An Update On Our Nesting Doves

The pair of doves that nested on our patio hatched a pair of little ones and cared for them 'til one morning we woke and discovered that they had all flown away. There was no sign of struggle or anything sinister; they had just packed their little birdies up and flew the coop, so to (conveniently) say. 
 We miss seeing them every morning and hope they all survive wherever they went. We hear their coo on occasions in different parts of our yard, so know that they are still around, just not on the patio anymore.  If we locate them, you can be sure we will take more photos, but for now, here is a short video...'baby pictures', if you will.  
They grew so fast that before we could remember to film them again, they were gone.  They were a joy while they were here, though, and we wish them well. Sighhh...so here we are, empty nesters...they did leave us that to remember them by.


Asparagus Beans in a pot __?___ Yards Long

When life hands you a bunch of yard long beans what's a poor Cajun man to do?
Drag out da ol' black iron pot, whack them up into little pieces and smother them down to the point ya can barely tell they are beans, das what.  First ya grab some bacon pieces and whatever smoked sausage ya have on hand and throw that in the pot.
Once that renders down some, toss in a couple chopped up onion and some Cajun seasoning.
  As I have mentioned before ,the salt from the seasoning draws moisture out of the onions and speeds up the cooking process.
Once the onions have cooked down a little.
 dump in a big pan of yard long beans and a little more seasonings.
Cook them down,
Until  they are totally 'smothered', looking nothing like beans at all; then they are "done".
Then, dish them up with salad and a steak and call them supper.
They were very good; slightly different from our normal snap beans, and in our opinion a wonderful addition to our back yard garden.  This was our first dish with them and we plan to try them several other (maybe less cooked down) ways, and we will let yall know what we think, but so far we are thrilled to at how productive they are, and live up to our friend, Todd's endorsement.  I have noticed that several of yall are commenting that they look thinner than regular beans, but I can't help but wonder if they just seem that way because they are so long.  Once "whacked" up and sitting in the pot they look pretty normal to me. ( 'Course I 'm not sure I'm the right spokesperson for "normal".)


Yes!! We Have Some Bananas!

  As I have oft said before, the problem with living in a semi-tropical environment is the 'semi' part.  Two winters ago, we had one of our rare hard freezes, which (temporarily) killed all the banana fronds.  If you look back  in our blog, (somewhere) you will see that I had to whack our dried brown banana palms down to the ground, in hopes they would start over.  Well, they came right up again, growing vigorously, like they do, and grew all year with most of them managing to survive all the way through last winter.  Here, in sunny South Louisiana, it takes the bananas two years to mature, because our growing season is not quite long enough for them to complete their cycle of bringing bananas to 'fruition'. 
  The other day, Peggy excitedly called me to come look out the back door, where she was pointing out a huge banana flower we had somehow overlooked.  
   To me, they look for all the world like a big purple ice cream cone hanging from a stem, and, right now, I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture right then.  That was July 3rd, and I never got around to taking a picture of the flower 'til yesterday, the 6th. A lot has happened in just those three days.
As you can see, the flower already started opening, exposing the first of the tiny little green baby bananas. See 'em? They have some kind of little yellow bloom on the end of each one.
Yall help Peg and me remember, and I'll try to take a picture a week or so, from now, to show yall how the bananas are progressing. We'll have to go look, now, through all the thicket of banana palms back there, to see if we don't find some more  bananas! For now, though, yes, we got some!


Our Yard Long Beans...Seriously.

  Our good friend, Todd, mentioned to us, last year, that he had grown some 'yard long green beans' aka "asparagus beans", and that he and his family loved them.  He told me that they grew all summer and were easily maintained.  Well, even tho' we'd never heard of 'em, we are always looking for stuff that withstands our hot, humid summer heat, so this sounded to us, like something that we needed to try. 
   With this in mind, we ordered them online. To make room for  these "yard long beans",  in mid-June, when all of our pitiful, paltry producing pea vines had dried up, we unceremoniously dragged them off the trellises on either ends of our main garden box, where they were clinging tenaciously by their dried tendrils, with their few inch long offerings, that they were trying to pass off as peas in a pod. Promises, promises. 
  Now, carefully, with one eye on the birds, who were sitting above our heads on the electric wires, closely observing our endeavors, and who had sneakily feasted on every cucumber seed (and new little cucumber seedling) that we had planted in the Spring, (in the same spot we had planted those lying peas) we  planted 12 of these beans along each end of our 4 ft wide raised bed garden. 
   What to our wondering eyes should appear, only a few scant days later...these beans jumped up outa the ground, looked around and began vining and crawling to the top of our eight foot tall trellis, then began reaching out long 'feelers', as if to say, "Is this all ya got?" in the way of things for them to climb on. "That's it," we said, "That's all the room we've got for you...go for it." So they did. Before long, we noticed lots of double flowers. 
Hmm, that was curious. We wondered what they were planning to do with two flowers. From these 2 flowers sprouted 2 beans.
Which grew,
and grew 'til the trellises were full of green "icicles", hanging from top to bottom. Green beans. Some actually are about a yard long; no kiddin'.
Well, me and my sidekick,  Beaux went to picking them and this is the rough video Peggy made of my silly self doing it.
Once we got them picked ,we decided to clean and cut them into lengths that fit in a ziplock bag and we managed to get 4 fat bags full. (no, we didn't blanch 'em...just stuck 'em in the bags and froze 'em...never had a problem with doing it this way before.)
We will see what the Summer brings. The only other thing we've seen take off like this, were those volunteer butternut squashes.  Now, we see that, since these beans have run out of trellis, they are grabbing onto the okra stalks, which are trying to grow tall. When they are about eight feet tall, they will display a beautiful flower,  which then will be replaced by a light green okra.  Since the okra aren't growing fast enough for these eager beans to climb onto, they have wound themselves around the fence, as well...anything they can get their ...tendrils onto. If they start eyeing one of the trees, and decide to make a run for it across the lawn, they will learn a very hard lesson, the same way Peg and I learned our lesson with the squash. We're really not complaining, tho', cuz it appears that we will have no shortage of these 'cool', hot weather beans. 
  Now, I wonder what recipes our good buddy, Todd, came up with for all these yards and yards and yards of asparagus beans and how he easily controlled 'em from taking over the garden.  The okras are impatiently waiting to hear.


UPDATE on the Squashy Garden

This is an update to the "squashy" post about Peggy's "Shade" garden, and The Invader from the Compost Pile, who took over 'the world'! (Cappy and Pegody's World, anyhow) 
 Those of you, who read our ramblings, surely remember our recent post about the "volunteer" Butternut squash that took over Peggy's new garden bed, as well as a chunk of our back yard play area.
We deliberately planted all kinds of things in our regular raised bed gardens, then worried and prayed and sweated and toiled over all of them, and for all of that, they did manage to give us a few measily bits of produce. We didn't complain. Now, meantime, here comes this interloper, uninvited, who not only pranced all over Peg's 'shade' garden, but then hogged the whole thing, and meanwhile, while we kept a jaded eye on it, as to its intent, it started making tons of squash.  This was last month; it's still producing big luscious beauties!  These volunteer invaders are, far and above, the best producers in our whole yard. Now, we are casting a jaded eye on our regular raised garden beds, wondering their intent. We have some bell peppers, who are...well, I suppose, doing the best they can. We got no cucumbers outa da deal this year at all...not one, for all our efforts. We got a few green beans.
    Now as far as July, one of the hottest months down here in the south, we are not sure about the squash. The heat does seem to be hurting their lush leaves and stems, so they are slowing down a little bit in their zeal, and maybe a little disturbed that I had to take back some of my lawn with the mower. 
    They do have a little competition from the far raised bed, too.  The yard long ('asparagus') beans are starting to produce, (they are a new item for us) and the longhorn okra stalks are slowly working their way up to the sky, where, from there, they will (should) put out some beautiful flowers, followed by the long, pale green okra. Getting a little ahead of myself there, and that will all be for another update, later on. 
So, getting back to the point, here is a "squash picking video" from our THIRD picking.
This was our first picking:
 And this our second.
By the time we took this picture it became obvious that my ol' digital camera had finally had it, so we retired it and went with a new video/still camera for future stories.  It made the video and the following pictures of the last picking,
and one of the many meals we got from some of these, now, Wonderful volunteers.
As the Summer starts and, sadly, the squashes begins to retreat, we are happy to report that this invader didn't "squash" every thing in the garden. A few things survived the onslaught, like this lavender chiffon hibiscus, that Peggy has been daily uncovering from the shady squash leaves, and has just bloomed next to the croton, which has increased it's size four-fold. I didn't think this was possible, but our Rosemary, didn't make it this time. Next time we'll have to be more diligent with another 'her'.

As the uninvited volunteer withdraws, as quietly as 'he' came, who knows what else may be hiding under his large squashy leaves?  The giant Invader from the Compost Pile had his day in the sun. And to this we say, "Well done...you are welcome back for dinner anytime."


A Pair Of Doves Come Home To Roost

We were thrilled to see a pair of Doves (Peg calls them 'morning doves') build a nest on our patio.  There are a lot of them in our neighborhood. We've always enjoyed hearing them 'coo' and seeing them here and there, and occasionally visiting our yard. We have often seen them perched on the high lines, in pairs.  We were surprised, and frankly, quite honored to see them building a nest in our patio. They are not bothered  by our noisy comings and goings and even sat through one of our smokey BBQ's. 
   Our kittens have all flown the coop, so to speak, hopefully to nice homes in the neighborhood. They just, one by one, 'up' and disappeared. Heartbreaking, but it's the life of yard cats in our town. If cats do have nine lives, they are living it up somewhere else; we just hope they are happy. Their "Mama" disappeared along with them for about five days, then came back injured, so now, she's a house cat. ($ getting her and her kids "fixed", and now more $ getting her repaired...surgery...yow! The look on our wallet's face? Priceless.) She's had a rough life and she's a serene, sweet good girl, so...we shrug and say, "Whatcha gonna do?"
  It's with this thought in mind, the doves, who apparently trust us, might have a nice life on our patio. A few weeks ago, with Mama and her brood lurking about and bringing us birds, frogs and mice, we're pretty sure these doves wouldn't have had a chance of survival.
   It's the ebb and flow of life in our yard. Not that long ago, we could say our yard was "wholly cats", then our garden got "squashed", now things have "dovetailed" into another dimension that we will enjoy, until this adventure evolves into who knows what. Leastwise, to us, it's always interesting.
    We just got a new video camera, so, in an effort to get used to it, we thought we'd make you this little video: 
We will let yall know when they hatch.


Some Shady Dealings in Peggy's New Garden

It all started innocently enough last February with Peg des- cribing to me what she planned to be her "shade garden".  She wanted a long, kinda narrow bed that would run from our yum-yum tree out into the yard. She envisioned a 'hedgey', 'ferny',  free-growing mass of subtropical plants, with tall shrubs and maybe a dense shade tree in the middle, and the whole thing would act as a border for the "courtyard" area that we are slowly, slowly, year by year putting together. Peg's the one calling it a courtyard; I'm callin' it our fire-pit area. 
   I hustled up some cinderblocks from a neighbor, and roughly lined them up, outlining where she wanted her beloved shade garden to grow.  After hauling a few wheelbarrows of soil from our compost/worm bed, I spread the dark rich compost loam and filled the cinderblock rectangle I had created, then to help keep weeds out of it 'til she'd get around to planting what she wanted in there, we covered it with dead, dried out banana fronds.  As an afterthought, I stuck a gift Rosemary in the corner and planted a dwarf olive tree in the middle that had been living unhappily in a pot for over a year.  I had recently pruned our crape myrtle, so I also stuck in a few branches that Peg dipped in rooting hormone, thinking they might root.  (they never did.)
Since my gardening assistant, BeauxBear seemed to approve, we agreed it was a good start, so now Peg could go ahead with whatever larger plans she had to put in it. 
Some time later I pointed out to her that there was small patch of mysterious "green" growing in there that I knew neither of us had planted and asked her if she wanted me to pull it all out, but she said, "No, it's some kind of volunteer, and I'm just nosy enough to let it grow to see what it is."
 The leaves looked like maybe squash or melon or cucumbers, so we just left them there. We stuck in a line of onions along the way, as well, for good measure.
We kind of turned our back on 'em for awhile, while we took care of the main gardens.  As Spring sprang, the shade garden began to look kinda "gardenish".  Peggy continued sticking ferns and seeds and stuff in it and the "volunteer" continued growing.

and growing!
It escaped over the brick garden wall and took off across the yard!

This made mowing very difficult and right when I got aggravated enough to pull the whole mess up anyhow while Peg was out shopping, I noticed something.
If you look close, you can see little green butternut squashes growing amongst the big shady leaves here and there.  Well ,in that case, to heck with it, I figured...let 'em grow!
Grow they did!  Getting big and beginning to ripen.
By then we knew they were butternut volunteers, for sure that had once been tossed away, fit for nothin' but the ol' compost pile.  I began to watch them and check them and anticipate several wonderful dishes we could make with them.

It wasn't long before I was able to bring in a mess of them.
Well, as often happens plans go awry, and we wind up doing something else.  
Peggy's nice shade garden is on hold for the Summer on accounta once more our plans got squashed...but that's a good thing.


Winter Garden Veggie RoundUp

Last weekend when Peggy and I were pulling up the winter and spring plants that were finished growing, we came up with a pan full of assorted carrots, beets, and broccoli, along with a handful of green beans and asparagus, and even a few radishes.  We had bought a lb. of button mushrooms at the store on sale and decided to invite them to the party, along with a couple of onions.
The purple straw-looking things are stems of the beet greens. We like adding them to dishes for the interesting "visual" they provide, not to mention we like how they taste. Their greens didn't make it, not really, and the beets themselves...meh.

Everything got a sprinkle of our own Cajun spice blend, some Crystal hot sauce, Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce and a stick of butter scattered all over  the top of it. 
The whole thing got parked in our ol' BBQ pit,
along with a couple of 'spatched', marinated overnight chickens and a pack of 'brats' for snacking on.
If we were planning on serving the chicken and veggies at the same meal, then we would've waited to put the veggies on at the last 15 minutes, or so.  They cook fast and really absorb the smoky taste. If  they are left too long, the smoky taste is almost overpowering. Either take them up, or cover tightly with foil and move them to the "cool spot" to stay warm.
We smoked our chickens, but took them up before they were fully cooked, planning to cool them, then quarter and freeze them for future meals.
The veggies and brats made a great afternoon meal while we finished getting the yard ready for the summer heat.
  When we had spatched the chickens the night before, we didn't know what we'd get out of the garden, if anything; the broccoli looked rather sparse, we had no idea if the carrots were doing all that much under the soil, we had to hunt through the jungle of ferns to find asparagus, the beets actually amounted to nothing, but all in all, what with more of Sam's green beans ferreted out of the fridge, looks like we had a pretty good garden haul for one meal. Munching on smoked brats and veggies, we sat and daydreamed about future garden meals. Dat's what Cajuns do; while they are eating one meal, they are already planning the next, and how to make it even better. 


Getting Our Little Square Foot Garden Ready For Summer 2015

  May 16, Peggy and I, along with BeauxBear da bratty Bichon and assorted kitties headed out to 'play' in the garden.    We harvested our radishes, pulled up the broccoli, beets and carrots and other winter things.  I turned over all the squares that we had divided off by our strong white string, making each little plot a 12'' square; hence that's why it's a 'square foot garden.  We only worked on the squares that were recently vacated by the plants I had yanked out that were done for the season. Then Peggy raked it smooth.  I applied some organic fertilizer and added a couple of big bags of Miracle Grow garden soil we had scored on sale at Lowes.    Once Peggy had raked it all in and smoothed it out again, being careful around the plants that are still standing, we planted Yard Long Beans along each end of the garden, so they could take to the trellises, and then we put okra seeds in the other empty squares.
The bird netting you see on top, (if you can see it) is not to keep birds out, but to keep marauding kitties from scattering our carefully placed seeds.

No doubt about it, they are cute, but last fall the three of 'em got into Peggy's carefully planned and freshly planted herb garden and stirred all the seeds up and turned it into a real mess of stuff growing every whichaway.  Instead of getting mad though, we just let it all be and vowed to try to keep our veggies in their given places next time by blocking out the kitties with the bird netting. Peg did manage to get a lot of salads and herbs out of her garden, once it got established, but it wasn't all growing in the nice neat divided patches she had envisioned when she had planted the seeds.
 Just before I uprooted the cauliflower, I noticed that the little white vegetable heads were beginning to show, but then I got very worried about their survival this late in the season, what with the heat index climbing higher and higher each day. We're told they are cold weather plants, but...we got 'em when we got 'em, and planted 'em, hoping for the best. I was going to pull them up, but when I saw these babies peeking out at me, well, I thought, as long as they were willing to give it a try, who was I to stop 'em?
Thrilled to be growing them for the first time, but still worried about them in the steady climbing steamy summer heat, I consulted my friend, Sam, who comes from a long line of gardeners and is quite knowledgeable about such things.  He told me that in the old days farmers would cut the bottom leaves and lay them over the opening heads to shade them.  He said that it helped, but then the cut leaves would eventually rot in the steamy heat and soak into the white heads of the cauliflowers, making them hard to clean and not fit for market without a lot of cleaning.  So, they devised a technique of tying the leaves closed over the heads, which much more successful. He suggested that I just bunch the leaves over the heads and hold them closed with a rubber band, so we're giving that a try.
If it works, I'll brag to him about the late season Cauliflower that *I* grew.  If it doesn't work, I'll blame him for it. The poor guy can't win; how he remains putting up with us, I'll never know, but I'm sure glad he does.
 Time will tell how it goes and I'll let yall know.
Now, just this morning when I went out to play in the garden a bit and see how it's going, I discovered one of the kitties, who will now be knick-named Houdini and pronounced with a growl, had managed to get in around the bird netting somehow, and play around in the dirt there, himself. Never fear, we will not be deterred by a cat, we will find a way to keep him out!
Just as I was thinking that whichever kitty did this, couldn't be any more exasperating, as I was walking back to the house, I found one of those miserable birds that ruin our fruit, dead  plus a dead mouse nearby, and both presented to us on the front doorstep by one or all of them, as their 'contribution' to us, their pack. I suppose they think this totally redeems them. It does not, and I'm not buyin' the story that he had to get in there to fetch out the bird and the mouse. An' I think I'm telling Peg to pull up all their catnip; this is not funny!