Let’s Breathe New Life Into This Thing!

So, I haven’t posted in quite some time — something like a year and a half, in fact.  For a while, life just got too hectic, but things are settling down now and I’m starting to make time for normal life again.  This includes both gardening and blogging, so be prepared to see new posts.  🙂

That is all for now, but expect to see an actual post of substance by the end of this week.

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Still Alive!

I haven’t posted in forever, because life kept getting in the way.  Even worse, I have pretty much neglected my garden since July.    Hopefully both situations will change with the new year.

Best present so far: My husband got me an indoor/outdoor weather station that also connects to the computer, so I can easily save the data.

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Bring on the Rain!

Apparently laying my potatoes out to cure under a leaky roof wasn’t the best plan.  Yesterday, the rain wasn’t that bad.  It rained off and on all day, but it was a slow, steady rain.  I made sure the potatoes weren’t under a drip and left it at that.

I woke up this morning, planning to put all the cured potatoes into storage and making sure all the rest were as far from any of the drips as possible.  That’s when I discovered our nice, easy rain of yesterday had turned into a deluge over night, and the roof was leaking a lot worse (For being top-priority since we bought the place, our deck roof has never been replaced).  All the potatoes were at least damp, and a bunch of them were soaked.

I ended up, setting up the card tables in the shop and laying the potatoes out there, like I should have done in the first place.  It doesn’t have the air circulation of the deck, but at least they will dry out.

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Harvest Time!

I dug up my potatoes last night, barely making it before dark.  The rain came as expected, however, so I am incredibly glad I stuck to my guns.  They are currently curing on the deck — as well as they can with marauding dogs and a leaky roof.  I should be able to put them away tomorrow, if I can keep them dry enough.

My turnips still have not been harvested.  Hopefully the bugs did not eat into them as much this year as they did last year.  Things have been so crazy that I haven’t been able to check.

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I’m Still Here!

I know it’s been a while, but I am still here.  We’ve just been dealing with medical issues and Internet issues, and in the meantime, I’ve been trying to actually get SOME gardening done instead of just writing about it.

Quick Recap:

1) I did harvest my late garlic in bunches, but have not yet had the chance to braid it.

2) My peas ended up with mosaic virus, so I had to rip them out, solarize the soil, and I still need to sterilize all equipment.  (I do have pictures, but don’t trust my Internet to hang on long enough to post them.)

3) Research says that everything that touched the peas needs to be boiled, not bleached, but I don’t have a big enough container for that.  We’re going to try using pure bleach instead of a bleach solution and see if that works.  If I spread it around next year, I’ll just have to toss the tools, but I figure it’s worth a shot.

4) My potatoes need to be harvested.  If we have enough time and energy tomorrow after sterilizing my tools and braiding the garlic, I will do that.

5) I really haven’t done much else except for usually remembering to water — hence, lots and lots of weeds.

6) We have had our first frost, so I should probably tent the tomatoes.  I’m holding off until the potatoes are harvested.  We never have that huge of a tomato crop anyway.

7) As I said earlier, our Internet’s been all wonky.  At this point, we have replaced everything that can be replaced and need a technician to come out, but that means being able to be here when the technician is.  When that issue is taken care of, I’ll have more regular posts again.

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Garlic, Garlic, Garlic!

I planted a lot of garlic last fall, not really sure what I would get.  In the past, my garlic has been decent, but the bulbs have been small and I haven’t gotten that big of a harvest.  That’s not what happened this year.

I will admit that the tall stuff in the foreground is grass instead of nicely trimmed path.  However, take a look further back, by the shop.  All of that is garlic.  Lots and lots of garlic!  The plan was for me to have an early, mid, and late season crop.  However, as I kept checking the “early” garlic, it became increasingly likely that “early” really meant “mid,” and that is what ended up happening.

Late last week, I went out to dig a sample bulb for our garlic bread, only to find that both the early and mid-season varieties were done NOW.  Of course, this was right before dusk, so I did not have time to take pictures as I hastily braided my harvest and hung it in the wood shed to cure.

The braids in the foreground are the so-called early crop, and the ones further back are the mid-season crop.  Even though they ripened at the same rate this year, I want to keep them separate in case this was just a fluke caused by our odd weather.  We aren’t completely sold on this variety, because it isn’t as pungent as what we have grown in the past, but even if I plant something else next year, I will also plant a sampling of these, since they are proven producers.  Also, we have hopes that the pungency will grow as the bulbs cure.

Speaking of curing, as I was researching how long they are supposed to cure (anywhere from two weeks to three months) I came across an interesting point.  I had always heard that the best way to cure garlic, at least the softneck varieties, was to braid it.  In fact, just the other day, I came across another blog post, eighth acre farm, talking about curing their braided garlic.  However, I came across blog after blog after blog that said to hang garlic in bunches for at least three weeks before braiding it.  At this point, I changed my search to read: “curing garlic in braids,” not sure if this was really an unknown taboo in harvesting garlic or if I just was getting an inaccurate portrayal of gardening practices due to poor searching wording.  Finally, I got a post that mentioned not only curing garlic in bunches, but also in braids.  Unfortunately, it just mentioned that they did both, but not why, or if, one method was preferable.

At last I got my answer.  Garlic can cure in braids, but issues can arise if one of the bulbs begins to go bad.  If you wait a few weeks before braiding, it is easier to cull out the potential culprits.  You are also more likely to have pretty braids if you wait due to two reasons: 1) the dirt will be easier to brush off at this stage; and 2) the braids won’t loosen up, because the stems will have already dried.

When the late-season garlic is ready to harvest, I will try waiting a few weeks and see if there is any noticeable difference.  In the meantime, I need to figure out where I’m going to put all this garlic when it is done curing.

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Is This The End?

All summer long, I have been battling bees.  It started with a small paper nest of yellow-jackets, resting at ground level.  After that, I almost stepped on another yellow-jacket nest.  Although this one didn’t get much blog space, it was especially tricky to get rid of, since we had to first weed through dense grass in order to even see the entrance hole.  To make things even trickier, it was in the cats’ favorite hangout spot, so we could only spray at night and we had to wash everything down with the sprinkler first thing in the morning, so we didn’t accidentally poison our pets.  Then, mere days after we ended that battle, we discovered the mother load.

Even after dousing it with two cans of spray, the hornets tenaciously clung on, so we eventually had to lean out of our window and spray it that way.  Three days with no signs of hornets, but we are still leery.

Promised pics:

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Bloomsday: August 2012

Family medical issues have been taking priority over the garden lately, but that doesn’t mean I can’t post some pictures for Bloomsday!  I will, however, keep this post fairly pared down.

The knapweed looks pretty done for, but if I prune it down to the ground again, we will get at least one more good showing before winter sets in.

Along with crowding the roses, this fuchsia is getting overrun with grass.  I was in the process of taking care of that, when I discovered both my second yellow-jacket nest of the season and then a giant bald-faced hornet nest (pictures coming soon).

These fuchsias look much happier, and I am planning to add the one in the previous pic to this bunch when I can.

My climbing roses are starting to look happy on their trellis.

And I will end with this.  I did not plant this Red Hot Poker, nor do I particularly want it in this particular location.  However, it looks so glorious when it is in bloom that I can never make myself dig it up.

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More on the Hornets

Well, my husband doused the nest with two cans of spray.  I would have taken pictures, but wasn’t going near where they might retaliate.  Nothing went after him, though, so that might do the trick.  If it appears safe tomorrow, I will take some pictures.

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Summer of the Bees

The story continues.  Earlier today, my daughter came running inside because a bee was chasing her.  Then, about an hour ago, my husband called me upstairs because bees were divebombing the window.  When I looked out from a different angle, however, I saw a giant nest about the size of a football helmet in our eaves.

This is a second story window, though, so I thought this nest could possible be left alone.  However, when I went outside to test out that theory, I was very rudely chased inside.  The bees have to go.  Now we just have to figure out how to get to them.

To be continued . . .

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