Gardening Archive

General update

Posted September 26, 2016 By Ruth

We came within a couple degrees of a frost over the weekend, but got lucky, so the garden still grows.

Since I’ve already got 15 quarts of tomato sauce stored away I decided to smoke half the tomatoes to go into the next batch, I figure if we hate it we’ll still have plenty left of the normal kind.  I’ve basically stopped picking tomatoes, there’s going to be a million volunteer plants next year, but I managed to totally overwhelm myself with tomatoes this year…..

Hot peppers are still going strong.  The Buena Mulatas would make a very pretty decorative landscaping plant if anyone was so inclined.

I picked a total of 5 pumpkins this year.  I haven’t had a chance to process any of them yet, but a couple are pretty big.

My supervisor at work is on her way out, I forget when she said her last day is, but its only a couple weeks.  Now the wait to see who they put in her place.  I know who I’d like to see in the position, but only time will tell.

Arty has managed to get into something he’s allergic too, he’s got a nasty raw itchy spot on his belly.  I noticed a week or so ago that he was itchy, and gave him a bath.  Extra itchy isn’t unusual for him this time of year, he goes through a shed period now, but I was keeping an eye on him just in case.  The bath seemed to help a little, but not as much as I’d hoped.  Then yesterday he was rolling in something (dammit dog, do you want another bath!!) when I noticed the raw spot on his belly.  So we’re off to the vets in a bit to make sure its not bacterial or something.

Otherwise there’s not much going on here right now, normal fall-winter prep stuff.  We’ve managed to not have to kick on the furnace yet, but I’m not sure that’s going to last much longer.

Be the first to comment

Jalapenos

Posted September 7, 2016 By Ruth

KIMG1178

That’s just about two pounds worth.  First batch of jalapeno pickles made last night.  The rest went into the freezer to make jelly out of later.

5 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Garden Update

Posted September 3, 2016 By Ruth

I checked the paprika peppers, and then pulled up all the plants. Every single pepper was chewed on.  Despite repeated applications of caterpillar killer.  Maybe it wasn’t caterpillars.  It sure looked like ‘pillar damage, but I also never actually found one on the plants.  And whatever it was sure wasn’t bothered by the Bt.  I’ve never had such insect damage on my peppers.  Sure, last year I ended up tossing about half the peppers from the garden for bug damage.  But I also got to keep half that were fine.  This year I’ve tossed a couple habaneros, a few Buena Mulatas, and one or two Hungarian Hot Wax.  And already picked, to keep, more than twice what I’ve tossed.  And I’ve yet to find a damaged jalapeno at all.  But I’ve only picked TWO undamaged paprikas, and tossed many many many more than that.  Maybe they were just that attracted to the paprika?  No clue…..

I pulled up the cantaloupe vines as mentioned last time.  They were mostly dead anyway, which is odd cause half of them were planted way later than the first ones (deliberately).  I’m blaming the incredible hot summer.

I didn’t completely pull up the Blue Berries tomatoes.  But I did massively hack them back.  The shear amount of dropped fruit I found under them is huge.  I was indeed missing that many ripe fruit.

I also trimmed back the White Cherries, and some of the outlayer branches of the Black Plums.  It is now September, which means that we could get hit with a frost at any time now (and Mother Nature is suddenly remembering what weather is supposed to be like here), so I’d rather they put their energy into ripening the fruit already there.  Though the weather next week is supposed to get hot again our low last night was 48f, so fall is coming!

I pulled up all the volunteer vines.  I didn’t bother to save the squash from them, I thought about it, but I have a ton of zucchini AND the pumpkin vines from this year are also producing well, so I just don’t need them.

I’m keeping a close eye on the Melon Pear.  I’d really like to get some fruit from it, but so far none of it has even started to change color.

 

5 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Garden update

Posted August 29, 2016 By Ruth

No pictures this time, sorry.

I cooked down another 6 ziplocks of tomatoes yesterday.  1 for ketchup and 5 for sauce.  There’s space in that freezer again!  But I’m sure I’ll be filling it back up with tomatoes in short order.

I’m considering pulling up the cantaloupe vines.  I’ve picked 3 fruit.  Lost the one to the coyote.  And tossed 4 more because the underside was rotten when I picked them.  I’m assuming its a heat issue as I don’t normally have problems with this variety.

I picked two more watermelons, and there’s another 4 or 5 growing.

I actually picked TWO, non-buggy, paprika peppers!  I’m not sure they were 100% ripe, but I don’t care.  They’re in the freezer pending dehydration, hoping I’ll get a few more……

I’ve got about half a ziplock of hot peppers in the freezer for either dehydration or jelly.  A mix of Buena Mulatas and Hungarian Hot Wax.  I’ve picked two Habaneros and both were buggy *sigh*.  The Jalapenos look like the first of them will be along shortly.

Still waiting on the Melon Pear fruit to change color.

The tomato avalanche is still in force.  I’m considering pulling up the Blue Berries.  They’re producing well, and thats kinda the problem.  They are, infact, hugely prolific.  And the fruit is so tiny, and the vines so thick, that picking them all has turned into a huge issue.  I KNOW I’m missing tons of them.  And its not like I NEED those tomatoes…….

Be the first to comment

Garden update

Posted August 19, 2016 By Ruth

Buena Mulata peppers:

IMGB2527

They started as these spindly little plants that could barely hold themselves up and turned into this!  And covered in peppers too.  For anyone else growing these my husband says that if they’re less than fully ripe they taste very “green” (and not in a good way), but as long as they’re fully ripe they’re both very hot and very tasty.

The Chocolate Habaneros are happy this year too:

IMGB2529

Usually these plants get barely a foot high for me (if that tall, often they’re less than a foot), but this year, they’re huge, the tallest are pushing two feet!  I assume thanks to the heat, since hot peppers are considered a hot climate plant.  They’re covered in very large habaneros too.

Some more pictures of the Blue Berries tomatoes:

IMGB2523 IMGB2525

Their final color is determined by how much sunlight they get, so that red one is mostly shaded while the darker ones in the bottom photo are mostly in the sun.  What I find amusing is that a not insignificant number of them are coming in yellow and blue instead of red and blue:

KIMG1130

The farm that produces this particular hybrid also has a Golden Berries tomato, and clearly they’re related!

I brought some of the Black Plum tomatoes into work with me to share with a couple co-workers.  I might have converted them.  One asked me to tell him when I’m starting my seedlings in the spring, he’ll pay me the same fee he pays to buy his usual plants at the store.  The other asked me where I get my seeds from.

The Black Plums are still our favorite of all the tomatoes.  As cool as the White Cherrys and the Blue Berries are I don’t know that I’ll bother to grow them again next year.  The Black Icicles I might though.  The flavor is similar to the Black Plums, though higher acid, and as a paste tomato they’ll help thicken the tomato sauce up with less simmering.

BTW, I’ve weighed a few of the gallon ziplocks and so far they’re all coming in at over 4lbs each.  I’ve lost track of how many are in the freezer.  Tomatoes aren’t halfway done yet.  I’ve cooked up 4.5 ziplocks worth of tomatoes so far…..

I picked three watermelons last weekend, and took one, and a bunch of mixed tomatoes, over to my north side neighbor (the one who’s husband died), since I remembered that she liked watermelon.  She was delighted, and came over Wednesday to admire my garden and tell me that the watermelon was one of the better ones she’s ever had (there’s a reason I grow them!).

I picked another cantaloupe Wednesday, and will hopefully be picking two more today (if not I’ll have to see if I can chicken wire those tires for the night).

I treated all the peppers for caterpillars again.  Though the worst by far is the paprika peppers.  I’m not actually sure I’m getting any paprikas this year, every time I check the plants I end up pitching more peppers for ‘pillar damage!

Last weekend I spooked an itsy bitsy (barely big enough to be out of the nest) bunny out from under the cantaloupe vines (sigh).  Gosh they’re adorable at that stage.  Especially when they’re so spooked that they trip themselves and literally end up tumbling ass over ears in their panic.  I so wished I could have caught it on video.  Then I went back inside and got my bottle of repellent and re-treated the entire garden…..

One of my hibiscus is blooming.

IMGB2575

 

This is the one next to the rain barrels, and so it gets more water than my other ones.  The others do have buds on them though, so they’ll be along eventually!

Sunflowers are also going strong:

IMGB2583 IMGB2580

I am, overall, quite happy with my garden this year!
IMGB2576

2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

All good

Posted August 17, 2016 By Ruth

We made it through the storms yesterday with no major damage here.  There’s a Facebook photo circulating of what looks like a funnel cloud on the west end of the lake I live near, and news reports of a funnel cloud further north of that, but no reports of actual tornado touch down that I can find.

Yesterday, since I made it home from work before the storms hit I ran out to the garden and snatched as many of the ripe tomatoes as I could before the storms hit.  In the 10 minutes or so I was out there the sky went from blue and sunny with some pretty white clouds, to dark and nasty with black clouds.  So I gave up and went back in.  I still picked another 3 gallon ziplocks worth of tomatoes though before giving up:

KIMG1159

I was worried the winds would knock over the tomatoes (the storm Saturday knocked a couple over though they were salvageable with only minor damage).  A check this morning and the garden doesn’t look seriously worse for wear, though I’ll need to do some new tying down of cages as some are leaning hard.

At one point the water was coming down so hard and heavy that the water shooting out the downspouts was shooting OVER the rain barrels (which were over-flowing anyway, guess I need to redo those overflow pipes so at least that water will be directed where I want better in heavy rain like this).

Today looks to be a very nice day, weather wise, so hopefully I can catch up on some of the yard and garden work I’ve been putting off!

Be the first to comment

Harvest basket

Posted August 13, 2016 By Ruth

One of the downsides to this year’s bountiful garden is my ability to harvest it easily.  I’ve generally used one of the kitchen strainer baskets to hold stuff as I wander around the garden picking.  It was handy for a few reasons, including the ability to plop it into the sink to rinse everything.  Previous years this has generally worked fine for most of the garden.

This year?  Not so much.

KIMG1116a

Yesterday I picked two strainer fulls of tomatoes and left more on the vines that I could have picked but would be ok for another couple days.

So earlier this week I went looking at various options and ideas for harvesting baskets.  Found lots of:

Expensive.

Really big gaps that my little tomatoes would fall out of.

Awkward to use.

Tiny.

Expensive.

Ran across this one, which struck me as really cool, but gosh, do I really have to spend $50?  I’m sure it’s worth it, but money…….

The more I looked at that last one the more I thought I could build something comparable.  I’d have to go buy some cedar board, but I already have 1/2″ hardware cloth left over from another project……

KIMG1155KIMG1156KIMG1157

Bonus: mine has feet to hold the contents out of the dirt!

The mesh and staples used to hold it on will probably eventually deteriorate, but the wood is cedar and the screws are exterior grade, so at whatever point the mesh dies I can reuse the frame.

Of course, it won’t fit in the sink, but I can rinse stuff off with the hose if need be and not worry about it!

It holds just, you know, one or two tomatoes…..

KIMG1158

 

Interior dimensions are approx 5.5″ deep, 8″ wide, 16.6″ long

Be the first to comment

Garden update

Posted August 3, 2016 By Ruth

I finally got a cantaloupe for myself today.  No pictures, I ate it already.

I’m still waiting for the Sugar Baby watermelons to ripen, they’re huge, but apparently not ripe yet since the tendril at each hasn’t even started to die back yet.

For anyone else trying to figure out when Golden Crispy Melons are ripe, part of the answer is that once the skin starts cracking PICK THEM NOW BEFORE THE INSECTS FIND THEM.  I can also confirm that they don’t slip off the vines like cantaloupe.  Other than that I can’t help you. Maybe I’ll do better next year……

Once the real tomato rush hits I’m going to be overwhelmed.  There are SO MANY tomatoes on all those HUGE plants this year.  Wow.  And unlike last year, this year my little home-made 3′ tall cages are NOT cutting it.  The Black Icicles are pushing 8ft tall, and everything else is taller than my eye-level.  Well, the ones that haven’t fallen over from lack of support are anyway.  You can’t even SEE the cages anymore.

KIMG1136

Since most of the tomatoes are going for sauce (or maybe ketchup if I have enough and time to play) anyway I’m going to try just stuffing them into gallon ziplocks and freezing them till I have time to actually make something out of them.  Its supposed to work fine with fruit for jelly, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t for tomatoes for sauce.

They do look pretty all together in the bowl though:

KIMG1135

Not sure if its the heat or what, but I’m also having a horrid time with blossom end rot this year too.  I’ve already added calcium to the tires, both when planting the plants and again a few weeks ago.  I don’t normally have to pitch more than a couple tomatoes for BER, but this year I’ve already pitched several Icicle tomatoes and a bunch of the Black Plums.  Rapid growth is supposed to be one of the triggers, so thats what I’m blaming it on.  Cause yah, we’ve had some rapid growth this year!

I had to treat all the pepper plants for caterpillars this week.  They’d found my paprika peppers (which looked AWESOME till I looked closer), and I ended up picking and pitching more than half the peppers due to the damage.  Hopefully I caught it in time to save at least some of them.

Ripening Hungarian Hot Wax peppers:

KIMG1137

 

I’ve got two more baseball bats er, zucchini out there to pick and process, and god knows when I’m going to have time to do that.  Maybe tomorrow.

Melon Pear fruit:

KIMG1129

Size wise they’re a bit bigger and fatter than the biggest grapes I’ve seen, but not by much.

Some flower pictures, just cause:

IMGB2102 IMGB2284a IMGB2293a IMGB2343 IMGB2349 KIMG1132 KIMG1134

4 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Coyote

Posted August 1, 2016 By Ruth

Husband commented that he’d not heard all that many coyotes this year, and I have to admit that neither have I.  Usually we hear them several nights a week by summer time.  Certainly we’ve had a bunny population explosion this year.  Not sure if someone did a big hunt, or if the pack has just moved around for some reason.

Although I’ve been seeing one on the trail cameras occasionally, I’m pretty sure it’s only one, and it appears to be a youngster.  I caught a daylight look at him not to long ago, apparently hunting bunnies in my neighbor’s back yard.  Pretty sure he’s (or she, can’t tell from a distance) not mature, got a skinny gangly look to him, like you see in not yet mature dogs.  Course, I didn’t have my camera on me at the time, dammit.

 

I’m thinking this is the cantaloupe thief, as I got a very blurry shot of a coyote checking out the garden the night after someone stole the cantaloupe, and, other than the bunnies munching around the edges, nothing else has even approached the garden.

A note for everyone who says that “Well, I have a big dog, so X wildlife don’t come into my yard!”.  I got news for you.  Chances are good Apollo is quite a bit bigger than your dog, AND he’s an intact male.  And he pees all around the yard, and around the garden in particular.  We actually encourage him to pee around (around, not IN) the garden in hopes of driving off some of the munchers.  Not only has it not appeared to make any difference in the quantity of wildlife we see, he and a couple foxes ended up in a “My Tree! Peeing Contest” last winter!

4 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Dammit

Posted July 27, 2016 By Ruth

The one plant in the garden that the wild critters REALLY want to munch on this year has been my cantaloupe vines.

As soon as the vines inch past the line of repellent the ends are chomped off.  Nothing else has been chewed on this way, just the cantaloupe.  I’ve managed to keep the damage at a minimum by religiously spraying the new growth once a week or so, but if I forget……

Apparently the first cantaloupe melon ripened late yesterday, or possibly even overnight.  Its my one gripe about this variety, it’ll go from GREEN to RIPE in less than 24hrs.

And apparently the scent of the ripe fruit was to much to resist for whoever was keeping such a close eye on the cantaloupe for me:

KIMG1122 KIMG1123

Though I grow a small variety, the fruit isn’t THAT small.  I can’t see a rabbit carrying it 10 feet the way it was.  I suspect deer.  Maybe I’ll move a trail camera over to watch the garden……