Friday, September 29, 2017

butternut squash portrait

All my butternuts got together for a family portrait. It's been a good year. Eleven big squash from four plants.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

crabapple jelly

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My mom has a crabapple tree that was full of very big crabapples this year. So I picked a basket full. I've never made crabapple jelly before. The apples are really tart (pucker), but the jelly is wonderful. And I love the color. (I used the recipe in Ball Home Preserving pages 107 and 109.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

flowers (and some pollinators) in my garden now - the last of the season

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This collection has 10 different "ornamental" flowers (actually not only ornaments, but valuable companions) and 8 vegetable or herb flowers. These are all in my backyard vegetable garden. The vegetable flowers here are eggplant, pepper, squash, broccoli, carrot, bean, basil, and cucumber.

I was curious to see the carrot flower. Carrots are biennials and bloom their second year. To get the flower, I planted the top of a supermarket carrot in the spring. I won't collect the seeds as I imagine the supermarket carrot is a hybrid.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

my honeybees - preparing for winter

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I'm in the process of preparing my honeybee hives for winter. I have two hives on the far side of my vegetable garden nearest the pond. They're on the northeast side of the yard with a southwest exposure. The bees for both hives were added in early April, since both hives died last winter. One hive is much stronger than the other. The strong one has about 70 lbs of honey, while the weak one about 30-40 lbs. I'm guessing here from lifting the boxes. (Hives should have a good 70 lbs of honey stores going into the winter.)

This is what I've done and am planning to do for winter:

 - Removed super and extracted honey: In early September I removed one full super (a short box with 10 frames for building comb and filling it with honey) from my strong hive. I took about 15 lbs of honey from this box.

- Fed weak hive: I've been feeding my weak hive so it can build up its honey stores for winter. There aren't many flowers left now, the goldenrod is gone. I only see the late aster in bloom now.  I feed them sugar water.

Planning to do
- Get bigger feeding bucket: I've been feeding the weak hive about a liter at a time, but they eat it so fast I can't keep up with the. The bucket seems always empty. So I'm planning to add a bigger container of sugar water.

- Build a box to absorb winter condensation: I'm planning to build a box (called a quilt box) that sits at the top inside the hive and insulates, helps with airflow, and absorbs moisture. It's my guess I lost my hives last year because of condensation dripping into the cluster of bees.

After this, they should be ready to go for winter. At least as ready as I can get them. Of course, I can always use advice. I've been keeping bees 3 years now, and have plenty more to learn.

More bee stuff: Kathy's Bees

my home garden today

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Friday, September 22, 2017

what's growing now

I wanted to put together a list of what's growing in my gardens now. This is about the peak time I think for vegetable variety. The summer crops are on their last legs, fall crops are maturing, and winter seedlings are sprouting.

At home
Bed 1: lettuce, beets, popcorn, shell beans
Bed 2: marigolds, kale, murdoc cabbage, bok choi, lettuce
Bed 3: Belgian endive, beets, escarole, carrots, celeriac, parsnips
Bed 4: (set up with hoops now for winter tunnel) spinach, lettuce, escarole, mustard greens, cilantro, dill, also peppers and cucumbers at the ends that will be removed soon
Bed 5: Brussels sprouts, Lima beans, broccoli, cover crop, shell beans
Bed 6: parsley, winter radish, celeriac, broccoli, leeks
Bed 7: eggplants, tomatoes, peppers
Bed 8: basil, tomatoes, peppers, horseradish
Next to beds: asparagus, pole beans,
Under apple trees: winter squash
On the patio: gourds, beet greens, arugula, lettuce, spinach, and basil

At my community garden plot: mostly butternut squash, red raspberries, fall greens, and some cover crops.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

fruit harvest

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My fruit harvests this year, in addition to a couple cups of blueberries early this summer:
25 (wohoo!) apples, 2 peaches, 2-3 cups of red raspberries a week (they'll produce for about 4 weeks), and about 20 lbs of pears.

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I was very disappointed that about half my pear harvest "disappeared this year. No signs of deer, raccoons or other wildlife. Since my two espaliered trees are in my plot at a busy community garden, I have to think they were stolen. All the pears from the lower two branches were missing. These branches are very easy to reach from outside my garden. I was left with only the ones 6-8 ft up on the top branch. Theft is pretty common at our Gardens. I have plans next year to put up chicken wire around the trees and hopefully keep all the pears I grow - I want to at least know who I share them with.

Pears in a bucket

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

wet weather harvest

Today I spent a hour or so at my community garden plot. Tasks:

Pick red raspberries
Harvest 4 big butternut squash
Pick ripe tomatoes, eggplant, peppers
Pull and compost dead tomatoes plants
Pull and compost spent summer squash vines
Weed escarole bed with my Dutch hoe
Sow seeds for Daikon, salad radish, and spinach to replace a row of escarole eaten by chipmunks

The good part was I didn't need to water the garden. Bad part, I got soaked by the rain (tropical storm Jose) that we've had a couple days now.

I am just now noticing that it's only 3 weeks til our average first frost date (Oct10). How can that be!  It's been in the 70-80s this week and not much below 50F at night. Crazy weather, but I won't complain about warmth.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

today's harvest

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That's a big head of Murdoc cabbage. Almost 5 lbs. Its the third I picked this year - and a first year for me trying this. It's an excellent variety. Tender and mild. Perfect for coleslaw, fried rice, and stir fries. I'm looking forward to making sauerkraut with it.

I dug a few small horseradish roots. I love the smell. So did Charley. He loves everything from the garden - even enjoyed eating a piece of the horseradish. I had to shoo him away from the harvest bucket after that.

I also picked a few well ripened bean pods of a variety I save year to year. It's a long white Chinese pole bean given to me at least 10 years ago now. I'm glad I got them before the chipmunks!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

pictures of my community garden plot

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I've been working in my plot a few hours today. It's very hot, but tomorrow nice rains are predicted so I'm planting fall seedlings and seeding a winter cover crop. I also dug my second of three rows of potatoes - the seedlings went in on top of this freshly dug soil. Escarole, radicchio, lettuce, arugula, broccoli, kailan (Chinese kale), and spinach. I pulled spent cucumber vines from my three tepees and planted pea seedlings around them. Oregon giant - a snow pea I love. I try planting fall peas every year and have never gotten a pod before frost kills the plants, but I keep trying. I started these seedlings inside several weeks ago. We'll see...

On my garlic bed, I planted a cover crop mix with spring oats, vetch, field peas, and rye grass. I also scattered crimson clover as a winter cover crop on the harvested onion bed, and under my tomatoes, summer squash, and peppers. I ended up with a big harvest of potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, raspberries, eggplants, cucumbers, my first ripe butternut squash, and a couple pears to test ripeness. I got home and dumped it all on the kitchen counter. It was a pretty picture with all the colors and shapes all mixed up. I had a photo but seems I lost it.

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