october already!

i'm not sure where September went. too quickly
by for sure...
garden news, still working on the first strawberry
patch. we had hot enough weather that i didn't
accomplish much last week. finally we catch a few
days of cooler weather with some rains. not that
it helped make the subsoil i'm removing any easier
to break up. stuff is like concrete. no surprise
the strawberries in there didn't do that great, but
the subsoil is a foot and a half down, the top layer
wasn't too bad.
i'm going that deep because i've wanted to lower
this patch ever since it has been there. no reason
to mound it up really other than a few flash floods
which don't last long enough and aren't a bother to
strawberries anyways. should have the flash flooding
under control well enough anyways now.
and i can move the tulips out of there that i've
already dug up several times, but always miss a few.
i suspect i may still miss a few anyways... and some
deep rooted weeds that are best removed carefully by
hand so as to not break up chunks of the root which
can regrow (sow-thistle, one of the worst garden
weeds for clay).
yesterday i finally filled in the center part i'd
dug out and it is already replanted. filled it in
with a mix of sand, stuff that needs to rot eventually
(bean shells and squash vines/leaves), and stuff that
is already mostly rotted (wood chips/pine needles)
along with some of the existing clay (about 1/4).
now i won't need a pickaxe to weed it and if i've
missed any of the sow-thistle root pieces it won't
be so hard to get the rest out of there.
mainly though, i get to redo the edge of the patch
so i don't need to crawl over or around rocks to get
in there to pick or weed. there's way too many ankle
breaking/twisting rock edges as it is. i'm gonna
flatten this puppy out and give me spaces to go through
and figure out something else to do with the rocks...
the stepping stones i already have are flat enough.
i still have wheelbarrows of dirt/subsoil to move
and as usual one project begets another. i've been
scraping some of the old decayed woodchips from the
garden where the lima beans are growing. and there's
yet another ankle breaking/twisting rock trench along
there that is begging to be dealt with. so... i'm
going to remove the rocks and fill it in so it will
be brought up to the level of the neighboring path
and the whole area will be a garden i can have
several rows of beans/peas or whatever instead of a
narrow strip surrounded by woodchip mulch (not very
productive use of the space before, but it was a
flower garden that has been removed and turned into
veggie production now). that's a few hundred more
square feet of full sun space and the soil is very
nice in there already. i'll use some of the
decayed wood chips in there too, but most of them
are going to end up in the strawberry patch as i
will then not need to do anything in there for a few
years other than to weed and top off a little at
the end of the season (after the ground freezes).
at least that is the plan...
today a little painting too, the garage sill i
put in this past spring is holding up and sticking
well, a few very tiny cracks are showing from the
differences in cement batches i did when i was
putting it down (hand mixing in small amounts i
couldn't get it all mixed and placed at once). it
needs to be protected before the winter gets here
and we start dripping muddy/salty water on it...
hopefully three coats will do it (or until the
quart of paint runs out).
in other news, still picking and shelling beans,
the rains we so sorely needed were not really wanted
now with the beans finishing up, but that is usual
for me and the later fall. the push-pull of wanting
rains because when it is too dry some of the gardens
are too hard to do much with (the rest are much
nicer now after years of planting, amending and
giving the worms plenty to work with) and the desire
for things to be dry so that the beans won't rot or
start sprouting in the pods before i can get them
picked. it really hasn't been a great year for the
beans. strange weather, high heat, storms at just
the wrong times, cold spells, etc... the plight of
a gardener. :) i have planted enough varieties that
i'm getting some return for my efforts but it is a
fraction of what a normal year can be like (was hoping
for between 50-100 lbs, will be more like 30lbs) most
plants the pods are empty or only a few pods have
beans. at least the ones i was most worried about
not having anything from i have been able to find
some pods with beans in them now to restock a little
of the seed supply. they are a very nice thin green
bean and the seeds are long and narrow and they are
apparently very finicky about setting seeds. i
could have eaten a lot more of the beans but i left
almost all of them because i wanted to restock the
seed supply.
tomatoes are done and gone, the plants need to be
taken down and buried. peppers are still doing ok.
there should be a few red ones out there to harvest
in a few days. squash is in and curing. we had
a wheelbarrow full (much better than five wheelbarrows
full). the quality is overall very good compared to
last season. only two that i've noticed will have to
be cooked up right away (instead of several dozen).
not having much rain the past month and a half kept
the fungi from doing much or even starting up at all.
ok, enough rambles, time to get busy, ...
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Everything gets faster when you're aging. September was a good month for us, I turned 78, wife got the fall garden, such as it is, in, the kumquats are still getting bigger, the ten or eleven pears on the tree are getting larger, my back still hurts.
Hot weather, move to this part of Texas,we had several days at 100F or a little more. Not all together but maybe once or twice a week. We're used to it and we have air conditioning that is wonderful.
Lots of flooding in Harris Cty, TX. Thankfully we bought a house on high ground, 60 inches of rain that didn't bother us and watered the garden, never lost power, water, etc. Sturdy house on a high spot, thank goodness for that.
Wife loves tulips, alas, they don't grow well here, probably due to heat and underground critters.
You must really like gardening for all the work you do. I'm glad I'm to old for that stuff anymore.
We have stones too, the last couple to own this house left a big pile of river run rocks from somewhere. They're sitting in a big tub in the garage (actually a storage garage as no cars get to go in it) until she can figure out how to use them. Hopefully not thrown at me.
We have lots of dirt in a bag, called "Black Cow." I think she thinks it is fertilizer, probably from helping me clean out the milking stall when we had a cow. She still smiles a lot when she can get cow crap for her garden.
We're repainting rooms that have colors that make my artist wife flinch at times. One room at a time and very slowly. The artist really comes out when we're painting rooms. I just brush it on and move on, she takes great detail.
We mostly grow green beans as we like those a lot and, normally, we can get a fall crop too.
We still have two pepper plants that are producing fruit but the fruit doesn't get very big. She just can't stand pulling up and composting anything that might have a leaf or a fruit. I buy my peppers at the market, great, big, red peppers that are crunchy.
Reply to
George Shirley
  While you're on beans ... I'll be getting a package of seed off to you soon , just a few more days to finish picking this year's field peas . Nothing did well here but the Red Rippers , which is the only variety I'll plant next year . I'll send whatever else (along with some fresh RR seed) I've got , including some of the bush beans we discussed earlier . If there's anything else you'd like , I'll send some if I got it .
Reply to
Terry Coombs
no field peas thanks, none have ever done well up here (or anything in that family including adzuki beans which i really like :( ).
you did finally get an e-mail from me then? i wasn't sure what happened there, and gave up.
no worries and no rush. i won't be planting until next April/May.
what kinds of other beans do you grow? it's really been an interesting season this time around.
*waiting for paint to dry before the last coat of the day*
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my back doesn't hurt as much as it used to. chiropractor and massage therapy have helped a great deal. i'm no longer having to take any pain meds and can sleep. considering i was contemplating surgery it's been well worth it.
i hate AC, but we have it here too, i would use it a lot less, but Mom has to have it on for the hot and humid days. when i lived in TN i had a small fan which worked well enough for me.
i love 'em too, but they don't do well here in most places. with the animals eating them, poor soil, diseases, fogs... only the sturdy ones survive. i used to have about 70 varieties. i'm not sure what is left now - maybe half that.
it is my preferred form of exercise and no shortage of things to do here. this year is actually sort of strange in that i've finally been able to get to some projects i've wanted to do for several years. so we've caught up and i've been able to get ahead a little for a change.
there's always something to do though and often one project starts a whole pile of other ones.
we have rocks from all over the USoA that have been collected over the years. some of them were used to try to break in one time and another time one was thrown through the front kitchen window. so i always recommend bigger rocks which are much harder to throw.
composted cow crap, trace nutrients in all three of the majors, but still better than the higher powered fake stuff.
i used a few bags of it when i was redoing the tulip patches. partially/mostly decayed wood chips are a much nicer form of humus if you can get them for free or nearly free. most of what we've gotten has come via tree service people who are often happy to have a close place to dump them instead of having to go a ways.
i'm very picky too. nothing complicated with the colors here, the house was meant to be an artists studio/gallery besides being a summer place. so all the walls are eggshell white. the trim is red cedar. i painted the whole thing twice and this room three times.
if i have the space set aside for it i can keep planting all season to keep fresh beans going. i usually don't set aside space.
i know that feeling, i don't want to bury any bean plants until they've completely died back. once in a while one will flower again and try to put on some pods.
i've not counted the red peppers but over a hundred for sure this year. i can eat three to five a meal. roasted is by far my favorite way to use them. they go well on about everything.
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The ones I eat are grown in water in a glass house, about the size of a big man's fist or a small baby's head. There is so much variety in the weather here from day to day nothing grows like we had in Louisiana. Of course there we gardened on REAL dirt, detritus from several millennia of plants dying after the sea fled from the land and became the Gulf of Mexico and then modern trees dropping leaves for more years. I miss that soil, throw a seed in the ground and jump back. We had fruit trees, berries along the fence, etc. etc. The folks that bought that property were smiling a lot as they wandered the 14000 square feet property and the big house with the garage in back. Plus a few majestic oak trees fifty feet tall with a trunk that was large, one was twelve feet in diameter, lots of leaves for composting. Here, a little sand on gumbo clay and a 6500 square foot lot with a 1960 square foot house and garage. Luckily the prices here are sky rocketing since Harvey, we have the high ground, another five miles north of us flooded almost as bad as Houston. What makes people build large homes on a creek where you can look up and see the highway going by thirty feet up from the creek. It's a wonder a bunch of wealthy people didn't drown. Drove over the bridge there the other day and most of those creek side houses were torn up badly. I feel sorry for a lot of these people but who the hell wants to build a fancy home on low land in this part of Texas where it gets so much rain. Sheesh! I may be a dumb old country boy but I know where water wants to go, used to work in rice fields, that teaches you how water runs. I still have good insurance but no flood insurance as we are above the flood plain. If the water gets deep enough to flood us I'm building an ark and gathering critters.
Reply to
George Shirley
I'm into chestnut season. I don't save as many but like to shell and freeze to use with stuffing turkey. I'll chomp on them in the evening with a glass of wine but they last less than 2 months in the refrigerator as they do not keep like fatty nuts such as peanuts.
I hate to leave them for the deer and the squirrels and saturate my friends with them. Invited neighbors over today to pick up as much as they wanted.
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A friend of ours has several large black walnut trees in her yard. She can' t use them all so she invited us up to gather as many as we wanted. We went up there last week and came home with three five-gallon pails full. My wif e is processing them; she says it reminds her of her childhood in the mount ains of eastern Tennessee.
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I liked them and my father always got them. Awful lot of work to to husk, dry and have to hammer to get nut meat but mother made terrific cookies with them. I watched a squirrel eat one once and he must have been gnawing at it for a half hour.
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i didn't think there were any of those trees still around any longer?
in the days before the fungi they were a major source of fodder for animals in the forest and many people would let pigs run to fatten up and then...
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there's a lot of black walnut trees around here, the squirrels drop them in the road and let people run over them.
last time i picked a bunch of black walnuts and shelled them out i made some black walnut cookies. it was a lot of work but worth it. i tried making walnut cookies with regular walnuts, but they just weren't the same...
i will likely buy some black walnuts next time i make those kind of cookies. my hands are too useful to risk more damage like that.
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I made the mistake of planting a couple of English walnuts. Never got any nuts as squirrels would get to them before they even matured. Early this year one got blown over and I had it removed but it displaced the other and it is not tolerating it well so I have to have it removed.
Been over 40 years ago that we moved into this house when it was new and I am still correcting my planting mistakes with trees and bushes.
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Mine are Chinese chestnuts. The American chestnut is supposedly returning and a few years ago I tried a few of these chestnuts and they tasted the same. I don't think the wood of the Chinese tree is as good as the American tree.
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Been there, done that. Every house we've lived in has been spruced up, the gardens done to our wants, then we move on to my next job as I climbed the management of safety in chemical plants and refineries around the world. I'm pretty sure we're going to stay in this house until we're either dead or gone to a nursing home. Small property but wife has most of the ground covered with flowers, etc. and our small vegetable garden. At our age that's about what we can handle. I keep the books, wife keeps the small lawn mowed, and takes care of the gardens. I also do most of the cooking and cleaning. Can't walk well on uneven ground but can get around with my cane in the house. Works well for us and has been working well for a goodly amount of time.
George, up early to feed the dawg, as usual.
Reply to
George Shirley
I have never seen an American chestnut, don't think they grew in my part of Texas. Have eaten Chinese chestnuts, do they have the same taste?
Reply to
George Shirley
I have nearly an acre on a sloped lot. Very hilly neighborhood and most of the neighbors on my street let back yards grow wild but wife likes ours mowed which is getting increasingly harder to get mower down hill. Too steep for a riding mower. I lucked out this year with a next door neighbor cutting the back which he can access from his lot with his rider. He does it for the cost of the fuel which in this instance is an occasional case of Heineken. Unfortunately he is moving due to new job for his wife so next year I may have to hire someone.
Will have three new neighbors on both sides and back next year. Most important is one in the back to access back yard from his driveway running entire length of my lot. Tree cutter has used it a couple of times and will need it again when leaves are down in a couple of months. Our son loves this house and would have bought it except for the 2-3 acres it is on are so sloppy and 700 ft drive is too much. I had another neighbor down the road with 22 acres with a 0.4 mile drive. He died at age 90 but was still an adjunct professor at U. of Delaware who walked to work nearly 10 miles away, believe it or not.
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It's been years since I tasted them. I think taste was same as Chinese chestnuts and they were slightly smaller. This was at friends hunting camp in central PA. Guy that brought them in said they were American chestnuts.
I tried to sell some to local market years ago but they refused as there is a worm problem. There is a chestnut weevil that I have never seen but it lays eggs on the hull and they burrow into the chestnut. I spray with Sevin but can't reach the tops of both trees and often see a lot of worms. These little buggers can even bore through a plastic bag. I'm sure I've eaten more than a few. This year's crop appears clean. You spray for 3-4 weeks weekly about 6 weeks before harvest.
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I can believe that, my Uncle Gus lived to be 91 and was blind and deaf then. He was my father's next down brother and a good man, was a member of three different unions and worked until he was in his late sixties and didn't want to retire then but was forced out. He didn't want to NOT work, not many people can say that. I retired at 65 as a lone wolf safety professional, was very sick, docs said I would be dead soon. Gave my business to a very good friend who couldn't afford to buy it but we got gifts every month for two years, not asked for but given for thanks. He grew the company to ten times the income I had pulled in but I didn't want to work to much. Now his two sons are running the business and doing well. Makes me feel good that I started something that keeps paying off to the people I like. Nowadays I nap a lot, read lots of books, watch tv, brush and bathe the dog, cook meals for us, do the grocery shopping, then more naps. My body is not doing much for me, to many years of climbing towers, hauling loads, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, etc. (all of which run in the men of my family) but I can still teach the grands and great grands, and, I hope, the great great grands if I can still keep going.
Reply to
George Shirley
We tried growing everything without sprays, etc. and damned near died from what all was eating our gardens. Now we just spray and then wash stuff from the garden. It's hell trying to grown things "naturally" when the world is full of things that want to screw up your garden. Particularly when you're close enough to the harbor for Houston and all the junk the ships bring in. Some have destroyed crops that have been grown for a very long time. Then the gubmint says "You can't spray that, it might hurt the atmosphere or something else." Heck, I used to flag crop dusters as a kid with just a bandana tied over my face. I think all that "poison" is why I'm still around, sort of like being petrified or so0mething.
Reply to
George Shirley
When your trees are fairly isolated from similar trees all the enemies surround them nearby. I had trouble with apple worms and fungus when I had apple trees. I used to bicycle past an orchard on Sunday mornings and saw them spraying. Bet there was not a bug or fungus within a mile after they were done. I also suspect they did not have to spray that often as it would take awhile before they were invaded by surrounding bugs.
Probably same for squirrels when I tried to raise English walnuts. If an orchard knocked their population down it would take a much longer time to recover than my trees surrounded by woods full of squirrels.
I may be a chemist but do not believe in the liberal use of chemicals but in their judicious use.
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