Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mom's Apple Pie in a Jar - aka Apple Jam

For Ribbit. Is it the same recipe?


If you're a fan of apple pie - and who isn't? - you will love this luscious apple jam. Serve it on bread of use it more creatively in mini-tarts or as a dessert topping. You're certain to receive rave reviews for its good taste.

3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (I used dried cranberries)
6 cups chopped peeled Granny Smith or other tart apples (I used Jonathan)
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
1 (1.75oz) regular powdered fruit pectin
9 cups granulated sugar (yeah, that'd be NINE. *craaazy*)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids
2. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse raisins until finely chopped. Set aside.
3. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan combine apples and lemon zest and juice. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occionally, until apples begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in pectin until dissolved. Stir in raisins. Return to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Skim off foam.
4. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Remove airbubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot jam. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Source: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving - 400 delicious and creative recipes for today.

The great apple hunt!

I'm still in a quandary about which kind of apple tree to buy. I've been buying different kinds of apples and sampling them. See, it's not all that bad. ;^) Tonight I've been noshing on Winesap. I've decided that it'd make the *perfect* hard cider apple. So, yeah, won't work this time around. Oh well! Another concern for me is that it has a diploid chromosome number of 34; however because of very defective pollen, it acts like a triploid of 51 chromosomes and therefore shouldn't be relied on as a pollinizer. Which it needs to be! So out the window with that one.

Out of hand eating apples I snacked on yesterday: Honey Crisp and Ambrosia. I sooo love the Honey Crisp Apple, Ambrosia is a very close second. Both bright, crisp and sweet. Neither has a long storage life and aren't so good in baked goods so while they're quite delicious fresh I really need a better all around apple since I've got room for just one tree.

I'm leaning toward Elstar today. But tomorrow? Who knows? I still have till spring to decide.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Checkin' In

I'm not dead! I swear! I've just been busy, busy and you know how things get when the holidays approach.
Thanksgiving was fantastic. We drove down to Yosemite for the holiday.
Here we are going past Mt. Shasta.
The bird in the smoker after brining all night. It was the most scrumptious thing ever.
We stayed with my SIL/BIL and their kids. They just bought a house outside of the National Park. I thought you all might get a kick out of the rose bush "trellis".
The previous owner was an 80 yo lady who spent all day every day outside in her garden. Her sister gave her the walker. Insulted (as she was still quite spry) she used it to her best advantage - in the garden to prop up the rose bush!

In other gardening news we finally got hit with our first hard frost last night. The nasturtiums and marigolds finally croaked because of it. It was really lovely having flowers for so long though!! I also managed to pull the last head of broccoli a few days ago too. But really we need to winterize now. We're supposed to get snow on Sunday. Bleh.

Well at least winter will give me time to think about next years garden. I've checked out a book on apples - I still can't decide which tree to get and it's too late to plant now so I'm giving myself a deadline of spring to figure it out. I've also been drooling at the seed catalogs. I got one that was all tomatoes. DANGEROUS! I realized that two was simply not enough. I'm thinking four to six next year. I can do a whole bed of toms and not feel guilty, right? Right?

The last little bit of gardening news? My sister surprised me by signing us up for a class on natives. It was pretty cool. She's got a lot of work ahead of her - they just bought an acre of land (to build a house on). It's virgin so there's a LOT of planning/landscaping to do. I think she's hoping I'll help her. =)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November Garden

It's looking a bit dreary out these days. The season is coming to an end and now it's just a matter of waiting for everything to die back so I can chuck it in the compost. I think it was pretty much the height of summer the last time I took progression pictures.

Anyway here's the summer shot.
Now you can see the tomatoes have been pulled along with all the peppers.  The fall season cabbage is peaking their little heads up over the side of the beds now.  I don't think I planted the red cabbage soon enough as it still hasn't grown much or even attempted to form a good head.

Again the summer shot:
You can see the marigolds are even more vibrant now and aren't minding the cold one bit.  The pole beans on the other hand are done.  I need to pull them but just haven't gotten around to it.  The kale and lettuce (to the left) are doing well.  Actually the lettuce was much nicer this fall as I didn't have nearly the slug issues I did this spring.

The summer picture:
Now: Those towering parsley flowers are all gone now and the asparagus is turning a lovely golden color in preparation for a long winter's nap.  I have a few weeds I need to pull out of that bed - grrr.  On a happier note you can see where the little shoots of garlic are coming up on the front left.  And tragedy has struck once again.  When I was inside I heard a loud CRASH just out my window.  I went to see what was going on and there were crows all over the back yard perched in various places all squawking as loud as they could.  They'd somehow managed to break the glass on the cold frame.  Bah!  I still haven't replaced it.  I wonder if I should use a clear plastic?  At the rate we're going I can't afford to replace the glass twice a year.

The summer shot
Now:  All the cucumbers, corn and squash are long done now.  I didn't plant any fall or winter crops in this bed.  The only thing left is the morning glory vine on the fence.  Once it dies back I'll throw it into the compost too.  The tomato cages are just hanging out there for the winter.  Not sure where all of next years crops will go.  I'll plan that out after the holidays.

The summer shot:
Now:  The funny thing is, this got even crazier before it mostly died back.  I'm going to have to prop up the daliahs better next year as they completely smothered out the sage and thyme.

The pretty fall colors of the blueberries

The compost heap that's heaped high! Next spring when it starts to warm up I'll move it all to the center bin, add some cottonseed meal, water and give it a good toss. (And look for my thermometer which I accidentally buried under all the foliage.  Ooops!)

And a picture of the peach tree that I planted yesterday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall clean up

Ah, it's been too long (again). I really cannot believe how busy, busy, busy life is. I was also down for the count last week with the flu so now I'm just playing catch up. Annie's Granny did have *excellent* timing as I received some bean seeds from her in the mail while I was sick. That so cheered me up. (Thanks dear!)

Today I finally planted the peach tree*! I also managed to pull all the tomato plants, the last of the corn stalks, a few straggler onions, the pepper plants. My poor compost bin is bursting full. I still have my pole vines that need to go into the heap. When I'll get to that I'm not sure. I also cut back some of the daliahs and other bulb flowers. I lost one of my artichoke plants this year. Looks like I'll have to sprout another one next year. Speaking of, the garlic has sprouted and is about 3" tall now. Hope I don't get hit with fungal issues like I did last spring.

The highland blueberry bushes are starting to turn colors - a beautiful deep red. The geese were flying in V formation overhead in a cheerful honking parade. The sun was low but warm on my face. It was nice to be outside all day today. It's shameful I didn't take any pictures.

*This required me to move a cubic yard of dirt by hand. Good times.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Garlic and Basil

Pulled all the basil out of the garden today to either make pesto or just to blend with oil and freeze... depends on how motivated I'm feeling.

Also planted two (new to me) different varieties of garlic, Inchelium Red and Spanish Roja. They went into a different spot then last year. Hopefully I won't have the same fungal issues I experienced last spring with these kinds. Still looking for the "perfect" variety.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Foo. I thought I was going to get an apple tree today but I changed my mind on what kind I wanted and they didn't have what I was looking for. I'm so indecisive! I thought I wanted a Honey Crisp which is a beautiful fresh eating apple. They had loads of these trees. However it's not the best for baking. So I was thinking what would I do with a whole tree full of of apples? Why, I'd bake with them of course! I'd be ill trying to eat so many fresh apples at once. So perhaps the honey crisp is out. It's a sweet apple and not firm enough to hold its shape when baking. (Which is what makes it such a wonderful eating apple.)

My neighbor is getting a Spitzenburg apple tree. Our deal was we both wanted apple trees but you need two different varieties to properly pollinate and set fruit. She'd already picked the Spitzenburg variety which is both a tasty fresh eating apple in addition to being one excellent for baking. I thought I might change to a Jonathan apple (which was a cross pollinated variety with Spitzenburg being one of the parents and so has many of the same qualities and is also quite good.) I'm wondering then if I can even get this tree because everything I've been reading has mentioned that the Jonathan's be pollinated with a Red or Yellow Delicious or an Early Harvest variety, not a Spitzenburg. Gah! I don't know.

The other choice is to go with an Elstar apple (a cross between Golden Delicious and Ingrid Marie apples) which is sweet/tart and good for baking and cooking/sauce making but it doesn't keep fresh for very long. It also only sets fruit every other year which would be disappointing as I have only space for one tree.

The Rome Beauty has similar characteristics to the Elstar apple but is sweeter. (And according to wikipedia has democratic leanings Heehee.) Though I've also read other reviews that it's mealy and easily infested by worms and not so good for eating out of hand. ::sigh::

I guess I don't need to make a decision this minute but it sure would be nice to just buy a Spitzenburg and make my neighbor get something else! Ha! If only...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A beautiful fall day

I got the fall clean up started in the garden. I pulled out the pumpkin, winter squash and cucumber vines. I pulled out and cut down the corn stalks. I raked the gravel paths and threw half a yard of dark aged fir bark into the blueberry bed to help protect their roots during the winter months. I also managed to at least mow the lawns though they still need to be edged and aerated. I cleaned off and deflated the swimming pool, rubber ducky, blow up balls and stored them all away for the winter. The last, a bitter sweet task.

It was a glorious fall day full of cool air and warm sunshine. The birds were singing and the work satisfying. I found loads more winter squash then I imagined I had as they were hiding under the large broad leaves and some were growing behind the fence and others were tucked away in the flower bed covered by the daliah's. Needless to say I also filled up my compost bin. I hope it all breaks down a bit before the next round of plant matter needs to be tossed on. All the weeds and powdery mildewed vine remains went into the municipal compost bins. It looks much tidier!

I only wish I had the time to do this every day until the yard looked perfect (and I could then ignore it all winter) - Ha!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Finally took some pictures!

So a whole lot of these:

Turned into a little bit of this:

I also have a bunch of these:

That I think I'll turn into a roasted red pepper spread. (But dang it! I need another pound of tomatoes and I just used them all to make the tomato sauce. Maybe my neighbor will take pity on me, she has loads of tomatoes left.) I went to Powell's Books today and picked up Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today. The Roasted Red Pepper Spread recipe comes from that book. It was either that or Pickled Roasted Red Peppers and hubby voted for the former.

My other option is to use these with the red pepper spread:
I went and harvested all the grape tomatoes on my Sweetheart vine and there's got to be at least five lbs of em! They filled up the entire colander. I was thinking I'd dehydrate them though to use in sauce and on pizza this winter. When the family moved Grandpa out of his home (to a care facility) earlier this year and cleaned out the house he'd lived in for 60 some-odd years I inherited the dehydrator. It's only 10 years old and might even still work; I'm kinda afraid to plug it in. Grandpa never threw *anything* away. Oh. Except for the manual. I finally found it on-line but I don't know that I can get it clean enough. I don't think it was ever properly cleaned after being used so I'm a little... uh... Ew. At least the racks can go in the dishwasher... Then again for food safety sake it might be worth it to just go get a new one. At least I'll know where it's been. We'll see how clean I can get it by tomorrow first.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A wee little bit of yumminess

Huh. 10lbs of tomatoes sure don't go far in the sauce world. Got three pints. Heh. But better three pints of amazing deliciousness then then no pints at all. =) Of course now I'm spoiled for garden sauce over store bought junk. ::sigh:: I really, really need to grow more tomatoes next year.

Still haven't figured out precisely what I'm going to do with the bell peppers yet. I'd love to make a spread or roast them... not sure yet. Maybe we'll go to Powell's tomorrow and I'll let my kiddlet pick out a book and while she's looking at her book I'll go see if I can't find some amazing book of canning recipes. (Which I'll justify right now by saying it'll help me plan my garden *next* year... heehee)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tomato Sauce

I picked about 10lbs of tomatoes tonight so I think I'll make sauce and can it tomorrow. I can't decide if I should make spaghetti sauce or just chopped toms plain to use in other dishes. I somewhat like the idea of spaghetti sauce... or catsup. Since I just planted one determinate tomato plant... I must make due. I might have to make a bit of extra room next year in the garden for another determinate tomato.. then maybe I'd get 20lbs - still such a paltry sum. lol

I also picked about half a dozen bell peppers and again as many paprika peppers. The more I write the more I'm leaning toward the spaghetti sauce... with roasted bell peppers thrown in. Mmmm. Ya know, the recipe doesn't call for bell peppers. Would I screw up the acidity by adding them in? I don't want to get sick later. The recipe does call for lemon juice to be added to the bottom of the jar, sauce ladled over, sealed and processed. Think it would be okay to add the roasted peppers?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quick Post

Things have been crazy lately. What else is new? I'm happy to report however that I'm sitting in a cafe smack dab in the center of a nursery. Two of my favorite things - coffee and plants! I wish I had more time to babble here but I've got to make it quick.

Things going on in the garden:
* Eating another round of beautiful green beans.
*Sauce tomatoes are all just about to all ripen. I'm thinking I'll make spaghetti sauce with them at the end of the week (when it's not so hot out!)
*I saw a squirrel accidently drop about two stories out of a tree. Unlike cats they land on the sides. It did get up and totter off but it didn't look well. I hope that it wasn't poisoned by some neighbor.
*Before I leave I think I'll pick up some garlic for fall planting. The last variety I got didn't do well so I'm hoping changing it up will help a bit.

Monday, September 14, 2009


We're eating a lot of tomatoes these days. They sure are good I just wish there were a bit more so I could make sauce or salsa with them. Mostly the grape tomatoes have been going nuts. Not that I mind...

I had nachos with spiced ground beef, cheese, a load of tomatoes from the garden, a splash of lime juice a bit of dried cilantro and glop or two of hot sauce for lunch the other day.

Tonight we had grilled steak with grilled grape tomatoes and green onions. The rice was herbed with fresh time and onions both from the garden. I do love summer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My 200th post, a meme award

I'd just like to say how sweet both Amy from Tales of a Transplanted Gardener and Shawn Ann from Shawn Ann's Garden are for nominating me for the meme award that's going around. You're both dears - thanks! I completely don't deserve it especially since I've not been posting much lately as I've been really consumed these past few months with lots of other things besides blogging about my garden. More on that in a little bit.

The Meme award guidelines:
1. Link back to the person who gave you the award

2. Reveal 7 things about yourself

3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and link to them

4. Let each blogger know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. Let the tagger know when your post is up.

So here goes...

1. Our only daughter is just starting preschool for the first time. She's very vivacious and outgoing so is completely loving school. We're easing her in with about 2.5 hours a day, two days a week. It's mostly to get her used to the idea of schedules, routines and getting in some peer play time. Of course it's thrown our house hold routine on its ear. We've had an adjustment period. I now have nearly five hours a week all to myself though and I foresee I'll have no problem filling in the time.... just too bad none of it will be at home as her school is a bit of a drive from the house.

2. One of the things I've been working on a lot lately is my other "life" which I haven't really commented about here or kept here with my other blogs mostly because I don't want them knowing too much about my personal life. I'm a volunteer for the local branch of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America and have been for upwards of five years now. I produce the quarterly newsletter and write our local support group blog, Grain Damaged. I also help run the support group meetings occasionally. It's very tough for a lot of people to transition to living without wheat, barley, rye and in some people oats. However if you have to have a chronic autoimmune illness this is the one to get. If caught early enough nearly all symptoms of the disease (over 200 of them!) can be negated by simple diet changes. How did I get involved with this? I have it myself. Which, bringing it all back around, makes me just adore my garden where I know all the food is gluten free! ::shudders at the thought of using rye as a cover crop:: lol

3. I grew up in California and sometimes I miss the diversity, the climate, my old friends (my best friend especially), fresh *fresh* fruit and veggies. The beach and the sunsets didn't suck either. I do not however miss the expense, the crowding and general chaos. I should go visit.

4. I can tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.

5. Once upon a time I got paid to color. No kidding. Best gig ever, not sure why I gave up being a color designer. Oh yeah, a promotion to a much harder job. I did get to travel to China and Korea about four times a year though. The movie Lost in Translation cracked me up. Guess you've had to live that life to get its surrealness. I will say this however, China is a beautiful country (if you can overlook the pollution) and the people love to have a good time. I quite enjoyed my stays there. Their food philosophy on the other hand, If it won't kill you, eat it can make for some *very* scary meals!

6. Speaking of travel I've been to quite a few places, some for work, some for play. Honduras is not some place I'd like to go back to. El Salvador is slightly better. Singapore is exotically beautiful (just don't chew gum or spit on the side walk), Ireland is like going home, England is like visiting a cousin, France is pretty to look at but is a bit stuck up, Korea seems like it's going to be more fun then it is, China is more fun then it seems like its going to be. I've also been in many states all around the US and Canada is so culturally similar to us it hardly feels like "going" anywhere. There are still so many places I'd like to travel though. Australia and New Zealand and PNG are high on the list. Africa is both appealing and intimidating at the same time, war, famine, racial tensions and disease may put me off forever. Then again, never say never.

7. Okay and I have to think of one last thing. Hum. Oh DH and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary next month. =D

This is the part now where I'm supposed to tag seven other bloggers. Ah. That's tough, so many of the blogs I read have been tagged already! How do you choose?

I just stumbled across A Hand Made Life this morning which seems pretty cool.

In no particular order, I think you should check out:
1. Annie's Kitchen Garden
2. Our Engineered Garden
3. Tales of a Transplanted Gardener
4. Toni's Weedless Square Foot Garden
5. Shawn Ann's Garden
6. The Corner Yard
7. Give a Girl a Fig

Friday, September 11, 2009

September's Garden

Thank you to Shawn Ann for the blogger award! You are such a sweet heart!
Welcome too Sam, Di and Kiki - so nice to have you here!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Not much to do when it rains

The rain is back so I haven't been doing much of anything in the garden. I did notice that my green beans are coming back with a vengeance now that the heat is gone.  Yay!  Also one of my paprika peppers is turning red.  I hope the rest of them ripen before we're all rain and cold all the time again.  I still need to rip out the pumpkin vines that were hit with PM.  Maybe if it's dry tomorrow I'll give that a go.  Just before the rain came I managed to direct seed carrots, beets and spinach.  We'll see how they fare.  My spring crops of beets and spinach were a complete bust... maybe this time around they'll do better?  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Oh how I adore rotting piles of plant matter! I adore my husband more though (as it should be!) He indulges me in all things gardening. Well, except for the green house... I'm still working on that one BUT he's not all bad. ;^) I requested that he make a screen for my compost and he obliged. What a swell guy.

I'd composted before but was using just a one bin toss n' go system and never really did like it that well. It was hard to get to the finished compost on the bottom. So my dear hubby made me a three bin system at the end of last winter. Yay!
We collected plant materials and at the beginning of summer I moved them out the storage area (bin 1) and into the working pile area (bin 2). Bin 3 is for storing finished compost - I haven't had the pleasure yet as I use it faster then I can make it! Because we didn't have three cubic feet worth of materials I wasn't able to get the pile nearly as hot as I'd like. I did manage to get it up to about 145° which was pretty successful considering the lack of bulk. However not everything in the pile broke down to my satisfaction. You can see here the rather large clumps of still easily identifiable stuff (newspapers, sticks, a random potato or two, etc.)

As much as I love compost I didn't really want to use that on my garden beds because A.) it's unsightly and B.) It's still going through a decomposition process in which there's the off chance it could steal nitrogen from my plants (probably not really an issue unless I dug it in before planting and it was at the root zone level). Mostly it's just A - I like a pretty bed, what can I say?

So to indulge me, DH made me a compost screen to fit over my wheel barrow. (He used some scrap wood we had laying around and 1/2" wire mesh tacked into the bottom with heavy duty 1/8" staples to hold it in place.) It's super sturdy. He also braced the corners and put guides on the sides so it wouldn't slip as I was sifting my dirt.

Here you can see I've thrown a shovelful of chunky compost on the screen.

The next step is to take my gloved hands and just move the compost back and forth across the screen letting the smaller pieces fall though. The bigger stuff I then just chuck back into the collection bin of the next pile I'll be working on. The good stuff falls into the wheel barrow. The end result is beautiful compost that I've rotted myself!*

I went and tossed this on my fall starts and of course they love it! The broccoli is especially appreciative and is getting huge already. The new little red cabbages look so lovely next to the new dark earth I had to take a picture or two.

*WIth the help of one or two hundred trillion microbes and wee beasties. (Thanks guys!!)

Also, Welcome Kira, Gary and Michelle to my blog! Hope you enjoy my bit of show and tell. I hope to get over and see what you're writing about very soon. =) Cheers~

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Death Day

Death Day or Three Strikes You're Out!

I realize I was supposed to post this yesterday for Death Day (held the last day of day of each month to show off all the skeletons in the closet so to speak). I had the wonderful opportunity to use this bed for one summer season to grow various squash and pumpkins, my favorite. Yay! This fall I'll be putting a semi-dwarf apple there. In the meantime I planted Jack O' Lanterns, Sugar Pumpkins, Fairytale Squash and summer Yellow Crookneck Squash. And they did great for most of the summer. However powdery mildew snuck up on me and in three strikes took out most of my plants.


The main reasons for death seem to be the following.

1.) It came on in the very hottest part of our summer which was also unusually humid for our region, the perfect conditions for powdery mildew. It didn't help that I noticed it late either.
2.) Once I realized what a terror it was going to be and galvanized myself into action, the spay bottle I was using to broke half way though the first application of a milk/baking soda mix.
3.) The next day we left for a week to go to a beach house on the Washington Coast. By the time we got back it had done its worst. As you can see the pumpkins, despite the mildew, look lovely. I think at least the winter gourds will be fine. There is no more summer yellow crook neck squash left worth eating.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

The best part about the garden

Sadly my garden is pretty small all things considered so I don't really get a chance to can much since we don't really have extra but we sure have been eating well this summer. And come to think of it I did have a few pictures sitting around of what we've been doing with the harvested delights from the garden so I'll share those.

We had quite a bit of corn come in this year and paired with the tomatoes I made scratch cornbread and chili.

I also harvested all the leeks and taters (which also went into potato salad and a few other dishes) but this was the best of all, Potato Leek Soup!

Technical Difficulties

Oh shoot! I took pictures yesterday but now I can't find my camera cord. I need a maid these days!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Under a rock

Wow - I've really gotten away from this blog haven't I? How'd that happen? Hope everyone's had a great last month of summer.

I did manage to get a few fall crops planted around mid month: red and green cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Unfortunately it was bad timing as we were headed out to the coast to spend the week in a beach house. I was so nervous about leaving them in the heat that I left the starter cups on the south side of the seedlings full of water to both cast shade and keep them a little damp while we were gone since no one would be around to take care of them. As it turned out, they were fine! (Whew~)

Today I'm going to try to get a few more fall crops in the ground: carrots, kale, lettuce.

And one of the flowers blooming now in the garden.

I'll try to make a big post here and catch you up on everything very soon... life's just been busy lately. I'm still gardening even if I'm not writing about it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Powdery Mildew

Well my pumpkin plants have succumbed to powdery mildew. I found this advice on how to safely quell the outbreak. I'll give it a try this afternoon.
To control minor infestations, pick off affected plant parts and either compost them in a hot compost pile or bag them tightly and put them in the trash. Research studies in 1999 and 2003 on infected zucchini and winter wheat (respectively) indicated that spraying cow's milk slowed the spread of the disease. To try this at home, mix 1 part milk with 9 parts water and spray the stems and tops of leaves with the solution. Reapply after rain. Spraying leaves with baking soda (1 teaspoon in 1 quart water) raises the pH, creating an inhospitable environment for powdery mildew.

You can both spray and pour liquid seaweed onto your plant’s leaves. Research has shown that this has a powerful “booster” effect to your plant’s health and it helps fight off the powdery mildew. This is being used in many vineyards now as an organic control because it seems to work particularly well on crops that produce fruit. I mention it as a good alternative.

Sulphur sprays are quite effective at stopping the spread of powdery mildew. Remember that they do knock out beneficial soil fungi as well so do only spray to runoff. You can find sulphur in almost any garden shop.

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is recommended by many gardeners and when it is mixed at the rate of between 2 and 10 g per litre of water (add a small dash of liquid soap as a wetting agent). (1 teaspoon to a quart of water) I’ve seen research that up to 20g / litre of water has worked well with no burning.

And to just to make your day, it has also been reported (I’ve never used this myself) that urine when diluted at 1 part urine to 4 parts water is an effective powdery mildew control. There’s another reason to take a seventh inning stretch.

Milk is another very effective spray for powdery mildew. Mix the milk at a ratio of one part of milk to nine parts of water and spray weekly. Do NOT go higher than 3 milk to 9 water or you’ll attract other fungus problems that want to feed on the milk. Skim milk works well as it contains no fat to turn rancid (and attract other problems that like the smell of rotting fats.)

There are also products on the garden center shelves featuring jojoba oil and neem oil. I can’t speak to these but some gardeners swear by their effectivness for controlling powdery mildew.

Source: Simple Gifts Farm

A while later...
Okay, I made a spay of milk, baking soda, olive oil and water. I've sprayed. We'll see how it goes. I took before pictures so hopefully I'll have dramatic results to share with you soon. =)

Blossom End Rot

Thanks to EG for setting the record straight. He confirmed that late blight starts at the stem and works its way down, while blossom end rot shows up at the bottom of the tomato. White powdery spores and brown spots on the leaves are common symptoms of late blight. My tomatoes did have some brown crispy leaves making me think it was blight but no powdery spores. I think they might have just been scalded by the sun during our heat-wave... it would also explain why some of the newer toms are rot free. I may get a few tomatoes before the summer's out - fingers crossed.

It's a love, hate thing

Some of my tomatoes love me!
(like this one I bought from the store!* lol)

...and some of them hate me. Like the ones in my garden. ::pouts::
Not sure what this is, I've never had tomatoes do this to me before. Is it late blight? They were just about to ripen too.

*Store bought tomato could've come from someone's garden it was so good! Heirloom variety (brown stripe I believe) locally grown and vine ripened. I'd like to grow this myself next year if I can find seeds (yeah, I should've taken them from the tom itself but I was too busy eating it!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

My favorite garden snack...

A grape tomato with a wee basil leaf. YUM!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Clean up

It was another hot day but I didn't care. I wanted to be in the garden! This time however I really needed to focus my energies on the front yard. It's been the poor neglected stepchild of the garden lately. I think Feb. was the last time I touched some of it. Yoinks. The weeds were horrendous, nothing had been mulched, crab grass and clover had conspired to take over every square inch. I managed to get 3/4 of it weeded and mulched. I even watered a bit and dead-headed the flowers. It felt GOOD. It looks so much better! I could still spend another full day out there but then who would watch my kiddlet? (Daddy was on duty today).

I did notice several more dead (of heat?) bugs: one bumble bee and one wasp. I also uncovered a horde of snails. There must have been three dozen all nestled down between the wide iris leaves and the stone wall, into the city compost they went. Heh.

I'm hoping it make the fall clean up go a lot smoother in a few months.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

First of the Month Pictures



You can see the heat really did a number on the nasturtiums but the marigolds took off so there's still pretty flowers in the garden. All of the onions and garlic have been pulled and the peppers have come up. I completely overwatered my peppers and it shows. I also didn't start them from seed soon enough this year so they never really go a chance to shine. Next year, right? The tomatoes are also continuing to grow... I never did get around to staking them. I should probably do that this weekend sometime.



This bed doesn't look much different... just bigger marigolds and the pepper and basil plants have come up a bit too. I also harvested about half the potatoes this morning. (Yukon Golds and Russet... the true blue's aren't ready yet and the potatoes planted from true seed never came to fruition). I also snipped out what's most likely the very last of the green beans. There were only a small handful left. I think next year I'd like to try some bush beans. All the cilantro went to seed... the bees sure liked it when it was flowering though.



Yeah, I wish that was dill but no, it's parsley. I've left it because the pollinators really like it. Otherwise I actually think I lost some of the tender new asparagus I planted this spring. I guess I'll find out by waiting to see what comes back up early next year. I should also go dig out the Walla Walla's I planted there too... the tops have fallen over but I've been ignoring them - I know they didn't do that well. It was a bad spot for them.



You can see the daliah's have come up and are in bloom now. From the description when I bought them I thought the lighter one's would've had a more saturated color. They're a little "blah" for me. Too bad. Maybe I'll have to dig them out and plant something else there for next year. I adore the ones in the back however, with their lovely dark foliage and sunflower colors. The thyme has also finished blooming and has settled into this spot nicely. That pot in front is the healthy pot of mint. It went bonkers and got about two feet tall, so I hacked it all back last (mid) month and now it's sending out all new and tender fresh leaves. I cut up a bit and sprinkled it into cubed watermelon. A delightful summer treat! Also I *might* have made a mojito or two. Heehee. I'll most likely harvest them all again before the first hard frost and dry them to make tea. I'll might do the same with the thyme too (for seasoning though, not tea - :;g::)



This has been a fun bed to watch progress - for me at any rate. The corn got hugenormous! It's also tasseled and the silks have started to flop over... should be ready to eat in the next week or two - I've *really* been looking forward to fresh plucked corn. Mmmm. I planted these 4/1 and I'm thinking that might be a hair too close. Some of the inner corn stalks didn't quite mature to where I would've liked to see them. I think a 1/1 spacing might be too roomy however. I'll have to work on a happy medium for next year. Also to those who suggested that my yellow crook neck squash flowers weren't getting pollinated and that's why they were rotting on the vine.... you were right! I cut back some of the larger leaves so the buggies could get where they needed to be and we've been enjoying squash ever since. Yay! You can also see that the cucumber vines also made a nice recovery (back left) and trellised themselves quite nicely. I have been a little disappointed that I haven't been able to get a large enough crop all at once to make either pickles or relish (my whole reason for growing them). We don't really eat cucumbers... so. I did pick some this morning but they're too big to make a classic pickle with... maybe I'll make some relish? My winter squash did really well in the heat and finally took off (after being smothered back there earlier this summer by the peas and radishes I let get huge)... I still have yet to see it set any fruit even with all the flowers it's putting out. (I just ran over there and checked - I have one!) Luckily the other vine is producing like crazy. The pumpkin however has put out at least one very nice gourd that I'm planning on making soup with for Thanksgiving if at all possible. It should be beautiful. Hope I don't screw it up. Heh.



Ah the blueberry bed. We've been snacking on the blueberries all month. They're still not done which I'm perfectly happy with. We're also getting our second flush of strawberries. Yay!


The sunflowers are starting to bloom. I only wish I'd planted more of them.

I've been watering the spiders too. Is that silly? Well okay, I've been misting them. It's hot and everyone needs a drink. Gotta take care of the bugs that help take care of the pests. ;^)

Here is the picture of the harvest from this morning.

Something I haven't really mentioned before are the crows. They are a menace. They have a nest in the large tree above the garden and they don't like invaders. Earlier this spring we had a lot of bluejay hanging around. I guess the crows didn't like it one bit. We'd see them dive bomb and chase after the jays. A few weeks ago we found a dismembered jay leg in the back yard. How did we know it was a jays? We found the head in the front yard. Bleh. We thankfully never found the rest of the body. Neither have we seen any jays since. Come to think of it the squirrels have been making themselves rather scarce as of late too... Maybe we've had a cat hanging out in our yard lately? Not sure.... Either way the crows are still here. Oh and speaking of dead things... I think the heat took its toll on a few critters in our back yard too. I found a dead mouse that'd made its way on to the hot gravel and flopped over and died. Also found a dead spider on the hot rocks looking very mummified and a bee dead and resting on one of the daliahs in mid pollination. I think I'm not the only one looking forward to the cooler weather...