Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Very Rainy July

  This has been an extraordinarily wet month and it is ending in a fitting way....more rain today. As of this hour we have received 10.5 inches in July and 44.5 inches year to date. Normal is 4.5 for July and 43 YTD.

  It doesn't take much rain for this corner of the pasture to collect water. I intend to put a drain pipe in to get the water out to the barrow pit, but that project is on my B list and the A list is pretty long right now!
  We lived in Corvallis, Oregon in 1968, my senior year at Oregon State Univ. Average rainfall is similar there to here in Tennessee, but we received 64" there in 1968, which I believe was a record. With 5 months to go yet in 2013 and over 44" in the bucket, we might challenge that number in Middle Tennessee this year.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where did the Summer go ?

  I know it is just July 25, but all of a sudden it seems like summer is drawing to a close. Many of the garden crops are harvested and preparations are underway for Fall plantings and Winter cover crops. I haven't yet felt that change in the weather where you just know Fall is around the corner but it will be here soon. School starts up again in a couple of weeks. When I was a kid, summer lasted forever, but I'm not a kid anymore! It's OK though; I really love the Fall.
  The biggest harvest underway right now is tomatoes...they are very nice this year and there are lots of them.

  We are employing everything we can think of to save the cantaloupe from a pesky groundhog. At least I think that's what it is, based on the gnawing he leaves on green cantaloupe. I've tossed 3 or 4 middle sized green ones so far. We moved Uncle Charlie the scarecrow down there, put up the water scarecrow, which is an impulse sprinkler with a motion detector, turned on the closest yard light at night and turn a radio on loudly to a 24 hour talk station. Today I harvested 4 melons including these Super Star. It is a new variety to me this year and I hope it tastes good because it sure looks good!

  These are from plants I planted on a fenced row. They climbed readily, though most of the melons are at the bottom, which is fine. They seemed to grow better and make more fruit than the same varieties planted in a bed row, which is how I've always grown them.
  We have been harvesting large quantities of blackberries for a full month now. They are finally slowing down and I am pruning away the old canes and tying up the new ones. I haven't weighed all of the pickings, but based on what I did weigh, I think we likely had over 150 pounds of berries. Rita has made lots of freezer jam as well as freezing berries for pies and cobblers. Katie has made a lot of freezer jam too, and the whole family as well as some friends have enjoyed the berries fresh.

  We have finished up the sweet corn for now....enjoyed fresh corn-on-the-cob Sunday with the family and some friends here for dinner. Rita froze some cut corn for next year. It is a staple at holiday meals. As noted in an earlier post, the corn that would have ripened in August blew flat in a windstorm, so this corn due in September is all that's left.

  I put up posts and string to corral the asparagus. I have never seen such prolific tops!

  These purple Morning Glory on the woodpile next to the chicken coop are sure pretty every morning.

  The pullets are laying about 5-7 eggs a day now, and some of them are getting larger. That big rough one in the nest this morning had to hurt!

  And finally, a baby update. Caleb is doing great and growing fast...almost 4 months now, over 20 pounds and getting teeth! As I've said many times before.....what a fine boy!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Digging Potatoes and Onions

  The potatoes and onion tops had completely matured and dried up so I dug the onions a few days ago and battled the humid heat today to dig half the potato row.

  First I raked up the straw mulch and gave it to the chickens to "process". I'll clean out the chicken run in a week or two and put it right back on this row to prepare for sweet corn next year.

  The potatoes are Yukon Gold. There are some Red Norland at the other end which I'll dig tomorrow. This half row netted 55 pounds.....various sizes from small to medium to these winners of the size competition, each one weighing 11 ounces. That is a 12 inch ruler behind them.

  I haven't weighed the onions yet. They are still drying on the rack. These are mostly Candy (in the foreground) and Walla Walla in the rear with a few reds.

  Overall, the Candy are larger but the Walla Walla are good sized and more of them. Here are the winners of the size competition. WW on the left and Candy on the right. each is about 6" and weighed 1 lb 2 oz. each.

  We have had nearly 8 inches of rain so far in July and 42 inches year-to-date....way more than average. A week ago we had a very windy storm that dumped 1.75" and did this to some sweet corn.

  The corn on the left is more mature and nearly ready to eat and it stood strong, but the downed corn was nearly ready to tassel and went flat. I cut it and fed it too the cows. We have been enjoying sweet corn for a couple of weeks, we'll have more by the end of July and I have a late planting for mid September, but this that was lost was the late August corn.
  We are still picking blackberries every 2-3 days, summer squash, lots of cucumbers, tomatoes coming on strong. Some beautiful cantaloupe on the way as well as a big crop of butternut squash.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Garden Harvest and July 4th feast

  I was gone with the boys to the ballgame last weekend, and now Rita went with Wendy to Savannah, Georgia for 3-4 days. Wendy had a seminar near there which was required for her teaching, so Rita accompanied her and they made a vacation of it. They shopped Tuesday at IKEA furniture in Atlanta. I guess the showroom is something else. Tonight and tomorrow night they have a beautiful bed-and-breakfast right in the old historic area, so they can walk to see it all.
  First of all, a picture of my dinner plate on the Fourth. Corn, baked beans, potato salad, ribs, brisket sandwich, tomato with basil and cheese, and strawberry jello with crumbled pretzel topping, and blackberry crisp. Yumm! Much of it was home raised, and it was delicious! Steve rubbed and smoked the meat, Wendy did the delicious jello, Katie the yummy potato salad, and Rita the rest.

  The pullets have started least 2 of the 9 have. 2 eggs a day and I am counseling the other 7 to step it up!

  Here are some pictures of today's harvest. With Rita gone, most of this will go to Katie and some friends.

  We are getting tons of beautiful cucumbers and lots of blackberries. Still many blackberries to ripen. Squash continues to produce, tomatoes and peppers are beginning to ripen, and a few pole beans, although they are disappointing this year. Sweet corn is ready as well.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Baseball Trip

  Saturday and Sunday, the "guys" in the family (myself, Dave, Steve and Jackson - son, son-in-law, and oldest grandson (we'll do another in a few years with you, Caleb)), trekked to Cincinnati to see the Reds play our Seattle Mariners.

  Notice that we are all wearing our Mariner's caps. It was a somewhat rainy day, but the light showers were never really enough to get us wet, although as you see in the picture, some folks donned raincoats and umbrellas. About mid-game on it was completely dry, and the temperature was very comfortable.
  Our Mariners were the underdogs, but won 2 of the 3 game series. Unfortunately, the game they lost was the one we attended! Nonetheless, it was very fun, we had great seats just 14 rows up and just past the Mariner dugout. We ate some great pizza after the game. And because at least 11 Mariners struck out (oh my!) La Rosas gave a free small pizza to all ticket holders. So we picked up 4 of them Sunday morning for lunch on the way home.
  It was a good experience...Cincinnati has great fans and everyone was very nice. We had nice motel rooms that we picked up on Priceline, and an excellent breakfast buffet at the motel Sunday morning.
  On the drive home, I stayed on I-75 mistakenly instead of taking I-71 and we were nearly to Lexington before we realized it. But no problem; Dave navigated us with his smart phone maps through the back roads of some of the beautiful Kentucky bluegrass horse country and it was gorgeous!  The we stopped at Chaney's Dairy barn south of Bowling Green for an ice cream cone. I recommend it highly!

  We've been here in Tennessee 8 years and this was my first trip into Kentucky. Rita and I are going to go back soon and see some Amish settlements as well as the bluegrass country.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More Blackberries....and Happy 4th !!

  We picked 11 pounds of blackberries today, and they are just getting started. Still loaded with red ones and half ripe ones. We are expecting 4-5 inches of rain the next 2-3 days as well as some showers every day for the next 2 1/2 weeks, so that will be a challenge. Rain followed by sunshine makes brown berries.

  Daughter-in-law Katie is already making blackberry freezer jam. Rita is turning some of these into a cobbler for tomorrow's festivities. I'll report back on that!
  I noticed 6 ounce cartons of blackberries in Aldi (our discount grocer) yesterday for $1.99. At that rate, these we picked today are worth $58.

  All 4 grand kids were with me today as Rita, Wendy and Katie had a 6 hour day on the town. Here is Caleb as he arrived in his new blue crocs, and with Brittany holding him. What a fine boy!

  Here is wishing you all a very Happy Fourth of July, and a scripture that is special to me.

"Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty."   Proverbs 28:19 NIV

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cucumbers and More !!

  Well, I just hadn't been looking close enough for a few days and this wonderful growing weather we are having is producing results. Yesterday I picked 35 pounds of cucumbers!

  These are Japanese Long and Summer Dance. The darker green ones at the top are Summer Dance, and so far I like them best. Both are tender and tasty.

  Here are some other discoveries. I put my big hand next to some of these to help judge the size. Here are some cantaloupe, baseball size or larger.

  Butternut squash

Golden Crown watermelon


Kandy Korn Sweet Corn

The asparagus is looking good, preparing for next year

Even though I haven't properly trellised my grapes yet, we are going to have a few this year.

And lots of tomatoes soon. That red Sweet 100 cherry tomato mysteriously disappeared right after I took the picture !!

So far, this is shaping up to be a very good garden year.