Saturday, July 28, 2012

Corn Crop Failure

I guess I should have taken the hint when the cutworms took down every one of my corn seedlings in the spring, but I persisted and replanted with cutworm collars.

The corn patch was uneventful until mid July when the ears began to form and then the squirrels arrived.  This is my third year growing a garden here and I've never had the squirrels problems I've had this year.  I'm afraid they have officially discovered my garden and have permanently moved in.  Note the gap in the corn bed.  There were corn stalks there, but the squirrels have toppled them and I even caught a squirrel running away with the entire corn stalk!

This is what the corn looks like now:

My total corn harvest stands at zero.. sigh.  I planted a second patch of corn, so perhaps I can beat the squirrels to a few ears in the fall.  In the meantime, I am dreaming of a squirrel proof garden like this image I found here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

What's Your Favorite Seed Starting Mix?

I've been starting seeds for fall and ran out of the bag of seed starting mix I bought in the spring.  I've now discovered that stores around here do not think seed starting should happen now.  It seems to be something they stock in the spring and if you're lucky you'll find a bag.  I normally buy an organic mix, but can't find it anywhere.  I really should make my own mix.  So what's your seed starting recipe?  And where do you get the ingredients?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard: Tomatoes

It's tomato time in my garden!

First up in the tomato cooking spree is some oven-roasted tomatoes:

I take the Yellow Pear tomatoes, cut them in half, drizzle them with some olive oil, throw in some garlic and basil, and then cook on 225 for about 4 or 5 hours until they are shriveled up.  These are like candy to me.  I want to freeze some to have for pizza toppings after tomato season has ended, but I keep eating them!  Maybe the next batch will make it to the freezer... maybe.

Next on the tomato cooking frenzy is sauce... wonderful, yummy tomato sauce.  I've got to figure out a way to plant more tomatoes because I want more sauce!

My sauce recipe:

4 lbs tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup basil
a few parsley sprigs
1 tsp salt

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, add onions and cook for 2 minutes, add the bell pepper and cook for 2 more minutes, add the garlic and basil and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, and salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours until the sauce thickens.  I usually puree about half of the sauce because J is not a fan of chunky sauce.

Finally on the tomato cooking spree was salsa.  I used this Easy Blender Salsa Recipe, but I have no cilantro in the garden and was to lazy and splattered with tomato juice and seeds to go to the store.  I wonder if frozen cilantro would work?  I must remember to freeze some cilantro this winter when cilantro grows around here.  Without cilantro, the salsa was just ok.  I put it on bean burritos and completely forgot to take a picture.

That's what has been cooking in my kitchen.  If you want to peak into other kitchens and see what others are cooking, head over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard at the Gardener of Eden.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/16 and 7/23

I spent the past week camping in upstate New York and missed last week's harvest Monday.  It was nice to have a break from South Carolina heat and humidity.  It's so hard to leave the garden during peak season, but at the same time it's fun to come back to lots of veggies to harvest.  So today I have two weeks to report:

It's definitely summertime here with tomatoes and peppers along with a lone carrot I pulled.

Before leaving I harvested everything I could:

I harvested the first Sugar Baby Watermelon.  I still need to get better at telling when a melon is ripe.  I'm not good at the sound they make when you thump them, so I tried the dried tendril technique and it wasn't too accurate.  The melon was edible, but definitely could have been riper.  However, I was afraid to leave it to the squirrels while I was gone.

When I came home, before unpacking the car, I had to run and check on the garden.  I was greeted with lots of tomatoes:


There were plenty of green beans, my first yellow bell pepper, a few cucumbers, and my proudest harvest: a Hubbard squash.  This was my trap crop for the vine borers, so I was ecstatic to actually harvest.

Here's my two week harvest tally:
Carrots: 2.7 oz
Cucumber: 4.1 lbs
Tromboncino squash: 1.9 lbs
Banana pepper: 13.1 oz
Bell pepper: 9 oz
Yellow pear tomato: 3.3 lbs
Tomatoes (I gave up keep track of the different varieties): 10.2 lbs
Eggplant: 8.1 oz
Hubbard squash: 5.7 lbs
Green beans: 2.6 lbs

Total: 34.19 lbs

Two week total:  34.19 lbs
Yearly total: 134.64 lbs worth $240.89

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Revisiting June Garden Goals

June was really, really hot with very little rain.  I'm surprised the garden is still surviving.  The heat sure did put a damper in my garden productivity, so I'm glad the veggies are making up for my lack of productivity. 
  • Plant seeds outside: I planted an extra bed of carrots and bush beans.  The carrots didn't have the best germination rate.  I was a bit of a slacker keeping the area moist with all the heat.  I also planted a second crop of potatoes.  I didn't really have the space available, so I only planted a few. 
  • Plant seeds inside: I started onion, leeks, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and head lettuce.  I also started some replacement cucumbers. 
  • Weeding: I've weeded some, but I've been a bit of a slacker in the heat.  I was hoping the heat would take out some of the weeds, but no they seem to be thriving. 
  • Pest patrol:  The battle with the squash bugs, vine borers, Japanese beetles, and hornworms continues.  
  • Mulch the rest of the beds. Well, I did some, but not all.
  • Bench in the woods: So, I want a cozy outdoor daybed with a mosquito net canopy.  I did find a daybed on Craigslist.  However, I still need to spray paint it, get a mattress and make a waterproof cover.  I've had little motivation for this project because it is way too hot to relax outside. 
  • Start installing a watering system: I have pipes running to each bed in the front terrace of the garden.  I'm not going to be able to run emitter lines until fall because the beds are too overgrown with veggies right now. I will posted the project soon.
  • Start on the pea gravel garden paths:  I've dug up all the paths in the front terrace except one side of the melon bed because they've invaded the path.  The next step is to put down weed cloth, some sand, and pea gravel.  The hot, humid weather is not cooperating with this project, so it may take a bit longer.
Here's how the garden is looking:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/9/12

I reached a yearly total of 100 lbs of harvests from my garden this week!  I'm impressed I've actually weighed everything so far this year.

Here's what my harvests have been looking like:

I harvested 3.4 lbs of cucumbers, 5 oz of white eggplant, 2 lbs of green beans, 7.4 oz of Yellow Pear tomatoes.  This week brought the first of my paste tomatoes- this one is a San Marzano tomato (1.6 oz).


In this basket you can see my first big tomato for the season.  It wasn't really that big, but it was the biggest of the season.  It was a 3.8 oz Rutger's tomato that was quickly sliced and eaten!  The peppers have also been coming in with 2 oz of banana peppers and 9.5 oz of bell peppers.  However, something has been munching on my peppers... grrr!

I had another watermelon tragedy this week.  Last week I accidentally broke a baby melon off the vine.  This week I was checking on how the melons were doing and I found this:

I think this has squirrel written all over it!  I had problems growing melons last year and the trend appears to be continuing.  Actually the problem wasn't necessarily growing melons, it was getting to harvest them before the critters did!

Weekly total:  7.2 lbs
Yearly total: 100.45 lbs worth $191.80

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Harvest Monday 7/2/12

This week has been miserably hot.  Mostly the past three days have been bad: 104 on Friday, 102 on Saturday, and 104 on Sunday.  Today we are suppose to be at 99.  For some reason 99 seems tolerable, but not anything over 100.  A thunderstorm came last night that brought rain, which was very much needed.  I'm surprised the garden is still alive.  I could only handle the heat for a few minutes before running inside to the air conditioning.  If I was a plant, I would have given up and died in such heat!

Anyway, enough whining about the weather and on to the harvests!  I pulled another carrot (2.4 oz), which was thicker than the last one, but not very long.  I'm trying to decide whether to go ahead and pull the carrots or leave them.  The heat is definitely not making for a sweet carrot.

Also this week I harvested 3.9 lbs of cucumbers.  Mostly the lemon cucumbers have been producing while the Persian cucumbers are looking sad and pathetic.  The heat may have been the last blow to the tired looking cucumber plants.  

The peppers seemed to have thrived in the heat.  I picked 7 oz of banana peppers and 7 oz of bell peppers- all the purple variety.  Only the yellow pear tomatoes (2.3 oz) have been slowly ripening, the rest of the tomatoes are sitting there pretty and green.  I'm hoping the combination of rain and heat will encourage them to ripen- hopefully it wasn't too much heat!  I also harvested 13.2 oz of the  Spooky Little eggplant and 8.8 oz of tromboncino squash.

Last was a harvest of green beans (1.3 lbs).  The green beans have grown to the top of the trellis, which is ten feet tall.  I obviously wasn't thinking about harvesting when putting in 10 ft trellises because I can't even reach the top with my little step stool!  In an attempt to pick beans and climb a not too sturdy trellis, I had a watermelon tragedy.  I accidentally broke off a baby watermelon (bottom left in the pictures)!  I cut it open and it was still completely white on the inside... sad. 

I was hoping to reach 100 lbs this week, but not quite there.  June was a productive month, by far the most productive month this year with 45 lbs.  Hopefully the next few months can be just as productive. 

Weekly total:  7.73 lbs
Yearly total: 93.24 lbs worth $179.47

That's all the harvests coming from my garden this week, to see what others are harvesting check out Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.

Happy Gardening!