Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No I don't want to know about the pop group!

Did you know when you google trying to learn more about Blackeyed Peas all you get is hits on the stupid pop group that performs such timeless classics as My Humps and Boom, Boom, Pow. If I wanted to listen to nonsensical lyrics I'd pay attention when my 3 year old niece starts singing to herself. And at least she has a good excuse why her lyrics don't make since - she's THREE.

okay. rant over....

Aside from my frustration about the difficulty in finding information about the cowpea blackeyed pea it was a fairly good garden day. My brother arrived back home from his visit to my parents last night, and mom and dad loaded him down with stuff they bought from Shelter's grocery. They sent tons of bacon (my husband and brother-in-law practically live on the stuff) and the largest pork loin I've ever seen. The thing is bigger than a Louisville Slugger!

While I was retrieving my goodies from my bro, he gave me a tour of his garden. He's got corn. :(:( I don't even have silks yet, and he's got actual ears of golden goodness on his stalks. In another few days he'll have lots to eat. He picked a couple of ears while I was there, and two had worms in them and another had a bunch of ants in it. Any suggestions on what he can do to keep the bugs at bay?

I picked some green beans (2), a quick pick tomato, two potatoes, and several blackeyed peas. My potatoes are withering up, so as each plant has withered I've been digging up the potatoes. I think I've dug up 5 plants so far. Today as I was diggin up the potato I unearthed an ENORMOUS grub worm. I promptly tossed him to the ground and smashed him with a resounding stomp and twist. I'm wondering now if grubs might be the cause of my wilting potatoe plants, or if it has more to do with the outrageous temperatures we've had the past week and a half. I don't know if I should just go ahead and dig up the whole lot, inspect the box for grubs, and then replant with a summer crop. Any thoughts?

I was surprised to see my ignored okra plant is starting to grow. It got bit by the frost and lost all its leaves. I didn't replant because I was kinda disgusted. Now it seems to be growing a bit. If I get some okra I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Still no silks on my corn. I'm really disappointed. But I did a little research and found that "drought" conditions can delay silk emergence. I let my corn get a little dry last week, so maybe that's why the silks haven't shown up yet. If that's the case I wonder if I should harvest some of the pollen to make sure the silks get pollinated if they do show up.

When I went out to pollinate my Edisto melon blossoms today, I discovered about 4 or 5 more female flowers. yee haw! I also saw that I had some assistance in the pollinating department. A wasp of some sort was quite intrigued by the flowers on my melon plant. He didn't care for my presence, but he kept buzzing over when I'd move away from the melon. He was a bit camera shy, but I did manage to get a decent picture of him.

Well, I think that's enough garden talk for today.


Today's Quick Pick. This one was bigger than the last one we got.

Ladybug in the corn Woo Hoo!

A little pollination help

Watermelon blossom

Today's harvest

New potatoes

Black Krim

Cherokee Purple

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday in the garden

It was another nice morning in the garden. The corn wasn't too dry, but I went ahead and gave it a little water. I'm a little concerned about my potatoes. They're kinda withering up, but the potatoes are barely even golf ball sized. As the plant tops have withered and died, I generally dig up the potatoes. Today I saw a withered one, and when I dug up the potato it was half rotten. Is there anything that smells worse than a rotten potato??? I have seriously thought about digging them all up even though they are teeny weeny. Better teeny than dead. Is it too hot for them?

I picked my dried sugar snap peas. Not sure how well they'll do as this is my first attempt at seed saving. Guess we'll find out in the spring. Or can sugar snaps be planted in the fall garden?

I tried my best to extricate the skeletal remains of my sugar snap pea vines from the American Edisto melon that's growing on them. I think it worked out okay. AND as I was tugging and pulling I noticed that there is a FEMALE melon flower on the vine. It's not open, but I'll keep an eye on it, and hand pollinate that sucker as soon as I can. As I continued to clean out the trellis I saw another female flower that was withered. I hope she got pollinated. I saw a bee briefly light on the melon vine, so I'm hopeful.

A female bloom - I think. See how it's grabbed on to the old pea vine

A spent female bloom. I sure hope she got pollinated!
Before removing the sugar snap pea vine

After removing the old vine the trellis looks a little better now. Please disregard the Tupperware

I did not follow Mel's advice re: 1 melon per 2 squares. I just couldn't pull up that precious little melon plant. On the plus side I had an empty square beside one of the melon plants, and the sugar snaps are now gone, so I'm trying to train the melon over to the right hand side of the trellis (see picture above) hopefully so I can give the other melon more room to grow. So far it's going okay, I guess. The melon vine between the tomatoes and the other melon vine isn't growing quite as fast as the outside vine, and that may be due to overcrowding. I may regret my decision not to thin before this season is over.

Still no silks on the corn. I'm feeling pretty pessimistic about the whole corn situation. What did I do wrong? No silks on 5 different types of corn??? sheesh

My other eggplant has decided to bloom - 3 blossom on that plant. It's been more of a scraggler than my other eggplant. Maybe it'll perk up and be okay.

3 blooms on the smaller eggplant

My watermelon is doing better. It apparently likes these warmer temps. It even has a bloom about to emerge. I'm not sure if it's getting enough sun. The tomato plant tower over it and probably cast quite a shadow on it.
Sugar baby water melon. Man that quick pick in the background looks yummy!

My Fooled You jalapeno continues to do well and produce blooms and fruit. Not sure how the Horn Worm ravaged plant will do. It is growing new leaves, so I guess it'll be a while before it's ready to put off new blooms.

And my blackeyed peas are still blooming and producing peas. No blooms on the sugar cream peas yet. Hopefully they'll come along when the blackeyed peas are finishing up.

A lovely blackeyed pea blossom

I think I could retire and play in the garden. Only about 30 years to go....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Freezing green beans

I mentioned earlier today that I harvested some green beans. After a quick Google of directions on freezing green beans I discovered several sites with instructions for taking care of the process. It was relatively quick and easy and completely painless!

Step One: Harvest the green beans.

Done. Though I must admit there's not much to them.

Hope my honey isn't too hungry

Step Two: Clean and cut up green beans

I combined these steps because I only took one picture. :) Rinse your harvested green beans in cool water. Cut your cleaned beans into your desired length. I got maybe one serving out of the handful of green beans I harvested. That's after I culled two green beans because they were kinda soggy and off color. But I was able to get the seeds out of them.

SFGing will certainly help you stick to a diet.

Green bean seeds - almost enough to fill a square

Step Three: Blanch the green beans.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Put green beans into pot and boil for 3 minutes.

My pot of water didn't even stop boiling when I dropped in the beans.

I had to laugh when the instructions said I could reuse the water for subsequent batches of beans. As if!

Step Four: Cool beans in ice water

After 3 mintues use a slotted spoon to fish your beans out of the boiling water and put them directly into a bowl of ice cold water for three minutes. Add more ice if necessary.

Yes, it literally needs to be ice cold

Leave in ice water three minutes

Step Five: Drain beans and put into freezer bags.

Drain the water off the beans. I fished out the ice then poured the remaining water and beans into a strainer. The directions I found didn't say anything about patting the beans dry, but I did use a napkin to pick them up. That removed some moisture but not all. I squeezed as much air out of the freezer bag as I could, but it still had quite a bit of air in it, so I used a straw to "vacuum seal" it. Thankfully no green beans got lodged in the straw!

The instructions recommended putting the beans on the quick freeze shelf of the freezer, but I don't have one of those, so I just trotted the beans out to the deep freeze. Sorry no pics of that because it's outside and really dirty!

In the bag you go little green beans.

"Vacuum sealed" and ready for the deep freeze

Now I'm off to Google "Saving green bean seeds"


Green Beans n More - How to freeze fresh green beans
Pick Your Own - How to freeze green beans and other beans

Summer arrived last week

I'll admit it. I've been very lackadaisical about spending time in my garden, and updating my blog. But in my defense it's been H-O-T! Our weather jumped from a relatively mild spring with low humidity and temps in the upper 80's to temps in the upper 90's and low 100's and lots of humidity. Its like stepping outside into a sauna, and it really zaps the "fun" out of gardening. And to make matters worse, I can't even take pics when I'm outside because my camera lens fogs up the minute I walk out the door. :(

The change in weather pretty much did in my cauliflower. I was hoping I could harvest a head or two before it got abysmally hot, but alas and alack, no such luck for me. So I pulled up all of the cauliflower (3 plants) and the gone-to-seed broccoli (4 heads) and chucked them in the compost pile. Now I need to figure out what I'm gonna do with that half empty box. Maybe I'll plant some summer squash. It's not too late is it??

Nothing seems to have happened with my eggplant that bloomed, but I have another bloom, so maybe something will happen this time.

Bloomin eggplant

About two weeks ago my corn started tasseling. And boy has it tasseled like kuh-razy! Sadly I have ZERO silks as of this posting. I had tried to stagger my planting in hopes that each corn would tassel and silk in sequence with no overlap. So much for that silly thought. They're all tasselling at the same time. Of course, if there are no silks, I guess cross pollination won't be an issue. And at this point I'd be thrilled for the stuff to crosspollinate if that meant that I got some corn out of my garden! Another difficulty I'm having with the corn is that I can't seem to keep it wet. I'm having to water every day. I was hoping with Mel's mix that wouldn't be necessary, but I guess corn uses a lot of water. Plus that box gets a lot of sun.
Lots of tassels
Getting taller

The tomatoes on the other hand are going hog wild. Tying them up to the trellis has become a full time job. Whose idea was it to grow 8 tomato plants in one box???? What a dum dum.... I also had to pull off another tomato that had split. I guess I'm giving the tomatoes too much water?? The leaves look all curled up and sad in the evenings, so I thought more water would make them happy. I guess that's just their natural response to horrid temperatures.
I guess I should've made the trellis taller. The cherry tomatoes have outgrown it.

Quick Pick tomato - this one is bigger than the last one we ate
Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes
I think this is Black Krim?

My carrots that survived are looking pretty good, but I'm not sure when to pick them. Anyone have any suggestions??

Little Finger carrots

Chantenay Carrots (foreground. Potatoes are in the background)

I decided to harvest some of my green beans today. Several of them have kinda withered and died on the vine because I don't like green beans, and my hubby is out of state right now. But I decided I'd pick what was ready to harvest and put them up in the freezer for him til he gets home. As I began to pick I noticed that about half of the green beans had holes in them with what looked like little eggs inside of the bean. I kept picking and finally discovered a bean with a little green worm on it. The culprit had been located. I'm not sure what he is though. Guess I need to google him. I'm a little disappointed I didn't catch this critter early, but not too upset because as mentioned previously I loathe green beans. Have I mentioned I really don't like 'em? They have been fun to grow though. I had 100% germination, and overall they are pretty low maintenance plants - aside from the worms anyway.

The green bean eater

My peas are coming along pretty nicely too. I'm not really sure when I should pick them. I guess I'll consult with Charlie's Uncle Calvin as he raises peas too.
The blackeyed peas

I'm off work this week. I was supposed to be in beautiful southeast Missouri visiting my folks, but it just didn't work out. So now I'm stuck home in blah, hot East Texas studying for the CPA exam. Taking our annual river trip sounds like loads more fun, but on the plus side I don't have to find anyone to garden sit. Hopefully I can get out and play in the garden in the a.m. before it gets too hot. *fingers crossed* I was up by 7:00 a.m. today (which is early for me) and had every intention of going out then, but I had a splitting headache and decided to take some Advil and sleep on it a little longer. At 8:45 when I woke up my head felt a lot better, but it was already toasty outside. Maybe tomorrow will be nicer.

Well, I'm off to study. Wish me luck! Truth be told I'd rather be outside playing in the garden in the 100 degree heat than studying. urgh!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I forgot to mention

On Thursday, June 4, I attended a rain water harvesting lecture put on by the Angelina County Master Gardeners. Billy Kniffen, an extension agent from Menard, TX came and talked about rain water harvesting. Mr. Kniffen lives in West Texas, an area of the state that receives about half the rainfall we get, and the sole source of water at his house is rain water. The lecture was very interesting, and I learned a lot more about harvesting water, slowing down runoff, and raingardens. Now I really, really want to get some gutters installed so I can start harvesting. I don't think I'll live 100% on rainwater, but I would at least like to collect enough to water my garden and lawn.

Some of the info presented in the lecture can be found on this website

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fewer and further between

Good grief. Another 10 days has passed without a blog entry. I'm still playing in the garden, but I don't ever seem to have enough time in the day to play in the garden, take pictures, resize the pictures, and post an entry to my blog. I get the whole play in the garden and take pictures part done, but it's the next two steps that seem to gum up the whole works. I've had to resort to making short two line entries in the Word version of my Garden Journal. So now I'm going to cut and paste the stuff I've been doing over the past week and a half. Read on. If you dare.

June 4, 2009

Thursday was a mixed bag. My Cherokee Purple tomato got too much rain and split wide open. It was a little depressing to pull that tomato off and toss it over in the compost pile.
*sigh* However, I did notice that my black eyed peas have started to bloom, and the rest of the garden very much enjoyed the rain. Before I came back inside for gardening, I also noticed that my corn is starting to get some tassels or something. That was just the little bright spot in the day to help me overcome the loss of my tomato.

I think I’m taking this whole gardening thing a little too seriously.

June 5, 2009

My corn is finally getting tall, and I’ve been worried for a week or so that a strong wind is going to come and blow it over, because Mel B warns of such crop devastation. We don’t get much wind to speak of in East Texas. Well, except for when those pesky Hurricanes Ike and Rita pay a visit in September and October, but hopefully my corn crop will be safely harvested and digested by then. Of course, I do plan on doing a fall crop of corn. Anyway, I thought a cattle panel would be a good thing to use for corn support. Bend the thing into a U-shape and then stick the ends in the dirt. My hubby, ever patient man that he is, once again obliged me and implemented my plan.

I’m pleased with the way it turned out, because before I thought of the cattle panel I wasn’t really able to envision what Mel was describing. That’s one of the few things he didn’t put pictures of in his book. Or maybe I just missed it….

Another surprise… My eggplant is about to bloom!! Woo hoo!

Baby cherry tomatoes

Almost blooming eggplant

Watermelon's still growing

The corn after my honey put up the cattle panel

Check out the tassel!!!

Charlie's green beans

American melon blooming, blooming, blooming

This head of cauliflower is looking normal

This one not so much. What's with all the purple??

June 7, 2009

We had to go out of town for a graduation this weekend, and I must admit I was kinda worried about leaving my garden. Did I give it enough water? What if swarms of locusts (in Biblical proportions no less) showed up to dine on my SFG and no one was there to protect it? Etc, etc. Turns out the garden survived. Whew!

June 9, 2009

We had to go to the lake house to turn on the power for the painter Monday evening, so I wasn’t able to do my evening garden check. Surprisingly I got up kinda early enough to take a quick peek at it this a.m. I really need to tie up some more of that quick pick tomato plant. It’s leaning dangerously close to the ground. The cherry tomatoes are coming along nicely. A handful of Black Krims and Cherokee Purple are popping up too. Corn is looking good. Jalapeno peppers were eaten. What! Something ate my jalapeno pepper plant!!! All of the leaves and most of the peppers. ARGH!!!! They were just about ready to pick and eat!!!!! My inclination was that it was a rabbit or deer. I was leaning more toward deer. I went to work fuming about the carnage and trying to figure out HOW I was going to keep deer out of my peppers. I should’ve bought HOT ones! That would have taught them!!

I had some friends over tonight for a tastefully simple party, and as I was giving garden tours to my friends who had the misfortune not to see my latest obsession, I pointed out the jalapeno plant devastation. Then I noticed something had been munching on my eggplant. The eggplant is on the inside of the box and is up fairly high. Now I KNEW it had to be a deer. No rabbit would hop to the inside of the box and start munching on leaves waaay up in the air. Too much work. As I grasped a leaf of the eggplant in disgust, I felt something that didn’t quite feel right. It was not fuzzy like the back of an eggplant leaf. It was kinda squishy and a little cold. Huh?? Turned the thing over and found a GINORMOUS caterpillar. Dad says it is a horn worm, and apparently this critter is responsible for all the damage in my garden. Sheesh!

Tomorrow a.m. I plan on inspecting the garden for more worms, and I’m gonna kill those suckers. Too bad I had guests over. I really wanted to run out and take pics of the damage and do more looking, but I had to be a good hostess. Tomorrow it’s Hasta La Vista worms………………

The culprit.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tasty tomato

Yesterday we had friends over, and while I was showing off my garden, I noticed there was a bud on each of my American melon plants. Since we were hosting friends I couldn't run back into the house and grab my camera like I really wanted. So today when I went out to take pics, the buds had already flowered out. In addition the plants are starting to put out little whiskers. I tied one of the plants to the nylon netting, but the other one is still too small to tie it off. I picked up some garden twine at Target this weekend, and it blends into the garden much better than the white strips I used before.
I had to tie up some more of the tomato plants today. One of the branches of the tomato plant had fallen over. The vine had actually broke. Hopefully it'll be okay. I got to pick one of our Quick Picks today. It was delicious!!
Yep. It tasted just as good as it looks!

Baby Sweet 100 tomatoes

This Cherokee Purple tomato is almost ready to pick

And another is on the way

I'm beginning to think my cauliflower just might make a head of cauliflower. Keep your fingers crossed folks!

My peppers are really looking great!

More baby green beans

Check it out! My watermelons have finally started to grow!