Keeping up with the Joneses

Parthenocarpic, What a Wonderful Word

growing cucumbers indoors

It kind of just rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?

What it refers to is a veggie, like the cucumber shown above, that does not need pollination to produce fruit. This particular one is called Corinto, an F1 hybrid that we purchased seeds from Johnny’s Select. We chose this one because it will bear a little sooner than some varieties.

Other vegetables available as parthenocarpic hybrids include summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant and watermelon.

This is part of our indoor garden that we have been sharing lately, an attempt to grow more all year. It will be interesting to see if we can keep it inside, or if will just become too much for the spot we have. It will grow well outdoors too, and can even be put in the greenhouse, so it isn’t a real chancy experiment.

The seed germinated for us in just 5 days. Cucumbers aren’t real fond of being transplanted, so we started only one seedling in a small plastic cup so as to not have to thin. Then we watered the plant before carefully transplanting it to a larger cup. We did the same before transplanting into its permanent home. Watering it first, and letting the excess drain off, helps hold the soil around the root system. This makes transplanting less stressful for the plant.

This plant germinated on January 17th, and was in this large pot a month later. It is about 4″ tall now, and still pretty upright. In retrospect, maybe it should have been planted near the outside of the pot, which would have made trellising it easier. So instead, we’ll add a few disposable chopsticks for it to grab onto, and train it towards the tomato cage it will finally be growing up.

Live and learn, right?

The days to maturity on it is 48 days, so we should be seeing something very soon. Upon closer inspection, it looks like something is beginning to form. How exciting!

We’ll keep you updated on the little one’s progress.

Learn more about parthenocarpy here.

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Categories: Cucumbers & Gherkins, How to Grow, The Experiments

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Product Review: The Veggie Mold

reshaping your edibles

I’ll be honest, when I first saw this product I thought it was a cute idea, but not something I would have any use for. Perhaps it is my restaurant background, but if I want a garnish I know plenty of ways to make one.

Then I had a grandson.

So when I was asked to review The Veggie Mold, I jumped at the chance. It is too early to try it outside yet, but I wanted to share what I think so far. I’ll post again later in the season when the garden is in full swing.

I find it easy to open and close, very easy. It’s durable plastic and will likely last many years. And I’m thinking my grandson and I are going to get a big kick out of it.

According to the literature provided, a cucumber can fill the mold in less than a week. It can be used on tomatoes as well as a whole lot of other veggies too. What fun it will be to choose what to use the molds on together, and then have him back to see, and eat, the results.

This is more than a cute garnish maker, it’s a gardener’s toy and I bet a great way to get kids to eat more veggies.

After all, who doesn’t secretly love playing with their food?

For more information check out their website The Veggie Mold and enjoy some of the pictures. The one of the kids is my favorite!

Categories: Gardening People, Places & Things

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The Engagement Ring pt. 2

Read Part 1 here.

wedding day

“I’d like to ask for your daughter’s hand, well, not just her hand…” was how my future husband asked for permission to propose, which made everyone laugh and my uncles patted him on the shoulder saying “You’ll fit right in to this family.”

And so it was that in less than a year we were married. We had our problems like any couple, and life threw a lot at us; but we always stuck it out because we both knew from the day we met some 10 years before that, that it was meant to be.

Fast forward 17 years and we own a restaurant, working hard day by day and side by side. One day I happened to notice that 2 of the emeralds were missing from my ring. There was no point in even trying to find them, they were too small. I thought of my grandmother, and her great marriage but ill fated ring.

I did take it to a jeweler who refused to repair it, saying “It’s not worth it. All the remaining emeralds would have to come out because they can’t take the heat required to fix the ring.”

My heart sunk. There was no point asking another jeweler, even had they agreed I probably would not have been able to afford it.

I refused to not wear it, it was still my engagement ring after all; but it did make me a little sad to see it broken.

Then there came a day at the restaurant I was waiting on a couple I had seen a few times before. He asked about my ring, and I told him about the jeweler. “That’s because he doesn’t know how to fix it,” he said, “I do. That’s what I do, I have a shop in the city. I’ll fix it for you for free.”

Around here the city refers to New York City, and they are well known for their jewelry shops. As I took off my ring and handed it to him, one of the waitresses came over to the table. “Are you crazy? Don’t just hand him your ring like that.” she said “Some jewelers will take out the real stones and replace them with glass. Don’t just give it to him.”

Did you ever have a moment in time that everything seemed to just stop for an instant? It was in his hands, to take it back would be insulting him. And truthfully, it may have been the only chance I would have to get it fixed. So I looked him in the eyes and asked “You wouldn’t do that to me, would you?” And then his wife said “You wouldn’t do that to her, right?” Her asking made me feel a little unsure, but he of course said he would just repair it.

It was a few weeks later they came back to the restaurant and he handed me the ring. It looked beautiful, and whatever it was, it was still my ring. Of course I thanked him profusely, and bought him lunch. As they were leaving he mentioned that they were on their way to Florida. He had retired and they wouldn’t be coming back this way anymore.

Now jump ahead 20 years. All this time I don’t know whether I am wearing emeralds or glass, and truth be told, I don’t want to know. It doesn’t matter.

It was right around Christmas of last year that I felt something poke my finger. And then I felt it again. When I looked, I could see one of the prongs of the ring had broken off, and there were a number of tiny cuts around my finger. That was it, now it had to come off and now it really could not be worn anymore.

This past Friday night my husband said “Go get your ring. Let’s take it to the jeweler tomorrow and get it fixed. It’s your engagement ring, you have to wear it. I know the jeweler in town, he’ll do a good job.” What a wonderful husband.

“But what if the stones are all glass?”
“Then we’ll have them replaced.”
“There’s more to it than that. If the stones are all glass, it means I trusted someone that I shouldn’t have. I don’t want to know that.”
He just smiled, “Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.”

There was no way around it, so yesterday morning we headed out to the jeweler’s. I relayed the story of what had happened to the ring.
It seemed to take forever as he examined it.

“So, are they emeralds or just glass?” I asked; if I had to know I wanted it to be as soon as possible.

He continued to look and turn the ring in different directions.
“Oh,” he said, “That’s glass. Yep, green glass for sure.” And looking up he continued “Definitely glass. Two pieces of glass and six emeralds.”

Trust, not misplaced at all. That New York jeweler had done all that work to repair a ring for someone he barely knew. Suddenly the ring meant even more, as if it had been infused with another kind of love. Love for a fellow human being.

“There’s one other thing,” he said, “You must work with your hands a lot. There’s a great deal of damage to this ring. Someone must have been watching over you because if that prong hadn’t broken and gotten you in here, you likely would have ended up losing all the stones. Every one of them is about ready to fall out.”

So next week, right around Valentine’s Day, I’ll be given my engagement ring for the third time. Each time it has come to mean a little bit more.

And I can’t help but wonder if my grandparents, seeing the love we have so much like their own, aren’t perhaps keeping an eye out for that ring; one of the two given out on the same day.

Categories: Keeping up with the Joneses

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The Engagement Ring pt. 1

the ring

This is not a gardening post, but rather one on life; specifically, trusting others.

It was almost 40 years ago, just after Christmas, that my grandparents were celebrating their 50th. wedding anniversary with most of the family around them. Theirs was the kind of love you only read about or see in the movies, a meant-for-each-other marriage.

They never had a wedding and reception, nor was there an engagement ring, because they had eloped. The reason was that her family was poor and needed her income, and they were hoping she would marry into money. But love won out, and after they were married she returned to her home and told nobody but her closest friends. Fortunately, after a few weeks, one of those friends told her father.

He wasn’t too happy because my grandfather was just a teacher, not well paid, and my grandmother had been dating the local jeweler. But what was done was done, and 50 years, 6 kids and 30 some grandkids later at the anniversary celebration, my grandfather presented her with an engagement ring.

It was a beautiful ring he had chosen himself, with 6 emeralds surrounding a diamond and together forming the shape of a flower. Of course there was much excitement from the women, and quite a few tears of joy; especially from my grandmother.

Just a little bit later, when things were calming down, my soon to be husband reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring case. In that little case was a ring with a tiny diamond in the center, surrounded by 8 small emeralds, forming the shape of a flower.

If ever there was a good omen for a marriage, the similarity of the rings was it.

It was only a few years later during the night, as my grandmother laid in a hospital bed in a coma, that someone removed her engagement ring from her finger.

She passed a couple of days later, followed by my grandfather in less than a year. As sad as it was for all of us, everyone knew all they ever wanted was to be together.

Her ring was never recovered, and you are probably wondering why I am writing this story. That is because today I will learn the fate of my engagement ring, pictured above.

I’ll share that with you in part 2. Until then, I have my fingers crossed.

Categories: Keeping up with the Joneses

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2 Ways to Win Free Gardening Stuff

growing tomatoes

Think Gardening!

Everyone likeS free, no strings attached stuff, right? And if it is gardening related, well… so much the better!

So here are 2 very simple ways you can increase your chances of opening some packages of free stuff:

1. Join the new Facebook group Garden Blogger #GIVEAWAYS. Bloggers holDing contests are posting those links in the group. One person has already won a copy of Plants with Benefits by Helen Yoest.
Share the group as well. As more people join, more bloggers and gardening companies will join and get involved in contests. It’s a win-win!

2. Subscribe for Free to emails by clicking this link or going to the tab above. We send out a personal email once or twice each month. We would never share your email, as if we knew how, nor bombard you with stuff as some do. You will sometimes get a head’s up on what we are working on, a garden tip, and always links to the most recent posts.
We will also post our contests in the Garden Blogger GIVEAWAYS group.

Here’s the bonus- because Facebook doesn’t always share what we post, you might miss out on something; and we want to stay in touch. So for all our subscribers we will be occasionally offering private contests through a link on YouTube. Only subscribers will get this link and be able to enter.

Of course you can easily unsubscribe at any time. It happens, but very rarely.

So let’s think thoughts of spring, and get ready to win some free cool gardening stuff!

Categories: Gardening People, Places & Things, Keeping up with the Joneses

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Horticulture Magazine and Me

snow jan 24 2015

Hello y’all,

Blogging has blessed us in that we have been connected to many wonderful gardeners like you, whether you subscribe to our emails, follow along on assorted social media, or we have e-met on a more personal level.

It has also linked us to people involved in the gardening and publication industries. One such connection is with Horticulture Magazine. We were fortunate to win a contest to get an article published in their magazine, and from that they invited us to contribute to their online blog. How cool is that? My hands were shaking so hard I pert near dropped the phone!

After a few years we took a bit of a break while we worked on our garden system, primarily on finding ways to lower the cost of production without sacrificing quality.

They had no problem welcoming us back, and we are happy to say they have even featured our last two articles on growing Flax and Sunchokes both for their beauty and their edible components on their main page!

So if you are in gardening withdrawal from the cold, or for my friends down under it’s the heat, check out these links to get a little more green in your life.

You can find a new post there and on the Gardening Blog every week.

Color us happy, blessed, and waiting for spring…
Oh, and choose any color you want; anything is better than this snow-white!

Categories: Gardening People, Places & Things, Keeping up with the Joneses

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Confession #401 What? No More Garden Center?

planters for growing corn

So over the weekend Mandolin and I were out running a few errands; post office, grocery store, etc.

When we pulled in to the Home Depot parking lot, he said “I’ll just be a minute, really, I just need a piece of hardware. You can wait in the car if you want. I’ll leave the heater on.”

“No that’s okay, I think I’ll see if their garden center is open yet.”

“I don’t think it is, really,” he said. “In fact, I think I read in the paper this morning that they are closing it down. Yep, closing it down for good. Yep, that’s it. They are never, ever going to sell anything that is even remotely related to gardening here. Not ever again. Never. So, you may as well wait in the car.”

Now I admit I didn’t really need the two planters pictured above, though they will certainly be used.

Sometimes though, you just have to stand your ground.

Or, well, stand your soil; as the case may be.

Categories: Jonesen', Keeping up with the Joneses

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4 Easy Ways to Help the Bees

bees and sunflower

By now most people know that the bee population is declining and we need to act swiftly to stop and hopefully reverse it.
But you might think there is little you can do personally to help. That’s not true, you really can make a difference.

Here’s how:

1. Give them a home.
Build a Mason Bee House with a few simple tools. Mason bees will populate the house and help your garden at the same time.
Then build a few extra and give them to your family and friends.

2. Have their back.
Read this article on helping the bees. In it there are a number of things you can do to be a part of the solution.

3. Clean up their environment.
Find out if the plants you are buying at your local garden center contain the deadly pesticide known as neonicotinoid that you saw mentioned in the above article. To do this, simply ask the staff who their plant supplier is, then send them an email.

An equaintance of mine did this. The supplier at her center is Bonnie Plants, so she sent them an email. This was their response:

Bonnie Plants does not utilize any form of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides/insecticides (neonicotinoids class includes; acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam) in the greenhouse production of transplants. Neonicotinoids are not contained in any seed nor are they utilized in any stage of the growing process. I do hope this information is helpful to you and alleviates your concern.

Thanks for writing in, and have a good day.
(Since this was a personal email, we removed the people’s names.)

And by all means, stop using products such as Round Up in your yard.

4. Feed them well.
Intersperse your veggie garden with the types of plants bees love. You can call your local cooperative extension and see what plants are best for your area.
Here in Northeast Pa. we find they are attracted to sunflowers and creeping thymus in particular. Look for plants that bloom early to get things started, and for others that have a long blooming season.

If you have any friends that are interested in nature, please pass this on and encourage them to help as well.

To win the battle we need the good guys to outnumber the bad guys. It’s important to the bees, and to our food supply.

Categories: Garden Projects, Keeping up with the Joneses, Preparedness & Green Living

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3 Ways to Really Hurt Monsanto

non gmo foods

“I’m not going to buy from that seed company, they are owned by Monsanto.”

“Where can I buy non-GMO seeds?”

There remains much confusion surrounding this subject, so for 2015 we’re going to lay it out there. Be forewarned this is a rant, albeit a self-restrained one.

If you really want to hurt Monsanto, here’s how:

1. Stop buying their crap.

We’re not talking about a pack of Early Girl tomato seeds. The fraction of a penny they would make from that purchase is so small, nobody at the company would bend over to pick it up off the ground.

If you really want to stop giving them your money, and this is the hardest thing, stop buying:

Anything made of/with corn unless labeled Certified non-GMO. This would include products with high fructose corn syrup meaning most sodas, jellies and syrups, chips and crackers, and more. READ THE LABELS. Most corn oil, canola oil, soybean anything and more contain genetically engineered products.

Likewise, a lot of our meat supply contains genetically engineered products. Cows, that’s where beef comes from, that aren’t pasture raised are force fed corn that is often genetically engineered. In case you didn’t know, cows don’t normally eat corn, they eat grass. Watch Food, Inc.

Chickens, which do eat corn normally, along with a host of other veggies and meat, are being fed a diet comprised mainly of genetically engineered corn. Likewise their eggs are affected. Look for organically raised chicken and eggs. Forget free-range alone, that doesn’t mean crap. Look for organic.

If you are going to get soy in the form of edaname or tofu, buy brands like Nasoya that are labeled Certified non-GMO.

2. Stop saying GMO.

The is an abbreviation for Genetically Modified Organism, and it is clouding up the discussion. Know this: every living thing, unless it is cloned, is genetically modified. You are, we are. Your cat is.
It is important to know the terminology before you speak:

Genetically Modified: Any living thing that is not exactly the same as another. The wind blows pollen from my corn plants to my neighbor’s. Their corn is now genetically modified. A bee flies from my pumpkin’s male flower to my zucchini’s female flower, that zucchini’s seeds are now genetically modified. This is what is usually called a hybrid, and it is getting confused with genetically engineered. A hybrid can/does happen naturally, and even when human-made, it is a cross between two similar plants. A tomato and a tomato, corn and corn.

Genetically Engineered: On the other hand, genetic engineering is not natural. A bee cannot do it, nor can the wind. It takes a micro-engineer to cross corn with the bacteria e.coli, and a tomato with a fish.

If we stop saying GMO and genetically modified, and replace that with the correct term genetically engineered, things will be easier to understand for everyone. Really, words matter.

3. Pass the information on.

Some people think that they cannot make a difference, that one person doesn’t matter in the larger scheme. Yeah? Good thing Gandhi didn’t think that way, or Madame Curie.

Here’s your chance to affect change:
You know what the reality of these words are, and the extent that genetically engineered crops have infiltrated our food supply.

Make that change, share the knowledge.

The next time someone pops open a Coke and starts talking about food labeling, tell them the truth. When they are concerned about buying ‘GMO seeds’, show them this post.

Knowledge is power, get the word out – the only real defeat is not trying.

Categories: GMO's & Factory Farms, You are What You Eat

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The Never Ending Garden

#garden365

Growing lemons in the north.

Gardening doesn’t end just because the weather turns cold, it just changes. You needn’t suffer withdrawal, you only need to think outside the raised bed.

1. Grow food from scraps even indoors. Our take on it.

2. Set up a seed starting system, even a small one. Here’s a link to keeping it on the cheap. Just remember you need warmth and a light source.

3. Grow food indoors during the winter. Here’s a few to try.

4. Start a garden scrapbook, if you haven’t already. It is a fun way to look back and to plan for your next garden, as well helping you to stay organized.

5. Extend your growing season outside. Of course, we recommend the Jones’ Garden System.

There are many other ways to get your gardening fix throughout the year. You can become a member of an online social media gardening group, read great gardening books, watch videos and podcasts, and so on. Just in the past few days we have started more seeds, transplanted one plant, and discussed and decided then ordered the onion varieties for spring. We’ll be looking at potatoes next, and then on to flowers and more edibles.

So you see, gardening never really ends when it gets cold outside, it just changes direction.

Categories: Jonesen', Keeping up with the Joneses

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Everything here is original (unless otherwise noted) and has legal copyright 2009-2015 by Gardening Jones™, and cannot be re-posted or reproduced without permission. Any re-posting of information, photographs, and/or recipes is considered theft and subject to prosecution.

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