Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Garden Update June 28

That picture to the left is of a dead garden.  With the exception of sweet potatoes and a few watermelons the 2011 is done.  I have to admit that I was disappointed in the results.  Maybe my expectations were too high after we had such a good yield last year.  This year certainly paled in comparison.  Just too hot and dry.  I owe my coworkers and neighbor an apology.  I talked a big game in the spring about all the wonderful veggies that I was going to be delivering in early summer.  LOL, that didn't quite pan out.

It wasn't a total loss.  We did get plenty for our family and my parents.  Rough estimates: 75 quarts of snap beans, 200 ears of corn, 200 tomatoes, 160lbs of potatoes, 50 squash, 50 cucumbers and 3 watermelons (maybe 2 more)  That is certainly not a failure, but last year we got about 400 tomatoes, and 15 watermelons.

My share of the corn bounty.  Shucked, cleaned
and bagged outside; then quickly to the freezer

A couple of proud watermelon farmers

Preparing tomatoes for the freezer.

Super-ultra-mega-watt-electric fence

The one really bright spot of this year's garden was the electric fence.  We didn't have any deer invasions at all.  That was exciting since we've fought those boogers so hard over the last few years.  As I wrote in a previous blog, the best part of the fence setup was that the only cost I had was the charger itself.  Everything else was free thanks to some friends and family who were just going to toss the batteries, wire, t-posts, insulators and corner posts.

All in all it was a good gardening season.  I got the opportunity to deal with a terrible weather pattern and I learned from it.  I experienced a bout of tomato wilt virus and I learned from it.  I made the mistake of over-promising to my friends and neighbors and I learned from it.  I've always considered gardening and family to go hand in hand.  This year was no different.  I was able to yet again learn from my father who is nothing less than a walking talking encyclopedia when it comes to that subject.  I was able to get my kids out in the garden to dig around and actually see where their food comes from.  In that regard, it was a great gardening season.  Now, we'll take a break until late August when we'll plant a small Fall garden.  I'm even considering some winter crops too.  We'll see what comes ;)

Y'all take it easy,


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Great Song Blog Extravaganza!

A long long time ago I had the idea to write a blog that included song titles or at least memorable verses from songs in every sentence.  It's taken me almost two months to complete this Godzilla-sized task.  That was aided by the fact that I absolutely love Sneaking Around  and embedding links into my blogs.  I've never really been one to Walk the Line so I might just insert more than one link per sentence .  It's plain to see that my musical interests are very diverse, so buckle up and get your mouse ready.  Caution:  All of these are legit links to YouTube vids, but some of the lyrics might be "abrasive" for some folks ;)  It's gonna be hard to follow sometimes, but I want you to.  Enjoy the Great Song Blog Extravaganza and please Remember the Time that you first read it.

In my time of writing and pursuing a "Back 'er Down" type lifestyle I found my thrill covering numerous topics.  I've often opined on my life as a Father because ultimately That's My Job.  I've written about the Tricky dangers in couponing and how you have to be careful not to get too obsessed.  Many of my entries have been about my garden.  I searched the world over with a bout of writers block and the garden series was just the fix.  I hope that I did a good job of expressing my spiritual belief of how great our God is.  It certainly helped keep me on track in The Walk with God.  Thought I struggle mightily, I try my best because Jesus is alright with me.

Though I complained, I give it my best, and nothing's gonna keep me down.  We hardly had any rain this spring, but the garden still had a decent yield.   Other people have trash that they toss it and leave it, so I pull up quick to retrieve it so that I can use it for something else.  Then there were the entries about the various tractors that I own and with which I tinker.  They represent what I am striving to be.  They're simple machines that work, work, work, don't complain and serve without fail.

The Number One thing that I've learned is that I'm not really doing things that others from My Generation do. I want to save money, but I also want a Fast Car.  I want to vacation more often, but I also want to remain debt free.  I don't want to be a guy in which cash rules everything around me.  I enjoy gardening and working outside, but I also want to take it easy.  I want to spend as much time as I can with my wife and kids, but I want to have some Pickin' and Grinin' time too.  At the end of the day you might think have multiple personalities.  Maybe I'm the cult of personality.  Maybe I'm just insane in the membrane.  Good thing that I Got a Woman who loves and understands me ;)  Sometimes I get emotional.  I'm blessed to have an awesome family to Stand with me.

Well, there it is.  A blog full of conjunctions and at least one song tie in every sentence. Got any tunes stuck in your head?  I can't believe that I actually made it to the End of the Line, but I did.  Run and tell that.

Y'all take it easy,


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garden Update June 14

Had a helper this weekend.
First let me start with a big thank you to a few folks.  My blog traffic has exploded as of late!  It all started when Angela over at Food Storage and Survival graciously used my syrup making entry as a guest post on her site.  The referrals really started pouring in after that feature.  Then I started noticing visits from Farm Life Lessons and Blissful in the Boonies becoming more regular.  Then I see a whopping 245 referrals this week alone from  Subsistence Pattern.  Whoa Nellie!  It's all probably from some web bot or something for all I know.  Maybe there are a few actual readers in there somewhere.   Thanks to those fine bloggers for listing me in their rolls.  Just in case those numbers include some real people....let me say...... I am humbled that anyone would really want to read what a random guy like me has to say.  I welcome those who have come across my little corner in the blogosphere.  Hopefully you get a little something useful out of my musings.

On to the garden update.  It's still dry.  I'll spare you that portion because I'm sounding like a broken record this spring.  It's starting to get hot too.  That's nothing new really.  Happens this time every year in South GA.  We did have a warmer May than usual, but now it's June and 100 degree days are the norm.  That signals the end of most gardening.  Even with good water most gardens just give up in the sweltering heat like that.

Some looked good, some not so much.
Freeze the good ones, cream the ugly ones.
Our home's staple veggie, snap beans, have been in abundance yet again this year.  As of this writing we have 47 quarts put away.  My Father has probably 10-15 more as well.  I figure we can get one more picking yielding 8-10 more quarts before they finally peter out.  They're rapidly nearing their end.  Our Squash ans cucumbers have continued to do decent.  After questionable beginnings I've been able to harvest 40 or so cukes.  One oddity is the single cucumber plant that I put in a half 55 gallon drum.  They taste like garbage.  So bitter that I can't eat them.  The plant is beautiful, but the cucumbers have all gone straight to compost. The issue now is to figure out why.  It is a different variety, but I wonder if it's the barrel.  I have a tomato plant in the other half of that particular barrel so that will be a good test in a week or so.

We broke about 15 ears of corn Saturday with mixed results.  Some looked nice while others had about half of the kernels aborted.  We froze the good looking ears whole and creamed the rest.  This Saturday is looking like the peak corn harvesting day.  This week I'll be really putting the water to it in hopes of giving a nice boost in the late stages of maturing.

I haven't talked deer in a while.  Ever since "super-mega-killowatt-death-fence-3000" zapped one curious visitor earlier in May, we have had no more intruders.  I hope this post doesn't jinx me, but after four years of trying every home remedy known to man, it seems like the electric fence is the winner.  Add the fact that my only cost was the charger itself and.......... well...... that's cool ;)

Y'all take it easy,


Friday, June 3, 2011

Garden Update June 3

This is what a patch of well watered corn and beans looks like.
It rained about 1/2 inch on March 27, 1/4 inch on April 27 and another 1/4 on May 14.  Nothing since.  It's dry.  Compounding the misery is the fact that so far this year we have had 21 days of temps over 90 degrees (99 when I ran out for lunch earlier.)  At this point last year we had 7.  A wise man once told me though, "we can control a lot of things, but the weather ain't one."  I no longer water grass.  I have given up.  All focus is on the garden.  I was thinking about the grass about a month ago.  I hated to let it go, but I thought about what actually makes a lawn look good.  I concluded that it is an even color and an even height when cut.  From that I concluded that brown and dead is an even color and an even height.  I'm done with watering grass.  (EDIT:  As of 10:00PM EST on 6/3 its raining and raining hard!  Thank you Lord!)

The garden is getting roughly 3 hours or watering time each night.  It's doing okay, but only okay.  We're up to about 35 quarts of snap beans that have been put away.  The consistent performer of my garden is getting it done again this year.  The squash are still hanging in there.  The watermelons are struggling.  Even though I doubled the size of the patch, I will be lucky to get half as many melons this year.  The corn looks healthy but the ears don't quite look as fat as they should.  I'm hopeful that the sprinkler water will at least allow them to make something.  Our sweet potatoes are running like mad.  They happen to be in the largest fall path of the water.  That's been really good to them.  The cucumbers finally took off!  I was beginning to wonder, but I've gotten 11 so far.  There are more in the vine too, so it looks like I will indeed be able to enjoy my favorite vegetable through the summer.  Of course I have a bumper crop of sand spurs too.  Anyone know how we might burn those little suckers for fuel or something?  Geez.  What a pain!  Literally.

So that leaves the tomatoes.  I was hopeful for a great crop.  We went in furrow with horse manure, put bone meal in as we planted and even watered them in as we planted too.  They looked great for quite some time.

Most of the tomato plants look like this......
...but many look like this.
Then it hit.  Tomato Wilt Virus.  I started with 72 plants and I'm now down to 40 something.  What a bummer.  It seems like I'm yanking one or two more every day lately.  As far as I have read there is nothing I can do for it except try to keep the thrips out and yank the infected plants as soon as I see the symptoms.  If anyone happens to read this and you have some remedy, please share it!  I would like to at least figure out how to prevent it next year.

It's not all bad though.  I try to find the positive in most everything.  Here are some good pictures:

Very healthy squash.  Squash could grow in a bed of glass.
One of the few watermelons that are going to make it.
At least we'll have one for the beach
Sweet potatoes.  Kids love them and they're easy to store.
Let's hope they make.
I planted one cucumber plant in a 1/2 55 gallon drum as an experiment.
It took off!  Lots of blooms but not a lot of cukes yet.
Amongst the snap beans we had a volunteer pepper plant pop up.
Funny how nature works sometimes.  Wondering if it's a bell pepper or jalapeƱo.
We'll know soon enough.
Still plugging along.  We are losing tomatoes, but if those that are left make we'll still have plenty to enjoy, can, freeze and share.  The hard work is just beginning.  Even though the potatoes are behind us, we're picking beans every few days.  The corn is coming soon too.  That will be a solid two days of picking and processing.  Looking forward to it though.

Y'all take it easy,