Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Crops are Falling!

Falling prey to caterpillars!  They are everywhere and the Bt I have been spraying just makes them stronger.  I got some spinosad in the form of Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew but we've had rain every evening so I haven't been able to spray.  The rain is gone today and the forecast is clear for the next week so I will spray tonight in one last ditch effort to save what's left of the butternuts and cocozelles.  The spaghetti squash and pumpkins are done.  One pumpkin and no squash on a dozen plants and the one pumpkin was attacked last night and has holes all over.  All but one butternut was attacked, too.  The butternut holes are tiny so I'm hoping I can still save them and just cut the wormy part out.  They won't store, but I could cube and freeze.

The biggest butternut, not looking too good.

Spaghetti squash covered in powdery mildew and chewed by caterpillars which have made their way into the vines.

The last cantaloupe.  Starting to see a theme?  Yup, the caterpillars feasted last night!
The good news is that only a few of the cucumbers have been hit with bugs and no powdery mildew yet so I get to keep those for a few more weeks, or so.  Also, all the winter veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, etc. are doing great.  The caterpillars only seem to like the cucurbits.  If I pull them now, I free up a lot of space to plant onions, garlic, leeks, carrots and greens, among other things.  I am somewhat sacrificing the cucumbers because, once everything else is gone, they will be the feast of choice.  Hoping to keep spraying and keep them from moving onto winter crops.

The sweet potatoes are curing nicely, and I cooked with the ones I harvested early, about a month ago.  I made scalloped potatoes at gratin.  They started out as scalloped potatoes, but them I covered the top with cheese so, technically, they are au gratin.   I think.  Never was really sure of the difference.  Whatever the name, they were the best sweet potatoes I've ever eaten.  Ever. In my life.  Even my daughter loved them and ate two helpings.  I didn't follow a recipe, just sautéed an onion and garlic in butter, added salt, pepper and crushed cayenne pepper and wondra flour and made a paste.  Then I poured in some heavy cream and added chopped chives and the sauce was done.  I mixed in the potatoes and poured it all into a baking dish, covered it with grated asiago and baked at 400 till potatoes were soft and the top was brown which took about 30-35 mins.  Everything but the flour and dairy came from the garden-love that!  I didn't get a picture because they were gone before I even thought of it.  

We had the potatoes with a salad and a crock pot roast.  I even made an apple slab pie for dessert.  Used this recipe from King Arthur Flour.  I had a store bought crust and was short on time but it worked great.  I will attempt to make the crust from scratch next time.  Oh my, it was a great dinner.  I will have to run a few extra miles today, but it was sooooo worth it.  

One last thing, but it's not garden related.  Hope no one minds.  Here's a somewhat grainy (pulled it from a video on my phone) of my son riding his bike for the first time without training wheels!  

So proud of him.  Go Little Man, go!

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Farmer's Market Finds

I brought my husband to the weekly Farmer's market yesterday.  Usually, I only look at edibles and plants and bypass the flea market junk, but there was some kind of event inside the fairgrounds (that may, or may not, be the fall fair) so all the vendors were in the parking lot and they were not in their usual spots.  We ended up going through all the aisles looking for the plant guy (never found him) and, low and behold, I ended up bringing home some of the flea market junk.

First, I got this cool looking level.  The guy wanted $5 and my husband offered $3.  The guy said no so we walked away.  I couldn't stop thinking about it, it just spoke to me, so I went back and offered $4 with a very nice "Please?".  That worked and now I have a wood and metal level that is currently sitting on my fireplace mantel.  Not your usual formal living room mantel decor, but I love it.

Next to the level guy, was a true junk table.  It had Coke glasses and assorted "antiques".  It also had this window.

It's not antique, but for another few bucks, I knew it would be perfect in my future garden shed.  In this case, the glass and plastic frame construction will work great out in the elements.

The last thing we picked up was this tool box/carrier.

Doesn't it look adorable holding some herbs and gardening supplies?  I pointed it out to my husband as we walked past the vendor's table and he loved it and said I should get it and use it in the garden.  It was the most expensive thing we bought at $15 and it pushed the total over my $20 budget.  The guy who sold it to us made us promise not to paint it and ruin the charm.  Not a problem.  I love it just the way it is.   I wonder what it says about me when I go shopping and come home with a level, window and tool box?  I'm definitely my father's daughter!  He builds clocks in his retirement and is a wonderfully gifted carpenter.  The smell of freshly sawn wood is one of my favorites.  

We actually did get some produce - a bag of red pears.  In all of my 42 years, I've only eaten a handful of pears and never had a red one.  I am not sure why I don't eat them more often.  They were delicious!  Very sweet and crisp and juicy.  My husband and I ate a couple while we walked around.  When my daughter and her friend came home from school, we made them each try some slices.  Neither one had eaten a pear, ever.  I love introducing people to produce they normally wouldn't pick.   It was funny because, the day before, my daughter said she wanted to try a pear since she loves apples so much.  She said it was good, but didn't finish the portion given.  I guess she's more of an apple girl, after all. 

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Final Sweet Potato Harvest

I harvested the last bed of sweet potatoes today.  This bed was the first one I planted back in early May.  It was one of a few new ones installed in late spring and I didn't realize that it only got partial sun in the afternoon.  Sweet potatoes like it hot and these slips got a slow start.  Ironically, the bed produced almost as many as the others (in full sun) and the size and shape were much better than the crazy twisted, giant ones I harvested yesterday.

I harvested 12lbs which brought my total to 45lbs!  Not bad for my first time.  We definitely have enough for our family to eat all winter and spring until the regular potatoes are harvested.  I will also get to bring a big dish of them to the family Thanksgiving dinner!

I upgraded my phone and I now have a cool panoramic feature so I played around a little with it this evening.  I need to perfect my technique.  Evidently I cannot follow a straight line so it looks a little wonky but I like being able to see so much at once.

The mini pumpkins, spaghetti squash and Christmas Lima beans are to the right of center and I just planted broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts in the beds in the middle.  The empty bed near the flag may become a perennial onion/leek bed.  All the way to the right are the four new beds I added a few weeks ago.  They still need soil and at least one will be for garlic/shallots.  I think the others will hold sugar snap peas (climbing up the trellis) and shelling peas.  I'm training the spaghetti squash to climb the other side of the trellis.

The Tabasco peppers (on the left) are, officially, over six feet tall!  My butternuts were coaxed up the trellis on the right of the bed this morning and a few vines reached the top.  My fall planting of Kentucky Blue pole beans are too shaded behind the peppers so they aren't filling in the back trellis much but they are starting to flower and may give me a few pods.  If they aren't producing much, I'll pull them and plant peas in their place.  I'm still debating on overwintering the Tabasco peppers.  There are two plants and I may leave the front one (the biggest and more prolific) and prune and pot the back one to take in on cold nights and see how it does in the spring.

I finally got a chance to turn the compost from one bin to the other.  I also sprayed everything down with a generous dose of neem.  I have some aphids and, just today, found the start of powdery mildew on every single squash and pumpkin plant, ugh!  All the humidity really takes a toll on the fall garden.  Hopefully, I can harvest a good crop before I have to pull everything. 

Have a great night!

Thanks for reading,