The Heat Is On!
Now that the daily temperatures are consistently in the 90's, the tomatoes have kicked it into high gear! I've only frozen tomatoes in the past, which has worked very well. But I need to learn how to can, in order to save room in the freezer for other things (like chicken!). My gardening techniques this year have been the most relaxed of past seasons. I only tied up about 4 plants and the rest I have just left "to do their own thing". I have always meticulously staked, caged and pruned suckers in the past. The only thing I have done this year is water them when needed. I have always battled some insect (the lovely horned green worm!) or disease in the past. But, knock on wood, this year everyone looks awesome! The staked plants look better and may be easier on the back to harvest from, but I have noticed no difference in the yields. On the staked plants, inevitibly, I always bend or break a beautiful limb full of flowers or maturing fruit trying to secure it up. The ones on the ground, definitly take up quite a bit of space, and I suppose if we were having a wet season, I would be fighting molds and disease. I also bought those red trays you see in the seed catalogs boasting it helps with watering and promotes more fruit. Haven't noticed any difference in the plants that have them v. have not. (Except for my wallet!) I believe in the future, I will always contiue to stake all small tomato plants, ie; cherry, grape etc., and will continue to stake most of the larger plants, maybe leaving a few to "be free" on the ground, and watch how they do during different weather cycles. I think I will be making tomato, pesto pizza tonight! (I'll post a picture on the Cooking Page!)
David picked his first bowl of blueberries this weekend and ate every one! Well, I did manage to sneak a couple! Our blueberry bushes were just planted last year, so we are not going to see a ton of berries this year. Next year should be a nice yield.
...And Away We Go!
It's mid June and so many things are starting to fill up our spare refridgerator. Of course, the zucchini's and yellow squashes are an every night dinner event. The banana peppers are exploding and the bell peppers are not far behind. The eggplants have started to form fruit. The beans are a gift that keeps on giving. The tomatoes and cucumbers are ready for an all out asault. I am still lucky enough, even in these 90 degree days, to be harvesting lettuce. I planted this awesome variety called "Heatwave". And man oh man, have they lived up to their name. Will definitely plant these again next year! I covered the blackberry bushes this week to protect those gobbs of berries getting ready to turn black. The birds and those lovely Japenese Beetles love those vines. We will be picking blueberries this weekend. I promised my husband I would wait, because I have a bad habit of "grazing".
The last few years, as I pass by our fig trees, I would stop and pick a few figs, then a few more, and a few more. You get the idea . He actually hasn't even eaten a fig yet! I promised this year would be his year. (But only time will tell. sshhh) The flowers are fabulous. There are zillions of zinnias along with the hydrangeas (which I adore as cut flowers!) I have a ton of basil that I use in with the cut flowers (It smells wonderful!). The sunflowers are 5 ft tall ready to bloom. Can't wait to see them! There were people on main street in our town that had what looked like a huge dirt/manure pile up by the road. Last summer they planted hundreds of sunflowers all over the pile. It was stunning! It just made my day everytime I drove by. That is what motivated me, to at least, plant a few this year.
I am amazed at how our zucchini plants are reacting to the heat. I have three different varieties; "Burpee Greyzini" "Burpee Green Tiger Hybrid" and a packet I bought from Lowes that were the typical solid dark green variety (I stupidly threw away the packet). The "Green Tiger" is holding up beautifully. The plants are large and lush with a good yield of lovely striped zucchini's. The other two were doing great until the 90 degree days hit. I got a good yield from them and the plants looked good. But now they are really getting beat down from the sun. I've kept them watered and there is no sign of fungus or bug infestation. All three varieties are in the same bed. My yellow summer squash is suffering the same fate. On a sunny day, which is almost everyday, the plants just fall to pieces. When the sun goes down, they all come to life again, leaving a few casualties with burnt leaves. The packets indicate "Full Sun" and they are titled "Summer Squash!" I will grow the "Green Tigers" again next year and try some heirlooms and maybe start them earlier, if possible, to beat the heat.
Left: You can see the incredible differences between the zucchini plants. The background are the "Green Tigers".
Below: Yellow Summer Squash "Burpee Saffron". Has done beautifully up to recently, but not now with our hot days. Is this normal?
Today is the 12th and I was pulling up these two squash plants (on the right in this picture above), and I noticed the base of the stems were mushy. It became obvious that there was definitely something with insects or disease going on. I did a little investigating in one of my plant books, and quickly discovered that the problem was Borer damage. As recommended, I took a knife and dug out the fat white worms and covered the area with soil hoping to save the plant. There is no treatment other than to remove the worm. I went through every plant, and each one had some sort of damage. I can only hope to salvage what plants I have left. Wow, I was so sure it was a heat issue because of the wilting and recovering at night behavior. I won't be fooled again!
The gorgeous Zinnia's (one of my favorites!) have just started to bloom this week! BUT....the battle of the bugs begins! Early this morning, I happended upon a family of Japenese Beetles gorging themselves at the Zinnia food bar. I caught them before they woke up from their slumber, after what was no doubt a Thanksgiving sized meal for their growing bodies. I captured all dozen or so and lovingly passed them on to the chickens for a yummy breakfast treat. "Circle of Life" you know.
Monroe, GA Show
The GA Dairy Goat Breeders Association held a very hospitable show. It was our first "official" show, because we actually participated with OUR own goats! We loved the friendly atmosphere, and felt like it was more of a BBQ that everyone brought their goats to! The weather was warm, but a constant breeze through the barn and ring kept it quite comfortable. We are always pleasantly surprised by the wonderful people we meet. We can chalk it up to fabulous time spent with great people! We will be back next year!
There were so many proud moments at the show. Becca showed Honey in a large (16 exhibitors!) showmanship class (Honey's first class EVER!). Becca smiled through the whole long class, brimming with pride that Honey was doing so well. Her goal heading into this show was the accomplishment of getting Honey in the ring. The judge had her first until close to the end of the class, and she ended up in third! We were all stunned at how well Honey acted and Becca learned so much. More to practice for the next time!
Katie once again, happily, showed goats for Rusty Repp at Little Tot's Estate. Thanks Rusty! And "Coach" Mary for all your help and support! Here is Katie showing her favorite of Rusty's herd, Carya, a beautiful Jr. Doe. Katie also showed her in Showmanship and placed third in a competitive class! It's obvious to anyone watching that all these kids work so hard long before they get in the ring. Kudos to Judge Anne Clagett who was super and spent extra time giving the kids a "clinic" during the class! Loved it!
More proud moments with 3-month old Sugar. She placed third in a lovely 3 to 6 mos. Jr. Doe class with 13 doe kids! She walked like a princess!! Way to go Shuug and Bunny!!!
It's easy to say the highlight for Katie's day was buying this doeling from Rusty Repp! She is a Sugar Glider granddaughter!! Becca and Sugar will have competition from home!!!
"Coach" Mary. I wasn't kidding about the Coach part....see!
One of our favorite things about the goat show is that there are so many breeds to watch, like this beautiful Toggenburg (left), and these colorful Nubians (below)!
The food was OUTSTANDING!!! No boiled hotdogs here! This was the real deal! Fresh, homegrown BBQ pork and beef. Homemade biscuits and fried apple pies!!! All made by these awesome ladies! Not a safe place for vegetarians! And I can't forget the beautiful flowers in the painted clay pots, with each pot having a different dairy breed painted on it, for centerpieces. So many wonderful and delicious things! Your efforts did not go unnoticed by us! See you next year!
Beet the heat
I know it's a little late to be harvesting beets in Georgia, but we just picked these beauties! They are two different varieties that I sowed directly into the bed. One is Bull's Blood Red (red leaf) and Detroit Dark Red (green leaf). Both are heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I also planted a row of Golden Beets, but did not have the success I had with these darker varieties. I still have a few more meals worth to pick, this week and next. I will try to reseed them maybe, October, and give the Golden one's another try.
Getting ready for Monroe
Very exciting times! Bunny shaving Honey for the first time (for both!). I was very proud of Bunny as I watched how patient and caring she was with Honey. Honey, now 11 mos. old, was not bottle raised, which means she takes an extra effort to handle. We call Becca, "The Goat Whisperer", as she has transformed little Honey into a people loving girl through her countless hours of handling. We leave for the show this Friday. Next week, find out what happened.