Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fishing in Canada Again

Pure Canada
Pike on a fly - barbless catch and release.
See the other fisherman in the tree?
This is why we like kayak fishing - close to the water and the fish.

I just got home today from a great fishing trip to Canada where a plate of my tomatoes were a hit at the camp cookout night. (The garden was under the care of my wife and she did a great job with its care - Thanks Honey.) A good friend and I drove last weekend all the way to Ear Falls Ontario (700 miles)to stay for a week at Woman River Camp. We had a wonderful time! Our camp hosts, Paul, Debbie and ValerieAnn could have not been more helpful and compared to the other camps I have been to these people understand completely how to run a fish camp and make you feel at home during your stay. We caught and released over 200 Northern Pike in our week stay and the spinning poles and fly poles got a real workout. There is nothing more exciting that catching a 30in pike on a fly rod while floating in your kayak inches from the water and fish = fun, fun, fun.
Happy Gardening (fishing too)

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Art Fair Weekend

Swanstone Gardens Celebrate Nature Art Fair August 2010
Some of my beads

Some of my display tables for the fair.
Do you know this sweet plant?
A tobacco harvest - just trying....
This is our first harvest of the transplanted beets - they were very good.
The trenched fence that is now backfilled and protecting the yard.
I like the look of the black fence.
Later this fall this area should get a cement slab too.
Queen Red Lime Zinnia
These are so lovely.

I participated in a three day art fair at Swanstone Gardens just up the road from home. Friday was not the best weather warm, close, and very buggy but Saturday and Sunday were just great - breezy and sunny with a nice crowd all day long looking at the art and other things for sale. I like this art fair and from what I can see people like what I offer. Besides gardening I work in glass and make beads. I have been doing this for almost ten years. Lampwork, as my beading is called, is great fun and glass is such a wonderful medium with vibrant colors and endless possibilities for shapes.
The other activity this week was our fence. We had taken out the split rail fence and had contracted for a black vinyl chain link fence to be installed. With all our rain I was not sure how we were going to get the job done. Monday the crew arrived and dug the post holes and cemented in the posts. That night we had a downpour and because I was burying the chain link in a trench those trenches filled with water and I mean filled! Tuesday was drain day as the contractor deemed it too wet to work - yes it was too wet. I think it took most of the day to drain the water out of the trenches. The east side needed to be siphoned and the west side I had to ditch to get all the water out. Late in the day the water was gone. Wednesday the fence crew returned and we were fenced by noon. I have always had the garden fence but now with the back yard enclosed I no longer have to fence the garden and I really like just walking into my garden space at anyplace I want.
At the art fair I had a small flower display of zinnias and they were a hit. They are called Queen Red Lime and are from Johnny's Select Seeds. They are tall plants(40-50in.) but the flowers range in size and are a mix of green and red and I am really fond on these. They are really pretty and people would touch them at the fair and said "Oh these are real!" So the pictures try to show you what they look like.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blue Ribbon Fair Time

Entries at the Door County Fair / A nice garden display
Yummy Reds - easily worth a blue ribbon
Great potatoes and in the Open Class there were some larger white types.
This was the greatest number of field corn entries in a long time - what a job to judge.
A very nice adult entry for a planter.
One person's flower entries - now that's a competitor.
This is my worst bean crop EVER - weather and critters.
The melons have started to set.
All these peppers are from the 'Earthbox' planters.
This is the blue ribbon fair garlic - huge.
Our garlic harvest of the first bed, there is a second to be dug yet.
Not too bad a size - for planting in October of this year.
Green Grape, not a small grape but nice size for salads.
Country Taste, nice flavor and good for BLT's.
Valencia, a nice yellow.
Grubs Mystery Green - sweet but soft.
Eva Purple Ball, this is really a pink type with good tomato taste.
Our Beakly apple.
These are the Lodi apples from the fair.

The season of the county fair is upon us and I was only able to judge one fair this season. I really enjoy judging Junior Fair face to face as these are the gardeners of the future and helping to develop their skills is most fulfilling. I had some really nice garden products to judge this year. Of all the items some stand out. The young boy with his fresh picked raspberries, the teenager with some of the nicest potatoes I have seen and the young man who was knowledgeable enough to be able to tell me how his Roundup ready corn was developed genetically. In the five years I have been asking entrants how their corn was produced he is the first person to be able to explain that this crop is genetically engineered seed. All three were outstanding entries and they all got an extra Best of Show ribbon for their efforts. Congratulations to them.
More tomatoes have begun to ripen and we have had the first of the Purple Smudge (not that good), Eva Purple Ball which is really pink but good, County Taste which is one for growing next year again, and Grubs as green variety that is soft but flavorful. I have a picture of the Green Grape which is more round than to be expected for a grape and a nice size. The whole patch was pruned today meaning I removed many spotted and dried leaves and opened the plants up to more sun and air flow. We are back in a rainy period and so this season we are getting enough rain that I have not used the rain barrels or the gallon jugs for the tomatoes yet.
The "Earthbox" peppers are doing really good, much better than the garden plants. Most of the peppers we are eating come off those plants. Soon I should be able to get fruits off the garden plants but they are not producing as well as the potted ones. My wife, who is the pepper consumer says the Gypsy are good but not too flavorful so what I have gained in large numbers of fruits I have lost in taste. Sounds like a common situation in production.
The cucumbers are back to producing and we have small melons developing on the trellis plants. That's good because we are still waging battle in the potato plot with mice and voles. The four traps I bought have all disappeared so next batch will have to be anchored in place.
Our youngest son helped to get the old fence out and trench the yard for the new fence that is scheduled for instillation this week - weather permitting. The back yard is to be surrounded by a four foot black vinyl chain link fence that will be buried six inches into the ground. This should discourage critters from the tasty morsels of our garden. As soon as I had taken the old fence down and opened the yard, two rabbits appeared. One even found his way into the garden which I had surrounded with 24 inch chicken wire for the interim. They must have radar.
We had our first fresh apple of the season, an early Heritage variety called Beakly - a 2008 graft and the one that was in last weeks pictures protected by 'footies'. Nice flavor and not soft as some early apples can be. At the fair I saw my first example of Lodi apples. As the picture shows, they are "huge". I will be looking for that scion wood next spring for a new graft. I also dug half of the garlic crop. As the pictures tell we had a good harvest and have enough larger bulbs to roast some. The biggest ones will still be the seed crop for next year. Once again the garlic at the Door County Fair was magnificent - must be the limestone soil or just the gardeners themselves as I again was amazed at the size of the bulbs entered at the fair. I think I will give mine a bit more fertilizer next year to see if that helps as one grower hinted.
One of my favorite stops is the poultry barn at the fair. I just love those chickens and this year the barn was full of crowing roosters. So enjoy the short video and maybe try to visit a county fair this season.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, August 1, 2010

WOW!!! 1000 Hits for our Blog

The August garden with cardoons aplenty.
Footie apples.
These banana leaves are really colorful this year.

Sun Sugar hybrid.
Mangoes and my favorite limes - the small kind - much juicer than big limes.
The cooked jam is just this lovely color.
Our nice fig crop. We call this plant "Stinky" - if you have a fig tree you will agree.
Vole country.
Our Mystery flower - name this plant - it was on the seed list.

Thank you everyone - as of today we have had 1000 views of our profile so someone is reading our efforts.

The wet weather continues and too much water is just as damaging as too little. The beans, this year between animals and water, are not going to provide us anything. The tomatoes are looking rather bedraggled so I gave them a shot of low dose nitrogen today (dried blood) in hopes of some happier late growth. We are getting tomatoes and not too much cracking as the moisture has been constant rather than spotty. Three salad types are producing nicely. "Sugary" is right up there in the great taste category. " Tomatoberry" is a nice looking tomato with lots of fruit on the cluster but kind of dull tasting. Although, the other morning, cooked as a side for scrambled eggs they were good because they held their shape after cooking. " Sun Sugar" hybrid is a good golden salad type. Great right off the cluster with a nice sweet taste. I did have some green tomatoes ripe but no pictures for this week as, yes, we ate them all.

Apples are sizing nicely and I used some this week to boost the pectin in the mango jam I made . I made two different batches as mango's at the market were 2 for $1. The recipe called for 6 in each batch but I used 8 - I wanted nice think chunky jam. The first batch I followed the recipe with sliced limes and lime and lemon juice and the result was OK. The second batch got a new spin. Lime juice but not cut up limes in the mix and I added a portion of a vanilla bean while cooking and then took that out and scraped another portion of a vanilla bean and added the seeds just before I put the jam into jars. The second batch is much better, no harsh lime
aftertaste but that sweet mellow flavor that vanilla adds to anything. I had a peanut butter and mango jam sandwich today - good. The fig tree has a nice set of fruit and the banana tree in the patio pot gets bigger by the hour. I have had banana trees before but never were they this happy and so big by August 1st.

We are putting in a new fence around the yard -chain link- so I encircled the garden with chicken wire to protect young seedlings from marauding rabbits while the back yard is unfenced. Once the new fencing is in the entire back yard will be protected because we are burying 6 inches of the fence to eliminate critters hopefully. The potatoes are being attacked by voles thus the picture. Peanut butter under the trigger makes for better capture than on the top where the voles freely lick it off. Not so when the bait is under the trigger. Peppers and cucumbers are producing nicely and I took out one of the greenhouse cucumber plants and re planted with a different variety to see what we could get going into fall. The garlic is soon to be harvested so with that, cucumbers, and some Greek yogurt we are ready for Tzatziki.

Now for some local politics. I am attending a city council committee meeting on Monday to speak in favor of an ordinance change. The City of Green Bay prohibits residents from having a hive of honey bees on their property. However, last month my alderman proposed that the ordinance be changed to allow bees. So tomorrow I am going to the meeting to express my interest in that change. Urban bee keeping is on the rise. The University of Minnesota has 250 people already signed up for an October basic bee keeping class and another 140 plus on a waiting list. The city of Minneapolis just lifted their ban on urban bee keeping. Here in GB we are trying to change the ordinance to allow for a hive of two to be kept which would be very beneficial both to the environment and for vegetable gardens. Ironically, the honey bee is the Wisconsin state insect but legally I can't keep them in my yard. Even the south lawn of the White House has a hive! So I sure hope that the committee sees that bees would be a good new city resident and make urban bee keeping legal.

Happy Gardening
PS we have a mystery flower for quiz time this week...