Tag Archive | gardening

Fresh From the Garden!

I had a little baggie in my freezer with about 10 harmless-looking little peppers in it. My friend from Trinidad gave them to me last year, fresh from the garden. At the time she warned me they were hot, but I forgot.

Beware those island peppers, oh my. I wish I had a picture of those little peppers, if only for specimen identification later.

The tomatoes had a late run of productivity and were hanging green on the vines. Prima was anxious to use them, not wanting to let any of her hard work gardening go to waste.

Fresh from the garden.

Fresh salsa from the garden.

I modified this recipe, Green Tomato Salsa Verde from freshpreserving.com. It is really quite tasty, even if only people from Texas are able to eat it. This is a great way to use up the last of summer’s fresh produce.

Cooking and sneezing.

Cooking and sneezing.

Packed with flavor.

Packed with flavor.

Here’s a hint: if you start sneezing uncontrollably while making salsa, ease up on the peppers. If you went overboard, then add a little sugar or honey and extra citrus. I added the juice from two additional limes and a tablespoon of honey and was able to bring the heat down to merely tearing up instead of sneezing.

Green tomato salsa verde.

Yum!

Now, it is perfect.

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Only Mostly Dead

This was a harsh winter. The only plants that seemed to survive were the weeds. My bay plant, rumored to be more than 50 years old, died. We cut it down and this is all that’s left.

The Bay Stump.

The Bay Stump.

It was fragrant as we burned the old bay branches, in a funeral pyre sort of way. As we were chopping down and burning up the old bay plant, my mind was wandering and worrying about the nearby fig trees. I would go outside and snap a branch and hold my breath and hope that it was just late to leaf out and that these two fig trees were sleepy and taking their time to unfold after this extreme winter.

Just "mostly dead."

Just “mostly dead.”

Then I saw a little green! Turns out, the fig trees are only “mostly dead.” In the movie The Princess Bride, Miracle Max declares Wesley “mostly dead.” The trees are leafing out from the base of the trunk and I am going to need Miracle Max to come and help me coax them back to life. I will call my uncle, a botanist, and ask him for help: he’s a little like Miracle Max for trees.

There is hope!

There is hope!

Perhaps their intentions are noble and the fact that I love them will be enough. The fig trees know that I bought this house just for them. They have listened to me play my flute outside the window for the last couple of months. Together we have suffered through hours of practicing as I prepared to play principal flute in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Then again, maybe this has contributed to their demise.

This clip is from a recent concert, taken on the sly from my friend’s lap. Her skirt is lovely isn’t it? This  bit of the third movement is a piece of what the trees have been listening to from outside the window. Have a listen if you want to know what I’ve been up to lately and let me know how your plants fared this winter!

© copyright 2014 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

“Afternoon Delight”

On Day 2 of the Furlough/Shutdown/Political Clustermess that the United States government was inflicting on us all, Stuart embraced his status as temporarily unemployed. Think pajamas all day and “Anchorman” playing on continuous loop on the tele:

Ron Burgundy

Ron Burgundy

This was his favorite clip.

However, we did accomplish a few things around the house, but none of them so exciting as the day he spent on the roof. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and perfect weather. It would have been glorious if I was not so anxious he was going to plummet to his early demise below. I have always had an amazing imagination.

Stuart and the blue sky.

Stuart and the blue sky.

But he did not fall to his death. Instead he fixed the roof, damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and cleaned the gutters. Best of all, he removed an antenna that was attached to the roof.

An Eyesore that was seemingly impossible to remove. I hated this antenna. I think it was used to signal the aliens when they were trying to contact us back in the 1950’s, somewhere near Roswell.

The hideous antenna.

The hideous antenna.

It was a glorious day. It is amazing how satisfying removing something like this from the roof can be. We have removed them from three houses, so you may want to have a look outside and see if there is an old TV antenna attached to your roof. The trashmen hate us.

After.

After.

The antenna was attached over by the chimney and the house looks clean now. I love it! We also did four days of yard clean up, which is why the trash cans are hanging out in the front yard. The baby was very helpful through the whole furlough. We are all so glad it is over now and things are back to normal again.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Shutdown 101

I am trying to focus on the positive. For instance: Why yes I AM the sole breadwinner of the house! Doesn’t that give me a sense of accomplishment? Well, no, since we would all starve if that was normally the case.

How does one cope with a government shutdown when one’s spouse works for the government? Well, assuming he is not too exhausted from reading the classifieds, I have come up with a way to keep him busy…The Old Honey-Do List!

As we are approaching the fourth day of an unexpected furlough, and since we can’t cry in front of the kids on a regular basis, I am thinking up things to keep us busy.

Random Rocks = Chaos.

Random Rocks = Chaos.

Like MOVING ROCKS. This is a free, stress-relieving activity that is actually quite satisfying. Think Yoga but with more bulging muscles. And it looks awesome. (The rocks, not the muscles.)

We relocated all of the scattered flagstones around the driveway and imposed order on our surroundings by building a path with them. It looks much better and did I mention this was cheaper than going to the gym?

Aaaaah order.

Aaaaah order. 

We are working on the yard, making regular trips to the free mulch pile, and sprucing things up. However, we may have to be furloughed for a year to finish our yard, otherwise known as “The Wild Kingdom.” But it’s a start.

Flagstone path.

Flagstone path.

The Honey-Do List is as long as my arm and I am truly excited to dedicate some hefty hubby resources to getting things done around here. He is excited to have anything to keep his mind off of the fact that he is not working and not getting paid.

Goldenrod from the garden.

Goldenrod from the garden.

I added some flowers to the table, mess and all, to bring in some cheer and set a pot of lentils on the stove. If you need a cheap and incredibly tasty meal for your family, then click here for the best lentil recipe ever. If you are not affected by the government shutdown, thank your lucky stars and call your congressman anyway. And give the lentils a try; yes they are that good.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio at Simply Turquoise.

Citrosa, Herbs & Mosquitoes

I was recently inspired by my mom, who was rubbing the leaves of a geranium plant on her skin, to plant some mosquito-repellent plants. Moms are so smart.

Mosquito Fighter!

Mosquito Fighter!

I ran to Behnke’s, our local nursery, and found this cute tag on a plant called “Citrosa.” It smells strongly of citronella and claims, with comic-book size proportion, to fight mosquitoes. Who could resist? I left the sign in the pot, to scare away the mosquitoes scarecrow-style.

Mosquito Fighter!

Mosquito Fighter!

I bought several of these “Citrosa” geraniums. Other flowers that repel mosquitoes include marigolds and ageratum too.

Next up, herbs! I planted a variegated basil and moved some regular basil out to the deck as well. The strong smell of many herbs claim to fight off mosquitoes including lemongrass, thyme, and several varieties of mint.

Variegated Basil Plant.

Variegated Basil Plant.

I gathered up pots and found a few more at the thrift store. I am going to continue to add plants to the deck until the mosquitoes stop biting me. It will be a no-bite zone and the neighborhood kids will flock to my deck for protection.

Potted Plant Corner

Potted Plant Corner

Gardening takes on a sadistic-type pleasure when it involves exiling the mosquito. I love it when beauty and function come together.

No Mosquito Zone.

No Mosquito Zone.

That is my kind of design.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Taming the Wild Kingdom

Our house sits on 1.2 acres. If you are a gardening-type of person, you might think a yard that size is amazing. I agree it is amazing, but I am completely overwhelmed.

The Wild Kingdom

The Wild Kingdom

How is it that we live 7 miles from Washington, D.C. and have a yard this big? I blame science.

More WIld Kingdom.

More Wild Kingdom.

In 1910, the USDA established the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center or BARC, and Beltsville became a hub of agricultural science and research. This area attracted botanists, plant researchers and scientists, and created a community of agriculture around the research center. There were competitions between neighbors for who had the earliest and best looking corn, and the area is full of strange plants. For example, the Thorn-less Blackberry is alive and well, right here in Beltsville.

This brings taming the Wild Kingdom to a whole new level. Which are the weeds? Which are the valuable & rare specimens belonging to Beltsville? I have been at it for a couple of weeks, with the help of an old friend, neighbors and my mother-in-law, working like field hands. I suppose you could call it a bonding experience and the yard is beginning to show some progress.

The weed-free walkway.

The weed-free walkway.

The climbing Hydrangea, or  Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, is a beautiful, low-maintenance, woody vine growing on the front of our house. This vine is safe for brick surfaces and I am happy to have inherited it.

Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing Hydrangea

You can achieve that English-ivy, hidden-castle look, guilt free, if you use a climbing Hydrangea instead of ivy. How many ivy plants have I ripped off, coupled with a dose of sad, because it is so pretty? This Hydrangea is a wonderful substitute. It likes full-sun to part-shade, and once established, requires little maintenance.

Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing Hydrangea

 Now that is my kind of plant.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio.