Archive for August, 2014

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 31, 2014

Garden Report for 140831

The weather this week was, well, weatherlike. High high was 84. Lowest high is 68, forecast for today. Breezy and overcast. Cliff Mass says it’s a typical pre-Fall incursion. Next week is shaping up to be 73F +/- 5. This week, the lows were in the 50’s. Next week, the 40’s.

Other parts of the garden are starting to produce. Got a handful of peas from my second pea-planting. Two summer squash and one zucchini. The powdery mildew finally killed one of the spaghetti squash plants, so I harvested the one squash on it. Cut a wide swath through the lettuce, leaving just the shortest behind. The containerized cukes are blooming like mad, but no fruit yet. Harvested a bunch of 4th of July, Early Girl, Marglobe, and Super Fantastics from the garden side. Just over 4lb total, and nothing over 6oz. While I was digging around in the jungle, I found one Delicata squash. If it was a Zucchini, I’d say “harvest it now, before it gets too big”, but the Deli’s can go until the plant dies.

Week
Ending
8/31
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  24  69  2.9  184  33.0
Summer  2  24  12  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  18  18  1  1.2
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti  1  30  30  1  1.8
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  –  –  –  3.0
Peas  –  2.5  –  –  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Checking the intertubes for information on powdery mildew, I find some good advice here, and some possible resistant varieties. This seems to be the summer for PM. A number of non-crop plants have it as well.

Police Keep Misplacing Their Military Gear

August 28, 2014

It seems that America’s police departments have a hard time keeping track of weapons and Humvees and other military equipment the DoD gave them. A lot of it’s gone missing. And what do they say when the federal government asks about it?

I'm sure it's around here somewhere.

I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 24, 2014

Garden Report for 140824

The weather this week was variable, with highs running from the low 90’s to the low 70’s, and thunderstorms (mostly) in the distance.

Three baskets like this. And you thought the "Crimson Tide" was a football team

Three baskets like this.
And you thought the “Crimson Tide” was a football team

Harvested twenty pounds of tomatoes, about half from the containers, the other half from the KHG. The KHG tomatoes, where I can tell (it’s a jungle out there!), were mostly Early Girl and 4th of July, with a couple of deeply buried Super Fantastics.

Here’s how the containers are doing:
Containers, Deck:
4th of July— Mix of medium and small. Pretty much tasteless, and nowhere near ready on the 4th…even of August.
Marglobe — n/r
Northern Exposure — n/r
Husky Red — One medium, the rest small. Good taste, sweet.

Containers, House:
Brandywine Red — All are small. Taste is good.
Super Fantastic — The only really large ones. Excellent taste
Early Girl/Best Boy (2 pots, not sure which is which)  — n/r
Beefsteak — Appears to be a bush version, or maybe mislabeled (it’s the store label). Small fruit. Good taste.
Red Cherry — Big, for cherries. Good flavor. Maybe use these in the hanging bags next year
Crimson Cushion — n/r

Hangers, or ought to be:
S-100 — Lots. Small. Taste OK. Mostly skin.
Napa Grape — Not a lot, but this is the plant that was blown off the deck. Taste OK. Skin.
Glacier — Determinate, so it’s done for the year. Not a lot, but good tasting.

So far, only about 20% are what I call supermarket size — 5oz or bigger — and less than half of those are of the big, slicing size. The skin on all the tomatoes so far has been very thick. As in, chew up a tomato quarter and spit out the skin thick.

I decided to not include a Last Week this week. Fiddling with the HTML was just too tiresome. So last week was the last Last Week as well as being the first Last Week. This week there’s just a This Week, and next week will also be just a This Week.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/24
Tomato 93  330 3.5  160 28.7
Summer  1  0.5
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  –  –  –  3.0
Peas  –  –  –  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Looks like we will have an El Nino Winter this year*, which means warmer and dryer (all our water is going to California). That said, I think I’ll take a chance on some late plantings. A couple weeks ago, I ripped all the non-performing (i.e. all) brassicae out of Section 3, and replanted some cabbage and Brussels sprouts. That left a lot of bare ground, and KHG farmers hate bare ground. So, on Friday, I planted a bunch of lettuce, some beets, radishes, and carrots. Not much of a risk there** — they are all about 60 days to harvest, so only pushed the last harvest into mid-November. I also reconnected the drip hose that had come off. This is the fourth time I’ve had to fix a blown connector. Next year, new hose all around!

*And of course, no sooner do I act on this, than they downgrade the probability from 80% to 65%. If we do get a visit from The Kid, it could move the date of the first frost from mid-September to mid-October.
**Except that the squirrels went mad digging in the fresh dirt. I could drag out the chicken wire covers, but I think I’ll just let the plants take their chances. The cabbage, et al., are each in their own water-bottle cloches, so they should be OK.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 17, 2014

Garden Report for 140817

The weather this week was variable, with a high of 98F on Monday trending down to 73F during Friday’s T-storms (which didn’t get close enough to give us any rain).

Not much produced this week. Harvested the last of the string beans — 8oz, one serving each — and ripped out the plants. The beans have been hard to cook properly, and they are tough. Probably won’t do them again. Planted half my remaining peas (64 days), short cabbage (60 days), long cabbage (105 days) and Brussels sprouts (85 days) in Section 3. I figure by the time the brassicae are big enough for the temperature to matter, it will be cool autumn. Tomatoes have paused, and given us a chance to eat what we harvested so far. Looks like 30-40 getting ready to be ripe in the next week or so, and half a dozen of those are supermarket size. The rest are plum or smaller. Not counting cherries.

The lettuce I planted last week hasn’t sprouted yet, which is a little worrisome. I may not have watered it enough. The container cabbage and iceberg lettuce are sprouting.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/17
This Week
Tomato 4  25 6.3  67  8
Summer  1  8.5  8.6  1  0.5
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  – 8  2.0
Peas  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/10
Last Week
Tomato 10  68 6.8  35  5.3
Summer
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  116  19.3  6  7.25
Beans  – 24  1.5
Peas  –  3.0
Cabbage  24  5  7.5

This time last year, we still didn’t have any tomatoes or summer squash, and in 2012, I was getting a good bean harvest.

Pumpkin Oats

August 14, 2014

Almost two years ago I wrote about a failed oatmeal experiment involving an ancient bottle of pumpkin spice liqueur. I said then that I’d wait until I had some real pumpkin available to make another test. Well, recently, one of our dogs got sick.

It turns out that canned pumpkin is one of the things you feed sick dogs. Ours had eaten some industrial fabric that didn’t want to be digested, and it waited until 2AM to let us know that. One thing and another (you don’t want details in a cooking blog, OK?), and MJ decided a bland diet of mashed potato, pumpkin, and a smidge of dogfood was the dinner of the day, until various innards had settled down.  We had almost a whole can of pumpkin left over (it was a big can), so I decided to see how it would do as an oatmeal extender. We were out of broth, so I used plain water. I know, but where can you find a pound of brothing chicken at 5AM of a Sunday morning?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two generous dinner tablespoons of canned pumpkin (probably close to a quarter cup), two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of water, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results: Quite good. Definitely pumpkin-y, but it didn’t overwhelm, like cornbread wants to. Would be a good base for something more elaborate. Needed more salt. Needed a good ten grinds of pepper melange (it sounds like a lot, but our grinder is feeble). I’m going to try it again, once the government delivers on its promise of two chickens for every pot. Maybe I’ll even try some pumpkin spice.

Rating: *****

Crafting the future we desire

August 11, 2014

Recent experiments have confirmed the link between increased brain testosterone and increased activity in those parts of the brain that mediate aggression and response to perceived threats. This happened even though the testosterone levels were moved from low to a more normal range. More testosterone leads to more aggression.

This lends credence to a report in Science Daily, saying that it’s likely that a drop in testosterone levels 50,000 years ago, demonstrated by the growth of feminine skull features, is what promoted greater cooperation and improved group-living skills, and it’s those skills that lead to improved technology and the growth of civilization.

Faced with encroaching feminism, girlyskulls, and the concomitant threats of peace and prosperity, our society has found a way to fight back:

Civilization is doomed.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 11, 2014

Garden Report for 140810

The weather this week was dry, mid-90’s to start, mid-80’s in the middle, climbing back to the 90’s at the end.

This is turning into a very depressing season. Powdery mildew has killed the pumpkin plants — with only a couple of full grown pie pumpkins to show for it — and has kept the other squash from producing much at all. Second planting of container sugar peas didn’t do well. Strawberries were eaten by birds, despite the covers. Beans and snap peas both produced two meals each.Lettuce is doing OK — I think I’ve figured out the best way to thin it. Tore out the container beans and ate both pods. Replanted with 4 cabbage. Tore out the Chioggias — they were so small I thought they were radishes but my notes say they’re beets (I checked, after MJ complained that the salad had an ‘earthy taste’). Replanted with iceberg lettuce. It won’t head, but it’s nice and leafy.

Container tomatoes are starting to come in. The Super Fantastic (I think, the tag is lost) is producing like mad — three giant 8oz globes so far. The Beefsteaks aren’t doing as well, but some look to be as much as 6 or 7 oz. These are the ones on the sunny side of the house. The deck containers are still thinking about it, and the KHG tomatoes are still being green. A lot of walnut-sized/ 1oz stuff, that pulls down the unit weight.

I gave the pumpkin plants a chance to recover from the powdery mildew search and destroy, but they never did. Harvested the pumpkins. Only two were what I was expecting as a mature size.

Mouse to show scale

Mouse to show scale

So, now it’s time to start the scorecard. Since this is the first pitch edition, some of the data points summarize previous weeks. Also, for tomatoes, the weekly totals won’t match the running totals, because the running totals will include the count and weight of the “big cherries” (around an ounce each). The weekly totals are only for “supermarket size” tomatoes. Next Week there will be a Last Week.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/10
This Week
Tomato 10  68 6.8  35  5.3
Summer
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  116  19.3  6  7.25
Beans  – 24  3.0
Peas  –  24  3.0
Cabbage  24  5  7.5

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. This time last year the corn had been destroyed by squirrels, the summer squash were struggling, and there were no tomatoes except cherries, while in 2012 we also had no tomatoes (at all) and were getting sick of summer squash.

Cornmeal Oats

August 7, 2014

I’m not a big fan of cornbread. I mean, I don’t dislike it — kirai janai — and I’ll eat it when served, but I never suggest it, except to go with specific dishes. Some bean dishes, for example. One problem is, it’s too crumbly. It’s either hot and moist and crumbly right out of the oven, or it’s cold and dry and crumbly after sitting about for an hour or so. If it’s not piping hot, the butter sticks to the knife on one side, and pulls up crumbles on the other. And so forth.

MJ made a bunch of cornbread for some sort of church potluck, presumably involving beans. There was lots left over, cold and crumbly, the next morning, and why not?

Experiment 1: This was a test of cornbread as an extender. Since I was loading it up with corn-starchiness I left off the potatoes.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 1/4 cup (loose pack) of cornbread crumbs, one cup of broth (whatever’s on hand – – I used chicken), salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: More like corn-meal mush with an oat extender. Totally overwhelmed the oats. Would probably be better with bacon crumbles. I gave it two stars, but you might like it.

Rating: *****

Experiment 2: This was a test of cornbread as an ingredient. Once again, I left off the potatoes.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, rounded measuring tablespoon of cornbread crumbs, one cup of broth (whatever’s on hand – – I used chicken), salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Strong cornbread flavor. Would still be better with bacon crumbles.

Rating: *****

As soon as people learn how business works,

August 3, 2014

…they flee the stock market

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 3, 2014

Garden Report for 140804

The weather remained warm hot, being consistently above 93F. That was nice for the garden, but two power outages didn’t help the gardener. Core temperature of the KHG on August 1st was 80F.

Winds blew a container off the deck — Napa Grape cherry tomatoes. Put it back up, and they’re still alive, but feeling hard done by.

White lung disease

White lung disease

Squashes are being hit hard by powdery mildew. I’ve tried baking soda, with no luck. Vinegar, with no luck. What seems to help the most is a brutal triage effort, cutting off the worst of the leaves (update: no, that didn’t help either). In any event, I’m working my way through all the usual remedies, except that I don’t really want to use any chloroflurocarbons. I guess I’ll just have to take my losses this year, and be more aggressive next year.

The lettuce finally bolted, and made its final contribution as compostfodder. I’m planning on starting another tranche of lettuce in the space, unless the squash from next door takes over first.

No sprouts here

No sprouts here

Meanwhile, over in Section 3, the Brussels Sprouts still haven’t done anything. I’m going to pull them next week, and plant 90 and 120 day cabbage. Hopefully, things will have cooled down by the time the plants start really growing.

Still no production elsewhere. Three spaghetti squash and four pumpkins are all the squash I see, and none of them will be ready for weeks — assuming they survive the mildews. No summer squash at all. Three Beefsteak tomatoes are starting to turn. Other than that, it’s only the cherries. Of course, when the tomatoes start coming in, we’ll be eating them day and night.

The irrigation system continues to fall apart. Two more breaks this week. Well, two more places where the hose separated from the t-junction and I had to put on some hose clamps. All that hose is at least ten years old and is probably stiff and brittle by now. Come winter, I’ll pull it all out and replace it, or at least hose clamp all of it. I’m thinking of using flat sprinkler hose as a replacement. The soaker hose is great for established plants, but the seedlings don’t have the roots for it.