Monday, July 24, 2017

♫ Come sail away ♫ **

I fear that's going to be our swan song if we receive any more rain and, if we DID have a boat, it'd be stocked and hitched to the truck.  The ol' rain gauge has passed the 2 inch mark in just the last few days and it doesn't look to be empty for awhile. Rivulets are snaking across the homestead making it hard to even get to the girls to check on them.  Monsoon has struck HARD!

To recap the lastest garden news...


... the beetle cloth had been removed (process above) and stored.  Saw no beetle carcasses in the garden area cloth but the blueberry bed had been a magnate for them.  Fortunately, no leaves were eaten by said beetles and, after shaking out little bodies, cloth, tulle, clothespins and binder clips all packed away for next year... which may be another bad one, or so my research says.

The kale, spinach and beets are into super-fast mode and filling the beds.  The poor chickens are probably to the kale hating stage.


 
The garden had been liberated just in time for the constant downpour we have going on.  I hope nothing bad comes of this.  My tomato plants had put out a few babes but there hasn't been enough sun to kick things into high gear.  Hoping against hope that this year gets better when monsoon departs.
 


My own Yukon potato seed bins are doing great.  Lots of green leaves.  My red potato bin looks like this weather is not to its taste.  They were the fastest growing, most luscious in leaves and now... kaput.  Only yellow leaves so they probably won't flower.  Not too promising for tubers, but I'll still keep my spirits up until harvest.



The green/wax beans seem to be ok with the rain and I get a couple handfuls every day.  Since I was stuck inside yesterday I decided to freeze some packets for winter.


 
Three packets for casseroles and sides are packed away.  The freezer is also full of broccoli packets.  Going to be a bumper year for SOME veggies.



Dinner tonight was meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  There's nothing like comfort food when it's cold and gloomy outside.  Definitely think it'll perk up the rest of our night.

** Copyright Styx

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hammer time...

Ok, nothing really about hammers in this post except for what I'd like to do to a certain squirrel that thinks it's just soooooo smart.


Yes, I said squirrel since no rabbit I've ever seen could scale to the top of my largest hoop and rip open a new skylight.  Grrr!  I guess ruining my garden cloth all around the garden has become it's mission in life.... which'll be SHORT if I have anything to say about it.



The netting kept it out but I still had to check on the hoop's contents. Everything was fine so I just took a picture and moved on.  I love the lavender flower color of the bush bean plants.  Getting quite a few beans from them and the wax beans.  Hope to start freezing some soon.



Checked for intrusions into the zucchini bed and the netting seemed to have worked there, too.  Noticed this phenomenon while harvesting them.  One plant has dark green fruit and one has light.  It was marked incorrectly, or I've got a pale cultivar, or I've got an albino thing going on.  Strange as it may be, I guess the eating will tell if there are any other strange qualities to them.


Pulled golden beets from the ruined hoop, too.  Love them roasted.  NEVER thought I'd like a beet after the canned red ones we had as kids.  Stained everything and really not tasty.  Roasting really brings them to a new level. Kinda like asparagus, where we had awful canned ones as kids and had our lives changed at a restaurant. Still pining to have my own bed, but that's another sad tale.



Had an epiphany while grinding eggshells.  I had small containers all over the place for the yearly eggshell dump into the fall beds.  When I filled the latest one I happened to see the empty milk carton in the recycle sack.  BOING! So, I ground and got the coffee funnel and started on 1 BIG container. Almost feel dumb not thinking of it sooner... almost.



Had to show you dinner last night.  I'm sorta proud of all the homegrown stuff in the roasted chicken salad. Each harvest we get to eat a few more types of our own produce. Think I'll start a list...

Ours:  red romaine, butter leaf, broccoli, spinach, hard boiled eggs, onions

Their's:  chicken, nuts, sunflower seeds, carrots, strawberries, Craisins* 

I think we're about to finally pulled ahead....


*“I have not received, nor expect to receive, any compensation for items mentioned in the blog that I like, or may suggest to the viewers.  The items are just something that works/worked for me.  The Irish Lady.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

Chafing to get rid of the Chafers...

What's with the Rose Chafer beetles this year?  We spent a HUGE amount of time (and money) covering as much of the garden as we could because of the HUGE amount of damage they've done for the last two years.  This year?  They only sent a skeleton crew to eat my plants.  

I've counted 5 on the strawberry plants which involved them going under the covered hoop (sneaky devils).  Lots of them have gotten into the blueberry beds but they seem to forget why they crawled in there.  They don't eat because they try to get out and get stuck.  Weird.  Even some of the kales which aren't covered haven't been bothered.

I must see if there is some sort of reason for this... (excuse me while I Google* this).  OK, I'm back and it seems they do run in 2 year cycles.  And unless I want to spend a ton of money, there is really no lures/traps for them.  BUT, I can uncover the garden soon because they are only here to drive me CRAZY for 3 weeks (seemed MUCH longer the last 2 years).  If I'd planted the apple trees I'd thought of adding, well, they'd be toast, but I didn't, so they didn't.  Still, I'll give them another week and then free the garden from its covers.  Yeah!



This was my two zucchini plants last week.  The tomato supports were corralling them in easily.  No beetles landed there either, but for the last 2 years zucchini leaves were attacked.  Hmmm.  Anyway... 



... this is the bed now.  Something had been visiting this bed and finally chewed through the cloth that was supposed to "hide" the plants.  Since they now knew the plants were there I had to secure them better.  Netting is around the plants and staples secure it to the dirt.  After the gnawing of zucchini last year, I'm determined to nip it in the bud.  



Whatever chewed through the zucchini cloth also started holes in the bean, spinach and beet bed.  I believe the netting underneath the cloth foiled them, but what a waste of cloth.  I'm HATING squirrels and rabbits, as it probably has to be one of them.



I'm inordinately proud of my pumpkin trough this year.  It is doing well beyond all hope and even surviving the pests that would try and do it in (only 2 beetles found on the trough).  The plants have gotten so high that the bird netting keeps being raised up and now is probably useless.  At this point I'm just hoping that the netting is a hindrance and an irritation to squirrels, birds and the like. 

There's a HUGE pumpkin in the center of the mess so I'll have to get a good pic of it.  Not a lot going on in the butternut and acorn trough.  The plants are green and lush but only a couple fruit starting.  More later.

The monsoon has made it possible to stop watering, for the time being. Rains almost every day and just this weekend we had a inch.  Thunder is starting now so we'll probably get more.  This is MY time of year... well besides Fall. Cloudy, rainy and cool...  

... everything a "Valley of the Furnace" girl could love...



*“I have not received, nor expect to receive, any compensation for items mentioned in the blog that I like, or may suggest to the viewers.  The items are just something that works/worked for me.  The Irish Lady.”


Thursday, July 13, 2017

♫ My Blue Heaven ♫...

Well, the prize for being a good berry picker will not be awarded to me this year as I have blown it as a budding blueberry goddess.  


This is my haul for the season.  I did have a few more on the bushes but these were the only ones to be edible.  It seems that covering the bushes was not a good idea for harvest but a good idea for pests.  I still have leaves on the bushes, which is an improvement from last year.  

I missed the harvest because I didn't see the berries and the heat from the garden cloth seems to have cooked/shriveled them.  These few berries came from the bed covered by the tulle.  The moral?  Cover the bushes with tulle next year and CHECK them around July 5th.

                   ****************************************

The grand kids have been driven back to the valley now, but before going home they took a trip to Black Canyon Lake with Steve.  We're in monsoon cloudiness now, but it was still a good day to goof around in the water.  This is where the Gentry fire burned just days ago and the lake only opened the day they went.  


... the lake was fuller than last year's trip...

... but they did brave the cold water...

... and did some fishing with found line...

... until the storms returned and everybody ran for the car...


Before they left for the lake I had them make sun catchers for my garden. Plastic beads were poured into foil cake tins.  A couple kids tried to make patterns but only one was able to get an initial to stay in place.  I stayed home and baked them while the kids played in the lake.  Just before they left for home I got this pic of them with their artwork.
  
Now, to hang them (the sun catchers, not the kids)... LOL!



Monday, July 10, 2017

Survived another summer visit...

Well, we've survived another vacation visit from the grandkids and they'll be gone before the next blog post is ready.  Every year I forget how much energy they have and how much they can drain from the Grandparents.

We've all watched more movies than I think Steve and I have seen in YEARS and I've run from more lizards and creepy-crawlies they've brought inside than captured by my own boys during their youth.  It's been an adventure.


... many wagon rides for stuffed doggies given...

... the zipline was still the draw it's always been...

... feeding fish at the Tonto Creek fish hatchery...

... adding to the fish food allotment by finding
spilled food from other visitors...

We've sat through some amazing thunderstorms during this visit.  Last night it went on for hours and everyone actually got cold.  Haven't needed to water the garden for a couple days.

Yes, it'll be a little lonely here when they leave.  The girls are already getting ready for school to start in a week or so.  That seems early to me but I've been out of the school-schedule game for many years.  Hope this year is a good one for all of them.



Back to the garden... I've been pulling out heads of broccoli and I'm preparing and freezing them for later.  Four HUGE heads (11-12 inches each) have made several packets for some tasty alfredo pastas.



     The pumpkin plants are starting to try to escape from their trough...  




Two pics I was able to get after braving the pricks from their leaves.  Many little guys growing in under the leaves.  Mostly round ones but there is the zucchini-like little guy.  Wonder what it'll turn out to be.

I've got more spinach coming in than anyone will EVER need so going to have to offer more salads for awhile.  Yes, I can always offer more to the hens...

... but stronger devil chickens I can do without...



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Zip-pidy doo daa!....

We are halfway through the week with the grandkids.  It's been an adventure.  It would have to be one of the hottest times up here as getting them to go outside is only an early morning thing, or a late evening thing.



It's an early morning thing for me, too.  I head out to take care of the girls and the garden early and take several breaks under the shade tree.  I looked over and took this picture of the girls.  They come sit next to me while I'm in the shade but they are all panting to try and cool off.  They probably hate those feathers when it's this hot.



Grandpa finally put up the zip-line for the kids.  He's a little late, but we had to hang their chairs first.  That's a green one at the bottom of the picture.  



A grand-girl is watching him work from her chair.  They love swinging.



I took this pic while sitting in the truck with my foot on the brake.  The truck was being used for tension while Steve finished securing the line. Neighbor kids came over and there was a bunch of playing going on.  I'd say I caught a very active group of kids in mid-movement.



The girls even came out from under the tree to see what all the hubbub was.



I'm harvesting broccoli now.  Last week they were this size and now...



... they are this size.  It's hard to grasp from the pics, but this one is almost 12 inches across.  

A story here (the interest factor is up to you) about the number of plants I have.  I planted 14 plants.  I now have 20 plants.  How, you ask?  Dunno.  I have 6 that have come up in other areas of the garden.  Was it by birds, mix-ups in packets or latent seeds?  I didn't let any plants go to seed last year and they aren't even in the beds the broccoli was in last year.  AND how would birds have seeds to drop all over?  Curious and curiouser.  I'm taking this as a present from Mother Nature as I LOVE broccoli.  Now, if she'd sent extra zucchini I may have had to have a talk with her.

Getting ready to harvest beets, carrots, zucchini and green beans.  Been harvesting strawberries, lettuce and kale already.  I have tomatoes (small, but they count) on all three tomato plants so hoping this is a good sign.

Now, it's clouding up and cooling off so I'm off to supervise the zip-lining...  

... pray for no accidents.....