Monday, July 28, 2014

Crimson Corn coming in

It's been a pretty lazy day around here today. The temps I think climbed up to maybe 80 for a short while but there has been a cool wind blowing in out of the Northwest and it feels more like Autumn than anything else.

It would have been a great day to get some mowing done but I am so sick of mowing and the ground is so dry I am really afraid if I mow the Dutch clover won't come back and my girls are all over that clover right now. The yard is looking a bit shaggy but until we finally have some rain in the forecast I am not going to cut it if I can help it. It's been almost 3 weeks since we had any rain at all and only the fact that we got a bunch for a few weeks back in June is keeping us out of the drought monitor once again.

I harvested a couple frames of honey from the big garden hive and fed the other new hives I keep at the garden location some sugar syrup then commenced to harvesting some corn for tonight's dinner.  The Mrs. and I decided since the son is out visiting for a few days it was time to indulge ourselves in some stuff he doesn't particularly care for.

Namely Tomatoes and Corn!!!

So tonight it's BLT&Es and Crimson Corn. 

The early rain we got stunted a lot of the corn but I still have several that did well around the edges and Corn pests have been way down this year. I harvested about 14 ears this afternoon and only two of them showed any pest damage at the top, one them still had that pesky worm in it who was quickly made into several worm sections :)

I also only saw one Japanese beetle. Last year I was knocking 100's of them a day into a plastic bucket filled with water. I guess the ultra-cold we got here over Winter had at least one good side effect. There are still a few attacking Mrs. PP's roses but who gives a damn about Roses?

Not Me!!!

Got a couple ripe cantaloups and going back out for more Tomatoes this evening after I cut up another couple of Melons for more jelly and sherbert.

I always like this time of year because of all the fresh food from our labors but these nice temps are making it that much more enjoyable. Now if we just had some rain to go with it everything would be perfect.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Izzy - The Early Years

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Water Melon this and Water Melon that

I managed to give a couple of the Water Melon haul away and sold all my Sugarbaby Melons to a Farmer's Market reseller for the outrageous price of a dollar a melon. That still left us with about eight good sized and assorted Melons and at least that many more if the vines hang on and survive the Squash bug horde a little longer.

Not a very large harvest this year. In fact it is barely a 10th of what I usually get but the Sugar Baby sale alone almost completely took care of my total garden expenditure in cash this year. My Grandfather always told me you didn't have to make a lot of money as long as everything you did stayed in the black. I think he would feel differently if he grew up in today's world but I can still appreciate his words of wisdom.

Like I said that leaves us with plenty of Melons to munch on and figure out what we are going to do with them.

So this evening we canned about two gallons of Water Melon Jelly and then made about a gallon of Water Melon sherbert in the ice cream maker. The final verdict isn't in for the Jelly of course, sometimes in the past we have had issues with it not firming up enough but the sherbert was a bit too sweet for our tastes. It was good and refreshing but just too sweet. Eventually I hope to substitute honey for sugar in all our jelly recipes and such but as it stands right now the demand for the honey is just too great. Until I get the 10 one year old hives all producing honey it is going to be at a premium.

As I mentioned on the Sunday Reading post one more of the yearling hives did hit production mode this weekend so I only have six left now.

We ran out of pectin so the rest of the melons will have to wait until tomorrow evening. The fun part is digging all the seeds out before making our puree of Melon in the blender. I also found another use for my extremely course first stage, stainless steel honey filter. It works great for catching any seeds we missed.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!

Sunday Reading - Honey and Misbehaving Parents

I had to go over and mow my dad's lawn this morning. It's our weekly to bi-weekly ritual now that he can't do it all himself. I been doing all the push mowing and weed eating for the last several years for him but he insists on still doing the riding mower part. It took him a long while before he would admit I had to do the other parts so I am not pressing him on the rider.

Anyway it seems these days every time I go over to his place there is something odd I have to ask him about. One time his little trailer he keeps under the car port was halfway out in the road and I found out he had used it to help a friend and then couldn't get it back where it belongs. Rather than calling me to come push it back into it's spot he left it there until I came by to mow.

Today I am mowing away and I come across this burned spot in his back yard. My first thought was that some neighbor kids had been back there burning something. No it turns out he and his friend decided to burn their important papers together and had a couple of beers while doing so.

I have noticed of late every time I notice something unusual and ask him about it his reply starts with "Me and Buddy....." not the guys real name but it's always the same guy.

Ya know if I had done stuff like that as a kid he would be lecturing me on open burning stuff in the yard when the grass is all dead or making sure everything is out of the way and back in it's proper place. etc. etc. yadda yadda.

Last Summer him and Buddy got Buddy's lawn mower stuck trying to get it on the trailer, they called me to come man handle it back onto the ramps so they could take it into the shop. Or was it so Buddy could return it? That guy is always buying big stuff and then finding he isn't happy with it.

I am starting to wonder if I am going to have to go bail those two out of jail at some point or locking up all their big toys. It seems anymore they require adult supervision 24 hours a day and I am not the adult supervisor type, hell I am more likely to get em into more trouble.

After my mowing duties were discharged I stopped by the hives I am keeping at the orchard down the road and pulled about seven frames of honey. I am surprised that hive is producing as it is only a little over a year old and I just put their second large brood chamber on this Spring and the surplus super back the first of June. They had the surplus super full though although a couple of frames had brood mixed in so I didn't take those.

Looks like I am going to be spinning out some honey this week.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Roll that Beautiful Bean Footage

I asked the wife to email me a picture of some of the beans we grew this year and she typed "Roll that Beautiful Bean Footage" as the subject line. I swear my wife is sucha  goober.

These beans are from the Burbee Heirloom organic line named Golden Dragon Tongue. What's interesting about them is that about seven years ago these beans were sold as a pole bean variety. I picked up about 10 packages of them because I thought they looked neat. I like growing off the wall stuff anyway. Usually I don't buy the big name packaged seeds as I prefer to go over to one of the Amish stores or order from Baker's Creek and buy their hand packaged stuff but the purple pods caught my eye.

Now the interesting part is when these beans came up only about a third of them looked like the picture and the ones that had these purple-ish veined pods did not climb like pole beans but grew as bush beans. The other two thirds from that planting that climbed and acted like pole beans had regular green pods.

And from that moment on the Small-Hold Pole bean experiment was born.

I truly do not know what happened. Maybe someone screwed up at the company or someone is lying but if these particular beans are heirloom they shouldn't have reverted back to a different variety, or so I think it works that way. Whatever the case the variety of pole beans I been growing for years now are somehow related to these bush beans. The next year I noticed these same beans being sold only this time they were clearly marked as bush beans.

Just for giggles I decided to try a package of these beans again and sure enough all of them came up as bush-type this year and all had the purple veined pods. I took a bunch to the farmers market today and handed them out and the vendors there were eating them raw and exclaiming they were delicious.

I still cannot figure out how that first batch I planted turned into pole beans though unless maybe someone mixed up some seeds. The other reason why I think there is something else going on is that inside the beans from either these pods or the pole bean green pods look exactly the same. a kinda distinctive very light tan to white bean with dark brown veins.

As bush beans go they are actually not all that prolific and kinda late developers. In fact other than for their unique coloration I doubt I would mess with them but the pole bean off shoot I got from them is a superb bean. They grow super fast, are very prolific and the pods dry wonderfully.

I still find it interesting to speculate how the mix up or cross breeding or whatever happened and since I have no clue and never will know I declared my beans their own special variety. I should package some up this year and send em out to everyone so the variety will live on.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!

Tractor Time - Is this the same tractor?

Now you tell me dear readers, can there in fact be two of these little toy John Deere tractors out there which just happen to be available to a pretty girl who wants with all her heart to become a tractor operator?

Perhaps you will remember this oldie but goodie from one of the first "Tractor Time" posts I did. I think it was one to give Matt hope that he too could get a sexy tractor.

Same tractor? Yes or No?

I think someone has inflated the tires a bit and expanded on the curves a little here and there but overall I think we are just looking at a time lapsed photo of the same tractor. Or not.

Tell me what ya think.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tomatoes are Rolling In Along with Lemon Cucumbers

Another week I think and I will be positively buried in Tomatoes. We are already getting more ripe ones than we can use and I will begin chopping and freezing my stew and chili Tomatoes tomorrow I think.

I found one today up under a particularly bushy Tomato plant that I had previously missed. It was a Black Krim I think and larger than the Wife's head. I damaged it a bit getting it out from in between the vines it had been trapped in and the thing was so meaty I swear it came in at well over a pound and a half. Mrs. PP claimed it immediately, snatched it outta my hand and went running inside with it so not sure what she had in mind for it.

I am noticing that when you plant a large number of Tomatoes the first few that come ripe are always the worst ones usually. I seem to get all the ones with spots, cracks and growth rings or cats eyes the first two weeks or so when they really start ripening. After the first small early batch the others start coming in more unblemished numbers. I believe this is true when you only have a couple of plants as well but you just don't notice it as much. When you have 72+ Tomato plants the first real harvest will fill a five gallon bucket and then some so the fact they are mostly imperfect is very noticeable and kinda depressing at first.

I am still getting some Cucumbers but they are quickly succumbing to the Squash bugs as well. I also noticed a bunch of bugs in the Musk Melon patch so they won't last long either and I haven't had a one of them ripen yet. Grrrrrrr.

However the Lemon Cucumbers seem to be holding their own quite nicely against the Squash Bug horde.

I have been growing these Lemon Cucumbers for years now. Not because anyone especially likes em but because the Bees absolutely LOVE their blooms. I suspect, or maybe I read somewhere, that these Cucumbers are actually closer to the original plant that today's more popular Cucumbers were bred from. They do kinda have a tough, thick skin on em. They are also much harder to get seedlings started from but once you get a plant going it literally goes EVERYWHERE. Once firmly established these seem to be the most hardy and pest resistant Cucumbers I have grown. I think they kinda just outgrow the pests more than anything else but as I am noticing this year the Squash bugs only go after them when there is nothing left in the Cucubit variety to attack. It could be the thicker skin and tougher vines make it harder for the vampire bugs to suck into em.

The Rams love these Cucumbers even more than the Bees love the blooms. The Big Ram closest to the garden will try and catch em in his mouth like a dog when I toss em over to him.

Lunch today consisted of more handfuls of cherry Tomatoes, both the little orange ones and now the little pear shaped yellow ones I always seem to have but never plant and a nice ripe yellow Melon that I have no clue what it is. I am assuming something the Wife mixed into the Melon seeds we started.

I should have picked more beans today but ran out of time. I also didn't get to water like I should have this evening so I guess that's also on the agenda for tomorrow.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!