Sunday, October 30, 2011

Strange Fruit Harvest

Must be a season for strange fruits.
Pleasant surprise to find this fruit on a vine this fall - Got any ideas?
Make your guess before you read the text to see if you got it...
Strange seeds inside too. Yes the fruit is edible.

We have had several nights of real cold weather with frost on windshields and ice frozen in buckets so most of the outdoor growing season is done. I picked all the bird chillies and donated them to my local Asian grocery store - they were pleased to get over a gallon of fresh hot peppers. They are just the kind that are used in green papaya salad. Plus I gave my favorite grocer a jar of hot pepper jelly made from the same peppers - I'll check back in a couple of weeks to see how they liked the jelly.

Fall chores include the final grass cutting and application of fall fertilizer to the lawn. I don't fertilize grass more than twice a year as the basic result is that grass grows and has to be cut - not my favorite job. All the marigolds had to be pulled and so in the front bed I planted the seedling white Alpine strawberries that will be the sidewalk edge in the future. Alpines are great edgers because they do not have runners. The white ones will fool the robins and the front walk will had 17 strawberries fruiting most of the summer ( I hope).

I hope you guessed the mystery fruit in the pictures. I was surprised to find it and the seed inside reminded me of the shark egg cases one sometimes find on the beach - yes, it is a Mayhop Passion Flower fruit.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Good Apple Harvest for 2011

Last of the marigolds.
Part of the apple harvest.
These are Wolf Rivers - great for cooking
Good germination on the spinach crop.
Radishes mark the rows as they germinate in about five days.
These radish should make in 20 plus days.
These are tomatoes that sprouted in the cold frames - too bad kids, winter is on the way.

With cooler nights finally here and frost on the roof for the last three days it was time to harvest the apples crop. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the Firesides - nice large fruits were the norm this year. I harvested everything off of all the trees and we have the vegetable bins in the basement refrigerator full, the small cooler and the large camping cooler full to the top and an extra five gallon pail full of sauce apples - ones that fell from the tree and are bruised. We will make sauce soon with those.
With the hoop house done I planted it before we took quick trips to Minneapolis and Chicago in the last two weeks. Everything is up nicely and most nights I leave the hoop house door open because the cool night air is good for the spinach seedlings. I did plant some radish seeds with the hopes of getting a crop before real cold weather sets in. So far so good. All the seed has sprouted and we should soon have true leaves on the seedlings and then hopefully the roots will swell into nice fall radishes.
The fig trees are inside the greenhouse and the Chicago has lost all of its leaves while the black fig still want to keep leaves - I need both of them to go dormant and soon. The amaryllis too need to go dormant so they will get no more water this fall and should start to cast off their leaves in a few weeks. Then I will put them all in the crawl space in the basement where they will stay till after the new year and they show signs of growth.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunny Warm October

The chickens we gave away this spring are finally laying eggs - Thanks Beth, for the egg gift - GREAT dinner from our former feathered friends.
The hoop house in need of fixing.
The work station - I added more ribs in hopes of making the tunnel stronger.
This time I painted the ribs - foam brush worked the best.
Both ends got double plastic from one 8 x 25 sheet of 3 mil.
The rest of the covering will be a 20 x 25 sheet of 3 mil doubled stretched and stapled at the base.
The garden ready for winter.
The planting in the hoop house.
Green coated spinach seeds.
Apples stay in the plastic in storage so they do not shrivel.
Good ole Wolf River - big sauce apple.

Center tomato is a grafted plant - yes it does have a bigger root system than the other heritage type and grafting should do this - makes for more vigorous roots.

The warm weather continues and so that makes fall garden work much easier. The garden has been tilled and I dug the drainage ditch across to allow for water to run off next spring. I got the rest of the crocus and tulip bulbs planted and worked on rebuilding the hoop house this week.
I put more ribs in this version and got them painted to see if that might extend the life of the plastic covering. I tilled the soil in side and planted spinach, lettuce, and radishes in several rows but have not put the main cover on yet because I need a windless day to get that job done and it was somewhat breezy today. Plus I would like the seeds to have some sun and warmth before I cover the tunnel with plastic which will make for a fair amount of condensation in the hoop house.
The apple crop is getting ready to pick but I am postponing it as long as possible because the harvest goes into coolers in the garage and we need some cooler weather for that storage method. Most of the second crop of figs are not getting that big and the Chicago fig is dropping leaves and trying to go dormant. The black fig is much happier to be in the greenhouse so who knows how it will fare this winter.
I made two batches of hot pepper jelly this week. I used organic apple juice as the base and chopped the peppers fine and the resulting jelly is really good - nice bite to it. Yesterday I made another batch of apple sauce and this morning we had it on pancakes laced with hickory nut pickings and a drizzle with maple syrup - very nice.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Sad Unkempt Garden

These zinnias are still blooming nicely.
Tomatoberry is one of the few plants with fruit still on.
The winds did a number on the garden
And finished the hoop house.
I am still letting this watermelon grow as long as possible.
The Thai bird peppers are going to be for the pepper jelly.

My wife and I spent seventeen days in Flagstaff, Arizona working for my parents in the management of their home and getting it ready for sale. So my garden was left to fend by itself for that time and upon my return my garden was a sad site.
Overgrown and unharvested was the basic condition of it all. We have not had a killing frost but the tomatoes show just how much they hate cool nights. Most of the plants are done except for the Tomatoberry's and Candy which are still good. Both of the green grape varieties were poor this season and the Red Peach plants have fruit but most of it is still green and will never ripen. I think tomorrow I will take the tomato rows down and cart them off to the dump.
The hoop house fell victim to the heavy wind storm we had several nights ago. The 45mph plus winds shredded it. But some failure of the covering seems to have been part of the problem too. I had read that plastic on plastic was not a good mix and caused deterioration with time and UV. That seems to be the case so I will have to recover the hoop house and I make make some improvements in the number of ribs I have holding the cover.
The best crop still producing is the apple crop. we have been harvesting apples for over a month and the early fall varieties are now ripe with the later ones still on the tree. I made dried apples and a big batch of apple sauce - great on morning cereal.
The peppers in the EarthBox planters were ready for harvest and so I picked most of them and I am thinking about making some hot pepper jelly - great stuff.
Both the fig trees have second crops maturing so they have been moved into the green house in hopes that the figs will mature. Fall planting begins with bulbs as my order from John Scheepers Bulb Co. came and there are 270 tulips and crocus to get in the ground this month.
Happy Gardening