Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Checking Out John's Garden and Cleaning Up Summer...

My brother, John, keeps sending me pictures on my cell phone of fantastic garden related stuff.  From plants in the garden to the yummy stuff that comes afterward.  I'm kind of a hermit so I think he's trying to lure me out of my lair.  I love him for it too.

John grows some pretty awesome stuff in his garden.  As you know, I love experimenting with new plants but can tell you for sure that my little brother takes that to the extreme with some really awesome and interesting plants.

Yesterday's picture that he sent me was of Amaranth.  I had never heard of Amaranth until he told me about it.  Here's the picture:

Amaranth Top
Source: John Hasquin, used with permission

If you think the photo is pretty, you should see it in person because that is just the top of the plant.

Amaranth has been used by human beings for a LONG time.  It's actually a grain.  You can use the seeds and leaves in salad, stir fry the leaves or grind the seeds into flour.  The seeds can be popped just like popcorn.  It's a very versatile plant.  Not to mention it can grow in extremely crappy soil and doesn't require as much water as a lot of plants.

Here's what it looks like full shot:

Sorghum and Amaranth in John's Garden
Source: Lanie Ricketts

Just so you know, those plants in that photo are at least 8 feet tall, probably 9 feet.

The corn looking plant in this photo is Sorghum.  Like in the syrup.

Now, Sorghum is an interesting plant that actually has a lot of uses.  John told me that the variety that he grew this year is native to Africa which means it didn't blink an eye at our screwed up summer weather.  It can grow in any kind of soil and grew like this in soil that has a lot of rocks in it in John's garden.  It's another plant that is drought tolerant.

Sorghum stalks contain a natural sweetener that can be squeezed out of the stalk.  The seeds can be popped like popcorn of all things.  John plans to cut the stalks, let them dry for a few days and then squeeze the juice out of them to make the sweetener.  Maybe I can talk him into photographing the process and doing a guest post for you to show you the results!    

On the other hand, my summer garden is pretty much spent.  I decided to take the corn down today to start getting that area ready for fall planting.  It looked SO pathetic!

Dead Corn
Source: Lanie Ricketts
All wasn't lost with it though.  The stalks that weren't stricken with the black fungus were cut and gathered up for the chickens and they LOVED it.  When it comes to any part of a corn plant, all 8 of my chickens have hollow legs.

Chickens Enjoying Corn Stalks
Source: Lanie Ricketts

Now back to the fungus... I'm not sure what the cause of this is because I haven't looked into it yet.  My corn had it, John's corn had it and a blogger that I follow that lives in southern Illinois that grew corn had the same problem.  It has to be from the plants becoming stressed from the heat and lack of water but I'll find out for sure later.  It's kinda nasty looking but reminds me of a corn fungus I saw on a television show as a kid that people sliced up, fried and ate.  I love mushrooms and I'm a pretty daring individual but I don't believe I'll be eating corn fungus anytime soon.

Corn Fungus
Source: Lanie Ricketts
The space where the corn was at is going to be planted with peas and lettuce this coming week.  Hopefully they will do better than the corn did.  This coming spring, I'm planting tobacco in that spot.  It will be perfect for it.  The corn patch will be moved over to a partial shade area so it won't be baking in the sun.  I'm putting in a hoop house greenhouse this fall and the corn will be planted inside where it will be protected from cross pollination, tree rats, wind and anything else undesirable that may come along.

I did get to enjoy some morning glories today while pulling the weeds out of the driveway (which sealing the driveway is now on my to do list).  I love morning glories and think I'll plant some in the back of the lot behind the chicken coop.

White Morning Glories
Source: Lanie Ricketts
There's still a LOT of work to be done cleaning up the yard and a lot of projects that I have to complete.  The motion security lights have to be hung back by the coop as well as their lighting for this fall/winter to ensure egg production doesn't fall too much.  I'm also putting up security lights on the fence so I'll be able to see what I'm doing when I'm outside at night this fall once we lose the daylight at 5pm.  (Can't work or garden in the damn dark!)  This Sunday will bring lawn mower shopping and looking at wood chippers and tillers.  I'll be cutting some trees down soon in preparation of replacing the fencing on the side of the house later this fall once the flowers have died back and can be transplanted in the bed in front of it.  Sweets and I talked about it and decided against putting up the privacy fence down the side of the yard since we are going forward with buying the acreage and selling this house when we are ready to.

Fall planting will be in full swing next week too.

Oh, I almost forgot... our next group meatie chikens will be here in a couple of weeks.  D-Day will be sometime in November and this time we will be photographing and video taping it so I can write an instructional article on how to process a chicken for my HubPages account (I still won't post it here but will post a link for those that are curious and want to see how we do it.).

It's getting really busy around here again but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Look who's back with the girls and not taking any more of their crap...

Happy Tuesday!

*hugs*

~Lanie 

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