Gardening Archive

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.

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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!

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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:

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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)

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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.

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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……

General and garden update

Posted July 30, 2017 By Ruth

Its been an oddly busy week for me this week.  I say oddly because I didn’t actually work that many hours, but what I did was frustration filled, plus some stuff here at home, and well, time…..

This past Friday was Inventory day at work.  We’ve known this is coming for a several weeks of course, and as seems par for the course prepping for inventory always finds all sorts of problems.  What really needed to happen was back in February, when the run-up for summer really hit, was to tell everyone that Inventory was this year and so be extra careful making sure those pallets are tagged right…..but of course no one plans that far ahead (and I’m not sure that some folks would bother even if the rest of us did).  And of course there’s limits to how much work you can put into inventory prepping the sales shelves in advance, as customers alone will mess things up.  Course, with our freight crew we don’t need the customers to mess things up.

Monday I worked a 4.5hr shift.  Other than helping customers the only thing I did Monday was to get the first 3 bays of cleaning chemicals inventory ready.  This includes a fair bit of rack diving into cruddy, nasty and dirty areas to pull out stock that’s been pushed hither and yon.

Tuesday I worked a 4hr shift.  My plan was to do basic straightening on those first 3 bays, and start inventory prep on the 4th.  Instead I discovered that freight had unpacked boxes of stock the night before.  Why is this a bad thing?  Because they find the spot where the stock goes and just shove.  There were bottles EVERYWHERE.  This is an ongoing problem that has been complained about all over the store, and it hasn’t changed.  But that close to inventory……I went and found the manager on duty, and informed him that he should be glad my shift didn’t over lap with freight that day, because if it did he’d be writing me up before the end of the day.  Maybe I got through to him just how much of an issue it was this time.  I hope so.  Cause I really was that pissed.  I had to almost completely redo those three bays.

Thursday I worked a full day, and thankfully freight either didn’t unpack any freight, or they actually listened to management this time.  Either way I’ll take it.  Well, they didn’t unpack any freight in cleaning chemicals at any rate.  About two hours into my day that same manager came by and asked me to do BEAR tags in outside garden (BEAR tags are basically inventory tags for pallets that are in the overheads, I have no idea what the abbreviation stands for).  I asked him why, I KNOW my dept supervisory spent all day Monday tagging and verifying tags in outside garden……Wednesday night we received a Pavestone truck, and someone had put the pallets in the overheads without tags.  Yup.

I did actually manage to get most of the cleaning chemicals ready for inventory by the time I left Thursday.  I didn’t have to work Friday, here’s hoping things went smoothly.

Saturday I didn’t have to work at my job.  But it was Open Farm Day in my county.  My county is fairly agricultural, with a large number of small locally owned farms of various types.  Those farms can sign up to be part of the Open Farm Day program, where they basically (for this one day) invite the public to come and visit, see the farm, and buy things right there on location.  This is the 4th year that I helped man a table at the local buffalo farm.  I’ve been one of their customers since they first started selling meat, and so when they needed someone who could help explain how to cook buffalo meat, and flavors, and what not they asked if I’d be willing to help.  Paid for course, though the actual pay varies between cash and meat (which isn’t exactly a hardship!).  Buffalo meat is extremely popular here.  They can’t keep enough animals to keep up with demand.  In addition for Open Farm Day they sell buffalo burgers, and pulled BBQed buffalo brisket (along with local sweet corn and salt potatoes*).  Folks coming out for this event have quickly figured out that the buffalo farm is THE place to hit for lunch, and every year we sell out of food.  I help with the actual selling of the raw, frozen, meat.  Which means spending my day digging meat cuts out of the freezers and repeating myself over and over as to how to cook buffalo meat (its very like beef in many ways, but cooks alot like venison).  Its not especially physically demanding, but I’m always completely blasted by the end of the day.

This morning (Sunday) I hurt more than I ought to.  I guess digging stuff out of freezers is just enough different than my normal work to screw with me.  Oh well.

Our makeshift drainpipe is working well.  Though thankfully the worst of the insane monsoon season seems to have passed.

And with the passing of the crazy rains my garden is finally taking off.

Three nice big purple carrots.  I forget which variety these are off the top of my head (I grow 7 or 8 varieties of carrots, of which 3 are purple).   I’ve picked enough carrots at this point to clear space to plant more, so I put down seed for one of the sweet baby varieties which are quick growing.  Edit: they’re either Cosmic Purple Carrots or Purple Dragon Carrots.  I THINK they’re Cosmics, but it looks like I forgot to record which order I planted them in this year and Cosmics and Dragons look enough alike……

 

 

Baby Honeydew melon

 

Biker Billy Jalapenos

 

Bill Bean Tomatoes, starting to ripen!

 

Chocolate Habaneros

 

2nd planting of lettuce just starting to sprout.

 

Lima Beans (and weeds……)

 

Green Nutmeg melons.  I still haven’t seen any set fruit, but the vines look awesome considering that they were a hugely late start.  Cross fingers for fruit!

 

Sunflowers

 

Black Pearl Peppers.  Even if you don’t care for hot peppers these would be a striking ornamental planting for an annual bed!

 

The insanity that is my Black Plum Tomatoes!  The quick and dirty stacking of tomato cages didn’t work this year.  Oh well.

 

This is the mixed potato and corn bed (and weeds, can’t forget the weeds!).  SOMETHING, bunny sized, as apparently been nesting in it.  Yay.  At least they aren’t munching.

 

Snow Leopard melon, there’s at least a couple more good sized fruit coming along too.

Sugar Baby Watermelon

 

Speaking of munching…..SOMETHING (I’m thinking deer) keep trying to eat my Blazing Star flower stalks.  Apparently they’re not very tasty though, as I keep finding the severed heads next to the stalks.

 

One day’s harvest, my first two Black Gypsy tomatoes, more carrots, a couple Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, and some Black Plum tomatoes.

The bunnies are horrid this year.  I thought I had trouble keeping the new growth un-munched last year.  This year though, OMG.  Plus the damn things are basically LIVING in the garden, even when they aren’t munching!  Thankfully the damage has been minimal, due to weekly applications of Plantskydd.  But jeeeze!

My cantaloupe vines haven’t set fruit yet either, which is unusual for them, but those tires are some of the worst for weeds, and the vines aren’t as big as usual, I’m thinking the weeds are choking them out a bit.  Oh well.

 

*Salt Potatoes are an extremely regional food.  Although they’ve been featured on a couple cooking shows, 9 times out of 10 when I find someone in other parts of the country who knows what salt potatoes are it’s because they have close family from the Central-Upstate NY state area.  The modern version of salt potatoes are sold prepackaged at the grocery store as 1lb of salt and 4lbs of small potatoes (about the size of baby potatoes, but not sold that way).  And no, they do not taste nearly as salty as everyone expects them to.  They’re extremely tasty though!

Garden update

Posted July 23, 2017 By Ruth

I got two zucchini, and pulled up the plants and put down black plastic to kill the weeds.  Not only were the plants not happy, but then borers found them.  It wasn’t worth it.

 

Snow Leopard Melon

 

My surviving sunflowers

 

Onions and parsnip

 

Baby Lima beans (I forget the variety name at the moment

 

Blue Berries

 

Berry vines.  I’d actually given up on these, they’d basically not produced at all (which massively pissed me off since I’d spent a fair bit of time and money finding varieties and buying them), and I’d planned on pulling them up this spring and Roundup-ing the roots.  But then I broke my arm, and now they’re producing!  I’m probably still going to kill them, if I leave them they’ll take over the wildflower bed next to them, which would be fine if they were reliable producers, but they aren’t.

 

Bill Bean Tomato

 

Black Gypsy tomatoes starting to show color

 

Today’s tomato and cucumber harvest.

Garden Update

Posted July 17, 2017 By Ruth

I’ve now picked 4 ripe Black Plum tomatoes.  While this isn’t tons, it is several weeks early.  And there are more turning colors.  So far though neither of the other varieties I planted this year are ripening  yet.

The garden isn’t as well grown as last year, BUT, we may have finally passed the worst of the monsoons this year (crossing fingers!) so hopefully we’ll see some more regular growth now.

Snow Leopard Melons, although you can’t see it in the photo this is the only melon so far to have an actual baby melon growing.  Though the others are all blooming away, so it shouldn’t be long.

 

Potatoes and corn.  Despite the fact that the tallest corn stalk is barely a foot tall several of them are trying to produce ears!  I guess we’ll see what I get……

 

Sugar Baby Watermelon

 

Honey Dew melon

 

Melon Pear plants.  There’s a fair bit of baby fruit there, maybe I”ll get some this year!

 

Nutmeg Melons

Overall everything looks good.

One weird thing though…..the lettuce had bolted, and one day this past week, I noticed that the tops of several of the tallest lettuce plants had been clearly munched.  I figured a deer, but nothing else had been chewed on….then I looked closer, and realized the middle of the lettuce was flattened, as if something had plopped down into the middle of it.

So then I thought that maybe a bunny had finally noticed the tasty stuff over his head (these stock tanks are 2ft tall) and hopped into the bed to munch…..but there was no bunny poop!

I decided that since it had all bolted anyways it was time to pull it all up and reseed.  In the process of pulling it all up, I found an empty, but fairly new, mouse nest!  The grass used to make it was still pretty green.  Looking at the top picture, at the top of the bed, right to the right of the tall green spike, it was under there!  So now I’m wondering if the flattening was the result of someone making a meal out of a mouse…..but that doesn’t explain the munched tops either.  So a mystery it remains!