Ups and downs

I managed to get 19 tomato plants and 10 bell pepper plants in to the ground in the middle of last week during the one sunny, warm day we had. I also got red and Irish cobbler potatoes planted (have I mentioned what a pain potatoes are to plant? They are. But, the flavor is well worth the effort.)

Then, the weather went to shit. I should have expected it, Mother Nature never seems to want to operate on my schedule and usually has her own ideas. We’ve had rain and temps in the 40s every day since then and more rain predicted for the rest of the week and through the weekend. At least the wet weather this week is supposed to be accompanied by warmer weather rather than these seemingly endless damp, dark, chilly days.

Still have the Yukon gold potatoes and the Beauregard and Georgia Jet sweet potatoes waiting to hit dirt. The onions, romaine and mixed leaf lettuce are looking great. The spinach and carrots, not so great. Right after I planted the spinach and carrot seeds, we got rain, rain, rain, then it got HOT and windy¬† which made our clay-ey soil dry to an impenetrable crust. Poor little seedlings couldn’t break through. I replanted the spinach and because I spotted a few carrot seedlings, I left them to do what they will. If they don’t pop up this week, something else will go there.

We have chicks! 26 little fluffy peepers are now calling my family room home and we put a second clutch in the incubator last night. Pictures soon.

The fox is back. Little red bastard. He killed at least one of my turkeys this morning, poor thing. In the 15 minutes between finishing my morning chores and leaving for work this morning, that damned fox caught, killed and shredded the turkey. The other turkey couldn’t immediately be found, so he may have gotten that one, too. The fox is now on my hit list and the flock will be confined to the hen house until he’s gone.

I blew the engine in my mower and a little research discovered that it would be cheaper to buy a whole new mower than replace the engine, even with a remanned engine. Ugh. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Why couldn’t this have happened when the grass wasn’t growing out of control? Welcome to the jungle….


Oh, you nasty, nasty pests

Wow, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted! I didn’t realize how long it had been until I logged in and saw the date on my last post.

Time sure does fly when life keeps you on your toes.

My garden is going gangbusters. Every morning I wake up and look at it thriving and I get a warm, fuzzy, happy feeling. I’ll have to take pictures and try to get them posted. That can be a challenge with my less-than-ideal out-in-the-boondocks internet connection that’s iffy at best.

The mesclun lettuce mix is producing so much we’re eating salad for nearly every meal and the plot doesn’t even look like it’s been touched! Of course, me, being a think-ahead gardener, planted a SECOND plot of an Italian lettuce blend about a month after the first plot and it’s very close to harvest stage…hmmmm….Is there a way to preserve lettuces?

The peas are doing better than any peas I’ve ever planted before. Every day I’m harvesting at least a quart. I need to get them blanched and frozen ASAP.

My tomatoes? Holy mackerel, the tomatoes! Last season my tomatoes did not do well at all. They all had blossom end rot, which is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. The 2011 season started wet, wet, wet and some of the plants rotted in the ground. Plus, it didn’t help that the chickens discovered them and quickly made a meal of any ripening fruit. This year, as I put each plant into the ground I added a handful of crushed eggshell and a handful of rich compost/rabbit poo to the hole. Then buried each plant up to the top two sets of leaves. Now? The plants are ENORMOUS and have so many green tomatoes and are covered with so many flowers I almost rue the day I thought it was a wise idea to plant nearly 20 plants! Once those things start ripening I’m going to be busy in the kitchen canning and drying them.

Plus, I have a fence around the garden this year. It’s amazing how well the plants do when the chickens aren’t scratching around in them and eating the produce.

The sweet potato plants are trying to climb all over the garden, so every day I gently lift each wayward vine and put it back on the sweet potato row. I only wish there was some way I could peek beneath the soil and see how well those tubers are growing.

Gathering for the feast, nasty little critters.

So far the only pest issue I’ve had are Japanese beetles. Oh, horrible little destructive green and copper beetle, how I hate thee. If you’ve ever had your garden infested with them, you know the agony I felt when I discovered them chowing down on my peas and beans, quickly turning those beautiful green leaves into lacy, dead, brown corpses.

They first hit my roses and quickly decimated them, buds, flowers and leaves. They’ve been hit hard by the beetles before and they look ugly, but they survive the assault. I was content to leave the beetles to the roses in the hopes they would be happy eating my roses and not my veggies. I can’t eat roses, I can eat the vegetables, and I don’t like using pesticides unless absolutely necessary.

Then, overnight, they found my tender pea vines and the bean buds and went to work. They work fast. They are ruthless and I nearly cried when I saw the damage they had done. How many quarts of beans and peas did I lose do their voracious appetites?

As much as I hated doing it, I had to get out the big nasty guns. The beetles were cutting into my family’s winter food supply.

Sevin to the rescue. One quick hit and the beetles were falling off the plants in droves. I did not spray all the plants, only the infested ones, and sprayed only where I could see the beetles. I also hit the roses, hard, with the Sevin, and did a little jig when the next morning, all the plants were still completely beetle-free. And they remain beetle-free nearly a week after I first hit them with the Sevin. Yay for dead beetles, but still not happy that I was forced to use chemicals. Ugh. As much as I try to be as organic as I can in the garden, sometimes, it just doesn’t work. Those beetles are hard to kill and even harder to control, nasty little invasive species with no natural enemies. My chickens won’t even touch them and they usually eat everything and anything that crosses their path.

I hope they stay away and I can put the Sevin back on the shelf where it belongs.

Until next time, happy gardening!