Sunday, July 31, 2011

I made good use of my Sunday morning. I finally processed my first pumpkin of the season. First I cut it in half from stem to bottom. Pulled out all the seeds and slimy guts. :) I rinsed the meaty seeds in my colander to prepare them for roasting. The rest of the guts are now food for the worms in my worm bin.I covered the bottom of my roasting pan and tops of both halves of pumpkin with foil. Then tossed them into an oven at 325. I had to roast this 7.33 pounder for about two hours. Some parts were still a little firm in places, so I microwaved those chunks before running everything through my food mill with a pumpkin attachment. This was a juicy pumpkin, so I drained off the excess liquid after I ran everything through the mill. I took a fork to press out a bit more of the liquid before I placed it in a freezer bag for holiday pies. It made exactly two cups of pumpkin. (Oh, and yes. My oven really is that dirty).I haven't had pumpkin seeds since I was a kid. Why waste 'em? So while the oven was already at 325, I tossed them in with the pumpkin. They were roasted for 10 minutes on both sides while on a sprayed and salted baking sheet.
Seems like a lot of work. Especially since I can buy a couple cans of Libby's pumpkin for only a few dollars. But I will be really proud when I make my first pumpkin pie from my very own pumpkin that was grown with love.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Our 6th heatwave of the season starts today. Slow cooker is making dinner. Nothing better than the smell of a beef roast made with homegrown celery, garlic, onions, and potatoes. The neighbors will be drooling.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A portion of my Red Norland and Yukon Gold harvest. I planted about 6 to 8 seed potatoes in a 2 x 3 foot space in a raised bed. I know the drought and extreme heat this summer impacted their numbers. I also found it tough to find the time to water as often as they needed. Even still, the ones we did get looked very healthy and colorful. Next season I am going back to growing them in 3 gallon containers like last season. My containers get much more regular watering than anything in the ground. They did really well last season. Even still, these will taste great in the slow cooker tomorrow night with a roast. Doesn't everything taste better when it was grown in your own garden?

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's raining!!!!

It just dawned on me that we haven't mowed the lawn in JUNE 28th. Almost a month ago! We really need this.
Our 5th heatwave of the season may be ending today. I believe there were 9 days in a row over 90. Some over 100. It really took a toll on the shallow-rooted blueberries. Despite supplemental watering during this time of no rain, the leaves still took a good jolt. They held up fine until I went out yesterday morning. Even the night temperatures and humidity didn't let up, and the plants couldn't fight it one more day. We still need a serious rain around here. The weathermen say there is a chance today. One thing that the heat has done is to ripen my pumpkins really fast.Okay. I know this is ready ridiculously early. They were supposed to be my Halloween jack-o-lanterns in the fall. My fault. I planted early to beat out the SVBs which get me every year. So proud of my first, almost-perfect, large pumpkin!
It does have one imperfection on the side that was on the ground. A burrowing nuisance found its way into this spot. No big deal. I'll cut it out when I go to turn this beauty into some pumpkin puree to freeze for holiday pies and muffins. Yeah. I'm so excited about my first big pumpkin ever!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Holy cow! It is 105 degrees at this moment! Heat Index: 111.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I've never had success with sunflowers before.....UNTIL NOW!!!! They are loving this heat.
I planted just a small area, approximately 2 square feet of space, because I didn't expect much. Squirrels, birds, or underwatering usually due them in before they get a chance to sprout. This year, with a bit of wet Spring weather at just the right time, they found their time to shine. I wish I knew the variety. I know it's a dwarf. My computer got a virus, and everything was deleted. I lost all my old photos and gardening logs for the last two years. This is why I need to start relying on paper records again....just in case. I'm glad I at least have this journal.
A Golden Acre head of cabbage that I harvested last week. It made a delicious sweet and sour slaw.Three Spirit pumpkins at different maturities. A hybrid, bush pumpkin that is doing well despite the extreme, unrelenting heatwave.There's no way that this one is lasting until Halloween, so I'll be freezing some pumpkin puree sometime soon. I don't regret planting early. I had poor results in past season due to SVBs. This season I have at least 4 pumpkins on this plant. No SVBs. I hope I didn't just jinx myself. Maybe I'll get lucky enough to have one still around for Halloween.Mucho Nacho jalapeno peppers. Mexican, anyone?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yesterday evening they were calling for a 75% chance of thunderstorms and just short of an inch of rain. 75%. That's sounds like there's a good chance. Wrong! No rain. Still. And I'm out of rain water for my blueberries. Ugh. I'll have to figure out how much vinegar to add to my highly alkaline tap water...

Monday, July 18, 2011

The forecast has the temps at 90+ for 9 days in a row. That includes that last couple of days. Yikes. To top it off we're on our second long stretch of the season with no rain. No wonder my grass crunches when I walk on it....where there is still grass. Fridays forecast is 100 degrees! Real Feel: 112!!! Reaching for the record of 101. I'm in Pennsylvania. This is nuts!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I finally had a few minutes to go around and inspect my new fruit trees. Just like in the beginning of the season, I found tons of aphids on the new growth of my Golden Delicious dwarf apple. Ugh. Before, I cut off the heavily infested portions. I don't want to do that again at the expense of branch growth.To the rescue! I found her on my plum tree. I gave her a little ride over to the apple tree. She got an easy meal, and I will sleep a little better at night.My Stanley plum tree which was planted last fall. The leader is growing a bit crooked, so I used some plastic plant ties to straighten it up while it's still malleable.A healthy bunch of Reliance grapes. Eventually they mature to red.Reliance grapes with black rot. Cut off and discarded in the trash....not in my composter. I purchased this variety, because it was labeled disease-resistant. I guess not to black rot. All season I have been removing leaves with signs of black rot along with all grapes or bunches that have been effected. Luckily I still have some great looking bunches. I read somewhere that grapes become resistant to black rot once they reach 5-8% sugar. I'm hoping that time is soon. I would hate to loose them all and I don't want to spray.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Veggies in the Garden

Red Zeppelin and Copra onions. About 75% of the plants were harvested yesterday. They were a lot smaller than last season, but that's mostly my fault. Lack of fertilization and regular watering stunted them. Who knew?
Salad Bush cucumbers, or as my three-year old calls them, pickles.
The Cherokee Green blossoms that I bagged are looking picture perfect so far. I forgot to remove the bags before my vacation last week, so they grew enough where the clothespin released the bag for them. This was my absolute favorite tomato in 2009! Delicious!
Stupice tomatoes are coming along nicely. I've never grown or tasted this variety before, so I'm anxiously awaiting their ripening.My daughters little hands make our first two Sun Gold tomatoes look huge! They barely survived long enough for me to snap a picture. That girl loves tomatoes. Turns out she also loves blackberries. The first few that were ripe didn't make it two steps before she gulped them as well.
Tomatoes in the back from left to right: Four Sun Golds, Lucky Cross, Cherokee Green, and Stupice. My Spirit pumpkin taking up most of the other space. Salad Bush cucumbers weaving around in the front left. Sweet basil blooming in the front. There are still some onions planted on the front right.
These hot days are rough on the Spirit pumpkin. Looks pretty pathetic, huh? Once the sun goes down, it springs back to life. A good shower with the hose perks it up as well.As with every season, I'm having my ups and downs. Overall, I am pleased. I hope you are pleased with your gardens as well. There is one thing that I have learned over the years that make each year more and more enjoyable. It is more rewarding to grow things that I will enjoy eating. Why did I want to grow broccoli? I wouldn't eat enough to justify the space. I need to be in a really strange mood to WANT to eat broccoli. It would end up being nothing more than a large blooming flower here. Yet I have a hard time resisting the urge to grow something after reading about how great they are in seed catalogs. Self-control Kim. Self-control. Now this doesn't mean that I will no longer experiment with different things and different varieties. I just know that about 90% of my annual flower and veggie plantings need to be something that has been successful in the past. The other 10% keeps me learning and satiates my need to experiment with new things. It's what makes gardening fun for me. What makes it fun for you?
I hope your gardens are full of successes this season! Happy gardening!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I went away on vacation last week. Unfortunately, the onions didn't enjoy themselves as much as I did. After a week without water in yet another intense heatwave the foliage had begun to wilt and flop over. The bulbs were forming quite until now. I watered them well on Saturday upon my arrival, but it looks like harvest time is quickly approaching despite my efforts. The onions partially shaded by my pumpkin plant are still doing very well.
Copra and Red Zeppelin onions along with Salad Bush hybrid cucumbers harvested Sunday.Music garlic harvested Sunday. Portion of the border around the house:
Becky shasta daisies, dwarf barberry, Rosy Returns daylilies, mums, Navajo blackberry behind the coneflowers.Below is another portion of the house border:
Adonis Blue dwarf butterfly bush, irises (bottom front), Autumn Joy sedum (just forming buds) Lucifer crocosmia, purple coneflowers.
Another pleasant surprise I found was four Black Swallowtail cats on my Florence fennel. I planted tons of carrots in the same bed, but the fennel has always seemed to be their preference.