Monday, July 29, 2013

Harvest Monday 7.29.13

It's the end of July already. It went so fast! I practically blinked and it was over. The peanuts have flowered and sent their pegs into the earth. I'm thinking saving seed wasn't the smart thing. This crop doesn't look very healthy. I don't know if it is the exorbitant amount of rain or the saved seed, but the leaves are not fully opened they seem somewhat stuck together. This is not something I've seen before. Usually I deal with rust, or some other issue like fungus. These plants look somewhat dwarfed because of it.

This weekend was productive. I harvested a pomegranate, a sweet potato the size of my head, and a few others (enough for dinner for all of us one night) and some mulberries. Those were chicken fodder however. It's just too buggy right now to be eating them fresh. I managed to cut the mulberry tree in half and this was a good thing. I didn't chop the top half off of it, I trimmed off all the crazy limbs that were taking over the sandbox and neighboring apple tree. Now we can see out of our dining room window again to watch the kiddos play. It's truly amazing how much that tree grows every summer. It quite literally gets chopped in half in the spring and again in the late summer. The best news is that this heavy pruning spurs on the best mulberry crops. In about 8 weeks I'll be so happy I did this. :-)

I also managed to pull out 2 small beds of summer crops to ready them for the Fall crops. One was planted with the first set of 5 tomatoes and 2 tomatillos. The other will be for a second crop of limas. The first crop isn't fairing well and will be replaced. Fordhook does not give a second crop here the way that Eastland does so after I use the rest of this seed it will not be saved nor bought again. I wish I could grow pole limas here there are 2 varieties I understand do exceptionally well in our heat and humidity. I think next year I'll try anyway. I do have one small trellis to try with.

The Avocados that are in the garden beds got trimmed up as well. Not a hard pruning like the mulberry. I wouldn't want to stress those trees out, but just the few bottom branches needed trimmed up to let in more light and not to interfere with the blueberries new growth. While I had out the shears I hacked away the orchid tree that hangs over the privacy fence. I found that the newest orchid tree is different from the others. This is something to be celebrated. I'm praying it's not going to be dropping those blasted seeds into my garden like the mature one that we already have does now. If the hummingbirds didn't love it so much and it was so beautiful for months I would have chopped it down years ago. The new flowers are much skinnier and CORAL colored! If the white blooms attracted the hummers, I can't imagine how much the coral ones will!
So, that was my excitement for the weekend. Unfortunately I don't have any other pictures. I only have this one because I got the flower in the house on Friday night. Otherwise I would have missed it, too. After all dirty hands make it hard to take photos. LOL.
Hopefully I'll remember to get pictures of the pomegranate before I eat it. ;-)
See you soon!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rainy Days

We've had a lot of rain lately.
One of the ways that we've been keeping busy is by having contests and making up games around the house. But as it turns out things that burn up physical energy are hard to pull off indoors. So we've been coming up with some good things on our own.
Flooryball is one. (seated volleyball with a tiny beach ball) If you fall over, or have to get up to get the ball it's a point for the other team.
The old spoon -n- egg race takes on a whole new dimension when played with a ping pong ball (VERY light weight and falls a lot easier) and socks on a wooden or tile floor. Let's just say giggles abound and the game usually ends in fits of laughter and someone on the floor.
Speaking of ping pong balls. 'Racing' them is something new that we are learning. That is to say, racing them by blowing at or on them. Most of the time this game starts with a roll of masking tape, and the kids are learning quickly that wind can do all sorts of things. Push/pull and JUMP! The suckers even go backwards when you blow right on them. Hmmmm...
Ah, but by far the favorite of the bunch has been the learning of and the now contests of the HOOLAHOOP! LOL. I thought they'd never get the hang of it. Seeing as it had been a good 25-30 years since I had hoola'd any hoop I wasn't any help in that department and I had to relearn right along with the girls. But, once learned the skill was quickly mastered. We are now hooping and hoolaing all over! This little number takes up a lot more energy than I remember, let me tell you! I thought that first 1 minute hooping session was harder than digging the garden any day. So needless to say this is something I'm looking at as exercise for me, too. (Just in far lesser quantity!)

By making it a contest it keep them from arguing over how long they get the hoop for or doing it at the same time. We don't have enough floor space for that!
Look at 'em go! So far we've learned to jump while hooping, and shake while hooping, and turn around... what will the next trick be?
Still looking for more things to do to fill the wet, wet hours.
See you soon!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Harvest Monday 7.15.13

Hey, Lookie there! It's Monday again! Harvest report time. I'm linking in like usual to Daphne's Dandelions. Thanks Daphne, once again for being such a great hostess. Make sure you stop by her place to see what is being harvested all over the world!
Here at my place it's avocado time! Of course, that doesn't man much. I only had about 6-8 set on the tree and then the dab-blasted squirrels got all but one before I managed to cage the thing. BUT, Oh but a harvest is sweet indeed when it is the first of it's kind. After all this tree is one of 5 avocado trees on my property. One of them was killed back this year and it looks like it will not be making a come back. It's no longer healthy so it's compost bin bound. The tree this fruit came from is Mexicola. It also got frozen not this past year, but the year before. It's only about 4 foot tall. All the other trees make fun of it. The most promising tree towers more than 20 foot taller than it. Yet, it was the first to bear. Go figure.
What? You wanted to see this luscious fruit? OK!
OOOO... It looks so large. It's only 4" long. LOL. But as they say a harvest is a harvest! It's going into guac. a small serving of guac but darn it guac non-the-less! We really lucked out because it started to ripen on the tree while we were away in Alabama and this is what it looked like the day we came home. If we had been gone another 2-3 days it wouldn't have been any good and I would have cried!
Also on our harvest menu this week, and only this week the Concord grapes. Of course I didn't bother to tell the husband and kids not to eat them and when I came back from harvesting the peppers for the guacamole - well it was down to this...
From 3 bunches of grapes to a few measly nibbles left for the Mom. They left me what had fallen off the bunches. Lovely. I hate to tell them but it still tasted just fine. The fruit only split because of how much rain we've had lately. But I did learn a hard lesson. I didn't trim the vines back last year in hopes they would take over the play house this year. They didn't. Not only did they not grow as much, they didn't produce as nearly much. MUST. CUT. BACK. the grape vines. :-(
Last but not least on my harvest list for this week are some more sweet potatoes. I saw a few mounded up and really was craving some so I felt around the base of a few plants and grabbed these out from under them.

Not on my harvest list, but harvest here in Florida by my parents in Jacksonville and gifted to me while I was visiting this weekend:


A big bunch of yummy tomatoes and one of my favorite things, EVER... Canned tomatoes.
I have serious issues with canning. I just can't get post doing it all by myself the first time. I know once I do it I'll be fine, but until then I am over joyed by receiving gifts like these!
I should say I also received some beans, but there is no proof! They are all gone! :-D
Just like the first jar of tomatoes. ;-) YUMMO! Thanks again, Nancy!
Guess it's time to get back to work for me. Tonight I have plenty to do. I have to separate one of my flock who is picking on another member. I'm hoping to curb the behavior even though I don't think it will work. I'm going to start with a week of isolation. Wish me luck!
See you soon!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Pioneer Woman

I'm not sure if I should really post this, so I'm trying something new. I'm pretty sure if I posted it it could be like copyright infringement or something so I'm going to try it, then send it to Ree. Don't be surprised if the pose dissapears soon!
Not that Ree knows me or anything. Though that would be really cool. I've been following her blog for ages. Watching her kids grow up and...OK. Yeah, that sounds pretty creepy.
Here's the thing - She posted about an awning issue she's having and I think I've come up with the perfect answer. Only I have no way to get this answer to her so this is the only way I can think of to do it. Maybe she'll see it, maybe she won't but either way - Hey, I tried. \
See, she and her hubby are having a bit of a disagreement on the placement of an awning at a storefront. She loathes it, he loves it. Can I get any kind of sympathy for her here? I mean haven't we all been in this exact predicament before? I mean really? Recently I was in this ... Oh wait this post isn't about me. Right. So anyway. I took one look at her photo and I can see EXACTLY what the problem is. The awning is fully functional which is what Marlboro Man loves. It keeps out rain and sun, but HELLO! It's KEEPING OUT THE SUN. It looks dark and dreary in there. The awning is blocking out the precious light that gives storefronts what they need. LIFE!
SO I took the picture and moved the awning where it belonged, at the joint of the 2 stories. This way the ties don't block the texture of the building and the awning doesn't block the texture OR the light. Just look at the difference it makes. Instead of feeling like you are ducking inside it feels open and INVITING!

Here's the before and after:
Pioneer Woman's picture left - after picture right
Hmmm... Now I'll save this and see what it looks like. Then I've got to figure out how to get it to Ree.
Wish me luck!

See you soon!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

One picture.

That is what I managed. One picture while we were there. Don't get me wrong. I got a picture of a couple of those peaches. I got pictures of my kids playing inside. But, I was never able to yank out my good camera and get outside with it. The one time it did stop raining.... OK it stopped three times total, but I swear to you we used ever one of those time up for something better than pictures.

The first time it stopped raining we took the kids fishing. They hadn't been out of a car or a house in 2 weeks. They needed it. We had about an hour at the pond before it started raining again and we tried to wait it out until the thunder started.

The second time was just for fireworks. Sometimes, I'm quite positive God plans these things. The kids were SO very upset they weren't going to get 4th of July fireworks. We told then we would have them whenever we could even if we had to wake them up in the middle of the night. The rain stopped at 8pm and started back up at 10:30pm. There is nothing that says God's Plan better than that. Amen.

The third time was the last day and we ran around like little chickens on the ATV's gathering up all of our gear and making sure everything was done. But, since we were out and running around I did manage to snap a shot of one of the main reasons for this trip. One of our hunting shacks is starting to rot. Well. Inside it's fine. It is a wasp attractant, but it's fine. The legs however are starting to rot. Rather than trying to save the shelter by sawing off the shooting house and then supporting it on the outside with new 4x4's and having it not be as stable as before we decided this one would be taken down. This main field is the one we take the kids to most often after all and we wouldn't want to risk anyone getting hurt. Here is the new structure next to the old one:
It took 3 days in the rain to build and raise, but considering it comes in large pieces and could have only taken a single day without the rain - EH!?
The new structure is a lifetime structure. No rotting wood, no worries of wasps getting inside while we are away and building nests. No owls, either (that's another LONG story and kinda funny) But along with all that the best thing about this? The ladder to get into the stand isn't straight up and down like the other ones. It's more like a tall stairway. EASY for the kids to climb. Going down is a bit harder, but going up is a piece of cake. Makes it easier if you are carrying something, too. ;-)

We weren't able to get the old one down this trip but we will soon. It will go into the burn pit and be our winter camp fire wood. We just have to remember not to roast marshmallows over it. It's pressure treated so that would be a no-no! We thought about turning it into a playhouse for the kids but the wasps are ALWAYS in there. I thought about a hen house, but dragging it all the way to Florida? Uh- I don't think so. It will be 10 years before I need one here on the property... at least. I don't know that it would or wouldn't last that long but meanwhile it would be an easy place for wild animals to hide and make into homes. So, it will have to be destroyed. What a shame. It makes me sad.

OK- so that's enough from my mouth.

See you soon!


Monday, July 8, 2013

Harvest Monday 7.8.13

Guess What? It's STILL July! <3 and I'm still in love! :-D I just can't help myself.
This week brought peaches. Not Florida peaches, not Georgia peaches but the first of the peaches from the bare root trees I planted in Alabama. I'm proud to have them, but I could have had more if I had been greedy. When we first got there it was raining, but not hard. I picked 2 peaches, we divided them and then I went out immediately and got 2 more and did the same. It was just enough to satisfy our sweet tooth for dessert that night.
The next morning it was pouring and on the way from one cabin to the other we each grabbed a peach and munched our way across the lawn. Unfortunately the wind had picked up over night and knocked off a lot of the peaches as they were all just about ripe. But the winds continued and the rains were not about the quit that day. We were sequestered inside and I thought I would go out and gather the fallen fruit to make a cobbler once things calmed down. I should have gone out into the storm - or just gathered them all off the tree when we first arrived. By the time I managed to get out there hail had moved through and damaged the fruit so badly and then the continued rain just washed the rest of the fruit off of the pits. There was nothing but pits and mush left. What a sad state of affairs. There was a good 20 peaches that were wasted. Granted these peaches were small as the tree is small and it held a lot of fruit, but they were bursting with flavor!
The rest of the newly planted trees (year and half old now) did not produce any fruit. They weren't expected to. Added bonus if they did but it wasn't expected. Peach trees just seem to mature faster for some reason. But, I'm so glad that they are planted and really growing nicely. They all came out of dormancy and are growing wonderfully. The apple trees are healthy, the plum tree looks fantastic the peach trees obviously are doing well. It's especially good that the plum tree is doing good. The ancient one that we have been depending on that is up with the pecan trees? It didn't come out of dormancy this year. It appears the lichens that have been growing all over it have finally zapped the last of it's strength. Most of the wood is brittle now and there is not much chance that even with the removal of the lichen growth that the old tree could survive. It will be removed when we go back in the Fall. There is a quick trip planned for September, but it's much too fast for that project. The diseased wood will need to be burned to be properly disposed and we wouldn't have time. Better to leave the tree in place for the time being. Besides saying goodbye to an old grandmother tree which will be difficult I guess this means we'll also have to make a decision on what type of plum to replace it with. We had hoped that the plum we planted would cross pollinate with it, but now we'll have to purchase a second tree to pollinate the first. There are wild plum trees in the woods but pollination would be spotty at very best as the home site is much higher than the surrounding woods and the pines have grown so much that they would block most of the pollen from getting through.
Oh, and that leads me to a whole other huge post on decision for the property. Unfortunately the rain didn't let up the entire time we were there so even though a LOT got accomplished there isn't a lot of pictures to share. :-(

Um, and I have to decide if I should get rid of a bossy hen that is picking all the feathers from another hen and making her miserable. She's grabbed me more than once, too. The kids will be sad, but new chicks would be good, right? *sigh* Decision time here, too.

See you soon!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's True!

It's true! I <3 July! I just can't help it. There is so much promise in July for me. Later this month I'll start new tomato plants to transplant for the Fall season. That's a great kick start to the garden and a huge help to the brain that just sees the garden that is sweltering and drowning out there. It's been raining non stop for 5 days now. Blech.
But it's all going to change tomorrow. We're heading back to the property tomorrow and that promises campfires, picnics, cookouts and lots of family memories. It also promises a few grouchy moments, a lot of Gatorade and some more sweat. We do a lot of work while we are there. But this trip is always one of my favorites of the year. It may not be as nice of weather that April usually brings us, but the kids are always more eager to help out and excited for the sparklers and campfires that we do.
But, I'll post about that when I get back. For now I wanted to tell you about what I'm most excited for in the Fall garden. I've got some new seeds to try and a couple of them have me just dying to plant already!
This fall my garden will (hopefully) feature:
Graffiti Cauliflower
graffiti cauliflower technical information vigorous plant habit ...
Burnet (herb)
Salad burnet leaves and flower globe
Pole Bean Trionfo Violetto
Unfortunately they were out of stock of the parthenocarpic cucumbers that I ordered. Seeing as I wanted to start those right away on my porch I was less than thrilled about that. Oh, well. Hopefully they'll get them back in soon. If not I'll cry in my soup and have them order another type. I always sow at least 3 types of cucumbers and while some do better than others I usually count on these types of cukes to give me the largest harvest the fastest. The plants don't stay around long term, but I generally get enough for my pickling needs and then use traditional plants for my fresh eating.
For the first time in a few years I also ordered a few flower seeds. I just couldn't resist a new blanket flower color. I also got some status for drying inside. Hot pink for my girlies. I thought they'd appreciate it and since our Fall and early spring is the best time to grow it here - BONUS!  :-) I got some dianthus for the Fall as well. I thought that the pink to white dianthus with a purple pansy or such in front would be great along my ginger and walkway for some color. It's always so drab there once the lilies go to sleep for the summer.
OK- so NOW do you see why I get so excited about July? It hold so much promise! Come August the heat is so miserable and I'll be scrambling with getting the kids back to school and that it entails, I'll forget all about how wonderful it is. September the garden will be reseeded for the fall/winter months and it will all start over again.
So, I guess for me this is my version of getting those garden catalogs in the mail in the dead of winter. 
I'll be back next week. Until then.
See you soon!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Harvest Monday 7.1.13

July! July? JULY!!!!!!

I'm SO excited! It's J~U~L~Y!
Know what that means?
Sweat. LOTS of it. But, it also means. Ice tea, lemonade, grilling, broken air conditioners (in Alabama FUN!) Lots of work outside, and lots of cooling of in the shade.
This week the work was clearing out the rest of the broken corn. I got a few more ears of corn, but a lot of it hadn't matured right. It simply wasn't able to fertilize being mashed down.
Some of the corn did better than others.
 It seems that even the ears that got fertilized was stunted in other ways. Some of it had rows missing, and other ears were stunted in length.
But, all in all it only took another 3 weeks out of that part of the garden it's the time of year that I can't grown much anyway so I don't feel that I've lost anything by trying. We actually had enough corn to throw on the grill for all of us with some left over and we each ate an ear or two of the decrepit corn with only a few kernels while we were plundering through the garden. There is just nothing like fresh veggies in the world and this is one of my favorites. All told we had 4 pounds of edible corn. More went to the hens that was demolished by the caterpillars. Because the corn was laying down it was hard to keep it treated with BT and soap. I don't normally treat with anything else so I did lose a bit to that. Luckily those ears were also quite small.
Also in the mix this week a couple of choice blackberries and some tomatoes.

The tomatoes are a bit sun burnt I was trying to keep the dang stink bugs off of them, but apparently that didn't work out so well. I can see the little points of color change on the skins where the bugs damaged them. I was thinking sun burnt might be better than stink bugged, and I didn't see any signs of the bugs when I went out tot he garden.  However, apparently not having the leaves cover the tomatoes must have simply given the stupid bugs a better lookout and not so much less of a place to hide. :-( It just didn't work. Bad thing is the bugs aren't even that bad this year - yet.
Ah- so that is my report for Harvest Monday. I'm hoping the blackberries will be strong in Alabama. I'll report back next week! I'd like some black berry syrup and some blackberry jam and just black berries! Wish me luck!
Oh, and don't forget to check out Daphne's for more Harvest reports from all over the world.
See you soon!