Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

 Nothing major going on in the garden this week.  Just a lot of little projects perking along

Tomorrow I will have tomato on my lunch salad.

For several years I have been reading how I'm "growing zucchini all wrong and once you stake your zucchini you will never go back to letting them sprawl on the ground".  
Well I didn't have a problem with the form of my zucchini plants.  The plants were healthy and if you plant two seeds at a time you get a nice symmetrical mound.  But if you never try new things you never improve on things.  So I stuck an extra Titan Tomato Cage around one zucchini plant and.... I like it! 
I'm not saying I will stake them and prune them into topiaries, but I can see the benefit of growing them vertically.

The sauerkraut made enough brine to fully submerge itself within a couple of hours.  
I just needed to be patient.

The Too Many Peas are all shelled and drying.
Next year I will not have to order pea seed.

Random shot of the House from the driveway side

Random shot of the Garden Shed

The pole beans look really rough on the bottom.  REALLY rough.
 But we are getting plenty of nice beans and I have already started putting some away in the freezer.

Better looking beans plants are on the horizon

I needed to thin the Siberian Irises around our water well.
It has been a few years since I did this and they were an impacted mound with too many weeds.  This mix originally was supposed to have seven different colors, but the medium blue ones always take over.  The one corner had at least two shades of blue and some yellow so I removed everything else and then redistributed what was left, trimming them back to keep them up off the lawn.  I will probably plant some elsewhere and maybe even pot some up.   I have LOTS.

Much tidier now with room to grow

The sweet corn is looking very promising

And so is the second planting of cucumbers

The pear tree is holding five pears and they are getting pretty big.

I wasn't sure if the Gypsy broccoli was going to put out any side shoots, but it finally is.  I picked enough for a lunch salad before I took this picture.

Friday, July 23, 2021

What's Bugging Me?

There are a lot of insects in the garden this year.  And its not just that I think that because I'm spending more time with them.  They're everywhere.  For the most part I leave them alone, even if I suspect they are a "bad bug".  But there are some that really need to be controlled.  

I don't have much trouble with the Japanese sex Beetles.   They're out there.  I pick them off my bean plants.  If I find a large cluster of them I'll go get some sudsy water.  The first thing I checked this morning was the squash plants.  And on the first leaf I turned over (there was some damage visible) I found a whole cluster of Squash Bug nymphs.  Those things are so creepy.  I am sure they are the inspiration for most zombie movies.  But before temperatures warm up, most bugs are pretty easy to round up with either duct tape or soapy water.  This is this morning's bad bug collection

The bad bugs are still the minority.  I try to make it a point to go sit somewhere and see what comes by.  Ten minutes of immobility can be a revelation in the garden.

I was sitting under the apple tree watching the hundreds of pollinators on the creeping thyme when a black butterfly came by.  I think it was a Red Spotted Purple which is a misleading name.  I watched it go down the dry creek bed which is when I noticed that one of the butterfly bushes was covered in butterflies.  There was a Yellow Swallowtail and a Monarch, two white Cabbage Moths and a bunch of the little Pearl Crescents.  By the time I got there the black one had moved on but it was still a flurry of activity.

This Thyme has been extremely popular among all types of bees and butterflies

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Oh No Squash Bugs

It seems the next in the long line of garden plagues this year will be squash bugs.  This morning one of the zucchini was wilting.  It looked a little wilty yesterday and worse today.  So I took it out.  I still have several plants remaining there. 

As I was examining the other plants for problems I found this...

Actually I found about half a dozen clusters.
At first I thought it was Cucumber Beetles, but this little guy is the only one I've seen in a week.

Then ...
Squash Bug Nymphs.
Uh Oh.

I found an adult on one of my cantaloupe vines but no time for a photo op.
Those things are "Squish on Sight"

I figured I'd better put eyes on the covered cucumber plants.  They are just fine but needed a little weeding.  The Purslane was starting to come in thick.  You have to get that stuff early.

In fact, I was making a mental list of anything that is going better this year than last and I came up with Purslane.  Both of my Sweet Corn beds are completely weed free this year thanks to two or three sessions with the claw when they were just about 6 inches high.

This is my Sweet Corn bed last year (below).
At least its all one kind of weed.  That way it almost looks purposeful.
Or at least sort of tidy.

I cleaned the Strawberry bed for the second time this year.

This year we have dozens and dozens of these little Pearl Crescent butterflies.
Their host plant is Aster and we have a fair share of wild Aster.

I had a nice big, fat, green cabbage ready to harvest and I decided to try Sauerkraut.
I had seen the Ball Fermenting Lids on the 5 Acres and a Dream blog.  Useful gadgets like that really appeal to me so I put Sauerkraut on my mental To Do list for this year.
I read up on recipes and watched some instructions on YouTube.

Because I am new at this I laid out everything ahead of time along with my notes.
I used our big McCoy bowl.  This is the 12 inch but we also recently acquired a hard to find 14 inch bowl at a flea market for about half $$ what you would pay online.  These heavy old bowls are excellent for hand mixing (we use them for mixing sausage) because they stay put and don't walk around on the counter.  This was also perfect for massaging the salt into the cabbage.

I sliced the cabbage by hand instead of using a mandolin because I've determined I am not safe to use one.... I didn't want any undesirable pieces (of me) in my kraut.   I slice lettuce and cabbage frequently so I'm pretty good at it.   I've been obsessively tucking the edges down into the brine but perfection seems impossible.  I'm going to leave these alone for a few hours and then reassess to see if I need to add a smidge of water.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Mid-July Update

 I've spent the past few days just puttering around the garden trying to help the plants recuperate, and my own mood rebound.  It rained again last night, but only a little bit.  The weatherman says we are on track for the wettest July on record.  

My Dahlia bed is high and dry and the plants continue to thrive.  In the new bed just across the walkway the plants are showing a little water stress.  The dahlia plants in there are getting a little pale.  I added some slow release fertilizer to help replace the nutrients that are being leached out of the soil.

Lady Darlene

Cafe Au Lait

The Lima Beans (above) are showing some yellowing but they are looking healthier overall than the bush beans and pole beans.  The pole bean plants aren't going to win any beauty pageants but they are producing.

I keep contorting myself to look up at the tomato bottoms to spot Blossom End Rot without handling them too much.  Since I have more than enough tomatoes in my future, I have a zero tolerance for misshapen or damaged fruit.  They come off right away as soon as I spot them.  I've probably lost 10% to 20% of the fruit to BER.

The Cauliflower bed is a bright spot in the garden.

The past two years our favorite has been the mild and sweet Flame Star.

Last year I grew the purple variety Graffiti.  I decided it was a little strong tasting so this year I tried Mulberry which is supposed to be milder.  I've harvested the first head and I agree that it is a nicer tasting purple.  We prefer our Cauliflower raw with dill dip but I also love making a Cauliflower cheese soup.  Can you just picture that with purple Cauliflower?  Dear Me.

I cleared out the last of the peas, setting aside all of the seeds for next year's garden.  In its place I transplanted Violaceo di Verona Cabbage. It was either that or more Cucumbers.  And I'm not very positive about Cucumbers in this cool damp weather.  I think Cabbage will do well for autumn.  These wire cloches will keep the cabbage moths out for now.  When the plants get bigger they will need a row cover.  I've heard that cabbage moths don't like purple Cabbage but I'm not sure if this variety is red enough to fool them.

I'm having a little trouble with cucumber beetles so I've decided to keep this planting of pickling cukes covered as long as possible.  So far the plants are doing really well even through the monsoon.  Which is more than I can say for my early planting.  The Cucumbers above were the nicest rooted transplants I could ask for so I am hopeful that this bed will do well.  The ones below which I seeded the last week of May and transplanted two weeks later have been a constant challenge.  I lost half the transplants to wet soil (they damped off) so I direct seeded another batch.  Now I've been losing the Picolino vines one by one to bacterial wilt.  You can see the wilted one on the below left.

Now as a seasoned gardener, it takes me about 30 seconds to see that wilted vine and go get the scissors.  I know I can't save it and I know it can ruin the next plant.  So out it goes.  The three remaining vines  are Bristol, Picolino and Bristol.  And they aren't award winners, but they are alive and healthy and covered with little tiny fruit. The Bristol are quite disease resistant but they will succumb to wilt in the end so I can't risk it.  And this is why I almost always plant multiple varieties, multiple beds at multiple times.  I have options.  It might be a bad year for one crop in general, but I am more likely to get some instead of none. 

For a parting shot, the Bloody Mary Nasturtium beneath the tomato plants.
I'm really enjoying the colors as a change from the Alaska.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

After the Deluge

We just got through two days of steady rain.  1.5" each day.  This brings our July rain total to 9.25" which is the rainiest month since I started keeping records in 2015.  We also had .5" on June 30th so if you throw that in, we've had steady rain for three weeks resulting in 9.75"

This is the time of year that the Buffalo, NY area has its garden walks.  One lady on Facebook said that her garden was supposed to be on the walk, but due to weather conditions she was doing a video instead.  From her kayak.  She posted her video of herself kayaking through her garden,
Poor gal.

The Dahlias are still beautiful and have been hosting the bees throughout the deluge. The only definite casualty is the sage plant.  The bush beans are a little bedraggled.  They lost a lot of lower leaves which lay black and rotting on the ground.  I cleaned them up yesterday

Now there is plenty of airflow in there.  They are beginning to produce.  We had some for supper tonight and they were so delicious.

This corner of the garden is gorgeous and green.

The best day for pollinating the early sweet corn was two days ago when the morning was dry and sunny.  All of the pollen has dropped from the tassels now. 
In a week or two we will find out if it was enough.

The Buckwheat is off and running

The sweet potato vines have taken hold.  The third plant in this bag (center back) is the one I planted the 4th of July as a replacement and it is catching up fast.

I cleaned any yellowing leaves from the Cauliflower and Cabbage.
All of the remaining plants are still looking great.  I have my eye on that big green cabbage for sauerkraut.

The tomato plants are in their prime and absolutely gorgeous with no disease.  I gave them a good pruning today and removed any misshapen fruit.  Because they are in containers the excessive rain really didn't affect them that much.  I wanted to be sure there was enough air space under them so they would dry out.

This is the Patio Choice red cherry. 
 It is absolutely loaded and should begin to ripen in the coming week.