THE MAY GARDEN

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 29-05-2014

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The garden has really impressed me with its growth since the last blog.  The plantings in the new raised beds are doing very well.  I did not crowd the plants this year and it is proving to be the correct strategy.  We have only 18 tomato plants as opposed to the 30+ we had last year but they are tall, strong plants.  The egg plant are in full bloom and look like they came off a seed catalog cover.  My grandson planted carrots and radish in his 4 x 4 bed and it is going to give us a good crop of carrots as well as will the 5 volunteer tomato plants that have appeared.

THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN 4 WEEKS AGO.  THESE PLANTS ARE HUGE TODAY.

THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN 4 WEEKS AGO. THESE PLANTS ARE HUGE TODAY.

 

Three weeks ago I went to a friends garden on Saint Helena where I had purchased plant before.  My friend, unfortunately, has Prostrate Cancer and has been dealing with it for the past 7 years.  He could always be found in his garden – rain or shine even in the heat of our summers.  I have been interested in some of his growing practices because they were contrary to published procedures but he seemed to always produce a good crop.  He would cut his blueberry bushes and blackberry vines back to 4 feet whenever they rose above that level.  He said they were easier to harvest that way.  I am a witness to his abundant production as are the many neighbors who come from Dataw Island and other areas on Saint Helena to buy and pick his vegetables.  His health is declining and he finds it difficult to go to his garden so he offered to sell me some of his parent plants.  I purchased ten of both his blueberry bushes and his thornless blackberry vines.  They are now in our garden and doing very well.  The blueberries are very mature shrubs and will give us bumper crops.

BLACKBERRIES IN MR. HOLMES FIELD

BLACKBERRIES IN MR. HOLMES FIELD

 

MR HOLMES BLUEBERRIES IN OUR GARDEN

MR HOLMES BLUEBERRIES IN OUR GARDEN

 

Last year we grew a vining perennial spinach (Malabar)  which preformed very poorly as compared to the year before.  We had enjoyed the spinach flavor during our hot summer but were disappointed with it last year so this year we ordered new seed and planted them in both the garden and in a seed tray.  So far, we have good growth in the garden and the seed tray is doing well  I will plant them next week in one of the new raised beds.

SPINACH SEEDLINGS

SPINACH SEEDLINGS

 

I have just planted Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans which are up and going for the supports as well as Sweet Potatoes next to the Jerusalem Artichokes.  I will plant a companion planting of Okra next week.

 

We purchased 6 new pullets this spring to replace some of the hens that have died.  Our original flock is now 5 years old.  I chose six different varieties but they are all brown egg layers.  They are adjusted and starting to lay the prettiest shades of brown eggs.

 

OUR NEW HENS WITH THE SURVIVORS OF OUR FIRST FLOCK.

OUR NEW HENS WITH THE SURVIVORS OF OUR FIRST FLOCK.

 

More garden talk later.

 

THE GARDEN PANORAMA

THE GARDEN PANORAMA

 

 

SPRING IS LATE BUT IT IS RUSHING IN NOW!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 02-04-2014

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Last Thursday I checked the Wisteria in anticipation of scheduling our 4th Annual Wisteria Soiree.  The bloom had just started to swell.  I checked again today (or should I say panicked) when I noticed that we had a 10% bloom underway.  That is quick.  Five days and the rush to make up for the delayed Spring has begun.  I am scheduling the Soiree for FRIDAY, APRIL 4TH AT 3:30 TILL   and hoping that there will be many blooms and that the weather is sunny.  I know this is short notice but the rain threat next week forces my hand.   For those of you who don’t know about this event, we hold it each Spring when the Wisteria is in bloom and invite all who get this blog to attend.  It is always a delightful late afternoon/evening gathering where we all enjoy each others company, the garden and the food brought by our guest (wine, soft drinks, cheeses, fruit, , horsd’oeuvres, and whatever else along with boiled shrimp which we provide.  Please let me know if you plan to come { (843) 524-9649 – or email at seaislandman@islc.net} so that I have enough shrimp.  Also bring a chair so you won’t have to stand in the garden.  The swings under the Wisteria arbor as usually full.  We look forward to seeing you there.

PLUM BLOSSUMS

Our pear and plum trees have already bloomed but the citrus is just now starting to regrow green leaves as they lost everything this winter.  I was afraid that some of the trees would not recover (one has not – a grapefruit) but it looks like most will come back.  I don’t know what kind of a fruit load they will carry this year but anything is better than I feared.   Our 20+ trees can usually handle a quick drop into the mid teens but we had 36 hours at 18 degrees followed by 24 more a week later at 18 degrees.  We did loose all leaves and fruit but they are now greening up with a few lost branches.

 

This winter we completed our building project to convert the entire garden into raised beds.  The practical results are that we can manage our soils better, control the weed growth in each bed and along the walkways between the beds, better organize our rotation plan and apply our drip irrigation more effectively.  The beds are supposed to warm up faster in the spring for earlier crop growth.  We will see.

The most difficult part of creating the beds after the actual construction which was completed by Davis, my son, Cam,  my grandson, Keegan and myself is to fill the beds with a rich soil from which we can build a better soil.

PA PA !  PLEASE  650 PIXELS

Keegan and Katie working the new beds.  Keegan is a real farmer and has claimed a 4 x 4 bed for himself.

 

Sketter’s Seedlings

I have know Frank Gardner (Sketter) for 40 years.  He is a fine cabinet and furniture maker as well as a builder.  Several years ago, he built a swiveling greenhouse (moves to follow the sun) in his back yard and he sprouts many of his own vegetables which he grows in his garden.  This year he had extra plants and offered to sell some to me.  I jumped at the chance because they are non-GMO seedlings and much nicer than I grow myself or purchase from Lowes.

SKETTER'S ROTATING GREENHOUSE

Sketter’s greenhouse

 

SKETTER'S TOMATOES AND EGGPLANTS

Part of Sketter’s garden.

 

SKETTER -OUT STANDING- IN HIS GARDEN

Sketter “out standing” in his garden.

 

I have planted the plants I got from Sketter in our new raised beds and have jumped back to watch them grow.

PLANTED  NEW BEDS

Eggplant and tomato plants in new beds.

 

The fig hedge rootings are sprouting new growth and I expect them to grow into the hedge this year.  My experimental plants have attained heights of 4 feet (where I prune them off and have spreads to 4 feet wide.  Once grown out, the hedge will be easy to net and pick unlike harvesting and protecting the 15 foot plants they usually grow into.  Our hedge is the Brown Turkey variety but I am rooting the Celeste variety to make an additional hedge and hopefully extend the harvest time.

BROWN TURKEY FIG ROOTINGS

One year old fig rooting.

 

I pruned the blackberries back as the literature suggest and set 100 rootings under large bell jars (made from 5 gallon water bottles).  I plan to plant them along the inside of the garden fence where the birds and gardeners can get their fill.

ROOTING BELL JARS

Rooting bell jars for the blackberries.  Note the spearmint invading the bed.

 

BLACKBERRY ROOTINGS

Blackberry rootings.

 

FRESH BLACKBERRY SPROUTS

New growth on existing blackberries.

 

I can’t wait until the berries come in.  It is a joy to pick a couple gallons for morning breakfast and an afternoon cobbler not to mention the fresh garden snacking.

Bees are flying like crazy – all three hives.  I will probably have to split them mid Spring to avoid swarming.  Anyone want to take up bee keeping?

Gordon

 

 

WINTER DID NOT FORGET OUR GARDEN THIS YEAR!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 26-01-2014

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A GARDEN AT REST

A GARDEN AT REST

I guess I can stop bragging about our winters without a frost.  I have heard from many or our subscribers in the Northeast and Central Plains states complaining of their hard freezes and snow cover and asking about our citrus.  I know they will not commiserate with me about our winter weather here but it is still hard to go out and look at the garden in its present state.  I was out cutting back and trimming many of the freeze damaged plants today and was reminded that Spring is just around the corner by the spring calls of the Northern  Cardinals,   Mourning Dove and Red-tailed Hawk.  I also watched a Bald Eagle fly over (these birds are already nesting in the ACE Basin across the Coosaw River from the house.  We have a rare forecast for snow next week but it will probably be a mix of snow and ice.  At any rate,  Spring will get here at some point and the garden will come alive.

We had a 48 hour period of below freezing temperatures going to 18 degrees.  We also had several evenings where it dipped into the high twenties.  We are promised several more “clippers” that will take the temperature below freezing before things start to warm up.  The wind has been very strong during several of these fronts reaching into the 50 to 60  mph range  in several of them.  I know this is nothing to those of you who live in the northern half of the country but it is cold for coastal South Carolina.

My grandson, Keegan, helped me pick up several hundred citrus fruit that had fallen off the trees.  They are still good but once off the tree, citrus spoils quickly so I will be squeezing a lot of juice.

MYER'S LEMON

MYER’S LEMON

 

 

TANGERINE

TANGERINE

While we were out in the garden, we created Skyler Morrison as a companion for Jack Dexter who has lived in our garden alone for several years.  They are separated by about 20 feet but their branches move together when the wind blows and Keegan swears he saw Jack’s eyes lift up when the wind blew…  Anyway, our garden now has two guardians to watch over it.

SKYLER MORRISON

SKYLER MORRISON

 

JACK DEXTER

JACK DEXTER

I did plant a couple dozen Jerusalem Artichokes at the edge of the garden to re-establish a planting after the gophers dined on our previous planting.  I am warned that once established the Artichoke will spread and populate a garden much like our spearmint has but I don’t think I will have to worry about that.

 

ARTICHOKE PLANTING

ARTICHOKE PLANTING

I still have to build the 4 new raised beds to finish our garden improvement project – just too cold – and clip back the blackberry bushes before they sprout.

 

BLACKBERRY CANES

 

THIRD HIVE (NEWEST SPLIT) IN A WARM SUNLIGHT

THIRD HIVE (NEWEST SPLIT) IN A WARM SUNLIGHT

 

HIVES ONE AND TWO IN A SHADED LOCATION

HIVES ONE AND TWO IN A SHADED LOCATION

 

All three of our hives are active gathering nectar and pollen (although I have no idea where they are finding it).  The number three hive is in a warmer location and the bees are really active while the other two are doing ok but will do better (even than the number three hive) once the summer heat arrives.  Notice that all the feeding jars are empty.  We should have a good honey flow this spring as the hives are strong and getting ready.

 

LAST WEEK

LAST WEEK

 

THIS WEEK

THIS WEEK

 

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES!

 

 

A TIME FOR THANKSGIVING

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 26-11-2013

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I can’t believe that it is already the end of November.  Our last blog was in September and although we have not spent many days in the garden, It continues to produce.  All the credit has to go to Davis and Kathy as Chris and I are becoming tag-a-longs.  We complain about the heat and the hard work while Kathy and Davis show up in the garden and implement many of the things they are learning from their attendance at various gardening venues and conferences.

Our hot days have declined into cool Fall days with a decent cold front expected tomorrow.  We have enjoyed three years without a frost because we are close to the river and the salt marsh but our luck may not hold out this year as we are forecast to go to 31 degrees in Beaufort and 34 degrees along the water and it is not even December yet.  We seem to have our coldest weather in January and February.

I don’t expect a killing freeze but I may have to disassemble all the drip irrigation paraphernalia.

We have plans to complete the conversion of the garden to a raised garden.  This will entail the re-design of two long beds into 4 shorter raised beds.  I will start on this after Thanksgiving.  The construction part is easy but the filling of the beds with compost and good forest soils is a chore.   I will post photographs of the progress in the next blog.

In the meantime, let me post a few photographs I took last week.  That would be the third week in November for all you northern gardeners awaiting the big snow.

 

 

ROSE BUSH IN 4TH RE-BLOOM OF THE SEASON.

ROSE BUSH IN 4TH RE-BLOOM OF THE SEASON.

TURNIP GREENS BY SURVIVING ARTICHOKE PLANT

TURNIP GREENS BY SURVIVING ARTICHOKE PLANT

Note:  young garlic sprouts to left of turnips.

 

YOUNG COLLARDS IN STRAWBERRY BED BEING WATERED BY SPRAY AND UNDER NETTING AS SQUIRRELS LOVE COLLARDS.

YOUNG COLLARDS IN STRAWBERRY BED BEING WATERED BY SPRAY AND UNDER NETTING AS SQUIRRELS LOVE COLLARDS.

 

ARUGULA - one of my favorite greens.

ARUGULA – one of my favorite greens.

 

JUICE ORANGES

JUICE ORANGES

We love our citrus.  It starts to sweeten in early November and holds on the tree until April.  We harvest it one fruit at a time so that it stays fresh throughout the winter and spring.

 

TANGERINES

TANGERINES

 

We now have 4 trees of named varieties and 4 volunteer root sprouts (now trees) that produce a smaller tangerine which ripens later in the Spring.  These smaller fruit are the ones I made marmalade from in the blog last year.

 

MYERS LEMONS

MYERS LEMONS

These are huge lemons that will make a 16 oz glass of lemon aid/fruit.  I have made limoncello (a wonderful Italian after dinner  liquor) and given it to a friend who is a chef at a fine local restaurant where  he serves it to special guests.  I keep a little for myself.

 

TOMATO BLOOMS IN LATE NOVEMBER.

TOMATO BLOOMS IN LATE NOVEMBER.

AND THE CHERRY TOMATOES THAT FOLLOW.

AND THE CHERRY TOMATOES THAT FOLLOW.

 

TOMATO SEED AND CURLED SKIN THROUGH MY DISSECTING SCOPE

TOMATO SEED AND CURLED SKIN THROUGH MY DISSECTING SCOPE

 

MORE TOMATO SEEDS

MORE TOMATO SEEDS

 

We grew a variety of tomato that is used for grafting to named varieties as a root.  The grafted plant has a higher production rate as well as being resistant to many of the virus pest of tomatoes.  The seeds cost a dollar each so I decided to grow my own.  We will grow some of the grafted varieties again next year.

We have camelias in bloom but i did not get a photograph of them but the banana tree with its second group of bananas is still with us (until the frost).  The first bunch of bananas (see previous blog) were sweeter and more custard like than what we find in the stores.  I am looking forward to cutting the bunch off the tree and eating them as they ripen.

 

BANANA TREE IMAGE FROM THE TREE NEXT TO MY HOUSE AND PRESENTED AS A MUSEUM PRING ON MY WEBSITE: SEAISLANDPRINTS.COM

BANANA TREE IMAGE FROM THE TREE NEXT TO MY HOUSE AND PRESENTED AS A MUSEUM PRINT ON MY WEBSITE: SEAISLANDPRINTS.COM

WISHING EVERYONE A GREAT THANKSGIVING.

GORDON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER HEAT SLOWS EVERYTHING DOWN IN THE GARDEN

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 15-08-2013

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THE GARDEN

Our “feel like” temperature has been between 103 and 110 degrees so little is being accomplished in the garden.  We do occasionally brave this heat and try to do some weeding or early fall planting in the mornings but by 8:30 we are looking for shade.  The humidity, which is as bad or worse than the heat, is not diminished early in the day so discomfort is often unavoidable in our summer garden.  Many people just stop gardening and enjoy the wonderful fall, winter and spring gardens but it just doesn’t seem right to not have something growing so we push on.  We are experiencing a strong cool front which has stalled over us and has brought rain.  A lot of rain.  I understand that we may get 4 to 6 inches in 3 days before a short reprieve from the heat and humidity.  Then it is back to the heat and humidity as we watch the weather reports for tropical events.  At any rate, we have several greens planted for the fall and winter crops as well as the sweet potatoes, okra, peppers, melons and Swiss chard.  I will be planting the collards and cabbage soon.  May do beets and several other cool weather crops also as soon as it becomes a little more comfortable.

 

FIGS

I have spent time (out of the heat) working on some means to use and enjoy our abundant fig crop.  We have produced fig jams (including the strawberry imitation fig preserve) as well as eaten them fresh from the tree but we need other uses as there is only so much jam that we can eat and our production will increase substantially once the fig hedges start to produce.  I have found two recipes that I like.  Please send me any that you may know of as I will publish them in this blog.

recipes:

BACON-WRAPPED FIGS

1 (4-oz.) goat cheese log. softened (I used blue cheese)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (From the garden)

6 large figs ( I had a lot of figs so I used 12 figs)

12 toasted pecan halves (I used pine nuts instead)

12 ready to serve bacon slices (Again, I substituted with regular bacon that I fried 1/2 way)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. stir together goat cheese and basil.  cut figs in half and stuff with cheese mixture.  Top with nuts and wrap with i/2 strip of bacon.  Secure with wooden toothpick and place on wire rack for a 6 to 8 minute bake or until bacon is crisp and browned.

Eat while hot as quality diminishes as it cools.  These would make great appetizers or a side addition to a soup and sandwich lunch.   I found that the preparation was tedious but the resulting flavors of the cheese, bacon and fig made it worthwhile.

PREPARATION OF BACON WRAPPED STUFFED FIGS

 

FINISHED BACON WRAPPED FIGS

 

PANCETTA AND FIG PASTA

1 (16 oz.) package of fettuccini pasta

5 ounces thinly sliced panceetta, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 shallots, minced  (I used a portion of a Vidalia onion)

1 garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

12 fresh figs, quartered

1/3 cup torn basil leaves (from the garden)

Cook pasta as you would normally do and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

Saute pancetta, shallots and garlic in large skillet over medium heat 6 6o 7 minutes.  add cream, cheese and hot cooked pasta to skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes (stirring constantly) until cheese is melted.  stir in 1 cup reserved pasta water until creamy.  season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with figs and basil.  Serve immediately.

PREPARATION FOR PANCETTA AND FIG PASTA

 

FINISHED PANCETTA AND FIG PASTA

This was an exceptional dish.  Again the combination of the creamy pasta with the Parmesan cheese and the sweet figs was memorable.

 

ROSS ROUNDS  (HONEY)

We have been fortunate to have produced our first super of Ross Rounds comb honey from one of our garden hives.  The super contains 32 – 1/2 lb. rounds of the lightest, mildest early season honey you can imagine.  Each of our rounds were fully drawn out and capped.  I placed each in its own round container and have offered 26 of them for sale at our local markets.  They are valued at $9 to $12 each and make wonderful gift items.  We are keeping the other 6 for our own consumption.

This is a specially crop in that the bees don’t like to go into the Ross super.  They would prefer to store the honey in a standard super where they can put up 40 lbs. instead of the 16 lbs. in the  Ross.  I have to force them to move into the Ross super by balancing the crowding of the hive with the bee’s instinct to swarm.  Once the Ross is capped, I have to pull it and place a regular supper or empty brood box on the hive to keep it from swarming.  There was a learning curve associated with this technique as last year, I lost a swarm and ended up with half filled Ross Rounds.  I like the fact that I get this wonderful delicate honey inside the comb where it will not crystallize and I don’t have to extract the honey from the comb  which is an extremely messy job.

ROSS ROUNDS

 

IPOMOEA acuminata  THE PERENNIAL MORNING GLORY

This is one of the most striking flowers you will find in the garden.  Early morning sapphire blooms open everywhere.  And I do mean everywhere.  That is the problem.  In the past, I never planted a morning glory because they cast numerous seeds everywhere and it was impossible to control or get rid of them.  A couple years ago I discovered a perennial morning glory what did not produce seeds.  I was delighted and immediately ordered three plants from a nursery in Washington state ($35/each)I did not care what the cost was as I really wanted the plant and the Washington state nursery was the only place I found them for sale.  That should have alerted me but it didn’t.  The plants arrived and I planted one by the house to climb up the stairwell to the upper deck and two in the small garden arbors on which to climb.  I was very disappointed because by last winter, it looked like all three had died.  Then it happened.  I found a bloom in the top of a live oak tree some 40 feet from the house.  There was no sign of a morning glory vine anywhere where I had planted it.  Next, I found it blooming in the wisteria arbor between the two small arbors where I had planted it in the garden.  Then it was in the Pittosporum tobira  hedge and then running in the lawn throughout the eastern garden.  It finally made it to the small arbors earlier this summer and is now appearing sporadically up the stairway rail to the first deck.  I have since found numerous warning on the internet telling gardeners to stay away from this enticing flower.  It can’t be controlled and will take over an area.  I now have an ongoing battle with it to join my efforts to control the Pensacola (tifton) bahia grass which comes in on auto traffic from where it grows along the sides of the highways.  I have won my battle with the local sandspur  (Cenchrus echinatus) and the persistent wild thorny dewberry (Rubus trivialis) but I am not doing well with the bahia and may not do so with the morning glory either.  I am controlling it somewhat (or I might just be driving it down deeper to move on to another location) with the mower and am cutting it off the hedges by hand.  I may have to resort to the RoundUp herbicide but will put that off as long as possible.   Before I discovered the invasive habit of the morning glory, I rooted 20 new plants from a portion of a new vine.  My plan was to give them to my neighbors.  I have scratched this plan and now have 20 potted vines under my house (my house is elevated 16 feet to avoid flooding caused by hurricanes) where they may perish due to a lack of water and sunlight.  I hope so anyway.  My wife loves this flower and does not understand why I don’t. 

LOOK CLOSELY AND YOU WILL SEE THE BLUE FLOWERS IN THE WISTERIA ARBOR. THIS WAS A DAY AFTER WE HAD CUT THE VINES AT GROUND LEVEL.

 

DECEPTIVE BEAUTY

 

The rain has stopped so it must be time to go plant something.

 

GORDON


 

 

 

THE END OF THE SUMMER GARDEN … OR IS IT?

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 27-07-2013

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As we approach the end of July,  I anticipate the end of the results of our Spring work.  There is ample evidence of the end of our Summer garden.  Most of the plantings are well into maturity and are dropping over from their weight.  Most have stopped their abundant production of vegetables and are starting to turn their older leaves yellow.  The weeds are finally starting to compete with the tomatoes as the heat has driven the gardeners into the shade.  Normally we start planning our fall and winter garden about this time, but there is still a lot of time for the heat loving crops and we need to make room for them among those that are finishing.

MID SUMMER TOMATOES

MID SUMMER TOMATOES

 

NEW BLACKBERRY CANES

NEW BLACKBERRY CANES

 

We have large tomato plants (very large) that have stopped setting fruit.  I  understand this happens when the heat causes the pollen to get sticky and therefore it will not pollinate the tomato bloom.  I have been told that if I trim the tops out of the plants and let them sprout new leaders that they will start blooming again just about the time the fall temperatures cool allowing the pollen to be viable again.  This I will try this year as I should have larger plants than if I wait and plant new tomato plants in the early Fall.  We are still harvesting some tomatoes (especially the Roma type as well as some of the seed tomatoes we use to graft our heirloom tomatoes to as root stock).

Our blackberry harvest is almost finished (10 berries a day just to remind us how good they were).  The plants have however grown huge, thick canes from which they will bear their 2014 crop.  I can’t wait.  We got about 8 gallons of fruit this year (that’s a lot of cobbler) and expect more next year.  I am thinking about removing the Muscadines (a green or red southern grape) that grows great vines but few grapes along two trellises and replace them with another high bearing blackberry variety.  I will keep the
Scuppernongs (a golden southern grape) that we have growing on our garden arbors.  The new blackberry takes about three years to come into full (massive) production and cost about $30/plant so I will start small. 
Our late Summer garden will contain Okra (Clemson Spineless).  Few people really like Okra because it is not very appetizing as a boiled vegetable but raw from the garden or grilled or fried, it is great.  A pickled Okra is something that does not stay in a jar long at my house.  Our new seedlings are about 3 inches tall and will soon be 3 feet and going.  I planted regular sweet potatoes earlier this Summer and they are doing well – they love the heat.  But I found a white variety and have grown slips which I have just planted.  I hope they are as good as the red varieties.  Peppers seem to do well the hotter it gets as long as they have water once a week.  Our plants look good and if last year is an indication, we will have them through the Winter till we pull them to make room for the Spring planting.

 

WHITE SWEET POTATO SLIPS

SEED TOMATOES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KEEGAN (MY GRANDSON) WATERING THE OKRA

 

Remember the figs?

Well they are coming in faster than we can pick them.  We get one to two gallons a day off one big tree.  Fresh figs are great as is the preserves that we make but we need another use.  I googled looking for fig recipes and found several.  All seemed to have similar ingredients which I would have never associated with figs – ham/bacon and cheeses.  I will be checking these out broiled, grilled, raw… every way till I find something I like.  We have picked several figs from the young trees that will make the fig hedge in a couple years so we have to find a more diverse use for the fruit.

RIPENING FIGS ON THE TREE

 

TODAY'S HARVEST - ONE GALLON FROM ONE SIDE OF THE FIG TREE

 

SCUPPERNONG GRAPES STARTING TO SWELL

 

Our garden is always full of blooming flowers.  We have a variety of my hybridized daylilies which we harvest as a vegetable.  All parts are edible and delicious.  But other flowers bloom also.  This year we have a large area of the garden that has been naturalized by Brown-eyed Susans.  I did not cut the area as I wanted to have the profusion of blooms.  That we have as fully a 2o x  100 foot area is covered.  I like this flower because it last for 6 weeks or more and obviously grows and returns each year with very little assistance from me.  Mowing will keep it contained so it will not be a problem as the royal blue perennial morning glory is becoming.  I will elaborate on this in a later blog.

 

GREEN, RED AND YELLOW PEPPERS JUST KEEP ON COMING

 

BROWN-EYED SUSANS

 

DAYLILY HYBRID GOLDEN RUFFLES

 

BLUE PERENNIAL MORNING GLORY

 

Thanks for passing the blog address to your friends.  We continue to grow.

GORDON

 


GARDEN WORK MAKES THE TIME FLY!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 09-06-2013

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It seems like just yesterday that I made a post to this blog.  I went back and revisited several of the photographs I had taken for this posting and found that they were no longer applicable as the garden is in full speed growth.  We have already harvested peppers (In fact – the very ones presented here.)

PEPPERS ALREADY STUFFED AND BAKED

as well as many others.  They are green, yellow and red bells mixed with a few jalapenos (which I use to add to vinegar as a salad dressing and to add punch to cooked greens).  We will get peppers all the way to the first hard frost which did not come last year so I had to remove the old (and spent) plants before I planted new ones.  Carrots, radish, greens and turnips have come and gone but things are about to heat up and I don’t mean the weather.

I picked the first of the blackberries (a mere handful) a week ago and since then we  have picked several quarts.  In fact, I picked a quart Friday to take to my daughter.  They were quite impressive until I tripped on a hose and fell on the Ziploc bag.  So, Glenda is making a blackberry cobbler as I write this.

THE FIRST HANDFUL

Other fruit are growing and will provide bumper crops later this summer.  The blue berries are starting to turn blue and the birds will get most of them because I have not had time to construct the bird netting support over them so this year we will supplement the bird’s diet.  I have a preference to high bush blueberries as they produce much heaver crops here.  I will purchase 10 more high bush plants to add to the 5 we now have.  The low bush plants should continue to grow under the high bush varieties and together will produce ample blueberries in the future.  Our fig hedges are doing very well this spring after I installed the drip irrigation to each plant..  We even have a few figs on several of the plants.  The parent plant, a 12 foot, 10 year old brown turkey tree is covered with 1 inch fruit.  When they reach 2 inches and start to turn a brownish pink, the race will be on with the raccoons.  We should get enough to eat all the fresh figs we want and make a years worth of fig jam.  The trick is to pick them the day before the raccoons come and let them ripen in the frig – about 3 days.

 

OUR BROWN TURKEY FIGS

 

PEST

You may remember that in an effort to outsmart the squash borer (a moth), I decided to plant a variety that did not require insect pollination.  This would allow me to cover the plants with an insect barrier and deprive the squash borer access to the plants.  It was a great idea and I can tell you that we have grown beautiful 4 foot tall plants under the barrier.  Unfortunately, the barrier keeps the humidity too high.  Most of our lovely young squash get a fungus and shrivel and die before they get to eating size.  This does not mean that I have given up on trying to grow squash.  I plan to screen in the sides of the hoop covering to reduce the moisture buildup and have planted a trial planting exposed to the environment which I have covered with a light dusting of diatomaceous earth (DE).  This is supposed to be picked up by the larvae as they hatch and kill them by cutting into their skin after which they dehydrate.  It works on the exterior and interior pest of our chickens as well as on our dogs and cats so I am hoping that it will work in the garden.

FOUR FOOT HIGH SQUASH PLANTS WITHOUT SQUASH

We have already had our first two attacks from the new pest known as the wisteria bug.  Last year, they wiped out our pole beans even after we resorted to a pesticide.  This year they have come to a Celeste fig.  I have applied a spray mixture of green bug, DE and dish soap and have moved them off the fig with some evidence of dead insects.  I know this battle is not over and will keep a watchful eye throughout the garden for the next attack.   It just seems that organic gardening is becoming more and more difficult with all the imported pest we get (especially from Asia).   Another new pest is the bacteria carrying midge (from Asia) that inoculate our citrus with a fungus causing what is called the greening disease and kills the trees in 4 to 5 years.  I was excited after purchasing a cold hardy avocado tree ($150) from a Georgia nursery and started to look forward to 1000 home grown fruit/year, as stated by the nursery, after I saw how robust the new growth was this spring.  Well that expectation was short lived as I watched, within 1 week, everything die back.  I researched the literature and found that three years ago a small borer was introduced through Charleston, SC via shipping pallets that harbors a fungus in their mandibles that is their main food source.  This ambrosia beetle (Polyphagous shot hole borer) inoculates avocado and Southern Sweet Bay trees with a  fusarium fungus which clogs the vascular tubes and kills the trees.  This pest is also an Asian introduction.

We are going to have to restrict our crop selection to only those varieties that are not affected by a deadly pest or build green houses and grow everything inside them.  That is what the citrus tree supply growers are doing to avoid the greening disease and thus get a clear Florida inspection report so they can sell their product.

 

BACK TO THE GARDEN

This year’s artichoke experiment looks to be successful. We may actually get artichokes off our two year old plants next year.  I only planted four this year as opposed to a dozen last year but I placed them in the new raised bed with good purchased soil and drip irrigation.  It has made a difference.

LATE APRIL ARTICHOKES

LATE MAY ARTICHOKES

Note the tomatoes on both sides are starting to crowd the plants.  I may have to remove some of the tomato plants.

We have a developing problem with the invasive nature of spearmint plants.  I love the smell of the plant in the garden and enjoy the fresh tea I brew but the patch now measures 8 feet by10 and that is a lot of tea.  I hate to do it but I will have to start treating it like a weed.  We grow several other herbs but I keep them contained within 10 gallon pots.

SPEARMINT

HERBS

 

We planted another 40 foot row of pole beans (rattlesnake variety) on a new 10 foot trellis.  I don’t know how we are going to harvest that high but the beans don’t seem to have any trouble climbing that high.  I took a photograph a week and a half ago when they were only 4 feet high and today they are almost to the top.  I picked a few young 5 inch long pods Friday which never made it to the house.

NEW CROP OF POLE BEANS

 

The garden is doing what we all like to see it do.  GROW!  After installing the drip irrigation and new mulch along with the improved soil, there is not as much work to do so we can sit in our garden chairs and watch it do just that.  This is good since two of our partners have run off to France for 8 weeks – just means more goodies for Chris and I.  We will probably have to share some of it with friends which we seem to have many of lately.

LOOKING NORTH

RHUBARB

LOOKING SOUTH

 

I fully expect to be complaining about the abundant supply of fresh home grown tomatoes and how tired I am getting of eating tomato sandwiches in my next blog entry.  I wish!  I have been known to eat 5 sandwiches for lunch and still want more.  I can only dream.

NEED I SAY MORE!

 

Well, I have to go sample the blackberry cobbler…

MMMMM!