Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Squashing the Squash

I have declared the old 2002 seedlot squash seeds a failure.  After digging around in the row, not only can I find no sprouting seeds, I can find no seeds at all.  I assume they quickly went to, or are rapidly going to rot.  I re-seeded the row with fresh Ferry-Morse, certified organic, Yellow Summer Crookneck Squash seeds.  

Just heard that this was an all-time record hot August, and with a prediction for a warm fall as well.   That's good for the late fall garden plantings, but maybe not so good for the winter garden, so I'll wait an extra couple of weeks before putting those seeds in the rows.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rainy Days are "Relaxin, Maxin, All Cool" Days

It rained off and on several times today, with small bouts of sunshine in between long stretches of cloudy skies.   Good conditions for the garden, and especially for the small plants trying desperately to establish themselves in their struggle between life and death.

Still no sign from those 2002 seedlot Summer Squash, but I expected them to take a week or two, at best.  Still, if they don't show by the end of the week, I'll replant that section of row with fresh seeds, or even better with transplants if I can find them.  I am pushing slightly past the deadline on the fall stuff, but running slightly ahead on the winter stuff.  I'll pray for a cool fall, but with a late frost.  Hey, it never hurts to pray, right?

So, here is the overview.  The tomatoes look really good, save for one, which is not gonna make it, and won't be replaced.   Just for grins, I had a spot left over on the end of the row, so I put a few seeds in just to see what would happen.   The Cucumbers are going gangbusters.  The Melons look great, but better get a move on to beat the winter.   The potatoes should show in the next couple of weeks.  I planted the Celery too early, but I have lots of seeds to replant later.   The newer seedling, Cauliflower and Broccoli were pretty weak upon transplanting, and it was tough on them with sun and heat right after transplanting, but I think these moderating temperatures and rain now happening will allow them to get a grip.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Welcome Break From the Heat, and Some Good Hard Work to go With It.

This morning was overcast, breezy, and with some occaisional misting type rain.   Made for perfect conditions for me to get out and finish the new vegetable beds.  With my Mantis tiller in hand, which was running OK, but not great, I tilled the last 200 feet of vegetable rows and hand raked then into rows with a metal rake.   Can't say it was easy, but I kept telling myself this was the other half of the health benefits of my vegetables.  Benefit one being that they were mostly organic, but benefit two being the physical work I was doing to grow them.  Oh, and the three blisters on my hands will heal just fine.

Although a bit late, I will cram into the fall vegetable garden whatever seeds I have left, but the first real planting on these beds will be the winter garden.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"gretel, snowcrown, packman, and butterstick" No, It's Not 4 of the 7 Dwarves

More planting in the garden after work today. Seedlings included 2 Eggplant 'gretel' (white), 6 Broccoli 'packman', 6 Cauliflower 'snowcrown' were planted.

Another 15 feet of row was planted with Summer Squash 'butterstick hybrid' seeds.  These seeds were from a 2002 seedlot.  Storage was OK, but far from ideal, so it'll be interesting to see what becomes of them.  The seeds definitely looked old, but also looked like they were maybe still viable.  I love to experiment.  They'll be ample opportunity to replant the section with a nice winter crop if these fizzle.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zoo Doo Gold

It all started a couple of weeks ago with an article on NOLA.com about Zoo Doo Gold from the Audubon Zoo.  "Created to be a mulch for top dressing existing garden beds or as a planting medium for new beds, ZooDoo Gold is made of tree chippings, plant trimmings, shredded cardboard boxes, Starbucks coffee grinds (with the appropriate acidic base), shredded Audubon office paper, grass clippings, and "contributions" from Audubon's ostrich, zebra and elephants." it read.   Well, just from the cool factor alone, I had to have some.  A friend was traveling that way to get some for himself and offered to grab me a couple of bags as well.  Even better, he was a member of the society and got a discount, which he passed along to me, too.

So, today I found my cabbage seedlings over at Chastant Bros.   I got a six pack of Dutch Flat, and another six pack of Rio Verde.  Down they went this evening, with a nice top and side dressing of Zoo Doo Gold.  I wonder if they'll taste different, like an elephant that's been drinking coffee, lol.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four,,,

The potatoes went in the ground today (Sunday.)  I had 60 potatoes left from the spring crop, all Irish Potatoes except for 3 or 4 of the Yukon Purple Potatoes.  With even a modest 5 to 1 return, this should easily tide us over the winter, and provide another 60 potatoes to plant in the spring.  This has got to be one of the best (funnest, as my niece might say) crops.  Super easy to grow, fun to harvest, and a cinch to store.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When All Else Succeeds, Fertilize Anyway, But Organically Of Course

The seedlings are mostly looking great, but I know as they continue to put on growth, they will need more and more food.  Best to start early and gently.  I spread some Espoma Tomato Food, but wasn't particular.  I used the same food on the Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Melons, and even on the unsprouted Celery.  Gee, I wonder if my Celery will taste like Tomatoes.   That wouldn't be too bad.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Look at Those Melons

Sun Jewel Melon, Mexican Melon, and Canteloupe seeds have now all sprouted except one pod of Canteloupe, which I am sure will pop up any day, too. We just might have a mellony fall indeed.

And it was so cool to see those seedlings coming up, that I went back in the house, pulled out the seeds, and pulled out the planting guide, just so I could go plant something else. It is still a little early for the winter items, but I did find "Tall Utah Celery" seeds that the guide said could go in now.  I've never tried to grow Celery before, so I only planted about 6 feet of row.
Its a shame I didn't get those rows raked up this weekend, because it is time to put in the Irish potatoes.  I saved enough potatoes from last years crop to plant a row or two of those.  Since it rained last night, I'll have to wait a few days before raking rows.  And I'll have to till again as well, to kill the weeds that have popped up.   One way or the other, going in the ground later this week or weekend will be the Irish Potatoes cause they're easy to grow, fun to harvest, and I have a young niece that I think is going to have a ball doing just that.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

News Flash - Its the Sun, No, Not That Sun

Just went out in the garden to check my new plantings.  Seems that the Sun Jewel Melon seeds have sprouted in all 3 planting holes.  Wow, that was fast.   And I'll have to do some thinning, too.  There are multiple seeds sprouting in each hole. 

Still waiting on the Mexican Melon, and the Cantaelope.  I have a feeling they are close behind. 

All the Fun I Can Stand, on a Mid-90 August Day

Well, a couple or 3 hours on the end of a weed trimmer was just about all I could handle this morning.  Big thunder heads are all around, so come on rain, fall and remove my temptation to go out to do more. Wait, let me go prune the roses, then it can rain.

Back inside, pruned the 7 roses in the garden.  Hauled the Mimosa and Cumquat trimming up the burn pile in the front.   After that's burned, I'll spread those ashes out in the garden.   The rose prunings will just be mowed up and allowed to decompose back into the soils.  

I try to waste nothing here.  Its that sustainability thing, you know.   Well, we're not all the way there, but I'd say we're in the 90% range of reduce, reuse, recycle.  By this time next year, God willing, I think we might be around the range of producing 50% of our food.  We are getting to the exciting point.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Attack, and Counter Attack

Here is the vegetable garden, less than 2 weeks after tilling, and just a few days after a rain or two.  Note the voracity of the Coco Grass attempting a total reclaimation.

And this was a thorough tilling too.  Just scattered around the nuts.  Coco Grass is also know as Nut Grass, or Nutsedge.  Here is a closeup.   Don't worry, though, I'll get it.  Have tiller, will till, and re-till, and till again, till the energy of the nuts are expended.

Here's a shot of the first row, the only one I raked into a hill so far.  You can barely see the Tomato, Bell Pepper, and Cucumber seedling mentioned in the earlier post.  And the string laid out to rake up the second row, which I hope to get through this weekend.   Note the abundance of Oyster and other shells.  Guess this was an old parking spot or somthing decades ago.  Never know what you'll run across out here in the country.   Can't wait for the fall garden to come in, but I think I'll enjoy the winter garden even more.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seeds are Great, Seedlings are Easier, But,,,,

Can't seem to find cabbage seedlings anywhere.  They are always a no lose proposition.  My dog could grow a cabbage seedling.  Actually, he has, pee'd on the poor thing nearly everyday.  Grew up to be a fine cabbage, too.  Of course we could not quite bring out selves to eat it, but the chickens enjoyed it just fine.

So, anyway, I do have some Cabbage seeds somewhere.  Guess I run them down and get them planted.  Hoping to harvest a few by Thanksgiving so I can continue Pa Joe's tradition of giving them away to his less fortunate neighbors. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fall Planting Is Underway

I am running a little late, but am still gonna try to sneak in a fall garden, before swinging into the winter crops.   For the fall, I just put in 2 Florida 91 Tomatoes, 2 Heatwave Tomatoes, 2 Phoenix Tomatoes , 4 Bell Peppers, 3 Burpless Cucumbers, all as seedlings.   In the seed area I also planted 3 Cantelopes, 3 Mexican Melons, and 3 Sun Jewel Melons.  Its gonna be close, but I should make enough fruit to make it worth the effort. 

I found this neat little calculator to use to calculate days to harvest.  Just look at the seed pack to see days to harvest for whatever you are planting, then go to this site (http://www.timeanddate.com/date/dateadd.html) , put it in, and shazam.

Using that site, at 75 days, my Sun Jewel Melons should be producing by October 25th.  Most years that would give me around a full month of production, and a little longer, if I chose to provide some minimal frost protection.   Considering that my cost for the seeds was zero, having been saved from a organically grown melon I ate, I can hardly lose.

Here is another handy site for Gulf Coast Vegetable Gardeners as well.  This is LSU's planting guide for Louisiana, but should be good anywhere in Zone 9a/8b.  http://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/BA17B15B-099A-41BE-AB42-0D8861446228/56100/Pub1980VegetablePlantingGuide2009HIGHRES.pdf

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Great Escape

Last minute, long weekend, Ft. Walton Beach, no oil on beach.  Throw in an old hotel with a tropical garden.  Oh yeah, I am there.

But wait, I just bought seedlings, and they won't survive even a few days without care in this heat without constant attention.  No problem, seedlings are going to the beach, too.

Now, let's see that tropical garden.  Wow, yep, that is a tropical as it gets on the northern Gulf Coast.

And how about a 3 to 4 story tall rock grotto in the middle of the pool, with a swim in bar, and full grown palms on top.  Yep, this place speaks to my heart.

Made a friend at the beach too, and he's got a little Captain in him.

OK, last shot.  The bar at the beach.  Yeah, I told this was a great place.  Unfortunately, what should have been a miserable crowd was hardly anyone.  First, was the economy in general, and then the bad publicity of the BP Oil Spill.  Yes, these folks were hurting.  It was our pleasure to visit and contribute some money to the local economy.  They'll recover, but the pain will be remembered.

Well, back to the real world, and to the garden, yehaw!

Oh, funny story.  I found a little cubby hole in those beautiful tropical gardens and set my box of seedlings out to get a little sun.   A few hours later, when I checked on them, my box of seedlings was gone, kidnapped.   Some time later, I ran across one of the grounds keepers and explained my situation.   He quickly told me they were over in "the shop" and pointed me in the right direction.   Before I made my way that way, another of the groundskeeper showed up at my door with seedlings.  He explained they were all avid gardeners, and had assumed that a friend had dropped them off for them.  All ended happily, and the seedlings made it back to Louisiana soil.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What the Rains Bring, the Sun Taketh Away

The rains shut off like a faucet, then the heat and sun kicked in.  Temps cames close to the 3 digit mark.   I was just getting around to planting the fall garden, when a far better idea hit, long weekend on the Floriday panhandle.  There was no way my new flat of seedlings would make even a few days without being watered, so I through them in the truck too.  This was the first time I ever took seedlings on vacation.  They enjoyed the beach, and were no trouble at all.   Well, not much trouble.  There was this slight kidnapping by the grounds crew who snatched them up from the little spot in the gardens where I put them to get some sun.