Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Garden Misc - What?!

So I've been having a bit of an email exchange with a friend of mine who is thinking of starting a garden.  But since she's a renter, she doesn't necessarily want to build raised beds and whatnot.  Plus, where she lives, she is plagued by the Yeti-Opossum (her term) and Super-Squirrels (and mine!) who routinely steal the citrus that are growing in her yard.  So she was thinking about container-grown veggies...

Love this pic!
Can't quite read the photo-credit - but I hope he/she doesn't mind!

I managed to slam out this little reply to her, today, and figured it was generic enough to share here!

* * * * *

...Back to your Container Grown Veggies situation.  While not a solution to the squirrel problem, I thought I'd share nonetheless...

I freaking LOVE these things:

No, I don't get spliff for suggesting 'em. Well, I could if I sent you an Amazon Affiliate link (but Amazon is more expensive than ordering directly).

In any event - I swear by these for veggie growing.  I've been using them for about 3+ years now (summer and cool season veggies) and have had amazing success. 

Last year's maters (early season):

2 maters per planter...  By season's end, they started growing up, BEYOND the cage-tops (which were taller than I could reach!).

I even grew CORN successfully in them, one year. (and I have NEVER gotten edible corn from my garden in the past).

Every spring, I dump last year's soil into another bed (that I'm trying to build-up) and I start with fresh organic garden soil (giant 3 cu-ft bag from Home Depot - although I can't remember if it took more than one bag for all three planters).  I amend with steer manure (also Home Depot) and compost (from my compost pile).  I did experience a little blossom end rot on some of my maters last year.  I've been saving/crushing egg-shells from The Girls.  I'll add that to my 'Mater Mix this year...

Crazy, huh?

Anyhoooo...  I really like how you fill the reservoir in the bottom - rather than "top-water" the plants (cootie-free leaves!).  The spun fiber mulch-sheet keeps the moisture in (and weeds out).  Very water-conscious for California.  During summer's peak, I had to keep filling them fairly regularly - but far-less frequently than the "regular" patio-pot-planters.  I mixed up liquid fertilizers to add to the reservoirs when the maters were flourishing (actually, I used flushed/"used" hydroponic solution from my hydro-lime tree - whenever I changed the 'nutes).

I put mine up on a shelf made of cinder-blocks and a hunk o' wood - to keep the ravenous weenie-dogs at bay.  I also used these 'mater cages (that can go double-decker height)

The cages don't fit inside the planters, so the bases extend beyond the width of the boxes, and I tied 'em all together with extra garden-stakes and twine (the garden stakes go clear to the ground).  It was a very sturdy support system!   Alternatively, I think gardenpatch sells trellisy things that "fit" the grow-boxes perfectly.  Can't comment on them since I don't use 'em.

If I wanted to get SUPER-CRAZY, I'd rig the thing up on cheap movers-dollies so I could move it around to maximize sunlight thru the growing season (yah - NO!)

All told, the initial investment was pretty hefty ~$100 for 3 planters and - I think I paid appx $50 (on-sale) for the cages.  But since it's been soooo successful (very ample harvests over 3+ years), I think it was money well-spent.

As for Super-Squirrel...  Maybe try some bird-netting draped over the cages?  Not sure if that would be 100% squirrel-proof (and the plants will probably try to grow through it anyway).  Alternatively, maybe Google "Keep squirrels out of the garden" for other ideas.  I saw someone suggested cheap pinwheels as a squirrel deterrent (Maybe?  I actually do have some shimmery pinwheels in my raised beds - just 'cause I like cheesy, colorful crap in my garden beds - and I haven't had any critter-nibbling - never realized that the pinwheels were an actual deterrent!)

Ehhh...  That's it for my Brainstorm this morning.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Showgirl Sunday Brunch: Leftover Lasagna Frittata

Long Story Short (No. Really!):  We have three Polish hens now, nicknamed (appropriately enough) The Vegas Showgirls.

Henny Kravitz - Silver-laced Polish:
Henny is the 'Lead Hen' - but she's a bit of a curmudgeon.  And she b*tches a lot.

Tina Turner - Golden-laced Polish:
Tina is the Food-Ho.  
She will actually leap and lunge at the fence when I come out with treats!
She also has the loudest singing voice.

Debbie Harry - aka Blondie - Buff-laced Polish:
Blondie, the Newbie, joined the fam on Jan 17, 2015
She is at the bottom of the pecking order.
And, being blonde, she's a bit of a ditz.

And all three girls are laying now - Yay!  We are getting an average of a dozen mid-sized eggs per week!

So End-Result: Showgirl Sunday Brunch has become "A Thing!"

I've become such a suck-tastic blogger, of late - yet I am making these simply scrumptious egg-dishes every week (for now, I'm trying to 'keep it different' each time), so I think I oughtta be able to manage to post ONE egg-recipe, per week - Right?!

We'll see....

Luckily, I've been posting our weekly Showgirl Sunday Brunches on Facebook, so I should be able to go back and re-construct past recipes.  And, going forward, I'll actually make an attempt to - ohhhh...  Maybe "measure" stuff as I'm going along (HEY!).

Today, unfortunately, was NOT one of my measuring days - but roll with it, k?  'Cause I'm sure it's gonna be deeeelish!

Earlier this week, I made a lasagna (mostly) from scratch, using (mostly) home-grown veggies.  Not gonna deconstruct the recipe ('cause I'll never be able to duplicate it!).  I will say that a couple of the layers were frozen-chopped spinach (thawed+squeezed dry) with a little bit of fresh pesto sauce, ricotta cheese and egg.  I note that because I made too much (that "measuring" thing I keep alluding to!), and it ended up in the frittata.

QT's Leftover Lasagna Frittata
Yield: 1 @ 9-1/2" pie's worth (serves 4-6 - depending on how hungry you are!)


  • 1 serving of leftover lasagna - probably about a heaping cup's worth (any lasagna will do, I expect)
  • 1/2 cup of spinach-ricotta mixture (or use more lasagna)
  • half of a small red onion, chopped (or thinly sliced)
  • 4-5 fresh white mushrooms, sliced
  • appx 2oz of cubed ham
  • 9 smallish-medium-ish eggs (less if you're using large eggs)
  • 1/4 c heavy whipping cream (or half-n-half)
  • A whole lotta shredded cheese! I used (mainly) mozzarella, 3-cheese 'Mexican Blend' (Jack+Mild Cheddar+Queso Quesadilla+Asader0) and 3-cheese 'Italian Blend' (Parm+Asiago+Romano)
  • Italian seasoning and/or garlic salty seasoning (I used Goya Adobo all-purpose seasoning and my McCormick Italian-herb grinder)
  • Olive oil


  1. Preheat your oven to 375*F.  Drizzle a little olive oil into a 9-1/2" pie plate (I used basil-infused EVOO - yum!).  
  2. Chop-up a serving of lasagna and plop it into the pie plate.  Spoon in the spinach-ricotta mixture and smush it around with the lasagna so the stuff is - more-or-less - evenly distributed.
  3. Heat a frying pan with a little olive oil.  Lightly saute the onions and mushrooms 'til soft, sprinkle-on a little Italian seasoning.  Toss in the cubed ham.  Warm it all up then toss it into the pie plate and add a generous handful (or three!) of shredded cheese(s).  Gently combine with all the other stuff.
  4. Now you need to step back and try to guess how much egg mixture you're gonna need (I haven't perfected this yet!).  I started out with 6 eggs + a splash of cream.  Whisk it well, sprinkled in some garlic-salt, then pour into the pie plate.  It wasn't enough, so I scrambled up 3 more eggs and poured 'em in.  
  5. Poke around with a fork to make sure the egg mixture is well-incorporated into the rest of the gloop.  If any lasagna/veggie bits make it to the surface, press them down so they are covered with egg.  
  6. Top the whole thing with even more cheese.  For the top 'crust' (the melty-cheese becomes crust-like) I stuck with mainly 3-cheese Italian and Mozzarella (Heavier on the mozz-chs, The other cheeses are a bit overpowering).
  7. Put the whole thing in the oven for appx 45 minutes.  Check it toward the end to make sure it' browning evenly.  Spin it around, if necessary.  The top should be golden brown and the center should be somewhat firm.  I did the ol' stick-a-knife-in-it test, and my knife came out clean - so it's done.

Truly deelish!  A bit "savory" for breakfast, but makes a mighty-fine brunch.  And I'm sure it will freeze and nuke quite nicely!

Okay, picture time (yep, phone pics and the lighting sucks 'cause one of our stove-hood fixtures decided to die - oopsie!):

Chopped Lasagna and Spinach-Ricotta Mix in the EVOO-greased pie-plate
I tossed a couple handfuls of 3-cheese Mexican Blend on top

Lightly sauteed onions, shrooms and ham were next

Lasagna + Spin-ricotta+Cheese+Sauteed gloop.
Plus a couple handfuls of shredded Mozzarella

6 eggs, ready to be scrambled.  Turned-out I needed 3 more...

Made sure all the "innards" got smushed into the eggs.
What's that?  More cheese?!
Yes, please! (Mozz + 3-cheese Italian)

All done!


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