July 30, 2013 - It's Salsa Time!

 Suddenly I have tomatoes everywhere!

 Then more tomatoes (and an even larger picking that I forgot to photograph)!

 After they were scalded, peeled diced and drained, I had enough for 1 1/2 batches of salsa.  I used my own home grown onions, garlic and these lovely peppers.  The green bell peppers weighed over 1/2 pound each.  I also used my own jalapenos (forgot to take a picture of them).....and they didn't have a bit of heat.  They were sweeter than my sweetest sweet peppers.  That's three years in a row my jalapenos have turned out sweet, so I'm not going to grow them again.  I can buy them at our local Mexican market for 59-cents a pound.  For this batch of salsa, I had to use dried red pepper flakes.

And then I ran out of pint jars!  I didn't want to can quarts of salsa, and I really hated to do half pints, with the price of jar lids.  I ended up with 5 pints, 4 half pints and 3 non-canning jars that will be refrigerated and given to the kids to eat right away.  I also got a small refrigerator dish full for myself (Mr. Granny doesn't like salsa).

After all of that.....I found a box of a dozen brand new pint jars I'd stored in the back of the closet.  Yay, that means I can make more salsa next week!

July 29, 2013 - Harvest Monday

This Week's Harvest

Beans (bush): 79.1 ounces 
Broccoli: 19.4 ounces 
Carrots: 11.6 ounces
Corn: 108.5 ounces
Cucumbers: 76 ounces
Herbs: 3.3 ounces
Lettuce: 18.2 ounces
Onions: 27.4
Peppers (sweet): 34.1 ounces
Potatoes: 399.9 ounces
Squash (summer): 198.9 ounces
Strawberries: 26.3 ounces
Tomatoes: 247.4 ounces

Total for week:  1245.6 ounces (78 pounds)
Total to date: 345 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday.

July 27, 2013 - Today in the Garden

I dug the last of the potatoes today, 17.4 pounds.  I ended up with just over 71 pounds total from the two beds.  That's not as good as last year's 110 pounds, but the Russets that were mistakenly labeled as Yukon Gold didn't yield well at all, while the Red Norlands were fantastic.  Anyway, it was my second biggest harvest since I began keeping track in 2009.  I'll probably find a few more missed potatoes as I work up that bed.

I got the pea trellis finished, and planted a packet of sugar snap peas.  I also put in a short row of bunching onions.  Our weather is supposed to cool down somewhat, with temperatures in the 80s and 90s.  Hopefully we've seen the last of our triple digit days!

 I love to look at my garden at dusk, and it's so nice and cool outside.  

 It's becoming wall to wall plants out there!

 The sweet  pepper plants are loaded.  Most of the plants are around 3 feet high, with a few topping 4 feet.

There aren't as many peppers on this plant, but these two are huge!

July 25, 2013 - I'm Being Squashed!

Today I had to trim some of the butternut squash vines back so we could mow by the fence.  

 A few small squash were sacrificed, but it's not like I need that many anyway.

 They sure are big and beautiful!

 There seems to be more on the fence than on the ground in the garden.

I counted 14 large butternuts at the fence, and I know there are several more in the garden.  I think I'll start snipping off the small ones, because I'm really in squash overload!

 This one is nice and fat, and nearly 11" long.

 But this one, on the ground in the garden, is the largest I've seen so far at over 13".

There are several smaller ones, too.  These are all close to 10" long so far.

The Fall Garden

It was over 100F outside again today, so I didn't get very much done.

I made carrot seed tapes last night, so got them all planted this morning.  I'm covering them with narrow boards until they germinate, hopefully it will keep them from cooking in this heat.  I also started making a makeshift trellis for the snap peas.  I was going to pound in a fence post, but I needed something higher than the metal posts I had, so I grabbed the old lattice panel and screwed one side of it to the fence.  I cut lengths of wire fencing and hooked them over the top of the fence, then used small cable ties to fasten the first one to the lattice.  I'm also connecting each of the narrow wire fence panels together with the small cable ties.  I really wanted a trellis I could walk behind, but this will have to do.  At least I can reach through the openings in the fencing if need be.  I still have more sections to put up, but the heat was too stifling so I had to go inside.

This afternoon I pulled all the early corn stalks from their section of the east garden, then dumped a bucket of composted cow manure right in the middle.  I planted a hill of cucumbers there, as I expect the early ones to give up the ghost within another month.  Maybe we can get a few fresh cucumbers here before the first frost.  See my neighbor's 5' high crabgrass going to seed next to the fence?  Isn't that nice?  Just what I love to see next to my garden  :-(

July 24, 2013 - Planning the Fall Garden (part 2)

 Tonight I got the strawberry runners dug, planted, watered and mulched.  I planted them just over a foot apart in two staggered rows.  The book said one row, but I can only dedicate this one bed to them, so it will have to do.  I will keep all blossoms and runners cut off for the rest of this year, mulch over the plants after the first frost, then rake the mulch off of the plants in early spring.  Then I'll let them fruit, but keep the runners cut off.  At least that's the plan. 

 They look so good right now, but I wonder what they'll look like after tomorrow, when we're expecting it to be 101F.  According to the book, they should survive just fine.  We'll see.

I think I'll head for the bathtub.  Just look at the little scratches all over my legs!  Those are from trying to get through the squash patch to pick squash and zucchini.  Those things are wicked!  That big black spot on my foot is where I put some antibiotic on it after I dropped the 5-gallon bucket of compost on it.  The dirt stuck to the ointment, so it's probably really nice and sterile....NOT!  I wonder what that bucket weighed.....

I took the scale out and weighed a bucketful, it was 28.6 pounds.  On my foot.  I don't know how many of them I carried out to the garden today, at least six not counting the wheelbarrow full that I wrestled through the door, almost wiping out the marigolds!

My kitchen is a mess.

I'm soooo tired.

Will this day never end?

July 24, 2013 - Planning the Fall Garden

I've never bothered with a fall garden before, as we spent so many years travelling to AZ for the fall and winter months.  Now that we've sold the Arizona property and enlarged the home garden, I decided to give it a go.  Of course, I do have that garage full of cow poop, so it will be put to good use now!

 In the small area behind the garden shed, the remaining Anuenue lettuce was trying to bolt and turning just a bit bitter, and the carrots I sowed the week the temperature soared over 110F did not germinate....well, 2 carrots did out of 3 rows seeded, so this was my starting point.

 I pulled the lettuce, tilled in a couple of inches of composted manure along with the little bit of straw that was littering the bed, raked it into two wide raised beds, and topped that with another layer of manure.  I worked the top layer into the soil with a hand cultivator, then smoothed and leveled the two beds.

 I alternately watered, and raked the beds smooth as they settled.  They are now ready for planting.  The plans are to pound in metal fence posts to support netting for sugar snap peas in the back bed, which is only 4' long.  I'll plant the peas on both sides of the netting, and keep the rows toward the back of the bed, giving me room for a single row of bunching onions at the front.  The front raised bed will hold nothing but carrots.  I didn't have a good year for carrots, so I'm hoping to get some decent ones before winter.  Oh, I also moved that 1/2 of a compost barrel over where it belongs, exposing another bunch of small lilac tree trunks that I hope to put Mr. Granny to work on.  They aren't rotting at all, unlike the maple tree roots, so it will have to be taken out with the chain saw.

 This was an earlier potato bed that was trench composted as the potatoes were dug, and then covered with chopped leaves from the leaf compost pile.  I added composted cow manure and tilled it in.  I was surprised that all the kitchen scraps, except for a few corn husks, had already completely disappeared!  I'd say most of them have only been in the ground for 2-3 weeks at most.  After I tilled it up and raked it smooth, I added more of the cow manure, and repeated the watering and raking as it settled.  I've decided to use this bed for my new strawberry plants.  I've been letting them form runners in the flower garden, and there are a lot that are now well rooted.  I've been reading about summer planting strawberries, so I'm going to give it a try.  Ray, from Tennessee Country Living directed me to a book by E.P. Roe that I found quite interesting, and the chapter pertaining to summer planting can be read at 

 The spring onion bed was empty, except for a few beets, a row of bush beans and the summer lettuce, so chopped leaves and four 5-gallon buckets of manure were added and will be dug in later, when I need the space for some cabbages that are just beginning to germinate.

 These are the first seeds that will be planted in the fall garden.  I still have to find a spot for the lettuce mix, but I think there is room for a small patch of cut -and-come-again greens in the kennel garden.

 I've moved nearly half of the manure from the garage, putting much of it in the garden and filling the big dump cart to store in the shed.  I have to carry it out to the garden beds in 5-gallon buckets, as I cannot maneuver through the garden with the wheelbarrow now, the plants are overtaking the paths!  Man, those buckets of cow poop are heavy.  I had to stop for the day after I dropped one of them and it grazed the top of my bare foot.  The pain!  The pain!  Oh well, it was too hot to continue anyway.

 This is the bed I'll work on next.  As I dig out these potatoes, I'll fill the trenches with kitchen waste, chopped leaves and cow manure.  I think I'll move some of my Tristar strawberries here, as I want to do away with the raised bed they are in now.  It's 4' wide, and I find I just can't hardly harvest the berries in the middle.  A 3' wide bed would be more manageable.  I think I'll use the lettuce cage over the fall planting of cabbage, and cover it with netting.  I'm tired of sharing them with the bugs!  I moved the cage from behind the shed, and have no other place to store it, so I might as well use it for something.

The broccoli plant in the center was so large it fell over last week, and it was resting in the bed next to it.  I had to pound in a stake and use a bungee cord to hold it up and out of the way!  

It's 99F in the shade right now.  I think I'll pour myself a big iced tea and relax until it cools off, then I want to begin moving those strawberry plantlets.  I need a miner's hat with a headlight, then I could work in the garden after dark!

July 23, 2013 - John Pooped in the Garage!

I'll bet that title got your attention!

Monday evening.....Son John saw my plea for a load of compost, so he pick up a yard of cow poop for me today.  The only place I had to store it, until I can get some of it out in the garden and the rest into the big dump cart, was the garage.  Should I mention Mr. Granny is not very happy with the stench of cow manure permeating the air in and around our new car?  I did leave both garage doors open a few inches.  Hopefully that will keep the smell at least a little bit under control.  Tomorrow, even if it's still 100 degrees outside, I need to start wheelbarrowing a few loads out to the garden! 

July 22, 2013 - R.I.P. Big Dog

April 2013:  I don't even know his name.  I just call him "Big Dog", but he is completely deaf so it doesn't make any difference what I call him.  He's a rescue dog, very old, and my neighbor said he's not only deaf, but also blind.  I beg to differ.  He can definitely see, because he waits at that fence and watches for me every day.  When he sees me in the yard, the tail wags......

And he starts licking his chops.  Because I bake him cookies and give him daily treats.  He's been terribly abused (by a previous owner), and he's so thin and crippled he can hardly walk.  He is a love, and he deserves to be loved.  

Every time I head out to the garden, Big Dog is at the fence waiting for me to bring him his cookies!

When I began baking cookies for Big Dog, I should have known his whole family would soon show up for dinner!

They had the vet come to the house to put him into his final sleep.
 R.I.P. Big Dog, I'll miss you!