Saturday, July 16, 2016

Daily Doin's, Mid-July, 2016

Lately, I've been going outside right at dawn to start working in the garden.  There are some things I can do while it's not totally light out.  For instance, on Thursday morning I cut that damned Hale Haven peach tree down to nubbins.  And frankly, I don't much care if it lives through this or not.

The trunk is painted to discourage borers.  Seems to help.  Two of the plum trees were oozing sticky sap from their trunks when I saw instructions how to do this, and one is just fine now.  The other had a double trunk and one of them died, probably one trunk was the graft and the other was the rootstock.  I cut it 'way back, too, and again, I don't care if it lives or not.  But anyway, the paint is house paint, mixed with some spackling compound, and I glop it on every spring.  These are all trees I got from  Don't get me started on that.  Just don't.  I know, many of you warned me, but I didn't tell you till it was a done deal.  And I am paying now for that little bit of obnoxiousness, which is part of my character, unfortunately.  And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Those of you who've been reading my posts right along know that I found a pretty good series of YouTubes about how to prune fruit trees this spring.  Except that it was too late to do it.  My trees were bought in 2010, heeled in because they were sent too late, and planted in the spring of 2011.  I've never pruned them because I just didn't know how and I was just overwhelmed.  At one time I had a brother-in-law whose family's business was a commercial greenhouse, and he would always prune my trees for me.  But he and my sister had a really messy divorce and he moved to Texas, never to be heard from again.  I would always be shocked to see how aggressively he pruned, but everything always turned out OK and I guess he must've known what he was doing.  I think his degree was in horticulture, or arboriculture, something like that.  I didn't like him very much but I was always nice to him because he was my sister's husband, except for one time when he made me mad because he told me I reminded him of Mom.  You'd think a college-educated man would have the sense not to say something like that right to your face, when they already know full well you aren't going to receive it well, but it is true that there are several kinds of intelligence, some of which don't leave any room for common sense, if you know what I mean. 

Anyway, that Hale Haven tree was just loaded with little peaches, but they were not due to ripen till fall, and they had some kind of fungus, like last year.  I still have some Liqui-Cop but if I used it on the tree I'd be scared to eat the peaches even if they made it to the ripening stage.  Some of them were starting to turn yellow with red markings and I picked those, though they were very small, peeled them (because I know from experience their skins don't loosen with a quick blanch, like my favorite, Red Haven, does).  I knew there'd be bad spots inside the peach and I didn't want the heat to cause the bad juices to disperse into any parts of the peach that were still good, either.  Well, this turned out to be something I will not do again unless we are starving to death.  Because one peach probably yielded a tablespoon (or less) of actual peach flesh.  I had at first planned to make a batch of peach jam but the longer I sat there peeling little peaches, scraping the flesh off the pit (because they're not freestone like Red Haven, either).  There was some kind of rusty stuff in the flesh that was against the pit, so that, along with everything else that looked gross, didn't leave very much.  I began to think about how much of an extreme I was going to, just for a small batch of peach jam that I can't eat very much of, anyway. 

Would Hubs appreciate the effort?  Remember what you know by now about Hubs and how he'd just rather buy stuff at the grocery store than have "home-made" and you have your answer, right there.  So what I'd already done, I cooked, and I'll probably make a batch of pancake syrup out of it.  The rest, I threw away.  By that time I knew that there was something wrong inside each peach, up close to the pit, anyway.  That can only get worse as the rest of those peaches try to grow and ripen.  And so I figured it was as good a time as any to prune that tree back severely.  If it survives THAT, I'll let it try to make a decent crop one more year and if it doesn't, it's coming down completely.  Stick a fork in it, it's DONE.  All the little hard mold-speckled peaches went into the bottom of the burn barrel where they will dry out a little bit every time I burn trash, until they are either burned up or so severely damaged by the heat that none of them will germinate.

My new little peach tree, which IS a RED Haven peach, did very well this year for a newly-planted tree.  It made about eight small peaches that ripened in late June and they were delicious.  I have already started pruning this new tree so it won't sprawl all over the yard.  Harvests from the tree will be smaller but the fruit should be larger, as there won't be such a toll taken from the tree trying to support as many pieces of fruit.

I'm still picking a few blackberries every day and I have about a gallon of berries in the freezer.  I promised Hubs a blackberry cobbler the next time I had the oven on to bake bread, and that was Friday.  I used the recipe that I posted in 2014 HERE

It works better if you let it cool before you cut into it.  Of course, this is not something that Hubs considers a problem.  Now that it HAS cooled, he'll probably scoop out the extra liquid and put it in the bowl with his next piece.  This is just outstanding with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, but we don't keep ice-cream in the house as neither one of us can stay out of it. 

It will be a challenge to keep the canes watered well enough so that the berries remaining will continue to ripen and fatten out.  I'm doing my best to discourage the birds.

When they have all ripened and have been picked, I'll nip off the vine they grew on, because fruit grows on one-year-old wood and I can't think what benefit there would be to having non-bearing vines on blackberries, but if you know a reason why, then let 'er rip before I do it.  Also picking sand plums.  When those have all been picked, or when I have all I want and decide to pull the plug, whichever happens first, I will prune those trees as well.  Yes, I know they're wild fruit and not meant to be pruned unless Nature does it.  And Nature DID, in fact, break out a big branch out of one of the trees this spring, right after the plums formed.  But I will prune, anyway, to make picking easier next year.

The news team on Channel 6 mentioned how bad the webworms are this year.  Well, duh....  All you have to do to know that is to look out your car windows as you drive down the highway.  Or, in my case, look at some of your own trees.  Pecan, sand plum, persimmon, and redbud are the ones that are affected on our property.  We see some houses that have big webworm-infested trees growing above their rooflines.  Ewwww, how gross is that, when the time comes for the web to release those worms and they fall on your roof and roll into your rain gutters or out on your sidewalk and front steps?

I just can't get ahead of these weeds in the garden.  As I get a big enough area cleaned out, I've been laying down double cardboard from that pile that one of the neighbors brought me.  We have had some rain and temps that are a little cooler that what one expects in an Oklahoma July.  But it's still in the upper 90's and the dang news and weather on TV keeps telling us how the "heat index" is in the lower hundreds, and it's a real struggle not to let that influence us into feeling like it's hotter than it usually is, sometimes.  We've had temps as high as 114ºF, since Hubs and I have lived out here, and that was when we had little trees trying to live through it.  We worked our behinds off trying to keep them watered.  Some have made it through so far.  Some did not. 

The squash bugs have finally succeeded in overwhelming most of my Cushaw pumpkin plants. 
Cushaw is supposed to be resistant to squash bugs, but it didn't work out that way.  So far I haven't seen anything on the Black Futsu, Long Island Cheese, any of the watermelon, or the cukes.  And I kind of think that the Cushaws have been "the trap crop".  If I can destroy them on the cushaws before they go anywhere else, maybe the other squash and melons can reach maturity by sacrificing the Cushaws.  So when I see squash bugs on them I sprinkle some Sevin dust on the ground under the plant, and that seems to kill that generation.  But by the time the next generation hatches, the Sevin's been washed away by rain or blown away by wind.  Death of the vine leaves me with a few Cushaws to bring in, but I don't know if they are far enough along to be any good.  I haven't cut into them yet although something else has made a big gash on one of them, and the wound has hardened over and sorta healed itself. 

What could that be?  I hope Hubs wasn't using his weed-wacker in my garden.

I planted black zucchini in the spots where the Cushaw were.  I don't really expect to get a crop from them, and maybe they won't even survive the seedling stage.  I'm probably just spittin' in the wind with this wild-hair idea.

We had a storm and a lot of wind on Thursday.  Tulsa was hit pretty hard, with winds to 75mph.  I don't know if there was damage in town, but the only damage we had was fruit blown off the trees.  My new apple tree had about twenty apples and though the tree was staked and tied, it was still really jerking on it's ropes and I began to worry that the tree might break at the graft so I went out into the wind and picked off all the apples.  I'm two years into this tree and I'd rather lose a small harvest than the tree.  Hubs picked the pears off the ground under the standard pear tree the next morning.  We always pick our pears when they begin to show color, and wrap them in newspaper.  These may or may not go ahead and ripen, as they are pretty green.

Our oriental pear tree fared somewhat better, I only found one pear on the ground.  The tree is about 7 years old, transplanted out here when we moved, and the trunk is large enough now to be able to survive some wind.

There are still no beans to pick, though there are some bitty beans and lots of blooms.  I accidentally picked some of the Tendergreen beans when I was weeding because I broke off a branch of the bean plant in my efforts to pull a weed.  This is why I hate to weed and sometimes I just don't do it unless the weeds are overpowering.  And they have gotten to that point.  Well, the branch had about six little beans on it, about 3" long and very slender.  The first thing I noticed was that these beans have strings.  Yes, when you snap beans it can easily become just part of the routine to tear off the strings.  We all know that.  My mother always thought that the beans that had strings also had better flavor, but I think that's just something she made up.  Maybe in another week, if I keep the bean rows watered well, there will be beans to pick.  So these little beans were stuck in the freezer in a bag and if I ever get a harvest, they'll go in with the first batch that gets cooked. 

I also had pulled some Crosby Egyptian beets a couple of days ago.  I know that heat and dry will make beets, which are cool-weather crops, go "woody".  These had been planted late and some are not sized up at all.  Today I prepared the greens for "Beans'n'Greens". 

Next time I make Great Northern beans, I'll add this to mine.  Hubs does not like beets, nor does he like cooked greens of any kind.

I got the idea to cook the beets in my little asparagus pot, and made about a pint of pickled beets with them.

I have to be careful when eating sweet pickled things, not too much or the sugar will trigger my sugar addiction.  So it's just as well there isn't much of these.  I kind of wish now I had just buttered them a little and left it at that. 

That's about all that's going on out here.  Oh, here's a picture of the baby House Wrens.  They each could fit into a thimble. 

Till next time, Rock on....  Hugs xoxoxo


  1. Well, great idea about going out early. I went out at 6:30 this morning and was able to work until 9:30. Wasn't bad at all; I could even see the blasted dark Japanese Beetles on everything!

    Remember the moschata type squashes are the most resistant to squash bugs and Long Island Cheese is one. I have let a self seeded one grow near the porch but it hasn't bloomed yet.

    I am getting ready to cut down two peach trees. I am fed up with them breaking and never getting a decent peach from them. I do have a small Red Haven(my favorite too) to plant.

    We are getting very dry here too. It is either too wet or too dry.

    I love buttered beets and pickled beets but didn't plant any this year. I was afraid I wouldn't have the energy to process them.

    Glad Hubs got the belt back on!

    1. Glenda, Cushaw is s'posed to be a Moschata, so I was really hoping I wouldn't see any squash bugs this year, but here they came. So now I'm concerned about the others, too. I read somewhere that those worms that get inside the main stem are not a problem with the Moschatas, because their stems are not hollow. And so far I haven't had any problems with those.

      I'm hoping if I am good about keeping the peach tree pruned, it won't break. It scares me to cut the central trunk off at about 4', but that's how Bill Merrill says to do it, and then cut the outer branches so they are like spokes of a wheel. I've seen where others refer to this shape as a "wine glass". We only get fruit one year out of three because of Oklahoma's habit of throwing in one last zingo of a freeze after everything's bloomed and sometimes even set fruit, so if I ruin the tree I guess I have time to start over.

      I think I'll try to plant some beets for the fall garden. I must start thinking about that very soon. Hugs!


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