Gardening Archive

General updates

Posted October 27, 2016 By Ruth

I may be, finally, done with the whole sinus infection thing for the season.  Cross your fingers for me!

Work…..well, the Department Supervisor I was previously griping about has moved along.  Which is cool.  But it meant they had to find a new one.  Three people within the company applied, two from my store and a 3rd from another nearby store.  1-guy with previous department head experience, ran the receiving dept like a champ, doesn’t take shit, GETS THINGS DONE, but also can be abrasive to deal with as a fellow employee (though every customer interaction I’ve seen him deal with he was always polite).  2-woman currently working in the paint department, has previously worked in the garden department, zero department head experience, occasionally a bit of a flake.  3-current MET team member from a nearby store (not going to try to explain that, but it means he hasn’t actually worked in an actual store department in 8 or 9 years but technically has some department head “privileges”), previous garden department experience from before he joined MET, no actual department head experience.  My vote was candidate 1.  They hired candidate 3.  On first impression he seems like a nice enough guy……and if he makes it TO next summer, much less THROUGH next summer, I’ll be very surprised.  Yay.

In addition, one of the full time employees in the department is having some personal issues that have devolved into legal issues, and I knew from personal conversation with her that it was coming to a head this week and that management had approved her taking the week off on short notice.  I don’t have a problem with that and I’m crossing my fingers for luck and doing my best to offer friend support during the whole mess.  However as a department employee I’d expect management to have done SOMETHING to inform the department (at bare minimum our new department head) that we’re going to be short a person all week.  They don’t have to explain anything, “personal emergency” covers it just fine.  I had forgotten that her whole mess was this week, till Monday afternoon at work when I couldn’t find her, and the dept head didn’t know if she’d come in, and I paged her, and got a call back from management telling me that “she’s out sick”.  I asked said manager if she’d let the dept know we were short a person?  “Well no, but she was sick…..”(no she wasn’t, but really? can’t you at least take the 30 seconds to call the dept and let us know we’re going to be short a person?? Arg.  I managed to not actually SAY that…..).  This particular assistant manager is new to this store (as of this summer) but this sort of thing is standard to most of the managers in this store.  Only one is good about letting the department know that she just took a call out call.

Yesterday at work I was having a bit of day myself.  On top of being short a body in the department I managed to whack my head on a ladder about an hour into my shift.  I’m fine, and knew I was fine then, but went in search of an ice pack in hopes of stemming the goose bump.  The Store Manager caught me with it and freaked out cause I’d hit my head at work.  I managed to convince her I was fine, but promised to not drive the forklifts for the day (not that I’d planned to, having the forks in the air and discovering I was dizzy after all would have been a bad thing).  On an interesting note, the fact that I’d bumped my head and therefor might not be 100% managed to circulate through-out every member of management and dept head in the store within the hour.  Unlike when someone calls out…..

Have I mentioned that working retail sucks?

We finally got cold enough that the garden is done except for the broccoli that I tried to plant in the spring and just bolted instead due to the heat.  I’m leaving it alone for the moment, I want to see how tall it gets.  I actually got potatoes, I wasn’t sure I would since the plants almost all blighted fairly early in the season.  Course, most of them are tiny, and the ones that aren’t are either buggy or sprouting already…..I need to finish digging them up, and then I might just replant the sprouting ones to see what happens.

I found a hair dye that advertises to dye brunette hair purple (or blue depending on which box you buy) without needing to bleach first.  Its supposed to be a more subtle color, of course, than if you bleach first, but I’ve always  kinda wanted to dye my hair blue or purple……a check of the dress code at work shows that it doesn’t actually mention hair color…..I might have to see if I can get them to freak at me…….

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General update

Posted October 12, 2016 By Ruth

I’ve spent the last few weeks dealing with sinus infections.  The first one wasn’t bad, I never even had to call out of work, and the antibiotic seemed to the job right quick.  Except I was constantly stuffy.  Which I didn’t immediately worry about, I do have allergies, then last week, wednesday, I suddenly had a bad sore throat.  Back to the doctor, on Thursday, by which time I had massive post nasal drip, sinus pain, and an elevated temperature not quite high enough to call a fever.  I’ve been calling out of work since.  Well, Monday I tried to go into work, I didn’t even make it through two hours before giving up.  Trying again today, wish me luck.

Monday night they were predicting a full frost, and infact we had freeze warnings for us and surrounding counties, so after a nap (after coming home from my aborted attempt to work) I went out and picked the large majority of hot peppers.

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There was just one or two.  That’s 99% of the remaining Jalapenos, and probably 90% each of the Habaneros and the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers.  I only picked the ripest of the Buena Mulatas though.  I had to then take one more of the garden before the frost hit:

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And one to document one more time the giant heights the Chocolate Habanero plants hit:

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I was also amused to discover that the watermelon plants were trying to revive themselves and even had a couple fist sized fruit on them.  I debated pulling out the frost blankets and trying to save them, but I doubt we REALLY have enough time left in the season to get those fruit grown and ripe, so I didn’t bother.

And we did indeed get a solid frost:

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At 8am, when that picture was taken, it hadn’t even burned off in the sunny spots.  The tomatoes and the watermelon did indeed not survive it.  However the hot peppers are all still going strong.  I’ve found that for what’s supposed to be a hot climate plant hot peppers in general have an incredible frost resistance.

I did find two more hibiscus plants (which I forgot to take a picture of, my excuse is I’ve been sick), both with flowers that are solid dark pink.  I planted them right with the planting of two of the bi-color hibiscus I planted previously.  The solid pink ought to set off the bi-color nicely.

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General update

Posted September 26, 2016 By Ruth

We came within a couple degrees of a frost over the weekend, but got lucky, so the garden still grows.

Since I’ve already got 15 quarts of tomato sauce stored away I decided to smoke half the tomatoes to go into the next batch, I figure if we hate it we’ll still have plenty left of the normal kind.  I’ve basically stopped picking tomatoes, there’s going to be a million volunteer plants next year, but I managed to totally overwhelm myself with tomatoes this year…..

Hot peppers are still going strong.  The Buena Mulatas would make a very pretty decorative landscaping plant if anyone was so inclined.

I picked a total of 5 pumpkins this year.  I haven’t had a chance to process any of them yet, but a couple are pretty big.

My supervisor at work is on her way out, I forget when she said her last day is, but its only a couple weeks.  Now the wait to see who they put in her place.  I know who I’d like to see in the position, but only time will tell.

Arty has managed to get into something he’s allergic too, he’s got a nasty raw itchy spot on his belly.  I noticed a week or so ago that he was itchy, and gave him a bath.  Extra itchy isn’t unusual for him this time of year, he goes through a shed period now, but I was keeping an eye on him just in case.  The bath seemed to help a little, but not as much as I’d hoped.  Then yesterday he was rolling in something (dammit dog, do you want another bath!!) when I noticed the raw spot on his belly.  So we’re off to the vets in a bit to make sure its not bacterial or something.

Otherwise there’s not much going on here right now, normal fall-winter prep stuff.  We’ve managed to not have to kick on the furnace yet, but I’m not sure that’s going to last much longer.

Jalapenos

Posted September 7, 2016 By Ruth

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That’s just about two pounds worth.  First batch of jalapeno pickles made last night.  The rest went into the freezer to make jelly out of later.

Garden Update

Posted September 3, 2016 By Ruth

I checked the paprika peppers, and then pulled up all the plants. Every single pepper was chewed on.  Despite repeated applications of caterpillar killer.  Maybe it wasn’t caterpillars.  It sure looked like ‘pillar damage, but I also never actually found one on the plants.  And whatever it was sure wasn’t bothered by the Bt.  I’ve never had such insect damage on my peppers.  Sure, last year I ended up tossing about half the peppers from the garden for bug damage.  But I also got to keep half that were fine.  This year I’ve tossed a couple habaneros, a few Buena Mulatas, and one or two Hungarian Hot Wax.  And already picked, to keep, more than twice what I’ve tossed.  And I’ve yet to find a damaged jalapeno at all.  But I’ve only picked TWO undamaged paprikas, and tossed many many many more than that.  Maybe they were just that attracted to the paprika?  No clue…..

I pulled up the cantaloupe vines as mentioned last time.  They were mostly dead anyway, which is odd cause half of them were planted way later than the first ones (deliberately).  I’m blaming the incredible hot summer.

I didn’t completely pull up the Blue Berries tomatoes.  But I did massively hack them back.  The shear amount of dropped fruit I found under them is huge.  I was indeed missing that many ripe fruit.

I also trimmed back the White Cherries, and some of the outlayer branches of the Black Plums.  It is now September, which means that we could get hit with a frost at any time now (and Mother Nature is suddenly remembering what weather is supposed to be like here), so I’d rather they put their energy into ripening the fruit already there.  Though the weather next week is supposed to get hot again our low last night was 48f, so fall is coming!

I pulled up all the volunteer vines.  I didn’t bother to save the squash from them, I thought about it, but I have a ton of zucchini AND the pumpkin vines from this year are also producing well, so I just don’t need them.

I’m keeping a close eye on the Melon Pear.  I’d really like to get some fruit from it, but so far none of it has even started to change color.

 

Garden update

Posted August 29, 2016 By Ruth

No pictures this time, sorry.

I cooked down another 6 ziplocks of tomatoes yesterday.  1 for ketchup and 5 for sauce.  There’s space in that freezer again!  But I’m sure I’ll be filling it back up with tomatoes in short order.

I’m considering pulling up the cantaloupe vines.  I’ve picked 3 fruit.  Lost the one to the coyote.  And tossed 4 more because the underside was rotten when I picked them.  I’m assuming its a heat issue as I don’t normally have problems with this variety.

I picked two more watermelons, and there’s another 4 or 5 growing.

I actually picked TWO, non-buggy, paprika peppers!  I’m not sure they were 100% ripe, but I don’t care.  They’re in the freezer pending dehydration, hoping I’ll get a few more……

I’ve got about half a ziplock of hot peppers in the freezer for either dehydration or jelly.  A mix of Buena Mulatas and Hungarian Hot Wax.  I’ve picked two Habaneros and both were buggy *sigh*.  The Jalapenos look like the first of them will be along shortly.

Still waiting on the Melon Pear fruit to change color.

The tomato avalanche is still in force.  I’m considering pulling up the Blue Berries.  They’re producing well, and thats kinda the problem.  They are, infact, hugely prolific.  And the fruit is so tiny, and the vines so thick, that picking them all has turned into a huge issue.  I KNOW I’m missing tons of them.  And its not like I NEED those tomatoes…….

Garden update

Posted August 19, 2016 By Ruth

Buena Mulata peppers:

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They started as these spindly little plants that could barely hold themselves up and turned into this!  And covered in peppers too.  For anyone else growing these my husband says that if they’re less than fully ripe they taste very “green” (and not in a good way), but as long as they’re fully ripe they’re both very hot and very tasty.

The Chocolate Habaneros are happy this year too:

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Usually these plants get barely a foot high for me (if that tall, often they’re less than a foot), but this year, they’re huge, the tallest are pushing two feet!  I assume thanks to the heat, since hot peppers are considered a hot climate plant.  They’re covered in very large habaneros too.

Some more pictures of the Blue Berries tomatoes:

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Their final color is determined by how much sunlight they get, so that red one is mostly shaded while the darker ones in the bottom photo are mostly in the sun.  What I find amusing is that a not insignificant number of them are coming in yellow and blue instead of red and blue:

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The farm that produces this particular hybrid also has a Golden Berries tomato, and clearly they’re related!

I brought some of the Black Plum tomatoes into work with me to share with a couple co-workers.  I might have converted them.  One asked me to tell him when I’m starting my seedlings in the spring, he’ll pay me the same fee he pays to buy his usual plants at the store.  The other asked me where I get my seeds from.

The Black Plums are still our favorite of all the tomatoes.  As cool as the White Cherrys and the Blue Berries are I don’t know that I’ll bother to grow them again next year.  The Black Icicles I might though.  The flavor is similar to the Black Plums, though higher acid, and as a paste tomato they’ll help thicken the tomato sauce up with less simmering.

BTW, I’ve weighed a few of the gallon ziplocks and so far they’re all coming in at over 4lbs each.  I’ve lost track of how many are in the freezer.  Tomatoes aren’t halfway done yet.  I’ve cooked up 4.5 ziplocks worth of tomatoes so far…..

I picked three watermelons last weekend, and took one, and a bunch of mixed tomatoes, over to my north side neighbor (the one who’s husband died), since I remembered that she liked watermelon.  She was delighted, and came over Wednesday to admire my garden and tell me that the watermelon was one of the better ones she’s ever had (there’s a reason I grow them!).

I picked another cantaloupe Wednesday, and will hopefully be picking two more today (if not I’ll have to see if I can chicken wire those tires for the night).

I treated all the peppers for caterpillars again.  Though the worst by far is the paprika peppers.  I’m not actually sure I’m getting any paprikas this year, every time I check the plants I end up pitching more peppers for ‘pillar damage!

Last weekend I spooked an itsy bitsy (barely big enough to be out of the nest) bunny out from under the cantaloupe vines (sigh).  Gosh they’re adorable at that stage.  Especially when they’re so spooked that they trip themselves and literally end up tumbling ass over ears in their panic.  I so wished I could have caught it on video.  Then I went back inside and got my bottle of repellent and re-treated the entire garden…..

One of my hibiscus is blooming.

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This is the one next to the rain barrels, and so it gets more water than my other ones.  The others do have buds on them though, so they’ll be along eventually!

Sunflowers are also going strong:

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I am, overall, quite happy with my garden this year!
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All good

Posted August 17, 2016 By Ruth

We made it through the storms yesterday with no major damage here.  There’s a Facebook photo circulating of what looks like a funnel cloud on the west end of the lake I live near, and news reports of a funnel cloud further north of that, but no reports of actual tornado touch down that I can find.

Yesterday, since I made it home from work before the storms hit I ran out to the garden and snatched as many of the ripe tomatoes as I could before the storms hit.  In the 10 minutes or so I was out there the sky went from blue and sunny with some pretty white clouds, to dark and nasty with black clouds.  So I gave up and went back in.  I still picked another 3 gallon ziplocks worth of tomatoes though before giving up:

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I was worried the winds would knock over the tomatoes (the storm Saturday knocked a couple over though they were salvageable with only minor damage).  A check this morning and the garden doesn’t look seriously worse for wear, though I’ll need to do some new tying down of cages as some are leaning hard.

At one point the water was coming down so hard and heavy that the water shooting out the downspouts was shooting OVER the rain barrels (which were over-flowing anyway, guess I need to redo those overflow pipes so at least that water will be directed where I want better in heavy rain like this).

Today looks to be a very nice day, weather wise, so hopefully I can catch up on some of the yard and garden work I’ve been putting off!

Harvest basket

Posted August 13, 2016 By Ruth

One of the downsides to this year’s bountiful garden is my ability to harvest it easily.  I’ve generally used one of the kitchen strainer baskets to hold stuff as I wander around the garden picking.  It was handy for a few reasons, including the ability to plop it into the sink to rinse everything.  Previous years this has generally worked fine for most of the garden.

This year?  Not so much.

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Yesterday I picked two strainer fulls of tomatoes and left more on the vines that I could have picked but would be ok for another couple days.

So earlier this week I went looking at various options and ideas for harvesting baskets.  Found lots of:

Expensive.

Really big gaps that my little tomatoes would fall out of.

Awkward to use.

Tiny.

Expensive.

Ran across this one, which struck me as really cool, but gosh, do I really have to spend $50?  I’m sure it’s worth it, but money…….

The more I looked at that last one the more I thought I could build something comparable.  I’d have to go buy some cedar board, but I already have 1/2″ hardware cloth left over from another project……

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Bonus: mine has feet to hold the contents out of the dirt!

The mesh and staples used to hold it on will probably eventually deteriorate, but the wood is cedar and the screws are exterior grade, so at whatever point the mesh dies I can reuse the frame.

Of course, it won’t fit in the sink, but I can rinse stuff off with the hose if need be and not worry about it!

It holds just, you know, one or two tomatoes…..

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Interior dimensions are approx 5.5″ deep, 8″ wide, 16.6″ long

Garden update

Posted August 3, 2016 By Ruth

I finally got a cantaloupe for myself today.  No pictures, I ate it already.

I’m still waiting for the Sugar Baby watermelons to ripen, they’re huge, but apparently not ripe yet since the tendril at each hasn’t even started to die back yet.

For anyone else trying to figure out when Golden Crispy Melons are ripe, part of the answer is that once the skin starts cracking PICK THEM NOW BEFORE THE INSECTS FIND THEM.  I can also confirm that they don’t slip off the vines like cantaloupe.  Other than that I can’t help you. Maybe I’ll do better next year……

Once the real tomato rush hits I’m going to be overwhelmed.  There are SO MANY tomatoes on all those HUGE plants this year.  Wow.  And unlike last year, this year my little home-made 3′ tall cages are NOT cutting it.  The Black Icicles are pushing 8ft tall, and everything else is taller than my eye-level.  Well, the ones that haven’t fallen over from lack of support are anyway.  You can’t even SEE the cages anymore.

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Since most of the tomatoes are going for sauce (or maybe ketchup if I have enough and time to play) anyway I’m going to try just stuffing them into gallon ziplocks and freezing them till I have time to actually make something out of them.  Its supposed to work fine with fruit for jelly, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t for tomatoes for sauce.

They do look pretty all together in the bowl though:

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Not sure if its the heat or what, but I’m also having a horrid time with blossom end rot this year too.  I’ve already added calcium to the tires, both when planting the plants and again a few weeks ago.  I don’t normally have to pitch more than a couple tomatoes for BER, but this year I’ve already pitched several Icicle tomatoes and a bunch of the Black Plums.  Rapid growth is supposed to be one of the triggers, so thats what I’m blaming it on.  Cause yah, we’ve had some rapid growth this year!

I had to treat all the pepper plants for caterpillars this week.  They’d found my paprika peppers (which looked AWESOME till I looked closer), and I ended up picking and pitching more than half the peppers due to the damage.  Hopefully I caught it in time to save at least some of them.

Ripening Hungarian Hot Wax peppers:

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I’ve got two more baseball bats er, zucchini out there to pick and process, and god knows when I’m going to have time to do that.  Maybe tomorrow.

Melon Pear fruit:

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Size wise they’re a bit bigger and fatter than the biggest grapes I’ve seen, but not by much.

Some flower pictures, just cause:

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