Thursday, September 1, 2016

Good Riddance, August

Hallelujah, August is finally over. August is a month that we just try to struggle through, here in Oklahoma. Much like February, but for opposite reasons. Even though September, more often than not, starts out hot and dry, we feel like we've turned the page.  These gladiolas bloomed late because I planted them late.  Couldn't find the bulbs for awhile, and then decided to go ahead and plant because I didn't think the bulbs (corms) would be any good by next spring if I didn't do something.  Not all of them have made flowers, maybe they will as the weather cools.   

We'll dig our sweet potatoes this month.

I used to leave them in the ground until the night before an expected frost. But it's not necessary because they only need 100 days, and they have had that. Usually some rancher decides to burn off his pastures once the weather turns cool (or for any other wild-hair reason, whether or not the wind is blowing like the bejeezers) and then the rats are run out of their burrows and if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know the kinds of problems that causes for us. Rats just love sweet potatoes. Once they find them, they can do a lot of damage to the crop before we even know they're there. Plus, sweet potatoes need warmth for a few days after they're dug and if we wait till right before a frost, it's usually too cold in the days after for them to cure right.

The garden is pretty much done for the year. It seems like it hasn't been much use to water. It just spreads out into the dry areas, or runs down through, to some secret place where water goes. I've had neighbors report that they kept their gardens alive through August by watering every night, and their water bill for the month was over $100. Not to mention how bad this is for the food you grow this way, considering that City water contains chlorine and fluorine and may have residual treated water stuff, like secondary prescription drugs. We did get a good rain on Monday, and had 1.8” of water in the rain gauge. But the next morning when I dug a hole in which to bury my kitchen scraps, I could see that the moisture hadn't gotten very deep. Well, that's how they measure it, afterall. 1.8” of rain only soaks that far into dry ground. Isn't that right? *Sigh*. We got a little more on Wednesday but mostly it just wet the surface of the ground. So I guess we could use a lot more and I sure wish there was a way we could take some of that excess off the folks that are getting way too much right now. Mother Nature has just gone berserk.

The squash bugs came and cleaned out my Futsu pumpkin vines, after they had succeeded in ruining the spaghetti squash and the Amish cushaws. One of my neighbors told me he had better luck using Sevin liquid, back when he used to have a garden, and since I had some already I tried it and it just did not work as well as the “dust” does. But those little one-pound canisters of dust, with the sprinkle lids, are only half full and I don't think I get my money's worth. I looked on Amazon for the dust in a bag and didn't find any, so I'm going to look at Lowe's next time I go. Maybe I can fill the canisters myself and get a better price that way. I don't like to use Sevin, or anything else, really, as we have a lot of bees and butterflies around. But at least with the dust, I can sprinkle it on the ground under the plants, where the squash bugs hang out when the sun is hot. It seems to work pretty well that way and maybe the insects that come to the flowers will not go where it is. Anyway, I tore out all the Futsu, and pruned back the Long Island Cheese. I didn't see any bugs on those but I know with the more favored vines gone, the squash bugs will probably end up there. All the plants had trailed all over the garden and made weeding more difficult. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. I've had fruits off each variety, even several cantaloupe and watermelon off the volunteer plants. That's better than SOME summers.

I'm trying not to look on “the dark side”. Not for the garden, and not for anything else, for that matter. Yes, that's part of the legacy my mother left me, she had a hard time being grateful for what she had. And she managed to “shoot herself in the foot” sometimes, that way. You know, if we can't appreciate the blessings that we are given, we truly don't deserve to be given more. And I don't want to be remembered like that. I don't want to spend my life in unhappiness. I'm really tired of gardening, anyway. There are a few things left in the garden, some cheese pepper plants, and some jalapenos. A few tomato plants that might “come out of it” after the temperatures are consistently lower. A few of the Garden Huckleberry plants that I started from seed Paula sent me and then transplanted into the strawberry bed, where I could watch them better, have started to come out of transplant shock. I've never grown these before, and I didn't get them started till late. But I wanted to know how I'd like them this summer. Maybe they will survive and make seed so if I like them, I can sow the new seed in late winter when I start my tomatoes and peppers.

The broom corn I grew for the birds is making seed.  Birds on their power-line roost, above it.  Sometimes we'll see a couple dozen.  They are thinking about migration.  Or the broom corn.  Not sure.

There are still herbs hanging in there. The rhubarb is still alive.

The Maypop made fruit and then the Gulf Fritillary larvae hatched.

The ginger is still growing in the pot on the patio and now I'm beginning to wonder when I should dig them up. Fiona, I looked for what you posted when you harvested yours and couldn't find it. A YouTube said to wait till the “fronds” grow 4' tall. Yikes. Mine are only about 2' tall.   

Yesterday I finished getting those apples cleaned, sliced and in the freezer.  I'm going to make juice from them and they release their juice so much easier if they have been frozen and then thawed.

On Tuesday I baked bread and made Jalapeno Nacho-Style Pickles.

 I'm thinking I could use the same recipe to make pimiento peppers, just using the little sweet red cheese peppers instead of jalapeno. I love pimiento cheese on toast. It's just shredded sharp cheddar, chopped pimiento, enough mayo to hold it together. Anyway, that's how I make it. But have you ever priced pickled pimiento at the store? Considering that it's a bitty jar, it's expensive. And sometimes it's hard to find.

Hubs has been out spreading wood chips on the ground with Joe's Kubota. Several days ago, we were driving down the highway, not far from our place, when Hubs pointed to the apartment complex where JR and Au used to live, and said, “There's Kylie!” And sure enough, he and his employees were out there trimming trees. I said, “Pull off! We'll talk to him a little bit!” So he did. We had no sooner gotten down from the truck when Kylie, with a big grin across his face, yelled, “Hey! Need some woodchips yet??” Kylie got so many loads ahead of me, I couldn't catch up, so last spring I called him and asked him to stop for a little while. Kylie kind of chuckles about this little old couple he knows, pushing his woodchips around their place. And that's OK, he's a good man and we feel blessed to know him. It turned out that Hubs had a bare spot out on the North Fourth where he thought he could use a couple of loads, but I still have a load and a half, down from FOUR, mind you, but still, I want to get the piles leveled before the Bermuda grass makes them into a permanent BERM. But I told Kylie that our neighbors across the road, Jay and Claire, had been asking how we got our woodchips, and that I had told them I'd tell him about them next time I saw him. He said he was going to have several loads and it'd sure be convenient to bring them out. When I got home I called Claire and she said she'd LOVE it! So I gave Kylie the go-ahead and told him where she wanted them dumped. I forgot to stop and tell Jay (he works from home) and I guess Claire didn't tell him either. By the end of that day, Kylie had dumped two loads on our North Fourth and FIVE on Jay and Claire's land. A few days later Jay told me he'd looked out the window at what he called “A sh*t-load”, and I found that so funny, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. But he was happy to get them, too. They've been trying to build up their land since they've lived there and they'd already been there for awhile when we moved into our place. I was happy to make the arrangements. Jay and Claire have been very good neighbors, and we consider Kylie our friend, it benefited them all. I just love it when a win-win comes together.
 Theirs....^       And our "aged" pile....v

Jill Winger, whose blog, The Prairie Homestead, is listed on my sidebar, was involved with the “Essential Oil Revolution”, an online “symposium”, about using essential oils. And that's how I found out about it and joined up. I thought I'd pick up some recipes and some free training in how to use them, as I was feeling like I wasn't using the oils that I had up to their potential. I was kind of disappointed that there weren't very many recipes. Those that there were, were stated like, “two drops of this and one of that, in some carrier oil”. HOW MUCH carrier oil?? I don't know..... The people that host these symposiums make their money when you view their YouTubes, when you go to their websites and buy something there, or when you buy copies of those presentations you've viewed online. Most of the people that were interviewed had written a book, so it's promotional for that. And then, when people hear how useful the oils are, they will start buying essential oils, though I'm kind of confused about how that works since they don't seem to be promoting any particular brand except that they tell you not to buy them from your health food store. I always look at things like this with the consideration of whether there's any information I can glean from it that will be useful. I'm not a fan of TV “infomercials” and sometimes these free symposiums can seem pretty closely related. That said, I did gain some benefit from some of the interviews. I took notes as I listened, made sure I got the names of the speakers and the addresses of their websites, and later on when I have more time, I may go and visit and look at some of the stuff they say they have up, such as essential oil databases. I just don't have the time right now. But winter's coming and there will be time then. One thing that I did find very enlightening was the interview with Katharine Koeppen, whose interview was titled “Consequences of Our Love Affair with Aromatherapy” (her website is HERE ) and it was about how we need to be responsible with God's gift that herbal oils represent and not just be sloshing essential oils around. We have to be conscious of how much plant material it takes to make them. If lots of people start using them in irresponsible ways it's going to deplete the supply and drive the prices up so high that only the very wealthy can afford to buy them. She talked about not using essential oils to clean with because there are things that can be used instead, such as borax, and in my mind, I thought also baking soda, or peroxide or vinegar, or yes, sometimes even plain water. She mentioned that people are diffusing oils for such long periods (she recommends only 30 minutes a day) that it has gotten into the ceilings and walls of the home, same as cigarette smoke does, where it grows old and stale and you can become sensitized to it. Then they will have the exact opposite effect on you that they're supposed to have. Along these same lines, she recommends that when you make a blend, or dilute an essential oil in a carrier oil, you might want to make it in small amounts since the carrier oil can become rancid, and that can affect the effectiveness of the essential oil. I've heard that coconut oil does not go rancid. I don't know if that's right, all I know is I've never had it go bad. But I have experienced rancidity with other oils. So I think her information was well worth the time it took to listen to it, in that I know a lot of people who are using essential oil to cook with when the original herb or spice would do, who are putting it in water that they drink when a slice of lemon or a sprig of mint would do the same thing. I think it's important that we be responsible in our use of all things that have the potential to be extinct by the time the next generation comes along. Or maybe even in our lifetimes.

Vani over on Foodbabe has a new post about a petroleum-based chemical that's added to most processed snack foods to increase shelf life. That's HERE.  I just wonder what it takes for something to be done about things like this. They are so much more responsible (there's that word again) in Europe and Australia to the point that foods containing potentially dangerous chemicals are banned. Yet we Americans, like the little laboratory rats that we have become, ingest them daily. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, no one has to come over here and kill us. Just buy stock in US chemical companies, and wait. Because over here we actually go to the store and pay money for poisons that we blithely consume and feed to our families. It's a slow death, meant to get as many dollars out of us as possible before we're so sick that then we start spending all our dollars on doctors and the poisons from the pharmaceutical industry in the form of prescriptions. The zika virus is a case in point. We're so scared of getting the virus that now we're needing billions of dollars allocated to eradicating mosquitoes. And what is being done with all that money? Why, it's going to the chemical industry because everybody's mostly spraying chemicals around. Doctors are shown on TV now saying the chemicals are safe. Where have we heard THAT before. What they're really saying is that they don't KNOW that they're NOT safe. That's for us and our birth-defects to prove in the months and years to come. I think they probably know how to handle this whole thing in better ways. But as it stands, it represents a huge windfall for the chemical companies. *sigh* .

People carry on about their businesses going under because of social and/or environmental change. This is Oklahoma, steeped in the petroleum industry, and I'll use that as an example, since I'm already halfway there because of petroleum products being sneaked into our food, cosmetics, and practically everything else.

Every time the cost of gasoline goes down, anybody that's involved in petroleum production starts crying about how they've lost their job, or their company has gone under. Never mind that when prices are high, there are other people who can't afford to buy gas for their cars to get to work and still buy food and have heat in their homes. Everything that's transported increases in price. Everybody's utility bills increase. Every business that has to keep up a physical location has to charge more for it's product because their overhead increases. It costs more for farms to produce food because their machinery runs on petroleum products. Consequently, everybody has to have a raise because they can't afford to do whatever they have to do to survive. And then whatever service or product THEY produce becomes more expensive, too. That's called inflation, and so then we start getting worried about inflation and people that are on fixed incomes have to start getting innovative about how to survive. But we're so worried about the segment of people who work in the petroleum industry that we don't even look at any of that.

People don't think about diversifying anymore. Yet that's what has saved the bacon of many a tycoon in decades past. The auto industry is but one example. Yes, when people started driving cars, livery stables went under. The price of horses went down. The horse-drawn wagon went out of favor and those who built and repaired them found themselves out of work. The corner grocery store did less business. So did feed stores. Farms found less demand for feed ingredients that they were growing. So what did they do? Did they sit at home and wring their hands? No. People went to work for the auto industry. They went to work building roads. Whole industries sprung up, making road maps, road signs, things like that. Cities and states made laws and found revenue when people drove too fast, or parked where they weren't supposed to, and sales taxes were levied on everything people bought. Farmers found different crops to grow. Whole new businesses sprung up along well-traveled highways (think Route 66). The drive-in movie became a popular date-night venue, and kids did that instead of sparking in the porch swing. Tourism soared. Big shopping centers were built. It was a period of rapid growth for those who diversified.

It can be so again.

We know now how to get electricity from wind and the sun. Every now and then we hear about someone who has figured out how to run their car on something like used cooking oil from fast-food restaurants. The stuff that pollutes the soil when it's thrown away. That's a win-win, folks! Industries that ought to be growing by leaps and bounds now aren't, because we are too busy wringing our hands about the petroleum industry. Talk about responsibility (there's that word again)! Oil is a natural resource and we are draining it dry. We can diversify now, or our descendants will suffer hardships like we have never known, until they are forced to diversify in order to survive. I wonder how much of our petroleum resources we might actually be able to conserve if the chemical companies weren't making food additives and health and medical products with it. And plastic! OMG, it's everywhere. We wear it, even. We could wear more wool, silk and cotton. But almost all cotton is GMO now. Here stands the clothing industry: “Plastic (and petroleum products)? ...Or cotton (and Round-Up)? Sheeeeeesh. Could we have less plastic and more stuff in paper or glass? Less plastic in our shoes and go back to leather? And is there REALLY such a thing as “food-grade plastic”? Or will plastic, in any shape or form, be found harmful, twenty (or so) years from now.

Maybe it is that we should think about not being a consumer to excess. How many shoes (or handbags) does one woman REALLY need? We all have heard the story of clothing donated with the price tag still on. We eat too much. We don't conserve. We don't take care of what we have. We clutter up our homes with “stuff”. We give gifts with so little forethought that they wind up in garage sales. Some people don't think they've had a fun night out unless they've gotten drunk and thrown up somewhere. Some people compete with each other about who has the most, or most expensive, “stuff”. It matters not if we “can afford it”. What matters is, are we driving up the demand, thus increasing the price that EVERYONE has to pay? Remember, the law of supply and demand is always in play. Maybe there's someone who “can't afford it” because of the price that we helped inflate, unnecessarily.

I could go on, but I won't. I won't. I promise. But just remember. In the present climate, nobody will listen unless we speak with our dollars. That's all they understand.

Hmmmm. I find that now that I won't let myself rant, I can't think of anything to write about.

My plans for today? Well.... The high for today is predicted to be 84ºF. That should allow me to spend as much time outside as I want to. Yesterday I planted some bitty potatoes that I had in the pantry. Maybe I'll have potato plants from them and then potatoes by Thanksgiving, if I mulch heavily before the first frost. In the process I yanked out those green bean plants that didn't make anything but stringy bitty beans all summer. Today I'll probably walk around the garden and do whatever looks like it needs doing the worst. We have chances for rain today. The best way I know to bring on a rain is to either wash the car or get busy with something in the garden. And doing stuff in the garden is the best use of my time. I'll load up some wood chips from my “aged” pile and get them spread in the beds where I have put down cardboard. Probably there's okra that needs to be harvested, and maybe some cheese peppers.  There are some bitty trees that have come up where we put down leaves from last fall's “leaf pick-up project”. They need to be pulled or dug out. Hubs has been doing some of that out on The North Fourth. Today he has some mowing to do. Once back inside, I have some peppers that have been allowed to ripen on the counter, I should get them seeded, chopped, and stowed away in the freezer.

And so it goes. The RockWhisperer Exercise Plan. We soldier on. May God bless and keep all of you who come here. Hugs, xoxoxoxo


  1. Before I forget, I read online about using plants to deter pests and saw one I hadn't seen before: petunias to deter squash bugs. I am going to try that next year.

    Interesting post with lots of things to think about. I try to read all labels carefully on food but sometimes get careless. I must do better. All these major drug and chemical companies are big political supporters and I am sure that is why so many of these 'ingredient's slip into our food chain. I not longer believe if it is approved by the FDA that means it is safe! We need to all become real food advocates.

  2. Wow, I'm getting some petunia seed next year! They'd be pretty growing with the squash, don't you think?

    I think it's really sad that we can't depend on the FDA to keep us safe. But at least we're aware of it now. Knowledge is power.

  3. I have been remiss in keeping up to blogs....the heat has been worse after three nice days at the end of August, but today it rained and is much better so I am catching up. The ginger, the first time we grew it we had no idea what to expect but we did know it was tall [to us] so I gently moved dirt away from the grass. I found nodules of a pretty pinky red color and they were a good size so we dug it. Yours looks very much like ours did but if you can hold off it will get bigger. This year we had Ducks VS Ginger and the dratted ducks won! They weaseled their way under/through the wire cage and ate not just the grass that they love but most of the hands! We chuckle as we think of Ginger DUCK on the menu soon! {it has to be cool enough to butcher}

    If you harvest this ginger you could start new ginger in the house in your tub in February, it would give you an excellent start for next year.

    I always so enjoy your posts as they are real life not fluffy and all fuzzy cute kittens....things can go wrong and be hard. Its how we manage through that is the key!

    God Bless you both!

    1. Thank you Fiona!

      My ginger is not buried very deep so when I water, sometimes the soil floats off the ginger so I can see that they are "a pretty pinky color" but I'm not able to see how big they are. I'll hold off till mid-October, maybe.

      That was funny about the Ginger Duck!! (but oh, how frustrating, bless your hearts. I once had a boss that said sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. I've known that to be true on several occasions since.) Hugs


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