A Scary Sight: Dead Tomato Plants!

Posted by Jordan | Thursday, October 30, 2008 | , | 1 comments »

(Dead tomato plants, isn't that scary? Haha. In the lower right hand corner of the picture you can see my parents' dog, Lucy.)

Just thought I would post something scary for Halloween, or at least the day before Halloween. The only thing I could think of is this picture of dead tomato plants in my parents' backyard that were killed off by the frost a few weeks ago. Since I love tomatoes so much, and since I thoroughly enjoyed eating all of the wonderfully delicious heirloom tomatoes this year, this is truly a sad and scary sight for me to see out in the garden!

You may remember my post on September 9th regarding my garden vegetables and an experiment I was doing which involved growing two banana pepper plants in pots out on the patio. Well, I was finally able to pick all of them the night before the first frost about two weeks ago. The results of this experiment were pretty good with the plants producing about 30 or so banana peppers for us to eat. Unfortunately I was not able to take a picture of the full harvest and as of now only a handful of peppers are left. We have been using them in several meals such as a stir fry one night, burritos, and basically anything that seems like it needs banana peppers.

I decided to include a recipe in this post which used some of these banana peppers. I like to be adventurous and try different combinations with my recipes and the other night I developed an interesting concoction for dinner.

The recipe included:

  • 1 Flour Tortilla
  • 1 Handful of Mixed Baby Greens
  • 2-3 Banana Peppers, sliced or chopped
  • 1-2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 4-5 Pieces of Tender Cactus (Strange? Yes, but I like to try new things.)
  • Cheese, as much as you want

Heat this up in the microwave until warm then add the following:
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sour Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon of Green Tomatillo Sauce
  • A sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper powder

Anyway, I just thought I'd post this interesting recipe, you should try it if you want!

Sansevieria Sprout

Posted by Jordan | Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | , | 0 comments »

In late spring of this year, while I was transferring my work sansevieria into a new pot, I broke off relatively new leaf and was unsure what to do with it. I had done some research into how to propagate sansevieria's and came to the conclusion that only the larger and more mature leaves would be able to send out rhizomes and eventually a new leaf. Ignoring this bit of research, I decided just to try propagating this young leaf and see what happened.

I watered approximately every 7-10 days for the past five to six months and it had been in my office at work getting fluorescent lighting and temperatures around 70. About a month ago I decided to bring it home and place it on a sunny windowsill. Basically I just let it get some real sunshine for a couple of weeks and I pretty much forgot about it and didn't really closely examine the plant. Well, today at lunch I decided to go water it and low and behold there was some new leaf sprouting out of the ground. Hopefully this will develop into a mature and tall leaf to help make this plant look better.

There will be an update on this plant in the future.

Orchid Updates...and Snow in October?!

Posted by Jordan | Monday, October 27, 2008 | , , | 2 comments »

You may remember our post about our first Phalaenopsis Orchid. Well, Annah and I purchased another orchid about a month ago when we traveled up to IKEA to purchase a piece of furniture for our house. The newest orchid is the pink one on the right. Upon closer inspection you can see the amazing perfection and beauty of all of our orchid flowers. Click on any of the photos to see the larger picture of them. The white and pink orchid is the first one we had purchased and is still doing well. (All of these pictures were taken a month ago on September 27th except for the last three pictures at the bottom of the post.)

Scroll down to view the pictures of our orchids and then read more about the newest pictures of these orchids (and our October snow!) which I took yesterday.


October 26th, 2008

Yesterday I decided to take more pictures to put in this post. The lighting in the room was not the best for taking these pictures, since it was late in the afternoon, but you can still get a general idea of what the orchids currently look like. All of the flowers are currently in bloom and they are both a delight to see in our bedroom. The temperature in the house is a little cooler than it was in the summertime, but the room still usually remains above 65 degrees and the orchids have so far not shown any signs of distress. They actually seem to be doing well and each of them even has new growth. It will be interesting to see if this new growth will bloom for us. In the future we definitely want to purchase more orchids to add to our plant collection!

It seems like it is a few weeks early for us to be getting snow here in Minnesota, but yesterday we had a cold, blustery, and overall awful day outside. The snow only amounted to a dusting of flurries during the day but it was the wind and the wind chill that made it awful outside. The 35-55 mph winds outside did not help the comfort level outside either. Hopefully we will have a few more nice fall days before winter is here for real.

My Schlumbergera truncata 'Dark Marie' or "Thanksgiving Cactus" at work is sending out blossoms in preparation for the upcoming bloom, which will probably occur next month. This is the first schlumbergera, of the numerous plants Annah and I purchased last year, to begin flowering.

Last year this plant only fully produced one flower due to the fact that it was adapting to new surroundings here in my office at work. During the weekend my office is darker, although not completely dark, and the office is probably around 60-65 degrees. This has probably helped induce the plant to start these flower buds.

My Dieffenbachia 'Perfection' at work has new growth on it and the plant in general is looking good. I have a slight concern that I may have spider mites or other pests starting to colonize this plant. I will have to continue monitoring this and provide pictures eventually to see if the problem can be diagnosed.

My China Doll (Radermachia sinica) plant is doing well since my post on my office plants. It has grown a couple of inches and has so far survived longer than the China Doll plant Annah's mom had owned. The colder weather, less humid air, and reduced amount of sunlight, might be detrimental to this plant's health in the upcoming months, but we shall see.

It's time for a short break from posting about gardening and plants and instead we will post some tidbits of information about Annah and myself.

Mr. Subjunctive at Plants Are The Strangest People tagged the two of us here at PlantCrazy to write about ourselves in a post. He tagged us way back on Wednesday, July 23, 2008 in this post, but with our vacation, the move to our new house, and work, the post we had started got lost in the mix, so now we are posting our own Six Random Things about us. We had previously been tagged a while back in February, when we wrote Seven Random Things About Us, but we could have written more about each of those things but we didn't at the time. Therefore, in honor of Mr. Subjunctive's most gracious invitation to participate in this most wonderful event, we are posting more random information about ourselves. Enjoy!

So the "rules" are:

* Link to the person who tagged you. (above)
* Post the rules on the blog. (Did that)
* Write six random things about yourself. (Yup)
* Tag six people at the end of your post. (not going to happen)
* Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
* Let the tagger know when your entry is up. (Yup)

Six things:

  1. Annah and I met in elementary school when we were in the same class where she was in fifth grade and I was in sixth. The school combined fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders (supposedly) into an "uppers" class. Basically we only "knew" of each other since we were both shy and we had different friends, but we met in that class. After that year in school, Annah went off to one middle school and I went to another. We were reintroduced to each other through mutual friends late in high school and our friendship was strong from the beginning. After high school, we each went to different colleges but we both kept in contact with each other and remained good friends. After college we both returned to our hometown and eventually we started dating and fell in love. We eventually plan on getting married* (see #6), buying a house, and having kids.

  2. I am a graduate from Luther College, where my major was Political Science. I have had an interest in politics and political theory for a long time and it seemed like the right choice for me to major in Political Science. However, with it also being a general degree as well, I have currently not really applied what I learned in college to my current job. I work as a Billing Specialist/Administrative Assistant which does not directly relate at all to my degree, but it has been a good job nevertheless.

    Annah is a graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead where she received a degree in Early Childhood Special Education and she currently works as a teacher in Southeastern Minnesota.

  3. A "random" thing about us is that we like to shop at IKEA and some people might even consider us to be "IKEA Addicts". In the past year Annah and I have made numerous trips up to the IKEA store in the Twin Cities, usually when we are visiting her relatives in the area. We like the store because they have a good selection of plants which always seem to do well and they have decent furniture for reasonable prices. Most of the furniture in our house that we are renting came from IKEA and we probably have about 10-15 plants that were purchased there as well.

  4. In our previous post about random things about us in February, we had stated that we had two hermit crabs. We now have eight hermit crabs in two separate aquariums. We have four large hermit crabs housed in a 55+ gallon aquarium and then we have four smaller and younger hermit crabs housed in a 20 gallon aquarium. Each aquarium includes sand from Florida, various types of caves, huts, and numerous things for them to climb on. This is going to be our first winter with them so we will have to see if they will survive since they need to have temperatures between 70-85 degrees and humidity somewhere between 70 and 90 percent. Hopefully the brutal Minnesota winter will not kill our hermit crabs or our plants! (You can check out our Hermit Crab Crazy blog for more information!)

  5. Prior to collecting plants and hermit crabs, Annah and I had other items which we collected and which we still own. When I was younger I used to collect different types of rocks and cheap gemstones. I enjoyed collecting agates, different types of quarts, amethyst, or basically anything that caught my eye. I still have boxes of rocks that I need to polish and/or find a place for at the new house. There is still the possibility that I will someday start collecting rocks again.

    Annah collected snow globes and currently owns about 40 of them although she does not actively collect them any more. In addition to this she also collected Beanie Babies, with her collection reaching 150, although she doesn't actively collect these any more either.

  6. If you notice in the "About Us" section on the right-hand side of the page, Annah is now my fiancée, and if you were wondering how we became engaged we will tell you the story now. During our trip to Oregon in August, where we were visiting my grandma and one of our friends from high school. One of our many stops was to the beach down in Bandon, Oregon. While we were walking on the beach, Annah decided that she wanted to climb up a rock to get a better view of the ocean and also because she likes to climb rocks, so I decided that it was an excellent time to propose. After we reached the top, I pulled out the ring and asked her if she would marry me. She said yes. Our current plans are to get married either in the fall of 2009 or the fall of 2010.

Home-Canned Tomatoes

Posted by Jordan | Friday, October 10, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

(The most recent batch canned by my dad on 10/09/08)

Over the past month my parents, along with a little help from Annah and I, have been canning stewed tomatoes and tomato juice. It is a lot of work to can tomatoes, but it is very wonderful and refreshing to be able to open up some home-canned tomatoes in the middle of winter here in Minnesota, especially when the temperature is below zero and it is snowing outside. Below is a brief description of the canning process we use. This is by no means an extensive "How-To" guide and should not be followed as such.

(These are the tomatoes that still need to be canned. Last week my mom purchased one bushel and got two for free! This has resulted in a lot of work for my dad and for Annah and I when we're there to help.)

Our supply of tomatoes this year came primarily from local vegetable farms and my eldest sister's garden. 1 In the future we are planning on planting more tomato plants at my sister's garden so that we do not have to purchase any tomatoes from other local farms if at all possible since it is somewhat expensive to buy a bushel of tomatoes.

The first step after purchasing them is to sort through the tomatoes to make sure that none of them are split, rotten, or otherwise unfit for canning. 2 The next step is washing the tomatoes to remove any dirt that may be present on the tomatoes.

(These tomatoes, since they have a lot of imperfections, will be used to make tomato juice. The process for tomato juice is similar, but you have to smash the juice out of them, which is a great stress reliever!)

The next step is to place the tomatoes into boiling water for about 30-60 seconds and then immediately place them into chilled water. This process loosens the skin and allows it to be easily removed. This step also requires the core of the tomato to be removed.

Once you have removed the skin from all of the tomatoes that are being prepared, the next step is to cut up the tomatoes and place them into a pot. Stew the tomatoes over medium to high heat.

For canning, make sure all of the jars have been sterilized (this can be accomplished by place the jars in the dishwasher for a cycle) and make sure you have brand new lids so that the jars and lids form a seal during the canning process.

My parents use their pressure cooker to actually can the tomatoes, which has worked wonderfully since they got the pressure back in seventies when they started canning their own tomatoes. If you decide to use a pressure cooker to can you will need to follow the instructions that came with your specific pressure cooker for exact instructions. For information on the other method of canning, which is a Boiling Water Bath, you can check out this link at "Tomato Casual".

(This is the shelving unit at my parent's house. Annah and I have our own built-in shelf for our canned tomatoes, so hopefully between the two houses we will have enough space!)

We are still working on getting the rest of the tomatoes canned (as you can see how many we have remaining on the table in the second picture of the post, as seen above) and hopefully we will not run out of space in our canned food storage area!


1 - I had intended on documenting my sister's garden throughout the summer to be able to see how the garden progressed and in the end I was hoping to have a wonderful post regarding the harvest. Annah and I, however, became very busy in late July through the end of September since we moved into our own house in a different town, went on vacation for a week, we became very busy at work, and my attention on the blog was focused on other things. Hopefully next year (if the blog is still up and running) we will be able to more adequately document the entire growing season at my sister's garden.

2 - Picking your own tomatoes will help to speed up this process since the tomatoes will have already been sorted while picking them.

NOTE: Due to the high number of pictures in this post, the page might take a while to load for those of you with dial-up connections!

One afternoon while vacationing along the Oregon Coast this past August, Annah and I visited Shore Acres State Park, which is located in Coos Bay. The reason why we were in Coos Bay, Oregon in the first place was to visit my paternal grandmother who lives out there. My parents and I had been to Shore Acres State Park before during previous visits out there, but it is a nice and quaint destination which was exactly what we were looking for one afternoon.

Here is a little description of Shore Acres State Park from The Friends of Shore Acres website (http://www.shoreacres.net/)

Perched on a scenic bluff above the Pacific Ocean, Shore Acres began as a private estate with luxurious gardens featuring trees, shrubs, and flowering plants brought from around the world aboard the sailing ships of pioneer lumberman and shipbuilder Louis J. Simpson.

[The Gardens Include:]
  • Hundreds of spring bulbs and daffodils - late Feb. thru March
  • 5,000 tulips - late March thru April
  • Hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas - April thru mid-May
  • 5,000 flowering annuals/perennials - May thru Sept.
  • 600 rose bushes - June thru Sept.
  • 250 dahlias - Aug. thru mid-Oct.
  • 250,000 or more holiday lights (almost all L.E.D.)- Thanksgiving thru New Year's Eve.
  • Hundreds of spring bulbs and daffodils - late Feb. thru Mar.

The weather that day was in 60s, cloudy, and lightly misting. Although sunshine would have been nice, this light mist created an environment that was very calm and soothing. The peak time for the sensational rose blossoms had already passed by, but there were plenty of other flowers to look at and photograph. We were also able to see some rabbits and a friendly chipmunk. It was delightful!

If you are ever out along the Oregon Coast and want to do something other than visiting the beaches or going fishing, then you should check out this wonderful little state park in Coos Bay!

Enjoy the pictures!