Friday, August 5, 2011

Status report....notes 1/2 way through the season and thoughts for next year

Its roughly 1/2 way through the growing season here and I thought to take some notes.  Something I can go back to in the winter and early part of spring while I'm sitting down with graph paper laying out the garden (no I'm not kidding I really do use graph paper)

Few things to remember for next year.

I need to get the Japanese beetle traps up soon in early June.  Even if they are not bad yet the moment I see one its time to get them up.

I need more poles for my pole beans.  I spaced them too far apart this year and haven't gotten NEARLY enough beans from them.  I know part of its from the beetles I'm battling but there's still unused space and its frustrating when I weed it just to weed it.  Remember to inoculate the beans too.

Maybe we'll do some bush beans....still trying to decide if I want to give them a go or not.

Plant less zucchini and squash.  I've got 6 of each and I'm collecting way more than I can eat.  I could do 3 of each and still have more than I need.  They taste great but Holy Moses I've got a lot to eat.

Plant less potatoes.  Yes they taste good but I used them to suck up space in the garden since I got all sorts of crazy looks when I told people how many tomatoes I planted.

Plant more tomatoes.  We are going through them, no reason not plant more.  Speaking of planting tomatoes, Im going to go ahead and plant some black krims next year.  If nothing else they should make great soup or sauce.  That's what I keep hearing so Ill give them a try.

Plant more cucumbers.  We're eating them.  I could use about 2 more slicers and 2 more picking.  So 6 and 6 instead of 4 and 4.  That would be great.  Eventually I'd like to trellis them but right now its just not going to happen.

Plant another type of watermelon in addition to the Sugar Babies.  Its always a toss up where we are if we'll get a watermelon crop but a couple of bigger watermelons wouldn't hurt to try.

Maybe not do pumpkins next year.  They are an invasive pain in my arse.  Yes it will be good to have the kids all come over to pick them, to carve them they are a pain to have to keep moving/redirecting vines and are taking up space for things I could be eating or canning to eat later.  Maybe Ill grow one or 2 for my daughter and that's it.  Maybe I won't even do that, I don't know.

Grow some herbs.  Dill for sure and bay leaf I think.

Pass on growing onion, and garlic.  Don't eat enough of them to take up the space on them.

Maybe plant a yellow cherry tomato next to the regular cherry tomato plant we had this year.

Maybe plant ground cherries.

Look into plum tomatoes.

That's the list so far........

Weekly Harvest Weigh In #7

Alright I know I'm busted.  I've been meaning to get off my arse and get this done but with the new job and keeping on top of the projects around here, its just fallen on the way side.

Heck the only thing I've done with the computer lately is walk past it.  I've been too tired to mess with the blog.  So please forgive me for slacking on this.

Its been a good season so far.  I've gotten more yellow squash and zucchini than I anticipated.  I definitely over planted on both of those.  I am harvesting at least 1 squash or zucchini every few days, if not both.  Its been unreal.  I just got a recipe for zucchini relish so I'll be making up some of that to help use up all the zucchini I've got going.  I'm also going to retry to make more zucchini fruit snacks.  I'm going to keep a closer eye on the dehydrator so hopefully I have fruit snacks instead of fruit flavored jerky zucchini.

I also will try using some of the yellow squash in place of zucchini with the relish recipe since I've got so many of those too.  I really did over plant those.

My tomatoes are doing good, I picked 1.5lbs of this last week.  We're eating them on sandwiches like they are going out of style.  My wife doesn't even bother with any bacon or lunch meat just tomato sandwiches she's that pleased with this years crop.  Its been a nice balance of Romas and Early Girls, but there are a BUNCH of Romas waiting to be color up.  They are taking their time but that's ok.  When they come in its going to be in a rush.  Then its salsa and soup time.

My cucumbers are doing great too.  LOTS of picking cucumbers.  We've made 6 quarts of dill spears already.  These next ones we'll turn into bread and butter pickles.  They've slowed down a bit but they still are doing good.  They are being overtaken by the pumpkins though so we'll see.

My watermelons are doing good too.  I've got a handful of them that are the size of cantaloupes but I'm not sure on picking them yet.  The curling tendrils are still green or I don't have any tendrils.  They have very dark  dull looking skin, no shine at all so I'll have to look for the yellow spot and the fingernail test.  I'm just afraid I'm going to pick them too early. 

My pole beans are doing good.  The plants themselves are going strong finally.  Got 2 beans off them.  Then the Japanese beetles moved in and now they are going gonzo on the leaves.  So all the blossoms are not able to develop since the plant is losing nutrients to the holes the beetles have put in the leaves.  I gotta get traps up.  Its really bad.

I've already picked a few sweet peppers and WOW they are good.  Big, sweet, nice full walled sweet peppers they are great.  I've also got over a half pound of jalapeno peppers too.  3 plants have given me that many.  So far so good!

I'll have to go back and get the numbers to give a current weight but all in all we're holding our own here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From the most humble beginnings...

Before....looking east to west across the garden.  This picture was taken in April.

And taken just a few days ago at the end of July.  This was taken from the N.E. corner

The work has begun to pay off, and I'm so grateful I have this resource available to me and my family.  Its work but when I look at the cost of food these days and all the nonsense going on about the global economy I appreciate it even more.

Especially when you get great things like

Of course I remembered to take a picture AFTER we already ate the other cucumber and ate 2 other tomatoes that would have been part of this picture.  Its been a nice slow build on production so far.  Soon though its going to be canning time with lots of Romas and peppers to make salsa and tomato sauce.

A just a little preview of what's to come

I can't wait!

Thanks for looking

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Green Zebra tomatoes

I felt like I should do a little update on these guys.  

This was the first one I found in my garden.  I get such a kick out of their coloration even when they are little.  I've never had them before but everything I've read about them has been very encouraging.  I had room for these or Mr Stripey and given what I've heard about Mr Stripey I'm glad I went with the Green Zebras.  I've never had a green tomato before so it wasn't much of a choice.

Here's the same tomato a few weeks later.

Here's an even better example of how they look.  

They have that mottling and unique color from itty bitty and they just keep getting bigger and bigger and more of them.  They have been quite prolific too.  Good balance between leaf growth and number of tomatoes.  They were the last ones to blossom when compared to my Early Girls, Romas, Better Boys, and Lemon Boys but they've more than made up for their slow start.  

I always go and check on these on my daily pumpkin watering trips to see how they are doing.  I'm dying to taste them, and I hope they taste as good as they look so I can justify planting them again next year.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ever feel like you were born at the wrong time?

I'm totally serious.  In this modern age we have of internet accessible everything, constant updates swarming you like an angry cluster of yellow jackets.  The ability to have at your fingertips literally any morsel of information and at least 3 interest groups and a message board to converse and share about the mutual interest of whatever you were looking up. 


Sometimes I just feel like I just don't belong.  Like I was born too late.  I like some of the outdated things that are just novelty that some nostalgic folks try to preserve and hold onto.  Things like horse racing, the sport of Kings.  I can watch them run all day.  No I don't gamble, I've never bet on a horse race I just love watching them run.  There was a time when races were called on the radio.  And not just the Triple Crown either.  I enjoy listening to baseball games on the radio.  I like the creaking of an old wood floor underneath my feet worn down but silk smooth from so many feet traveling over it.  I like wool, peppermint candies (especially York peppermint), midgies (I linked it for the uninformed and for those who may have forgotten) and a Hershey bar with almonds.

I like muzzleloaders, especially the old flint locks.  I really want an old Kentucky Long rifle replica with a flint lock to hunt during Michigan's muzzleloader season.  Yes it can be a long time between click and boom, sometimes it may even misfire, but there is something special about hunting with one.

The fair is coming up here and I know one day they'll have the draft horse pull.  I can watch those big horses pull all day as I love watching them work.  If I had the money, and space I'd love to have a team of Belgians or Percherons to work with.  Heck since we're talking about dreams, I think it would be great to own a horse logging business.  Where instead of tractors, and big loaders, I hook up the chains and my big draft horses would pull the logs out just like they did way back in the day.

I love the work of a good dog.  When instinct and drive are given the opportunity to really showcase what they can do, it is really something to behold.  When you could walk down the road with your dog, unleash them and start putting up pheasants.  Or walk out to the river and limit out on ducks with the dog nailing his marks and tracking the cripple that made up a double.  On a good day limit out before lunch and you know what you were going to have for Sunday dinner.

Speaking of that, how about when Sunday dinner was a special event when you went to Grandma and Grandpa's house, played with your cousins and fell asleep on the way back home.

When a wood splitter was a 9lbs maul and a need to heat the house.

When red and black plaid coats were in the Sears catalog not on some "remember when" website.

I don't feel like an old soul, and I'll be the first to admit I often times don't act like one.  Maybe we just hear about the good times as that's what told to us.  Regardless I think I'd fit in just fine.

Weekly harvest weigh in #5

Sorry I missed everybody last week.  We went camping for 6 days and it was a MUCH needed vacation. we go 

Well I finally have a harvest to speak of.  Well sort of.

3 Jalapenoes, 2 yellow squash, 3 baseball bat sized zucchini and a lone cherry tomato.  Nothing super crazy but we're coming along here.  I deliberately let the zucchini get big.  Why?  So I can make zucchini snacks!  I got a dehydrator off Craigslist for 10 bucks.  Its never been used. The woman I bought it from said her boyfriend bought it, they split up and he left it there.  She was cleaning up and wanted it out since she said she'd never use it.  So I got a TOTALLY great deal.  I'm pretty pumped as the reviews the recipe got were great so I'm excited to give it a go.  

My first 2 Early Girl tomatoes.

I've got a bunch of pickling cucumbers ready to go any day now I just need to get the supplies to make pickles.  They are going bonkers out there.

And I've got watermelons!!!  I didn't think I was going to get any but I've easily got over a dozen in various sizes.  The biggest ones I have are the size of a softball.  I'm so pumped!  I didn't think I was going to get any watermelons this year, but with the heat that we've been under, the watermelons are happy as anything out there.

I've also got one pumpkin the size of a football!  Its big, dark green and growing good.  Its close to the plant as it didn't vine out much but that's ok.  The funny part is not only is it NOT a giant pumpkin its also in the northern most part of the pumpkin row!  I can't figure it out.  It must have been pollinated early and its just quietly doing its thing.

My big pumpkin has got vines all over the place and lots of blossoms.  The biggest pumpkin its got is the size of a baseball.  Time will tell if they really develop into anything special.  I've been watching them; noting how fast they grow.  So far so good.  I've already removed 1 of the would be giants because it would have grown right into some peppers and end up crushing them.  Of course it was growing quickly but I didn't want to sacrifice the peppers for the big pumpkin.

With the big pumpkin experiment, I don't know if there will be a 2012 giant pumpkin in my patch or not.  Its quite invasive like I'd expect a pumpkin to be and the leaves are absolutely huge Id expected too.  The problem is, it sucks up water like its going out of style.  Its unreal!!!  I give it 4-6 gallons a day from the watering can depending on how hot the day is.  If I don't water it, the leaves all get droopy and it looks like its pouting.  Talk about high maintenance and honestly its not something else I need to deal with.  At first it was fun, but its becoming a daily chore, and something I'm not sure I want to keep doing.  Maybe the pay out will be worth it, but right now I'm not 100% sold on doing this again next year.  Maybe Ill just focus on growing more carving type pumpkins for the kids.  I don't know the jury is still out.

I've got a bunch of Roma tomatoes that I'm waiting to turn.  I'm going to have a number of jars of sauce.

My Green Zebras are doing well and getting bigger.  I love the pattern on them they really look wild.  I hope the flavor is as good as they appear.  They say they have a "zippy flavor" so we'll see what that means.  My Lemon boys are coming along well too.

And on another happy note my pole beans are blooming.  A few of them have reached up to the top and are trying to find new places to intertwine themselves.  I was antsy about them with this being the first year I've had them, but I think I might keep them around for next year.  I'll definitively start them a few weeks earlier and inoculate them with nitrifying bacteria to help give the plants everything they need.  I might, and I say might do some bush beans too.  Everybody I know has had issue with woodchucks, and other assorted critters eating the blossoms off, so you never get a crop so we'll see.  Im not one for canned beans.  Id rather have fresh stuff that was imported to this area than anything out of a can.  Well....maybe if I did it.

I'm off to make zucchini candy and Ill be sure to post my results.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thought Id take the camera along to water and weed

And took these shots to share

First stop was to check on my yellow squash and there it is

and another one growing right along near it.  They are doing very well.  Half of this row is yellow squash the other half is zucchini.  The zucchini are trying to catch up.  They lost all their blossoms with the last thunderstorms we had come through so even though the plants themselves look good, no zucchini yet.

Saw my red skin potatoes were starting to bloom.

WATERMELON BLOSSOMS!!!!  These little buggers appear and disappear so fast I have a hard time remembering which plant flowered.  I'm really excited about getting watermelons.  I don't care for the watermelons you buy in the store, I think they lack flavor and sweetness.  To me its like biting into a damp sponge.  No thank you.  Maybe I'm a watermelon snob I don't know but I do know what I don't like.  My wife and daughter eat the store bought melon without complaint and think they taste fine but I just don't care for them.  So I'm hoping to get a few this year and show them what a REAL watermelon tastes like.

Oh Pickles!  Well maybe I should be more specific...they are picking cucumbers that are going to be made into pickles.  If half of the blossoms I have produce cucumbers, then I'm going to be in a pickle with what to do with all them.  They are really doing well for me.

Giant pumpkin picture.    
Its got 2 blooms on it and hopefully producing pumpkins anytime now  The growth on this thing is amazing.  I swear I could check on it after breakfast and by dinner time its grown that much more.  Its really impressive.

Sweet pepper.  Bunch of these are coming in, and more to follow. 

I put this picture up of my Green Zebra tomato plant.  I thought it was wild that you can already see the "zebra" pattern.  I've never had one but when I saw the flavor description as "zippy" I figured why not.  Plus the price was right.

And one of my day lilies.  
I thought this would be a good note to end on.