pumpkin

Decadent Pumpkin Granola

This time of year, I love everything pumpkin–coffee, cupcakes, bread, bagels, and now, granola. Yep, granola. Healthy granola, too! Sort of. Everything but the maple syrup, anyway. And really, can’t a girl splurge during the holidays? (My holiday season officially begins when the pumpkin-fall menus enter the scene.)

fall pumpkin granola

I would have to answer, yes, I believe so. This granola is so delicious, you’ll want to eat it with ice cream, yogurt, or straight out of the pan. And while it’s high in fat, it’s mostly healthy fat, I can rationalize it as healthy, because pumpkin and flax seeds are so good for you. Really good.

So how do you make decadent pumpkin granola? That’s also easy. Simply mix oats and seeds, add some of what I call “granola glue” — the stuff that makes granola clumps — and bake.

Decadent Pumpkin Granola

pumpkin granola2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup pumpkin seed, natural, not salted or roasted

1/4 ground flax seed

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup melted butter

1 tsp orange zest

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, pumpkin and flax seed. Mix well. For the granola glue, mix together maple syrup, melted butter, orange zest and vanilla extract. Whisk well and pour over oat and seed mixture. Mix all ingredients until well blended. Note: this might be easier done with your hands. If you like the orange zest, go ahead and add some more. It’s a nice compliment to the maple syrup. More

What Shape is YOUR Garden In?

Good shape, poor shape, the kids have discovered all kinds of shapes in their garden this week, especially when it comes to leaves.  They’re long, short, ragged, smooth, small, wide, narrow…  Well, you get the idea.  Brussels sprouts tend toward the round side.

Oval with a point as in oregano.  Pepper plants share this shape (but it’s too cold for those at the moment). More

Aluminum Foil Recycled in the Garden

Okay, here’s an interesting take on squash bug prevention that I recently read in one of my garden magazines.  According to the article, it says that if you wrap the stem of your squash plants with aluminum foil, the squash bugs will not crawl up and over it to get to your plants.  (This is assuming these critters don’t fly, right?  Or leap from plant to plant.)

AWESOME!  I mean, I had a tough spring season this year battling these bugs and I’m all for anything that will prevent them organically.  Well you know I ran right out to my garden and try this new tactic.  After all, I have pumpkins in process, squash and zucchini newly planted….  Why, I’m a veritable billboard for this technique!  (And I do love to learn new methods for organic pest prevention in the garden.)

Grabbing the sheet of aluminum I used last night to cover my pork while reducing a delicious Thai sauce, I headed out to my garden prepared to “wrap and roll,” baby!  We’d start with the pumpkins, I decided, since they were the largest and most at risk.  Tearing the foil into strips, I squatted down and realized at once–we had a problem. 

No, not a squash bug problem.  A wrapping problem.  Peering down at my sprawling pumpkin plant vining its way into adjacent rows I thought, “How in the heck am I going to be able to wrap it all?”  We’re not talking one little stem that pokes up from the ground making this a simple procedure–no, no!  We’re talking “I have pumpkin vines all over the ground and spreading!”

Now what?

Plan A, but with some modification.  If the idea is to prevent the little beasts from crawling up and onto my plant, well then I was going to wrap as much stem as I feasibly could.  At the least this should discourage them from running the length of my vines, right?  Perhaps the shiny material will dissuade them altogether?

Hmph.  I have no idea.  This is an experiment in progress.  Right now my outlook remains positive but check back in a month to see if this remains the case. :)

Garden Upkeep

Growing vegetables is exciting indeed.  Planting, harvesting–even weeding can be fun (if you’re creative!).  But one thing that isn’t fun is fungus.  Yep.  You heard me right.  Fungus is no fun and it can kill a plant in no time.  It’s also a common problem for Florida gardeners because our climate is HUMID.  And we have afternoon thunderstorms without warning–another bad deal for our plants, since they already received their daily dose of water.

We can work in harmony with Mother Nature and adjust our watering schedule, but sometimes this isn’t enough.  And one day you walk out to find your pumpkin patch is succumbing to the conditions.  As organic gardeners, there’s not a whole lot we can do except try our best to prevent such catastrophe.  Or react to it as we did this week.  The middle school students removed as much of the dead leaves as possible to prevent spreading and allow more sunlight onto to the otherwise healthy leaves.  Hopefully, our plants will survive and thrive, but at this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

On a brighter note, our black beans are loving life and I’m loving these photos.  Isn’t it amazing?  Almost like you can see them actually growing and developing. Way cool.

Our bean fort is beginning to fill in, too.  This contraption happens to be big fun, despite its drooping “roof.” 

Of course the middle school boys had all sorts of ideas for fixing this drooping issue, but perhaps it’s best to hold off until we have the proper tools and materials (and not borrowing the project materials from fellow students!). :)

Another area in need of attention was our sunflowers.  Growing wild and wonderful, these babies need support!  Enter elementary and the fix is in–we used soft green tape and tied them to the fence for support.

As well as bamboo stakes for those off the fence.  Either way will work and help give these gorgeous gals the support they need to grow tall and strong.

Last but not least, our tomatoes needed pinching. 

Pinching?

Pinching.  In order to increase their vigor you want to pinch these little “suckers” (named as such because they suck needless energy/nutrients from the plants main stems) throughout the life of your tomato plant.  Simply spot them and pinch them.  Easy!

Our kindergartners finished out the week by planting stevia.  Stevia is a natural sweetener and is easy to grow, simple to harvest and a snap to use.  In fact, this past spring I used a few leaves from my home herb garden to sweeten the cucumber soup we prepared at school!  Yum.

 

If kids were vegetables/fruits, mine would be a…

Carrot – These boys and girls are bunches of fun and pure gold, inside and out.  At times they may appear feather-minded or flippant, but not to worry, they usually hop to their senses in short order!  For them, life is joyful.  Who can argue with that?

Corn – All sunshine and candy this child is as sweet and happy as they come, complete with flaxen hair and slender frame, though not all are blonde.  Ever heard of Indian corn?  Browns, reds, these kids come in all colors and flavors!  Occasionally blown off-balance by life, these little ones can prove susceptible to sudden surprise.  But who isn’t?   

Watermelon – Is it summertime, yet?  That’s the question spittin’ from these kids, cause they’re all about outdoor play, picnics and swim parties.  Don’t look for these rosy-cheeks anywhere near a computer game when the sun is shining but by golly Miss Molly when they’re finished—they move on quick, leaving a “scatter” of evidence behind. 

Onion – While these little ones spend more time in tears than many of their peers, despair not—they sweeten as they mature, especially when kept close to home.  Once fully grown, these boys and girls realize how versatile they truly are and find themselves in high demand and welcome most everywhere.

Strawberry – Bright and cheerful, these spring babies are a real treat.  They love the sun, love to shine…they simply love life.  But caution:  prone to a sweet tooth these kids will wallow in crème and sugar if you let them, with a tendency to plump.  And while plump can be perfect, TOO plump is not!  Encourage these sweeties to keep it fresh and minimize the sugary add-ons.

Cabbage – These cherubs are as quiet as they are cute.  No trouble, no talkback, they’re good-natured and easy to mix.  Invited to parties year-round, they blend easily with any crowd and in the rare event they turn sour, don’t fret.  Simply run a hand over their soft heads, hush them to sleep and they’ll be lulled back to good sense in no time!

Chili Pepper – These kids will keep you hopping, skipping AND jumping!  Firecrackers for sure, these kiddos are sharp-minded and rambunctious—a definite hand-full that adds zing to your life.  Many a day you may question your sanity, but never your luck.  While spicy and hard to handle, you wouldn’t trade them for the world.  Not for a second.

Pole Beans – Fresh outdoorsy types, these kids love to climb and see the world.  Tall and slim, they’re forever exploring yet easy to manage.  Need something?  Ask these sweet babies.  They’re quick to produce and don’t disappoint.

Pumpkin – As the name entails, these kids are cuter than pumpkins, round and merry and oh-so-ready for fall.  Apple pie and haystacks are what lure these kids (not to mention a great goblin costume).  But watch your back!  These mischievous critters are practical jokesters, known to spook a time or two.

Weeds – Wouldn’t be fair to overlook these little fellas.  Can’t because they’re everywhere!  Underfoot, out the door, around the corner!  And they’re quick, too.  Staying on top of these kids will take constant supervision and planning ahead.  They need freedom to roam and room to move and if you’re smart—you’ll allot them a space all their own.  No can do?  Ruh, roh.  These resourceful kids will make it happen.

Enjoy them while they’re young!

It’s official. We’ve got a pumpkin.

So much for my freak-of-nature expertise in the garden.  Remember that enormous, magnificent zucchini I grew? 

Well, apparently, it’s not a zucchini.  It’s a pumpkin.  I guess.  I really don’t know.  I’m assuming because it looks like a pumpkin, it’s a pumpkin (but you know the old wives tale about how to spell assume, don’t you?).  I do, too, and I don’t prefer to do either

Maybe a pumpkin seed slipped into the zucchini seed packet at the “packaging plant.”  It’s possible, though I don’t remember seeing anything that “stood out from the crowd” as I was dropping seeds into the dirt.  Not that I’d notice.  I’m very intent on my business when I’m planting.  Have it down to a real system

Could be a zucchini-pumpkin hybrid.  Is there such a thing?  Could even be a stray seed from the compost dirt.  I did buy pumpkins last fall…to carve Jack-o-lanterns and make pumpkin pie.  It’s possible one survived, though rather unlikely it would have conveniently ended up in the exact row for its specific family of plants — in the exact spot I planted the zucchini! 

It’s a good theory, now that I think about it.  Spotting “stray” sprouts across my garden, I transplanted several of these accidental compost “thrivers”  (I’m a sucker for a plant with the will to fight for survival).  While I don’t recall this particular one, it could have made its way there.  Happens.  

At this point, it doesn’t matter, does it?  I have a pumpkin.  I’m accepting it as a pumpkin and while not thoroughly overjoyed, I am still proud to call it my own.  After all, I grew it myself.

Check back in October and see if I’m as good growing pumpkins I mean to grow as I am with those I don’t!