I actually like days like this - temp in the upper 60s, reminder that summer is done and cool weather is just around the corner. Perfect day to do some baking, cleaning, thinking, music listening, dog walking...
Was pleased to see an update
to Sara's Madagascar travel blog.
Tomatoes can be quite mysterious. Our coddled, pot-grown Mexico Midget is long dead. Yet a volunteer is now poking out the top of our backyard dogwood tree. Here are a few pics - the tree as seen from our deck (the base of the plant is at the lower right - you can see the green stake I used to get it up to the tree) - then a closeup of the base, then the Mexico Midget branches emerging from the tree top, at least 15 feet up in the air! Buddy (our boy chocolate lab) has learned to patrol the whole flower border area to find fruit from the various renegade Mexico Midget plants (when he is not chomping on bumble bees, that is!)
Dogwood hosting the Mexico Midget plant
Mexico Midget emerging from the top of the tree
Instead of a long Blog entry, I've created a new page that will hold all of my 2009 results. The new Gallery will hold some pictures of the varieties I discuss as well.
So, after a bit of Blog coaching from Sue, I will follow her lead and keep blog entries short...leaving more detailed ramblings for other pages!
Time does fly. It was a nice weekend - got caught up on seed saving, coffee roasting. helped Sue with her pattern, and made enough Pesto to get us through until next year's basil harvest. My typical Sunday morning location and activity......
With breakfast done, as I work on one of the best parts of Sunday (the NY Times Magazine crossword), there is much to take in as the seasons change. A few of the hardwood trees are taking on slightly different colors - a maple starting to fade to yellow, the dogwood tree foliage starting to blush red - even the loblolly pines are showing some browns in their deep green, needled tops.
Some of the flowers are growing tired - our railing box Torenia, a few remaining Cleome, the last few blossoms on the tall red Hibiscus Coccinea, and the pink and white perennial Phlox. Others are still going strong, such as our hanging geraniums and an out-of-control patch of Obedient Plant that is taking over our side yard. And a few are just getting going, such as the soothing purple Lespedeza bush and the white perennial Anemone.
The birds will be pleased that some of the berries are ripening, such as the Beautyberry, Dogwood berries, and Pyrocantha. We look forward to the thrashers, Bluebirds, Mockingbirds and Robins that will show up to consume the berries over the coming months. We never grow tired of looking at the ever changing seasons from our deck.
This was a day I dreaded - taking down the driveway garden fence, tossing the dead plants, rearranging those that live on. The most unpleasant part is dumping out the growing medium into the wheelbarrow and dumping it into a big pile (to be used for improving the flower beds next year). The 5 to 15 gallon pots hold quite a bit of soil, making for numerous wheelbarrow trips (and a complaining lower back).
I was pleased to find that about 15 tomato plants are hanging on - some indeterminate, some dwarfs. Whether they get cranking back into production mode is uncertain - but it is worth giving them a dose of fertilizer to see if we can squeeze just a few more tomatoes out of them. In better condition are the vast majority of the peppers and eggplant....
All in all, good progress was made - all that remains is moving things about so that we can actually use more of the driveway again, a bit of restaking, and feeding and watering the plants. If I can maintain this burst renewed gardening energy, next task is to attempt to weed the big garden, and perhaps get some garlic and lettuce going (which would be my first fall garden ever! I typically run out of gas by now.)
Our daughter, Sara, is back in Madagascar for three months. It should be quite adventure for her. She is live blogging - link to her website/blog is here
. I am so proud of all of my girls (my two daughters and my wife!)
Brutal! Over the weekend I decided to get disciplined and delve in to the annual hot pepper seed saving extravaganza. I've grown quite a few hot peppers in the past, but really outdid myself this year - there must be nearly 100 different plants out there in the driveway. I have a better system this year - the plants are all numbered, so I went out with my basket, a pen, and a stack of coin envelopes - putting half a dozen or so hot peppers in each appropriately numbered envelope. The tricky part was arranging them in the basket so that none fell out (of course, with the quarters so close in the driveway garden, I managed to kick the basket once....fortunately, only a few were jettisoned from their envelopes, hence hopelessly misidentified. Off into the woods they went!).
This was also the first year using gloves, which rescued me from hours and days of intense pain. The amount of pigment and capsacin that accumulates on the gloves, knife, cutting board, and counter is remarkable. As is the variation of number of seeds, wall thickness, ease of extraction, and liquid content in each type of pepper. Add to that the acrid fumes that fill the work area and it is quite sneezing, coughing, eye watering good fun! The big surprise is the Fatalii cross that arose from one of my plantings. Fatalii is a Habanero relative, but one of my seedlings had purplish foliage, indicating a cross. The plant that resulted from this purple tinged seedling was a monster, 4 feet tall, well branched, with slender, 3 inch long colorful peppers (deep lavendar to yellow to orange to deep red, as they ripened) similar to a Thai type of pepper, and nothing like the wrinkled, bright orange fruit that Fatalii produces when in the pure state. As I cut those slender red peppers I expected nothing worse than the typical capsacin aroma from C. annum varieties. Imagine my surprise when the ripe fruity/cherry aroma and sneeze-inducing extreme heat of the Fatalii character filled the air!
Pepper seeds are easy to save from that point on - I loosely stack the just-extracted seeds on labeled paper plates, one type per plate. Our dining room table is strewn with the piles of plates. After a few days, I carefully separate the plates (a few seeds always get stuck to the bottom of the plates and care is needed to ensure they are released back to the correct plate!), use a business card to scrape the seeds apart and off of the plate and move them into a loose single layer. After a few weeks of further drying, they are ready to be placed into air proof containers (plastic or glass vials), labeled, and readied for next growing season or sharing with others.
So, here we go. My first blog...and I don't know where to start! OK - it is September 2 and the garden is nearly done (sad indeed). It seems to happen every year - one day every kitchen counter seems covered with tomatoes in various stages of ripeness (and decay, in a few cases), and the next we are wading through the weeds and tangle of vines in search of just a very few Sungold to snack on. One part we won't miss are the flies that find their way into the house, enticed by the lovely smell of fermenting tomato pulp in the plethora of styrofoam cups in the garage.
Actually I got very few Sungolds to eat myself this year (despite having two plants), as Sue loves to snack on them when she is out watering, or after her morning swim. I am not sure we could ever have a garden without Sungold. She did leave me ample Black Cherries, but, alas, the flavor really pales in comparison with Sungold.
I am not sure how disciplined I will be with updating this blog. There will be plenty of tomato, pepper, eggplant and other gardening information discussed as I ponder it throughout the offseason. It's not like I am ever at a loss for words - but being boring is always a risk! Those who find their way here, be sure to post comments, ask questions, say hello.....the whole gardening thing has been, and continues to be, a life-long journey for me. Each year I learn something new, make a few mistakes, but love the whole experience (well, parts of it, anyway! Cleaning out the garden...that's another matter).