Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just checking in

So I figured I go check on things in the garden.  I had to water my big pumpkin anyway so I took the camera with me in case anything caught my eye.

Well it sure did.

Early Girl Tomatoes

These are the first tomatoes I've found so far.  There are plenty more blooms along the plants too.

My Jalapenos....bring on the salsa!

First blooms I found too on my pickling cucumbers.  I'm anxious to try out the pickle recipes I found.  I look forward to crunching on some of these at deer camp this fall.


I was a little worried about these guys because they didn't like the cool ground temperatures we had a week or so ago, but they came back just fine.  You can see the other blooms in the picture too and I look forward to lots of sauce this season.

So far so good, its shaping up to be a good season so far.  Zucchini and my yellow crooked neck squash are blooming to beat the band like they always do. 

I had some pictures of my pumpkin blossoms but they didn't come out so I didn't put them up.  My big pumpkin is starting to vine and its got blossoms on it too.  I'm SUPER excited to see how big it will grow.  First year for me and the whole giant pumpkin thing but it looks really good.  My daughter is the reason I decided to grow a big pumpkin this year.  I bought the seeds with the hope of having one big enough to carve and put her inside with the lid closed.  She's 3, and old enough to really understand the difference between the normal Jack-O-Lanterns (which I also have) and a real big pumpkin.  

Its amazing when I stop and think about all the things she inspires in me.  I hear people saying how being a Dad is rewarding but until you get to experience it, there really is nothing like it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weekly harvest weigh in #2

Well here is, and I can't believe a weeks passed already.  Things here are looking good.  My father-in-law who's wisdom in the garden I trust completely was kind enough to loan me his rototiller to help keep my garden in check.  He's an old country boy who grew up on a farm.  He's kept a garden longer than anybody I know personally and he's quite successful because he's got a wealth of knowledge to pull from.  He moved his garden to a different location and kept it smaller this year so he said its easier for him to use a garden hoe to keep weeds in check then muscle the rototiller through it.

Well I've got the opposite problem.  Trying to hoe by hand a 2,000 sq ft garden is no joke.  I was doing ok, but it could be a lot better.  So I still do some weeding and hoeing by hand, but I fired up that Brigs and Stratton tiller and got to down to business.  And I'm VERY grateful for that rototiller.  Yes it bucks like a bronco at the rodeo, but that's a trade I'll make considering I just don't have the time to keep things in check otherwise with all the rain we've gotten.

So as far as the updates go things are doing really good.

Holy Moses!  What is that?!

My jalapenos are doing great.  I've got probably a half dozen peppers on the best producing one in various sizes.  I did discover something pretty wild when I found a purple pepper growing on one of jalapeno plants!!  Surprise!!!  That threw me at first and after asking about it on TEG  That plant is slower to produce but the purple pepper is just wild.  I thought I was just getting a jalapeno plant not purple ones.  I'm curious to see how the flavor compares to the green ones and to see how the rest of the peppers from that plant develop.  

I've got a handful of Early Girl tomatoes that are coming in, and even more Romas.  The plants have even more blossoms that have yet to set fruit, so I'm hoping those will get pollinated and develop too.  My Big Boys are doing very well, the consistently look the best from plant to plant with lots of blossoms, with my Romas with some of them looking not looking so hot, to some that look great, and the Early Girls fall in between those 2.

My Green Zebras look alright.  They don't look bad, but they are not as robust as Id like either.  They are blooming but its tough when I compare their growth to the other maters in the garden they look ok.  My Lemon Boys though, holy Moses!!!  They are thick, and look fantastic!!!  Good number of blossoms but the plants themselves look like if they were not caged they'd take over the garden!  I have high hopes for them considering their growth.  I've never eaten a yellow tomato, but if their flavor is anything like how they grow, they will become a staple in my garden.

Got my first blossom on my Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins, and my giant pumpkin is already producing vines and its got a bunch of buds almost ready to open.  I'm really psyched about trying to grow a BIG pumpkin.  If I can get one over 200lbs I'll be thrilled.  I can't even imagine if I grew a REALLY big one.  I just want a pumpkin that I have to carve with a chainsaw and its big enough for my 3 y.o. daughter to climb into and put the lid on.

I also saw a great recipe on making zucchini candy that I'm going to try this year.  From all the reviews I've heard about it, why not?  They are already blooming and getting ready to start producing.  I think its going to shape up to be a very tasty year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Harvest Garden Weigh Along

And here we go!

Being a member of the gardening communty called "The Easy Garden" and having planted such a large garden I decided I had to get in on in on this.  I had planned on keeping tabs on how the garden was doing and how much I harvested but to be able to be apart of something more? 

Ill have to get an official count on my plant totals to help see how my production goes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

They say the first step

is admitting you have a problem.  Well....I have a problem.  A tomato problem.  First it started with wanting romas in addition to the slicing tomatoes.  Then I found a few Lemon Boys that I found at a good price and had the room for (mentioned in an earlier post) and then it got even worse when I found 2 very well developed Green Zebra tomatoes for 25 cents a piece!  They were in 3" pots and I just couldn't say no.  Did I need them?  Absolutely not, but a deal like that?  How could I pass that up?!

I somehow managed to avoid the black tomato craziness, but I did look pretty hard at the Cherokee purples that I found next to them for the same price.  Given that they are prone to cracking, and the description of their flavor it didn't really appeal to me like the Green Zebras did.  So now I've got yellow beefsteaks, green zebras, and lots of slicing and roma tomatoes.  I needed another tomato plant like I needed a hole in the head, but whats done is done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And the maintance begins

Was out in the garden the other day and the pole beans are poking through and already taking off at a breakneck pace.  I'm really impressed with how fast they grow.  Reminds me of Morning Glory how fast these things just seem to explode out of the ground.  In 48hrs they are already close to climbing.  Which was really encouraging.  I'm anxious to get them going, so the teepees don't look so bare.

I already had to hill some of the potatoes.  I bought them pretty early out of a fear I wouldn't get any.  Well they all had sprouts easily 4" long and that was in a closed bag in the laundry room!  Was a little weird to see them with already with growth.  Like they were undead potatoes trying to climb out of the bag to get us.  They were pretty pale, but they were there.  So I opened the bags, let the sun hit them to help encourage growth, and got them in the ground.  Well the leaves have started to open up on quite a few of them and I went out and rehilled them.  It was just dirt that was handy I hadn't expected to have to hill them yet.  We got a good soaking rain last night, so the ground settled and left a good amount of the stems exposed. 

I had wanted to hill them with compost but I happened to be there and it was all I had available.  Now that I know they are trying to do this, Ill have the compost ready for next time.  I figured I had a few weeks.  Apparently not, but thats ok cause I hope it will lead to more potatoes.  It was mostly the red skins which were quite aggressive.  A few of the russets had just started to sprout a few leaves too and the Adirondack blues have too.  But their sprouts were thick and much more compact.  They were in a mesh bag instead of a brown paper grocery bag so I don't know the occasional light had something to do with it or not.

I have to say though, the leaves that the purple potatoes put up?  GORGEOUS!  They remind me of Coleus with these beautiful bi-colored leaves.  The russets are actually the slowest starting of the 3 kinds which surprised me.  I thought for sure the Adirondack blues (aka the purple potatoes) would be the slow growers being they are a special bred potato.

Anyway I gotta get out and weed.  Maybe Friday Ill do that.  Its looking kind of ragged out there, and with it being so close to the driveway, I can't hide my lack of work on it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It never gets old

While I was out planting I took my Golden retriever Jager with me to keep me company.  Its pronounced (Yah-grr) which means hunter in German.  Well he was sniffing around the edge of the hay field, casting into the wind, back and forth and started to work into the hay.  I stopped because I saw he was on a scent and watched his tail through they hay as he worked the scent cone.

A scent cone is created from an object that produces the scent and it spreads out in the shape of a cone from the source.  The scent gets weaker as the cone gets wider and dogs learn to work the cone, weaving in and out finding the edges then turning back into the scent following it as it gets stronger to the source.  The concept is the same from bird dogs through detection dogs.  So long as the scent is in the air, and not on the ground this is how dogs work it.

So my curiosity was up to see what he was following so intently.  I didn't have to wait long.  I heard the cackle of a rooster pheasant and a sudden explosion as that pheasant exploded up out of the hay my boy in hot pursuit. He flew away and I recalled Jager letting the rooster land at the edge of the hedgerow and off he went to go find shelter there.  Jager came back all proud of himself and I was praising him furiously for a job well done.

We've had this rooster around the property now for a while.  About a month a go I saw him strut past the french doors all full of himself.  He's a beautiful boy, and doing well.  Sometimes Ill hear him call and I keep hoping he's talking to his lady friend with a mess of chicks in tow.  Its probably wishful thinking but I can't help  but hope.

When Jager returned to a heel and I then released him, I thought about how many times that scene has played itself out again and again all over the country, for generations of hunters.  Good dogs chasing wily birds only to have them suddenly take flight for us to take up the chase.  That brief moment when the bird had just cleared the hay and Jager was leaping up chasing him skyward was pure poetry.  Watching a dog doing something he's been bred to do over generations and being able to witness all that hard work and instinct coming to be, its just pure magic for me.  It never, ever gets old.  Doesn't matter if its coon dogs baying treed, or Border collies moving sheep, or retrievers plunging into icy cold water to pick up a downed mallard.  There is something about good dog work to me that I absolutely love.

I have no intention of chasing that rooster.  He gets a free pass.  We don't get many of them around here anymore.  Not like how our parents, and the grandparents remember.  So when I see a wild one like that refuse to chase him.  He's got enough working against him without me and my good dog pressuring him.  That won't stop me though from enjoying the time when Jager gets wind of him and wants to give him a run for his money though.

Well its planted

Finally got it all done.  The garden was turned over completely on the Sunday before Memorial day, and I started planting it on that Wednesday.  It was hot, and tough out there by myself.  My wife had things she had to get done, so I was flying solo out there.  After a marathon planting session I got most of it in the ground.  Everything was already up and waiting to go in except for the pole beans.  They are in, and I'm patiently waiting for them to show themselves.

Came back to it on Friday to dig the trenches for the potatoes and got those in.  I got all those in plus my blue potatoes which only took up maybe 10ft.  So that left me with a row in the middle of my garden that was just open.  Sooooo......I created what I call my Misfit's row.  Its filled it with my left over orange sweet peppers, and a few big boy tomatoes I had as extras.

So off to TSC I went to go get tomato cages.  And what do I find?  Lemon Boy tomatoes on sale.  Knowing I still had room left over, I picked up 2 of them.  I wasn't going to plant anything that wasn't "normal" but I just couldn't help myself especially after the yellow tomato discussion at Flower day.  These were large, well developed plants.  So into the Misfits row they went.  And I picked up another jalapeno plant and I called it good.  Maters are caged and I'm in pretty good shape.

Now if we can just get some rain.