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.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Just In!

Alert! Join Seed Savers Exchange in helping to save the Pavlovsk Station from development
A Russian court recently ruled that one of the world's most important seed banks near St. Petersburg, Russia may be destroyed in order to make way for a housing development. If allowed to stand, this decision will have a catastrophic impact on global plant diversity. Called a "living library", the Pavlovsk Experimental Station is widely considered the crown jewel of agricultural biodiversity, since 90% of the collection's varieties are not found anywhere else on the planet.

Join scientists and concerned people around the world in petitioning President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin to overrule the court decision. To learn more about this issue and to sign the petition, click on this link to the Global Crop Diversity Trust .

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Hops are Hoppin'

Yes, I grow hops. I have two vines, and this year they are LOADED with flowers:

People ask me why I grow 'em. I don't drink (aside from water and occasionally juices), and therefore have no real interest in brewing. So, why grow the hops? Well...because I think they are pretty nifty looking plants. I love the flowers! And, if I had a pergola, or other structures to surround a formal garden, they'd be great to grow up and over the things. As it is, they are next to the dog fence and grow upon it instead.

I've contemplated doing a harvest and selling them to home brewers, but I don't know where to start. If you live in the Adirondacks and are doing some home-brewing, and you are interested in a local source of hops, let me know!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This was a mini harvest weekend, and here are the fruits of my labors:

Clockwise from top left: onions, potatoes, beans and peas, garlic.

It all started Saturday evening when I got home from work. On a whim (I tend to work on whims), I decided to get out the spading fork and dig the spuds. After all, the CPB had done their work and the plants were all shriveled twigs. I figured I might as well dig the things up - the odds of them continuing to grow were likely very slim. I planted about 11 pounds of potatoes this spring, and the harvest was about half a bushel. Did I get back my investment? Not this year.

Sunday morning I tackled the garlic and onions. The onions did very well this year, which surprised me. Here's a bushel basket full of onion braids, and I still have one more bed to harvest!

But one can't leave one's onions in a basket...they must be hung to dry. Not having a root celler, or a drying shed, I have to make do with whatever space I can find.

The bundles of garlic have been laid out to dry as well. Some did very well, while others were hardly worth the effort. German white seems to be the strong favorite, with nice large bulbs. Several of the best will be put aside for planting this fall (who knows...I might still be here next year).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Harvest Updates

Two evenings ago I was dumping food scraps into the compost pile when I noticed a fair number of pea pods on the pea vines. I thought I'd pick a few for the dog's dinner, and ended up with a shirt full of peas! When I got them all shelled, I had well over a quart of 'em. Who'd have thought we'd have a pea harvest in mid-August!

Meanwhile, the beans continue to produce, and the zucchini are rolling in. This weekend I should tackle the potatoes - completely naked now thanks to the CPB. There's no point leaving them in the ground now to keep growing. Without any leaves, I can't imagine there's much food source for the tubers.

I'll need to pull garlic, too. The plants are all looking quite brown and deceased - much like the potatoes, actually.

The apples are ripening nicely on the Jonagold and Haralson. Several have dropped to the ground and have been nibbled on by who knows what. I've seen crows fleeing the yard with green apples in their beaks, but I suspect most of the damage is from rodents of one stripe or another. Still, I expect to have several apples this year, if all goes well.

I heard a NYS apple report on the radio this morning. The statewide harvest is down quite a bit (we did get those frosts after the trees blossomed), but they said the apples that did grow should be of exceptional quality. We shall see. I'll have to make my pilgrimage to the orchards early this year! It seems that like many things this season, the apples are ripening about two weeks earlier than normal. Hm...a trend across the entire plant spectrum this year it seems.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Giants from the Garden looks like any normal pile of beans...

...but let's put 'em in perspective:

And it's not like they are old beans - noooo - these are the first beans of the season. I need to check my planting map and see which ones these are. Could they be the Cherokee Trail of Tears?

The same could be said for the zucchinis:

And it's not like I overlooked them! There were no zukes on these particular plants when I checked them a week ago! Hmm...I wonder what I'll do with Jumbo there. Just finished up the first batch of stuffed zucchicni, and I finally tossed all of last year's shredded zucchini from the freezer. Maybe I'll just make loaves of bread this week - use it up right away and freeze the bread.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Chilly night last night. The thermometer at work told us of a low of 44*F. That was here, where it is sheltered. At home, where things are much more open, it was probably even lower. I don't feel so silly now for lying there in bed last night wondering if I should've covered the tomatoes, beans, and squash! At this rate we just might have frost in August!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Crop Updates - an Evening in the Garden

My heart has simply not been in the garden this year. The weeds and pests have taken over, and I can't seem to get myself to care. It's the whole job thing - will I find a new one (and be moving), or will I be on unemployment come winter? With the former, I won't be able to reap the benefits of my veg garden, with the latter, a garden's worth of produce will surely be welcome if there is no income! I waver between the two. Some days I'm out there weeding and mowing, but most days I just don't seem to care. It's been a strange year.

I finally gave up on the peas. The freezer is full and the plants were slowing down. The pods that remain I'll let dry and then harvest for seed.

Still, other things should be ripening, so it was time to tour the beds and see what was what.

The garlic will be ready for harvesting pretty soon. The tops are turning brown, which is usually the indicator. I pulled up this one to check size - not too bad. I'll give the rest another week or two.

Ah - the Haralsons are starting to redden! I'm very excited about the apples this year. Only Haralsons and Jonagolds, but there are several fruits on these two trees.

As you can see, these runner beans are still refusing to grow up.

The pole beans are just not robust this year, either. Only now are they FINALLY starting to fill in, but even so, they are Spartan. Reasons? I have a few possibilities: these are the same beds in which I planted beans last year; I didn't use any innoculant this year; we had a cold snap early in the season; we had a lot of rain in June, and very little rain in July; and the soil is generally pretty poor. Take your pick.

But, the beans are blooming and that's a happy thing. The hummingbirds are content - between the beans and the bee balm, there is finally food for them in my yard.

The first two blossoms here are runner beans (scarlet and painted lady); the others include Cherokee Trail of Tears, Rattlesnake, and Blue Coco, among others.

Beans are starting to form. I imagine in a week or so I will start picking and freezing.

Look! A tomato!

The zucchinis are doing well - lots of blossoms and some fruits already, which something seems to be enjoying.

I picked these last night and after some judicious trimming, they became stuffed zucchinis. Rice, sausage and tomato sauce.

After a slow start, the cukes are now loaded with blossoms!

I admit, I have been a poor gardener this year. Not knowing if I was staying or leaving, my heart just hasn't been in my garden. So, I did not patrol for pests, and here is why one wants to keep on top of CPB infestations:

The leaves were completely gone from the spuds and the plants were brown and dead. Still, I was hopeful that there might be some potatoes underground, even if small, so I dug in with my hands.
Voila! Not a whole lot, but better than none at all. These are, I believe, purple majesty potatoes.

Scrubbed up, they are a beautiful purple-black color. It almost looks like a pan full of very large black olives!

The inside, as you can see, is a beautiful deep purple.

And look! Purple smashed potatoes! I know, some folks will turn their noses up at this, but I think they are lovely. And they taste just wonderful.