Tuesday, October 30, 2012

So Long Sandy

      If you have been watching TV, you will agree she was a BIG ONE.  The folks along the Jersey shore certainly believe it.  We had attended a wonderful wedding on the beach at Long Beach Island in New Jersey last month in the middle of September.  The wind was high, and the clouds foreboding.  The same day there was a tornado near Washington and New York.  The weather held off where we were, and I enjoyed my first visit to Long Beach Island.  Seeing pictures of horrible devastation, I would not be surprised if the restaurant that housed the reception had major damage.
      We were directly in the path of Sandy here in Wilmington, yet luckily had very little damage other than the upcoming monster clean up of leaves and branches.  I just visited my park garden and there were leaves everywhere.  They have quite a clean up to do.  Luckily none of my glass for cold frames got broken.

After the storm, October 30th,  2012
Cosmos still standing!
Peppers still standing, and garlic just sprouting
      The home garden in the back yard did quite well, though there was one casualty.  The trellised cherry tomatoes got knocked over:

Cherry tomatoes before Sandy
After Sandy blew through
Snapped the supports
      All in all, extremely lucky.  Am I upset to have spent the time preparing the deck and garden for Sandy's arrival?  Not at all.  We just got lucky.  New Jersey and New York did not.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy, Sometime Soon

      The hype for Sandy started probably a week or so ago.  If this does that, and that does this, and that storm merges with this storm, then this could be the big ONE.  We have heard that kind of story many a time.  Well this time, apparently this did that, and that did this, and a big ONE looks like it is coming.  In fact, the red line next to the last Category One indicator passes right along the northern border of Delaware, or almost directly overhead my gardens.  The storm is moving so slowly and is so big, that once it gets started, it will be with us for a few days!
      Pictures before the storm:

      Hopefully the gardens will still look somewhat like this after the storm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Starting of the Garlic

      Garlic cloves in the ground.  Finally.  I had separated some bulbs weeks ago to save some nice big cloves to plant, as I have read that the bigger cloves make bigger bulbs next year.  So some of the bigger beauties need to go in the ground rather than in my tummy.  These cloves are the first to be planted, and were among my larger bulbs.  Please notice the quarter for an indication of size.

      One of the reasons it took me this long to plant is that I had not figured out where to put them.  The pepper plants are not doing much at this time, so yesterday I cleared out a section of this bed:

Clean up time,  October 24th,  2012
      I made furrows about six inches apart from each other, then put in cloves about six inches apart in each furrow.  A mistake I made last year was planting some cloves directly in a thick layer of pure mushroom soil.  That did not provide enough structure for the roots, and many of the plants fell over in the summer.  So these cloves were planted straight in the beds, and mushroom soil or leaf mold will be used for mulch as the garlic gets established.

New garlic planting, October 24th,  2012
      I smoothed the soil over the rows, and hope for a great harvest next year.  For some reason, the wrappers around the bulbs this year were very thin and most have broken.  It is reported that thin and breaking wrappers will reduce the storage potential for the bulbs.  Sixty seven cloves were planted, leaving many, many more to go.

Cayenne peppers pulled from bed
      The upside to this planting was the nice harvest of cayenne peppers from the bed.  The pretty ones will go to a jar for display and consumption.  The less than perfect ones will be kept to grind for that bug and bunny repellent that I always hope to make.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nice Fall Harvest

      Monday afternoon's harvest included a great big Icicle radish:

      Earlier in the summer, I had hung radish stalks heavy with seed upside down over this bed.  They must have been from white Icicle radishes, because I now have several growing.  This was the largest one, so I figured it needed to be pulled.

Huge Icicle radish, October 22nd,  2012
      A radish is a great addition to a salad, so I picked some of his friends to add to the harvest:

      A very nice haul.  The big radish, some Egyptian walking onions, a wonderful late Dr. Wyche yellow tomato, a black krim tomato, black seeded Simpson lettuce, four seasons lettuce, tatsoi, arugula, purple onions, a bell pepper, golden treasure peppers, and banana peppers.  I am hankerin for salad again just thinking about it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It is Good to be Back

      While our trip to Tennessee was wonderful, it is also nice to be back.  One of my great joys of gardening is the anticipation of change.  What is blooming today?  What is ready to pick?  A few days away from the garden only increases the desire to see what has transpired in my absence.  A week away in the summer can result in tremendous changes, but a few days away in October still results in new growth.

My park garden,  October 22,  2012
Four Seasons Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson, Arugula
Tendergreens and Kale
Malabar Spinach after the frost
Purple Top Turnips

      This volunteer cosmos sure waited a long time to strut its stuff.  The plant is six to seven feet tall, but just started to bloom maybe ten days ago.  Luckily, the one frost we had did not curb its desire to bloom.  Maybe next year there will be more volunteers.

Please Do Not Disturb

      Just got back this morning from a fantastic but quick visit to a park near Nashville, TN, for a Wedding Vow renewal ceremony for my nephew.  It was a wonderful experience, and the park was absolutely breath taking for its views.  Here is a shot from our room at the Inn overlooking a beautiful lake.

Montgomery Bell Park, Tn, October 21,  2012
      We took a walk down to the lake after breakfast.  It was dead calm, not a stirring of a breeze.  A perfect mirror surface.

Same yellow tree seen from our room
A time for Reflections

What a beautiful morning

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jalapeno Bonanza

      Back in January I started a lot of different peppers from seed as an experiment.  I am not the biggest pepper fan, but my wife likes them, so I thought I would try a bunch of different kinds.  We actually found out that we use an occasional cayenne pepper in our cooking, and they are so easy to dry.  As in they do it themselves if you pull the plant and hang it upside down.  When dry, pick them and store them in an open glass mason jar.
      But this post is about my jalapeno peppers that were quite successful, but woefully underutilized.  Look at this gorgeous plant.  I may have to pick it or pull it tonight if we get a frost warning.

Wow, what a potential haul,  October 12,  2012
      Now what to do.  I have given away far more jalapeno peppers than I have eaten, that being four or five tops that I have used.  Yet I go through many bottles of hot sauce with my V8 Juice, so, duh, I should try my own hot sauce.  Many recipes look complicated or call for canning, but I just want something simple.  I found this site:  http://www.pepperjoe.com/sauces/  and the recipe for the jalapeno pepper sauce looks so easy.  I think I will leave these peppers out back and go over to the park to pick my dozen peppers there.  Do you have a favorite recipe for sauce with jalapeno, cayenne or poblano peppers that you would like to share?  I am also hoping to find a simple Jalapeno Popper recipe.  How about a good chili recipe with cayenne or jalapeno peppers?  Hope you can help.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Goings and Comings

      Early October is a time of transition for gardens here in Delaware.  While some tomato plants and cukes and peppers are still hanging on, they certainly are not thriving in these shorter days of fall.  There just isn't enough solar power to keep them going.  But as they peter out, the salad greens and cole crops should come into their glory in the cooler temperatures.

Unnamed small cherry tomato still thriving,  October 8,  2012
Even the tomato foliage is still thriving
While some tomatoes may ripen, these plants have given up
Summer flowers still look pretty good, summer veggies fading fast
Pick me and pull me
      Most of the tomatoes that were put out early in May are done, having run out of gas even if they were indeterminate plants.  However, some of the plants that were started from cuttings in June or early July are still looking alright, particularly two Chocolate Cherry plants over at the park.

Still going, and going.....
        The most productive single plant this season was a volunteer squash plant that I hoped might be a white Caspar pumpkin from where it popped up.  So against the advice of garden writers (squash plants are notorious cross breeders), I left it alone.  Turned out to be a true Patty Pan squash, and it produced over 40 squash during the season.  The plant is looking pretty beat up now, though there are still baby squash setting!

Single Patty Pan squash plant,  October 8,  2012
Malabar,  October 8,  2012
      This is the one malabar spinach plant that I put out this summer.  I had started some cuttings last September, and after giving away three starts, this is the single one I had left.  It is a tropical plant, and will melt into a mess with the first frost.  I will be taking some cuttings soon to root for the beginnings of a new crop for next year.  So although this vine looks fine at the moment, its end is soon in sight.
       So as the summer crops are going, the fall crops are coming in stronger and stronger.

Four Seasons lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson, Arugula
Purple Top Turnip
Fedco Tendergreens, and kale to the right
      The cold frames will soon need to be put back together, and repaired where necessary.  I scavenged wood and glass over the last few months, so I expect there will even be newer and better cold frames in the near future.  I am potting up any volunteers that I find to develop good roots for transplant to one of the many cold frames.
      From one season to the next, with no big pause in sight.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Voles in the Acorn Squash

     Voles, voles, voles.  Furry little critters that eat or destroy so many of my veggies.  They fit right through the one inch mesh on one of my fenced areas.  This spring at my park garden I observed a vole hanging upside down from a broccoli leaf to get a good angle to eat the broccoli head.  To zero.  Not a head did I harvest from that patch.  I had a large beautiful cardoon plant two weeks ago.  Had.  One morning it was all collapsed.  The voles had eaten the stems clean through at ground level.  And the indestructible hosta bed, gone.  I thought the hosta succumbed to the drought, but they would have recovered in the last month when we have had some rain.  But no, they are just gone, like potato chips for the voles.

Vole-atized acorn squash,  October 7, 2012
      This is not some new form of acorn squash that has cute little "peanuts" like some of the bumpy pumpkins.  These are acorn squash that have formed scabs from where the voles chewed on the skins.

      This squash is more than half eaten.  It seems that if the voles just chew the surface, they may make minor damage and leave.  But if they get into the interior of the squash, they really chow down.  There have been some squash that have just an outer skeleton where the meat has been eaten from the interior.

Two perfect acorn squash,  October 7,  2012
      Well almost perfect.  They are not quite ripe yet, but I hope they will ripen properly off the vine.  When ripe, acorn squash will have a consistent dark green color, without the lighter shades shown above.  And why are these two so nice?   Because they were growing suspended on the fence, at least a foot off the ground.  I suspect that the voles are afraid to climb to such an exposed position.  Will I be growing my squash, pumpkins and watermelon on trellises next year?  I will if I want produce rather than raising it to feed the voles.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Bird is Back

      My Bird of Paradise is back in bloom.  Sure is pretty.

Bird of Paradise,  October  2,  2012

I Never Thought I Would Miss Zucchini

      Zucchini comes in with a bang in the early summer, swamping us with its generosity.  Luckily for me, I can put the extras in the "free Veggie" box at the park where they disappear without a trace.  But often in the last few years the plants lifespan seemed to become shorter and shorter.  Squash borers would get them, or leaf mildew, or this year they were killed by the ground hog creating a tunnel under the roots.  So for a change, I would look for zucchini in the "veggie box" to bring home.  Never thought I would miss zucchini.
      This spring I started lots of different squash by seed, and had plants in cell packs that never made it to the garden.  Even past our vacation in early July.  I finally put those plants in the ground, and wondered if any might set fruit.  I had seen several very small squash on the plants, but yesterday I found this:

Fresh Zucchini,  September 20,  2012
Nice to have some summer crops still producing