Saturday, July 31, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  There was probably a reason why, when I asked the guy at the garlic company to send me only really easy-to-grow garlic, there were no hardneck garlics in my order. 

*  Getting one cherry tomato a day is not necessarily that much better than getting NO tomatoes--especially when it's a community property tomato and must be split 50-50 with your spouse.

*  I'd probably be able to start making pickles if I'd stop eating all the cucumbers as soon as I find them.

*  Drawing a map of where each type of garlic & how many cloves of each are being planted is a fine idea in the fall.  In the summer, it might be a little bit less of a great idea when one has spent two hours trying to figure out how the map could show 15 plants and the garden 9, and if that means I've been mislabeling garlic.

*  For some of us, just growing whatever type of garlic grows with the least amount of fuss is probably best.  Let people who do it for a living figure out whether a garlic head is Polish White or Susanville.

*  I knew some of our strawberries would have a second crop of berries, though I guess I really expected them to do it when it wasn't 100 degrees. 

*  No matter how many times and in how many ways it is explained, there will always be a neighbor who can't figure out that if he waters at the wrong time, it kicks off the subdivision pump and no one gets any water for their lawns. 

*  I will never get used to the fact that teens today are still blaring rap music--which was new and sort of cool when I was in high school more than 20 years ago. 

*  Grocery shopping is a different experience depending on what time of the day you go.  Apparently ZZ Top shops at my grocery store early on Saturday mornings.  Who knew?

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Purely Theoretical Question

How many times must police cars be called to a neighbor's house before one can officially label them as "white trash?"

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Garlic Time!

The garlic is actually having a tough year.  Last year we stopped watering it for two weeks before harvest, but this year the garlic is getting flooded by the concreted sprinkler head on the other side of the fence (Note for those of you living in Boise:  if you are ever considering hiring Butte Fencing, just take a sledgehammer to everything in your yard.  It will be cheaper and there will be less "collateral damage.").  So, we've put down plastic to stop the water from soaking in, and are just trying hard to dry it out as we can. 

This year we have 9 varieties of garlic, so in an effort to keep them straight
I'm using yarn.  Last year we had two, and I replanted both of those (I think--we really have trouble telling them apart) as well as 7 new ones in the sampler.  The red yarn is to identify the Romanian Red hardnecks.  The hardnecks are much smaller than the heads I got in the mail, so I think we let the scapes get too big or something, but the real failure so far is the elephant garlic
which is not only smaller than the softnecks from last year's crop, but it has these strange little offshoots.   They are sort of hard & really look like garbanzo beans.  Very odd--we're going to have to ask the garlic people on that one. 

And........
our first tomato!  It's huge in the picture, but this is a little cherry tomato from our Sweet 100 plant.  There was another one slightly orange, so we might get to split a little cherry tomato again tomorrow, but nothing else is even remotely close to red.  I know.  I've already been out this morning to check......:)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Things I Have Learned This Week

*  Some folding chairs are safe to stand on.  Other folding chairs are really prone to folding up unless one is standing in just the right spot.  It would be good to figure out which type one actually has BEFORE attempting to stand on them.

*  Even though the horrible fence company broke our sprinkler line, smashed the blueberry bush & broke apart our compost bin, we were probably the lucky ones.  They concreted over the common area sprinkler heads.

*  The first cucumber from the garden, I willingly shared with Andy.  Now it's every resident for him or herself. 

*  It might be just me, but when someone uses the "If you're not with us, you're against us" line on me, I'm more than happy to just say "Fine, I'm against you then."  Whoever they think the "other side" is, anything is better than being part of a bunch of closed-minded bullies.

*  Daisies are hardy, keep blooming, and seem to require nothing from me.  Hello new favorite flower!

*  A watched tomato does not turn red.  However, a watched spaghetti squash grows like a freakin' maniac.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wrong On SO Many Levels

Bacon flavored vodka:

http://bakonvodka.com/

For those times when the weirdness of reality totally outpaces your imagination.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Couldn't Wait Any Longer

Ta-da!
Our first pepper!  It's a type of sweet pepper called a "gypsy pepper," and the idea is that it produces lots of nice fast-growing peppers that would, in the garden of a more patient person, turn red.  We'll be testing that with future peppers, but for now it makes a really nice green pepper too.  Maybe a little less bitterness than green bell peppers?  Don't quote me on that--I love bell peppers of any sort, so I don't think the green ones are bitter, so the best judge would probably be someone who doesn't like them.  Still, a nice thick skin and great flavor.  The knife is in the picture to give you a size idea.

I have been patrolling the garden daily--especially the cucumbers as I am something of a cucumber maniac in the summer and it is late July and about cucumber time.  The plants are going crazy
as are the weeds.  (Incidentally, just in case you were wondering, horse manure is a wonderful fertilizer, but it makes EVERYTHING grow--including whatever weeds the horse ate but didn't thoroughly digest.)  Notice those amazingly large and un-cucumber looking leaves???????
Yeah--that would not be a cucumber.  My money is on spaghetti squash, mostly because I didn't plant it this year, and it seems to be taking its revenge.  This

is from a SECOND spaghetti squash plant that I didn't actually plant.  I'm just hoping that this,
which is growing on the back of the tomato bed, turns out to be a regular pumpkin as I think three spaghetti squash is a pretty cruel trick even for a garden.  Not that I have anything against them--they're fine, but they don't keep as well as hubbard squash and my plan this year was to plant 2 butternut squash, 1 Hubbard squash, and 1 "giant" butternut.  But I am trying to enjoy the mystery and excitement of never knowing WHAT I'm going to get when I plant the garden.  Everyone likes surprise parties, don't they?

I was relieved to find that at least some of my cucumbers are actually cucumbers, and a few are almost ready to be picked!

And I keep checking our garlic, but it's still too early I think. 
The heads on this hardneck really aren't formed yet.  I'll check some of the others tomorrow.  Thank heavens I know THEY aren't spaghetti squash!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lots of Plants.....No Actual Food

I would like to say I can appreciate the fact that gardening is one long surprise party......but it's July 20, and right now we have NOTHING to harvest from the garden.  The strawberries are done.  The snap peas are dying in the heat.  The garlic isn't quite ready.  The zucchini & patty pan squash plants are the same size they were 3 weeks ago.  The lettuce has all bolted and is REALLY bitter.  The cucumbers are all plant & no cukes.  The peppers are getting close, but they're just not quite there.  We have lots of green tomatoes but nothing red, and we have all sorts of empty paper husks on the tomatillo, but nothing inside them yet.  Actually, I don't mind that one so much--it looks like the plant has decorated itself in itty-bitty Chinese lanterns.  It feels rather festive, to be honest.  But seriously, I AM ONLY IN THE GARDENING FOR THE FOOD!  So where is my food?????????????

I think it's time to get tough with the garden......I'd say "no more weeding until I get some tomatoes," but that would imply that there has been at least a reasonable amount of weeding going on..............Maybe I should threaten it with what Theo has been doing to my new carrot patch.........

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Few Random Updates

*  Andy had a great birthday--we went to a concert at the Idaho Botanical Garden with friends.  I think the music was good, but we were with such fun friends that it was hard to notice the music.  THAT'S a good evening!

*  I have zero pictures of Andy's birthday outing because, seriously, we were having THAT much fun.

*  We may not end up with zucchini this year, as the plant is still only about 8 inches tall.  Fine.  I'm not buying the darn things.  I always think people who have to buy zucchini in the summer must have no friends. 

*  Sitting outside on the patio now has a slight element of suspense as our chairs are getting old and the odds of finding one's seat going right through the chair seat are at least 50-50.

*  I have now compiled a rather large list of "things one can do with tomatilloes."  The garden, however, is still compiling tomatilloes, so I may not be adequately prepared yet.

*  As of July 1, we have been in our house four years.  Time flies when you still can't find the bathroom scale.....

*  Daisies have now been added to the list of favorite flowers.  They're hardy, they spread and seem to need nothing from me--what's not to like?

*  I need a few more nerdy friends.  I'm currently rereading a book about the War of the Roses, and have no one to discuss whether or not the whole thing could have been avoided if Margaret of Anjou had been a better person.  I need some people who embrace my level of nerd-ness.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What I Have Learned This Week

*  The days of putting away flannel PJs for the summer are over. 

*  The squash you want least is the one that will come back as a volunteer

*  One does indeed need two tomatillo plants to get tomatilloes. 

*  Two tomatillo plants can produce a truly frightening number of blossoms.  Salsa for everybody!!!!!!!!

*  After 3 years of digging along the fence to try to find holes in the sprinkler lines, changing the watering, and trying to fix the soil because of the giant pools of water we kept getting, one of our first actions should have been to check to make sure the sprinklers for the common area behind our yard weren't watering the daylights out of our fence. 

*  If it takes one 4 months to find where one has put something, like the map of where one has planted each type of garlic, one has picked a really lousy place to keep the darn thing.

*  People with a huge list of things they don't like or won't do are rather exhausting to be around

*  Mosquitoes think Andy tastes better than me.  We think it might be because I'm so pale they think I'm not ripe yet.

*  If one has cats long enough, finding a dead mouse gift OUTSIDE the house and NOT on the floor of one's bedroom can really make one's day

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's Not As Crazy As It Sounds......

Sunday we picked cherries

so today I made strawberry jam.
Which really DOES make sense, I promise.  We still have a fair bit of cherry jam from last year, so we picked about half the amount of cherries this year, and I am freezing most of them just to have for snacks or smoothies, but the freezer was already rather full of strawberries which I have been picking every few days but hadn't had time to turn into jam, so in order to make room for the cherries, some of the strawberries needed to come out, so......

9 more jars of strawberry-balsamic vinegar jam.  It's amazing stuff.  And
in spite of the heat (and the fact that it's July), we're still getting a little trickle of strawberries.  They're a bit small, but they are really sweet.  I understood that our June-bearing strawberries would produce berries only in June, and that the ever-bearing would produce in June & later in the summer.  These are obviously from the over-achievers of the strawberry patch.  I wonder if I could get them to talk to the blueberries...........

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summertime.......

....and the livin' is easy........

Okay, we don't have fish or cotton, but the tomato plants are going crazy
though no sign of anything red yet.  My wave petunias had to be moved
because the extremely high winds we have almost every night were just beating the daylights out of them.  They are starting to recover, and I hope they'll start draping down the pot soon--or I should say draping AGAIN as the original draping branches are now several miles downwind.  I love petunias--largely because I can grow them reasonably successfully and they go all summer long--but right now my favorite flowers are the carnations:

They're draping down the pot quite nicely--which was a surprise.  Actually, the carnations themselves were a surprise as I planted them last year and got no flowers whatsoever.  They look a bit silly, but they smell great.  A really spicy sent--sort of like allspice or cloves.  Too bad there aren't more of them, but one can't be too choosy with freebies.  Maybe when I've got a better grasp on what I'm doing I'll worry about whether or not my flowers grow vertically or horizontally, but so far I'm really just thrilled when I don't kill them.....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Things I've Been Wondering Lately

*  150 years ago--before air conditioning & microwaves and when women wore insane amounts of clothing, did every summer meal result in a heat stroke for the poor woman cooking it?

*  How did anyone ever get cilantro & tomatoes combined to make salsa, since cilantro loves cool weather & tomatoes don't even get going until the cilantro has been fried by the heat?

* If someone repeatedly forwards me the most outlandish urban legend emails, how many do I have to receive before--even by the strictest etiquette standards--I can call them a superstitious and gullible ninny?

*  Did the person who invented air conditioning earn a lot of money and/or awards?  If not, WHY???????

*  How many years must I garden before I can just accept that I should be happy that my carnations are blooming at all without being disturbed by the fact that they are mostly horizontal?  Is that why zen gardens just have rocks?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

WOW!

So you know some nice company has sold your personal information to a dratted mailing list when, in one day, you receive offers from:

*  Columbia House DVD Club
*  Crafter's Choice book club
*  The Good Cook book club
*  Book of the Month club
*  The Literary Guild book club

I have no idea what I bought recently for such an honor, but I have obviously made a "reads-a-lot-and-will-join-anything" list. 

Guess that's a step up from the lists my email address occasionally makes.......

Friday, July 2, 2010

We Have Fertile Gravel

I may not be the world's best gardener, but I want you to know that I am not responsible for this
We have a little colony of volunteer carrots coming up in the gravel BESIDE one of the garden beds.  Not IN the bed--beside it.  Obviously, the gravel isn't very deep.  BUT

It also holds some really happy butter lettuce, as well as little parsley & fennel plants EVERYWHERE.  The butter lettuce I was excited to see, as I didn't plant any this year, but I admit, I'm a little chapped over the carrots.  If they were as willing to grow where I actually plant them, I'd be fine.  But I've planted them in multiple places and they are just barely coming up in one of them.  I even gave the little devils some sand in the dirt so it would be easy for them to grow into nice long carrots.  Little buggers--next year I'll give them gravel.

The Look

Anyone who thinks cats can't learn things hasn't lived with one. It took Theo maybe a month into his diet to figure out that I can...