Gardening & Google Voice

Well, my garden is doing… OK now, I guess. At least half of my peppers have died – all the bells, 10/12 jalapenos, 8/12 hungarian hot, all the rio grand hot, and a rather random selection of others. But, those that have survived are looking pretty good. So, hopefully we get some peppers, though I’m definetly going to have to buy jalapenos to pickle like I did last year.

Unfortunately though, my cucumbers & zucchini appear to be doing the same thing as my peppers. They all looked absolutely awful on Monday when we got back from Findlay. Right before we left I sprayed them pretty good with peroxide & spread my remaining cornmeal around on them, and I think it *might* have helped as some of them are looking like the might survive. Though they still look pretty awful. But we’ve gotten a handful of zucchini (like.. 5 or 6 now), and I think we *might* get some more. And I got one nice lil cucumbuer the other day too, and theres a few more that look like they *might* keep growing and get slightly bigger than 3 or 4″.

And then today I went ahead and pulled out all of my peas, broccoli & onions. The peas were definetly dead, and I’ve just been highly disgusted with how they’ve done – I swear I got more broccoli from 6 plants last year than I did all 40 odd plants this year!! But, I did get quite a few nice onions from between my broccoli plants… Now I’m just trying to decide what I want to re-plant in those beds. I’m thinking I’m going to try and plant broccoli from seeds where my peas were and put peas & beans where the broccoli were. Who knows if I’ll actually get any peas/beans/broccoli, but its at least worth a try!!

On a totally, completely, utterly unrelated note, I got an invite (and then registerd) for Google Voice – which seems pretty darn cool. I can send text messages from my computer now (which is super cool since I normally can’t since I don’t have cell phone reception at home), and the fact that I can call anyone from home for free is also super cool. So yeah, go request an invite and try it out. It seems quite cool!!

Cornmeal, Peroxide, Wilting Peppers & Tomatoe Blight!! – AAHH!!

So, about 2 weeks ago now, I hoed my peppers and the next day 2-4 suddenly started to wilt. This was very disturbing, but I figured that I must have just nicked there roots a bit too much, and went on watering like normal. A week later and another dozen or so were wilting. And so I really started googling. Apparently, there aren’t *too* many things that affect peppers (vs most other vegetables), and cause them to wilt. The two big ones being Fusarium and Verticillium wilts, both of which are caused by fungus’s. And both of which can, apparently be controlled (supposedly) by applying cornmeal to soil around the affected plants (and which also apparently helps keeps weeds down…). So, I hoed and mixed a whole bunch of cornmeal into my beds (probably 5-6# in 4 15-20′ long beds).

After continuing to google around about fungus wilts I read about spraying peroxide on affected plants (which apparently is also a fungicide – makes sense when you think about it, huh?), and so I went out and sprayed all my peppers (and most everything else except the tomatoes…) with peroxide yesterday. Now, it could just be my imagination, but I swear to you that today (2-3 days since applying cornmeal and 1-2 days since spraying with peroxide) that my plants which were unaffected look beautiful, and while some are definetly dead, the others look no worse than they did a few days ago, and possibly a bit better…

Of course, then today I hear about how late blight has been confirmed to be in OH (a major disease of potoatoes & tomatoes – apparently its what caused the famous irish potato famine back in the 1840s), and which is also apparently caused by a fungus of some sort. A couple of my tomatoe plants have suddenly started to look sickly in the past couple days, so I think tommorrow I’ll be spraying them & my peppers with peroxide really really well and then on Sunday I’ll have Kevin spray with the other spray we’ve been using for the last couple months.

So… we’ll see. I really hope that my remaing peppers survive and give us lots of peppers & that some of the sickly looking ones come back… and that my tomatoes don’t all succomb to late blight or powdery mildew, or something else!!

Its freezing time!!

Preserving season is in full swing for me now. I’ve been strawberry picking three times and have a total of 16+ bags of cut strawberries in my freezer. I might go pick again tomorrow depending on how much time I have, and then again on Friday so I can make a fresh strawberry pie for Dad’s birthday.¬† I also have 1 bag each of sugar snap & snow peas, and a bag of broccoli already frozen, with probably another bag or so of sugar snap in the freezer on a cookie sheet, plus more snow peas and broccoli to be picked/frozen tomorrow.

The black raspberries are just starting to turn red now, so in a few more days we should be having black raspberries, and then in another week or so the blackberries should come in too – and then I’ll really be picking and freezing like mad!!

The gardens are all looking good though – I tied up my tomatoes yesterday, and they’re all 2.5-3.5′ tall already, some with flowers and one actually had a couple ity bity little green tomatoes even! Unfortuantly though, it looks like the chickens have ‘discoverd’ them, and as such I’m pretty sure are eating most of the buds off… I hope the fencing we orderd comes soon (suppoesdly back orderd till the 30th – AAHH!) and we can get them all fenced in and protected… I was happy to find that I can just barely get all of my other stuff fenced in (so my pumpkins & butternut squash, which were formerly just outside are now inside and thus safe from chickens…).

We also just orderd and planted 3 new Reliance grape plants last week, and Kevin now has rather grand plans for a trellis/abor setup for them. And we also now need to order a replacement male “hardy northern kiwi” as ours is very obviously dead – last year we thought it *might* make it, but its definetly, absolutely, 100% dead this year…

The ducks are getting big – they must be at least 10-12″ tall already, and are getting feathers. The light actually busted a couple nights ago, but its been so nice & warm, we haven’t botherd to replace it. They seem to be doing just peachy fine without it – hopefully our neighbor will come and get his here in the next couple days. Once he gets his, I think we’ll try letting them out of the little fence and see how they do – hopefully they stick around and go back in their house at night.

Its strawberry season!!

So, yesterday I went and picked strawberries for the first time. I spent an hour and a half or so picking… and only got 5 quarts ūüė¶ I cut them up and got them on cookie sheets today (well, four of them…), but I’d really like to do a LOT more.¬† Unfortuantly the place I usually go to for Pick Your Own strawberries, obviously didn’t have a good crop this year. So, I think I’m going to have to do some calling tommorrow and see if I can’t find somewhere else to go pick at, though it’ll be a much bigger drive… and thus I’m going to want a LOT more in one go!! Either that or I’m going to end up buying them this year… :sniffle:

I also finally got around to putting more peat moss around my plants today. I used nearly 2 full bales of peat moss on 4 beds, but I did do them very heavy. Hopefully it helps to hold in some moisture here so that my plants don’t look so wilty by 4pm every day!! And then I went around and fertilized all my peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts & beans. Tommorrow I’ll do the squash, tomatoes, tomatillos & potatoes, as they got sprayed today and I didn’t want to wash it all off!

And the preserving begins!

Today I did my first batch of freezing – broccoli! Considering I have 45 odd broccoli plants, there was surprisingly little from them – but the heads weren’t getting any bigger and were in fact starting to flower, so I cut them all off and blanched and froze most of them (reserving a small bit for tonights dinner – I’m planning on doing a roast chicken:), probably amounting to 1-2 bags once they’re bagged (I freeze everything on a cookie sheet first so I can pull out only how much I need).

I also noticed that the local You Pick strawberry field is opening up (they were open on thursday, apparently closed today, but open tommorrow…), so I’m planning on going and picking strawberries tommorrow for the first time. Not sure how many bags of strawberries I’ll want for this year – I know I started out with 12 last year, but I also had some from my co-op, and they’re all gone… and Andros is getting bigger and eating more, so I might shoot for 15 or so.

Everything else in the garden is looking good – my peas are starting to flower, and so are a few of the bigger tomatoes, so with luck we’ll be eating fresh peas & tomatoes here shortly. I finished planting everything on Tuesday when my mom came down – she brought me another 8 basil plants, which went beside my tomatillos and then the rest of the bed and end of the cucumbers were planted in beans. My first bed of beans has started to sprout up and are looking pretty good. Though I should probably plant another little row of carrots & radishes!!

Also on Tuesday, we moved our chickens’ fence around the garden, and just let them go free. They seem to be doing pretty good, though they are scratching an awful lot around our blueberries, so we’re not sure they’ll be free for much longer… Of course, the other option is to put chicken wire around the blueberries and go from there.¬† We also just orderd 3 new grape vines – Reliance seedless, which are supposed to be pretty hardy and disease resistant. Hopefully they come soon and do well and next year we start having seedless grapes!! ūüėÄ

Garden Pictures!

Also, I finally got around to taking pictures of my garden this evening after we got done watering. You can also see our chicken’s coop in a few of them… So, here they are!

The chicken’s coop and a caddy corner view of most of the garden – you can just see the tomatoes way up on the end.

My peas (sugar snap on the left, oregon giant snow peas on the left), calabrase broccoli, then de cicco broccoli, brussel sprouts and a bed with beans (planted ~ 3/27/09 give or take a day) –

4 beds of various kinds of peppers – with a watermelon and cucumbers on the far, far left.

I have pumpkins & butternut squash planted in the bed on the far left (butternut on the end farthest away, then my watermelon plant in the next bed (not sure what else is going in there, probably an acorn squash), then tow zucchini & cucumber plants, then other cucumbers I planted, and tomatillos in the bed on the farthest right.

Two views of my tomato patch (66 tomato plants, two watermelon – one in the middle, one on the far left corner, and marigolds planted around).

And one final view of the main garden, from the other end (chicken coop in the background once more – the bed right before it has potatoes):

Building “Duckingham Palace”

So, today we finally got started building “Duckingham Palace” more or less off of the description & picture from Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. After much debate and numerous drawings, we finally started. This shows my dad with the inital framing and figuring out the doorway. We built two houses – one for us and our 8 ducks, and one for our neighbors and his 5.

Here you can see the inital framing is done, along with the floor & hardware cloth nailed down.

Here you can see we have both frames done, and are starting to frame out the doors & add hardware cloth on the front. Kevin & Bob

Now we have two sides and the roof on!

Here you can see both sides, the roof, door and hardware cloth all installed – just one more side to go!!

My dad’s cutting the last of the boards needed to side the palace!

Kevin’s adding the last door.

Andros standing on the ramp, while dad puts the finishing touches on one of the palace’s.

A rear-view of one of the houses, with wheels (though, they aren’t attatched – the axle is actually just a little bit short – so we’ll have to get a new one). Dad, Kevin & Bob.

A sideview of a duckhouse – all but finished!! Dad, Kevin & Andros and Bob.

Bob, Dad, Kevin & Andros & I behind one of the duckhouses at the very end of the day! I think they turned out beautifully!!

Just for the sake of cuteness and reference, 14 Indian Runner Ducklings, at about 5 days old (orderd from Murray McMurray Hatchery, they arrived on thursday the 28th of May, 2009)

And just cause’ its cute – Andros in a duckhouse!!

Another year, another garden!

Well, its been nearly a year since I posted on here, but I think I’m going to give this another try. We’ll see how it goes and if I’m able to keep it up or not.

Quite a lot has gone on since my last post, mostly involving lots of canning (I ended up doing 98 quarts & 18 pints of diced tomatoes; 3 quarts & 8 pints of green beans; 26 pints of pickled jalapenos, 4 half-pints of jalapeno jelly & 31 pints of pickled banana peppers; 34 quarts & 17 pints of apple sauce, 17 pints of apple butter, & 22 half gallons of¬† apple cider, 14 quarts of grape juice) freezing (12 bags of green beans, 3 bags of red & 4 bags of green bell peppers, 12 bags of blackberries, 20 bags of blueberries, 3 bags of peaches & 12 bags of strawberries – all in quart size ziplock bags). Over the winter I made some of the berries into jam & used some of the juice for jelly, both for us and to give away at christmas (cause’ like, who doesn’t like homemade jam/jelly/applebutter/blueberry butter?!?!).

Oh, and I got pregnant again ūüėÄ So, I’m due on August 11, 2009 with another baby boy. Andros has gotten very big and active and is just a little ball of energy from the moment he wakes up in the morning till he goes to sleep at night (though he thankfully does still take a 1-2 hour nap around 2ish!!). As a result of the new baby, we’ve transitioned him into his own ‘big boy bed’ in my old room (and we got a nice new queen size bed for us:).

And then, of course theres this years garden. We started a whole bunch of tomatoes, peppers & broccoli this year, and they’ve (mostly) all done really well. My broccoli has been in the ground for probably ~1.5 months now, and its just starting to have little broccoli heads – here in another week or two I expect to have broccoli coming out of my ears – we started 48 broccoli plants, had 46 come up, and all but 3 or 4 have survived being put out. I think the ones that died once they were outside did so because of either a lack of water (its been VERY dry here lately), or due to critters digging tunnels/holes underneath them and through their roots. Around the same time I put the broccoli in I also put in a bed of snow & sugar snap peas, both of which are now 2-3′ tall and looking very good. And about a week later we put potatoes in too – which got frosted a bit but look like they’ll survive thanks to mostly having been under the straw still ūüėÄ

On a seperate note, our grapes got frosted last weekend, along with some other stuff that has *never* been frosted before – my yuccas, bleeding heart & trumpeter vine, along with the potatoes. Thankfully, I didn’t have anything else in, but its just pretty surprising. We were away, but the neighbor who owns the greenhouse I go to said it got down to 28!! On the 16/17th of MAY! How crazy is that?!? Thankfully though, I think everything will survive, though how many grapes we’re going to get this year I don’t know ūüė¶

Just over the past couple days I’ve gotten most everything else in. Namely all my peppers (76 total – 6 Purria Chili, 6 Ancho/Pablano Chilis, 6 Corno di Toro Sweet Peppers, 6 Rio Grand Hot, 6 Ring O’ Fire Cayannes, 5 Pimientos, 12 Hungarian Hot Wax, 12 Jalapenos, 3 Habaneros, 8 California Bell Peppers & 6 Sweet Red Beautys…), tomatoes (66 total – 6 Amis Paste, 6 Peacevine, 8 Stupice, 8 Santiam, 7 Bavacchi, 8 Dr Wyech’s, 4 Arkansas Travellers, 4 Poland, 8 Peron Sprayless & 7 other heirloom types from a friend…). I do have space for another 4+ tomatoes and a few more that I could plant but just never got transplanted into peat pots. Oh, and I did 7 tomatillos down by my peppers. I also put in 3 Sugar Baby Watermelon’s, 2 zucchini & 6 Straight 8 Cucumbers today – I want to get another dozen or so cucumbers to fill in the rest of that bed with and hopefully have a bumper crop to pickle a bunch ūüėÄ

So… basicly my garden is in for the year! I do want/need to plant a couple beds of beans, some more squash (pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash & spaghetti squash), cucumbers & possibly another melon or two of some sort, but BASICLY, the bulk of my garden is in – now its just keep it up!! ūüėÄ And this year, we’re prepared to combat the powdery mildew & other blights we had last year, we hope. I plan on spraying my tomatoes for the first time here in a little bit or tommorrow at the absolute latest!! I’ll try and post pictures of everything in the next few days:D

Powdery Mildew

So, as of Friday, I was convinced that I was losing ALL of my squash – my cucumbers had already all but died, and my zucchini were on there way out with all my winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti), not far behind them. Then I googled around and figured out it must be powdery mildew. Sounds right – my cucumbers fruited, then got it. The same pattern was developing with my zucchini, and winter squashes. So googled some more for treatments. Lots of stuff about pesticides, fungicides, herbacides, etc… But I just really don’t want to use that stuff. I love that my whole garden is 100% organic, and I would really, really like to keep it that way. But I want to eat some of the stuff in it! You know?

And then, I found a post about using a milk & water solution (1:9 ration of milk:water, minimum). And it just sounded too good. I had to try it. So I did…. and I swear to you, 2 days later, my plants are looking WAY better! Almost all the mildewy stuff on the tops of there leaves is gone, and they just look more “perky” for lack of a better word. I’m SO excited! Even the last 2 or 3 cucumbers which were on there death beds are looking better. Which is absolutely incredible. I just might get some more zucchini and squashes afterall!¬†Hurray!!

Weddings, chickens and food, hurrah!!

Well, its been a while since I posted, but lots has happend. I finally got my car back which is wonderful. We drove up to Wisconsin for Kevin’s Dad’s wedding… spent around 24 hours in the car, and about 30 hours actually *IN* WI. Not exactly the most fun weekend I’ve ever been on, but it wasn’t bad. Mostly just very expensive – $4/gallon gas is *not* conducive for traveling!!

On Monday¬†when¬†we got back,¬†I¬†called¬†to¬†find¬†out where¬†on¬†earth¬†our poultry fencing was¬†to be¬†told¬†that¬†it still¬†hadn’t¬†shipped! But,¬†then somehow¬†they got it¬†shipped¬†out¬†that¬†day, and it finally came today. Minus¬†the electrifier. Ugh. The fence¬†itself¬†seems very nice¬†though – super¬†easy¬†to¬†set¬†up,¬†move¬†around, adjust etc.¬†I really¬†can’t¬†wait¬†to¬†let¬†them¬†out¬†tommorrow¬†and¬†let¬†them just¬†run¬†around¬†for¬†the¬†first¬†time outside! They¬†about¬†bum¬†rushed¬†me¬†out¬†the gate¬†this morning when I¬†went¬†out¬†to feed¬†and water¬†them. Hopefully¬†the¬†charger will come¬†tommorrow…

On¬†the gardening front, last night I¬†stayed home from Tae Kwon Do and¬†got a¬†whole¬†bunch¬†of peppers¬†planted (like… 24ish??),¬†which was¬†good cause’¬†tis definetly¬†‘that¬†time¬†of¬†year’¬†to get¬†stuff¬†planted, you know? Also got three zucchini¬†plants planted¬†too… that’ll be¬†wonderful. I’m¬†gonna have zuccini comin’¬†outta my ears! I can’t wait¬†to¬†eat zucchini bread for breakfast every¬†morning again!! ūüėĬ†ūüėÄ Might just¬†have to¬†figure out a¬†way¬†to preserve¬†it for¬†teh¬†winter too… though I haven’t a clue¬†how to!!

Then, today,¬†I got some¬†tomatoes¬†planted¬†– 23 to be exact. Plus¬†the two we¬†planted a¬†couple¬†weeks¬†ago… I¬†think we¬†have space for about¬†that many yet…¬†so if¬†its¬†nice tommorrow maybe I’ll¬†run¬†over to Skipper’s and¬†see about getting some more ūüėÄ I’d¬†also¬†like to get¬†some¬†more peppers yet, but maybe I’m crazy. We’ll¬†see.

For dinner¬†tonight I¬†made “Piglet DH’s Lentil Curry” from this thread¬†on Mothering.com’s forums. It was *wonderful*!¬†I¬†made my own ‘chili¬†past’¬†by¬†soaking chili caribe¬†in warm water for¬†a few minutes,¬†then blending¬†it¬†up and¬†mixing¬†in¬†some¬†chili¬†powder¬†to make¬†it extra thick, and Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste. I’ll definetly be¬†making¬†it again¬†sometime,¬†though¬†I¬†think I’ll try draining¬†the¬†lentils before adding everything else¬†to¬†them – by the¬†time¬†enough of¬†the water¬†had evaporated,¬†they¬†were totally mushy. But¬†still very tasty!!

Tommorrow¬†is Fra Diavolo Shrimp,¬†which¬†is¬†one of¬†our favorites. Its soo good¬†and¬†easy¬†to¬†make, especially with fettucini/linguini¬†noodles. I think I¬†have¬†enough but¬†I¬†might make¬†them fresh, haven’t quite decided. I love my¬†pasta¬†rolling¬†machine –¬†its soo¬†easy¬†to¬†use,¬†and¬†really¬†quite¬†fun. We’ll¬†see.