• Category Archives Gardening
  • Watermelon

    When I first planted watermelons I was looking up how to tell when they’re ready to be picked.  The answer across the board was “when the tendril where the fruit stalk meets the vine dies back”.  I figured that was easy enough.

    Enter exhibit one:


    There are TWO tendrils on the vine right at that connection!

    And one died back and one didn’t.

    So I went back and re-read the info on ripe watermelons.

    The skin had gone dull: check

    The thump test produced a dull “thud”: check

    The underside turned yellow: check

    So I dithered…..

    This morning I picked it.

    Should have gone by the other tendril, the flesh has only the barest tint of pink, and since these are the Sugar Baby’s it should be nice and red.

    Oh well.  There’s another one on the vines thats even bigger, that has only one tendril, and a couple more a bit smaller, so we’re not totally screwed.  But I’d like to get this right before I have to pick the white watermelons, since they won’t even have red flesh to cue me in!

  • Updates

    Turns out I’m one of those rare people who have a delayed reaction to yellow jacket stings.  It still wasn’t a severe reaction, but it was highly disconcerting when suddenly, a full SEVEN days after the original sting, my arm swelled up and started itching like mad……

    I’ve now lost two cucumber plants.  I’m blaming the cucumber beetles, as the deterioration looks like bacterial wilt, something that they’re known to spread.  Neem oil/insecticidal soap/hand picking is just NOT CUTTING IT for controlling them and they’re all over the garden.  I’m considering putting down beneficial nematodes in the entire garden to control the larva, and considering an actual pesticide for the adults.  I don’t want to, but they are literally everywhere, and if this IS bacterial wilt I want to stop it NOW.  I’ll probly be putting down the nematodes regardless.

    We’ve got a steady dribble of tomatoes, and for all that neither of us is a big fan of raw tomatoes we’re both eating these, they’re good.  Which is good, cause at this rate I’m not going to get enough at one time to actually make sauce with.

    Cross your fingers, we’ve got at least two Sugar Baby watermelons ripening, and at least a couple more growing.  At least two white Watermelons (Cream of Saskatuwans) growing.  Three cantaloupes.  The fancy cantaloupe finally has female flowers on it.

    Onions and carrots look good. 

    Zucchini finally has babies growing. 

    I’m actually getting sweet peppers this year!  I can’t wait for them to ripen! 

    The jalapeno’s look awesome, going to be a bumper crop there.  Looks like most of the mystery peppers are Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, and they’re all producing madly.  Two look like they may be habanero’s, now to see if they’re whites or chocolates. 

    I don’t think we’re going to get any pumpkins this year.  The plants are still less than a foot long.  I think the cold spring just did them in.  I’m on the hunt for a variety thats more cold tolerant.

    Potato plants look good, I’ve not tried digging through the straw to check for actual potatoes though. 

    One variety of lettuce has sprouted and is growing well, neither of the others appears to have even germinated.

    Corn…..well, I’ll be happy if we even get a couple ears, that was a massive failure this year.

    Blueberry plants didn’t produce any fruit this year, I didn’t even see a single blossom.  I’m blaming the extreme winter and cold spring.

    Golden raspberry plant is producing well.  Boysenberry has produced a few berries, we’re waiting for them to ripen.  There are a couple berries on one of the blackberries.

    Fruit trees….well, the one apple that didn’t produce last year (at all) has a good crop of fruit on it.  The rest of the apple trees have one or two apples, or nothing.  And there’s no pears at all.  Again, blaming the winter/spring for that one.  They all bloomed, and I didn’t think we got cold enough after budding to cause problems, but maybe we did.

    My cell phone has developed a problem.  Its a Motorola Droid 2, so its not exactly new, but suddenly its developed a mind of its own and is randomly hitting options on the screen without any input from me.  This DID start after I dropped it (again) so I suspect a physical problem rather than a virus, especially since I’d not installed any new apps in the previous couple months.  It’ll be fine for a week or more, and then suddenly do things on its own.  Lotsa fun.

    We took Arty to his first Barn Hunt practice last night.  I knew his prey drive was high, and he’s finally figured out how to use his nose, so I was hoping this would turn out to be something that I could take him too, and expose him to more things, that he’d enjoy.  And yup, he did very well.  There’s another practice in a few weeks, we’ll be taking both dogs to that one.  Though I don’t expect Apollo do well at it.  He’ll pass the instinct portion no problem, but for the actual runs the dog needs to go through a small tunnel, and I don’t expect to be able to convince Apollo that its worth his time to crawl through a tunnel.

  • Garden Update

    We lost a cucumber plant.  It appears to have rotted out from the root.  Since all 3 are in the same container I’m not sure what got that one that didn’t get the others.  One of the others is defiently fine and growing, the middle one looks a little iffy, we’ll see.

    I picked my first 3 tomatoes today.  I’m not a huge tomato fan, but I’m hoping to get enough to do sauce with…..

    After the peas died back I planted small amounts of three different kinds of head lettuce.  Once Iceburg, the others mini varieties.  Only one of them has sprouted.

    Back when I planted out the peppers I was worried about the jalapenos.  They were the smallest of the pepper plants.  Today they’ve taken over their container, you can barely see the carrots planted in the other half, and it looks like we’re going to have a bumper crop this year.

  • Garlic

    I picked the garlic today and hung it to dry in the garage.

    Per online instructions I waited till the bottom few leaves had died back, but the rest of the plant was green.  I also left a few of the scapes on them as some instructions said that when the scapes stood up the garlic was ready.  The scapes stood up at about the same time as the bottom few leaves had died, so I picked them.

    The heads are mostly very small, this could be the result of several things: grown in containers, planted to close together, very cold winter/spring…..

    Several of the heads had already burst through the wrappers.  I hung them up to dry with the rest but I suspect those will rot.  Obviously I needed to pick them a bit sooner. 

    I also found a large number of good sized white grubs in the soil as I dug up the garlic.  I don’t know if the grubs have anything to do with the size or condition of the garlic, but I’m now looking at a way to eliminate them in that container and presumably the others.

  • Cucumbers

    I’ve now harvested 14 cucumbers from my plants, as of this past Saturday.  As of today there’s another 4 ready to be picked…….I think we’re going to have alot of pickles this year…..



  • Gardening note to self

    If I grow the Miniature White Cucumbers again next year, try growing them on a trellis or netting instead of tying them to stakes.

    Also, every review I can find says they rarely go over 3ft in height.  My 3 original stalks are all a solid 3ft or taller (the tallest is 43″ tall as of a few minutes ago), and all three are still growing.  All three have put off numerous side shoots, the tallest of the side stalks also measures a solid 3ft and the shortest aren’t much short of that.

    Also, 3 of these plants is likely to be plenty if even half the current baby cucumbers mature!

  • Striped Cucumber Beetles

    There are Striped Cucumber Beetles on my cucumber plants.  And more than a few too.  Today is the first day I’ve seen them but thanks to the aggressive Tree Swallows who’re nesting nearby I’ve not been paying as close attention this week.

    An online search says I MIGHT have luck with Neem oil.  But I might not too.  Has any one else dealt with them and how?


    Edit: I just found some on the cantaloupe and watermelon and peas dammit!!

  • And here I was blaming the chipmunks

    Sunday evening I went out to pick strawberries and found this:


    (picture actually taken Monday morning)

    It looked to me like something with teeth had been at the strawberries.  And every single ripe berry looked like that to some degree.  Oh, there was some obvious bug damage, but THATs not bug damage.

    I was mad as heck, sprayed all around the tire with deer/rabbit repellent, and started keeping an extra eye on the strawberry tire.

    But I never saw anything except Robins anywhere near it.  Well, maybe they’re coming by at night……

    Then today I read this.  Do those damaged strawberries look familiar?  Yah, me too…..guess its a good thing I have bird netting left over from trellising the peas…..

  • Storing homegrown produce–thoughts, ideas, bleg?

    Ok, so this  year I’ve got a decent sized garden.  No, its not big enough to truly support the two of us, but it IS big enough that we won’t be able to eat everything that it will (potentially) produce right away.

    I don’t have a good place to store much of this.  Some can be frozen sure, and some can be dehydrated, and some jarred, but some is better kept fresh if possible.

    I don’t have a basement to turn into a storage space, and the crawlspace isn’t an option, maybe if it was better insulated, but last winter proved its not insulated (much less sealed) enough to keep out the cold, much less the critters.

    The garage generally stays at least a few degrees warmer than the outside air in the winter (and the reverse in the summer), but thats not enough insulation in a normal winter, never mind one like this past winter.  Ditto the breezeway.

    In the winter the furnace stays set at 58-60 with the wood burning stove for when we want it warmer.  I planted thermometers around the house last winter and the only place that reliably stayed below 60 when we lit the stove was the master bath.  I’m not converting the master bath to food storage.  No where else came close, so even if we set the furnace to a lower temp as soon as the woodburning stove warmed up it’d be to warm.

    Obviously this is a problem we’ll have to eventually remedy, we might be able to insulate the workroom on the back of the garage for example, but not this year.

    Looking through storage requirements for the vegi’s we’re most likely to have the most of, most of them should be stored between 40-55 degrees.  Though humidity requirements vary a bit.

    Doing some looking around, and old fridges and freezers are cheap on craigslist.  If I add an external temperature controller, I can control the temperature of the fridge or freezer to stay within the range I want.  Humidity is a bit harder, but I think I can cope.  And the fridge wouldn’t have to run nearly as hard as usual since it wouldn’t be having to cool as far below room temp (somewhere in the 45degree range likely).

    Does that sound like a reasonable solution?  A fridge with a temp controller with me doing something to manage the humidity?  Or does someone have a better idea?

    *the link to Amazon is via my Amazon Associates account, if you buy something after clicking through that link I’ll earn a few pennies.