Did I mention I was growing giant cucumbers?

Posted August 19, 2018 By Ruth

Last weekend I made dill pickle spears out of two giant cucumbers:

These two cucumbers made 6 pints of spears!

Then this week I picked these four cucumbers:

Maybe a quart of fridge pickles…..

I’ve been giving them away too, not to mention that I also grew my usual Mini White cucumbers, which I’ve also been giving away at least a few of, as well as eating.

I will probly stick to my usual Mini White cucumbers from here on out, but these are fun at least.

In other news, I made a batch of tomato sauce yesterday.  I realized that I never actually take a photo of the final sauce, and I ought to, since black tomatoes produce a much darker sauce that folks expect:

I love the flavor of these tomatoes though.

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More garden

Posted August 18, 2018 By Ruth

Not an entirely happy garden year for me.  First the screwy issues with some of the peppers.  Now more of the peppers have some nasty leaf spotting, which kinda looks like bacterial leaf spot, but not quite.  And now a bunch of my tomatoes almost look like they’ve blighted.  But not quite like they’ve blighted (late blight always affects the fruit too, and the fruit are universally unaffected here).  Ugh.  Broke down and bought a copper fungicide to treat with later today.  The blights, and most similar type problems, are fungal, as are many of the bacterial leaf spot look-alikes.  Plus we went from DRY DRY DRY to WET WET WET, which makes a fungal problem even more likely.  Here’s hoping I can save the rest of the tomato crop at least.

I picked this Cayenne pepper the other day:

Or maybe that should read “peppers”??

An amusing harvest from my Sugar Rush plants:

We were given a Sugar Rush Cream pepper last year, husband liked it so I had him save several of the seeds.  I also bought Sugar Rush Cream seeds, just to be safe.  But I ended up with two plants from the saved seeds.  What you see here is one pepper from each plant.  The rounder one is fairly typical Sugar Rush Cream.  The longer one is typical Sugar Rush Peach, the variety that the Creams were bred from.  I was amused.

 

Ripening paprika peppers:

Fish peppers:

 

Unhappy tomatoes:

 

Less than happy pepper plants:

 

 

Surprisingly happy Hungarian Hot Wax peppers:

Corbaci peppers:

 

Cayenne peppers:

 

My hibiscus plants:

 

We also took down the dead pine in the front yard.  Part of me hates having done so, the birds loved it.  But it was perfectly positioned to take down the power lines to the house if it ever went over.  Infact we were shocked that it DIDN’T go over this past spring, with all the high wind storms we had!

 

In other news, I figured out how to tell when the pears are ripe…..

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Garden update

Posted August 3, 2018 By Ruth

We got the first Gagon Cucumber this week:

It measured 12″ exactly, from tip to tip, and weighed 2 pounds 2 ounces.  I don’t think it’s technically quite ripe, but I was tying up the vines to give them more support and it broke off the vine.  So.  Definitely on the tough side, however it is by far the most aromatic cucumber I have ever cut into.  Husband was taking the dogs out as I cut it up, and he walked in the front door and asked what I had been cutting up “because I can smell cucumbers all the way up here!”.  I’m thinking it would make awesome infused water for anyone so inclined.

A picture of the tied up cucumber vines:

They’re basically as tall as me, and most of them have stretched back down to the ground again.

Today’s garden harvest:

the first zucchini of the year, a few Mini White Cucumbers, a nice load of tomatoes, and that big yellow thing is a less ripe Gagon cucumber.  You can’t see it in the photo, but the stem end has only JUST started to turn the pink-brown and scaly of the ripe ones.  This is just as aromatic as the first one, and is just as big, but has much more edible flesh.  It’s still a very firm crisp cucumber, but not to the point of being tough.  I’m thinking these’ll make some awesome dill pickle spears.

A few hot peppers have been dribbling in, but most of the plants are loaded, so at whatever point they hit I’m going to be buried.  The Snow leopard melons are doing well, but it’ll be a bit still before they’re ripe.

I MAY (cross fingers knock on wood) have managed to defeat, or avoid, or something, the bug that was chewing holes in the various sweet/less hot peppers previous years.  So far only one paprika pepper and two jalapenos have had to be tossed for holes.  I’m not holding my breath till I have ripe peppers in my hands, but so far so good!

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Dear Spammers, Scammers, and Online Idiots

Posted July 30, 2018 By Ruth

You read the “About Me” page far enough to get the email to contact me at.  So I’m going to assume you read the part where I told you not to contact me if your sole purpose of the email is to get me to link to a post on your “blog” in an attempt to make you money.

So when you send me an email asking me to link to a post on your “blog” (cause that’s a commercial money making page and not a true blog if I ever saw one), because there’s a post on my blog that’s “similar” and to prove it you include a link to my blog that doesn’t actually link to any specific post but to a generic date grouping, I’m going to assume you’re a moron who can’t actually read and ignore you.

And when you double down on the stupid by sending me a follow up email with the line “did you see my first email” I’m going to respond with a profanity laden email that you will not appreciate pointing out your stupidity and lack of reading skills.

So just skip the whole email thing and consider this your response.

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So, when planning and planting my garden I mostly try to stick to things that I know we’ll eat.  But I also believe in trying new things on occasion, and so when the seed catalogs arrive every year I sit down with a couple different color highlighters and start marking off the seeds I NEED and the seeds that look cool and the seeds I want.  And I try to pick at least one or two from the latter two categories to try every year.

For this year’s garden the one really weird thing I ended up trying was Gagon Cucumbers.  They’re cool looking!  I skimmed the description, made sure that they had at least a chance of growing well in my screwed up climate (” thrives in cool northern climates, but also stands up to intense heat and humidity” sweet!  It has a chance!), and didn’t look much closer.

I took THIS picture on 7/18:

It was maybe 5-6″ long, looking good!

Today I took a few minutes before work to walk the garden, and decided to check on the baby Gagon cucumber while I was at it…..

Holy……Its  now a good foot in length, and still not yet fully ripe.  It weighs several pounds at least.

I went back to the seed link and took a closer look at the description “up to 20” long”……ooops, and there’s several more forming on the vines!

So um, I guess I have cucumbers this year!

I also found these:

Which are my first ripe Black Vernissage Tomatoes.  I haven’t had a chance to eat one yet, maybe after work.

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Something weird going on with my peppers

Posted July 19, 2018 By Ruth

So, a couple weeks ago I noticed that the Sugar Rush Cream peppers had something funky going on:

New leaves coming in  pale and twisted.  Mature leaves were fine, but some of the in between new and mature leaves were also affected at least a little.

Thinking I had another deficiency I did some research.  The only thing that appears to match is a calcium deficiency, but that makes no sense.  While I did seem to have a magnesium deficiency again this year I specifically went out of my way to treat it with a commercially purchased Calcium/Magnesium blend supplement in an attempt to avoid that sort of problem.  There are some insects that can cause curled leaves, but they tend to affect mature leaves more than new.

It was suggested to me that maybe the weather was the problem.  When I first noticed it, it was right after the first heatwave broke and all of the beds were a bit over-wet due to the thunderstorms.  But the beds dried out quickly enough, and the problem only seemed to get worse, not better.  Course, our weather has been especially screw this year.  DRY and HOT, then almost chilly and soaking wet, then back to DRY and HOT.

I bought and treated that bed with a tomato/vegetable fertilizer high in calcium.  And at least one of the plants looks less pale and twisted, though the leaves aren’t back to normal yet.  But now the problem appears to be spreading.   At least one of the cayenne plants is doing the same thing, and this morning I spotted the same signs on one of the habaneros.

All three are located in the stock tank self-wicking beds.  They ARE drained, via drilled holes in one end right at the soil line, so I don’t think they’re over wet (and yes I confirmed that they are still draining via those holes).  But the stock tanks are also the oldest part of my garden, so its possible that there’s a deficiency cropping up I guess.

I went ahead and treated the whole garden with the tomato/vegi fertilizer, since it seemed to help at least a little with the Sugar Rush peppers.

I also got ahold of the information I need to arrange soil testing for my garden.  But I was planning on holding off doing that till fall, as it requires digging into the beds at least a few inches, which would mean pulling up weed barrier and disturbing the roots of plants.  I might be regretting that decision.

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Garden Pictures

Posted July 10, 2018 By Ruth

Fish Peppers.  The bi-color leaves is a feature, not a bug.


 

Black Vernissage Tomato

 

Jalapenos

 

Gagon Cucumbers

 

Mini White Cucumbers

 

Habaneros and two different kinds of paprika peppers

 

Sugar Rush Cream peppers

 

Onions, and a couple Blazing Stars that self seeded themselves into that tank

 

The Hungarian Hot Wax peppers (which, sadly enough) look much better now than they did a week ago

 

Cayenne Peppers

 

Black Trifele Tomatoes

 

Black Icicle Tomatoes

 

Datil Peppers.  Apparently they’re more sensitive to to much sun/heat (which is kinda funny, since they’re a Florida staple), and they didn’t handle the heat wave well.

So I rigged some shade for them, we’ll see how it works.

 

 

Peter Peppers.  Note, NOT named for some guy named Peter.  In this case “peter” is a euphemism.  Don’t google them on your work computer…….but it made me laugh, so I had to try growing them!

 

And there you go, a random selection of whats growing in my garden this year!

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Garden update

Posted July 1, 2018 By Ruth

The Green Nutmeg melons have failed for the 2nd year in a row.  I’m not going to restart them like I tried last year.  Will have to decide next year if I want to try for a 3rd.  This time looks like an insect chewed them all to bits.

Most of the rest of the garden is doing very well.  Despite the fact that our weather has been swinging hard.  A low of 46(F) on June 26th, and a  high of 100 today (and possibly higher tomorrow!).  I thought I was going to lose the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, but they appear to have finally picked themselves up.  Most everything else is climbing for the sky and looking awesome.

For anyone else in the north-east corner of the country: be aware that Cornell has IDed a new tomato/potato blight!

The infected tomato plants found in Onondaga County were destroyed, and vegetable pathologists at Cornell are now working to determine what fungicides will be effective in managing what appears to be an unknown or uncommon strain of late blight.

Growers can identify late blight by looking for black or brown lesions on leaves and stems of tomato and potato plants.

The disease thrives in humid, wet conditions and can spread quickly from field to field and over several miles.

 

Last week I stopped into one of the local farms to buy a quart of fresh, locally grown, perfectly ripe, strawberries (priced $5.50), only to discover that they had flats (8 quarts) on sale for $30, as a one day sale.  I came home with a flat of strawberries I wasn’t planning on!  Made regular strawberry jelly.  Made a strawberry & wine jelly.  Ate close to a quart just as is.  Canned up 14 1/2 pints of whole berries in light syrup.  And used my Instant Pot to juice out the rest of them (I froze the juice) for later making of more jelly or strawberry syrup or the like.  Then, this past Friday, I stopped in at a different farm to check on their predicted date for having sweet corn (they produce some of the best sweet corn I’ve ever had), and they also had strawberries, so I picked up another quart.  After eating close to a 1/3 of them I froze the rest in sugar in a quart jar.  So yah, we have strawberries for the year…….

Pictures of my garden today:

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Birds update

Posted June 17, 2018 By Ruth

The last picture I took of the Song Sparrow baby:

 

Two days later it was gone.  I didn’t think it was far enough along to fledge, but maybe it did.  Or maybe whatever predator that feasted on its siblings finally got it too.

The last picture I took of the BlueBird babies:

They fledged early by my count.  Either I was off on exactly when they hatched, or only having to feed three babies meant they were able to grow faster.  The parents don’t appear to be setting up for a 2nd clutch, so I’ll probably pull down the Sparrow Spooker this week.

While I was getting annoyed at the House Sparrows for killing the Bluebird babies I missed them attacking a Tree Swallow nest.  That box is in a harder to see location, and I didn’t realize what had happened till I caught a House Sparrow going into the box with nesting materials.  The good news: no dead bodies.  The bad news: several destroyed eggs below the box.  *sigh* I’ll have to decide where I want to setup the trap this time around…..

 

F*@#ing House Sparrows!

Posted June 4, 2018 By Ruth

Not an hour after I finished typing the last post.

Stopped to look out my back window, which faces the Bluebird house.

See the male Bluebird fly out carrying a fecal sac.

See a little brown bird fly into the house.

FUCK

Storm out and head for the Bluebird house and sure enough a female House Sparrow bursts out and away.

Opened the box and took this picture:

 

Storm back to the house, dig out the Sparrow Spooker and my drill and head back out to put it on the box.

The female House Sparrow was in the box again!!

Put up the Spooker, check the babies.  As far as I can tell they’re all breathing, but whether they’ll stay that way…..at least the one is definitely injured.

The Bluebird parents aren’t enthused by the Spooker, but after a few minutes of swooping back and forth they figured out they could still access the opening.

Cross your fingers…..