Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Tomato Potato Blight of 2010 - Tracking Map

Here is a fabulous resource as the blight is obviously occurring again this year, people are scared and have no way to know if they are in trouble yet. Well now you can know, its being tracked by the proper conditions and reports from MANY areas across the us. Just click on the map here and navigate around to see if you are in an area where spores are forming, or the blight is occurring now. You may even luckily be in an area where the conditions aren't right and you have little to no worries as of right now. But this map will keep you on  top of the problem!


Good luck!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wonderful Estate Sale Find

I went to yard sales on Saturday, trying to find some fun stuff for my garden. I never ended up finding anything after hitting 10 yard sales. On my way home, with money still in my pocket... and all my daughter wanted was 1 small bag to carry her sippy cup for $0.25... I saw a sign for an estate sale that was clearing out! So I swung in and saw it was mostly kitchen stuff, and furniture left. Very old, heavy duty, 1950's wood pieces. Then we saw a lovely twin bed set, solid oak but looked to have potential. It was marked for $50... but they took $35.

So my sweet hubby came and picked it all up and took it home. I suggested we painted it white and set it up this week. The carpenter in him REFUSED to let me put paint on such pretty wood and immediately started sanding and taking care of the wood enough to take a lovely cherry stain to match her current cherry chest of drawers. What a good man with an eye for quality and professionalism!!!

I also have plans for this set. When its done, it will be the perfect set for a modern little girl! Can't wait to share the finished product.

We keep updates of all my husband's project here on his Facebook Fan Page, come join us! http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Fuquay-Varina-NC/Rent-My-Hubby/113072668717323

Edited to add: More research has gone in, and we now think it is Maple and from the 1950's. We're going to stop and see if they have the other one still this weekend. Thanks!

Friday, June 25, 2010

104 Degrees... will it ever end?

Yesterday it was too hot to do anything much, so I took my daughter to the library for a movie inside afternoon they had. I needed to hit the grocery store and pick up butter and eggs (too hot and my chickens won't lay eggs in this heat), passing the town digtal clock it announced the current temp was 104! You've got to be kidding... I don't see these temps until late July if we see them at all. Last year I don't think we had but 1 or 2 days where it even hit 100. Now today at 1:30pm, its 97 and rising still!

My garden is sulking, while I'm trying to fight the mildew battle still. I was suggested to water early (it was still steaming hot at 8am while I was out), and someone even mentioned the healing powers of epson salt. So I added some to my watering can and got all my potted plants early. Some are really sulky still, but a few look more green now then yellow. So I'll keep up with the epson salt mix for the next week during this heat wave. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Today, I also threw some Earnest White Cucumber seeds into the ground. I forgot to plant cukes this year, and I've lost so much patience at this point with my squash that I threw a few seeds out to see what happens. Last year I lost most my cukes to downy mildew... so lets see if I can get a healthy late harvest of cukes. If I do, I will definitely hold off on planting again until late next year. Worse case, I get nothing and its no lose to me.

Also, its about that time to get the winter squash in, I will have acorn squash and butternut squash in by Monday next week I do believe. I have seeds coming from California from a nice gentleman willing to share through TheEasyGarden.com. I'm telling you, I love that community of gardeners! You should all look into joining.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Birthday Blog Post

So, this may be a long one!

First off, I turned 31 today. Which I still find funny my husband is not even 30 yet. ;)

So for my birthday my Etsy shop is offering all Jams/Jellies at $1 off, since I would like to remove that 1 from my age! LOL http://BiscottiQueen.Etsy.com Take advantage if you can, the sale ends at midnight!

Second, I'm a little sad as the disease in my garden is not being controlled well, so I had to take out the main infectious plants.... 2 squash plants that had produced me a TON of summer squash. But I have 1 more plant that seems to be doing fine in the front yard, and I still have that one... for now. I saw a squash borer moth on it yesterday and put a tin foil cone around the stem. Trying to be proactive, but there is no telling how late I am.

And lastly, I wanted to share a cute picture of my daughter. We went Blackberry picking last week, and she was so cute... and its my birthday so I can post things that make me smile for no other reason then that!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Diseases Rear Their Ugly Heads

Sadly, I had discovered some mildew on my cantelope and squash a couple weeks ago. Long hard storm rains, followed by high heat and humidity cause a lot of mold and mildew problems in the garden. Especially in the south where the conditions always seems right.

After close examination of my tomato plants, I was concerned I had caught the fateful blight again this year... it is running rampant across the country again right now, a repeat of 2009. I did some research, started Thursday, looking for a positive conclusion (took longer then I thought as I threw my nephew a birthday party here on Friday, and my husband surprised me with a birthday party as well on Saturday... so I cleaned a lot inbetween and not so much garden time). As of this morning I've determined my plants have Powdery Mildew from the squash's mildew.

I almost ripped the plants out when I saw the rotting tomatoes and leaves! ARGH!! But I composed myself and I sprayed some neem oil mixture I use on my orchard trees. If I don't see any clearing up in the next few days I will switch over to the 1/4 milk and 3/4 water solution I was suggested for mildew as well. I will treat them for the entire season.... then in the fall I will 'solar' sanitize the soil. I wish I new to do that last year.

Here's some solarization advice, I will be doing this at the end of the season, really only good for warm climates I think: http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/solarization.htm

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thinking of Halloween?

Well I sure am! Because here in Zone 7 it is about time to get pumpkins in the ground. They do take a long amount of days to grow and ripen, up to 120, and in some cases more.

I was gifted some pumpkin seeds (Thank you Heide!) and I was told they get rather large, I hope they are good for cooking as well, because these will be double duty pumpkins. They'll get harvested to sit pretty on my porch for Halloween, then they will be baked into pie, bread and pancakes for Thanksgiving next!

So yesterday, I assembled a make shift pumpkin bed out of a bed we started next to the Japanese Bantam Chicken run. That bed had a rosemary bush transplant orginally, but that sadly died after a few days.

So I made 2 hills to plant 3 seeds in each, the bed is 3' x 6' with nothing blocking growth on 3 sides (and just the coop's run on the back side). I will probably pull the vines down to 1 per hill if they all get going. With how tangled the vines will get, I will try to pinch suckers off, and cut back the main vines when I see enough pumpkins on each to make me happy.

I'm not trying to share or sell these, I just need enough for my daughter to be happy with them. Its not like my watermelon vines.... when I'm thinking of where else I could actually stick another one!!! Mmmmm...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Grape Propagation Update

Back in April I took some fresh spring cuttings on my Thompson Grape vine. Its is 4 years old, and this is its first year producing grapes. I wanting to try to take some cuttings and grow additional vines, however, ever site I looked at and everyone suggested fall cuttings. I was sheering and pruning this spring anyways trying to keep 1 or 2 main vines for producing only. So it couldn't hurt to try right?!

I put 10 cuttings into water with some root hormone in them. I let them sit in the water for about 3 weeks. (I changed the water daily and dusted a bit more hormone in them, DAILY!) Then it looked like 3 had rooted, but a few others were iffy.... so I transplanted 6 into clay pots in my greenhouse where it was super hot during the day, to keep pushing root development. 5 didn't take well, 2 dampened off for sure and died right away... the rest took a little while to notice they gave up. ...but one didn't quit, and its super hardy and has new buds of growth on it now!

So here is our one that has taken root.... and it will remain on my deck in the pot until fall when we transplant it to where we are building a new arbor for shade.

Here's to more grapes and shade in a few years! ..and in the fall, I will be taking MORE cuttings again.

Things Are Growing More Then You Know

I've been a bit busy lately, trying to make a start at a new farmers market, and trying to race the rain to the garden. Though we needed the rain, we got way too much, way too close together. I was lucky to get my garlic out while I could. I had a close call last night trying to get all my onions out and set out to dry, because before I could finish the sky opened up and let the rain come tumbling down again!

So it seems like months have passed in much less time since I'm actually harvesting things. So I thought I would share the few things I've got to collect, and the wonderful fruits that are getting ready for me to enjoy soon.

First, as mentioned above, I collected my onions. I had to find a workable drying method so they could cure on the front porch with my garlic. Like the garlic, no direct sun, that could wreck the flavor. So on to the north porch they go. I needed something they could sit on and let air pass through, they need good air circulation, or you end up with dark squishy spots, or mold before they are done curing for storage. Some people braid the tops together and hang them, which is a fine idea.... but I had no where to hang them. I needed something they could sit on. Some milk crates, or old soda flat would have been perfect, but I don't have any of those. However, someone gave us all their windows from their house when they got their windows redone and I just remembered at the last second (race against the storm) they gave us all the screens too! So with the help of my front porch bench, and some cement garden liners.... we have a stackable onion drying system. And I should be able to do this again next year, because I am so going to be doing onions again.

Here you can see the garlic now 10 days into curing, in about 10-14 more they should be done and ready for storage in my pantry.
I am harvesting Lettuce regularly now. I pull the outside leaves while leaving the inside tiny leaves to keep to producing. Long as they are blocked from mid day sun being on the north front garden bed, they don't get bitter. I should have a salad bar all summer.

I was once concerned about a climbing rose I bought in Feburary, but it appears that it has taken off with vigor... and I will making rose petal jelly again very soon!

To the joy of many who want to buy some, my heirloom tomatoes are producing TONS of green tomatoes right now. My White Wonder are prolific with dozens on each plant. I have Green Sausage tomatoes that are taking off as well. I checked my Italian Market Reds, and they are just forming the first few with Purple Cherokee and Roomii tomatoes close behind. The last two are long season tomatoes, they need nearly 100 days to ripen... its like waiting for a watermelon!

I am going to do a separate post for my grapes... but I want to share how those cuttings I did back in April are doing. I know some people are following that for learning how to propergate their own vines. Its not exactly easy... up until now every cutting I've ever done DIED! I will share my good fortune this time though. Next post!

Don't forget to post any questions you have, it doesn't have to be private messages, I'm sure lots of people have the same questions... and if I don't know, I sure would like to know the answer too!