is the only one that has ripened at the moment, but there will be more to follow.  At last count, I had 21 tomatoes growin

Jalapenos: A Lesson in Fear of Failure

I've been holding back on you. That's right... I've totally neglected to tell you about one of the plants in my edible garden, and I did it on purpose. I must be nuts! I planted some jalapenos a while back.  A very, very long while back.  You'd think that I'd talk about it, letting you know its progress, and yet I didn't.  After a while, I finally asked myself... Why? I love jalapenos.  A lot.  All jalapenos, from mild to extra spicy, are enjoyable to me.  At first, that may seem like a good reason to document their growth.  I'd be able to go back through my posts and smile at the memories they brought back to me. Yet, I held back.  I puzzled as to why for quite some time. Then it hit me. What if they failed? If my jalapenos failed to grow, I'd be stuck with a super-huge reminder of it.  That documentation would be floating in cyberspace forever .... or at least a really long time.  While, in general, I'm glad to learn from my failu

Thriving Watermelons! How'd That Happen?!

No way!!!  They're actually thriving! I stared at my watermelon vines in complete disbelief.  You probably remember that when I first planted my watermelon seeds, around three weeks ago, I didn't expect much.  I thought I'd be lucky if they made it very far in their growth.  Having planted them at the very tail end of the planting season, and knowing that they thrive in warm weather, I thought I was totally crazy . This gardening project, I thought, was doomed to failure. When I first planted them, they were itty bitty things, still confined to the mound that I planted them in. Now, however, the watermelons have taken off in their growth, and one vine in particular has grown over the retaining wall that's roughly 3 1/2 feet away from the mound! Wow! Ok, but I said the watermelons were thriving .  Naturally, this means that simply producing long vines isn't enough.  Yes, the leaves are huge and healthy, but there's more to it than that. This

Farmers Market: The Temptation of Grapes

I actually made it on time, today!  Woohoo!  I'd hate to go through last week's distress, again, even if the last-minute deals were so awesome. The farmers market is finally in full swing, and the fruit and vegetable variety is overwhelmingly amazing!  There were even a few pumpkins (small, of course) at one vendor's table.  Purples, greens, oranges, yellows, and reds beautified every produce table. The colorful arrangements caused me to spend way too much time gazing at all of the wares, which means that I didn't do as much cost comparison as usual.  This means I didn't get a very large amount of goods for the money I spent.  Oops. It was worth it, though. I was sorely tempted to take pictures of the many tables for you.  Why didn't I then, you ask? Well, I realized that there would be a lot of pictures.  By 'a lot' I mean somewhere in the ballpark of eight of them.  Plus the weekly picture of my personal bounty.  What's the big deal about

DIY: Plastic Kitchen Scrubber! Goodbye, Metal!

I hate metal kitchen scrubbers.  I mean, I really hate them. I probably wouldn't be quite so vocal about this if I used cast-iron pots and pans, but who wants to carry something that heavy? Not me. I have thin, metal pots and pans that were very well designed.  Heat is very evenly distributed throughout their surface, which gives me a very enjoyable cooking experience.  Not only that, but they're absolutely beautiful, in all of their glistening silver splendor. ::cue the evil kitchen scrubber of doom:: Metal kitchen scrubbers scratch my pots like crazy.  The perfect mirror reflection on the bottoms of my pans are practically gone, due to this tendency.  Scratches also work against you to hold food onto the pans. Ugh! But I figured out how to do away with these monstrous scrubbers, while reusing something that would normally just go to waste. See, we have this habit in our family that's not particularly friendly to the environment.  We eat a lot of those