July 2020 Garden: Geraniums & a Lantana

These plants all suffered through the winter in the house and limped along until they finally managed to escape to the garden again. And they are very happy. The lantana is really the most impressive because it really looked next to dead by the time it was warm enough to get it outside again in the spring. These plants drink more water than any other I know.



July 2020 Garden yellow blooms

I am fascinated by these two different varieties. I suppose they are rudbeckia –but that doesn’t narrow it down very much. In any case, I ended up with the taller one farther back which is lucky.


The ones that are about to open are fascinating.


The Cosmos (Bright Lights) are turning into a nice wave of orange and yellow in the front bed.


These are yellow primroses to the left of this lovely orange cosmos bloom. _DSC0085_DSC0087

July 2020 Kitties

Here are few updates on what the kitties have been up to.  It has been very hot here, so kitties have been draping themselves in the best, coolest spots they can find.


Cara loves this ball –she has it tucked in next to her tummy here, presumably to have it at the ready in case she needs to have a quick game of carrying it around. wp-1595092053213.jpgwp-1595091869810.jpg

This doorway in the house (between the living room and the front hall) is a favorite spot; there must be a bit of a draft there. wp-1595092086115.jpgwp-1595092003476.jpgwp-1595091978973.jpgwp-1595091781363.jpgwp-1595091823932.jpg


July 2020 Garden & Food; Celery

Similar to the basil, I am experimenting with celery this year. I’ve never grown celery before; I’m not quite sure why I’ve thought it was tricky to grow. I am lucky though to not have slugs or snails, maybe they are hard on celery. I love celery –and the more celery-ish the flavor the better. The celery from the garden is much stronger than what I get from the store. I started seeds (in late February) and, not trusting my seedlings, I also bought a little four pack of celery from the greenhouse.

I planted the seedlings I grew from seed in this bed and they were much smaller than the ones I purchased. I sort of hardened them off –if putting them out for a couple of days before sticking them in the ground counts (but since I wasn’t bringing them in at night I don’t think that really counts). Anyway, here are the stalks I started from seed.


There are three short rows here (celery, zinnias, and bull’s blood beets).


Here are the ones I bought as seedlings. They are in a different bed between some basil and parsnips.


I’ve started cutting some of it to eat (more than just munching a stalk or two while in the garden).


I cooked this celery with shallots and tarragon from the garden. The shallots are a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps I ought to have planted them deeper. I’ve never grown them before and didn’t look up much information.


The tarragon is a massive bushy plant that I planted from seed years ago, and it comes back every year.


I added some cream, blue cheese, and walnuts with the celery. Because the celery is kind of young and has so many leaves, I baked these as a bed of chopped celery leaves with the stalks on top.



July 2020 Garden & Food; Basil & Pesto

I have an experiment going with the basil this year to see what works best. A couple of years ago I ran out of pesto too early in the spring, so I’ve increased the amount of basil I’m trying to grow. But this year I decided to try a variety of methods and garden placement. I started seed inside in late February and I planted those out in two different places in the garden.

This spot suffers basic benign neglect and is fairly shaded.


The other batch of seedlings that I started myself, I planted in this prime spot. The little sticks were there to keep the cats from sprawling all over them. The seedlings were only about an inch tall when I put them outside. I know one is supposed to harden them off by gradually putting them out and everything, but I took these straight out of the house and stuck them in the ground. It doesn’t seem to have hurt them. This spot gets morning sun and is otherwise shaded.


These next plants I bought (in a little four pack) from a local greenhouse; they are shoved in between celery and brussels sprouts. They get a lot of light but very little direct sun; what they do get is filtered through a black walnut tree. They were substantially ahead of my seedlings when I put them in the ground, but I think my seedlings have caught them up.


And here are some cats. Taking care of their own duties.


Finally, the fourth basil spot in the garden, is directly sown seed. I planted these in a long row (12ft) next to the swiss chard. Problematically, I planted them too close to the swiss chard so they are almost entirely blocked from sun. They’ve been protected from some of the strong South Dakota winds, but they are not really coming along very quickly. The chard was sown directly at the same time, but of course chard germinates and grows more quickly. I’ve not had much luck with directly sown basil in the past, but this shows that they will germinate –and they would probably grow well if in a better spot.



My goal is to have the pesto made (for the freezer) before any of the basil starts going to seed. Most things I preserve in jars, but I can’t figure out how to do that with pesto without it becoming inedible, so I freeze it in jars.


I put most of it in the freezer, except for some to eat right now. Unfortunately pesto seems to go best with starchy foods (bread, pasta). Tasty, but I probably don’t need more of that right now.


July 2020 Garden & Food (& a cat)

It has been ages since I’ve put up any food pictures; partly I think I was in a food slump, partly I had been having some camera issues. BUT, here goes with some food… which at this time of year involves the garden.


I made these June greens into a delicious salad; the beets below are canned beets from last year. Now, in July, I have beets coming out of the garden, but before that the canned beets were crucial. wp-1594403276192.jpg

The cucumbers are finally ready…wp-1594322214849.jpg

and just in time for a cucumber, dill, cream cheese sandwich.wp-1594322741751.jpg

The raspberries speak for themselves.


The “Bright Lights” swiss chard is doing well this year.


I planted two kinds of beets; the Bull’s Blood aren’t ready yet. But these are Early Wonder. The turnips are purple top white globe. I planted only one kind of turnip.


I boiled the beets briefly, took off the skins, quartered them, and tossed them with a dressing with parsley and mint. The chard is sauteed lightly. Too lightly; the stalks were a bit underdone.


The turnips I boiled hard for ten minutes, browned them, and tossed a bunch of dill with them. This was inspired by Nigel Slater’s descriptions in Tender. The turnips were very tasty although possibly over-browned. I stepped out of the kitchen while they were in the pan. Cookbooks never seem to mention these issues.


This over-medium egg was delicious. I had nothing to do with producing it. The sourdough bread is from the local baker.


I’ve also harvested a full basket of mint; this is the second round of mint. I’ve made it into a mint drink syrup.


I haven’t had a tomato from my garden yet; my neighbor shared a slightly under-ripe yellow cherry tomato that was delicious. These are coming along. They might be Better Boys. The tags on my seedling tomatoes got a bit mixed up.


This spinach has a flat broad leaves; one patch in the back garden has already bolted but these more shaded plants are still doing fine.


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I sauteed this spinach to have with pasta –and a cream sauce.


And here, finally, is a picture of a kitty!