I start this on Thursday, June 11.
Yesterday Joe came over and fixed our phones. I guess there's not anything that can be done about that hum that I get on my phone every time it rains. Well, there IS, but I guess there isn't any way I can get AT&T to do it. Last time I called about it they told me so many times on the phone that if the problem turned out to be inside my house, I'd have to pay for the repair. The seemingly constant repetition of that warning made me feel like something was up and they were just setting the stage. I'm convinced AT&T is trying to phase out landlines and they're doing it the same way landlords do when they have a renter they want to get out but don't want to go to the trouble to legally evict them. They just stop fixing things. I think I posted before that the repairman came and checked out AT&T's big panel box, told me he couldn't find anything wrong on their side, said I had a bad wire in my box. I told him I'd have someone fix it, I didn't want to pay the $100 fee they slap you with just to walk in your house and then I think the guy said it's $45 for every ten (or fifteen) minutes they work on your stuff. That could add up to quite a bit considering the problem's not really on my side. He disconnected a wire to two of my phones because he said it was bad, and then after that I'd miss calls if I was downstairs because the phones don't work down here and I'd have to run up to the kitchen. I've been told before that there's a bad connection in AT&T's main box, up on the corner, and that some of AT&T's repairmen have told people they aren't allowed to fix it. And it's not just happening here because I know someone else who's recently had a very similar problem with AT&T in another state. I'll just quit calling AT&T about the hum on the line when it
rains, since they're going to run me through their little Mickey Mouse
maze about it anyway. If it gets so I can't use my land line anymore I'll have it disconnected and bump up the minutes on my little Consumer Cellular cellphone so I can use it for all my calls, and I'll be doing just what AT&T wants, won't I? But I really feel like I have no other choice. We just use the cellphone for long distance and for Hubs to carry with him when he goes somewhere in the truck. I think AT&T is their provider but at least the call center is in the US and the people are so nice and so helpful when you call. Never again will I ever consciously use AT&T for anything.
While Joe was here I asked him if he liked cabbage, and he said he
did, so I gave him one. I explained to him that I don't use chemicals
in my garden and so there will always be bug-damage on my stuff, but he
was OK with it. I brought one in for myself and immersed it in cold
water. I didn't add any salt this time and two slugs and three
roly-polies came out, anyway. I'll section it and shred it but not
Kylie came yesterday and brought us some more wood chips. We just love Kylie. He and I always talk about our gardens and he talks with Hubs about other stuff. I don't know if it was because of him or someone else that I decided to plant my potatoes whole this year. Yesterday I told him they STILL haven't bloomed and I'm thinking they should have by now. I have always been told you dig potatoes after they bloom. Kylie told me he never lets his potatoes bloom. He plants them in March and digs them in May. He said he planted 50# of seed potatoes and got what he thinks is about 400# of potatoes out of his garden. That's a pretty good yield, don't you think, 1 pound yielding 8 pounds? I thought I saw somewhere that if you got 5 pounds to each pound of seed potatoes, that was a good yield. But maybe I mis-heard. (That reminds me, what's up with all these people saying they "mis-spoke"?? They were either mistaken, or they LIED. People should realize nobody is fooled by "mis-spoke". And if I'd used that word in front of my English teacher, she would've given me an "F" for the day, I swear she would).
I looked on some places on the internet and some of those folks said to dig your potatoes when the tops die back. Mine were yellowing and the leaves were all ratty because I've had potato bugs, been picking them off and haven't seen any now for quite awhile. I don't know, maybe those bugs ate the potato flowers before I could see them. But I decided I'd go ahead and dig my potatoes. Kylie has four sons and we all know how boys can eat. We're not raising boys anymore so I only planted 10#. 5 of Yukon Gold, 5 of Russet Norkotah.
First off, I've gotta tell ya, I'm really sold on the idea of planting potatoes whole rather than cutting in pieces. I can't say that I ever got any better yield with cut-up potatoes than I did this year. But then, it's hard to compare one year's yield against another year, since none of the other components are ever quite the same.
I can see how digging potatoes early might have it's advantages. For one thing, it opens up that space sooner and you can use it for for warm-weather crops, like squash and beans. I wouldn't want to put tomato plants in a spot where I'd just grown potatoes because they need the same nutrients. Generally I like to follow potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers with legumes or cabbage family, and if I can do it within the same season, so much the better, because then when next spring comes I can just follow the same pattern in the same spots and I don't have to keep trying to figure out where I'm going to rotate what.
The "seed potato" was rotten under most of the plants, but there were some that were pretty much intact still. If I'd waited longer, would the rotten potato start rotting the others?
I believe these are the purtay-est taters I've ever grown. No grubworm holes. I only stabbed one with the potato fork. After that I got smart and just used the fork to loosen the ground about a foot away from the plant in each of the four directions, and then I gathered up the "branches" that were growing above ground and pulled. Some potatoes would come up with the plant, but I did have to dig around in the deeper dirt with my hands for the others. I weighed these buckets on my bathroom scales and the total came to 82#. That's including the weight of the 3 plastic buckets and some dirt I brushed off, that came to 6# when weighed separately.
For those that don't know, a potato fork is different than a pitchfork. Don't use a pitchfork to dig potatoes.
Well, I'm glad that's done. I had to work for a little while, then come in and cool off, go out and work some more, and so on. I think if I'd had to do it just one more time, I'd prolly have to throw up. So I'm good. We cut off the bottoms of an old T-shirt, wet it, and wear one around our necks when we are working in the heat. Keeps us cooler, and plus we have a cool rag handy all the time for wiping off our hot and sweaty faces. When I'm doing stuff that makes me have to bend over, the front of the rag wants to hang forward and dabble in the dirt. So I stick it down inside the neck of my T-shirt.
The potatoes have now been put onto trays and are being cured in the pantry. I knew I was keeping those cardboard trays the strawberries come in that we buy at Aldi for some reason..... S'posed to be someplace cool and humid. Helllllo..... Such a place does not usually exist in NE Oklahoma on a regular enough basis to cure potatoes. This will have to do, it's cool but not terribly humid in there, because we are air-conditioning these days.
I picked out the little ones, will wash them well and boil them, then pack in pint freezer containers. There isn't enough to can. Prolly only make about three pints.
I had five intact seed potatoes. I cleaned them off and the peel scraped away just like it did on the others. There were no soft spots on them, they looked and smelled just like any other potato.
A couple of things I want to say about potatoes that might fit in here. Everywhere you turn, there are people who say you shouldn't let potatoes get a lot of light because that'll turn them green, and that you shouldn't eat green potatoes because they are toxic. Well, I'm here to tell you that I have gotten potatoes that were green under the skin from the grocery store before, I HAVE eaten the potato, and I am still alive. Now, the green part tastes awful, so to my mind that's the real reason you shouldn't eat it. The green doesn't go all the way through the potato and normally I pare the green off and use the rest of the potato anyway. Potatoes used to be so cheap, a little waste didn't matter. Now that they're more expensive, if I got a bag of potatoes at a store and every potato was green under the skin, I believe I'd take it back for a refund and buy potatoes somewhere else. Because it means a problem with their potato storage.
The other thing is that I've been thinking about how I'd like to be able to keep some of these potatoes going so I could use them for seed next year instead of having to pay for seed potatoes. I don't think a home-grown potato harvested in May or June will last until time to plant for the next spring's harvest, which would be, like, late February or early March. ...Or would it? You guys tell me, because I've only been growing potatoes for a few years now. I did a search about how to make your own seed potatoes and all I got was the old standard, start-with-organic-potatoes-that-you-buy, or the chancy sprouting of grocery store potatoes. But I've been there, done that, and it works well enough with ordinary potatoes. The more premium potatoes like Yukon Gold just rot. I don't think they care anymore whether your ordinary potatoes sprout, and I don't think they're spraying that sprout retardation chemical on them now. Just the gourmet kinds that they don't want anyone using for seed potatoes. Then I found THIS on YouTube, which might be of interest to you. And HERE is the update they mention, which is a little hard to find. They are in Oklahoma, and judging from that red dirt, I'd say it's southern Oklahoma and not northern. That's zone seven and though we are also in Oklahoma, we are in a narrow band across the top that is zone 6a. All that aside, I have missed a potato here and there in the harvesting stage and had it winter over and come up in the spring. But to be in the ground for almost a whole year subjects the potato to a lot of weather fluctuations, plus there are the grubworms that like to eat stuff like that during the summer months. I was still busy pondering that when the guy mentioned summer potatoes. Summer potatoes?? I never heard of such a thing. Have you?? Turns out, people in Europe do this all the time. Summer potatoes are planted in August or early September and are ready for eating by Christmas. Maybe then you could turn right around and plant some of those winter-harvested summer potatoes in the ground, under mulch and all that, like the Oklahoma bunch did in those YouTubes, and they will be ready to harvest in the spring / early summer. Or even if you'd still rather wait till early spring to plant, you could probably stand a better chance of having your winter-harvested potatoes stay fresh enough to use as seed potatoes for the following spring. So I dinked around and found a guy, and then some school kids, growing summer potatoes for harvest by Christmas. The guy was planting in bags, and the kids in those slotted cheapie laundry baskets. Unfortunately, they were both using purchased potatoes and not some from a spring harvest, but the man made just an off-hand reference to the fact that the seed potatoes had been "cold treated" so they'd think they'd been through a winter, and this might be why potatoes that are missed during the spring harvest do not grow tops until the following spring. What would happen if you put some of the potatoes you harvested in the spring, down in the crisper of your refrigerator from harvest until August. ...Would that be enough "cold treatment"? Has anybody done that? My thinking is, even if you did not get enough potatoes to eat, you'd be able to grow seed potatoes for a harvest in the following spring. I'll be experimenting with this in the coming months.
I pulled up the pea vines early this morning and took down the fall-overy zig-zag fence that I made by using three-sectioned concrete reinforcement-wire tomato cages. I was so proud of what I had done, at the time, and Mother Nature delighted in blowing them over every chance she got. At least they were near enough to the fence that they didn't fall all the way to the ground, and they went in the direction of the side where the peas were planted so didn't uproot anything that was anchored to the "trellis". But, nope, not doing that again. I've put 9 pounds of shelled and blanched green peas in the freezer.
But the last picking had so many mildewed pods that I ended up throwing
away most of them. The bottom two feet of the pea vines were losing
their green color, anyway. I showed how we made those tomato cages on a post HERE. I really like how the bottom prong goes down into the ground as an anchor, and I like how they fold flat for storage. And they do work pretty well as tomato cages, but not as zig-zag pea trellises, just so you know. There are still a couple of things I don't like about them, though. 1) we had to make ours out of rolled wire and by the time we got to the last half of the roll, the wire was all jabberwocky, so they don't fit together very well. If you make these and can get concrete reinforcement wire in flat panels, do that. 2) The hooks on the ends are an annoyance. When you fold them for storage, they catch on the other cages and everything else!! I've said a few swear words trying to get them untangled. I'm thinking about closing up those hooks and just using rag strips or yarn or jute cord when I need to put them together. I don't like to use small pieces of wire in places where they could
fall to the ground and then get thrown in your face when you're mowing
or tilling. Actually, I do have some cages that are so crooked that they just won't stay attached, and they do OK because the prongs are anchored in the ground. If we ever make any more, we might make them a little different.
Oh. That reminds me. Is your tetanus shot up-to-date? You should have one every 7 years. If you garden and have exposure to rusty metals, you should protect yourself. We got our shots updated at The Health Department. But if you were having a check-up with your doctor, that might be the time to mention you might need one, and you could get it there.
Hubs and I don't normally do stuff outside after lunchtime. Today
was an exception. The fork seemed to be hitting lots of rocks when I was
digging those potatoes, so Hubs was out there for awhile trying to get
them pried out. OMG, the rocks we found! And we had dug out rocks at
planting time, I swear, in the same places!! Hubs dug out one nice big flat rock that'll be a really nice
stepping stone, but I didn't make him stay out there with me very long.
There will be better days to dig out rock. As I dug potatoes, though, I
noticed the soil there was really cloddy. And the wood chips and
leaves I had mulched the potatoes with had aged enough that it seemed
like they'd be ok to till into the soil. So, much as I have said we're not going
to till anymore, I think this bed needs it just once more.
I think I'll just put a couple of hamburger patties on the griddle and fry them up for tonight's supper, Hubs will have his on a store hamburger bun and I'll have mine on a homemade bun. His loss, if you ask me. I really envy you gals whose husbands are on the same page as you are. When your husband prefers the stuff that's sold in the stores to the stuff you make, it's kind of easy to start feeling a little under-appreciated sometimes. I made Ramen Cole Slaw with some thawed Freezer Slaw last night and it was just OK. I used the sunflower seeds called for in the recipe but not the sliced almonds and it would've tasted better the other way around. But I still have some in the refrigerator so we'll have that with our hamburgers. Some people complain that if they eat cabbage, it "really cleans them out", but I think if that happens to you, it's your body telling you that you don't typically eat enough -- as my mother used to call it -- "roughage". Start with small amounts. I don't think it's actually a bad thing to get "cleaned out" every once in awhile. But I guess you'd want to pick a time when you're going to be home for the event(s). Heh.
This is Friday. I fried up the intact seed potatoes and the one I speared, and Hubs and I ate them for breakfast with eggs and toast.
They were all Yukon Gold.
One of them was kind of funny-looking when I cut into it. It just smelled like a raw potato, but a little on the strong side. So I didn't use that one. I have to say, though, I've gotten potatoes from the store that looked worse than it did. That's water droplets on the top of the potato, catching the light. I never know what this camera is gonna do, and by the time I look at the picture, it's often too late to retake.
Here's the one I speared with the fork.
Hubs and I changed from our jammies into our work clothes as soon as it was light. I went out to the garden and picked up all the piles of weeds I'd pulled on Thursday and got them out of his way. Also put a few small tomato cages around plants that I wanted him NOT to till under. There are some volunteer watermelon plants. Then Hubs came out with the rototiller and started tilling where the potatoes and the peas had been. While he did that, I put all the rocks we harvested yesterday in buckets so Hubs can take them out to The Rock Wall. I took all the fold-up tomato cages and put them around tomato plants that didn't have a cage yet and that got them out of the way. When he was finished tilling, I planted the last of the sorry little "extra" tomato plants that I'd had in cups waaaay too long and watered them in. Then it started raining. But it didn't last long and didn't provide the garden with any noticeable moisture. But chances are 50, 60 and 70% on Mesonet today, from tonight through Tuesday.
The cistern was full to the top after all that rain we got last month, but we have another leak. I was so disappointed to look in there on the day I watered, to see only about a foot of water. The cistern is almost six feet deep. If it can seep out, I guess maybe it can seep back in, but I'd only expect that to happen if we were trying to keep the cistern dry, if you know what I mean. So I guess when we get the water completely used up that's in there, we'll go to Lowe's and look at swimming pool coatings.
It's now 4:30pm, and it has just started raining. I wish I'd gotten
those southern peas planted but maybe it won't hurt for me to slip out
and do that in the morning. If it's raining then, well, I've been wet
before, and I didn't melt.
It's now Saturday. It continued raining all night and into the early morning hours today. OK, God, we needed it, and thank you so very much. But you can stop it now for a few days and that would make me very happy.
I'm sure glad I got those potatoes out of the ground. But now I have Purple Hull peas to go in and cabbage to harvest and I don't know if I'll even be able to do that for awhile.
It's not like I won't have anything to do if it continues to rain. I can slip out there in my raincoat and cut the rest of those cabbage. They are near the edge and I can do that without getting off the walkway, which is covered in leaves and then woodchips. And once the cabbage is cut, the preparing of it for the freezer would probably take several hours.
There's also some general house cleaning that I could do. Ugh. I just hate to clean house. But I do love how a freshly-cleaned house smells. I've gotten in the habit of scanning whatever room I'm in for stuff that doesn't belong in it, and then when I leave that room I have my hands full of stuff that needs to go in the room to which I'm going. That keeps the clutter to a minimum. Doing this is best if you're a person who's not easily distracted, and that doesn't describe me. Sometimes I lose my coffee cup by setting it down somewhere so I can put other stuff away, and then forgetting to pick my cup back up. I might go several days not being able to find my coffee cup, and then finally run onto it out in the garage, or in the pantry, growing Petrie-dish stuff inside the cup. I always clean the kitchen while I'm watching things that are cooking, gives me something to do and keeps me from walking off and letting things boil over, scorch and/or burn themselves.
I could drag out the rest of the stuff I have stored away, and get ready to hold a garage sale.
I could organize my seed stash, and jar up and label some herbs that I have dried.
I could reconcile the checkbook. I got the bank statement in the mail a couple days ago. I don't do my banking on the computer, and I have instructed my bank not to turn on automated banking unless I come in personally to request it.
I could prepare a planter and plant those spinach seed for growing inside the house. The lettuce in two of the planters I brought in dried up practically overnight, and I have no more seed for those varieties.
The last time it rained, I admit I ignored all the things I could have been doing and just sat at the computer all day. I did a Bing search on "Pinterest Gardening Blogs". I got lots of good places to start and bunny-hopped from there. What I started with was THIS. If I see something that interests me, I click on it and I get a screen with the picture enlarged. From there I can go to the place where the pinner found it, to read more about it, or if I don't need to do that, I can just scroll down to see what
OTHER pins are recommended on related subjects and I almost always find something
interesting there. I'll right click and choose to open that link in a
new tab. Then I'll go to that tab and so on. Once
I've gotten to a point where I haven't seen anything else I'm interested in
clicking on, I'll hit the "back" button, and if I've gotten as far back
as that tab will let me go, I'll close the tab and see if there's
anything on the previous tab I want to look at. Generally all this
is enough to keep my brain occupied most of the day, or crash Mozilla, whichever
happens first. You know, Mozilla might be better than Explorer, but it isn't perfect. I don't like how there are certain things it won't let me view on YouTube. But with Explorer, my Blogger site doesn't work right. This is when my love-hate relationship with the computer comes into play.
This is a little later and I've been out in the raincoat to survey the damage. I had emptied out the "rat-killin' tub" several days ago. It's been about a week now since we've caught a rat, although Joe told he he's still catching them from time to time. I don't like water standing around because mosquitoes grow in it, so when I need to water something, I use any water like that first. The mosquitoes are pretty thick now. They will breed in high grass and even in the tomato plants if they can't find any standing water. I was reading where they prefer Type O blood, in case you didn't know. I also saw a thing on TV about a year ago that was about how Vitamin B1, 1000 mg a day, will make some people be less tasty to mosquitoes, so I've started taking that. Some people say they dissolve them in water and spray the water directly on their skin. Even if it doesn't work, at least it doesn't hurt any. My bottle says, "Turns food into energy". Well, allrightie, then. Heh. I also use a spray sometimes that is a recipe from Paula. It doesn't work so well for me as it does for her. I think different people have success with different things, and maybe mosquitoes in different regions like different things, too, I don't know. I still get mosquito bites but the mosquitoes don't bombard me like they do when I have nothing at all to protect me. But anyway, where I was originally going with this paragraph is to say that there are 4" of water in that tub now. Then Hubs checked his rain gauge and said it had 4.5" of water in it.
At this point, it's not so much whether I'm going to get any black cherries from the Hansen's bushes as it is whether I can keep the bushes alive. While they are standing in water I'm tempted to pull them out and put them somewhere that's above water. But this is mid-June, and our two hottest months are going to follow right behind. Might be better off to put a piece of 2x12 lumber there against the shed and then build up the soil in front of it so the water will run off better. Maybe that is what I should do today. We still have a big pile of Kylie's stump-grindings that would turn into soil almost as soon as they hit the standing water, if they haven't already done that there in that pile on The North Fourth.
This is now Sunday and I will get this published today. I worked from daylight till suppertime yesterday. As an example of how fragmented the work around here seems to get, I determined I'd see if I could locate enough short pieces of 2x12's, since we've used all we had for raised beds. I knew I had two pieces about 4' long, leaning up against one of the sheds, and then I remembered I had a short piece laying out in the garden, so I went out to get that, then stood them up, leaning lengthwise along the side of the shed where those black cherry bushes grow. There was so much standing water there that I brought out some buckets and used a coffee tub to "bail" as much extra water out as I could. Then I went to get the garden wagon and some tall kitty litter buckets so I could go out to the pile of stump grindings and get a load. I like to use buckets inside the garden wagon because they are easier for me to unload, and since they are rectangular, seven of them fit in the wagon with very little wasted space. But before I could do that, I had to dump water out of some of the buckets, and take the wagon out to the gardening shed because it was full of pots and miscellaneous stuff. There was a bucket of pulled weeds that needed to go to the compost bin. While I was out in the compost bin, I realized I hadn't put the pea vines in the compost and they were so wet from the rain I figured it'd be better to put them in the bin while they were still wet. So I did that. It was lucky that they were piled up in a part of that garden bed that Hubs hadn't tilled because I made the mistake of stepping into there and buried my foot in mud. On my way back to the now empty garden wagon, I saw a couple of ripe strawberries, so stopped and ate those. I hadn't had my breakfast yet. I cleaned off my foot and the Croc that was on it in a water puddle. Then back to the patio to load the now empty buckets into the wagon. Pushed the wagon out to the pile of stump grindings on The North Fourth and filled the buckets. Came in and asked Hubs if he'd bring the wagon up for me as by then it was too heavy for me to push or pull. While I waited for him to do that, I had breakfast. Then out to dump the buckets under the black cherry bushes. Seems everything I do has detours like this in it. In the business world, they call this "Multi-tasking" and yeah, I did a lot of that when I had a paying job. All the employers wanted someone who could multi-task.
The rest of the day kind of went like that. The rain stopped around 7am, and there was a cool breeze, so by 4pm I had weeded three rows to the east of the western-most garden path: one row of onions, one of beets, and one of Provider beans, and mulched lightly with wood chips.
I found a few cilantro seedlings. I had broadcast some old seed, had my doubts as to whether it was even viable, and then almost pulled up the seedlings, thinking to myself, "Where did this PARSLEY come from?" Then I remembered. OH. Not parsley. That's the Cilantro. A couple of House Wrens serenaded me almost the whole time I was out there. They are so cute, and they hunt under the canopy of plants in the garden, for little bugs. They must have a nest somewhere in the garden and I'm glad to have them there. The day wore on. I'd get hot and tired. Or need a bathroom break. Or hungry. Or I'd need to come in and ask Hubs to come out and push another cart I'd filled with wood chips from the pile to where I was weeding in the garden.
So I'd come in for awhile and sit at the computer while I rested and cooled off. Then go out again. Luckily we had left-overs in the fridge for supper. And then while I watched TV after supper I pitted the last of what cherries I was able to get off the black cherry bushes. There's still the cabbage to process. I'm glad cabbage can wait. I got two rows marked for the planting of some Purple Hull Pink Eye peas. But it was too wet to get in there to plant. (If you look close you'll see a white string and a red string. It's actually yarn. Cheap yarn holds up really well in the garden. Doesn't rot. Easy to see. Frustrates the daylights out of the birds, though, who can sometimes be seen yanking on it. Once we found the yarn and one of the yellow tent pegs hanging on the fence. Poor bird had to work pretty hard to get that far with it.
Today I hope to get those PHPE peas planted, and I have two rows that I want to weed and mulch: one of Garbanzo beans, one of Adzuki beans. There are empty spaces where some of the beans didn't come up, or the seedling got munched down to the ground by something, and now would be a good time to stick another bean in the ground in those places. If I have time, I'll weed a couple of short rows of beets. I'd like to pull the rest of the cabbages, and get some pitiful-looking pepper plants out of containers and into the ground where the cabbages grew. I just can't throw a plant away. If I can find room for it in the garden, I will try to go ahead and grow it out. It's a lot easier to give away extra produce than it is to give away extra plants, especially when the plants look as bad as these do. There's nothing wrong with putting up a little extra, either, as some years maybe I won't get a good crop, or maybe I'll want to plant something else instead.
My Pink Banana squash seedlings have been just falling over and dying. Or the other way around, I don't know. I don't see any squash bugs and they are too small yet to have something crawling up inside their main stem. I've inspected them regularly for eggs on their leaves and have never found any. Out of desperation, I've sprinkled a little Sevin Dust on the one that's left. If that one dies I guess I will plant Butternuts or Cushaw in their place. They are supposed to be more vigorous and more bug- and disease-resistant. Maybe I'll dig around in the soil there and see if there's a pocket of grubworms that might've eaten the roots. I've had three failures with Pink Banana and I'm about ready to throw in the towel.
This is about all I have to babble about. It rained for a short while this morning and is overcast so far today. I've just now come in from the garden, probably be out there the rest of the day, unless it gets so hot and humid that even my "neck rag" won't help.
So, till next time,
Rock on. Hugs xoxoxo