Friday, July 31, 2009

Let the Harvesting Begin

Gather the gifts of Earth with equal hand;
Henceforth, ye too may share the birthright soil;
The corn, the wine, and all the harvest home.
~E.C .Stedman The Feast of Harvest

I am actually getting things out of my garden!!! After a botched up year of late planting, then the constant rains and low temps followed by all the diseases, I wasn't holding much hope but I was wrong. Brings to mind the song from The Sound of Music, (with some additions)...

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in the spring or greenhouse
I must have done something good

Or we can just chalk it up to blind luck that something actually grew. Regardless I was able to can 11 pints of beans, 15 1/2 pints of hot pepper mustard and 6 1/4 pints of black raspberry jam.I had to freeze the blackberries that are coming in because I didn't have the squeezo available. I might just wait until I have picked them all and then make the jam. But I digress...joining the berries in the freezer was 4 lbs of shelled peas and 8 lbs of shredded zucchini. I had some whopper zucchini and I am watching a friends house and picked some whoppers from her garden. If I get anymore I am going to try to make zucchini chips which I read are pretty good.

AND...the cucumbers are almost ready to pick and some of the beans were just starting so I should get lots more. The hot peppers are loaded as are the ground cherries. I have people in Philly and Jersey looking for paste tomatoes at a price that is not going to kill me. The tomatoes in the large garden did end up with the blight so today I am making green tomato relish with some of them so they don't go to waste. So far as the rest, I will pick the large fruit and see what ripens.

AND...I finished the baby smock coat, bought the buttons for it, but need the ribbon to sew it together. I made the hat from the kit with some color changes. I still have to block it. Because the boucle does not have the same elasticity as the rest of the hat, it puckered some. Next time I make it I won't use boucle, but it was a quick (one afternoon) and painless knit. I also worked on the crocheted afghans until my hand started to hurt.

AND...The duck has hatched out two ducklings. They are adorable!! There are more eggs under them and one has a nest under the berries which should be hatching soon.
So I am almost done with school shopping, the garden is being harvested, the turkeys are going to the butcher on the 19th, football practice starts for #2 son on Monday, I am back to knitting and crocheting warm could only mean one thing.....FALL is coming. The leaves are already starting to turn.

Friday, July 24, 2009


If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. ~Robert Fulghum

My latest inconvenince is this....I am not altogether sure but I think this is late blight on my tomatoes. You can read more about it from these links a friend sent me.... here, here and here.

This is what the Irish Potato Famine was all from. These pictures were taken last night in my small garden. I have to go down and look in the large garden to see if it is down there on the tomatoes and potatoes.

If you read the articles they say organic gardens will be hurt the most and that tomatoes could go up to $40/box. If it is in the large garden, my last hope for eating this winter is that the beans and cucumbers do something before the frosts hit.

So I am going to put my big girl panties on and go see what the large garden is doing. If you hear screaming you know what I found and that I did not handle this latest inconvenicne well. Bring tissues.
**UPDATE** Potatoes do show signs and will have to be dug. The tomatoes are okay so far and hopefully they will stay that way.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”~ Greg Anderson

I am kinda likin' that saying because it seems to justify the fact that I have been starting things recently and not finishing them. It makes it sound like each project is just marinating because if I finish them the joy is gone, the journey over, the mountain climbed, destination met etc, etc, etc. instead of the truth which is "I don't feel like working on that"or "I want to use bigger needles" or "I am sooo incredibly tired of seed stitch" or "I haven't crocheted in a while"!

To lay it all out in the knitting I have a pair of socks, the smock coat and a watch cap in various stages of production. In crochet I have a round afghan started but need more yarn to finish it so last night I started another crocheted afghan because I didn't feel like knitting. It has been a long, long time since I have had so many projects started...can't say I like it even if I try finding quotes to justify it! They say admitting you have a problem is the first step so maybe admitting I have startitis will lead me to finish something....or maybe it will make me throw my hands up in the air and go back to spinning more ...or start another. I can be fickle so who knows - either way I am covered since I went to the Audobon Craft Show and just happened upon Bitsy Knits where some corriedale roving fell off the shelf and into my bag so I was forced to buy it. Then as I was spinning around in her booth I knocked a kit for an earflap hat with sheep off and into my bag.
I apologized profusely for my clumsiness and felt duty bound to pay for them (That's my story and I am sticking to it!) The roving is beautiful and I started spinning it first thing this morning. And in between starting things I did manage to finish up some currant jelly under the watchful eye of one of the chickens. He is so use to getting treats that he comes knocking on the door for them now...Pavlov's chicken? During the heat of the day (and I use that term loosely this summer) the turkeys roost in the wild grape vines while the chickens venture into the woods to scratch. If they hear the door open they all come running. It scared the heck out of some visiting city kids who thought they were coming to eat them.

And just in case you think that scaring little kids is all we do for amusement around here I show you proof we do more. All the guys went fishing today. They started out in the river where they caught these bass. They moved into boats and canoes on the lake. My son didn't think my nephew was paddling quick enough so he leaned forward and to the side to really dig in and ended up tipping over. He lost one pole for his impatience but thankfully nobody was hurt. #1 son picks on #2 and calls him "Bob" because he says he falls in and bobs down the river in Pulaski when they go salmon fishing. #1 son's new nickname is now Flip. We are equal opportunity antagonists.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Year of the Brown Thumb

Let me enjoy the earth no less
Because the all-enacting Might
Which fashioned forth its loveliness
Had other aims than my delight.
~Thomas Hardy, Time's Laughingstocks and Other Verses, 1909

While working in the garden, now that the rains have taken a break, I noticed the cabbages and broccoli looked wilted during the day. Then the lower leaves started to turn yellow. I went on the computer to investigate and thought it was root maggot. I walked back out into the garden to pull a plant to confirm the diagnoses and found the roots look like this...
I came back in to look up more information and found it is most likely clubroot. Remember I planted 76 cabbage and 34 broccoli and later snuck in 11 more cabbage. Well, I have read that I should dig up the plants so there is less chance of the spores staying in the soil.
It stays in the soil so it said I should lime it to bring the pH up to 7.2, which will have an effect on the beans by it so I can't do that yet. In the spring I can plant winter rye and till it under. But right now all I can do is solarize the soil with heavy plastic.
It rained Saturday night so when I walked into the garden on Sunday they looked better which made it even harder to dig up and dispose of all of them. But we did.
I read that it is not seed born but can readily spread in surface runoff water, contaminated equipment, and to some extent by roving animals. As I gave some plants to a friend and she is experiencing the same problems, I will assume it is not runoff, contaminated equipment or roving animals. So it must have been the soil I used to start the plants in. I scrub all my pots with a bleach solution but I purchase materials and mix up my own potting mix. And here I thought I was doing everything right to keep things like this from happening. Another one of those live and learn things.
It is all very depressing so we will move on to happy things...lots of monarda blooming...and yellow flowers that I can't remember the name of right nowfuture black walnut brittlefuture elderberry jelly if the birds leave me any. If they don't that's okay as I know where I can get more for freefuture snack. Unknown best grape ever. Usually I only get enough to eat which makes them a special treat. I was going to try to propogate more plants this year but time did not allowfuture sauce, salsa and tomato soupah potatoes-so many ways to make themand blue podded soup peas, which were something new for this year

The farmer's market opens up this Friday and I have plans to go next Monday so I am not worried yet. If I get to the market and everyone else has a garden year like I have had then I will be in freak mode, until then.....happy flowers.....We had a family reunion on Saturday and my brother always brings a lot of fresh corn. He had some left over which I grabbed and processed that night so atleast something is getting put away for winter. I have been freezing berries and I intend to start making jam/jelly tomorrow.

Today I took one friends two grandkids over to another friends house. The grandkids played with the other friends kids while we went up into her attic and started cleaning. Five hours later we small corner done, five 55 gallon bags of garbage and a huge pile of boxes to be burnt. Tomorrow after jelly making we go back up in hoping to free another small section.

And I finished a baby sweater of which I have to get pics still and now I am trying to finish the smock coat. I did receive some free alpaca and llama fleeces tonight so while the weather is nice I should also find time to wash it. Can't say it evened out with losing all the broccoli and cabbages but it does help soothe the bruises!!!!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Raindrops keep falling on my head.

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As if we could stop it! Since the unofficial start of Summer (May 25) we have dad 30 days of rain and 9 without. We try to weed in between the bouts of rain. Most times the paper doesn't get all the way covered as we are in such a rush to get it done. Tuesday we weeded then papered/mulched the tomatoes. Then on Thursday we weeded and papered/mulched around the zucchini, peppers and cabbage. The cabbage we finished mulching in the rain.
Look at all the empty spots. I have to till between the rows of corn and potatoes so I can hill them again but the ground is never dry enough long enough to do so.
We have also been picking berries....currants, black raspberries and mulberries. I keep washing them, freezing them on trays and bagging them until I feel like canning.

The plants look better than they did and I am still hoping to harvest something before the snows fall which with this weather could be next month. I still believe I would have been better off growing mushrooms. Check out some of the specimens by my back door....

I have been knitting the non stop seed stitch of the smock coat. I have the back and two sides done. Now I am going to knit both sleeves at the same time. Soon it will be done. Hopefully so will the rain for a couple of days.