Saturday, December 6, 2014

Rattlesnake Beans

      This was my first season of success with Rattlesnake Beans.  I think I tried them before from seed, but never got any of the starts to transplant to the garden. The tender young plants seem to have a tough time adjusting to planting out. This year I got one plant to make the jump to the garden, and it grew to be a very productive pole bean, with the mottled pods that give it the Rattlesnake name.
      Shortly before our first killer frost in late October, I picked the last pods and moved them to the enclosed porch to dry.  This morning I shelled the beans to let them dry further, for storage to next year's late spring planting.

Shelling next year's seed, December 6th, 2014

      Aren't those seeds pretty?  A trellis full of Rattlesnake Beans to get enough in the fall to shell for dried beans would be both beautiful and delicious.  Maybe next year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Bird of Paradise

      Every year at the holidays we are graced with at least one bloom from the Bird of Paradise.  This year was no exception.

December 5th,  2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Got Away Garden

      My original garden over at the park got out of control this year, and try as we might by pulling all thistles on three occasions, we were never able to bring it in line.  I hope the winter cold will knock down the weeds and then I might be able to stay ahead next year.
      I had planted three Dr. Martin lima bean plants on a sturdy six foot tall by eighteen foot long trellis.  Brownie at the park had given me the plants, and he said they would need lots of room.  So only the three plants in such a large space.  All three survived transplanting, then were basically ignored.  Never watered, seldom weeded.  Never picked a bean because they never seemed full.  There were lots of dry pods, some even split open.  Before pulling out the three vines, I picked the dried pods.

Dry Lima Harvest
Here are some beans still in the pods

      This last shot shows the total harvest of good beans in the saucer, the not so appealing beans in the left corner, a handful of fresh green pods, and a huge mound of pods to go to the compost pile.  All those beans from only the original three seeds.  I will keep maybe twenty beans to start for next year's crop.
      We have never cooked with dried lima beans before, but sure are going to try this winter.  Anyone have a yummy recipe they would like to share?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Peck of Peppers

      I am not sure exactly how big a peck of peppers is, but I just picked a heck of a lot of peppers before the colder weather sets in this weekend.  With shorter day lengths and cooler temperatures, I doubt there is any benefit to leaving the peppers on the plants.

Peppers picked October 29, 2014

      At the top are unripe green cayenne peppers and red ripe ones from the same plant.  Then left to right are poblano peppers, green bell peppers, lots of green jalapeno peppers, cubanelle peppers, and last on the right are chuska peppers.  Regarding hotness, the Scoville heat scale lists these peppers from least to hotter:

          Green Bell       0
          Chuska           0
          Banana           100 - 900,  grown this year but not pictured
          Cubanelle       100 - 900
          Poblano          2500
          Jalapeno         5000
          Cayenne         30000

      The cayenne are about as hot as we need to go.  A friend gave me a plant the I believe is a scotch bonnet pepper, over 100,000 on the scale.  I am afraid to touch the plant or peppers!
       I tried making hot sauce from the green jalapeno peppers, and it is worth a repeat performance.  That recipe called for refrigeration, which I prefer to the work of canning.  In any event, we need to eat a lot of peppers, or find ways to store them.  Anybody have recipes to share?

      Update 10/30/2014:  A friend emailed me that a peck is two gallons.  The critter keeper in the following picture is nearly 2 and 1/2 gallons, so I did pick a peck of peppers!  Thank you Lee.

Peck of Peppers


Monday, October 6, 2014

Gaggle of Gourds

      Two days ago I decided it was time to harvest the various winter squash.  The squirrels had gotten to a buttercup that had fallen and chewed a hole into the side as big as a tennis ball.  Well I got involved with something else, and....  You guessed it.  They got one of my only two remaining buttercups.  Duh.
      So I just picked everything.  Just to be safe.  I don't know if squirrels eat swan gourds, but just tasting them would ruin the gourds.

       From the top left: five round gollo squash (round zucchini), a buttercup squash, a small pumpkin, a hardened crook neck squash, a squirrel nibbled Marina Di Chioggia, and my five swan gourds.

      This harvest was added to other stuff previously picked.  Hope the squirrels don't get mad and chew through the screen.  Would be a bonus to find something hiding in the garden as I pull the vines.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Firmly Into Fall

      Today is October 1st, so even the summer like month of September is behind us.  But the weather recently has been quite nice, in the 70's and 80's usually. The tomatoes are unfortunately winding down, though the cherry tomatoes still give a rewarding pick upon entering the garden.

      Most of these came up as volunteers and are probably Sweet 100's.  Next year I think I will plant the Sweet 100's, Sungold, Chocolate Cherry and maybe a couple of other cherry tomatoes along this trellis.  It is certainly welcoming to pick and pop a couple of little beauties as you enter the garden.  I was given some yellow pear cherry tomato plants this spring.  The tomatoes had little flavor, so will not be a repeat next year.

      The pole beans are still producing a delicious crop for dinners.  There are only two plants, one is the pole Rattlesnake bean and the other is a pole Blue Lake.  The Rattlesnake has been producing for weeks, and the Blue Lake are just starting to come in.  I will try to expand the number of plants next year, as it is a whole lot easier to spot and pick standing up rather than "standing on your head" to bend over to pick bush beans.  I know one thing I want for dinner tonight.

      The squash trellis has certainly been fun this year.  On the left on the white bucket is a swan gourd, an ornamental that is not edible.  A very edible Buttercup squash is on the ground to the right, and to the far right on a bucket is the delicious Marina Di Chioggia.  The swan gourd is still producing good leaves and is even setting new gourds.  Not that the new ones have a chance at ripening before frost.

      If the swan gourds are allowed to hang free from the trellis, their weight will insure that the neck is straight.  In order to a get a bent neck, you have to support the bottom of the gourd to make sure that the neck will bend as the squash grows longer.  Here I have put the gourd in a hanging basket.  I am afraid that the plastic will break at some point and then snap the neck, or that the supports will leave a mark on the gourd. So I have started to rip old bed sheets into sections to make supportive slings.

      I would suggest that the sling business is a two person job, as it is very difficult to balance the heavy gourd on your shoulder while you are trying to clumsily tie the sheet in a knot while stringing it over a support.  I intend to cut the gourds from the vine the day before first expected frost.  Probably within two to three weeks from now.

      The flowers in the garden are still doing well, and we are still visited by butterflies, hummingbirds and lots of different bees.

Autumn Joy Sedum and Cosmos
American Beauty Bush
Volunteer Salvia
Volunteer Mexican Butterfly Weed

      Well we really can't leave before we look at the rest of the veggies.  This is the start of the cold frame for winter use.  The screens keep out the birds and squirrels from digging and uprooting the small starts.  When we get to colder weather, glass will replace the screen.

      This is a shot of the sweet potato cuttings that I started in a topped off compost pile.  The vines are gorgeous, yet I have not found any potatoes when I have sunk my hand into the pile.  Bummer.  The red flowers are salvia that have grown from the compost pile.

Cubanelle peppers

Hopefully late broccoli crop
Unusually late and healthy zucchini plant
What a Bonus!!

      So that's what is happening out back on the first of October.  Quite a lot actually.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gargantuan Gourds

      This has been my first year to grow swan gourds.  I have purchased seed packets before, but have never planted the seeds.  This year I started them, and they are like the energiser bunny that keeps going, and going, and going.  While most of the other squash stuff has succumbed to this or that malady, the swans keep taking over garden territory.

      This shot shows a Marina Di Chioggia squash in the foreground, and behind is a dark green buttercup squash and a mottled swan gourd to the left.

Here is a swan on the ground
And here is one hanging from my new trellis
      The problem with the hanging gourds is that it straightens the necks.  I just started putting hanging baskets under the young gourds so that I can have them with a crook neck.  In any event, a beautiful and humongous gourd.

Berry Delicious

      The everbearing red raspberries are in, and they are delicious.  Scrumptious. Wonderful red raspberries that go well with bananas.  With watermelon.  With cereal.  And really well with ice cream.  With just about any fruit, or just a big handful eaten while cruising the bushes.  Be prepared for seeds in your teeth.  Well worth the taste sensation.

      Ah, there they are.  Some years we have to cover them to keep off the catbirds and robins.  So far this year they are uncovered and we are getting a great harvest.  They have just really come in at the first of September, and will continue to bear a little until frost.  Until then, great eating.

      The plants tend to multiply by runner, so I have loads available for you to start your own patch.  If you live nearby, give me a shout.  If you are further away, maybe I can start a mail order business.  A great way to extend your fruit season.  My patch has been going for twenty plus years.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kitchen Progress

      This is the state of the kitchen yesterday morning.  The new granite counter top is in, having replaced the wood edged blue formica counter we put in 23 years ago.  Got our use out of that one.  The 23 year old stove was still working, though got tossed so a new one would have proper measurements with the new granite. The old wood cabinets remain, though look nicer with the new counter.

Slightly different angle and lighting
Let the back splash work begin

      My wife is out of town helping my daughter with her family move to Daytona Beach.  What strange timing.  So this post is as new to her as to anyone else following the progress.  The tile guys were certainly very concerned about protecting the new granite counter.

One wall covered, one waiting
Back splash above the stove, after grouting
Back splash under cabinets, pre grouting

      This shot was taken last night as I was preparing my bachelor dinner, a wonderful Stouffer's lasagna.  Even with phone interruptions, I did a terrific job with the cooking.  The splash on the right is grouted, the splash on the left is waiting for the tile guys this morning.  It's looking great!

      This is the view outside when I have my back to the microwave.  The messy table is not my fault, it is all stuff that had to be removed from the counter.  Our dog Abby has had a wonderful time supervising all of the tile work.  The next shot is from the landing outside the door in this picture.

View from landing to back deck

      The tall yellow flowers are the African daisies.  There are several clumps available for give away in this unusually cool August.  Let me know before they go to the yard waste dump.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Marina di Chioggia

      This is my first year growing the Marina di Chioggia squash from Italy.  It is beautiful in its weirdness.  This one is supported by an inverted bucket, as I was afraid the 15 pound squash could burden the vine,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tumbling Tomatoes

      These tomato plants are volunteers from last years' Sweet 100 patch.  There is supposed to be a path under these plants, and it is difficult to get into the garden.  So after some very heavy pruning and a quick bamboo trellis construction, this it what it looks like now.

      Ah, the path is back.  In a few days the plants will fill back out, yet have plenty of space for sun and air circulation.