Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Orange banana tomatoes

I harvested 4 Orange Banana tomatoes last night.  This is my first year to grow these & they are a "keeper".  They have a very sweet taste, the core is small & they are decent sized.  I'm not sure why they cracked.  The soil moisture has been even & usually I only get cracking when it rains after a long dry spell, but I have been watering my beds.  I got my seeds from Baker Creek Heirlooms, one of my favorites.  UPDATE:  This tomato has a really good flavor & fruit size is decent, but probably 1/4 of the tomatoes had blossom end rot.  None of my other tomato varieties had a problem with this, so it may be a trait common to this particular one.  I don't plan on growing it again next year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No new pictures, but last night I finished my first 4 x 4 section of Peaches & Cream corn.  I harvested 35 ears, not counting what we have already eaten.  I would probably have had more, but I didn't think of supporting it until AFTER the storm blew it over a few weeks ago & some stalks in the middle never would stand up as tall as the others & didn't get pollinated.   I have another 4 x 4 section that will be ready the end of the week probably & another section that is only about knee-high. 

I planted some carrots the other day, but my son's hybrid wolf dug them all up.  I think he was trying to find somewhere cool to lay.  I replanted those squares & lay down some scrap fencing, so far so good.  Today I direct sowed a square of leeks, have no idea if they will sprout or not.  I also planted another 2 squares of carrots, 4 each of these squash:  Delicata, sweet dumpling, table queen and honey boat delicata.  I covered the carrots & leeks with some scraps of white fabric to help keep them moist.   I also planted a square of dill.  I forgot to buy seed in the spring & just happened to find a pack yesterday at a feed store, I hope it isn't too late for it. 

Another chick hatched out before the hen left her nest, so I have a total of 5 from that hatch.  The other eggs should hatch out next Thursday or Friday.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New chicken pics

I finally got around to taking a few pics of my chickens.  They have really grown since April.  The Turkens are much larger than the others, but I could never get a really good picture of them & it was in the 90's & I was just too hot to fool with it any longer.  I also tried to get a good picture of the white ameracaunas so maybe someone could tell me what sex they are.  I have a pretty good sized chicken yard attached to the barn, 20 x 30, & it used to be lush grass.  Over the years the chickens have destroyed any trace of vegetation & the soil is so "hot" from the fresh manure nothing will grow at all.  That's why I really NEED a chicken tractor.   Here are the chickens enjoying some kitchen scraps. In this first picture you can see remnants of a huge tomato that was rotten in the center.  What a waste & disappointment.




As to the 2 broody hens, so far 4 eggs have hatched out & the chicks are so cute!  The two broody hens were in nests side by side & always swapping out their nests.  Although they look identical, one of them would peck you & the other would just get all huffy, so I knew they were swapping nests.  Anyway, when the chicks started hatching out they both wanted the nest with the babies.  After church tonight I moved the chicks & one hen with the unhatched eggs to a stall in the barn.  When I went back a while later to check on them she was on the eggs with the chicks & the other hen had gotten back on her nest in the chicken house.  Hopefully she will stay put & I'll get a few more chicks.  I knew they shouldn't have their nests so close to each other, but the only time I tried to move a hen with her nest in the past she just abandoned it, so I left these alone.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today's harvest, plus apple butter!

Yesterday we harvested our first corn of the season, Peaches & Cream, and it was so delicious.  I couldn't take time for any pictures, but today I thought I'd share a few pics.  Here are 2 German Pink tomatoes and some cucumbers that I picked when getting the corn.

These are the first "good tomatoes" I've had.  The others have been huge & beautiful until you pull them & realize they are rotten on the bottom, totally unusable.  Also, it has been so hot that some of the tomatoes on the upper portion of the plants have gotten sunburned.  I'll just have to wait & see how they make it by the time they get ripe.  Everything is growing really well and I'm a SFG convert for life.

Don't even think about an early cabbage crop. Cabbage loopers made lace of them. They were so bad I don't think even B.t. would have helped.

Don't plant carrots in adjacent squares around squash. They were too shaded and foilage rotted.

Heirloom tomatoes grow REALLY tall. Buy taller fence posts for staking next year. I thought about topping some of them, but I just couldn't cut off all those blooms. So far they are gracefully curving back toward the ground, I don't think they will break when the fruit gets larger.

My cucumber trellises are 6' high. Cukes are 12+ feet long. They have grown up the trellis, across the top, back down & out into the path. They will get trimmed tonight. But I've made a bunch of pickles.

Roma bush beans are more like a half-runner bean, at least in the Mel's mix. I won't plant them as close next year. The center ones didn't get enough sun & didn't produce much.

Don't alternate squares with tomato/pepper/tomato..... I'll leave one blank square between each tomato & plant peppers side by side in another section.

I love not having to weed. Even with composted manure from a dairy, I have had very few weeds & it's wonderful.

I'll put in a drip irrigation system before next season. It has been horribly hot here & I have to water daily & with the plants so big it does take a while to get it all finished.

I planted one entire 4 x 12 bed with October beans (a dried bean, aka Horticultural bean) that you plant & leave all season til they dry up before picking. Now I've thought of so many other things I would like to have put there & it seems such a waste of space. I'll just buy them from the grocery store next year.

Plant cilantro every other week. Even with cutting daily it still bolted.

I'll never go back to row gardening.

The forum at Square Foot Gardening is addictive & I love it.  I have learned so much from the friendly folks there.

I planted 4 x 4 squares of corn - I will stake/tie the area when they are about shoulder high so the wind won't blow them over when it storms.

DH has been out of homemade apple butter for a while, so I thought I would be extra nice (especially since I'm begging him to build me a chicken tractor).   I never use fresh apples any more because it is so time-consuming - I use unsweetened applesauce from the grocery store and my crockpot.

I don't have an official recipe, but I put two of the 50 oz jars of unsweetened applesauce in my large crock pot, add sugar & spices. I only use cinnamon and allspice and we like it spicy. ( I don't measure mine, I just dump in a lot of sugar, add spices and a little bit of lemon juice, then check occasionally and add more sugar & spices if I think it is needed.)   I put my crockpot on high, leave it uncovered  & stir occasionally.  I occasionally taste & adjust spices & sugar. If it hasn't cooked down enough by bedtime I turn it on low, then the next morning turn it back up on high until it has cooked down quite a bit.  To test for doneness I put a spoonful on a saucer & cool to see if it is thick enough.   This year I added a bit too much sugar & had to add another jar of applesauce & adjust from that, but I ended up with 8 pints & it sure is good.

Now, back to pestering for my chicken tractor.

Speaking of chickens, I only lost 1 of the 20 chicks I posted about earlier this Spring and out of the 19 it looks like I only have 4 roosters.  I already had 2 black sex link hens & 5 red comet laying hens when I got my 20 chicks. 3 weeks ago I noticed one of the black hens going broody, so I went ahead & marked 8 eggs & let her set.  Then 2 weeks ago the other black sex link went broody too.  A friend from church has regular Americauna's with the cute muffs, so I got a dozen fertile eggs from him & put under the other hen.  Today I heard little "peeps" coming from the first nest & they have started hatching out.  I'll keep you posted on how many chicks I have from that batch.  If I have a good hatch from the dozen Americauna's, I guess I better buy stock in a poultry feed manufacturer.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oh Happy Day - I have a tomato that should be ready to pick in a day or two - It is a Jerry's German Giant & I can hardly wait!  Usually my first tomato is really puny, but this one is a beauty.

Here are some more that are looking good too, but far from ready.

Now for the not so pretty - I know not to try to grow Spring cabbages, this always happen & I can never find BT & don't like to spray or dust with Sevin because our bee population is really low.  I plan on trying a Fall crop this year.  Hopefully I will have better luck.  I thought I had pulled all of the cabbages, but this one was hidden in the asparagus bed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010

Pictures from June 14, 2010:  My corn has gone crazy - it is Peaches & Cream & the seed catalog says it grows 5 1/2 feet tall - I think mine is at least 10 feet tall & started silking a week ago.  I wonder how long it will take before it's ready to eat?  DH is 6' tall & is standing at the end of the bed by the cucumber vines.

You can click on any picture for a larger view. If you are interested in seeing the project from the beginning, click on "older posts" at the bottom of the page.

I've already pulled out my 2 bean crops & planted a last plot of corn.  I also pulled up my zucchini (I don't know why I insist on planting it, we only eat a very small bit of it grilled.  I guess it's the instant gratification of something growing).  I've cut my yellow squash back some since it was taking over & I'm still harvesting from it.  I've had a steady supply of cucumbers - Boston Pickling & Homemade Pickles & made a few jars of pickles.  They didn't really do well - they shriveled really bad after cooling, but I'll keep trying. 

I am well pleased with my tomatoes - I started all of them from seed, as well as all my pepper plants.  These are German pink tomatoes.

These are a new variety for me - Orange Banana. 

My hollyhock's were beautiful until the latest storm blew them down flat.  They were from a mixed packet & had all colors imaginable, singles and doubles.  You can see the damage from the Japanese beetles on the Amaranth leaves below the blossom.


My peppers are blooming like mad, but this sweet banana is the only one that has any actual fruit on it.  My youngest granddaughter loves my chow chow, which is actually a pepper relish without any cabbage, & eats it with a spoon right out of the jar & we are completely out, so I planted a LOT of peppers, sweet & hot.

Here is the garlic harvest.  I thought it was a little early to be ready, but the tops had dried up & fallen over so we dug it up.  It's garlic from the grocery store.

Purple Cleome, one of my favorite plants. 
On another note, I did a craft show last weekend, National Moofest (in celebration of National Dairy Month) in Athens, TN.  I will NEVER, EVER do another early show - I thought I would have a heat stroke.  The temps were in the 90s, the festival was downtown on the city streets & I was miserable. And of course it stormed both days, just long enough to have to put the tent sides down & then dry everything back off.  It was a profitable show, but I'll stick to September & October shows from now on.  Here is a picture of yours truly dying in her booth.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Mayfield Dairy cow, I think her name is Maggie, but not sure.

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