Monday, April 28, 2014

Testing Me

The weather forecast is not too good. Anywhere from 3 - 5 inches of rain over the next two days and other severe weather stuff. Going to test all of the work in the garden over the last few months. The raised beds will definitely help but it will interesting to see what happens between them where I have so carefully piled wood chips. I'll spend some time this morning trying to beef up the defenses. Just going to wait and see. I did notice this morning that the rain we had last night overwhelmed my effort to control the runoff from the driveway. All the pine bark mulch on one side of the blueberry bed is up against the fence. I put in a drain and a large flexible pipe to try and move the water around but it is evidently not up to the task. Looks like a re-engineering job for that as well. So we are off to the garden to see if everything survived and do what we can to prevent heavy storm damage. If you are in the path of this big weather system headed this careful and make sure you are ready. Flashlights, extra batteries and all that stuff.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Almost a Garden

Now you know why I haven't been blogging that much lately. Fifteen beds built and filled and planted and maybe only 5 more tops. I am at the point that I can't plant anything else until I get another bed ready. I did till the rest of the garden and far in the back there you can see where I put the sweet potatoes and sunflowers. I'll also put the corn in the back and not use a bed. That part of the garden still gets too much shade this time of year from the trees to the South and it won't be for another couple of weeks that it will get full sun most of the day. So anyway...peppers, tomatoes, squash, okra and other stuff all in and ready to grow. Warming everyday and the night temperatures are beginning to stay warm as well which is what the tomatoes require. Supposed to rain now for a couple of days. I need the rest.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! Go hug a tree, kiss a flower or just go stand in the grass barefoot. Pray to the God or Goddess of your choice that we wise up before it is ALL gone.  Right now it is not looking too good.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Happy Easter if you celebrate it. This, BTW, is the first time in a while that the Orthodox Easter and Western Easter fall on the same Sunday. Two of my most memorable Easter's were when I was in Cyprus and the Greeks really do a big deal. Lots of lamb cooked on open fires and the air filled with the scents of lemon, oregano, and roasting lamb. There are so many cookling fires going on Easter that there is a haze across the countryside. I thought about lamb for dinner today but a whole leg of lamb is just too much for Madam and I to handle. Lamb is way under utilized in the U.S. where I think the per capita consumption is only a pound or two and I didn't really have an opportunity to develop a taste for it until I was in the Middle East.

Since we don't actually celebrate I've spent the day out in the garden. It's too wet to dig or construct another bed but I did go ahead and replace all the plants that got burned in our little surprise frost. Very odd that only a couple of tomatoes succumbed but I am not complaining. Probably a dozen peppers of the various types needed to be replaced. Again it was odd that only 1, 2, or 3 plants on a row with 7 plants were damaged. Must be some very small micro climates. I also went ahead and replaced all the eggplant since none of it looked too happy. Don't tell Madam but I also reduced the number of plants by 8 and put in some habanero peppers and heirloom yellow plum tomatoes. It's no secret that aubergine is not one of my favorite things and I had way too much planted.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just A Flesh Wound

Only a few plants taken by the frost. Actually the worst looking are the potatoes which are supposed to be hardy. That surely will be the last frost. Rained out today but I did get a couple more beds built though they still need dirt. Actually the rain forces me to get caught up in the green house where there is some transplanting to be done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Not Nice, No Ice

Lucky me! The weather forecast for tonight has been updated to include the possibility of a freeze which would set a new record. To put the icing on the cake we are having high winds today and this evening which makes it virtually impossible to do anything to protect my plants. If it really does freeze I am out 60 tomato plants and 50 peppers. Not to mention all the herbs and flowers. Not a disaster but darn near. Keep your fingers crossed.

I do have some back-up in the greenhouse for the peppers and tomatoes but not for anything else like the Italian, Thai and French basil or all the marigolds and zinnias.

Just so you won't think I'm crazy for starting the garden this early here is the record for last frost since 1948. I had peppers and tomatoes in 3 days ago (4/12). We have only had a frost this late in 1950, 1962, 1978, 1983, 1986. Notice that the last frost for the last 10 years has been before April 9th and in 2011 was in February. Just eager for that first garden tomato.

Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center. 

                      Growing Season Data (base=32 F)
                   Station: ( 90451) ATLANTA_WSO_AIRPORT      
                Years:  1948 To Present    Missing Data:   0.0%

            Last    First            Last    First            Last    First
           Spring    Fall           Spring    Fall           Spring    Fall
     Year  Freeze  Freeze     Year  Freeze  Freeze     Year  Freeze  Freeze
     1948   3/29    10/18     1949   3/19    11/18     1950   4/15    11/21
     1951   3/22    11/ 3     1952   3/16    10/29     1953   3/ 5    11/26
     1954   3/16    10/31     1955   3/29    11/20     1956   3/25    11/ 9
     1957   3/10    10/28     1958   3/22    11/29     1959   3/18    11/ 7
     1960   3/23    11/ 8     1961   2/26    11/ 9     1962   4/16    10/25
     1963   3/23    11/ 3     1964   3/31    11/21     1965   3/22    10/25
     1966   4/ 6    11/ 2     1967   3/19    11/ 5     1968   3/24    10/26
     1969   3/27    11/ 5     1970   4/ 3    11/16     1971   4/ 3    11/ 8
     1972   4/ 2    11/18     1973   4/11    11/10     1974   3/22    11/13
     1975   3/31    11/14     1976   3/18    10/29     1977   4/ 6    11/12
     1978   4/22    12/ 6     1979   3/26    11/15     1980   3/ 4    11/19
     1981   3/20    11/21     1982   4/ 7    11/ 5     1983   4/20    11/12
     1984   3/11    11/13     1985   2/16    12/ 2     1986   4/23    11/13
     1987   4/ 4    11/12     1988   3/17    11/29     1989   2/25    11/17
     1990   3/21    11/30     1991   3/ 5    11/ 4     1992   4/ 3    11/ 8
     1993   3/15    11/ 1     1994   3/11    12/11     1995   3/10    11/ 4
     1996   3/22    11/ 3     1997   3/16    11/16     1998   3/13    12/18
     1999   3/12    11/ 3     2000   4/ 9    11/15     2001   3/27    10/28
     2002   3/23    11/18     2003   3/31    11/14     2004   3/23    12/14
     2005   3/ 9    11/17     2006   3/26    11/21     2007   4/ 8    11/ 7
     2008   3/25    11/17     2009   3/ 4    12/ 5     2010   3/ 7    11/ 7
     2011   2/12    11/11     2012   2/13    11/25     2013   3/27

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Dog, Old Tricks

Just came in from a full day in the garden. Going to set back, drink a few beers and watch the Master's. Got 20 tomatoes in the ground and the last of the peppers. All of the tomatoes and peppers now have their cages and, if needed, a little extra support in the form of a bamboo stick. The rest of the tomatoes will go in tomorrow.

Miss Zoey has learned a new trick  from Minimonk's new dog Mr. Peterson who loves to play with and demolish pine cones. Miss Zoey, being very prim and neat, makes sure she brings the pine cone indoors and demolishes it on the white  living room carpet. Doesn't do any real damage but there is enough of a mess and quantity of small bits that it requires getting out the suck broom to clean it up.

Zoey was a big help in the garden today. I use Popsicle sticks to label the individual plants I put out since peppers and tomatoes pretty much all look alike until they start to fruit. Miss Zoey likes Popsicle sticks and likes to pull them from the ground by the plants and play with them for a while. She has not learned to put them back where she found them.

Oh! The Met Life balloon flew directly overhead today and at a pretty low altitude. I would guess about 1500 feet. Cool!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Back to The Garden

It's dried out enough to get back in the garden this afternoon. Our friends are heading off to Augusta in a bit for the Master's. Been a good visit and it was good that it was too wet to garden as I could spend time entertaining and not be anxious about missing good time in the garden during this critical time. This afternoon will be about moving herbs and flowers into the garden and that's where the cinder block holes come into play. They make perfect little containers for a a basil or dill plant or a marigold or zinnia. Flowers are important in the garden to attract pollinators plus they look nice. The tomatoes will start going in tomorrow I think and then I'll have to decide what goes into the last two finished beds and get started on more beds. I'm leaning towards squash.
Anyhow, off to one last lunch with our friends and then back to work. I must admit that it has been a nice rest.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Lots of Spring Rain

Looks like we pretty much got all of April's allotted rainfall last night and this morning. Flash flood warnings are in affect in the area. It is still raining so I haven't been to the garden yet to assess the damage, if any, and I am hopeful my flood control strategies are working. A good stretch of gardening accomplished in the last week with 12 10' x4' beds completed and filled and prepared for planting. Yesterday saw the first of the greenhouse plants(other than onions, leeks and shallots) go into the garden proper. One bed of 14 egg plants(7 pickling and 7 Amadeus) with 6 long cayenne plants. Another two beds with strictly peppers (7 ea. Carmen, 7 ea. Karma, 7 ea. Big Guy jalapeno and  7 ea. Early jalapeno and finally 6 ea. Jimmy Nardello. with room for six more of another pepper as I ran out of energy and light. I was trying to beat the rain and I just hope all of the little plants survived the deluge. All were supported with a bamboo stake and tied so they should be ok. Fingers crossed.

As soon as it dries a bit it will be time for the tomatoes. I've reserved 3 beds for tomatoes and haven't quite decided how best to plant them. In the eggplant and pepper beds I panted 7 plants along each long edge and 6 down the middle for 20 plants per bed. That should be enough space for the peppers plush some small things like lettuce and other greens in between. Tomatoes should have a bit more room to allow for air circulation and sunlight to reach the fruit. Maybe 5 down each edge and there may be enough room for 2 or 3 down the middle. If I can only get 36 plants in 3 beds I'm probably going to have to dedicate at least 2 more for tomatoes. I'd better get building.

Got friends coming to stay for a few days on their way to Augusta for the Master's which will put a cramp in the gardening for a few days but if the weather cooperates I should actually have it all ready to go.

I just checked the radar and the rain should be ending in a few minutes, at least for a while, and we'll go check things out.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Weather Lies

The forecast  was for thunderstorms and rain all day. Not a drop. I had planned to take advantage of the rain to get some "not outside" things done. I did get the mower prepped with new blades and drive wheels and a clean air filter and oil change. I was reluctant to start anything big outside since it was 90% chance of rain but I finally decided that the weather people were smoking funny stuff and went out and got some stuff done in the garden.
Got friends coming for a few days next week on their way to the Master"s They live in Arkansas now and it's nice that we can stage them for the tournament and get to see them. When they lived here we were constant companions and really miss them. Of course Madam gets insane when they are due for a visit. Nothing is ready for the visit. So far the carpets are cleaned but it looks like I have a major effort in the front with fresh pine straw and whatever. So tomorrow is forecast to be nice and I am going to trust them and start putting out plants. Eggplant, tomato and pepper plants  should see freedom tomorrow.