Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Rain Not in Spain

Almost forgot to mention the rains.   Great for most plant growth, but making the fall garden prep just as problematic as they did for the spring garden.   I am enlarging considerably from the spring garden, so that means bringing in a small tractor to break the new ground.   Soils are awefully wet, but with a little sun and heat they will dry out fast.  We got no rain today, so I am hoping for Sunday or early next week.   This good part is that this did give me some time to add some soil amendments and compost, that will be tilled in well on original bed creation.

The Grapes of No Wrath

It is grape harvest time again.  My grapes were given to me as seedlings from a friend who now looks down upon them from heaven.  He told me they were "Champanele" grapes.   I didn't realize at the time what a unique grape Champanele was.  One thing for sure, its resistance to Pierce's disease make it one of the very few grapes we can grow reliably this close to the coast in our humid subtropical climate.

Here is one definition of the origin of the Champanele grape vine: "Champanel (from a cross of Vitis champini X Worden, a Concord seedling) is a rampant grower and widely adapted. It is reported to be long-lived in Mississippi and resistant to black rot and downy mildew. It was one of three dependable varieties in San Antonio tests. The others were Lukfata and Valhallah."

Other sites refer to this grape as Champanel grape (Vitis labrusca). 

Hybrid of a hybrid of a hybrid.  One thing for sure is, it's a mut.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Burning the Dead and Dying

Before heading out of town, I spent the evenings earlier this week removing the dead and dying, and delivering them to the burn pile.   It began with two Mimosas, a Plum Tree, and an Apricot tree.   All succumbed not to the unusually cold winter, but the also extremely wet winter.

Next was the Silk Floss Tree, and two large Triple Trunk Phoenix Robellini palms.   These did succumb tot he extremely cold winter, our coldest in nearly 20 years.   The palms saddened me the most, but onward we shall go.  Gardens are never static.  They continually evolve with the patterns of the weather, the large and the small, the strong and weak, and the cycle of life and death.  And so do gardeners, for that matter.

The vegetable garden is cleaned out and leveled from the spring/summer crops.   It is ready for tilling so that the fall/winter garden may commence.   Of course I'll put in some late summer plants, too, maybe a few more peppers, some cucumbers, and a few fall tomatoes.   But mostly I am looking forward to the greens that grow so well here all winter long.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bamboo Explosion

As I was pulling out of the driveway this morning, I notice a literal explosion of growth in the Alphonse Karr Bamboo fence row.  I'll snap a picture tomorrow morning, since that is when the best light happens.   I cannot express how delighted I am with the bamboo's performance in providing a quick and attractive visual border.  One hundred feet of fence of 8 feet high wooden would have cost between 1200 and 1500 dollars, would have been busted up in hurricanes, and lasted 15 to 20 years.  This cost me less than $400 dollars, any minimal damage in hurricanes will recover on it's own, and it will last for many decades.  Only drawback is that you have to wait 2 to 3 years for it to grow in, but that is a small inconvience compared to the benefit noted above.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rains Have Returned

The rains have returned, and pretty much right on target.  Things were just starting to get dry and a little dusty.  Of course, it all had been perfect, I would have preferred them to return later in the week, just after I got the vegetable garden tilled up.  Now that will have to wait a week, but we are still in good shaped.   If I get it done in the next couple of weeks, we'll still be on schedule for the fall planting.

I am still harvesting field peas, although I don't mind saying this is one of my least enjoyable crops.   Constant harvesting of small amounts does not bode well for efficiency.  Next year, I either need to not plant them, or plant a whole lot more of them.   I can see now, that this is one crop that is only efficient in large quantities.

I mowed the expanded portions of the garden down to Golf Green height, then I spread out the roughly 100 gallons of compost.   It didn't go far, but over the next 3 weeks I will prep this area extensively with bio active ingredients.  

The 3 beds adjacent to the tower, making up the cross bed will be tilled and used for a winter crop, afterward, in the spring I will till a final time, and expand the grape vine planting in those areas.   This will give me roughly a 3x increase in the feet of Grapevine plantings leading to some wine making in 2 to 3 years.

Back Roads are Often the Best Roads

These best roads are also not only the fastest, but also the most beautiful.   The are no mountains of hill tops vistas in Louisiana.   Really, the greatest places are best seen from the water, but that not available, a back road that follows a natural waterway is the next best thing.

Here a few shots of Acadiana's back roads, of which this is one of so many.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Figs Ready Now

The figs are just starting to ripen.  My in-laws Celeste figs began to ripen last week.  I have a cutting from it, but it is still too young to make fruit, although it is trying.   Our Texas Everbearing is just starting to have harvestable fruit now.   The LSU purple is still a couple of weeks off.   The combination of varieties should provide fruit here over a 4 to 6 week period.   Nothing is better than a fresh fig off the tree.  I have to say, that of the ones I have or have access to, the LSU Purple is by and far the taste winner.   I have an LSU Gold, but regretfully have never tasted its fruit.  Bad site, hurricanes, you name it.   It will be transplanted to a better location in the fall.  Then we will see.

New Dawn Gains the WolfBerry

Got a new addition to the gardens.  Who can't love a fruit called a Wolfberry.  Next full moon, I'll have to do my howling next to it.
Wolfberry, commercially called goji berry, is the common name for the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium barbarum (Chinese: 寧夏枸杞; pinyin: Níngxià gǒuqǐ) and L. chinense (Chinese: 枸杞; pinyin: gǒuqǐ), two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae (which also includes the potato, toma...

Transition Time

Even though it is mid summer, it is time to transition to the fall garden. I pulled the frames out from the raised tomato beds.  Next out will be the tomato stakes, and then arrives the tractor mounted tiller.  Wouldn't normally need that here, but I am breaking new ground.  No till worked OK for the spring, but I'll be bringing in the tractor now for some cropping for the fall, and then for the winter crops as well.  I'll do no till again next spring, but I will need far more Oak leaves than I had this year, 2 to 4 times as many.  This is due to the fact that not only did I not have enough last year, but also because I am doubling the size of the vegetable garden.

Pictures to be added later.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wow, Its Been Two Weeks

Time flies when life gets a bit chaotic.   Since my last entry, the summer rains have arrived.  On one day, we got well in excess of 4 inches of rain.  The bayou rose nearly to the level it was during the back to back hurricanes of Gustav and Ike, but of course it did not stay that high nearly as long as it did back then. 

Between the heat and the bugs, the tomatoes are done for.  As soon as it dries out a bit, I'll pull them and get the soil ready for the next plantings.   But the Dixie Lea Field Peas and the Edamame are doing wonderfully.