Gardening Archive

Garden update

Posted July 23, 2015 By Ruth

8 cucumbers out of the garden so far

1-Cherokee purple tomato so far

and a bunch of Black Plums (I forgot to measure or count, will have to guestimate) tomatoes.

Didn’t make it to the farmers market this week, so the estimate of cost of the above and the zucchini will have to wait.

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I’m having one of “those” weeks…..

Posted July 22, 2015 By Ruth

It could be ever so much worse, but still.

The last 5 days in a row we were predicted to get rain, potentially a lot of it.  We got a sprinkle once.  Looking at the weather map it looks like there were actually storms, but they ended up going around my immediate area somehow.  For 5 days in a row.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m thrilled that the yard has finally dried up enough for me to mow completely.  But it also means that I’m having to water the garden…..

Monday in particular was extra “interesting”. 

Monday we received a notice from the state that we were being audited due to our claim of getting solar panels put up in 2012.  We have 30 days to provide them with the paperwork to prove the claim or they’ll cancel the refund.  Never mind that I included copies of almost everything they’re requiring with the tax paperwork……So now we’re digging through files and muttering rude words as we discover that this or that piece of paper didn’t get filed properly.  We’ve got it all, but it’s still frustrating as heck.

After spending an hour digging through files and getting frustrated I went out to go spend an hour or so in the garden since I find that generally calming.  Keeping the volunteer clover from taking over is pretty much a constant chore anyway, and after the discovery of the giant zucchini hiding under the clover in that tire I’ve been trying to work my way around the various beds to at least thin the clover enough to be sure I don’t have to many other surprises waiting for me.  Everything was going smoothly till I grabbed a specific clump of clover in one of the cantaloupe tires.

There are yellow jackets nesting in that particular tire.  Under that specific clump of clover.  Immediately adjacent to a ripening pumpkin and a still growing cantaloupe.

And yup, I got stung.

Today’s Wednesday and I’m still swallowing the max dose of benadryl in order to keep the swelling down and itching from driving me crazy.

I hate using general insecticides in the garden.  I have, after much work, finally managed to have enough pollinators in the yard to ensure proper pollination of everything.  And the last thing I want to do is kill them.  But I’m not going to try to work around a nest of stinging insects either, even if we didn’t have family who’re allergic.  ESPECIALLY when the nest is immediately adjacent to two growing fruits that will have to be picked before TO much longer.  I picked up a bottle of concentrated permethrin, and have already treated the nest area once.  I’m being extra careful to ensure it doesn’t get onto any flowers or the like, but I’m still not happy about it.

I’m just hoping the rest of the week goes a bit smoother…….

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Garden update

Posted July 17, 2015 By Ruth

So, I, er, forgot to watch the zucchini carefully enough…..


I pulled these four baseball bats zucchini out of the garden on Tuesday.  Well over a foot long, they’re at least twice the size I normally try to pick zucchini at.  In addition I pulled two more out of the garden yesterday that are closer to the size I prefer to pick them at (but still on the larger side).  And of course there’s more coming.  I think I have plenty of zucchini for the coming year…..

Next week when I hit the farmers market I will price out zucchini and see if I can get a guesstimate on what it would cost to buy this much zucchini for the records.

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Garden update

Posted July 11, 2015 By Ruth

I pulled the garlic yesterday.  Might have been a bit early, but I waited till to late last year, and since I’m going to freeze it all anyway if its got an extra layer or two of paper on it, it’s not the end of the world.  Snapped this picture of the two largest and two smallest heads.  Wish I’d put something in for size comparison.  Those two largest heads are about the size of my fist……


I don’t think I’m going to grow garlic this winter/next year.  We still have a little left from last  year, plus this year’s crop.

The Long Pie Pumpkins are in their “huge zucchini” stage:

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I did grow zucchini this year, but didn’t get a picture this time.  So far none of them are as big as the pumpkins.

Jalapenos and Hungarian Hot Wax peppers look good:

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We got our first Black Plum tomatoes out of the garden this week, with lots more to come:

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Sugar Baby watermelons are coming along nicely:


The other watermelons I planted (Early Moon) have several tiny babies on the vines, so cross fingers.

So far neither cantaloupe has more than tiny babies either.  The one variety is a completely new one for me, and the other is the Charentais that I tried to grow last year and failed massively.  The vines are MUCH happier looking this year, so cross fingers.

Habanero’s have tiny peppers growing, and the Cherokee Purple tomatoes are growing big but still very green.  I planted my second crop of lettuce, and put in the seeds for Rattail Radishes.  So far neither variety of broccoli I planted has produced heads.  But the plants themselves are more intact than the last time I tried broccoli at least!  Carrots are growing, sunflowers are headed for the sky, and the okra is looking decent (though I’m not sure its as big as it should be).

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Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Posted June 19, 2015 By Ruth

Anyone tried this variety?  It caught my eye, because its rated for down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  Apparently you’re supposed to plant it by the end of the summer, it HAS to over-winter in an actual WINTER, and then you harvest in the spring??

I might have to try it.  I’ll have to cover it for the winter regardless, we regularly dip below 10 in the winter, but the concept is tempting!

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Pumpkins–the difference a week makes

Posted June 19, 2015 By Ruth



Thats the same tire I featured in the last garden update.  There are multiple flowers, many of them female, blooming.  I might actually get more than one pumpkin this year!

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Garden note to self

Posted June 16, 2015 By Ruth

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes need WAY more horizontal space than the Black Plums.  Completely different cage structure needed if I decide to grow them next year.

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Garden update

Posted June 7, 2015 By Ruth

Well, first off, I finally got around to starting to gravel in the paths between the beds.  I accidently made them too narrow to mow when I was setting things up and they’ve been a pain to manage, so when Home Depot put their white marble chips gravel on sale over memorial weekend I took advantage and bought enough to do about half the paths.  I’d have bought more but I didn’t have the money at the time.  It looks so nice though that the higher price will be worth it, and it’s less than $1/bag difference between the marble and the next one down anyway when it’s all at full price.


Once all the paths are done I’ll build a little wall all the way around the garden and fill that in with gravel too, ought to look awesome once its done.  Though I doubt I’ll get THAT part done this summer.  We’ll see.  I have other projects too…..

Thanks to the hot spring the lettuce is huge




Strawberries are almost ripe



Sugar Baby watermelons


I also planted a variety of watermelon called Early Moon, but didn’t get pictures.




Long Pie Pumpkins



Zucchini (and a bumper crop of clover, ooops)



Purple Cherokee tomatoes



Jalapenos (yes, those are baby peppers already)



Black Plum tomatoes, and yup, they’re producing already too







In addition I also have Sugar Snap peas (though whether I’ll actually get any…..), Cucumbers (the Mini Whites again), two kinds of radishes (which I’ve already picked), cantalope, Charentis melons again, habaneros, Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, carrots (7 kinds), sunflowers, okra…….

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General update

Posted June 1, 2015 By Ruth

Our weather has been decidedly screwy.  After a record breakingly cold winter we were all looking forward to spring.  Instead we got summer with the rare “cold spring” day tossed in as a sop.  Though we’re not breaking the high temp records we’re coming close to them.  And with 90% humidity no one’s happy about it.  To top it off it’s been incredibly dry.  Normally we spend the month of May barely able to mow the yard (and often unable to, in part or in all), due to the shear wetness of the ground.  This year I’ve been having to water my garden.

I discovered that my ankles really are screwed up, but also that wrapping them for the day at work makes a huge difference in my ability to cope.  This is a relief because…..

I’ve been attempting to teach myself to spin.  No, not on a bicycle, I already know how to ride a bike.  Fiber, on a spinning wheel, to create yarn.  Thanks to the generosity of several ladies, both local and several states away, I have both a spindle and a spinning wheel to learn on, as well as a fair bit of pre-processed fiber to play around with during my learning process.  I picked up the process of spinning on the spindle quite quickly.  But the spinning wheel requires me to peddle to keep the wheel turning.  And with my painful ankles that wasn’t happening.  This past week though, after keeping my ankles wrapped for the entire work day for over a week, the pain has been much less, and even almost non-existent, depending on the day.  So I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do some proper practice on the spinning wheel this week.

Of course, my body isn’t happy unless I’m in SOME sort of pain, or so it seems some days.  Friday, while at work, I knelt down to pull forward some stock on one of the very bottom shelves.  Only to feel as if I’d knelt on a needle the instant my right knee hit the ground.  Standing back up showed no needle, or splinters, or anything else that might cause the feeling, and my skin was un-broken.  However the painful feeling in that spot in that knee persisted.  My knee didn’t swell up at all.  And it hasn’t affected my ability to walk, kneel, or lift.  So I’m hoping that all that happened was that I knelt at a weird angle and so something was strained.  My concern is that I partially tore something.  I guess time will tell.  I did file an accident report at work, just in case it does turn out to be something.  But I hate going through worker’s comp for stuff…..

Apollo is finally properly shedding.  I’ve come to the decision that he is just a delayed shedder.  It seems like many of the other Tibetan Mastiff owners I’ve talked to have half naked dogs by now.  But not Apollo!  Back in mid-March his leg fluff started coming loose, and by mid-April or so his legs were naked and his shoulders were starting to come loose.  And there it stopped.  Just this past week though I’ve finally been able to get actual amounts of fur from his ruff and body.  And that’s been the pattern for him for previous years too.  So I guess this is his normal.  I’m saving the shed fluff again, this time in hopes of being able to spin it myself this year.  See above paragraph about learning to spin!

My seedlings are all in the garden.  Though of course mother nature couldn’t let us escape without a threatened late frost, just because.  Most everything seems to be growing fine despite that though.  The heat is good for somethings I guess!  Unfortunately its not good for the early “sow in the garden before last frost” crops though.  Half my radishes never formed bulbs, and three of them attempted to go to seed when I left them in the ground in hopes that the bulbs would form.  Despite planting lettuce seeds over a span of 3 weeks in hopes of having staggered harvests everything has shot up at once, and I’m picking the early maturing ones as fast as I can in hopes of being able to eat them before they go to seed.  I may go ahead and let some of them go though, since I’ve already harvested more than we’ll eat in the next week.  My Sugar Snap peas are barely a foot high, and have no buds.

Speaking of the garden, I did end up spending another $12 for additional dirt/compost to fill in the beds.

The crocosmia lilies my aunt sent me last year somehow survived our insane winter and have sprouted.  I’m thrilled as they were very pretty last year.  I had to send me some more when she thinned out her patch a couple weeks ago, and have planted them in more spots around the property.  I don’t care that they’ll spread out and fill in.  Infact, I want them to.  I have several corners that are frustrating to mow or otherwise keep trimmed, and I’ve been filling them with Daylilies, and mints, and other such in an attempt to not have to mow them as often, so the crocosmia lilies will fit right in!

The winter, and the dry spring, has definitely screwed with my flowers in general though.  Crocus bloomed on schedule, but the daffodils and tulips ran a solid month late.  And now, though it looks like all my iris sprouted, only half have produced buds.  And of those buds, the stalks are all only about half the height of normal, and many of the buds themselves are flat, as if empty.  I’ve been trying to keep them watered, but they’re in an awkward spot.  And it looks like the winter killed most of the butterfly bushes too.  Only one is showing green, and that only from new shoots from the roots.  The top is completely dead.  

We do appear to have a Bluebird pair nesting in one of the boxes this year.  I’m delighted to see them.  Since the House Sparrows killed the first pair a couple years ago we’ve only seen Bluebirds in passing.  I’ve been putting out mealworms for them, so hopefully they’ll stick around and tell off the Sparrows!

Speaking of birds… is usual I put out the hummingbird feeders when the reports showed them as having been seen in northern PA.  And was rewarded as usual with hummingbird sightings myself within the next couple weeks.  Now, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, the only kind we normally get here, are aggressive, territorial, little snots.  Its not unusual for one bird (usually a male) to claim a feeder as HIS, and attempt to keep all other hummers away from it.  This only kinda works, since while he’s driving off one bird another is sneaking a sip.  And like many folks I put out multiple feeders around the property in order to give the rest of the locals a chance for a longer drink.  But the fights that result tend to be very short overall.  This year however a pair of males decided they had to fight to the death over feeder rights (and likely girl rights).  Well, I don’t actually know that it was “to the death” but thats sure what it looked like.  For three days straight, every time I looked out the window, this pair was fighting.  And although I can’t 100% swear it was the same two birds the entire time, it sure looked like it.  They were so engrossed in their fight that I was able to get within feet of the feeders to snap pictures.

Their pattern went like this-

First both would come in for a drink at the same time, eyeing each other carefully over the feeder



And then, to some unknown signal it would start!



After a minute or so of fighting one or both would decide it was time for a breather and a drink, but woe betide the one who decided so when they other wasn’t ready




And round and round they went, utilizing both feeders.  Every minute or two stopping for a drink and a breather before resuming their fight

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I must say it was fascinating to watch!

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Posted May 5, 2015 By Ruth

Our “average last frost” date is May 15, with a “frost free date” closer to the end of May.  I usually plant shortly after May 15 and keep the frost protection handy in case of a late frost (which does happen).

According to Weather Underground, this year, our last frost to date was April 28th (we might have had one on the 29th, temps apparently dropped to 33, which is close enough).  And thanks to the tires that make up most of my garden beds the dirt in them is warmer than the ground by quite a bit.

This is our 10-day forecast as of this morning:



I’ve got one more load of dirt/compost coming to fill the new tires/beds.  Which will hopefully be here Thursday.  Once its in I’m going to give in and plant everything thats ready to go.  I’ll keep the frost protection handy, but I really don’t expect to need it at this point……