Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garden bits with a meager harvest

morning glory

eggplants growing

gourds taking over a fencepost

cowpeas growing and blooming - I think they are Mississippi but will know in another week or so for sure.

a meager harvest

With the drought that occurred for the end of June and much of July, many things are just now clawing and coughing their way back to producing. That is, what did not die. And some of what I planted for a second round is struggling hard to survive the still hot temps with daily watering. I am hoping the beans are going to make it - and produce lots of good food for the fall here. I was reading articles today and it looks like the drought is going to hit lots of food prices hard next year... we really should have taken to raising pigs and chickens this year! But, I think we are not quite ready for it... still more to learn before we get there.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Irrigation channels in the west field garden

Esme enjoying the mud.

A girl and her (plastic) frog

Loula accompanying us

A trail of muddy footprints (and a lost shoe a bit later on...)

Four different colors of broomcorn from last year's harvest

Irrigation channels dug with a hoe
I was using natural channels already, but dug them a bit more connected so now I can put the hose in one place, turn the water on, and it will run to nearly every plant in the garden. Of course, after a heavy rain I will need to come down and make sure the channels stay clear.

More views of the channels

irrigation channels

The goat named Kitty wants to eat the corn...
I'm holding paper seed packets waiting for Mark to come trade places with me holding her back.

Planting rows of sorghum while balancing between irrigation channels
(picture courtesy of Mark)

The water from uphill was already running down here - so I brought some extra seeds with to plant sorghum broomcorn and sunflowers down here in what was turning into a river delta. If the sorghum grows well I'll add black eyed peas which will climb them, but will not plant the peas until the sorghum is at least 4 inches tall.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bits of this and that

Our garden from the back

same place from the front
Those cornstalks are not entirely dead - and they are supporting some beans as well.

florida speckled butter pea lima beans

A place I cleared and reclaimed to plant more corn

pimento peppers on the go again

The volunteer zinnias

An interesting 'double petals' specimen in the volunteers

collecting sunflower heads to dry for seed

some purplish ones in the mix

I cleared a space for more corn - my hands looked like a warzone when I was done. I hope there is enough time left in the season to get something out of it. Also planted a few new beans and some more packaged purple zinnias for Esme because hers did not come up. I was treated to a display of bravery between the hummingbirds - fighting and swooping at each other in the honeysuckle. Harvested a few small things... mostly just doing maintenance today. I should make soup - I have a counter of small tomatoes and black eyed peas and a pepper that needs to go in there. I took some dried sunflower heads and got the seeds out of them - bringing some to Grandma for her stash. I am afraid there are only a few stalks of sorghum out there - so might have to plant a bit more.

white kernel sorghum from storeroom
a few sunflower seeds - to test
red marigold head seeds - to test
Incredible sweet corn (85 days)
Lina Sisco bird's eggs beans (2nd run - 1st produced some, then died)
Kentucky Wonder brown seeded pole beans (2nd run - 1st died)
Purple package of zinnias

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday garden and Paintings by Esme

red french marigolds

strawberry blonde sunflowers

My garden helpers

Grandma and Esme and I went to the library today, and a bit more around town. I spent quite a bit of time in the garden and Esme spent most of the day getting clothes soaked in the big yard water bucket and then getting dirty. At one point she came in the house and said she had found a can opener in a hole in the side of the mountain, and we needed to go with her. Out in the bern (an enbankment of dirt heaped up near the woods) Loula and her had dug a deep hole. In the hole was a root beer can with the tab showing - the 'opener' was the tab on the can. So, she had found a can opener. *ha*.

I planted some more yellow marigolds in the garden, harvested some lemon basil and mint for tea and pulled in more seeds of several things to dry. The black Krim tomato needed to be tied to the fence and a lot of things needed water. There was a short rain last night, but it wasn't a whole lot! Just before sunset I began to clean out the back area where the radishes and squash were early in the year... hopefully there will be enough cool weather (or early/late timing) to pull more of it out tomorrow. Esme wants 'corn I can bite' to be planted - and I'm not sure if that is a good place but maybe.

My wisdom tooth is still hurting in my jaw - but I am making do with a few home remedies to see if it will go away like the last time. Cough drops held over the area and ibuprofen have been working. I've tried once each the peppermint extract and the vanilla extract. The peppermint extract worked almost immediately - which is why I am making fresh mint tea tonight :)

tip: Put the mint leaves in the freezer for a few minutes before rinsing and putting in the teapot.

Esme did a few paintings today that I think are quite good.

A mama giraffe eating a tree and a baby giraffe eating leaves

a school with dark all around it and a brown bear outside
ie: why you can't go to school in the dark

A bee and a flower

Esme is four and a half years old, and she really likes painting. Only recently has she really decided to paint 'things' instead of just glob on the paint. She used to make a 'thing' once in a while, but lately she gets an idea and she can paint it if she puts her mind to it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Corn oddities and more

a panicle of broomcorn sorghum with yellow seeds forming

This is not the oddity - this is the broomcorn replanted from last year. I am hoping it is going to be the russet brown kind - I planted that and also some of the red.

a bug in the garden - dragonfly - that was begging to have a picture taken

Esme and Loula
She wanted a picture taken of her after she had been playing in the dirt

This is a very strange sight - the red strawberry popcorn where the upper cob was damaged and did not produce anything. Right at the spot where the stalk did not entirely die during the drought, it is sprouting a new ear with silks. It looks so odd - we will see what comes of it.

pink popcorn
I think..

This is one of the ears that is growing still and I don't want to disturb it until it turns brown. I am hoping it is the pink variety!

garden notes:
The eggplant is making new eggplants!
Mayflower beans keep drooping without anything to shade them.
The German Queen tomato has something trying to eat it - I dusted it.
The new field corn sprouts are coming up, the last set is about 4-5 inches tall.
Jeminez and Dragons Lingerie beans are coming up from the pods that were replanted.
Lima beans are podding and flowering.
Tennessee Greasy bean is flowering - but do not see pods yet.
Pink popcorn is still trying to do something.
The blue field corn stalks still have green halfway up some of them, I am adding more water to see what they will do. There is a bean survivor growing there, too.. I am anxious to see if it survives further and what it will be.
I cleared out all the zucchini lost to squash bugs and planted marigolds there.
The okra has grown a foot since I found it and began to water it.
The mint is flowering and so is the basil - the bees love them.
The very last watermelon seed that was in the packet has grown and is looking healthy.
Esme's kidney bean plants are looking fairly vigorous.
Banana peppers and yellow amish pear tomatoes are coming in still...

Other notes:
I should try to plant some amaranth next year - learn more about it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hot days call for tents...

the tent kit put 'somewhat' together

It has gotten really hot, and Esme enjoys the heat a lot more than I do. She is content to sit halfway in a bucket of water and play for hours... I intend to put a sheet over this and soak it down and sit in there :) This was the same tent I designed last year during my vacation (June 2011) It did not have a floor then - and it was longer, designed to sit in the back of our truck bed. I've used all the same pieces, just put them together in a different way. It is fairly sturdy, but a creature could knock it over if they tried (note the goat trying to eat the chair in the background and the pup chewing on a deer antler in the tent itself). So you can see it is both well-received already and I have my work cut out for me!

with the sheet and clips
It stayed up all night with no major catastrophes.

There are three sizes of 'stick' in the tent kit we made last year - 28" sticks (I should measure them because I think they might be a bit shorter than that), '4 to 5 inch sticks' and a single pair of 'half pipe sticks'. I will try to get a measuring tape to get accurate measurements. Other than that - all of the sticks that are not marked as 4-5 or half-pipe are the same length and the plan can be worked out by anyone on that scale. I was working with last year's kit in a new way - so I am certain the design itself can be done easier from scratch.

Now I'm ready to go read a few chapters on corn breeding out of my 'new old' book 'Principles of Field Crop Production' 1949, Martin and Leonard. I was expecting the 1980s version from the Abebooks seller but am not sorely disappointed to have received the older copy. It is in almost never-read condition and still has a very good basic concept of how to improve varieties and keep track of things in general.

The fenced garden looks happier

Autumn Beauty sunflowers

I have joined a site called YourGardenshow.com and it is very interesting. Find me over there as knitowl, zone 7a House at Shepard Lane

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


One of her games
a garage sale find from way back

She has been watching Daddy play a new game and also with a mod that allows him to play with lots of hidden features. Esme is working at spelling a few words, not doing too bad. I've been sewing this other toy since last night when someone asked me for something I no longer have the correct pattern for... this is a handsewn prototype to see if I can get another one like this.

close, not bad
Esme put the baby from her kangaroo set with it, just until it gets one of its own ;)

Monday, July 23, 2012

When your Puppy Eats your Swing, you Improvise

Loula the puppy ate the seat off of our tree swing. Actually, she just chewed it from the super-strong woven straps it was on and carried it away. But, Esme has not let that stop her from making use of the leftover straps. She was proud to show me what she has been doing with those arm muscles...

I think she might have a career in gymnastics ;) just kidding. I was in it as a kid and was quite impressive at the uneven bars.

What actually impressed me the most was not her setting this all up herself in front of me to show me her trick - but the way she grasped both straps in her hands and 'walked' her fingers up until she had a good foot of each strap below her hands - she took a long and deliberate time doing this and looking at the ground before she actually made her jump. She was calculating her distance and arc by experience - if I grab this much strap I won't hit the ground when I swing. Now that's some thought process kid!

note: also, I find balloon strings wrapped around everything lately. I blow them up for her (helium tank left over from a birthday two years ago!) and give her one every once in a while. While she has not learned to tie knots she has figured out that if you wrap the string around something about fifteen times it tends to stay put - and our porch, the swing straps, even the refrigerator door have been 'hit' by balloon wrappings lately. I found one balloon with the string stuck in the kitchen cupboard door the other day - because she didn't want it getting away from her while she played with something else for a while.

purple silks on the field corn

the west field

The drought has taken a big bite out of both of my experimental corn fields this year. This field has only gotten about three feet tall but there are some very small ears still happening in there. I guess it would be important to keep seed from this just for drought tolerance. The purple silks on a few of them interest me - is it the genetics, or the 'hot' acidity of the soil? I planted mostly black and blue kernel corn here to see what would happen. Now that I'm on vacation I am making sure it is getting some extra water to do what it can. Read up on it - purple silks means a phosphate deficiency. I can solve that with a little epsom salts - already have some from the cucumbers last year.

sad little main garden

This is the 'main garden' after the drought and all of the clearing out of things that had died. I have replanted some things but it will be hard going with the hot dry weather we are still having (although there were rains a week or so ago). Still, there are bees and butterflies and hummingbirds and goldfinches enjoying the sunflowers, zinnias and bean flowers. And at that, it is still worthwhile even if the new plantings do not do much. Planted experimental field corn plot #2 yesterday in front of the sunflowers. Beans coming up everywhere from last week - corn coming up.... pulling in sunflower heads to dry every few days and getting nearly an entire quart jar of dried black seed already. The lemon sunflowers have a strange blue-gray tinge to them which keeps them separate from the other - there is maybe a small relish jar half full of those seeds.

lemon sunflower head