Gardening Archive

Snow!

Posted February 24, 2015 By Ruth

This is the first time since I moved to NY that my parents in MA have more snow on the ground than we do.  But that doesn’t mean we’re slacking here.  We’re just over average snowfall, and since we’ve not had a single (normal) thaw since the snowfall started its almost all still on the ground too.

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Looks so pretty and peaceful doesn’t it…..Well, here’s a photo, taken of the same spot, back on 2-2-15:

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Those orange things are the tops of 5gallon Home Depot buckets that mark out my garden patch there (so we can keep the dogs off it in the winter).  Now go back and look at the first picture again.

Yah.

There’s a reason all that snow is unbroken and smooth.  Its pushing 3ft deep.  Might even be over the 3ft mark at this point actually.  Its hard to be sure since the wind scours the surface constantly.  The drifts are insane.

And COLD.  Did I mention COLD??  Syracuse, the closest major city to me, has broken several cold temp records this winter.  Last Saturday morning the temperature between midnight and 1am dropped to -16(F) before windchill.  And oh yes, there was windchill.  Most days the windchill is dropping the “feels like” temperature at least 20 degrees, and we’ve had drops of up to 40 thanks to the “breeze”.  Its so bad that EVERYONE has ice dams and icicles on their houses this winter.  No matter how well its constructed or what its made of.  Even the steepest of metal roofs can’t shed their loads properly when its this cold.  The local stores can’t keep roof rakes and the Roof Melt tablets in stock, and folks are out on ladders with hammers and chisels trying to keep the ice on their roofs down.

Even Apollo thinks thats cold.  He still wants to go out in it mind, but instead of wanting to stay out he doesn’t argue when we tell him its time to come in either.

Which doesn’t stop him from lounging in the snow when we let him:

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Poor Arty disappears completely when he tries to hop into the snow, and I’m pretty sure he frostbit one of his feet last weekend (we’re keeping an eye on it).  I have booties for him, but they don’t fit well and he really doesn’t care for them, kicks them off almost as soon as he’s out the door.

The wildlife is suffering for it too.  Mind, I’m not complaining, to much, since it means that the insect and rodent populations shouldn’t be as bad come spring.  But the local birds are clearing my feeders (2 of which hold about 5lbs of seed apiece) in less than 2 days at this point.  We had an American Tree Sparrow strike a window and not pick up and recover like normal (considering it was barely above zero I’m surprised ANY of them pick up and recover honestly), so I took it down to the local wildlife rehabber, who said that she’s got lots like him that she’s waiting for a warm spell to release.  This winter has been hard on us all.

In slightly more cheerful news my tomatoes and jalapenos have all sprouted though!

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Home made hot pepper powder

Posted December 4, 2014 By Ruth

5 1-gallon Ziplocks of hot peppers (jalapenos, habaneros, and Hungarian Hot Wax) from the garden (rough chopped and frozen) went into the dehydrator on Monday.  

Overnight between Wednesday and Thursday the eye-watering scent from the dehydrator (which is in the garage for a reason) abruptly cut itself down to less than 1/4 of what it had been.  A check of the peppers showed them to be nice and crisp.  

The dehydrated pepper pieces fit into a single gallon ziplock.

A run through the food processor and we have hot pepper powder for seasoning.  And my sinuses are clearer than they’ve been in weeks…..

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Its a fairly roughly chopped “powder”, but that was about all my sinuses would take…..

Photo dump

Posted October 27, 2014 By Ruth

Been a while since the last time I posted photos (and even that was mostly garden stuff)….

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Updates

Posted September 9, 2014 By Ruth

Well, I’m alive, and awake.  Day 4 on the new allergy med and I think I might be getting used to it, I’m not feeling QUITE as bad as I did over the weekend.

The lily plants my aunt sent me have started blooming:

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They’re from the family “crocosmia” though there’s virtually no way to tell which variety they are.  We’re borderline too cold for them here, but if they’ll survive (cross fingers) they’re prolific and loved by bees and hummingbirds.

After a comparatively cool summer Mother Nature decided we needed at least a COUPLE hot days, and so last weekend we hit 90, both Friday and Saturday.  My only gripe was that I had to uncover the garden lest it scorch.  Course, we’re back to cool-ish weather, with lows potentially descending into the mid to low 40’s in the next week.  So I had to re-cover the garden with the frost blankets.

The onions are, again, a bust.  A couple good sized ones, the rest are tiny.  Obviously I’m doing something wrong.  Anyone ever tried planting onion seeds in the fall at the same time as garlic?  Answers online are mixed…..

The white watermelon is trying to produce more fruit.  If the buds take I’ll cover it and see if we can keep it warm enough to produce a decent melon or two……

The hot peppers and the tomatoes are loving the heat from the frost blankets though.  Ripening has kicked into full swing.  I’ve made 3 1/2 pint jars of pickled jalapenos, and 12 1/2 pint jars of jalapeno jelly (with either a single Hot Wax pepper or a single habanero pepper depending on the batch), plus filled a gallon freezer bag with large chopped hot peppers, and started a 2nd bag.  Those peppers are in the freezer, and once the harvest is done I’ll toss them all in the dehydrator and then grind them into powder for Husband to use for seasoning through out the winter.

The things I do….

Posted September 1, 2014 By Ruth

….in order to get ripe produce out of the garden!

 

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I’d been considering buying frost blankets anyway, to supplement the little plastic hoops I was using as frost protection.  The hoops didn’t work well with the jalapenos anyway and wouldn’t have worked at all with the tomatoes.  So I broke down and bought some.  I covered the hot peppers, including the jalapenos and habaneros, the tomatoes, and the sugar baby watermelon and the cantaloupe.   And after 4 days on the garden I have seen a jump in the number of jalapenos turning red.  Not sure its helping with anything else yet. 

I will say, the delayed ripening did result in some very large jalapenos!

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Now thats a carrot

Posted August 23, 2014 By Ruth

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Despite its size I don’t think it was quite ready to go, its supposed to be a spicy flavored variety and it was only spicy around the top inch or so.  None of the rest are that large yet anyway so I’ll leave them in the ground for a while longer to see if that makes a difference.

Red Hot…

Posted August 18, 2014 By Ruth

My jalapeno’s are ripening!!!

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And I’ve got chocolate peppers:

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The big chocolate peppers are sweets.  The little ones?  Those are habaneros……  The orange ones are Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, and of course I’m sure you all recognize the onions as onions ;)

Speaking of the hot peppers, can someone explain something to me?  I’ve always been under the impression that hot peppers are a hot dry climate sort of plant.  Not desert dry, but, well, we’re very wet here, and especially this summer we’re decidedly cool.  And yet, with the sole exception of last year when everything drowned, I’ve had HUGE luck with the jalapenos, I’ve seen them even withstand a light frost that killed other plants with only minimal leaf damage.  The bases of the jalapenos this year are close to an inch in diameter (I tried to get a picture but it didn’t turn out), and they’re falling over with the weight of the peppers.  And this year, both habanero plants were TINY when I transplanted them out….and now they’re taking over!

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Am I just lucky?

Minature white cucumbers–review

Posted August 13, 2014 By Ruth

My last plant isn’t dead yet, but it looks to be getting there, I don’t expect any of the remaining baby cuc’s to grow any further.

I got a total of 79 edible cucumbers off of 3 plants.  Another 5 were tossed in the compost because they “looked funny”. 

Two of my 3 plants died back in the middle of July, both reached the 3ft mark and stopped growing.  The 3rd reached a height of 57 inches (or 3 inches short of 5feet).  So much for the reviews that stated that they rarely got over 3ft in height……

These are awesome little cucumbers.  Perfectly sized for a snack, or a personal salad, or for slicing into slices for pickles.  Wonderfully tasty, raw or as pickles.  Without the bitterness you can sometimes get in storebought cucumbers.

I did have some issues with Striped Cucumber Beetles.  And I’m half convinced that they’re why the two plants died when they did.  But I’m going to try growing this again next year I think, cause they were just that tasty!

Edit: I was wrong, got another 6! cucumbers off the plant since this was posted, bringing the number to 85.

Canned potatoes

Posted August 12, 2014 By Ruth

I’ve been looking at alternatives for storing my potential crop of potatoes this winter.  I still want to try the modified fridge,  but I’m not having any luck finding a fridge in the general size I’m looking for (ie: a full size fridge thats not huge, that works, that doesn’t cost a alot).

I’d mostly decided on dehydrating the large majority of the potatoes.  And no matter what I’ll be dehydrating at least some of them.  But I just ran across the fact that you can pressure can potatoes too!  After reading a variety of blog posts on it I ran across this one, where one commenter stated that they did a cold pack of french fry cut potatoes……I’d mostly decided that at least SOME of the potatoes I was going to dry would be a french fry cut…..I might have to try that…..

Does anyone have any experience with home-canned potatoes?

Tomato sauce 3

Posted August 11, 2014 By Ruth

Same recipe as last time, except I remembered the oregano this time, and I added a dash of red pepper flakes

2lbs 2ounces of tomatoes