Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Harvest 2008, Before The Great Garden Makeover

Here is a summary of the garden production in 2008. This is the year I decided I had to drastically change the way I was utilizing my garden space and the way I was gardening.

I began by ripping out all the old garden beds. The existing beds were all four feet deep and right up against the foundation of the house. I could not reach them to plant, weed or harvest so they were always pretty much a mess. They also had our own soil from the yard in them and it is clay.

The new beds are two feet deep and I can easily reach to the back. I had one bed in place in time to plant beans and had a good harvest.

In 2008 I harvested:

10 Lemon Boy Tomatoes, plant pulled 10-10
24 Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes, plant pulled 10-15
294 Green Beans (in new bed), plants (14) pulled 10-23, due to being killed by frost
35 Roma Tomatoes, plant pulled 10-15
6 Yellow Summer Squash, plant pulled 8-4
62 Purple Beans, plants (3) pulled 10-22
63 Potatoes, 1 of which is red, last dug on 11-6

The Lemon Boy tomato plant was obtained from a Freecycle listing. I originally had two plants but a windstorm shortly after planting took one of them and the banana pepper plant as well. I did not find even bits of the plants. They were just gone.

I got the Mortgage Lifters at WalMart. Twenty-four tomatoes from two plants would not pay my mortgage.

I purchased the green bean seeds at a local nursery in late summer. Their distributor had picked up all but two packages of beans and I bought both. The pole beans sprouted but never got more than a few inches tall. The bush beans took off!
Wow! I was quite pleased. They were in a new bed filled with Mel's Mix a la Square Foot Gardening.

The summer squash were completely riddled with borers. The poor plant tried it's best and if I had paid more attention I would have caught the problem earlier.

I had three purple bean seeds sprout in an old bed. The plants only got about six inches tall but did well under the circumstances.

The potatoes were the biggest surprise. Two years ago I planted three small potatoes from my father-in-law. I got a handful of potatoes but nothing to brag about. Last year the potatoes sprouted from bits left in the ground but almost immediately died and were not seen again that year. I did not even try to dig them.
This year three plants came up. I totally neglected them as I could not reach them. They actually did quite well. I did have one potato I could not explain. One potato was red. All the rest were white. I have saved it to plant again.

Not a horrid harvest but I am really looking forward to Garden Season 2009.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Made Laundry Detergent

I used the recipe at:
http://www.tammysrecipes.com/homemade_laundry_soap_recipe

I used a bath size bar of Ivory soap and followed the rest of the directions except for waiting for it to set up before pouring into empty detergent bottles.

I poured it into the bottles right after finishing mixing it in the bucket.
I did not have enough empty detergent bottles as someone helpfully disposed of the empties.

The detergent gelled fine in the bottles. I did not fill them all the way full so there was room to slosh it around and mix it up.

My Ivory soap was a bar that I had had for a while and had dried out some. That meant that when I grated it I got a fine powder instead of the curly slivers. If I do try the recipe for the dry detergent I will use an older bar of Ivory. I age the bars for shower use as they last longer than the new wet bars.

It will sure be nice if it really works as well as some people say. I have seen mixed reveiws.

I did not take any pictures as it is not really very photogenic and there are plenty of pictures at the recipe site.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Made Grape Jelly!

This is the tree that was covered in grapevines. The vines had pretty much killed the tree and we wanted to cut it down. I told my hubby that once it was down he could not finish cutting it up till I had gathered all the grapes.



Here is a pair of standard size scissors next to some of the grapes. They were really tiny grapes and most of the fruit was filled with a seed.



I collected a plastic grocery bag almost full of grapes still on their stems. Once they were cleaned and rinsed they looked like this.



First I froze the grapes overnight. That is a trick I learned a long time ago by accident. It helps the fruit to release more juice.
I followed it pretty exactly although I ended up with 4 1/4 cups of juice. I used 3 cups of juice to make the jelly and ended up with 6 jars of beautiful purple jelly!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Find Who Carries the Seeds You Want

Mother Earth News has a fantastic new search engine.
This is the description, copied from the page:
Are you looking for a particular vegetable, herb or flower variety and it's not available in your favorite catalogs? Our new Mother Earth News Seed and Plant Finder lets you quickly search the online catalogs of more than 500 mail order seed companies. All you have to do is type in the variety you're looking for in the search box below, and you'll get a list of links to the companies offering the variety. (For variety names with two or more words, put the entire name inside quotation marks for the best search results.) You can also search for any crop and browse the newest or rarest selections.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Find-Seeds-Plants.aspx

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday, Virginia Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.




The Virginia Red Cedar is not a cedar at all. It is a juniper. At the cabin we have a LOT of it. Unfortunately both hubby and myself are allergic to it. We are slowly removing it.

See my September 9th post to see who was living in this one.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Seeds I Have On Hand For Planting

Beans



Spaghetti Bean, RARE ENDANGERED SEED

Apparently near extinction. Saved by one man in MN since 1991. If you take these please grow out and spread seed around. Medium green tender pods if picked young.



Eggplant



From Iran, no other description at this time



Greens



Miner's Lettuce, Claytonia



Tomatoes

Beam's Yellow Pear 71 Days Ind.
Bright yellow 1 and 1/2 inch pear shaped fruits. These produce huge, bushy plants that yield very large quantities of 1 oz., 1 1/2-inch, bright yellow, pear-shaped cherry tomatoes that will give you fruit until frost. The tomatoes of this yellow pear tomato variety are zesty sweet and delicious. A beautiful salad or snackin' tomato. If you are growing several colors of cherry tomatoes include this one. A great tomato choice for a patio or planter garden. A good producer even in cooler coastal regions.

Black Cherry 65 Days Ind.
One of the only having black skin. Color is a deep red, with blackish hues, Flavor is oustanding and this one rose to cult status right up there in popularity with Brandywine.

Black Mountain Pink 80 Days Ind.
An old and very rare Kentucky heirloom saved by Austin Isaccs. Huge pink fruits can grow over 3 lbs! Very dense flesh is a beautiful deep rose with garnet streaks. Flavor is outstanding. Seeds come from an abandoned homestead in the Black Mountain area of Harlan County,Kentucky around 1933.

Black Pear 80 Days Ind.
Mahogany fruits shaped like miniature pears. Potatoleafed Plants with exceptional taste. Dark brown tomatoes are shaped like miniature pears and flavored with an excellent, rich taste. Potato-leaved plants produce an abundance of these beautiful, 4 to 6 ounce fruit

Bloody Butcher 55 Days Ind.
Delicious, 2" diameter, red fruits grow on fast growing potato leafed vines. Sensational general use fruits have a rich heirloom flavor and a deep red color, inside and out. If it's hard for you to wait for ordinary tomatoes to ripen, try these. In less than 8 weeks, they're ready to enjoy... and enjoy you will. Plants will yield five to nine 2" fruits per cluster. Plants require staking, and will produce until frost. Indeterminate. Six hours or more of direct sun per day.

Box Car Willie 80 Days Ind.
Prolific yields of smooth, reddish-orange fruits averaging a large 10 to 16 oz.! With an old-fashioned flavor you'll remember from childhood, these high-yielding, multi-use tomatoes will last throughout the season and are ideal for canning, freezing, or for home-cooked meals. Crack-free and disease resistant

Cherokee Purple 85 Days Ind.
Large dark purple tomato from Tennessee is rumored to have come from Cherokee Nation. Oustanding flavor . One of the best Black Tomatoes.

Jaune Coeur De Pigeon 75 Days Ind.
Yellow plum shaped tomatoes. I inch brilliant yellow with a wonderful flavor

Paul Robeson 75 Days Ind
Russian Heirloom. One of the most highly regarded black tomatoes, Medium sized mohogany fruits with that classic salty, smoky taste. Original seed sent to SESE by Marina Danilenko, a Moscow seedswoman. The tomato was named after Paul Robeson, operatic vocal artist who was an advocate of equal rights for Blacks. His artistry was appreciated world-wide, especially in the Soviet Union.

Peron Sprayless 70 Days Ind.
Introduced in 1951 by Gleckler's from Argentina. Large, disease resistant, and they produce an abundance of 3-4-inch, uniform, smooth, red, round, fruits are above average in vitamin C and have a good balance of sweet to acid flavor. Good Container plant.

Porter 65 Ind.
Pink Cherry tomato. These large plants produce an abundance of tomatoes! The fruits are deep red in color, weigh about 4 ounces each, and are sunburn and crack resistant. An excellent canning tomato that does well in hot weather!



Prudens Purple 72 Ind.
Large potato leafed plant produces huge abundance of exquisite tasting 1 pound fruits. Rivals Brandywine in taste. Produces even in heat and with cool nights.

Salt Spring Sunrise 70 Days Ind.

Snow White 65 Days Ind.
1 inch white or pale yellow tomatoes are like candy on the vine. Prolific. Very pretty cherry tomato that matures to a cream color. Plants are highly productive and the fruits are sweet. The ivory-cream color persists throughout the fruit when cut.

Sugar Gem 71 Days Ind.
A huge sprawling plant producing heavily laden clusters of golf ball sized red fruit. Sweet! "Candy-on-the-vine"

Weeping Charley
An excellent-tasting, almost paste tomato, this variety produces big, fat Roma-shaped tomatoes, but these are sweeter and juicier than standard paste varieties, with good strong, real tomato flavor and heavy production

Yubileyny Tarasenko Ind.
Pointed egg-shaped, trusses with 15-27 fruits, very productive, Ukrainian, bred by famous amateur gardener Tarasenko

Zogola 85 Days Ind.
Luscious deep red beefsteaks. Out produces all others. Taste equal to its huge fruit. Rich and tangy, noble and strong. Tons of meaty tomatoes on disease resistant plants from Poland.




Squash, Melons, Cucumbers



Tuscan Canteloupe

Tuscan Melon is a small, round, very sweet melon. A perfect serving size for 2 people, these melons can be enjoyed freshly sliced for a wonderfully sweet summer snack. Tuscan Melon tastes very sweet with a high brix level and a rich honey finish, usually tasting sweeter than regular cantaloupe. Tuscan Melon has an orange flesh and a luscious flowery aroma which makes them a lovely addition to summer cooking. This melon variety is easily recognizable by its tan skin (like a cantaloupe) with dark green striations encircling the melon unlike any other type of melon. The flesh is indented slightly where there is dark green striping.
Store in refrigerator after picking.

Tomatillo

Seeds I want:

Cabbage, Red and Green both
Cherry Tomatoes, more, more, more!
Cilantro
Dill
Gherkin Cucumber
San Marzano Tomato
Sunflowers, several kinds
Beans, Beans and more beans to plant for dry beans

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Strangely Shaped Potato



I don't quite know what to think about this one, but I grew it in my garden :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Requiem For the Fish

I have a small water garden on my deck at home. The garden has a fence of hardware cloth wired to the top and a ceramic pot in the bottom for the fish to hide. I also keep a fountain going in the pond. All this in an effort to keep the critters out and the fish in.

All in vain once again.

Last year it was a cat that kept coming back. I caught it actually down in the water chasing the fish. It caught every fish.

I did not see the predator this time. I checked on the fish at night and in the morning when I went to feed them the fence was crooked and the deck was littered with scales and bones.

I only put the little feeder goldfish from WalMart in the pond but these had grown to six or more inches long since spring.



When I do keep them through the summer I overwinter them inside. I have a seventy-five gallon tank with more goldfish in the basement. I will not be putting any more in the pond this fall.

The plant in the picture is a Dwarf Papyrus that I got at WalMart last year. I overwintered it in the basement fish tank. I put a flowerpot under the papyrus pot so the plant can stick out the opening at the back of the tank. The tank is by my plant grow lights so it does okay.

I also have Water Hyacinths in the pond. They are huge and have done absolutely splendidly this year. I have not been able to keep them happy through the winter. They turn yellow and melt.

Sunset Surprise

The night before the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna rolled into WV made for a spectacular sunset. Just look at that sky! My husband made the comment that the old saw about Red sky at night, Sailor's delight would have been wrong this time.



The surprise was in a different part of sky from the main event. I happened to turn around in time to catch this unusual display. The clouds look like the picture is sideways but it isn't as you can see by the trees. It was really neat and faded quickly. I was very lucky to catch it.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jolly Green Giant? No, it's an Imperial Moth caterpillar, Eacles imperialis

Imagine my surprise when I caught sight of this fellow! At first I thought it was a misplaced Tomato Hornworm, but quickly realized Hornworms do not have hair. This one does not have a lot of hairs, but it does have some. I did not touch it as hairs can sting!



The caterpillar is eating the leaves of an Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperous virginiana, which is actually not a cedar at all but is a Juniper.

To see pictures of other caterpillars that have stinging hairs go to:
http://whatsthatbug.com/caterpillar_3.html



It is a beautiful pink and yellow moth when it is an adult.
http://bugguide.net/node/view/4757/bgimage
This caterpillar is quite large.
It is bigger around than my index finger and almost an inch longer.



To see an excellent photo go here.
http://www.thehiddenworld.net/eacles.html

The Local Wildlife Approves

The wildflower garden at the cabin has been getting rave reviews from the local wildlife. In this picture there are two deer. One is right in the middle of the garden by the milkweed plant that I had to stake because they had knocked it down. The second deer is emerging from the garden on the left of the picture. There were four deer but the other two did not enter the garden this time.



A little later I looked out and saw a skunk scurrying as fast as it could headed for it's hole under the bird feeder. The skunk is the small black spot just to the left of the garden.



Soon after that the grounhog headed home. The groundhog burrow is just to the right of the birdbath base.



I am quite pleased that the garden is so popular. Often it is not very pretty because of the wildlife but it is there for them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday, Honeysuckle, Lonicera albiflora

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.






I smelled this Honeysuckle before I saw it. I was not expecting to see any blooming this late in the summer.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

87 Beans!


We went away over the long weekend and when I got home I picked 87 beans! I know they should have been picked every day, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.
I was pleased that my bean eating critter had not damaged a single one of the beans. I did not see a hole anywhere.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday 2, Ivyleaf Morning Glory, Ipomoea hederacea

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.



I know this is NOT the usual sort of plant to showcase but I am sure growing a bunch of it. I do try to eradicate it, but it is persistent. Anyone know just what it is? Click on the picture for a better look.

The mystery plant has been identified as an Ivyleaf Morning Glory. See more about it here

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bean Pest


Somebody is eating my beans. To the right you can see the holes and just left of the middle is the critter. I think it is some kind of caterpillar. Anyone know?
This is the second one I have found. The first one was bigger and a little greener. They are very flat on the bottom. They are not slimy like a slug.

Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus

My garden is a success! I have Monarch caterpillars!

The poor milkweed in the picture was all bent over by whatever has been sleeping in the garden. I pounded in a metal fence post and tied it up with some strips off an old towel.



The caterpillars are happily munching away. I was surprised that the plant still has so many leaves.



I spent a lot of time watching them.



They grow fast and then the biggest ones just disappear. I read they look for a spot away from the milkweed to climb and make their chrysallis.


This one is eating a seedpod. I am curious about that. If the seedpods get eaten then they cannot produce seeds which means fewer plants for the caterpillars to feed on.

I will be adding more pictures to this post and keeping it strictly on the topic of Monarch Butterflies.




Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Praying Mantis


My son found this little fellow on the back yard fence last evening. Because it was on the fence I could not get the camera far enough away from it to not blur the picture. You can see the typical mantis stance with the front legs ready for action. This one is about three inches long. Look how dry the grass is! We have not had nearly enough rain.

Monday, August 25, 2008

West Virginia Weekend

This weekend the brush pile went from this:

to this:



This tree is one of the reasons we are cutting the brush back. To get to the vines before they kill any more trees. We have a LOT of vine-strangled trees.


The vines are of many sorts. Grapes are the worst offender followed by Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper.

Here is how I dealt with a Poison Ivy vine this weekend.
Here is a Poison Ivy vine climbing a tree. Almost all the green you see is Poison Ivy Leaves.


This vine has already made hundreds of berries. Berries have seeds in them. Birds find Poison Ivy berries quite delicious. Birds poop. When the bird poops, out comes the seed ready to grow in a new location. Die, vine, die!



This is what the Poison Ivy vine looks like climbing the tree. Brown and hairy.


I used a pruning tool to cut off a section of the vine about six inches long and then sprayed the bottom portion of the vine with Poison Ivy killer. I cut a bigg enough portion so that I can tell at a glance that the vine has been cut and can easily see if a smaller vine grows up bridging the gap. Be careful not to touch the vine, leaves, berries, or the cutting part of the tool. Poison Ivy sap will get on your skin and itch like crazy. The rash takes up to two weeks to appear.


Another chore we tackled was cutting up this fallen limb.

It just about filled our cart.

The bark has already fallen off and the branches are scored by the scars left behind by Bark Beetles. Bark Beetles kill many trees, but the scars are works of art. Click on the picture to see it larger.

First Green Bean Harvest

Yep! I picked the largest bean in this picture. One green bean. The first of many as you can see.



Something I noticed is that the first blossoms were white and now I have several blossoms on the same plants that have a pink tint to them. I wonder if it is a sign of some deficiency?



Sunrise



I went for my walk this morning under a gorgeous sky. We were at the cabin for the weekend. I have a billion pictures to post but am going to break them up and do several short posts with them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday 1, Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.



The fields were full of Queen Anne's Lace this weekend. Yes we have a field at the cabin.
Of course AFTER we got home I found out about Queen Anne's Lace Jelly.
There are a LOT of recipes on the internet. I am going to do a boiling water bath if I get the chance to make some, just to make sure it will keep.
If you want to try, please be careful that you are indeed picking Queen Anne's Lace and NOT Poison Hemlock!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beans Are Getting Bigger!

The Beans continue to grow. You can actually see them in this picture :)



The mystery Alliums continue to put on a show.



Now for a strange one. I noticed this tomato is getting ripe, but only on half of it! It has a crease in the front that makes it look like it could possibly be two tomatoes but the back is smooth so it isn't. Strange!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cicada Killer Wasp

The Cicada Killer Wasp is BIG! We have them all along the dirt road leading to the cabin. Click on the picture to see it larger.



They dig long tunnels underground, often several feet long. They capture and paralyse Cicadas and lay eggs on them. When the young hatch they feed on the still living Cicada. Here is a burrow entrance on our road.



The pictures were taken last year. I have not been able to get a decent picture of them this year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cicada, Baby Beans and DIY Tree Guards

Last evening my hubby and I took a stroll around the block. We have a nice circular route that is just over a mile in length. I found this cicada along the way and brought it home to take it's picture. I don't know which kind of Cicada it is. If I find out I will add the information here. Cicadas have anywhere from a one year to seventeen year cycle. This one has a lot of green on it's body. Cicada Identified! It is an Annual Cicada also known as the Dogday Harvestfly.


You will have to take my word for it that there are actual baby beans in this picture. Really! They are so small that they just don't show in the picture. These are the Bush Beans. The Pole Beans are still not doing well. I may try them again in the spring.


DIY Tree Guards. The next time we go to the cabin I will be taking these tree guards. I got the plastic pipe free from Freecycle and cut them in about eight to ten inch lengths. Then I cut a slit lengthwise to facilitate slipping it around the trunk.

If you make them do not be fooled into thinking you do not have to cut the lengthwise slit. You may be able to slip it over the top of a young tree but the tree will grow and eventually you will want to remove it. Make the slit now as it will be very difficult to do it later.

It took me about twenty minutes from start of project till everything was cleaned up and put away. I used an electric handheld saw for the project.



Hopefully the tree guards will help save the young trees from my husband's tractor and my weed whacker.

Here is a picture of a tree guard in action!