Tuesday, July 27, 2021


As I've heard some of you comment, flowers seem to be blossoming earlier than usual this year.  Like a few of my other flowers, this is true of the cosmos I've planted.
But something weird is going on with them.

When the blossoms unfurl, they look like they've been in one heckuva fight.  Even the coloration is strange.  Although this particular one above isn't as bad as most others, they look as though they've been picked and spent too much time in a vase so that they should be relegated to the compost pile. 
The buds look perfectly normal, but not the flowers themselves.  Any ideas what may be going on? 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

An Inch and Three-Tenths!

 That's how much rain we got last night in about ten minutes.  Welcome though the long-awaited rainfall was the fierce thunder/lightning storm did some damage.

Yep, our lovely stand of corn got pushed over by the strong winds coming directly out of the west.  Because we had the corn patch surrounded by the cattle panel "cage" none of the stalks hit the ground, but the west half smooshed over onto the east half which stayed standing by leaning against the firmly anchored cattle panel.

I had to go out today and stake up a dozen or so of our sunflowers that were left leaning at about a 45° angle.  None of them snapped off so they should be alright.

The rain came down in such a torrent that we lost some nice black soil which washed off the blueberry patch and into the grass.  I usually mulch the whole patch but didn't this year.  If I had, there would have been no erosion.

It seems our alternative energy solar system may have been zapped by lightning.  During the rapidly passing storm, we lost power and haven't been able to get it back yet today.  (We still have the option of running on grid power in a situation like this.)  Papa Pea has done everything he knows to do trying to track down the problem, and we have an e-mail explaining the problem to our alternative energy guru but have not heard back from him yet.

After having a few days when the temperature was almost tolerable, today finds us back into the (nearly) intolerable temps.  Add to that, there's been a stiff breeze blowing all day (a hot, hot breeze, not cooling in any way) and both of us find that being outside in a wind takes the stuffin's right out of ya.  After I came in today from staking up the sunflowers and checking a few other things, I felt slightly sick and it was a while before I felt good again.

Oops, wouldn't ya know it.  I just looked out the window and see another sunflower that has taken a nose dive.  I'd better go out and stake it up before I forget about it.

We're thankful for the rainfall that came with the storm though.  Now if Mother Nature would just get back on a schedule of giving us some soothing rains on a regular basis . . . and nix on the wind, please.  And lightning.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Tiptoe Through The Tulips -- Oops, I Mean Garden

 I'm relieved to say our temperature has dropped significantly, but we still have gotten no rain.  Not much we can do about it but keep watering our garden and fruit trees which does seem to be doing some good.

The Morning Glories I planted way back on June 2nd are finally starting to grow and climb their trellis.

The second green cabbage head I harvested yesterday morning had a few insect holes in the outer leaves but turned out to be a beautiful, tightly formed, perfect head inside.  I made a big bowl of coleslaw but didn't use much of the head because it was so big.

I'm always surprised at what dense and lovely ferns the asparagus spears turn into after we stop harvesting it.

After years and years of talking about it, I finally planted a horseradish root this spring.  We can't take anything from it this first year, but are eagerly awaiting making some homemade horseradish next year.

Our corn is starting to form tassels.  A good sign.

I could eat a kohlrabi like an apple when they're young and tender.  My small crop of them is starting to size up.

It seems my slicing cukes are tripling in size over night.  Won't be long before I can pick and serve a crunchy cucumber salad.

And my first sunflowers are opening.  I do love sunflowers and planted three different varieties this year, all of them "shorties" which shouldn't grow more than four feet tall.  I love the flowers but really dislike having to use a chainsaw (slight exaggeration) to get rid of the six, seven or eight foot tall stalks at the end of the season!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Garden and The Purge (Are We Winning Yet?)

I'm just in from watering the garden which has been a (nearly) must-do activity each day.  Had a friend visiting this afternoon and I felt good she thought my garden looked fantastic.  Over the years we've worked hard at building up good soil so I'm sure that's helping everything that has got to be stressed by our complete lack of rainfall.
We had zero germination sowing buckwheat on our two garden plots we chose to leave fallow this year.  Between the crows filling their craws with the sown seed and our coming to the conclusion that the seed may have been a tad on the old side (arrrgh), the cover crop turned out to be a no go.  But Papa Pea has taken the turn of events as an opportunity to spread lots of great compost on the bare soil which will be a benefit for next year. 

My garlic needs to be dug and hung to cure tomorrow.
I planted only six cabbages (three green and three red) with the thought of using them as they matured and not trying to hold any over in the root cellar this year.

We've eaten one of the green ones and another is ready for harvesting.

The red cabbages are a little slower than the green and are just forming soft ball sized heads now.

While watering tonight, I found the first slicing cucumber.  It's approaching jumbo size (not) at nearly three inches long.

The green peppers continue to put out nice sized fruits already.  (It seems a bit early according to my records of past years.)

The one that got blown over before I staked them all up has called it quits and is headed toward the compost heap.

The sugar snap peas are producing and are great in our salads or just tossed into boiling water for a minute or two as that's how we like them cooked.  Great for breakfast with eggs and sausage.
* * * * * * * *
We continue to keep at our Summer of the Massive Purge and it's going well.  At the same time, it's unbelievable how much time needs to be put into each and every area we tackle.  And most of the storage areas are ones that are oppressively hot in this unusual heat we're having this summer.  It's a drain on our physical and mental/emotional bodies to stay at it for more than a few hours a day.  But we also know it would be even more uncomfortable working in the outside storage areas (for many reasons) in the winter time.  
We've sold some things but most of what we want to get rid of has been given away to one source or another because we just want to get it gone and be done with it. 

This is the latest batch on the back porch to be re-homed, relocated or gotten rid of tomorrow.  We both ran out of steam this afternoon and agreed we'd clear these items out first thing tomorrow morning.
All in all, it's a rewarding job, this undertaking, and we haven't had more than two or three drag 'em out fights as to whether specific objects go or stay.  It's all worth it.  So far. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Can't Grow It, But Can't Stop Trying

It must be the stubbornness of the Taurus astrological sign under which I was born because even though I've frequently said I'll never plant corn again until we have a weather and wind protected structure over it, I can't seem to stop myself from a little corn growing experimentation 'bout every other year.
This spring I found myself with an empty 8' x 4' raised bed.  I wasn't able to resist.   I used it to plant a small patch of corn mainly to see if we could find a way of keeping the stalks from being blown flat by our frequent high winds.  Maybe we'd even have enough heat this summer to encourage it to grow.  And, boy howdy, have we ever.
With Papa Pea's help, I surrounded the corn planting with sections of cattle panel (on all four sides) to find out if the panels would "hold it up."  So far, so good.

As far as the growth of the stalks go, they say you have a good crop of corn going if the plants are knee-high by the 4th of July.  Well, ours were nearly waist-high to my long-legged husband at that time and much taller now as you can see by the above picture taken today.  (Yes, we're still existing in a smokey haze from the fires in Canada.  Cough-cough.)
Truth to tell, I'm kinda amazed at how good the corn presently looks.  Mother Nature has provided the heat needed even though she's been severely negligent in sending enough rainfall.  Maybe I will be able to successfully grow corn.  Albeit on a very small scale! 

Friday, July 9, 2021

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Okay, to be more positive, it's more like one step forward, one step back.
Despite the fact that when one plants mint in the garden, and one is warned that the mint must be contained or it will spread and choke out all other plantings, I've not found this to be true.  
But when I first started growing mint, I was cautious and dedicated one 8' x 4' raised bed to the mint.
For some reason I can't understand, each spring I find bare spots in the bed.  So I purchase three or four more mint plants from a greenhouse to "fill in."  The plants, whether the old or new ones, never seem to spread and totally fill in the bed.  Nope, it's never looked as though my mint will go crazy and take over our acreage.

With the growing season well underway this year, you can see the bare spots in my mint bed.
This is disturbing because I need to grow a lot of mint since each year I dry and use a great quantity of it.  Papa Pea has a large cup of mint tea every morning after a cup of coffee.  Plus, our daughter has a friend with a lot of tummy troubles and she's found drinking our mint tea helps her digestion like no other mint she's found.  So it's important to me to grow as much of it as I can.
To this end, this year I decided to put in a second bed of mint.  But this spring I couldn't find any peppermint plants (which is the kind of mint I want) in any of our nearby greenhouses.  Friends were going to visit relatives down state, knew of a large greenhouse there and said they would look for peppermint plants for me.

I was very appreciative when they brought me twelve very healthy looking plants which I put in a vacant raised bed. 

The plants took hold nicely and have already started to send out shoots to fill the spaces between the plants.
However, there's a problem with this new mint.
Does it look like peppermint?  Yes.  Does it smell like peppermint?  No.  Does it taste like peppermint?  No.  It has very little aroma or flavor.  And what it does have, doesn't resemble peppermint.  Or any other kind of mint.  It's a mystery.
Today I pulled out all the new plants.  They had very healthy root systems (I had to use a shovel to loosen them from the soil) that were probably at least 12" across.
So perhaps I am back to the one step forward, two steps back.  I'll now have to wait another year to start my second peppermint bed in order to make sure I can harvest and dehydrate as much mint as I want.
It's not a terrible, awful, bad predicament to have when other gardeners are experiencing severe drought or too much moisture or a serious invasion of insects as is one gardener in our area who has lost about 80% of her garden to grasshoppers.
I've thought about starting my own peppermint plants from seeds.  But even at that, I won't know if the plant leaves smell or taste like peppermint until they're big enough to show their true colors.  Best I plan on a determined search of greenhouses within a 200 mile radius next spring giving the old sniff test and maybe even surreptitiously munching a leaf or two.  Just to be sure. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Trying to Find Time for Blogging

Blogging?  Heck, it's been hard to find time for sleeping.
It's the good, ol' summer time and the days are flying by with lightning speed.
We're making great headway on our cleaning, sorting, re-organizing and getting rid of tons of stuff we really don't need any more.  This (much needed) project seems to fill our days, but it's also providing good, freeing feelings for both of us.
In the twenty-some years we've lived on this property, we've never seen temperatures as we've had the past couple of days.  Yesterday our thermometer in the shade hit 91°.  Add about ten degrees to that and you'll know what standing out in the sun felt like.  Our house which has always had the ability to stay cool in the summer time, rose to 81° inside.  Ooof.  Last night did not afford a good night's sleep in this household.  Today the temp has dropped, and we're starting to feel (and behave) human again. 
Our sky has had that strange yellowish cast, and you can smell the smoke from the fires up in Canada.  We're been watering constantly to keep plantings alive (blessings on our good well with abundant water) but the soil is dry as a bone within an hour of getting a drink.

Our pond is becoming a sad puddle.  We've never seen it this low.
I'm managing to keep on top of the weeds in most of our reduced-sized garden this year, but the ones in the blueberry patch have gotten ahead of me and are downright scary.  I've never seen it populated with so many tall weeds.  These must be attacked soon or I won't be able to find the blueberry bushes.
That's all for now as I'm going to take my shower and hit the hay early tonight for some sleepy time that will be much (much, much, much!) more comfortable than last night.