Sunday, September 14, 2014

So, summer appears to be over for the most part.

It was an interesting one.  I have been busy with work, hanging out with the kids...  The youngest one does not nap anymore so i don't really have large blocks of time to just sit and write.  Also,  i have been having computer troubles. I killed another laptop- by dropping it....  hubby cobbled together a desktop,  then its video card or something died.  So then he rebuilt another laptop for me out of our oldest daughter's old one but its sloooow.  He's going to fix the desktop at some point but for now, this laptop is working ok.

There are frost warnings in the county East of us for tonight. The daytime temps have been around 60 degrees F for the last few days. 

The garden didn't do so hot this year.  We had another groundhog that kept eating everything i planted. Mainly the cucumber, bush beans and squash plants. Then there was a plague of  squash bugs that took out the ones that survived.  I got a lot of sweet peppers again this year, some okra too. The potatoes did very well.  I have been digging them up little by little.

 We got a few very large tomatoes (Pruden's Purple and Cherokee Purple), quite a few Siberia, a good number of Elberta Girl and of course the Romas and the San Marzano types went crazy.  The problem with the tomatoes was odd this year.  They were doing well and i was keeping up with the Florida Weave staking/support method until we got this monster rain storm that blew the plants to shreds,  knocked down the weave strings and exposed the partly ripened fruit to direct and strong sunlight. I lost a lot to a combination of sun scald and broken stems.

Elberta Girl:

 Pruden's Purple:

Cherokee Purple:

Summer Squash and two types of Okra:

Bush Beans:


It was a cool spring and a cool summer. Most years in late August we have a string of very hot days,  i think we only reached 90 or above two times. There were plenty of days in the 80's but nothing super hot except for the days when it was so humid it felt  like it was in the 90's.

The weeds really took over after the rain messed up the tomatoes.  I sort of gave up trying to juggle time off, house cleaning, being too tired and achy from working and rainy days when i really couldn't get anything done outside.  The rain was strange this year too.  It didn't rain often but when it did, it was torrential and we got a few inches at a time.  I can handle working outside in light or steady rain but not in downpours.

I'm expecting an interesting winter....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I think the "weather" i dislike the most is wind.  Especially this year.  Its constantly blowing and since i decided to try using plastic in the garden again this year, the wind is being a special pest.  Last season i used 5 mil plastic that was in a 10 foot wide roll. I rolled it out and cut it down the middle making strips the length of the garden and 5 feet wide.  My planting rows were about 3 feet wide that year so i had 2 extra feet of plastic to tuck in.  This year my hubby asked if i would make the rows wide enough to get the Mantis tiller through so weeds could be cleaned out before they became an issue. So this year i bought 4 mil plastic that was 6 feet wide so i could split it down the middle for 3 foot wide strips.  How i love the amnesia that comes with a long winter. Three feet is not wide enough to cover my rows and to reach the packed soil in the walking rows so i can pin it snugly down.  The edges end in the soft dirt.  This is very much appreciated by the wind.
I was pinning as much as i could keep down with bricks until i ran out of bricks.  Then i used a couple old wooden fence posts we kept around. Then i added the metal ones.  Now i have started filling old milk jugs with water. I had saved a bunch of them when i had planned a few wintersowing projects. At least saving them became useful. 
So now, i have the rows that have plastic and are planted pinned down... the wind is still highly annoying.  

At least the prune plum finally started blooming the other day.  
Not expecting a bumper crop but at least it should be something.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tomatoes are in!

From the back to the front, two of each:
San Marzano "Providence Acres"
Pruden's Purple
Elberta Girl
San Marzano Lampidina
Cherokee Purple

In the open space without plastic i planted Sugar Snap peas. I have not grown peas in years.  The last time i tried was when we first bought this house.  A woodchuck mowed them down.  I only planted them in a small windowbox shaped container hoping for just a handful of something home-grown.   It was only the beginning of my woodchuck woes.

Four days ago i got the potatoes planted.  The forecast called for rain the next 3 days in a row.  The rain never materialized until tonight.   Here are the potatoes, cut up for planting.  Adirondack Blue and Red:

Stanley Prune Plum is later blooming than it was  last year. Its first ever bloom was Mother's Day last year, this is two days after for this year:
Today,  the buds are becoming white but are still tightly closed.

This is my male Seabuckthorn, i think he is blooming.  I want to ask the owners of another blog i follow to see what they say.
I can't tell if my female "Titan" is in bloom or not and i don't know how important it is for her to bloom  while he is....   i got both plants from Raintree and i'll be extremely miffed if their bloom times are incompatible since they only offer one,  unnamed variety of "male" seabuckthorn.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mishmash post

I pecked away at this post for a couple of days, i think i'll be able to submit it tonight :)

Thursday, April 1-ish...
I've been trying to get the chance to post for days and days.  Just been busy with work and i have been having trouble with technology, remembering passwords acclimating to my new phone, loss of data from my old phone.... i lost a boatload of photos due to a messed up SD card. It was bad enough that it corrupted new photos.  So i had nothing to 'show' on the blog other than texts.  My new phone is the same make and model as my old one but i had everything set up the way i wanted it so i did not have to mess with anything but figuring out how to put all my things back the way i had them is time consuming.
The Blogger app is also giving me trouble, or my phone is...  i really can't tell where the problem is coming from.  My Blogger account is associated with a Yahoo account,  my phone itself has a Gmail account. I downloaded the Blogger app and have my Yahoo account as default on the phone,  but it does not list the Yahoo one as optional to sign in to Blogger.  Signing in with the Gmail account shows "no blogs associated with this account"...duh.  I have deleted and reloaded/re entered both Blogger app and email account multiple times in different orders but its just not coming through.

Anyway,  i have been working on the garden.  I am very late on getting some seeds started.  I managed to plant all peppers, tomatoes, okra and some marigolds weeks ago.  Things like squash and cukes should be started later but i'm running more late than i should.  Its not too late but it is not optimal.  Maybe i'll get this done tonight...?

One thing i did get done, after having every intention of doing it for a couple of years was to make nameplates for my grapes.  They are outgrowing their nursery tags and though i have pictures of them and have them named in their positions,  i'd prefer to have them labeled nicely.

Not the best photo, i didn't fiddle with the camera settings any.  They are darker than this and they kind of look like thick leather with some gold burnishing.  I wanted them to have a sightly haphazard typeset,  one of the Edelweiss is a bit too off kilter but i don't mind too much.  They were fun to make.  I used some white Sculpey polymer clay that i have had forever.  Staples had it on clearance about 12 years ago, 1.5 # boxes for around $3.00 each,  i think i bought 4 boxes.  I put it away and never got around to using it.  I found it again a couple of years ago and it was starting to get dry and crumbly but i didn't want to throw it away.  I did some research online about softening it again and found out that canola oil can be kneaded into it a little at a time.  It worked like a charm!    They were very fun to make. Now i just need to think of something to do with the last 6 or so pounds.

We are getting some nice rain today... its been rather cool this spring.  All the snow was pretty much gone by Easter and it looked like things would warm up quickly but it hasn't.  The maple trees are getting close to full bloom, everything else is just barely budding.  One of the Carmine Jewel cherry trees had a main branch growing very low on its little trunk, so i clipped it and am trying to root it in clear polymer florist's water beads.
Last week i did a ton of pruning.  The grapes were going bonkers so i cut them down to their main stock to refresh them.  I also discovered that those metal T-posts i used to fence them up come in 8' size.  I wanted to get them locally at Aubuchons or Paris Farmer's union but they only sell them in packs of 5/  I only needed 6, not 10.  Home Depot sells them singly and for almost $3 less per post than the two local places and free shipping. So i ordered my six and saved enough to get the black plastic sheeting.  My order should arrive as early as Friday.


Monday, April 5...

My plastic sheeting came in but not the posts yet.  My order confirmation email estimates their arrival no sooner than April 9 which is this Friday.

I finally got the rest of the veggies and most of the herbs started,  i'll have to make an official list for my records in an upcoming post.
Pretty much what is left are the flower seeds my oldest daughter picked out and some herb seeds that do best with a 24 hour pre-soak.

My dad has not had the chance to come and till the garden yet,  he planned on trying it 2 weeks ago but we got rain,  then this weekend we had family visiting.  

Hopefully i can get a till this Saturday, carve out the rows,  lay down the plastic sheeting and maybe even pan on using the hoops.  My biggest problem with using the hoops the first two tries was getting to the weeds.  Removing the Remay by myself, weeding then putting the Remay back on was a tedious process.  With black plastic blocking the weeds,  this problem should be solved.  I'm expecting a cool spring so the green house effect of the hoops may come in handy this year...and where i'm so late on seed starting!

As i mentioned earlier,  i trimmed the grapes and i gave pretty much everything a hair cut.  I really trimmed the elderberries,  they were getting way out of hand.  I bought some tall, narrow trellises at work and tied up the Gojiberries.  I trimmed a thick branch off one of the Carmine Jewel cherries and am attempting to root it indoors as a spare.

I'll have to get some good pics to post on my next entry.  Ta-ta for now.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Catch-up time and photo-dump!

Well,  i guess i'm another 4 months late.  My excuses are a busy summer,  then school started,  then i started working at a paying job again.  I forgot my Photobucket password and i simply did not ant to deal with the whole thing. lol
The garden did pretty well this year.  The stars of the show were the sweet peppers.  I was amazed.  I have struggled to grow sweet peppers for years without any real success.  This time i decided to lay down black plastic- mostly for weed control more than anything else.  What it did for the pepper plants was nothing short of amazing.  I bought some seeds for Ancient Sweet peppers, used up what was left of my Zsa Zsa seeds and my dad gave me a few extra seedlings that he bought at the local nursery.  We had a hot summer too-  the result was that we were up to our ears in peppers.

 Growing up,  my parents always had a few pepper plants in their garden and they often did ok.  We'd get a few off each plant before frost came but i don't recall the fruit ever ripening.  We were always happy with green peppers so that was fine.  This year my plants not only grew and fruited,  most of them completely ripened!  I could not keep up.  I was giving them away,  cooking them,  using them in salads.  I ended up dehydrating the last batch which filled my 9-tray Excalibur.  I packed the strips on the trays,  i did not cut them in rounds because there was not enough space.  After dehydrating,  the strips filled a quart jar tightly packed.  We've been using them in spaghetti sauce ...  i need to find other uses because this jar will last 5 years otherwise. :)

Ok,  so for the pictures i spent the summer taking but not posting.  I'm just going to work straight from my Photobucket page and drop them here,  hopefully i will remember what each pic was all about and i can blabber a little about it.

The last pictures i posted on the blog were of the Adirondack Blue potato plants just breaking the surface of the soil.  So i'll not repeat that but start here:

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The Gojiberries did awesome again this year.  I got two distinct crops, one fairly early and the other lasted through the first couple mild frosts.

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This was the early start to the garden.  I didn't use plastic on all the rows.  I had some trouble at first with the wind blowing up the ends of the plastic.  Once the ground staples began to corrode and the plants got bigger,  things stayed down tighter.

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I did not use plastic on the bush bean rows,  but i probably could have.  Wider spacing would work well,  but close spacing would probably not.

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This old semi-climbing rose came with the house. I don't know if it is the original plant or if it is the result of the root stock taking over.  The color is really nice but there is hardly any scent.  I like it in a way but i mostly keep it because its one of the few things i kept that is original to the property.  I like a little continuity.

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I love to see the cracks in the soil when the bean plants begin to break through.  I get a kick out of it every year.

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These are the peppers getting some early blossoms.

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If i remember right,  the tomatoes and the peppers started blossoming within days of each other.  Usually the peppers are much further behind.

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Looks like all the bush beans are up in this picture.

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These are the Sparkle strawberries that were planted earlier that spring.  Only 2 of the plants failed.

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Another photo of the Goji,  looks like a couple of ripe ones down at the base.

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We did get some blueberries this year. Not a lot though. If i remember, one plant produced nothing, two others produced only a few and this one had the most.  My youngest daughter didn't pick the green berries off this year,  the plants just didn't bloom well.  There weren't any late frosts either as i recall.

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I planted some nasturtiums as well.  I love eating the flowers.

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A little further on in the summer.  Still keeping ahead of the weeds at that point!

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More 'nasties' awaiting planting.  They are hanging out with the Schizandra seeds which did not germinate over the summer.  They are still living outside on the off chance that spending a winter outdoors will kick them into gear.  If i see no results this spring,  i'm going to buy some seedlings from Oikos Tree Crops.

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Basil.  I love the stuff.

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I think these are cucumber blossoms.  Another successful planting.  Between peppers and cukes we had some great salads!

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Summer Squash.  I grew Yellow Zebra again this year.  I really like this variety.  Excellent flavor and texture, produces well but not overwhelmingly.

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Summer squash again i think.   The plastic mulch kept the rows nice and clean.

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Shiso.  These plants went bonkers,  growing almost 4 feet high.

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Peppers...looking sharp.

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Red Russian kale....   this is a staple.  I hope i never have to go without seeds for this variety.

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Broccoli.  Not sure what type or types.  I think i bought a mix for next year.  (this year- 2014)

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Tea hibiscus.  This is the type that grow those bright red calyxes used in herbal teas.  They didn't do very well.  The plants grew tall but i never saw a flower and therefore i got no calyxes.  The leaves developed these circular marks all over them.  You can see one on the middle left leaf.  It got worse as the season went on and i never found the time to research what caused it and what to do about it.   The plants were placed close to the Jerusalem Artichokes and may have been too shaded for optimum health.

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The strawberries did well,  i think i got a few large berries and about 6 or 8 small ones.  I let my youngest daughter eat them,  i did take one for myself toward the end of the season.  Very tasty.  I ordered more for this coming year.

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Again,  this is the blueberry plant that actually produced normally.   I've got to look it up,  but i think that was year 4,  this will be year 5.  The plants are supposed to reach 4 feet in height,  but these guys are all still a foot and a half at most. They produced well their second and third years,  but don't put on much growth.  I selected them for the berries and their modest mature size.  They are planted in the box in front of the house and i was kind of looking for that landscape shrub look- but its just not happening.   They aren't filling the space like i wanted them to.   Maybe a few more years?  I like them so i won't rip them out but i'm just a slight bit annoyed.

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The climbing rose again,  blooms beginning to fade but still nice.

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Adirondack potato plant.  I threw in some radish seeds because the seed potatoes were beginning to rot when i planted them and i wasn't sure any would grow.  We ended up with enough potatoes for a few side dishes and a small pot of beef stew.

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Blurry pic of Golden Zebra summer squash.

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Small picking of radishes.

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I want to say these are Romas,  but i'm not sure.  My dad gave me a few seedlings of a cherry tomato called "Stocky- somethingorother"  i forget the name.  Those did pretty well and were early.  So these are either Romas or the stocky cherry.

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A few nicely sized radishes.

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This was when the summer squash and the cukes began taking off.

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Nice head of broccoli.  We didn't get much more.  After a year off,  a woodchuck once again discovered our garden and feasted.

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Just a pretty moth i spotted.  Never got it identified but there is a page on Facebook i could submit it to,  i just never got around to it.  It laid eggs a few days later,  then disappeared.  The eggs were a pretty jade green.  I never saw the larvae but the eggs did hatch at some point because they left behind little bits of shell still stuck to the wood.

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More cucumbers!

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The spots on the tea hibiscus leaves.

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Ancient Sweet pepper fruit.

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Some ripe blueberries.

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First crop of all three types of bush beans.  Very yummy.

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Elderberry.  Later,  the birds discovered them and wiped them out.

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Another box of cukes.

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More bush beans.

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A morning glory flower from volunteers.  I planted some seeds in a three-pot plant stand about 3 or 4 years ago.  Since then,  i get these flowers as a bonus because they keep reseeding.

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First tomatoes.  These should be from that "Stocky" plant.

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Growing like crazy.  I think the weeds started getting away from me in the rows without plastic.

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I grew Daikon Radish for the first time this year.  They did great and were tasty in salads,  by themselves and i even put some in a pot roast.  There was another box of cukes and i think this was the beginning of the sweet pepper stampede.

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More to come...

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Zsa Zsa peppers,  pale green when ripe.

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Hummingbird moth on what i think is phlox.  This is at my parents' house.

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Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes.   Very tasty.

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I think this is a Cherokee Purple.  I failed again this year to tie up or properly stake the tomatoes,  so it all became a mess.  The vines grew so thickly we could not even reach many of the tomatoes.  I didn't prune or anything.  I just let it go.   We got plenty of cherry tomatoes but for the most part,  the rest went to waste.  I didn't really have time to process them anyway.  I need to have a better plan from here on out.

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I never knew that woodchucks like unripe butternut squash.  I ended up picking all the undamaged ones i could find and let them ripen on the picnic table.  I got enough for quite a few gallons of butternut squash soup.

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The Raveena eggplant did very well.  This one got a little too big.  I picked the rest at a smaller size.  I used them in stir-frys.

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Ancient Sweet peppers get very large.  They are also very tasty,  have few seeds and very little pithy ribs.

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Ripe peppers.  The white ones are Zsa Zsa,  the long red is Ancient Sweet of course and the other two were from the plants my dad had extras of.  The Zsa Zsa peppers were good but not as good as the other two types.  They were from my last seeds and Pinetree no longer carries them.  The very pale green color is nice but i won't miss them.  I am glad i finally had success with them.

Ok,  well we lost power for some unknown reason.  We have battery backup but who knows how long the outage will last and the internet access.  I also cannot access older photos i took  with my cell phone,  so these are all i have until i can figure what is going on.   I'll hopefully do another update soon-  not in another 3 months!