We Are Going To Go Ahead And Call It Spring!

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Oh my gosh! What an absolutely gorgeous weekend!

It was sunny, hot and just awesome Saturday, Sunday and Monday. How appropriate since Monday was the first official day of spring.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but it looks like spring is here to stay.

And hey, did you see that sunrise Tuesday morning. Wow!

March sunrise at Grand Lake OK

The lows this week are going to be in the fifties and sixties so I’m thinking some of these potted plants can go outside.

It is a little cool for tomatoes yet, they like the soil to be 60 degrees and above.

The soil is at about mid fifties, which won’t hurt the tomatoes, they will just be slow growing.

So after church Sunday I immediately donned some shorts and flip flops and headed outside.

I weeded and cleaned out another flower bed and the dead stuff out of the pansy pots (they are coming back with a bang), then planted six more broccoli plants, seeded carrots, beets, spinach and threw down some sun flower and zinnia seeds.

Oh, and I cleaned the bird bath and filled it with fresh water and boy were they happy!

Monday turned out another perfect day and my list of projects got even longer.

I started on the screened in porch and cleaned table tops, swept, then cleaned up some over wintered plants and put them out there.

I potted up some Swedish Ivy root cuttings, repotted a couple of other plants and watered the newly planted seeds again.

I had to get sales tax reports done at the restaurant so after that I went to water the onions and asparagus.

That was all I was going to do.

But there were three remaining raised beds that hadn’t been cleaned out yet, so what the heck, got it done!

Well Grand Lake Gardeners, the spring is unfolding beautifully so we may as well start soaking up the outdoors!

I say go for it! Enjoy the Earth! Diana

Dig This – How Cold Is Too Cold?

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Well it didn’t take long for the weather to turn on us.

I am so done with pushing 80 degrees one day, then dropping to 29 degrees two days later. Come on Mother Nature!

Okay…at least we don’t live in the northeast part of the country because they are getting pounded with snow, so I guess I will quit whining.

Can you imagine getting 2 feet of snow right now? Eeeeeek!

So how cold can it get before doing damage to all the plants and trees that are budding out?

A frost/light freeze is 32 degrees.

Most of the perennials, trees and cool weather crops will be okay with that temperature.

A hard freeze occurs at 28 degrees. We came very close to that Sunday night.

Again, most of the perennials, trees and cool weather crops can take that for a short period of time.

If it were to linger for several days, it could get dicey.

A killing freeze is when it drops to 24 degrees or less.

That could do some damage to tender cool weather crops, but the hardy ones would be fine.

But if you planted any warm weather crops early to get a jump on things, they are going to be very unhappy at 24-28 degrees.

It could take longer for them to recover than if you had waited to plant them.

Trees can actually take temperatures as low as 22, for maybe an overnight low, and not lose their leaves.

But any lower and any longer will damage the new foliage.

FYI, the latest killing freeze was April 13, 1957, so the chances are slim.

Crazy weather or not…Enjoy the Earth! Diana

Dig This – Early Spring 2017 Gardening Tips

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Hey Grand Lakers!

The beautiful weather continues and so far we are enjoying an early spring.

Garden bed before cleaning

And how about that storm Monday night?

I wish we could see a few more of those in the coming weeks. We desperately need rain folks!!

I got lucky on that storm.

I had spent Monday morning in the gardens, finally, and cleaned out the vegetable garden, the boat garden and the wheel barrow.

I had to work slow because of my back issues, but I got them all cleaned out and planted some baby broccoli and kale plants and got all of my potatoes planted.

I watered everything in, but the overnight rain gave it a good drink.

Thanks Mother Nature!

So at this point you should have the asparagus cut back and it will start producing right away.

All the cool season crops should be planted and seeded.

Roses can be pruned back, but don’t cut them back more than 1/3 to 1/2.

Crape Myrtles can be cut back to get all the seed pods from last year off and to control size.

Garden bed after cleaning

Don’t cut on your Hydrangias!

Most of them bloom on old wood and you will be cutting the blooms off. I know the sticks are ugly, but mine is already starting to leaf out on those ugly sticks.

It is tempting to put the plants we have over wintered out on the porch, but we aren’t through with temperatures in the 30’s yet.

If you put a few out when we have a warm spell, just remember you may have to, no, you will likely have to bring them back in when temperatures dip.

Meanwhile…Enjoy the Earth! Diana

Dig This – Crazy Weather and Early Spring 2017

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Well another week of crazy weather.

I was concerned about those mid-20’s temperatures but it didn’t seem to phase all the blooms that are out.

It must not have stayed that low for very long, thank goodness.

So we will just keep swinging from freezing to 80 and back again until spring is here for real.

So I found some of the early spring plants we have discussed, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower…so it is a matter of getting them planted, and my potatoes and onions aren’t in the ground yet.

I have been dealing with pain issues for one, and I’ve been busy covering Jim’s absence at the restaurant and then our cook was out last weekend.

Yes, I had to cook behind the line Friday and Saturday night. Yikes!

But the vegetables will get planted, one way or another.

It will be interesting to see how spring plays out.

I don’t remember ever seeing Forsythia, Bradford Pear, Flowering Quince and Spiraea completely bloomed out in February.

At the rate we are going, we will be seeing Crape Myrtles starting their bloom in May rather than summertime.

The one thing we haven’t had an abundance of is rain, so with everything popping up early, don’t forget to water.

And we better start weeding because they are thriving out there!

Hold on to your seats, it’s gardening time!

Enjoy the Earth! Diana

Dig This – Is It Really Spring Already?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Well there is no way to know what will happen three or four weeks from now, but right now spring is busting out everywhere.

Trees are budding out, the Knock Out roses are leafing out like crazy and all kinds of things are popping out of the ground.

With the rain we had again this week combined with the warm temperatures, nature is moving forward fast!

Sunday morning sunrise

SO, if you haven’t cut the roses back, do so immediately!!

You would usually do this chore mid February anyway, but they aren’t usually covered in leaves.

Don’t worry, especially with Knock Outs. They are amazingly tough so even if we have a cold snap they will be fine.

The purpose of this trim is to keep their size under control and I trim them regularly throughout the summer.

For the first trim, cut them back about to about 18 inches to 2 feet from the soil line and if they are thick with branches, thin them out.

The next urgent pruning is the asparagus.

I have green spears already coming out of the ground among all the dead stuff.

I choose to hand prune asparagus, not just run a hedge trimmer over them.

The dead stalks can be cut as close to ground level as you can. Don’t pull on them or you might damage the crown.

Once the dead is all trimmed off, we should be able to kick back and start enjoying some fresh asparagus. Yummy!!

Again, a little cold snap shouldn’t hurt the asparagus.

If you can find the plants I talked about last week, get them in the ground.

Jon Ann brought up a good point that with the warm temperatures coming on so early, it may shorten the growing season for those cold weather crops.

So there is the list of chores for this week so get out there and dig in.

Enjoy the Earth! Diana

Dig This – Have We Survived Another Winter?

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Well another holiday has come and gone, and with a bang!

Valentine’s Day is a huge day for restaurants and florists, and The Artichoke was packed.

I love this holiday because it is our first super busy day after a long winter, and it is kind of the turning point from winter to early spring.

That means people start coming to their lake places more frequently, and hopefully they come to eat with us!

We survived another winter!!

There are a few things peeking out of the ground.

Parsley

The pansies are making a comeback and the vinca vines in the buckets at work are starting to make new leaves.

Leaves of daffodils, crocus and other early bulbs are starting to push out of the soil as well.

These little signs of spring get me revved up for planting that vegetable garden. I’m so ready!

So we got a much needed rain Monday and Tueday and that should get the soil good and moist to start planting.

It is a good idea to mix in some mushroom compost in the soil before planting.

If you do this every year, your soil just gets better and better.

After the soil has been boosted you can get the onions and potatoes in the ground.

And if you’ve been lucky enough to find broccoli, Swiss chard and cauliflower plants, they can go in too, but I haven’t found any yet.

Carrots, lettuce, peas, spinach and turnips can be seeded this week too.

Don’t turn up your nose at turnips.

They turn a potato soup into an awesome soup, and they are easy to grow!

If you love these veggies but haven’t ever grown them, give them a shot.

It doesn’t cost much for a pack of seeds! Enjoy the Earth! Diana

Dig This – To The Greenhouse With Grandma!

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Well the groundhog supposedly saw his shadow so there should be six more weeks of winter.

But it sure doesn’t look that way around here!

I sure hope things don’t start budding out and then have a big freeze because that delays everything for spring!

We can’t control the crazy weather so we just have to go with the flow.

Grandkids at the greenhouse

I spent my Sunday/Monday weekend in Oklahoma City to spend time with our grandsons.

They have been showing some interest in growing house plants and have only started some plants from cuttings.

So I wanted to take them to TLC Garden Center, my favorite place to go, plus I wanted to pick up some onion plants and potato seeds.

Oh my gosh!

You would have thought I took them to a giant candy store!

They couldn’t believe all the beautiful flowers and house plants and cactus.

So like a good grandma, I let them each pick out a plant and Becky bought them each a colorful pot.

I picked out some onion plants and potatoe seeds a couple of flats of pansies.

Being in a nice warm greenhouse filled with healthy beautiful plants will make anybody happy.

After loading up our cart, we all left with big smiles on our faces.

I took pictures of the onions to show the difference in onion sets and onion plants that I discussed last week.

They also had really nice big asparagus crowns so I took a picture of them also.

Check out all these awesome greenhouse pictures! Enjoy the Earth! Diana

TLC Garden Center

Sweet onions

Jackpot!

Asparagus crowns

Plants from TLC

 

 

Traveling With The Air Force – On The Road With Jim

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

As many of you know, Jim is currently traveling the western United States with the Air Force evaluating the food service in the airman dining facilities.

His travels are taking him to 8 bases in the West during the month of February. And he is sharing his journey with us!

We’ll keep updating this post as we get updates from Jim…enjoy! (FYI, scroll down to read the first and previous updates).

Update – March 3rd

Well it has been a few days since I have updated everyone on my travels.

Here I sit in an very nice townhouse at Eilson AFB just outside the North Pole, that is close to Fairbanks.

This is the last of our 8 base evaluations and we three will be glad to get home, but will miss doing the work that this tour calls for.

Mike and Amanda and I have created a bond as I did with my first tour back in 2004. (Yes later that year we opened the Artichoke).

Working with the young airmen, it has been rewarding to see eager KIDS wanting to serve our country and feed the Force with good food for the fight.

The mission statement here is: Feeding the Force at minus 48!!

Last week the weather was much better as most every morning it had been at least 24 below but today it is 4 above at Noon.

They have given us a big 2500 four wheel drive truck that most days has been using all four to get around the base.

Some of you may have seen some of the photos I posted on FB about touring the F16s which are 30 plus years old and this base has the ones that are working better than other bases.

Most of the fighterss are in Guam or Australia until warm weather and in 2018 they will get the F35s that the guys at Edwards said they tested and got ready for use.

This was backed up by the Major that was touring us around as he was at Edwards doing just that.

They paint there aircraft in color patterns that make them look like the enemy i.e.: the hammer and sickle folks.

Most exciting has been seeing the Northern Lights for the last couple of nights, will post photos later as I was doing the driving not hanging out the window of the truck.

Cloudy and snowy today so no Lights tonight.

Home Monday!!!

Update – February 23rd

Greetings from Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls – the closest I have been to Oklahoma Since January 31st.

Hennessy Team 2017

This base is training airmen from all over the US and a few countries around the globe as they are rebuilding the Air Force back to the strength needed to complete their mission.

The difference with this base is that they have 3 dining halls and a commissary kitchen to keep theses new and seasoned troops nourished so they can train and study all subjects to get those stripes on their sleeve.

We arrived on Sunday and since they only had one hall open on Monday, Presidents Day, as many of you were off work the crew in the Mesquite Hall were feeding a few hundred more than normal.

Tuesday and today kept my crew running to see each hall and all of the staff with three meals in each and the Midnight feeding, which last night included chocolate pancakes.

The line formed 15 minutes before the doors opened at 2330 (Living on that 24 hour cock).

The lady manning the grill had orders ready to go from some of the young guys before they got inside.

The airmen enjoy their last feeding and conversation with friends, most were just getting to know each other.

After was our out brief, where we handed out awards to the outstanding performers in each of the 4 locations.

This program gets great support from the officers, chiefs and management.

This is a Contract base where a company gives jobs to hard working individuals with disabilities.

This made me feel close to home as many are happy and glad to work like our Home of Hope clients.

Tomorrow before the sun comes up we will be headed to our next base that is located in New Mexico near Clovis.

And yes we have to go back to Dallas before we can get there and then drive for a couple of hours.

The weather has followed us with rain or snow at the first 5 bases – next one will be the last chance for warmth as then on to Colorado and Alaska.

The best part of the visit to Shepard was having Diana join us and stay for a couple of days.

But never fear she is back at the Artichoke with our great team taking care of our Great customers!!

I did notice that we have gotten 6 five star ratings since I have been on this tour…..see I knew that they could keep up the Great work for you folks!

Signing off for Now!! Jimmy

Update – February 18th

Greetings from Tucson and Davis – Monthan Air Force base. 

Tucson Arizona

We have just passed the halfway point in our tour, just before this base we were in the desert outside of Los Angles, like two and a half hours, at Edwards Air Force Base.

This is the second largest base in the Air Force and has the mission of many branches of the military including NASA.

As you might remember this is where the space shuttle could and did land when weather was not workable in Florida.

For our OKC friends we can remember the shuttle making refueling stops at Tinker.

We got a tour of the flight line and got up close with a 60 year old B52 which had a logo of Oklahoma on the side of the plane.

It was in for an upgrade of tech stuff, and we got our heads in the weapons area and saw where the tail gunner would have to walk a very short and skinny walkway to carry ammo to his spot, that spot has been sealed up for it’s current use.

We were then escorted to the new work horse of the AF the B1 bomber and got to stick our head up into a very crowded area with just enough room for 4 airmen.   

While looking at these planes there were 4 F16s from Shaw AF base in South Carolina and watched them take off (very loud up that close).

The DFAC as they call it was manned by a contract group so there were not any airmen working in this facility. 

Desert Inn

We held them to the same standards as other bases and they all worked very hard feeding the airmen breakfast, lunch, dinner and, yes a Midnight Meal.

So folks have asked Diana if I was enjoying my vacation….well, last night I got 4 hours sleep!!!

Back To Davis – Monthan, this base is running by all airmen – male and female – and a group giving jobs to folks with disabilities much like our great clients at Home of Hope back home.

This great group of kids from all over the country pull together to safely prepare tasty food to empower their fellow base members.

Some of them have only been here for a few days and are being trained to cook for the first time.

At each base where airmen are working we select one of them as a Hennessy Traveler,  that person will be going on a 10 day tour and training at the Culinary Institute of America campus in Napa Valley at Greystone.

At that time the Traveler of the Year will be selected.

This event is for all of the military that are evaluated by our NRA Ed Foundation members.

Winning this and the base award means a great deal to the base and the military members they represent.

Next we go to Shepard AF base in Wichita Falls and have a very important friend joining us there…….guess who.

By the way my teams has traveled 4,699 miles so far.

The motto for this base is – I AM AMERICAN AIRMAN.

CHEERS!!!

Update – February 8th

My team has completed our first evaluation at Ellsworth AF base where they control the B1 bombers and the drones that fly all over the world protecting our freedom. Air Force dining inspection team

Pictured here are my team members – to my right is Master Sergeant Amanda Procknal and Mika Sabella.

We took an early morning run up to see the fathers of our country, no matter how many times we you see it you can be moved by the massive carvings.

The sun came out as we arrived and then went to the ice cream shop, skipped the ice cream and had a good breakfast, it was 14 degrees!!

We met a great group of airmen working to feed their fellow airman to and keep their mission running and healthy.

As you would expect there are lots of procedures that need to followed, they are followed all across the entire major command units.

We have now traveled to Travis AF base, so this morning at 4:30 AM we headed to the small airport outside Rapid City and the temp was at 0 degrees and overnight had dropped about 3 inches of snow.

Good Luck for us as the equipment was ready and waiting to be deiced and get us to Dallas and connect us to our flight to Travis.

So we went from zero to 60 in just a few hours!!

So off in the morning to work with a very enthusiastic group of young Airman!!

February 4, 2017, The journey begins…

Four days of training and orientation here in San Antonio at Air Force Service Activities Center in a building housing over 3,000 people with a mix of civilian and Air Force personnel on the old Kelly Air Field. 

Jim Sellers Air Force Dining

Having been a traveler 12 years ago, most of the material was a review but with an update of the improvements that have been instituted.

When Diana took me to the Tulsa airport and I left her the keys I realized I would not be driving for the next few weeks.

Escorted at first by Sergeant Ware and bags were handled by others.

As we gathered at the hotel here by the Alamo we got to meet our traveling partners that I would be with and the other team member that will be evaluating the Eastern Region.

My partner is Mike Sabella from San Francisco who is a CIA graduate with a great deal of experience as well as an instructor of the NRA sanitation program.

Our Air Force traveler is Sergeant Procknal who works in the service office and is a former food service manager at the first base we will be evaluating.

The Air Force and the food service profession are best as we continue relationships with those that we have worked with in the past.

I got in contact with my former traveling partner Patrick Dunn. He has since retired and is working for a branch of the Army overseeing resorts in really great locations around the globe.

Over the few weeks we were evaluating Air Force bases from Spain to Japan we became close friends and remained in contact for the last 12 years.

The training this time was a great deal deeper than my last time out and gave us all a much better understanding of the quality that is expected from headquarters her in San Antonio.

This included a detailed mock review of the base at Medea on the Lackland Base that has training for new recruits from all over the country learning the Air Force way and mission.

We even spotted some airman doing push-ups after lunch before getting back to training.

Up early has been the adjustment for me as it will be on Super Bowl Sunday to Ellsworth outside of Rapid City, SD.

I checked the weather and we dodged the 18 degree high a day or two ago, should be reasonable, like mid 40s.

More Later…..!

 

 

 

Happy Groundhog Day 2017!

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day!

This is the week we hope the groundhog does not see his shadow on February 2, which would mean spring will come early.

The whole Groundhog Day celebrations started in the 1800’s in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

They had their own Punxsutawney Groundhog club and they have had their own groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil.

Now Staten Island also has a groundhog residing at their zoo.

His name is Staten Island Chuck and he has an 80 percent accuracy rate according to the zoo.

He even had a streak of seven straight correct predictions starting in 2010.

That is pretty impressive, huh?

So the question is, are these guys predicting in their own areas, and does that apply to us?

Or would we need our own groundhog in our area? And are we nuts for having this discussion?

Well the spring-like weather we have been enjoying can sure make us want to plant something out there.

Monday was pretty, but Tuesday was gorgeous, sunny, warm and no wind.

So I went out to the garden just to see if ANYTHING was growing.

Amazingly, the curly parsley and flat leaf parsley is starting to grow again and the chives are popping out of the soil.

It will be a while before they are big enough to snip, but I honestly thought when it dropped to 6 degrees this winter, that would have finished them off.

And hopefully we won’t have any crazy cold snaps!

So if you are just dying to have some fresh herbs, buy a few pots from a good nursery and arrange them in your kitchen window.

That way you can snip a little here and there and in a few weeks they can go outside to the garden!

Enjoy the Earth! Diana

Dig This – House Plant Tips For Winter

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Thank you God for the beautiful rains we had over the weekend.

After all the dry dusty winds we have had most of the winter, it was like a cleansing shower and a cool drink of water for the earth.

And how about the clouds Monday morning?

Oklahoma Clouds

They were so varied and so three dimensional, they looked like heaven. Wow, this is a far cry from my whining about the weather last week, but I love the rain!!

So you can probably sense my excitement, and it isn’t just the rain.

I got my February Oklahoma Gardener this week and it was full of good stuff from how to take care of house plants, make your own seed cups, growing broccoli and cauliflower, and using wine bottles in the garden. (Been doing that for a long time but there were some new ideas.) We will cover these subjects over the next few weeks.

Since house plants are the only green thing right now, here is an interesting twist on caring for them that makes it less intimidating.

Most of them are tropical in nature so place them away from drafts and A/C vents and maybe by a south or west facing window for good sunshine.

Now the writer said she only waters her house plants once every couple of months, which she admits freaks out the pros.

But she waters them very thoroughly, using lukewarm water, waiting until the water runs out of the holes into the saucer.

This not only insures the soil is completely wet, but also helps leach out the salts that can build up in the soil.

Blooming hibiscus in winter

Empty excess water from saucer.

I would have to work on my patience level to water this way…

Then she recommends a complete, slow release fertilizer and only twice a year.

Once when they go outside in the spring, and again when they come inside.

Because the fertilizer is slowly released and not at all in cooler temps, the chance of burning the roots is very low.

And if you get pests like mealy bugs or scale, take them outside to spray and use insecticidal soap or horticulture oils.

I would add to keep the plants clean of dead leaves and pinch back gangly vines to keep them full. And share your cuttings!

Don’t forget to come us at The Artichoke – we’ll be there all week!

Enjoy the Earth! Diana