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Archive for September, 2008

Flower Gardening

Yesterday was a good day as far as accomplishing something, but it doesn’t look like much now. I remodeled the mailbox area with a proper concrete block surround and freshly amended soil. I then planted spring bulbs. I left the back area blank so I can plant sweet peas. I need to get a trellis of some kind for the sweet peas to climb. It’s going to look great, assuming the bulbs flower. Cross my fingers!

I also planted some bulbs in among the lilies. I wanted asiatic lilies, but I can’t find them in stores—harumph! So I found some purple flowers that look a lot like lilies (turns out they may be a cousin—I forget). They are called Ixiolirion, whatever that is. The only thing is that they’ll bloom before the lillies do, possibly a month earlier. Oh, well! That’s good too I guess. There are whole books available to tell you what to plant to have flowers from April through October. La-ti-da!

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I felt like crap the last two days. Probably related to my “cleanse” diet—stupid, I know! But I still felt good enough to assemble my collapsible wheelbarrow and spread compost over one bed. Tilling it in was so easy! Probably because of all the tilling I did this spring. Hopefully I’ll be able to stop tilling all together after enough organic material has been added. I covered with about 4” of straw.

I also made a plastic wrap for my habanero plant. I want to keep that one warm enough to ripen the peppers. I guess I’ll just till compost around that plant.

The lemon boys are out and dead. I did remove the green fruits for composting (but am not composting the plants themselves). There were 100 immature fruits on those 6 plants! I also removed the banana pepper plants. I will compost the leaves but not the woody stalks of those. Soon I’ll be able to remove the gypsy pepper plants and probably the salsa plants too.

I’ve thought so much about what I’m going to plant next year as far as tomatoes and peppers that I’ve started thinking more about the side yard. I’d really like to tackle that project so I can plant in the spring. It’s perennial garden, after all. But I’m thinking of how to do it in phases, so that it won’t be so much all at once. Maybe add the flowers a year later after the veggies and fruits. I should make sure that the bare root plants don’t need planted in the fall (as in now).

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Garbage Picking

Oh, what luck! On our walk this morning, I garbage picked another seedling tray and a metal garden sculpture of a frog holding a trowel. So cute!

He's a gardening frog--see the trowel?

Scott didn’t seem impressed by my new lily bed—probably cause it doesn’t look like much but a mound of mulch with an inch or two of green sticking out here and there. Oh, well I’m still proud and eager to see how it grows back in next spring.

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The Wind Down Begins

Gardening season is winding down, which means more work for me putting the beds to bed, so to speak. Scott helped me snag two straw bales which had been rained on, unfortunately. They were quite a mess—didn’t stay together, were all sodden and muddy, probably a year old already. But they’ll be great in the garden instead of leaves as they’ll be less likely to blow away.

How to put your beds to bed: 1. remove plants 2. spread compost and till in 3. cover with mulch of leaves or straw.

I also started my third bed by the other two. I removed the sod so far, still have to break up the clods and till in some compost before I cover it up.

Oh, I am so proud of myself: I had my plan for dividing the lilies all prepared and today was the day to make it happen! We got 3.5” of rain because of hurricane Ike so the soil was nice and moist, making digging easier. First I removed the last of the sunflowers. Then I laid out two garbage bags, one for golden yellow divisions and one for lemon yellow. I started with the golden yellow. Two large clumps to make 6 smaller clumps. Then I did lemon: 3 clumps to make 7 smaller clumps. I raked off the mulch to the edge of the bed. Then I dug a rough trench, and spread my bag of manure. I tilled that in and raked the whole bed level again. I distributed the new lily divisions and planted them one after another. Then I divided my asiatic lily bulbs from their pots and planted those too.* Then a thin layer of straw followed by the mulch raked back on top. What an accomplishment! Took two hours, and I’m sure I’ll be paying for it later (sore muscles, etc).

* I have room for 6 more asiatic lily bulbs and would like purple or white, as I am going to have red, orange, golden yellow, and lemon yellow. I think purple would look good with those—still a warm color and provide some variety. Stores have bulbs in stock now, so I’ll be on the lookout.
Next on the list is to do the compost and straw combo on my empty beds and then start taking out tomatoes and peppers. I’m so done with Lemon boy! It’s been just over a month since the harvest started, but I am done with them. I don’t want any raw slices, really, and they just aren’t good enough in cooked sauces. I’m ripping them out when I’m well again.

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Just as I was narrowing my selection for next year, I was browsing in the “green” tomatoes section and found one that is only 58 days. Now I’m on paper for planting 5 varieties of tomatoes and 4 kinds of peppers. Eekies! I’ll have room only if I till out a third planting bed—Scott already gave me permission. He wants his peppers!

It makes sense though, cause I’ll have one early paste (A) and one early slicer (B) , then a mid paste (C) and a mid slicer (D) and the green tomato would be just for fun.

A= Grushovka
B= Siletz
C= Opalka
D= Carbon Black
E= Lime Green Salad

Besides, we have 12 plants this year and I’ve only canned up 5 quarts sauce and 2 quarts salsa (so far!). Having 16 plants would theoretically yield only 1/3 more harvest, so 8 quarts instead of 6. Sounds manageable.

Next year I’m buying my tomatoes and peppers from another source. But from Burpees I plan on getting some melon, some beans, cucumber, and I’m still up in the air about the perieniel shade garden with asparagus, rhubarb, and berries. And chives and mint. Haven’t solidified those plans nor come to terms with the work and cost involved. Dilemma!

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I picked the largest of my tomatoes today, a 16+ ounce Lemon boy. Don’t know the exact weight cause my scale only goes up to 16 oz. Got my picture with it. Alas, it’s now peeled and cut up for sauce.

bottomed out the (16 oz) scale

Today was the day for the watermelons! After lunch of fajitas (with roasted red pepper and fresh tomatoes), we sat on the porch and enjoyed the first unblemished watermelon. Overall, it was a great “date”, and certainly a special meal.

doesn't that look scrumptious!

I’m going to have to stop putting peppers in my pasta sauces because I’m running low! I’d like to let as many as possible turn red and then freeze them. (Am I repeating myself too much?)

The parents invited us over for hamburgers yesterday. I told Scott, “Don’t be surprised if we get yellow tomatoes for our sandwiches.” Sure enough, that’s what we got. The tomato was so mild, though, I couldn’t even taste it. Now is the time I wish I’d just planted something “traditional” so I could make salsas that aren’t sweet, and have sauces that are tangy and robust. Oh, well. Next year!

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Sugar Baby is an heirloom variety

Bush Sugar Baby is just like regular Sugar Baby but on shorter vines. I got it because I knew I didn’t have room for huge vines, and I liked the idea of smaller watermelons, that were easier to handle (and eat by just 2 people).

Official Description:

80 days. Sweet, scarlet “icebox” melons grow on space-saving vines only 3-1/2′ long. Each one bears two 12 lb. melons. Burpee bred. After all danger of frost, sow 5 or 6 seeds in groups 6-8′ apart .

Appearance:
They are kind of flattened globes with very dark green skin. To guess at it’s weight would be 4-5 pounds. After cutting, the flesh was dark pink with a light green rind. Not very juicy.

Taste:
Much less seeds than the previous melon. Slight mealy texture and could have been sweeter, but it was still good.

Growth & Health:
Of three vines, I got three small melons. Those were all transplants. The two vines that lived from direct sowing both had one melon each, but were very slow and ended up getting pulled. Vines may have grown to 4 feet or so. So the description of 2 12 lb melons was way off for me!

Grow Again?
Yes, because I like the idea of this plant and have higher hopes for it in a better location with more fertile soil. Plus I can save seeds as it is an heirloom.

End-of-Year Stats:
# of Plants___Days to Maturity___Days Off____Yield____Yield per Plant
__3____________89_____________9_______3__________1

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