Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blackberry Time

  The weather is HOT (98 today with a heat index of 113), and everything is growing and ripening fast. The blackberries are coming on strong, so it is blackberries with breakfast, blackberry cobbler, and soon....more blackberry freezer jam to put away.
  The berries are thornless, mostly Natchez and Apache, and very large and juicy.

  Daily pickings of summer squash and a few blueberries.

And the gladiolus are in full bloom to add some color to the garden.

  Also spotted today: 2" long cucumbers, cantaloupe the size of a golf ball, and tiny green beans as well as LOTS of big green tomatoes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Garden Challenges - Wind, Bugs & Birds

  We had a "pop up" storm yesterday afternoon; lasted about an hour and dumped .6" of rain. Pretty localized storm, but the big thing was strong winds with it, blowing right out of the north. (Most of our rain comes from the south or southwest.)

  Here is what it did to my first and third sweet corn plantings.

  I straightened it up as best I could. Stomped the wet dirt down next to the roots, and even used a few stakes and twine. Hope to salvage most of it. Seems like this happens every year, but this might be the worst.
  Spotted the first Japanese beetles and squash bugs today. So the battle begins for garden against bug.
  The yellow squash is producing well and the zucchini is starting (in fact, Rita just brought me a hot buttered crust of zucchini bread! Mmmm...Mmmm)

  The Walla Walla and Candy onions continue to grow rapidly, even though the tops have started breaking over. getting some good size to them.

The blackberries are ripening fast and the birds, especially mocking birds, are always lurking. Here is our defense.

  Uncle Charlie is hanging out 24/7, pie tins banging against steel posts, and notice the ribbon. I wish I could post a movie; it is holographic reflective "Scare Tape" I got from Jung Seeds. When the breeze hits it it looks like a laser beam, and when the wind picks up, it sounds like distant thunder. I like it!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Berry Harvest, & Raspberry Answers

  We have solved the raspberry dilemma! What I have are not Canby thornless red raspberries, but Japanese Wineberries. The wineberry is an old variety from the Orient introduced to the US in 1890 for cross breeding purposes. Apparently it is cultivated in some parts of the world but considered an invasive threat in most of the US. Check out these little orange/red berries which appeared today.

  I picked a few of them; they are somewhat sweet but don't have much distinctive flavor at all. Willis Orchards is going to replace them with Canby this Fall. In the meantime, I will try to get a 100% kill on these vines before moving on. 
  The blackberries are starting to ripen, so the next week or two we should have a large harvest. A few of these first berries show the effect of the 2.2" of rain we had over the weekend. 

  The blueberries continue to ripen. It has been quite a struggle to get them started so I am really happy with our first harvest. On the right are the wineberries.
  Also, the glads in the first row of the garden are starting to open up very nicely.

  It is 87 with 50% humidity outside right now (4 PM) so I'm hitting the shower!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fathers Day Feast, and raspberry questions

  Here is a basket of Red Norland & Yukon Gold potatoes, Walla Walla onions, snow peas, yellow squash & carrots harvested Saturday, and the same cooked up Sunday by Rita for a great Father's Day meal with the family. Add Rita's pork roast and yeast rolls, Katie's strawberry jello salad and Wendy's corn/avocado/etc. dip plus a fantastic frozen dessert made from ice cream, oreos, fudge & caramel sauce and Butterfinger topping!  A wonderful Father's day for Steve, Dave and yours truly.

  In the Fall 0f 2011, I planted 10 Canby thornless raspberry 3 yr.old plants, purchased from Willis Orchards in Georgia. Last year they looked healthy enough but did not bloom or fruit. This year they are prolific in growth, look healthy, and appeared to be ready to bloom and set a big crop. But they have looked just like these pictures for at least 4-6 weeks!

  I thought these red bud-like things would open to blossoms, but they never have. If you peel back the red 'leaflets" there is a very small green berry inside. Now, do I just wait and things will progress?
  This morning I called Willis Orchards. The lady who answered cut me off in the middle of my oration with  "I'm sorry but there is nothing we can do about that." NOT A GOOD START, MAAM!" After I said a few more things, she connected me to Jay. He put me on hold twice before listening for a bit. Then his response was that I should contact my county agent because something was wrong with my soil. I told him the blackberries, boysenberries, yellow raspberries and blueberries had no problem with my soil when I realized I was talking to no one. Dead air. I called back and told the lady that Jay had hung up on me, she said "Just a minute". After a bit, Jay said hello and I said "Did you hang up on me?"  and I was greeted with a second time of dead air. I called back a third time and the lady said they were having phone problems. Do tell! At least this time, Jay was more civil and we had a decent dialogue. It was obvious then that he wasn't the one to talk to as far as technical issues. So I emailed some pictures and he is going to have his horticulturist take a look.
  Also, Canby raspberries are listed as "thornless", but these are covered with short, very sharp thorns. The lady told me "All raspberries have thorns!"
  We'll see what comes of all this. If any readers have experience that relates, I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Harvest

  The hot weather is bringing many of the garden crops along quickly. And it's also hard to keep up with the weeding, although we have had frequent enough rains that irrigating has not been an issue yet.
  Here is today's basket: onions, potatoes, carrots, snow peas and cherry tomato

  I pulled a Walla Walla and 2 Candy onions while weeding, for thinning purposes. The Walla Walla onions look great...and near 100% survival of the 50 sets.

The Candy onions are nearly as good, with maybe 90%.

The Texas Sweets are a near bust; I'll be lucky to get a half dozen, and the Reds aren't much better, maybe a dozen.

The Yukon Gold potato vines have started dying back just the past 2-3 days, so I explored a little and came up with those you see in the basket. Some really big ones...very nice!

The Kandy Korn sweet corn is not far from tasseling. I had planted a earlier variety but it didn't germinate, so this is the earliest we will have, but I have 4 plantings of 3 other varieties coming on and will plant 2-3 more times.

You noticed the little red cherry tomato in the basket? I waited too long to cage my tomatoes and it was a chore and had to sacrifice a few branches, but all survived and the Sweet 100 cherry tomato is coming on!

I have an Early Girl with some nice sized green ones, so not long until tomato time. I planted way too many, so we'll have tomatoes to give away.

I have picked asparagus nearly every day for 2 months, but stopped yesterday, even though tender shoots were available. Time to let the plants rest and replenish for next year.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Grand Kids, Scarecrow & Garden

  We had all 4 Grand Kids here overnight last night. Katie is recuperating well from surgery but still needs a break every few days. Brittany and Katie returned from church camp yesterday and Wendy and Steve are in Destin, FL celebrating their 20th anniversary; be back tomorrow. Today, Rita with some help from Jackson and Katie (while Brit watched Caleb) made a scarecrow to stand watch over the ripening blackberries. Pretty menacing guy!

  Looks like we'll have a bumper crop if we keep the birds away.

  Also looks like we will have a few blueberries....finally!

I kiped a few Red Norland spuds from under the vines. We microwaved these......kiped some more and Rita made a delicious potato salad.

We'll have summer squash in a few days from the first planting. the second planting is blooming and I planted a third time yesterday.

Of the 12 chicks we got in February, 3 turned out to be roosters. They are handsome fellas. Wendy is taking Big Red, and a friend is taking the 2 Black Australorps. The 9 pullets should start laying in 3-4 weeks.

Jackson graduated third grade at Cedar Hall School. A very nice ceremony for all 40 some kids, from 3rd to 8th grade.  Look at this handsome guy!  All the kids memorized and recited a poem or scripture of their own choice. Jackson's was "A Little Brother Follows Me". A tear jerker!

Speaking of handsome guys, here is a little one that likes his bath time! The sun coming through the blinds gave him a halo effect! How appropriate ;-)

Here's a good picture of Caleb with Papa.

Gotta love it !!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Maple Tree Down

  Bummer! We had a rainstorm pass through about 5 AM. It didn't sound like much wind, just a quick rain that dumped  .7". But this is what we found in the front yard this morning:

  This 20 ft. tall red maple did have some canker damage on the trunk; apparently weakened it enough that a gust of wind took it down. There was no evidence anywhere else of wind and we didn't hear any.

  Here are a couple shots of the same tree the last 2 years in the Fall.

  Really hate to lose it. I just hope we don't lose any others.