Monday, May 18, 2009

I don't think my life can get any crazier

After the kitchen fire on Christmas Day left me without a stove, and with fire damage over and around it, I thought that was as bad as it gets. Then there was the three month fight with the mortgage company over the insurance check.  What a load of crap that was! When they finally sent me the check, they had not endorsed it, so it was sent back.  Then last week, I received the endorsed check, but they had not gotten a signature guarantee, so the bank wouldn't let me deposit it. After some swift Fed-Exing, it got here this morning, properly endorsed and guaranteed.

I don't have a car anymore, and my neighbor and friend has been providing me with transportation to places I absolutely have to go.  She had to work today, so I had to walk to the the rain.  It wasn't raining hard, but I totally hate rain, and I couldn't find my poncho, just my ex's, which is about 5 sizes too big and a hideous reddish orange.  But I put it on, and trudged the nearly a mile to the bank, then over to the grocery for cat food and a Coke, then back home. It took all of an hour, and it wasn't so bad.  My feet got drenched, of course, and the bottom of my jeans.  Plus, the front and sides of my hair got wet because the hood of the poncho was so big I had to keep pulling it back to see where I was going, and look for cars when crossing streets.

To top all this drama off, last weekend, the power line coming into my house shorted out and blew out most of my remaining appliances, including my refrigerator fan  and microwave.  For the last week, I have had no answering machine, alarm clock, or bottom half of my frig.  Plus, it blew out my Mac, so I don't know yet if that can be repaired.  I did get a check from the power company for the smaller appliances today, but I will have to use that to get licensed technicians to check out the other things before they will pay me for them.  I'll have to have an electrician check out all the wiring to be sure it's not fried and going to start a fire somewhere.   I lost about $50 worth of food out of the bottom of the frig as well.  

So it's been a hell of a year for me.  I'm just happy it's almost over, and I can hopefully get back to some semblance of normalcy soon. If it hadn't been for my gardening, I would have gone quite mad, I can tell you that.  What little food I got out of my little experimental garden was worth it in therapeutic value.  It was truly the only thing that was positive in the last few months.

Next month I'll be traveling to Chicago to see my son, and then to New Orleans to meet my Facebook friend Michael.  I need a vacation, really I do, and when I get back, I'll be ready to start setting things to right again.  Right now, I'm just too exhausted, physically and mentally to do much of anything.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Status of the Experimental Garden - May 16, 2009

I will be so happy when the garden is moved into raised beds in the back.  This garden, while it's been fun to grow, is not producing like I'm used to, and I'm terribly disappointed in it.  Here's the status of the veggies in it now:

Cherokee Purple that's in the ground has a few fruits and seems to be doing well. The one planted in a 5 gallon pot out back is doing well also, and already has a couple of fruits on it.  We'll see what they do when it gets really hot.

Park's Whopper, as expected, is not producing anymore fruit due to the daytime temps being too high.  I'll start taking cuttings from this next week to grow for the fall garden.  Dosing it with liquid fertilizer helped the tomato size a lot, as they were way too small (and still are) for this variety.  I seem to remember that this one needs lots of fertilizer to have the really large tomatoes I like for sandwiches, so I'll see what it does when it's planted in the raised beds out back.  Planted 2 of these in a 7 gallon pot out back, and they are surviving, if not doing much growing.  I may replace them with something else if they don't bear.

Sweet 100, Grape Tomato are both going gangbusters. They love the summer heat, so they'll be thriving through out the summer.  Husky Cherry Red is looking to be a perennial favorite for me.  It's determinate, so great to grow in a pot, and even though it seems to be slow growing, it puts out lots of large, beautiful cherry tomatoes, the kind you get in restaurant salads.  I've already gathered seeds from the first fruits and planted them in a pot, so hoping to have more of those before the summer is over.

Black Pear has just started to produce fruit. One plant isn't doing well, no matter what I do to it, the other is thriving.  Both are in 3 gallon pots, and I may move them to 5 gallon pots. I put them in pots because I heard they don't like harsh afternoon sun, so I can move them if they start to fail.

Yellow Bells have a few fruits on them, but aren't growing very much. I have one planted in a pot where it gets more shade, and it has just put out one fruit.  I know they will scorch in the summer sun, so I may have to devise some sort of screening for the ones planted in the front, as they'll get the sun in the hottest part of the day.

Didn't plant the Cayenne yet. Don't know if it's too late, but I'm going to try to start a few in pots and put them on the other side of the house.

Yellow crooknecks are failing.  I think it may have something to do with the ants, as it seems they are determined to overrun them, not matter what I do.  Treated once with Sevin dust, but to no avail...ants still there.  I haven't gotten but about 8 fruits off of them, and those were not that nice.  It's getting too hot for them, so I may just pull up all but 2 or 3, and plant more of something that will withstand the heat better, probably more okra and eggplant.

No name cheapo okra seems to be doing very well, loving the heat.  Pinched out the first fruit to get the plants to branch and produce more.  They are still competing with the squash for nutrients, so they'll do better once the squash are gone.  Planted some more in the lasagna bed out back, but so far, only a couple have come up, even after the rain and frequent watering. I may have wasted that pack of seeds, and will try to get some Clemson Spineless next time I'm at the store.

Put out a small crop, then looked like they were dying.  I pulled all the beans off and fertilized and side dressed with manure, and they seem to be coming back.  I put a few more seeds in the ground, but so far, only two have come up.  More may come up once the rains come steady, dont' know.

Ichiban was not doing well, so cut it back and it seems to be coming back out very slowly.
Black Beauty - Just planted out two seedlings, and have 3 more waiting to get large enough.  May try growing them in pots.

POTATOES are growing pretty well in their pot, and I need to add more leaves today.  It will be interesting to see how many potatoes I actually get from these, since they were grown in deep shade, and were just some old, sprouted potatoes from the fridge.

SWEET POTATOES are not growing like I think they should in their bin.  I just added some manure, and will be adding more compost. They may not have enough root room  I may have to just put them out into the ground and let them run. 

CANTELOUPES are another experiment. Just tossed some seeds from a store-bought one into the lasagna bed, and a couple have come up.  We'll see...they were planted really late.

PEANUTS a definite experimental only sort of thing.  Planted 10, only one plant emerged, so planted 9 more, this time in their shells, but shells were opened slightly.  They're also planted in a compost pile/lasagna bed place.  Just wanted to see if they would grow.

So the garden isn't as nice as I wanted, but I think it will be better once it is in raised beds where it doesn't have to compete with tree roots.  At least, I hope so!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The great tomato experiment fails, and Pulling out the heavy artillery

I was late planting my tomatoes this year, and shortly after they got large enough to produce, they were hit by a freeze. I only had two at that time, a Park's Whopper and an Early Girl.

The Early Girl finally died, but not before I got some cuttings rooted, which I gave to my neighbor. The plant is doing very well in her yard, but did nothing in mine.

The Park's Whopper is not producing large fruit, and something is scarring the fruit badly. This has always been a favorite tomato of mine, so I'm very disappointed. I have a couple of babies rooted that I'm going to put into 5 gallon pots and try again.

I truly think this is because of where I planted them. They get plenty of sun, but the ground isn't very fertile, and they are competing for nutrients with two large trees nearby, plus my purple leaf plum. I think that once I get the raised beds going in the back yard, and get them into those, they'll grow much better.

In the meantime, I'm pulling out the heavy artillery - Miracle Gro. I've said before that I'm as organic as I can be, and I have added lots of compost and manure to the garden bed, but to compete with the roots, I'm going to need to do some heavy foliar feeding. So I'll be out early in the morning, hose end fertilizer sprayer in hand, feeding these babies to see if I can salvage something out of them before they kick the bucket.

Everything in the bed is looking peaked, even the beans and squash, so I think that in order to get as much as possible out of this small experimental garden, I'm going to have to do what has to be done. Next year, I'll probably not plant anything but ornamentals there, since that seems to be what does best, but it was worth a shot.

On the upside, the cherry and grape tomatoes seem to be thriving. Go figure.

This small garden was an experiment anyway, and I'm finding that this is not the best place to grow veggies. Well, experiments are experiments, and some fail. I got enough off of the plants to make it worthwhile.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What to do with the peppers?

I have a dozen or more (still) baby yellow bell pepper plants.  I like bell peppers, really I do, but how many bell peppers do you really need?  I have two plants in the ground and one in a 3 gallon pot.  I personally think that's enough for me.  I'll put a couple in small pots for Jillaurie, if we ever get to visit, and a few maybe in 1 gallon pots to try to keep going for the fall garden, but other than that,  I think I'll have to toss the rest. 

I hate throwing out plants, especially vegetable plants, but hey...peppers take water and fertilizer.  I don't know anyone else who might want them around here.  WAIT...the people on the corner have a small garden plot, and he's a landscaper who knows how to garden, so maybe they would be interested.  Yes, I'll put them in little yogurt cups and take them over when they get established.

My veggies are already showing signs of heat stress.  They need daily watering, and wilt badly during midday.  Our temps are already  into the high 80's, and one day it actually hit 90.  I don't expect to get anymore tomatoes, since they don't pollinate in temperatures over 90.  I'll have to go out like I  have done before with a moist q-tip and pollinate them myself in the evening when it's cool. 

My cherry and grape tomatoes are, of course, thriving.  They love the summer, and I love them.  One new variety I'm growing this year is "Husky Cherry Red", which is a large cherry tomato that is yummy!  I have already saved one to get seeds for the fall garden.

I repotted a Cherokee Purple into a 5 gallon bucket and put it out between two of the citrus trees, where the oak tree shades it in the afternoon.  I have another growing in a 7 gallon pot in the  shade with an eggplant....another experiment. 

I've gotten quite a few "seed" beans from the one plant I allowed to grow and go to seed.  Wish I had done the whole row, as I ended up not planting anything there yet.  Still, I think between that one and letting one other in the row go to seed when they stop bearing, I'll have plenty of seeds for the fall garden.  I have a bowl of beans in the fridge right now waiting to be snapped and cooked.

The citrus trees, all but the kumquat and one navel, which were cut back, all have small fruits on them, and it looks like I may even get a few Dancy Tangerines and maybe one or two Hamlins this year.  This will be the first time in 12 years that they have all borne fruit at one time.  All because my friend told me to fertilize them a little each month for 9 months instead of three times a year.  Amazing.

Well, that's all for now.  See you back on the homestead!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Update on veggies and other edibles

Cut back the Ichiban eggplant drastically, to give it time to recover and maybe do something worthwhile. It was just wilting a lot like the roots couldn't support it, so I'm giving it a rest, and letting it make more roots and leaves. Hopefully, I can save it. It had fruits, but they were very small. I want those foot-long fruits like I used to get.

My baby Black Beauty eggplants are growing, and should be ready to plant out next week.

Dill is growing in 3 in. pots, and should be ready to plant out soon. New Ichiban eggplant seeds are sprouting, as are the new cilantro seeds I put in to replace those that didn't survive the winter.

I have to transplant some more yellow bellpeppers to larger pots. The two in the ground are doing very well so far, if not growing as fast as I'd like.

Pineapples are sad looking. I think they need a dose of Miracle Gro, as the manure and manure tea doesn't seem to be working very well to green them up. 
I think the Jaboticaba is on its last legs. What few leaves it had have dropped off, and it doesn't seem to be getting any more.  I've struggled with this plant for years, and I'm about ready to give up on it.  If I hadn't paid $30 for it, I'd have given up long ago.  I'll give it until the end of the summer, and if it hasn't come back, it's gone, no matter if it has green under the skin or not.

Same with the longan.  If it doesn't bloom this year, after 8 years in the ground, it's gone.  I do have a limit to my patience with these things.

Besides, I need space for the bananas to go somewhere other than where they are, and the spaces where these two plants are would be perfect.