right now

right now

Aug 6, 2009

Will the real Irish Gardeners please stand up?!

Today was potato day! With names like my family has, I was afraid to be downright embarrassed if I came up empty handed, so you can imagine my delight when we discovered there was indeed actual potatoes growing in my experimental potato-straw cages! (Although remember when my husband torched my potato cages? This was going to be my excuse if we came up empty handed today :))

Here is a photo taken before we started. I have 3 potato cages filled with straw. The vines died back a couple of weeks ago on the two cages on the left. The one on the right is still green so Sailor/Farmer/Husband will be home to experience the fun when that one is ready.

Everything else went pretty much as the way I had planned. In theory, I would simply lift the chicken wire off, and the straw would spill out revealing the potatoes. It actually worked! I wasn't even sure what to expect as far as yield since this is the first time I have grown potatoes, but I decided I would be happy if I got at least a couple of dinners worth.

Here are the kids sifting through the straw. Along with potatoes they found 1 slug, 2 toads, and a couple of worms. Nothing too scary was in there! (I have to admit I was a little freaked at what might be living in there due to the air pockets in the straw and close proximity to the compost piles!)

The yield: 4.03 lbs Rose Finn Fingerling Potatoes!

I know my husband will be reading this from afar and wondering if he won't get to taste them - don't worry...there is one more potato cage waiting just for you! I plan on steaming or boiling a few tonight with a little butter, salt & pepper and fresh parsley, yum!

Not so impressive: below are the raspberries I found after I ripped the squash vines off my berry patch!

I did get a little bit accomplished today besides the potatoes so it was a good day. Although the humidity was 80 some percent, the temps stayed in the 80's and the sun stayed behind the clouds, so I was able to rip out my strawberry bed before the thunderstorms chased me inside and now I have 2 empty raised beds! (My area is known for all types of berries, so I will leave future strawberries up to the pick-your-own farms, since they take up so much space all year for a small harvest window). Oh, the possibilities of empty beds....you gardeners know what I am talking about! I can't wait to sit down with my seeds and catalogs and plan for the next season. A planning session and fresh ideas are just what I need to lift my spirits during this oppressive heat wave.

Tomorrow morning starts with a date with friends to pick blueberries at the farm. Gotta love blueberries, they are so easy! Pick, eat, freeze whole. SIMPLE!

Aug 5, 2009

Garden of Life....And Death!

Last night I waited until temps dropped to 90, lol...and headed out to harvest and do some chores. The bounty was huge and every bit of it went in to work with my next door neighbor! Without hubby home to help eat eggplant, there wasn't much I could do with it, and the jalapenos and tomato processing this week would have surely turned me against gardening forever! This week has been tough, the temps alone I may be able to handle but the humidity outside has had me in a funk all week, and the next 7 days looks to be more of the same. I noticed the other day that it was so thick and hazy I had trouble making out the tomato beds at the other end of the yard! Selling at the Farmer's Market is not an option this week either, since I would have to tow the kids along and selling out of the back of the car with 2 whiny kids and 100 degree temps doesn't sound like "making good choices" to me, lol! Last night alone netted 3 lbs cherry tomatoes, 3.1 lbs jalapenos, 7 lbs eggplant, 13 oz bell peppers, 4 lbs cucumbers, & 9 lbs Heirloom tomatoes. Hopefully my neighbors' co-workers will appreciate them more than I can this week!

What did pick up my spirits a bit was the Edamame bed. Note to self: grow more of this! These plants are ready to be harvested this week and are the most well behaved little garden dwellers I have ever seen! They stay in their boundaries, can be crammed into a bed and produce tons of yummy pods per plant.

Below is a close-up of the 'Beer Friend' Edamame:

Other than the harvest, I finally got around to pulling out the dead sunflowers. They are getting a new life in my "lazy girl's birdfeeder", lol!

This evening's death and destruction took the form of bacterial wilt in my squash bed! You may remember how gorgeous the bed looked a few weeks ago...well, tonight they looked horrid and along with that were covered in cucumber beetle eggs, and they had jumped the bed and taken over my berry patch as well. I ripped out the lot of them and packed it all in the trash can. Now I have an empty bed, which I admit is exciting stuff.

Here are the 3 Hokkaido Squash that were in the bed, immature but pretty nonetheless. I was really looking forward to this since I have never grown squash and am not a big fan, but so many people rave about it that this was going to be THE YEAR I was going to choose, grow, and learn to love it! I will still try some, but will have to get it at the Farmer's Market. I ripped out the cukes from that bed too since the bugs were moving in and I already have plenty of pickles put away. I have one lone cuke vine over on my fence that will give me just enough for salads.

Now I need to research what I can put in that bed that won't be susceptible to the wilt virus that's in the soil. I will definitely grow squash again but now that I know how many bugs, etc enjoy it and how invasive it is I will plant it near the fence away from my raised beds where I can control it more effectively. The best lessons learned are from experience, right??

This made the sweaty mosquito-ridden evening bearable. Fresh picked Edamame pods cooked and chilled and sprinkled with Kosher salt and a glass of homebrew. Delicious! Now I know what I can do at night when the kids are in bed this winter instead of eating Cheese Nips and other garbage for snacking! I will be eating and freezing as much as possible and am even planting a second bed full tomorrow! Go SOYBEANS! Nature's perfect snack!

As an afterthought: I decided to add a counter to see just how much produce we are harvesting and NOT using for future planning purposes! Not that I don't love to be able to give away veggies, but it's something that would seem valuable to know!

Aug 3, 2009

Well, it's about TIME!

My first decent harvest of heirloom tomatoes! Of course it happens now, when I have no interest in being outside due to the heat indexes in the 100's and high humidity. Couple that with the fact that hubby is gone and I now have lawn mowing to contend with as well. Go figure! Looks like canning season has arrived:

This Brandywine weighed in at over 1 lb!
Finnegan making tomato & basil sauce
That's all for today, I just finished mowing the lawn and am covered in grass, dirt, sweat, and mosquito bites. Time to hit the shower, put kiddos to bed, and veg out for a few hours. Looks to be about 30 eggplant to deal with tomorrow, they will have to go to the farmer's market since I am tired of them and they are pretty much impossible to preserve! Good night all.