Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sooooo!!! Here's the conundrum.....when do I pull those sweet potatoes? I'm not deluded that I'll get a harvest like EG. I've tried to dig down and haven't found anything worth while, but I'm getting antsy. The low temps for the next week are still in the 40's and the highs in the low 70's. Should I call it a day and do it this weekend or wait another week? Oh the decisions, the decisions!
Monday, September 28, 2009
After all the debris was gone, I stuck in some onion plants and watered them in. They've lasted in this one place for 24 hours, which is good for around here now that the monstrous, mythological, veggie eating, abomination has laid claim to the garden. Of course, now that I say this, the plants won't last much longer, but I'm hopeful.
I can't keep up with the acorns falling in the corner yard. I'm thinking I'll have to get out my little rake and rake them all to one part of the bed and then scoop them out. The oak, my nemesis, is dropping buckets of acorns a day. There's one branch that's just about overhanging the house. I'm hoping that this winter we'll shave off that branch. Yes, it may give me 30 min. of more sun and maybe only a half a bucket of acorns next year, but since our recent bout with black ants (did I ever tell you about it?), I've heard that we need to remove all overhanging branches. I'm telling you, three years ago when we bought this house, that tree was far from us. Those branches have grown incredibly large, incredibly fast. I don't know why, but I always thought oaks were slow growers.
For Daphne's harvest Monday, no pictures to report, but I have pulled 7 tomatoes and a handful of banana peppers this past week. There's not enough tomatoes to can, so it looks like tomatoes will be going in everything for the next week!
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Today I spent about 30 minutes picking out the acorns from the garden. I didn't get them all, by any means, but you can see the soil again. Note to self: grow lettuce in the spring. The acorns rip them to shreds. I then ripped out the yellow pear tomato and the beans on the side yard. The yellow pear still had some green tomatoes on it, but had fallen over again in yesterday's rains. I love that tomato, but growing indeterminates just seems to hard when you aren't set up for it. I'm in limbo whether or not to grow them next year. If I do, it will be on an impulse....like this year. :)
The beans all had some fierce rust and were infested with aphids and whiteflies. I got two more good meals out of them, four in all, and honestly, I'm happy I decided to put in a second crop of those pole beans. Next year, I'll do them a little earlier.
In their space, I put some red and white onion plants. I'm really hoping they bulb. I've never had onions bulb up before, so I'm anxious. I would have loved some yellow ones, but I couldn't find them. Any good uses for white onions? I've really only used the yellow.
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sun is a beautiful thing, but we're in for another round today and tomorrow. I know this has all been on the national news, but if you're interested in it, here's a link where you can really see the damage. Entire two story houses are under water and there's even a picture on there of an entire elementary school under water on Atl's west side. They've gotten over 20 inches of rain over there. Hit on any one of the galleries and you can see the flood pictures.
We spend so much time worrying about fire. We completely ignore the power of water. It's an incredible force, to be sure.
I did, however, just go outside and pick 1.6 lbs of UNBITTER cucumbers! Woohoo for a second harvest. Thanks, EG for recomending it.
Monday, September 21, 2009
I'm rather happy about this since the boy's come down with a fever today and now I don't have to worry about getting a substitute. I do wish, however, that I had my essays due last Thursday instead of this Thursday so I'd have something to grade. :)
That is, we weren't closed. We were delayed. Something which I discovered pulling into the parking lot at 6:35 AM. The parents who had already dropped of their kids or kids who had already driven to school, found this out as well. The delay was for 90 minutes initially which was doable. We just put the kids (200 or so of them) in the commons area (cafeteria) and let them hang out. Then the word came we were delayed for two hours....and then at 8:30AM we find out that school has been canceled. What did we do with the kids? That's a story I don't care to repeat. The decision on how to handle that was not a good one and quite frankly I hope the school board gets overloaded with phone calls. To cancel school so late in the morning when you've got kids milling around already whose parents have already left for work. Hopefully, the lower grades, whose schools hadn't started yet anyway, were able to get the word to parents beforehand.
It was just a nightmare, but with roads washed out all over the county and the schools themselves flooded through, I don't see what other decision they could make, but they should have made it sooner than they did.
So now I'm home, in the rain, wondering if the system will have us make up this day or just take a snow day for it. I'm wondering also if they'll cancel tomorrow or relocate schools to local churches since the rain is still coming in and the bridges can't be rebuilt or schools dried out in a day with the additional rain still to come.
I triple dog dare those cucumbers to go bitter, now.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I go out every day and pick up as many as I can out of the soil, but you have to wear some sort of head covering. Even a plain hat goes a long way in deflecting the blows these things administer on their way down.
And when the cups runneth over, the broccoli falleth over.
It will all right itself once the sun starts shining again, so I'm not too terribly worried. However, after the 2-6 inches of rain received through our area, what has me concerned are the winds. And they're coming. We've already heard on the news how trees have fallen because of the soggy ground and killed people.
What the rain has done at least, is kept my beast-of-the-back-yard at bay for a few days. Though the lettuce will right itself as well once it dries out a bit, the rain and the acorns from the oak overhead have obliterated most of it.
The zipper peas have this crop circle thing going on as well because of the winds and soggy ground.
I'm glad for the rain....cucumbers, I double dog dare you to go bitter, but a shot of sun here and there would help spur some growth.
Tuesday, you're my gal. Ask the sun to show up early in the morning, please.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Because of this, I use an old stock pot for my canning.
The key to BWBing is to keep the jars off of the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching, for at least one reason. Anything you can find that will keep them off of the bottom will work fine. I used to simply use a wadded up towel in the bottom, but that makes a total mess. I realized that if I tool all of the jar lids from the gallon jars that busted in the garage when a shelf fell earlier this summer, that they fit beautifully in the bottom of the pot. I tied them together with a bit of wire to keep them in place and make the contraption heavy enough to stay submerged.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
*sigh* Scrap the whole pot? or do you think it will mend itself? I've never grown chard before to know.
Not only was this devoured, but I came home today and a bird was spooked out of my radish bed and a lizard crawled back into the sweet potatoes.
Please let this be a seasonal thing. Please let this be a seasonal thing. Please let this be a seasonal thing.
However I'm sure it's not. Time to start thinking of Spring measures that won't be to heinously ugly or expensive.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
In spite of my incredible fondness for Zipper peas/Creme crowder peas, I've come to realize they may not be the best crop for the small scale square foot gardener, much to my chagrin.
I was amazingly luck enough today to be able to sit down with my neighbor's mother to discuss the planting of zipper peas and have her look at mine to let me know how I was doing. It was she that sent her son home with bags of zipper peas of which I shared in the glorious, scrumptious bounty.
Of course, now I've become obsessed.
I approached her, literally, with my notebook of questions and she very serenely answered all. She's a quiet, unassuming woman and her advice was more than appreciated. Thanks, MeMaw (or so her grandson calls her, so it's good enough for me)!
MeMaw plants six double rows of 200 ft or more and gets a good harvest. If I'm lucky, I may get one serving from my plants in the SFG. It makes me wonder if it's worth it or if I should just free-load off of her. ;)
Here's what she told me:
Zipper peas are a summer crop and need to be planted around four weeks after the last frost date. They, like peppers and tomatoes, need warmer weather to produce well. They surprisingly tolerate a lot of heat, but frost is a killer.
They produce more than one crop, but if you'd like to extend the harvest, or when you see one batch isn't producing anymore, she recommends a second crop. Perhaps one in the late spring and another late summer, but early enough to mature before the frost (about 70 days). Sometimes they can vine and root along the stem, but it's not a given.
She says the germination rate isn't as low as I would have assumed and the squirrels are eating most of my seeds. She's convinced that's my problem with the devoured beets and radishes. (Actually, today I found one completely ripped from the garden, bulb and all.) The pink coating on my seed is to help the seed last longer. You don't presoak the seed, for as I've noticed, the pink covering soaks up the water and then the peas rot. Plant them straight in the ground. Full sun is good, but they tolerate partial shade.
Pick the pods when the seeds are bulging like knuckles and right as the pods turn a bit yellow. They're easier to shell that way. When you're ready to cook them, pick some of the smaller ones as well and use some of the snaps for texture.
Blanche them and then freeze. My problem is that I'll never have enough at one time to blanch. I'm experimenting with freezing them from the pod.
Cook them just until tender in water to cover with either bullion or bacon, either fried or uncooked, and season with garlic salt and pepper to taste.
I'm very, very hopeful that the time will come this fall when I have enough for at least a side dish. With my limited space, even if I devote my full bed to them, I'll never get a good harvest to warrant much. I found a pick your own place for zipper peas on Craig's list earlier this year. Looks like I'll be on the look-out for it next year.
For as much as I love them, I may have to cut my losses depending on how these do. It's an awful waste of space to plant something and not get a harvest out of it that's worth its weight. It's similar to the sweet potatoes that have been taking up space all year and not paying rent. It's a dilemma to say the least.
But they sure are good eatin'.
The morning comes early. Sweet Gardening dreams.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Then, there are times when the Vegetable Gods falsely assume they're humorous, take advantage of our garden-greed and overload us with a single vegetable unmercifully like they've done to Granny. 300 lbs. of tomatoes isn't funny, no matter how you look at it.
Our main issue with the Vegetable Gods in the South, besides the rampant insects, is the short spring and summer inferno that arrives without warning. The lettuce and radishes thrive in the succulent spring, but bolt far before the tomatoes have produced their first flowers.
(Yes, my friends. I'm on my Vegetable Gods' conspiracy theory yet again (post 1 / post 2). No I won't let it go. I can dwell on any one thing for weeks if not months or years at a time without it getting old or my ramblings on the matter making any more sense. I'm a woman. That's my job.)
Ahhh...Fall. The toxic humidity of the southern summer drops off as quickly as it arrived, leaving no trace of its presence, and the sun's warmth kisses your skin as it was wont to do. And, my fellow gardeners in arms, the fall becomes the time for....
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
1. Link back to the person who gave you the award (Easily done)
2. Reveal 7 things about yourself (Not so easily done)
3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and link to them (Even harder)
...and a few more rules to be discussed later.
The most difficult part of these types of things is that when you read blogs, you tend to have circles of 'friends' who all read each other's blogs which makes rule number 3 difficult. I went back to GrafixMuse's and Momma_S's pages, looked at the people they tagged and who tagged them and who tagged that person etc, and through it all, everyone whose garden blog I religiously read has already been tagged.
*sigh* I can, however, play along with the first and second rules, although the second one is harder to come up with than you would think. Let's see....
1) I'm an English teacher, but I hate writing creatively, however I'm learning how not to automatically hyperventilate when I have to come up with an example for my class. Momma_S says she doesn't like school and I quite understand. We don't teach as things need to be taught, especially English. We teach like everyone is headed to a four year research institution when actually, only a small percentage are. We have students whose goals are to be welders, chefs, auto mechanics or engineers. They don't need to read Beowulf; they don't have use for research essays. What they need are the skills to read and write manuals, instruction booklets, informational pamphlets, inter office memos and the like. Once we realize that no one is going to stop our grown students in a dark alleyway, hold a gun to their backs and demand to know what a gerund is or if a certain prepositional phrase is adjective or adverb, or why Pearl from The Scarlet Letter was able to cross the stream and dart in and out of the sunshine whereas Hester could not, we may be able to improve the quality of the education they receive by making it applicable to their lives.
2) I have an unnatural fear of sand. It gets everywhere and never comes off. It gets between your toes, in the creases of your joints and makes a terrible sound when crushed between your teeth. It holds like super glue whether it's dry or wet and when it is wet you have the distinct possibility of looking like a well cooked tater-tot. Wouldn't you know it that the boy and girl could play hours in the sand. I make someone else clean them up afterwards. I can't do it.
3) My fear of sand is not to be outdone by my fear of loose teeth. Honestly, I can't even write about them. This one's done.
4) I will root for FLA on certain occasions like if they're playing inter-conference games or in a BCS bowl game. Any SEC team is worth rooting for if the situation is right. I will not, however, admit in polite company that I occasionally cheer for FLA.
5) On all other occasions, I bleed Red and Black. GOOOO Dawgs! However, this year I think I'll be crying red and black. Blasted rebuilding year....
6) Banana pudding. That statement stands alone.
7) I used to work for a local Harley-Davidson store after my teaching job on weekdays and on weekends for four years just because I liked the sound. It was something I did for myself, before we had children. The man rides; he has an 84 Electra Glide and an 03 Anniversary Duce, but I've recently stopped. You hear stories that all Harley employees/riders have nick names. Yes, I had a nick name given to me rather quickly, but no it wasn't Skull or Road Kill. Mostly, I was called Teach by the customers (go figure that one), but the other employees that knew I was simultaneously coaching cheerleading (another story entirely) called me Rah-Rah like a pom-pom cheer.
So there you have it, my friends. That's your guide to my life in seven small points.
I watered the garden this afternoon. That obviously means it just rained. It's done that the past four times I've watered. I found the craziest thing on my sweet potatoes in the other corner yard. Get a load of this egg sac:
It was just huge. When I peered under that leaf, I found this:
The sucker was a beast!!! I whisked the monster into the woods, but couldn't bring myself to squish the egg sac, so I broke off the stem, put the sac in a zippy bag and then in the garbage. Who knows if the zippy will contain the little cretins, but at least they'll be in the garbage outside.
That's it for me. The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.
On an exciting note, the cucumbers are flowering and there are a TON of female flowers. I'm just concerned as there are most certainly no bees or other pollinators out there in the garden right now. Heck, the only flying insects out there are the mosquitoes. I went out there this morning before I left for work, but it was too early (5:00AM). The flowers hadn't opened yet, so I couldn't hand pollinate. I just did it now when I came home from school (5:00 PM), but I don't know how good cucumber pollen is after the morning hours. I also can never tell if I've actually pollinated since cucumber pollen isn't like squash pollen. Squash pollen most certainly leaves a noticeable trail, but cucumber pollen seems almost nonexistent. I can only hope the ones I did this afternoon took. I'd love some more cucumbers before the frost. To think! I've got tomatoes, the lettuce is in the ground, and I may just have cucumbers. I've almost thwarted the Vegetable Gods who deem it so that you never have all the ingredients for a full salad at once!!! Who would have guessed! I almost didn't plant a second crop. I'm glad I did.
I tried to catch up with the garden this evening. We had a full but amazing weekend. Saturday, friends from North Carolina came to visit and happened to bring tickets to the NASCAR race at Road Atlanta. They were box seats and the race was a night race. I'm not a NASCAR fan. Candidly, I never understood it. You go fast and turn left. Seriously, how could you be entertained for over 320 laps of people just going in a circle. I sat in my seat at 6:20 and didn't get up until way after midnight when the race was over.
I understand now.
You can't really get the same experience watching it on the television. It can't compare. We took a blind draw of drivers. My driver went in the garage and never came out after only three laps. However, one car never came out of the garage and another went in after lap 2, so I didn't come in last, so I'm still happy. The man explained NASCAR to me as "Awe and Spectacle." He was right. I don't think I'll ever watch a race on the television, but I'll jump at the chance of physically going to another race. Thank you, Michael and Lynn!!! To make the weekend even better, my girlfriend came up from Gainesville, FLA on Monday and spent the evening with us. I feel our visit was rushed since we only had a few hours to catch up on over a year, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. I love you, A_trox.
Today I spent some of my 22 minute lunch period catching up on my blog reading. I've been memed by GrafixMuse which is so cool! I'll post those answers tomorrow. I know I'm not posting as often now that school is in session, but I really appreciate you all hanging around for when I do.
The morning comes early, but apparently earlier for me than the cucumber flowers.
Sweet gardening dreams.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The kids at the school had their moment in the sun today and they had an absolute blast. The pep rally was filmed by one of the major news stations and the football team was presented with the "Team of the Week" trophy, an honor we've never had before.
I'm so proud of my seniors. The jrs started chanting something ignorant during one of the commercial breaks and instead of letting the jrs bait them into bad behaviour, they turned the chant into something school related and the jrs followed along. I'm very proud of them. Not that you'd want to see the film, but I figured to put the link in, in case you're bored. ;)
Click here to see the celebration!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Or at least one of them.
***This is post two for today. Scroll down, or click the title to scroll to the first post***
I went out to the garden this evening after feeling like someone had sunk my battleship on my earlier garden trek, when it was almost dark, just to check the cabbage one more time. Something in the corner of a square kept catching my eye, but I couldn't maintain focus on it. I reigned in my scope of vision and found a stubby, fat, insert explicative here, here, here and here for good measure, stinking caterpillar/worm. It was like he was trying to work himself OUT of the soil for another tasty meal. I would have taken a picture, but I dispatched him quickly and his green juices satisfyingly spurted everywhere. The victory was short lived because I saw another of my cabbages was severed and....so was a crowder pea plant. I sprinkled DE on the soil everywhere, so I'm hopeful if there's any more of the aforementioned pests, they'll meet their end soon enough. I'll likely plant radishes, either red or more black, in the empty places.
It's a small victory, but a victory none the less for the original corner yard.
I had good intentions to put those peas in the spaghetti sauce tonight...but they never made it. Ok, one of them did because I felt guilty about just eating them all raw and ignoring my plan, but they were so amazingly sweet. I had just about decided there would be no garden peas for me since they take up so much room for what they produce, but I may have changed my mind. I did add fresh tomatoes and whole banana peppers to the sauce. It's amazing what a fresh tomato will do for the texture of spaghetti sauce. Just fantastic.
I'm irritated about the masticated plants in the corner yard and the demolished radishes in the other corner yard, but over all....not a bad day.
The morning comes early. Our school's amazing, last second football victory over their rivals (low snap resulted in the holder making a TD run...seriously, the footage is amazing) and FOX5 has chosen them as "The Team of the Week." They'll be there filming tomorrow and we have a pep rally second period, so you know the rest of the day kids will be completely focused on learning. ;) I'll have my work cut out for me, that's for sure. But I'm happy for them. They're good kids.
Help me on this one....All spring and summer, besides the root maggots in spring, I didn't have a single issue with animals destroying the vegetables. Now, it's every day that I find something new has been either severed or chewn.
A) This is just the season that little critters go carousing for a snack.
B) Now that the garden is established, the beasties have moved in and I should expect this from now on. Spring and summer were just a grace period.
Three cauliflower and three collard plants and now these radishes have been decimated from the other corner yard. The boxes are lower than the ones in the original corner yard bu six inches. I wonder if that makes it more inviting to the squirrels that "happen by" on their way to collect the nuts that have fallen to the ground.
Kind of wondering if I should build a cage for this bed now, during the winter, in case this happens again in the spring.
I tried to treat the ants in the zipper pea bed today. They're chewing through the flowers and sucking the sap from the severed stem before they have a chance to set the fruit. Hopefully it will work.
On a good note, since I know all I seem to be doing recently is fussing about the marauding monstrosity in my back yard....perhaps it's the chupacabra, I did get a handful of Alaskan peas today. Even though I think they're drying peas, I'm going to throw them in with the pasta dish we're making tonight. It will help soothe me and make me feel accomplished again. ;)
The morning comes early