Monday, August 31, 2009


Last week's frost never materialized. Not that I minded. I decided that I am done with the beans, so the frost could have them. I picked a couple more zucchinis, and figured I had enough for the freezer. Peas are pretty much done (brown and crispy), so they and the beans remain for seed collection. Onions probably are frost-proof, being mostly underground, and carrots only improve with the cold. Likewise, I figured the potatoes were fine. I picked the three wee ears of corn I found (and it turns out they weren't quite ripe), and figured the broom corn was on its own (I only grew it for a novelty, anyway).

And since the tomatoes are now all in a bag, the only things I had to cover were the pumpkins!

Tonight frost is predicted again, and this time I suspect it is more serious. I shall cover the pumpkins again, and make the rounds for squash and corn.

In the meantime, I purchased a 20' x 100' roll of black plastic today. The war on the weeds will commence soon. Once the beds are all harvested for the season, I shall cover 'em all with the black plastic and let it bake away at the weeds (and their seeds) until next May. Not that much baking will be going on under snow, but hopefully we'll have some sun and heat before the snow flies.

And as for the zucchini bread, well, I made two loaves, as per the recipe, and think I put too much zucchini in. I had to bake them for almost an hour and a half. They are very moist, and the bottoms ripped off when I decanted them from their pans. After cooling the loaves were frozen for the up-coming bake sale, but I did eat the bottoms, and wasn't impressed. Maybe bottoms are not the best bits to sample. I may try the recipe again, or I may just go with my tried and true recipe from Mom.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Sad Day in the Garden

Well, there they are: ninety tomato plants yanked from the garden and stuck in a bag.

I console myself that at least if we get the frost tomorrow night that they are predicting I won't have to worry about covering the tomatoes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Late Blight

Ugh - I think I have it. Well, I don't have it, but my potatoes and tomatoes do. "It" is late blight, that fungal disease that is sweeping the nation.

I heard about it here and there, but not having television, my exposure to it has been minimal. And I've been in denial. I couldn't possibly have late blight. I get my spuds from good sources, certified seed potatoes. I start my tomatoes from seed...heirloom varieties. None of my neighbors have gardens. Of course I was safe.

But lately I haven't been so sure.

Sure, every year some of my potato plants look poorly (shrivelled stems with no leaves), but I've attributed that to the potato beetles. Hm...could it be late blight?

And every year some of my tomato plants look poorly, but that was because it was so dry and hot, or wet and cool. Rot. And those brown spots on the fruits? Poor air circulation - that's gotta' be it.

Well, I decided to look up late blight today, just to be sure, and what I found was not good. And wet and cool seem to be key words.

Late blight, Phytophthora infestans, nails things in the Solonaceae family (potatoes, tomatoes, nightshades, et al). And it thrives in cool, wet weather, just like this summer.

To really know if you have this disease, you need to patrol your garden a couple times a week. Look for brown lesions on the stems or leaves of your tomato and potato plants. If you see it, destroy it! Look for white fuzziness - these are the spores. If you see it, destroy it! Look for dark, greasy-looking lesions on tomatoes. If you see it, destroy it! Look for brown spots and granular texture on your spuds. If you see it, destroy it!

The spores apparently spread with great ease on the wind. An infected plant can be dead within four days. The fungus can live in spuds that overwinter in the ground, for spuds are living tissue.

So, how are you supposed to destroy the plants? I finally found details for this, and there are several ways you can go.

1. Don't do anything until you have a sunny warm day. UV radiation, apparently, will destroy any spores that shake loose.

2. Pull up the plants and bag 'em. Leave them in a sunny location for several days. The heat will kill the fungus. Then send them to the landfill.

3. Pull up the plants and put 'em in a pile. Cover the pile with a tarp and let the sun bake the whole thing for several days. The heat will kill the fungus.

4. Pull up the plants and dig a really deep hole. Bury them.

5. You could compost them, provided your compost pile gets very hot. If not composted correctly, it could mean doom for your plants next year.

6. Infected spuds can be spread out on the ground and left there for the winter. Apparently the fungus can be killed by freezing. Freezing is not a problem here in the Adirondacks.

Also any plants (potato or tomato) that volunteer from last year's garden (like all those spuds that I missed that subsequently sprouted) should be ripped out (and destroyed - see choices above) before they really get going.

When you dig your spuds, look for infection. Even healthy-looking tubers (or tomatoes, for that matter) can be infected. So far research hasn't found any problems with eating healthy tissue, but you want to avoid ingesting infected tissues.

So, the next sunny day we get (next week?), I'll be yanking out all my tomatoes. I'll probably do the spuds, too. What a waste. >heavy sigh<

For more information, go to: http://www.nysipm.cornell,edu/pulications/blight/ . This is very informative. Also check out - a Fact Sheet of Frequently Asked Questions.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beans Galore!

It had been two days since I last picked beans, thanks to the rain, so last night I knew there would be some ripe ones. Boy, was I right! I nearly filled up my half-bushel box on one bed of pole beans! By the time the pole beans were picked, I had to get a second basket for the bush beans. Total harvest: nearly a whole bushel!

I have the most colorful beans: purple beans, green beans, yellow beans, green beans with purple stripes. Last year I also had yellow beans with pink stripes, but I ran out of room this year and none of the runner beans were planted.

And what does one do with all these beans? Well, one doesn't have time to make the planned zucchini bread! Nope, one is up until 11:30 PM cutting them. I refused to start the blanching and freezing process that late, though, so that will be the project for tonight. Soon the freezer will be full of beans!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The One That Got Away

Warning: this is what happens when you don't watch your zucchini carefully:

And here we have Toby modeling the latest zucchini - this is a 60 pound dog, next to a five pound (or more) squash:

What do you do when life gives you zucchinis? So far, I've shredded them all and stuck 'em in the freezer to be turned into future loaves of zucchini bread. Hm...we have a big weekend event coming up soon for which I have to make baked goods. I'm seeing loaves of zucchini bread in my very near future.

I found this recipe on AllRecipes, and I'm gonna give it a try (tonight, perhaps):

3 eggs, beat until light and frothy

1 c oil (or 1/2 c oil and 1/2 c applesauce)
2 c sugar
2 c shredded zucchini
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.

In separate bowl combine:
3 c flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
(and optional 1/2 tsp nutmeg)

Mix dry ingredients with the wet ones. Add 1/2 c chopped walnuts if desired.

Crunchy Topping:
1 c brown sugar
1 c flour
1 Tbs butter (never use margarine - read the history of this stuff and you will never touch it again)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325*F. Grease and flour two 8" x 4" bread pans. Divide the batter between the pans and top with the cruncy topping. Bake 60-70 minutes (or until done).

NOTE: I found that this made waaayy too much topping! Most of it fell off when I took the bread from the pans. I put it in a container to reuse at a later date. I also think it needed a lot more butter to be cut into the sugar and flour.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Interesting Summer in the Veg Garden

2009 has been a strange summer in the veg garden. We had days in the 80s and 90s in April. In May things were pleasant and we were eager to get things planted...and then it snowed.

June was overcast, cool and damp.

July was overcast, cool and damp.

August has had some hot and humid days...too little, too late.

Peas didn't start producing until late June and early July, and then the harvest dribbled in, swelled to one large batch, and rapidly dribbled back to nearly nothing. Most of the vines are shriveling up now, although some are trying to rally and have put out some new flowers.

The pole beans have "suddenly" started to produce. I say "suddenly" because for weeks now all I've seen are flowers, but no beans, but a quick peek under the leaves two days ago proved that some of those flowers had produced beans and were ready for picking! Bush beans, are another story. Not a bean to be seen there.

The zucchini have surprised me with some fruits as well! Something got the first ones I saw ripening. Could it be slugs? Or maybe they just rotted away. Still, I found some foot-long ones (and longer) where I wasn't expecting them.

The garlic has been harvested and hung up to dry.

And the onions are going great guns! At least they like to have a lot of water!

The tomatoes, on the other hand, are looking pretty sad. Too much rain. As you can see, the plants are rotting away.

Fruits have started to develop, but most seem to be rotting on the vine or dropping with a solid green thud. I suspect I will not be putting up sauce this year. Such a shame, too, because I was looking forward to harvesting tomatoes with names like Orange Flesh Purple Smudge, Garden Peach, and Zebra. Well, I should have a few seeds left over...I'll try them again next year.

Potatoes are also looking pretty poor this year. First the beetles had their way with them, then the rain. This handful shows the largest ones I've gotten so far; most, however, have been the size of a quarter.

The corn, which is under three feet tall, is only just starting to get tassels!

Not a single marigold has blossomed, and only a few cosmos (all of which are very short). Calendula are also nearly non-existent!

The only herbs that are doing well are borage (I'm over-run), and cilantro (blech).

Still, something is better than nothing, and there isn't much we can do about the weather. Sure, in dry years you can hook up the hose and drippers, but when it rains, or the sun doesn't shine, your hands are pretty much tied.