Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Plantin' Time

The weather has been keeping us on our toes here.  It'll be cold and rainy and snow for a week, then one day the rain stops, the sun comes out, and the next day it hits 70, only to plummet below freezing 24 hours later and more rain and snow falls.  I keep telling folks that this is what it means to be spring, but everyone wants it to be summer and call that spring.  

Anywho, a couple weeks ago, on one of those rare sunny warm days, I grabbed the seeds and headed out to the garden.  Peas, I said, peas and greens are cold-hardy - I'll get them started. 

Last year the rabbits did a number on the peas.  Now that the dog is gone, I will have to be more vigilant in my garden patrols, and I will have to make some amendments to my fencing.  In the meantime, I thought that perhaps the row covers might add a little bit of protection while the seeds sprout and seedlings start to grow.  I hope.

While I was busy planting, and schlepping compost, and raking the beds, the mail carrier stopped up at the house - "You have some bulbs here," she called.  "It's my onions!"  I called back.  And sure enough, my onion order had arrived. So, peas, greens and onions went it.  Must've planted 150+ copra and maybe 50 walla-wallas.  Had terrible luck with onions last year...maybe this year will prove better.

I also got in a few rows of nasturiums and cosmos as companions to some of the peas.  Several years ago, when I put in my first veg garden in Newcomb, I diligently planted all sorts of flowers and herbs as companion plants - the gardens was lovely and full off buzzing life.  By last year my companions were essentially non-existent.  I vowed this winter to make a better effort...I missed all the color.

I also need to expand the garden - there's just not enough room for everything I want to plant.  This year I'm only doing basics:  peas, beans, carrots, greens, onions, butternut squash (but not as many as last year) and corn.  It's not much.

I've passed on the potatoes this year - a difficult decision since I love my German butterballs, but the Colorado potato beetles were just too much for me last year - and the potato harvest was poor (and my storage was awful - lost most of what I grew). 

I still haven't started any tomatoes yet, either...and it's almost too late.  Didn't order any tomato seeds this year - figured I have plenty from past years still in the fridge.  Maybe this weekend I'll try to start a few, and perhaps a handful of peppers - I still have great hopes for the chocolate peppers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December Diggings

It was Saturday.  Another chilly, grey day was coming to a close, and on a whim I decided to dig up a few carrots when I got home from the Christmas Bird Count.  I was down to one carrot from the grocery store, and about four tiny ones from the garden - time for a few more.

Boy was I pleasantly surprised at the size of the carrots that came up with the third and fourth spading of the fork!

Every year I seem to get a handful of giant carrots, but this year I had the King of Carrots:

This root was so impressive that I had to weigh the silly thing - I simply couldn't get over its size.  And how much did it weigh?  Over a pound!!!

I know it's hard to see, but the scale says one pound and 3/4 of an ounce.  That is one huge carrot.

And it's been tasty.  Toby enjoyed part of it for two nights, and the rest went into the roasted veg. mix I cooked up on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nearly Fall in the Garden

Things are winding down in the garden.  

I'm always amused when movies or TV shows indicate that garden harvest(s) take place all at once and must be done in a day or two.  Perhaps some fruits have such a narrow window, but MY garden has harvesting being done all the time.  

I finally stopped picking the pole beans - I'm letting them dry.  The dry beans will soon be ready to shell...I can't wait to try my own home-grown kidney beans in chili!  I need to find a better way of trellising beans for next year.

The onion harvest was very disappointing:

But, as though to make up for it, the butternut squash harvest is going to be phenomenal!

I've picked three watermelons to date - one nearly grocery-store-size!  Found three more in the garden last night without really looking hard. 

 Three more roma tomatoes were plucked from the vine last night...nearly ripe.  Plenty of unripe ones remain...maybe they'll ripen before frost?  I'm not going to hold my breath, but it'll be too bad if the don't, for these are WONDERFUL 'maters.  They might be Grandma Mary's paste tomatoes, or they might be Amish Paste...I just don't remember which of the vines was the one that survived!

The scarlet runner beans are still blooming in quiet profusion.  I never eat these...the pods are a bit to fuzzy for my taste.  They might be less fuzzy as very young beans, but this year I might try some of the dried beans...along with the other dry beans I'm intentionally growing. 

So...if I don't eat them, then why do I plant them, especially in the quantity that I do?  Because they are great for attracting pollinators, and the hummingbirds like them, too.

Soon it will be time to dig the spuds...see if any actually survived the CPB onslaught.  And the garlic needs to be planted for 2013.

Bee Deaths linked to GMOs

  Stop the Mass Death of Bees!
Tell EPA and USDA to ban Bayer's insecticides & Monsanto's GMOs!

Take Action Now!

Poland GMO Protest

Monsanto's Mon810 corn, genetically engineered to produce a synthetic version of the insecticide Bt, has been banned in Poland following protests by beekeepers who showed the corn was killing honeybees. Meanwhile, commercial beekeepers in the U.S. have filed an emergency legal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend use of a pesticide that is linked to massive honey bee deaths. The legal petition, which specifies Bayer's neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin, is backed by over one million citizen petition signatures.

Poland is the first country to formally acknowledge the link between Monsanto's genetically engineered corn and the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that's been devastating bees around the world, but it's likely that Monsanto has known the danger their GMOs posed to bees all along. The biotech giant recently purchased a CCD research firm, Beeologics, that government agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture, have been relying on for help unraveling the mystery behind the disappearance of the bees.

Now that it's owned by Monsanto, it's very unlikely that Beeologics will investigate the links, but genetically engineered crops have been implicated in CCD for years now.

In one German study, when bees were released in a genetically engineered canola field, then fed the canola pollen to younger bees, scientists discovered the bacteria in the guts of the young bees took on the traits of the canola's modified genes. That proves that GMO DNA in pollen can be transferred to bees though their digestive system.

Many bee-keepers have turned to high-fructose corn syrup to feed their bees. High-fructose corn syrup is made from Monsanto's genetically engineered corn and that corn is treated with Bayer's neonicotinoid insecticides.

Bee colonies began disappearing in the U.S. one year after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in 2004-2005. Even the EPA itself admits that "pesticide poisoning" is contributing to bee colony collapse.

One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee's immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it's consumed by all of the bees. Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to natural bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Indeed, pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and IAPV are found in large amounts in honey bee hives on the verge of collapse.

Three recent studies implicate neonicotinoid insecticides, or "neonics" for short, which coat 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds in the U.S. alone. They are also a common ingredient in a wide variety of home gardening products. As detailed in an article published by Reuters, neonics are absorbed by the plants' vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar that bees encounter on their rounds. Neonics are a nerve poison that disorient their insect victims and appear to damage the homing ability of bees, which may help to account for their mysterious failure to make it back to the hive.

This was the conclusion of research which came out in the prestigious Journal Science. In another study, conducted by entomologists at Purdue University, the scientists found that neonic-containing dust released into the air at planting time had "lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers." A third study by the Harvard School of Public Health actually re-created colony collapse disorder in several honeybee hives simply by administering small doses of a popular neonic, imidacloprid.

Learn How to Protect Your Neighborhood Bees:
[This article is from] 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Bit o' Rain

At last!  Thursday last week we woke to rain...and it rained for three whole days!  I got about an inch and a half out at the house, although just a few miles north of me they had over three inches!  Still, I'll take it.  It started off as a heavy rain - so heavy, in fact, that when I drove thru Napoleon on the way to work Thursday morning, there was a lake in front of the gas station and a whirlpool circling the drain in the road (in truth, some of this might have simply been the result of ground too hard from drought to soak up the rain as it fell).  By late morning, however, it had let up, and for the next two days it was mostly misting - light rain that could soak in.

I picked more corn - and more beans.  That's what's producing right now.  

I was very excited to find one blue kernel on one of the ears of Painted Hills.  

Watermelons are growing on the vines - how does one know when they are ready to pick, though?  And if the squash beetles leave 'em alone, I should have lots of butternut squash this fall. 

The spuds have tried to rally - they are sending out some new leaves, but with them are coming a new batch of CPBs.   Grrr.  I may have to give up potatoes.  :(