Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, y'all!

I just hope GA can hold FLA to a fifty point spread. I know they'll beat us, but if they beat us by more than 50 points, I may just have to go drown myself in the water fountain.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Carrot Craze

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

And again.

And again

And eventually you'll wear Mother Nature down.
I present to you: My First Carrots Ever
Once I pulled the huge one on the right, I got overzealous and pulled others. I'll leave the rest for a while and see if they fatten up.

I'm stupidly happy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Black Radish Delight

Today my dad and I took off the trellis which brought down the remaining cucumbers and the sugar snap peas. Last week's frost in conjunction with the little worms boring holes in the cucumbers have brought an end to the season at last. I'm happy with the second planting. It really only produced one large wave of cucumbers, but it was one more wave than I would have had if I didn't plant them, right? The peas never produced a pod. Peas are just a bust for me.

Thanks for your help, Dad.

We pulled two of the largest black radishes to have as an appetizer before dinner.

First, we washed them and then cut off the tops (careful, they have very small, fine hairs that can really irritate your skin) and then the bottoms.

Next, Dad cut them in half and then in thin slices.

Sprinkle them liberally with salt. The salt helps to cut the spice of the radish. If it's too salty, you can rinse off the pieces later.

It's best to put them in a bowl with a rounded bottom because the salt will draw out the water from the radish. Let the radish slices sit in the salt until they sweat like below.

Eat the slices with cheese and rye bread....I didn't have rye bread in the house and apparently offering my father white bread was sacrilegious, so he just stuck with the cheese.
Eh, these weren't really hot at all. The spring ones were much hotter. Then again, they were much larger as well. I still have 4-5 in the ground, so I'll let those grow a little longer and see if they get any bite to them. I was hoping they'd get larger than the ones in the spring, but it was too hot to sow them for a long time and some started bulbing above ground, which is a no-no, so out they came. I'll certainly plant them again this winter/spring, but only 4-5 to a sqft to let them grow as large as they can.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

For EG...

You played it to the end, my friend.

At least you got a touchdown.

I'm already breaking out the funeral attire for our game next week. It's not going to be pretty.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Chupacabra....thy name is Gibson.

I caught that dog, stinkin' red pawed, right in the center of my lettuce bed. Actually, he was straddling the two beds that are pushed up against each other. Why dig holes in one bed, when you can dig simultaneously in both? When I leaned over the porch and yelled bloody murder, he immediately had that, "Oh *&^#" look and dragged his chin on the ground as he walked to me and inside the house. He and Vladimir did this last year, but I always thought Gibson was just the passive follower and Vladimir was the mastermind. Kind of like Pinky and the Brain, you know?

He's so far left the garlic bed alone since I covered it with straw. I suppose it's out of sight, out of mind. He'd better leave the garlic bed alone if he knows what's good for him.

He knows he's in trouble. He came inside and went straight to his bed. His MO when he gets in trouble is to not look at you. He does everything he can to avert his gaze, but after a while he starts trying to schnuffle you to make nice, but he still won't look you in the eyes.

Here are his mug shots; they're difficult to get given he was frozen and wouldn't look at me. I'm trying him for crimes against the garden, inflicting restless nights and suffering on the gardener, fraud, leaving the scene of a crime, giving false information and tampering with evidence and plantslaughter. He's also most likely in possession of less than one ounce of soil mix if I dig in between his toes long enough.

Tomorrow, I'm buying three latex and one mylar balloon for each room in the house, including hallways. The mylar will have the shiny, silver back in order to best reflect the sun and throw light everywhere. I'm turning on the fans, moving the lamps, inviting strangers to the house, running the vacuum, and paying a neighbor kid to come over and crumble tin foil repeatedly.

The game is on. I can play this game. I'm scrappy aand have more experience...

and opposable thumbs.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seemingly Overnight

There is nothing like the colors of fall, although winter is beautiful in Georgia when the occasional snow or ice storm makes an appearance.

Waking from sleep to find life bathed in that frosty glow of a clear, blue day is only out shined by the jubilant chorus of neighborhood children assessing the sledable quality of one hill after another and weighing that against the irritability of one neighbor vs. the next. Doorbells are run early, and my children, at least, are dressed in layers of footed pajamas, sweat suits, jackets and plastic bags inside shoes and mittens, for no one here owns appropriate winter gear. Schools and roads shut down, the inconvenience of the weather is sated by a lunch of white bread and milk.

The winter majesty fades with the passing sun; the fall colors are fleeting as well, yes, but they're onset is so subtle, you wonder how you missed it when their brilliance becomes evident. Snow is beautiful in it's pristine quality, but the splendor of the myriad colors of fall is surpassing sweet.

We pulled into the driveway this morning and the girl said, "Mommy! The tree is on fire." The boy echoed my earlier sentiments when he asked, "Wow, when did that happen?"

The rest of the trees in the neighborhood haven't changed yet. The two trees in our front yard are flanked by the trailing ends of lush greenery, but the contrast between the green and red is inspiring.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hidden Camera Dreams, Black Radishes and Frost No More

A while back, someone (I think sqftsteve) posted some film of an animal trying to gain access to his garden which he had ingeniously covered fully with chicken wire to keep out said pest. I can't do chicken wire with my set up, but I sure am thinking about a hidden camera or at least one that takes photos every minute or so.

Last night or this morning, someone was digging in my beds again.
They got the lettuce bed in front of it as well. I'm thinking it's the dog again. Remember, he did this when I first filled the beds last year. The holes and footprints are also way too large to be a squirrel.

I'm not sure how the cucumbers fared with the frost. The leaves are still perky, but a bit off color. The cucumbers themselves seem fine for now. I'll let it go another week or so to see how they do. The weather is supposed to get nice again. I love the cool nights and the mild days. Long sleeve temperature with a warming sun is my most favorite.
Ok, tangent here, but on that 30 degree Monday morning, a girl came to school in a short skirt, short sleeves, and some of those boots that look like you done shot an Ewok and put them on your feet (think Star Wars). How ridiculous. Then, of course, you had those who insisted on wearing flip-flops and then had the audacity to say they're cold. It's almost as good as the kids during those days on end rain who came in drenched because they, "didn't know it was raining."
*sigh* These are the kids that will be pushing me around in my wheel chair one day. Hopefully they'll get some sense soon.
Back to gardening, the black radishes are bulbing. These did well in the spring, but the acorns have take a toll on the leaves. You can see how many are on the soil here and get an idea of the situation. This one is starting to bulb out of the ground, which isn't so good for them. I'll most likely pull it this weekend when my dad comes over. I grow these for him; they're too hot for me. He likes them to sit in some salt for a while and then eats them with some cheese to cut the heat of the radish. They can grow up to softball size in the right conditions, but my spring ones only got a little larger than a baseball.
I placed requests for those seed catalogues you recommended a few days back. Thanks for the advice. Winter may not be so dull after all.
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jack Frost Is Stopped Short

We did get down to a good frost temperature last night, and I envisioned tales of the horror and woe I was going to witness when I got back from work tonight and saw the cucumbers in the daylight, but I honestly think things went okay. The vines and cucumbers themselves really don't look any worse for wear. They may succumb tonight or later this week, who knows, but last night wasn't what I had expected.

It was about this time last year that I started making a record of the garden goings on. I copied and pasted some of my paper journal and gardenweb entries on this blog then. I'm very glad I kept records of what was planted and what harvested when. It's great to wonder when things matured and then to go right on to the blog or the journal and check on when things happened.

I've made the decision not to use much of the corner yard for fall plantings, but rather relegate those to pots on the front walk and the side yard. The creature who shall not be named and the acorns of destruction have made fall gardening back there counter productive. Last year I planted broccoli out on the front walk on Aug 1 and harvested beautiful heads on Nov 5. This year I planted earlier in the corner yard, but they haven't even formed the smallest of heads yet. I'm not sure if much will come of them. The lettuce back there has also been a bust for the same reason. Last year's lettuce on the front walk was fantabulous.

Next year: Spring and summer in the corner yard. Late summer cucumbers can use the trellis. Summer in the other corner yard and year around in the side yard. Keep the front walk as clean as possible during the spring and summer and break out the pots for the fall plantings. No, I won't harvest as much, but I'll at least be able to harvest something, which is more than I've got now.

So there you have it. Make notes, make notes, make notes. Review the notes, review the notes, review the notes. Try new things, but stick to those you know will work as well and don't beat yourself up for not trying things again that you know won't work. Acorns hurled down from wind, rain or rogue squirrels will always win until someone finds a hybrid broccoli or lettuce made from carbon fiber, and three hours of sun won't turn into six no matter how many years in a row you try.

All the more reason to build my 4x4 movable boxes.....hmmmmmmm
Hey, EG.....4 ft wide would be all I could do, but how long could I make these boxes on wheels without needing additional center support to keep the bottom from experiencing too much strain? I'm also assuming general nails/screws wouldn't support the weight of the water and soil even if it was only a 4x4. This could get interesting.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Garlic Goes In And Pumpkin Pies ...A Bust?

The garlic went in on Friday night. I read myself blind on whether to plant them with the 'paper' wrapper on or off, if I should soak them or not and some, like Daphne, whose blog I follow, even recommends soaking them in vodka. Because it's my first year growing garlic, I decided to plant the individual bulbs in their papers. This way, if they fail, I'll try a different technique each time until I get it right.

I'm thinking of putting the screening over the beds since something uprooted my lettuce late Friday night and dug out an empty bed, but I'm not sure how important sun is to the growing root system....there's nothing that's going to stick out from the ground until spring, so would it be so bad if the soil didn't get sunlight until then?

Any thoughts would be really helpful.

We had a neighborhood picnic last night and bought three lovely little pie pumpkins for decorations. Today, I took some time and baked Granny's pumpkin pies. The first two got pulled out before the end of the cooking time because I hazarded a peek and sure enough...I burned the crust. I had enough left for one more pie, the one on the left. It also came out way before the time Granny said to cook it because it was getting burned as well. I should have kept eyes on them and covered them when they got too toasty. All in all, they taste wonderful, so I'm not complaining. I put the dark ones in the freezer for later and we tore into the lighter one tonight. I don't have a food processor, so it was still a bit fibrous, but I liked the texture.
We also had some split pea soup going in the crock pot and added cornbread with that for's our first real chilly night.

Not to let the pumpkin seeds go to waste, I roasted two batches. The one on the left is cinnamon and sugar and the right has garlic salt.
They turned out yummy as well, but those seeds from the pie pumpkins are really, really tiny and almost not worth the effort to eat. I'll try it again with the pumpkin we're carving for Halloween.

The morning comes early...and it's going to be a chilly one.
Sweet gardening dreams.

Friday, October 16, 2009

:( I Lied

***Second post for today***
They just posted a freeze warning for this weekend.

Oh well. The cole crops should still do well. Now the fun can begin....serious planning for next year.

Anyone remember when the seed catalogues come out? Which ones should I request?

Fall bug woes

The malevolent pickle worm has found my cucumbers. Each day I pull between 3-6 cucumbers in various stages of growth because they've been attacked by these burrowing worms. My camera isn't sharp enough to get a good picture of the fiends, but I did get a picture of this:

EG, who made much the same post two days ago, schooled me that this was their poop which takes the color of whatever they've been devouring. The worms I've seen poking out of holes are literally smaller than my finger nail, but the destruction they bring is unbelievable. I must say I'm pleased with the output of this second crop of cucumbers and even got another batch of pickles out of it, which was my ultimate goal to begin with, so I'm very happy even with the pickleworm invasion.

Here's another little guy I've been finding around the house recently:

They're everywhere on the house. They congregate in patches and don't want to move for love or money.

The next week looks fine weather wise, but I know the cold is coming. The days and nights are getting cooler, but what stinks is that we could have a freeze one day and then lows of 40-60 for another three weeks before the next frost comes along. I'm going to try to plant my garlic either today or tomorrow so that will be exciting for me. The cabbage in the side yard is looking fantastic, but I'm worried that the broccoli leaves have been too shredded to help it form a head. Sadly, I'm realizing that with the oak, the corner yard is best suited for spring through summer gardening....makes me put even more thought into those movable beds.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh, What a Difference Two Hours of Sun Can Make

I know sunlight, or lack thereof, is a topic gardeners can get hung up on. Especially me. I fret about the corner yard not getting enough sun, but then the partial shade is nice in the brutal summer heat. The other corner yard only gets enough sun for about 4-5 months during the summer. The side yard is perfect, but I'm limited to the size of the beds by the two foot wide buffer zone between the house and the grass. Most of the summer veggies didn't seem to mind the limited sun except for the peppers. They didn't produce hardly at all and no pepper ever ripened to color. Other veggies are usually pretty good with the 4 hours or so of sun, but they're slower in their growth.

Point in case....last year, my cabbage never formed heads. I know now it's due to lack of sun. I have two sets of cabbages I planted, one in the corner yard and one in the side yard. They were both transplanted at the same time from seeds sown at the same time.

Here's the Corner Yard cabbage:
Just sad.

Here's the side yard cabbage:
It's already trying to form a head. Hopefully we'll actually get two cabbages this year!! Woohoo!However, it just makes me dream of what could be if I had a little more sun. I'd also love a raised bed or two (only 4x4) on rolly wheels that I could put in the driveway in the summer for full sun, but move it out of the way when necessary and store in the basement during the winter. We all wish for something, don't we.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not That It's Going to Grow, But.....

I had blank spots in the garden. I hate blank spots.

I need to learn spots are blank for reasons.

The side yard, with a good deal of sun, was empty, so I transplanted some broccoli seedlings. I know these won't mature before frost, but I'm hopeful that if I cover them, they should work out. Hopeful....Ok, it's not going to happen, but it's green and it's there for now.

I also transplanted some lettuce hoping against hope (yet again) that the chupacabra in the back yard is gone. These went in on Saturday. Two are already gone, but the majority of the rest have been descimated since this picture was taken either by the incessant rain (we're getting 2-5 MORE inches tomorrow) or those blasted acorns that pulverize everything in their path. Lettuce, I'm afraid, is a spring crop for me.

I did manage to cook those zipper peas this weekend...okay, I didn't have enough zipper peas (the green ones) to cook on their own so I threw them in with some field peas, but they weren't so bad. You could tell the difference in the taste between the two, the zipper peas were more buttery in texture, but they were good none the less.

Hopefully the rain won't cause any more severe flooding like what we just got done with. My fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I never would have thought these cucumbers would have made as many pickles as they did. Here's a shot of the second hoard I talked about pulling in yesterday.
I decided to try to do a batch of pickles and not worry if I had extra brine left over. Extra brine was better than extra cucumbers. These are simple slicing cucumbers and not pickling cucumbers so I know the quality of the finished product won't be up to snuff. They're not going to stay crispy, but instead get rather floppy, but still tasty! I did some in whatever half pints I had empty since we never seem to finish a full pint and I just kept stuffing pint after pint with cucumber slices. I couldn't believe how many jars I filled up.

All in all, there were 9.5 pints of sliced cucumber, kosher dill pickles. I was flabbergasted. These 8.5 pints below did a good job of sealing right from the canner.
This bad boy didn't want to seal. Three hours later I came back and tapped on the lid to check and the stinkin' seal set when I tapped on it. Not good. Not safe to shelve. I put them in the refrigerator and we'll eat those first.
I'm glad I got to do another batch of pickles. I've said it over and over, but I can't believe how well this round of cukes is producing in comparison to the last. We've had some crazy rain and beautiful temperatures, so I'm sure that's helped out as well. By the end of the weekend, I'll have to pull an additional 6-8 off of the vine. Those will go directly to school. I'm sure I can find some takers for them. The time for the first frost is very close. I'm going to be sad to see it come, but glad to start planning the next garden in earnest.
I'm pretty impressed with these raised beds, if not the square foot gardening method in general. Do I agree with all of the recommended spacings and depth requirements? No. They may be good for ideal situations, but mine aren't ideal, however, I do think that with some adaptations to fit your particular growing environment, it's phenomenal both for the inexperienced and seasoned grower. Hopefully I'll only get better at it and pull in well over 1,000lbs like Granny!!
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Harvest Monday

Woohoo! I can do Harvest Monday for the first time in ages. I put the pictures of the sweet potatoes earlier this past weekend and Sunday I picked these five cucumbers.
Look at how many of them were on the vines even after that picking!
This second planting has done so well. Thank you so much, EG for convincing me to do it. Today I picked 10 more cucumbers equalling a little more than 4 pounds. I was thinking to just take all of the cucumbers and put them in the teacher's mail room, but I think I may just have enough to make a few half pints of kosher dills. I know they're not pickling cucumbers and will get pretty soggy, but they're still yummy and I still have a spice packet left, so why not. Anyone ever try putting onion rings in kosher dills? I've got some of those I could stand to use up as well. There will be more cucumbers on the vine to give the faculty/staff within the next two weeks. I'll can these and give them the others when they're ready.
Thanks again, EG. Look at me! I didn't get a single cucumber last year and now I've gotten 42 pounds worth. Ah the difference of a square foot garden. I'll never go back.
The morning comes early. Sweet cucumber pickling dreams.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bad Pictures of a Tasty Supper

We took the two largest sweet potatoes and made them for dinner last night. These were the best looking ones. The rest are mostly finger like and will have to be roasted or steamed all together to make something work from them.

It's a terrible picture, but done up with some butter and brown sugar and cucumbers from the garden with ranch dressing, I'd say things tasted a lot better than they looked in the picture.
Sweet potatoes aren't really something I'd ever purchase in the store. We all love potatoes and sweet potatoes, but never really eat them, so it's nice to grow them as a treat. I'm thinking I'll put these in the trellised box next year and let them run everywhere in there. I'll run a crop of beans in the summer and then, possibly, a set of cucumbers like this year if the beans stop producing, but I don't see why I couldn't just rip those roots out and leave the sweet potatoes in the same box and harvest all of it when it comes to frost.

The only problem I'd see would be to get the new sets of plants (cucumbers possibly) to grow if they're so shaded by the SP leaves. I could make transplants, I suppose, and let them grow substantially before I put them in the ground....thoughts?

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Can I Get a "Woohoo!"

I received notice the other day that the garlic I ordered had been shipped. The excitement was tempered by this:
This is the bed the garlic is supposed to go in. This is also the same bed that's been dug up each night for a week by some animal. Every day I level back the soil and every morning it's been wallowed in again. At least the creature is focusing his efforts in one place instead of the whole garden. The other place they were going to go is where the sweet potatoes are in the corner yard. I figured I'd just go ahead and take those out so the broccoli could have some more sun as well. I started with the other corner yard. This place hasn't gotten more than 30 minutes of sun a day since mid September, so I knew my harvest wouldn't be exciting. I was right:
Very small, and not very exciting. I took a deep sigh and went to remove the tubers from the main corner yard:
WOOHOO!!!!! My veggie scale doesn't go past two pounds, so I made the man get on the scale with the box and weighed that way, these babies were 9.5 pounds! I know it's not as exciting and the tubers aren't as fat as many, but I was rather thrilled. There are a few large ones that will be good for baking, but what do I do with all of the thinner, long ones? Do those just need to get tossed?
I am pretty excited, given the box only got 4-5 hours of sun all year. Not too shabby.