Saturday, 30 July 2011

Depressing Gardening Moments

1. You are so excited for your first ripe tomato, and as you inspect to see if its ripe enough to pick, you see that it has rotten on the bottom.

2. Your pumpkin and butternut squash plants are starting to yellow . . . not a good sign

3. You notice a bruising area on one of your few developed sweet red peppers

Somehow, the depressing moments of gardening accumulate into three's, uniting to confront you on your off-mood days as a nice kick in the gut to end a glum day. So, now to try and make yourself happier, you write one positive to each of the negatives.

1. Well, only the bottom is rotted, so maybe the top half of the tomato is still fine and can be eaten.

2. Probably just needs to be fed, so just go buy some fertilizer for it.

3. First year growing peppers. It won't be a complete success but you still have 9 other red peppers growing fine.

Happy Homesteading!! (More of a reminder to myself than anything though)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The War of the Tomatoes!

It all begins in the spring of 2010, when a young lady decided to grow a garden. She had just bought her little suburb house, and low and behold, the backyard had a raised garden bed in it! She was very excited, as she had gardened as a little child but was unable to garden for many years. So, she made her way to the local nursery. Being slightly naive, she bought 18 tomato plants, even though she had never grown tomatoes before. Skipping over all the long hard work of laying on the couch, never weeding or feeding her garden, the young lady ended up with a small harvest due to blight and blossom end rot.
As obvious as it is, this young lady was I. Yes, I got over zealous my first year gardening, bought way too many tomato plants with no knowledge of how to care for them. As silly was it was, it was also one of the best teaching tools I could have ever had. The disappointment of a small harvest and the realization of the potential harvest made me realize that I actually needed to know something about gardening in order to garden. Thanks to the wonders of Google, I spent my winter researching and reading on gardening. I've come a long way when it comes to growing tomatoes. I'm still learning though. My tomatoes right now are large and heavy, super healthy but I'm experiencing blossom drop. For weeks I have been fretting over this, thinking I've been doing something wrong. Turns out, I'm having blossom drop because I've done everything right. The tomatoes already fruited on the plant are causing the blossom drop, as the plant decides that energy should be put into the already established fruit rather than trying to grow new ones. I'm hoping that the plant will try and blossom after I've harvested the present tomatoes. The biggest lessons I have learned though from tomato gardening; Calcium is your best friend!

Happy Homesteading!!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Clover's Escapade's

Clover being a jungle kitty

For those who have not read the previous Clover post, Clover is my pet cat. She is 11 years old, and her favourite things to do are cuddle, be pet and sleep, particularly if those mentioned involve me. I am her world. Also, Clover is kind of a wuss and is overweight. She has issues jumping onto chairs (super funny when she fails at it though) and her solution to lives problems is to lay down. This past winter, she started to slow down a lot and appeared to be having joint issues. Glucosamine saved the day. I now realize that she should have been on this for the past 5 years. Five years ago, Clover lived with my mom, and my mom lived in a small rural town. Clover had her options in life and decided that she was capable of hunting birds. Baby birds. Baby birds that were still naked, couldn't fly and all around helpless. Yup, I had one fearless hunter on my hands. Please note the sarcasm.
Well this morning I went outside to check to see if any of my squash plants needed to be pollinated, and what do I find. Clover laying on the grass, looking down at her struggling prey, a small shrew that she had sent into shock. This is now her second shrew she has caught, the first shrew being killed and consumed (minus the head and one foot) last week. I didn't want her to make it suffer so I attempted to remove her from her kill, which only caused her to become possessive. She tried to grab the shrew to bring with her, but it bit her back. The look on her face was, '*@%$, What is this!?'. She was very confused that the shrew bit her (and held on for a good 10 seconds before she managed to shake it off). I removed the cat, and got my husband to humanely deal with the shrew as it was going to die of shock anyways. After all was dealt with, I let Clover back outside and all is well. Her tally is now at 1 baby bunny, 1 mouse and 2 shrews. The plus side though to this all is that she is riding my backyard (and garden) of animals that would eat and destroy my crop. I love my cat.

Happy Homesteading!!

Monday, 25 July 2011

First Harvest!

SO EXCITED!!! Why you ask? Because we have our first harvested green . . . green pole beans. I was unaware that I would be harvesting already but look at me. Being so busy with work, I haven't had time to hang out with friends, but was able to squeeze in some time this past Thursday. After a Starbucks date (don't worry, I brought my own mug to reduce waste!), she asked if she could come over to see how the garden was doing. So we drove over to the house and I showed her the garden. The last garden area we visited was the shed garden, where she says, "What's that?". So I pull back a leaf to discover perfectly ripe and sized green beans. I squealed in delight, ran inside to get my husband, ran back to the garden, and did a little dance. I didn't harvest them for another three days though because I wanted to make sure that they were at their optimal size for picking. So for Saturday dinner, we had a lovely meal of pork loin, rice and garden green beans. I even took a video of our first bits. Sure enough, they do taste better than the store. I always find that store beans lack taste or if frozen, kind of taste plasticy. But now that the beans have made their bounty known, I am now required to filter through them every 2-3 days for picking. Slightly complaining here but the work will be worth it. I do recommend to the first time gardener that green beans are super easy (I just water them) and totally worth the wait!

Happy Homesteading!!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Well, its been a month . . .

I feel slightly terrible that I took up the challenge to have a blog, only to not post for a month after I had been only blogging for a month. I blame my lack of camera. Meaning I blame my ability to misplace things. But the world has been saved, because as of this past Wednesday, I found my camera. It was in my fleece coat pocket, and as we are in a heat wave right now, I have had no need to use my coat! The garden though is up and running beautifully. I have harvested all of my strawberries, a good percentage of my red currants, all of the nanking cherries, and have started on the raspberries.

I have harvested and used my basil, thyme and oregano, as well as harvested and dried some mint. The roma's are growing gorgeous looking tomatoes, and the celebrity's are starting to grow some good sized fruit as well.

The gold bar zucchini's are not doing so well, so I'm not sure if I will get anything from them in the end, but the pumpkin has two fruits that have set and I pollinated a butternut squash bloom just the other day.

The carrots are all looking healthy, as well as the potatoes (which have flowered!). The bush beans are starting to reach their beginnings of harvest, as I will be picking some of them later today, and the onions are hopefully doing their thing.

And the peppers! I did have a little bit of an aphid infestation, but a pyrethien based insecticide took care of that, and the peppers that have formed are looking good. Sadly though, the heat we have been getting has caused some blossom drop so I'm not going to have the bountiful harvest of sweet red peppers I was hoping for.

And the grapes! I am going to have a hopeful bumper crop of grapes. At least twice as many as I had last year.

 To add in,  I have also gotten some surprise plants! Last summer my tomatoes were warring against both blossom end rot and blight, unto which I let win. Well they may have won the battle but not the war! My juliet tomatoes had dropped some fruit and I now have about 10 plants of juliet tomatoes that had seeded themselves among the green beans and carrots. I also got a free San Marazano tomato plant from one of the workers are the greenhouse I buy my plants from (we talk a lot about tomatoes). And to top it off, in the bed of celebrity tomatoes, I have two mystery vining plants growing. I am at the conclusion that they are either a winter squash (like butternut) or they are a melon of some sort. If the first, YIPPPEE! If the second, BOOOOOOO! With this heat wave though, my rain barrel has had no real use. That and the fact that my eaves through is clogged, the barrel is empty. As for the house, we have been keeping blinds closed, all windows and doors shut and no lights to keep the house from overheating and from preventing needless strain on our air conditioner. The person that invented the air conditioner should win the Nobel Prize. Also, the tale (tail?) of Clover's escapades in the backyard continue! Now, rather than continue to type up a novel here, I will end.

Happy Homesteading!!