Gardening Archive

Odds and ends

Posted March 27, 2019 By Ruth

My work has gotten a bit complicated.  A full time coworker had to go out for a medical emergency and will be out for a span of months, how long exactly to be determined.  He has, so far, avoided major abdominal surgery, but only barely, and apparently the doctors haven’t ruled it out completely.  In the mean time he’s in the hospital on massive doses of antibiotics and IV nutrients and not allowed to take much of anything by mouth.  Why does this affect me?  Well, it turns out that I’m one of 3 people in the store (who’re not already working in that department) who have a clue as to how to do his job.  The other two people are department heads in other departments, which means that there’s limits to how much they can be pulled out of their departments long term.  Not that I can be yanked out of my department with no warning either, next week is Spring Black Friday (yay) which is the “traditional” start of our crazy season, so I still have to cover most of the hours I was originally scheduled for.  But every hour they can sneak me out of the Garden Dept, and every hour they can add onto the schedule, I’m now working in Receiving too.  In about two weeks the schedule should catch up with the new employee status and I’ll be in Receiving full time through the end of April at least, and likely for the summer.  And while I normally consider myself to be pretty flexible about switching tasks on no notice, for some reason my brain is not handling the switching back and forth this time, and I’m coming home at the end of each day very mentally fried.  Posting may be extra light for a while.

I got most of the seedlings out to the greenhouse on Sunday, now to I have to find energy to start the tomatoes.  I splurged on a temperature controller for the greenhouse this year.  $50, you set the “ideal” temp, and then you set how low it should allow the area to get before turning on the heater (Christmas lights in my case), and how high it should let it get before turning on the cooler (which will be computer case fans wired to blow out the vents as soon as I can get them ordered).  I’m very glad now that I did this, as my new hours make it harder to monitor the greenhouse temp properly.

I’m in the process of switching CPAP suppliers (from here on out referred to as DME), as the one I was originally assigned is struggling with the concept of sending out replacement parts and filters on schedule.  The pulmonary doc was NOT amused.  On my model of machine I’m supposed to change a filter every 30 days, and we’re now over 2 weeks past that and they’re still giving me a run around about getting me the filter in question.  Which is dumb as hell because I can go buy a 6 pack on Amazon for $10.  They’re trying to blame it on my insurance not getting back to them, but when I called my insurance (to see if I could speed things up), my insurance said that they don’t require or expect DMEs to request clearance to issue said parts, and the pulmonary doc agreed that the insurance shouldn’t be involved at this point, clearance was given when the cpap machine was issued, they should just be sending me a filter.  I may be buying a pack from Amazon anyway, just to have the spares, but really, the whole point of this process was so that I shouldn’t have to.  Plus replacement mask parts are more expensive.

I ran out to run a quick errand last night, just after sunset, and of course didn’t bring my camera with me.  I mean, it was way to late for hawks or really any of the birds I’m likely to want to photograph, even if there was enough light to do so.  So what do I see?  A big white owl perched on a telephone pole, lit up and glowing in the last trailing rays of sunlight.  There had been reports of a Snowy Owl in the immediate area earlier in the month, but its been at least two weeks since the last sighting.  *sigh*

Red Manzano Pepper plant

Posted March 24, 2019 By Ruth

Pictures of one of the new variety of peppers I’m growing this year.  Very different looking from the more common pepper varieties!

And my current crop of seedlings

Most of which will be going out to the greenhouse today.  Then I’ll be starting tomatoes.

Bluebirds! And snow, of course

Posted March 18, 2019 By Ruth

I don’t really consider seeing Bluebirds to be a sign of spring, they frequently hang out here all winter (as do Robins), but it still gives me a bit of a thrill to see them start investigating the nesting boxes.

As you can see, we got more snow.  If weather predictions hold it won’t stick around long, but still, everything is white again *sigh*

I’m hoping to get my little plastic greenhouse set up today, with an eye towards getting the pepper seedlings out into it this week.  I need to get the tomatoes started, and I can’t do that till the peppers are out of the way.

Garden planning

Posted January 11, 2019 By Ruth

Last year, knowing I had surgery coming, I bought most of my seeds way in advance, and I got a fair bit of the location planning done early.  This year I’m way behind, having only just ordered seeds.

There was one breed of hot peppers I’d wanted to try last year, but none of my regular sources carried them.  I was able to find them elsewhere, but was reluctant to pay yet another shipping charge, plus I realized I was already going to have a full garden.  This year I have ordered a few different varieties of Capsicum pubescens peppers to try.  Sometimes called Manzano or Rocoto peppers, they have black seeds, tend to be thicker walled, and are more cold tolerant than pretty much every other type of pepper.  I have five varieties arriving to try this year.

I’m also going to try more varieties of melon again this year.  There are several smaller, short season, varieties that keep catching my eye in the seed catalogs, so I’m going to try some new ones again this year.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to grow cucumbers this year or not, might come down to what I have for space.

Lots of tomatoes again though.

I’d been thinking on growing celery from the root of a store purchased bunch, but while scanning seed catalogs I discovered that there are pink/red celery varieties.  So now I’m going to grow celery from seeds, cause its pink!  (Have I mentioned seed catalogs are evil?!)

I also couldn’t resist the Mongolian Giant sunflower seeds.

In other news, I spent way to much on seeds this year…..

I also have a head start on a more permanent greenhouse.  My employer received several new fixtures in a 6’x6’x6′ wooden crate.  After several other employees asked what the plans were for the crate my employer decided to raffle it off (funds from the raffle went to the employee fun fund).  And I somehow won the thing.  I sealed it with deck sealer, since it isn’t made of pressure treated or other weather resistant wood.  Now I just have to cut out windows, buy clear corrugated roofing panels to cover it with, figure out how to move it to where in the yard I want it, cut a proper door (one whole side swings open, which is cool, but not great for heat retention), get it set up……probably not happening in time for this spring, but hopefully next year!

Despite the funky growing season that screwed with every single pepper plant I grew (even the jalapenos that I always grow didn’t do nearly as well as usual), my one surviving Datil produced a huge number of pods, and is by far the largest and healthiest of all of the pepper plants I grew.  Its trunk is as thick as several of my fingers put together, and while its not TALL, its huge in comparison to every other pepper in the garden this year.  The peppers are easily habanero hot, but Husband likes them.

However it is also, by far, the most temperature sensitive pepper I’ve grown.  I had to shade it from the sun!  Admittedly we had a hotter than normal summer, but “hotter than normal” for us barely hits “normal” for Florida.  And yet I lost two plants to the heat before I realized I needed to shade them.  Not one other pepper plant I’ve grown, this summer or previous, has had that problem.  And now that the fall temps are dropping, its wilting in the cold long before any other pepper plant.  We’ve not had a frost yet, though we had one night dip down to 40(F).  Every other pepper plant out there is still going strong.  And the Datil is showing what sure looks like frost damage!  I’ve got it covered in frost cloth in hopes of keeping it going long enough for the rest of the pods to ripen.

I’m debating digging it up and attempting to to over-winter it in a pot so as to give it a headstart for next year.  We’ll have to see how it goes I guess.

Peter Pepper

Posted October 6, 2018 By Ruth

Pictures below the fold, so that some poor person who’s viewing this at work doesn’t get in trouble…..

Read the remainder of this entry »

Peppers

Posted September 24, 2018 By Ruth

A bowl full of ripe peppers (thats a fully ripe Corbaci on top):

 

And my first Florida Datils:

Garden update

Posted September 21, 2018 By Ruth

Now that I’ve had my whine for the day…..

The garden is winding down.

Tomatoes are done, a few green ones left to ripen, but essentially done.  Which is to bad because about half the plants are trying to stage a comeback.  But the chances of the weather holding long enough for the new growth to produce is essentially nil.

The peppers took the hint give them by the cold snap and a fair number of green peppers are starting to show color.  Cross your fingers!

This is a Corbaci pepper.  If I could stretch it out flat it would measure a solid foot long.  They’re a sweet pepper, with only the barest tingle of heat right in the center.  And I say that as someone who doesn’t tolerate hot peppers, I grow them for Husband, not me!  These plants aren’t very big, but they’re all loaded down hard with peppers like this.  Husband and I both liked this one, I expect I’ll grow it next year.  I’ll have to remember to give them some support though.  One of the little locally owned hardware stores had some 2′ tall, fairly narrow, tomato cages for sale when I was in there a couple weeks ago, I might swing through and see if they still have them.  All of the other sweet peppers I planted this year are among the “very late to ripen” group.  So we’ll see if any of them turn out.

The giant cucumbers turned out to make stellar pickles.  That very firm texture translates to a very nice crisp pickle.  Husband is delighted.  So I ransacked the plant for the remaining cucumbers and did up another batch of pickles this afternoon.  Now I’ll have to decide if I actually want to grow them again.  If I do I’ll need to remember that they need a proper trellis.  They produce HUGE vines!

Garden update, and notes to self

Posted September 6, 2018 By Ruth

Thats one day’s harvest, over this past week.  Admittedly I’d not managed to get out to the garden in a couple days, but still.

Notes to self

Tomatoes.

I keep trying other varieties of tomatoes.  I need to just stop that and stick to my Black Plums and maybe the Black Icicles.    Nothing wrong with any of the other varieties I’ve tried but we keep going back to the Black Plums.

But if anyone’s looking for a good container tomato, you might try the Black Japanese Trifele Tomatoes.  1: potato leaf, very cool looking 2: they stayed much more compact than any of the other varieties so far 3: they also appear to be less affected by whatever blight or fungus or whatever it is that’s affecting the rest of the tomatoes this year.

The Bill Beans are a nice slicing tomato, but they’re so big, and take so long to ripen, that they tend to end up buggy.

Peppers.

Several of the new varieties I grew this year apparently need support.  Corbaci are falling over hard, as are the Shepherds Ramshorns.  Both paprikas are also falling hard.  The only thing keeping the cayenne’s reasonably upright is that they’re planted in one of the stock tanks.  All just from the weight of the peppers on the plants.  Meanwhile the Sugar Rush are having no issues despite the large number of peppers there.  If I grow any of these varieties next year I’ll need to remember to find a way to help support the plants.

Also, the Shepherds Ramshorns are barely producing, and the plants aren’t very big, that MIGHT be the fact that they’re behind the giant cucumber though.

Bishops Crown isn’t producing at all, though the plants look good otherwise.

Fish Peppers look ok.

Super Nova’s are iffy, plants don’t look bad, but they don’t look great, and there’s only a couple peppers there.

Datils and Peter Peppers both had a harder start, but look awesome now and have a ton of peppers on the plants.

Corbaci plants aren’t huge, but they’re covered in peppers.

The Hungarian Hot Wax peppers came back practically from dead, and now look awesome, now to see if the weather will hold on long enough for them to ripen.

Carrots suck this year, they’re all tiny.

Did I mention I was growing giant cucumbers?

Posted August 19, 2018 By Ruth

Last weekend I made dill pickle spears out of two giant cucumbers:

These two cucumbers made 6 pints of spears!

Then this week I picked these four cucumbers:

Maybe a quart of fridge pickles…..

I’ve been giving them away too, not to mention that I also grew my usual Mini White cucumbers, which I’ve also been giving away at least a few of, as well as eating.

I will probly stick to my usual Mini White cucumbers from here on out, but these are fun at least.

In other news, I made a batch of tomato sauce yesterday.  I realized that I never actually take a photo of the final sauce, and I ought to, since black tomatoes produce a much darker sauce that folks expect:

I love the flavor of these tomatoes though.