Thursday, July 30, 2015

I'm sorry to report the blight has hit my garden.

I was hoping for better results this year, thinking that mulching with layers of newspapers would hold off the blight.
As you can see here above, my Lizzanos are paper-mulched yet there's blight creeping up on some of the leaves.  Of course, it could be a combo of natural dying back also, since these are determinates that die off after they produce.
As you can see from my harvest today, there's not much producing right now.  Most tomatoes are still green but I'm grateful for a few red ones for my salads.  And the sugar snap peas are nearing their end.  This is all I got from a 12-ft row of vines.  They are browning on the bottoms quite a bit now.  This would be the time to sow more seeds for a fall harvest, but for me that's not a given.  I'm happy to get a summer harvest.  The work involved to get a fall harvest doesn't suit my life right now.
On a happy note, the birds didn't get ALL the blueberries from my five bushes this year.  Surprise, surprise!  I've got a swallow of two for myself today.  They taste so darn good when fresh off the plants.
I found several nubbins on my broccoli plants harvested earlier.  They'll taste good in a side dish so they'll be harvested for tonite along with the final small head of broccoli still growing in my garden.
I've only harvested one New Girl tomato so far this year and that measures about 2" across.  I'll be eating that one tonite.
Among my Totems, which were the earliest producer this year, I have a couple more measuring around 1 1/2" across.  The plant itself is small, little more than a foot tall.  I already know they are tasty and juicy.  This is a patio tomato I recommend to others.  I only get around a dozen tomatoes per plant, but they are perfect little globes with great taste.  Worth the effort to put in a few as potted plants.
Above are a couple of Lizzanos, another small determinate tomato.  The harvest is more abundant than the Totems, and the taste is pretty darn good so you might want to try one of these in your garden.  For height, it grows about 3' tall and there are many fruits on the branches.
Just a little information that might be helpful gardeners.
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

High temps are coming.

In Maine, high temps are in the 80sF and that's what we're getting this week.  The good news is that nitetime temps will drop to the 60s so its livable.
I don't take kindly to high temps.  That means more time indoors away from the heat.  It also means changing the hummer feeders more often to keep their water fresh.  They appreciate it.
The garden, though, is loving these temps.  The tomatoes can grow and ripen, the cucumbers can start forming, and the peppers.  My sugar snap peas will be fading out quickly now so I'm taking advantage and picking them as fast as I can and giving them out to friends and relatives as well as eating them fresh from the garden.
The asparagus bed is a world of asparagus fern.
Another good thing are the dwarf apple trees.  Such an abundance of fruit this year for Honey Crisps and Fujis.  They are still green, but soon now I'll be picking fresh apples to share with the family.
I hope everyone is getting an abundance of fresh veggies and fruit from their home gardens.
    Happy Gardening!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Windstorm dropped 1 1/2" more rain

Wow, that windstorm we had on Tuesday nite was a dilly.  I watched the trees sway back and forth in my yard and they were 40-ft tall.  A swathe of high winds tore thru the flower garden in a path about 4-feet wide blowing down veggies and flowers to the ground.  I don't think I lost any.  I got out there to tie up when I could.  Potted plants were knocked on their sides.   Loud thunder claps brought with it heavy rain for a short time.
But all is well.  No real damage here.  I hope others fared as well.
 In checking out the Back40, I see the Totems are starting to turn a bit red.  I like their size and I already know I love their sweet, juicy flavor.

Beside the Totems are a couple Lizzanos now showing some color.  Haven't tasted any of those yet but there's lots of them and they are smaller than the Totems.

I just couldn't resist.  I picked one of the New Girl tomatoes.  I'll let it ripen on the kitchen counter.  I'm so eager to eat fresh tomatoes in my salads.

  On the floral front, I had to dig down to find this rose.  It was buried under stalks of Monarda and Peony bushes from that storm.  But little Fair Bianca survived. 
My Spacemaster cucumber plant is doing well with lots more blossoms.  I hope the bees pollinate these well since its not far from the Monarda that they love so much.
I'm thankful I won't have to water my gardens for a few days.  Less labor for me.  Today is lovely, in the low 70s, low humidity, and sunshine.  Door and windows open, no fan needed.  My kind of Maine day.  No wonder so many people flock to Maine for the summers.  Its usually has wonderful weather.
            Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The rain was welcome, but not the heat.

We were to get a few scattered showers now and then over the weekend but ended up with over 1 1/2 inches of wet.  Just a few miles West of me they had large hailstones banging on cars and into the lakes.  At my house we were lucky and missed those since we just got t-showers with huge, fat raindrops instead.
Today its nice out, sunny with a breeze and only in the 70sF which I prefer.
I had my first tomatoes from the garden today, two Totem (patio tomatoes) that are growing in my Back40.  Very tasty and much enjoyed with lunch today.
I was happy to see my David Austin Rose, Fair Bianca, a stark white, blooming today.  Now if I can keep the Japanese beetles cut back to a minimum, I might enjoy this rose for several months.
The bees are very happy these days since the Raspberry Monarda is coming into bloom.  They are flitting from flower to flower gathering pollen.  My flower garden has many of these flowers which I'm happy to share.

At last I'm seeing blossoms on one of my cucumber plants, the Spacemaster, above. 
In checking on a couple of my bagged tomato plants, from which I am saving seeds this year, I am happy to report that little green tomatoes are already forming inside.  Above is one of the Red Zebra plants.
This above is the Li'l Pink tomato plant, also with greenies.
In the north we don't have a very long growing season, so like many others, I'm eager to see things harvested but still we have to wait a bit longer.  I've learned that its better to start tomato seeds that have an earlier maturity rate than most.  I can't be waiting for one that takes 90 days.  That would mean no tomatoes before nearly Labor Day, which is getting too close to frosty nights in our part of the continent.  Even those that mature in 70 days I would be cutting it close to blight season, that time of the year when the blight takes out so many tomatoes.
Luckily there are several varieties that mature in 56-70 days which makes it easier to garden for us northerners.
Happy Gardening!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Its raining today, and much appreciated.

I've loved the sunny days and temps here in Maine in the 70s but we've needed some rain, and today we have it.  So far only a quarter inch has fallen over several hours but the air feels so fresh and clean and the plants are loving it.  A day for me to stay indoors and enjoy a lazy day.
Both me and the Japanese beetles are enjoying the roses.  I'm out there at least twice a day with a jar of soapy water to knock the little devils off the roses and into the jar to get rid of them.  Still, they are sometimes more than I can handle.  Their season has started.
In the back40 where I'm replacing much of the space in my raised beds with perennials, I'm enjoying the flowers this season.  Above are the yellow Coreopsis and the blue Lavender.
In another bed the Barberini Dianthus is blooming well.  Its so nice to see color in the beds but better that I don't have to weed and fight insects that are vying for my vegetables.  I may have fewer vegetables here, but I'm enjoying the colors.
This bed in the Back40 is my tomato and pepper bed.  The Totem tomatoes are growing quite nicely and with their changes in color, from deep green to lighter green, I'm hoping to see red soon.  Next to the Totem are the Lizzano tomatoes with many small greenies.  The bed also is home to Tiny Tim and Tumbling Tiger tomatoes, all with blossoms or little greenies forming.
As for the peppers, they aren't very large, but there's blossoms.

Here's a view of Hosta Hill from the deck.  I have a variety of types and all have different leaves, from lime green to blue-green and super large.

This one above are the purple blooms on Birchwood Parky's Gold that has the small lime-green leaves.

My favorite Hosta is this one, Christmas Tree.  Not only does it have the largest blue-green leaves, it has white spikey blossoms that are quite large compared to others.

Among the Hosta is this Dwarf Everblooming Bleeding Heart which I adore because it continues to blossom throughout the growing season til fall.  Most bleeding hearts are done for by now, as are my white and pink ones.
Another bit of color in Hosta Hill is this Clematis, Multi-blue which comes back year after year and covers the deck.  It spirals up the lattice and moves over the planks when in season. 
Let's move on to the flower bed outside my kitchen door.  It boasts many Monarda this year.  Monarda reproduce very easily and spread thru the whole garden if you're not careful.  Even with vigorous removal in the spring, those tubers shoot along beneath the soil and pop up throughout the garden area.  This one is a raspberry color and the bees will be covering the flowers when they are in bloom.  This one above is just showing the very start of the blossom.  Soon they will be huge flowers bobbing on tall stems, from about 4-6 feet tall.
Of course, among my flower bed one will also find several tomato plants.  This one, now sporting some nice greenies, is the double Legend transplant I'm experimenting with this year.  Its still doing very well, both of them, having been transplanted in one hole together this year.
Also in my flower bed I grow greens and herbs.  Above is a Winterbor Kale growing tall and strong.  Its leaves are perfect for smoothies.
I took this walk thru my garden yesterday, before the rains began.
          Happy Gardening!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Walnut Clusters Recipe

If you want to make a great candy that's very simple to make, try this:

12 oz. Sweet German Chocolate Squares
One 14-oz Can Sweetened Condensed Milk (like Eagle Brand)
1 1/2 Cups Chopped Walnuts.
That's it.  Three Ingredients.
Melt chocolate in double boiler.  Remove from heat.  Add milk.  Stir til all blended together.  Add the nuts and blend those into the mixture.
Line cookies sheets with waxed paper.
Drop the candy on the waxed paper with a teaspoon, not touching.
Place sheets in refrigerator to harden.
                      I get about 50-55 with this recipe.     MMMMM Good!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pleasant days, no rain.

Right now the days are less humid and in the 70sF so its perfect weather.  The doors and windows can be open to the light breezes. 
The gardens need a bit of watering so that's my chore for today.  Nothing new growing to harvest, but more sugar snap peas and lots of kale.
The roses are blooming so prettily.
The tomatoes are many but still green.
So, too, the apples on the two dwarf trees.
The sky is so darn blue its gorgeous.
A nice day to take a walk with the dogs which I'm getting ready to do now.

Monday, July 13, 2015

We hit 90*F here in southern Maine

Yes, it was a hot day.  On Sunday, July 12, we hit a rare 90* heat.  Luckily earlier than day my son came over and put my a/c unit in my window to be sure I didn't get too hot, and none too soon.  I had mentioned earlier this year that I could probably do without it but I've since changed my mind.  I think we're going to have a hot summer this year, if these days are anything to go by and the hottest part of our season still ahead of us.
One crop will really like it.   The peppers.
This is the first Cubanelle pepper forming.  The plants are still very small and that's pretty normal for me for some reason.  I don't get large pepper plants.  Maybe its the colder nights that keep them small.  Its usual for nites to hit the 50s and sometimes the low 60s.  They don't seem to get a chance to really get some growth.
The tiny Totem tomatoes in this view above are growing nicely.  Lots of those on these two plants.  All the patio types are now producing lots of little greenies.
Let's not forget the roses.  This is my Teasing Georgia with several more blooms.  They are scattered all over this tall rose bush.  I've also seen my white Fair Bianca loaded with little buds so they'll be opening soon as well.
Here's a better view of my Hosta, Christmas Tree with her white spikey florettes.  The plant is huge as is the leaves and the flower spikes.  I adore the bluish-green color of those large leaves.

Well, I'll be hibernating out of the heat for a day or so and going out to water some of the plants by hand as they need it.  I've been picking sugar snap peas every day and lots of them, giving them to different family members because I can't eat them all myself.  Though I try to eat them like candy every evening instead of chocolate.
               Happy Gardening!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Funny how the yellow roses are blooming first.

Among my roses, it seems the yellow ones are blooming first.  The white and pinks and red ones are not blooming at all.
This one above is Teasing Georgia, a light apricot David Austin rose.
This is a long view.  Look at all the blossoms growing on those branches.  I can't count the numbers.
I've also lots of tomato babies eager to grow.  This one above is Tumbling Tiger, a patio variety. 

Look at all those babies above, on the two Totem tomato plants, also a patio variety.  I'm really eager to see reds but so far, only green ones.
Lizzano is from seeds given to me and there are babies and lots more blossoms showing on this one in the Back40 where I have 2 of them.

This is the Lizzano in the pot in the flower bed.  Lots of blossoms showing here but no babies yet.  I transplanted this one a few days after the others.

Blossoms are popping on the Red Zebra tomato that's bagged.  Actually blossoms are on both plants.

If anyone likes Bleeding Hearts and is sorry to see them fade away in spring, you should try a Dwarf Reblooming Bleeding Heart.  They blossom in early spring, fade a bit, then come back a few more times during the summer season.  Here's mine showing more fresh flowers today.

And how about Hostas.  This one, with its lavender flowers just starting to bloom, is Birchwood Parky's Gold.  The leaves are lime green and bright and the flowers tall and lavender.

This Hosta I love for its white flower spikes.  They are just forming now and not too tall, but they are from the Christmas Tree variety with the huge blue-green leaves and will be quite robust when in full flower.  The leaves in the forefront are from a pink Bleeding Heart that has already faded for the season.
I have more than just tomatoes in my flower garden.  In this section I have, left to right, Salvia, Greek Oregano and Winterbor Kale.  The yellow flowers are African Marigolds.  The bits of flowers on the right are the ends of the peonies which were so pretty for the early season, but leave us and go to sleep much too early each year.

And what else did I do today?  I went to my friend's house for Game Day.  We played Phase Ten, a game of cards, but we also ate, and ate well.  My buddy is a great cook compared to me.  I'm a plain cook and my recipe file is very limited.  Besides, I just don't like to cook unless I have to keep myself alive. 
Our lunch was ham, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob, with 3 types of dessert.  I'm not much for desserts so I had half a cinnamon roll and will save the rest for breakfast tomorrow. 
Thank you friend for a very good meal today.  I even had seconds on the ham.  Mmmmm good!

I hope everyone is having a good day and a good weekend is coming up for you.  Today our temps were mid-70sF with lower humidity than yesterday which was a good thing.  With a fan going, I'm as comfy as a bug in a rug.  The weekend was supposed to be 70s and 80sF and sunny, but now they think rain is coming in Sunday night.  Nonetheless, there's some good days before then, so I hope those here in Maine enjoy them to the fullest.
      Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Another rose is blossoming.

I love several types of flowers, among them my roses.  I have David Austin English roses because they aren't as persnickety as hybrid tea roses.  They are lovely and their scents are diverse and distinctive.
I'm happy to report that bright yellow Charlotte is finally coming into bloom.  I love the brightness of her color.  I see a few other roses sporting buds now and I'm pleased.  I know I'll have a fight on my hands when the Japanese beetles descend.  They attack my roses and my peas every year. 
A gardener friend on the SFG forum where we practice square-foot gardening (my Back40 is my SFG), sent me Lizzano tomato seeds this spring.  I started a few seeds.  Two plants are in the Back40 greenhouse bed that I can cover when its cold or when insects descend on the garden.  They are showing many little baby greenies.  This one is in a pot in my flower garden and doing marvelously.  No greenies yet, but lots of yellow blossoms so I think I'll have lots of tomatoes soon. 
I harvested more sugar snap peas today and gave a friend fresh parsley for her cooking efforts.  Since I harvested 3 broccolis for my daughter-in-law last evening, I only have 3 broccoli plants left.  The heads are still a bit small on these last 3.  But when one harvests the main head on a broccoli plant, little broccoli spears pop up around the stem and make for some fresh veggies so that will mean more to eat in my future.

Our temps today here in southwestern Maine are in the mid-70sF and humid.  We're expecting rain by tonite and into tomorrow morning, then clearing.  The next several days should be ranging from 70s to low-80s and sunshine.  Great weather for tourists that are here at our many lakes and miles of white sandy ocean beaches. 
      Happy Gardening!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I'll be saving tomato seeds this year.

To that end, I have bagged 4 varieties I want for the future, none hybrids which would pose a problem of genes.
I make drawstring bags from netting material and cover a branch that is just beginning to show blossom buds forming.  This way I catch them before any bees or bugs can pollinate the blossoms from other tomatoes.  I just have to remember to give the enclosed branch a little shake a couple times a day so it can self-pollinate. Above is Li'l Pink which is an heirloom that is getting hard to find.  I've never grown it before so don't know if its prolific and tasty, but I'll find out this summer.  If its not very good, I won't save it.
Above is one of the two Red Zebra plants from which I'll save seeds.  I know I love this one.  Its not only adorable with its streaking, its tasty and juicy and I love the flavor.
This one above is Mountain Gold.  Many are hybrid, but this one I believe is open-pollinated having been bred from the hybrid several seasons.  I can't be sure what the future will bring, but its worth a try.
This one is a Romeo Roma I planted in the Back40 with some perennials.  Its supposed to be a very tasty sauce-type tomato which I've never grown before, so I'll have to see for myself.
Here in my Broccoli bed with a couple Kale at the far end, I see heads begging to be cut and harvested.  I'll do that tomorrow when the family has returned from their trips so they'll be fresh,  fresh, fresh.  Then I can await the little heads that form around the main stem and are so tender and tasty.

I hope everyone had a good weekend.  I am taking it easy today with the temps rising.  They say around 80*F today and lots of sunshine.  I don't do well in temps out of the 70s so I'll laze around today.  My beds have been watered well by Mother Nature in the last couple of weeks and the weeds were pulled the other day.  Things are looking good out there.  Now I can just enjoy my time and await harvests.
              Happy Gardening!