Thursday, September 23, 2004

23 September Tomatoes, freeze, Birds

I picked more tomatoes today. It occurs to me that deadheading works with Tomaotes too, as with beans or fflowers. Pidking Tomatoes before, made the ones on the vines grow, though they are smaller than the firrst.
From the ones ripening inside, I took the red sauce tomatoes and cubed them up for the freezer. I put them in plastic bags, one meal size, one bag and put them all in one large freezer bag after they froze.
The Goldfinches and House SParrows were making a racket aroundthe Sunflowers untill the cats came out. Then I didn’t see one bird. When we go away and the cats spend their time inside, I expect the sunflower seeds will be eaten up.
I put markers on the flats I planted yesterday. It is good for me to do this. I tend to retain the plants if I know they are there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

22 September 04 Swamp milkweed, Lettuce

Today is the first day of fall. It is getting cold at night but still warm enough during the day so pollinators are out. Not yet crisp, but the trees are turny, the Cottonwoods are yellow. The Sycamore leaves are falling more frequently. I’m keeping the windows closed at night but have not yet turned on the heat.
The shadow the house makes on the north side has reached almost to the garage. I planted more lettuce in a 7x10” pot. When the second true leaves come out, I put the little lettuces in flats so they have room to grow. Varieties; Deer’s Tounge, Cimmeron, Four Seasons. I usually plant too many and don’t find places for them all. I also got some swamp milkweed seeds off the plant in my neighbor’s yard. It was a volunteer that planted itself in her garden last year. It didn’t bloom until this year. We are both watching it to see if it comes back to decide weather it is a perennial or a biennial.
I will put all the flats with the plant starts in the shade when I go away for a week. I’d better get my neighbor will water them once or twice during that time. Gotta go.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

15 Sept. 04 Tomatoes, Broccoli, Wild Coreopsis, Gaillardia.

15 Sept. 04 Wild Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Tomatoes, Broccoli.

I transplanted the wild flower package that I got from the NWF. I figured there was no percentage in leaving the thing in the refrigerator. I spread the seeds in late august. I think I have some wild Choreopsis and Indian Blanket Plant. Don’t know yet. I also transplant my little Pansies. The purple Johnny Jump ups are smaller but they have more roots The yellow Pansies are less wild, more garden seeds and confidant of care, so they don't grow as many roots but concentrate on the show.
Little tomatoes volunteered in the flats. They are the Matt’s Cherry Tomato kind I like these and put a few in pots to bring in for winter growing. I have actually had a few tomatoes off season on these little lovlies, but took these in mainly because I don’t have any seeds for this variety and don’t want to have to order more next year. It seems to like to start itself all over the garden, but I have a few plants just in case it decides to take the year off. It gets serious for fusarium wilt and has to be trimmed all the time.
I’m going to try starting my tomatoes a little later in the season and maybe growing them on a stake and trimming suckers. They’ll get more air that way and maybe more sun. They have trouble with the transfer from the porch to outside. It wouldn’t hurt to rig up some grow lights for them. Tomatoes are a mediteranian plant. They prefer warmpth and sunshine and grow quickly. I can start the spring tomatoes early and hold back on the main season ones. My neighbor’s tomatoes were fantastic enough this year to cause jealousy, Gardener’s Delight. I enjoy open pollenated varieties. I like to root some at the end of the season to take in the house, have not done this yet.
I have many flats that will get neglected when we go away. I will put them in the shade and hope it rains. If Linda feeds the cats, maybe she will take pity on them. The plants inside will survive a week without me.
The Broccoli from the tub is tender and tasty enough for the ground hog, we had some in our salad. Waltham is the only open pollinated variety of broccoli I can find that does much. It produces small heads but keeps up side shoots for a long time and is great for salads. The tub is plastic, about 15” x 24” x 10” deep with a few drainage holes in the bottom. It seems like a minimum size to grow greens in. Smaller pots dry out too fast. I use is straight compost without mixing soil, it seems to work fine.

Monday, September 13, 2004

14 Sept 04 Tomatoes, Garlic, Aliums, Sustainable Systems, Intergalactic Sustainability Awardgalactic

14 Sept. 04 Tomatoes, Garlic, other aliums, sustainable systems

Yesterday I brought most of the tomatoes in. Many are green, now ripening on the porch.The ground hogs were getting quite a few of them. I left the smaller ones, but the days are getting too short for serious ripening of a Mediterranean fruit. I have been taking plants in the house for a transition to fall gardening. I planted out the garlic and some onions, putting some in pots to raise on the porch this winter and have fresh onion greens this winter. I usually wait until later in the fall to plant garlic, but I am going away and need to get things squared away. I wonder if the garlic will get bigger if it has more of a head start.

My neighbor, who’s father was an organic farmer, took all of his beans and tomatoes out and roto-tilled his eastern bed last week. He is going to plant a cover crop. For one thing, he has canned more than he needs for the year. For another his wife is tired of the extreme productivity of his organic methods. Plus the pesky ground hog is marauding a lot. The GH. has over turned some of my puny fences and helped himself to the lettuce and broccoli and also found a way to get to the pot I had growing up high inside of a bin. He has not yet gotten to the squash in the garbage bin, but it may be for lack of trying.
Getting the marginal production in the vegetable garden may be too much trouble for a gardener who is more of a farmer. Alan is looking at mega-issues such as soil fertility. He plants by the phases of the moon, just like his father did. I enjoy seeing how he works. I could use a little order to the muddle that is my garden. It is not really muddle. I am looking at how things work and reinventing the wheel, as we say. We do not know enough about the ecology of our urban part of the world. Our pipe and pond drainage and obsession with lawns is unsustainable. I enjoy muddling and puttering in the direction of urban sustainability. The complexity of natural systems around here is under studied. It will take some muddling to find sustainable systems.
I have always planted vegetables and probably always will. I cook from the garden, I can’t make a meal with much else but a grain and legume and what ever is in the garden these days. My salads are fab, until the lettuce goes to seed, must plant more. I probably ought to think more about raising food, but am transfixed by other gardening issues. I haven’t even gotten peaches to can this year. We don’t have a lot of food put by for the winter, we do have raspberries in the freezer, thanks to Dale.
These days I like to raise crops of native perennials and plant rain gardens. I noticed the down spouts at the church lead straight into the sewer system. Me and Caroline have taken the ecological gardening course over at SOCWA and know better that to leave it like that. Convincing the powers that be over at the church to let us change things and make a demonstration garden will take talking on point for sustained periods. Meantime, I want to raise some Hosta for the grounds and put in some of the Sweet William I have started, etc. The more the grounds are beautified, the more open the church people will be to a demonstration rain garden. If we put up a sign, maybe they’ll go for it.
Empty nesters don’t need to be quite so focused on what goes in to these old bodies. When the kids were little, I wanted to feed them well. It wasn’t easy to do this in the city. Organic food is now available at super markets. This concept was unheard of when the kids were little and I spent a lot of time shopping and getting food and maintaining Co-ops just to try to feed those young bodies. I did the best I could. It is no longer my department. I am interested in the food distribution system, but I am also interested in sustainable gardening and raising my own, also how doing so fits in to an ecosystem. I want to go for that inter galactic sustainability award, learn to extend the season and raise food closer to home. Gotta go.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

7 Sept 04 Labor Day, Finches

There is a Yellow FInch on the pillar of the front door overhang, having brunch. I wanted as many blooms as possible, and cut off the flowers when the petals shriveled and wove the flowers into the piller. The seeds inside are certainly developed enough for the finches. The little bird also seems to like the green part growing around the center of the petiole.
The dining finch spent a good deal of it’s time looking around. It took short bobs to get the seed. Perhaps it remembers when Katy used to sleep out in the front garden and do her hunting there. Katy’s calico coloring was quite effective at camouflage in the dappled sun of the garden. It always took time to locate her. These days, Katy prefers to hold court in the back yard. Her years of mousing service have given way to time spent on a ridge rest under the potting table. Her girth prevents her from doing much hunting.
Maybe the Finch is bothered by the obnoxious House Sparrows. The front overhang is the place where Mr. and Mrs. House Sparrow raise three broods a year starting in February. At times I have considered destroying those House Sparrow eggs, as Katy is not taking care of their numbers. Maybe we ought to have kept the kitten Patricia brought home. A kitten would be good at keeping the mouse population down as well as the house sparrows. I remember Mica’s hunting days. She took down many Gold Finches with the House Sparrows. Plum seems interested in the mice. Also, I like the quiet of an empty nest, all the children having flown the coop.
How clever of the Goldfinch to have found those Sunflowers. Left there, the stalks will be excellent fall decorations, in case Linda doesn’t give us any corn stalks this year. There are more small sunflowers coming along to keep the Finches happy.
The weather is very pleasant with a #4 breeze; sprightly, yet blows away all thought of mosquitoes. We get the benefits of Hurricane Francis. With global warming bringing us more frequent storms, we may as well find something good about them.

Friday, September 03, 2004

3 Sept. 04 Fall garden plans, wild White Asters

3 Sept. 04 potting for fall

I’m getting potty again, have been thinking for awhile about the untidiness of the pots. They yellow over time, even if they get fertilizer. Some of the plants in them I want and some are out of control. The only solution is to go at them with trowel and pruners in hand. Some of them I want to move and otherwise renew.
There is also a large design opportunity on the back porch. Under the list of things I wanted to get to this summer was redo the floor in there. I did manage to finally get up all of the indoor outdoor carpeting that was yellow. There is linoleum tile out there of a beige that I ‘m sure guys love. It is very nondescript. I’d like to take the old linoleum up and ceramic tile in a catchy design or paint the cement. My porch is on the north side of the house and gets no direct sun in winter. It is off the living room and must look presentable. We decided not to re-window it and make it a year round space so for now, it is my garden room. I’d like to grow some onions and cole crops there in winter. There are problems with low light, I also get a huge number of aphids and white flies come February. The bugs wreak havoc with the tomatoes and peppers I try to grow there. Lettuce doesn’t fare too well either.
Chives seemed to like the cold last year and I had plenty come spring, then the Chives went outside outside regenerate. I planted the chives in the garden when I got tired of watering them in late spring. Because of the success of the chive experiment, I am planning to experiment with more herbs, definitely grow Chives again. Rosemary did ok out there as long as I didn’t let it get too cold. I regulate the heat by leaving the glass door open a crack when it gets cold enough to freeze out there. I have Egyptian Onions waiting for garden duty that might spend the winter on the porch in a pot for green onions. Garlic, and Garlic chives will be compared and contrasted in this group.
A large pot of exuberant geraniums will not last all winter, but will be sensational come fall on the porch. I have two huge pots full that have prospered all summer, but do not have room for both. I’ll have to make a decision about which pot, and maybe even put my beloved Geraniums in a smaller pot. I love to grow all kinds of Pelargoniums, alas I have only limited space and some of the lovelies end up in the compost when cold weather comes. I have boards and bricks to make shelves out of.
I have a list of things I wanted to do this year but didn’t: 1. make pots out of concrete a)with wire mesh frame as in a concrete boat and b)with molds. 2. floor on porch, 3. more vegetables and edibles, 3) sunken beds with compost? 4)Peony reposition, 5)Mica’s plant, 6) “ rain garden” behind porch, 7)replace the front walk that drains toward house with block, 8)the day lilies on the west of the house don’t look good.
I got caught today by the sight of a White New England Aster plant creeping from behind a pot along the fence. White Asters have been growing around the place for years. They grow 3 ft or more tall if left to themselves. My neighbor likes things very tidy so I have to pull them, lest they take over. I leave some and trim them back so they aren’t so lanky. All summer I didn’t like them much, as they seemed to be in the way. I caught sight of some, just out today and my heart rose all out of proportion to their size, which is diminutive. I love white Asters, little daisy-like composites. They are worth keeping around, even if they don’t come out until fall and even if they have to be cut back a time or two over the summer.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

2 Sept. 04 Roses, Dill, produce

Warm. That last lovely summer dance is going on. Pollen laden bees buzz around as the flowers do their best.
I was trying to remember time of year my mother told me to stop dead heading the roses, let them harden off for the winter. I remember having November roses blooming pink in the middle of the brown, and writing poetry. Must have been middle of September. Surely not now.
The vegetable garden has been quite neglected. Still I harvested green beans, from the new crop. The tomatoes are going great guns as are the cucumbers and the lettuce and it is pepper time. I also need to go back and pick the zhuccini before the fruits get out of hand. Time to freeze some peppers, cut up for use. When I need pepper, I can go to the freezer and take out as much as I need, put the rest back.
It is time to go to the farmer’s market and buy some peppers for freezing. Time to get peaches and blueberries before it is too late. It is early apple time.
I picked some Echinacia seed today while I was deadheading. By the time these turn brown, the seed is almost all gone. I do not know weather from the birds or from falling out, but gone. Echinacia self seeds and spreads itself quite nicely. So many bees are on the Garlic Chives and the Buddilia, the plants look like they are moving.
What is it about late summer, the feeling is palpable. I think it is the melody, the back drop sound of locusts in the day and crickets by night. I love seeing a lawn full of startlingly blue Chicory. I know Chicory is not native, it reflects the sky though, it is so blue. Thank heavens for cracks and slightly weedy places where it grows.
I am quite pleased about Dill. It grows around the yard in places that I plant and places it chooses. I pick some of the heads and put them upside down in a quart container. That is all you have to do to get dill seed. Later when it is all dry, take out the sticks and put the seed in a spice bottle.