Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Things I Am Not Sure I Want In My Garden Again

There are a number of things I am not sure I want in my garden in 2010. For various reasons they didn't work out well, they didn't seem to give a great return on space investment, they weren't that tasty, they were a nuisance, whatever. I have added brief reasons with these. Note, I do not feel that there is any need to be rational about these, I spend enough time being rational.

A few quick notes -

@ChiotsRun - I love the San Marzano as well and that was an unfortunate omission. One thing that I need to figure out is how to keep blossom end rot away from them.

@tater-mater - I will contact you via your website. Thanks for the offer!

Things I Am Not Sure I Want In My Garden Again

Ground Cherries - They started slow, then exploded. They were tasty, but so prolific I was a little alarmed. I also seem to be the only one in the family who will eat them regularly.

Sugar Baby Watermelons - I only have so much room for vining plants and, although they were super tasty, I enjoyed the pumpkins and Charantais more.

Market Cabbage - A little hard to grow, very maintenance intensive, and relatively low yeild per space. I say maintenance intensive because I wanted them organic so I spent a LOT of time picking at them and clearing cabbage loopers by hand.

Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomatoes - Great flavor, but not too prolific, and (for me) a little hard to judge when they were ready.

Zuchinni - Tasty, prolific, but it seemed a waste in some ways too. I do love the leaves too though, and the variety I have is outstanding. Hmmm....

Acorn Squash - Two years, very few squash.

Lettuce - I am the only one in the house that will eat it. Seems sort of a waste. It is pretty tasty though.

Interesting that the bent seems to be on productivity and who will consume what. Got my Burpee catalog yesterday. And as usual I am torn, there are some tremendously good looking things in there, conversely, so many of them are GM crops.

Things I Want In My Garden Again

Started really working through the catalogs lately and know some of the things I want and some of the things I don't.

Things I Want In the Garden Again In 2010

Black from Tula tomatoes (drool drool drool)
Green Zebra tomatoes
Cherokee Purple tomatoes
Brandywine tomatoes
Supersweet 100 cherry tomatoes
Baby Bok Choi
fingerling potatoes
turnips (drool drool drool)
Dutch Crookneck Squash
blackberries (drool drool drool)
Charantais melons
Rouge vif de Etempes pumpkins
swiss chard

I wonder whats on my wife's list? Maybe I need to find out. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Work With The Best Sort Of People

I work with a great crew of people. For Christmas they got me a few things. They got me these:

A gardening Christmas ornament and some seed saving supplies. They also pitched in together and got me one of the most insightful gifts I have recieved in a LONG time:

They also got me all the attachments for it. Salsa screen, berry screen, pumpkin screen etc. I am so excited to try it out. I think I am going to try it this weekend with some pumpkin to make some pie filling. More winter stores coming soon!

And, to MrBrownThumb, I will be glad to send you some seed to veggies that keep through the winter. Drop me a note with and address or email address and I will get some seed off to you. Would love to talk as well. Looks like you are in my area and we are thinking of a gardener get together in the area here in March or April.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breaking Into The Winter Stores

As a gardener I like to stretch the harvest as long as possible. I like to have something fresh from the garden all the time. No small feat in Chicago. This year I grew some things that could be stored for the long haul, into the winter. This last weekend I decided to break into the winter stores for a little boost of mood. What did I break into? The onions? the ristra? No, I broke out a Crookneck Squash.

It looked great three months in. It smelled great. But what to do with it? I decided to break into the winter stores again, and what came out next? Sweet potatoes!
Three months in the store and it looked good, smelled good, was a tiny little bit odd on the texture.

So I roasted the squash in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme (I need to post on my successes with keeping the herbs going indoors so far this winter) and a touch of oil and brown sugar on the sweet potato. Into the oven, and, wow. A magnificent lunch on a cold day. What a joy. I would have gotten a picture, but they didn't even make it off the cookie sheet before they were eaten, still screaming hot, by an appreciative family.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Candied Citrus Peel

I was reading Chiotsrun one day and saw a great post about candied citrus peels. I followed a link back to Garden Of Eating and got a great recipe. Made it today with my daughters from some grapefruit, YUMMY!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some Dehydrating

Got a good size bag of apples on sale (29 cents a pound!). Cleaned them, peeled them, sliced them, dipped them in a lemon juice solution, and threw them in the dehydrator. Buddy had a great time helping peel and dip and putting them in the dehydrator.

This year we have given the dehydrator a pretty good workout. Thyme, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, squash, now apples. Thinking about some of these tasty looking citrus.

Working to preserve more each year.

Got hotsauce on my mind too.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bedding Down The Strawberry Beds

Our strawberries did not do so well this year. Looking back and thinking about it some I think we had several factor leading to this:

1) unfavorable weather - It was cool, wet, and most definitely unsunny.
2) potassium - Our soil in the beds developed a potassium deficiency. I can solve this with bone meal, but if someone can think of another organic solution I would love to hear it.
3) plant age - I think we bought plants a year older than normal. This means they produced early but may be nearing the end of their productive time.
4) failure to properly perform winter care - we did not properly close the beds last year.

This year we properly closed the beds. I cut all the old foliage back. Covered up with straw, held that down with some sticks, etc, for weight, put some slug repellent down.

This spring I will be putting some fresh compost down, some potassium supplement of some sort, maybe a few fresh plants, particularly on the underused bed, and hope for some more affable weather.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Seed Catalog! - Seed Savers Exchange

Its here! My first seed catalog of the year! (or, as my wife informed me - "Honey, your garden porn has arrived!")

I love seed catalogs. They help me get through the winter. Seriously. The magnificent pictures, the tantalizing descriptions, the titillating promises! Did I mention my wife says this is garden porn?

I get to dream and plan all winter. I get to overplan every inch of garden. And to get this one first...

I love SSE (Seed Savers Exchange). Its a non-profit with the mission of preserving heirloom seeds and heritage breeds. Of keeping and encouraging the once declining (on the upswing now?) art of saving seed. The variety and quality is unparalleled.

I get 99% of my seed from three sources. I may change that over time, and these are not endorsements, but at they are:

1) Seed Savers Exchange - All of the above. And more, they have great service.

2) Freedom Seeds - The Dervaes family, or Path to Freedom fame, has just gotten started in the seed business, but the items I got from them last year were top notch. And the service has been the BEST.

3) Burpee - These are the seeds I remember from my childhood. I think thats why I still order them, its a sense of nostalgia. They have great service, but they are not as environmentally progressive as the others, but I think they will come around with time.

Well, back to the SSE catalog. Its well organized, but really almost organized as a good read, not just a quick tool to order from. I like that. I like the profiles and history and stories inside. Love it!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Alright. I started playing Farmville. I got a Facebook account for the sole reason of doing so.

Several Points:

1) it is addictive

2) it is fun

3) it requires patience

4) it has many shortcomings. So many that its frustrating and has me wondering how hard it would be to design a game like it myself.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Funky Compost Plan

I have decided to go ahead and try a little different method this year for composting. I haven't managed to get my compost pile really going, so I have added grass and leaves to each of the beds and some rock dust for some remineralization. Here in the next week or so I will till it all in.

I am not really sure how this is going to work out. I added some compost accelerator (not even sure to know if that is working or not), but I am hoping that it breaks down and actually composts in situ.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

2009 Harvest Total - Part 1

Over the next few days I will be putting up my harvest numbers and discussing various aspects of my harvest. First a couple of notes:

1) I did not get a scale until harvesting was under way, so some of the early harvests (radishes for example) simply weren't weighed and I have no way to really estimate the harvest. Some things (turnips for example) I have good numbers for the later harvest and none for the early.

2) Some things just never got weighed and never had a chance. My Tumbling Tom tomatoes and ground cherries would be good examples. I snacked on them while working in the garden/yard. I ate a LOT of them, but running in to weigh them would have reduced my enjoyment of them, so, oh well.

3) Some items, herbs primarily, I did not weight because I was usually in a hurry using them or I was drying them, should I use the dry or wet weight?

So, lets get to the big number first, with the understanding that this is actually not a complete number by any means, my spreadsheet says 356 lbs, 224 oz, which, oddly enough comes out to be

370 lbs

I have no idea how that measures up. I have no idea what the real number is, but this is what I have accurately recorded. It doesn't seem like a lot for some reason, but I know how much enjoyment it was, and how much work it was.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Non-Explosive Cabbage and Bacon

Some of my cabbage survived the hydrostatic pressure and is quite tasty.

Had my Mom on my mind this morning so I made some fried bacon and cabbage.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Some Seed Saving

Trying to work on some of the core gardenening skills and decided to save more seeds of my own this year. The seeds I saved from last year did pretty well. The watermelons in particular came out really tasty, although they were not very prolific. I am not sure that didn't have to do with weather, but.... .

Here we have three saved seeds. Those are Costoluto Genovese tomato seeds at the top, zinnia seeds on the lower left and Charantais melons on the lower right. We will have to wait to see, but I am tempted to drop some seeds in a pot to check viability.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Harvest

We officially harvested the pumpkins this weekend. We got 82 lbs 10 oz of pumpkins. Some of them are still shiny as moisture condensates on them because we just brought them in.

Trying to figure out which one to cut up and save for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Along Came A Killer Frost

We had a hard frost this morning.

We had good notice so I spent a lot of time last night getting potted herbs in the garage and finishing harvesting a lot of the plants.

Got the Basil, Tarragon, Thyme, Oregano, and Rosemary inside.

Left in the garden? Sweet potatoes, ground cherries, pumpkins, watermelons, Charantais, zuchs, squash, and the pepper plants with a bunch of little peppers which I will probably never see.

Brought in the last of the tomatoes, picked every pepper worth picking (thinking hotsauce), cabbage, broccoli, chard, onions, shallots, cucumbers, etc.

Working on some totals for harvest this year so I can contribute over at Freedom Gardens.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Charantais Melons Surprise Me

Here we have a few of my Charantais melons. I got the seed from seedsavers and they were great. High germination rate, and very successful. What is odd is that I got 18 melons. I still have about ten out there (will have to bring them all in soon) and all but one of them are within an ounce of one pound each. They are between baseball and softball sized. Except one that got to almost three pounds. I have no idea why this one melon got so much bigger while all the others, including ones on the same vine, stayed smaller.

I cannot tell you how amazing the aroma of these melons are. One day I walk into the garden and a strong, heavenly smell just coats the garden. Its the Charantais. The entire garden smells magnificent. When I cut into them, the aroma just floods the room. Amazing.

The taste is identical to a top notch cantaloupe, but that aroma puts them over the top.

Monday, October 5, 2009

When Cabbages Explode...

I have read that cabbages and other vegetables can actually explode if they get too much water all at once. I have seen tomatoes split, but I have never seen anything like this. the hydrostatic pressure must have been pretty intense to split that guy all way through! Try and take a nice fresh head of cabbage and tear it in half with your bare hands.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Still Harvesting

Potatoes from a bucket on the deck. Onions that were still in the ground. Carrots from the garden. Some organic beef and celery. Stew. So yummy! So filling on an overcast, cool day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pumpkins Uber Alles

Here are the five beds. Unfortunately I don't have this angle during the high point, but you can really see how they filled out. They have been so productive its ridiculous, and so enjoyable!
If you look over there on the left you will see the pumpkins and water melons which I put in that bed with the intent that they would over flow in the yard.

I guess I succeeded! as you can see below the pumpkins just exploded, they are also running into the neighbors yard, and thankfully they don't seem to mind.

There are two large flat pumpkins that have turned orange/red, two large flat ones that are still yellow, and two smaller ones that seem to be taking the rounder (almost egg like) shape. I had to harvest one of those when the vine it was on gave up the ghost.

The water melons over here seem to love hanging out and growing under the pumpkin vines. An interesting and unanticipated occurrence.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Coolest Kid In The Neighborhood

I got a three wheel scooter, green rubber boots with Thomas the Tank Engine pajames tucked in and an Elmo helmet. Cool? You haven't seen "cool" until you've seen me. Stand back, or the glow will hurt you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Late Garden Still Going!

Its been a while since an update. Sorry for the delay, but life has been demanding, some things needed to slide a little, and this has been one of those things.

Here is a pretty typical day these days. These are actually the last of the summer potatoes, a good sized carrot or two, some peppers (marconi, cayenne, and poblano here), some tomatoes (Brandywine, Costoluto Genovese, and a little Cherokee Purple), an onion or two, and a special addition today - a little Charantais!

We harvested the first two ripe ones today and have 14 more to go. Let me tell you, we must have the exact right soil or something because these things taste AWESOME!

Here we have one of our BIG Rouge Vif de Etempes pumpkins. He have eight of them, but these two, next to each other on the same vine, have gotten a lot bigger than the others. Anybody got an idea on average size of these normally? Also, as is my plan each year, I just let them sprawl into the yard.

A number of the little cabbages that I thought would just die in the August heat came around strongly in the streak of cool weather we have had of late. The advantage of this in particular seems to be a total lack of cabbage loopers. I had loopers on me early cabbages (and I spent a lot of time picking them off by hand, yucky!), but these seem totally uneffected.

And here we have HOT HOT HOT Thai peppers grown from seed from my dad. These things are tasty, but a couple of them will drop you to your knees.

Will try to make it a lot sooner to the next post!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dill Pickles

I have been looking for a good dill pickle recipe and asking around led me to:

Will have to give these a whirl!

Got plenty of cucumbers I have to do something with.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lost Days


Sorry its been a while since I posted. Had some dental issues and painkillers and blogging just don't match up to well in my book.

As for the food and garden front, I have really been working the bread and making some recipes from my Jamie Oliver cookbook my daughters got me. That guy really knows how to put a good recipe on paper! The garden keeps producing, but had a rough patch over the last week or so.

A lot of rain combined with really cool temps combined with inattentiveness on my part because of the bad tooth and you get a rough time in the garden. A lot of tomatoes split and some bugs got in, but the melons, pumpkins, squash, and peppers sure seem to love this weather. The beans have given up and the onions are still coming in strong.

The herbs have been the kings of the show lately. I cut the basil and oregano back couple of weeks ago and they bounced back strong. The other herbs are doing well, except the tarragon. It was doing really well for a while when it was hot and dry, but the cool and rain seem to have it down.

I need a good tarragon recipe. Got any favorites?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ruralrose, You Win The Prize!

In a comment earlier today Ruralrose put a link to Mother Earth News which had an excerpt from a great book on artisinal bread making. The article is a little rambling, and poorly ordered (if you ask me, which they didn't), but the results are not to be argued with.

The bread (some with honey and butter, and some with the pasta sauce I made tonite) is outstanding. Really. I would have been ecstatic if I had purchased it. I am over the moon that I made it.

To Ruralrose...


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fall Garden Suggestions?

Sorry for the lack of posts, I am without a camera right now and a lot of the stuff I am working on really needs a camera to show.

Working on Fall plantings. I need to improve the soil a little and rotate the crops a little.
Looking at chard, lettuce, potatoes (from my own seed potatoes), bok choi, turnips, carrots, and there are a few things I am hoping come along (like my parsnips).

I would love to hear any more suggestions anyone had on fall plantings, maybe even some flowers.

I am working on a bunch of other things that I hope to tackle over the next few days (man, I need a camera), the list includes:

A compost bin.
Make some bread (first time)
Make some cheese (first time)
Make some pasta sauce (definitely not first time)

So many things, so little time.

Also, planning on seeing Julie and Julia today. I guess its the foody in me that makes me want to see a "chick flick", but this looks too good to pass up.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rabbits Face (Hopefully) Insurmountable Odds

So, we have a LOT or rabbits in the neighborhood. I mean a LOT. And my garden is the equivalent of the local watering hole. Around early dusk, they cirlce the yard in every direction, waiting for me to go away so they can come in and have a meal.

Recently I noticed that the number was lower than normal. I think the Cuterbra parasites might have gotten some of them, but the number continues to decline. I am only seeing one rabbit in the mornings now. Where have all the bunnies gone?

Does someone nearby have a better garden?

Is the one rabbit running the others off?

Whats going on here? Well, let me tell you.

A couple of nights ago I went out on the deck and saw...

...a big black flash come at me from the neighbors chimney and heard the soft sound of a whoosh over my head as the newest neighborhood pet took one of the rabbits for a ride. He made the rabbit an offer he couldn't refuse.

Mr Owl, you are me hero.

I have been trying to get a picture of him, but I think thats going to be pretty much impossible given my equipment.

Boy, those rabbits have it rough around here. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dazzling Color, Great Taste

The tomatoes keep coming! Here we have some Dr Wyche's Yellow and some Cherokee Purple. Tried the Dr Wyches tonite.

Cut into the tomato and BANG, there it was, my new favorite color. At first I did not like the flavor, but then I realized it was really just different. Then I realized it was a fruity flavor, less acid. What a joy to eat.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rainy Day Heading For HEAT

It rained most of the day yesterday and a good chunk of last night. A few thunderstorms early this morning. But the big news is that its been such a cool July and today we are headed for record highs. Its actually cool this morning and the temps will climb through the day an into the night building to an even warmer tomorrow. Got out there this morning and have more to do before it warms up too much.

Will try to post again later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Harvest As Family Activity

One of the best things about a garden is harvesting. Combine that with your children, make it something to look forward to on the way home or when they come to visit. It makes memories. It is a rare and genuine manufactured memory. Buddy went out with me tonite and picked beans, helped dig for potatoes, and pointed out red tomatoes. Then he INSISTED on carrying the harvest bowl into the house all by himself (its a long way for a two year old, steps, etc) and he rendered yeoman service. Joy.

Below we have a work table covered in fruits of the garden. Just the way I like it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh JOY!!!!!

So this weekend we had some excitement in the garden. We decided to pull up the smallest potato plant and see if we actually had any potatoes. Here the girls give it the old heave ho and...

And we did indeed have potatoes! Had a couple of pounds, which considering, is a pretty good haul. We roasted them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and they were magnificent. Seriously.

Not a bad haul. I am not sure we went far enough down to get all the potatoes, but it was so hot and the girls were anxious to get them in the stove, so I should go dig up the rest of the area.

Then, after waiting, and waiting, and waiting we finally got two days of heat and two warmish nights and the tomatoes start rolling in!

We have some Green Zebra, Roma, San Marzano, plenty of Costoluto Genovese (including a green one that I broke off in my frenzy to get the others, some Aunt Ruby's German Green, and the big guy is a Black From Tula. Tried the Green Zebra (tart and tasty), the Roma and San Marzano (tasty but a little mushy), the Costoluto Genovese (Tasty, Tender, softest skin I have ever seen on a tomato) and I ate the Black From Tula. The BFT was one, if not the best, tomatoes I have ever eaten. It literally raised the hair on my neck. It was that good.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Michael Pollan Is Pretty Cool

Just read an article in the NYT by Michael Pollan about food and health and culture.

Well worth the read. Its a great article. I can't recommend it enough.

This blog is mostly about gardening. I garden partly for environmental reasons, for reasons of relaxation, for important points of education for my children, for the challenge of it, for sheer joy.

But, when I am honest about it, the first and most deeply seated reason is that I love good food. Food that tastes like it should. Food that you can't find elsewhere. Food that is prohibitively expensive in its use unless you grow it.

Now I find that my love of good food (good in all manner - taste, health, local, etc) is really good for me and those around me.

I find that my love of cooking is actually an integral part of that. I guess I am one of those rare animals, a man who cooks at home, and cooks a LOT, with joy.

Read that article and enjoy! (FYI - The last section is the one with the punch, but with a lot less punch if you don't read the whole thing).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

REALLY Tasty Green Beans

Tried a new recipe this weekend for green beans. Its really easy as well.

Boil (a rolling boil) the beans for five minutes.

While the beans are boiling make a dressing (roughly for a pound of beans):

two tbs coarse mustard
two tbs vinegar (I used red wine, but white or rice would work, maybe balsamic)
six tbs olive oil
one clove grated garlic
one small minced shallot

Drain the beans and dress while hot.

We ate every bean that could be reasonable picked with this recipe this weekend.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some Garden Thoughts

I meant to do a big picture post today, but spent all day outside instead. So when I finally sat down to do a post, I am more overwhelmed with thoughts. I have started taking some decent amounts of food out of the garden now, and have developed some strong notions of what is working (in various ways) and what just isn't.

Raddichio - planted a good amount of it and it was basically inedible. It was so bitter that nobody who tried it could eat it, even after a good saute. And it never formed heads. As far as I am concerned, a total waste of time, space, money, and effort.

Lettuce - I planted a great blend from Freedom Seeds and some iceberg from Burpee. All of it that I harvested was great, but I didn't get too much. The rabbits have kept it trimmed. I finally decided to abandon it to the rabbits and they have pretty much left everything else alone. Not a bad trade altogether.

Cucumbers - I planted two varieties, Parisian Pickling from Seedsavers and Tasty Green from Burpee. Both are producing well and this weekend I had pounds of them. Both are productive, tasty, perfect. Last year I didn't plant any and the wife missed them. I am using the fence behind the raised beds as trellis for them and its working pretty well.

Swiss Chard - I didn't plant any and didn't really want to. But then I traded some turnips for some chard with a neighbor who gardens. What a mistake! I got some seed, threw them in the ground and they are doing well and are REALLY tasty when sauted with some garlic and olive oil.

Turnips - I got these from Freedom Seeds as well. I wasn't sure how they would work out because I rarely have good luck with root vegetables, but these were real champions. They matured quickly (I have already eaten all I planted), were sweet, juicy, crisp. Perfect. Now they are on my must have list.

Radishes - Another FS product. French Breakfast Radishes. Fast. Tasty. Fun. Good garden delineating crop.

Beans - I decided to try bush beans (Blue Lake) this year. And it was an inspired choice. I got a master recipe for beans and they are producing like crazy, tasty, tender, perfect.

Zuchinni - Really producing this year. More than last year. Switching beds to the ones near the deck really seems to be paying off.

Pattison Panache Squash - Got a blush of them, picked them small. Roasted them with some balsamic. Succulent.

Strawberries - They stopped blooming and producing a month or so ago (not that they produced much before that). Took a while to figure out what was going on. They are short on potassium (red leaves, good upper growth with no blooms, still sending runners.

Ground Cherries - Really tasty, hope to get enough at one time to add to a fruit salad. Of course I can't get enough because they make a great snack in the garden.

Cherry Tomatoes - Here they come. In spades, in triplicate, in copious amounts! Yay!

Tomatoes - Ripening. I am going to get them in a surge of tomatoes.

Herbs - I skimped on the potting soil. This means that watering has been and issue. As far as being prolific and tasty, no problem.

Anyways, will try to get some pictures up tomorrow and any more thoughts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Strange Weather Creates Need To Pop

Wow, this unusually cool weather (50 degree lows at night in LATE JULY?) has built up a lot of pent up energy in the garden.

The Tomatoes won't ripen.
The Blackberries won't ripen.
The Zinnias won't bloom.
The Peppers won't grow.
Grapes that have stalled.

As soon as we get some sustained warm nights we will be up to our elbows in food. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough determinate tomato plants to generate enough tomatoes to make a worthy effort of canning, but I think Mother Nature has helped me out.

It makes me think of my favorite Squirrel Nut Zippers lyric "I feel like drivin but my car won't run, I feel like drivin but my mules won't come."

Hope to post some new pics tonite.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Suddenly, I Find Two Things Are Connected...

On July 3 I posted a picture of an unusual bee. Or so I thought. I submitted it to the Univ. of Illinois to identification (I had more pictures than the one here) and they identified it as a "Bee Mimic". It is actually a fly.

On July 7 I found a young dead rabbit in my yard. We have had a couple over the last few years, and two this year. We have been wondering if someone in the neighborhood has been poisoning them.

Now I find out that the fly that was identified is a Cuterebra Abdominalis. Which is a parasite of the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit. Young rabbits that get a large number of the Cuterebra Abdominalis larvae, which lodge in the throat, can be fatal to them.

I think I have a serious parasitic life cycle going on under my deck.

Serious Thanks to the folks at Bee Spotter.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sometimes You Water The Garden...

...and sometimes you end up watering the kid.

Evidently water droplets gathered by mouth from the air is the best way to get a drink. If you have the time. :)

Good Days

Have some more produce coming from the garden. Here we have one of my favorites that I have never grown before. Bought the seed from freedomseeds.org. These are the best tasting turnips I have ever had. Firm and crisp, but so finely grained as to almost be creamy. Amazing!
Also harvested a LOT of radishes, lettuces, strawberries, bok choi.

Here we have the daughters demonstrating their one of their dance routines. Always fun.
We took some time and constructed a tent/fort in the living room. Loads of fun!

Played with balloons for a good long time. A good time was had by all!

Living large.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tomato Update

Had a lack of bees, and was worried so I did some hand pollination. Then the bees showed up. Was worried about getting tomatoes. Until this weekend when I took some time, had an epic pruning session and discovered Much Tomato Joy.

My friend Suzy may be far ahead of me, but I will catch up with here soon enough. :)

Here are the San Marzanos, in seemingly perfect little six and eight packs of tomatoes.

Here we have the Romas on an improvised stake. Nice clusters of great little tomatoes.

Here we have the Black From Tulas. Already they have a more dark coloration. Anticipation...

These are supposed to be Green Zebras. But they currently look flat and really light in color. I am not convinced I haven't had a seed mix up (or a prank from the wife!).

Here we have what, so far, are the most beautiful tomato I am growing. Costoluto Genovese. They are growing in these surprisingly tight clusters and look just magnificent. ChristyACB says these make great canning tomatoes, but its going to take an unusual act of mental strength to not eat them. :)
Aunt Ruby's German Green. The tomato my wife is most looking forward to. Supposedly they make the absolute best fried green tomatoes. Around here, thats the official start of garden eatting season.
These Cherokee Purple seemingly jumped popped off the vine. Gorgeous.

The cherry tomatoes (Super Sweet 100) went from zero to mouthfuls in just a day or two.

Here we have some Dr Wyches Yellow. I am amazed at how flat the young tomatoes are!

And the cornerstone of my cornerstone, the most prized tomato of my tomatoes, the Brandywine. Not to many of them, but I knew they were not all that prolific. They look great.

So far, no disease, no splits, no pests, good garden hygiene. Keeping those fingers crossed!

Herbs, Herbs, Herbs

Thought I would drop a quick note regarding my herbs. I have (in order front to back, disregarding flowers) Rosemary, Tarragon, Basil, Thyme, Basil, Oregano, and Sage.

Gotta love those herbs!