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One of the Joys of Maturity


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August 12, 2020

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes and features about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Today was a mowing day, so there wasn't much time for gardening. I did re-stake rows in our main bed in case I decide to replant carrots, beets, and spinach. While I didn't pick any yellow squash today, I noticed that our two pots of replacement Slick Pik yellow squash plants on the back porch are about ready to go into the ground. While our producing yellow squash plants are in our East Garden plot, the new plants will probably go into our main raised bed.

On a break from mowing, I picked eight Japanese Long Pickling cucumbers this afternoon. Our first cucumber harvest is always a bit late by most gardening standards, as we grow our cucumbers as a succession crop following our tall peas between our double trellis.

Japanese Long Pickling cucumbers

For fresh eating, I pick the cucumbers when they're about twelve to fourteen inches long. For canning pickles and relish, I let them get a bit longer. And for seed saving, one lets them grow to full size and turn yellow before picking. Sometimes full size is almost two feet long!

As the sun went down, I again sprayed the cucumber vines for bugs.

Hardware World

 
 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Our Senior Garden - August 11, 2020First cucumbers of the seasonIt's slow going here. We continue to have lots of rain which prevents a lot of field work. I'm also still struggling to get a couple of "new" computers online.

I was pleased today to see that we have several Japanese Long Pickling cucumbers almost ripe. These first cukes are low on the vine, touching the ground. That makes them curl, where later ones higher on the vines will be straighter. One of the first cucumbers will serve in salads. Most of the early ones will go to the food bank. Later ones will be allowed to ripen seed for seed saving, as we didn't save any JLP seed last year. We may make some pickles and sweet relish a bit later on.

I ventured out into our East Garden today. I picked our first ripe grape tomatoes and more yellow squash. We have some cantaloupe and watermelon very close to being ripe. I'm guessing my first notice of their ripeness may be seeing where raccoons have split open and consumed some melons. I was impressed with how large some of our Athena and Avatar cantaloupe were. While Sugar Cubes are our favorite for flavor, the tasty Athena and Avatars produce a lot of cantaloupe volume.

Garden Tower Project

Sunday, August 9, 2020

In hopes of replanting our fall carrots, beets, and spinach, I had beet and spinach seed soaking overnight. But when I went out today to rake the bed smooth, it was still full of grass weeds, too many to rake out. So I tilled the bed again in hopes of cleaning things up. Alas, the bed just needs to sit a bit and let the weeds die before it's ready for a fine seeded crop like carrots.

Unruly raised bed

Unfortunately, I'm running out of gardening season, especially for the carrots. As of today, we have 69 days left until our first frost date. Sadly, our carrot varieties to be planted run from 54 to 75 days-to-maturity. Adding a couple of weeks to those figures for shorter fall daylength, and we probably won't get any fall carrots of much size.

Perseverance petunias

On a lighter note, we have some beautiful Perseverance petunias along the sides of our main raised bed. They're a new-to-us variety from the Turtle Tree Seed Initiative. While lovely, I'll plant them in the future where they have lots of space to spread out.

Cucumber blossoms with a striped cucumber beetle

Our Japanese Long Pickling cucumber vines are filled with blossoms. I sprayed the vines on Friday with Pyrethrin and Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew to fight off an infestation of striped cucumber beetles. While the population of the bugs is down, there are still a few here and there. Since there are lots of bumblebees visiting the blossoms today, I'll have to wait until evening to spray the vines again.

A2 Web Hosting

Friday, August 7, 2020 - Grinding Egg Shells

Our Senior Garden - August 7, 2020Grinding egg shellsThe egg shells from making a batch of Not Tonight, Deer yesterday plus a nearly full quart freezer bag of saved crushed egg shells got ground today. I use an extra coffee grinder reserved for grinding egg shells and herbs for the job.

Combined with some ground egg shell left over from last year, we now have a little over a quart of ground egg shell for next season. As previously noted here, we use the egg shells to supply calcium to our tomato and pepper plants to help ward off blossom end rot.

Tilling

Our mid-July seedings of carrots, beets, and spinach all failed. What did come up well was a lot of grass weeds along the planted rows I'd watered. Whether I'm able to replant or not, the weeds had to go.

Even though I still sink into the mud in our East Garden plot due to recent heavy rains, the soil in our main raised bed was just barely dry enough this afternoon for tilling. Raised beds have the advantage of drying out quicker than surrounding, non-raised areas. During dry spells, the drying out turns from an advantage to a liability.

Raised bed tilled

The ground tilled up well, although there was a lot of grass left on top of the soil when I was done. I may have to till the area again before trying to re-plant.

Striped Cucumber Beetles

Striped cucumber beetles on a cucumber bloomHoss Tools and SeedsIn the photo above, our Japanese Long Pickling cucumber vines look pretty good. The leaves are dark green, having fought off a bit of downy mildew, and there are lots of blooms and a few small cucumbers. But a closer look today revealed lots of striped cucumber beetles infesting the planting.

Striped cucumber beetles like to eat anything in the cucurbit family, but also can spread bacterial plant diseases. My response to the invasion today was to spray our cucumber vines with a combo spray of Pyrethrin and Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew. That was an organic response to the infestation. If that fails to stop the beetles, I'll come back with a spray of liquid Sevin.

Eartheasy

Thursday, August 6, 2020 - Egg Shells

Egg shellsMy wife was surprised when she went into the kitchen this evening to find a bunch of egg shells. She quickly realized that I'd made another batch of Not Tonight, Deer repellent. I'd noticed that we were getting low on it when I filled the sprayer on Monday. The stuff needs to sit outside and rot for a couple of weeks before use.

I'll need to grind egg shells tomorrow, as our bag of crushed egg shells in the freezer is almost full. We use the ground egg shells to provide calcium to our tomatoes and peppers to lessen blossom end rot.

The yellow squash pictured here on Monday went with a whole bunch more I picked today to our local food bank. The folks there are always receptive and appreciative of donations from our garden plots.

I'm still working on setting up a new computer and restoring an older model. Hopefully, we'll be back up and running full strength sometime next week. I'm still waiting on one critical adaptor to make things work. Beyond that, it's just a matter of copying files and punching in passwords.

The Home Depot

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Muddy gardening shoesSlick Pik yellow squashI went out to our East Garden plot this morning in hopes of finding a ripe cantaloupe. I found none, but sunk in the mud to my ankles while looking. Already really muddy, I squished to pick yellow squash from our three hills of Slick Piks. I got lots of great squash and didn't lose a shoe. I've gotta figure out what I did with my mud boots. The image at left is of the shoes I wore...after I knocked a lot of mud off of them.

Besides the yellow squash, the best news of the day was that our lawn mower returned from the shop. The blade drive belt on the mower deck had broken. The deck had a couple of massive springs that I guessed I couldn't handle, so the mower went in for service. Since it's rained steadily since the mower went in, I really haven't missed any mowing time, although our grass is now pretty tall.

I've spent most of my day watching download and installer progress bars today. I've just about got my "new" 2018 Mac Mini set up. I bought an old new machine instead of Apple's latest and greatest because of Apple's switch to not supporting 32 bit apps, which most of my purchased software is. The 2018 Mac Mini came with Mac OS X Mojave which still supports the old applications. It also has 32 GB of RAM which should make working images a lot easier.

Setting up new computer

Looking at the photo above reminded me to roll my Habitat for Humanity calendar from July to August.

Habitat for Humanity

Sunday, August 2, 2020 - Order Garlic

Burpee Seed CompnayIf you're planning on ordering garlic to plant this fall, it's time, really past time, to get the garlic ordered. Vendors frequently run out of favored varieties by this time of year!

Our last big order of garlic was way back in 2014. I did refresh our elephant garlic starts last year. But if one has good production, not hard to do with garlic, buying garlic is a rare or possibly a one time thing.

Our best garlic has come from Burpee Seed and the Territorial Seed Company.

More Rain

Burn pile with East Garden in backgroundWe received another inch of rain yesterday. After suffering drought conditions in the middle of July, we are now having lots and lots of rain.

An upside to the rain is that I was finally able to burn off our burn pile. It had lots of branches and some old bedroom furniture on it. I also used a machete this morning to hack down the tall weeds that had surrounded the pile and didn't burn.

Living out in the country, folks here are still able to burn off piles of tree limbs and such. Even so, I try to always wait until after a heavy rain before torching our pile.

Sweet Corn

While the heavy rains we've had make it difficult to get into our East Garden plot, I was able to spray our sweet corn with Not Tonight, Deer from outside the plot. I misstepped once and almost buried a shoe in the mud.

Our sweet corn patch - August 2, 2020

Yesterday, I spotted an outbreak of corn smut on a couple of tassels in the middle of the corn patch. When I went in to break off the infected tassels, I sunk ankle deep in the mud! Of equal concern, I also found that something had been in the patch and knocked down a bunch of the corn stalks. But so far, this is the best looking sweet corn at this stage that we've grown in years.

Hummingbirds

I hung a fourth hummingbird feeder yesterday to lessen the mayhem occurring at our feeders. We're seeing more hummingbirds now than we've ever had before. We're going through lots of sugar to make the 4:1 water-to-sugar ratio hummingbird nectar. This level of birds will probably remain until late this months when some of the birds begin their annual migration south.

Botanical Interests Burpee Gardening Required FTC Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, Burpee, and True Leaf Market are some of our Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. We're also a consumer member of the Fedco Seeds Cooperative. True Leaf Market Fedco Seeds

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Our Senior Garden - August 1, 2020
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Our East Garden - August 1, 2020
Hover mouse over images to reveal labeling.

We've been blessed this year to have avoided the coronavirus and have had some pretty nice harvests despite a short drought early this season. Our raised beds are growing succession crops while our large East Garden plot is filled with full season and/or space hog crops such as sweet corn, melons, pumpkins and squash.

The late James Underwood Crockett described August as "the cornucopia month of the year" in his book, Crockett's Victory Garden. Our July yielded bountiful harvests of yellow squash, carrots, garlic, and onions. But in August, we're looking forward to lots of delicious tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and melons. If we can keep the deer and raccoons out, we may have some nice sweet corn this month.

At this writing at three in the afternoon, we already have half an inch of rainfall in our rain gauge with more apparently on the way!

Burpee Seed Company


 

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