August 31, 2013 - Powdery Mildew

Every year my squash and cucumber plants eventually succumb from powdery mildew, but it's just something I've always lived with.  I've never bothered with sprays or any kind of control, other than chopping off offending leaves until there aren't enough of them left to support any further plant growth.  Last week I noticed my new planting of cucumbers was  showing a lot of PM.  Mr. Granny does love his cucumbers, so I thought "What the hey, might as well give them a spray and see what happens".  I mixed up 1 tbsp.powdered milk and 1 tsp.of baking soda in a spray bottle, added water to fill and a few drops of liquid dish soap, then headed out to the garden to apply it to the leaves of the cucumber plants.  According to what I had read on line, this wouldn't cure already infected leaves, but it might keep the PM from spreading. Two days later, I checked on them, and couldn't believe how much better the plants looked!  I gave them another dousing, and now, another two days after the first application, the difference is very promising!

Very little powdery mildew remains on the leaves!  Even the leaves that were badly infected are mostly clear now.  I'm thinking I'd better buy myself a new garden sprayer, just for killing off PM.  A small spray bottle would never work in a squash patch.

August 28, 2013 - Wind, Weather, Wilt, and a Cranky Old Woman!

Sunday evening we had another windstorm, with gusts up to 50 MPH.  Oh, the mess!  You would think, after all the storms we've experienced this year, that our pine trees would be nude by now!  But the aren't.  I spent half the day Monday cleaning up boughs, branches and pine cones.

The wind flattened the new stand of fall corn, but it seems to have uprighted itself now.  I'm glad, as it is already tasseling, which means I'm probably assured of actually getting a harvest from it before our autumn frost.

 The fall planting of corn is tasseling.

It's also beginning to form ears!

We did have one calamity out in the garden.  A large branch fell out of the neighbor's walnut tree, landed on my net covered garden in the kennel, and ripped a big hole.  That netting was protecting my fall cabbages and keeping the leaf miners out of the beets and spinach.  I won't be replacing it this late in the year, but I might have to see if I can round up enough to patch it and get the crops through to maturity.

I may have "accidentally" dropped the limb back over the fence and into their yard.

Even though our daytime temperatures are still in the mid-nineties, the garden seems to have slowed in production.  I'm rather glad the pole and bush beans are taking a bit of rest, as I'm getting really tired of beans!  It seems like nearly every day I am either eating them or freezing them.   Freezer space is really tight now, and there are still a lot of peppers and, hopefully, some snap peas later on.  Many of the tomato plants have succumbed already.  I still have 3 healthy plants, 2 sickly but still producing plants, and 3 cherry tomato plants.  All of the others have been removed.

Even with only a few plants left, I'm getting 4 or 5 quarts of tomato juice each week, plus plenty for fresh eating.

The fall planting of cucumbers is beginning to blossom, but unfortunately they are also beginning to show powdery mildew.  So many of the squash and cucumber plants get so ugly this time of the year, but I hate to tear them out as long as they are producing.

I tried moving a few strawberry plants this week, but it looks like all but one died.  It's just so hot!  

The ones I planted a couple of weeks ago fared better.  It looks like I'll only have to replace two of these.

I have plans to tear down the raised beds that now hold the strawberries and raspberries, and moving the plants into narrower beds (for the strawberries) and directly in ground, with room on each side of the row to keep suckers tilled out (for the raspberries).   The new strawberry bed must be established before I tear out all of the plants and remove the boards.  I'm not looking forward to the job, mainly because I'm still getting over a pound of strawberries each week.  I'm quite sure they will bear right into November if given the chance.

My next job will be trying to remove this giant broccoli plant.  It's so big, it is falling over from its own weight, and it is also trying its darndest to bolt to seed.  Since I have several others that are giving me nice side shoots, I've decided getting this thing out of the garden will be the best plan of attack.  It's almost falling into the strawberry bed!  That's a 4' high fence behind the broccoli plants, so you can just imagine how tall it would be if it were standing straight.

Its stem is bigger around than my lower leg!

!!Rant Time!!  

This past week has been rather interesting, to say the least.  I've been a customer of Charter Cable for a few years now, receiving my phone, internet and TV service from them.  I have never been late paying my bill.  In fact, I always pay it before it is due.  Last week, in the mail, I got the following from them:

We're sorry to lose you as a customer.  It was a pleasure to serve you. Please pay the balance due immediately (the balance was ZERO) and return any Charter owned digital TV, Internet and Phone Equipment.  This statement may not reflect equipment already returned.  We look forward to serving you in the future.

I called the number on the statement for an explanation.  I was informed I have moved.  Uh....I've lived here for nearly 25 years.  I haven't gone anywhere, and they sent the statement to this address.  That was the only explanation I was given, even after informing them I would be changing providers, as I didn't want to lose those services.  I then contacted DISH for our TV, and Century Link for phone and internet.  DISH was installed on Monday, Century Link ran into a problem with our phone line today and won't get the installation completed until tomorrow or Friday.

A couple of days after receiving the Charter statement, I got a postcard from Charter Cable in the mail:  

Your postal address and email on file have changed. sent the postcard to the same address where you've always sent written communications.  The same address that has not changed.  

The next day, I got my email statement for next month.  Emailed to the email address that has not changed.  With another price raise.  The third since December.

As soon as Century Link gets my internet going, all of Charter's equipment will be promptly returned to them, as they have requested.  Granny is feeling cranky over the entire ordeal.  And Granny will probably be even crankier with internet speeds that are 1/10 of what I've been getting with cable internet.

August 25, 2013 - Harvest Monday

Harvest Recap for the Week of August 19-25

 Some days the harvest was varied.

Some days it was just tomatoes.  That beauty in the center weighed 1 1/2 pounds, the biggest and prettiest of the season.

Total for week:   65 pounds
Total year to date: 628 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday.

August 22, 2013 - No More Poo in the Garage!

As you know, Mr. Granny wasn't exactly happy when I unloaded a yard of cow poop onto the garage floor, right next to our brand new car.  I've been taking as much as I could, by bucket or wheelbarrow, out to the garden, and amending the newly empty beds. Well, today he helped me load the last of it into the dump trailer, and we got it all moved out of the garage and into the garden shed.  Except, that is, for one wheelbarrow load that will be pushed into the garden tomorrow.  He is now a happy man.  Now that he has a garage that is half empty, he can start shopping for a pickup.  Then I can haul more cow poo, store it in the pickup bed, and park it in the garage!  Nah, I wouldn't do that to him.  But it's a thought!

A shed full of poo.

After putting 7 freshly picked crookneck squash out by the street yesterday morning, with a "free" sign, I only had two taken.  By evening the other 5 had cooked in the sun all day, so they went to the compost.  This morning the daughter stopped in for coffee, and I told her about the squash.  She said she wanted them from now on, that she forgot to tell me they were great when juiced with her other veggies and greens.  So I'm happy the five I picked this afternoon will have a happy home.  I was going to pull the remaining squash plant, but now it gets a reprieve.

Today I spent an easy day inside, tending to laundry and mopping the kitchen floor.  Then I went out to pick the veggies, and tracked dirt back all over the floor I'd just mopped.  It's a vicious cycle, I tell ya!  I needed something to cheer me up, so I went shopping.  I bought some capris, a printed T-shirt and a white blouse, all on clearance for twenty dollars plus tax.  That cheered me up.  Not only that, the capris were a size 8, rather than my usual size 10, and they fit perfectly.  Woohoo!!

I hope the smaller clothing size wasn't due to my loss of blood recently.  I have managed to get poked in the back with a branch (blood on my shirt), got my left middle finger wedged between shovel and trailer while loading cow poo (grabbed a paper towel and turned it red), grated my right thumb knuckle while grating cheese for tonight's pizza (thankfully bandaids were handy) and got a bloody nose while out in the garden (that was a first!).  I also pinched my right index finger in the needle nose pliers while prying off some fence clips (no blood, just a painful blister).  

I did get yesterday's frozen beans and peppers bagged today, and made the excess tomatoes into 1-1/2 quarts of juice.  That needs to go in the freezer, so I sure hope I can pack things a bit tighter to make room!  

August 21, 2013 - Wednesday in the Garden

I did make it back outside after dinner last night.  I drastically pruned another blighted tomato plant, and removed one that was going downhill fast and not producing very well anyway.  The one I pruned was loaded with green tomatoes, so I'm hoping they can still vine ripen.

After I cleaned up my tomato mess, I came inside and got the bran muffins made, so I was happy to have one for my breakfast this morning, along with some delicious chilled cantaloupe.  I have just two melons left, with a lot of blossoms that probably won't give me ripe melons before the first fall frost.

Heading out to the garden this morning, I picked bush and pole beans.  Oh, dear, I'm getting so many beans!  I had just put two one-gallon bags in the freezer from Monday's harvest, and now I have another 5-plus pounds staring at me!  I also picked 7 lovely young crookneck squash, and put them out by the street with a "free" sign.  Unfortunately, it seems nobody wants fresh summer squash, as they are still out there, cooking in the hot sun.

I also picked a few tomatoes.  There was one more that didn't make it into the photo, a big, beautiful, fully ripe one that made it into our lunch instead.

I cleaned all of the carrots out of the kennel garden.  They are small, and not growing well now that the pole beans are shading the bed all day.  I have a couple of cabbage seedlings that can go where the carrots were removed.  The first few leaves of my fall lettuce were picked, just enough for sandwiches this week.  The few peppers weren't even weighed for the week's total.  The bell was showing some BER, and the hot peppers are just a test to see if they have finally turned hot.  By the time I got to the strawberry bed, the sun was so hot I didn't last long.  I may go back over the bed this evening, after it cools down a bit.

Guess what I'll be doing all afternoon.

August 20, 2013 Monday and Tuesday in the Garden and Kitchen


It was a busy day in the yard and garden today.  I had to make three trips with my big harvest basket!

 I picked over 3 pounds of Fortex pole beans (two gallon bags stuffed full), some small Happy Yummy peppers, a zucchini that actually didn't grow into a giant before I spotted it, a couple of crookneck squash (and there are many more forming on the bush) and a few Victor tomatoes.

On the second trip out, I found a ripe cantaloupe, some edible sized Chioggia beets (finally!), a few more tomatoes, including a big one that weighed 1-1/2 pounds, and a container of strawberries.

Trip number three, and it was getting hot out there!  I quickly picked the bush beans, a few broccoli side shoots, and enough carrots for dinner.  

My fourth trip to the garden didn't require the big harvest basket, but I did get nearly two pounds of lovely, sweet cherry tomatoes.  These are Sungold and Una Hartsock.  That was enough for one day, as everything had yet to be cleaned and refrigerated, and I had bread to bake and a back yard to mow!

Grandson Kevin dropped by, so he and I took turns mowing the back yard while the bread was rising.  Unfortunately, he had to go to the high school to register for the upcoming school year, so he didn't get to sample the bread when it came out of the oven.  I did, though.  I had a nice big slice, along with a bowl of the cream of broccoli soup I'd made yesterday.  Mmmmmm....that soup was good!  I think that's now my favorite way to enjoy broccoli!  Of course, Mr. Granny won't even taste it.  That's OK, more for me!

I put on a crockpot full of pork chops for dinner.  They were cut from a big roast I bought last week, and they are tougher than a boiled owl!  That's unusual for a Costco pork loin, but crockpotting it in a gravy will make it tender and edible over noodles tonight.

Back outside, I have grass clippings to deal with.  Mr. Granny usually mows with the riding mower, and we leave the mulched clippings on the lawn.  That way we never have to fertilize.  However, I'm trying to put as much organic material on the garden beds as possible, to get them ready for the 2014 season.  That's why I opted for the push mower, with its grass catcher today.

 I spread a good layer of the grass clippings on two of the garden beds.

 Then I covered the first bed with composted cow manure.

I almost had enough to cover the second bed.  I'll finish it tomorrow, because frankly, I'm feelin' it, Dawg!  I'm ready for a big iced tea, laced with Tylenol!

I still have dinner to fix, kitchen cleanup, then I'm through for the day!


My day started off great when I received the Versatile Blogger Award from The Novice Gardener!
Thank you, Mrs. R., the feeling is mutual.  I will gladly accept your award, and proudly display it in my side bar.  I've already listed so many things about myself that I'm now an open book, so I'll not bore you with more.  And each and every one of you is a favorite blogger, so feel free to grab this award for yourself!

Then it was time to come back down to Earth and get to work!

I grabbed a cup of coffee, threw on some old gardening clothes, and headed out.  I filled the wheelbarrow with another load of composted cow poo (there is still a goodly pile of it residing in our garage.  Mr. Granny is not happy).  I finished topping off the second garden bed, then got the little rototiller out and dug a narrow bed near the east garden gate.  That pathway was quite wide, and there was just enough room for a single row of bush beans or maybe a row of marigolds.  The soil was hard there, from walking on the path for a few years, so I dug it down as deep as I could, then added the all the manure that was left in the wheelbarrow.

Moving on, out of the garden, I began tackling the bed under the lilac tree.  It has really been neglected this summer and, although not nearly as weedy as the neighbor's fence line, it was getting there.  I started by whacking off the chives.  I don't use a lot of chives, but I love the blossoms, so there are a lot of them growing in this bed.  There are also a lot of lilac suckers, quite a bit of crabgrass, and some rather ugly volunteer alyssum.  About 30 minutes in, I had worked up an appetite and had to go inside for a bite of breakfast.

 There!  That looks much better!
 I even took a snip or two (or fifty) at the neighbor's overgrown hedge, and removed as many of her volunteer walnut trees as I could reach.  Someday there will be a dozen huge walnut trees growing right inside her property line and over my house.  I.Am.Not.Happy.About.That.

Now I can dispose of her hedge trimmings and walnut tree seedlings.  Bah.  Humbug.

It's noon!  I can relax and eat some lunch!  I'm still working on the cream of broccoli soup.  I took two of the three containers of it over to youngest son, so Mr. Granny doesn't have to worry that I might try feeding it to him.

After lunch, it was on to the kitchen duties.  There are beans to snap, blanch and freeze, summer squash and sweet peppers to cut up, bag and freeze and cantaloupe to dice and chill.  I'd like to make some bran muffins for my breakfasts, but I'm not sure I'll get around to it.


It's still early in the afternoon, but this blog post has turned into a novel so I'd better stop right now!

August 19, 2013 - Harvest Monday

This week's harvest put me over 500 pounds for the year.  In fact, I've harvested more already this year than the entire year of 2011!

Total for week:   68 pounds
Total to date: 563 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday.

August 18, 2013 - Hell Froze Over Today

My neighbors cut down their 6-foot high weeds along the fence!  I hope they keep it that way now, but at least I don't have to worry about all the crabgrass and milkweed seeds dropping over into my garden.  They mowed their lawn, too.  It hadn't been mowed in over two weeks.  In fact, the entire family came  and worked on the yard over the weekend, the sister (local) and the parents (Idaho).  I don't think I mentioned before that the woman who bought the place a couple of years ago lost her job, moved back to Idaho, and her recently divorced son has been living there since before Christmas.  With all the work going on this weekend, I wouldn't be surprised to see a "for sale" sign going up soon.

On My Side of the Fence

The baby shower for my granddaughter was very nice.  The food was good, and I ate too much, so I skipped dinner last night.  One thing I couldn't stay away from was the big bowl of red and green seedless grapes, with a sauce made of sour cream, cream cheese and brown sugar.  Oh, my, it was good!  I think someone there may have eaten four or five helpings, but I'm not saying who it was  ;-)

I did get home in time to get out to the garden for a bit.  I harvested.....

I didn't mean to pick the butternut squash.  I was pulling the grass along the fence, and I lifted the squash up to get it out of my way, and the stem broke.  I'll let it sit outside for a few days to cure, then it should be good eating.  I spied the big zucchini from outside the garden.  I'd missed it when I looked for them earlier.  

Today I made the zucchini into two loaves of bread, froze the strawberries for smoothies, snapped, blanched and froze a gallon of green beans, and made a pot of cream of broccoli soup from the leeks and broccoli I'd picked earlier this week.  Oh, my, it is good!  

 Three containers of broccoli soup for the freezer.

Two loaves of zucchini bread (minus a goodly sized sample) for youngest son.  He likes his with raisins, no nuts.  I was out of raisins, so I hope he likes dates.

 I picked my biggest harvest basket full of sweet peppers.

Then I worked on what used to be the potted plant garden.  The Black Cherry tomato recently wilted and died.  I thought it might have been root bound, but the roots looked just fine.  The potting soil was just slightly damp, not waterlogged or dry, so I have no idea what killed it.  I decided to remove the rosemary from its pot and plant it at the corner.  It was getting root bound, so it should do much better now.  The basil and chives got tossed, as I have so much of both growing elsewhere.  I still have some more cleanup to do in this area.  I want to remove the strawberries from their planters and put them out in the garden, then try to kill out the oxalis that has taken over this entire bed.  I still have all the pots to wash and disinfect before they are stored for the winter.

Next I removed another dead/dying tomato from the main garden.  I think I'm down to about five plants that aren't showing any disease yet, with two more that need to be removed soon and another that is "iffy".  

I'm pooped out.  I think I'll make Mr. Granny take me out to dinner tonight.  

August 17, 2013 - Strawberries, Sweet Peppers and Solarizing

The few drops of rain that interrupted my gardening yesterday didn't last but minutes.  I was able to get back out after dinner and finish the job of solarizing the bed for my 2014 carrots.

I had already amended the bed with composted manure and semi-decomposed chopped leaves.  Next I had to dig a trench around the perimeter of the bed, stretch a sheet of clear plastic over it, then bury the edges of the plastic in the trench.  I'll probably just leave the plastic in place until I'm ready for spring planting.  Hopefully this solarizing of the soil will kill any nematodes that might be residing near the surface, and give me a bed that is capable of producing some decent carrots.  I wasn't able to cover the last 12" of the bed, as that area is where this year's peppers are now growing.  I'll probably just plant marigolds at that end next year.

While I was out in the garden, and before it was too dark to do anything more, I picked a few sweet peppers.......

I'll be treating myself to a fajita for dinner.  Too bad Mr. Granny doesn't like peppers or fajitas!  I'll feed him tacos.

This morning I picked 15 ounces of strawberries,  It would have been over a pound, but I procrastinated and ended up tossing a bunch of over ripe, mushy berries away.  They should have been picked last night.  I've been really happy with the Tristar berries this year.  I've picked nearly 34 pounds of them from that 4'x8' bed, and they are still fruiting and blossoming like mad!

I also picked 3 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, mostly Sungolds.  My Black Cherry is dying.  I have a feeling it is pot bound in its container.  I usually use bottomless buckets as containers, but this was a really large planter, so I thought it would be OK.  I picked all the tomatoes that had any color, and I'll be ripping it out this week.

I'll probably not get any more gardening done today, as I will be attending a baby shower.  I'm expecting a new baby great-granddaughter in October!

August 16, 2013 - The Mid-August Garden

It's hot but overcast today, making it actually tolerable to get out and get some gardening done.

 The corn stalks have been dug out, and I have begun laying out the beds for the 2014 garden.  The new beds will actually be longer than they are now, once the sweet peppers are harvested.  I'm making the beds 3 feet wide, rather than 4, as I'm finding 4' is just too far for this old lady to reach the centers for harvesting.  They will eventually be either 7 or 8 feet long, depending on how close I want to get them to the fences.  I do want to keep a good sized path next to the neighbor's fence, so I can hopefully keep the weeds at bay.  As I form the beds, I'm layering semi-decomposed chopped leaves with composted cow manure.  I plan on solarizing the dark colored bed in the foreground, and planting my carrots there next year.  Maybe I can avoid the nematode infection that way.

My fall cucumbers are actually growing in a future path in the east garden.  

 Some of the sweet peppers are over 4 feet high now.  Most are still around 3'.

 Carrots, the fall lettuce bed, and fall corn.

 The corn is growing well, so hopefully I can get a fall crop from it. 

 Inside the kennel garden, the Fortex pole beans form solid walls on two sides.  In the center are cabbages, beets, spinach and carrots.  Spinach germination was poor, so I'll try reseeding it this week.  The fall pole beans, on the left, have already begun to bear.  I had a first picking from them today.  The older pole beans, on the right, are just now bearing a good sized crop, with many more blossoms, so I should be harvesting a lot of my favorite Fortex beans this year.  Cabbages are doing extremely well under the netting.  This bed might be used exclusively for my 2014 cabbage plants.

 The jungle behind the kennel garden has the parsnips, which are getting too tall and flopping over into the pathway, and more sweet peppers that are nearly 5' high.

 Today I trimmed back the cosmos.  They were falling over and smothering the marigolds.  It left an empty space between the flowers, so I moved in three pots of hot peppers to fill the space.  Maybe the poor marigolds can breath now!

 Three cantaloupe, nearly ready to harvest.  Three others have already been picked, two of them already eaten.  By me.

 Many of my leeks are going to seed.  The bees love them, so I think I'll just let them go and reseed themselves in this same spot next year.

 I suppose there are tomatoes in there somewhere, but the plants are so full and heavy there is no way to see them.  I basically have to stand on my head and look up underneath the branches, trying to spot a bit of red.  I hate to start whacking them back, but I don't know how else I would be able to see the fruits as they get ripe.  Next year they will be planted where I can harvest from two sides.   I'm enjoying the single row of bush beans in the foreground.  It's so much easier to pick than a multiple row wide bed.

 The flower area is looking rather ragged.  I'd like to cut back the coneflowers, but the bees are still enjoying them so they stay for now.  I have Red Sails lettuce going to seed, but I'm going to leave it and see if it will volunteer next spring.

The sugar snap peas, in the little fall garden behind the shed, are beginning to grab onto the fencing.  Carrots, in the foreground, look much better than they do in the photo, and the tiny onions are growing well, even if they aren't visible here.

 I'm still getting enough strawberries to keep us in shortcakes and smoothies.

 But the strawberry bed really needs to be thinned out.  It's supposed to cool down into the 80s next week, so maybe I can get some of the plants moved to another garden bed.

I pulled out all but one small cucumber plant.  As you can see, they were completely covered with powdery mildew.  One plant still had some green leaves and a big yellow blossom, so it got to stay.  For now.

 I cut back a bunch of butternut vines again today, once more clearing my path through the garden.

On the other side of the fence, you can see the many butternuts growing up the chain link.  

The broccoli is going crazy with side shoots.  I cut just over a pound of them this afternoon.

 I also picked over two pounds of Fortex pole beans.

Bush beans have slowed (thankfully) but summer squash is catching a second wind.  This is the last of the cucumbers, until the fall planting fruits.  I dug a few leeks, as so many are going to seed.  It started raining a bit before I finished picking tomatoes, so they'll have to wait until tomorrow.