Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Garden Update

The heat and humidity of the past week has kept me out of the garden, so I have a lot of catching up to do out there.  The afternoon will be full bug squishing, weeding, and maybe some potato digging.

This morning I discovered lots of baby peppers, my first ripe tomato and blueberry of the season, and flowers on the sweet potato vines.

I tried gooseberries last night, now I need to find a place for a bush in my crowded yard....that and some red currants to compliment our white.    Lovin' all the berries!  (There is a Wineberry bush sitting in a pot that needs planting too.....I have never had Wineberries, but I heard they were raspberry-ish so I jumped at the opportunity to take a transplant home to my garden).

I am off to enjoy this beautiful temperate Summer weather while it lasts - happy gardening!

Friday, June 25, 2010

RIP Baby Pheobe

I was hoping for a happy ending, but like you said A.G., these things often times go painfully.  Baby Pheobe died in my hand this evening, Mama never did come back for it and I hesitated intervening.  Finally I pulled the chick and fed it this afternoon, and then returned it to it's nest hoping Mama would come to her senses.  I checked on baby after dinner and it was weak and visibly upset after chirping and looking for food all day.  I brought it inside, trying to warm it's cold little body with my own.  The poor thing just eventually quit breathing after a couple of hours.  Luckily I had told the children I didn't think the bird would make it through the night, but that I would do everything I could just the same.

We had a garden burial at 9:00pm, Ella placed Baby Pheobe in the hole as Shaun cried his little eyes out.  These life lessons are tough to learn, but I like my children to know that all life is precious, no matter how small, and it is always worth saving (or at least trying to).


As a side note it has felt like The Wild Kingdom here lately; this handsome devil was caught contemplating a tumble over a retaining wall in the strawberry patch.  This is the first turtle we have ever seen on property....oddly enough it didn't come from the direction of the woods.  It spent the afternoon marooned on the porch, hissing at me with contempt as I continually told the wee ones we couldn't keep it.  It has since been released.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bird Drama

We have a nest being occupied by Eastern Pheobes for the second year.  It is under the screened in porch off our bedroom.... four beautiful tiny eggs.

Mama Pheobe sits, and waits.

Hatching Day:  three....

then four.....

The next check-in days later brings disappointment,  three of the nestlings have either fallen or been pushed from the nest.  A quick search of the ground below turns up nothing.

Another day or two goes by and Mama Pheobe is never in her nest, though she is going under the porch often.  I can't see the baby through the floorboards, so out I go with my camera (the only way to see in the nest).


My heart sinks.  I search the ground beneath the nest but see nothing.  Then I think I hear a peep.  And another.  But from is not from under the nest.

I am looking frantically, trying to hear that faint peeping again...and I do.  The baby bird is in an empty compost bag.   That I am standing on!!   Luckily the bag was clear as the bird is actually tucked inside the plastic.  My heart skips as I fear I must have stepped on it, but by God's grace it appears unharmed.  This compost bag is three feet from the nest.  How?  I scooped up this poor bird so quickly I didn't even think to capture a photograph of it, until it was in my hand that is.

Back to the nest sweet bird, hopefully Mama will hear your calls.

I don't know why things are going so terribly this year, in this nest.  
I hope that this youngster makes it.  I really do.  

Sunday, June 20, 2010


To all you gardening Dads out there, have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garlic Trials

One of the garlic varieties we have growing here, Inchelium Red, a soft-neck/braiding/artichoke variety is starting to show some leaf die-back. I pulled a bulb a couple of days ago out of curiousity, and the size was decent. After pulling up a couple more today I think I pulled up one of the larger bulbs initially as these were both smaller.

This is my first year growing garlic, so I am feeling under-confident in my decisions of when to harvest, and how to cure. I figure I have two options. The first being a shed cure. There are windows, but no electricity for fans so depending on the 3 or 4 week stretch of weather I would worry over air circulation, but the temperature and indirect light should be ideal.

I put the two newly dug bulbs in a wire drawer.  The bulb on the left must have been planted up-side-down, the roots were facing up and the stem is U shaped.  The bulb on the right is quite small still, even with another couple weeks of grow time left, it would be puny.....certainly not seed stock!

My second option for curing is to hang the bunches indoors from the ceiling.

This bulb had been drying in the kitchen before I hung it today, and it seems to be doing OK.  I will follow the bulbs over the next couple of weeks and see which environment seems to be better suited for curing.  Thoughts??

Things to remember about harvesting garlic:

- Watch for leaf yellowing, when 4-6 green leaves remain it may be time to harvest.
- Best to withhold water for the weeks leading up to harvest to help the curing process along.
- More time in the ground = bigger bulbs, but it can also result in splitting.
- Different varieties mature at different rates.
- SSE link:  SSE's Garlic Growing Guide

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


More photos from today, see post below (from earlier today) first.....

I ♥ U

(Chioggia beet chips, they shrunk down quite a bit in the oven; they disappeared from the plate even faster though.)

We normally don't like beets unless they are in "chip" form, so I sprayed a cookie sheet, sliced the beet thin, then sprayed the beets with oil, salted, and baked until I smelled them and remembered I had done all the above.  Oopsy!  The experiment worked.  Wish I had 10 more out in the garden to 'chip'.  


Here is what became of my 'buried treasure' (new Red Gold potatoes)...oven roasted in olive oil, sea salt, fresh dill, and fresh chives.   I wish I had more garden space to work with, it would be great to grow potatoes just for harvesting when new.  Ahhh, the dreams of the home gardener!

EDIT:  I can't believe I forgot to put this in again.  We went strawberry picking yesterday and it was a heavenly field of ripe, scented berries.  The birds were singing, and my daughter-the-diva was complaining.  (Usually it is my lovely boy who has nothing nice to say, but in an odd moment of clarity, he was happy!  He picked his little heart out and had nothing but pleasant words to share.)

We picked about 22 pounds in all, and I have been quite busy processing berries ever since.  Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam, Strawberry Ice Cream, and a bounty of quartered frozen berries to keep our smoothie addiction alive and well.  I still have 8 quarts waiting for me in the fridge downstairs, HELP.

Robbing the Cradle

That is 9.5 ounces friends.  I just sacrificed how many potential pounds of red potatoes to get 9.5 ounces!?!?!  Worst part is these must serve the four of us with dinner tonight.

I also got testy and pulled up an Inchillium Red, if only you could smell it with me...

I chopped the top and combined it with my two remaining garlic scapes for some garlic-lover's pesto.  (Or as us girls named it one night over a glass of wine, "Wicked Piss-ah Pesto".)  You New Englanders can appreciate that one right?   :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tomato Tally

I did thorough walk through in Tomato Alley  today after watering, and I was able to categorize the plants a bit after taking some notes.  The "big three" producers are Sungold, Polbig (DET), and Sibirskiy Skorospelyi (DET).  Sib. Skor. wins the 'biggest fruit' category so far, this is going to be one funky tomato:

The Costoluto Genovese is showing it's beautifully ribbed characteristics already:

One of my plants suffering from identity theft appears to be a plum.  The labeled Juliet tomato is just starting to set fruit, so I am wondering if this could be San Marzano or some other plum instead since it is much further ahead in growth:

So to sum it up so far, here is the official Tomato Tally; will the laggards catch up and out-produce the early leaders???

  • Sungold (x2):  Too many to count
  • Mystery Plum: 6+
  • Sib Skor: 4+
  • Polbig (x2): 3-6
  • Green Zebra: 3
  • Cherokee Choc: 3
  • Amazon Choc: 2
  • Costoluto Genovese: 2
  • Juliet: 1
  • Black Krim: 1
  • Mystery, Mortgage Lifter, Burpee Big Boy Hybrid, Rutgers & Moonglow: A big, fat ZERO.
Here are some other photos from around the garden.....some of the potatoes are in full bloom:

I managed to find 2 uneaten strawberries in the yard today, it seems that one of the 4 areas planted has been overlooked by all furry creatures, and slugs!!!!

(Actually, the above statement is false, one of the berries has been tampered with- but not destroyed by little teeth.)
Potatoes & Peas:

Peppers & Alliums:

(My peppers are going no where fast, might be time for another fish feed.)
This bed was cleared of all things that bolted, and half of the Kale:

I FINALLY am having success with the Red Sails lettuce, YAY!!

On a less positive not my damn dog ate the apples off the tree that actually had more than one growing (and yes, in case you are wondering it is the same dog that eats the strawberries), Sawfly caterpillars have done some damage to the currant, and you saw what I have picked so far out of the 75 or more strawberry plants I have.  OH!!  And then there was that nest in the potato bed?  Well it grew and the mystery creature tunneled down a bit and broke stalks off a number of potato plants, and dug up the baby taters.  I chucked the broken plants in disgust and marble sized potatoes before thinking to take a picture, but here is what was left after I cleared the carnage:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy June

We have been enjoying all this beautiful New England weather, what a change from last year!  I took some pictures of berries and flowers this morning.   The currant made it's first ripe offerings this past weekend, the little berries were sweet, tart, and gave a little 'pop' in the of the kids liked them, the other was not so sure.

An apple update:

The blueberries are starting to take on their signature color, I better get them netted.

The chipmunks have been stealing the strawberries as soon as they near their prime, I am hoping they get lazy soon.   I REALLY want some berries!

I am getting very excited for tomato season to start, the plants seem to be coming along nicely.

Today's harvest:

We built a fire pit this weekend on a whim, usually we just use one of those bon-bon drum thingys.  Not bad for the cost of a bag of mortar....we had slim pickings for rocks though, that was the true challenge.  The pit was broken in last night......

And look what I discovered when bug hunting and watering the potatoes today:

Seems as though somebody has been sleeping in my garden.  No fur that I could see, but looks a bit like a rabbit may be behind it.