Tag Archives: organic gardening

Autumn, outdoors

The going has been slow…

What the dog (and man) brought in… #wildflowers #aster #autumnflowers #fiestawarelove #fiestaware

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The yard has improved significantly this year – we’ll see what overwinters and fills out next – hopefully the new “herb hill” will never need to be mowed/wacked again. We keep picking up coreopsis plants on sale too, so I’m gaining an unintended dye garden as well.

And the redistributed cement crumbles from the former sidewalks to nowhere have oddly fruited!

Stinkhorn! #stinkhorn #fungusamongus

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And N built an enclosure for leaf compost out of the biggest pieces. The dog likes to sit in it too.

The garden is a bit of a mess – I’m out of steam for it this time of year, and yet again, I didn’t get the timing right to keep up with some decent lettuces. The tomatoes never got a second wind from their blight (a couple are okay, but they aren’t the tasty ones). And it’s possible we’ll get a few zucchini and patty pans from the second planting of squash that I was hoping was post-squash vine borer, but wasn’t, but I’m not holding my breath.

But this squash, a Zucchino Rampicante is amazing.

It’s currently hardening off like a butternut, and there’s another almost done. It seems that only one fruit can mature per vine, but the babies are good eating like a summer zucchini. And it’s a good thing because we’ve only got four little butternuts. So these two Rampicantes will make up the difference – I’ll wait for the taste test this winter before giving them the green thumbs up – hopefully they’re good, because they beat the pests and diseases the best, and are a constant source of bawdy amusement.

We do have a decent amount of spinach, and we might get some carrots, but the beets are becoming hairy carrots instead of beets – at least the greens are still good – the fall beets never do as well as the spring, so I have to read up on that.

Most of the cayennes are drying out.

Most sewing I've done recently. Note to self: don't rub eyes. #chilipeppers #cayenne #organicgardening #picapica

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And the freezer is overflowing with beans – both the bush and pole had bumper crops this year.

I neglected to pick the fennel – it was a new to me variety that made smaller bulbs, so once I noticed them, they were on their way to becoming too tough.

But maybe we’ll get some seeds. And it’s pretty and the caterpillars like it so it will stay until the bitter end.

N trash-picked the perfect glass/plexi door to make a cold frame, but I’m dubious we’ll get to it this year – the priority right now is to clear and prep a garlic bed.

(And fiber things)

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Mid August

And so it goes – much the same as it has been…

Beans must be picked every other day.

And then suddenly there are 50 pounds of tomatoes…. #tomatoes #heirloomtomatoes #organictomatoes #gardening

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And tomatoes are expressing their juicy demands.

The rogues gallery. #notsojerseyfresh #organicgardening #organictomatoes #tomatodiseases #notsotasty

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And I need to learn about more diseases and pests to ward off next year.

Some thrifting is still being done here and there – picked up some “vintage” yarn for more and bigger scrappy things – I’ll probably dye the one on the right since the white is actually wool, or mostly, and it’s interesting that this seemingly semi-shitty novelty yarn was once spun in Belgium and France…

And some finishing is happening – this spin will be mittens or slippers, but will go on the back burner for a bit.

(Next up for spinning is still TBD – either a shit-or-get-off-the-pot spin with raw alpaca I’ve had far too long, or a quick palate cleanser with a colorful superwash braid… either way, the wheel is freshly cleaned and oiled and swept up underneath and is ready to go.)

And of course, beach time – just a bit here and there though – and I’m finishing up this knit – hopefully by the month’s end (secretly by the end of next week).

Some upcoming travel means socks need to be on the needles, but I’ve really run out of room in my sock drawer… In theory I “need” a few more pairs that better match my work clothes, but I have none worn out enough to purge to make room, so…

I’m going to knit them anyway and have more disorder and chaos and cramming going on in my life again!

 

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Early August

This summer has been full of long days that go by quickly.

I’ve got a bit of return teen angst/summertime ennui that is somewhat satiated by lying in the direct sun in a sweaty stupor. I must need the vitamin D; I’m surprised I’m not more tan; I’m blaming reverse puberty for just about everything.

Nice tail. #bugsofinstagram #ithinkitsacranefly #insectsofinstagram #insect #bug #thingswithwings

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The garden is doing that- just when everything looks absolutely awesome, it shits the bed thing – squash vine borer hit hard, and despite a few surgical attempts (only 2 out of 5 lived through it) we’re down to only 2 stressed out zucchini plants – I think we’ve eaten only 4 zucchini all summer. And the tomatoes, those lycopenian bastards – all was so very well with them until we got rain and hot temps and more rain and now they’re stressed out with leaf spot or a form of blight, or something that happens every year that hits hard and fast, only this year the big harvests didn’t start before it… But they’re coming in – some better than others, and some delicious.

First garden tomato down the hatch! #gardening #organicgardening #tomatoes #nicoisesalad #saladeniçoise

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Much of this year’s grown and foraged fruit went into ice pops and frozen yogurt. Note to self: make ice pops with nut milk again – wineberry and chocolate almond milk was good as was gooseberry vanilla.

Frutti di bosco e backyard froyo. #fruttidibosco #homemadefrozenyogurt #froyo #wineberries #blueberries #fiestaware

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I’m working/knitting on finishing up one shawl/scarf exclusively at the moment – I might be on the last ball of yarn, or there might be one more and I can’t find it which might be a slight problem, but I love this one – a super soft thrift store sweater yarn – I’m tempted to troll the online auctions to find another one of these sweaters for more/another project, but I’ve got other lovelies waiting in the wings.

Rocco now has his own Instagram account – N finally realizes the joy of looking at dog pictures and he can share their dawn adventures while I’m still sleeping or getting ready for work – he’ll still make appearances on my account, but I’ve got loads more pictures of him than anything else… And he’s totally potty-trained (Rocco, not N, well N is too, but has been for some time) inside the garden now, and stays out of the beds for the most part – he’s been a pleasant companion in there lately which is a relief and a pleasure for both of us (we still have a long ways to go outside though).

And I’m nearly finished with a spin – just trying to decide on a 2 or 3 ply… might just say 3 and do it now…

 

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Early July

I always think of the 4th of July as mid-summer, though it technically isn’t, but it’s a time to for me to take stock and get a bit more organized (I only just switched the seasons around in my closet). I’ve got the itch to purge and sell more shit though not yet the time to shoot and list it. But some things are slowing down, and I’m sitting here with hopefully the last half a numb head I’ll have for a while.

But my eyelid is numb too and I’m just going to ramble a bit with IG pics and notes.

The garden had a later, slower start – some of it due to the weather, some it due to me, some of it due to some (unknown animal) thievery while we were away. So some things needed a second and third planting, but the cooler temps and decent rainfall made things fairly easy overall so far.

Last year’s blueberries all fruited, and though they’re still just at stand-at-the-bush eating quantities, I’m thrilled about them, though we must erect some better bird netting for next year. And the gooseberry gave up enough to actually consider recipes. A few weeks ago it started to drop underripe fruit (some sort of stress, might have been a hot spell) so I whipped up a little batch of jam with it, the only three stalks of still-young rhubarb I could safely pick, and some strawberries for sweetness.

The goosed I like to get. #gooseberries #backyardfruit #organicgardening #fruit #berries #gardening #sweettart

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The main load became ice pops (blended with almond milk) and are damn refreshing.

The only lettuce that germinated was buttercrunch – which is okay since it’s my favorite – but it’s getting older now and I neglected to save a good spot to start the warm-season varieties (or just more buttercrunch), so I squeezed in a covered lane next to some fennel that’s doing well at the moment too. We had some near-death and replanting and rebound with the basil which is a good thing because we never seem to have enough. And all squashes are younger than we’d like, but persevering – one butternut volunteer I let go for shits in one of the compost bins is especially bombastic and has some toddler fruits, so fingers crossed…

And then I was ignoring the beans – those are usually my failsafes, but got hit hard from slugs? this year but survived, but I thought needed more time.

Almost didn't bother to check the bean bed… #organicgardening #gardening #beans #greenbeans #growyourown

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But they didn’t. And a batch is already in the freezer. Lesson learned from previous years to put up what can be now, and eat up now what can’t. At least to some degree – fresh green beans are not to be ignored completely. But we had several quarts of older (larger) greens (kale and chard mostly) that languished in the freezer since we knew they’d need to be cooked down and seasoned well, and I should be out there now picking the fresh young stuff for January’s dishes. And let’s not forget the tomatoes, onions, shallots, kale, chard, beets – all of those are doing well – and the peppers (jalepeno and cayenne) had a rough start but seem to be rebounding, but the garlic had a rough time – we’ll still have a decent harvest – but we need to figure out why it wasn’t robust – perhaps the late winter heat spell followed by the cool damp start to summer was to blame.

N’s new landscaping has brought noticeably more pollinators to the yard which is lovely to see (both the bees and the new flowers) and I’m still fighting the poison ivy – it’s getting better but will still need monthly vigilance and gloves. N also got one of those motion-activated sprinklers that is hopefully pissing off the feral cats enough to stay away as well as the deer, but so far the deer don’t seem to mind (or know when it’s off).

We’ve managed to squeeze in a few beach days.

And the flaming molten lava safety cone of ketchup and mustard smeared on asphalt is a perfect beach knitting project. I still don’t know if I like it, but I am committed to finishing it, and hopefully soon.

And it should be time soon to forage for invasive wineberries here… and then to think about and plan a bit better for autumn’s plantings…

And to soon reunite with an old unfinished knit.

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Garden end days

(I’m sick over this election bullshit and low maddening hum of misogyny like a high voltage wire stretching over the continent here, so let’s stick with some light “lunching ladies” garden talk for now…)

The garden broke me this year – there wasn’t a single plant (except the hot peppers) that wasn’t hit with disease, multiple diseases, and pests – even the fresh dirt in the new raised beds now harbors various evils.

garden-end-eflin-thing

There was some balance – some of the new pests attracted some new predators – but not enough, and/or not in time and I’m going to have to be even more proactive next year with using more or other organic interventions.

garden-end-mantis

The fall crops mostly failed from no rain and continued heat through September, but a few sprouts are gamely hanging on, and the poor embattled (nearly zombie) tomatoes are desperately trying to ripen their very last fruit.

garden-end-army-worm

We had a few more butternuts than last year, but not enough for the work we put into them to keep them alive, and my experiments with letting some volunteer plants grow failed miserably since they were a month or more behind and maturing at the height of pest season.

garden-end-squash

Google took new satellite images of our town and our garden can be seen from space! Near space, that is, and luckily it was captured after a fresh batch of straw in the aisles and before the plants got big, so there’s good contrast.

garden-end-satellite

The new garlic is now in, and the old garlic is already half consumed – unfortunately we’re definitely not going to make it until next year’s crop.

garden-end-canned

And the canning is finally wrapped up – just tomatoes in various consistencies, jalapeno salsa, and a tiny batch of overly sweet hot pepper jelly. The rest of the bounty is tucked away in the new chest freezer. I experimented with blanching or not with a few things, so we’ll see what worked best, and anything too mushy to eat is heartily consumed by the canine, so it’s not a total loss.

Now starts the month or two of raking and shredding leaves…

(And a heads up that I agreed to put “a subtle message” urging Americans to register to vote in my posts, so if you see it, it should be there, and please vote unless you like Trump or any of the other election-throwing candidates, then please stay home.)

 

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Late summer garden

I’m still having issues with the phone line/DSL and I’ve been on vacation, so more random garden notes for now…

late summer-cicada shells

There were many early successes and now some dramatic hits – the early tomatoes came down with late blight and the late came down with the early – at least I think that’s what happened.

Squash vine borer took out the zucchini just when I figured out what was happening (there weren’t any obvious early telltale signs)…

late summer-vine borer

and to some degree at an okay time – we were getting tired of it and my most hated garden pest – squash bugs – hatched.

late summer-squash bugs

Despite squishing their eggs every morning, I still missed a bunch.

(And the dog will miss eating portions of the missed monster zukes daily.)

Now we’re worried about the butternut squash, but we’ve already got a few near maturity, so if they get hit, it won’t be a total loss.

The cucumber beetles (both spotted and three-lined now) continue to be a massive plague and introduced their bacterial diseases again which the plants have mostly powered through – I squished these daily as well and used sticky traps, but neither made much difference…

The dried beans will only amount to a meal or two – totally not worth the effort, but I could have been a bit more attentive to them and thinned them out a bit better for better air circulation – but – their close-togetherness keep them happy during the heat so either way it was certain doom for them this year.

On a happy note, we’ve been back to salads with some nice lettuces again and the bush and pole beans are doing fine.

late summer-lettuce

And despite the tomato plants taking the huge blighty hit, we canned and froze at least 100 pounds and probably ate the same… Most are still hanging in there after aggressive pruning and organic fungicide, but we’ll have to be far more proactive next year – I was too cocky about not getting hit with blight before. We’ve thankfully got enough beds to rotate everything well, but the southern ones are getting the least amount of sun starting in mid-July, so they aren’t a great place for them.

The yard didn’t get the attention I said it would have this year – we’ve got a couple large (maybe expensive) projects that I feel should be done before I spend time doing other things that might have to be undone, so hopefully we’ll figure that out soon, but in the meantime, the deer have been parading their babies through the yard.

late summer-deer

And the dog continues to be an asshole to them and other beasts, but we’re still trying hard – many dollars of behaviorists and prescription drugs later… (he’s kinda making me feel like I’m the one in need of prescriptions) and the issue of fencing for him is one of the yard holdups – he’s a jumper, the town has height limits, the back yard is pretty big, and the front the perfect size but probably wouldn’t work after all… and so it goes.

I’d hoped to start a few plants indoors for a fall crop, but we’ve yet to set up the grow station – it will happen for spring though – but I’ll be trying for some more root veg and greens – perhaps attempt keeping kale and whatnot through the first frosts – it’s been to hot to put in anything yet and I’ve still got to clean up a few beds first.

And nature has helped a bit too – we’ve got the resident praying mantis or two back, perhaps some assassin bugs (one baby snuck in on some veg), and birds that I’m also keeping my eye on – good now, but once we get blueberries I’ll likely be raging at them with a broom…

late summer-assasin bug

I let some volunteer watermelons do their thing as well as some more butternuts – we’ll see how well the mostly ignored, unwatered volunteers do vs. the painstakingly tended intentionally planted ones (squash that is, I didn’t plant watermelon this year).

late summer-watermelons

And there have been a few interesting surprises as well.

The swallowtail butterflys (I’m pretty sure this is black swallowtail) are snugging up to the garden again – this oddball preferred nothing natural to make her home:

And the damp weather brought out the mushrooms.

I know very little on the mycology front and only trust myself to pick morels in the wild, but I’m becoming slightly more interested – enough to try making spore prints next time I find some – and these in the bean patch are likely boletes of some sort, but I can’t quite determine which one…

late summer-shrooms

But the best has been a stinkhorn that popped up in the tomatoes – unfortunately we left the day after so I didn’t get to watch, or rather smell, its life cycle.

late summer-stinkhorn

The hot and humid weather finally broke a couple of days ago, but is likely headed back soon, so I’ll be busy in the meantime…

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Dripping into August

July was far too humid – I felt like I was (and still am) pushing through the air after sweat bath mornings in the garden.

If I had to commute to work every day, I’m not sure the garden would survive, or at least organically. So far, squishing bugs and eggs and more bugs for a couple hours a day has been more effective than traps and lures and early barriers.

It’s exhausting, and the tomatoes are in full, delicious, swing but I’m worrying over those plants now (might be in early days of disease or nutrition issue or too much rain after not enough, and while focused on the tomatoes, I ignored the borlotti beans that sadly began to rot/sprout and I lost at least a third of the crop). And cleaning up tomato goo from inexplicable places days after each canning session.

august-lilies

I transplanted several formerly deer-destroyed day lilies to the confines of the garden late last year and have been rewarded with continuous blooms so far – and different colors on each. Another 3 or 4 plants (with quickly munched blossoms) showed up in the yard this year so I’ll have to eek out a bit more space or plan another fenced area at some point. I refuse to do as my neighbors and spray deer deterrent nearly daily…

august-wildflowers

N and the dog (who continues to be a challenge and I’ve got to pick and squish his nasty bugs (ticks) daily too) go on canine-exhausting adventures every morning and have been bringing back foraged goodies, both delicious and lovely.

Several quarts of berries (which I recently learned are wineberry and yes, an Asian invasive like many of the “wild” things around here) that didn’t make it into homemade frozen yogurt, ended up in our new chest freezer along with much of our recent excess produce – we’ve suddenly become very ungenerous with the neighbors on that front, but I am stupidly, grinningly pleased that we’ll be eating our own veg well into the winter.

august turtle

(One of my favorite vintage tea towels and rare cheap local flea market find from last year.)

And on the fiber front, very little is going on – I’m knitting a few rows here and there and stitching up some paper pieced quilt shapes from time to time. And I’m still organizing my supplies and collections, deciding what to keep and what to sell, though my workroom is still too hot and to be avoided on most days, and I’m so unenthusiastic to start up the huge batch of online auction listings I’d hoped to have up and running by now – I miss the old days of selling shit online – perhaps I’ll try the even older days and do a flea market table instead…

 

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