Monday, August 9

August 8th, 2010

Garden Journal

August 9th, 2010 8:30 a.m.

We picked 5 lbs of vegetables out of the north garden yesterday while Cathy was here. The kids were really well behaved and had a great time pulling out the potatoes from the garden. They had planted them in the spring and wanted to pull them out to see what they grew into. We had planted russets that were rotten from the pantry closet. They were half rotted when we put them into the ground but when they came out they had repaired themselves and grown baby potatoes too: As a result, we ended up with five potatoes to every one we planted. Most of the potatoes were small sized but that is because they didn’t have the whole summer to grow. When we pull them up in October, most of the potatoes will be of good size and we will be able to store them or can them with some acid sauce. Perhaps that is why German potato salad tastes the way it does...they can their potatoes with vinegar and a hot water bath. Now it all makes sense. Duh. For years, I have wondered why Germans made their potato salad that way (ever since I went to a German restaurant at 12 years old and had some real German salad; so, now I know; and it was so simple to figure out. That is almost forty years of “duh”; Geesh; and my mother would agree: LOL.

The damsel and dragonflies are out in force this morning: Big black monster-bugs flying around the garden eating up god-knows-what. There also seems to be a host of them flying around in this humid early morning sunshine. I will research what they eat: probably there are tons of good little bugs here... due to our organic way of doing things around here.

I know that there are a few zucchini out there in the north garden. I should probably look to see if any are ready to pick today. I will do it after sundown tonight. The humidity is oppressive today and probably not going to quit until the sun goes down. The air is so still, with the exception of the crickets: not a breeze to-be-had until a few minutes ago. Now that the breeze is about ½ mph occasionally, there will be some coolness in the shade if we dare.

We will be venturing forth to get a truckload (or two) of manure for the north back garden. We are preparing it for spring and a corn patch. We will have to weed-whack the next section, cover it with black plastic and rocks and let it heat up in the sun for a few days to kill the grass. We are hoping for a decent amount of gardening space next year. The condition of our current garden is overfilled. The squash vines are taking-over. The tomatoes are indeterminate so they are growing beyond their trellis. The bush beans are in the shade of the squash. The peppers are not producing at all. The potatoes are struggling to survive the bugs that want to eat their leaves. Molasses seems to keep them at bay though. The cleome is growing exponentially behind the tomatoes and next year I may use them for supports of the tomatoes. The sage, rosemary, and artemisia are un-noticeable under the canopy but they are doing their job very well by deterring the various bugs that do not like their odor.

The tomatoes are not ripening now but when they do, we will be up to our ears in sauce. We plan to can everything from the garden this year. We will be eating zucchini until spring: LOL. We have zucchini-vines (that grow little baseball fruit); zucchini bush plants and both kinds of summer squash plants too. The summer squash grow a little differently. The squash look like a crookneck with all the bumps on them but without the crooked neck. When small, the squash are lime green and rarely turn yellow before they are ready to pick. We are mixing them with the zucchini and blanching them before putting them in the freezer. We are also adding them to our recipe of spaghetti sauce stew: a very chunky sauce that is loaded with vegetables added to rice or spaghetti.

As we were cutting them all yesterday (about 5 lbs. of them) we ran into what we thought was a zucchini but tasted like a pumpkin. We added it to the mix anyway. Daniel wanted to know how I knew it was a pumpkin because it was so young that the inside of it didn’t have any color. The clue was the curled line outside the seed center. This little line is very visible when cutting the fruit in half lengthwise. The difficulty determining if it is a pumpkin when un-cut remains however. The fruits seem to look all the same and the only clue to some of them is the harder than normal skin. We have a variety of pumpkins that start green and shaped like a zucchini football. As they age, they turn a darker green and it is late in the season before the start to turn orange. We have one out there in the north right now that is large than a football and very green. I think it will be a zucchini after all but when it first started, it was similar to other pumpkins in the patch so I left it there. Since it is so large and it has been on the vine for so long I will leave it there and let it winter over in the winds of winter. It will give us seeds for next year. I hope that Daniel won’t rototill the dries fruit into the garden before I can get to it next spring. That is the reason the garden this year is as it is; he rototilled the desiccated shells of zucchini and pumpkin into the patch and before we knew it, we had vines everywhere. The benefit of it is that there are very few weeds and so much thickness to the three-foot canopy that the soil is able to retain its moisture for a week. Watering is less frequent than it would have to be without the canopy. Even so, we water every other day.

I think that I want to build some self-watering containers this year for everyone as Christmas gifts. I found some information online that will help do the whole job for less than $6 for each container. I think that I can build one for each person and that would give each couple two large containers to grow tomatoes or peppers or corn and they will be self watering so they would only require watering once a week or so. So, the adults are covered this year and all I have to worry about are the kids. Even Jessa (daughter) might like to have a self-waterier.

The requirements for the self waterier:

18-30 gallon tote with lid:

pvc tube 20 inches long:

a styrofoam ball that will fit into the pvc tube;

a dowel that is 20 inches long;

a piece of linoleum flooring

and some left over yogurt cups and perhaps a large yogurt cup as well for the well in the bottom:

A drill with a drill bit for 5/16th holes.

I will show you pictures as I make it. I have all the equipment to do it except the tote so it shouldn’t be too hard to make. I can pick up some green totes at home depot and the styrofoam balls and dowels at the wally-mart craft department. Perhaps they carry the at home depot too but we shall see. I should be able to use the prize money from the fair to get the stuff. Oh, the fair.

I won prizes at the fair for what I entered. I entered:

Oil landscape: Red sky at night: ocean theme: blue ribbon: first place

Oil Still Life: Sunflowers: garden theme: blue ribbon: first place

Tea cup bouquet from flowers in the garden: blue ribbon: first place

Bouquet in clock: red ribbon: second

Bouquet of only green foliage: red: second

Bread: white ribbon: third place.

The person who runs the fair, Jody, said that the judge was truly impressed with the paintings. I am so glad that I finally received a ribbon on my work. I have never won anything so this was quite a surprise. I guess a little money for winning doesn’t hurt either. I forgot all about the pot rosemary that I entered. I don’t even know if the rosemary is still in the building. What a goof I am. I will have to call the person who runs the whole thing and see if I can get it. It was my largest rosemary and I wanted it to have a place of honor in the kitchen window during the winter this year, but if it is dead from the hot building then I guess I will have to take the one from the garden to use.

Being hot today, perhaps it is a great day to mow the lawn. Daniel woke up at 12 noon so we can mow and then get manure. Perhaps we might even get to the weed whacking today as well. I would love to fill the herb beds with this manure. The herbs would love it. If I could get them filled, they would have a couple of months to get on their feet to survive the winter. That would be awesome but perhaps that is too much to ask for this time of year. We should get the manure before we mow I think. We disturb people to get the manure because they have to run the tractor. I wish I could send some to Barb. She always complains that she doesn’t have good soil down there in the trailer park. I suppose she is right: Years of being near pavement and have water pipes near the surface there provides the soil with temperatures that are too high for good growth. Barb would love to have a self waterier. What a hoot. I could give everyone, one of those. Imagine giving individually wrapped gifts. : individually wrapped styrofoam balls, sticks, used yogurt cups, zip-ties from garbage bags, pre-drilled linoleum, and pre-drilled pipe etc: What a funny AND a great idea!

Happy Christmas thinking during this oppressive heat!!!!!!!!!!!

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