Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Too Hot

It's too hot. I just ran in the morning which is something I hate to do. All of the plants are looking pathetic. So here is a quick summary.

What's Going Well

- Bees, we have lots of honey bees in the garden and around the yard and they look healthy. The flowers are doing a good job of keeping them coming in.

- Sorry that's it.

What's Not Going so Well

- The yard is dead or hopefully just dormant. I have been watering but it is too hot for the young roots. We have huge completely brown patches.

- The garden is slowly dying. We are still getting some cucumbers and peppers that set before the heat. Nothing has set since it got hot.

- The poor worms are starting to die from the heat. We moved them to a shaded area next to the garage and I built a more open enclosure. Today I looked and found a bunch of lethargic smaller worms but nobody very big. Poor worms.

- I am having really spotty germination on all of the fall crops. The broccoli and beans just don't want to take and the carrots are moving slow. I am getting close to just ripping everything out and waiting for next year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Updates and Stuff

It's too hot and I haven't had much energy to do a good post lately. The yard and garden are looking a little beat. It has been in the 90s for weeks with almost no rain and we can't keep up with the watering. The entire yard is about to go dormant with lots of other plants looking like death.

Ok, moving on to more fun things. Sam qualified for the USA Triathlon age group national championships and will be traveling to Vermont next month to complete, pretty cool. We did a triathlon last weekend. Sam looked great and I about died. I am thinking racing for me means long slow events.

The birds have all hatched their second set of chicks for the year. We have baby cardinals, blue jays, and lots of awkward robins all screaming for some food. Here is a dad watching one look for food on the patio.

The worms got a major upgrade. They have been pooping machines lately but with the hot weather the can o' worms was just too hot. I was picking more than a few jumpers from the bottom catch tray as they tried to go deeper to stay cool. I built them a fully exposed rolling worm condo. It might just be me but I think they are really working harder in the new setup. It is amazing how much scrap food a bag full of worms can eat.
Even with the sickly garden the cucumbers outgrew their trellis. I built some boxes to help get them on the roof. Hopefully I will be picking cucumbers from the roof.

Speaking of cucumbers, one of my co-workers planted some Parisian pickling cucumbers and has felt sorry for my garden, so I have gotten a few. Again the crock came out and I tried another fermented pickle recipe. It was a bit salty but good. Also in the back, I made carrot and beet seed mats for the garden out of paper towels. I have never used seed mats before so we will see.

The pickles got washed to get rid of some of the saltiness and packed into jars. I haven't found a recipe for canning that doesn't require cooking all of the crunch out so these went in the frig. I will still tweek the recipe a little but unlike last year's attempt these I can eat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harvest Monday (07-11-11)

This weekend was hot but Sam and I managed to spend just about the entire weekend outside working out. Saturday I paced a friend through his first trail run, the 10 mile Psycho Psummer race and had a blast. Then on Sunday we did a 25 mile bike ride in 96+ degree weather and it wasn't too bad, or maybe I got a little too much sun.

Sunday afternoon I watered and fertilized. The tomatoes are still looking beat and our neighbor's tomatoes got cleaned out. I am thinking about introducing a bobcat. Well, the color for harvest Monday this week is green. The bean plants don't get great sun and are pretty funky looking. The beans are mostly straight and look pretty good. The cucumbers and coming along and the sour gherkins are loaded. Two cucumbers are 25 oz, 23 sour gherkins are 1.6 oz. Weight wise they have a long way to go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Trials, Tribulations, and G@DD@MN F@#K%NG SQUIRRELS!!!

So while we have lots of projects to get going, I haven't really started yet. The electrical is wired in the downstairs bathroom, that's progress right? Last night I stopped over to take a tour of Robin Hood's Hideaway and that got me inspired to get some work done. But, until then here is a general garden post.

The red Belgian peppers are really coming along. These are actually hot peppers that were bred to be sweet. Since we haven't had any luck growing traditional bell peppers I thought these were worth a try. They stay pale yellow until full size then turn red. They look good and I really have high hopes.

This has really been a tough year for tomatoes. All of the heirlooms got wiped out by spray, virus, sickness, something. The remaining ones aren't looking so good. I can't seem to get ahead of the blight working it's way from the bottom up, all the new leaves are misshapen and funky, and I have a squirrel with a taste for tomatoes. Every morning I go out and see loads of half eaten tomatoes all over the garden and occasionally I chase the squirrel out of the garden. I am pretty sure it is only one that is causing me problems. They eat the big green tomatoes and chew off the stalks to get them down. My poor tomatoes look terrible.

Now pretty much everyone close to us has had problems with squirrels and has a solution to my problems. So before you provide solutions here is what hasn't worked.

1. Sprays: hot pepper, black pepper, garlic, lemon juice...... I have sprayed these around the garden, on the plants, on the fruit, to no effect. I mean this stuff is so hot that the blow back from application just about kills me.

2. Dangly things: Hang CDs or plastic bags out to scare them away. Right, not a chance of working.

3. Blood meal: The smell is supposed to keep them away. Besides providing way too much nitrogen, this didn't work at all.

4. Put water out: ok they eat tomatoes because they are thirsty. Bullsh$t, they eat tomatoes to piss me off. Water hasn't helped.

5. Feed them: Seem like a good idea until you have way more squirrels, chipmunks, and mice than ever before. I am still trapping rodents from this little experiment earlier in the year. I have relocated 21 chipmunks and 6 squirrels. I am the crazy guy that brings caged animals with him to work.

Here is my second to last solution. This is a motion activated sprinkler. I put it in yesterday and was excited that there were no new half eaten tomatoes in the garden this morning. Then I realized there is not a single tomato left in the garden. When I bought this the very nice sales clerk at the hardware store wouldn't let me leave without showing me a very nice pellet gun with a scope. Trust me, it is under serious consideration at this point.
Ok, moving on to something a little more pleasant. The cucumbers are doing very well. The left are the regular and the right are the gherkins. Yes they are growing on the roof.

The Mexican sour gherkins are loaded with ripe fruit. Here is one for scale. They are small, sour, and taste a little like lemons.

The straight eights did great for us last year. Looks like at least one is ready to go.

Even up against the house with limited sun, the fennel is ready.

Seems like I planted the wildflower bed just a little tight.