Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Aphids and tomatoes

Aphids have wrought complete havoc on my poor squash plants. I got some pumpkins from the garden and enough zucchini to last me, but the honey dew melons and cantaloupe didn't get a chance to ripen before the vines died.

I tried using the stuff from Gardens Alive. It didn't seem to help the plants that were already afflicted, but we'll see how the butternut squash fare. They seem to be doing okay so far. I never did get any of the fancy squash I tried growing (aphids). I did get one snackjack pumpkin (for the seeds), but it's kind of small, so I don't know if there will be any seeds inside.

I did get enough tomatoes to make a small amount of sauce for dinner last night. It was tasty: my tomatoes, my zucchini, plus mushrooms and yellow peppers. I'll cook up the pumpkin innards today or tomorrow and freeze it for pies later. I just can't get into pumpkin pie in August.

I also discovered the identities of two of the shrubs growing in our yard: mock orange and flowering quince. Since they grow like freakin' weeds, I'm pretty sure I can transplant some of their shoots into making new shrubs elsewhere in the yard. I'll try that in the coming weeks.

I'm also going to try a taste test of sweet corn today. I got one ear from each variety that I'm growing to see how they taste. They might be too young or too old (I wasn't really paying attention to how to tell if corn is ready). But, by golly, I'm going to try it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Flowers, proto-squash, and more flowers

There are more pictures of my garden here: Garden Mid-July 2008.

The flowers are doing well, despite not having much company or attention this year. The veggies are doing very well. I have several proto-squash and baby pumpkins on the vines already. One of the stalks of corn was sprouting tassles this afternoon. I even got to eat one of my yellow squash for dinner tonight.

The Japanese Beetles are out in full-freakin-force now, too. They are decimating the crab-apple tree and are into the string beans, just like last year. But, I set out some traps and, if last year is an indication, most of the plants will survive the dumb little buggers.

Two of my squash aren't doing so well. One is a fancy squash I've never grown before, and it was a major pain to get the seeds to germinate in the first place. It seems to have some kind of disease on its stem where it touches the ground. It may or may not make it. The other is a yellow squash or zucchini plant (I'm not sure which it is). It's got white stuff on its leaves that I assume is powdery mildew since I had that on some squash last year. There are 4 other squash/zucchini plants, so I think I'll have enough.

There are also two baby honeydew melons on the vines. This is the first year I've grown those, so I'm excited to see the fruits. With luck, they'll ripen just before our trip to Michigan and I can share them with my mom and she'll be so impressed (she's a mother; it's her job to be impressed :).

Other than putting down grass for mulch, I've been seriously slacking on weeding or other garden chores. But, it's not a fun hobby if you take it too seriously. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rain is good for the garden

I have some pictures of the garden here: Garden Early July 2008

It's coming along quite well. The rain has been good for the grass and weeds in the garden as well as for the squash, corn, et al. I chopped some of it with a weed wacker, some with hedge clippers this past weekend, until the rain started up again.

I don't know if it's too late to plant more of the corn that only got 10-20% germination or not. I guess the only thing I lose by not trying are the seeds. But, if they don't turn into corn, I'll at least have corn stalks for decoration in the fall. :)

Next year: tiller, for sure.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Plants are doing very well with all the recent rain. So are the weeds, but that's life.

Crushed my first japanese beetle today. Good thing I bought the traps in bulk at CostCo.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grass for mulch and fresh peas

We mowed the yard today and I got all the grass clippings I'll need for a while. I mulched around the squash, to help keep the grass and weeds down so they can get enough light.

The rain this past week has been very good for the garden. All my squash are doing well, the tomatoes, the corn and the green beans are also doing well. I got cages for my tomatoes today. I didn't use them last year and the tomatoes sat on the ground and rotted.

I also ate the first fresh peas from the garden. I had tried some raw before, just because I've never grown peas before. They were very tasty raw. I tried them sauteed in a little butter. They were good, but still stiff, like when they're raw. I should have cooked them longer. I like peas, but I like them soft.

The lettuce is way, way too thick. It's killing itself competing for sun. So, I envision lots of salads in my future.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back from vacation

While I was on vacation, I had nightmares about my seedlings drying out and dying. They didn't! In fact, they seemed to grow really fast (probably because I wasn't checking on them every other day).

The grass, of course, had a field day without me walking on it, but at least many of the squash seedlings that perished in the last frost were replaced by new sprouts from the extra seeds I planted before my trip. Such as these beauties:

The corn is growing well, I guess. Having never grown corn before, I don't really know. The old saying is "knee high by the 4th of July" and it's well on its way, so I guess it's doing well.

I finally got some of the Snackjack seeds to sprout. These are the hybrid pumpkins that produce hulless seeds for eating. I think I planted 15 seeds (maybe more) and only got one sprout. If it produces seeds, and they're awesome, it might be worth it.

I'm impressed that the morning glory seeds I got from a geocache have produced some sprouts. I have no idea how long they'd been there. If they produce seeds, maybe I'll try returning the favor.

The trellis really needs some more support. After I erected it, we had some seriously rainy and windy days. This pushed the trellis posts back and forth and compacted the soil around it. So, it's wobbly now. I can put more dirt (or even quickcrete) down the holes, I just haven't done it.

Oh! And cut grass makes awesome mulch. I poo-pooed it because with the size of garden I have, I needed so much mulch that I spread it too thin. Well, with the lawn tractor we got after ours died, I successfully lobbied for a bagger. Now, I can have oodles of grass clippings. It is so nice!

The spearmint and lemon balm are kind of taking over their little plot, so if you need any spearmint or lemon balm and you're in the Evans City / Pittsburgh area, let me know. I planted it just because my parents' garden had it. I thought maybe I'd make tea or Mojitos out of it. I can probably make mint jelly there's so much.

And, after being gone, lots of strawberries had a chance to ripen. I had a handful yesterday and more today. Yum!

The rest of the pictures are here:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Frost! WTF?!

It frosted again last night. It's almost freakin' June! What is up with that? At least this time I saw the frost warning and was able to cover my plants up. They seemed to make it this time, but it's hard to say since so many of them were damaged by the last one.

But, many are still kicking, so it should be fine. Willie suggested that I put down more seeds in the hills where I thought they wouldn't make it, just I'd be sure to get something for my efforts. So, I did. Next year, I may just sow outside and to hell with starting indoors. Only the hot peppers that I started indoors are actually making it outdoors. Well, and one sad little tomato plant.

We got a bagger for the lawn tractor, so now I have tons of mulch for the garden. Yay! And now some random garden pictures. :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Short update

I got the rest of my corn planted. The only things left that I wanted to plant and haven't for some reason are kale, collards, broccoli, herbs, and string beans. I will try to get them in this weekend, because we're kind of down to the wire here in terms of getting any harvest before it gets cold again.

But, I figure some of that stuff is grown in colder climates where they're just starting to plant outside, so, it's all good.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seedlings out

I planted most of the seedlings outside today and mulched around the front flowers. My lack of volumetric judgment kicks my ass sometimes. I guessed that one bag of mulch would cover the area; I told Willie that and he said, um, no. So far I've put down three and I'm not done.

Since my sage didn't come back, I had an area of the garden that was fairly weed-free and available. So, I put the seedlings there instead of where I intended to put them on my big garden layout map. *gasp* But, hey, they should be fine.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Busy and bunny-tastic

I planted some of the tomato seedlings, the green beans, the cucumbers, and some of the sunflowers. I'll try to get the rest of the seedlings in the ground and plant the corn later this week. And mulch.

The bunnies are not deterred by my deer fencing and have been nibbling on my seed sprouts. The bug fabric my mom got me seems to be keeping them at bay. Since I saw a few of my melon seeds sprouting, I'll have to figure out a way to cover them until they're big enough "to stand a little nibble" as my mom put it.

Sunny and warm this week. They were calling for rain, but it hasn't materialized, so I've been watering the seeds. I don't think I've been as diligent about that this year, so I hope things still make it.

Here are some pictures of the garden and of random flowering things around the yard.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Still planting

We had snow flurries a full week after the supposed last frost date, but no frost. Go figure.

I have planted more squash seeds (Snackjack, Marina di Chioggia, Galeux d'Eysines, Butternut, yellow crookneck, and zucchini). Yay! Squash!

Something is nibbling my cabbage sprouts, either bunnies or bugs. Putting the bug netting my mom got me over the spinach and peas seemed to keep them at bay, so I put some over the cabbage tonight. It's less satisfying, since I can't really see the sprouting plants, but it's more satisfying to have growing plants and frustrated bugs than to have growing bugs and frustrated gardeners, ie, me. :)

We shall see. At this rate, I may or may not get everything planted in the next two weeks. (I am nothing if not ambitious.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Trellis for hops

I built a trellis today for vining plants, especially the hops plant I bought. I don't think I'll try making beer this year, but it's definitely on the list for the next few years. I also planted seeds for Moonflower and Morning Glory, so we'll see what happens with those.

In other gardening updates, I finished planting the potatoes and realized after I was totally finished and was mulching that I mis-read the directions on how far apart to space the rows. Doh! Oh well.

I also did some mowing for the mulch and planted some of the pumpkin seeds. I am much sunburned after two days of that non-sense. At least the weather cooperated to let me do it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More planting, more weeds and grass

Here's a couple of pictures of the flowers in the yard right now. The tulip was there when we moved in and I moved all the other flowers out of that area of the yard, but apparently I missed one.

Here are two flowering shrubs in the yard. The yellow one is Forsythia (I think) and I don't know what the pink flowers are.

Here's the Rhubarb (again), the newly planted potatoes (looking like little gravesites), and the rows of lettuce. My husband says the lettuce looks like a poorly done black-top patch job on the highway. He's right.

Here's a picture of the garden in progress. For comparison, I've included a picture from about this time last year. There was a lot less grass last year. But, I guess that's to be expected: last year I had just tilled the earth for the garden for the first time. This year, the grass has had a year to come back. Note to self and others: tilling under grass does NOT add lots of organic material to the soil, it just makes the grass pissed off when it comes back up.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Plants survived

The plants in the garden survived the slightly sub-zero temperatures this past week, even though I wasn't here to cover them. (Well, sub-zero if you're trying to learn Celsius like I am.) Most everything I have planted out so far has sprouted and since the last frost date is this coming week, I think it's safe to start putting the seedlings out on the porch in the afternoon to harden off.

I went around and put bamboo stakes in the garden to mark off the different areas and did some minor weeding today. It rained all morning (which was good for the garden), but it meant that the soil was too wet to really do anything major with it. The seed potatoes arrived before I left on vacation, so I'll get those in the ground next.

Some of the other bulbs are sprouting and blooming in the front yard. I'll get some pictures for next time. Next on the purchase list are: container dirt (for growing mixed baby greens in), trellises (for both the climbing flowers and the climbing veggies), and some proper mulch for the front yard garden. I'm planning to plant most of the flowers in the front yard around where the old pine tree was. I like having flowers up there; it gives me an excuse to go into the house using the front door, which I prefer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Paper Mulch

So, since the whole sheets of paper as weed control mat weren't working, I got to thinking about why grass clippings make pretty good mulch. Here's a picture of the mulch after a winter of sitting on the ground.

I thought about why the grass clippings didn't just go flying all over the yard like the sheets of paper did. Well, grass is wet (making it heavier for longer) and it kind of interlocks over itself so that when it dries it makes a kind of mat. But, it's early April and there is no grass from which to get grass clippings. And, I need mulch now!

Then it hit me: I could fake grass clippings with shredded newspaper, if I got it wet. So, I shredded a stack of papers (about three inches high) to get about a kitchen trash bag's worth of shreds. Then, I got it wet by pouring water on them and tossing them around to get soaked.

Once I had my "mulch" I put it on the garden. I tried a very small area first and it seemed to do okay. That is, it didn't fly around or turn into confetti all over the yard, and it seemed to keep the dirt underneath moist. So, I did the above amount today. We'll see how that goes, but I'm hopeful. Grass clippings will be better, but these will probably do until I can get some. Also, I'm not sure how the ink in the paper will affect things; it may or may not be bad for the soil, I just don't know. I only used newspaper, not that glossy stuff they use for ad fliers, so it's probably okay.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tips for being a successful weed

Try to disguise yourself as a desirable plant. For example, here is common mallow next to mint and lemon balm. In these pictures it maybe easy to tell them apart, but I'm here to tell you, at this time of year, it all looks alike.

Alternately, try growing as close as possible to the desirable plant. If possible, try growing up in between the branches of said plant. This will make the gardener so nervous about uprooting her beloved plant that you'll escape being yanked.

For the first year, anyway.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Newspaper as weed control mat and cold weather friends

Some pretty flowers coming up and blooming.

I've heard from several sources that you can use newspaper as weed-control mat. That has not been my experience. For me, it's just like littering that was more controlled in its location. I offer these photos as evidence. Maybe they need to be secured somehow, but I couldn't figure out an eco-friendly way to do it.

The daylillies are coming up, whether I want them to or not. We were overrun with daylillies when we first moved in. I've been slowly moving them to other places in the yard, but yowza, there were a LOT.

And the Michigan transplant Rhubarb looks like it's coming back! Yay! I wasn't sure it would, but it looks like it's going to make it. And a bit more organized with the direct sowing of seeds than I was last year. I need to get some popsicle sticks to use, but the plastic things were handy from last year. I sowed broccoli and half of the spinach, because they like cold weather better (or so says the seed package).

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Garden Layout

I went through the effort of making a garden layout since I have so many more things I want to plant this year, with varying height and width requirements. And, because I'm a geek, I did it in Google Sketch Up.

So, now I have a 2D layout picture and a 3D block diagram of what it might look like.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

March Madness

First, the garden related photos, since that's the primary purpose of this rambling blog.

I've heard that using newspaper as weed-control mat works and is hippie-friendly. I've not had good luck with it in the past, but I'm trying it again, this time before the weeds (read: grass) have a chance to grow. Here's also a picture of a crocus budding in the front yard and the garlic that's sprouting in the garden.

Unrelated to gardening, here's a picture of me working on my afghan. I've been crocheting it for two winters. If I pushed, I could probably get it done this year, but why bother? I've got lots of garden stuff to do now and it will wait.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

First seedling sprouts!

Here's a picture of the first seedling sprouts. They're broccoli sprouts, which makes sense, since they prefer cooler weather.

It's going to get colder in here before it gets warmer. We're hoping to go the rest of the cold-weather season on the heating oil we have now. So, we're turning down the temperature again. But, it's all for the best. At least the seedlings are warmed by the atomic florescent lights I have hanging over them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

First Flowers of 2008

Here are some of the yellow crocus that are blooming in my front yard. (At least, I think they're crocus, I wasn't really paying attention to what I planted where.)

First Post!

I'm not even sure I'll have much to say. But what the heck.