Saturday, July 31, 2010

Garden Blogger's Death Day - July Edition

It's the last day of July and that brings with it Garden Blogger's Death Day hosted by Kate from Gardening Without Skills.

This month was a killer. Literally. I feel like a store going out of business for "Everything Must Go!" It began earlier this week when we got back from vacation and I ripped out all of the beans and vining cucumbers and put them in the fire pit.
This was how the fire pit looked when I was done with everything this morning.
I pulled all of the tomatoes in every bed, the okra which never produced, the cantaloupe that never produced and the bush cucumbers which had died.
The main garden looks very empty at this point, doesn't it.
I gave the lima beans on the trellis back there the good college try, but the bugs have come back to it like flies to a dead horse, so it will be pulled as soon as I get down there with some scissors to cut the trellis down. The eggplants there in the back seem to be chugging along in spite of their leaves which are riddled with holes from a myriad of bugs.

It's time for the fall garden, friends! I think I'll direct sow most of it since I have plenty of time and space. I'm also thinking about another round of cucumbers on that back trellis and a round of beans behind the eggplant. Hmmm...peas on the trellis in the foreground of the picture? I've never been successful at them, but I've got the space to try it!

This month was a real killer, but hope springs anew in the fall.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saving the Limas and Fears Reestablished

I've officially made the attempt at saving the limas. It rained HARD last night and I was hopeful, as you suggested, that a good water blast would push them off. There were less this morning, so I hit the remainder with some insecticidal soap and there were fewer of them there this afternoon. I don't know if the vines will recover, but I'm all for giving them three more weeks of TLC to decide what they're going to do before I throw my hands up.

I attempted to get a family picture taken during this year's vacation, but we just couldn't contain those children without straight jackets. One was always running off after a shell or a rock or just grains of sand. We did manage an entire week at the beach without getting fried, however, so I count this as a success.
Of all of the things we did on vacation, both children, oddly enough, were enamoured with the lighthouses that line the Outer Banks. We saw the Bodie Island lighthouse, which was shrouded in cloth and scaffolding for repair, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Currituck Lighthouse pictured below.
There was an entrance fee to climb this lighthouse and we all stood dutifully in line, bought our tickets and climbed to the first landing. Half way up to that first landing (there are 9 total) my heart started pounding in my ears, my stomach sank, I started to sweat and then came the welling tears for no reason whatsoever.
Then I realized.....I'm terrified of open, plank staircases.
It's just ridiculous. I always was nervous on them and avoided them as a kid and even remember going to the back door of a neighbor's house so as not to have to climb their slotted front steps. My old day care sitter also has backless stairs to her front door and they make me pause, but never panic.

I must say, I freaked slap out with no warning. I watched the boy, girl and man make their way to the second landing and stammered out something about waiting there for them while I tried to contain the tears that were looming on the brink. I gathered my nerves while I read the entire storyboard on that first landing because I knew I had to get down the same steps I just came up. I held my breath, hugged the wall and refused to look at the steps as I descended. Then I allowed myself the luxury of panicking over the boy and girl who made it up and down without a peep of trepidation or whine of lethargy and begged to climb Hatteras the next day.

I suppose old, irrational fears stick deep.

The morning comes early. May your have sweet lima living and not staircase of terror dreams.

MAN, was I terrifed. I can't get over it. For no good reason and no moderate trepidation beforehand. It hit me like cans tumbling from an ill stacked shelf. It was just ridiculous, and I keep playing my reaction over and over in my head and still find it ridiculous. I'm obsessing, obviously.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Harvest Monday and a Rescue Mission

Since my neighbors have been harvesting while I was gone last week, the yellow pear tomatoes I harvested yesterday are my only Harvest Monday picture, but boy don't they look good! I can't believe there were so many and moreover that they didn't go bad on the vine. I'll snack on those for lunch today.

Be sure to stop by Daphne's to see what everyone else has harvested this week.

I've decided to try to save the limas. I know, but I really had such high hopes for them. As you can see, they're just totally infested with these little boogers: It's just too much to knock off into a cup, so I think I'm going to have to spray, but I don't know what's going to sink through that hard shell of theirs, or if that's even a factor. The leaves themselves are pretty yellowed and mottled, but I'm hoping that's just because they've not gotten the water they should. I'm going to cut off some of the more offending branches and hope for the best. I really want those limas.

I took out the bush beans today to make room for the cabbages and the broccoli. The tomatoes will likely come out this evening when it cools off. Looks like I'll get to sit down today with my graph paper and really make a good map. I'm thinking rutabaga. I tried some last year, but it never bulbed up. Wonder if I should try again....

If you know what can kill those crazy triangle bugs, let me know.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Absentee Gardener Has Returned

Over the last week we've been in Kill Devil Hills, NC enjoying the beaches and sights of the Outer Banks. It was a fantastic vacation. We visited three out of the five lighthouses in the area and the boy and girl both climbed the one at Currituck and the boy climbed the Cape Hatteras lighthouse without a moment's fuss of whine. The girl cried buckets because she wasn't tall enough for the Hatteras climb. I didn't make either climb...but more on that later.

My big question is for any of you from that area is regarding the Wright Brother's National Monument and where the first flight took place. All throughout our elementary schooling we read and were taught that the first flight took place in Kitty Hawk, NC, but the location of the monument and flight markers is actually in Kill Devil Hills. Kitty Hawk is only a hop, skip and a jump away, but the place certainly is KDH and not Kitty Hawk. Anyone know the story here?

The garden suffered...actually, the entire summer garden with the exception of the sweet potatoes is coming out tomorrow. All of the remaining tomatoes have BER, the cucumbers look to have contracted wilt or the like, but I'm mostly sad about those lima beans that I had waited so long for. Those triangle like brown bugs completely infested it while we were gone and sucked the life out of the plants. I'm sad, but I think I may still have time to put some more cucumbers and beans in before the first frost. I'll also have the room to try the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage from seed directly in the garden instead of from transplants. I need to get my garlic order in before it's too late as well. A lot will be happening in the garden this next week, but the results will take some time. It's just been too darn hot this summer. I'm glad last summer (June was mild) was my first real summer garden. If it was this year, I'd be discouraged. Besides the mad zucchini rush, however.

Good thing is that I picked a colander full of yellow pear tomatoes today and I'll get the joy of planning out a summer/fall garden at the same time! Another good thing is that all of your orders placed for Keychains for a Cause will go out tomorrow!! Thank you for placing those orders and being patient while we were gone.

The morning comes early. Sweet garden planning dreams.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cucumbers and Zombies

Woohoo! I finally got enough cucumbers to make a batch of bread and butter pickles. The few cooler days we had over July 4 weekend really helped the cucumbers along. There were fewer bees in the area, so I can only deduce that it was the extreme heat that was making them grow all funny. I'm assuming the pollination just didn't take as well in the heat, but you can see now we had a pretty good turn out now.
I made the batch of bread and butter pickles yesterday and I'm hoping that with my second planting of cucumbers this fall, that I'll get enough to do some dill pickles. I have decided that the wide mouth jars are the way to go when doing things like pickles.

In the search to keep the kids occupied this summer, yesterday we went to the library and saw a clown who did a fantastic show and then did face painting. I didn't realize it at the time, but this wasn't just a cheek painting, this was a full faced painting. The girl was a butterfly and the boy was done up like a green Tw0-Face. They had a blast, but the paint rubbed off on their hands and subsequently everything else...except for their faces. This is after two scrubbings and then a third scrubbing in the bathtub and they still have that green glow of the undead around their eyes.
I tried baby oil as well, but there's a hit of it still there this morning, especially on the girl, although she did just walk in here and say, "Look Mom! Zombie Children!!"
We're going to another library today to see a magic show....let the disapproving stares and mumbled comments begin!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crossing Your Beans

General question here....

I've always heard that when you cross pollinate things like squash, it isn't visible until the seeds from that crop are planted themselves.


Reason I'm asking is that I just picked a bunch of bush beans that most certainly were NOT Dragon Tongue beans, yet showed some of the coloration on the outside of the bean as well as on the bean seeds as well.

I know they were not Dragon Tongue because they were planted about 3 weeks after the Dragon Tongue beans, are in a different bed (although located within 10 feet), and I used all of the DT beans when I planted them the first time.

It was just darn odd, I tell you, which prompts the question do bean crosses present themselves in the same generation?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvest Monday!

Every Monday, Daphne hosts Harvest Monday! Hop on over to her blog to see what everyone is harvesting this week. This was the week of the tomato for me. The yellow pears are coming in daily and I don't mind one bit. They're just my favorite.

Because of the nice weather around the fourth of July, the cucumbers were actually pollenated correctly and aren't so woppy this week.

Here's what I pulled today. I had to break down and put some tomatoes in the fridge even though I hate to do that. Most of this will wind up in a salad I'm bringing to a girlfriend's house tomorrow.

I tried, tried, tried to remember to take a picture of a roasted garden veggie dish from the other day, but by the time I remembered to grab my camera, we had eaten it all.
It obviously wasn't good at all. ;)

On a side note, thank you to everyone who has ordered key chains! The first batch went out in the mail this morning and you should be getting them shortly. I added the newest design today. It's another breast cancer design, but this one is white with tiny pink ribbons.
If you haven't checked out the Keychains for a Cause page, I encourage you to please come on over and see what it's about!
And while you're at it, stop by Daphne's to see what everyone else is harvesting!
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Back to Basics

I took a few days hiatus from gardening posts, mostly because it was too hot to do anything outside, but also because the heat has taken its toll on the garden in a mean, mean way inspite of my attempts to salvage it.

The peppers are a bust this year and the tomatoes and okra don't seem to like that location much better.

The Kentucky Wonder pole beans produced a little, but not as I was hoping, but they're surely dying back and will come out in two weeks regardless to make room for peas.

The cucumbers in the new garden are a bit wilty and just aren't making pretty looking cucumbers. I think they'll come out in a few weeks too and either more cukes will go in or more peas.
The only thing that seemingly laughs at the heat has been the lima beans. They reach for the sky and stay spry even in the hottest parts of the day.
There are, however, these little dark copper almost triangluar bugs EVERYWHERE on them.
I'm not sure what they are, but they don't seem to be affecting the production, yet.
Although I haven't harvested anything from them yet, they look like they're going to do wonderfully!
I took y'all's advice and made changes to the Keychains page and also took advice to include purple ribbon keychains. Purple is the color that signifies awareness for all types of cancer. Another reader suggested I make half length ones for smaller key chains, men or to keep all of those pesty cupon/discount cards that clutter up your everyday key chains. I think they're great! Here's a picture of the purple half length:
I'm so happy to say we've already gotten several orders and the first batch will go out in the mail on Monday. This is all very exciting.
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Friday, July 9, 2010

No Gardening, but Fun Times No Less

It was back up in the high 90's today and now that we've paid our last respects to the zucchini, there's not much going on in the garden. Tomorrow, I suspect, I could go out there and pick some green beans and maybe a tomato or two, but things have really slowed down. I'm just planning on biding my time until I can plant either a second go around of summer crops or fall crops at the end of July/August.

So, I turned to my sewing machine again to give me some entertainment. Our neighbors down the road just had a baby boy, so I bought some fabric to make him a blanket. Of course, the boy and girl made noise about wanting their own, so there were three blankets that got made today. The boy chose a monkey print for both him and the baby and the girl chose a froggie print (I must say I approved) with pink backing, of course.

I hate, hate, hate sewing blanket binding tape around the edges, so instead, when I sew the right sides together, I leave a pretty hefty allowance of almost an inch. When I flip it, I do a decorative stitch on top of that allowance and it gives it a sturdy, thicker edge to the blanket. Here's the boy's blanket and edging:

And here's the baby's. They're similar, but different enough.

The girl wanted a flower pattern sewed on hers which was a huge mistake. It took over an hour to stitch the blanket around and I was disapointed because it never looked much like flowers to me but more like a mess, but she thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world, so we'll leave it at that.

And if that wasn't enough, my poor little sewing machine that could got even more of a workout because I finished my breast cancer awareness, pink ribboned key chains today. This one, here, is going to my mother and another to my aunt, both of whom are breast cancer survivors. Because of them and others, I've decided to help my school's Relay for Life team raise money by selling these keychains through the blog here. You can find a link on the sidebar to that page. I'm not versed in HTML, so I couldn't make the page act like I wanted to, but I've got my eye on a kid at school who I know can help me set it up right once we go back. I've got additional breast cancer ribbon coming and some Autism Awareness ribbon that I'm excited about. I'm also thinking of doing ones in purple since that color is supposed to stand for all cancers. Hop on over there and tell me what you think!

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening, or rather more sewing, dreams.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Good Night, Squash Bugs....Maybe?

The man came home last night and burned all of the zucchini plants and the myriad of other garden debris I had thrown into the fire pit over the last couple of weeks. I was looking for the big "Pfoof" of fire that would stop all of the little squash bugs in their wake. The man set a wonderful fire that did the deed of giving the zucchini the warrior's respect they had earned. When I asked if any squash bugs made a run for it, he said a ton of bugs that looked the same hightailed it out of there, so he could assume those were the dasterdly squash bugs. When I said I was looking for the big "Pfoof!" of fire, he said, "Well, that would take gasoline."

I was thinking more along the lines of this:

But, again, the deed is done. Elegantly, gracefully, and most appreciatedly. Now I'm waiting for it to cool off this weekend and I'll find something else to do with that spot. I'm thinking of another round of cucumbers or beans. Actually....some late season peppers and tomatoes may not be bad either. They'll still have time to mature before frost, or ripen inside The ones in the ground now have almost ripened all they had and aren't producing any more because of the heat.

On another note, I've decided summer vacation can last a month and a week. You need the additional week to finish all of the work from the previous year and prep for the next and a month to decompress. Now we need to go back to school. I'm ready to do the timed bathroom breaks and 19 minute lunches. I'm ready for the irate parents, the apathetic kids and to say something seventeen times and have no one listen, although that's not unlike what I do now with my own kids during the summer.

I do go back August 4, so it's not so far away, but I'm going mad trying to find little crafty projects to keep me busy and my mind engaged inside the house since it's too blasted hot to be in the garden. Tonight I did emergency surgery on my neighbor's boy's favorite blankie that had ripped in the corners. I took it apart, cut off the bad ends, sewed it back and put a decorative stitch around it to reinforce the sides. I'm done and now I'm bored. I could clean; the house most assuredly needs it, but it doesn't keep my mind engaged and it makes me more irritated than it usually does. I'm reading The Autobiography of Ms. Jane Pitman which is one of our 9th grade reading books and whereas it's a good read, it's not going to entertain a 9th grader one bit. I've also made several more of the keychains I posted about earlier. I've done some with the pink ribbon for breast cancer and I've bought some Autism awareness ribbon and UGA ribbon (sorry EG) as well. I figure I'll have those done up by tomorrow night and I can start selling them to raise money for our school's Relay for Life team. I figure the cutsie ones will also make good teacher's gifts or stocking stuffers come Christmas. And I'm still bored. And I'm rattling on....did I mention I'm bored...and now I've bored you. Sorry about that. ;) I'll get more garden-focused tomorrow, hopefully.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

And Then There Were None

The zucchini is done.

It's been an epic year for the zucchini, but after harvesting three yesterday and another two today.....I looked at the over 20 cups I already had frozen and relish I had canned and said good bye. That, and I had stopped fighting the good fight with the squash bugs a while ago and found they had taken up residency on the beans. This, we will not tollerate.

So, the zucchini came out and I watched the multitude of squash bugs run for their squash buggie lives. It was rather humerous. I put them all in the burn pit for later burning.
Now I have an empty 3x9 bed and I was thinking of planting some pickling cucumbers since by the time they mature it will be getting a bit cooler, but still far ahead of a frost. I suppose I need to amend the bed with something. Should I add fertilizer and/or compost? Which kinds and how much of each? I've never really amended in the middle of the season and only got a trailer full of compost in the spring, but I don't need that much for the 3x9 bed. Any suggestions?

Now, you may offer up a moment of silence for the zucchini if you desire. They certainly hossed it out this year!

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's Harvest Monday!

If all other Harvest Mondays up to this point have been all about the zucchini, I'm supposing this Harvest Monday is dedicated to the tomato. They've been ripening all at once, seemingly. I missed taking pictures yesterday of some beans, three tomatoes and two zucchini since the kids were anxious to put out another veggie stand, but here's what we dragged in otherwise.

The green tomatoes from the downed plant.
Beans and zucchini. Our beans never grow beautifully long and straight like so many I've seen on other blogs. They get short, dumpy, fat and stringy instead. Still good eating, however. The Fortex pole beans are just coming in. I'm thinking those are all I'll grow from now on. There's nothing like them for flavor and texture.
Here's a bit of what I pulled for the kids' first veggie box.
Tons of tomatoes.
A late night harvest using my favorite collection method.
And the start of this week's tomato fiesta is below.
Last night for our Fourth of July celebrations I made a tomato and cucumber salad from all of the four different types of tomatoes in the garden. It was a huge bowl, and it was scarfed up pretty quickly which was nice. A woman was there who has milk goats, chickens and just got a cow to milk as well. See...if I did get chickens, now I'd have someone to apprentice under!
Stop by Daphne's to see what everyone else is harvesting this week!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fun and Food

The boy and girl each took a dollar of their garden bounty and headed off to the dollar store this morning with me. Yes, it's good to save, and they'll save the rest, but it's also nice for them to see their work pay off. The girl had no qualms about waving her dollar around, but the boy hemmed and hawed and then flipped to wanting to save it all, or what would happen if we left and then he needed it on the ride home or a myriad of other scenarios. He decided to spend it after I assured him I had another dollar in my pocket for that "just in case" moment. He got himself a Star Wars kite and the girl got a small doll that came with a potty and a bathtub. They were both happy.

I took out a squash hill today that was absolutely infested with SVBs. It only gave me one squash all season, so it wasn't much of a loss. I took out one spent zucchini and wanted to do more, but those things just don't seem to care that their stems are peppered with holes and barely holding themselves together. They're powerhouses, that's for sure.

Dinner tonight was largely from the garden. The colors are off because of the low light, but we had breaded fish with zucchini salsa (from the freezer), rice, zipper peas with beans filling in for snaps, rice and a salad made with a cucumber and tomato from the garden.
I've never tried putting the zucchini salsa on the fish and WOW was it good. I'll certainly do it again soon. I'm so glad I made more zucchini salsa this year. I almost didn't as I figured we didn't enjoy it last year very much. I suppose I just needed to use it the right way.

Lastly, and totally off gardening, my girlfriend asked if I'd make her a couple of wristlet keychains like ones she's seen around, so I made hers and a few more for myself this afternoon. I usually clip my keys on my belt loop and look very stupid, especially when I'm wearing dress pants. These loop around your wrist, so I don't have to look like a burly old man anymore.
They're just too cute. I'm thinking they'll make great stocking stuffers and teacher gifts come Christmas, but I'm going to do them all now while I don't have papers to grade. I'm going to make some in the boy's school colors and let his teacher use them as a class fundraiser and then make some with the Awareness colors (like for different cancers, Autism, etc) and use them for a fundraiser for our school's Relay For Life team. I hope they get a good response.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening/sewing dreams.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Veggie Stand Is Where It's At!

Before you jump on it, yes, it killed me to end the subject with a preposition, but it didn't sound as splendid otherwise.

The boy's been begging me to let him set up a lemonade stand. He just flat wore me down, and since the weather had actually given us a break in the heat for today and I didn't have any lemonade, I sent the boy and girl outside with a box of veggies.
They made $6.30 in about two hours of sitting outside, eating dinner and marching around in circles. They would whoop and holler like crazies when they got a nickle or a dime and were so completely giddy that it made all of their "customers" laugh and smile along with them. The boy yelled, "This is AWESOME!" and the girl chimed in "Rock ON" as she flashed her devil horns and gave her best sneer. One woman and I were talking about the neighborhood when the girl walks up to her and says, "Here, take your tomato. You need to give me your money now." I was mortified, but the woman, who actually works for our vet's office, played right along. I was so happy for the kids and so grateful to the neighbors for stopping by. I need to remember to stop when I see kids selling lemonade or the like at the road side. It's such a simple thing and makes kids so happy.
The morning comes early, sweet gardening dreams.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Conspriacies, A Man Down, Realizations, and the Duh Factor...Oh MY!

My philosophies of a garden conspiracy when it comes to integrated garden salad fare (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers etc. at the same time) is well documented. There is, however, another conspiracy that needs noting. The rain conspiracy. I promise you, Mother Nature conspires against us in order not to rain in our subdivision. We live about a quarter mile off of the main road and three times this last week, it's rained a toad floater on the main road and we're been bone dry. If that's not a conspiracy, I don't know what is. I finally resorted to cursing the sky Tuesday and wouldn't you know it....It rained here Wednesday night, but blessings aren't without curses. I went out this morning to find a man down. It wouldn't be so bad except for the stem was severed. I left the two ripening ones on the stem to hopefully ripen some more, but that left seven green tomatoes.
I looked through my Ball Complete Book of Home Canning to find out what to do with them and decided to make Salsa Verde which made and sealed very well.
Then I made a very important realization. I don't like green tomatoes. Really. It was yucky. This was my realization and simultaneously DUH moment of the day.
Hopefully we'll find a use for all of it. I've got three more green ones left and I've found all sorts of recipes from fried tomatoes to green tomato bread, but it's all pretty much making me crinkle my nose. Looks like those might be going on the front walk for the taking. I also blanched and froze 8+ cups more zucchini this morning. I may stick the boy on the sidewalk with the lemonade stand he's been wanting and some extra tomatoes. He'll have a blast.
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

The State of the Garden Post

Last weekend I took shots of how the garden was progressing in late June. Here's the main corner yard with the bush cucumbers in front, followed by bush cantaloupe in the first long box. It's not really doing much. There were a few female flowers that I know were pollinated, but they're not putting on any weight. The second long box has all of the zucchini. I'm slowly weeding out plants as they die back. Skip the path and you've got two 3x3 boxes with squash, both of which will likely be torn out today as they're both yellow from the squash bugs and SVBs. The back bed with the trellis has bush beans which will be picked today and the left side of the trellis has Fortex pole beans which are flowering and the right has lima beans which haven't started flowering yet, but are looking very nice, even in this heat.
This is the new garden we put in this year. The left bed has jalapenos and eggplants which have stopped flowering and cucumber vines which aren't putting out any straight cucumbers, only oddly shaped ones. I know they're getting pollinated as the trellis is always so swarmed with bees that you can't get near it. Don't worry, I've got a back up plan. The right bed has KW pole beans and used to have the Dragon Tongue beans which played out.
This is the other corner yard with peppers, yellow pear tomatoes and little squash in the front two boxes. I'm a bit surprised at the okra which hasn't done anything yet, nor has it really put on any height. Perhaps next month. The peppers each have 1-2 bells on them, so that's exciting.
This is the man's burn pit. In it is the zucchini I pulled after it had SVB damage and hadn't flowered in a week. Now that it's in the burn pit, it's flowered every day. Go figure. ;)
Here's the side yard with all of the tomatoes. Dan, these are the CP seeds you sent me on the very right and left. They're doing great! If you look at the second plant you can see red!
Finally, the other bed on the side yard has more tomatoes and the back up cucumbers. These cucumbers seem to be doing better and I'm thinking if they do, that I'll grow the cucumbers over here next year. They make a nice screen to cover this retaining wall.
So, there you have it! Things are nice and green, but again, the heat has mostly stopped everything from flowering or putting weight on the produce, so we'll just have to let the heat play out in July and August, hope for a reprieve and either plant a second round of summer crops in mid July or just hold out until fall....I'm debating if I really need more zucchini..... HA!