Makin’ bacon, the first BLT sandwiches of the season

There is nothing like the first BLT of the season made with homegrown tomatoes. Among the veggies in our garden this year, the Early Girl, Mr. Stripey, Cherokee Purple, Beefmaster and Roma tomatoes are the most welcome. Our spring and summer have been unseasonably cool, and tomatoes like hot days and warm nights. They do their magic during those warm nights. We’ve had an abundance of rain this season, though, so much that I’ve only watered our veggies and flowers a handful of times the whole season! This week, the tomatoes finally began to ripen.

Last night and today, BLT’s have been dinner, along with chunks of a particularly succulent and sweet seedless watermelon.The results were, well…Just take Emma’s word for it.

Picture of dog panting and drooling for BLT sandwich

Yeah, baby! It is time for fresh tomatoes plain or with Tzatziki Sauce (we get ours from GFS, Gordon Food Services), a splash of balsamic vinegar, light Italian dressing, or served up on sandwiches. Miracle Whip is our condiment of choice for the latter.

I cooked the bacon in the microwave the second time around, because it is less messy and the grease is absorbed as it cooks. Just layer a few paper towels on a plate, arrange slices of bacon side-by-side on the plate (no overlapping) and cover with another few sheets of paper towels. Cook on high for 4-6 minutes and let cool a bit. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, you will probably need to turn the plate part way through to make sure it cooks evenly.

There are also some great microwave bacon cooker kitchen gadgets if you want to save on paper towels and lessen the amount of bacon grease you consume. Nordic Ware makes one that’s both a bacon cooker and meat grill. There’s also The Original Makin’ Bacon Microwave Bacon Rack, which suspends the bacon during cooking, letting the grease drip down into a reservoir below. I’d like that one myself, since it lets you cook more pieces at a time, certainly more than I could using a plate and paper towels.

What’s your favorite thing to do with an abundance of fresh garden produce, especially tomatoes? We are going to have a BUNCH of Roma tomatoes coming ripe at once and I want to use them up. I don’t know if I want to bother with canning, but I might try it. It would be good to make some tomato sauces for later. Hmmmmmm. At least it’s been a cooler summer so canning wouldn’t be so doggoned hot. I thought about setting up a hotplate out under our gazebo and putting my big Ball 21-quart waterbath canner out there so it won’t heat up the house.

These are MY happy feet


These are my happy feet. I used to go barefoot in my yard all the time, and still do sometimes. However, when I’m really working outside, I wear my work shoes, complete with my custom orthoses. This footwear can stand up to shoveling in hard clay, kicking around, crawling on my hands and knees through all manner of ground and rocks… Whatever I throw at them. Also, they protect my tootsies from nasty, pointy surprises lurking in the mulch and groundcovers.

Garden pond with stock tank heater is an oasis for wildlife in the winter

This has been cold winter for us in Ohio. It seems like we’ve been shivering forever and that spring will never come. Our garden’s avian visitors are eager for food and water, frequenting our feeders of black oil sunflower seed and drinking from our garden pond. One of our guests is a flock of dark-eyed juncos. They’re members of the sparrow family. You can identify the slate colored dark-eyed juncos by their dark grey heads, grey bodies, white bellies and white outer tail feathers. They are winter visitors here in Ohio, little birds we love to see make their appearance each year. We love watching them hop around in the snow.

Here are two photos of dark-eyed (slate colored) juncos:

They leave these tracks on our pond when they come to drink.

bird tracks on frozen pond surface


The floating stock tank de-icer you see thaws the surface enough that there’s a hole even in the sub-zero temps we’re experiencing this year. Brrr! If you get a stock tank de-icer, make sure it’s safe for plastic if your pond is a formed pond or has a rubber liner.  They’re great things, ensuring the local wildlife has fresh water and lets oxygen into the pond so our pond fish don’t suffocate under the ice during prolonged freezes. There are raccoons and neighborhood cats drinking from the pond as well. So far, no deer have ventured up, at least not as far as we can tell.


We had our last heater for six or seven years, maybe longer. We finally had to replace it for this season. Even if you don’t have a garden pond, it’s possible to provide water for wildlife in the winter. You can either keep a hole chipped in a container of water or get something like we used to use, heated birdbaths. There are traditional bowl-shaped models as well as more natural-looking birdbaths that just sit on the ground, patio or deck. Here are some examples:


At some point, we should find an alternate way to aerate our pond in the winter that is more cost-efficient. Our pond heater pulls over 1000 watts when on compared to the smaller heated birdbaths that only use the equivalent of a light bulb. However, the little heated birdbaths don’t necessarily keep the water thawed down to frigid temps like we’re experiencing this winter.

Garden photos slideshow: Minolta DiMAGE A1

I ran across this group of garden photos taken with my Minolta DiMAGE A1. That camera had quite the story behind it, a testimony to good customer service.

Sometimes I miss that camera. My Sony Alpha A300 is wonderful, but I don’t have the lenses yet which would allow me to get some of the shots I used to get with my Minolta or my subsequent Fuji. Still, I love my Sony! They’re a terrific line of DSLR cameras.

The music is courtesy of the generous Kevin MacLeod. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your offering this caliber of music, free. You bring life to any project I do. I want to give you props! Thanks!

Kevin also has music for sale. Amazon has a nice selection of Kevin’s music available for instant download.

Burpee’s Spring 2010 TV commercial

Howie and I saw Burpee’s new TV commercial today. It’s a terrific ad! I haven’t gotten around to downloading it and embedding it here, and I can’t find it elsewhere, so just check it out at the link I gave.

It depicts a woman wearing a flowing blue dress, strolling through her garden. She kneels down and admires the ripe, red tomatoes. Last, she reaches down and pulls out….a smartphone. Yep. She snaps a photo of the tomato and seems to upload it somewhere. She’s grinning like a fool the whole time, by the way.

Howie and I laughed when we saw that, because that’s pretty much me. I carry my G1 phone with me everywhere. I’m also an avid photographer and love to share with others. So, I often take photos of flowers, veggies, toads, and anything else I find pretty or interesting and upload it from my phone.

Need to ID a plant? Snap! Upload it.

See a cute little toad? Snap! Upload it.

I need to take more breaks when I garden than I used to, so I upload pictures when I sit down and take a break.

I wrote to Burpee today:

My husband and I saw the spring commercial on HGTV this morning. What a clever and funny ad!

We got a good laugh out of that, because that’s exactly how I am. I’m frequently out in my garden, admiring the flowers, veggies, even the little toads, then pulling out my cellphone to take photos and upload them to Facebook, my blog, and e-mail.

The only difference is, when I go out in my garden, I can assure you I am *never* bright and shiny, put together in a lovely outfit complete with hat and basket! My neighbors and any passers-by can attest to this. Please don’t ask them about it, though.

Thing is, by the time tomatoes ripen in my area of Ohio, it is HOT. If I’m dressed up like that, I’m sure not going to ruin my hair and makeup by going out in my garden and kneeling down to get pictures of my tomatoes…Even for a quick snap.

Okay, I lied. Maybe I would, but just one! My husband will be in the background telling me we’re running late and to get in the car.

Anyway, good show on the commercial. You and your ad agency came up with something delightful for us tech-loving gardeners.

We need an Android app, guys. Hint, hint. 😉

When I wrote it, I’d only watched the ad once and would have sworn the woman in the commercial was wearing a straw hat. Nope! It’s funny how your mind’s eye can trick you!

I now return you to your scheduled programming.

Pompus pumpus pampus grass, err, bush?

Pompus pumpus pampas bush grass

These posts from our local Freecycle group cracked me up. The poster changed the spelling by the time she reposted the offer, but she still didn’t get it quite right. She at least figured out they’re grasses and not bushes by the time she made the second post.

For the record, it’s pampas grass. I know it’s an easy one to misspell since it’s not something one tends to write every day. Still, most e-mail programs and web browsers offer spellcheck. Don’t ignore those red-underlined words, folks.

Self-watering container garden update: Oh, deer

I’m assuming it’s the deer who’ve deluded denuded (hah!! oops!!) my tomato plants’ lower portions. You’d think deer would get the stuff up high as well as the lower leaves. They don’t seem to be interested in the tomatoes, just the leaves. The basil and pepper remain untouched. I’m making a big batch of roasted garlic, basil and walnut pests (danged auto correct!!) tomorrow. *Smack smack*