Saturday, May 31, 2014

First Of June Garden

This is the current state. Things are growing and no major crisis yet. Heavy rains last night caused a little damage to the corn but it is all righted and still there. I pulled all the sugar snap peas today to make room for something new but still don't know what that will be. We are now into full weed control mode. I must not let the morning glories bloom and set seed again.

It' funny that I spend so much time battling weeds and the one thing I am having trouble getting to grow is a weed. I planted some milkweed to encourage the Monarch Butterflies but it is refusing to grow. It is just barely bigger that when I transplanted it...very strange.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mange Tout

Just a quick pic to make you hungry and jealous. These are just a few of the Sugar Snap peas that have been part of dinner for 4 out of 5 nights. Delicious.

Power Composting

It took me two days but I now have a brand new 3 compartment composting bin. My compost tumbler just wasn't big enough to handle all the stuff so I went Cadillac. It's a design from way back when Jim Crockett had "The Victory Garden" on PBS. You can see from the pile of compost next to it that I am cooking up the 'brown gold" but the ton. The new bins will each hold 27 cubic feet which should do the job.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bad Cottage Cheese Recalled - A Boatload Of It

Kraft Foods Group is recalling some of its cottage cheese products, company officials announced Saturday.
Some ingredients used in Knudsen Cottage Cheese, Breakstone's Cottage Cheese, Simply Kraft Cottage Cheese and Daily Chef Cottage Cheese were not stored in accordance with proper temperature standards at a Tulare, California, manufacturing facility, they said.
While unlikely, the failure to properly store ingredients might have created conditions that could lead to premature spoilage and food-borne illness, Kraft said. The Northfield, Illinois, company voluntarily recalled 1.2 million cases of the cottage cheese as a precaution.
The products, with a coded date between May 9 and July 23 stamped on them, were only shipped to stores in the United States. The codes can be found on the cup bottoms or on top of the packages.

Both the containers of Breakstone's Cottage Cheese in my fridge are part of the recall so they go back to Kroger. If you have any of the affected brands in your fridge check the dates. We've actually eaten part of one container with no obvious ill effects but it goes back anyway. Evidently this factory must be pretty much the sole source for All the various Kraft brands if my product bought in Georgia is affected and the factory is in California.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Project or When Do We Eat?

It did quit raining for a bit but it didn't get sunny. I took a picture anyway and I'll try another when it does get sunny. So here it is and all the details. This pic is looking South. There are 17 cinder block beds each roughly 4'x12' and one 12x4 bed of 6x6 timbers (behind the carts) that is the new asparagus bed. In the front right are two beds of peas(you can see the sugar snaps but not the regular green peas). Moving to the left is a  bed of two varieties of eggplant and cayenne peppers along with a couple of peach habanero and yellow plum tomatoes. Then comes the first bed of tomatoes, Amish Paste and a black Japanese variety Nyagous. Next to the left is the first full bed of peppers Jalapeno and heirloom Italian. Moving left is a bed of squash(Zucchini and yellow) with a few okra plants down the middle. Finally is a bed of pepperoncini, more okra, and yellow wax beans. The second row on the far right is half leeks and half shallots and to its left is a bed of spinach, carrots, more pepperoncini and French Breakfast radishes. Moving left is another bed of tomatoes, this time Supremo, and Better Boy. Moving left is the last full bed of peppers Sweet Red Carmen and Karma and the old standby California Wonder. The next to the last bed on the second row has the European Hybrid tomato(Stupice) and the new hybrid sauce tomato from Burpee(Super Sauce). The last bed on the second row far left is more spinach and chard and to its left in the mounds are cantaloupe and Amish Pie pumpkins. The back row has less beds. Starting off on the right is a bed of Celebrity tomatoes. Then comes a bed of cucumbers both table and pickling with some cherry tomato plants down the middle. Lastly we have the bed I finished yesterday and it now has arugula and beets in it. In the back in the regular garden we have sweet potatoes(Georgia Jet and Vardamon), yellow heirloom corn(Golden Bantam Improved), Miniature popcorn(Tom Thumb), Dixie Butter Peas, Green Beans(Maxibel), more okra from seed(Emerald) and overflow pepper and tomato plants. I always have extra plants started from seed, just in case, and so the plants won't go to waste I stick them in unused space. It was good that I had extra this year as I wound up replacing pepper and tomato plants killed by the late frost. It also has some heirloom plants that I am growing just for seed. That's it for now. Some more mulching to do and the like, but it is done for now. I'll have to replace the peas in a few weeks and some of the  spinach will be eaten by then as well as the radishes. Whew! I'll probably build a few more beds this fall back on the right but at most 5 since I have to leave a little room for regular garden though I may decide that my tilling days are over and just have everything in beds. My Troy-Built tiller is nearing its 40th birthday and if it finally goes to the Great Garden I won't replace it(since you can't) and that will solve the question and It will be all beds for this old man.

Unless I weaken. I promise this is the last gardening post for a while. It has, however, consumed all of my time for weeks and weeks.

As Good As It Gets

The garden that is. I finished the last (at least for this season) raised bed yesterday, filled it and planted it. That means that except for maintenance I am finished. The last bed got beets and arugula yesterday and that finishes the spring planting. Everything but the second okra planting from seed is up and the stuff I planted yesterday, of course, but the rest is going along. Most peppers have blooms as do the tomatoes and egg plant. We have even had radishes, spinach and spring onions to munch on so far. The green peas and the mange tout are within a day or two of harvest as well.

The bad thing is I no longer have the excuse of having to get the garden in for not going to the gym. I guess I will start back on that routine on Monday. Even though I have been working hard and for long hours in the garden virtually every day I have still managed to put on a few pounds. Mostly because I am having regular meals (no early or late shifts at Home Depot) and since I am no loner working many days when the sun is "over the yardarm" I am drinking a bit more "2 buck". Couple the extra food and booze with no pumping iron or aerobic stuff and you get fat. In my own defense I did have to lay off for the three months due to the hernia but I have only driven by the gym since December. I'll do better.

Just futzing around today. Did get some mulching and weeding done before it started to sprinkle. It is really not raining hard enough to stop me from working if I really wanted to but since I have declared it finished I don't feel guilty about coming in at noon. I even celebrated with a big lunch of buttermilk cornbread and pinto beans. Madam is out with friends today so I ate my beans poured over the cornbread which she hates. She'll never know.

So to continue futzing I will now get some rainy day things done. All the kitchen knives need to be sharpened. The basement needs some attention as does my desk. I need to get some chicken thighs marinating for dinner and some other stuff. Oh! The Vidalia onions are in the markets so it will be an onion something to go along with the chicken just haven't figured out whether it will be roasted or stuffed. It was Italian sausage with red pepper and onions last night. They seem to be pretty good this year. Me and a lot of other folks complained about the quality for the last couple of years. They have not been as sweet and tasty as in the past but the one I did last night was nice. I'll probably wind up roasting tonight and that's a definitive test.

BTW, If you are one of the 3 or 4 people who still stop by this blog, I apologize for being so scarce and basically only talking about gardening. Now that I am not under such pressure I should be able to pay attention here a bit more. I haven't been ignoring the tragedy unfolding in what used to be the "American Dream" just too tired to talk about it.

If it quits raining and gets sunny I'll take a picture of my masterpiece to share. It sure is making me happy so far. It's been a tremendous amount of work but I think it shows. The good thing is I get to spend all day in the fresh air getting dirty and watching to majick of growing stuff. Nobody to please but myself and nothing to worry about that I can change (i.e. weather, temperature).

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weather Break

Much needed rain today so I get to take a break from the garden. Did get out and survey the place though and things happened overnight. Corn popped up. Dixie Butter Peas out of the ground as are the green beans. Cucumbers, both the picklers and the regular are peeping through and summer(yellow) squash are making an appearance. It was a very big night I guess even though the Farmer's Almanac says not to plant until tomorrow.
Got the greenhouse pretty much cleaned out. My friend Kelly came and took a nice selection of tomatoes, herbs and peppers and I planted a couple dozen more of each as well. I have an otherwise unused section of the garden in the Southeast that took in the extra plants. It's a shame to waste the plants and since they are extra I don't need to spend a lot of time on them. I put them in the ground and mulched them really well with wheat straw to help with the weeds. I stake the tomatoes in a few weeks but otherwise those guys are on their own.
Madam is off on a garden tour with the garden club and I am just chilling today. It is not raining at the moment but the radar shows plenty on the way in an hour or so.

I don't think I mentioned that I lost my fig and my bay laurel over the winter. I replaced them last week. I actually planted a bigger bay laurel than I had and it seems to be settling in ok. I replaced my "brown Turkey" fig with another and for fun I also bought an Italian fig "Ichis" which is supposed to be very sweet and stays green when ripe so it is harder for the birds to find. Won't get figs this year but maybe next.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Killing Weeds Safely or No More Glyphosate (RoundUp)

As every gardener knows only too well, weeds are a bitch. Unless you have hours a day to devote to keeping them under control you are likely to lose the battle. Since the 70's Monsanto has made billions of dollars selling the herbicide RoundUp (glyphosate) and all the RoundUp ready GMO seed. Who actually knows how many gallons of the stuff has been sprayed around in the last 40 years.

Now that Monsanto's patent on glyphosate has expired the stuff is coming out under house brands such as HDX from Home Depot and what's worse these new ones are actually more concentrated that the old RoundUp so they are that much more troubling. If you want to read the horror stories just Google "roundup herbicide" and you'll get an idea of why this stuff needs to go away forever.

Yes is does kill weeds but the collateral damage to the environment and you and your family and neighbors is way, way too high.

The thing is a lot of stuff will kill weeds and a lot of them are completely harmless to anything but plants. Some like orange oil are very effective but a little expensive. I prefer to make my own out of cheap ingredients and it is effective on most weeds.

Here is the formula:
One gallon of white distilled vinegar
2 cups of Epsom salt dissolved in the above
1/4 cup of Dawn dish detergent to make it stick to the plant leaves.

Just put this in your sprayer and go to town. Just soak the leaves well and hope it doesn't rain for 24 hours.

This stuff really works and you can see the results in 24 hours. It won't take out everything but neither will glyphosate. Give it a try.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Happy Beltane

Happy Beltane to one and all. Happy May Day to you as well. It is time to turn the cows out of the barns to search for green pasture and have the children gather wildflowers. The 'official' beginning of spring in much of Europe but not so much here in the U.S.

We really dodged the bullet here in Atlanta with respect to the recent horrific weather. I actually only measured .4 inches of rain here at the farm. Coupled with the rain from a few days ago it is plenty wet in the garden so there is not much I can do except pick a few weeds. I will haul a few more loads of wood chips to fill the aisles but that is about it.

I did re-purpose some 6x6 timbers a friend gave me. They had a porch redone and enclosed and had these 6 big posts left over. They are now a 9 foot by 4 foot asparagus bed (or will be as soon as the asparagus crowns arrive). The old asparagus bed was way too small and in a very poor location. I'll try and rescue the crowns from there in the fall but for now we are going with all new. That, of course, means a 3 year wait for asparagus. Oh well.

Everyone enjoy the first of May.