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Archive for the ‘Luffa’ Category

I have added a “Herbs” page to the blog and listed herbs that I know for sure I will be planting.  I received Richters 2009 herb catalog and there are a TON of herbs listed, so I am sure I will be adding to the list!  I actually planted some herbs last night indoors and they are under the grow lights.  I always start my seeds too early, but with herbs you can actually use them – they don’t get leggy like the tomatoes and peppers that beg to be planted outside (no, I haven’t started those yet).  The herbs will help me focus on eating healthier since that is one of my resolutions.  Here’s what I planted: thyme, summer savory, oregano, basil – lemon sweet dani, parsley, marjoram.  I have a sheet of plastic wrap over the containers to keep the moisture in since that seems to be one of the biggest problems growing at this time of year; the soil dries out very quickly with the dry air in the house.  I will keep the plastic on as long as possible but watch that mold doesn’t start to grow.  I will be sending my seed order off to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds today – what a spectacular catalog they have this year … it’s Beautiful!

I also added a Recipe page to my website and hope to post those healthy recipes I come up with.  Researching grains is one of my newest ambitions and I actually bought Buckwheat pancake mix today to see what it tastes like.  I did grow buckwheat as a companion crop last year and it grows very easily – so I may be growing a whole lot more to harvest for eating.  To those who are receiving the Luffa seeds I plan on posting to the forum some information on growing them (there is a blog post here also; search Luffa).  I added a calendar function to the forum also so we can add events going on around us that others may be interested in.

Looks like 2009 is shaping up just dandy!  Happy New Year!

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What a nice, long wonderful weekend down south with family and friends – it’s so hard to leave and come back up north to the old routine life.  The Luffa is starting to dry on the vine …

  2 luffa on vines Luffa half dried

The Coneflower (Enchinacea) has gone to seed also –

 At first I thought this was some type of moth, but after I googled it, I found it to be a Painted Lady Butterfly – quite common.  We visited the State Park nearby and captured a deer roaming the trails …

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   Birdseed!!  This year I left the seed that had fallen from the birdfeeder alone and watched it grow into lovely plants.  Usually I pull the sprouts as they appear.   Just recently I cut the seed stalks and let them dry – I believe I have some millet and broom corn.  They are very sturdy and will work great for crafts!

Birdseed growing ….

I was working on some crafts last night and I came up with a great use for the Luffa Sponge (which I have to report is growing very well down south).

 I was worried with the lack of rain down there, but we received some rain and they took off!  I used luffa from last year as a base for dried flowers.  Instead of using glue and/or foam to secure the flowers in place, I used the Luffa and it worked perfectly!

 This is the start of the project.  You can see the completed arrangement at The Crafty Garden along with a few other finished pieces.  You will see three items which I purchased on Clearance at the local craft store.  I check for clearance bargains whenever I shop and find some great material … the straw hat I purchased for a dime each (I bought six), the little wooden birdhouse was a dollar each (I bought five) and the teak birdhouse was a bit over 2 dollars each (I bought three) – it’s a beautiful piece!  Make sure to check those Clearance aisles especially now with the change in season!

                     

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I have mentioned in the past the weather in Southern Illinois is quite different than up North – although we had rain and high winds in both locations this weekend, we arrived down south to 5 ½” of rain which came down in 24 hours.  We were fortunate enough to miss driving in the downpour and I realized I need to find an accurate weather site to check before heading down – I had NO clue what we were heading into.  We are limited to the local radio stations when we are actually down there since we don’t have TV or internet hookup as of yet.  We found out Sunday morning as we listened to the winds whipping around outside that we would have to stay another day!!  Since we have been hauling the trailer back and forth it was too dangerous with winds at 35 mph and gusts of 50 mph to even attempt the trip.

 

We did have two gorgeous days to Garden and I was out there at 7 am in my “new boots” hacking away at the Clay Soil….a definite challenge after all the rain – heavy clumps!  I did find this wonderful information on clay soil which also has a list of plants that do well.  I planted more ferns, purple coneflower, yarrow, another sedum, moved some blanket flowers that weren’t doing well, several types of hostas and some more lavender.  The luffa transplants I had planted several weeks ago were shriveled and gone – the flower plants seemed to make it through the weather, but not the luffa, so more will have to be planted.  I laid down a layer of wet newspaper and dumped topsoil on this (12  40 lb. bags of soil disappears quickly).  This will smother the weeds that were as healthy as ever!

 

I took my new paddleboat out on the lake and was Very Happy when I spotted several Purple Martins.  It was hard to miss them since they were swooping right at me – probably because I was close to the purple martin birdhouse.  They sure are bold birds!  Spotted some Bluebirds also – very cool sightings!  We ventured out to a new town  and were quite impressed with the Grand Opening that was taking place at a new farm and garden store….they even sold baby chicks and geese!  The geese I don’t understand since we have thousands here up North and they are considered a nuisance.  Also we spotted a dead cow in a pasture – legs straight up and he appeared bloated … the other cows were out in the pasture chewing grass, but this guy was definitely done in – Never saw that before!

 

 

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I grew Luffa last year for the first time and I am growing alot more this year – it was interesting, educational and I like growing something that has a “purpose”.  The luffa sponge grows in the garden and not the ocean like many people believe – I always thought that myself until I came across it in one of the garden seed catalogs.  It does require a somewhat longer growing season and quite a bit of space since the vines really take off.  I did read somewhere to cut the vine after a certain point (I think it was 10 ft) and let the energy go to the growing luffas.  I will experiment with that this year.  The seeds are hard so they should be soaked in water for at least 24 hrs. before planting and then nicked (or slightly cut) with scissors to encourage the growth to begin.

 

Luffa seedlingsLuffa flower

The actual luffa looks like a cucumber or zucchini and last year I let them just grow on the ground, this year we will be making a trellis for them to hang – they can grow 2-3 ft. in length.  When they are smaller, they can be eaten but I haven’t dined on any myself.  The practice is to let the luffa dry on the vine (turn brown) and then take it from the vine.  I ran out of time last year and brought them in when still green and let them dry inside.  It took a couple of months for this and then I peeled the skin off and found a luffa sponge inside!  I did soak the sponge and remove the seeds which I am growing this year!

luffa-harvest-3

luffa-peeling-2

 

The sponge can be used as it is or you can craft with it – I will be creating some more luffa crafts this year.  Luffa soap was my fun undertaking last year – just in time for Christmas gifts!

 

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Today was Great!  We went to the Farm store and Stan purchased a brand new riding lawnmower and cart for our place down south … me, I browsed around and the first place that draws me in is the seed racks.  Yes, I have tons already and tons growing, but the lure of the seed racks can’t be denied and WOW did they have some cool seeds!  I picked up a Cactus Mix (my son finds them interesting) a challenge to grow?  The challenge last year for me was Luffa and that worked out – luffa sponge grows in the garden and I do have many started for this growing season, so you will hear all about that!  Now this BLUE corn I also purchased … it’s ornamental and miniature so we won’t be dining on it – I suppose I will use it for decoration or who knows … but how cool!  They had all sorts of gourd seeds but I have several types going already and plan to learn how to craft with those.  I can’t go overboard (although I think I already have) with seeds …

The Bat house … never thought I would be buying one of these!  Bat poop or more properly Bat guano is an excellent fertilizer and I know we have bats swooping around down south ,,, SO I figure they need a house.  The construction is unique and for $12 it was wiser to purchase it then try and make our own at this point.  It states that 20-25 bats will make this their residence and they eat TONS of insects.  I figure between the bat poop and the insect eating feature this was a bargain!  The inside of the house – can’t image hanging in there …

Oh…earlier today I went to the bookstore and purchased WordPress for Dummies – so I should start a Category for this as I learn for reference AND to help everyone else out…this internet blogging is nothing like digging in the dirt!!    Not sure who is more excited about their purchases today – me or him???

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