Gardening Archive

This and That

Posted February 21, 2018 By Ruth

I’m hoping to return to work next week (Tuesday will be 6 weeks), I likely won’t be able to do my normal lifting, but I should be good otherwise.

We moved the automated cat feeder, again, and this time start feeding Trouble her canned food out of it.  This has significantly reduced Shadow’s interest in it, and has gotten her comfortable eating out of it again.  We’ll go like this for at least a month, and then look at switching back to kibble in it.

We had a huge February thaw this past weekend.  Temps in the 60’s, and it was 72 outside this morning!  Course, as I type this a front is sweeping through and temps are crashing hard.  Most of the snow melted, resulting in flood warnings everywhere.  We took advantage of it to set up my new greenhouse:

Husband did all the heavy lifting for me.  But now that it’s setup I can get my christmas lights strung in it and start monitoring temps.  I’m a little concerned about the bigger/taller space being harder to keep warm enough.  I guess we’ll see.  Average last frost isn’t till mid-May, so no matter how tempting it is  I really don’t dare plant out before then.

Pepper seedlings are coming along nicely:

I’ve re-seeded the ones that didn’t sprout, and rearranged so that the plants that were along the edges are now in the middle.  The soda cans are part of an online contest for a Facebook group I’m in.  To see who can grow the best pepper plant in a can.  It sounded like fun, and I had the seeds, so might as well!

Update: 4 strings of C9 christmas lights are holding it 30+ degrees over air temps.  I’ll take it.

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Lets see……

Posted January 29, 2018 By Ruth

Been another busy and frustrating few weeks.  I will (probably) have a long post about what all has been going on (if I ever get it typed).

In the mean time…..

I got my pepper seeds started.  If all those seeds germinate we’re going to have ALOT of peppers next summer (yes, I know that was the point, but uhoh…..).  Tomatoes will wait till the beginning of April.  Last year I didn’t get anything started till the beginning of April.  The tomatoes were just fine with that.  The peppers not so much.  My two little greenhouses did indeed not survive the weather.  In pricing out buying new ones I discovered that I can buy a larger (with shelf space equal to just over two of the little ones) for cheaper than buying two of the little ones.  So……

 

I forgot to mention, back at the beginning of Dec, I broke another tooth.  That  makes two broken molars.  Not the furthest back tooth, but the 2nd to the furthest back.  I broke the one on my left side back, 2010-ish.  Clean split, front to back, the inside half snapping off at the gumline while I was eating a sandwich.  We did a root canal and a crown.  This time, first weekend of Dec, eating an egg and cheese sandwich from DD, the same tooth on my right side broke the exact same way.

Pretty sure I know the cause.  For one, my teeth kinda suck.  Every tooth has at least one filling, many have two.  Despite twice a day brushing.  Yes, I grew up in a town with fluoride in the water.  Yes, I had dental care as a kid.  The dentist even had  me use prescription (high fluoride) toothpaste for a while to see if that would help.  Didn’t make a difference.

In addition I clench my jaw when I’m stressed.  Not only when I’m awake, but when I’m asleep.  Discovered that after one job in particular tried to screw me over, and I ended up in urgent care with swelling at both hinges of my jaw and numbness radiating up and down the sides of my face.  I have a mouthguard to wear at night when I know I’m having issues.  And now that I KNOW its a problem I can usually stop myself from doing it when I’m awake.  But the tooth that broke in Dec has been giving me fits since all the way back in 2004, when, during a particularly stressful time it suddenly flared up excruciatingly painfully, and then subsided to minor hot/cold sensitivity before I could get in to see a dentist.  4 dentists (two of them specialists) had checked that tooth and not been able to find a problem, but in retrospect we’re wondering if I might not have cracked it way back when by clenching my jaw, and it finally gave up holding on.

I’d originally wanted them to just pull this one, and I’d decide at a later date if I wanted a bridge or what.  But it turns out that the roots of my teeth are abnormally long and deep.  It wasn’t going to be a simple extraction, it would require a surgical extraction, at which point I told them I’d go with the root canal after all.

 

First week of January, while driving into town to get the permanent crown fitted I spotted a small flock of Ring Neck Pheasants on the side of the road.  I’ve been seeing them in the area off and on since mid-summer, but of course never when I have my camera with me.  They were still there on my way back, so I pulled over and snapped a quick photo with my cell phone:

Just to have proof of what I’d seen.  Got home, snatched my good camera, and ran back out the door.  They were still there when I came back through the 3rd time:

For the curious, there were two females in the group when I stopped and got the cell picture (they were off the shot to the left), but I didn’t see them when I came back through with the good camera.

 

Not sure how many folks I have reading here with connections in BC Canada, but if you know someone that way could you please share these images:

This dog belongs to a friend of mine.  A family member was helping care for Inatci back in mid-Nov and was walking him using the flexi leash that was normally used for the smaller family dog.  The inevitable happened (please don’t use flexi type leashes folks, just don’t, especially for larger dogs) and Inatci has not been seen since.  She has followed up on every “large white dog” sighting she’s found with no luck.

 

I’m still having fun finding new things to do with my Instant Pot.  A friend recently posted THIS recipe, and of course I had to try it.  The resulting cream has a very strong caramel scent to it, though of course its far less sweet.  I put some in my coffee this morning and I like it quite a bit, though I think the baking soda tang may be coming through more than I want.  If I understand things correctly the baking soda is more for color than flavor, and I may try it without the next time I do it.  I also intend to try whipping this into whipped cream with some sugar…..

 

Someone (elsewhere) asked me to describe what sub-zero(F) temperatures feel like.  I have no description.  But I can tell you that it’s so cold that when temperatures finally rise to single digits ABOVE 0(F) it feels like a freaking heat wave, and temperatures in the teens with the sun out make you want to ditch the winter gear.  THAT’S what sub-zero feels like!

 

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Lets see….

Posted January 7, 2018 By Ruth

Christmas at work was typical big box Christmas.  I really don’t understand the fascination with glitter and fake snow on everything.  It gets EVERYWHERE.  I sure as hell don’t want to ever have to vacuum the house that has that sort of holiday decor.

Apparently the cold temps back in the fall were a warning.  We’ve been running at not quite record breaking cold temps since the day after Christmas.  The same day I woke up and discovered that our furnace wasn’t running.  The furnace problems turned out to be the result of water in the line (it was POURING rain the last time we got fuel), and was an easy fix.  The cold temps not so much.

The big storm that ran up the East Coast didn’t do much to us, a couple inches of snow.  But it sucked weather across the Great Lakes in its wake.  Areas not to far from me got upwards of a foot of snow and temperatures dipped too damn close to record breaking cold.  Yesterday, Saturday, it was -1(F) as the official temperature when I left the house for work, with a “feels like” temperature of -23(F) thanks to windchill.  For you Celcius folks that’s -17.7 and -30.5.  Its supposed to warm up this week, cross fingers!

I did take advantage of the cold temps to smoke some cheese.  Cheese has to be smoked at temperatures below 90(F) or you risk melting the cheese.  Temps below 80(F) are preferred.  This normally requires special equipment, but by propping the door of my electric smoker open a couple inches I was able to maintain ~40(F) and still get decent smoke in the body of the smoker.  The cheese has been vacuum packed and we’re slowly working our way through it.

I’ve been working on my garden planning for this year, and putting together an inside grow tent with proper lighting to get seedlings going in.  The garden is going to be mostly tomatoes and peppers this year.  Carrots, lettuce, and a couple tires of melons and cucumbers, and that’s pretty much going to be it.  Course, just as I got the garden plan set and seeds ordered BOTH seed companies I ordered from included a packet of free seeds in the orders.  Which is normal.  What’s not normal is that both free seed packets are for varieties of black tomatoes (our prefered type) listed as “great for sauce”.  Since sauce is the main point of me growing tomatoes I promptly had to re-work the garden plan to fit at least one tire’s space worth of each in the garden to try.

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Post summer garden thoughts

Posted October 15, 2017 By Ruth

Last summer I massively over planted tomatoes.  I made SO MUCH sauce that I thought we’d never finish it all in a year.  I made ketchup.  I gave away tomatoes, sauce, and tomato puree.

Yesterday, in a quick freezer survey, I realized there are exactly TWO! jars of sauce left from last year.  Wow.  But then it did taste ever so much better than store bought, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Heck, we hardly made pizza too, so most of it went into chili, and marinara, and the like.

I’ve got a pot on the stove right now simmering down most of this summer’s tomato harvest.  After the bounty that was last summer I deliberately under planted tomatoes this year, and then with the screwed up weather we didn’t get as many per plant as usual.  I figure I’ll get 5 or 6 jars of sauce from this years harvest if I’m lucky.

So I guess next summer I’m going to have to “over plant” tomatoes again.  Probably want to kill myself by the time I finish processing them all, but obviously the sauce is worth it.

We’ve still not had a real frost here, though all that’s left in the garden is onions, carrots and covered hot pepper plants.

The Oxheart carrot is getting added to my regular carrot cycle.

We never did get a ripe Green Nutmeg Melon, the one I picked when the vine was dying back smelled really good, but either wasn’t as close to ripe as I’d hoped or else they don’t taste like much.  I’ll have to decide if I want to try them again or not.

The White Leopard Melons are worth growing again.

I’m going to give up on the Melon Pear fruits, even cages the color change to ripe is still very subtle, and the couple I picked I wasn’t a fan of the flavor (but heck, I’m still not sure they were fully ripe).

The corn failed miserably, but I’m pretty sure that had more to do with a combination of things than anything specific.  I’ll try it again, but maybe not next summer.

I was discussing with Husband the possibility of trying a variety of hot peppers again, mostly for the heck of it.

Maybe just go really basic next year.  There’s a different variety of cucumber I want to try, but otherwise just do tomatoes, and hot peppers, and carrots, and a couple melons…..will have to see what catches my eye as I browse catalogs I think.

As I was putting down the plastic sheeting to smother the weeds it occurred to me that now that I have the soaker hoses for the garden watering there’s no reason I couldn’t leave the plastic in place next year and just cut holes to plant stuff in.  With the soaker hose run under it the plants would get plenty of water and the plastic would do wonders to help keep the weeds down.  Might have to try it.

Fall in Upstate NY

Posted October 5, 2017 By Ruth

So, last post was on Sept 18th.  Sept 27th (Wednesday) we broke high temp records.  Sept 28th temps crashed, and we had several days of barely making a high of 70.  Yesterday, Oct 4th, we had a high of 80.  Tomorrow, Friday, they’re predicting a high of 69.  Saturday its going to be 80 again.  Next Thursday the predicted high is 62.

At least we shouldn’t be getting a frost any time soon, based on current predictions.  We came close last Saturday night, but it didn’t quite happen.

I finished getting black plastic on the empty garden beds.  Put frost covers back on the remaining peppers.

Gave myself a lovely set of bruises up and down my right arm moving heavy stuff at work, but hey, no bandaids required!  I’ll take it.

The husband of a co-worker died unexpectedly, and I agreed to work an opening shift to cover for her.  My body still hasn’t recovered from the 4:15am wake-up.

Arty decided that he was going to play lapdog:

Not much else going on here right now.  Have fun all!

General update

Posted September 18, 2017 By Ruth

I pulled the frost covers back OFF the garden, summer has decided that we’re not done yet, with another two + weeks of 80degree temps.

Interestingly the hot peppers that I covered, even briefly, look better than the ones I didn’t.  Mind, its not a huge surprise, but the difference is noticeable:

 

Leaf Footed Bug damage:

Not the best photo, BUT, that is what that Jalapeno looked like when I picked it off the plant.  Pretty gross.

Notice the bandaid in that photo?  Apparently I’m on a roll this year.  Right before New Year I tried to slice off my fingertip with a cheese knife.  Then I tripped over the dog and broke my arm.  Then I sliced a finger open on a child safety buckle on a shopping cart (I never did find the sharp spot that I somehow caught either).  Then, while adjusting the seat on the new mower I sliced a finger open.  And now I’ve sliced a finger open while adjusting Apollo’s dog tags.  I have no clue.  Someone on FB asked if I have a medical issue with fragile skin, but after some thought I can’t see how I could, if I did I’d go through a hell of a lot of bandaids every day at work!

Speaking of work…..Christmas has shipped:

Its not out on the shelves yet, but it has started arriving in stores!

I made two batches of hot pepper jelly this week.  Both made up, some 90%, of peppers frozen from last year’s bounty.  Thank god I did so or there’d likely be no jelly this year.

On an interesting note, peppers that have been in the freezer for that long are much dryer than fresh peppers.  I know, duh right?  But I hadn’t considered how much that would affect jelly making.  Usually I end up with slightly runny jelly at room temp.  Not a big deal, it solidifies enough in the fridge.  But these two batches were trying to jell in the pan as I cooked them!  Next time I use long frozen peppers I need to remember to reduce the pectin.

And your daily dose of cute, and one of two reasons why you always check that rumpled blanket on the couch before sitting on it in this house:

A few garden photos

Posted September 10, 2017 By Ruth

This week I’ve started pulling up the dead and non-producing plants, deciding whats going to get frost blankets to convince stuff to ripen, and putting down black plastic on the beds in order to hopefully smother the weeds.

 

The only melon I covered was one of the Green Nutmeg tires, all the rest of the melons were either not far enough along, or already dying back.  Note to self, the Snow Leopards do not handle chilly nights at ALL.

The hot peppers are all getting these new frost covers that I found.  They’re designed for potted plants, and probably won’t protect from a full on frost, but warming things up a bit they look like they’ll do just fine.

Got a few Black Pearl Peppers ripened

 

Found ONE of the late wave of peppers I planted had managed to not only survive the summer but actually put on decent pods:

cross your fingers they’ll ripen before it gets too cold!

Discovered that some of the local wildlife are enjoying the warmth of the black plastic

 

(Amazon link is an affiliate link, if you buy something via it I might earn a few pennies)

Garden and General update

Posted September 4, 2017 By Ruth

Didn’t mean to go radio silent for so long, its been a busy couple weeks!  Plus I kept forgetting to get garden photos, and so kept delaying posting till I could get photos, and then forgetting to get photos…..

Pulled this giant carrot out of the garden:

The variety name is Oxheart, they can reach over 1lb in weight in about 90 days.  I didn’t weigh this one, but it sure was big!  Good carrot flavor too, I was worried it would be tough, but it wasn’t.  There’s still another giant one out there to be pulled.

My second try at picking a Snow Leopard melon I left it on the vine to long, and it split (from the blossom end) in a bit split taking over half the melon.  However the undamaged half was EXTREMELY tasty.  My 3rd attempt was just about perfect I think, it was showing signs of being about to split, but hadn’t quite, and was just about as nice tasting as the 2nd.

Tomatoes are just about done, the vines are dying back.

Today’s weather we’re predicted to hit 80 out there, but then its going to drop back to the unseasonably cool temps of upper 60’s to low 70’s, with nights in the 50’s or cooler.  Tomorrow I’m probably going to drop frost covers on the melons and peppers to see if I can convince them to finish ripening.

This past week was State Fair week, normal State Fair weather is hot, 90’s, and sometimes nasty raining.  Instead we had cool and sunny.  I understand that the Fair was packed both weekends and most evenings.  We went on this past Friday during mid-day and it wasn’t to bad crowds wise.

No Honey Dew melons for me this year it looks like.  I have a picture from several weeks ago that appeared to be a fertilized female flower, but the baby fruit died off instead, and I haven’t seen any others even close since.

We got a couple cantaloupe.  One watermelon.  There’s a BUNCH of Green Nutmeg melons out there, but none of them appear to be ripe yet.  They’re a close relative of the cantaloupe and so should fall off the vine when they’re ripe, but none of them have done so yet.

I’ve been having a HORRID time with bug damage on my hot peppers this year.  Damage identical to the damage I was seeing on the paprika peppers last year.  Minimal leaf damage, but fruit rotting on the plant after huge holes chewed into the peppers.  I found this bug on a severely damaged Hungarian Hot Wax pepper and posted the photo on a hot pepper group on FB:

 

This fellow is likely one of the variety of Leaf Footed Bugs, a relative of the Stink Bug.  And some varieties do indeed do this sort of damage.  I treated all the peppers with pyrethrum just over a week ago, very carefully staying away from any remaining blossoms, and will likely do so again this week.  And I’ll have to remember to do so in the spring after planting too.

Just about 2 weeks ago I went into my doctor with what seemed to be early UTI symptoms.  A constant feeling like I needed to pee mostly.  Thankfully it wasn’t actually painfull (I’ve had some really painfull UTIs) but I wanted to get it taken care of before it got that bad.  The in house urine test showed a small amount of blood, bacteria, and a 3rd thing I forget the name of, all indicative of a UTI.  The doctor gave me an antibiotic, and the urine sample was sent off to the lab to be sure of the bacteria type, and to make sure they weren’t missing anything.  Turns out that the bacteria type was only kinda sorta responsive to the antibiotic I was given, however since my symptoms appeared to be fading the decision was made to finish the course of antibiotics I was on, and then in another week do another urine test.

I finished the antibiotic last Tuesday.  Wednesday evening my UTI symptoms came back.  Called the doctor Thursday morning, and left a message, they called me back Friday morning.  By which time I was outright painful, including kidney pain.  They had me come in and go directly to the inhouse lab to leave a urine sample.  The inhouse test showed no blood, no bacteria, and none of whatever the 3rd thing was that I can’t remember.  But slightly high bilirubin.  The big lab test showed slightly elevated urethral flora.  THAT test result came in Saturday evening, I can see it on the patient portal.  Hoping to get a call from the doctor today with an idea of whats going on.  I’m still experiencing some kidney pain, and a constant need to pee, though its no longer an outright painful need to pee.  If I don’t get a call today I’ll have to call them tomorrow.

Garden Update

Posted August 13, 2017 By Ruth

The first Bill Bean Tomatoes.  That big one weighed in at 1lb 15ounces.  It had some bug damage, but most of it was good.  None of the others on the vine are nearly as big though.  These would make a nice slicing tomato for someone who wants sandwich or munching slices.

 

Green Nutmeg Melons.  I was worried I started these to late, and maybe I did, but there’s a BUNCH of baby fruit forming.  Cross fingers!

 

First cantaloupe of the season!  It was very tasty too.

 

Yesterday’s harvest.  I pulled the largest of the Snow Leopard melons.  Information on how to tell when they’re ripe is distinctly lacking.  Its now the right color at least.  I found one page that said to pick it when the leaf at the stem died back, but that leaf wasn’t even starting to die back.  Two sites said that when ripe the flower end will have a slight give, and will smell sweet.  Well, it has a slight give, but it doesn’t smell sweet.  Maybe I’m just too impatient.  I’ll cut into it today and see what it tastes like.  Worst case, there’s a BUNCH more baby melons out there, so if I needed to wait longer I should have another chance!  But yah, watermelons you pick after the tendril at the stem base dies back (I usually wait a day or two beyond that for my sugar baby melons).  Cantaloupe fall of the vine when they’re ripe.  But apparently these do neither…..

Update: The Snow Leopard melon might not have been completely ripe, but it was still tasty!  Similar to a good Honey Dew Melon, mild but sweet.

 

Pictures

Posted July 30, 2017 By Ruth

I went out and dug the weeds out of the cantaloupe tires, and lookit what I found!  Woot!

 

Butterfly!  I see them a fair bit, but don’t usually manage pictures.

 

Hummingbird Moth.  These guys I usually only see a few times a year, so I always try to get photos when I see them.

 

Black Pearl Peppers

 

And oh yah, bunnies.  I actually took this one a few days ago, through my front window.  This fellow was lounging less than 10ft from the window, with two dogs slavering on the other side of the glass……