A Better Day

The morning was cool, a welcome break from the usual stifling July days. So the family came outside to accompany me on my rounds.

I crushed my latest squash bug findings, but noticed that even under constant attack the plants looked healthy and pollination was in full force.

And I found some blossom end rot on a couple of small watermelons, but it allowed the girls a treat.

And of course we were entertained by a couple of wild dogs.

A bit later I fried up some okra (and snuck in a green tomato), getting people to happily eat their vegetables. After which Gordon said, “You grow us veggies and cook us veggies. Thanks for taking care of us!” Which made me feel less like the Little Red Hen and more like myself.

And finally (speaking of hens), the larva trap was full of fun chicken treats.

The chooks weren’t too keen on eating out of the pie pan, but happily gobbled up the squirmers once I dumped them out.

And here’s the larva trap. Its a plastic flower pot with some bait (rotten apple) wedged into the (vermi-) compost pile and covered with a pie pan to keep light out.

However, it gets raided at night by my compost thief. I was happy when I noticed that the soldier fly larva was back (discovered them last year) because these guys really make nice fast compost, plus now I have chickens to enjoy them.

And some other good news is that neem oil and diatomaceous earth should help with the squash bugs. So off to work I go! I really feel too lazy, but that’s ok. It’s nice out and sitting indoors on my arse isn’t really good for my body or brain.

Xoxo

Play Hard Work Hard

We didn’t work on the fence this weekend. Saturday was a pretty lazy day since we partied like rockstars Friday night. (The Wilmington trip reminded us how to have crazy fun, so we have been making a point to do that.) But Sunday we did manage to till up the garden some more and I put down a few radish and cabbage seeds (since they were right about cabbages not wanting to be transplanted) and also a bunch of turnip seeds my dad sent me. 

I also got a lot of my main summer garden seeded. Timing is a bit weird since we are going to Florida for a few days mid-April, but I think (hope) I’ve got it figured out. (Except for how the chickens are supposed to fend for themselves,  so I should probably work om that soon.)

And while I was off wildly dating (and then lazily recovering) some cold weather came and killed the zinnias:

Dead as a door nail
And some basil died too. But I’m not going to replant the basil until later. And the zinnias, eh well they probably wouldn’t have liked that ridiculously thick mulch anyway (gotta figure something out in the beds around the house). 

But the mullein and calendula made it alright:

My Sunday productivity also allowed me to transplant several baby dianthus next to the baby forget-me-not around my mom’s tree. 

The dianthus are supposed to be black with white trim. I’m excited to see them.

Hello Monday Morning (sigh)

Fall Garden

Doubts and origins

It’s been ignored pretty well, I must say. But without earth-scorching temperatures and swarms of insects and their hungry larvae, the garden has done well all on its own.

Black Magic Kale

Baby Bok Choy

Why dost thou

think thou needest effing light before your first true leaves arrive? And why dost thou still stretch out for the daytime skylights in the mudroom after spending all night under a grow light in the basement?

Why don’t my plants seem to follow the rules?  Little brats. They are cute with their little baby broccoli selves, though. Maybe it’s just because broccoli is a floppy baby anyway? 

Do I have the energy to plant a fall garden? Can I hack up the grass and move my decrepit containers and amend the soil and have a round three for 2016? Is it worth it? Will the slugs and caterpillars demolish all of my brassicas before they’re even much of anything?  Will planting in the actual earth be worse for pests than even my containers were?

My dirt seems way too full of life as I hack it up. Grubs and beetles and random freaky looking guys.  My hamstrings and shoulders get destroyed after only an hour or two. Why the fuck don’t I have a tiller yet? Too lazy to ask for the help in getting one I guess. I’d rather hack, hack, hack.

Except I’m tired and I haven’t been hacking very much. 

Is this going to happen? Motivation is low due to the shitty little harvests following high hopes over summer. I loved it, I did. But is it time to rest now instead of hacking up the earth to meet a seasonal deadline? 

Don’t know. Leggy babies after a half-hearted planting waiting for my broken body to fix the dirt in the heat makes me question it for sure.

Spider Webs in the Fog

Foggy morning after last night’s storm

Every morning I destroy the intricate creations of my garden friends. Walking Wendell through the yard, I normally can’t detect the webs until they cover my face or shoulders like some kind of fairy’s veil.  This morning they were breathtakingly visible because of the fog. Everywhere I would expect to see one, instead were two or three! They are hard for me to catch with my camera…even my eyes. So this capture made me happy. I love these fantastic works of art and their creators. 

Micromanaging Spaghetti Squash

A little seedling volunteered itself in my compost pile. So I stuck it in one of the bags and it grew into a lovely vine that I trellised to the fence.

image

image

I got really excited with all the flowers!  So many spaghetti squash were coming!  (Counting the proverbial chickens) I wondered what is the best way to store them?  Decided that I would let them fully ripen and cure them outside until my fingernail wouldn’t pierce the skin and then store them on shelves in the basement on cardboard.  Yea! Got it all figured out – – –  Thanks, Google!

Then the happy hopeful flowers started dropping off with nothing to show for. What happened? But hey wait, there were a few flowers with fat little fruit behind them. These must be my squash. Ok so maybe I won’t have 17 squash that need storage, but there are five squash right here certainly.

Five plump little squash. So pretty. Huh, the flowers dropped off them too. And wait, two days later they seem a bit spongy and yellow? What is happening?! Disease! Disease, I tell you! What have I done? Was it the compost tea? Some mysterious pathogen?!

Help me, Google! What have I done wrong, my fellow gardeners?

Ah shit. Seriously? They just aren’t fertilized?  Fat flowers are girls, skinny flowers are boys…..ohhhhh. Also the flowers are only open for one morning and if a bee doesn’t hop her happy ass from one to the other before noon, the opportunity is closed.

Ok. Time for some intervention.

20160612_120826.jpg
Flower Porn

And for a comparison, female flower three days after manual pollination vs. unfertilized and a few days older:

image

And six days after pollination:

image

Pretty awesome, I think!

However it seems like the vine is working as hard as it can to grow this single lovely squash because the budding sister flowers all wilted before maturing. The males are still blooming, but even the brand new female buds that have emerged post pollination have died.

image

I’m curious to see how far along mistress squash will have to be before the female flowers begin to flourish again.

She is kinda too heavy to be dangling off the top of the fence. The vine looked worrisome so I interfered further with some support hose fit for a queen.

image
image

Some Days

Some days the garden makes my heart glisten with joy, some days it makes me say fuck a lot.

Today was a fuck day.

This:

image

Some gray wiltedness and brown spottiness caught my eye as I was squishing a few small slugs on the peppers this morning. One tomato plant for sure. Maybe a fungus? I don’t know.

So here’s the strategy:
-Isolate this plant
-Give other tomatoes more room for air circulation
– Apply organic sulfur stuff on Thursday when Amazon delivers it
– Add Epsom salts to soil in case it’s a magnesium deficiency and because it can’t hurt
– Add more compost to soil
– Cross fingers

So luckily it was pizza night at the homestead so I could rush out and use the last two hours of daylight after work.  Eddie came out to help (under duress) and thinned out his corn while I worked on this craziness.

The ability to move my tomatoes around made me happy that they are in bags. However my whole stake system sucks pretty bad, which became quite evident this evening. I used long skinny tree branches stuffed into the bags and propped against each other. Sure they are cute and natural and tall and free, but they are also wide based and heavy and basically want to topple the plants over when the bags are no longer too close together. So, I need to find good old light skinny stakes, but tall ones.

Next year I’m tilling the place up and planting in the ground. And spacing generously.

Here the poor baby is, cropped and quarantined.  Got rid of that shit.

wp-1465406206111.jpg
WTF
wp-1465406166674.jpg
Poor Baby

And here’s my new spacing. Looks so chaotic right now:

20160608_123620.jpg

And here’s some probable blossom end rot because I was going to let my plants toughen up by not watering much.  Yep. That worked.

wp-1465401721245.jpg

I think I fucking suck at this.