July 31, 2010: Garden Blogger's Death Day

Is it really the last day of July already? How can it be that my garden is putting forth only 1/3 of what it grew last year at this time? Where are the tomatoes? Where are the cucumbers?

July 26 through July 30
2009 - 2010

394 oz. - tomatoes - 99 oz.
170 oz. - cucumbers - 36 oz.
120 oz. - potatoes - 63 oz.
38 oz. - bell peppers - 13 oz.
5 oz. - jalapenos - 0 oz.
27 oz. - strawberries - 15 0z.
loads of blossoms - morning glory - not even a flower bud

There was an article in our paper this morning, saying even green thumb garden masters have been challenged by difficult growing conditions this year, and novice gardeners may become discouraged.

On the bright side, nothing has died in my garden again this month. For Garden Blogger's Death Day, I will give you what I have purposely killed (removed).

A lovely volunteer yellow crookneck squash was mercilessly uprooted. It had to be done. If you've ever grown them, you know how humongous they can get. I had three of them volunteer this year, and this one was between me and the tomatoes behind the shed.

Now the area is cleared, so I can get to the tomatoes. If I can find them in this jungle. And if they ever ripen. I did pick a handful of cherry tomatoes from the unknown variety on the left. They had come from a packet of Angora Super Sweet seeds, but have an entirely different leaf and color. The flavor was really quite good, although I have yet to eat a truly sweet tomato this year.

Then all of the borage was pulled. I let it volunteer this spring, as the bees love it. However, the bees have now forsaken my garden and flown on to greener pastures, and the borage was threatening to consume the entire northeast corner of the garden.

These cherry tomatoes were drastically pruned. I'll still need a ladder to pick the top ones, but I cut back a lot of the side growth as it was getting so heavy the vines were breaking.

Sometimes when I'm pruning I get carried away. There was an occasional "oops".

Another determinate will have to be cut back a bit today, as the rain really flopped it over. This one, second bucket from the left, was supposed to be a Cherokee Purple, but it's fruiting (and tasting) like an Early Girl, with similar bright red tomatoes. I didn't plant Early Girls this year.

There are baby carrots beneath the indeterminates that must be allowed some sunlight to grow.

Three tomato plants were composted. Two of them were Gartenperle, which was a pretty little container plant, absolutely loaded with the worst tasting tomatoes I have ever tasted. The third was the Minigold, which was in a pot that was smack dab in the middle of the butternut squash patch, and impossible to pick. I have a second Minigold, and that is just plenty for all the tiny yellow tomatoes we might want to eat.

The corn was a failure this year. I really do blame the seed/variety, as it was grown both in a protected semi-shade area and in the open in full sun, with the exact same results. Both areas were well fertilized and amended with compost, both areas got sufficient water, and the spacing of the plants, at 12", should have been sufficient. I refuse to take the blame for their failure to produce a decent crop.

Mr. Granny actually went into the garden and helped pull the corn stalks from the large barrel containers and the center of the squash patch, then he helped me move the container of cosmos from the garden to an area next to the shed. This container of cosmos is taller than I am, and wider across too! I love the flowers, but it has been very stingy with its blossoms.

With the cosmos moved, I can now see the zinnias and marigolds that were on the other side of the bed, and hidden by them.

The weather has been hot, in the high 90s to low 100s. It was predicted at 90-96 for the next seven days, but it's 71F and raining and thundering today, so we're getting some unexpected relief from the heat. It thunder-boomed and poured down rain intermittently all night. Of course, I had just given the garden a good soaking yesterday.

Birds have ravaged the garden again. My fall planting of beets was looking really good until the quail came through and took them right down to the ground. The sparrows did the same with the lettuce seedlings I'd set out a couple weeks ago, so I just pulled up everything from the lettuce beds and replanted.

I used seedlings in the first bed, then installed plastic netting around them for protection. They took right off, and are doing very well under their shade structure. It seems odd to be on lettuce hiatus for now, after all I have picked this year.

The second lettuce bed was planted with seeds of spinach, carrots and lettuce. I'll be covering that structure with protective plastic netting too. Both beds will be easy to cover with plastic when the weather turns cold, hopefully extending the season.

July 28, 2010: Odds and Ends, This and That

Nothing in particular about which to blog today, but there are a few things I've been wanting to tell you so this will be an "odds and ends" type of post.

First of all....

Well, not here, but over at Ribbit's place.

Click on Keychains for a Cause for more information, or to order yours. A portion of the sales for each of these keychains will be donated to Ribbit's school's Relay for Life team to help in the search for a cure for cancer.

Thank you!


I just have to tell you about what happened with my little boy dog, Otto, last week. Most afternoons I visit my neighbor, Pat, for a cool beverage on her patio. The dogs, Annie and Otto, always go with me to play in her big yard and chase squirrels. Her puppy, Bandit, loves to romp and play with my dogs, who just barely tolerate him. Bandit also considers me his "other mother", and is lovey and licky and all over me when I'm there. Well.....the past three times I've gone to Pat's, Annie has acted normally, but Otto has stayed back by the gate and refused to enter the yard or patio area. No amount of coaxing would bring him to us. The first time, we thought it was because it was his dinner time, and he wanted to return home to eat. The next two times, it was after he'd eaten, so that was no longer considered as a reason to hang back, and we wondered if something traumatic had happened in her yard. Maybe he'd been hit by a falling walnut from her tree (it happened to me, and it hurt!). Monday afternoon Otto finally came over to the patio. Bandit, as usual, jumped up on my lap and began trying to lick my face. Otto came running to me, put his front paws on my knee and began snarling at Bandit! I mean, these were huge, teeth and gum baring snarls coming from my gentle little Otto! He had the most horrid look of hatred in his eyes, I just couldn't believe it. Otto is 2 1/2 years old, and has never, ever shown a spark of meanness in his entire life. My little guy was jealous! Once Bandit got the message and jumped off of me, Otto jumped up and settled down on my lap and everything was fine. Nobody fools with his Granny!


I'm getting really upset with some of our local businesses. As you know, Mr. Granny and I are getting up in age, and it's not easy for us to do many of the things we did even 5-10 years ago. What else is there to do but hire someone to do the jobs we can't handle?

Well, over a month ago, we contacted a reputable siding company to give us an estimate on repairing or replacing some siding that had been damaged by our sprinklers, install a continuous rain gutter on the front of the house, and replace a window that has a crack in it where someone threw a rock at it while we were in AZ last winter. They took down our information, and said they'd be at our house no later than the next day to give us an estimate. They never showed up.

Two weeks ago I called the man who had replaced our back fence in 2008, after the maple tree fell on it. He had done an excellent job, was fast, courteous and reasonably priced, so I wanted to hire him to rebuild our front fence. The cedar boards are in good condition, but the wood posts snapped in a wind storm last winter, and it's beginning to lean. It will never make it through another strong wind, so we want to rebuild it using metal posts. It turned out the man was no longer in the fence building business, but he said his son wasn't working now, and he was sure he'd like the job. He took my information and said he'd have the son call me. He never called.

Last week I decided I wanted all my carpets professionally cleaned, and the hallway and one bedroom needed to be restretched. I looked up a local carpet cleaning place on line, and they offered all the services I was looking for. They had an on line form to fill out and send in for an estimate, so I did just that. Never heard from them.

I'm really frustrated. Most things I can do myself, but I can't replace siding and windows, dig post holes or stretch carpeting.


The fresh peach pie just came out of the oven. I know what I'm having for lunch.

Speaking of food, just look at the ribs I cooked on the barbecue yesterday......

LOL, I should have checked the picture before we ate the ribs! I don't know why they look yellow, it must have been the setting sun shining on them. They were actually brown and crisp and fall off the bone tender. I dug fresh new potatoes and picked beans and summer squash to serve with them, along with the rest of my garden corn.


The Idiot Gardener wrote; "Granny, how can you taunt us with hot pepper jelly and not give us a recipe. Honestly, old woman, your mind is slipping. We need the recipe, and we need it now!"

OK, TIG. I used the recipe in the Sure Jell pectin box, but here it is, just for you. I have no idea why Sure Jell calls it relish. I think everyone else calls it hot pepper jelly.

Hot Pepper Relish

2 medium Green peppers, seeded, finely chopped
3 medium Red peppers, seeded, finely chopped
*note: I use all green or all red, not a mixture
10 large JalapeƱo peppers, seeded, finely chopped (about 1 cup) *note: if your peppers aren't hot enough, add red pepper flakes. Mine had no heat at all, so I used 4 tsp. flakes, which may have been a bit much.
4 cups (total) prepared peppers
1 cup Cider vinegar
5 cups Sugar, measured into separate bowl
1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. Butter or margarine

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

STEM and seed peppers. Finely chop peppers; drain well. Measure exactly 4 cups of the peppers into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in vinegar.

STIR pectin into prepared peppers in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)


July 27, 2010: I'm Jammin'

So....what do you do when your neighbor lets her peaches ripen and fall to the ground, because she doesn't want to deal with them? They were too bruised for canning or fresh eating, so I made jam.

Bruised peaches, waiting to be used. Since they were from the neighbor's tree, the 8-1/2 pounds won't be counted in my harvest total.

Seven pints and eight half-pints of peach jam, six half-pints and a tiny jar of hot pepper jelly were made this morning.

Since I already had a mess in the kitchen, I got out all those green peppers I'd picked the other day, ran to the store for some jalapenos, and made hot pepper jelly. I cleaned and chopped my peppers, then donned rubber gloves and tackled the hot peppers. After I'd cleaned a couple of them, I noticed my eyes weren't tearing up, I wasn't choking, and my nose wasn't running. I tentatively took a small bite of jalapeno, and those things were as sweet as my bell peppers! I chewed on a seed....nothing! How upsetting. That's how my home grown ones were last summer, but you'd think commercially grown ones would be hot. I ended up having to add hot pepper flakes to the jelly, and I wasn't sure just how much to use. One and a half tablespoons might have been overdoing it, ya think? I tasted it, and it was muy caliente. It will get hotter as it ages. Oh well, I'd rather have it too hot than too mild.

After I finished the jam, I went back over to Pat's and picked another 5 pounds of peaches so we can have a fresh peach pie for our dinner. I got these off the tree, so they weren't so bruised, but there are a lot of them on the ground yet. What a waste, but we won't need more jam than I've already made.

July 26, 2010: Monday Harvest

Daphne's Dandelions hosts Monday Harvest. Visit her to join in on the fun, and see what others are harvesting from their gardens.

The week of July 19-25

*Not all of the harvest was photographed

8 oz. basil
24 oz. pole beans (Fortex)
37 oz. beets
18 oz. cabbage
30 oz. carrots
51 oz. corn
12 oz. cucumber
22 oz. lettuce
49 oz. peppers (sweet)
72 oz. potatoes
45 oz. crookneck squash
114 oz. zucchini
25 oz. strawberries
65 oz. tomatoes

Total for week: 572 ounces = 35.75 pounds
Total year to date: 226.28 pounds

This week I picked my first Clear Pink Early tomato, and the flavor did not disappoint. I expect the flavor to get even better as the other fruits mature. Clear Pink Early is described as "Compact determinate plant loaded with long trusses of perfectly round, smooth, beautiful clear pink tomatoes. The flavor is very good, sweet yet tangy, making this a delightful addition to an early harvest. Heirloom variety of Russian origin." I find it more sweet than tangy, but that may change with later fruits. It is a pretty tomato, and really large considering the compact size of the plant.

I also picked my first Nyageous tomato, which is described as "A prolific, rare, Russian tomato variety. Beautiful, smooth, round, "black" tomatoes that are dark mahogany with dark gray-green shoulders. Nyagous is a wonderfully firm and blemish-free, 6 oz. tomato with lots of sweet, complex fruit flavors and a clean acidic finish. Up to 6 fruits to a cluster. A good market variety that has become a favorite of the Russian varieties. Resistant to cracking." It's rather short for an indeterminate plant. It was delicious.

So far, I'm impressed with:

Clear Pink Early, for being so compact, prolific and tasty.
Nyagous, for its beautiful, deep color and rich flavor.
Black Cherry for flavor and fruit size, being larger than most other cherry tomatoes.

I'm unimpressed with:

Gartenperle. It is loaded with small, red cherry tomatoes that taste absolutely nasty. I gave it several weeks (it was an extremely early tomato), but the flavor never did improve. Both of my plants are headed for the compost.

The jury is out on:

Minigold. It's early (my earliest), and prolific. The fruits are very small and rather thick skinned. The flavor is just so-so to me, but my daughter thinks they are very good. The color is pretty when mixed with the other (black and red) cherries. Since it grows well in a container, and stays quite small, it might be worth growing just for its earliness. The tomatoes are better than store bought.

This week I ripped all the lettuces from both lettuce beds, as much of it had bolted. The Red Sails and Parris Island Romaine were still lovely, so they were harvested. The beds were then given a good digging in of alfalfa pellets, and new lettuce seedlings were planted in one of them. Seed mats of carrots, spinach and lettuce were made for the other bed, and will be planted sometime this week. The day after I transplanted the lettuce seedlings, it turned really hot again....101F, and it's expected to get around 103F this week. I added some plastic netting around the new lettuce bed, as the sparrows had been ravaging the greens again. The same will be done to the other bed, just as soon as it is planted.

Mr. Granny had never eaten pesto. Mr. Granny would never try Italian sausages, even though I often cooked them for myself when he ate his bratwurst. Last night I decided Mr. Granny was going to eat pesto and Italian sausage, come hell or high water, so I cooked the sausages with tons of sauteed sweet onions and green peppers. I sauteed a bunch of garlic until soft, and tossed it into a bowl of spaghetti along with the home made pesto and all the cherry tomatoes I had on hand, halved. Mr. Granny not only ate Italian sausages and pesto, he ate seconds. And he asked for the leftovers for lunch. He is a convert, and even admits to liking the Italian sausages better than his brats!

July 25, 2010: The Remaining Ears of Corn

I picked the rest of the corn this morning, except for the small patch in the squash bed. Actually, the yield was excellent. I got about 32 ears from 20 stalks, and most had been well pollinated. If they had been 7-8" long, instead of 3-5" long, it would have made a decent harvest. In total, they weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces.

I tossed about 6 ears that were too small to fool with, I ate one and Annie poked me and whined until I finally gave her an ear to chew on. She played with hers for a while, then left it lay uneaten. This is what is left, so I'll cut all of it off the cobs and cook it for tonight's dinner. It will probably give us one meal plus leftovers to mix with the crookneck squash and green beans.

July 24, 2010: The First Ear of Corn

I was wandering through the garden tonight, and decided to check on my corn. It was ripe!

My first ear of corn for 2010.

It wasn't a great success.

July 22, 2010: Taking the Bad With the Good

I picked the rest of the peppers that were showing spots on them. The damage wasn't as bad as the ones I showed you yesterday, but I wanted to get them off the plants and cleaned up before it got any worse.

There were seven more bad peppers that I could find. I thought the small one in front had a spot, but it didn't. Too bad it was picked.

The Quadrato Rosso D'Asti pepper plants look really healthy, only the peppers are affected. These plants are around 24" tall, at least twice as high as the Golden bells.

To give you an idea how large these peppers get, I can't get my hand around half of this one. I don't see any BER/fungal infection on this pepper (the white spot is just sunlight), I certainly hope it escaped.

The Golden Calwonders, in the same bed, aren't showing any problems at all. It may be that they are more resistant to whatever is infecting the Quadrato Rosso D'Astis.

Now, on to the problematic tomato patch, where the plants got so tall and heavy they collapsed, and the neighbor may have sprayed an herbicide along the fence line.

The photo doesn't show the damage too well, but the leaves are curled and discolored all along where they (four plants) were up against the fence. The fifth plant, against the other neighbor's fence, also collapsed, but it shows no leaf damage at all. I thought it could be sun scald, as the leaves hadn't been exposed to sunlight until the plants fell forward, but there is that tell-tale strip of dead grass along the fence line on the neighbor's side, so I'm fearing herbicides were used.

I tried to pull the branches of Brandywine as straight as possible, and looped twine around the fence post, then around the plant. I'll try to straighten the other four plants, too.

I fear this lovely volunteer crookneck squash will have to be ripped out. It's growing right up against the tomatoes, and there is no way I can even get close to them. There's another gigantic crookneck plant right next to it, and I can't hardly get to the center of it to pick the squash.

Elsewhere in the garden.....

Sitting in the "kennel garden", I'm shaded by the Fortex pole beans.

Looking up, I see this.

These Spacemaster cucumbers are almost ready to be plucked from the vine.

The volunteer Juliet tomato is performing beautifully.

Mmmm....I've picked a few Black Cherry tomatoes. Most of them don't make it as far as the kitchen to be weighed.

The Gourmet French bush bean blossoms promise good things to come.


July 21, 2010: Houston, We Have a Problem

There's trouble in the pepper patch. At first I thought it was simply sun scald, as the sweet bell peppers on the west side of their garden spot had the familiar sunken scarring. I was rather surprised they'd been affected, as the leaf coverage was so heavy. Then, upon looking for new peppers throughout the bed, I saw that nearly every pepper was suffering from the same ailment. I'm assuming it's either BER or a fungal infection, probably due to the unusually cold, wet spring weather, and not helped by the fact the peppers are planted so closely together that there is very little air circulation. It's so disappointing, as these are the gorgeous, huge Quadrato Rosso D'Asti red peppers, and they will have to be picked in the green stage. At least they are also a very good tasting green pepper, much sweeter than the store bought varieties, but they will have to be picked, trimmed and used right away.

Blossom end rot?