Gardening Archive

Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Posted June 19, 2015 By Ruth

Anyone tried this variety?  It caught my eye, because its rated for down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  Apparently you’re supposed to plant it by the end of the summer, it HAS to over-winter in an actual WINTER, and then you harvest in the spring??

I might have to try it.  I’ll have to cover it for the winter regardless, we regularly dip below 10 in the winter, but the concept is tempting!

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Pumpkins–the difference a week makes

Posted June 19, 2015 By Ruth

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Thats the same tire I featured in the last garden update.  There are multiple flowers, many of them female, blooming.  I might actually get more than one pumpkin this year!

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Garden note to self

Posted June 16, 2015 By Ruth

Cherokee Purple Tomatoes need WAY more horizontal space than the Black Plums.  Completely different cage structure needed if I decide to grow them next year.

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Garden update

Posted June 7, 2015 By Ruth

Well, first off, I finally got around to starting to gravel in the paths between the beds.  I accidently made them too narrow to mow when I was setting things up and they’ve been a pain to manage, so when Home Depot put their white marble chips gravel on sale over memorial weekend I took advantage and bought enough to do about half the paths.  I’d have bought more but I didn’t have the money at the time.  It looks so nice though that the higher price will be worth it, and it’s less than $1/bag difference between the marble and the next one down anyway when it’s all at full price.

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Once all the paths are done I’ll build a little wall all the way around the garden and fill that in with gravel too, ought to look awesome once its done.  Though I doubt I’ll get THAT part done this summer.  We’ll see.  I have other projects too…..

Thanks to the hot spring the lettuce is huge

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Strawberries are almost ripe

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Sugar Baby watermelons

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I also planted a variety of watermelon called Early Moon, but didn’t get pictures.

Broccoli

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Long Pie Pumpkins

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Zucchini (and a bumper crop of clover, ooops)

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Purple Cherokee tomatoes

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Jalapenos (yes, those are baby peppers already)

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Black Plum tomatoes, and yup, they’re producing already too

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Garlic

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In addition I also have Sugar Snap peas (though whether I’ll actually get any…..), Cucumbers (the Mini Whites again), two kinds of radishes (which I’ve already picked), cantalope, Charentis melons again, habaneros, Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, carrots (7 kinds), sunflowers, okra…….

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General update

Posted June 1, 2015 By Ruth

Our weather has been decidedly screwy.  After a record breakingly cold winter we were all looking forward to spring.  Instead we got summer with the rare “cold spring” day tossed in as a sop.  Though we’re not breaking the high temp records we’re coming close to them.  And with 90% humidity no one’s happy about it.  To top it off it’s been incredibly dry.  Normally we spend the month of May barely able to mow the yard (and often unable to, in part or in all), due to the shear wetness of the ground.  This year I’ve been having to water my garden.

I discovered that my ankles really are screwed up, but also that wrapping them for the day at work makes a huge difference in my ability to cope.  This is a relief because…..

I’ve been attempting to teach myself to spin.  No, not on a bicycle, I already know how to ride a bike.  Fiber, on a spinning wheel, to create yarn.  Thanks to the generosity of several ladies, both local and several states away, I have both a spindle and a spinning wheel to learn on, as well as a fair bit of pre-processed fiber to play around with during my learning process.  I picked up the process of spinning on the spindle quite quickly.  But the spinning wheel requires me to peddle to keep the wheel turning.  And with my painful ankles that wasn’t happening.  This past week though, after keeping my ankles wrapped for the entire work day for over a week, the pain has been much less, and even almost non-existent, depending on the day.  So I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do some proper practice on the spinning wheel this week.

Of course, my body isn’t happy unless I’m in SOME sort of pain, or so it seems some days.  Friday, while at work, I knelt down to pull forward some stock on one of the very bottom shelves.  Only to feel as if I’d knelt on a needle the instant my right knee hit the ground.  Standing back up showed no needle, or splinters, or anything else that might cause the feeling, and my skin was un-broken.  However the painful feeling in that spot in that knee persisted.  My knee didn’t swell up at all.  And it hasn’t affected my ability to walk, kneel, or lift.  So I’m hoping that all that happened was that I knelt at a weird angle and so something was strained.  My concern is that I partially tore something.  I guess time will tell.  I did file an accident report at work, just in case it does turn out to be something.  But I hate going through worker’s comp for stuff…..

Apollo is finally properly shedding.  I’ve come to the decision that he is just a delayed shedder.  It seems like many of the other Tibetan Mastiff owners I’ve talked to have half naked dogs by now.  But not Apollo!  Back in mid-March his leg fluff started coming loose, and by mid-April or so his legs were naked and his shoulders were starting to come loose.  And there it stopped.  Just this past week though I’ve finally been able to get actual amounts of fur from his ruff and body.  And that’s been the pattern for him for previous years too.  So I guess this is his normal.  I’m saving the shed fluff again, this time in hopes of being able to spin it myself this year.  See above paragraph about learning to spin!

My seedlings are all in the garden.  Though of course mother nature couldn’t let us escape without a threatened late frost, just because.  Most everything seems to be growing fine despite that though.  The heat is good for somethings I guess!  Unfortunately its not good for the early “sow in the garden before last frost” crops though.  Half my radishes never formed bulbs, and three of them attempted to go to seed when I left them in the ground in hopes that the bulbs would form.  Despite planting lettuce seeds over a span of 3 weeks in hopes of having staggered harvests everything has shot up at once, and I’m picking the early maturing ones as fast as I can in hopes of being able to eat them before they go to seed.  I may go ahead and let some of them go though, since I’ve already harvested more than we’ll eat in the next week.  My Sugar Snap peas are barely a foot high, and have no buds.

Speaking of the garden, I did end up spending another $12 for additional dirt/compost to fill in the beds.

The crocosmia lilies my aunt sent me last year somehow survived our insane winter and have sprouted.  I’m thrilled as they were very pretty last year.  I had to send me some more when she thinned out her patch a couple weeks ago, and have planted them in more spots around the property.  I don’t care that they’ll spread out and fill in.  Infact, I want them to.  I have several corners that are frustrating to mow or otherwise keep trimmed, and I’ve been filling them with Daylilies, and mints, and other such in an attempt to not have to mow them as often, so the crocosmia lilies will fit right in!

The winter, and the dry spring, has definitely screwed with my flowers in general though.  Crocus bloomed on schedule, but the daffodils and tulips ran a solid month late.  And now, though it looks like all my iris sprouted, only half have produced buds.  And of those buds, the stalks are all only about half the height of normal, and many of the buds themselves are flat, as if empty.  I’ve been trying to keep them watered, but they’re in an awkward spot.  And it looks like the winter killed most of the butterfly bushes too.  Only one is showing green, and that only from new shoots from the roots.  The top is completely dead.  

We do appear to have a Bluebird pair nesting in one of the boxes this year.  I’m delighted to see them.  Since the House Sparrows killed the first pair a couple years ago we’ve only seen Bluebirds in passing.  I’ve been putting out mealworms for them, so hopefully they’ll stick around and tell off the Sparrows!

Speaking of birds…..as is usual I put out the hummingbird feeders when the ebird.org reports showed them as having been seen in northern PA.  And was rewarded as usual with hummingbird sightings myself within the next couple weeks.  Now, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, the only kind we normally get here, are aggressive, territorial, little snots.  Its not unusual for one bird (usually a male) to claim a feeder as HIS, and attempt to keep all other hummers away from it.  This only kinda works, since while he’s driving off one bird another is sneaking a sip.  And like many folks I put out multiple feeders around the property in order to give the rest of the locals a chance for a longer drink.  But the fights that result tend to be very short overall.  This year however a pair of males decided they had to fight to the death over feeder rights (and likely girl rights).  Well, I don’t actually know that it was “to the death” but thats sure what it looked like.  For three days straight, every time I looked out the window, this pair was fighting.  And although I can’t 100% swear it was the same two birds the entire time, it sure looked like it.  They were so engrossed in their fight that I was able to get within feet of the feeders to snap pictures.

Their pattern went like this-

First both would come in for a drink at the same time, eyeing each other carefully over the feeder

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And then, to some unknown signal it would start!

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After a minute or so of fighting one or both would decide it was time for a breather and a drink, but woe betide the one who decided so when they other wasn’t ready

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And round and round they went, utilizing both feeders.  Every minute or two stopping for a drink and a breather before resuming their fight

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I must say it was fascinating to watch!

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Garden….

Posted May 5, 2015 By Ruth

Our “average last frost” date is May 15, with a “frost free date” closer to the end of May.  I usually plant shortly after May 15 and keep the frost protection handy in case of a late frost (which does happen).

According to Weather Underground, this year, our last frost to date was April 28th (we might have had one on the 29th, temps apparently dropped to 33, which is close enough).  And thanks to the tires that make up most of my garden beds the dirt in them is warmer than the ground by quite a bit.

This is our 10-day forecast as of this morning:

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I’ve got one more load of dirt/compost coming to fill the new tires/beds.  Which will hopefully be here Thursday.  Once its in I’m going to give in and plant everything thats ready to go.  I’ll keep the frost protection handy, but I really don’t expect to need it at this point……

Updates

Posted April 6, 2015 By Ruth

We had a couple of absolutely lovely 60+ degree days last week.  I can finally access the garden again, and the snow in the yard is mostly gone except from a couple really shady spots.

Course, that rapid melt means that every single waterway has burst over its banks with no prior warning.  In many cases by a good 20 feet.  And of course the ground in our yard went from frozen solid to swamp in the same period.  

When I could finally access the garden again I was surprised to see quite a bit of green already.  It looks like the combination of insulating snow and black tires kept the garden warm enough that many of the annual flowers I planted last year (for color) survived the winter (the coldest one the area has ever had) and were getting ready to bloom!  Course, this means that every single weed survived too…..

Current 10 day forecast says we’re not supposed to dip below the freezing mark at all during that time period.  Though we’re going to be getting a fair bit of rain instead.  We don’t need more water at the moment, really.  The downside to that is that every single fruit tree in the region is about to start budding.  If we get a solid frost after this (which is entirely possible since normal last frost isn’t for another month at least for most of the area) its going to play havoc on the orchards.

I’m going to try growing broccoli again.  I’ve got it started in pots inside with an eye towards potentially planting it under row covers in a couple weeks.  Along with the Sugar Snap peas, radishes and some lettuce.  The tomatoes and most of the peppers are out in the greenhouse.

I found a local farm who’ll deliver a pickup load of well aged cow manure for cheap, course, the ground’s so wet she can’t drive the pickup right to the garden like I’d hoped to be able to do.  So we’ll be ferrying the lovely black dirt with hand-carts and the lawn tractor (if the lawn tractor doesn’t bog down in the mud anyway).  But it should do good things for my garden, so its worth it.

Arty’s enjoying the warmer temps, while Apollo is mourning the missing snow.  Arty has now completed 2 of the 3 required Qualifying runs to earn him his Barn Hunt Novice title.  Hopefully he’ll get that last Q later this month at a local trial.  We’ll be running Apollo for his Instinct title at the same trial, so wish me luck!

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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