Five Senses Friday: Dirt, etc.

~ Watching ~

 My Garden grow.  We have 3 raised garden beds, 4’x8’ each, and we use the Square Foot Gardening method.  Last week, I did the big marathon of springtime garden chores, as the only things that survived the winter garden are several red potato plants, one broccoli plant , and one cabbage plant (both of which are going to yield us something very soon!).  I amended the soil with some composted cow manure and organic garden soil (both gotten on sale – woot!), and compost from our own composter (by the way, did you know that avocado seeds will sprout inside a composter?  That was a lovely surprise, as I have given up trying to sprout them with toothpicks and water).  The next day I purchased seeds and seedlings.  The day after that, I planted.  We have 18 tomato plants in 3 different varieties (regular, roma, and grape); 6 each of crook-neck squash, watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant, bell peppers, and probably something else I’m forgetting.  I also planted some strawberry plants in a strawberry pot (something I have been wanting to own for years and finally treated myself to).  I do not have particularly high hopes for the strawberries, because this is Florida, and strawberry season is already in full swing, so it’s kind of late to be planting new strawberries.  The kind I bought are June-bearing, though, so they might(?) actually make it, but still, I fully expect them to fail.  So if they don’t, gravy!

What's left of the winter garden. One bolting broccoli, one heading cabbage.

The 3 garden beds. Not quite full yet! The string grid on Bed 1 needs replacing.

I also planted seeds for a ton of green bean plants, corn, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and sunflowers, and even some carrots, turnps, and beets (about as late in the season as I could have possibly waited!).  Yes, I am mighty ambitious this year!  Now if only I could figure out how to keep those damn squirrels away.  We do have a plastic owl, and the other day I walked around the garden sprinkling cayenne pepper and spritzing everything with very diluted Murphy’s Oil Soap as a half-assed, spur of the moment solution based on some recipes that Google supplied me with.  I intend to make up a proper batch of it eventually.  Well, maybe.  If it works as it is then I won’t change a thing!  I only have so many spray bottles, and one is already devoted to a Murphy’s solution for cleaning my heirloom dining table.  So if I can avoid having to buy and store yet another spray bottle, that would be nice.  It’s the little things.

Another thing I am trying is growing potatoes in a 55 gallon garbage can.  It seems so ridiculously easy!  I found an old garbage can that’s been sitting on the side of our house for who knows how long, and punched some holes in the bottom for drainage.  I scattered some river rocks over the holes to keep the dirt in, added about 6” of bagged garden soil, then dumped several pounds of seed potatoes in (in this case, seed potatoes = a bag of organic Idaho potatoes that I let go to eye).  Then I dumped another 4-6” of garden soil on top of them, and watered.  The idea is to add more and more soil as the plants grow, since the tubers grow out of the stems if they are under dirt.  When the dirt gets to the top of the can, I will let the plants die off and then (theoretically) the can will be full of potatoes.  I tried to find a link for this, but according to all of the ones I looked at, I am not following the complicated instructions they give, so if you want more info, Google “grow potatoes in a garbage can” or something.  I’m just blazing trails with my laziness here, apparently.  We shall see if it pays off!  I also found out that this method works for sweet potatoes, so I need another garbage can and some organic sweet potatoes to let go to eye!

Young potato plants at the bottom of a garbage can.

Part of a more mature potato plant in one of the raised beds.


~ Listening ~

 To the radio.  The kids love to listen to the pop station, and have pretty much all of the latest songs memorized, even if their lyrics aren’t correct (and try as I do to correct them, they keep making up whatever they think is being said).  One thing I discovered recently as a great peace-keeping tool, especially in the van, is the Now That’s What I Call Music CDs.  It’s their favorite songs on demand!  You may be thinking that this would be easy to accomplish with certain other modern technologies, but we don’t have an MP3 player or XM radio, so good old fashioned CDs work for our purposes (except when the 10 year old minivan’s CD player overheats . . . ).  So whenever the kids are getting obnoxious or start fighting while I’m driving, I pop in a CD and they stop what they are doing and start singing.  Magic!

~ Feeling ~

 This strange spring weather.  (What, like I haven’t lived in Florida my entire life?  I should be used to strange weather!)  It’s warm enough during the day (90°!) that I feel a little claustrophobic in my yoga pants, but cool enough at night (60°) that my sleeveless nightgowns require a robe if I want to go out onto the porch.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  All of you northern people are laughing at me for thinking 60° is cold.  And really, as a Floridian, I know that 85° is not that warm.  In a few months, the heat index will soar at 105°, with stifling humidity.  So I should enjoy the mere 85-90° while I can!  I am dreading those oppressive days where I can’t even bear the thought of going out to water the garden, let alone weed or replant something.  (I’m a little obsessed with weather, as I am sure you will all figure out eventually.  Just wait until hurricane season!  My husband is very glad that we no longer get The Weather Channel.)


 ~ Smelling ~

 Rain!  So thankful for rain.  We have had such drought here over the last year that even hay is scarce.  I ended up paying extra for straw for my chicken coop last week because hay is so hard to find, due to last summer’s drought.  And there is nothing the garden likes better than a good soaking rain.  There is something magic in that rainwater that makes plants shoot up noticeably after it rains.  So I am looking forward to going out there to check on all of my “babies” tomorrow.  Now, if only I had a working rain barrel to capture some of this precious liquid.  Our previous rain barrel (the kind they sell out of the back of a truck for $45 in the Home Depot parking lot) held up for just over a year.  I think the kids using it for play has something to do with that, since there was more than one occasion that I caught them rolling each other around the yard in it (I KNOW!).  And I could not keep them from turning on the spigot at the bottom of the barrel to use the water to make mud.  I’m all for dirty outside play and all, but I was kind of looking forward to having a barrel full of rain water to use to water the garden during those droughty days!  Honestly, the fancy design of that barrel proved to be detrimental for our case.  The kids thought the spigot itself was so cool that they removed it from the barrel to play with, and then lost it!  Now the thing wouldn’t hold water at all, even if there wasn’t a giant crack down the side of it.  I may just end up using that old rain barrel to grow sweet potatoes in.  I think we would be better off with a garbage can with a screen over the top under our gutters, dipping a watering can in it as needed.  The fancy ones are just too attractive for my curious kiddos.

Mud play. This pic was taken the day the rain barrel died. :/


~ Tasting ~

Polenta.  I made it for the first time recently, and I’m hooked.  Now, like any good southerner, I have made (and eaten) grits many times.  And I have eaten polenta at restaurants.  I even like congealed leftover grits (which is, um, pretty much . . . polenta).  But I bought a package of yellow grits with polenta instructions on them and thought, hey, why not?  It was nifty to purposefully let some grits set in a bowl and then invert it onto a plate to make salty, peppery, cheesy “grits cake.”  The kids LOVED it, and so did I!  I just might have to post a recipe tutorial on one of these Yummy Mondays . . .

Oh!  And I made Tater Tot Casserole again the other night.  If you missed my post where I shared my personal version of the recipe this week (in all it’s photographic glory), you can find it here.   🙂


Thanks for reading!  Have an awesome day!  😀

~ Michelle