Saturday, August 11, 2012

Smells like green pepper

The zucchini in the CSA box is now being outdone by the peppers. I have given many peppers away, and have chopped them and sliced them and put them in the freezer. Today I decided to try dehydrating them. I have not dehydrated very many things, so I am the first to admit that I don't know what I am doing. First I dried them for several hours at 135 degrees - hmmm, leathery but a little crisp around the edges. After a while, I decided I'd rather have them crispy, so I could grind them into powder. Back into the dehydrator, but at 125 degrees instead. We'll see how they turn out.

The CSA beets accumulated enough to bother with cooking them. They will be chopped and frozen, for later use in red flannel hash. Assuming I remember to make a note of their presence in the freezer AND will be able to find them. Things get lost in there!

Today I planted peas and snap peas, hoping for a fall harvest. There were just enough pea seeds for one 1'x4' patch. I planted two such patches of the snap peas, but for one I doubled the number of seeds. In the past, I have planted peas in broad rows and never thinned them. I'm thinking they can be a bit denser in my square foot garden than what I planted in March.

The Irish potatoes have behaved rather oddly this year - growing, blooming, dying back, then partially recovering. It was probably too hot for growing potatoes in grow sacks. Today I emptied one of the grow sacks and found more potatoes than I planted in it, but not much more. Maybe next year I will plant them in the ground.

Although raised beds are not exactly "in the ground". And when it comes to watering, raised beds are basically large containers. Large enough that the dog can climb into them in pursuit of rabbit scent.

Yes, my attempt at rabbit-proofing the backyard is turning into a big FAIL. There are at least two bunnies now, one adolescent and one baby. Betsy Beagle has been having a ball, and so far there is no plant damage, but I am rethinking how best to move forward.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Rather be lucky than good

A co-worker recently complained to me about his Rose of Sharon and the massive reseeding of itself it attempts every year. I had no idea what he was talking about, as my Rose of Sharon is very well behaved. Sooo happy I accidently wound up with the one I have. He said at least he got some free ones to transplant to his lake property. "Spreading the problem, huh?"

I don't know how long this mud dauber nest has been hanging above my front door. I vaguely recall sweeping the cob webs away last May, so it was sometime after that. Mud daubers eat spiders, but the arachnid population on the front porch does not look diminished.

First year for hyssop (Agastache 'Blue Fortune'), lobelia (Lobelia x speciosa - 'Fan Scarlet'), and pineapple sage. I thought the latter was a perennial, but while leafing through a book on attracting birds to one's backyard, I discovered it is NOT. Further research reveals that it blooms late, so late it may be too late. I'm contemplating digging it up before first frost and wintering it over inside.

It took a while, but my SO and I finally repaired the patio canopy. We relocated it a bit to the north, to make part of the patio seem more roomlike. I also abandoned the idea of weaving the canopy through the rafters, as I think that contributed to its downfall.

I love, love, love this hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Red'. I love it so much I bought another.

It loves, loves, loves its new location in the raised bed by the patio.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

How do you like them (road) apples?

Last Saturday my SO and I fetched another load of horse manure. There were only two raised beds to fill, so I layered the rest in the compost pile. I think of myself as a "slow composter" - I just pile it up and a year later dig it out. The result is compost with little labor but a lot of weed seeds. I'm hoping the manure heats things up enough to reduce that little problem.

While poking around in the compost pile, I noticed my neighbor's elm tree had a big crack in the trunk.

The theory is the 90+ mph winds we had a while ago twisted the tree to the point of splitting the trunk. My neighbor cleaned up that corner just last year, removing a mulberry and a dead apple. I'm sorry the elm has to go as well.

If all the blooms on the tomato plants had produced fruit, I would have had a bumper crop. The 100+ degree days interrupted that daydream, but I am getting some tomatoes. I am freezing them for later processing - assuming I get enough 'maters to bother with getting out the sauce maker.

The contents of the CSA are still zucchini heavy, and I am not sure what I am supposed to do with one beet, but there has been sweet corn and slicing tomatoes, green beans and what I thought were boysenberries, but are actually blackberries. There are never enough for a whole pie, but inspired by this site, I've been experimenting with tarts.

And last Saturday I mowed the lawn! For the first time in almost two months! I am amazed that 1) the grass had not died, and 2) the mower started on the fourth pull. It is nice to see so much green again.