Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Blog

My new gardening blog, Homemade Harvest, can be found here.  It will follow my adventures trying to turn marginal agricultural land into a small holding that will allow me to produce most of my own food.  Come on over and see how I do!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Closing the Blog

For those who follow this but not my other blog, I am moving to Michigan. My state job here in the Adirondacks has been terminated and I have been very lucky to find new employment.

So, since I will no longer be gardening in the Adirondacks, I will no longer be posting to this blog.

That is, unless, of course, I start up a new garden blog at my new place, in which case I will post directions to the new blog here so you can follow me there, if you wish.


Friday, November 12, 2010

The Final Harvest

These days I am busily packing up my household. For those who don't know, I was offered a new job (at last), which I accepted, the result being that I am moving. To Michigan. It was a difficult decision, but a job is better than unemployment, and the place where I am going looks like it will be a terrific place to work. Even so, I am heartbroken to leave my property here, with the apple trees just starting to produce, the native shrub hedge finally growing in, and my veg. garden soil improving each year.

Walking in and out of the back porch I kept passing the pile of runner beans that I brought inside to dry. Finally, this morning I decided it was time to shuck them, for the sun was out, the air was mild, and I needed to tackle the porch soon in the cleaning frenzy.

Each pod was stripped from the dried vines and its contents were placed in a bowl.

Idefix did as all cats do: sat on whatever I was working on. In this case, the unshucked beans.

All of a sudden, Toby bounded up and charged the fence. He ran and barked and turned and jumped and barked some more, completely beside himself. What could it be? I looked for a deer, but no deer was to be seen. Instead, I saw...

one of the many stray cats our neighborhood now has. Unresponsible cat owners have left their fertile cats outside and now we are overrun with a feral population.

Toby was defending his property and his own cat. This stray was not impressed, for it stayed there all arched up and fluffy for several minutes, no doubt laughing internally at the futile efforts of the dog.

I returned to my shucking and ended up with quite a good haul. I don't remember which beans are which, though. However, I think the little reddish-brown ones in the bowl with the large white ones are the dwarf bees, a very short runner bean that is considered "rare."

These might be the scarlet runner beans...

and these maybe are the sunset runner beans?

Would that make these the painted ladies?

Hopefully I'll have gardening space next summer and can plant these to discover (once more) which ones are which.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Putting the Garden to Bed

Saturday was a near-perfect autumnal day. I was, sadly, at work (first time in about two weeks), so I was stuck indoors. When I got home, though, the dog and I toured the yard. It's been many days since I've done that, too. I checked on the carrots, the only produce remaining in the garden, and discovered some critters had been noshing, so I figured I might as well harvest what was left.

Some of the carrots were quite robust:

A few were longer, although none would've met grocery store standards:

Hm...yellow carrots? Only had two of these.

One whole bed had been sampled, as mentioned above. Like the critters eating the apples, they took a few bites out of just about every carrot top.

Considering I didn't thin or weed the carrots (or much of the garden, for that matter) this year, I was (and still am) impressed by the size of the majority of the carrots.

Not the largest crop in the world, but enough to keep me busy for a day, scrubbing, peeling, chopping, blanching and freezing.

Sunday dawned equally nice. It was time to put the garden to bed. After all, who knew when we'd have another nice day like this? So, I pulled out posts, and tore down trellises (took down in a couple hours what took several days to put up). Then, because the weeds were overwhelming, and because I probably won't be here next summer, I opted to cover the whole thing with black plastic - take the garden back to the beginning and just kill off everything. This way the next time one goes to put in veg, it will be an easier start - bare ground and no weeds.

The new beds, on the far left, where the white row covers can just be seen, are still under production: pumpkins. Small pumpkins (Baby Pams), but should be good for pies. I'll give them a few more days to finish ripening.

Monday, September 20, 2010

While walking through the garden yesterday afternoon, I noticed some large carrots. Could it be time to harvest them?

Nah - one really should wait for cooler weather, but I did pull the really big ones. Don't want 'em to get too tough and woody. Most will be small - I never got around to thinning them this year.

The last of the onions are in now. Good year for onions and garlic.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stop Eating My Apples!

UGH! Are those flying ants!?? They were all over my garden and on my lawn!

Hundreds of them! Carpenter ants? Oh no! I stepped on as many as I could, but I'm sure I hardly made a dent. Most disturbing, one large batch was within five feet of my back door!

On the other hand, the tomatoes look like they might actually be starting to ripen!

Of course, the ones with the most color have also been eaten by critters already, or have some metabolic damage.

I didn't get too many flowers planted in the veg. garden this year (for beneficial insects), but those I did plant are only just now starting to bloom.

Okay - something is eating my apples. Here's a small pile collected under the Jonagold. There were more the day before - something ran off with them overnight.

But there! Do you see it? It's not just insects - something is taking BITES out of the apples while still in the tree!

Okay, Ellen...calm down. Who could the culprits be? Deer? Bears? Squirrels? Crows?

The bears are certainly out eating the apples, but not in my yard (no damage to the fence since spring).

Deer might be, but they don't have the right kind of teeth to do this kind of damage.

Squirrels? Maybe - I'm sure they are around and they must know when the dog is trapped inside.

Crows? HM. I've seen them fly off with dropped apples from the yard.

Well, all I can do is hope that some of the apples are left alone and ripen enough for me to eat them.

I was all excited last week to see I actually had a northern spy on the spy tree - I didn't think I had any this year. When I took these photos, though, a day or two later, it was gone. GONE!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Home Grown Tomatoes

There ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon 'n lettuce 'n homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin', out in the garden
Get you a ripe one, don't pick a hard 'un
Plant ‘em in the spring, eat ‘em in the summer
All winter without 'em is a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' and the diggin'
Every time I go out and pick me a big 'un

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What would life be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes.

You can go out to eat and that's for sure
But there's nothin' that a homegrown tomato won't cure
Put 'em in a salad, put 'em in a stew
You can make your own, very own tomato juice
You can eat 'em with eggs, eat 'em with gravy
You can eat 'em with beans, pinto or navy
Put 'em on the side, put 'em in the middle
Homegrown tomatoes on a hot cake griddle.

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What would like be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes.

If I's to change this life I lead
You could call me Johnny Tomatoseed
Cause I know what this country needs, and that’s
Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see

When I die don't bury me
In a box in a cold dark cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
'Cause I could be pushin' up a homegrown tomato.

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What would like be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes.

This was one of my favorite John Denver songs. He didn't write it (that may have been a fella named Guy Clark), but he did record it.

I noticed yesterday that some of my green tomatoes are starting to look kinda yellowish...could they actually be ripening? These 40-degree nights (Fahrenheit) aren't speeding them along any, though.