Friday, July 20, 2018

Storms... Strikes... Strife...

Well, we are FINALLY back up and running since being taken off the air (so to speak) by some powerful lightning last Saturday during a huge monsoon storm.  Of course it also happened when we'd invited people over for a big dinner, too.  I think we all knew when it happened as there was the biggest thunderclap we probably had ever heard. 

I'm just glad our mountains are safe from any fires caused by that storm.  Anyway, I'm sending out this post today to make up for the last two I've missed... enjoy!

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



This picture is a month from the last garden shot and things are filling the beds now.  The green beans are strangling their supports and trying to escape their hoop.  I see now that the plants were mislabeled as these are definitely climbers and not bushes.  I keep pinching them back but it may not be enough to keep them in any sort of bounds.



There are beans almost ready to harvest in that mess of leaves and...



... I'm pulling large-peach-sized golden beets out, too.  The carrots in this same bed are getting to the size where I'll need to be pulling them out soon.



Still, several plants (like these two zucchini) are not performing as expected.  They languished for a whole month and are just now putting out the large leaves I'd expected and a couple male flowers.  I believe I already had eatable-sized fruit by this time last year.  The spinach around them have been growing by leaps and bounds and it is a very strange bed when the spinach is taller than the zucchini.  Hope things speed up for the squash now.


... Blue Dwarf and Early Hanover kale...

The kale's are growing with abandon and keeping the hens stuffed is a full-time job now.


... Red Russian kale...

This red bed is only growing over half the bed.  I think they didn't like being eaten down at the beginning of the season and probably the seed was a tad old too, as the packet was from last year.  Still, half is better than none and they've taken off and the tulle has kept the aphids off, whereas last year they were covered.

The dreaded beetles are around but I have beaten them (yeah, right) with the tulle.  Only seen about 7 on plants and not the hoards like the years before this one.  Maybe the word has gotten around to them?..

... maybe they found better garden access somewhere else?...

... maybe Mother Nature has finally taken a liking to me?...



Thursday, July 12, 2018

Best Laid Plans... Ha!...

  Well, the Ninja whatever it is, was able to get past my cloth defense and...

... gnaw on one pumpkin...

... and completely eat another...

I was so MAD!  It got under the cloth and gnawed another hole through the end of the hoop.  After fuming a bit, I came up with another plan (not saying it will work) that MAY make it harder to pilfer my beds...



Using rebar and leftover pipes, I've lined the perimeter of the beds, over the cloth.  Let's see if it makes it harder, or IMPOSSIBLE, for that little thieving mastermind to get under the cloth again, shall we?...



After working on the pumpkin and lettuce beds, I glanced over at the tomatoes and cucumbers... Darn!  Something had eaten through leaves on both.  I quickly checked the netting and nothing was loose, open or unpinned, so another problem to fix.  I can't see this damage being done by beetles or insects of any kind.  Seemed more like an animal. 

There is no tulle here as I was hoping to feed bees and get the fertilization done by them.  The dreaded beetles have not landed here, yet, but there are other beetles stopping by.  They get thrown to the hens.  

Anyway, I came up with "out of sight, out of mind" camo for these beds.  Maybe if the animal doesn't see what's in there, it'll be more likely to pass by.  There is a cloth barrier (above) around the bed that I put up during the night...



...  and fold down during the day so sunlight gets to everything there.  Hoping this is a fix.  All this trouble is making me rethink a garden...

... OK, maybe just a little...



Monday, July 9, 2018

Holiday Fun... 2018...

We had our Fourth of July parade Saturday, a little late this year, but it still was a bunch of fun.  I was official photo taker while Steve and his sister were in the parade.


His sister did the driving this year and, of course, it took a WOMAN to fix a major problem we've had each year.  Notice the front windshield?  Yup, she opened the windows and let the air stream through.  It really made a BIG difference in taking the heat out.  When we drove the truck home I sat in front and the difference was remarkable.  Something we're going to do again.  It also helped that we had a gully-washer come through in the late afternoon.  Love when the rain just dumps on us.



Back in the garden today and took this picture to show our attempt at ruining the plans of any thieves out there trying to get in the hoops.  I wish I could find the lady who gave this sheet to Steve and give her a big thank you.  It was for cold temps, but we're finding it useful for confounding the animal that got in (excuse me while I knock wood).



While at the parade I had 3 of those hated beetles flying around me.  Yes, that means they are here and I've got to be on my game.  Did some more spraying around the upper beds because there are several weak spots there.

Check the garden every morning and I've not seen any, yet, but Steve thinks he saw one.  Man, all the work that goes into keeping pests out of a garden.  How do others who have open gardens up here harvest anything?

I know many people gardening up here and they get food to grow.  How do they just let the garden grow with no covers and get food?  I have one little opening and everything is eaten. 

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

       Finally, getting pictures of my latest chicken pot pie onto the post... 





It was actually praised by Steve, so this recipe is a... 
                                                   ... winner... winner... chicken dinner!

I'm going to make another one while Heidi is here, but it'll have to be made with turkey.  She has a personal relationship with my chickens (go figure) so I'll have to compromise there.  I just know that she's going to hover while I mix it up, just to be sure...



Thursday, July 5, 2018

... Things Are Moving Along...

I have made the BIG (at least for me) decision to get out of the strawberry growing business.  The work to reward ratio has not been good.  A total of 3 years has been spent on them and I just can't waste the growing space on them any more.  I tried ever-bearing and June-bearing and neither did spectacularly, so...


... they are being fed to the hens.  The girls aren't so keen on them either.  Oh, they LOVE strawberries, but eating the plants doesn't thrill them.


... yellow, round lemon cucumbers...

... regular burpless cucumbers...

The nursery-bought cucumbers are finally starting to flower but it seems very late to me.  Will they have time to produce enough for the girls?  



These are the only four cukes to sprout from that whole packet of seeds.  They moved very slowly at first, but now they are taking off like gangbusters.  They're just about to start climbing the support and I hope that means cukes soon here, too.



... and finally... the "dead brought back to life" aspen had even more surprises in store for me.  Several branches now are greening up.  I know it's not spectacular, but it has raised my hopes for its survival...



Monday, July 2, 2018

Miracles do happen...

Wednesdays and Saturdays are water days for the blueberries and trees until Mother Nature sends water our way.  I try to get their water to them early so I can get the gardening done and get inside before it's too hot.  Saturday, I had a BIG surprise awaiting me when I got to the "dead" aspens.



One had put out somes small leaves... up above my head... on a supposedly dead branch.  Excitement abounds.  I was able to bend random tiny branches and they seemed pliable and the trunk, at the base, now has a slightly greenish tint to it.  Maybe I can save this one?  Only time will tell.  Even more determined to save it.  I checked the other one and all the branches broke so no good news there.

Headed to the garden to check on the lot.  I do have to say that this year really isn't going to be a stellar year.  Part of that is that seeds that I had high-hopes for just didn't do well.

I ordered from a seed company that I haven't tried before.  Their stuff looked good in the catalogs.  Not going to say which company but I probably won't use them again.  

Anyway, I planted a whole packet of cucumbers and only 4 seeds sprouted.  I ordered haricot verts (thin green beans) and none of those came up.  I went with heirloom acorn squash and...



... they are struggling.  Yes, I know heirlooms are more temperamental but I wanted heirlooms over hybrids.  Well, probably NOT doing that again next year.  In this picture they look really small, and sad, and next to those pumpkins at the top they are waaaay behind in growth.  Six of the twelve may make it so I'm hoping.  Speaking of the pumpkins, two female flowers are getting ready to open so maybe I'll be dancing around the place tomorrow.


Since none of the green beans came up I had to resort to buying some at my favorite nursery and they are coming up like weeds.  GOOD weeds!  I've pinched off the runners and am trying to get them to bush-out and get to producing.  


A couple flowers have shown so it looks like they got the message.  It was the fastest way to spur them on to glory.  Now, I just wait.

I've also resorted to being this beds "soaker hose."  My luck with a year-old soaker hose went south.  It blew and there was no possible way I was going to pull it out and disturb this bed.  Just call me Assistant Mother Nature.  So, I stand for, seemingly, hours and water by hand.



We did get around to clearing the nest from the greenhouse and turning everything over that is tempting to nest in.  Opened a few eggs and they were dried out and gummy...  

... I hope those two girls are making it work elsewhere on the homestead...



Thursday, June 28, 2018

As Close To War As I'm Apt To Get...

Yesterday, I left the canteen and headed out from headquarters to begin maneuvers with my rations-production squad.
  

For weeks I've really been watching the pumpkins because they seem to be confused right now.  The first flowers out were all female.  Problem, there were no males to fertilize them.  Now the males are out and there've been no new females.  Can't figure out what is going on.  I was able to get one late female flower fertilized with some pollen and was guarding that ONE baby that was growing.  I'd set up trip-lines and defenses for that new recruit. 

Imagine my conflict when I found my unit had taken a direct hit.  While checking on the pumpkins, and the one itty-bitty pumpkin finally growing...



... I found THIS!  HOW!?!  After a belly yell, I went on a mission to KILL whatever did this.  Yeah, right.  I have no idea what did it, but now it's me, or them.  How did something breach the tulle, bird netting and hoop?  

Under dark of night, my nemesis had done some reconnoitering and found a weakness in my defenses.  Then, used a smart tactical move to acquire its objective. 

Correct, it ate through tulle, bird netting and didn't have to get through the hoop because it went through the end where there was no fence.  Taped over hole and now I've got some fortifications to improve.  First thing was to search for other breaks in the defenses...



... and find them I did.  Next to the pumpkins, they'd decided to add some salad to their pumpkin late night snack.  I lucked out in that they didn't breach the bird netting and fence but the tulle had taken a direct hit.  Battle lines have been drawn and now I'll need some plans for defense.  

Going with netting and covers to try and camouflage the greens from any more nocturnal attacks.  Taped the holes to keep the beetles out that are also getting their invasion plans ready.  I expect an engagement with them in a week and that they'll besiege my encampment.  

If my fortifications don't hold there may be some consequences, so I'm calling Lt. Steve in for some high-level talks about what arsenal I'll have to acquire to defeat this enemy.



I was able to get greens for the girls rations, at least for a few days, but getting them back to headquarters involved some covert moves and lightning fast reflexes on my part...

... those girls have some deadly moves when hungry...