Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mulching Tip

Mulching is not exactly my favorite garden task and I especially hate when it doesn't stay in the flowerbed and spills out onto my sidewalk and pathways.

After winters constant freezing and thawing, the soil has worked it's way up to the top of my edging. And the bricks sink a little as well. I can put mulch on that but it's going to keep washing out on top of my bricks all summer.
Here is where one of my favorite garden tools come in. A hammer.

Using the claw part of a hammer, dig a trench in the soil one to two inches deep all along your sidewalk or pathway.

Yes, my trusty hammer has seen it's better days, but it still gets the job done!

While I'm doing this I take some of the soil and put it under the bricks that need straightening up. That claw also works great getting some of the smaller weeds and those pesky maple seedlings out.

Then fill it in with mulch or in my case Bull Country Compost. I prefer this dark organic compost made locally, over mulch because I have very bad soil and it really helps amend it. I mix some of this in with my plantings as well.

Happy Gardening

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back in the Garden

I'm finally getting back in the garden after several weeks of cold weather.
After the beautiful weather we had in March, the cold weather returned as soon as we turned the calendar to April. Mother Nature said April Fools, we are not done with winter yet!!
 It's been a frustrating few weeks of trying to keep tender plants covered then uncovered repeatedly.  I see we have some more lows in the mid 30s forecasted this weekend:( 
Some of my favorite hosta's got frost damage even though I covered them. I don't know if I should cut them back or not. I guess I'll wait and see what they look like and cut off the damaged leaves.
 I would much rather have my cold weather when we are supposed to have it and get it over with!!!

Here's what's bloomin'
Angelique Tulip

More Daffodil's.


Woodland Phlox

Anyone need Forget-Me-Nots? I have plenty to spare!

Dogwoods are blooming in Serenity Cove. They are even prettier with the Cardinals perched in them.

I wanted to watch this bluebird get that into the nest but what appeared in the next photo made him fly away.


Wood Poppy

Ajuga is so pretty when it's in bloom but it spreads fast. I never see weeds get through this so it makes a great ground cover. Nothing I hate more than ground covers that don't do what they are supposed too!
 I need to get this trimmed back. See how it is growing out into the pavers. I just take my half-moon edger along the edge of the pavers. If I want to start more somewhere else, sometimes I pitch it on a bank somewhere and it starts growing. Doesn't get much easier than that.

Up next I'm going to share a tip using one of my favorite garden tools.
 A hammer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Got Rhubarb?

With rhubarb coming into season, here is my favorite dessert recipe using rhubarb. It's very easy and delicious, pretty much like a dump cake.

Dice 4-5 cups of rhubarb, add one 3oz. box strawberry jello dry, and 3/4 cup white sugar. Mix together and spread into a buttered 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle one box yellow cake mix over the rhubarb and dot with butter.  Pour 1 cup water in the four corners.( 1/4 cup in each corner)
Bake for 35-45 minutes at 350.....

 then serve warm with Ice Cream!!

Rhubarb Crunch

5 cups diced rhubarb
1 3 oz. box strawberry jello
3/4 cup sugar
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup butter
1. Mix rhubarb, sugar and dry jello together and put into buttered 9x13 pan.
2. Sprinkle dry cake mix on top.
3. Pour water in the four corners of pan. 1/4 cup in each corner.
4. Dot with butter
5. Bake at 350 degrees until rhubarb is tender and the top is golden brown approx. 35-45 minutes.
Note: You can use frozen rhubarb in this recipe but don't thaw.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cades Cove Tour Part 1

Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains is a 4000 acre valley surrounded by mountains and has become the most popular destination for visitors in the park, attracting over two million visitors a year.
I can't begin to describe the beauty in Cades Cove. It is my all time favorite place in the Smoky Mountains!
Wildlife is abundant with plenty of white-tailed deer, black bear, turkeys and coyote roaming the open fields and forested mountains of the cove.
It is believed the cove was named after an Indian leader known as Chief Cade. The first Europeans settled in the cove around 1818 with John Oliver being the first settler.
Population in the cove peaked at 685 by 1850. With the soil growing tired, and new states opening in the west, many families moved out in search of more fertile frontiers. By 1860 only 269 people remained. Slowly the numbers rose to about 500 just before the park was established in the late 1920s.
Today the cove has been preserved to look much like it did in the 1800s with some of the original homesteads, churches and farmland depicting the pioneer way of life. An 11 mile loop road winds it's way around the cove with opportunities to stop and visit the preserved homesteads and has been referred to as an open-air museum. To really experience the cove, don't just drive through but get out of your car and go exploring.

The John Oliver Place
About one mile into the loop is the first settler John and Lurany Oliver's cabin.  Oliver's original cabin stood 50 yards behind this cabin which was built for his son.

Primitive Baptist Church
This church located at 2.5 miles into the cove was organized in 1827 and met in a log building until 1887 when this white frame church was built. Many people by-pass this church because it's location is set off of the main road a little way. It is so quiet and peaceful and it's in such a picturesque setting. It's worth the little side trip to see it.

Methodist Church

Back on the main loop road the next stop is the Methodist Church. This church was organized in 1820 and also met in a log structure until 1902. J.D. McCampbell a blacksmith and carpenter, built this church in 115 days for $115.00. He later served as the preacher of the church.

Missionary Baptist Church

This church was formed in 1839 by members of the Primitive Baptist Church who were dismissed because they favored supporting missionary work. This building dates from 1894.

John Cable Mill

Located half-way around the loop road is the visitors center and the historic Cable Mill area. This is probably the most popular stop on the Cades Cove tour. Mills powered by a waterwheel were an important feature in the community because it could grind corn much faster than tub mills. This mill is still in operation April-October.

Gregg-Cable House
Built in 1879 by Leason Gregg, this house served it's owners as a store, boarding house and private residence and may have been the first framed house in Cades Cove. Various buildings have been moved from elsewhere in the cove and placed here including the Cane Mill seen on the right and the Molasses Furnace on the left in the photo above.

Corn Crib

Gregg-Cable Barn

Henry Whitehead Place
When Matilda Shields Gregory was deserted by her husband, her family quickly built her a small cabin to give her shelter. Given the haste with which it was built, the cabin was one of the roughest in the cove with rough-hewn logs and a rubble stone chimney.

 When Matilda got remarried to Whitehead, he built her one of the nicest cabins in the cove directly in front of the original one. Their new home had square-sawn logs and a brick chimney, rare for the Smokies. In those days if you wanted bricks you had to make them yourself.

This pair of dwellings represents the roughest and the finest log construction in the Smokies.

Dan Lawson Place
Dan Lawson was an influential citizen of the cove and considered to be the wealthiest resident. He was a postmaster and served as Justice of the Peace. He acquired a lot of properties and owned more land than anyone else in the cove. This cabin was built around 1856 and had also one of the few brick chimneys for that time.

The Tipton Place
"Hamp" Tipton had this house built a few years after the Civil War.

Across the road from the Tipton Place is a Cantilever Barn, once a common site in the Smokies. The overhang allowed protection for outside animals and equipment. This one is a replica built in 1968.

Carter Shields Cabin
This is the last stop on the loop and was home to George Washington "Carter" Shields. Nestled in a little cove surrounded by dogwoods makes this one of the prettiest settings in the cove.

To be continued.
 In part 2 I will focus on the scenic side of the cove.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Homemade Bread

Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread, plus it's so much tastier and nutritious than store bought bread.
I have tried so many recipes for homemade bread over the years but never found one recipe that I was satisfied with until I found this one.
Many of the recipes would turn out great one time, only to completely flop the next. Maybe it's just luck but this recipe has turned out well every time I've made it. This is now my go to recipe when I want to bake bread.

Homemade Bread
 1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp bread flour
2 tsp white sugar
1 cup quick oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten opt.
5 cups bread flour. I use Thesco or Sapphire Flour
 1. In a mixing bowl, I use my Kitchen Aid Mixer, stir together the first four ingredients. Let grow for about 5 minutes. It should start bubbling almost immediately.
2. Add oats, wheat flour, warm water, salt, brown sugar, oil and wheat gluten to the first part in the mixing bowl. With a dough hook, mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes. Increase speed slightly, and begin to add the bread flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl. Note: Humidity can determine how much flour you will need. It is normal for the dough to be a little sticky.
3. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat the surface. Cover with a cloth. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size approx.1 hour.
I turn my oven on it's lowest setting while I'm mixing my bread then turn it off so the oven is just slightly warm.
4. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Shape loaves, and place in greased 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch bread pans. Prick with fork to help get rid of air bubbles. Let rise until dough is 1 inch above rim of pans, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or tops are golden brown. Let cool in pans for 8 minutes and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
I like to brush the tops with melted butter after removing from pans for a soft shiny crust. Then I cover with a towel while cooling. If you like a chewier crust skip this part.
"give us this day our daily bread"