Monday, July 18, 2016

Little Harvests And So On

This weekend's Growing A Greener World (website HERE) was about extending the growing season into the winter months by bending electrical conduit to make supports for row cover.  They even showed a handy pipe-bender that is sold by Johnny's Selected Seeds for about $50 plus shipping. 

This kind of ties into what I had planned to write about next, and that is about the fall garden.

I have made several feeble attempts at trying to get a fall garden started and so far I've not been met with much success.  Experienced gardeners in Texas do this all the time, as they are in Zones 7 and 8 and that gives them probably two months longer to their growing season, and thus, two gardens: Spring, and Fall.  Because come July and August, it's hotter than the bejeezers and most gardens planted in the spring are done by then and what's left of them just dries up and blows away.

Me?  Zone 6A.  Oh, I get that intense heat and dry in July and August, a lot like in Texas.  And usually lots of wind that added to the heat and dry would put any dehydrator to shame.  Are you familiar with the song, "Ohhhhhhh-kla HOMAH, where the wind comes whippin' down the plain...."  Deed it does, let me assure you.  We leave our air-conditioned houses in our air-conditioned cars to go to air-conditioned stores or work-places.  And we hurry whenever we're in between.  The grass, which is Bermuda, unless you live in an expensive home with timed sprinklers and all that, turns yellow-beige and lays there in a mat.   At least it doesn't have to be mown.  But it burns quick and the fire moves fast if somebody throws a cigarette out the car window.  I can't say that there's one thing I like about this time of year.  Sometimes, it's so hot outside you don't even feel like you can BREATHE. 

And another bad thing about it is that apparently cool-weather crop seeds do not like to germinate in this kind of heat. 

So what can we do? 

So far, I've tried sowing Roodnerf Brussels sprouts, blue kale, winter spinach, Packman broccoli, and Broad Windsor fava beans.  I've gotten a few of the beans to germinate, but they took FOREVER.  Out of twelve started, six came up.  They were transplanted into the garden and within ten days, I was down to two.  I replanted and got three, which I set out, and covered all five with curtain sheers.  I don't really hold out much hope. 

I even dug up the beans that hadn't germinated yet, and they were all mushy, but the last two had a seedling attached to the mush, which I damaged when I dug it up.  *Sigh*.  It's the price of education.

Of the others, the only one that came up well at all was the blue kale, and even that was only about half the seeds I sowed.  I sowed about twenty seeds in little 3" pots, thinking they could help each other stand up and I could separate them when I was ready to transplant.  Plenty of germination time has passed, especially since I soaked these seed in water overnight before planting. 

So now I've soaked some more seed, and replanted, and they are under a grow light in my office, where it's cool.

A lot of things that don't transplant well can be started in newspaper cups, because the whole thing can be set down into the hole in the garden and none of the plants even know they've been transplanted.  Yes, indeed, I have said this before.  Things like beets and carrots can be a little tedious if you plant one seed in the middle of each newspaper cup.  But wait.  How about four seeds, one in each corner of the cup? 

This is now Monday.  Today while I was weeding, I noticed the soil is really, really dry.  I will have to use my weeding time watering, tomorrow.  I've been trying to delay the need by towing several gallons of water in the wagon behind me as I go to harvest and weed.  Yesterday I gave the blackberries another good drink.  Today it was the Long Island Cheese pumpkin and some of the pepper plants.  I got half the section between the two bean "fences" weeded, and then I put some cardboard down on top of it.

And I did my harvesting.

The picture turned out fuzzy and I can't retake it because some things have been processed.  These are the last of the beets and they are small.  So, more greens and those onions sautéed together in the iron skillet and frozen.  I cooked and peeled the beets and put them in a small container, I'll warm them in the microwave and have them with a little salt, pepper and butter soon.  Cukes were tucked away in the crisper, I've distributed Bread And Butter pickles to most of my neighbors and have been doing a pretty good job of keeping fresh ones consumed with Ranch Dressing.  Still not tired of that yet.  Blackberries were washed and added to the bag in the freezer.  Tomatoes and peppers were lined up on trays in the dining room to ripen.  All the ones that had any hope of ripening were picked.  It's that or let them boil and rot in the garden.  I noticed some of the tomatoes and peppers on the tray from several days ago have ripened, so the tomatoes were cored and cut in half and tucked into the freezer for tomato sauce-making this fall.  I ladle off the "tomato water" and can it separately, adding a little salt and citric acid to each jar.  I like to drink it.  I don't like thick tomato juice so it suits me just fine.  Peppers were chopped and tucked into the freezer.  I like to let them turn color if they will.  They are so much sweeter that way. 
These red ones make wonderful pimiento cheese sandwich spread.  Just grate some sharp cheddar cheese, add some finely chopped red pepper that has been sautéed in a little water in a skillet till soft, and enough mayo to make it spreading consistency.  Spread on toasted homemade bread.  Yum-O.  The orange ones will do in a pinch, you'll get the same flavor, but the color is not as much of a contrast.  Just close your eyes, you'll be OK.....

The red noodle bean finally made 3 long beans sized big enough to pick.  And I took a few TenderGreen beans, though they were not as big as I would've liked.  I don't think I'll grow these again.  Lazy Housewife beans, the few that have survived this far, have still not made anything worth picking.  Since I only am getting a few little beans at a time, I just break the ends off, string the TenderGreens and break the Noodle into pieces.  They all went into my freezer bag without blanching or anything.  They will be ok if not stored too long before they are cooked and eaten.  Hubs loves green beans, and I haven't had a decent bean crop in a long time.

In that white thing by the basket are some zinnia flowerheads.  I cut the flower heads when their color fades and they start looking dry.  Sometimes only the petals around the outside edges have seeds attached to them.  But hey, one seed produces a bushy plant that makes several flowers, and if each flower only makes six or eight seed, that's still a population explosion in my book.

Last night I cleaned the Coriander. 

Coriander is what you get when Cilantro goes to seed.  HERE is a webpage of information about it's uses, both culinary and medicinal, by Whole Foods.  Apparently I need to keep them in the freezer for optimal retention of all it's good stuff.  Enough seed dropped on the ground in the garden that I'll probably have volunteers in the garden next year, like I had with dill.  OMG.....  And here's the thing: I grew those plants from coriander out of my spice cabinet.  And yes, it was 'way past a year old.  The fennel, which was also from my spice cabinet, has made umbels and is just now beginning to form seed, and they have made bulbs.  Don't that beat all??  HERE is a YouTube about what to do with the bulb.  Apparently if you cut the bulb above the roots, and the roots will regenerate.  I've not harvested the bulb yet because I want the seeds. 

I hope the bulb will still be edible after seeds have ripened.  It actually looked a lot better a couple of days ago.  No experience with this one.

The storm we had a few days ago caused two of my rhubarb plants to flatten and splay out.  I cut all the stalks of one of them, chopped and put them in the freezer, thinking I'd make strawberry-rhubarb jam with them come fall, using the gallon of cut strawberries I have stored in the freezer.  But then I started wondering if there was a good reason why we never seem to see rhubarb in the stores except in spring.  And now I have learned that it's because the oxalic acid is weakest then.  So I'm not sure whether it's safe to make anything with these stalks or not.  Some places I've seen say that concentration of oxalic acid is not good to ingest and may cause stomach cramps and so on.  Some of them say you can boil them in water and throw out the water to reduce the oxalic acid content.  Others say it's perfectly OK to consume the stalks, but of course never the leaves, up until the heat of the summer makes them tough, and they make no mention of the boiling water thing.  I don't want to make, like, eight pints of strawberry-rhubarb jam and then find out it's inedible.  These stalks are green with red at the bottoms and I've made jam with stalks that were green-colored and not red before without any problems.  So.....  I don't know.  Do you?

The storm also played havoc with our electricity.  It went off and back on several times, but never stayed off.  I know this sort of thing is hard on our AC unit, our electronics and electric appliances.  It happens out here every time there's a storm, and we've had to replace our answering machine, our big TV and our big freezer since we have moved out here.  Then we heard on the news that a house in Tulsa burned down to the ground, not because lightning hit it, but because a power surge ignited something.  Yikes!  So I asked Hubs to talk to Joe about whether getting a surge protector for the whole house would be a good idea, and he did.  Joe said he thought so and quoted a price, which isn't as much as replacing one freezer or one AC compressor.  So Joe's going to fix us up when he can work it into his schedule. 

Just now, I realized I hadn't checked the oriental pears today, and OMG, the birds and the wasps are ALL OVER the tree!  So I picked all the pears except the half- and three-quarter-eaten ones, and the very littlest ones.  Looks like about a peck, some of them yellow, the green ones blushing yellow.  I would've rather left them on the tree to grow a little more, but it's pretty hard for them to grow when they've got a big hole chewed out of their sides.  These will ripen just fine and I guess I'll can some of them when they're ready.  We sure enjoyed those canned Bartlett pears last winter.  Some we mixed with some pineapple and peach chunks and made our own fruit cocktail.

We love the birds, but truly they need to be eating bugs, not our fruit.  I just checked the Bartlett pear tree, and there are only about five pears left.  They are VERY green, hard, and small.  It got nipped by frost so there weren't many on to begin with, and then there were those the storm knocked off.  So, I'll let the birds go ahead and knock themselves out on this one after they've devoured what little is left on the oriental tree. 

Well, this has been a long, busy day and I'm tired.  The 5:00 news just came on and Hubs will be wanting his supper soon.  It's just leftover roast with vegetables tonight. 

Till next time, Rock on, we'll do the same.  Hugs xoxoxo

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bluebirds and House Wrens

Baby Bluebirds as of July 12:

As you can see, they didn't much appreciate my looking in on them, especially since I didn't have any worms or anything.  Hubs put a hinge on each lid, so we could clean them out, if need be.  Unless there's a dead one in there, we just leave the housekeeping to the next tenant.  I don't look in very often because I don't want to spook the parents.

I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures.  My digital camera is a Sony FD Mavica.  I've had it for years and when I bought it, it was state of the art.  And $600.  I'm comfortable with it, usually.  It loads the pictures on a floppy disk.  Anyone still use those?  Its big problem is, it doesn't have a "sight" that you look through.  It has a screen on the part of the camera facing you, and, under normal conditions, what you see on the screen is how the picture will look.  But outside, you just can't see anything on that screen, so it's a crapshoot how your pictures are going to look. 

The eggs were blue, and they were placed perfectly, dividing the nest into equal thirds.  I didn't take a picture.  These little Bluebirds appear to be faring better than the first clutch of three did.  There was only one that survived to fly off on its own.  It didn't allow Mama Bluebird into the birdhouse.  It poked its head out the hole when it heard her lite, and she would cling precariously to the front of the birdhouse in order to feed.  So that one got most of the food.  One little birdie was found dead near the compost pile.  Not sure what happened.  Maybe it just plum wore itself out flying that far.  The biggest one, we saw perched on the top rung of the garden fence, with Mama and Papa nearby, apparently doing OK.  And the third was found dead in the birdhouse.  They are relatively safe in there.  The hole is too small for a bigger bird to get in.  The roof is fastened down with a hook and eye.  And I checked, it doesn't get as hot in there as it is outside.  I'm keeping an eye on it this time, and if I see that same hoggish behavior I might shim the roof up a little so Mama can get in that way and reach all three of her babies.

The last birdhouse on the east has a House-Wren's nest in it.  You know, those bitty brown birds with the sharp beak, that sing you a song forever??  They are comfortable around people, usually, and will nest near the house.    Aren't these purty?  Notice how generously Mama feathered the nest.  Six is an awful lot of mouths to feed for such a bitty bird....

House-Wrens are not quite as friendly as the House-Finches, who have made nests in my door wreath before, and have become little pests in trying to build under the patio cover and the carport.  Normally, I wouldn't mind.  But before the babies leave the nest, they become little poop machines, and it's nasty when that's ON YOUR DOOR!!!  Or above where you have to walk to get from your car to the house.  I do love hearing them "talk" to each other as they build their nests, though.  Papa sits near by, on guard, while Mama puts the newest piece of grass in the nest and pats it down.   "Chirrrrrp????"  "Chirrrrrp????"  Everything has to be juuuuust right. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Odds And Ends And Snippets

The mystery of what is going on "next door" has been solved.  All work ground to a halt after the Wednesday before the July 4th holiday.  Early in the following week, one man showed up.  He worked for a very short while, putting up a couple of lengths of Hardee siding and trying to tack down the tarpaper that was flapping in the breeze on the OSB sheets that are serving as roof decking.  We had rain several times and the tarpaper has not been very good protection.  This last Wednesday morning, he showed up again, and then one other man came.  They put up some more lengths of siding and there was some hammering noises coming from inside the house part of the time.  They also replaced the torn tarpaper with new pieces.  Then, around noon, they loaded their ladders onto a trailer that had been sitting there, hooked on to it, and left.  The Portapotty (whew!), a big red dumpster, a big orange hydraulic tractor of sorts that has a "cherry picker" on it and the trailer that it was brought out on, remained after they were gone.  Considering that this house had workers crawling all over it up till a week ago last Wednesday, and that it is standing there with no windows or doors and the birds were starting to fly into it, it seemed a strange thing.  Then, on Friday afternoon, an 18-wheeler pulled in, unloaded a forklift, and delivered shingles.  No workers that day.  None on Saturday.  But late in the day, when Hubs went to get the mail, our new neighbor-to-be showed up and they visited a bit.  He told Hubs he was coming over on Sunday to cut the grass and that they would start work on the shingles on Monday.  I guess, then, that everything's OK.  Apparently work ceased for the entire week because they had to wait to get the shingles but that seems like a delay that could've been prevented by better planning, to me.  Those shingle manufacturing companies must not make the shingles till someone orders them.  Thankfully, not my problem.  I'm so grateful when things are not my problem.

The title of this post pretty much describes the daily harvests in the garden. 

Every day, a few blackberries, maybe some pineapple tomatillos (aka ground cherries) or some tomatoes, mostly the little Brown Berry Cherry, one or two Cheese peppers, a few cukes.  On Friday, I noticed some of the round oriental pears were turning yellow.  Normally they are bigger when they're ripe, but it has been a strange year, and they are clustered three and four together.  Probably the ones that are left will grow bigger now that they have more room.  The birds have taken notice and have started taking "their share", then the wasps, and ants, and decay move in.

Starting to get a few okra.
I'm disappointed in them this year.  When they are big they are usually still tender.  Not this year.  And the plants are usually tree-sized by now.  Not sure what happened. 

These are Sandplums.  They are about the size of a cherry tomato.  Very tart.  The tree is native to Oklahoma and grows along country roads.  And yes, I was more than just casually careful when picking this time.  Dang thorns.  In a saucepan here, ready to be cooked with just a tiny bit of water.  After cooling, the mixture is drained from a colander.  What drains off gets packed into the freezer for jam making later.  Some people put this mixture in a jelly bag but I find this messy and wasteful.  Jam has more layers of flavor and texture than jelly, anyway.  There are two trees, many, many plums on one tree, not so many on the other.  But they will be more than enough for our needs.  As with the blackberries, slow to ripen, getting a few each day.   What's left in the colander will get buried in the garden, the seeds, having been cooked, will not germinate but will provide tilth to the soil.  Sandplum trees can easily become invasive when given better locations to grow in than they normally get in the wild. 

I promised Hubs a blackberry cobbler, the next time I have the oven on to bake bread.  I've accumulated enough in the freezer now, to make one. 

I watched a YouTube by Gary Pilarchik to find out if my spaghetti squash are ripe.  They are the right color, but they are only about half the size they should be. 

This might be owing to the cold May that we had, which jumped right into hot June.  I don't remember seeing anything quite like this weather, but we always get something weird every year.  Though the squashes are yellow and not green, the stem has not turned hard and brown.  So I will leave them there till that happens, or the plant dies, whichever happens first.  I have had better luck with squash this year.  I had some squash bugs on the cushaws and so I scattered some Sevin powder on the ground under the plants.  It quickly took care of those shield-shaped pesky squash bugs, but not before they managed to transmit their bacteria into two plants.  A third is turning yellow but I'm just watching it for now.  It has a big cushaw on it.  I started some Comfrey "Tea", which I thought might give the squash a boost, and set it in the sun to "simmer", then dumped it onto the ground where the vines are growing, the following morning. 

The water gets nearly black after it's brewed in the sun.  I also put some on the blackberries and some on the Jade bush beans, which have flowers and a few tiny beans on them now.  It might take awhile to see any improvement. 

I'd like to get some of that mushroom compost that can be bought from the mushroom growers in Miami, OK.  I heard a few years ago that it was free if you brought your own truck, but that isn't the case now, if it ever was.  They have a 2 cubic yard minimum, which weighs a ton.  I asked Hubs if the Silverado could haul a ton and he was unenthused.  Not that enthusiasm is in Hubs' nature, anyway, mind you.  It's $17.50 per cubic yard unless you buy 5 tons, which is ten cubic yards, and then it's $26 a ton.  Plus I'd have to pay somebody that has a dump truck to drive all the way to Miami and back, and they'd have to be there between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm weekdays or between 8 and noon on Saturday.  Even then, they won't reserve for you, so there is the risk of sending the dump truck there only to find out they don't have any.  Then I'd be hacked off about having to pay my driver for his time and mileage for nothing.  All this seems kind of cavalier to me.  Alternatives are buying from Lowe's for $3.95 for a bag of only 3/4 of a cubic FOOT.  There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard, by the way.  One cubic yard weighs 1000 pounds.  If you do the math, you will see there's a great difference in the price of the bulk versus the bagged stuff.  Hubs said he thinks Overlee's sells it, and I remember seeing a sign outside of a garden center along HWY75 saying "MUSHROOM COMPOST", so I will continue to research alternatives and maybe I will find a source that is priced somewhere in between the two sources.

Our neighbor, Bob, came over on Wednesday and brought us some more cardboard that had been used to protect the floors at his son's new house that's being built on the edge of Bob's property.  No, this is not the same house as the one mentioned at the beginning of this post.  We are all watching TWO new houses getting built.  They stained those concrete floors, rather than put down floor coverings and the contractor was getting ready to polish them.  I've not seen it yet.  It will be interesting.  I had filled the buckets that fit into the garden buggy with wood chips during the cool of the morning and so I was ready for the cardboard.  But it was too hot by then to work in the garden.  Bob reported to me that, though I told them to keep the half gallon of bread and butter pickles I gave them in the refrigerator for a week or two, to let them sweeten up, they haven't been any good at staying out of them, and they are almost all gone.  OMG.

I had a little of the brine left from making the two half-gallon jars of Bread and Butter pickles on Monday, and I got an idea.  I almost always use my Bread and Butters in potato salad, or in tuna or egg salad, and they have to be chopped, so I thought, "Why not just make them chopped, in the first place??"  There's usually so much brine left in the jar when the cucumbers have been cut into chunks like I normally do for this kind of pickle.  Since it's "used brine", you're not supposed to use it to make more, so you end up trying to think of ways to use it.  It makes a good base for a salad dressing, if you like it sweet.  Mom used to mix it into mayonnaise and serve it on salad.  I admit, since this is just for my purposes, and I was making a small amount that wouldn't be canned but would be kept in the refrigerator till it was used, I added some "used" brine that I had in the refrigerator for about half the recipe and the other half was the full-strength stuff.  It was enough to make about a quart and a half.

It needs to "marinate" for awhile, but a taste test reveals that it'll probably be just as good as the pickle chunks are.  More cucumber fits into the jar and therefore less brine to go to waste.  Mom never wasted pickle brine.  What she didn't sneak into our regular meals (and don't get me started on THAT), she drank.  {{{Shiver}}}

Crunchy Muncher cucumbers do not have to be pollinated in order to make good cukes.  In fact, they're even better because they don't make viable seed.  So I wait until I see the bees before I start thinking about saving seed.  Up till then I pick the cucumbers when they are about 8" long, and they are perfect for dipping into Ranch dressing, or cutting up into salads, unpeeled.  By the time I've had my fill of these, I don't mind leaving several on the vine to mature.  They get as much as a foot long sometimes, the skin toughens and turns white with bright yellow towards the blossom end.  Because I don't want to risk damaging the seed by cutting into it, I will usually score the cucumber where I would ordinarily slice it into 1 and 1/2" rounds.  Then I can "twist" the "slices" off the cucumber, remove the seed, and then I can still use the meat of each cucumber slice in pickles, or peel each slice and eat them.  Seed that will be viable is a little more yellow than those that won't be.  Otherwise, it's kind of hard to tell at this point.

I clean my cucumber seed the same way as tomato seed, by pouring them all in a glass with some clean water.  Each time I change the water and rinse them, which is two or three times within a few hours, I remove as much pulp as I can.  With cucumber seed, the "empty" seed floats on the top of the water with some of the cucumber pulp and the viable seed will lay on the bottom of the glass.  So it's easy to just pour off the floaters.  Before the day is out, I've got the bottom layer cleaned well enough that I can pour the whole thing into a wire mesh strainer, and then dump the seeds onto a coffee filter to dry.  You know you have good cucumber seed if, after they've dried, they are smooth and hard, not papery and flat. 

Even if you are having a garden year such that you don't get a lot out of it to eat, if you get seed, that is something you don't have to buy for next year's garden.  And that's nothing to sneeze at, considering what it costs these days to buy a package with a tiny little bit of seed lodged in the bottom fold of the packet.  Though keep in mind, if you're saving tomato seed and the tomato has literally "boiled on the vine", the seed will probably not be viable.  My parents bought fresh seed every year because they were brainwashed into thinking it was better, and any seed they had left over from the previous year, they just threw away, because they believed it wouldn't germinate.  Mom actually told me that if I saved seed from things I bought at the grocery store, it wouldn't germinate.  When I showed her the plants I grew from seed saved from a bell pepper I'd bought at the store, she told me it wouldn't make anything.  When I showed her the green peppers that grew on the plant, she told me I was "a trouble maker".  Heh.  But I do have to admit that the green peppers I got were not as big and beautiful as the peppers from the store.  Once I planted seeds I saved from grape tomatoes and the resulting plants just made cherry tomatoes.  There is much fear among gardeners that eventually we won't be able to buy seed that will grow things from which we can save viable seed.  We have known for awhile that the chemical corporations are buying up seed companies and many see it as a conspiracy to corner the market on seeds by patenting them, like they have been doing with soybeans for many years, so that they can sue us if we grow crops from seeds we have saved from plants that grew from seed we bought.  Now it's real hard to find soybeans or corn that isn't GMO unless you get it from a farmer, and sometimes it's GMO, too.  Now that the chemical companies own the seed companies, they are tinkering with producing seeds for plants that make sterile seed.  And of course most gardeners have changed their minds about hybrids, which either don't make seed, or the seed is sterile, or the plant grown from the seed is not true to the plant it came from.  I remember how impressed Mom was with hybrid tomato seed.  It was, as far as she was concerned, the best thing since sliced bread.  They have been falling out of favor during past years because they don't have the flavor the old varieties have, and because they make you dependent on the seed company for your seed.  So more gardeners are growing open-pollinated, heirloom plants, and more are going back to saving seed, as our ancestors did.

The Rugosa roses have finally made rose hips this year.

They are a lot larger than rose hips I've seen on wild rose bushes.  I picked a couple and now I can't find them.  (Getting old is the pits.)  By the time I find them, if, in fact, I haven't thrown them away, they might be moldy and ruined.  Sheeeeesh.

I have not had to plant Maypop vine for several years now.  They come up in some of the oddest places though, and you wouldn't think that'd happen since we have so much rock in the ground.  I like to grow Maypop because it is host to the Gulf Fritillary butterfly and they are beautiful with their shiny silver wing linings.  They are not very big and their worms are horribly ugly, they look like the worms that are inside those webs that we see on trees around here, mainly Redbud, Pecan and Persimmon.  Webworms are nasty and just gross me out.  The worms on the Maypop are black, and they gross me out, too, but I tolerate them because of the butterflies.  But I have torn apart several webworm "habitats", thrown large chunks of webs full of worms in the burn barrel, and Hubs has been cutting infested branches off the Redbuds and throwing them in, also.  I lit the burn barrel on Friday morning, early, because I didn't want the worms crawling out and reinfesting, if that's possible, or maturing into some flying thing and infecting something else.  HERE is an article from Growing A Greener World about them. 

There is a Monarch in the larval stage on my fennel. 

I grow plants with umbels in the garden specifically to attract the beneficials.  I've seen these on dill umbels and on my tomato plants before and have picked them off and thrown them on the ground, sometimes even squashing them (ick) not knowing what they are, other than, well, worms....  If you get your kids out into the garden, the garden holds many life lessons to teach.  The existence of worms in the garden can teach one to appreciate the unlovely and gross, for instance.  It also teaches that sometimes what seems like a bad thing can be a good thing (and vice-versa).  That's been true of so many things that have happened in my life that I can hardly begin to mention them all.  My Grammy used to say, "It's an ill wind that blows no good".  Some people don't understand the meaning of this "momily", but it is true that many bad things that happen to us turn out to open the door for a good thing that couldn't have happened without that door being opened. 

Here is something else that just seems to spring up every year.

I've tried saving the seed and actually sowing it somewhere, but it never grows where it's sown and seems to come up where it wants to.  They are called "Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate".  I read somewhere that the seeds of this plant were introduced into North America by Thomas Jefferson.  I used to have seeds for a variety with variegated leaves, which was quite pretty, but it wasn't as good at self-sowing as this variety is.  So one year I failed to save seed and that was that.

This little low-growing plant has been a really great bloomer and has cheered me up many times when everything around me was dry and wilted.  I bought it at the Garden Club plant sale this last spring.  It's supposed to be a Verbena, "Sun Purple", but it must've been mis-marked.  I like the red, though.....  Might be Peruvian Red or Estrella VooDoo Red or Aztec Red.  In my research to find what it's variety might be, I see that some say it's an annual, some say it's a perennial.  I hope it's a perennial. 

This is one of the Russian Red Kale plants that I cut down even with the ground after it was done going to seed.  Gosh, it had a trunk on it that was probably three inches across.  The bugs in my garden just love kale, and it's a little too bitter for me to eat, until it's had a frost.  Maybe they'll stay off the beans if they have bellies full of kale.  The grasshoppers won't show up until later this month or maybe into August.  Haven't seen any Japanese Beetles yet, but I've had them pretty thick in a couple of years past.  I put down Milky Spore in the garden beds and in places around the yard, but digging continues to unearth grubworms, which are the larval stage of at least several kinds of beetles, including Japanese Beetles and what we call "Junebugs".  Whenever I dig, I bring a container out with me and every grubworm I find goes into the can.  At the end of my digging session, I dump those grubworms into a flowerpot drip-dish, that I have sitting on top of an overturned flowerpot near the birdbath, and they are gone in no time.  Once in awhile I see a bird getting one out of the dish, but not always, so much so that I thought for awhile that they were crawling out and going back down into the ground.  But I have an awful lot of VERRRRRRY fat robins, so maybe not.

The ginger plants are growing, but slowly.

I planted Broad Windsor fava beans in newspaper cups.  Six of them emerged fairly quickly, and they were transplanted out into the garden.  Fava beans are not supposed to like being transplanted, but if they're in newspaper cups I don't think they can tell they have been.  Nonetheless, there are only three plants out there now.

Two coming up, finally, in their newspaper cups.  I don't think they like the heat.

Long Island Cheese are getting bigger.

My garden is such a jungle.  I feel like it's preferable to leave the tall grass in the garden, the kind that doesn't have very deep roots, unlike the Bermuda grass and the Bindweed.  If I leave it in place, it keeps Bermuda and Bindweed at bay and seems to help keep the soil from drying out so fast.  Of course, it gives the chiggers a place to hang out and wait for dinner to come along (me).  I've found that rubbing a little coconut oil that's had several drops of lavender essential oil added to it on my legs and ankles before I go out seems to help repel them.  And also seems to make the bites of the ones who do get past it to itch less.  Sometimes it just isn't practical to jump into the shower and then change clothes after every time I've been in the garden, since I go out at intervals, resting in between.  And of course, a shower does absolutely nothing towards making the bites itch less.  I've tried painting on ChiggerRid.  I've tried Benadryl cream.  Several other things.  So far lavender EO is better than anything else.  Plus I like the smell.

We have had several rains since the beginning of July.  Once, it was a good soaking rain that delivered two to three inches.  The rest of the time, it's been mostly surface moisture.  And it's been stinkin' hot and humid.  Some days I work in the garden for a few hours in the morning and some days I just don't give a rat's a$$.

Carole sent me a link to an interview with Craig Lehoullier on the A Way To Garden blog.  It's on my blogroll, actually, but I hadn't visited it yet.  It's about 'Epic Tomatoes' and I found it very interesting.  He calls himself the NYC Tomato Man.  We had a 'tomato man' in one of the communities in Tulsa, and that's where I got my first heirloom tomatoes.  His name was Darrell Merrill.  I saved seed and am still growing some of the same varieties.  Some were wonderful, some were disappointments, but all were interesting.  I went back the following spring to get some different varieties from what I had, but he was sick and stayed in the house while his daughter sold the plants for him.  After his death, his daughter continued to grow and sell heirloom tomato plants, under the name 'Tomato Man's Daughter', but I haven't gotten around to visiting her.  HERE is a Tulsa World article about her.  Anyway, since learning about heirloom tomatoes and that there is, indeed, a better tomato than "Better Boy" and "Early Girl", which is what my mother always grew, I've gotten seed from many sources:  trades on the GardenWeb seed-trading site, and from seed companies like Totally Tomatoes and of course Baker Creek's Rare Seeds.  If you go to YouTube and put 'Craig Lehouillier' in the search box, you will find he has several 'how to' videos up.  Oh, and I want some of those Egg Yolk cherry tomato seeds for next year, even though I'm pretty happy with Brown Berry. (Baker Creek has them, so does Sustainable Seeds.)

Now.  Have I given you enough to think about for a Sunday afternoon??  Hugs xoxoxo

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Just FYI

I had a little computer hiccup yesterday and I went to bed last night thinking what a headache it was going to have to be if I had to take the computer in for service.  That would mean they'd just wipe the hard-drive and reinstall from my recovery data that the service guys at Staples saved for me on a thumb storage device that I bought just for that purpose.  But that means reinstalling drivers and software and I was kind of on the dark side, if you know what I mean. 

What happened was, I got another one of those error messages that said, "GWXUX has stopped working".  I've had this before, and it doesn't seem to affect performance, at least as much as I expect for what I do on my computer.  I mean, if I were gaming or using some powerful piece of software it might've had some impact on me.  Not sure.  But there are a couple of little things it affects, and there's that annoying error message that keeps popping up.  I had done a search on the Internet and I knew that to stop the message, they say to delete KB3035583 and KB2952664 from your Installed Updates folder, and the folder named "GWX".  I've never found that GWX folder, and sometimes 3035583 is in the Installed Updates folder but not 2952664 and vice-versa.  But just uninstalling one or both of those two updates has always done the trick in the past, at least temporarily.  The problem is, it has to do with the upgrade to Windows10, which I don't want, anyway, and those updates that put that little Windows icon on my desktop tray and keep telling me I'd better hurry and upgrade because it won't be "free" forever, just reinstalls the next time I shut down for the day, anyway. 

But this time, when I was uninstalling those updates, something weird happened, and I think I got off on the wrong line and deleted something I shouldn't have.  So when I shut down, I got that normal, "Preparing to Configure" message in the center of the screen, and it sat there and sat there like that.  I went and took my bath and came back an hour later and it was still the same.  So even though the second sentence was "Do not shut down", I did.  And then I started back up, and got the same message in the center of the screen.  By then, it was bedtime.  So I shut down, and turned off the power.  This morning, I actually prayed that the computer would fix itself, and when I booted up, I had to choose whether to go in on Safe Mode or start Windows normally and while I was thinking about what to do, it went ahead and started Windows normally.  I had a message that said, "Applying update 114", and then Windows started and everything looked OK.  Should we ask God to make our computers fix themselves?  I don't know.  I know God delights in delighting us.  And I was delighted.

I am looking forward for the time when this upgrade is no longer "free", because then it can't force an upgrade unless I give it my credit card number and that ain't happenin', at least not anytime soon.  At least it has quit just announcing to me that the upgrade will be started in a certain number of hours or (yikes) minutes, and now gives me a box to check that says, "No thanks". 

I get a newsletter once a month from my Internet Service Provider and they reported in the latest one that a woman had sued Microsoft and won, and Microsoft had to pay her $10,000 for lost records and productivity because she ran a business out of her home.  Windows forced her computer to upgrade and then her computer crashed.  They say after July 29, all this crapola will go away, because that's when the upgrade will no longer be "free".  Bring it on, Baby....

But lest we feel too confident, we do need to remember how they forced us to go from XP to Windows7.  They just announced they were no longer "supporting" XP and we all got afraid to take our computers with XP platforms out onto the Internet.  That's when I bought a new computer with Windows7, and it was hard to find one by then that didn't have Windows 8, which was the dreaded version by that time.  OMG, I am getting so weary of this rapid-fire built-in obsolescence. 

It's a wild and crazy world out there, what with all the viruses, malware, and now ransomware that can get mysteriously installed on your computer.  And for that reason, I often consider getting totally off the Internet.  There'd be things about it I'd miss.  But I'd probably get more done.  Hubs and I know a few people who do not own a computer.  Some own those fancy cellphones that'll go on the Internet, but a few don't even do that, and never have.  I guess there are people now who don't remember ever not having the Internet, but I remember quite well how we lived without it.  We had phone conversations.  For those that calling meant we had to pay long-distance charges, we wrote letters.   We spent quality time (they call that "face-time", now) with our families and neighbors.  If we wanted to learn something, we asked someone that we thought would know.  Or we went to the library.  Remember the thesaurus, dictionary and encyclopedia?  Instead of sitting on our butts in front of a screen, we went places and had experiences.  Sometimes even adventures.  Hubs and I have talked about this often.  He isn't computer literate, but he's locked onto the TV screen like a new baby possum is onto.....     ......well, you know.  And he agrees with me, at least in theory, that we don't have enough adventures.  So we've been trying to change that.  And we've been trying to take more time to have actual conversations with people.  Everybody is interesting if you ask the right questions, and if you are alert, they kind of lead you into what the right questions are.  The thing is, I think people today are lonely for verbal interaction with other human beings.  I haven't been rejected once, in recent years, anytime that I've just walked up to someone and started talking to them.  Before you know it, we've made a connection on some level.  I've had people actually tell me their life story, once in awhile I've given a hug to someone who was, a few minutes earlier, a complete stranger, feeling so alone in their pain.  Some have brought tears to my eyes.  Or we've prayed together.  But most of the time, we've found something we can laugh about, and after a time, we walk away from each other with a smile on our faces.  Hubs used to get annoyed because I can't seem to go to a garage sale without ending up visiting with someone.  "WHY do you DO that?  They don't care..." he would say.  And you know what?  I don't care if they don't care.  If I walk away and we're both smiling or laughing, that's enough.  Because I care. 

I have often, in the past, pondered human existence and for what reason I am even here.  I'm not in a position to change the world or anything....  But if you ever wonder, I'd tell you to go outside and look around you.  Things in the plant and insect world seem to spring up out of nowhere when conditions are right.  It's one of those miracles that happens.  They have a clear purpose.  When plants self-seed, they germinate and grow together closely and they support each other till they're strong enough to grow on their own.  The healthiest and most persistent are the ones that survive.  They produce the next generation or seeds that do, and then they die because they have fulfilled their purpose.  Everything has its season.  Only God knows when our purpose has been fulfilled, so until then, we rock on, doing what we do.  You never know when something you have said will turn out to be the very thing someone needs to hear.  I read that Edgar Cayce said no person ever meets another "by accident".  Just as there are weeds, there will always be people who live to do damage to others and that is the hardest thing for me to understand.  I understand competition, but I do not understand hatred, though I think it comes out of insecurity and fear.  Just as the Mockingbird will tear up a Robin's nest and dump the young out onto the ground, so will there be destructive forces and death of the innocent, unless the Robins guard their nest vigilantly and chase the Mockingbird away.  I've seen big Mockingbirds being chased by little Bluebirds, even.  In their case, there is strength in numbers.

Oh, good grief, I have wandered off topic once again. 

Suffice it to say (though the ship for "sufficient" has already sailed), the computer is, at this moment, working normally.  I think.  But don't be surprised or think I'm ill if my blogging becomes increasingly less frequent.  I'd rather give up the Internet than to have my computer ruined, as I use it for garden notes, spread sheets, writing letters, and I have my cookbook stored on it, and I would be kind of lost without that capability.  Old secretaries never die.  They just get more secretive.  Or they tarry more.  Not sure.  Heh.

If any of you want me to have your mailing address and I don't already have it, you are welcome to put it in a Comment, if you want to.  Comment Moderation is still on, so those that contain mailing addresses will, of course, not be published.  Or, if you have my email address, you can email me with it.  I'm not saying I'd be any better at writing letters than I would be at blogging, but if one day I give up my Internet access, there are some of you I wouldn't want to totally lose contact with. 

Hugs to all, xoxoxo

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth

We finally got a decent amount of rain.  Some areas around us had to get floods for us to get this, I guess.  So I feel guilty about getting it.  Sorry, but thank you.

This is the west side of the garden. 
I wish garden plants had the same will to live that grass and weeds do.

This is looking south.

Now panning southeast.

This is the strawberry bed where the fence used to be between the garden and the back yard.  I had the strawberries in a wading pool but last winter the drainage holes apparently stopped up and most of the strawberry plants rotted in the ground.  Only about six plants left to repopulate.  They are Albions.

This is the last walkway on the east, looking north.  Cukes are on the far end archway.  Green beans, not that I've had any harvests yet, on the other archways.  You can see the new house in the background.  You know, no one has been working there since Wednesday.  We've had several hard rains on that OSB board they nailed to the roof rafters and the tarpaper they put on has been just flappin' in the wind.  I wouldn't be happy with that if I was the owner of the house and, for a crew that we have seen work 7 days a week, it seems really strange that there's been no one there since Wednesday.

This is the east fence, the curtain sheers are draped over the blackberries to protect theft by birds.  That's Tansy growing tall and fern-like, with their yellow button flowers.  I had some flopping out into the walkway, so I cut them.  They hold their color very well when dried.

Broom Corn.  The birds love it.  I keep thinking one of these days I'll make a Hogwarts broom.

I brought in what I thought was a peck of cucumbers this morning.  It's like they jump-started and grew overnight into Happy Housewives.  So I made two half-gallons of bread and butter pickles and already have given one to a neighbor.  My neighbors are always happy to get pickles. 

Except for the cukes, small harvests.  Blackberries are ripening very slowly.  Brown Berry cherry tomato just keeps on puttin' one foot in front of the other.  And the Pinapple Tomatillos are being accumulated, bit by bit, in the freezer, I'll try making a batch of jam when I get enough.  Up to this point, I feel like a person has to be hurting for something to make jam out of in order to grow these, but maybe I'll change my mind when I taste them.  Or not.  I've made Corncob Jelly before and that tastes to me like corn syrup, which, well, it is.  Paula made some jam out of the purple hulls from Purple Hull southern peas one year and sent me some and it does taste somewhat like grape.  Our pioneer ancestors were resourceful when it came to jam.  My mother always used to make tomato preserves.  I used to love it but made some a few years ago and discovered I don't, anymore....  Oh and I'm sorry for calling them Tomatillos when, according to someone who Commented on my blog that they're actually Ground Cherries, but it says Pineapple Tomatillo right on the seed package so there you are.  I'm not going to get all sensitive and be bothered when the first time someone Comments, it sounds like they're being critical, because maybe they were just trying to be helpful.  I've actually done that to people, myself, and had it not be received very well, is all I'm sayin'.....

This is a small Crimson Watermelon.  Oh, they are yummy, and practically grow themselves.

ONE Moon and Stars melon growing in the tall grass.  Last time I tried to grow these, the Roly-Polies infested them.  At least I got seed.  And it is this same old seed, from about 2009, that this plant grew from.  I see the moon And the moon sees me....

Look, Glenda, a baby Long Island Cheese pumpkin!  I sure hope they live long enough to mature something. 

More Crimson watermelons.

I planted peanuts and very few came up.  This one made a flower.

CowHorn Okra with a Cow Horn growing on it.  The plant is hardly big enough to support it.  I probably won't let this pod get much bigger before I cut it.  The plants normally grow like small palm trees, maybe 6 or 7' tall.  Last time I grew these, Hubs tore them out of the garden when the season was over and he said it was quite a job because they went deep.

We had a nice July 4 on July 3.  Neighbors invited us to their shin-dig.  They had to grill burgers under the overhang of their patio, but the rain stopped in time to set off fireworks.  We met several nice people, there was lots of food, and I even had a Margarita. 

I love my neighbors.

Happy 4th, and Rock On.  Hugs xoxoxo