Sunday, July 5, 2015

Staggering Through The Garden

Actually, it was just my usual walk through the garden tonight, but I may have been staggering a wee bit since I'm fairly well p-double-ooped.

Yesterday we hit the wood working really hard.  We put in a very full day of running the splitter and stacking the wood in the wood shed.  After dinner (can't even remember what I made) and a long shower, I was ready for bed shortly after nine.

Along with the wood work, I did manage to strip our bed, wash and dry the sheets and get them put back on.  I did this mainly because my better half had asked me to take the down comforter off the bed and replace it with a light-weight blanket.  Seems Old Hot Body (as I refer to him) has been getting way too warm at night and declared the down comforter had to go.

The result of this change in our bed clothes was that even though I was bone weary from my day of hard labor (anyone feel sorry for me?), I slept very poorly because I was C-O-L-D all night!  I had thoughts of going up into the attic and getting the comforter from where I had packed it away, grabbing a quilt and snuggling under both of them on the couch so I could sleep comfortably.  (There was no way I could convince myself to do that in the middle of the night, of course.)

So today I managed to stall getting out to the wood working area until almost 11 a.m., and we quit right around 4:30 p.m. because of yours truly threatening to collapse if we didn't.

But back to the topic of this post.  The garden.

This morning before the wood working began, I had Papa Pea help me remove the Wall O' Waters from the cherry tomato plants and the two eggplants.

Even though our weather is still too cool for successful tomato growing, you can see the poor plants were getting too tall and spindly to stay in the wall O' Water protection.

Same with the eggplants that need room to spread out and look bushy.

Something else:  For two days now, I've noticed those little lovely (NOT ), attractive (NOT) white butterflies flitting about the garden.  They are the white cabbage moths that lay their eggs (from which worms hatch) in brassicas.  Although I've experimenting planting my cabbage and broccoli late this year to hopefully miss that cycle of the dratted insect, I couldn't do that with the Brussels sprouts.  They need such a long growing period in order to mature that they are prime right now for the moths.

With Papa Pea's help, I covered them with Agribon hoping it will protect them while the moths are in their egg-laying cycle.  Keep your fingers crossed this works.

The last thing I have to report on is the development of our haskap berries.  You can tell in the picture above that the berries are not large.  That's my little finger under the clump for comparison.  Each of our three bushes had a hay of a lot more blossoms than berries that have developed.  I'm not sure as to what to attribute that.  BUT we have noticed several crows in the garden lately (hopping around the haskap bushes) and upon close examination found several berries under the bushes that have big holes in them that could be from the crows pulling the berries off the bushes and having a taste.  Why didn't they eat the whole berry?  I think I know.

We picked a couple of the ripe looking berries for the first time today and tasted them.  Ugh.  Mine was so SOUR I spit it out.  I mean really sour.  Not just a little sour but so sour you couldn't help but make a puckery, eeuuuw-type face.  Even though they're dark blue, are they not ripe?  I suppose we'll give them another taste test in a couple of days (weeks?) to see if they've changed for the better.  If the crows have left any, that is.

Now I'm off to get ready for bed again tonight.  You can be sure I'll be armed with an extra quilt for my side of the bed.

If I can forget about that awful taste of the haskap berries, I think I'll sleep better tonight. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Case of the Vanishing Week

Whoa!  What happened to this past week?  Besides seeming like the shortest week I've experienced in a long time, I had my days completely mixed up.  Tuesday felt like Saturday, and I almost convinced myself today was a Monday.  No wonder the week got away from me.

We've been trying to hit the wood working this week, but there are always those "things" that keep coming up that "must" be done, and they've kept us from putting in big chunks of time every day on the wood pile.  But it will get done.  Eventually.  Slow and steady wins the race, ya know.  (Seems like we've been more slow than steady though.)

Took a walk through the garden tonight after dinner.

The potatoes have been hilled up for the first time and are already poking out of the soil.  Lookin' pretty good.  I pulled the top layer of straw off my experimental raised bed of potatoes and found . . . ta-da!  Three (out of 21) potato vines poking through.  Something tells me I should stick to growing the taters in dirt.

Our newly planted asparagus has all "ferned out" and I've filled in the ditches.  Looks like every root planted sent up at least one asparagus shoot.

Isn't this lettuce crowded attractive?  It's Allstar Gourmet Lettuce Mix from Johnny's Selected Seeds.  (Straight out of the camera, no coloration added.)

Look what a surprise I found!  This is in the garden of a person who can't grow cauliflower!  Granted, the head is only about 3" across but you coulda knocked me over with a feather when I saw it.

And lo and behold, what do I see down in the Wall O' Water surrounding one of my eggplants?  A blossom!  I'm starting to really like these Wall O' Waters.

Hope all of you can celebrate the 4th of July holiday tomorrow in the way that makes you happiest.  Being the introverts we are, I think we'll spend it away from the maddening crowds.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Day in My Quilt Room - Not!

It was planned . . . but it's not gonna happen.  But it's my choice, right?  (Please, an intervention that will sentence me to a week locked in my quilt room.)

Last night's forecast said we were likely going to have rain today, so that's why I planned my day of quilting.  Now they are saying the rain won't start until about 11 p.m. tonight.  (Who employs these weather people?  And why?!)  Sure 'nuf, we have an absolutely gorgeous day going out there so already I've harvested a new batch of mixed lettuces, greens of various sorts to mix in our salads and a big bunch of crunchy but tender spinach.  Now they're all washed and stashed in the refridge.

I should be cooking and serving the last of our vegetable bounty left in the freezer from last season, but somehow the beets, peas, Brussels sprouts, squash, beans, etc. (flavorful though they still are) don't seem as appetizing now as the wonderful greens available straight from the garden.

While I was out in the garden a short time ago, I snapped some pictures to share.

What flowering plant could be prettier than chives in bloom?  I know I should cut these four chive plants down so they will re-grow tender, fresh, new shoots I can cut and freeze for our winter's use (I have none put by yet), but I find them so attractive, I keep putting off cutting them down.

I hope I haven't made a mistake by trying to start our broccoli and cabbage from seed in the garden.  The broccoli germinated well and is putting on a little (little being the operative word) size, but the cabbage is still teeny-tiny, and I've even had to replant some of the green cabbage seeds that didn't germinate.

I haven't tried growing cauliflower for years as I seem to have a black thumb when it comes to getting the heads to form correctly.  But for some reason, I did plant a few this year.  The one on the right hand side, in the back, is substantially smaller than the rest of them.  Why does this happen?  I interspersed marigolds with the plants because brassicas like to grow with blooms and also planted a row of dill down the center of the bed because that's reported to help repel insects.

There is still no evidence of growth from the potato sets I planted under straw in this bed.  Yesterday I pulled some of the straw away from the side of the bed to see if I could detect any growth and discovered that immediately below the layer of dry straw on top, all below is absolutely saturated with water.  We've been having a lot of rain recently and even though my raised beds always seem to drain very well, the potato sets may be rotting.  Or rotted.  I must remember:  In gardening there are no failures, only experiments.  :o}

The three rows of taters planted the conventional way in the field garden are up and growing.  It may be the growing is a mite slow because of lack of warmth, but they've made a good showing so far.

Okay, so now I'm going back out to fill in more of the asparagus trenches.  It's time as all of the roots seem to be growing like crazy and the spears have nearly all turned into tiny fern-like trees.

Yupper, I suspect I'll not spend much time quilting today.  Sigh.  But our rain that is now to start late tonight looks like it may continue all day tomorrow (IF those crazy forecasters don't change their minds again) and as Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day," (or something like that).  So there's a chance I'll be in my quilt room then.

Monday, June 22, 2015

After Rain Garden Update

We had a day of solid rain on Saturday which really gave the garden a big boost.

I could hardly wait to get out there yesterday morning to see how everything looked.

The beans are up, the beans are up!  Because we have had so little in the way of warm weather, my worry-wart mind started telling me the bean seeds weren't going to germinate, but simply rot in the ground.  I think it was about mid-afternoon during the rain on Saturday while looking out the window that I thought I could see little bean sprouts poking up through the soil.  Sure 'nuf, there they are.  (Doesn't that angle of the picture make you a little woozy looking at it?)

I've planted both broccoli and cabbage from seed in the garden this year rather than started seedlings.  For two reasons:  1) I'm hoping to avoid the cycle of the white cabbage moth when they want to lay their eggs in the brassicas, and 2) I want the cabbage to mature later for better storage in the root cellar.  So far, the broccoli and red cabbage have shown a 100% germination, but the green cabbage are still no-shows.

The green peppers and slicing cucumbers are doing well in the protection of their cold frames, but I seem to have a bunch of medium-sized black ants wanting to build condominiums for all their relatives and close friends within the green pepper bed.  I've dusted them (the ants) with cinnamon and cayenne pepper and that seems to have given them the idea they're not welcome in there.

This is a shot of the old strawberry bed.  A little spotty in a few areas, but the plants are showing lots of blossoms.

The developing berries are only this far along.  Some warm weather would do them a lot of good.  The newly planted strawberries, both June bearing and everbearing, are doing very well.  I've continued to pop off any blossoms they form so all the strength will go to the plants this year.

The thin spears and ferns may be difficult to see in this picture, but our newly planted asparagus roots are coming along nicely.  The bed is an uneven, jumbled mess of dirt because I'm still in the process of filling in the trenches when the spears turn fern-like.

In my never-ending quest to grow eggplants (without a greenhouse or hoop house for protection), I may have finally hit on a good method.  This picture (Almost artistic, don't you think?  If you squint?  No?  Okay.) is looking at one of my eggplants down through the top of the Wall O' Water I put around them.  So far, it looks healthier than any eggplant I've ever tried to grow.  Seems the Wall O' Water is helping tremendously in our cool weather.  Without it, I'm sure the eggplants would have packed their bags and gone south by now.  Way south.

We're getting more rain today.  Too wet to do anything outside so this will be an inside catch-up day.  Being Monday, also, it means laundry and ironing which won't leave a whole heckuva lot of time for much else.  Maybe a little time in my quilt room.  Yeah, now there's a really good idea!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Wrecking Work

A bit of progress made today on deconstructing the old deck.

Papa Pea struggling to remove a rusted-in bolt.

Me struggling to loosen the bolts on the underside.  Next I went to taking screws out of the deck floor.  Seems I screwed around for hours (sorry, I couldn't resist), but don't have even half of them removed.

What fun we do manage to have.

But we did make headway.

That is until the lovely blue sky clouded over and the dratted biting bugs came out driving us in.  Rain is forecast for tomorrow but if that turns out to be incorrect, we'll hit the deconstruction again.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Just A Couple Of Pig Pens

Pens for piglets?  Nope.  Just a couple of really dirty, dusty people.  That would be me and Papa Pea.

We've had a chipper/shredder on our wish and want list for some time.  But we wanted a good one that would be substantial enough to . . . well, do a really good job of chipping and/or shredding.

Our good neighbor has also been thinking about getting one of these handy-dandy machines and a few months ago suggested Papa Pea pick out one he thought would do a good job for what we both needed, and we would split the cost and share the machine.

Before any decision was made, Good Neighbor happened to hear about one in the area that had been purchased new about ten years ago, used only once or twice, and stored since then.  Being very knowledgeable regarding nearly any and all kinds of machinery, he checked into this particular chipper/shredder and was pleased with the shape it was in and the price it could be purchased for.  He brought it home on a trial basis and you can guess the happy ending to the story.  We are now the half owners of one really nice chipper/shredder.

Today Papa Pea and I started using it to work through a pile of brush and birch bark we've accumulated in our back wood working area.  The machine is loud so we outfitted ourselves with ear protection along with goggles because the occasional piece of wood debris can come flying in one's direction.  The operation also creates a lot of wood dust which ends up in your hair, on your clothing and any exposed skin.

When we finished this afternoon and were walking back toward the house, I reminded hubby that neither of us could even think about sitting on a piece of upholstered furniture in the house until we changed clothes and showered.  (We did brush each other off with the a bench brush before coming inside to get a drink of water.)

After that little bit of refreshment, Papa Pea went back out to clean up the machine before returning it to Good Neighbor's shed where it's stored, and I went out into the blueberry patch to spread the chipped up product.

I've had more of a problem than usual this year with weeds growing in the blueberry patch, and I think it's because I didn't use as much peat moss for mulch as I usually do.  Peat moss isn't cheap, so we have been talking about using some other kind of mulch.  So that's where the material we created today with the chipper/shredder went.

The light colored material you see in the background by the raspberries is old straw I used for mulch there.  The light colored material in the foreground in between the blueberry bushes is the chipped and shredded material I spread (heavily) today.

I still need a lot more for the whole patch, but we got a good start on the project.  It's looking like it will do the trick, and I may never have to buy peat moss again!

No guarantees we won't have to take extra showers though to get rid of the wood dust.  Otherwise, I'm sure we'll be walking around doing a good imitation of Charles Shulz's Pigpen.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What's Been Going On?

Nothing terribly exciting to report.  (Okay, nothing exciting at all.)  We've just been plugging away at all that needs to be done in this very short season we call summer.

The weather has been good for nearly a week now.  Temps up into the 70s during the day, down into the high 40s and low 50s at night.

I've been spending most of my time in the garden and wanted to finish the last of the planting today, but the black flies had other plans for me.  Like being so awful they drove me inside.  I should have quit earlier than I did (before I got many nasty, itchy, ouchie welts), but I so wanted to accomplish what I had set out to do.

Before putting in those last seeds in the little bare spaces in the garden, I decided to de-weed the blueberry and raspberry patches.  Got the blueberry patch done before throwing in the (homemade insect repellent saturated )towel (so to speak) and quitting.  Funny, the spray repellent I used today was the same I've used previously when it seemed to work rather well.  Not today.

Papa Pea has been hitting the firewood with a vengeance.  Yesterday he announced he thinks he's got enough wood cut to fill all the remaining space in the wood sheds.  Now all (All?  That's ALL?!) we have to do is split and stack it.  Fortunately, we both enjoy using the wood splitter together and having quiet time to chat while we stack is nice, too.  We hope to get started on that this week.

He's also put a bit of effort and time into designing and then constructing some heavy-duty ramps that will make it easier for him to do the maintenance on our vehicles.  Of course, a pneumatic hoist in the garage would be ideal, but that ain't gonna happen.

Today while I was feeding the black flies in the garden (!), hubby worked on removing the dirt that had been in the flower beds around the deck.  Lots of shoveling, lots of wheelbarrowing.  This all needs to be done before we start tearing off the old deck and begin construction on the new.

We've always had a bad low spot in the yard (that seems to swallow up any fill we've put on it) so that's where he's been putting the dirt.

I sure hope to save that trellising Virginia Creeper by incorporating it into our new design.  I don't think I'd have any luck moving it to another location. 

I finally made a decision as to the color I'm going to use for painting the house.  It's a very dark green and is going to look much different than the gray/beige we have on the house now.  I'm pretty nervous to think about starting on that project.  No, I'm not worried about the actual painting work but rather how this new color will look.  Only one way to find out, eh?

That's all I have to report on this Monday.  Hope you all have a good week with good weather for whatever you want to do!