The Beginning of Fig Picking Season

   I've been watching our li'l fig tree closely in anticipation of the of our 'fig picking time'!
  You may recall the terrible tribulations from previous posts of this little tree.  It has been frozen to the ground at least twice.  The poor guy had all its leaves blown off on several occasions during various storms.  Once, during hurricane season, it had even been blown over onto its side, totally uprooted, but this tenacious little tree put out a feeler on one of it's fallen branches along the ground several feet from it's original position and sprouted itself again!  It refuses to give up, so how could we? 
  We continue to give it its annual 13-13-13 feeding and while doing so, we ask God to bless it and it keep growing between all the disasters it has to contend with. 
   Today, I went out and did the 'fig tree dance', sticking my head inside the wide thicket of huge leaves and going round and round the tree several times giving the prospective-looking figs the pinch test.  There were several big and brown and ripening,
but I found only five that were soft to the touch and willing to easily come off the tree, so they passed my pinch test. That's how ya know your figs are at peak ripeness and very sweet.  If they still feel hard and you have to tug on them to pick them, they aren't ready, so leave then for a day, then try again. You will be amazed at the difference.
These five here will be parked in the freezer in a big zip lock bag, awaiting company from the rest of the ripened fruit, which looks to be a lot, since the tree is loaded with baby "figlets".  When the bag is full we will can them, and I can hardly wait!  Since this is the start of the season, I thought I'd post links to our basic fig recipes for you, to let you know what "Figgy's" 'babies' are in for.
This is the recipe for fig preserves:

This is our strawberry figs recipe:

      We hope you enjoy these old family recipes and wish you, too, a happy fig season.
   And as for our tenacious little fig tree, if nothing else assails him, we will be able to say with much affection that this year he is having sweet success. 


Blooming Tigers

   This year Father's Day comes three days after my daddy's birthday. He has been gone now for twenty one years, but his birthday is still always a sad time. At least one consolation, one source of joy for me has now come to accompany his birthday every year, and that is that we have tiger lilies blooming in our yard. Real tiger lilies were one of daddy's favorite flowers, but were elusive to him. He had heard about them, but had never actually seen one. He had seen photos and paintings, and of course there were tons of the usual orange lilies growing most everywhere, but none had the dark spots he so desired to see.  
  As a young boy growing up, I remember daddy searching for years for this beautiful Lily. 
  At long last, one of his friends told him about seeing a group of them growing way out in one of the swamps. He could hardly believe it! He made his way through the swamp, eyes scanning the edges of the bayou and behind every tree and thicket, fearing every moment that his friend may have been mistaken and that he was on a hot and sweaty fool's errand. Finally, spying the bright orange patch, he quickly made his way toward the flowers, just knowing the orange lilies were going to be beautiful, but unspotted again.
   Getting close, his jaw dropped as the bright orange flowers joyfully displayed their dark polka dots...just as he'd always had imagined and seen in pictures. He just sat and admired them for awhile before he realized he was on the horns of a dilemma. He was an avid gardener, but he was a man of faith and a strong conscience...could he? Would he? While he did not want to uproot them and destroy the beauty of the natural habitat in which they were thriving, he pacified his conscience by reasoning that if he very carefully took one bulb, he "might could" propagate more of them, then perhaps bring back more to plant in the swamp besides in his yard. 
   He lovingly planted the bulb he had brought back from the swamp and it grew and bloomed, much to his joy. When it finally gave up it's flower and wilted, he dutifully cut it back as is prescribed, and smiling, anticipated it's growth the next Spring. It was not to be. A late blast of freezing weather killed the plant, but he held out hope that the bulb would still survive and come up in his garden along with all his usual lilies come Spring. Can you imagine his sorrow? He didn't have the heart to go back and find the lilies in the swamp, and if he did go, he never found them. He never got to see a Tiger Lily again in his whole life. 
  About four years ago I told Peggy this story and much to my joy,  awhile later a few bulbs showed up, delivered by FedEx, that she had found online for me! 
  I prayed as we planted them and said, "Here, Raymond, we plant them here for you." Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined they would be this beautiful...and on my daddy's birthday!

These amazing double blossom lilies now grow in several places in our yard; some almost finished blooming, while others are still budding.

           They are the stars of our yard this time of year and remind me of Daddy and how much he loved them and how much he would have loved to see them.  Maybe from Heaven he does see them. If so, Happy Birthday, Daddy.
That's my daddy on the right. Next to him is his daddy, who is my Grandpa Cocky. The fella in the white tie is my Uncle Bird, who we lost not that long ago. That's me standing there in the red shirt. I cant wait to stand in that group again and tell Daddy that his daughter-in-law found us some real Tiger lilies. 
   I am the only one left here from that picture (besides the little kid) the rest are waiting for me. 
 If your father is alive remember to tell him you love him every time you talk to him. The one thing that's been any comfort to me over all the years since I lost him is the fact that the last sentence I ever said to my father over the phone that last Christmas morning was, "Merry Christmas, Dad I love you."


Our First Garlic Bed: from Planting to Harvest.

  You may remember that back in September we planted our first ever patch of garlic. (In case ya forgot, here's the link to our post about our Stinking Experiment...Muahaha!!:  http://cappyandpegody.blogspot.com/2015/08/2015-fallwinter-garden-experiment.html )

  We planted it into one of our 4'x4' raised beds according to a grid system.

  After consulting several gardening sites online we decided to take the advice of more experienced garlic planters who recommended planting lots more than ya think you'll need. With that in mind, we put five more pods in the spaces between the original five holes in our cardboard grid then sat back and watched. They grew all winter and come Spring, they were lush and beautiful. When we left for our 5 week road trip they looked great, so we worried about them while we were gone.
 When we got home we were worried about them some more... now, because they had wilted and the tops were all laying down (we were so rushed when we got home, we forgot to take pictures of them), but we said a li'l prayer and yanked one up... and sure enough we had garlic!
   One of the online garlic growers also recommends braiding them, so this is my first attempt ever at braiding garlic.  I know this don't look professional, but to us its beautiful. 
   Since it is so incredibly hot and humid this time of year down here in South Louisiana, if we had hung them outside in our shed, they would have molded and rotted, so instead, we decided to hang our braids in a kitchen cabinet to dry.   
       I made six braids and counted 99 garlic heads; some small, some quite large. We plan on sharing some of them and enjoying them in lots of our Cajun dishes. Mmm, Mmm, Not bad for a first try. Ahhh, the sweet(??) smell of success!!!