Friday, December 12, 2008

No Garden, Just Dogs

Not much happening on the garden front, what with it being winter and all. Yes, the Brussels sprouts are growing as are the carrots and beets, albeit slowly. Yes, I do plan to get my act in gear with much raised bed building and dirt moving...but not today and not till after the holidays.

Today, I'm just posting a couple of pics of winter behavior. When it is cold and rainy and just plain ucky outside, this is what you are likely to find in the late afternoon on my couch.

Just the fact that someone was able to stand so close to us and get a picture should tell you exactly how far out into nap-land we were! Beagles make the warmest snugglers, don't they?

And this irresistible photo is Vanna snuggling with the her crate! For some reason this just cracks me up and I thought you all, (Mom, Amelia and Holly, I'm talkin' to you), might enjoy it too.

Till next time...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2008 Harvest Wrap Up

Yes, the sad day that one officially calls it done. But it is also a good day because you can tally up your victories for the year, think about all the lessons you've learned and most importantly, starting drooling over seed catalogs for next spring.

So how did my first truly organic, square foot garden do? Fantastic...sort of.

First off, let me confess that I totally lost track of all my harvest weights. I dropped my scale and broke it and then dillied about for 3 months in getting a new one. But in a way I'm glad. I was getting way too hung up on weight totals and missing some really good information along the way.

Here is what I learned in my square foot garden:
  1. It is true that some produce comes out smaller.
  2. The efficient spacing means that gaps for non-germination can be easily filled.
  3. It can be difficult not to disturb roots on adjoining squares during staggered harvests.
  4. You can grow all that Mel says you can grow.
  5. It can be hard to harvest certain types of crops.
  6. I used far less water than traditional gardening.
  7. I used far fewer insect controls (organic only).
  8. Interplanting and succession planting are no brainers with SFG.

Number 1 is really the most important one to most people, I think and I did some informal experimentation to see how this really played out. I put some tomatoes of the same variety in large pots, some in the bed and a couple in the ground. The container and the SFG bed plants definitely had smaller tomatoes than the ones in the ground. Bottom line is that I think plants that sense boundaries more keenly at the root will produce smaller fruit. The sheer number of fruits was not affected though. The same approximate number bloomed, took and formed on all the tomatoes, regardless of which method used.

This limitation on size wasn't universal though. Tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplant seemed the most obviously affected plants. Bush and pole beans, carrots, beets, parsnips, lettuce and the like seemed to be the same size...or bigger! My carrots were fantastic this year; huge and sweet. My parsnips were up to..wait for it...15 inches long! I'm sorry there are no pictures of those, but as soon as I had a freeze, I pulled them, roasted them and proceeded to snarf. Parsnips gone.

Number 3 seems to be the second biggest issue in practical terms. Basically, if I have bush beans next to a tomato plant, then when I pull the bush beans and plant something else, I'll have to dig about to get this new thing, say a cabbage for fall, deeply planted. Without fail I wind up tangling up in the tomato roots and the tomatoes don't like that at all. I can't really think of an easy solution, so I've tried to stagger things in my planting plan for next year so that the root bumping potential is limited.

Number 5 actually turned out to have some consquences. I find bush beans difficult to harvest because I can't always see the bean. And if I leave one on there and it matures, the ability to get that slightly extended harvest or second picking is vastly diminished. Well, I missed a bunch because there are 9 plants to a square and it gets very overgrown in there. So I got a much lower yield on a good part of my bush beans because of it. Those mature beans, some of which I apparently missed on clean up, are now sprouting in the midst of temps in the lower 30s. Go figure.

So what did I get?

  • About 200 tomatoes (even after the massacre of the Romas in June), maybe more. About 64 carrots (I so should have planted more!)
  • 12 Parsnips
  • About 75 bell peppers (total swag, but I counted dishes I cooked so it really could be a whole lot more)
  • About 100 hot peppers....oh how I wish it were more...
  • Very few squash and zucchini and one lonely butternut due to my very novice use of an organic control that killed my plants.
  • About 3 pounds of bush and pole beans.
  • About 30 beautiful eggplants.
  • Enough lettuce for a big salad or two a week for about 3 months.
  • About 3 pounds of tiny sweet potatoes (I planted them waaaay too late.)
  • 10 pounds of onions or so.
  • Well....I'm sure there is more but I'm tired of thinking that hard.

Now, I know you're all going to look at this list and then my next year's harvest estimate when I post it and wonder how I'm getting from here to there, even with more than double the space. Here is the answer. Optimism! No, really. I'm taking some of what I learned and using it. I'll stagger out in space some of the restricted ones, having small root plants in the squares between, to provide room. Interplanting, Interplanting and Interplanting! It will allow me to free up squares for long term crops while still getting many multiples of those fast growers.

Oh, and by the way...even though I'm calling it done, I'm actually still growing and harvesting brussell sprouts (they are so freaky looking), and more late planted carrots and beets.

And here is the Boscoe man, for all his girlie fans out there, looking suave at bedtime. His tail is waggin' for you!

Check back soon for the 2009 Garden Plan!

2009 Tentative Garden Plan

As you may have guessed from my 2008 Harvest Wrap Up post, I'm now a firm and converted believer in the Square Foot Gardening method for us urban or suburban gardeners. There is simply no better way to get so much from so little space. And in terms of labor, it was certainly a total breeze even with a full time job, family requirements and even the occassional need to travel. Basically, I love it.

Of course, now I need more. Yes, more beds. I've been measuring and mulling for a few months now and I've come up with a new arrangement that will allow me to put in 2 additional 4x8 foot beds, which more than doubles my growing space. I'm also putting in a little side area that I'll use for squash and such. And not to be forgotten, I'll be building potato boxes off to the side also. Those 50 big containers will also still be gettting a workout.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. So from the top:

Goal 1: Produce 75% of my veggies for fresh eating. Last year was far less, with many gaps in production I intend to close.
Goal 2: Produce sufficient to can or dehydrate or freeze a further 50% of my veggies needs for the entire year for one person. While I did very well in this respect this year, it was supplemented with corn, berries and tomatoes purchased at a local farm. I also ran out of my yummy Rare Breed (TM) marinara sauce before the tomato plants even died!
Goal 3: Grow 3 new things.

Now, that doesn't sound too bad does it? Yeah...right! Below are some images of the slides I've made of the intended plan after much diddling about. This isn't certain yet since I'm getting a very important second opinion before the work begins.

You'll notice on all the beds next year I'm really going to take advantage of interplanting more than I did this year. I simply didn't know enough or have enough confidence to work this sort of plan. But the numbers don't lie and the yield can be vastly increased by putting those little fast growers around the bases of the slow ones.

In Bed 1, I intend to plant some of the Tomatoes, Peppers and Cukes relatively early, while others I'll grow in slightly larger starter pots to be transplanted as spring harvest completes later. It is sort of an experiment since this year I didn't have enough data to determine what differences the time spacing made in harvests. I'm kicking hard on providing more onions since I used up all mine by the first week of November this year.

In Bed 2, I'm doing much the same as Bed 1 with more tomatoes, eggplants and peppers and lots of interplanting.

Bed 4, which was in use this year, is going to be moved to a more advantageous spot and put into heavy production. Bed 3, my champion bed this year, is in the prime spot for an experiment in the 3 Sisters Method of growing. I've used the spacing of tall corn listed in the SFG book and worked everything else around it, but I am worried that only 2 squash should go in between rather than 4. For those who aren't familiar with the method, it is the standard Native American method and it is increasingly popular again for very good reason. The corn, planted first, provides the support for a couple of climbing beans planted a couple of weeks later. The beans, in turn, provide nitrogen fixing for the heavy feeding corn. The squash, planted last, provides cooling shade to the roots of corn which really helps it grow during high summer, shades out weeds and keeps moisture in the soil. Pretty sweet arrangement!

Bed 5, which is the one I put to the side of my house is in a position to have extended spring, milder summer temps and an extended fall. As a matter of fact, this is the bed that produced brandywine tomatoes and pole beans until November 10th, even after 2 freezes. It is just in a perfect sheltered spot. Since I've been able to grow lettuce there all summer, I'm going to really leverage that this next year.

All the herbs that I had scattered all over are going to be concentrated in pots this year. The misc list shows some of my other goodies and includes my new items like Watermelon, Sunflowers and Luffa. The apple trees are brand new and not expected to produce for a couple of years and the coffee beans that sprouted are actually taking a nose dive right now and will probably be replaced soon.

So, to make this blog post even more ridiculously long, I'm going to put in my harvest estimates based on the above plan. Yes, it is a bit optimized. I counted all carrots and beets and other single root crops as harvested, even though many will be pulled early and some may not make it. Others are based on what I got from each plant this year, like eggplant and tomato. If anyone sees anything totally out to lunch here, please do let me know!

Harvest Estimates from Planting Plan in Beds 1 through 5


Carrots – 168 each
Beets – 144 each
Radishes – 72 bulbs
Onions – 60 bulbs
Cauliflower – 12 heads
Snap Pea – 24 plants
Peas – 32 plants
Cabbage – 4 heads
Brussels Sprouts – 8 plants worth (20-30 per)
Lettuce – 20 plants
Broccoli – 5 plants worth (5 main heads, many small sides)

Tomato – 24 plants in beds (more in pots), unknown quantity, aiming for 200 pounds, hoping for more!
Cucumbers – 4 plants, unknown quantity
Eggplant – 9 plants, usually 5 pounds or more per plant in beds
Peppers (hot and sweet) – 15 plants, unknown mix or quantity
Bush Beans (green beans) – 99 plants, unknown yield, usually ¼ pound per plant

Multi-Season Harvest
Leeks – 32 bulbs (fall harvest)
Parsnips – 64 each (early winter harvest)
Acorn Squash – 3 plants, unknown harvest, usually 3-5 per plant
Corn – 16 plants, usually 1-3 ears per plants
Pole Beans – 32 plants, long harvest, usually ½ pound per plant
Yellow Squash – 2 plants, usually 7-10 pounds per plant
Zucchini – 2 plants, usually 7-10 pounds per plant

Fall Planting for Early Winter Harvest
Not yet completely decided since it will depend on earlier harvests but estimates are:
Carrots – 144 to 288 each
Beets – 144 each
Peas – 64 plants
Cauliflower – 16 heads
Brussell Sprouts – 16 plants (20-30 per plant)
Brocolli – 8 main heads with many side shoots
Cabbage – 8 heads

Harvest Estimate from Planting Plan for Containers and Side Areas
Sunflowers – 20 Heads for seed
Yellow Squash – 2 to 3 plants
Zucchini – 2 to 3 plants
Luffa – 2 plants
Butternut Squash – 2- 3 plants
Strawberries – unknown number of plants
Potatoes – 20 to 50 pounds each from 2 potato boxes
Cucumbers – Several in pots and in flower beds
Peppers – All extra starts in pots and flower beds
Roma Tomatoes – more in pots

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Way Overdue Update with Loads of News.

Hello All!

Yes, I am in fact, still alive! Yes, I'm still gardening and yes, I'm a total loser for not updating in 3 ridiculous months. However, I will give you all the scoop, do a bit of show and tell and then start into all the lovely planning and mooning over next years garden.

But first...why exactly haven't I updated, you ask? Well, a combination of things sort of came all at once. Number 1, I actually got a social life and started dating. Nope, no boyfriend but the looking can be fun.

Second, my garden got totally pummeled by the effects of 2 tropical cyclones followed by a lovely nor'easter that would have pulled the nail polish off your fingers. Oh, and did I mention the flooding? Yeah, baby...that's the way we like to garden.

All that aside, above we have a nice picture from the first of October and the harvest for that day. Even though most people are closing up shop in their gardens around then, I was still harvesting truly fantastic amounts of warm weather veggies even after all the weather woes. It was right about that time I started to see some recovery on the plants damaged by falling limbs and the like...just in time for them to start shutting down production!

For anyone curious, you can see one instance of the flooding at the front side of my house in the first above picture and what the backyard looked like the next morning in the second one. I know it is quite blurry, but at the point this photo was taken, the house at the end of the cul de sac had water in their garage and the water level came up to mid thigh on me. And no, this water isn't nasty. It is just the tidally influenced river during high tide combined with storm surge. No sewage or mess like that. Nothing ever touched my house during all of these, but my yard in the back...oi vay!

And here, for the truly discriminating Boscoe fan, is the Lederhosen himself looking oh, so happy to be trying on his Halloween costume. Umm....he decided to be a devil instead and Gigi was the Ladybug. I just couldn't handle the big man having to look like such a pansy. He actually did like his little devil costume, I think. He chewed it with great gusto.

Now, I'm working on the SuperPost of the tentative garden plan for next year and the Harvest Wrap Up post for this year. I'll be posting them soon and, scout's honor, I won't be such a non-updating loser without notice again!

Friday, August 15, 2008

State of the Garden...15 August 2008

Not many pictures to post yet, but I'll get out amongst the swarms of mosquitoes to get more today or tomorrow. And that brings me to my first update! The mosquitoes are a nightmare right now. The combination of good soil, occasional really hard rains that leave just enough puddlling and my naturalized part of the yard mean it is an ideal breeding ground. And to top it off, I'm a magnet for the little blood suckers! At this point, unless it is the hottest part of the day when they are not active, I wear long sleeves and jeans even in 100+ degree weather while working out there. But it is so worth it!

Just look at one afternoon's worth of pick up. That doesn't include the beans and grape tomatoes either. Just the big ones. For lots of gardeners, this doesn't represent much, but to me this is heaven. All organically grown using a new gardening technique and with having made a few pretty dire mistakes in where I placed a few of the raised beds so I'm happy.

Below is a snap of my butternut squash. While fruit are setting and looking pretty fantastic, there are spots on the leaves that have me confused. What is that? Is that just the effects of having my stucco re-done around the bottom of my house, which created clouds of dust that had to be hosed off every day? Is that a disease? Is it the effect of having placed my squash bed in a place that wound up getting a little less light than they really need?

Right now my tomatoes are going strong on their second flush of fruit, most of them gaining good sizes quickly and leaving me breathlessly waiting for the ripening. I'm particularly excited because the ones fruiting now are my heirlooms, which I had begun to despair of ever setting fruit. My eggplants are loaded and gaining size daily. And the second flush of peppers are set and growing, but too slowly for me. I inspect them like the avid fan I am every single day. See my previous entry if you want to know the two types that have me over the moon this year.

Planting for fall crops is on the schedule for this weekend. Carrots, parsnips and the like are going in as seeds while I'm going to re-start the seeds for the things like cauliflower, cabbage and brussell sprouts. Something I can't identify has nipped off the tender young growth of my previous starts so I'm on the lookout for the brave thief who'll do that right on my own deck! Pole beans are coming as are the bush beans. I think from now on I might stick with pole beans. Not only because of the taste, but because I simply don't see the ripe beans in the bush beans until they get oversized. It is much easier with pole beans.

Squash is still so-so and it is directly related to their position, I'm sure. I'll be moving the squash bed this winter too so they can get more sun during the best of summer. My bad. Which is ironic, I think. Most people have luck with those crops if nothing else and have so much they feed it to chickens. But me, I need hundreds of pounds of the combined crops for making dog food over the winter and can get only enough for fresh eating.

And here I am. Just a snap for my mother...

And for all those breathless Boscoe fans, here is the big man! His leg looks fantastic doesn't it? The hair is growing back and while I do miss his little naked old man butt, I'm sure he is happier with his right cheek well covered. I don't think the scar will be evident at all once it is fully regrown. He is doing exceptionally well and he is chafing at the bit at the enforced rest now. Once he gets moving and warmed up, he has only the slightest of limps, something most wouldn't even recognize as a limp. That is far better than when he came home from my sister's in early June so the surgery looks like a success at this point. He has gone on a short walk to the water this past week because he was so stir crazy and enjoyed himself immensely, marking every tree on the route with glee. But, we do have to be careful. The surgeon made sure I understood that most surgery failures happen from 3 to 8 weeks post surgery because owner's give in to the dog's desire for more activity. So I'm holding steady and giving only minimal surrender to his pleas. Isn't he adorable with his head cocked to the side?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peppers, Peach Jelly and Squash Dog Cookies

Yeah, I know, not exactly an exciting title but I'm pretty excited about the subjects right now.

My "hot" peppers, which aren't really hot at all but very low on that scale, are on a bit of a hiatus right now because I've harvested this round. Believe me, I'm watching each blossom like a hawk! This is my final bowl of Spanish Spice, Godfather and Poblano peppers, already cut and ready for the pan. They were absolutely fantastic. There aren't enough stars to give my true recommendation of both the Godfather and the Spanish Spice. Yes, they are hybrid seeds, but my goodness are they fantastic.

When I finally...finally...finished the peach jelly I was amazed at how beautiful it turned out. It is a lovely rose color and the smell is a true fresh peach smell. And the taste..well, let's just say there is no way this one is going to last long! I made 17 jars, note there is already one gone!

Of course, there are bound to be questions on it because it is Peach skin jelly that also includes all the sections and segments that were just a tad too ripe for canning or had a bruise or what not. In other words, the stuff we usually throw into the compost bin when canning up peaches.

The question that naturally comes up for those like me who like our food organic is the effect of using skins because peaches are one of the most affected by pesticides seeping into the fruit from the skin. Well, I can highly recommend the recipe but only on the condition that the peaches used are organic. Even if you aren't normally an organophile, (that looks a bit naughty), peaches are one of the few fruits that you really should consider it for. Soft skin fruits in general really soak up the pesticides sprayed on them.

Okay, sermon over! Well cleaned peach skins with anything sketchy cut out and all those segments that are just slurpy ripe (once you've eaten your fill, of course), work fantastically. Here is the link to the recipe. This recipe has been successfully used by many folks on various homesteading and canning boards I'm on for multiple years, so I feel very confident with it with one glaring exception. Peach pits are, in fact, toxic and while it is probably okay in this recipe, I've left them out and so has everyone else I've personally contacted who makes it.

Now for the wonderful and accidental dog cookie find. We call them cookies because they look and feel like cookies but all they are is dehydrated slices of yellow squash. Yep..that's it. While my dogs turn their Beagley noses at squash in any other form not already soaked in chicken broth, these they go bonkers over. I found out because I heard the tell-tale sound of dog paws sliding on the edge of the counter, a classic sign of a dog that is attempting to counter surf for anything remotely edible near the edge of the counter. This was immediately followed by the alarming sound of crunching. After running into the kitchen with visions of dealing with doggie diarrhea from chocolate ingestion playing in my mind, I find Boscoe eagerly snarfing down these. Now I use them as the ultimate bait and they work.

You don't need to do anything to them really. Just slice about 1/4 inch thick, steam blanch for a few minutes, layer in dehydrater and let it do it's thing. Remove and bag up as serious treatage. If you do this, let me know your results.

For all those of you out there who have pet beds in your house that outnumber your dogs 10 to 1, this snap and the gratification of it should be recognizable. The greatest beds we buy and lug home proudly often result in turned up noses and put upon looks as they settle on the floor rather than touch that bed. Finally, finally, I brought home a bed that meets the standard. This one I took with my cell phone so the quality isn't great. I took it the day before Boscoe's surgery. Isn't he cute and happy looking? And he still really loves this bed!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Couple of Clarifications...

I've had a few emails asking me details of the blog so I'm just going to make a short entry to let everyone know the answers.

First, the hit counter. I've had a couple of questions regarding why a person's hits aren't counting when they visit during the day. It's real easy. I have a counter that records an address as a hit only once per 24 hours. So if you are hitting from a family computer where more than one person is visiting from, only the first one per day counts. Sorry kids!

And as to who those hits are from other countries; nope, I have no idea who they are. So far, no one who has left comments has stated their country so I guess we'll never know! They are sort of cool though, yes?

Second, emails. Members of family and friends have my email and that is why I talk about emails. Posting a comment is the only option for those who don't have it...sorry! I've removed the comments that just keep asking for my email address because I wouldn't want your addresses compromised by being listed so openly. If there is someone out there that I do eventually get to know, I'm sure we'll work it out. Besides, I like is like instant gratification of the best sort.

Canning Weekend...Results are Awesome!

What a weekend! I suppose most people might consider this a sort of drudgery, but not me. To me, this is fun and productive. Most of all, I know how much I'm going to love opening this stuff up in the dead of winter and enjoying food that tastes like summer.

I took a day of vacation on Friday so I could go to the spa for a nice massage and facial. Ya, ya..I know..self indulgence. It was great, by the way. But I also wanted to do my canning starting on Thursday night in order to get it all done. Rough calculations showed I would need all that time in order to still be able to do my regular chores, garden work and get the laundry done.

I started with tomatoes, corn and peaches to can and dehydrate. I'm still dehydrating potatoes and onions and will be all week. This is what my corn supply looked like (I'd already removed some but it is close). I include that because it is amazing how few jars come from such large amounts. Most people sort of take for granted cans of corn. After all, you go to the grocery, it is one of the cheaper cans so you pick up a few and it is a relatively boring addition to most family meals.

After shucking, removing silks as much as possible, carefully cutting the kernels from the cobs and then processing, you wind up with about 3.5 ears per pint or 6 to 7 ears per quart of corn. Next time you're in the grocery, think about what an amazing bargain that can of corn is.

I also combined the tomatoes from my garden with a half bushel from a local farm I like and canned those up in quarters and made a couple of pints of sauce. I gave a few away and also enjoyed some lovely tomato sandwiches, of course. Don't they look pretty when they are cooking for canning up.

When working with the builder to make sure that this house was ultra energy efficient, I made the decision to use all electric. One of the huge downsides to this is that I have a smooth glass ceramic cooktop, which is fine for cooking but bad for canning. Weight limits on it mean that I have to use the smallest good pressure canner out there and can process only 9 pints or 5 quarts at a time to be sure I won't crack it.

Hot work, yes, but aren't the results just awesome. From left to right we have peach halves and quarters in a very light honey cinnamon syrup, honey spiced peaches, corn, tomato wedges and halves and off to the far right is the start of the dehydrated things. What you are missing from that picture are the quarts and pints of dehydrated stuff, like peaches, which I'll use for breads and such during the winter. And...

...also about 16 jars of peach jelly. Shown below are the pots of the skins and sections of peaches that were just a bit too ripe for canning. Those make a wonderful jelly, but it does require cooking and then sitting overnight, using up my pans and stove. That means it gets made last and my whole house smells of peaches and will for another day.

And there is no way I would leave you all without a Beagle to brighten your day. Here Gigi has just finished eating a treat, leaving a mess, and looking a tad mournful that it is gone. Just a good example of why I always keep the couch covered in a white sheet in the evenings!

Hope everyone else had a great weekend! I'm really enjoying reading your emails on how your gardens are doing, so keep them coming!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Garden is Good!

Now, in case you didn't see that the first time....

Yes!! Those are the tomatoes I got today and that doesn't include the peppers, eggplants, green beans, stevia or grape tomatoes. Hola...we have good stuff here.

Oh, and please excuse how I look because it was 96 degrees outside with 83% humidity and I was working hard. Remember, focus on the tomatoes...

As much as that is, it still isn't enough to for a full canning batch, so I'm headed off to my favorite farm to get 6 dozen ears of very sweet corn, a half bushel of just-picked peaches and a half bushel more tomatoes. Between that and my harvest today and tomorrow, I should have enough for a nice big batch of canning.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Preserving the Bounty

Aside from learning the fine art of canning, I'm trying other things too. I'd like to have foods be as independent of energy using devices as possible, of course, but some vegetables simply can't be canned well. Or if they can be, the taste and texture is appalling.

Squash is one such vegetable, particularly yellow summer squash.

My solution is to dehydrate them. Dehydrating has a lot going for it. Whatever you dehydrate can be rehydrated and then used like fresh, well, for the most part! For some things it is better to use them in casseroles or breads or other things where the food is cooked with other things. My intention is to use this stuff in the dog food over the winter since I make home-made.

For me there is a further benefit. I live in a hurricane zone and it is pretty unlikely that a bunch of jars are going to weather a direct hit, should my house get rattled, while a vacuum sealed packet of a dehydrated veggie should be just fine.

Here is what it looks like to dehydrate squash. You might notice that one of the squash in this snap is orange. I didn't use that one, it is just an experiment of mine. Some of my bits turned a bit brown so I took those out. Not sure if it matters, but better safe than sorry!

Give it a try!
And, as usual, a delightful snap of a beagle to brighten your day. Here GiGi is enjoying ruining a freshly dried load of towels by making a burrow of them. Ah well, it is worth it to see her so happy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

State of the Garden...17 July 2008

I know, I know; I haven't updated the garden in total for several weeks. With Boscoe, it's been just too busy to get all that is happening in there down at one time.

But, things are a moving and it is way overtime for a full report with lots of pictures.

First, the bugs. I started to get a nasty case of aphids last month so I decided to see what an order of ladybugs would do to them. I ordered them and a bag of red wrigglers for the soil and my compost pile (I'll write more on them later). I released half the ladybugs right away and put the rest in the fridge for later. Sure enough, I had not an aphid in sight within 24 hours! Just a few days ago, I released the other half when I saw evidence of more aphids starting on the eggplant. Again, not an aphid in sight now. But, also not a ladybug in sight either. They just don't seem to hang around after supper! Here's a nice shot of them.

For those who remember, I had a small problem with my peppers. The blooms were simply falling right off or even if they fertilized, the little nublets of pepper fell off. It was very depressing. It looked like I might have over-nitrogened some of them because of the heavy leaf growth and others were simply not liking all the sun. I moved them and voila..pepper heaven for many of them. Here is my Spanish Spice pepper showing some lovely 8 inch hanging fruit. Some of the bells are now following suit. The Godfathers and the poblanos are also producing really heavily right now. Right now I'm frantically looking for ways to preserve the bounty for later.

My first eggplant came off the other day too! It is quite small but I understand that is normal for the first one. I'm not worrying too much. There's more growing. Here is a snap of my confusing yellow squash plant. It has no growing tip at all. It produced one male and one female flower and they made one single perfect squash. I'm letting it grow unchecked to see what happens to it. Just out of curiosity :)

And here is my experiment in lettuce. Since I've never actually seen one go to seed, I decided to let one of each kind bolt to see what it looks like. It is quite attractive, isn't it?

Here is a nice picture of my pickings for the other night. It was just enough to enjoy a lovely grilled dinner of eggplant and peppers with a small carrot salad and sliced tomato...yummm. Those Spanish peppers are over 8 inches long just to give you an idea of scale.

This is my largest Butternut squash plant. The leaves are huge and the bloom gigantic. I'm confused about them though. It looks like all the blooms and buds are male. Do they do like Zucchini and produce males first and then females or what? Any info is welcome to this squash newbie.

This bad picture is an early morning shot of my squash bed. Those large and tall bush like plants in the back are actually my Stevia plants. Amazing how huge they are getting, but I'm sure not complaining.

Bed One here has changed over the past month in a big way. Newly planted bush beans and edamame have taken the place of peas and carrots and the tomato plants are producing well, even if they look a bit ragged. Gigi approves as you can see. Beds 2 and 3 are equally changed with more beans of various kinds and peppers transplanted from the smaller pots in the container garden.

This was a short tour and I didn't include flowers this time, shame on me, but I'll hopefully catch up soon. I'd love to see pictures of everyone else's garden.

To finish off, here is a nice picture of Boscoe's shaved behind and leg. His incision looks good and his butt is funny enough to share. :) Happy gardening everyone!

Boscoe Doing Very Well Everyone!

For those who sent good wishes, we both thank you ever so much! Boscoe is doing really well and is itching to get around more than he should. I'm keeping to the doctor's orders though and he is getting only very small walks in the yard and no stair climbing at all. Crate rest as much as he can stand is still the order of the day, too.

His smile is back and goofy faces, his specialty, are better than ever. Here are a couple of pictures of the big man.

By the way, I just think his little shaved right rear quarter is hilarious. You can really see that he has an "old man butt" when it is that way!

When we go back to the surgeon in a couple of weeks, I'll let everyone know if the surgery was effective or not. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

BiteNot Collar on Boscoe

As promised, I'm posting some pictures of Boscoe with his BiteNot collar. It may look like he is not happy with it, but that is the drugs talking, he is actually much more comfortable now. The e-collar was keeping him sopping wet on his jaw and neck because the drugs make him drool. This is keeping him clean and dry and he can actually eat rather than simply slop it into his e-collar.

It works like an e-collar because it keeps him from turning his head tightly, sort of like one of those neck braces, but stronger. He can still get to his front paws, so he can still hold his treats to eat them. Bonus! When he lays down it pushes some of his loose skin rolls foward so he gets this little scowling wrinkles on his forehead.

I'm still very worried about him and scared of potential infection, ligaments popping loose or any number of things...but at least he is a bit more comfortable!

Boscoe Home and So Brave!

Boscoe came through his surgery very well and came home the next morning. I admit that I was shocked when I saw him and his leg. It just looks so butchered! Here are some pics of the big man but please...keep in mind it shows his leg and if you are very squeamish don't look!

This is a picture of Big Man just before I took him into surgery. Doesn't his look sweet.

These two show him right after he came home. He is wearing an e-collar and it was too big for his crate if he was going to be comfortable on crate rest for 2 weeks! I ran to WalMart real quick and bought the giant for a great dane...and it was quite an experience trying to get that in from the garage in a hurry. Doesn't his leg look pitiful.

Here he is showing how much he was drooling into his e-collar. It was disgusting and it couldn't have been comforable so I made a quick overnight order for the BiteNot collar. The owner of the site was so nice and called me to be sure I got something that would work for him and did overnight it.

I'll get a picture of it for the next post.

And here is all the pills he has to take twice a day.