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Thrift shop and Hardware store run.  Yes!!  I am in Montana as you can see from the background!  I hauled this load through town with only one small bump on a mailbox I didn’t quite clear, but no damage done.  (Of course I had the cover on the bike trailer while I was riding.)

bike trailer with load of goods from thrift shop and hardware store

Load in the bike trailer includes fresh yummy cherries from the Flathead Lake area.  They are sitting in a crock pot insert I bought at the thrift shop.  The crock pot includes the lid and I found a small plate that fits inside.  My plan is to try making “wild” sauerkraut in the crock pot using a cleaned rock to weigh down the plate.  Next to the crock pot is a small brass lamp with a base that looks like a candle holder in the shape of a pineapple, also a thrift shop find, $1.99.   1/4 inch hardware cloth to keep the mice out of the vents.  PVC pipe cut in 3 and 7 foot lengths.  Hopefully this and an elbow joint will make a gray water discharge for the washing machine.  Closet rod for hanging up quilts to make a sort of door in the hallway to keep heat in the center of the trailer.  Wood to make a frame for a velcro screen door.  Herbs: lavender, thyme and chives.  Painting supplies for putting goop on the roof to stop leaks.  I’m pretty busy for someone who doesn’t have a job!!

100% Whole Wheat Bread – makes approximately 1 1/2 pound loaf

I made this recipe in a bread maker many times and it always came out great!

Add liquid ingredients to bread maker:

1 cup cool or cold water (not hot)

1 Tablespoon oil or butter

1 egg

1/4 cup honey

Next add the dry ingredients:

3 cups whole wheat flour not sifted but fluffed with a fork

1/2 teaspoon salt

The flour should be floating on the water.  Make a depression in the flour and put in 1 Tablespoon regular or quick rising yeast, either will work.

Set bread maker to the whole wheat setting, light crust and start. The whole wheat setting takes longer than the regular settings.  (I have used the regular white flour settings when I was in a hurry and it came out fine.)

After the dough is mixed enough to form a ball, take a look at the texture.  If the dough seems dry and hard then add water a little at a time while it is mixing, until the dough looks soft and tender but still holds some shape.  It is more likely to be too dry rather than too wet.  Even very runny dough will still make good bread in a bread maker.  It may not form a nice rounded top, but it will still taste good!

Let the bread maker do its’ thing and enjoy!

 

 

 

Guatemalan Blue Squash

Wow!!  I knew Guatemalan Blue Squash could get big, but I was still surprised at the weight when I picked one up in the garden today.  That’s my women’s size 11 foot you see there.  This is a very big squash!  :)

guatemalan-squash-the-big-guy

It’s starting to feel like fall around here so I’m thinking it’s time to make sure the squash are good and ripe before it starts freezing out in the garden.

guatemalan-squash-four-growing-together

I have been working hard at keeping the garden watered through the hot sun of August.  I know it sounds like I’m whining.  You are thinking, how hot could it be in Montana?!?  Well, I went to town on my bike Saturday and came home with a heat rash and this is September folks!!  Let me just say, the sun is very intense.

So, back to the squash. I have been giving the squash quite a lot of water, and there’s lots of manure buried in the beds, so the leaves were large and plentiful and covering up the fruit.  I was trying to avoid stepping on the vines which grew every which way, and far more than the six feet in every direction I read on the package.  Some of the vines grew more like twelve feet.  So I couldn’t really see exactly what was fruiting in there.  I knew from wandering the edges of the garden and some tentative forays into the interior, that there were some big squash happily growing, but standing right next to one is amazing.

By the way, if you take off your shoes and socks when you walk through a squash patch, you will be able to feel if you are starting to step on a vine, so you can avoid squashing the squash.

The hail storm Saturday night did a pretty good job of mashing the leaves and letting the sunlight through and opening up the view!  Sweet!!

I brought one in to sample and took some pictures.  I think it must not be completely ripe yet as the vine where it was attached is not totally dried out, but it’s close.

guatemalan-squash

Isn’t it beautiful!  I feel like a proud parent!  :)

The little dark spots are from hail damage.  I don’t think it will affect the storage life.  The skin is very waxy and the spots seem superficial.  They are just little bruises, not mold or anything like that.

I love how the fluid makes little droplets when this squash is cut open.  Looks very inviting.

guatemalan-squash-cut-open

When I saw the really big squash in the garden, (no, this is not one of the really big ones!) my first thought was, that’s almost as big as a watermelon!  When I cut this one open, I had the same thought, it even smells a little like watermelon.  I wouldn’t say it is super melony, but it has a sort of sweet aroma.

I cut off a little slice and took a nibble.  It also has a faintly sweet flavor, quite good.  The texture is quite smooth and creamy.  It reminded me of a recipe I saw once that suggested shredding some butternut squash and using it in place of cheese, for a person on a low fat diet.  The woman writing the recipe said she did that for her husband to help him after a heart attack.  I thought that was a very sweet thing to do.  I can definitely imagine shredding this squash and adding it raw to salad or lightly cooked in a stir fry.

Gonna go put some in the oven right now and try baking it.  Will let you know how it comes out!

Ok, here it is, ready to go in the oven.

guatemalan-squash-ready-to-bake

Oven temp is 350 degrees and I set the timer for 45 minutes.  It already smells good in here!!

Oh yeah!

Took longer than 45 minutes.  More like 1 hour 15 minutes, but I think my oven cooks a little cooler than the temp says.  It was worth the wait!

guatemalan-squash-roasted

Mashed with a little canola oil and a dash of salt.

guatemalan-squash-ready-to-eat

Just playing around with the color contrast on this photo.  I left this one high resolution.  I’m going to make it my wallpaper for the week.  Feel free to download any of the photos on this page.  I don’t mind.  To get the high resolution version of this image, click on it, then right click and choose “save image as” from the drop down menu.

guatemalan-squash-hanging-from-chicken-wire

Photos of Dragonflies in My Montana Garden

I added some sticks to my garden thinking they would be good string corner posts for the peas I planted.  The Guatemalan Blue Squash plants are growing over the bed of peas but the dragonflies love to perch on the tops of the sticks.  They only perch on the short sticks inside the garden, not on any of the taller sticks on the edges.

If you look closely you will see three brown dragonflies.  Two are perched and one is flying toward the sticks.

dragonflies perched on sticks in a gardenHere are some close ups of one of the dragonflies that appeared to be less camera shy than the others.

brown dragonfly facing away from viewerbrown dragonfly facing toward viewer

Wake Up Call

This morning I woke up to a scribble scrabble noise next to my bed.  It repeated like an alarm clock.  Scrabble scrabble scratchy slide.  Scrabble scrabble scratchy slide.  Enough times that I woke up enough to ponder the source.  I thought of the milk carton cold frame I’m experimenting with on the other side of the wall.  (More on that another day.)

milk bottle cold frame

Sounded like something was climbing up on them and then sliding off the wall.  But then….Scrabble scrabble scratchy skitter skootch skitter snap.  Silence.  Ah ha!  A peanut butter seeking mouse found its way into the mouse motel.  Mouse Caught!

mouse trap

When I first arrived, the previous resident was giving me a bit of an orientation.  She looked under the sink and said “Ah Ha”.  Two of the three mouse traps she had set had mice.  But then she closed the cupboard door and left them there.  Frown  Mine to deal with now apparently.  (I picked up the two traps with some pliers and took them outside, mouse and all, and the neighbor’s cat had a bit of a feast.)

So the scrabble slide was apparently inside the wall, not the out.  Mystery solved.

Onward and Upward!!

Reused Can Transplants

I was going to name this story “Tin Can Transplants”, but I don’t think they are made of tin anymore, are they?  Then I was going to name it “I Can Transplant”, but I’m not totally sure that my methods will work, so “Reused Can Transplants” will have to do for now.

Here is the end result.

A couple of weeks ago I started some seeds in empty cans I saved from the kitchen.  I put rocks in the bottom of the cans rather than make drainage holes.  I also used dirt straight from the garden without sterilizing anything.  I’m sure that will raise some eyebrows out there.  Purchased potting soil is generally a sterile medium, free of weed seeds etc.  I remember being taught to heat any outside soil intended for indoor use.  Since a crop failure won’t be a disaster for me, I have decided to take the risk.  So far its working ok.

I had very good seed germination so I wanted to transplant the little seedlings into individual cans.  Also, I didn’t fill the cans up far enough to account for compaction of the soil with watering, so the soil level was too low and my babies couldn’t get enough light down in there.

Meanwhile, I had collected more empty cans.

You can see I have created a drainage space by adding rocks to the bottom of the cans.  I don’t want the mess of water seeping out the bottom, but I also think it will be a good conservation method.  If you look carefully, you will notice a bulb in one of the cans.  I didn’t notice it there until after I took the photo.  I dug up the bulbs in the garden and moved them out to a spot by the mailbox where I won’t be growing any food.  (Don’t want any confusion about whats edible and whats not.)  Apparently I missed one when I moved the pile to the new location.

The bulbs I replanted are already peeping up out of the ground, the weather has been so warm.  I hope they make it through the cold nights ahead.

So I removed the bulb and planted it with the others.  Then added a mixture of potting soil and garden soil to the cans.  About half and half.

Next, I took a knife I use for gardening and very carefully removed one seedling at a time by holding one of its leaves and digging under it with the knife.  Don’t hold it by the stem or it will be crushed.   Try not to bend the stem either, very fragile.  Its better to transplant when additional leaves have grown, but like I said, I’m experimenting here.

Now make a hole in the soil of the new can and gently let the seedling roots fall down into it.  You can use the knife to guide the roots down into the hole.

Then gently snug the soil around the roots, avoiding contact with the stem. (I’m not worried if they don’t all make it through the transplant.  I have plenty more seeds.)

Next I sprinkled a little water from my hands onto the plants.

Get down there close and breathe on them.  They take in Co2 and give off oxygen.  Its a symbiotic relationship!

I covered the whole box with plastic just to help them keep from drying out while they get their new roots established.  The knife is to hold the plastic up off the tender plants.  I later replaced it with an old table knife so I could do more transplants.  I like the pointy one for digging up seedlings.

The neighbor’s chickens came to see if they could find any tasty bits of food in the yard.

I ran out of cans so I put the lettuce into some drawers from an old fridge.

I added some more seed to the second drawer to see which grows faster, the traumatized seedlings or the newly planted seeds.

I will keep you posted on the babies’ progress.

Happy gardening!!