Monday, December 12, 2011

Hi

No this is not a dead blog.  I have not had much going on gardeningwise, been busy but nothing really worth writing about.  I haven't even had time to read one of the many books i have been wanting to spend time with.  --Or even to crochet.

One thing i could mention is that i have started getting my seed catalogs in the mail. Pinetree Garden Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds and One Green World so far.  I haven't had much time to page through those yet either!

So that is it, i'm not planning to quit writing, its just on hold for now.  God bless and if i'm not back again before the month is out, have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Snow and yarn!

We got some snow last night. I mean, nothing accumulated...but i saw spits of flakes falling from the sky so i'm officially calling it the first 'snow' of the season. Not quite the first "snowfall" but the first sighting of flakes is my criteria. This weekend we may have actual snowfall, a couple inches possible over Saturday night.  Yeah, i'm excited. Gardening season is over so the snow isn't getting in my way.... spring snow is what i don't like, lol

So,  what will i be doing this winter? Well, i forgot to mention this in my last post....but this is what hubby found for me a couple weeks ago


Yes, its all yarn!  We have a little shed off to the side at the town Transfer Station (town dump) where people can put what they don't want but isn't trash. Hubby happened to be there at just the right time to find me this huge stash. We assume the original owner must have passed on and her family does not have a fiber hobbyist.  There was some unfinished work in there in knit, so i assume she was mainly a knitter.  About a month before this my hubby brought home a ton of knitting books for me. We wondered if its from the same family.
I sorted it all out the next day.  Lots of acrylic, some wool, cotton, orlon etc. Plenty of Red Heart, some Bernat a little Patton's, a couple Caron and a large amount of unknown brands and labelless skeins. There were a number of bags of many skeins of all one color. There are also a bunch of variegated yarns in bright and earthy colors.
Well i don't have enough totes to hold it all, so i had to use new trash bags-- not the best method i'm told.  But it was all in plastic when i got it anyway. I counted 9 bags of yarn when i was done.
So i guess we know what i'll be doing this winter!
My first project is a granny square blanket. I'm using the variegated yarns to make the squares and i'll attach them with a dark colored yarn when i'm done. I have about 12 done so far.

I'm very grateful for all this yarn. Its easily $300.00 worth or more. Hubby says i'm not allowed to buy any yarn until its all gone.  I agree!


We are now officially under a winter storm watch for Saturday night into Sunday. Six to 8 inches possible.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slacking!

There have been things going on,  but being busy with other things makes the fun time i spent writing take a backseat.

A quick grape gripe:

My Reliance grapes did fantastic this year. i allowed about 3 bunches to grow and they were looking great as they ripened.  Around Aug 28, when hurricane Irene was coming into my area,  they were just a hair away from perfect ripeness.  Around Aug 30th,  when i ventured out to pick them,  they were gone.  Completely gone.
I suspected squirrels. Or birds....  Anyway,  so all i got out of  Reliance was the few taster grapes that were yummy.


I suppose i should have expected to be raided, but i didn't expect 3 bunches to attract any attention...  now i know!

Marechal Foch also had 3 bunches that ripened. Nothing stole those. They were also delicious and i was able to pick a few at a time as i puttered around the yard. Now the rest of what is left are overripe and the wasps have found them.



Now i know i have 2 varieties of grapes that are delicious and i'll expect to defend them from raids next year.

First frost:

Our first frost was Oct 5 this year. Then a mild day and then another heavy one on the 7th.  Its really too bad,  we have had such mild weather since then,  the tomatoes would probably still be growing.  I would have tried covering them but the temps were expected to be so severe, covering would have only added a few degrees of protection- and would have come short.


I picked a nice basket of apples from the tree, plan is to make pie or apple sauce with them.  They aren't all wormy, but some are and the skins are speckled with something originating from bugs.  I stopped my spraying routine too early not knowing when the fruit would be ripening.  I probably could have done 2-3 more doses.



I also harvested my Oaxacan and Hopi Blue corn.  I peeled back the husks and saw beautifully colored kernels of green, blue, purple and speckled yellow.  I set it out on the porch of the screenhouse to dry.  By the next afternoon, the squirrels had found and danced off with the lot.  About 20 ears.....  oh well. *sigh*
I decided earlier this year that i won't be growing corn next year. It never produces much and something always happens to it anyway.




Oh, what else?

Well i got a pretty good harvest from the early butternut squash, despite the raging plague of squash bugs. The squash is smallish, but just the right size for a 4 person side veggie.

Did i mention the potatoes?

I dug up the rest the other day. I didn't really get much, but its ok.  They are smallish, maybe i'll go for a bigger variety next year.



Its almost time to dig up the Jerusalem artichokes.  The plants are huge and they flowered nicely this fall.  I should get a decent crop.

I'm hoping next year is more weed free.  The weeds really got away from me this summer. Much of my garden was wasted because of it.
I think gardening with my little one will be possible next summer.  While i was out pulling up the tomato cages, she stayed with me and didn't wander off too much.  She'll be 3 this winter and a few more months of maturity on her will help her be a better listener- i hope.  I'm also hoping she will be cooperative enough to allow me time to preserve some things.


Well the weather is definitely cooling off, its been in the 50-60 range for the last week.  We did have warmer days until then, it was a fairly mild stretch going for a while.  The week ahead forecast is calling for a little snow late Thursday night, no accumulation expected-- but it will be nice to see snow again.

Well, this entry took about a week to cobble together a little at a time.  I think i got everything covered for now!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wind, rain and ripening grapes

We got what was leftover from hurricane Irene. Lots of wind, plenty of rain.  We didn't lose power but many all around us did.

While we were outside last night assessing any damages (though it was still very windy until late last night) we discovered that my grapes are ripening!


I think this is Reliance seedless
and the evermentioned Marechal Foch
We tasted the red ones and they are yummy if not totally ready. Hubby was impressed.


Stanley got knocked about a bit,  we found him leaning alarmingly to one side.  We propped him up with the potted plants until i have time to drive a stake and tie him back up.

The wind wasn't too hard on much of the corn, the apple tree is still full of fruit. It looked like the wind was going to flatten the jerusalem artichokes, but they held up fine.

Beautiful day out today



Friday, August 12, 2011

Good Tomatoes

Got some Sweet Chelsea tomatoes this morning. Just 2 so far,  the little one ate one.  They had no BER,  so it must be that German Orange Strawberry is prone to it.   That is disappointing.



I'm seriously considering plowing under a bunch of plots.   The cucumbers never recovered, the summer squash were a disaster,  weeds are everywhere.  The garden is a waste right now.  I just couldn't do anything in there this year.  My youngest won't take naps anymore so i can't get a thing done out there.  Its frustrating.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kefir -water type- and bits of other things

Got my water kefir grains today



I'm hearing the tree cicadas now

Haven't harvested anything from the garden since the green beans.  Squash bugs are doing bad things to my summer squash.

The area where the elderberries are is beginning to get shady during the day-  which is why i put the partial shade tolerant elderberries there.

I sprayed the apple tree again last Saturday if i remember right.  My parents took the kids for me for the whole day so i was able to get that done.  I've been spraying roughly every 2 weeks and it seems to be working out well.

Blossom End Rot

Well all those lovely German Orange Strawberry tomatoes all had BER.  It stinks. Oh well.  Maybe its the calcium in the soil,  maybe it was the mini drought followed by lots of rain,  maybe this variety is prone to it. 

Better luck next time- i hope!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

'Maters

Looks like German Orange Strawberry is leading the ripening race





Blueberries are really coming on,  they are too yummy to take pics though!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Apple tree

She is doing so well this year! Beautiful sylph-like thing. Possibly a bushel of fruit i guess.  I have kept up the spraying of Bonide (just done again today) and have plans to keep off the watersprouts now hat i have seen the full cycle of things!  It is very nice to have a good apple tree.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Planning for next year already

I'm having some disappointments in the garden this year, so while they are fresh in my mind i'm making notes and planning for next year.  I'm already finalizing 2012 in my GrowVeg program.
What i'm changing the most is reducing the number of things i am growing. I'm going very spare (for me):

Winter squash, 2 types
Summer squash
Tomatoes, maybe 5 types
Early potatoes
Maincrop potatoes
Broccoli, 2 or 3 varieties
Kale, 3 types
assorted herbs
Job's Tears (gotta do something fun)
Bush beans
 Onions
and
Cucumbers

I'm jettisoning kohlrabi as i mentioned before (its like having broccoli that needs to be peeled- no fun) and i'm going to give up on cabbage.  I love cabbage, but its still cheap and mine just ends up buggy.  The snails and slugs always bore into them leaving slime and frass.  Then the earwigs come in behind them and throw a party.  I simply cannot bring myself to eat something that earwigs have been dining on and pooping in for 3 months. Disgusting little creatures.

I'm going all out with tomatoes,  giving them one entire row. Same with the bush beans. I'm liking the potatoes this year even though i don't eat them and i planted them late- they are getting a full row.  I forgot all about my kale this year (doh!) So they will get about half a row.  Cucumbers will round out the kale row.

Winter squash will likely be Early Butternut- my favorite type from the grocery.  I have been wanting to grow Delicata for a few years but never bought the seed for some reason.  I intend to try it out next year along with the butternut.

Broccoli will get the better part of a row to itself, the rest of that space will be the usual culinary herbs.

I'll try petunias with the potatoes, nasturtiums with the cukes, basil with the tomatoes and sage with the broccoli and kale... marigolds sprinkled throughout.


I'm hoping my berry plants from Raintree will come in soon,  the money is still in my account so i know they haven't shipped anything yet.  Their website does not seem to state when the fall shipments are begun,  i know it will likely be mid August at the soonest,  but being the impatient person i am.......

So that is the plan for 2012.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Potatoes and green beans

Ahhh,  the first green beans of summer!
Its hard to believe that another year is going by.

Got a bunch of potatoes

One lunker
And a bunch of tinkers

I'm told they are delicious.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yay for rain!

We got some rain. Not sure how much, possibly a half inch? Its been cloudy today too, so none of it is really evaporating.  Possibility of more tonight, i hope so!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Relief & more kefir.

Finally cooler weather has returned!  Possibly some rain coming tonight! Its nice to not have to run the air conditioners all day and night.  We can't wait to see the power bill next month.

Oh i bought some water kefir off eBay last night. It should be coming in the next few days.  Only cost about $5 because i had some more eBay bucks on my own account. Water kefir is similar to milk keifer but they are not interchangeable. Water kefir makes a ginger beer type drink that is slightly sweet (of course you have to add the ginger root), most of the sugars (about 95-98%) is fermented away leaving a slightly alcoholic, fizzy beverage that has many health benefits.  FMI- Dom's Kefir Page .

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pictures July 23, 2011

I have some pictures taken today.  Its still very hot out here, my corn is still stressed and my cucumbers are very stressed.

I decided ti check the moisture level of the soil by digging some new potatoes:

The soil is quite dry, almost sandy.  We need rain badly.

Hubby bought me a new Kaffir Lime tree. I killed mine about a year ago.  He got it on eBay with his accumulated eBay Bucks.  About $35 worth.  It ended up costing us $5 all in. This is in a 1gallon pot and is quite nice!


Oh yes,  when i checked on the cukes, i found this....  Oops!  But its a Boston Pickling cuke so maybe this isn't as bad as it seems-  remember those huge deli pickles you could get from the jar at the deli for 50 cents?



Elderberry flowering now.  It smells to me like sweetgrass and fresh straw.

And more summer squash



And this is how my grapes are doing;

Marechal Foch



Reliance seedless

I also picked another small handful of blueberries. They were too yummy looking to take a picture of before we ate them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot.

Its simply hot out there.  Its 8:30 am and we are at 87 degrees.  My corn is curling.

9:00 am,  89 degrees




We got a little heat lightning last night, but no rain.  Still expecting another rainless week going forward. Temps are expected to go down to the 70's though. That will feel downright chilly compared to this heat. lol

I can't reach the corn with the sprinkler since i added the extra row this year. I'll have to make sure i plant something tolerant of dryness there next year. Or get a sprinkler with a stronger spray.
I'm glad i'm not relying on a corn crop or had planted sweet corn.  I'm sure this corn can handle a good deal of drought,  but i still need to go hand water. 
I think a few more blueberries will be ready again today, but i'm not going out there to pick them.  I don't even want to open the door to get the mail out of the mailbox but i have to cause my kefir might be in!


[11 am, 98 degrees, yikes!]



Oh another note i'd like to make. I think i won't bother with Kohlrabi next year.  I love the stuff but it requires too much prep and then i'm not sure what to do with it.  It needs to be peeled-  broccoli only needs soaking.... so for something that tastes like sweet broccoli stem i think i'll stick to broccoli. Kohlrabi is too much work to peel and too much waste in leaves and skin- besides the flavor is redundant next to broccoli.

Just checked the mail...

My kefir came in! So i have it in its jar with a lid made from a coffee filter.  The first batch is to revive it, so it will be discarded,  tomorrow i'll get some i can drink.

Some other pics from the other day... since i'm not setting foot outside!

Elderberry buds, bigger but not opening yet.



Some tiny flowers that show up in the lawn
 Clarke's Heavenly Blue morning glory

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blueberries!

Yesterday we picked our first blueberries.  We got about a dozen i think. I was picking them and handing them to my toddler so  i didn't actually count.  But it was enough to fill her cheeks and make her smile.  I had a few myself and they were delicious.  They are not wild type, but they have the wild blueberry flavor as promised in the seller's description.  There are more to come.  Not a full crop or anything, but not at all bad for plants i only bought last year.

Last evening hubby and i watered everything. Still no rain in sight through the 5 day forecast and into the 7 day. There is a tiny chance of thunderstorms for today, but all of the last handful of batches have completely missed us so i'm expecting nothing. Its not a statewide drought,  but my little area has been missed every time for the last few weeks now.

I'm still waiting on my kefir grains.  If Marilyn got my order by Saturday, i expect to get them this week,  if not they will likely be here next Wednesday. The mail comes at 9:45ish.  If it comes today i'll probably post another entry fur fun.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No rain.

No rain in sight according to the forecast. My little weather station is saying rain, but unless something develops "out of the clear blue" (which is how it became an expression for doing just that), i don't see it. We have 50% humidity which will help keep things from just going crisp but it makes for a really sticky quality in the air.
Its about 76 so far at just about 11:30 am. It was 82 in the house somehow.  I think it stayed in the high 60's or more likely in the mid 70's last night.  It was 74 when i woke up at 10 am.

Not a whole lot to report on about the garden since i haven't been out there in the last 2 days.  I sent my mom home with some summer squash.  My oldest picked and enjoyed her cucumber- said it wasn't bitter at all.  The Pruden's Purple have set fruit...  I hope the Kholrabi will hurry up.  I want to let the volunteer tomatoes to have that space.

I also wish the potatoes would be ready already.  I can barely make it through the row between them and the tomatoes.

With all the weeds this year, the garden feels very crowded,  i feel uncomfortable just looking at it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rain needed.

Earlier this morning, it looked like we'd be getting a nice dose of rain.  As the morning went on the radar showed that the rain is likely to miss us completely by slanting south as it moves east.  So we get  the clouds but no rain.

Lawns are drying out and getting crispy underfoot.  We have watered. Hubby gave the garden an hour of water Saturday night,  the lawn got 45 minutes.


Maybe we will get some thunderstorms. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grapes

Hubby helped me string the wires for the grapes-  well 2 of the lines anyway.  I may hold off on the last two strands until next year since they won't be needed until then.

Things are starting to look like they have a purpose though.



One thing i messed up on though- and this is a perfect example of my flakiness---  the two extra stakes i had in the ground at each side of the row....   i forgot i had those there so the two Edelweiss would be able to have 2 cordon arms like the rest of them are supposed to.  So maybe later this fall i'll put the stakes back and wire them again.

I also have to decide if i want my cordons as low as i have the Marechal Foch



or as high as i have the Frontenac (or is that Reliance?).



I'll be able to decide this Spring by just cutting the trunk and keeping 2 nodes for canes to grow. (If i'm using the right words to say what i'm thinking.)


I have a Minature White cucumber that is mostly ready to pick. I'll let my oldest daughter have it. Cukes are her favorite garden produce.




Weeds!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just...stuff...

We got pouting rain yesterday evening.  Probably about an inch. We didn't get more tthan one rumble of thunder but the rain was coming down like buckets.  I think we also got some sprinkles overnight,  bu the rain did the garden good.
I'm looking to the weeds as some sort of living mulch at this point!

I may take some small bowl and a paint brush with roundup and see if i can paint away the weeds.  I also need to dust the grapes for Japanese beetles.  They are eating my leaves like mad.  Even the prune plum is getting defoliated.  I had planned to spray the apple tree last night but i took the kids on a visit to my parents and we used the pool and stayed until dark, so no spraying got done.  Hopefully tonight...

I'm going to start Kefiring again. I just put in an order of kefir grains to Marilyn Kefirlady. I killed mine last fall through neglect.  They were making more kefir than i could keep up with, i had a backlog and i was reluctant to store more and more only to dump it out.  Also my mom has been buying kefir from the store, so i'm going to get her started on the real stuff.   The store bought kefir only has about half the strains of beneficial bacteria as homemade. Plus you can chose what milk you want to use- whole or skim and there's no sugar or unnecessary flavorings added.
Photo borrowed from: http://joannasteven.blogspot.com/2010/11/fermentation-series-4-milk-kefir.html




UPDATE:  Grapes dusted, apple tree sprayed.

I picked a load of broccoli today and two 49r summer squash.  Broccoli for dinner it is!

Squashes are about 8 inches, not sure why they look so different, they are from the same plant.


Green beans,  second sowing. The first sowing is about to flower


Sweet Chelsea tomatoes


Cucumbers and weedy grass *sigh*


Squashes before picking


Broccoli and cabbages


Japanese beetles are doing in my grape leaves, this is Marechal Foch


Elderberry flower buds.


 This is what the Japanese beetles are doing to my Stanley prune plum.  I have dusted both this tree and all the grapes.


Autumn Olive is doing well.


Petunias doing well- and a small bee in flight.


Purple smoke bush starting to fuzz.


Mostly full garden shot.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Weather

Another hot day starting up.  Its only 9am and its 77 degrees out there.  We have a good chance of getting some rain along with thunder.  Its pretty cloudy out so its possible i won't heat up much more than around 85.
So here i am, looking forward to rain, and a possible light show.  I do like it when the temps are high like this, especially overnight-- a least for the garden. We are lucky to have air conditioning units in every room but the bathrooms, or else i'd hate this heat.
Yesterday it got to 100.  Some areas reached 102 close by.  I may have said this before, but we don't usually see temps like that until August and then it happens only every three years or so.
I don't think i took many notes on temperatures last year, it might not be a bad idea to start doing that this year.

Well,  while i have been writing this, we have gone up another half a degree.

Update-  10:02 am and we are now at 81

2:00pm  91 degrees. Good thing its been cloudy or i bet we'd be well over 95 or even into the 100's today.  The forecast broadcast says it will be gooling of quite nicely in the next few days.


Its now after 3pm and still  in the low 90's.  I got the chance to sneak out and i found the cucumbers and broccoli seemed to be wilting in the heat.  So i had to water.  I think a half hour will do it.  We've only watered a few times this year so far. It won't be terrible to do it today even though its not the best time of day to do it.

Even the Jerusalem artichokes were looking peckish.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weather

Almost 82*F right now and its only 10:30 am.

The weeds have really taken over but there is not a whole lot i can do about it. I can't just go outside and start messing around with things.  The temps are another factor. Humidity is rising too...

I'm going to fire up the air conditioners in a few minutes.

Other parts of the country are seeing triple digit temps,  i don't know how they manage!


Edit to add-

88.5*F at noon

Friday, July 8, 2011

I has a broccoli

Yesterday i picked 4 smallish heads of broccoli. They were delicious. I didn't even cook them, we all ate them right after the heads were washed.
There are a few more heads forming out there, it will be another week before they are ready.  Not much beats fresh broccoli!  I'm shocked that i have not been woodchucked yet this year.  Simply amazed.

I got some free time yesterday and i took some random pictures.  My camera wasn't wanting to focus right so some are a bit blurry...

Kossack kholrabi is starting to bulb up

Lots of weeds, but lots of plants.   (potatoes, broccoli, cabbage)

Corn rows

Volunteer tomatillo beginning to flower

Sweet Chelsea tomato beginning to fruit

49r summer squash just starting to make squashes

Edelweiss grapes

Marechal Foch grapes, getting bigger every day

I think this is Frontenac

Elderberry flower buds getting bigger

Blueberry bed

Berries beginning to get ripe


From the other side

Apples are getting bigger faster than i would have guessed

jerusalem artichokes...  they'll get ready to flower soon

Houseplants on vacation

Potted fig doing nicely

I decided to do a little video walkthrough of the yard.  It was so nice out yesterday evening.
video