Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Week 2014 - Including Our Attempt at Killing a Fire Ant Mound

We have had both very cold and warm days this fall.  Even though the plants are looking winter drab, we still have new and interesting things going on now.  Since the trees have been losing their leaves, we have to clean out the swimming pool filters more frequently.  We found this frog in our pool basket.  The water was SO COLD.

This frog is very different from the one I found in September 2014 - that frog was solid green, where this one is spotted.  I believe this frog is a "Plains Leopard Frog".  See link for a picture of the green frog:

We found this wooly caterpillar.  I believe it is the caterpillar of the giant leopard moth.  We did not touch it as we were concerned about getting stung.

Due to all the recent rains, the fireants have been building large mounds in the backyard.  Here is one in the blackberry patch.  We boiled a large stock pot of water and poured on it.

It is amazing that any of the ants lived through the boiling water, but they did.  The live ants brought all the dead ants out of the mound and placed them on the edge of the mound.  See picture below.

This is a close up shot of all the boiled alive dead ants.  I wonder how many ants survived?  Must have been a lot for them to have been able to bring up so many dead ants to the surface!

We found this centipede in our house - he was removed promptly to the outside.

On to the vegetable garden.  We have some broccoli that are starting to produce heads now.

I thought the summer heat had killed the artichoke plants however, they have "risen from the ashes" so to speak and are looking great this fall!

Blooming trailing rosemary - in late November!

Red Yaupon holly berries are out now.  Birds that eat these berries are bluebirds and other thrushes; woodpeckers; catbirds; thrashers; mockingbirds.

Here are the blue wax myrtle berries - I have learned that yellow rumped warblers eat these berries and I took a picture of one last year in my yard!  See post:

And finally - here is a picture of our Asian persimmon tree.  It has lost all its leaves now.  We picked most of the fruit, but left the fruit on top for the birds.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November 11-12th 2014, First Freeze in North Texas and Making Green Tomato Salsa

Our first freeze of the season in North Texas was the evening of November 11th.  We ran out to the garden and made a last final harvest of beans, tomatoes, and bell peppers.  We also picked most of the persimmons off our Asian persimmon tree.

The first order of business was to make some Tomato Salsa using up the peppers and tomatoes.  I had about 2 gallons of green tomatoes to use up.  This is the link to the recipe I used which started with 5 gallons of tomatoes.  We like it very much and I recommend it to anyone with lots of green tomatoes!
I used the following proportions with a little over 2 gallons of tomatoes.

Green Tomatoes (approximately 2+ gallons before cutting and chopping)
Onions (4 large onions)
Garlic (4 large elephant garlic cloves) Peeled
Green and Red Bell Peppers (6 large bell peppers)
Jalapenos (8 large peppers)
Water (1 cup)
Ground Cumin (About 1 1/2 tablespoons--taste and see what you like)
Canning Salt (2 1/2 tablespoons)
Pepper (1 tsp)
Lime Juice (1 cup)
About 3 tablespoons of dried parsley (I couldn't get any fresh parsley)

The link below is to the original recipe which uses 5 gallons of tomatoes.

To the chopped tomatoes I added 6 large bell peppers, 8 large jalapeno peppers, and 4 large onions along with 1 large elephant garlic (with about 4 large cloves).

I also added lime juice, salt, cumin, and parsley flakes (I didn't have any fresh parsley).  We were initially going to can the salsa but later decided to freeze it so I didn't add any vinegar. 

Next I chopped all the ingredients in the blender.

The final mixture was put in a stock pot and brought to a boil.  I cooked the liquid down until the salsa was thick enough to my liking.

I continued to stir to ensure no scorching.

We froze 18 pints of Salsa today!

I took some pictures of the fall flowers around the house before the first freeze.  Here is some Mexican Marigold.  This herb has a nice scent and blooms all fall long.  It is a perennial.  I cut it back to the ground in the winter.  Here is a link to information on this herb which can be used in cooking.

Butterfly weed has interesting seed pods this time of year.  The seeds are very wispy.

The blue salvia in the backyard is blooming now.  I don't see many hummingbirds around in November though.

And finally, I wanted to show a picture of the persimmon tree before we picked all the fruit.

To bring this garden post to a close I want to chronicle that during this week we are also have extremely cold temperatures with no relief.  The link discusses the cold snap gripping the country. 

That's all for now!